Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mission Letter 12/15/2014

Hello, everybody!

It's been a wonderful week here in Taiwan. Pretty busy, too. Not much time to do a whole lot of things, because all weekend long we were at the Mission Office area, performing in our Missionary Christmas Choir performances. The (I think one and only) English ward here in Taipei had a Nativity Pageant that they do every year. It's quite a grand scale, too; they have props, costumes, a rather large set, an ascending and descending angel (a person on a lift), and they ran the whole thing like a professional theatre production with a little typical Mormon twist--30 minutes behind schedule. Which, when you're a missionary, you suddenly feel so ineffective, sitting there, watching them rehearse, just waiting for the two songs you sing at the very end. But it's about a 40 minute production with a choir (singing all in English, of course) and narration, in English and translated into Chinese. It's an impressive performance. Over the past weekend, they had three performances. It was fun to watch and participate in.

I got my Christmas package from my family this week. It made me very happy. Especially because it had some American foods in it: Pringles and some chocolates. However, the package was a little big to fit in my bike box. After taking it to where our bikes were on the Metro (because the metro doesn't go into our area, there's a station about a 20 minute bike ride from our house), we were like, this is going to be fun. Thankfully, my companion's bike box is a little bit bigger, and it just barely fit (almost perfectly) into his box, and he helped me get it home.

So, me and my companion had a baptism this past Friday. In our brand new chapel; it's the first time we've used this chapel for a baptism (not the first baptism, because our ward has 3 sets of missionaries, and some of the others have had them here before, but we hadn't). And let me tell you; it's an extremely hilarious story about how... well...

So, the church has a water heater. But heating water is expensive; so we only turn it on for baptisms, and then off again. About one week prior to ours, the Sisters had a baptism. They turned the switch to "auto" which turns the heat on (there are three positions: "off", "auto", and "on"). On the control box, there are also two lights: On, and Off. If the water is being heated, the On light is illuminated; if the water is already at temperature, then the Off light is illuminated. When the switch is on "auto," the water heats to 65 C, and maintains it. When the switch is on "on," the water heater just keeps heating, continuously. 

After the Sisters baptism, they forgot to turn the switch to "off." So when we showed up, I saw the switch on "auto" and the Off light illuminated. So (all the above information I didn't know at the time), I just switched it to "On" for the baptism, two hours prior to when we wanted to fill the font. Then we went to dinner for an hour. 

When we came back, I looked at the temperature gauge. It had heated the water to 95 C (203 F). I freaked out and turned the switch to "Off," and called the District Leader. He's said, "Well, you can start filling the font, and then drain some and add more cold water to get it to the right temperature." So we went to the font and opened the levers to start filling it.

Our investigator had already arrived by this time. She was early, like always. So she got to watch us prepare her sauna. I opened the lever to fill the font, and water spurted out. Then the water stopped, there was an awful sound, a bad smell, and then steam started pouring out of the faucet; no water. Just steam. So I freaked out again, and turned off the lever. We waited for the District Leader to arrive, and he turned it back on. This time, water came out, and because it was so hot, it was steaming up the entire font, too. It fogged the mirror, the glass, and started to create a cloud from the ceiling down, in the bathroom and the Primary room, where the font is. All of a sudden, all the fire alarms in the building start going off, either from the heat or the cloud of water vapor.

Now, a little background. This is a brand new church. The Open House and Dedication was to be held the next day; so there was a large number of members in the basement preparing food, and just preparing the building in general to be open to the public. Now, imagine if you will, a fire alarm starts sounding, there are lights flashing, and a voice with the alarm saying, "Evacuate! Evacuate!" I can only imagine what happened in the basement. So the District Leader ran down to the first floor to deactivate the alarm, and someone else got on the building announcement system (yes, some chapels here have those) and said, "Don't worry, no fire, it's just the baptismal font."

Eventually we drained all the hot water from the tank (it only fills about half the baptismal font, and then cold water will start to fill). We drained some of the lava and put in more cold water, and got the water back to a regular temperature in time. So, everything worked out in the end. But we had quite the story from it.

Recently I've started reading the New Testament (I just finished the Book of Mormon. My mission president wants us all to read the standard works and the missionary library during our missions at least once). It's quite nice; here in Taiwan, sometimes the Bible is ignored and they only use the more "recent" stuff.

But I was reading in Matthew 6, and there's some verses I really like:

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I also read the parable in Matthew 18, about the king and his servant who owed him money here (at It just emphasizes how important forgiveness is. It's uber important! We're supposed to become like Christ. As I have been studying the gospels, I've been amazed at how Christ always acted. It occasionally mentions that he will go somewhere, and try not to let everyone know, but they'll all come to him, and he has so much compassion on everyone, he refuses to send them away, but instead teaches them and performs miracles. The miracles with the loaves and fishes happened because all the people followed him far from their homes, and he didn't want to send them away hungry because he was worried they might "faint by the wayside." So, because of his compassion and love to all people, he would work many miracles; he was always so kind, always doing good, forgiving people.

Sometimes we feel that we've had an injustice done to us. But, I remember a talk from the past Conference which says, everything's already been righted because Christ has already suffered for every injustice in this world. So that reminds me of one last scripture, in the Doctrine and Covenants:

9 Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

If we think we've been offended, it's not necessarily our job to give out punishment or make someone else "pay for their wrong." Because we are to forgive all; Heavenly Father is a much better judge than we are.

This is my email for this week. It's longer because I have more time; choir rehearsals have ended, so we have the full email time now. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission