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. 

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission