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