Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mission Letter 6/20/216

Dear family and friends,

This week was super awesome! Super fun. It started with an exchange to Miaoli. It's just to the south of my area, and it's the area of our mission right next to the Taizhong Mission Boundaries. I went and spent the day with Elder Nielson, who was in my generation (meaning we came on island at the same time. That also means we both go home together). It was a fun day. It's always relaxing being in someone else's area; you get to follow them around and just teach people without worrying about anything else. 

During the exchange, we had a lesson with one of their investigators; a musician studying music in the US. She's back in Taiwan for summer vacation. Since we were at the church, we exchanged small performances on the piano, and it was super fun. There's to "you never know when your talents will help you do missionary work." Following, we had a lesson about the Plan of Salvation, focusing on the fact that God is our Father, and wants to help us. 

It's one of my favorite analogies to use. Because God is our Father, he wants us to be happy, and to be like he is. After all, is that not any parents hopes for their children? But, parents cannot do everything for their kids, otherwise they'll never learn. Like learning to ride a bike. Parents won't do it for us; but they'll teach us how, and when we fall (not if we fall, when we fall, because challenges will definitely come), they help us back up and keep going. God is the same way; he'll give us advice and help us, comfort us, but he cannot do things for us. So we just have to learn to do things His way, and everything will work out. 

We also had exchanges with the Zone Leaders. During the exchange, we had to go up to Zhubei for a Zone Conference. President and the office elders all came down for a full day of trainings. There were four topics that got hit on: eliminating pride, eliminating negative thinking, diversifying teaching methods, and reaching the key indicators (which are the mission's goals for performance; goals on how many lessons to teach, etc.). It was a super good, well thought out training. And there were three zones in attendance, so a pretty big crowd. Here's a selfie I snapped during a roleplay:


So, all is going well here on this tiny, but super hot and very populated ocean island! It's almost scary how small Taiwan is. But I love this place. 

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mission Letter 5/30/2016 The Final Countdown

Dear family and friends, 

It's the final countdown! This week I passed my 50 Day mark (as my sister so kindly reminded me in emails today). But this week was awesome. 

First off, I started the week eating a meal with my Aunt. That was a ton of fun; my cousin came, as well as my uncle. We went to a super good buffet, and this was the first time I really had a chance to have a sit down conversation with my Taiwanese side of the family. It was super cool! Now that I can speak to them and have a normal conversation about normal topics. It's a cool feeling. In addition to the Taiwanese just being super hospitable to people in general, there's a special connection to them, simply from just being family. 



We got to participate this past weekend in Taiwan's "Missionary Work in Taiwan 60 Year Anniversary Devotional." That was a super cool experience. Because we were in the choir (you may remember we participated in one event last week, this week we had another two performances and two devotional meetings), we got to listen to various stories, talks, and songs. It was an awesome meeting, with the first missionary to come to Taiwan in attendance, a member from the Asia Area Presidency, etc. Above is a picture of all those who were involved (including the missionaries who sang in the choir). 



This meeting was not only for members who lived in the Taipei area, but was broadcast to all the Stake Centers in Taiwan and could be watched online. One of the members, while she was watching, recognized some of us on the screen of her cell phone and quickly took a snapshot to show us (above). So that was cool. All of us got broadcast all over Taiwan. 

The other Elders who are in this ward with us had another baptism this week! The ward is pumped. They're getting so good at being open and friendly, etc. They've now had three baptisms in two months or so, and another two or so that are pretty solid coming up. The members here are awesome, and such good friends with each other and the missionaries now. I really do love this ward. And I've been here for so long. They all want me to "die" here (dying for missionaries means ending their missions in a certain place), because they know I only have one transfer left. Transfers are this Thursday; we shall see what happens to me.

I was reading the scriptures today, and I was really impressed with the Lord's example of prayer. In Matthew 14, it reads:

 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

He took the time to have some privacy. He went up into a holy place. And he took his time in prayer. We all ought to find time to do that; to not make prayer a hurried thing, to take some time alone, away from the hustle and bustle of the world and family and take some time for quiet contemplation. It is the best way to receive inspiration. 

The mission is going well. The miracles keep coming. The Sanxia area is booming. The Lord is pouring blessings out all over this place. The weather is getting hot. And life is good.

Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mission Letter 5/16/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was an awesome week! And I turned 20. I feel so old. Especially now that I'm both 20, and going home soon. Everyone just seems that much younger than me. 


​CAPTION: Eating at a wonderful burger place on my birthday. The Zone Leaders and the Sisters came to celebrate together. 

So, for my birthday, we ate burgers one night and then an all-you-can-eat hot pot for lunch the next day. I stuffed my face with way more food than I should have, but hey! It was my birthday. So we celebrated. It just so happened that we were on exchanges with the Zone Leaders out of our area, so more missionaries could come celebrate together. It was fun. 

Our investigator, Jacky, is getting baptized this week! I'm so excited for him. He's so cool. He passed his baptismal interview this week, came to church, and is starting to feel more and more comfortable in a church environment. He really was the smoothest sailing investigator I have ever had. No major questions, no major problems, and everything went just fine. 

Speaking of his interview, during his interview Taiwan had an earthquake. A 5.8 on the north side of the island. By the time it reached us, it was about a 3.8. But still. Shook the highrise we were in (during his interview). Just one of your average fun shakes that keep life interesting. Nobody even panicked during the earthquake. Everyone just remained in their seats (probably watching if anyone else was going to get up screaming and running). During earthquakes here, it's usually, "see if anyone else is panicking, and if they are, follow them." 

We have another golden investigator, Brother Rao. He showed up at church this week (at our invite) in a nice long-sleeve collared shirt, tie and dress slacks. He's been meeting with us 2x per week, he keeps the Book of Mormon with him 24/7, reads it and feels better, and just progresses so quickly in general. He's so cool! I'm positive that he will also get baptized, and pretty quickly, too. He even drove Jacky home after church this week.

Singing. The missionary choir joined with the member choir for a practice last night. Man, it sounds good! In total now, there are probably about 100 people in the choir. It's an impressive sounding choir. We perform next week at a place called The Grand Hotel in Taipei. It's been a lot of fun, doing a lot of stuff with music during my mission, too.

Have a wonderful week!

Love, 
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mission Letter 5/9/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was pretty awesome. So many blessings in our area. (I'm sorry, is that bad grammar? I can't even tell anymore, my ability to sense if something sounds right or not has completely been thrown off. Wish me luck.)

Today I get to Skype  my family. In fact, Ill be doing that in about half an hour. So this email may be pretty short. 


​CAPTION: I'm pretty sure, I have not been trained in the art of "selfie" picture taking. I don't feel like pictures of me look like I actually look in real life. But whatever. In the city where I serve, there is a pretty new University Campus, complete with a artificial lake. After finishing dinner early, we went to watch ducks for a few minutes. 

This week was awesome! We had a Zone Conference training on Tuesday by Elder Wong of the Seventy, of the Asia Area Presidency. He's Cantonese, and a convert to the church. It amazes me how you can take someone who was a convert to the church, and after several years, turn him into an incredibly spiritual Seventy. He had some awesome trainings, on which I took lots of notes. He's a funny man, too; he kept making jokes. Particularly stereotypical things about Utahns. He can do that because he is based in Hong Kong. But he talked a lot about what it means to teach and edify. Most of the training about edify was understand what the word means in English and Chinese, and thus get a better understanding of the word. He tore the word and characters apart, and spent probably about 40 minutes talking about Edify. It was a super cool training, and when you look at a concept from different languages, you learn a lot, too.

We finished teaching all the lessons to our investigator Jacky this week. I'm so excited for his baptism! He has his interview next week. I think the reason teaching him has been such a smooth process is because he has a member friend. One of his fellow classmates from Jr. High School is now serving a mission, and because he'd been invited to church activities and other things, this time when he ran into the missionaries, he was prepared and willing to learn. That means his first contact with the church was at least 6 years ago. We're so excited for him. 

That's something I've learned in missionary work. As a missionary, you want action, results, in a very short amount of time. That's good; it happens often, too. Because we're in an area for such a short time, we want to see something change before we leave. But for people who are our friends (us being members in general), sometimes they're not going to meet the missionaries and be baptized a month later. But, we can start the process now, and then maybe those six years will start counting down from now. 

There is a proverb that says, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." So go plant that tree. 

Have a wonderful week!

Love, 
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mission Letters 5/2/2016

Dear family and friends,

And just like that, April is gone. They say April showers bring May flowers, but in Taiwan, it's more like April downpours bring May thunderstorms which bring June typhoons. It's just always raining. But that's nice; it keeps the temperature under control. 


​CAPTION: Fear not, we are not in a pub. This is an all you can eat brick pizza house. Delicious!

This week my companion and I worked really hard. And the results of all of our efforts thus far have been amazing! We had a lot of lessons this week, and I've just seen so much change during the time I've been in this area. Change in the ward and in my own area. Especially since we whitewashed, meaning we came in and started fresh in the area. It's been so cool watching the change in investigators and ward members, as we've gotten to know them and become friends with them. People just open up. You make so many friends on a mission. 

We have an investigator, Jacky. He's literally the coolest guy ever. He's got a friend that's Mormon, that's his initial and repeated contact with the church. But we've been meeting with him, and he's been accepting all that we've been teaching him. It's been one of the smoothest teaching processes I've ever participated in. He's set a time for a baptismal interview, and if he passes, he'll be baptized in 3 more weeks. We're so excited! 

As is the ward. Until the other companionship of elders had a baptism two weeks ago, the ward hadn't had a baptism in over a year. They were a ward very familiar with each other, but a little ignorant of new people who we'd bring to church. They'd say hi, but that's about it. But now, the ward is getting better and better at just swarming the people we bring to church. It's so cool! The ward's new saying (about baptisms) is, "We've had one, now we'll have two, then three, then four!" And it's looking more and more like it all the time. 

We have a new investigator Sister Jiang, who the ward simply loves. People keep telling us, "She's prepared. She's totally getting baptized." She has all the right questions, met with us on a Saturday and then came to church on Sunday, and enjoyed everything about it. Willing to read the scriptures, set a baptismal goal, and feels golden in every way shape and form. We're so excited for her!

This week's been great. Today the missionary choir for the 60th Anniversary of missionary work in Taiwan starts practicing. Hopefully that's not too stressful. 

Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mission Letter 4/4/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was pretty good. Sometimes weeks feel so long and so short, I don't actually remember what happened.

So here's a quick summary of this week:

Monday: We were going have a dinner with our Stake President's family. They are one of the biggest families in Taiwan, 6 kids. Typical Mormons (which is not so typical in Taiwan, they still only have two to three on average). But the Mom just had her sixth child about a month or two ago. So, when we were asking if we could go visit them, somehow we offered our service as chefs for the family for the night. They accepted, said, "send us the list of ingredients, and then we'll get them ready for you." So we spent last week trying to decide on a menu. It was super hard. Finally, I decided to make a meal that Dad often used to make at home: steak, mashed potatoes, and boiled sweet carrots. 

But we wanted the meal to be good and very American, so we went to Costco for the steak (Costco is literally the best place on earth, it's like walking into America but you don't need a passport, just a membership) because at Costco, everything is imported from America. We bought the smallest pack they had (it had 8 thick slabs of meat in it). Then we cooked steak for the Stake President's family (get it? Elder Reintjes and I think we're so punny). Mashed potatoes with butter and milk, and boiled carrots (with sugar instead of salt). They loved it! They were like, how did you make the mashed potatoes so good? The steak is so juicy! Sweet carrots? It was all so foreign to them. But we had an excellent meeting with the family, and an excellent discussion with the Stake President about how to get missionary work moving. 


​CAPTION: My companion and I in our house. Yes. Cute.

Tuesday: we met with our favorite investigator family. They are the ones who have been christian for over 25 years, but are starting to learn about our church. We had a good discussion, sharing about the plan of salvation and continuing to answer many of their questions. Hopefully the kids enjoy it, too. 

Wednesday: English Class! It's struggling. Not many new students come, sometimes old ones leave. We just can't seem to get over 20 students. But we keep advertising it! Every time we talk to them, we give them an English flier. Especially if they're not interested in the gospel, then they definitely get the flier.  English Class is still one of the most effective missionary tools in the Taiwan Taipei Mission. It brings so many baptisms. 

Saturday: We met with an LA referral from another city. He's come to our patch of the garden for college. He was baptized a year before he moved here, and when he came, he stopped attending church mainly because he didn't know where it was. But now he's been found! And he's super cool, and he loves church, and he's going to be fully active again real soon, I'm pretty sure. 

Sunday was the new member and investigator fireside the mission holds every month in Taipei. Originally, the Elder in charge of the music said to me, "You've probably played the music at every fireside you've ever attended. So I don't want you to play anything this time so you can have a break." About a week later, he called again and asked me to play for the whole thing and accompany a couple other performers. I didn't mind. It was fun. And I got to use the organ, which is always a treat.

The sun was out this week. At least, it didn't rain. That was a blessing; there were so many more people outside on the streets (at any time during the day), so finding was much more effective and not so draining this week. I love being a missionary. I am so excited for a couple of our investigators as they continue preparing to be baptized, especially the family.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mission Letter 3/28/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week has been super...interesting. Perhaps one of the longest, most tedious, weeks of my mission. As missionaries, in Taiwan especially, we are used to getting rejected a decent amount, but we are also used to frequent success in street contacting, setting up lessons, and teaching the gospel. Unlike many missions in the world which have seemingly stagnated, stuck in an everlasting tracting phase, we are blessed in Taiwan to serve in a place where people are usually willing to talk to us, for the most part. 

But this past week was so rough. Rejection upon rejection upon no one wanting to give us even 5 seconds. It gets old when the only thing you say to people is, "Hello! How are you?" for hours, and the only response you get from everyone walking by is, "不用," (bu yong) which basically means, "No." Translated literally it comes out to "No use." I'll explain more after the following picture:


​CAPTION: Me wearing the most stylish face mask you've ever seen, along with my companion at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, close to the Taiwan Taipei Temple. Pretty cool. Super big.

This week, my companion and I decided to clear out our investigator pool. There were several "eternal investigators" (people who have met with missionaries for long periods of time without progression) that we met with for the last time this week. We did such a good job of dropping non-progressing investigators, that we have almost no investigators left. 

That left us with bounteous periods of finding time. Most days this week, we had over five hours of walking up and down streets. Now, Sanxia, while tons and tons of people live here, it's not a big place. Most of the buildings here are 14-26 stories tall, and house hundreds of units and thousands of people. So you'll most likely never run into the same people, but it's not like there is that much variety in finding, either. 

First off, this past Friday marked the first day of sun after a 35 day streak of daily rain. At least, that's what I've heard. Feels about right, though.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were super rough. In total, we had 19 hours on the street, talking to people, and in total had one person actually have a lesson with us on the street. That was rough, because that means the rest of the time was just waving at people busily walking by us without stopping. 

That much time with that little result leaves one thinking, what am I doing here? Am I doing something wrong? Are the people just a "hardened people?" Are we in the wrong place? Why is this week so different from every other week?

That's about this week in a nutshell. Too much thinking about everything, over analyzing, and not much getting done. 

Until Sunday night. We saw so many big miracles on Sunday night. It started at 7 PM, when we ran into the wife and children of one of our investigators, Brother Lin. He is the one who has been looking for the truth for 25 years. The whole family is Christian, but because of some things that happened at their last church, their pastor didn't welcome them anymore. And when they left, none of the members went looking for them, or anything. And then they met us. The husband has slowly been having all of his questions answered by the gospel. It's amazing how long God has been preparing their family. And now that they've run into their special set of circumstances, the time is right for them as a family to get to know the gospel. The wife has some awesome questions, too, that the gospel answers. We will meet with the whole family this Tuesday, at the Bishop's home. We're super excited.

Sunday night at 8PM, we met with a referral that another set of Elders contacted in Banqiao. His name is Ricky. Turns out, he had a friend in Junior High that was a Mormon and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. One of his ex-girlfriends was also Mormon, and he's been to church a few times, activities a few times, and the Taiwan Temple Grounds a few times. He is so prepared to hear the gospel, it's not even funny. He got fellowshipped really well by the members who attended the lesson with us, he has a baptismal date goal, and is super willing to keep learning. I'm confident that he too, will get baptized. 

So, after a week that felt like it was a total failure, it turned out to be one of the most miraculous weeks of my mission. I am confident that both Brother Lin and his family, as well as Jacky will get baptized in the next two months. And I am so excited. Because I know how the gospel will bless their lives.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I sure will!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mission Letter 3/21/2016

Dear family ad friends,

This past week has been simply awesome. My companion and I are just such goofballs together; I don't know, we met each other and something just clicked. But we are able to get so much work done, as we laugh and have the greatest time of our lives doing missionary work. 


​CAPTION: My companion, Elder Reintjes, and myself, exploring the river banks of our area during dinner time. We got a good scare from a wild dog and got a way just in time. Turns out, he wasn't interested in us at all. 

We have an English Class in Sanxia. It's only been open for six months. We teach it in a nearby Community Center/Library. We have about 25 students in total among the four classes. The only difficult thing is that it's the same students every week, and there's never really any new ones. It's just kinda stagnated. Which is good that we have solid English students, but the real point of English Class is to have new people who we can also ask if they're interested in the gospel, because that's the real reason we teach English Class. But we got some new tracts recently, so we're working on promoting our English Class again. 

In our ward here in Sanxia, there are literally zero young men. At least, not active. I think there might be one or two LA young men. But since there are none, the ward doesn't even have a Young Men's program or Presidency (for good reason, I guess) ButElder Reintjes and I have been trying to build up the Young Men's Quorums by finding 12 year old children. Well, not literally. But we did meet a super cool 12 year old guy who was willing to learn more about the gospel. He was surprisingly mature, and his Chinese was so advanced I couldn't always understand what he was saying. We currently have 2 investigators who are 12 years old, hopefully we can continue meeting with them. 

Met with our Bishop this past week. We had dinner over at his house. He has the cutest, smallest, most active 8 year old son I have ever seen. Our Bishop has served as Bishop for close to 10 years, a SUPER long time. He's super awesome though. He was Bishop over a certain ward, and then the ward split, and he continued serving as bishop of the new ward. In Taiwan, there tends to be a habit of serving as bishop for super long periods of time because the smaller size of the wards, the general lack of brethren to fill all the various callings, etc. In Taiwan, once a ward reaches about 150 people, the ward splits. Very different from America. America has to be like, double that. But it's cool. Our Bishop is awesome, and his family is super cool. He works super hard. 

And then I caught a flu which knocked me out for two days. But I'm better now. My companion took real good care of me, and as I slept, he got tons of extra language study time. The trick now is to make sure he doesn't get sick. Even though we lost a couple days of the week, we still got a lot of work done, and met with several of our progressing investigators. The work is going well, I love Sanxia and Taiwan and the mission and my companion. 

Life's good! Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mission Letter 3/14/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was awesome. I originally thought spring was finally here, it had been sunny for a week and was getting quite warm, until it started pouring rain and getting cold again about halfway through the week. Today it feels like winter again. But that's okay! The longer I'm not sweating like a pig, the better. 


​CAPTION: The Tucheng District doing their very best Kung Fu poses.

This past week was transfers. The above picture is my District before transfers, at our last District Meeting. Since I was the District Leader (that changed during transfers, too), I made the executive decision that this meeting was also going to be memorable. So we held it outside. 

In the morning, the weather was great. As we approached noontime, it kinda became overcast. And by the time it was one o'clock, when district meeting starts, it was rather cloudy. We arrived at a park near the church, on a river, and the moment the meeting started, so did the rain. So we last minute changed locations to this place under a giant bridge. Still outdoors, just not quite as beautiful as originally planned. 

We then had a wonderful lesson on Moses 1, failure followed by success, God's ultimate plan and source of happiness (it's us), and all the beautiful parts of Creation. We had some time for personal reflection and prayer, as we spread out throughout the park (but of course, still within sight and sound of our respective companions). It was one of the best things of my life, having time to just go sit amongst nature, in a quite place (there's not much of that in Taiwan), and just be able to think and ponder and pray. I highly suggest doing it sometime.

Then Thursday was transfers. Training has ended! I said goodbye to Elder Falck, set him on a train across Taipei to Xizhi, and waited for my new companion to come to me. So I'm still here in Sanxia. My new companion is Elder Reintjes! He's a totally goofy, very energetic, excited, hard working missionary who has been in Taiwan for 5 months. Our goofiness complements each other. It's going to be an incredible transfer. 


​CAPTION: In the elevator after a nice rainy day. #selfietime

We worked really hard once we got put together. Having a missionary that's already trained is quite a different feeling. Yes, training was fun, but a little stressful. Now we can focus even more on the missionary work part, and we're excited to be in Sanxia. 

I'll report more on what's happening in our area next week. We're still trying to "refresh" the area, now that we're starting a new companionship. It's going to be awesome. The work of the Lord is not only fulfilling, but it's super fun, too. I've never had so much fun doing one thing in my life before. Yes, missionary work can be hard, but it is so rewarding; everyone is always trying to improve, you're always focused on people other than yourself and trying to help them improve, too. It's one of the best experiences in a lifetime.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mission Letter 3/7/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was Stake Conference. Which for us, meant an hour commute into Taipei to a chapel that isn't in our Stake. Actually, it is basically the Church Headquarters in Taiwan. Because all the chapels in Taipei aren't big enough to hold a Stake, we all travel to the Service Center (which is also a chapel) for Stake Conference. That means, throughout the year, there are 5 Stakes which hold their stake conference there. It's a giant building, but it's quite a distance from our area.

We have this investigator, a Brother Lin. He is super cool. He joined a different church 25 years ago, while he was doing his military service, but from then till now, he's never felt like he's "felt" any sort of communication from God. He really wants to know which religion is true, because there are so many, which confuses him. He tells us that Buddhism and Daoism definitely can't be true, because of the changes to its doctrine throughout history. He understands the story of Joseph Smith, and has tons and tons of questions that other ministers and pastors would not or could not answer for him, but are one by one being answered here. It's amazing. He has a wife and two children, too. We haven't met with them, but they did come to a ward activity (which we ourselves were unfortunately unable to attend). But it seems like the ward did a good job of taking care of them.

We met a kid this week who met missionaries when he was in Junior High School, and they gave him a Book of Mormon. Eventually he lost contact with them, and now he's 18 years old, and we tracted into him the other day. Somehow we found out that he'd gone to activities at our church before (in a different location) and his Book of Mormon is "exactly the same as yours!" In fact, he's read the entire thing before. He considers himself Christian; he doesn't attend church, he's not baptized, and his father dislikes it all, but he himself believes and is willing to meet with us some more. So awesome! The father we can work on more later. 

Other than that, it's transfers this week. This Thursday one of us will leave the area (or both, maybe). Elder Falck asked President if he could stay in the area, and got the respones, "I can't let you and Elder Ploeg go eternal (go 3 transfers instead of 2), I want you to support whatever happens, but buckle up." Which put Elder Falck into a mind torment trying to figure out what that actually meant. 

The miracles keep coming. Sorry the letter isn't too long today. I hope all is well at home! Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mission Letter 2/29/2016 Leap Day

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was great. Though there wasn't much that varied from the norm, just being a missionary in itself is awesome. 


​CAPTION; The four of us missionaries that serve together in the Sanxia ward. This was at a National Monument in Taipei during Preparation Day.

The mission has dramatically changed at least one part of my personality: my outgoing-ness and willingness to talk to strangers. That has been one of the best things I think, for myself, to actually open up and be willing to talk to strangers, and more willing to talk to friends. Before, I did not dare open my mouth to say anything to most people, and I would avoid looking at  people, and talking to strangers, or being friendly if someone chose to talk to me.

But now, I've been here for over a year and a half. And the change is almost frightening. I'm ready to talk to literally everyone, almost regardless of where they are or what they're doing. And not just talk to them, but talk about the gospel. And that's an amazing privilege.

I remember back to before I was a missionary. Anything which involved putting myself "out there" or talking to any non-member about the gospel was truly frightening. Giving a pamphlet or church material to anyone at school seemed like being asked to go to the Lamanites (who wanted to kill you) to preach. And, especially as missionaries, we're always trying to help members be better missionaries themselves. And, while it's very natural for us missionaries to talk to any random person about the gospel, we forget what it feels like to be a member, comfortable in the church but timid about sharing. And we're like, "Come on, this isn't so hard! Just invite them and us to dinner," or, "Just give them this tract," or, "Give us a referral." But it's scary! Sometimes sharing is hard.

But once we have our own testimony in place, and we understand why the gospel is so important to us, then we have a greater motivation to share it with all the people we know. Once we realize the blessings of the gospel in our own lives, then we can be even more confident in God and in sharing the gospel with others. Alma taught,

Alma 5:26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

If you cannot feel so now, do what you need to to get that feeling back! Do an experiment. Close your eyes and try to imagine what your life would be like right now, if you had never come into contact or been a member of the church. What are the differences? Especially for youth, the difference is enormous. As we consciously take the time to ponder our blessings and the difference that the gospel has made for us, we can start to increase our motivation to help other people (family, friends, neighbors) enjoy those blessings.

These are just some things I've been reflecting upon recently. I don't have much more to write about today. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mission Letter 2/22/2016 2 Years Ago...

Dear family and friends,

This morning, I was reporting with my Zone Leaders on the efforts of my companionship and my district this past week. They've changed accountability from Sunday nights (where we'd be super rushed to do it in about 50 minutes) to Monday mornings (where we have a 3 hour time slot, so naturally it just takes longer). It took over an hour and a half today to report on the progress of five companionships. But it was super good, and I am a big fan of my zone leaders. One of them is Elder Roe, who has been out on the mission as long as I have; in fact, we were in the same district in the MTC.

To set the tone for accountability, he told me what he was thinking about recently. Two years ago (I believe this week), he received a letter; a big white envelope, which contained a message that would change the next two years of his life (his mission call). Then he recounted how that letter would change his future, decided where he would go, affect future memories and opportunities, etc. 

I would add, being here two years later, and looking back on that time (because I, too, got my call near the end of February), and seeing how 1) inspired the call was, and 2) the effect that it and the ensuing mission has had on me and my life, my way of doing things, and my personality. All have been affected for the better. 

This week, Guo Amah came to church again (she's our 70 year old investigator). She has many life experiences and stories that she loves to share with us (like any grandmother, I guess). Her favorite one is how she once had cancer but beat it. She attributes it to God that she was "miraculously healed." And it was quite miraculous; she had a tumor that appeared in her head at one point, but after some point, it all just vanished. Now, she's a happy, healthy grandmother who is very willingly learning more about the gospel. She talks to everyone in the ward, and everyone talks back to her. Sometimes it feels like the ward isn't terribly good at welcoming new faces. But if the new face is warm and willing to talk to the ward, then everything goes super smoothly. She's already been taught (and is keeping) the Word of Wisdom. She had no problems with it, not even tea. We're super excited for her and her preparations for baptism. Her goal is March 12 (which, unfortunately, is 4 days after transfers, and one of us will almost definitely be leaving). The ward loves her, too.


​CAPTION: This week, we rode out to the middle of nowhere (not too far, because in Taiwan it really doesn't take too long to get to the middle of nowhere), decided there were no people there, took a picture and headed back.

Except that while we were out there, we met this super awesome 15 year old kid, shared about the Atonement, set a baptismal date, and another time. When we went back, we had about a 20 minute lesson, he was super receptive, asked extremely good questions, and was super sincere, but was rudely interrupted by his mother who would not shake our hands, told us that they were Buddhist and didn't need this, and dragged the kid inside. Our feelings is that he is truly ready for the gospel, and baptism, but now there are just some small obstacles in the way.

This week I held the baptismal interview (and attended the baptism) for one of the Zone Leader's investigators: Brother Lee. He is truly one of the most humble people I've ever met, and very down to earth. As I was asking him the questions, he was like, "I've already made my decision; if I didn't want to join this church or didn't feel ready, I wouldn't be here; I would have already run out the door by now." He was also influenced in his decision by the members of the ward; "they're all so friendly, they're all brothers and sisters." We can be a very great example for other people. Even for members or less active members; make sure everyone feels included! Always! The gospel teaches us to love others and to fellowship others. It always makes me a little upset when I see a ward where everyone is kind of split up into their friend groups. 

This past week was temple day. The Taiwan Taipei Temple is very pretty, but also pretty small. The Celestial Room is elaborate, but due to space, also isn't large. However, the doors are extremely tall; narrow, but tall. So narrow, one person can walk through them at a time (like a typical door, right?)but so tall, about 4x taller than a a person like me. And it made me think as I was sitting there, "...strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (3 Nephi 14:14). I thought, "As long as [I] keep the commandments, I (and everyone else) have God's promised blessings, for life and for eternity, and we need not fear anything, because in the end, nothing else matters." So, that's what I learned this past week, in the Temple.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mission Letter 2/17/2016 Filled to the Brim

Dear family and friends,

This past week was Chinese New Year. Here's a list of things that comprises Chinese New Year:
1. Families are all together, playing games, eating much food, and often (especially at nights), drinking. 
2. Small (and I emphasize the word, "small") fireworks are always going off, at the most random times of the day, and sometimes the most random times of the night.
3. If it's not fireworks, it's firecrackers, which I don't find logical; they don't even look cool, they just make a ton of noise. I think I heard one that I swear lasted a full minute.
4. The greater population of Taiwan immigrates to the southern half of the island for the week, because that's where their parents all live and the tradition is to go back to your parents (and take your whole family with you).
5. FOOD. All week long. Every meal we were fed; lunches and dinners. We had all sort of things, from 5 course steak buffet's to Pizza Hut to members home cooked dinners to McDonald's.

In Sanxia, it was pretty good because not everybody left. There were many people who were either tourists that came to Sanxia, or who were originally from Sanxia and just stayed here. But a good majority of people were drunk at nights, and so they were more willing to talk to us than usual, but less willing to meet again with us than usual. Some people would straight up tell us, "I'm drunk, so don't bother me right now."

But we have this investigator that we were working with from before Guonian (Chinese New Year). Her name is Sister Guo, and she is an Amah, or rather, a really old lady (Amah basically means Grandma in Chinese). She was a nurse, worked abroad in three different countries before (all in Africa), retired a little early to come back to Taiwan and look after her grandson. She's about 70 now, and about 6 years ago, joined another church after asking someone about Christianity,and then reading the whole Bible twice. Prior to that, she was an atheist, but eventually believed in God. She's been a little less active in that church for a while though, because of some offense and some differences in doctrine she felt were wrong, and now is meeting with us!

She came to church last week, and was asked to introduce herself. She literally talked for 15 minutes about how she came to know of the church, miracles she's seen before in her life, and etc. I'm almost positive she will be baptized, and she's more outgoing in meeting new people than most members in the ward are. So that's super cool. We're really excited for her. And to think we met her during lunch one day, when she came and sat next to us herself!

We have also been meeting with this part member family. Yesterday they even gave us dinner. Afterward, we shared the first lesson, "The Restoration." We're not doing them in order right now; last time we shared the second lesson, "The Plan of Salvation." They've known missionaries for two years, but they said something interesting yesterday; "The previous missionaries have never shared so much or such long lessons with us." "What did they do before?" I asked. And they told us, they'd come, eat dinner with the family (because they were always so willing to feed the missionaries), and then they'd share like a scripture or two and be on their way. I was incredulous. While I'm grateful the family has had 2 years of scriptural preparation, I am amazed no one has ever tried to share the lessons and help them be baptized before. They're very receptive now, they've even been praying as a family (with the exception of the father), and we're hoping to help them continue to progress, come to church, and read scriptures. They're so awesome!

Yesterday I held a district meeting. We talked about the term "full-time missionaries," and what that means. What I see it as is: as full time missionaries, we are missionaries 24/7, there is no "personal time." There is time to rest, to do all those other things, but for two years or 18 months, all the time is the Lord's. So, we have to 1) use our time effectively, and 2) always be an example, because at all times of the day, people are viewing us as the representatives of the church, so we have to be good for neighbors, for people on the street, and even for our companion or other missionaries. I made this card as a reminder for each of the missionaries in my district:



Another elder took this picture of me in the apartment during studies. I was yawning, and didn't know he was taking a photo (he did it from around a corner), but I used it to emphasize that we are always the same person, even if we don't know other people are watching us. 

Today is Temple day. We get to go this afternoon, and then it's a really short week until the next Preparation Day. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mission Letter 2/8/2016 過年

Dear family and friends,

First of all, I must wish you:

 新 年 快 樂 

"Xin Nian Kuai Le," or Happy New Year! It is currently that time of year ("GuoNian") where we turn to our inner Chinese selves and use the moon to reckon the years and decide that now is actually the New Year. Anyway, thanks to years upon years of Chinese Tradition, this is now the biggest holiday that the Chinese ever celebrate. It consists of a full week off of work (I don't think there is any other time during the year that they get close to that many days off in a row), and crowded traffic systems as everyone scrambles to "go home," or go back to where they grew up/where their parents live. Then they eat good food for a week, enjoy each other's company, and have a ball in general.

Last week was full of miracles. During the weekend, as Guonian was beginning, we shifted our focus to finding some Less Active members. Guonian has a reputation of being the worst time of year for missionary work because all investigators, members, and everyone leaves Taipei and heads south (out of our mission) back to where they grew up. So the place empties out. But so far (it's only the second day now) I haven't felt that it's that bad. In fact, because it was a vacation, everyone was at home, all the LA's that we went to visit were home and with their families, and we got an incredible amount of work done. So it's been a blessing; hard to keep in contact with investigators, but finding way more families at home.

We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders this past week. On the mission, one of the lessons I've learned is this: remember you are always an example to someone else. I remember when I first came on the mission, I looked up to Zone Leaders so much. They were like my idols. They were the most awesome missionaries, and look at them! They're so perfect. I will do anything they tell me to. Then, one day, all of a sudden, I was the Zone Leader. And I felt super ordinary, under qualified, and kinda like (as the Chinese saying goes) a three-legged cat doing kung fu. But then I became a regular missionary again, once again looking up to the Zone Leaders. And, not to brag, but I know that just by nature of the position, people were looking at me like I look at my leaders. So, just knowing that everything we do has an influence on other people, it is important to always be uplifting, helping, caring, and a good example.

We had two dinners yesterday. It was the worst. I am so full. I'm going to die. We have a dinner appointment for every lunch and dinner this week. Many of them will be buffets. And if I'm at a buffet, I have no self control, because I got eat my money's worth, right? Or rather, the member's money's worth. We'll see how I am at the end of this week.

So there is this really nice member in our ward. The other day we saw him at a McDonald's, helping another missionary companionship attend a lesson. We were there picking up some stuff from them, and then leaving. About an hour later, this member, Brother Shan, calls us and tells us to meet him at a certain corner in 20 minutes. So we show up, and he takes us to a shoe store, and tells me to start looking for shoes. I told him I didn't need shoes, but he insisted, and said that my shoes were falling apart, and that it was "perfect timing" because I was going home soon and would take the ones he gave me home. So he bought me new shoes. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I wrote him a nice long card and gave it to him in a red envelope.



It's been a great week. I love my mission. It's going so fast that now it's scary. I love you all. Have a safe and wonderful week. 

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mission Letter 2/1/2016

Dear family and friends,

This past week has been so amazing! The weather warmed up, but it rained incessantly. Any moment of sunshine was like a gift straight from God to us, and it's those little happy moments that which keep you working at full speed. 

We also started a new transfer this week; transfer 13 of 16 for me. No, neither my companion or I moved, but we have a new face in the apartment. He's been on a mission for getting close to a year, and he's now serving with us in Sanxia. He's super awesome, and super enthusiastic for the week. He just moved up from Yuli, which was my second area on my mission, so we have had much to talk about.

This week we visited the Liao family, pictured below. The aunt and one of the daughters are members of the church, and the rest of the family has kinda been investigators for quite some time. This is the second time my companion and I had the chance to visit with them, and though they've been "investigating" the church for a couple years, it seems they haven't made much progress. But when we've visited with them, we've been clearly teaching the basics of the doctrine, and giving them very specific invites. We also follow up pretty well. And it seems they've been progressing. 



And then, miracle of miracles, this week the whole family (with the exception of the Dad, which had to work) came to church! It was awesome to have the whole family come to church, after encouraging them and helping them do all the basic things. They've come before; a long time ago, I'm not sure when. They felt that when they came to church, no one really guided them, they felt lost, and that church was more of a social event where everybody came to just chat and see friends that they haven't seen for a week. But when they came this week (they were late, they went to get breakfast first), they went to Young Women's first (the whole family, even though only 2 of the girls are that age), then they came to Gospel Principles and learnt about the Creation, and then at Sacrament meeting, we helped prepare them by sharing some scriptures to set the mood, and reviewing at the end of the meeting what could be learnt from church that Sunday. The talks were also all perfect, about how to improve ourselves as people and about how they (the speakers) received a testimony of the gospel. At the end of the meeting, about 4 sisters from the Relief Society (so, about 1/3 of the Relief Society) swarmed the family and chatted and fellow-shipped them.​ So they felt welcome, felt like church was good, had good feelings, etc. It was awesome. They're going to be gone now for two weeks because of Chinese New Year, but hopefully when they're back, we'll pick up right where we left off. 

We met two awesome new investigators this week. We were sitting in a cafeteria style restaurant eating lunch when this old lady (as we call them, Amah's) sat down next to us. After a few minutes, she struck up a conversation with us. "Ooh, you guys are so young! Mormon's, right?" Turns out, she got baptized into another church about 6 years ago, after having come into contact with some Christians while she worked in Africa as a nurse. She'd read the Bible twice before deciding to be baptized, and once after. But then she went "inactive" because of "flaws in church doctrine" and other people in the church who offended her. She felt like she always wanted to come back to Christ, and that God would set that up for her one day. So she describes running into us as "fate." Now she's 70. She asks all the right questions, like, "Why are there so many churches?" and, after teaching about authority, she understands why there should only be one church and why she'd need to be rebaptized. The Book of Mormon she wants to read to completion, but we set a baptismal date with her for 6 weeks away. I feel that she will be baptized, along with her 11 year old son, who she started taking to church with her 6 years ago, and at the time said, "When I grow up, I want to be a missionary/pastor." So, hopefully, we can help him prepare for that now, too. He was also present at the lesson, and we set a baptismal date with him, too. The family is so cool! We love them already.

Other than that, we just have one investigator who we are trying to help him develop real intent. He's an eternal investigator, has been meeting with missionaries for 2 years, comes to Sacrament meeting every Sunday, and even attends the ward choir practice. But he's not wanting to be baptized, because he still "worships" (for lack of a better word) his father and ancestors, etc. He thinks it's all good, it helps reading scriptures and praying, but he doesn't have true faith nor real intent. Any ideas on how to help with this? We've been studying and asking, but we're still trying to figure out the answer.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Stay safe, stay warm, don't do anything stupid.

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mission Letter 1/25/2016

Dear family and friends,

Can someone please turn the global warming back on? It's been one of the coldest winters in history here in Taiwan. Snow, falling in places it hasn't fallen in over 100 years. Temperatures just barely above freezing. And hundreds of missionaries still outside, stalwartly pressing forward, talking to the few diehards still out on the street. And you know what they say to us? 辛苦你! Which translates roughly to, oh, poor you guys! Working so hard. Out in the cold. And then you know what they say to us? 趕快回家! Go home quickly! That's what I'm doing! Bye bye!


​CAPTION: Not necessarily the best picture of the snow on the mountain. It comes down a little lower than it looks there. Or that's one of the shorter mountains. 

But it's been super fun. I've discovered that in this area, I have had a lot more success knocking on doors than I have ever had in my other areas. So we do a combination of knocking on people's doors and talking to them on the street. But things have been a little deserted these past days. 

We had the opportunity of eating dinner at the restaurant of a potential investigator this past week. One of the members in our ward took us there to meet the boss. And you know how she came to have this acquaintance? Simply by eating at the restaurant previously, and by becoming friends with them. She has a little bit of a reputation of getting to know people, just all the people around her, not matter if it's a neighbor, co-worker, or the boss of where she eats dinner, she becomes their friend, and then, when she feels that the person is ready, she brings the missionaries. She's very upfront and bold, too; as we were eating, she dragged the boss over and was like, "Come here! Come meet these people, my friends, they are missionaries. They are going to share the gospel with you." And thus it started. That truly is the best way of doing missionary work; way more effective then trying to meet people on the street. 


CAPTION: Selfie Sunday, courtesy of Curtis, the investigator taking the selfie. From left to right: Curtis, Elder Bellingham (ZL), Elder Wei (mini-missionary), Elder Ploeg, Elder Falck, Elder Roe (ZL), and Elder Griffin. ​

We're trying to help all of our investigators progress towards baptism. They're all in the beginning stages of the teaching process; Lesson 1, or 2, that kinda area. In total, there are 5 lessons, which sometimes become more (because all of the commandments are in lesson 4, and that usually becomes 3 or so lessons). But, we have many who are willing to try the "experiment," and see if it bring results. They've set a potential baptismal date, with the condition being they feel the truthfulness of the gospel. So we're trying hard to help them. 

Transfers are this week. There will be no meeting. Missionaries will simply go to their new area. I am almost definitely not moving, because we're still in training. But life is going awesome. I love my area. It's the promised land. I feel like every area in Taiwan seems to be the promised land. Super excited to keep working in Sanxia. Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mission Letter 1/18/2016

Dear family and friends,

This week was quite the adventure. We went from being a tripanionship to being two companionships (we have a member serving a mini-mission for a couple weeks, he showed up on Thursday), it rained for most of the week, and we were very wet. But it was super fun going out and preaching the good word of God to the masses. We're still trying to figure out the best way to do missionary work in this area. Every area has its own challenges, and here it seems to be a couple of things. 1) Everyone we meet thinks the church is too far away (everyone in Taiwan seems to think that if it takes more than 25 minutes, it's like traveling to a foreign country), and 2) There aren't nearly as many people on the streets here as in my last area. So we're trying now to find a balance between walking down streets and knocking on doors. 

We started on Monday with Preparation Day. It was raining so hiking was out of the question. But we were trying to build District Unity by going out and doing an activity together. So I (as the District Leader here) decided we'd go ice skating at this facility I'd been to previously. So we went, and after a 20 minute Metro ride, arrived at the building. It was fenced off, and the inside was being gutted, and probably knocked down. That made me pretty sad. So we went to Costco instead. Tried many samples, American food made my stomach happy, and then we bought muffins for future breakfasts. We also ate dinner there.


​My District, from left: Sister Lu (visa waiting for the Salt Lake Temple Square Mission), Elder Bellingham (Zone Leader), myself, Elder Griffin (half-Taiwanese comp), Elder Falck (half-Taiwanese trainee), Elder Roe (Zone Leader), and Sister Maxwell (Sister Lu's trainer). 

During District Meeting, Elder Roe shared a scripture that truly well describes what it means to have true intent. We so often hear the words, "sincere heart and real intent," and I really like that real intent means "If you get an answer, you will actually go and do it." The background of this scripture is the people of Ammon, considering moving to the land of the Nephites. They're all afraid to go, because they fear the Nephites will destroy them. But Ammon asks them this question, in Alma 27:

 7 And Ammon said: I will go and inquire of the Lord, and if he say unto us, go down unto our brethren, will ye go?

That's real intent. Deciding beforehand, will we go? If we receive the answer, will we go? Are we willing to do? 

This week was a little harder. We had a lot of people set up early in the week, and then cancel later in the week. But we're working hard on building up our area. We whitewashed (which means both the elders coming into the area weren't living there before), so sometimes it feels like starting from scratch. It was fate that as I was trained, thus I trained. Meaning, when I was trained, we whitewashed or opened an area, and now that it's my turn to train, we did the same.

We had an investigator miraculously show up at church. Missionaries had met with her twice before I moved into this area, and since we'd gone to visit her once, but she wasn't exactly welcoming or willing to talk or let us in. She wouldn't set up a time to visit over the phone, so I'd almost given up hope on her. But yesterday she showed up to Sacrament meeting, and after church said, "You can come visit me this Tuesday afternoon." So we set up a time with her this week, and we're super excited to continue helping her develop faith, repent, and prepare to be baptized.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mission Letter 1/11/2016 The Six Month-er

Dear family and friends,

My zone leader, Elder Roe, called me this morning. He went on a mission the same time I did, and we were in the same MTC district. He had some very urgent news, so he called at what is typically a more inopportune time. I answered, and he basically yelled at me over the phone, "Happy one year and six months mark two days ago!" A pleasant reminder that I'm an old man, as we call them on a mission. The sisters who came on missions with us have gone home, and this Saturday marks the beginning of my last six months in Taiwan. It's been a blast, though.

The only three-half-asian tripanionship has been having a ton of fun this past week! We've had a ton of appointments and many dinners with members (which is atypical of the rest of my mission, I've never had too many dinner appointments). It's been awesome meeting so many cool people and also getting to know the ward members. This ward is pretty small; it split a year ago, and it seems like they're still trying to get their footing. All the ward members are pretty close to each other, so sometimes bring people to church includes dragging people apart. But that's fun. 


​CAPTION: The trio at the same bridge you got a picture of last week. I need to repent and take more pictures, but this is the only one from this week that had all three of us in it.

We met with this super cool kid last week, his uncle's family are all members, but he's not. He's here in Taipei studying university, and eats at his uncle's house frequently, and the missionary's also go there on Sunday nights to eat, so that's how he met them, and then he got referred to us. So we've started teaching him, and he's super willing to do all the things we asked him to. He's 18 years old (it's interesting, teaching people the same age we are. In a way, as a missionary, you feel "ageless," like it's a number but it doesn't represent anything. We'll be meeting with him again tonight, so that should be fun. 

We also had zone meeting this past week. There's been some super big changes, worldwide; for one, there is a new them for missionary work, direct from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: what they want us to focus on is to "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts." Five simple words, specifically chosen and ordered. Missionaries are to focus on helping people truly repent, and be actually prepared for baptism (way too often are people baptized and immediately thereafter stop coming to church). Baptizing converts is focusing on people who have already been converted and baptism is the outward expression of such a commitment, as opposed to the process of being baptized as a formality and then continuing to try to attain conversion. I think it's a really cool sentence, and we've been applying it a lot more in missionary work. 

Another really big change is that from now on, the missions (worldwide) will not hold transfer meetings, but instead, when we're transferring, we'll receive a phone call giving us our new companion, new area, and a phone number, and then we'll simply get on a train or a bus and travel there alone to meet our new companion. So there will be occasions where we won't have a companion. That's going to be super strange feeling. But, they want us to have more time in our areas, less distractions,  more hard work. So that's fun.

Other than that, the week has been about the same as other weeks. We had some LA's come to church. Of the 3 baptismal interviews I've done in the past week, 2 are baptized and one is getting baptized this week. Hopefully our own area will start to see some baptisms here in the near future. 

Life is good! I'm happy, satisfied, enjoying the work. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission
Sequoia.Ploeg@myLDSmail.net