Sounds like so much time and money have been going into renovating the carpet and painting the walls. I feel like it will be so different and not like walking back into the home I was accustomed to. I can't imagine it taking up too much of your time though. Unless you are the one who is painting and getting all messy! :D
In all honesty I don't really feel like I was spilling my guts over an email a couple weeks ago. I just kind of type what comes and what flows. That's why maybe sometimes I don't really write much about areas or people or such because I just write what comes from the heart and from the mind. Sometimes I don't write a lot about people and things as well because in all honesty Dad the people I have been privileged to meet and be associated with actually have their own unique stories and I never seem to be the missionary that is actually involved with baptism. Like for instance back in Zhanghua I ended up making one of my best friends in Taiwan, Ian, but he was not in my ward. He was Elder Kou and Chiang's RC that they taught and baptized. But we saw each other many times and would hang out on P-day's and he helped to sit in on lessons with us several times. Was I ever the missionary to teach him or baptize him? Nope! About the other investigator he kind of slipped out of my emails because within a matter of days giving him a baptismal goal, him finally coming to church that Sunday for sacrament meeting, and then emailing you about him that Monday, that Monday night I called him to see about when we could meet during the week (he didn't set up after church the day before) and he talked about how that he was just going to read the Book of Mormon at home over the next month. I really tried hard to listen, understand him, discern his needs and such. I talked with him for about 20 minutes on the phone from reviewing over some things of the Message of the Restoration, him saying about how in 3rd Nephi (we gave him this assignment to read) the Savior instituting the sacrament used wine but we were using water, and so on. I several times talked with him about mine and Elder Oldham's purpose and that we would be there to help him, inviting him at least 4 or 5 times to keep meeting with us, but he was pretty set upon reading the Book of Mormon himself at home over the next month (his wife didn't even oppose against meeting with us or anything). So he said we could talk again with him in August.
So Dad, a mission is exactly what the Lord knows you need to have. I am not a flying stars and colors boy who comes home with 50 baptisms on my shoulders. I am still not quite sure what kind of missionary Heavenly Father exactly sees in me and wants me to become. I do strive to always humble myself and come before him, desiring that I may know His will and submit myself to his will. I will share something with you. I feel that never before in all my life have I felt more the difference of having a spirit and a body. The spirit child of a Heavenly Father and a body of earthly parents that is corrupt and contains within it the natural man. I have felt more than just one occasion how much the spirit yearns within to be obedient and do what is right when the body is yearning, lusting, desiring after things of the flesh. It's actually interesting that coming to Taiping there have been a couple times now where I have slept through the alarm because of just how exhausted I have been (in part from how hard we are working and in part because I still work through my weaknesses and having doubts and worries that tire you out, that yes I working to drop and let be).
Dad, I understand the lessons and things you share with me and tell me with about the 3 points. The thing I want to bounce back and say is about point 3. I know, I know to go out work and have fun. That I don't need to stress. May I make a point though as well. I am not an Elder Rodeback or an Elder Ellison. They have their very specific missions for them and their needs. They have served in very different parts of the world compared between all of us. But missions are not about comparing, even trans-mission comparing, or even same generation comparing. So yes Elder Rodeback came to love his mission and didn't even want to be back. Elder Ellison has the unique personality and gift to love just about everything and everyone he is involved with. I wish I could talk with you face to face. I love my mission with all my heart. I echo what Dave Collings said that it is one of the hardest, trying, and pushing to your limits experiences that I would not trade away for anything else. I love my mission for what it has taught me and given to me and will still yet give to me. To take from Bianca Collings email is a funny saying that also I heard once or twice my MTC teachers tell us that I believe to be true. My MTC teacher often said: "state side missionaries come home gospel scholars, South American missionaries come home wet, European missionaries come home fluent and Asian missionaries just come home humble".
I believe it very much that Pat gained his conversion and very much is a gospel scholar now who knows the gospel principles and doctrines in his heart. I know that Cody is always wet it seems, but he always has a smile and laughing even when he is wet. For me I don't think I have ever had a more humbling experience than my mission and wish sometimes that I was just that much more humble to acknowledge the Lord and all he has blessed me with. So with kindness, please do not continue to think or compare that I am like Pat or like Cody or that I turn out exactly as you see them. The Lord has been refining me and continues to keep me in the furnace right now of my mission until next year when I come home and have become the man the Lord has destined for me to be. So maybe instead come down on knees not seeking that I become like a Cody or Pat but that I may be more and more humble enough to always be coming to the Lord to seek His will and become what He wants me to be. And if this happens, it will all work out. I will come home not quite the same but refined to be who Heavenly Father wants me to be for the next stage of my life.
So as for my new area, it actually has a total of 6 missionaries in it. Elder Randall and I, then Elder Ward (the one from my MTC district) and his trainee Elder Aimes, then Sister Tsoi and Sister Parkinson (who are the Sister Training Leaders and serve in the Taiping ward and Dongying ward). Elder Ward and Aimes cover most of the northern part of Taiping while Elder Randall and I cover most of the southern part of Taiping. It's been fun and interesting always moving to a new area and trying quick to get adjusted. There are a fair number of factories like in my last area, so there is a mixture of different Asian people here. Tracting so far has actually not been as good as I would like, but the contacting is a lot stronger and people more kinder and willing to listen. With Elder Randall sometimes I feel like what Ozzy Osbourne is saying about coming off the rails on a crazy train. Seriously with Elder Randall he is very energetic, also quite a loud person, who loves to talk. It seems like from just coming out of training with Elder Bennett (who was my Zone Leader down in Gaoxiong) he didn't get as much to talk, but being with me who is a little more naturally quiet he talks a fair deal more. I actually have had a few people sometimes ask if I am the senior companion or if he is (which I don't like, but I am just not naturally as talkative and out there kind of guy as Elder Randall). But Elder Randall is really good and has already taught me a lot. One thing we do with the other Elders around here since we have the stake center is set up basketball on Saturday afternoon and invite investigators, RCs, and others to come and play. It gets way fun and feel like my basketball is now going to improve. We also play each Monday morning with the other Elders and some members.
But so to give you and idea of where Taiping is, it is just east outside of the city. I can bike to the Mission home in about 20 minutes and be in downtown Taichung. As with the 9 year old boy right now, Wu, we are trying to get set up with his aunt to meet with his mom. Wu's older sister has already been baptized. Apparently also his dad may or may not be in their life at all. So his mom is pretty hard working going to work at like 9 in the morning until 11 at night (because we went by with the ward mission leader in the morning at 11 to try and sit down with Wu and his mom, but she wasn't there). So that is our next step right now with him (his aunt by the way is a member). Yeah, over the last 3 weeks the companionship I am in has had 3 baptisms. The weekend before I came there were 2. Then just last week there was 1. I don't really toot my horn about it or anything because I really was not involved with them at all. The guy, Jerry, baptized this past week had been in Cambodia for the previous two weeks teaching English as part of a College program. So I had never met him until the baptism that night. Like I said I have never really been the missionary to be having all the baptisms. I really do desire and hope and feel in my heart there has to be at least a couple more people that I can really help in being the one to learn of the gospel, come unto Christ, and be baptized. But yeah another big part of my responsibilities right now is being English Leader. It may not seem like much but actually has a lot of things to do and sometimes stress. I mean before when I was in Zhanghua and being English leader it wasn't too bad. I had 10 missionaries to lead, and we were averaging about 65 students a week at the end when I left. But now moving here, it is so much bigger! I got here and found out that besides just the Dongying and Taiping missionaries, the Wufeng missionaries would stop teaching at a school and join together with us at the church. So now I have 12 missionaries to lead, and with the two English programs combining together we have for the last two weeks both times hit 98 students coming and attending. I feel like we are going to burst the classrooms!
We had a really good investigator (I never really like the term golden and actually I don't think once I have ever said it on my mission, it is much over used and just about every single missionary says that about every single investigator; me I just don't like it) that I added from our English class to meet with us at a different time. We taught the first lesson about the Restoration with him, and he really shared a lot and expressed a lot of his own feelings and thoughts (which was way awesome). We invited him to be baptized and he accepted a baptismal goal for August 16. The sad part though is that we now know he doesn't live in our area but lives in the Dongying area. So we are referring him and will introduce him to Elder Christiansen and Elder Williams on Wednesday after English class.
Other news...this Saturday or Sunday Elder Randall and I are going to have a duanchuan (a short-term missionary) from Nantun in Taichung be with us for 7-10 days (don't know how long yet). So it's going to be way fun! Hopefully not too hectic or anything and leave a good impression for Brother Wang (the duanchuan).
So the first picture, this little sucker came walking out during personal study! I was reading scriptures and looking down and just see it go walking by my feet and then towards Elder Randall's desk. We sprayed it with bug spray but it still was twitching for like 3 or 4 hours afterwards. This has been the biggest one yet that I have found inside an apartment.
Next is at Shitou Kaorou (basically a buffet, yes we are probably spoiled here in Taiwan that we can eat at buffets and still budget it in with monthly expenses). It was Elder Ward's 20th birthday. So all the Elders from our district as well as some members and some investigators went and ate together. Ended up being 500 kuai per person since we paid for Elder Ward.
Next is later that day we went to the Department store next to the Mission office and went to the book store. I got Ender's Game in Chinese! And no I am being good and not reading it right now. But my goal is to be able to read it when I come home.
I have a few more pictures I will send. But this has been about it for me over on the island of Taiwan. I also don't really think the Typhoon will affect us much here in Taichung. We are about at the safest part of Taiwan when it comes to Typhoons.
Love you so much! Miss you always! Love the family as well!