Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mission Letter 1/12/2015

Hello, friends and family!

Last Preparation Day we went down to the mission headquarters so my companion could have a Temple Recommend interview, and while waiting, we saw this magazine on the desk. It's like the Taipei City magazine or something like that, and the front cover is the Salt Lake Temple and two missionaries. So I opened up to "see what it's about" (as if I could read Chinese). And, while all I know is that there's an amazing article about Mormon's in the city magazine, I also discovered that somehow I had found my way into it as well.

On the right hand page, middle picture, is a picture of me with one of my temporary companions when I first arrived in Taiwan. I didn't even realize they took that picture of us when they had all 30 of us go contacting in the park on the first day, but I guess they decided it was what they wanted to put in the newspaper. So, I'm world famous now. 

Not only for the newspaper but also for disease. When I was in the MTC, I don't know if you remember, I was sick. And then everyone else in the Chinese department got sick, so they called it The Ploeg [Plague]. And then the past couple weeks, the entire mission has been getting sick, including Sister Day, the President's wife. And someone told her, "Just call it The Ploeg." So now, not only am I MTC famous, I'm also famous (as a disease) in the entire Mission Office and the rest of the Mission. Wonderful. 

This past week I reached my 6 month mark. Nothing really feels different; except it's weird when you notice how fast time really does fly; my mission is already 1/4 over. AHHHHH! And I'm still with my trainer. Hah. Only until Friday, though (probably).

The new missionaries are still not coming. We're very sad about that, because we're still regularly losing missionaries every transfer. We're still waiting on November's missionaries, I think December's missionaries, and now January's missionaries. Because there are tripanionships all over the mission, this Friday (transfer day) they're going to close several areas and combine others and get rid of all the tripanionships. We still don't know when the new missionaries will arrive. 

So this week had some weird coincidences and miracles and etc. The other day we were contacting down along the Bike Path in Bali, one of the places where the most people are. We ran into this group of people who were kinda sightseeing together, and we tried talking to them. We eventually found out that they were school friends, classmates, (and I was just thinking about all the connections my Mom, who is Taiwanese, has with her classmates here). So we tried talking to them, but they didn't really want to talk to us, but they told us they had an LDS classmate who lived in Utah, and who had a son who was serving in the Taiwan Taipei area. They then asked if we knew a Dai Zhanglao, and we told them no, don't think so. But we gave them some tracts and said have a nice day. While we were talking to them, one of the people randomly took a picture of us. We thought that the person who took that picture of us was a little weird, because you know, white people in a oriental place, sometimes they look at you as a spectacle and will just randomly take pictures; because this person without saying a word stepped in front of us, pulled out her phone, and just took a picture. She didn't ask if she could or anything, so we figured it was just people saying, "Oh look, white people! I need a picture." So, that was extremely interesting. This week, I received an email from my Mom, with the picture that the lady had taken. She'd found it on her classmates Facebook page on accident, and sent it to me. So, while they weren't interested, it was a really cool experience to run into my Mom's classmates, even though we didn't realize who they were, and they didn't realize who I was.

This week I wanted to share a bit about what I studied in the New Testament recently: Charity. In Corinthians 13, Paul talks a lot about charity. While I was in the MTC, we had a devotional where they talked to us about charity. They said, no matter how good of teachers we became, no matter what we did, how we did it, how effective we were, or anything, it was nothing if we didn't have charity. Here's what Paul says: 

 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

They likened it to this: think of a trumpet. It plays very loudly, and everyone can hear it. But if it's not playing something specific, if it's not playing well or correctly, it's loud, annoying, and it gives people headaches. So they likened it to us. If we talk and teach, but we don't have charity and love the people, then we're loud, annoying, and we give people headaches. We don't want to give people headaches. 

If we develop charity, we really are almost like Christ, because in my opinion, from charity springs all other righteousness. Such as all pride is the source of all wickedness, if we can have charity, then all things follow. Or, also, as we work on all other things, then we can get charity. Because charity is the PURE love of CHRIST. It's an attribute (and gift) above many (I won't say all, because eternal life and the gift of the Holy Ghost are pretty high up on the list, too).

And what is charity? Moroni 7:

 45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and isnot puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity,which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Develop charity so that at the last day, it shall be well with you.

Shoutout to my friend Alex Welch who got his call to the very best mission in the whole world, the Taiwan Taipei Mission. By his MTC entry date, he should arrive in Taiwan the week of my birthday. In fact, I think his arrival in Taiwan will be the day after my birthday. Good present... Yay! It's going to be awesome. I call being his trainer now.

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission