Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mission Letter 2/2/2015

Hello, everybody!

Last week was awesome! Always so busy. Missionaries are always so busy. We're always looking for the ways to make the most use of our time. I think most missionaries will have a problem when they go home; here's some free time! What? You want me to relax, by myself, for extended periods of time? Recently returned missionaries probably feel kinda lonely and antsy...

Last Preparation Day was extraordinarily fun. After emailing in a somewhat hurried manner, we went and a member offered to take us to this waterfall up around where he lives, about a 15 minute drive from our city. So, we went to the waterfall, and starting at the bottom, where it runs off, we climbed a very considerable distance, up the giant boulders in the stream to reach the actual waterfall itself. It took quite a while, but bouldering up to it was such incredible fun! And a good workout, I may mention...

Yes, I realize that from this point you can't appreciate the great distance and all the climbing that we did to get here, but at least you can see the waterfall (that's the important part, right?). It was big, and extremely pretty.

​I have never before seen such a confusing set of religious beliefs than as I have encountered here in Taiwan. The main prevalent religions here in Taiwan are the "traditional Daoism and Buddhism." The only problem here is that, they've kinda become mixed together, and they barely know what the difference is themselves. Some of them literally don't know the difference (neither do we, as missionaries); some of the Buddhists believe in God, some don't. It's all extremely confusing. Basically, the only one clear thing is that they worship their ancestors; everything else is minor details that they can seemingly choose to incorporate or ignore.

I can personally attest that cold showers are not fun. First, we realize that it's currently winter time. Secondly, you should understand that in Taiwan, there are no gas lines; gas isn't fed into your house; rather, it comes in the form of a gas tank. That plugs into the back of your house, and you use it until it runs out (obviously). The gas runs the hot water machine, and the (gas) stoves here. When it runs out, you order a new one from like, the local "refilling" store, and they deliver a new tank.

The only problem was that we ran out Sunday morning. So, not only were we not warmed up from exercise, which might have helped in light of the cold shower, but we also couldn't order a new one. Thus, we also had cold showers today (Monday). Brrrrrrrr! But it's okay; we now have a new tank, so tomorrow won't be as exciting as these past two days. There is one thing I can say for the cold showers; I never knew how fast I could shower, and how little water I could use, until now. I guess that's a benefit...

It's also amazing; so many people have bikes here. The oldest grandmothers will often be spotted swerving down the street. Fully grown adults mount and dismount bikes with more grace and ability than I can. They'll like glide, standing on one side of the bike up to the supermarket, and I'm like, wow, I'm jealous. If they don't have a bike, then they have a moped. You would never believe how many mopeds there are here. At every traffic light, there's a box at the front of the lane where cars are supposed to stay out of, so all the mopeds can pull to the front of the line. Traffic here is a mess; it's comical to watch.

So, last week, we had quite the interesting experience. Every night, every companionship is required to text in to their leaders at 9 or 9:30 to let them know we're home safe and sound. So, that means District Members to the District Leaders, District Leaders to the Zone Leaders, Zone Leaders to the Assistants to the President, and then directly to the President himself. Now, my companion is the District Leader here in Yuli. There's only one other companionship of sisters here, and last week, on one night, they forgot to text us. So my companion forgot to text the Zone Leaders. And we went to bed at 10:30, and were both asleep in no time.

Now, all the rest of what I'm about to tell, I slept through, and found out the following evening, from the sisters. At around 10:40, the Zone Leaders started calling us, to find out if we were home safe. Then they called the sisters, because they didn't know if they were home safe either. They found them at home, and told them they couldn't get a hold of us, and asked when the last time they saw us was. They kept calling our cell phone and home phone, for like 20 minutes, then notified the Assistants.

The Assistants started attempting to contact us, all without any success. They notified President Day, who started calling us and our home phone (we discovered later, he'd called our home phone about 15 times). He then found a member in the ward to come knock on our door and find out if we were home. About midnight, that member arrived at our house's gate, which was locked. His wife managed to climb over it (I'm really impressed, I think the way it's set up, I would have a difficult time climbing over it), and then he started banging on our door and calling my companions name. My companion finally woke up (somehow I still didn't), and then was put in touch with the Assistants, who were finally assured of our safety. Then the ward member, President Day, the Assistants, the Zone Leaders, and the Sisters in our district were all finally able to go to sleep (just after midnight); they were all waiting up to hear of our fate. So, we're very grateful for the care and concern of all our leaders, and the system that is in place to ensure our safety.

This past week, I encountered an awesome little article in the January Liahona.  I would like you all to read this article from last month's Liahona, entitled "A Potato for the Teacher:"

I love this article! I feel that it has one of the greatest messages ever. Particularly as a missionary, I guess our only focus is the welfare of the members and the church in the areas where we serve; and, without any distractions, we all wish that members and wards would be perfect; if everyone applied the principles in this article, that would be a little easier to accomplish.

Summarized briefly, the article is about a student who gives her teacher a present; a potato, cleaned and polished, with the words, "A potato for the teacher, because I didn't have an apple." And the lesson that the articles states, and we can all apply, is that we don't always have to wait for the best thing or the perfect opportunity before doing service; what we have now will do. Our best is all that is asked; a potato, because we didn't have an apple. Timely service, as opposed to the service you imagined, is what's important. If someone needs you today, don't wait until the weekend where you might have more time to bake them bread. All little things count.

Follow the Spirit. It is the guide. When it tells you to do something, JUST DO IT. Following promptings shows that you're willing and able to receive more promptings.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! It's been a great, extremely fast week here in Yuli. We're pulling up real quick on the halfway mark this transfer. Time's flying! 加油!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.