Monday, August 18, 2014

8/18/2014 Mission Letter

Hello, everyone.

Fun story to start off the week: Last Tuesday, two districts from our zone were leaving for the Taiwan Taichung Mission. There were lots of goodbyes between them, us younger districts, and the branch presidency on Sunday, and more goodbyes on Monday night. On Tuesday they all left at about 3:30 in the morning to catch a 7:30 am flight to Denver, then to LA, then to Taiwan. So they were all loaded up onto the MTC's bus and taken up to the Salt Lake City Airport, where they disembarked, checked their bags, passed security, and sat down to wait for their flight. Which was delayed. By three hours. In fact, it was delayed so much, that they could no longer make their connecting flight to Taiwan. So they gathered there belongings, waited at the airport for another hour so the MTC bus could pick them up again, and they boarded and were faced with yet another day added on to their 9 week MTC stay. You can imagine our surprise when they came back at dinner time! The MTC let them back into their dorm rooms, and they had "district nap time" as the choice activity of the day. I really just hope this doesn't happen to me.

I only have 2 weeks and 4 days left here in the MTC. It's starting to dawn on us (me and my district) that, yes, one day we actually will leave this place, as unlikely as it has seemed from the start. In about one week, we'll get our itineraries. We're getting so excited. I'll be placed into an awkward tripanionship (it's what we've called it) because my companion is going to Canada. So that'll be a fun experience.

CHINESE IS SUCH A WONDERFUL LANGUAGE. For the record, it makes sense. It's just a logical language. If only the tones weren't so important, and the characters weren't invented by the devil himself... But once you get some of the words, you can figure out what other words mean simply by the sounds--something you can't do in English. And there are absolutely no tones, no conjugations, it's pretty great. We're all picking up the language quite rapidly here, it's amazing. I'm just so excited to get to Taiwan and start using the language! Having never before learned a foreign language, it's quite an experience, and it is just really exciting. Sometimes during language study we watch the "I'm a Mormon" videos, in Chinese. It's really cool because of the stories, it's just about the only media we can watch, and it's also amazing how much of what they're saying, we understand.

Last night we had our Sunday Evening Devotional, by Jenny Oaks Baker. She's an amazing musician, having obtained a Master's Degree from the infamous Julliard. And her entire family is musical--all of her children performed with her last night. It was kinda a musical fireside. She'd tell a story, give an experience, say a few lines, which led into her next song, and then she'd tell another story, and so it would continue. Her 11 year old daughter was playing very complex songs on the piano, accompanying her, her 7 year old son (so cute!) was sitting there playing the classical guitar, and another daughter (older than 11, but I'm not sure how old) was playing the violin, doing harmonies and other things. It was a really fun devotional.

I just really can't wait to go to Taiwan. There's really not much more to it. Being in the MTC for 6 weeks of course has been a great experience, and I've still got two and a half more, but it will also be a glorious day when I actually leave this place.

On Sunday, half our district watched the talk in our classroom, "Lord, I Believe," by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Go watch it; it's only just under 15 minutes, and it's an awesome talk. One of the paragraphs in it says,

"A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, "Brother Holland, I can't say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is." I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for "only believing." I told him that Christ Himself said, "Be not afraid, only believe," a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field. I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase "We believe." And I told him how very proud I was of him for the honesty of his quest."

Even if sometimes we can only believe, that's all that is necessary, at first. Alma, when talking to the poor among the Zoramites said, "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith,yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words" (Alma 32:27). So just remember, if you don't know if you have faith, just believe. 

One more point that Elder Holland points out in this talk is don't first exclaim your lack of faith; tell first of how much faith you have, then on what you need help with.

One final quote, "Never let your faith be difficult to detect." (~I can't remember)

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission