Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mission Letter 4/27/2015

Dear family and friends,

It was another awesome week in Zhongli. This picture is in a member's home yesterday, Brother Wu (pictured on right). He is our Ward Mission Leader, and I'm sure many missionaries would agree, he is perhaps the best one in this mission. Bottom left is Sister Lu, a recently returned home missionary (she served in the Taiwan Taipei Mission and came back to visit). Then you've got the bishop, one of his counselors, various family members, and the other Sister missionaries in our ward. They fed us food (upon food upon food) and then had fruit dessert; I was stuffed. Members in Taiwan are way too nice to us missionaries (I'm sure the whole world is like that, though).

Last Monday we had a meal with the Zhou family, who a few years ago were service missionaries in China. They spent the entire night, showing us pictures of them and their children back in China, and telling us stories about going around China, attending various branches throughout China, and other service activities, showing people about Family History.

That family, they live in a city about 30 minutes (bike ride) from our house. That night it started raining lightly, and then about 5 minutes before we were about to return home, it started raining heavily. And we did not expect it to rain. And it did not let up. And we just had our short-sleeve white shirts and pants. We came home that night drenched from head to foot, and we turned on the heaters to dry out our shoes. When I took my shoes off, I then went to the balcony to pour the water out. But no problem. Rain is fun. Typhoons will be even more so.

We met with one of our investigators this week, Brother Huang. We planned to teach the Plan of Salvation, but we never got to that. We also took a member about his age, who I personally hope will one day be his friend, who basically spent the whole time answering our investigator's questions about "bai-bai," or ancestor (and other gods) worship. In Taiwan, they worship ancestors and other specific gods; it's rather confusing, and I don't quite understand. So, because we, as missionaries, don't really understand this part of the culture, it's always wonderful to have a member, who almost always has the same background, who can help explain. And it went really well; next time we'll continue with the purpose of life. He's already keeping commitments, like reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and he feels like prayer does have an effect; now we just need to focus on church attendance.

This week we also had the mission tour with Elder Gong of the First Quorum of the Seventy. That was really cool; he's the member of the Seventy over the entire Asia Area, but he's not an Area Seventy. He's the kind that is called until he is 70 years old, and he lives (now) in Hong Kong, because of his assignment there. But he came and provided some trainings on Families, Stakes and Temples. He said as we focus on Familes, we build Stakes, and strengthening Stakes is how we build Temples. The purpose of Stakes is to help people prepare to receive the blessings of the temple, and that's how they're described in the Doctrine and Covenants.

D&C 82:14 For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

After that cool training, we ate lunch. For lunch, we had Costco pizza (for my first time in Taiwan), and Elder Gong also ordered ice cream. Nine gallons of it. He expected us (about 35 missionaries) to be able to finish that. There was no way, especially after the like, 15 boxes of pizza they gave us. But it was a most glorious, filling lunch. 

The day following the mission tour, my whole district fell sick; at least, one missionary from each companionship. We all got a 24-hour flu that put a couple of us out of business for a day. That was no fun. But we're all completely better now, which is a big blessing. 

During the mission tour meeting, President Day shared with us the story of Lazarus. He shared with us a few things, including the fact that Jesus Christ knew, from the beginning, what was going to happen; He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, and thus said that the sickness would show forth the power of God. Eventually, when they made it to the tomb, and Christ asked them to remove the stone, Martha said, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." But Christ replied,

"Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).

President Day told us, if we believe and let the Lord help, we to can see the glory of God; if Christ can raise Lazarus from the dead, he can help us "resurrect" an investigator (help them keep investigating or start progressing); he can us "resurrect" an area, a companionship, or anything else. He can help a Less Active come back to church. He can do anything, if we would first believe. 

I know that God can help us do anything, if we fully trust him and seek first His will. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here in Taiwan on a mission. I know this is God's work. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

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