Sunday, March 1, 2015

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...

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

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