Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mission Letter 1/26/2015

Dear everybody,

Hello! This week has simply flown by! It's amazing how fast time really flies. Transfers are all 6 weeks, and here in Taiwan, we're usually with a companion for 2 transfers before someone leaves. We're already getting close to the two week mark of my being in Yuli, which means... things just fly. It seems like just a few days ago that I was writing an email to everyone.

Last Monday was P-Day, and we saw on the map of the area that there was a waterfall around here, so we decided we'd go bike out to it. When we arrived at the park area that had been set up, we saw the riverbed where the water should have been flowing away, but it was completely dry. It was a beautiful place, but there was absolutely no one around (my companion commented, "Typical Taiwan, they build this beautiful park, and none of the Taiwanese people are here."). So we parked our bikes and began to climb up the riverbed to where the waterfall was (in a small "canyon" just around the corner). It was a pretty decent waterfall!

We're not entirely sure where the water went, because it just kinda lands in that pool and then vanishes. There's only one way out of the canyon, and the water doesn't flow that way--maybe it just gets absorbed into the ground. But it was pretty nonetheless.

Here on the East Coast, everything is just so beautiful! The mountains surrounding us, the forests, hills, roads, so pretty! The city isn't filled with highrises and doesn't have a person in every square inch (but still enough that we can be missionaries), and everything is just more laid back here on the East Coast. It's every missionary's dream in this mission to get sent to the East Coast at least once, and here I am! It's such a nice, more rural, place. I hope I'm here for a while.

Other than that, Yuli is an extremely small town, and not much happened. We had a lot of lessons, and some finding time, and church, which is still small in Yuli (yesterday there were about 40 people). Here on the East Coast of Taiwan, they're working very hard to get a Stake. It's still a District; the entire east coast is currently part of one District, the Hualien District, and all the "groups" there in are branches, not wards, even though they have one of the largest chapels in Taiwan, and some of the branches here are bigger than some of the wards in other places of Taiwan (not mine, but in other places). Still, I think the problem is there isn't enough Melchizedek Priesthood holders to qualify to have a Stake. But they're working really hard here to get a Stake; it's like the dream of every branch down here, is to have the Hualien Stake; it's what they talk about, "One day we'll have a Stake, and then our own Temple." We had a High Councilman come to our branch and speak, and he talked about how as we better ourselves (and he gave some examples), then we'll get a stake, a ward, and eventually an East Coast Temple.

Often times we'll go contacting down the streets of Yuli (well, the "street" of Yuli, there's like, 3 streets that have a good amount of people on them during the day), and we'll run into people who tell us, "You ran into me like, 3 days ago," or, "The missionaries talked to us three months ago," or, "You already gave me that pamphlet," or, "The sister missionaries just talked to us on that side of the street." We kinda share the downtown area with the sisters because the place is so small, and that's where the people are.

Our area is rather large, but once you leave the "downtown-ish" area, then you're on the train traveling for about 20 minutes to get to the next city. Still haven't done that while I've been here, but one day, we'll just have to find some time to go down and visit a few members and potentials in those farther away places.

Last week, I finished the New Testament, and there was some really cool stuff in the Epistle of James (that I'm sure we've all heard before) that I thought was really cool, that I wanted to talk about. But first, a pop quiz. What is the most powerful part of your body? Or rather, what is the most influential part of your body? Think for a moment...

No cheating...

The answer (at least, for today's purposes, and for my purposes) is the tongue. The tongue has the most prominent effect on other people and groups of people, that any other thing, in my opinion. Here's what James has to say on the subject, from James 3:3-5, 7-10:

 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

The tongue has the most prominent effect on mankind. By it, we preach the gospel. By it, are most things communicated. By it, we make friendships. By it, we also break friendships. By it are alliances and wars made; good relationships and bad. So easily is it used to speak good and evil, help and harm. If we can control the tongue, then is life so much better! We then won't offend others, can always uplift others, we won't gossip about others, but will teach others and help others become happier, better, and more righteous people. So easily do we say things we don't always mean, and those things can't be recalled.

So use your tongue for good! That's all for this week. I just really like the Epistle of James, there's so much good stuff in it, including stuff about our language. So, be good to each other!

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission