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!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission