Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mission Letter 1/19/2015

Hello, everybody!

It's been a wonderful week! So much has happened!

First of all, last Wednesday, we had our English Class party. Every 6 weeks, the last week of the transfer, we have an English Party. We have to choose some very American theme, and then host an activity so they can learn some "culture" as well as language. In the past it's been Halloween, Christmas, and this time we did a Birthday Party.

First of all, we have many full grown adults who attend English Class. And when we planned this party (limbo, musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, and hit the pinata), I was extremely concerned at how such "immature" children's games would be received. But I'll never worry about it again; I think it's hilarious to see how much fun they actually had with our activity! And it was extremely fun for us, too. During our pinata game, we had one guy up to bat first, who really loves baseball. He kept warning us, "Stand back, stand back, this is going to fly very far." The first hit on our poor cereal box airplane (he was using a broom handle as a bat), candy (hi-chews) was flying 50 feet in every direction in the cultural hall. It was hilarious. Here's our pinata (in a picture with me and my trainer):

After English Class, we had "move call madness," which means it was the night the Zone Leaders call us and tell us if we are or not transferring. When they called, they asked who we thought was transferring. We both guessed me, and they confirmed that suspicion. So I packed my bags (almost didn't fit, and they definitely would not have passed the airline weight limit).

Friday was transfer meeting. We discovered I'd be going to little Yuli (玉里)! It's in the middle of nowhere. I'm totally out of any concept of a city. It was about a 5 hour travel (including a train transfer) through beautiful mountains, tunnels, and following the coast. It's almost the farthest away that I could have gotten from my last area. But people are so nice here! There's no ward, just a branch. There were about 31 people at church yesterday, including 4 missionaries and like, 8 children. But this area's been open for a while. Almost everyone we talk to already knows who we are and where our church is, so that's fun.

I have my new companion, my "breaker" as they call it here in the mission field (the companion after your trainer). He's been out for a while; goes home in about 5 months. He's really awesome. He's also from Utah; I'll have to send a picture in another email (my pictures are too large, can only send one per email).

Here in Yuli, we live not in an apartment but in a small house. It's very nice, but also extremely rural. There are crazy wild dogs everywhere, they're kinda scary, and literally right next to our bedroom, so right next to my head I swear, is a chicken coop. Ack! That's not the worst part. The worst part is that they have a rooster. Who's body clock isn't set for sunrise, but for 4:30 AM. Every morning I've been here so far, without fail, he's been reporting in at that precise time. But sometimes the "snooze" button doesn't work, and he just crows until we have to get up at 6:30. I really hope I can start sleeping through this soon...

Our mission is still waiting on 28 visa waiters. President Day is hoping they'll be here in abou 2-3 weeks. All their papers have been submitted now, they're just waiting on the beaureacratic process.

Today I wanted to share a little bit about life and prayer. First, this excerpt from Mosiah 24. This is the story about Alma the Elder and his people when they were put in bondage by the Lamanites, and indirectly, by the wicked priests of Noah:

 10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
 11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
 12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

First, we note that when we have troubles, we turn to the Lord. This is a good thing. But when things are harder still, we must stick to the Lord rather than complaining and saying, "Why me? This isn't fair!" etc. Because, as verse 12 points out, God knows the thoughts of our hearts, and our needs, and he won't forget us. Finally, the lesson that can be learned most here, is that turning to God won't necessarily make the problem go away; we need trials and problems in life to progress. We can be safe in the assurance of two things: 1) God won't give us more than we can handle, and 2) He will still help us, even if that isn't by taking away the problem. We can see that he did strengthen the people of Alma so they could bear the same burdens. And eventually, he took away their burden.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I know I will! Our P-Day plan today is go hike up to a hopefully cool waterfall somewhere around here. There will be some pictures next week (as well as a couple coming in a few seconds).

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission