Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mission Letter 5/4/2015

Hello, family and friends!

There were three languages used in church yesterday; our ward has services translated into English, and it's the only ward like that in Taoyuan, so we have a few English speakers in the ward. There is also one guy who is deaf, and thus also is dumb, and so he uses sign language to speak. So we had testimonies in Chinese, one in English, and one in sign language, and someone helped him translate into Chinese, but he signed the whole thing, which was pretty cool.

This week, we had an incredible 4 investigators at church. We were so happy! Two of them were people we'd only ever met on the street, and aside from the lesson we had with them there, had never met with us. And they both came to church. Of the 4, only one stayed for all three hours. He was one that we had met on the street only. 

When we bring investigators to church, we expect them to have an uplifting experience in an environment where they can feel the Spirit. But we're always a little scared bringing people to fast and testimony meeting; you never know who might get up and who knows what crazy thing they might share. So we're always a little hesitant as we sit next to our investigators, hoping that they don't get scared away. The other weeks are fine, because the bishopric chooses people, to speak on a certain topic, so it's not nearly as scary. But anyway.

As it was fast Sunday, he got blasted with about every gospel topic that could be discussed in the 3 hours he was at church; from Temple, to priesthood, to fasting, to endowments, to missionary work, to the responsibilities of a priesthood father, to a whole bunch of other things. Then he went to Gospel Principles, where they explained the original church of Christ, the results of the Great Apostasy, and a (relatively thorough) overview of Buddhism, Daoism, and its differences/relationship with the true gospel. During priesthood meeting, he witnessed an ordination of a recent convert to the Aaronic Priesthood. It was interesting, and I'm glad our investigator didn't get scared off (too badly). We met with him after church, too, and taught Lesson 1, the Restoration. So he has a lot to think about in the coming week or two.

Our very best investigator, Brother Huang, is doing amazing! He's learning so much, and progressing so well. He has awesome questions, and is keeping commitments like reading, praying, and coming to church. He set a baptismal date this week for May 30. We're really excited for him; he's looking for a belief system/religion, and we hope to help him realize that with us, he's found it. He's truly an awesome guy; he has a Mormon friend, and thus has heard about things like the Word of Wisdom; one of his questions to us was if Mormons could own coffee stores, because he wants to open one someday. He's cool.

Sometimes we have lessons, and the member who comes with us will go way to deep into gospel doctrine. This past week, we had a lesson, and we briefly talked about the priesthood, and then our member went into a discussion with our investigator about the different priesthoods, the different offices within the priesthood, how ordination works, what is an apostle, how a man gets chosen to be advanced in the priesthood, and a whole bunch of things that were just way more information than was needed. So, be warned; if you help missionaries go visit people, and they look like they're cringing as you talk, simply the doctrine a little bit. 

Last Monday was incredibly fun; there are two members around here, both single adults but planning on marriage, Sean and Sofia. They are very good to missionaries; and they're English is on a very high level, so it's like being with Americans, almost. And they often take the missionaries to go do stuff on Preparation Day. Last Monday, they took us to a place called Tiger Mountain, and then we went hiking and saw some incredible scenery, some awesome views of the city, and all around just had a ton of fun. Here's the four of us on a tiger:

After the the hike, they took us to Costco. OH MY GOODNESS. Have you heard of the term, "trunky" before? It means a missionary who really wants to go home/is almost going home (and acts like it); it means the missionary's bags are packed, and they just think about home all the time. Man, going to Costco does that to a person. Why? Because it is literally IDENTICAL with Costco's in the US; the inside, the layout, the foods, the samples, and the food court. I saw so many things that I haven't eaten in so long; I walked down aisles basically identical to ones I'd walked before, and so... yeah. Also had pizza for lunch, from the Costco food court. So delicious. They have Hawaiian out here (they don't have pepperoni). It was amazing. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy almost anything there for groceries; everything is in bulk, and while you get tons, it's very expensive on a missionary budget. I did get 12 muffins, though (buy one get one free!).

We helped a family move this week. From the fourth floor of a building, across town, up to the fifth floor. Good thing it was just mostly boxes and not much big furniture. But there was no elevator either; we did get a pretty good conveyor belt system going. Each person took it up one flight of stairs to the next person, and who took it up another flight, and it worked magically. 

Afterwards, they took us to a Pizza Hut buffet. My goodness. That's something I have never seen before in my life. But it was so delicious! And there were so many flavors that I'd never even considered before; they had like, a peas and carrots, a curry pizza, a kim chi pizza, steak pizza, a seafood pizza, a sushi pizza, and then of course, pepperoni and hawaiian. But it was so delicious!

An invite that the mission gave us this week was to take a copy of the Book of Mormon, give it to a member, ask them to write their testimony in the front, and give it to a friend or acquaintance. So we've been doing that with several members this week. Then we get to follow up with them next week.

When you think about it, the Book of Mormon is one of the most precious, thoughtful gifts you could every give someone. Why? Because of what is in it, and the effect it has on people's lives. Think about your own life. The Book of Mormon doubtless has played a big role and has had an incredibly large influence. Think about how it could affect the lives of others!

Remember what it contains. "It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). That's a lot!

Everyone has someone they could give a copy of the Book of Mormon to. Whether it is someone you see everyday, like a bus driver, or a co-worker, a friend, or whoever it may be, think of the people who have seen them before and perhaps passed over the chance to give them the Book or invite them to learn about the gospel. Especially in Utah, everyone is under the impression that "everyone is already a Mormon, and if not, they've already been asked 1000 times before." But if everyone has that view, then nobody is ever offered a chance to learn the gospel. Being in a Mormon community does not mean everyone has had the chance. So take a step out of your comfort zone and try.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

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