Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mission Letter 12/28/2015 "Back into Taipei"

Dear family and friends,

This week has been pretty awesome! And so incredibly busy. And tiring. And I've been running around all over the place. But it's been extremely fun. Here's a blow-by-blow of the week:

Monday: It was a P-Day. But, just like the last 8 P-Days, we went to the Mission Office, and instead of choir, practiced another missionary's Nativity Play, which was to be presented the next day at the Mission Christmas Conference. Elder Anderton, a theatre enthusiast and perfectionist, mixed the stories of the Nativity and Elder Holland's narration of his first Christmas away from home (on a mission), and portrayed those in a play with musical background (including a piano, cello, guitar, and a violin, the music being arranged and directed by myself). So, that was all day.

Tuesday: Back into Taipei again to attend the Mission Christmas Conference at the American Center. It was also an all-day activity, and super fun. A few trainings, but mostly talent shows, musical performances, the Nativity Play, and a walk to the site where Taiwan was dedicated for missionary work. It was an awesome day, with super good food. A high class buffet lunch, and it was just amazing.

​CAPTION: The cast of the Nativity play, and the "orchestra" members.

Wednesday: Back into Taipei for a District Leader Training Meeting, now that I'm the District Leader in my new area. This isn't my first time being district leader, so it was basically "come hear what you've heard before," but regardless, it was pretty fun, I guess. At night, when we finally got back into our area, it was time for English Class, so no proselyting that day either.

Thursday: Weekly Planning Session takes up the majority of the afternoon. At night time though, it was: yep. Back into Taipei for a choir performance. We went to Banqiao, and the ward arranged for us to show up at the train station and stand outside and sing Christmas songs on the corner to people walking by. So, without piano or stuff (we brought one but there were no plugs for the keyboard), we sang our program a capella in the misty rain. It was kinda fun, got a little bit of a crowd. Mostly ward members. They also handed out tracts and fliers to people walking by.

Friday: It was a good day. In the evening, we went back into Taipei for a baptism in my old area. There was a family (three people) who we were working with who passed their interviews and were baptized on Christmas Day! The family comprised of a father, mother, and 11-year old daughter were super cool, and it was awesome to be able to return for the baptism. We also had one other investigator who we were working with get baptized on the same day, during the same service. Black, is his name, and I had the honor of baptizing him. So, an all around good day.

Saturday: Dare you guess? Back into Taipei for another choir performance at night. Our very last one! Choir has been super fun, but it's also been draining, and taking a lot of time out of missionary work in my own area. But it was great. Also got to Skype home! It was soo good to talk to my family. Really had a fun time chatting.

Sunday: The first day we didn't return to Taipei. But we were late to church, after a mad scramble which involved catching the wrong bus and then having to take a Taxi to make up for the wrong way we went. But it was fine.

Well, my time is about up. That's how this week went. This coming week should be even more fun, as we actually start working in our own area more. 

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mission Letter 12/21/2015

Dear family and friends,

This week has been most wonderful! And most busy! Between choir performances, companion exchanges, and trainer training meetings, I've just been up and down all over the place.

So, there were like, 5 elders coming in this transfer. One from Sweden, one from the US, and then three Taiwanese native missionaries (of which one or two are visa waiters for other countries, probably the US). So, with that news came all the anticipation over who I was going to train. Wth that many native missionaries entering our mission, the chances were pretty high that I would be training one of them. I was pretty excited to drastically improve my Chinese in the coming 12 weeeks. And back to this story in a minute...

Monday: one of the missionaries in our mission is putting together a live nativity, mixed with a Missionary's Christmas experience, for our mission conference. It's a very inspired production. The missionary who put it together is super into theatre, and is doing awesome at getting those emotions out of people. And it just so happens the production is a musical, and he asked me to do the music. So, on Monday I spent the whole day rehearsing. That was a long P-day.

Tuesday: We had our last district meeting of the transfer. There were two sisters going home in our district, and many of us transferring, so the district leader planned for us to make brownies and share about mission experiences. I don't know if that was the vision the mission had for us, or the topic, but it was a swell time anyway.

Wednesday I had a trainer meeting for the afternoon. Then we had our English Class party. We talked about Christmas. Our station in the rotation taught about caroling, and we discussed and learned the song, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." That was fun. It's cool, using songs to teach English. Most people didn't know what it meant to "call someone names." It's amazing the English you can teach out of the most simple things.

Thursday was transfers. And of course, I got paired up with the guy from Sweden. Turns out, he's also half Taiwanese, like me. So together, we make up one full Taiwanese person and one full Euorpean. It's super cool, especially introducing ourselves on the street. "Are you from Utah?" "Well, actually..."

I'll take a better picture of us in the coming week.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was full of choir performances, with as much proselyting as we could fit in between the extensive travel times. President was forced to keep me in Taipei, simply because I'm kinda running the choir. So, that's what he did. But, I'm almost positive that he stuck me in the farthest away corner, because I'm totally the one who is traveling the longest and always home late. But it's okay. Performances end after this week, and life will be stress free again!

I love my mission. Life is going good. I love my new area and my new ward. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mission Letter 12/7/2015

Dear family and friends,

Yet another week has come and gone, just like that. 

My companion and I had exchanges with another companionship in our zone this week.

This is Elder Bell, serving in Xizhi, the most rural part of our zone. Going there is always a treat because all the buildings are shorter, there are more mountains, less cars, more air, etc. Elder Bell is currently on his third transfer of his mission. Young guy, in terms of mission age. But he's super cool, and so is his current companion. Exchanges are always a fun opportunity to learn from the other companionship, and also to train and improve skills. 

Choir performances have started. In the past weekend, we had three performances (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights). The first time we ran the entire program without stopping... was at our first performance. And it somehow went surprisingly smoothly. Watching all the effort that was put into planning out and organizing the performance end so well is very satisfying. We pulled the entire program together in about 4.5 weeks (got the music, learned the songs, practiced the conducting and instrumentalists, soloists, narration, etc). We still have many performances in the coming three weeks around Taipei. Hopefully all the members will invite their friends and neighbors to the performances.

This coming Sunday, our Stake (the Central Taipei Stake) and the East Taipei Stake are holding a special combined Stake Conference.... to SPLIT THE STAKES! WOOT! The two stakes are going to combine and then split into three, the North, East, and Central Taipei Stakes (yes, the naming here is extremely creative). And the following week is transfers. If all goes according to the normal time schedule, I'm due to leave. But we don't know if President will leave me for an extra one because of the Christmas Choir (if I left and didn't participate anymore, the Christmas choir would end because I play half the songs). 

It rained this Sunday, so church attendance was smaller than usual. Significantly. Investigator attendance was even less. Whenever it rains here, all the people take shelter and don't go outside. But hopefully next week, the investigator family that we've been working with, will be able to come to church again. This past week we had the opportunity of actually going to their house to visit them (in Taiwan, it's very rare that we will ever visit anyone in their home, usually people will set up at the church or at something near their house like a McDonald's). We're encouraged to meet in people's houses, so as to have an opportunity to particularly bring the Spirit into their home. It was a great lesson. We're hoping to help them be baptized on Christmas. They're scared of it being a little fast, but they do feel like the church has made changes in their lives. The Mom has already read all the way through to Mosiah in like, a month. Super cool!

Not much more to report on this week. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission