Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blinders on

I can honestly say I've never felt so good about the status of an area as I do right now! San Min is ON FIRE! Things feel so good right now. We have been able to have a steady flow of new investigators, progressing ones with baptismal goals, and a lot of people actually coming to church. The wards even been giving us some referrals! It is just so balanced. A couple of guys are looking really good to get baptized in the coming weeks of July.

It was such a good feeling to get done with all the exchanges with the Elders in the zone this week! We've been going on a ton the last couple of weeks. Its a great training opportunity, but also hard to get a good rhythm going. One of our biggest goals this transfer was to have really good workouts when the elders come over to our area (how it works now is both missionaries come to our area, we don't usually do a one one switch.) Normally on exchanges workouts are super lame because theres just too many people in the apartment, so we started taking companionships out to the track and putting together these cross fit workouts. Haha Elder Coats and I have gotten in really good shape the last couple months, and have just been pounding the other elders with these workouts :) In a good way, missionaries need to exercise better! Everyone is so inspired now!

Well.. the ward finally found out that I'm going home next week.. I've really been trying hard not to let anyone find out, but it happened. They've been going crazy. Literally every single member I have seen in the last week has made a mention of it. The young single adults had a big dinner/going a way party the other night. We met with the bishop yesterday and at the beginning he says "We'll keep it quick, I know you need to go home and get packing" Oh man, they're so nice, but I don't like all the special treatment!

Here I'd like to share an idea that has affected me more than almost anything else. Its actually some of the lyrics to Hymn 263 Go Forth With Faith:

Go forth to serve and do your best
With no thought of reward;
Then you shall know the boundless joy
Of serving Christ, the Lord.

What a great equation! When we participate in the Lord's work all we need to do is our best and have a humble attitude. As simple as that. While I have found that the pattern is simple, its not easy to do. There are so many things that can distract and make it hard to have that "No thought of reward" attitude. Something that has helped me is to realize that the true reward for serving is just that: the opportunity to serve. Only when we lose ourselves in a cause greater than ourselves can we truly feel the "boundless joy of serving Christ, the Lord."  I've learned that this joy is real. My favorite scriptures is in John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The peace and happiness that comes from focusing on others and our Savior IS the greatest thing we can receive for any kind of service, on a mission or off. No one else has to see it or tell us. We will feel it. That has come to be the greatest joy for me day in and day out. I love being able to go out and forget about myself. I will be forever grateful for this lesson learned and the opportunity I have to serve. I'm looking forward to a lot more of it.

See you in a few.

Elder Gilbert

We met with this new investigator (Nelson) at his restaurant the other day. Pretty cool story. He's already Christian, but started this business and got really busy. We had started to feel like he had gotten really far from God, so he had been praying to find a way back. We were biking to a members house early in the week when Elder Coats asked if we could turn around and go down this alley, on the other side of the alley was this guy with his 4 year old daughter! Crazy!  He told us all this our second time meeting. He also came to church yesterday! The woman is the co-owner of the business. They treated us to gelato!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Soaking it all in (literally)

Another great one! It was a rainy week! Really rainy actually, I don't think I've seen it rain so hard ever before! I swear I've been constantly wet all week. I have really disliked when it rains most of my mission, but Elder Coats has helped to convince me otherwise. It has cooled down a lot because of the rain, plus we've seen a ton of really cool stuff happen (some of it due to the rain)

I don't think I've ever worked with so many families at once! We met this woman on the street early in the week, she later brought her husband and two daughters to English class. At the end of English class we asked this little 4 year old member girl to say the closing prayer. This woman we had just met was so impressed, and wanted to know how they could better raise their own daughters!

Our 2nd counselor in the bishopric is the only member in his family. We were told that they've been more open to the gospel lately and have even been attending our wards Self reliance classes. Our Elder's Quorum President encouraged us to go stop by and give it a try! We shared about family prayer and scripture study! We invited them to try and find at least 5 minutes to read the Book of Mormon as a family. The non member mom responded saying "Thats not enough time, we can do better than that!" Pretty good stuff. Turns out they really don't know too much and we were invited to come back this week and talk more about the Book of Mormon!

Our RC Chen Shi Ming referred us literally the most golden guy ever last Monday. He already set a baptismal goal and when he came to church this week let some of the people he met know he was working to baptism.

We were able to teach so many people this week! What a blessing! Hopefully that can give a little taste for whats been going on! I really really liked President Teh's weekly letter to the mission today, thought I could share a part of it:

We hope that you are well and enjoying this amazing Taiwan weather!! We are so proud of you for continuing to work hard even though you are alternately baking under the hot sun and soaking in the heavy rain. I am sure that most of you are used to the sun but sometimes wonder: " where's all this water come from?"

When I was a small boy this crazy thought crossed my mind once: "I wish I could control the weather." Then after years of attending primary I learned that the wish was not as crazy as I thought it was. That under certain conditions and according to God's will and purposes- I may be called upon to control the weather. More profoundly, later in my life I learned that more important than controlling the weather, is being able to control my personal barometer. That no matter what the weather is outside, you can choose to enjoy "Perfect Weather."

I woke up this morning with this hymn playing in my mind:

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

Oh, there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There you have it. Perfect weather is ours to enjoy. As our hearts and lives are centered around the Savior and His atonement, the sun will always be shining in our soul. I have come to the conclusion that the only weather that we have to be concerned about is what is going on inside of us. And the great thing about it is everyday, we can decide what the weather will be like in there.

Love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Zone Conference
Mission leadership conference

Monday, June 12, 2017

All over the place

Busy one this week! We had a lot of lessons and people that we are working with. This week felt like it was full of a little bit of everything!

I guess I'll start off with the disappointing news. One of our progressing investigators Jim got into some anti Mormon stuff and its really hurt his testimony. Really not good actually.. Bummer! It kind of came out at Church yesterday that he feels his answer hasn't come yet and he doesn't know if he should keep trying. Oh well, I can honestly say that no investigator I've ever taught has had a better chance to accept the Gospel, but its looking like we'll probably drop him when we meet next..

Besides that it was a really killer week! Miracles all over!

Our neighbors came to church this week again!! Our relief society president is super good to them. The hard part is the mom is super Buddhist. She's willing to learn, but its going to take some patience :)

We are meeting with another really cool guy named Ethan. In the first five minutes of our first lesson he brought up that he's always really wanted to attend church services and asked us if he would be allowed to come! haha he was so prepared! because of going on exchanges all the time I had actually met with him a couple of time without Elder Coats. Finally yesterday he got to meet him and we had a great day at church!

We had a cool experience with one of our newer investigators, Louis, the other day. We had taught him the first half of the plan of salvation, but not had the time to talk about what happens after we die. The next time we met with him he immediately brought it up and said "I've been really wanting to know what the rest of this plan is about. I've been thinking about it ever since last time we met.

Our recent convert Chen shi ming has a friend that wants to learn about the church! We're meeting with him tonight! Member work is just the best!

We actually have a really big investigator pool right now. Especially exciting is that a lot of them are really cool young guys! The members (particularly the Bishop) keep getting really excited to see these people at church. If only we could get over that baptism hump! We're working hard on it. A few of those investigators have baptismal goals, but things like anti Mormon keep wrecking us haha. Its a fun cycle.

We were so sad on Jim, but we did learn a good lesson from him! He's been doing all these things so well (reading scriptures, coming to church, praying) despite this, he still hasn't felt an answer! That could be for a number of reasons, but it made us think of a talk by Elder Wilford Anderson called "The Music of The Gospel" He talks about "dance steps" as well as "music" as a analogy to our learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music.

I'm glad that I've really been able to feel the Joy of the Gospel here on my mission! Makes everything so much better!

Love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dragon boats and families

Another great one! This past Tuesday in Taiwan was the Dragon Boat Festival! I don't know a ton about the holiday to be honest, just that they race dragon boats and eat this weird rice triangle things. All I know is school was out on Monday/Tuesday and there were a TON of families to talk with, it was a blast! We also got to go out and watch some of the boat races on P-day! It felt very cultural, but was pretty overrated. 

I have no idea where this week went! We had a couple exchanges as well as a zone conference and stake conference yesterday. I literally blinked and I'm back here in the internet cafe! 

We had a really good meeting with the Zone and President and Sister Teh! We talked a lot about repentance and the doctrinal purpose of missionary work. Something I've learned from President Teh is the value of repetition and review. We seem to go over very similar things every meeting. President told us that his instruction before leaving to the field was that if he wants to teach the missionaries anything he has to do it 7 times in 7 different ways. He also talked about how at General Conference subjects are repeated because we really need to learn the lessons. 

Since we had the Tehs in our area the whole weekend because of zone and stake conference, we had the opportunity to have them join one of our lessons with our investigator Jim! It was quite possibly the coolest experience of my mission! We are really lucky that Jim speaks perfect English (the Tehs don't really speak Chinese). Jim has been struggling to understand why we need a Savior and the importance of Christ. We read some of 2nd Nephi 2 with him and talked about it. President and Sister Teh did such an amazing job testifying of the Savior and how they got their answer from the Book of Mormon. President did a really good job explaining why we need the Atonement. It was such a powerful lesson! Seemed to be perfect for Jim!! 

We also had a really great time last night with a newer family we are working with (I think I talked about them last week) We had a FHE last night with them and our relief society president's family. it was weird, we all live in the same apartment complex! We talked about how we can strengthen our families through prayer and scripture study! The message really seemed to resonate with sister Wang (the investigator mom) she is a single parent (we have SO many of those in our ward) who moved here from mainland China. She really likes the atmosphere at church, We're excited to see what happens with them. 

Juest reviewed President Monson's talk from Preisthood session. Short, but Powerful! 

Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.

Loving it here! So much good going on! 

Elder Gilbert

Monday, June 5, 2017

Good times

Another great week here! We've had some really hot days, followed my a couple of pouring rain, so now the weather is nice and cool and the air isn't quite as smoggy and polluted as normal :) 

We are working with some awesome people right now, I get so excited to study and teach these people! 

That one guy Jim is really making progress! Some highlights of the week were sharing a talk by Elder Christofferson called "the Divine Gift of Repentance" (It's one of my favorites, Jim is really starting to learn that repentance is a change of heart and hard work). His English is really good, so he volunteered to help us teach our English class! it was so fun, we have a lot of families who attend with some rowdy kids... It was nice to have one other person on our team this time :) 

Speaking of English class we had a really cool miracle thats been developing the last couple of weeks. We live in the same apartment building as this really cool mom and two daughters. We ALWAYS run into them coming or leaving, and gotten to be buddies with them. Im not sure if we had even invited them, but they started attending our English class a couple weeks ago. We started talking with them afterwards about the Gospel. She is Buddhist, but is having a hard time raising her two daughters, and feels like Christianity does a better job of helping families! Her and her youngest daughter both came to church yesterday, and are willing to learn more! We are going to meet with them and our relief society president this week!! (she also lives in our apartment, so they are already friends!!) 

Yesterday we had ward conference.The bishop and the Stake president both got up in the combined third hour and just went crazy with all these charts and maps. They have a goal to split the ward a year from now! The Bishop was just getting so hyped and yelling to get all the members excited as well! haha we love our Bishop but he keeps offending people because He's so passionate! Regardless he's really doing a good job leading the ward, and none of our investigators were too weirded out by any of the stats :) 

Here is a quote from that talk we shared with Jim:

Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.

Having a great time here, really trying to enjoy every last minute :) 

Love, Elder Gilbert

Monday, May 22, 2017

He that loseth his life for my sake

Another great week! We have had some awesome learning experiences this week and I love all the stuff that's going on over here in San Min. 

I felt like I especially had some cool experiences in some lessons this week. We met with one of our newer investigators named Jim. Its so interesting to meet with him. I literally feel like I'm hearing some anti-Christ from the Book of Mormon (hopefully it'll turn out like Zeezrom and he actually converts). The difference though is that he's actually willing to try out what we invite him to do. He just has had a pretty rough life and has some doubts bout everything. Recently he's really gotten into General conference talks which is exciting! Anyways in the course of meeting with him its been cool to be able to use the Book of Mormon to resolve concerns. We realized that lessons go WAY better if we just take time to slow down and share scriptures with him instead of try to just answer the questions ourselves. We had a lesson where he asked us if we thought we were brainwashed at all, and brought up a couple negative things he's seen about the church online. Strangely enough, I left that lesson more grateful that I have ever been for the testimony I have. The things we share seem to resonate with him. I feel like Elder Coats and I have also had some really good personal studies preparing for him, some of the best I've ever had! He's really progressed so fast! He still has some doubts, but he says he believes 30 percent now and you can literally see his heart softening. I can't really explain it, super cool!! 

We've been meeting with a Christian man for the last little while named brother Feng. It was really sad over the phone the other day he made it clear to us that he feel he can't change churches... We had already had an appointment set up, so we went over for one last visit. We felt it would be right to just share some scriptures about what Christ said his church would be like and about the apostasy/restoration. We were actually pretty bold with him, but in a really nice way. He said he just feels like his church is just as good, and he's really used to it. It would be really inconvenient to leave. We shared that theres lots of good things in the world, but explained to him that we didn't come here just to share something good. We told him that because we and more importantly God loved him we came here to help him get back to Heaven;y Father's presence. He's going to stop investigating for now, but we feel like we really did our job, and we left with a way better impression that I thought we would after preparing that lesson. Once again I left just so grateful for a testimony of the truth! 

I feel like I'm getting more out of all these experiences than the people we are trying to serve and teach. It made me think of the scripture  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Its super true! I feel like the happiest times of my mission are where I'm just thinking of others. Ironically this is also where I feel like I learn and grow the most! 

love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017


We went to this Buddhist place last Monday. It gave me mad respect for their religion.  The shrine is one of only 3 in the world that has an original tooth of Buddha! Big time! They have it in this big gold case and you can go up to it and ask Buddha for help! 

It really was a good week! We have some investigators that are progressing nicely. One I talked about the other week is a college student who was referred to us. We shared the plan of salvation with him the other day and he just kept saying thank you and just loved the truths that were taught. That Jim guy I told you about over Skype is awesome! He has met with us 5 days in a row! I honestly have seen his heart change a ton! 

A meaningful scripture this week is:  2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

 Love you all!  Also, we won't be emailing until the Tuesday next week so expect to hear from me Monday night your time!! 

Elder Gilbert

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mangos are here!

Another great week! Its getting warmer and warmer here and now is officially MANGO SEASON (had my first real mango the other day)! The work is going well here, I'll try to give a couple good updates!

We are working with the husband of a recent convert right now. He has a big problem with tithing, but besides that and some work issues would be willing to get baptized... We decided to try and use the scriptures better with him. We had a lesson the other day where we did nothing but read Alma 36 and discuss the principles we could learn and how it related to his life. It actually went really well! It was a super uplifting lesson, and hopefully helped to show how we can apply the scriptures to our lives. He seemed to like it and hopefully we can make more progress!

We had a miracle referral this week from a university professor in our area. She lives somewhere else, so she's not in our ward, but she got talking with one of her students about the gospel and he's pretty interested! His name in Johnny and he's got super good English. We had a sweet lesson with him and the professor shared some awesome thoughts about how Christ has changed her life!

Our old bishop is having us over for dinner in a couple of nights and is inviting a friend that has interest in the Gospel. He literally wrote up a huge list of stats and info about him so we can be prepared to share something good. We'll see how it goes.

The ward just ate up our investigators at church yesterday. Especially this girl we brought. She's the same age as our RC Brother Chen. They were absolutely flirting up a storm after church!! haha they even exchanged contact info!

President Monson told a story and gave a talk a couple years back that I really like:

During the 1940s and 1950s, an American prison warden, Clinton Duffy, was well known for his efforts to rehabilitate the men in his prison. Said one critic, “You should know that leopards don’t change their spots!”

Replied Warden Duffy, “You should know I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.”

We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.

I love this area and I love all the stuff I'm learning!

Love you all!
-Elder Gilbert

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Members and Miracles

Such a great week! If anything could be going better than the missionary work, it would be the weather! Its been beautiful and not too hot the last couple of days. I need to soak it up because its going to get a lot warmer soon! I'm excited to give a little update on the work.

We had a lot of lessons..... and a lot fall through. Its really annoying, we're not getting fanged a whole ton (where the person tells us they'll come and just doesn't show up) but people keep canceling or changing time on us last minute. We've been getting better and better at being flexible and having good backup plans. We've really been trying hard to be more balanced (its something President Teh has really been emphasizing the last little while).  The mission culture here is to just go crazy and street contact all day every day, and its historically been a little difficult to work with the wards.  But we're trying to do what President wants! Seeing some really cool miracles because of it.

Two members have just come to us and have friends they want to refer! We should be set to meet them later this week!

We met a college student who set up to meet. When we got there we found out that he brought a classmate who is a member from another ward and that he has a cousin whos a member! He's already got a great support system.

We have one investigator who started doing a bunch of internet research and actually didn't get negatively affected by it! He knows all this stuff about the church that we didn't tell him and he says he believes it all! He told us he really wants to get baptized! Thats kind of what happened with our RC Brother Chen who got baptized a little bit ago. He looked up all this stuff and got super interested. He's actually going to come with us tonight and help us teach the investigator (hopefully I don't jinx him, it literally happens all the time I mention people..).

We had zone conference this week! It was awesome! I loved all the training, my two big takeaways were to appreciate the Book of Mormon more and to be more wise in the way I do missionary work.

I came across this President Eyring talk from a few years back and LOVED it. Thought I'd share the end:

If you go for the Lord to bless others, He will see and reward it. If you do this often enough and long enough, you will feel a change in your very nature through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Not only will you feel closer to Him, but you will also feel more and more that you are becoming like Him. Then, when you do see Him, as we all will, it will be for you as it was for Moroni when he said: “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.  Amen.”

If we serve with faith, humility, and a desire to do God’s will, I testify that the judgment bar of the great Jehovah will be pleasing. We will see our loving Father and His Son as They see us now—with perfect clarity and with perfect love.

Elder Gilbert

Elder Coats and I at the amusement park last week

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bible bashing (Taiwanese version)

Another great week in Gaoxiong! Loving so much! This week was kind of a roller coaster, lots of ups and downs. We were blessed to see a lot of cool miracles and are meeting with some awesome investigators.

So for whatever reason part of our dtm the other week touched on using the bible and the book of Mormon together. I found this sweet little pocket Chinese new testament in our apartment and started taking it out with us every day. We don't normally run into Christians, let alone teach them, but we thought maybe it would be nice. The funniest thing happened, ever since then we've had the opportunity to teach a whole bunch of Christian people. We've been able to whip out the Bible and share scriptures with the people to introduce our message and its gone really well! I've realized this week my bible knowledge is next to nothing (We almost never use it because we're always using the Book of Mormon to help others start to believe in Heavenly Father and Christ)Good thing all the people that we've used it with have been nice! So I've got to get better in that category. 

We met with this one guy who was a recent convert to another Christian Church. When we asked him why he was meeting with us he said "because you're not bad people" We were able to share some cool scriptures from the Book of Mormon and show him how we believe in the same Jesus that he does. It went really well, and he even started taking some notes! I noticed in the middle of the lesson he wrote "Good" on his little note pad. Kind of reminded me of the one scripture:  

For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

 I restudied President Nelson's talk from conference about drawing in the power of Jesus Christ. When his wife asked him what impact his special topical guide study of Christ had on him he answered "I am a different man" That got me good! He's an apostle and he's still changing! I know that The Savior and His Gospel can really change people! Love being able to take part in it a little every day! 

Elder Gilbert

Me, elder Coats, and Tabasco sauce

On the high speed rail. (normal train takes almost 3 hours to get to Taichung for exchanges and meetings, this guy only took 42 minutes! ridiculous! President just approved them

Pizza and fried chicken all you can eat. Tasted amazing, felt awful!


Sunday, April 16, 2017


A GREAT first week with Elder Coats! He is a really hard worker and has brought a lot of fire and enthusiasm here to San Min. To give you a better description of him, just think of Uncle Ryan Simmons. Literally the same person. haha he's hilarious and is always getting me to laugh! Our week was filled with miracles, excited to see what we can get done.

We should have a baptism coming up in the next couple of weeks. i always get scared to tell too much about our investigators that are progressing towards baptism because I feel like it curses them....
We are working with this pretty cool investigator named Zed. He reads the Book of Mormon like crazy and gets a lot out of it. He also told us his favorite talk from conference was the Primary President's talk about the kids.  He's really cool, we had a great lesson with him and our Ward Mission Leader the other day. Our investigator pool is looking pretty nice right now, hoping we can drop in a couple more people for Baptismal dates this week. 

We had a little meeting with the bishop as well this week and he showed us all these new goals the ward has. We have a really really good ward! Elder Coats just came from a place with a pretty weak ward, so he's really excited and helping to remind me how great we've got it here. He's brought a lot of faith into the area and its really showing.

To be perfectly honest it didn't really hit me Easter was here until Saturday night. Elder Coats and I realized that we needed to start sharing a little more about it! Even though most people have absolutely no idea what Easter is or why its a thing it was a really good opportunity to get right into the center of our message. It just felt really good in a special kind of way to share with others about Christ and His Atonement/Resurrection. I love that the church has that #PrinceofPeace thing going on. Helps us to remember the literal peace he can bring into our lives.
(I know I've shared this scripture recently, but thought it fits well).

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as
the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Elder Gilbert
The district

Monday, April 10, 2017

On to the next one!

Well, pretty expected, but Elder Larsen has moved! I have a new companion! Elder Coats from Layton, Utah! I just met him but I'm liking the vibe. Good things are going to happen, I'm excited to see what we can get done.

Bittersweet to say goodbye to Elder Larsen. We had a pretty weird last week (two trips up to Taichung and general conference) felt like we didn't get quite as much time to do actual missionary work as we would have liked. Regardless we did what we could and had some great stuff happen!

General conference was so good. Had a few people come. I know Chen shi ming really liked it. Kind of fun to watch it thinking about investigators thoughts towards it.

We met with a part member family this week and invited the non member husband to come to General Conference. He totally came for the session where Elder Costa talked directly to non members!! Loved the talk and loved it even more thinking about him watching it. Our ward was super good to him as well. Really treated him nicely afterwards. We'll see what happens.

We've been trying to work better with the ward and it seems to have made the atmosphere better at church. I really love this ward, the members are great to us.

I absolutely love hearing from the leaders of the Church and learning from prophets and apostles. I got a lot of things out of conference, but one particularly stuck with me. Elder Sabin talking about being "all in"

We don’t hold back to see what the minimum is we can get by with. The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind. Our whole heart! When we are baptized, we are fully immersed as a symbol of our promise to fully follow the Savior, not half-heartedly. When we are fully committed and “all in,” heaven shakes for our good.

I LOVE that. I really want to get lost in the work out here, I want to be doing it for the right reasons. I like how Elder Sabin talked about being all in is actually a lot easier in the end. I definitely know that's true, and makes everything we do in life more rewarding.


Elder Gilbert

We ran into Chen Shi Ming (the recent convert) yesterday. He texted us that he was in the store where we were contacting outside. We walked in and he bought us drinks.
He was literally just there studying the Book of Mormon and General 

An all you can eat buffet on the top of the 85th floor of this high rise

Our ward mission leader makes these really good rolls and he always gives us way too many.
Last time was a little over the top.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

One to remember

Another week in the books! I can't believe conference just happened, I feel like it was literally a week ago when we were talking about last general conference! 

Best part of the week by far was Brother Chen Shi Ming getting baptized and confirmed this weekend!! What a great time. He bore a really powerful testimony after his baptism and at fast and testimony meeting yesterday. Its really cool to see how confident he is and how much the ward members love him. Most investigators we bring to church (and most Taiwanese people for that matter) are kind of timid around people they don't know and its a little hard to get used to everything at church. It was a very different experience teaching Brother Chen the past little while. He just had such a desire to learn and understand what was going on. He's always ask great questions at church and in our lessons, and was super outgoing in getting to meet the ward members. After his baptism he bore a really cool testimony of the Book of Mormon and how hits really guiding him like the iron rod in Lehi's dream! At church on Sunday he talked about how he's excited to be able to start enduring to the end!!! So fun and blessed to be able to work with someone like that! This works really not about us at all. 

The baptism this week helped me to reflect on how cool it was to actually find Brother Chen. So I don't know if you'll recall or not, but a little while ago we had a super great investigator who disappeared  a week before his baptism. He was awesome and completely ready, but then just gone. That was super hard for Elder Larsen and I. It seemed like just about everything fell apart right then, we literally had nothing going good for us. I don't know why, but I remember when that happened that I just had calming feeling that everything was working together for our good, and I don't think I stressed about it as bad as I previously would have. We had some really hard and challenging days with just about nothing but finding the next week. It was the week after the investigator disappeared that in the middle of a hot sunny afternoon with not a ton of people out on the street we ran into Brother Chen. All we did was say hi and that we liked his shoes, then he got all excited as he turned around and said "You guys are the latter day saints, I've been really interested in what you're doing for a while now!" God answers prayers! Things have slowly been picking up ever since. In retrospect, all that happened to us has made me a lot more grateful for Brother Chen and has helped me to realize that on the mission there's a lot of things outside of our control, but also a lot of things we can do to overcome our circumstances. We've had some pretty tiring and hard days with a lot of rejection, but have seen a lot of miracles. We've also been having an absolute BLAST together. I am loving my time with Elder Larsen, things are just so good right now!!

Elder Gilbert

The Zone
Mission Leadership conference

Busy busy busy

Oh boy, what a week it was! The last couple of weeks we've been blessed to find quite a few new investigators, something we had previously been struggling with. I haven't felt like this since I was in my second area, just bogged down with lessons and things to do. (its a really good feeling in missionary work.)

We had a lot of great lessons and miracles this week, hopefully we'll be able to continue and get some more people ready for baptism!

Most exciting news of the week is that Bother Chen passed his baptismal interview! We should be all good to go for a baptism on Friday :) I'll let you know how it goes.

I think that one of the best parts of the week was at church yesterday. We had quite a few investigators at church, and that random LA guy we ran into on the street the other week came as well. The best part was that most of them were younger males, which got our Bishop HYPED. Most of the wards in Taiwan really struggle in having strong priesthood holders, just lots of women and kids. The ward members seemed really energized by all of the people and we had some great meetings.

I particularly liked the Priesthood lesson we had on Elder Stevenson's talk about the Book of Mormon from last General Conference. I love how he concludes:

Within the book’s pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God. As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you. As you look to the book, you look to the Lord. The Book of Mormon is the revealed word of God.

The Book of Mormon has POWER. I'm seeing it in the lives of these investigators and certainly in my own live as well.

Love you all so much!

-Elder Gilbert

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lighting it up!

What a week! Possibly the best one Elder Larsen and I have had together! The area has been steadily improving and a lot of really exciting things happened. I'll try to give a good quick recap.

Finding just went really well this week (most of the week we didn't get much finding in because we were in lessons with newer investigators/had a zone conference that took up a day) but, every time we actually were out finding we ran into really cool people! I've felt about as busy as I've ever been in this area and am loving it :) We have a pretty good looking week set up already and excited to see where everything goes.

Zone Conference was so good! I love hearing President Teh give trainings, it's just like a mini version of General Conference every time. Some big changes were made and I loved all the stuff we talked about. I really liked President saying "If we continue to do the things we've always done. we'll continue to have the results we've always gotten." He's made a lot of changes since he's gotten here, but I really feel like he's inspired! Its a good lesson for me personally to always be analyzing my life and seeing where I need to make changes.

We got to meet with a lot of cool newer people this week (I probably say that every time, because our newer investigators keep dropping off soon after we find them). Elder Larsen and I are really working on that. Helping our newer investigators not drop off, particularly be helping the realize the importance of church attendance and the sacrament. Its at least worked with Brother Chen, one of our investigators who has a baptismal date coming up soon. He always talks about how he's excited to come to sacrament meeting, not just church in general. He actually has his baptismal interview coming up this week, so hopefully it all goes smoothly (or at least better than last time haha) Elder Larsen and I feel like he's ready!

Random LA miracle: We don't do much work with less actives because thats not really the focus of the mission right now and LAs are usually the worst, but something really cool happened! We were outside one day contacting and started talking to a guy leaving on his scooter, at first he was super awkward, but then he told us that he was a member! He just moved here, and had disappeared from the church for a couple years, he said his info is still in a different ward in Taiwan. We set up to meet with him, and could tell he knew it was time to come back. He used to be super active, but then slowly just completely fell away. The best part was that as we were leaving the church we ran into a member who knew him from like 3 years ago when he was active in another ward. She got super excited when she saw him and took him with her to institute that night. He's starting to attend regularly! That would be a huge boost for our ward if he got active, because we're kind of lacking on the younger male members!

Read this scripture the other day, one of my favorites:

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

-John 14:27

I love how every day I can just put it all in His hands, get out and work then leave the rest up to Him!

Elder Gilbert

This is Elder Westcott (Garth Pickett's grandson)! He is awesome, one of the best exchanges I've ever been on!
We've become great friends on the mission, he's a great missionary!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lots of monkeys and tender mercies!

Hello, happy P day! I cannot BELIEVE how fast the last weeks gone by. It honestly freaks me out sometimes, Elder Larsen and I will be contacting or something and before I can even blink we have to move on to our next activity or lesson. The days are just slipping through my fingers...

Here is a some picture of last p-day, we went to this big mountain full of monkeys. Easily one of the greatest p-days of my mission. I took this package of crackers with me and tried to mess with the monkeys as best I could. It got pretty scary though! Every time I opened the bag tons of them would start flowing out of the trees, haha good times.

The other week in interviews President gave some advice I really liked about being balanced in our finding efforts and not just mindlessly street contacting every time we have an open block. Elder Larsen and I have tried to put that to use and its really going well! We still do a lot of plain street contacting, but we've also had a great time just talking with everyone as we visit former investigator's homes and stop by members. I feel like we've been blessed with lots of cool miracles and it hasn't made the day as much of a grind as normal.

Investigators are great! have a bunch of newer ones, and a few that are progressing nicely.

Brother Chen told us this week as he read the Book of Mormon he felt like he was "Full of Power"

We have another cool high school age kid named Danny that walked all the way from his house to the church in the rain to meet with us. Usually Taiwanese people freak out when it rains and don't want to do anything (which is weird because it rains all the time here) but he was super excited to meet with us! Had a great lesson where we read the Book of Mormon with him. We read scriptures about the plan of salvation and he told us he had never even thought about there being life after death. Super cool to see his heart open up

I've been thinking about this scripture recently:

"The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

Pretty cool that Nephi tells us this in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon after all the hard things he went through.

There were so many tender mercies and miracles this week and every week!

Elder Gilbert

Got matching 2 dollar ties last week.

A sketchy alley

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Getting work done

This is one of the greatest members of all time! Brother Su.
He took us to this mini amusement park and mall thing last p day!
Hey hey hey, another great week! What makes it even better is that the Lord blessed us with some pretty sweet success and it wasn't quite as much of a grind as the last couple weeks have been! 

We were able to teach quite a few lessons this week! The coolest person we're meeting with right now is named Chen shi ming, he's really been keeping us going! The wards super pumped about him too! We met with him twice last week and he's really excited to be baptized! His goal is coming up in a couple weeks and he's progressing nicely. I think the best part is at church he's super outgoing and the members love getting to know him. 

To be honest when I got here I was a little worried about the ward. Most members didn't seem to excited about missionary work and were just kind of going through the motions. It has been cool to see the impact good leaders can make on a ward. The ward mission leader, bishop, and stake president have really been stressing missionary work and its seemed to help a lot. We had the stake president at church yesterday and his whole lesson was about how people can help the missionaries and how they want to split the ward. Their theory in Taiwan is to split the wards as soon as possible so they don't have a lot of people, then the members will feel desperate for more people to come so they'll actually do missionary work! Kind of a risky theory sometimes (I've seen it backfire pretty bad) but yesterday everyone seemed pretty excited, even our investigator at church was pretty interested in the growth of the church! 

I love the san min ward! Bishop was helping us teach a lesson to an investigator the other night. This guy has been struggling to read the book of Mormon consistently and bishop wasn't having any of it. He just tore apart all of his excuses haha, but it was in a nice way. I actually think he opened up to us a lot more because of the stuff we talked about. Great to have awesome people here on our side. 

I was reading a talk from General Conference by Brian K. Ashton. When I first heard the talk, it didn't really have a special impact on me, but reading it over again was a great experience (that seems to have happened a lot to me on my mission). I like what he says at the end:

So how can we apply the doctrine of Christ more fully in our lives? One way would be to make conscious effort each week to prepare for the sacrament by taking some time to prayerfully consider where we most need to improve. We could then bring sacrifice of at least one thing that keeps us from being like Jesus Christ to the sacrament altar, pleading in faith for help, asking for necessary spiritual gifts, and covenanting to improve during the coming week. As we do so, the Holy Ghost will come into our lives to greater degree, and we will have additional strength to overcome our imperfections.

So ya, super great week! 

Much love,
Elder Gilbert

An old Buddist temple that the Catholics bought and turned into a church. Super Taiwanese.
Having dinner with all the YSAs in the ward last week

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Round 2

Well great news! Elder Larsen is staying here with me! He's been here since September, and usually missionaries don't stay this long. We were both super surprised, but PUMPED! 

Good thing Elder Larsen's staying because in all honesty it would have been a pretty bummer week to end on. It seems like ever since since we had our baptismal interview fiasco last week things have just been falling apart left and right. One of our most interested investigators failed some really big test he had, and now is super depressed and doesn't want to meet with us. We had another cool one who just stopped answering our calls. It just felt like all the work from the last couple weeks had just fallen through. As the week was coming to a close I was pretty frustrated. Both Elder Larsen and I have been working so hard and trying our best, but just keep hitting a brick wall. As I was kind of grumbling internally and thinking about all the problems we were having I was just totally smacked in the face by the spirit with this: " He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." then basically the thought that I need to get more lost in the work and not worry so much about the outward results. Pretty cool. What I kind of hate but love about the mission is how everything is just so dependent on the Lord. After that experience and some pondering I realized that the only things I was frustrated about were things that I can't do anything about. That kind of changed my outlook on things, and I swear that right as I realized that things started to turn around! 

We met this guy last week that told us he's super interested in the latter day saints. This caught us off guard because almost nobody knows that we are called that. They usually think that every church is all the same and its juts one big church, or they think we're "Mormons" (we have a name in chinese too) and don't really get it. But this guy has a friend who is in our church and has been interested for a while. He came to church for all three hours and loved it! He stayed for like 45 minutes afterwards and just got to know members and talked with them. He's pretty into it so we'll see how that goes.

Our ward's really warming up to us as well! Sunday was by far my favorite one yet. The members were great to our new investigator and super nice to us. I went up to one of the brothers that gave a talk and told him I really liked it. He responded that he wants to take us out to Mcdonalds! Haha He was so happy that someone liked his talk! 

We also ran into one of our old investigators yesterday! It turns out that it wasn't because he wasn't interested that he stopped answering our calls, just phone problems. SO we're going to start meeting again!! 

Hard week, but so good for me, awesome end as well! Loving it!

Elder Gilbert

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bouncing Back Strong!

Well.. to be honest its been a pretty rough week (I'll explain) but right now doing super good!! 

Let me start by explaining how crazy Saturday was... We get a call from President Teh during dinner and he tells us Sister Bonnie Cordon's in town and wants to say hi! I just lost my mind! I didn't really look at the sign that was hanging in our chapel, I thought it was just some broadcast, I didn't actually know she was coming to Taiwan, let alone in the chapel where I was serving! Super great to see a friendly face in her and Brother Cordon! We were so hyped because right after they all said hi to us we had our investigator coming for a baptismal interview, but....  Brother Li is not getting baptized this week.... He has kind of got some problems and didn't show up, we're worried its because of his little brother who is a member of another church. Not really sure what exactly happened, but he didn't come for his baptismal interview... So that was a super bummer way to end our week. Elder Larsen and I were so dead as we went out to proselyte after that.. But we have recovered!! 
Besides that it was an awesome week!! We found some cool new people and I love working down here with so many amazing missionaries.

This is crazy: in the past week two elders in our zone have gotten in super bad bike accidents. One fractured his arm yesterday and another broke his collarbone in three places. Pretty crazy right? Both times it was because their back brake was out and they did a front flip off their bike and got destroyed. The only reason I bring this up is to tell how legit our missionaries are. The one with the broken collarbone got surgery a few days ago, and as soon as he was allowed out of the hospital was out proselyting and working with investigators! That got me so hyped to do missionary work, and don''t worry about me getting in a crash. I'm super safe. 

Transfers are next week and I can't believe it. My time with Elder Larsen is most likely up (he's been in this area for a really long time) and we've had such a great time working together!   He's down to just pound the streets and find people to teach. He's also such a great teacher and has the best Chinese of anyone ever. So glad to have such and awesome comp and friend! 

Even though we had a pretty rough Saturday, yesterday was so good! A super cool newer investigator came with us to church, and we met with another guy right after who loves the Book of Mormon! We had planned to go to this one part of our area for about the last hour of the night, but we only had about 15 minutes when we actually got there because we met so many cool people on the way that were own to talk. Got some great people set up for the coming days!! 

We're going to a super nice all you can eat buffet today with Elder Cole and his comp! 

Despite the setbacks, life could not be better!!

 "Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free." -Doctrine and Covenants 128:22 

Love you all!
-elder gilbert