Missionary Email: David A. Bednar Instructs the Missionaries and Missions to Collapse from 3 to 2 in Taiwan
Hey, could someone ask the following people for their current addresses, since school is getting out and I just have people's schools address: Felicia, Matt, Amanda Lowder (I don't have her address at all) ...that's all I can think of for now.
This week was okay. Long because P-day was different last week, so we had to go a lot longer without a little break, but it was fun in a lot of ways too. I'm going to update you in reverse order because that is the easiest to remember. This morning we went to Taoyuan to do our ARC residence cards. It took awhile since we had lunch really quick, and now emailing at 1 is the next thing we are doing. My companion has to register for school, so by the time we get out of here, it will probably be 2:30 and only 3 hours will be left of preparation day...so much for having time to both shop and write the letters I feel like I should...seth, paul, christian, amanda, matt, felicia...I don't have most of their addresses anyways though, so next week will have to suffice for most of them. Oh yeah, I opened my first snail mail letter in Taiwan today. All that it had was one picture. From Christian. Man, some Elder's are so lazy, they send a picture and expect to get a letter in return, my friend James did the same thing back at the MTC, and some of my friends in college had the same thing happen...but I'm thinking he'll get a picture in return. It was actually pretty thoughtful though...it was Christian Burstall downing a bag of flamin' hot cheetos. Given that I still have a bag in my suitcase it was funny and I wasn't envious, but if i got a picture like that in 6 months, it might be a different story.
Yesterday we went down to Taipei...we actually spent since last Sunday in Taipei..we spent the night Sun-Mon, but Yeah Tuesday morning we went into Taipei to do temple tours. It was a lot of fun because it's a different pace, and you aren't rained on all day. We got a really awesome guy, and he came in and he was like..."I'm Buddhist but I believe in Jesus Christ (in Chinese mostly of course), history shows he exists." We walked him through the chapel and showed him pictures of Jesus and he talked to us about how one day he started to wonder his purpose on earth and all these other GREAT questions that we happen to have the answer to. We didn't get to talk about everything because he had stopped in on his way to class, but we told him about Joseph Smith being similar to him and got his number. The obstacle (zhang'ai) though is that his mother fandui's (opposes). That's a word I had to learn here my first day. A lot of mother-in-laws or mothers fandui...so people who even want to be baptized never are because they are very respectful of what their elders say. We have a lady who is pretty much a member, minus being baptized because the mother-in-law won't allow it. Hopefully one day she will soften her heart...But if not, I'm sure as long as she stays strong, the time will come that she will be baptized.
So, now to go further back in history...Elder Bednar came to Taiwan and did meetings with all the missions here, and also he did a broadcast for the members in the cities the mission offices are at, so Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei with the members (which by the way, next month, Kaohsiung and Taichung missions are combining and Taipei will expand and take part of the current Taichung mission if you hadn't heard, so there will only be 2 missions in Taiwan...I'll have to write my friends in Kaohsiung and see what they think of the change and what exactly has been going down...when I have time to write hand letters at all that is)...so anyways, us Zhongli missionaries were told that we weren't exactly allowed to go to the member meeting, since we would go on Monday to mission conference, so we had no plans to go, but on Sunday after going to our 2 wards that our area covers, we went home to eat and do personal study...and we got a call from the assistant's saying that they needed sister Hill to come interpret for a deaf girl at the conference, so we packed our bags and went to Taipei. We spent the night in the mission housing, then the next day we listened to Elder Bednar and asked questions at mission conference. It was amazing. Both nights he let the audience ask questions and answer them. The time went by really fast, and I was totally intrigued. It was a really spiritually uplifting time. He said a lot of things that I need to improve on. OH! and after mission conference, a man in the front, so some kind of bishop or VIP in Taiwan who had spent the last week with Elder Bednar turned to me and was like "Sister Bruno, so nice to meet you!" Or something to that effect...so basically from the conversation with him I found out he is a nice man from Taiwan...who happens to know me through my online blog. EMBARRASSING. I mean, he was nice, he said he had wanted to answer some of my questions about Taiwan he had seen, but it was still embarrassing. And the second time some stranger told me they had seen my Taiwan blog. Gaaah.
But I want to send videos from the MTC and pictures so I'll do a quick quick thing on what Elder Bednar talked about...he told us that our goals as missionaries were to eventually have our members be independent in their faith. That they relied on the Lord and not the missionaries or anyone else. I think that was something really good to hear at the beginning of my mission, because he said we need to teach our investigators one by one...like Jesus did when he let people feel his wounds one by one...it was unique for everyone. So right now before I've ever been able to coherently teach a lesson in Chinese, I already want to be able to make my lessons unique to individuals, because E. Bednar is right, the gospel is a unique experience for everyone, everyone gains and individual testimony, so we need to let our investigators do that by giving them lessons unique to their needs.
And then the other biggest highlight I'll mention is he talked a lot about the natural man, both to the members Sunday night and to us missionaries Monday. He mentioned the scripture about the natural man being an enemy to God when a sweet Chinese girl asked how she could be bold yet meek, and he told her that you could be bold because you KNOW the work you are doing is of God, so you aren't scared to do it, but meek because you know it is the Lord's work and you are weak and dependant on him. And he told the missionaries that we needed to teach the lesson, bring the spirit...and then GET OUT OF THE WAY. To get our natural man out of the way of the investigators feeling the spirit. To teach them not just applications, but the principles and correct doctrine behind applications so they understand what they are doing and why...he mentioned how this is necessary to teach children as well, otherwise they won't understand and be more likely to fall away because they don't have as strong of spiritual power to withstand if they don't understand the doctrine and principle behind the things they are asked to do.
Oh and to Michael, (and my other Priesthood holding readers) a question was asked by a sister about the keys of ministering angels...and E. Bednar said that God won't send literal angels to do stuff that worthy priesthood holders can do, because the priesthood holders have the keys of ministering angels...so then he said that the Young Men's responsibility is to strenghten members, so you remember that is your responsibility, so make sure to serve the people who need help when they give you an opportunity and make sure to see if there is anything the missionaries can have you do like visiting inactive members or something so that they can spend their time on teaching lessons! Because the priesthood is really amazing and you are blessed to have it! A lot of people don't have the influence of the priesthood in their lives yet...and that's where I come in with my other fellow missionaries...telling people about it!
Also, give missionaries referrals! Like L. Tom Perry said in conference, a lot of time is spent looking. It would be really great if more referrals were given by members, try to pray about who would recieve the gospel in their lives that you know, and give the missionaries their information.
In other words, it rains a lot here, I'm always soaking wet when I come home, I'm either drenched in sweat because it was a hot day, and we cover 2 wards area (because we are sisters, and there are 2 companionships of elders in each ward, but we cover the 4 companionships areas! ...in Taiwan sisters teach girls and elders teach boys...well we both teach families, but for singles, it always works like that, we give our male contacts when we have them to elders, and vice versa so the sisters have a lot of appointments since our area is bigger and we have a lot of inactivity, and we try to go see inactives a lot because sometimes all they need is to know nobody cares)...or I am soaking wet. Weather here is def tropical! It's burning outside when it's not raining...but the rain comes a LARGE majority of the days. But i'll probably miss being drenched when summer comes and it's so hot it's ridiculous. haha.
Yeah now i'm going to try to send pictures, so I'll end with that. Taiwan is unique. The food my vegetarian companion eats is really not good to me yet, but I hear most Chinese food is an acquired taste, so maybe by the end of my mission I'll be sad to leave the food...but so far i've only been daring enough to try pigs feet (yes, not vegetarian, it was at a members, and my comp. didn't try it..haha) and dofu. They were both not so good, but bearable. Pigs foot more than dofu. Everyone wants their own businesses, so we have a lot of options and I've only been here a week, so not tried a lot...but i've also had some of the best food of my life here as well. Really good scones and these things that have bread on the outside and sausage inside, no idea the names for foods yet, maybe baozi? Not sure. Anyways yeah...it's fun. It's def. not like American food! I paid a little extra for my cereal and milk to have every morning for breakfast, but it was worth it to me to have one meal I'm used to a day :).
OH, and one last thing, as we were leaving temple tours last night, we ran into a boy who is in the top 14 of the Taiwanese version of American Idol, Super Idol. His name is Benji, Pan jie ming. I wish I knew how to type characters on a Chinese keyboard, but I can't. If you can figure out how to find the right characters, you can watch him on Youtube. He's LDS from Utah. I was going to have Desi tell me if he sang any good, but then I couldn't figure out how to use bopo mofo..