Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mission Letter 6/29/2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been awesome! Full of little surprises all over the place, but awesome none the less!

So, this past week, we had a couple days right at the start of the week where it rained and thundered and poured buckets and cats and dogs. So that was pretty fun; there was one day of constant, hard rain, and there were some roads that were a little bit flooded, getting close to half a foot deep water in some places. That day, we went "English Boarding," which is giving out tracts and pamphlets and advertising our free English Class; we went right outside the train station, and because there weren't a lot of people standing around in the open, we went "umbrella contacting," which is noticing the people who are standing around because they don't have an umbrella, and offering to escort them across the street or to where ever nearby place they want to go. 

It works really well, because the Taiwanese people (at least, most of them) are truly afraid of the rain. Which doesn't make sense, considering how much it rains here, but they hate being in it and getting wet. So we went umbrella contacting, and we would talk to people about English Class as we crossed the street, etc.

That day, we also had our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Wu, take us to a member's house to give her child a blessing. Because it was raining so hard, he drove us there (instead of making us bike, which was nice). Because of traffic and rain, it took like, twice as long as it normally would have to get there, and by the time all things were said and done, it had been about an hour and a half. But then he took us out to dinner, which was really nice of him.

He took us to a McDonald's Drive Through. What ensued was hilarious. He ordered the "Number 5 combo," and then we pulled up to the window, and they gave us our drinks and a big brown bag, then told us to pull up ahead and wait for the rest. Which we did.

After about 5 minutes, I peeked inside the bag to see what we were waiting for. I also couldn't smell any food, so I didn't know what they had given us. So I opened the bag, reached in, and to my great surprise, pulled out a "Original Coke" glass, not food at all! Brother Wu, a little flustered at the fact that he bought something he didn't want, and that the food hadn't arrived yet, proceeded to get out of the truck (in the pouring rain) and walk...up to the McDonald's Drive Through window. Yes, there were cars in the way, but he waited his turn, and then asked them where the food was. They told him they'd bring it out to us, and he came back. But Elder Ribar and I could not help but laugh as we watched him standing at the drive through window. It was great.

This past week, we had our English Class party. In honor of America (I guess we could say), we held a "Freedom Festival." It was somewhat of a carnival, with different games and activities being held around the church. People had entry cards, and played games, and ate watermelon (for some reason, Taiwanese people view watermelon as an "American fruit" that all Americans just love). And at the end, we as missionaries did a skit where we told the story of Captain Moroni, making his Title of Liberty, and going to war against the Lamanites. So I go to be Captain Moroni, an hoist our wonderful Title of Liberty during the skit. It was a ton of fun. 

Then we had some unexpected transfers this week! First off, it was me that transferred. My whole District never thought I would leave, but that my companion would. Instead, here I am, no longer in Zhongli, but rather in Cenral Taipei, right by the Temple, serving as a new Zone Leader! It's a ton of fun being right in Taipei, but it is so much hotter than any other place I've ever been in Taiwan. But I love it here. More people ignore us, but there are also more people, too. I'm really excited to start working with my new companion, Elder Varney.

And our new mission president! President Jergensen arrives tomorrow. President Day leaves tomorrow. We played basketball for exercises this morning, and he came for his last time in Taiwan. It was awesome having him as our mission president, and I'm also excited for whatever lies ahead. 

I'm so grateful for everything that has happened while I've been to Taiwan. And although I've moved from place to place to place, never staying in one place for more than three months, I hope I can settle down here in Taipei for a little bit longer than that. 

Scripture of the Week: Alma 46:12 and 20

12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
 20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mission Letter 6/22/2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been an incredible week! Last Monday, we started our week with our Preparation Day, during which we went to a small theme park called Leo Foo Village. It was a ton of fun, even though there weren't a ton of rides. But it was fun to relax for a day; we even had a member go with us, so that was great.

Sometimes weeks can be simply exhausting. We have a couple investigators and less actives that we regularly meet with, and some weekly mission meetings, so that always carries us right up through Thursday pretty quickly. But then Friday to Sunday, we have close to zero appointments, and end up with day after day of being on the street contacting. It's exhausting sometimes, but one day it will pay off.

I guess our only struggle currently in this area is helping investigators progress. We do tons of finding, and much of the time, these people end up not living in our area. Sometimes the people we find simply do not want to meet again, and sometimes they simply cut off all contact with us. It's so frustrating when the person you think is "the one" (that will get baptized) starts dodging your calls and texts, reads your facebook messages but does not reply, etc. We have had a couple of people do that to us, so we often find ourselves back at square one.

We met with an investigator named Hook this past week; he's been an investigator for over half a year, and he often meets with the missionaries, but he doesn't come to church. He came two or so times when the missionaries started meeting with him, but only attended the first hour. In the past couple transfers, he's been progressing on and off; sometimes he'll read the Book of Mormon, sometimes he doesn't. Most of the time he prays. But church is something he says, "If I have time, I'll come," but never really will. So this past week, we had a lesson where we kinda started at the top with laying expectations; why he wanted to meet with the missionaries, what he expected to get out of it, etc. He revealed much to us, and we learnt a lot; he said that meeting with missionaries made him feel good, but that he didn't feel like church gave him that feeling. He likes the "learning" aspect, but since he'd never gone to the second or third hours of church either, he didn't know what they were like. He had no desire to church because he felt like he didn't learn anything, and Sunday's also the only family time that they have during the week. But we committed him to come to church again; we explained what the Sacrament actually represented (which he didn't know), what we do after Sacrament Meeting, and he said he'd try to come this week! We're excited to see if he actually does.

We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders this week. I was with Elder Griffin, who is in my "generation," meaning we came out at the same time; we were in the MTC together, and on the same plane to Taiwan. He went from being Junior Companion in a regular companionship, straight to Zone Leader last transfer. He was so surprised. But he's an awesome guy. His companion goes home at the end of this transfer (which is Friday), so he will be training the new Zone Leader next transfer.

This week is transfers. President Day goes home next Tuesday, and we'll have a new Mission President, President Jergensen. Since my companion and I have already been together for two transfers, we will probably get split up this week. I might move, or he might move. But because I've only been in the area for two transfers, we're guessing he will move, and I will stay. We find out Wednesday night.

This past District Meeting, we had a small lesson on the difference between Ammon and Abinadi. We created the following chart, which was very informative to me. 

Baptisms: 0
Converts: 1
Length of Mission: 2 years
Results: Church among the Nephite people, Alma baptizes 204 and 450 leave the land of Nephi with him, Nephite history influenced and changed. Because of one man.

Baptisms: 7 Lamanite Cities and 7 Lamanite lands, and one Amalekite
Length of Mission: Longer
Results: A peaceable Lamanite people, thousands upon thousands brought to the knowledge of God.

Though Abinadi thought he might have been a failure, he literally changed the course of history. Another thing that was pointed out, was that Ammon was also a result of Abinadi's efforts; Abinadi converted Alma the Elder, and his son, Alma the younger, was with Ammon and King Mosiah's other sons, and they were all converted together. So, though Abinadi didn't know what happened, it literally affected both those nations. Even if he didn't feel successful, he did more than he ever thought he would.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mission Letter 6/15/2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello! This week was good, but also really hard. Nothing seemed to work out this week. We had a few days of simply no appointments, leaving us with over four hours of just walking up and down streets trying to get people to talk to us. There was one day, where within three hours, we couldn't have a lesson with anyone. This isn't typical, especially in this area where I'm serving. It left us a little disappointed; this week felt a little slow. But we're still working hard, trying to overcome the harder times.

However, down in the Hualien/Taidong area, on the East Coast, where I used to serve in Yuli, exciting things are happening now! President Day went down there for some trainings, some firesides, some branch conferences, and then the best news of all: they are forming the Stake this coming weekend, which is truly so exciting! What we worked for so hard is paying off now. This mission will not have a single District within the boundaries, and it's just so amazing watching a Stake be established. So exciting.

We had a baptism in the District; the Yangmei elders had a baptism, which was so exciting! Especially since recently, their area has been a little slower. Also, one of the Elders that is there, Elder Taylor, a missionary in training, kinda had a bike accident and somewhat fractured his shoulder. So, despite the constant bed rest and not much else happening for them last week, it was so exciting for them to have their investigator, Sister Xu, be baptized. She is truly an awesome person, and will be an excellent member.

This month (and last month), President Day gave us an invite; last month, for each companionship have one baptism and this month two. Last month we focused on "the one," and this month's two, he calls the "one plus one." Personally, for our companionship's one plus one, we had a Brother Wang, a member referral, and a Brother Guo, also a member referral. But Brother Wang told us that he won't be able to meet until next month, which disqualified him to be one of our two for June. And in the past week, our golden investigator Brother Guo hasn't replied to our texts or phone calls, or talked to us but once; we asked him how he was over Facebook, and all we got back was "so bad." So, we're still trying to follow up with him and help him, but since he also did not come to church yesterday, he will not be able to make it this month. It's so sad! But we'll keep working with him. He had a big desire; it just seems that recently, he's probably facing some trials in his life. 

Yesterday was also a Sister Missionary in my District's birthday. She turned 20, and our Ward Mission Leader had us over at his house yesterday for lunch to celebrate. We all had the silly American party hat/cones, and little noisemakers. It was terribly fun. Our Ward Mission Leader spoils us too much. 

At District Meeting, we had a training by one of the Sisters in our District, and she taught us about teaching like Christ, particularly about the style of the questions He asked.

She told us that Preach My Gospel says, the questions Christ used in teaching, "prompted thought, soul searching, and commitment." She then invited us to pull out our new testaments and open to any random page within the Four Gospels, find a question that Christ asked, and see how it contained those elements. It was quite an amazing object lesson; and a cool opportunity for deeper analyzation of the things Christ taught.

Anyway, I hope your week goes just awesome! I know mine will! It's amazing serving here in Zhongli, and I love it so much.

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Rest of the Mission Letter


Sorry, I totally don't know what key combination I hit that accidentally sent that last letter, but I wasn't quite done.

I was saying, this scripture I read this morning, and it rather impacted me; I imagined a prophet or apostle, speaking at General Conference, asking us to do a self-introspection, answering these questions to ourselves. These three verses have excellent questions, which can help us to check our faith and improve even more. So, ask yourselves these questions, and then answer them. 

 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
 15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
 19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

 28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.

Have an awesome week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission