Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Monday, January 30, 2017

Big City, Big changes and Chinese New Year!

WOW! What a crazy week! It felt like such a whirlwind and I have no idea how I'm already back in this sketchy internet cafe! 

First off, I am IN LOVE with my new area! I didn't think I could ever move to an area with more people than my last one, but San Min comes close. Gaoxiong has a very different feel than Taizhong. I've wanted to serve in this city my whole mission, so happy to finally be here! 

Elder Larsen is THE BEST! This has been like the best first week with a companion I've ever had. Now that I actually know him I can give some better info on him. He is technically american (dad is, mom is from Taiwan) He grew up in Utah, then his dad worked for foreign services and he spent most of his live in Shanghai. Hong Kong, and Taiwan. His family is in Japan right now. His Chinese so good, probably by far better than any of my companions (maybe even the native Taiwanese one haha) I've already learned a ton from him and am looking to do a lot of good work here together. 

It was pretty weird to move here right before the Chinese New Year (last Saturday). For those of you who don't know they go NUTS here for Chinese new year. Its by far their biggest holiday. The traditions include: Millions of firecrackers going off that are super loud and annoying, eating lots of food with family, blowing all your money gambling, and rejecting the missionaries! Haha this week was a little rough in the finding department. One guy I tried to talk to yesterday was in such a rush/ unwilling to talk to us that he ran over my foot with his scooter! What the heck!  Good news is that we have a couple super sweet investigators, and an awesome ward that is feeding us missionaries a ton of great food! 

In years past the week of Chinese New year has kind of been looked at as a break for the missionaries. We have had permission to spend extra time eating with members and missionaries expectations for the week were very low. I loved the attitude President Teh brought to it this year though. He basically invited us to treat it like a normal week. He brought up the story in the Bible of the Apostles when they had fished all the night and not caught anything. Jesus called to them from the shore and told them to cast their nets out again. Even though they had been working long and hard with no success, they followed the masters command and a miracle followed! He said that was maybe what we had to treat the week like. Elder Larsen and I worked SO hard, but sadly, not as much came from it as we would have liked to see. But as the week came to an end we had some awesome miracles! 

This Brother Li ran into the other elders in our chapel last week and told them he wanted to join our church! Turns out he lives in out\r area and is straight gold! Elder Larsen and taught him the first lesson the other night and he literally said yes to getting baptized before we could get the whole sentence out of our mouths! haha he's super cool!

We have another investigator that treated us to Costco (a whole chicken and a steak bake!) 

Random people have been giving us so much food! A crazy old lady gave us a bunch of noodles the other day and we wee so excited to cook them up, as we were about to pour them in the pot we discovered they expired about as year ago! Besides that it was all really goo food, the Taiwanese people are just so good to us. 

Loving every minute! Missionary life is too good! 

Love,
Elder Gilbert

Zone conference this week! All these elders are all going home together.
See elder Cole there? Good times :) Elder larsen is the one in the red tie.

Getting hooked up for Chinese New year, featuring some ancient Asians
My fresh lightsaber pen

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bittersweet

Hey, oh wow its been a crazy day, and actually last couple of days!! I'll try to give as much info as I can, but kind of in a time crunch!

Big news: I've moved!!! I'm in the heart of the big city!!!! I'm in the Gaoxiong san min ward! I'm super pumped, but also can't believe I left! I've actually spent one day in this area a long time ago, and it was one of my dreams to move here. I've left possibly the most crowed part of Taizhong city and now I'm in one of the most crowed parts of Gaoxiong! My area here is smaller than my last one hahah (The last one was by far the smallest I had served in before)


My new comp's name is Elder Larsen, from Provo, Utah (Except he spent half of his life growing up in Hong Kong/ Shang Hai) His mom is Taiwanese, but he's pretty American :) He actually came on island with me and so I already know him a little. Pumped to get to work with him! I can already tell we'll get along!


At the same time I'm a little sad! I loved Fengjia and everything going on there. I'm going to miss it. I think this might be as sad as I've ever been to leave an area, but at the same time the future is bright! It was a little hard to say goodbye to all the awesome members yesterday. I at least got to see a couple investigators as well. Elder Eisert was a great companion.


Sorry so short! I literally have 3 minutes left!


Love,
Elder Gilbert

Monday, January 16, 2017

The fruits (and breads) of our labors

This was a good week! Elder Eisert and I are loving life here!

SO many cool things happened, can't wait to share:

Right now we kind of have a lot of investigators struggling with commandment problems, but they made some great progress this week!

As I mentioned last week, we are also having a really big problem getting people to set times to meet with us, this includes our members. I have had a few nights in the last week where I literally call every single available male member and NONE of them have time. It's hard because a good member at the lesson can really help the investigator progress and understand the message. It makes a big difference. Anyways, God blessed us in a big way last week. Our ward mission leader's dad is pretty less active (I've only seen him at church 1 or 2 times). The last time we stopped by their house he wasn't even willing to come out for the spiritual share and he hid in the back room.. He came to church a while ago and out of the blue offered to help us out if we ever wanted him at a lesson with us. We hadn't really invited him, because sometimes inviting LA can make the lesson really bad if they say something apostate or weird, but as we were thinking about one of our investigators (Steven, who is struggling a lot with the fact that he will get to pay tithing after baptism) we felt we could invite this man to help out. His name is brother Cai. He came, and just THREW DOWN! He bore such a strong testimony of how the gospel has blessed his family and the importance of commandments. Elder Eisert and I kept looking at each other like: "What the heck?" It was so awesome. I think that lesson kind of saved Steven! Brother Cai also was willing to call and follow up for us with Steven later in the week, and saved a seat for him at church. Also in our gospel principles class we were split up into groups. Our RC sister Ji was paired up with him, and I noted that she did a really good job encouraging and strengthening him him. Since baptism she has become super outgoing and changed a lot!

The ward was so good to the investigators we had at church! We had another newer investigator come. (He didn't have an English name so we named him Johnny after the John Gilbert, plus it kinda sounded like his name haha). We barely got to talk to him at church because so many members kept befriending him. He loved it, and said that was his favorite part about church. It's just like one big family.

Brother Zhou, our part member family's dad has obeyed the Word of Wisdom for a whole week! Whoooo! He's doing awesome, family is helping a ton.

Despite how busy and hard their lives are, our members are the best! They're so good to us missionaries!

Speaking of how good our members are... We went to a members house for dinner the other day. I had a cough and the mom freaked out when she heard me coughing. She then told me that Kumquats are the best fruit for curing a cough, and wouldn't you know it, they had a bunch of kumquat trees on their porch. Before we left, she hooked us up with this HUGE bag fruit including tons of Kumquats They made for some great breakfasts every morning. I am also happy to report that it seemed to have cured my cough :)


Probably the toughest day of the week was Saturday, every single on of our appointments fell through. We persevered! As we were walking down the street contacting this guy started talking to us and all of a sudden went into the bakery he was in front of and gave us two massive bags of bread and pastries! Talk about compensation. What would have made the story better was if he was golden, but sadly he had absolutely no interest.. haha oh well, he made our day.

"God loveth a cheerful giver"
-2nd Corintians 9:7

I am loving it, couldn't be happier.

Love you guys so so much!
-Elder Gilbert

That super cool guy in the denim jacket is Cao shen wei (Brother Cao) He is from Mainland China, cool story about him, He is an atheist, and he has a lot of Christian friends, and because of that he has gotten interested in who God is, and is really interested in prayer and the Book of Mormon. He had to go back to China for Guo Nian (chinese new year) but He will be back in about a month. Also when he prays, it is amazing because he is so humble and really wants to come to know God more, and know that He exists

Played ball last week for P day. You'll recognize elder Trotter, my MTC comp. The other two are our roommates in the MTC. They have been some of my best friends for the last year and a half :) 4 man back together

Tried to contact this grandma, worst idea ever.  The thing I am on in remarkably fun though. Really stretches you out!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

I'm fine thank you and you?

If you ask any Taiwanese person "how are you?" in English you have about a 120% chance of getting this exact response. I always mimic them and say it back if they ask me and people loose their minds, they think its pretty funny. Thought it was an appropriate title, because this week was definitely a fine one :)

Actually, as I look back at it, the week started terrible, but it ended really really well.

For some reason, just almost everything fell through this week. The hardest part about this area BY FAR is that people just don't have time. We're just right in the most expensive part of the city. There have been more than a few times where I tell someone that we're contacting that we are "full time" missionaries and can meet with them whenever they have a couple minutes. The response is that they work from before we go out the door in the morning until after we have to go to bed! Its ridiculous, people put in 12 plus hours a day like its nothing! Schooling is the same way. These people love being busy!  Even our ward has it pretty bad. For Example, our Elder's Quorum president is really worried right now because his kids barely know him. He told us that he leaves to work before they wake up and gets home after they go to bed (6 days a week) Its super sad, I feel really bad for these people. So anyways, this week has just been particular bad. The Chinese new year is coming up(Taiwanese Christmas)  and a bunch of people are working overtime to get ready. So like I said, everything just seemed to get cancelled. We had what looked like a pretty good week set up, but for one reason or another a lot of stuff just didn't happen.... The thought that kept coming into my head was "if its supposed to happen, it'll happen"I realize that the Lord is in charge, and there's no reason to stress even when things don't go exactly the way we had hoped. 

I'm grateful for Elder Eisert's positive attitude, and I felt like because of the way we handled a couple of bummer days led to a bunch of miracles.

We realized that even though we couldn't control a lot of things, there was one thing we could, and that was our WORK ETHIC. We went so hard this week. We had a lot of cool stuff in finding.

 This week we ran into a Christian lady that set up to meet with us the next day. As we started talking about the restoration and what we were doing as missionaries, she just got pumped! She kept hitting us with a loud "AMEN" every time we talked about God or how Jesus has helped us. Literally like every 30 seconds she's say it. I felt like I was at like a black baptist gathering or something haha. The coolest part was that when we started sharing about the restoration she agreed with it as well! She acknowledged that it was new, but she didn't argue or anything, it made perfect sense and she's pumped to know more! 

We met a guy from Mainland China this week who doesn't believe in God at all. As we shared our testimony's he was really touched. He asked us "how can I believe in God?" What do I need to do?" we were very happy to answer those questions :)

Just last night we met with a newer investigator for only the second time. As we shared about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith he told us out of the blue"I think I believe this a little!" 

Its just seems like in the last few days we've ran into so many cool people that are interested. 

On a lighter note, Elder Eisert and I have particularly been fascinated with how terrible the Taiwanese people are at driving around here. Its bad everywhere, but I swear here is worse. Maybe it has something to do with how busy the people are, but I swear in the last week especially I've seen some pretty appalling things. Our favorites include when we saw an ambulance going by that literally no one pulled over for, a guy run a red light and cut another ambulance off, and people just parking in the middle of the road so they can run into a drink shop and buy something quick. Haha this place is never lacking for entertainment if you look for it.


Also dinner last night at the Zhou family's house (that's the part member family we're working with right now). It went so well! Brother Zhou is so humble and progressing nicely. He has started to read the Book of Mormon and told us he believes its true. The best part is that his wife is an awesome cook and we had a meal that consisted of steaks from Costco, a lot of fruit, and Haagen Daaz ice cream :) 

Other investigators are doing good. Might get a little slow with the holiday coming up, but steven came to church again. 

Can't complain, life is real good :)

Love,
Elder Gilbert




Monday, January 2, 2017

2017



Wow! Can't believe 2016 has already come and gone. A whole year on the Island of Taiwan is weird to think about it. Can't believe things are starting to come to a close..

They actually go pretty crazy here for New Years, there were a ton of fireworks that totally woke me up Saturday night/Sunday morning.

It was a really good week and we saw a ton of cool miracles.

On Monday, before P day even ended we got a call from the coolest mom in our ward, Sister Zhou. I've sent some pics of her with us before because she always takes us out to eat and brings a ton of food over to our apartment. Anyways, her husband isn't a member, but recently the kids in the family have been talking to him a lot about eternal families. He's also had a lot of stress at work lately, so he figured it was time to start meeting with the missionaries!! He was so humble and willing to learn. We met with the whole family twice this week and he even set a goal for baptism on his own!! (His family talked about how his birthday is coming up in march and it would be a really good/special time, a little far away, but whatever, its something to work with! )

We've got a bunch of investigators who are reading the book of Mormon really well. One, Steven, came to our lesson the other day and had written out the scripture of Moroni 10:4 like it was a math equation. He brought it to us and asked if he did all of those things if he would actually get an answer. We we told him "Definitely" he was really touched. He also told us that church was really inspiring on Sunday. we feel like he's already gotten an answer, we just need to help him recognize it. Looking good for the end of January though.

Our RC Sister Ji is an animal! She's been referring all of her family members and inviting them to church and stuff, its been awesome to see. We met her sister in law the other day, and She;s going to start meeting with the missionaries soon I think!

We had interviews this week, it was awesome. I asked president Teh for some advice on not getting frustrated when we have a bad day. What he told me was to find more humor. He's got a bunch of really cool stories working with the Brethren, and he told me a couple funny ones haha

I've tried to apply that this week, such as finding humor in all the funny ways people reject us. (my favorite this week was the fake phone call where you could still see the guy's game he was playing the phone screen as he pretended to talk to someone on the phone.) Finding humor in situations like this has worked pretty well, and reminded me of one of my favorite talks of all time by Joseph B, Wirthlin:

I know why there must be opposition in all things. Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it.

As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation, and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say, as did my mother, “Come what may, and love it.”


Love you all so much!! Have a great new years :)

Elder Gilbert


Christmas at our Bishops house