Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mission Letter 11/2/2015

Dear family and friends,

Trick or treat! Apparently it was Halloween last what, Saturday? We didn't even realize here until the next day. 

We saw some amazing miracles this past week. The Lord has poured out so many blessings on us this past (shortened) week, and time has truly been flying! This week is already transfers again! It's amazing sometimes, just how satisfying and happy missionary work can be. (I've also discovered, a lot of the time it's just a conscious decision, and even if I want to be angry or pity myself, I try to "turn off" that part of my thinking and focus on whatever task is at hand instead.)

We were booked to the brim this past week. Since emailing last Wednesday, I believe we had about 5 hours total to go finding; 5 hours where we didn't have any appointments or meetings or meals. That is very uncommon. This past week, we were truly busy. Throughout the week, we met with 10 different investigators (or investigator families) and 10 different Recent Converts or Less Actives. We also had a few more lessons outside of that, simply from finding people on the street.

One of the biggest miracles of the week was that we found a family. They're so amazing! In fact, it was them who proactively contacted us. It was apparently someone that we met on the street around two months ago, who had set up with us, and then cancelled last minute. Since that happens to us so much in Taiwan, we didn't really think twice about it, nor did we pursue contacting her again. But last week, she texted me saying that "so and so has come out of the hospital, and now I have time to meet with you guys, I don't know when you are available?" She didn't sign her name, and it wasn't saved in the phone, so we didn't even know that piece of information. But we set up a time via text to meet with her at the chapel. 

The day rolls around, and about 20 minutes before the appointment, she calls saying she's arrived. It was a good thing we'd already gotten out of a lesson at the chapel about 3 minutes beforehand. We cross over to where she was and discover, wow! She brought her husband and 11-year-old daughter, too! That day we decided to do a temple tour, and it was an amazing lesson. We helped her and her family understand the important role of Jesus Christ, baptism, the Atonement, and then we set a baptismal goal date with the family: Christmas. We really hope to help the whole family get baptized at the same time.

The Mom of the family actually has a member friend, who lives about 2 hours away from here in Taipei. Over 10 years ago, this friend invited our new investigator to come to church, and she did a couple times. But then she got busy and stopped. But now, she feels like she wants her daughter to find some new friends, have the environment of the church around her, and be happier in life, so the family decided to come investigate the church. It's quite the miracle! 

At the chapel here, because it's right next to the temple, the mission takes advantage of using it as a finding tool. Since there is no visitor's center, the mission tries to set up certain areas for similar uses or purposes. For example, everyday there is a set of sister missionaries at the church, giving "temple tours." Of course, that's just a tour of the church while looking at the temple through the window, and looking at pictures of Christ and hearing about the gospel. My companion and I, living just about the closest to the church, use the temple tours all the time to teach lessons to both our investigators and less actives. We've probably attended more temple tours than any other companionship in the mission.

Recently, since the temple sisters know we've seen more tours than just about anyone else, they've started asking us to lead the tours when we bring our investigators. It's pretty fun. There are various hallways themed to different parts of the gospel. There's the Jesus Christ hallway, which has pictures ordered chronologically, outlining His birth, His growing up, His mortal ministry, His Atonement, the Second Coming, and baptism. Then you have the Restored Gospel hallway, which outlines prophets, the organization of Christ's church, the Joseph Smith story, and The Church Today. You have the Book of Mormon hallway, with pictures illustrating various Book of Mormon stories. You have the hallway adjacent to the temple, with a row of windows from which you can look at the temple. So even though there is no fancy decoration or interactive displays, you can get quite a bit out of a temple tour, especially with the Spirit. 

Every time I get to do a baptismal interview, it's a rather amazing experience. I get to see first hand a change in people; in the way they conduct their lives, in their commitment to follow God, and in their desire to learn more about the gospel. Yesterday I had the privilege of interviewing a baptismal candidate. She passed! She'll be baptized on Tuesday. There's just something thrilling about people being baptized, even if they're not your investigator. But, sometimes even better than baptisms, is going to the temple.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Remember to be happy, and take time each day to think about all the blessing the Lord has given us. If you're upset, just take a moment to look around you, perhaps at a tree, a mountain, or the sky, and then think of how wondrous and awesome that object is; how magnificent, complex, and miraculous it is. The grand majesty of a mountain, or perhaps the scientific wonder of the sun. It's all very cool.

Have a good week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission