Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mission Letter 2/9/2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been another wonderful week! Flew by so fast! The entire week, here on the East Coast, all the missionaries were SUPER busy, particularly the Missionary Leaders (like District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders). Let me explain...

First of all, there were more trainings and conferences this week than I ever imagined were possible. On Tuesday, we had an all-day Specialized Zone Conference in Hualien, so we all went on a 2 hour train ride up to Hualien to their wonderful chapel (which hopefully one day soon will be a Stake Center) for a Training from 9am-5pm, presented by President Day and his wife, the Assistants, and the Temple Sisters (here, that's kinda like Assistants, but Sisters).  As a result of that training...

We all became Facebook missionaries! We have so many restrictions and requirements, but that's okay; it's temporary, and it's to "hasten the work." So, as a result of this, I will be closing my actual Facebook account that many of you know (that's required), and it will stay closed until I've finished my mission. So no, I didn't unfriend you. Calm yourself. Also, you can't be friends with me on the new one I make for my mission. You also can't chat with me. Thanks in advance... Of course, you're allowed to see what I post, but it will also all be in Chinese. Good luck.

At the end of that training, I also passed off what is called in our mission, "Phase 2." The mission has a language program to guide our studies; Phase 1, which is memorizing phrases and words from Preach My Gospel; Phase 2, which is 2000 words of common usage in the Chinese language to help us become fluent speakers; and Phase 3, which is all the characters used in the Book of Mormon. So I've finished Phase 2, meaning I'm semi-conversational (or at least, that's what they think), and so will be starting Characters. But they're frustrating too; it's like trying to learn a whole new language, after learning a whole new language.

Wednesday we had Zone Training Meeting, meaning we all took a 1 hour train ride down to Taidong (being in Yuli is just, we're the little people that no one knows what to do with, we just get kicked from place to place, but nothing ever happens in our little town). Then we came back up to Yuli.

Thursday and Friday, my companion (a District Leader) had an all-day training up in Taipei. So he took a several hour train ride, with another District Leader from Taidong, up to Taipei for a few days, returning late Friday night.

Because of the Leadership training in Taipei that my companion had to attend, I got to go on a 3-day exchange--with a Native missionary, Elder Huang! It was a rare opportunity--there are becoming less and less native missionaries here in Taiwan, most get their call to go abroad now. We only have 6 Native Elders in my mission, and they all have less than a year left.

​(Caption: Traveling the 1 hour long train ride between the two areas we were covering for a few days.)

It's kinda funny; while on exchanges in Taidong, I thought that city was ENORMOUS! Really, for Taiwan standards, I think it's actually small-ish. Of course, it's big enough to have a small airport, but I don't think it flies anything international... People keep telling me I've "been in Yuli too long," but really, just my entire mission in Taiwan, I've been in teeny-tiny little towns.

I want to share a scripture that we all know, and maybe I've shared it before; but it is really just an important scripture, and contains one of the truest principles in life. From the Book of Ether, Chapter 12:

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

This scripture is so true! Because we all have weaknesses. All of us could be a little more humble; don't wait for the circumstances of life to force it upon you! Better to find humility yourself than to be forced later to realize how much everyone needs God, and the role that he plays in our life. This scripture starts with a truthful statement, and an if-then statement; if we take a certain action, we then have a certain promise waiting in store for us. Change is hard for people; it's hard to change yourself; but with God, nothing is impossible.

Recently I've been reading Jesus the Christ by Jame E. Talmage. An excellent book. I advise all people to read it; it's extremely fascinating. It has helped me to realize the importance of absolutely EVERY SINGLE THING Christ did in his lifetime; behind everything, there is a meaning. The book is amazing. By reading this book, I believe you'll be following Moroni's invite, as written in Ether 12:

41 And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.

I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful week! I know I will!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

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