Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mission Letter 12/29/2014

Hello, everybody!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and will soon be having a Happy New Year. Here in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, we had a pretty awesome Christmas day. We had a multi-zone Zone Conference at the Mission Headquarters. They gave us trainings, food, and presents!

We were at the Headquarters from 9 AM until 6 PM that day. They trained us on "the tools we have as missionaries," "recognizing the Spirit," and "Chinese New Year," along with a few other things. They also gave us an amazing, as close to traditional American as possible, lunch: turkey (Sister Day, our 'mission mom' made 15 different 20 pound turkeys in the days leading up to this activity), mashed potatoes, stuffing, cookies, fruits, salad, and cranberry juice: it was simply amazing, so delicious... I think most of everything probably came from the Costco around here...

They trained us on Guonian, or Chinese New Year. Guonian is a time where everybody (literally, the entire island) celebrates the New Year of the Lunar Calendar. It's a period of time where, for about 6 days, everybody evaporates from the street and goes to their hometown (usually) to celebrate. It's a time where, for like a month beforehand, everyone that you try to talk to tells you, "come back after Guonian." It's a time where all the stores are closed (so they suggest we have 72 hour kits before then). It's a time where, if you haven't planned beforehand, you're going to have an extremely ineffective week, because there is absolutely no one around. I don't know how New York compares to Taipei, but that's the connection my brain imagines (it might be way off), but imagine that city with absolutely no people on the road or sidewalks, or stores, for like, 6 days. That's how they described Guonian to us. So excited for that... Lots of planning to do.

I also got to Skype home this week! It was wonderful to talk to my family for 40 minutes. Not much to say about that other than that it was awesome.

Recently, my Chinese has really been improving. Here in the mission, they have a language learning program prepared for us. It's split into 3 Phases: Phase 1 is gospel vocabulary, Phase 2 is regular vocabulary (2000 words on flashcards) and Phase 3 is Chinese Characters. I recently finished Phase 1, which took a while, and then I started Phase 2 on Christmas. But I've discovered I really like flashcards; it's a really good way that I learn by (is that good English? I can't tell anymore). So I'm already to like, card 800. It's like all I do in my free time. It's really helpful.

We had our last Christmas Choir performance in Neihu which went excellently, but that also happens to be where my aunt lives. So she came, and watched the performance, and also brought me a whole bunch of food and a scarf and then started asking what else did I lack? It was also really cool, because I was able to talk to her, in Chinese. I've never been able to talk to her before, because she doesn't speak English, so that was a really cool experience. She said, "Wow! You're speaking Chinese! Now we need your dad to learn Chinese."

So, this week was pretty wonderful. Didn't have a lot of time, but had a lot of things to do.

Because Christmas just passed, I'm still going to take advantage of it being about that time of year. A scripture that I share a lot with people is John 3:16-17. 

 16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Why is this so important? Why does God love us so much? Romans 8:16.

 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

God loves us so much, no matter what we're going through, or what's not happening in our lives that we would like, he wants to help us. Everything we experience, I really believe, good and bad, has a purpose. Has a reason in our lives; it will somehow change us. It just might take some time to change personal attitudes, and recognize what you can do personally, to make things better, or to improve yourself.

I hope you all have the most wonderful week ever! I probably will. :D

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission