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!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

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