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!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission