Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mission Letter 12/8/2014

Merry Christmas Season, everyone!

Taiwan is anything but Christmasy. Literally, a contacting method here is, "Do you know why we celebrate Christmas?" "Santa Clause?" "Presents?" "Shopping?" "No, actually, it's Jesus Christ's Birthday," and that the starting point of the contact. I was amazed by the number of people here who don't even know why we celebrate Christmas, despite it's Chinese translation being "Holy Birth Day."

Here in Taiwan, we have a weekly free English class at every chapel. Most places have Beginner's, Intermediate, and Advanced classes. So, in order to get more people at our classes, our entire mission also does "English Boarding," which is standing on a corner or something similar to that for 2 hours per week, handing out tracts/fliers about our English class. And now that it's Christmas season, this past week, we stood on a busy corner and went Caroling, with one missionary hurriedly rushing around, trying to give tracts to everyone that walks by. Because this is a very un-traditional (in Taiwan) activity, there were some stares, and some people who thought it was funny or intriguing. But it's okay, because we're the odd "white-foreigners" so we can do whatever we want.

Our Missionary Choir performances started this past week. It's about a 50 min performance of music and spoken parts telling the story of the Nativity, that we go around a whole bunch of wards in the Taipei area, performing for them. There's about 30 missionaries involved in the choir. It's a lot of fun, for us missionaries; we get to see a lot of places and use music to do missionary work. Because we all just love music, too. It just gives us even more of a boost to do what we do. 

The new missionaries with visa problems arrived this week! They were supposed to be here one month and a half ago. But we are very happy and grateful they arrived. The December missionaries who were supposed to arrive last week will hopefully arrive around Christmas time; otherwise it will also probably be another month and a half for them.

We have our first investigator from our new area who is going to be baptized this week! Her baptism is scheduled for this Friday. She's been doing so well recently, she's basically a member already. After her baptismal interview, the Sisters in our ward had another baptism that she attended because she was already there (so that means she's attended two before her own baptism), and she even said the opening prayer. So we basically consider her a member, because she also came to Stake Conference yesterday, and attended the Young Single Adult activity, and stayed... until the Jin Hua Ward (1 hour from where she lives) Christmas Choir performance... and then the New Member Fireside. So, many hours. She also asked me to baptize her, which I'm very excited for.

The church has this wonderful "initiative" going right now, I don't know if you've seen it yet. It's here: And it's just a wonderful, wonderful thing. It has been very useful to us missionaries when we talk to people, because there a video on there (that I encourage everyone to watch) that helps us introduce to people the real meaning of Christmas. It's extremely effective, and has been such an amazing tool to us. The mission here is also making a big push for every member to post it on their Facebook's so that everyone can see this video (which I also encourage you to do). In the first week this video was out, it had 5,000,000 views. It's has such a wonderful message. The website also has the Nativity story, using both scriptural texts and more "modern" English, that tells the Christmas story so well. So this week, I would "Invite" (that's something we do with every person we visit, member or investigator) to explore the website, and share it. The three parts to this "initiative" is Discover, Embrace, and Share, so, do it! It's a wonderful video. Go watch it. Now.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission