Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Training the trainers

Being trained on how to train with President Blickenstaff was a great experience.  President has really impressed me with his patience and knowledge. He has such good Chinese and knows so much about the scriptures! 
Meeting my new companion Elder Huang with the Blickenstaffs.  
Sister Blickenstaff is amazing and really loves the missionaries.

I have loved my mission president so much and will be sad to see them go home this week!

The Asian Invasion

Wow, crazy changes going on! It has been a great week! I was sad to say goodbye to Elder Cook, but am super excited to tell you guys about my new companion Elder Huang! 

So Monday through Thursday were pretty crazy as Elder Cook and I finished our time together. I was really nervous the whole week leading up to finding out who I'd be training. I knew there were 4 elders coming, 2 of which were native Taiwanese. All four of us training Elders are white people so I had a really high chance of getting one of them. 

On Tuesday we got to drive down with President Blickenstaff to a center point in our mission for a trainers meeting. It has been a really great opportunity to be here in Taichung at the end of our mission president's time here. Before being in this area, I had been pretty far south the whole time, so I never had a whole lot of chances to interact with him and get to know him and sister Blickenstaff. It was really a fun time to go on the hour and a half car ride with them and learn from all their life/mission experiences. They will be going home this Thursday, I'm going to miss them a ton! They were so good for this mission! It will be really fun to have the chance to welcome in President Teh this week! Since we are right by the mission home we'll get to help throw a little welcome party for them! 

Anyways, had a good last few days with Elder Cook. He was a really hard working missionary, and I learned a lot about being patient from him. On Friday morning it was really weird to be in reverse places of about 10 months ago as I first came to Taiwan. I think I was more nervous this time than I was back then! We had a little training an then President revealed who the companionships were going to be...... I got assigned to Elder Huang from Kaoshiong! Super crazy! He is an awesome companion, and already super good missionary. He is going to be in this mission anywhere from 1-3 months until he gets his visa to go to Provo MTC and the Eugene Oregon Mission. This is a lot different than I thought it would be haha. It'll be kind of sad not to get the chance to see him around the mission after I get done training him (I'll most likely be his only companion). Its also really weird, because normally you get a companion who has spent about 2 months in the MTC getting used to missionary life and learning from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures, but he literally got set apart 6 days ago and was with his family! Sometimes I forget and have to remind my self, he is definitely the greenest comp I'll ever have haha. Its super crazy, but he's been a champ in adjusting. I'll tell you a little bit about him: He's 20 years old, he just got done doing hi mandatory military service, and has been working to save money for his mission. He's from the QiShan ward in Kaoshiong (actually where my old companion Elder Stoddard is right now, small world). He's the oldest of 5 boys, which is a HUGE family in Taiwan. They're all members. I'm super impressed with the way he prepared for him mission. He already understands a lot and makes a huge contribution in lessons. I was nervous if I got a visa waiter that they would be super mad they weren't going to their real mission yet, but he is really happy he gets time to serve here before he goes to America. He doesn't really speak much English right now, but we are working on it :) I'm really excited, this is going to be a really big blessing for my Chinese and his English!

We've started doing a thing where every day we switch which language we speak to each other. Today, we're only speaking English. Since I've been with him, I've really realized my English has gotten pretty bad... I'll always speak English so awkwardly to him or use Chinese grammar or whatever hahah. This is a really good opportunity for both of us, and I'm super excited!

THOUGHT: As I was reading in Alma 7, I'd like to share verse 15:

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

So, verses 11-13 are the classic ones that are shared to explain the atonement, but the next few are really powerful. We are going to share this with our investigator Brother Tsai tonight. (he's doing awesome by the way, will probably get baptized in mid July if everything goes smoothly).

 I think This scripture has relevance for us all. I love how it says "fear not" This gospel has given me so much comfort in knowing that no matter what, I have Christ on my side and he is with me through it all. I know He can help us overcome our sins and weaknesses, and His Atonement is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. 

I pray for you guys all the time, Love you so so much!

Elder Gilbert

Found this weird abandoned amusement park

Monday, June 20, 2016

A new assignment

Hello! Wow crazy week, can't wait to tell you guys all about it! Looks like Lucy had a great b-day sorry about the stitches :( Feels like just yesterday when we went to see Kung Fu Panda and then mom went into labor and had you! Also happy fathers day and birthday dad!!! Grateful for you dad, thanks for getting me so excited to go on a mission! You have been such a good example and I really treasure the advice you give me. 

It's really weird to think about how my year mark is only a few days away. I can remember everything that happened a year ago so well. I feel like that week where we moved to Rexburg right before I left was one of the best weeks of my life, and it was fun to reminisce :) This week has been a really good one here are a few highlights. 

Elder Cook and I saw this ad for a free trial at a gym, so last p-day we went and got three free days! Elder Cole and his comp came as well, it was so nice!! we spent like 2 hours on p-day just working out, and then got to go the next two mornings. Between that, P90x3, and b-ball in the morning with the office elders, working out is going pretty good here! 

The largest miracle of the week: Our coolest investigator, (Brother Tsai) completely disappeared last Sunday. He was good to go for church and had been progressing really fast, then all of a sudden stopped answering our calls. We were so sad all week, but everything we tried to do to get a hold of him didn't seem ton work. We have been praying all week that we'd be able to run into him, or he'd respond or something, and really hoped it was just that his phone had broken or something. Every time we biked by the 7-11 that we first met him at, I'd look over and just say a little prayer that he'd be there.. yesterday we were biking to a lesson and as we were passing it we totally saw him! We couldn't believe it, we turned around, and he saw us and went crazy! He said that he had lost his phone in Taibei and he had had to be up there all week because of an emergency in his company. (He's second in command and the ceo died, so there was a bunch of stuff they had to do, so he's been there all week). He felt super bad because he had no way to get in touch with us. He told us that he's been waiting at the place we first met him all afternoon hoping we'd bike by! Pretty crazy stuff, we figured it all out, and he wrote down our phone # so he has a physical copy now. All is well. A little tender mercy there :)

Thursday, The Blickenstaffs  gave their last zone conference. Crazy that they are going to be home so soon. They go home on the 30th. It was really good and focused a lot on becoming a diligent, consecrated missionary. I felt like I learned a lot and have a lot of things to work on, which is exciting! I'm glad I still have a year left to improve but it feels like almost no time at all!

On Sunday I also got the call that I'm going to be training! Pretty nuts! I'm super sad that Elder Cook will be leaving on Friday. He's been a great comp and we've learned a lot together. Had a whole lot of fun too :) I'll pick up my trainee that day as well. The scary thing is there are only four elders coming to the mission, two of them are native Taiwanese who are waiting for their visas to go to the provo mtc. All four of us training elders are white, so I have basically a 50 percent chance of training a Taiwanese elder! It would be kinda of sad, because he'd eventually leave to go serve in america, so I wouldn't get to see him around the next year, but I'm up for whatever the Lord has in store :) It would be super good for my Chinese, and any Taiwanese missionaries that get called to America are pretty sick, so I'm excited to see what the future holds! I'll have a very green comp in about 4 days!!!! We get to drive all the way down to jia Yi for a trainers meeting with president tomorrow, so that'll be fun.

For a spiritual thought I had one really cool thing happened this week. We met this guy named James who thought it was super weird that we actually can say we know we get answers through the holy ghost and prayer. It was cool to teach him about it and help him understand. I want to testify that prayer works, and that God really does hear them. There has been a lot of times where I feel like I'm not being heard, but I know that His timing is perfect and that if we "pray always" he will consecrate all of our performances and worthy endeavors. (2 Nephi 32)  

love you guys! have an awesome week :)

-Elder Gilbert 

Elder Gilbert and Elder Cole tasting the local cuisine

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Working in the rain

This week was a rainy one... about 5 of the 7 were just down-pouring, but we found some fun ways to change up missionary work. We left our bikes in the apartment basement the whole weekend and took the buses everywhere. Only in Taichung all the buses are free! So we stayed out of the rain the whole time in the buses and we would do our "Jesus Walk" with our umbrellas. Because we weren't on our bikes so much, we had some more relaxed and longer conversations with many cool people. Taiwanese hate the rain and basically the whole country shuts down for the day. All the bosses close their stores, people go inside and everyone takes their nap time. It's really funny here because everyone's business hours are 8am-1pm and 4-9pm. That gap is the Taiwanese nap time when 50% of the population takes a nap. Haha so missionary work is no good at that time. Although we did well this week and found some new people!

The first is William who owns his own noodle shop. We meet with him in the mornings at 11am before his shop opens. He is always hungover from the last night and is super guilty. He tells us how much he is addicted to alcohol and can't control himself. He told us he knew we don't drink and that is why he wants to meet with us. So we were able to help him a bunch and set some goals to stop. This week we are letting him drink beer only and next week we are going to one can a day... and then we will see. He is reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily! He is a great guy and we love meeting with him!

Also a new rule was changed to where we can teach women now!! Our ward has sisters in it (previous ones did not) We were invited by the ward to help a 19 year old bro in our ward to get on track with coming to church and going on a mission. His name is David and his ward and family are scared he might not go on a mission, so they asked us to help. So about a week ago we played basketball and talked with him. We found out he is a complete clone of Elder Cook and I. He loves everything we love and he is super into rap. So with that new mission rule in mind we set off to find him a girl he could help us teach. A few days later we ran into Apple who speaks English super well. She actually self contacted us and more importantly asked to meet with us. (There is a reason she self-contacted us, but we don't want to share until we know she is golden and was serious) Anyway she set up to eat dinner with us right before English. So we got David to come with us and it went super well. David and her clicked and they talked a ton! He also bore a surprisingly good testimony and shared about the word of wisdom because she asked why he didn't drink tea. After dinner she came to our English class and had a blast! There were just miracles all over the place Wednesday night!
Elder Cook snapped this picture when I was trying to talk to this guy
on the side of the road.  It didn't end up being anything big but it gives
you an idea of what we are up to everyday.  

Super Good week! I hope all is well at home, I love you guys!

Elder Gilbert

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Slurpee Miracles

Hey Everyone! Having a great time in the big city! I'm learning a lot and having a really fun time with Elder Cook. Its hard work here, and some of the days haven't been easy, but when the miracles and blessings come, its that much sweeter. I love my mission and am kind of freaking out that I'm about to hit my year mark in a few weeks..

So the reason for my title is that Elder Cook and I have found something crazy happens just about every time we sit down in a 7-11 to do calls and get a slurpee. This all started because Elder Cook loves slurpees, so we get them every once and a while. We've started to see some correlation between slurpees and miracles. Call it the placebo effect, but it seriously works. For example, when last p day ended, we had to make some calls. We got slurpees and sat down by this 16 year-old kid named Kenny. We have this little card that has a bunch of plan of salvation questions on it and asked him if he's ever thought about any of them before. He was super interested in the afterlife, and is meeting with us again tonight to talk more about it! He was super excited, and I swear we meet someone crazy cool every single time we do it! I would talk about more, but I've got some other cool stuff and email time is never enough! 

Right now we have one golden baptismal goal named Tsai Shou San (蔡守三) He was sitting down out side 2 weeks ago, and we just sat down and started talking with him. He started asking us a lot of questions about where we are from and what we are doing. He said he wants to hear our message so he set up with us the next day. So last week we taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and he LOVED it! Apparently he was already Christian and had read the bible, but he didn't understand much so he gave up. He was super excited when we told him about church and how easy the Book of Mormon is to understand compared to the bible. He also had a really good understanding of the Atonement when we shared Mosiah 3: 5-12. Jesus literally felt everything we have ever felt and PERFECTLY understands us and our situation. Long story short he met with us 3 times come to church twice! He's super cool and we hope he'll be able to get baptized at the end of this month! 

And CHARLIE!!! We met him last week and then last night we had a crazy good lesson! He asked us to meet him last night at McDonalds. We get there and he had brought his whole FAMILY!! We were sooo haply and just amazed. We met his wife, two daughters and his son! They were an awesome family and were all happy and doing well. Elder Cook and I shared a small message about prayer and families! They went nuts when they saw the family picture I had with all 10 of us! (People here go insane when they see so many kids, its kind of fun, and is a perfect lead in to talk about eternal families and that stuff)Luckily with seven of us there, the lesson was still very spiritual. They agreed to try family prayer when they got home. Wow that was a huge miracle for me and Cook! We always wanted to teach a family and now here they are! :D

I love everything thats going on here, even the hard things. Its not easy! I'm really starting and trying to better see the ups and the downs as blessings, grateful that I've had this time to be broken down, come unto the Lord and be shown my weaknesses. I know that Christ's grace is sufficient for all our weaknesses to become strengths (Ether 12:27) Love you guys, sounds like a great summer is already underway! 

Elder Gilbert