Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mission Letter 1/5/2015

Hello, everyone, from the wonderful, mysterious land of Taiwan.

Last Preparation Day we went to the National Palace Museum in Shilin. 

(Yes, I realize that picture doesn't actually have any of the missionaries that went in it.) It's quite an amazing place. It has like, 600,000 ancient objects, or something like that, in it's collection. Basically, it was everything that was in the Forbidden City, and they packaged it all up and took it to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war, when the government fled to Taiwan. Something like that. They also have a Jadeite cabbage. It's apparently the pride of the museum, or at least, the best marketed part. There was a Liahona article about it around two months ago. So, yeah. The museum was pretty cool. Half our district and our Zone Leaders went to it together.

The other day I was at the church on the 3rd floor, and all of a sudden everything started shaking; the whole building wobbled, the couch I was sitting on, all shook for about 6 seconds. My first thought was, "Earthquake! Get out!" and my next thought was, "Use the elevator!" Which in hindsight is an extremely bad decision. But the shaking stopped, and we all lived. That was the first earthquake that I've ever actually noticed in my life. And that was one of the more exciting things that happened last week (shows how good our week was). 

In 4 days, I reach the 6 month mark of my mission. It's difficult to believe that it's already 1/4 over. Wow. Certainly some of the fastest (and slowest) times of my life. Every day lasts forever, every week lasts a minute. Transfers are not this Friday but the next, so maybe I'll get to see some new places in Taiwan, new scenery to send pictures of.

It was New Years! But nothing actually feels different. We still went to bed at the pre-appointed time, and didn't watch the fireworks off of the giant building that we can (almost, not quite) see from our house. But we had to sleep. That was fun. I like sleep. As a missionary, because for 2 years, there is not even one opportunity to sleep in, ever, I treasure every precious minute of it. I find myself very upset when I wake up in the middle of the night, because I'm wasting precious sleep time. So that's my New Years Eve story.

So, as missionaries, we have these training DVD's, movies, I guess; it's called, The District. And we watch those pretty frequently. They're in episode format, kinda like a series. I guess that's to make them slightly more attractive to youth? I don't know. But anyway, in one of the videos, they ask one of the Sister Missionaries, "What bothers you most on your mission," or "What makes you most upset?" And she replied, "People's agency!"

Which is very true. Sometimes as a missionary, that is extremely frustrating. I'm in an area that is being "reopened" after about 2-3 years of a break. And things are coming really slowly. Firstly, it's a smaller area, and has a smaller population than many other places in Taiwan, and secondly, there were no investigators or anything when we showed up, so we had to just start from the basics. And sometimes we'll have an entire day, about 9 hours of contacting, and only have one lesson on the street. And that person will listen, will take a Book of Mormon, and then when we are done and try to set up another time will tell us, "That's not convenient. I enjoy listening to stories about Jesus Christ, but I don't want to change my religion." We tell him, "But if this is true, imagine the impact it would have on EVERYTHING. Can we just meet with you again to keep sharing with you this message?" "No, thank you, I don't want to change my religion."

 27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all thingsare given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

It's just kinda frustrating when you feel like you're doing a ton of work, but there's never much to show for it. So all I have to say to you today, is USE YOUR AGENCY WISELY. Think before doing anything. It may change eternity. Actually, let me rephrase that: it WILL change eternity. Good luck.

Have a wonderful week! I hope you haven't broken your New Year's Resolutions yet! If you have, you can always make some new ones for Chinese New Year. That's February 16, if you already need to plan on that.

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission