Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mission Letter 10/29/2014

Hello, everybody!

I hope everyone's week-and-a-half has been going well! I know mine has, even though it's been a little long. 10 day weeks are long; you have no idea how much of an effect Preparation Day has on a full-time missionary, having a little bit of time to just relax, go do fun stuff, grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, etc. But it's all completely worth it because today is temple day; in about 4 hours, I'll be going to the Taiwan Taipei Temple. I'm so excited because I haven't been inside it yet. I'm looking forward to it.

So, right now I'm in a tripanionship. You might remember my companion and I are over the Bali area, and because it's just being opened right now, they didn't have an apartment for us. So we were staying with the DanShui Elders, in their tiny apartment, a 45 minute bike ride away from where we normally work in Bali (but the bike ride is a beautiful ride along a river to the coast of Taiwan, so it's no problem there).

But last Friday was transfers, and one of the DanShui Elders just finished training, and so he got transferred away. Then, because the new missionaries who should have arrived this last transfer also have visa problems, they're out somewhere in America, and we're missing some missionaries. So throughout the Taipei Zones, a lot of people got put into tripanionships to fill the holes and keep areas open until the new missionaries arrive. These tripanionships included me.

But it's really weird; he's just tagging a long with us. The Mission Office told us he alone is still over DanShui, and we, the other two, are still over Bali. So they want him to as much as possible get member peike's (that's a member who accompanies you to things, would be the best English translation), and do splits all the time. That's hard, because no one has time here in Taiwan, people work so much. So, we're making it work; and really praying for the new missionaries to get their visas and be able to come here.

So, a few missionaries from the Taipei Zone were invited to participate in the Missionary Choir! This included me and a few others from this District. So every Preparation Day, we go down to downtown Taipei for Choir Practice. Then, throughout the end of November and all of December, we'll perform every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at a different ward, singing Christmas music in Chinese. I'll probably get to play a song on the piano, and maybe even conduct one! So much fun. And possibly play the organ in an Instrumental song, if we can get that figured out.

For the past 18 years, the ward that I'm serving has met in a rented hall in a building that wasn't owned by the church.  It was in a tiny little place, had a small kitchen, had pillars where they set up chairs for Sacrament meeting, and was just an overall tiny place. The baptismal font was what looked like a kiddy pool, with taller walls; they filled it up with a hose, and had to pump the water out of it after every baptism. It was this tiny, tarp and PVC contraption, that on several occasions had had a construction "failure" and flooded the church (because you took it apart after every baptism and then rebuilt it the next time).

But now, they finally have their own chapel. It's a beautiful church. They build churches very differently in Taiwan; because land is always rather small around here, they build on a small plot but very tall. For example, this church has a total of 7 floors, and has an elevator for all that. Underground in the basement is a basketball court, which has a tall ceiling which takes up most of the first floor. Floor 2 is the chapel, which also has a tall ceiling, thus taking up most of the 3rd floor. Floor 4 has the Relief Society and Primary room, Bishop and Clerk offices, and Floor 6 is the hot water, roof access, etc. It's one of the prettiest churches I've ever seen; I'll take a picture of the outside for next week's email.

We start meeting in it this Sunday. But last week after church, there was a church tour for the ward leaders (and missionaries). But it felt like half the ward showed up anyway (it's a pretty small ward). And they were so happy! It was kinda fun just watching them explore every nook and cranny of their very own, new church. Looking in all the closets, doors, kitchen, checking out the oven, bathrooms, classrooms, etc. They were just so happy! But so am I. It's a big church that would accomodate 3 wards, some day when we can convert enough people. Right now there's only one small ward here, but this church is just awesome.


A small thought about miracles. When I first got into the mission, I thought it was really weird, both in California and here in Taiwan, because all the missionaries would say stuff like, "Oh, then we ran into this person! It was such a miracle," or they'd have an idea and be like, "Ahh! Thank goodness for the Holy Ghost." And I felt like, "We just contacted him on the street." Or, "Well, I could have thought of that." But now when I think about it, their is a saying that I've heard somewhere, "You can either live life like everything is a miracle, or you can live life as though nothing is." And as you are surrounded by this, and things keep happening, you start saying, yes, these are miracles, yes, the Holy Ghost is giving me these thoughts.

We watched one video a few days ago during companionship study. It was Elder David A. Bednar's video, "Patterns of Light." He talks a lot about feeling and recognizing the Holy Ghost. He gives an example, of a man who one day thinks he doesn't have enough time to say his prayers, but then he might here in his mind his mother when he was a little boy saying, "Now don't forget to say your prayers." Elder Bednar says, this is of the Holy Ghost. Why have a miraculous sign or a different voice, when triggering this memory can have the same effect? The Holy Ghost will work through any method to get us to do right. I would highly recommend watching those videos; there are three of them, about 4 minutes long, and if you just search "Patterns of Light" on LDS.org, you'll find them.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week! I know I will!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission