Sunday, October 12, 2014

10/13/2014 Mission Letter

Hello, everybody!

Finally here in Taiwan, finished my 3 Day Orientation at the Mission Home, and I've been out in the field for almost a week. I've been assigned to the Dan Shui District (in English, it's translated to Tamsui, don't know how that happened), and my area is the Bali area. Me and my trainer are actually "opening" the area. It used to be part of the Dan Shui Elders area, but it's across a river, a pretty big area, and they don't actually make it over there very often. So they're opening it, and we've been assigned specifically to that area. So there's no apartment yet, and when we arrived, there were no investigators, either. But we've got one now, who we met on the street, and then taught a lesson to the next day, and then he came to General Conference, both the Sunday Sessions! Because here in Taiwan, they watch all the sessions together, with about a 10 minute break in between, and an hour at 12 noon for lunch.

So, because we had no investigators, we did a toooooonnnnnn of contacting, and still do. It's the only thing we can do, until we start getting some people we can teach lessons to. First, it takes about 45 minutes to get to our area by train and then by bus, even though we can see it across the river from our apartment. But, we have to take the train south, get on a bus that goes across the bridge and goes back north, and it just takes a while.

One challenge we face here is that, we'll try to talk to someone, and they'll say something like, "Oh, I'm baibai," and continue on, like, "thank you." And we'll be like yes, you're baibai, that's WHY we want to talk to you! Or, we'll find a Christian, and they'll be like, Oh, you're so good! God bless you, do a good job. I'm already Christian. Have a nice day! Everyone here seems to think that any/all religion is good, and it doesn't matter which one you're a part of, it's good. Which is true to an extent, I guess, but not completely true. So finding people can be a little bit of a challenge, sometime.

But a few funny stories now. Traffic here. Sometimes I watch it and then just start laughing, because there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. It's a food chain; buses first, followed by trucks, then cars, motorcycles, mopeds (of which there are billions), bicycles, and then pedestrians. Often, on just an extremely busy two lane road, a person will just stop, and then begins the exciting process of getting all the traffic of a two lane road, past each other in one lane. By the food chain, it's buses first. Because they'll just pull over to the opposing traffic side and go, and if you're in the way, you'd better stop, or he'll honk at you, because he ain't stopping. Most of the time, when letting people on and off, the bus doesn't even come to a complete stop; it's similar to a "California Roll" at a stop sign.Traffic lights here last about two minutes, so you can take a nap and recharge before the green light. I can't wait to have a bike. The mission office gives every missionary a green reflective belt type thing; it's not a vest, but you wear it like one. So we're very reflective at night. "Wear it with pride!" Sister Day said. It lovingly has, written by her, our name, and a drawn heart, to remind us that Sister Day is "always thinking about us," as the mission Mom.

One of my first days here, I heard the song... of a ice cream truck. Or so I thought. In Taipei City, I heard the song, and I thought, "well that's weird! I didn't know they had that here. I could totally go for some ice cream." No. Was I mistaken or what. A few days later, I saw one of these magical ice cream trucks; painted orange, little lights on top, slowing driving down the street, a man manning the back of the truck, all the Taiwanese people running into the street.... throwing their garbage away. It's totally a garbage truck, and because a lot of places don't have bins here, you're just at home, and when you hear the truck coming, you run outside with your garbage to throw it away. Yes, never thought I'd see that.

Food. We eat out about every meal, except for breakfast, but even for that sometimes. Because it is literally cheaper to eat out than to go to the grocery store. It's quite cheap here; we eat a pretty good Lunch and Dinner for about 5 US dollars per day, total. The food is really good, and some of it is really weird. There are so many kinds of tea here, that aren't actually tea, which gets confusing, and you have to make sure there's not actually tea in it, but they taste really... interesting, and take a little getting used to.

Elevators here eat people. They don't have sensors like American elevators, no; and because in Taiwan, it's so busy, every machine tries to move people as quickly as possible, the elevator door doesn't stay open that long. The close door button actually works, and there's a bar in the door; so if the door HITS you, then it will open back up again, but I've almost been eaten a couple times. It's actually quite humorous when someone gets squished by a door.

We watched General Conference here on a little laptop screen in English while the ward watched it projected onto the wall in Chinese. In the ward I'm serving in, there are 6 missionaries assigned to it now (used to be 4, until my companion and I showed up), Dan Shui Elders, Dan Shui Sisters, and then Bali Elders. Out of the 6 of us here, 3 of us are currently in Training (training is a 12 Week process), 1 from the previous transfer before me, and 2 from my transfer. The ward here meets in a rented building (which they've rented for over like, 10 years), and it's a very interesting building. But, yay! In about 3 weeks, the chapel for the area will be complete, and we'll move into there. Everyone is so excited to finally have our own building. All the chapels here look so grand, too; almost like temples.

So, General Conference. It was so cool that they had the native language talks! But one of the most impactful statements from General Conference, in my opinion, was the story where the lady thought, "Somebody must pay for this wrong!" And then the thought entered her head, "Somebody already has." That's one of the most important things that we can remember, because Jesus Christ has suffered for every injustice, every pain that we've endured, for everyone. Our job is to try to be perfect, to forgive everyone.

Being perfect is a pretty high standard. But it is achievable, according to the scriptures; Moroni 10:32 says, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." So, through Christ, in this life, we can be made perfect. This is what every person should strive for, because eternity is a lot longer than you think. It's our only purpose on this earth, it matters for eternity! That makes everything else in this earth seem just a little less important, because absolutely nothing else in the short 80 years of life we have (approximately, according to current statistics, right?) will affect infinity.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Don't forget everything from Conference just yet!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission