Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mission Letter 5/13/2015

Hello, everybody!

The letter is a little late this week because this week, our Preparation Day was on Wednesday, because it's also our temple day. So this morning, we are going to the temple. So excited! It's been close to six months since I went last; while I was on Taiwan's East Coast, in Yuli, it's just so far away that we get passed by; as long as we're down there, we don't get to attend. But not that I'm back up on the north part of Taiwan, we get to go again!

This past week flew by. So many things happened, and at the same time, nothing happened. I say this past week flew by, but really the whole transfer flew by. Next week is transfers; and, while I don't want to leave my current companion (because he's so awesome), I have a rather big desire to train; not because I want to be a trainer so much as it is because I want to be my friend Alex Welch's trainer; he arrives in Taiwan next week, and I'm so excited.

The main thing of last week was a Zone Meeting in which President Day set a whole bunch of rules and guidelines to "turn the mission around." For about 6 months (so, about since my group of missionaries came to Taiwan), the mission's key indicators (baptisms, new investigators, etc.) has been dropping. Perhaps it's attributed to lack of experience, lack of discipline, or who knows what, but President Day wants to fix it, and especially before he leaves the mission (after one more transfer).

​CAPTION: Traveling to Zone Meeting, on a Taiwanese bus (could they have stuffed any more people on?)

Some new guidelines include the rule of finding for two hours every day, using facebook less, avoiding any waste of time or activity which tends to "put off" or decrease finding, not having bad attitudes to finding and other activities, along with other things. The entire document was three full pages long, of step-by-step things we need to do to be better missionaries. And it's been incredible the change in the mission in just the past week. Things are turning around. And, they're turning around quickly. So we're excited to see what the future holds.

Next transfer is going to be a short transfer; a 5 week instead of a 6 week one, because President Day will be leaving, and he doesn't want the new Mission President to arrive and the next day have to hold a transfer meeting. So, it'll be a little shorter than normal.

The other day, some lady on the street took us to the fanciest restaurant I think I have ever been to in my entire life. We ran into her in front of the library, she self-contacted us (came and talked to us, instead of us initiating the conversation) because I looked "Asian" or Taiwanese, and she'd met with missionaries before, and so we exchanged contact information, and a week later, she invited us to dinner, and we went to this restaurant. Now, food in Taiwan is on average pretty cheap; I feel it is expensive if I spend over 3 dollars (US) on a meal here. This lady spent about $100. And they gave us dish after dish after amazing dish, and it was some of the most amazing food I've ever eaten, and it was so nice of her. After, we started to clear up some of her concerns and misunderstandings about Mormons, such as "Do you worship someone aside from God and Christ? Pretty sure you do..." We figured out eventually that she was referring to Joseph Smith. Previously, when she had met with missionaries, she said they had told her we worship Joseph Smith. Then she said, perhaps it was that when she had asked them that question, they didn't understand, and just nodded their heads anyway. But we hope to help her learn much more about the gospel, now that she doesn't think we're completely weird.

Yesterday was one of my best birthday's ever. That day, I was on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, and he "took me out to lunch" (I don't know how that really translates into English anymore), an awesome all-you-can-eat hot pot. After an awesome District Meeting, where the whole district ate cake, cookies, and ice cream (the cake and cookies my companion and I made; I have never made such a perfect looking cake before, and it tasted good, too! Of course, it was just a cake mix from the local supermarket, but still! It was perfect, and the rest of the food was awesome, too), we went and had some awesome lessons. Then, while we were at the church for another lesson, our Ward Mission Leader showed up with a beautiful chocolate cake, candles, and other small snacks, and we celebrated again; and then that night, right outside of our house (in the plaza), there was a random short fireworks show. So, just a really awesome birthday.

This week, in District Meeting, I presented a training on leadership to the missionaries in my District, and one of the scriptures I shared with them was this, from the New Testament, Matthew 20:28

 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

I love this scripture as it really puts things in perspective; God, the mightiest of all, came down to Earth. Not to be served, but to serve others. He didn't have to do that; after all, he was God. But he lowered himself, to even lower than some men. After all, has not "The Son of Man... descended below them all" (D&C 122:8)?

As we minister, we follow Christ's example of leadership. May we all follow his example, in all things.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission