Monday, September 8, 2014

9/8/2014 Mission Letter

Hello, everybody!

Good to see you all again! It has been a really long week, but also a really good one.

So, no, I'm not currently writing you from Taiwan. Our Visas didn't come because Taiwan recently changed their Visa Application process, or form, or both, or one of the two, and we are the first group of missionaries that this has happened to, so we are the pioneers of this situation. So, because the Church Travel Office had to completely restart the application process, all 31 of us missionaries are being temporarily reassigned Stateside. Woot! Actually, some of us took it pretty hard, but after a day or two, we were just fine, completely recovered, and now really excited.

We are once again preparing to leave. Because the fact we weren't leaving was unexpected for the Travel Office, they didn't quite have finished their back-up plan for us. But we do know that we'll be leaving in (probably) the next week or two. We're all excited for our second mission calls; it's like the whole process happening over again. They'll probably leave a letter in our box, our district will gather together, we've already written our personal guesses on the chalkboard, and then we'll open them together and be really happy! Two missions for the price of one! Who knew, right?

But by the time all the visas clear, there should be about 50 missionaries going to the Taiwan Taipei Mission at around the same time, and Taipei only has about 200 missionaries. So we're going to flood them out; a lot of this is replacement of departing missionaries, I think, so the mission president wants us in Taiwan as soon as possible. We may not even be in the states for an entire transfer, just for about 4 weeks until our Visas come. Then we'll go to Taiwan, and 1/4 of the missionaries will be newly arrived. They're going to need a lot of trainers!

We had our 6th teacher this week. Her name is Sister Turley, or as she calls herself, "Sorella" Turley. Yes, that's certainly not Chinese. And that's because the Chinese department was quite low on teachers this week, and she was asked to help cover. She's actually from the Italian department, and she also has her own little class. And she doesn't know a word of Chinese. Which was really weird for us the first few days, because we spend 3 hours every day with her, and she can't help us with our Chinese, etc. But she still makes us speak Chinese; one person says what they're asking, and then the companion has to translate into English. It's an interesting system, one that's helped us because we really have to pay attention to what other people say now.

Even though it was weird with her not speaking to us in Chinese, and not being able to teach us Chinese, it was awesome because we were able to focus on the other aspect of missionary work. We talked a lot about things like planning, preparing how to teach investigators, applying principles from Preach My Gospel, and other things because, since she can't teach us what she doesn't know (Chinese), she teaches us what she does know, and that's a ton. She's a very smart person, and was an incredible missionary, from her stories.

Every Sunday night here at the MTC is Movie Night. In different buildings and rooms, they have different things showing, from Church Training Films to MTC Devotionals to actual Church produced movies like Legacy, The Testaments and Joseph Smith. For my entire time here at the MTC, my companion and I went to devotional replays or Church Training Films, until last night. We actually went and saw a movie; the first one I've seen in SO LONG. And we saw Legacy. In Mandarin. It was great! You feel really happy when you watch a movie in a language you're learning and you can understand words and phrases or, if you're really lucky, full sentences. And it's already a great movie. So, one of the most fun movie nights.

I attended the Departure Devotional this evening with my companion, because he's leaving for Canada this Wednesday, and my future is uncertain. So we went for him and just in case I get reassigned this week, because after reassignments happen, you can leave possibly within 3 days. So, short notice. During the departure devotional, the wife of one of the MTC Presidency Members said, "Really soon, you're going to become somebody's missionary." Because every convert has that missionary that they feel was their missionary, the one that had the greatest impact on them, whether it be the one that found them or the one that baptized them. "There's a great responsibility with being someone's missionary. How can we expect [those we help convert] to be faithful if we're not faithful ourselves?" For that reason we have to always live worthy of their trust after our missions.

And lastly, always remember this quote from President Thomas S. Monson, "Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other." Peter, when he climbed out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water had faith, until he saw the waves, and he started to doubt. No matter how much faith he had, the moment he doubted, he began to sink, because "one will dispel the other."

Have a wonderful week!


Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission