Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mission Letter 3/20/2015

Hello, everybody!

It's been another wonderful, busy, busy, busy, week in Yuli! This week was filled with meetings, trainings, and finding (and lessons, of course). The temperature has also been more than magical; it's just been the perfect temperature, all week. But now it's starting to get warm again, so I'm getting scared again...

First of all, last Tuesday, we went to an all-day Zone Conference down in Taidong, from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, and then we had to catch a train home. So, that day was really busy. But President Day, when we first showed up, had some pretty good news for us...

Stake, Stake, Stake! President Day informed us that the District had reached 3 members over the minimum required number, and 2 active Melchizedek Priesthood holders over the minimum required number. A few days ago, he submitted (what would probably be called a) proposal application. He told us that a few minutes before the conference had started, he received an email from the Area 70, approving that proposal to be signed and submitted officially. At General Conference, the application will be given to the Church Boundary Committee, and then, if approved (eventually by the First Presidency), the Stake will be organized in June. So, everyone is so happy and pleased, and preparing to be attending the first Stake Conference on the East Coast in a couple months. If approved, the Taiwan Taipei Mission will be the only mission in the Asia Area not to have a District within the boundaries. 

Last week, for P-Day, we cleaned the house. Like, a ton. Deep cleaning too. And man, it was disgusting. Missionaries are pretty disgusting. I bet I found some stuff from like, 2 years ago. But now we have a wonderful, comfortable little house. It's very nice. And clean. I like clean. (Sorry, I'm not in the picture. But that's my stellar companion, Elder Gonzalez.)



This past week, I finally filled up my first journal. I started writing in that one the first day in the MTC. Wow. Things have changed a lot since I first went into the MTC until now. Life has changed a lot... the other creepy thing that I noticed, was how long I've already been on a mission. This week, on Saturday, I reach my 6 month in Taiwan mark, and next week, on Thursday, I reach my mission's 9 month mark. Time's flying!

President Day goes home in three months, and it feels like he's taking half the mission with him. At least, he's taking all the experienced missionaries with language and leadership experience, and the new Mission President (who we hope does not get delayed by not receiving his visa), will have a very young mission. It's going to be strange, going through the process of having a new Mission President. It will be very interesting to see what changes.

We also have a very golden investigator right now. Her name is Sister Liu, and she has come to church ever since we met her (two weeks ago, so for two weeks she's come to church). She also finished the 1st Book of Nephi in one week, and then started the second book; she started telling us stories from 1 Nephi, and the things she learned from it; the first week of church, she came to all three hours and then later told us what she learned from Gospel Principles; she already has met and memorized the name of every sister in Relief Society (we're a branch, so that's not too big), this week she brought a notebook to Sacrament Meeting and took notes, she asks the most amazing questions, and even though she doesn't have a baptismal date yet (every time we teach a lesson, her questions take up the whole time and by the end, we don't have time to talk about setting a date), we are almost positive she will be baptized next month. She said that she's been so much happier since she's started learning the gospel and coming to church, and she says that sometimes she's faced with situations and she'll think, "What would Jesus do?" That's something she learnt from Gospel Principles last week. She's amazing, we're really excited for her.

The church has recently submitted a new Mormon.org Easter video, entitled Because He Lives. It's about a 2 1/2 minute video about Christ's Resurrection, and what that means to us. It is a most amazing, powerful video, and as missionaries, we've been encouraged to share it with AS MANY PEOPLE AS WE CAN. So, we use it on the street when talking to people; we just ask them to pull out the smartphone and watch it on Youtube. We share it when we visit members. We show it to less actives. We post about it and put it on Facebook (which I now have. You're welcome to go look at it, but the posts are in Chinese, and you can't friend or chat me). We use it all the time, and the First Presidency has invited all the missionaries to use it as much as possible, until this Christmas.

SO, to go along with that effort, I wanted to invite all of YOU people to go watch it too. It's very short, but really good. And when you're done watching it, put it on Facebook. Share it with all of your friends. And keep doing it. If you've always been confused on how to do missionary work, this is Missionary Work 101; put it on Facebook! Remember, even if none of your friends are nonmembers (very unlikely), missionary work is also to strong members of the church, not just investigators. So watch the video, share it (use the hashtag #becausehelives), think about how you can use the gift God has given all of us in your own life, and make a change. 

I hope you all have a most wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pictures-5



The nice member who took us to all these places.




Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Pictures-4



Eating sugar cane. Yup. It was interesting. Those random people behind us offered us some, so we took some. Very sweet...



Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Pictures-3



The view after the clouds cleared up.

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Pictures-2


My exchange a couple weeks ago with the Australian Elder Taulepa.



Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Pictures-1


The mists of darkness on the top of the mountain. 


Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Mission Letter 3/23/2015

Dear everybody,

It's been a wonderful week in Yuli, aside from the fact that yesterday (this last Sunday) I had the (so-called) "privilege" of speaking in church. That was not fun. But that's okay. All the missionaries in this branch, because it's so small, have already spoken, most of them twice. I guess my turn had to come sometime. It was kind of interesting. It was my first time speaking in Taiwan, and thus my first talk given in Chinese. Thankfully they only asked me to speak for 10 minutes. 

On the bright side, last week we had a wonderful member of the ward take us out to a place about 30 minutes from the city center (by car) where we live, and then he drove us up to the top of the mountain to over look the valley. He said he'd come here many times before, both when he was growing up, and as an adult who returned to his hometown. He said the view of the valley was glorious. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, which we hadn't considered (either beforehand or while driving up the mountain), and when we reached the top...



...we discovered ourselves in a cloud; some of the thickest fog (if you could call it that) at the top. Even though we couldn't see anything, it was a lot of fun to be able to walk 30 feet from other people and suddenly not be able to see them. The member who took us up there was extremely disappointed and was like, I should have thought about this sooner. However, just when we started going down again, all the clouds magically cleared up and off the mountain, and we had a most excellent view of the valley. But that will be in a separate email, because I can only put one picture per email.

This past week has been simply horrifyingly warm; I don't know what I'll do when summer comes. It was up in the high 80's (F) this week, and outside, the sun was very bright and hot. So, I know that this year, this summer, will be my last on this planet because I am going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the west. Except that yesterday, it suddenly got cold and rainy again; so cold I even had to put on a light jacket over my short sleeve shirt. It was a welcome reprieve from the soon-arriving summer.

I had exchanges again this week. My companion for that day was one of the Taidong Zone Leaders (the other one from last time), and he "dies" in 3 weeks (that is missionary terminology for going home. You have birth, death, father, and then mothers, uncles, half brothers, step brothers, and a whole bunch of confusing relationships that eventually envelope the entire mission). But it's good; he's staving off "trunkiness," which is the term given to missionaries who get lazy or just are like--too excited to go home. Missionaries in their last couple transfers sometimes get "trunky," and become a nuisance to their companion. But my current companion is awesome and totally not trunky, so that's good.

Time truly flies out here. Well, I'm sure it's going about the same speed for all of you as well--but it's already the fourth week of the transfer! And March is almost over! And that means, by the last Sunday of March, we have to have enough Melchizedek Priesthood holders in church, and enough members in this District, to complete the application for a Stake, which the 70 of this area would like to hand deliver when he attends General Conference the first week in April. 

And we are so close! From the numbers I heard from our Branch Mission Leader last night, we've made it in terms of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Of course, he doesn't actually have access to those numbers, it's just something he heard from someone pretty involved in this process. But tomorrow, we're going to a missionary meeting in Taidong (an all-day 9AM to 5PM zone conference), and I'm sure President Day will update us on the status of the Stake. We're so privileged to be here on the East Coast during this special time. It's truly amazing what's been happening in the past transfer as every missionary on the East Coast has been doing everything they can to establish a Stake here. If we meet the requirements in the next week and a half, which I think we will, then in June, they will hold a District Conference, and they'll send a member of the Quorum of the Twelve to come organize the Stake (I'm pretty sure only Apostles can organize stakes). Which will be simply amazing! Except by that time I'll have already transferred off the East Coast. After this transfer, so in two weeks, there's a chance that I'll move, but if I stay for one more transfer, it's almost definite that I'll move in 8 weeks. That's because my companion will be "dying," and they don't normally move dying missionaries, or keep companions together for 3 transfers. So I'll be out.

This week I wanted to talk a little bit about faith. It's a word we're all familiar with, and hear all the time--but what exactly does it mean? Moroni helps us out in Ether 12:

 6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

Faith is a hope for things which are not seen, which are true. So, by that definition, we can have faith in many things: faith in God, faith in Christ's Atonement, faith in the Plan of Salvation; but all of these things lead up to one central aspect of the gospel towards which we should direct our faith. Joseph Smith tells us in the Fourth Article of Faith:

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ...

Faith in Jesus Christ envelops faith in everything else; the Atonement, his death and subsequent resurrection, his love for us, etc. In order for us to have faith in something, we must have somewhat of an understanding about that "something;" thus, in order for us to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must first understand about his life, his sacrifice, and his commandments. Learning these things will help us continue to develop faith, and since faith is a principle of action, can also help us change our lives to be more in accordance with his teachings.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I'll see how many pictures I can send now...

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mission Letter 3/16/2015

Dear everybody,

It's been another wonderful little week here in Yuli! I love this little town. It's tiny, and everybody already knows us! It's an interesting feeling. I heard an Elder describe it like this; it's not about finding people, it's about telling them why they should meet with you again. It's not about giving them a Book of Mormon, it's about convincing them that the one they already have in their house truly is the Word of God.

This past week we had Zone Training Meeting down in Taidong. So we got on an hour-and-a-bit long train ride down there, then a member picked us up at the train station for a 15 minute drive to the church, where we had a 3 and a half hour meeting, and then returned back to Yuli. While in Taidong, we took a picture with the entire zone together:



Yes. That is our zone. It is the smallest in the mission. There are only two companionships more in this Zone than there were in my last District in Taipei, which we were pretty sure was the largest District in the mission. But it's awesome; the East Coast is awesome, and we're so close to a Stake!

Our lovely little city has been getting a considerable amount of attention recently, thanks to the current push for the Hualien Stake. Last week, on Saturday night, we had a Stake Priesthood Meeting in Yuli. That means, Melchizedek Priesthood holders from the entire Hualien District (which is from Hualien all the way to Taidong, a 3 hour train ride by the fastest train on the East Coast here) drove our took the train out to this little city of Yuli. That's over a 2 hour car ride from Hualien, over a 2 hour car ride from Taidong. At this meeting, we also had in attendance President Day, Mission President, and Elder Ruan, of the Area 70, from Taizhong.

I would definitely say that the Priesthood Meeting last week was one of the most incredible meetings I've ever attended. It was such an amazing thing--having 105 Priesthood men from all over the East Coast (and Taiwan), crammed into our beloved little chapel.

When we were asked by President Chen (the Branch President here) to set up the chapel, we pulled every single chair from every single room in the church into the chapel; there wasn't another seat in the building. We were ordered in advance to check the microphones, the water, water cups, bathrooms, paper towels, toilet paper, and make the floors "spotless." Then, in our little rented chapel room, we filled every seat, and a couple people stood. The entire chapel was full; and when all those men were meeting, hearing talks, and singing (the singing--wow!); it was just an incredible meeting. Everyone is really excited and pushing really hard for meeting the requirements to have a Stake here, by the time General Conference comes around.

This past week, I went on exchanges with the Taidong Zone Leaders. I stayed in my area, and my companion (the District Leader) went down to Taidong with the other zone leader. So, here in Yuli, I was with a certain Elder Taulepa. He's Tongan, but he lives in Australia. In fact, he lives in the same Stake I used to. And, he said that when I first arrived in Taiwan, he had seen me before, but he couldn't figure out where, until I said I lived before in Australia. We spent some time, figuring out the people we knew in common, and finally, it hit him where he had seen me (unfortunately, I didn't remember him).

Once upon a time, in Australia, my Stake did a little "Christmas Cantata." That involved a choir, and a small sketch. So, off to the side, was a "home" setting, with a grandpa, a big sister, and a little brother (which was the role I was playing in the performance). Then, on the chapel stand, was a choir, and the performance went back and forth between the two. Turns out, that "big sister" who was sitting next to me, is Elder Taulepa's little sister. Wow! And he remembered that from like, 10 years ago. Amazing.

Right now, the mission has a lot of unexperienced, comparatively "new" missionaries. Just under two years ago, there was a large influx of new missionaries (particularly Elders), and then there was a period of like, six months where there were only a couple new Elders. So currently, almost every leadership position is held by missionaries who go home in 3 to 4 months. Almost all the Zone Leaders, both the Assistants, several District Leaders, go home in very short order. And then there's a large gap to the next set of missionaries. So we're going to be losing a lot of experience in this mission pretty soon. It's almost somewhat scary.

My last companion, Elder Rasmussen, when we had dinners with members, would always eat the most. He would just be packing it down; eating and eating, long after the rest of us had stopped. He got a reputation amongst the members; when they set the table, they would give him the largest plate. And now he's transferred, and my companion eats way less. So the members have kinda turned to me, to take Elder Rasmussen's place. The Sisters and my compnion eat even less than they did before, it seems, and the members just kinda tell me, "You're taking Elder Rasmussen's place." It's rather funny--and painful at times...

This past week, I read a talk by President Ezra Taft Benson; it's called, "Beware of Pride." It was an excellent talk! It provided lots of things to think about. Pride is deadly; and it's a very big deal. In President Benson's talk, he said, "Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion." That was one of his closing lines. Why is pride something talked about so much? Because not having it is a qualification for salvation:

Alma 5:28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.

Remember the pride cycle of the Book of Mormon? It eventually destroyed an entire civilization:

Moroni 8:27 ...Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the  Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent.

What is pride? President Benson said that the central feature of pride is emnity, which he said was hatred towards, hostility to, or a state of opposition, toward God and fellowman.

One of my favorite quotes (since I read it the other day) is that of C.S. Lewis, who said, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.... Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone." The proud think more on what others will think of them, than what God will think of them.

President Benson said something that I think helps us judge whether we're are being prideful or not; "Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest." So, basically, before doing something, evaulate your motives, and then re-evaluate what you're going to do.

Humility is one of the most signature features of Jesus Christ's life. He humbly submitted to Heavenly Father's will; he was a King, but lived as a Wanderer. He never reviled those who reviled him. Humility is something we should all seek after.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I'm really excited for Conference coming up!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mission Letter 3/9/2015

Dear everybody,

Hello! It's been another wonderful, EXTREMELY BUSY, comfortable (weather wise) week here in the little dot on the map called Yuli. The temperatures have been up to the 80's during the day (which feels really hot after winter), and I just know that the summer here will put me on a slow simmer, so I'll make a good stew by this time next year.



CAPTION: A beautiful sunrise just a couple days ago, picture taken out the back window of our house. Yes, our house is up against a rice field. The low clouds below the mountains just made things all the more beautiful.

This week, not much happened--aside from just being extremely busy, with everything. Being a missionary is exhausting! They weren't kidding when they sad full-time missionary. We get up at 6:30 a.m. and exercise, at 7 is showering and getting ready for the day, 7:30 is breakfast, 8-11 is studies, noon is lunch for one hour, dinner at 5 for one hour, home by 9 p.m., start planning, make phone calls, and by about 10 p.m. you have free time to write in your journal and brush your teeth; by 10:30 p.m., you're expected to have lights out, and be horizontal on the bed. It's the Mission Life.

The efforts for the new Stake down here is really pushing everyone, missionaries and branch members alike, to action. It's cool to see; our Branch President here is literally one of the most dedicated members I've ever seen. Because it's a small branch, without many men, everything leans so heavily on him. He is the Branch President, as well as the Young Men's President. He also serves as nursery when the Relief Society has an activity; his wife is the Young Women's President. So, they're family is pretty busy; he's always visiting less actives and members, and he still helps accompany some of our missionary lessons with investigators. In fact, we went to visit a certain less active last Saturday, and when we arrived, the Branch President was already there, visiting him. We're very grateful for him here.

Sometimes we missionaries think that we're the ones running the church. But really, while I guess we're important (maybe), our role in the actual operation of the Branch is way smaller than we feel like it is. We have an impact, but we're certainly not the most important unit in a ward or branch. We sit here, doing our little thing, full time, making plans, helping move things along, but very little actually relies on us; members have such a big role in everything! They're all so important! It's crazy. Without members doing stuff; nothing gets done. Members and missionaries working together truly is the best formula.

English Class is one of the best things of the week. I love teaching English class so much! Here in Yuli, we have a smaller program than most of Taiwan--the ideal is 20 students in every class. But we have like, 20 students (at most) over all 4 classes. But we're working hard to grow the classes. The ideal mixture is also 50% members, 50% investigators. But last week, in my Intermediate Class, I had 3 people; 1 Member, 1 Recent Convert, and 1 Less Active. My companion in Advanced Class had like, 5 people; no members, all investigators. But that's okay. Over time, English will get better and better. It's truly a blast teaching English to people who know the basics, but can never practice they're English, and thus aren't very fluent.

Since I've been on a mission (and this was mostly learnt here in Yuli), I've learnt a lot about motivation. I've discovered that it usually doesn't come until you start doing something. For example; in the morning, at 6:30 AM, I roll out of bed, wishing that one day I could sleep in (won't happen for the next year and a half), saying to myself, if only I had one day where I could sleep until I naturally woke up! And feeling completely unmotivated to exercise, I drag myself over to my shoes, put them on, and we go out to a track near our house. But I feel WAY more motivated once I actually start doing something, and when we finish, sometimes I wish I could exercise a little more. Same with the day; sometimes, we look at our schedules and we realize that we don't have a single appointment for the entire day, and we're going to be street contacting and knocking from 11 AM until 9 PM; but it really is a lot better once you actually start.

Random topic change: My new companion is so cool! And that's not only because he has a small iPod loaded with Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs, though that helped a lot. For the past transfer with my last companion, I was on a music fast; because neither of us had any music anythings, so it was just kind of out of the picture. But Elder Gonzalez has his little iPod shuffle, and we listen to "approved, appropriate music" during every free time we have. It makes me very happy; it's been too long without music!

Okay. One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is 1 Nephi 21:16. But first, some explanation why. It has to do with Christ, and his sacrifice for us. But the first question is, why did he sacrifice himself for us? What is God's purpose? A couple famous scriptures:

Moses 1:39 - For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

God's only purpose is our salvation! Interesting that we matter that much. His only work, and His only glory, is to help us return to Him. He literally spends ALL of His time working to help us accomplish this plan. I think it's incredible that He cares this much for us! As if we really needed proof of this care, we have this scripture in 1 Nephi 21:

 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

God will never forget about us. Christ has "engraven us upon the palms of his hands;" as a reminder to us; what He did for us, and why he did it. Never forget that Christ has never, and will never, forget you.

I hope you all have a great week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Sunday, March 1, 2015

3/2/2015 Photos-3


​CAPTION: My new companion, Elder Gonzalez!


Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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3/2/2015 Photos-1


​CAPTION: The view after biking most of the way up Chihkeshan.

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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3/2/2015 Photos-2


​CAPTION: The Hualien District's "Excercise Activity." Held in my area! Fun. Lots of people; can't really tell in this photo.


Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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Mission Letter 3/2/2015

Hello, everybody!

It's been a most incredible week. Super busy, so many things happening! Transfers, special missions and commissions, meetings, etc.

First of all, last P-Day, we biked up a mountain. Yes. I thought my companion was crazy too, because that's something I've never done before. We biked up what is called Chihkeshan (the Chihke Mountains); I don't know how high we got, but I know it was a 12 km road to the a meadow area near the top where they have visitor's stuff and various sight seeing things. I also know that every one of those 12 km were uphill. That took like, 2 hours to get to the top where we turned around and got down in like, 45 minutes. But it was beautiful! Pictures in another email.

We had transfers this week! I was so sure, because I'd only been with my companion for 1 transfer, that no one was moving. But my companion, Elder Rasmussen, got a transfer call! So, that left me here in Yuli to take over the area. That was scary, particularly as this is the first time I've had to do so; previously, I've always left my area instead of my companion. But so far, it's been 3 days already (sounds so short but feels like a considerable amount of time), and thinks are going pretty smoothly.

So we traveled all the way up to Taipei from Yuli, a train ride of like 3 hours by the fastest train here on the coast. In Taipei we had both Transfer meeting and a special meeting for all East Coast missionaries serving within the boundaries of the Hualien District (because there's no Stake here).

At the transfer meeting, first of all, we saw all the new missionaries. Yes! It's been a few months since we've had missionaries arrive, but many of the visa waiting missionaries have arrived. But they didn't all come in their groups; there's still some unfortunate few, out in the world, waiting their visa. Also, all the missionaries that should have come this transfer are now visa waiters in the States. So, we're still behind. Hopefully the process one day catches up.

I then found out who my new companion is; he is Elder Gonzalez. He is from St. George, Utah, and he has three transfers left on his mission. He's a really cool guy. Picture in next email.

After transfer meeting, we had an East Coast missionaries meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Hualien Stake that they're trying to create on the East Coast here. We haven't quite met all the numbers requirements for a Stake, but a member of the Area 70 invited the Mission President and District President to complete the application so that he could hand deliver it to Church Headquarters this General Conference, with the faith that we could get the numbers needed by then. That means, we have this one month--March--to reach all the membership numbers, Melchizedek Priesthood numbers, necessary, for the creation of a Stake. It was basically the best pep talk any of us missionaries had ever had, with President Day telling us that none of us were on the East Coast by chance, that we were all picked and basically "called" to be here right now at this marvelous juncture.

Then we took a train home. Remember how I said that the ride is 3 hours if you get the right train? Well, the Mission bought our tickets home for us, and I guess the "right train" was sold out, because we got what I believe is the second slowest--at least, it felt that way. We boarded at 2:38, and got off at 8:20; a whopping 5.5 hours. Waah! I almost died. It's okay, though; I guess it's teaching me patience?

So all in all, it's been a pretty wonderful week.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about prayer, about the power of prayer. Prayer is one of the most essential things that we try to get our investigators to do, because it is one of the most basic principles of the gospel; the fact that we can talk to God, our Heavenly Father, and that through seeking, he can talk back to us; this is basic because it is the only way for them to know our message is true; God telling them, not us telling them. But if prayer is so important for others, it's also that important for us; while exhorting others to prayer and diligence, we must also take care to make sure we personally are doing our part, keeping up our prayers. A quick scripture from 2 Nephi 32:

 8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
 9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

There are perhaps times when we don't want to pray, or we are about to go to bed and we say, "Ahh, a 30 second prayer will be fine tonight, I'm too tired; God understands." Yes, God knows you're tired, but it's not him telling you not to pray; "for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray."

Our prayers should be "as one man speaketh to another." It's interesting as a missionary to see; Mormon's have a habit in the way they pray; they have certain words they use, certain phrases that are very common and widespread, even across languages, and prayers all sound very similar. But sometimes we run into people on the street, who have never prayed before; sometimes, those are the most earnest, sincere prayers I've ever heard; they pray for others, for specific problems in society, they talk as if they were standing in front of God, talking to him. So I guess, what I'm saying is just this: take time to pray. Take time to think about what you're going to pray about. Be sincere about it, and remember who you're praying to, and why. Because God exists, and all things are possible, but only according to our faith.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! A few pictures coming soon...

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net



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