Sunday, October 14, 2012

8 October 2012 - Investigators, Mushrooms, and English

Zao An! ("Good morning!")

Yet another incredible week has blown by, and I'm positively swimming with stuff to tell you.

Perhaps the biggest news is that we have two investigators that are moving towards baptism. One of them is set to be baptized on the 20th of October. He goes by the name Rich, and he is such an amazing guy! He is in his late 30's, and he has been investigating the church off and on for about 7 years. Before I came, Elder Cox and his companion had a breakthrough with him where he really understood why he needed the Church. Since then, he's been awesome in keeping commitments and getting ready for this ordinance. We are very happy for him, and I am very optimistic that he will be able to hit his goal. The other one we met through the English class we teach, and his name is Zhou. Zhou is in his early 20's, and he's very shy and very kind. What's funny is that Rich totally latched onto him and they have become amazing friends. Rich has told us several times that we really need to help and support Zhou because "he really needs this Church." Rich has done a great majority of the missionary work, bringing him to Church and different activities. Zhou does not have a baptismal goal yet, but he has been progressing through the lessons pretty fast and has been keeping commitments. We pray for the both of them every day and we see them making progress all the time. It's such a blessing to see how the gospel can change people's lives for the better.

And on to less important things, but noteworthy nonetheless...

There is this awesome couple in our stake that is good friends with Elder Cox, and I was introduced to them on Sunday. They told me that I was very "shui" (handsome), and that I looked like Justin Bieber.

 I was asked to play piano for Church. We're organizing a church choir as well, so I've been playing quite a bit! One day we had dinner at the ward mission leader's house with a few investigators and recent converts, and they asked me to play piano for them. When they saw me play, they all got really excited. On the following Sunday, I was attacked with sheet music and song recordings. :)

Taiwanese culture fact of the week: They do not acknowledge bodily functions that could cause embarrassment. If someone sneezes, coughs, burps, etc. you don't say anything or even look at them. During Ward council meeting this week, one of the ladies choked on her drink, and started coughing uproariously. She was completely ignored, even when I thought she was going to pass out from lack of breath.

Those who know me know I don't like mushrooms. We were at a young single adult activity, and we cleaned up a lot of dishes for them. To show their gratitude, the people gave us a nice big plate of mushrooms. I forced myself to eat all of them and smile, and I guess I was convincing because they asked if I wanted more. :) "Wo chi bao le!" ("I'm full!") They were so nice: on the way out the door we were laden with cookies, cakes, soda, and even a bag of meat.

Every week we teach English class. I teach the beginner class by myself, and the frustrating thing is that I don't have any curriculum to work off of, so I basically just plan the lesson that day and hope that I can do it. I've been really lucky; one girl named Apple has been translating a lot for me when I can't think of words. Her English is very good; I have no idea why she is in my class. I teach them an hour of English, and half an hour of something spiritual ("Spiritual Share"). It's been really stretching me and helping me cement the differences between Chinese and English in my head, especially with grammar concepts.

Now for a spiritual share!

Last week I delved a little bit into the priesthood, and there is a subject that stems from it that is of utmost importance. There are many offices in the priesthood (one of them being Elder), and there is one that is more important than the rest, and that is the role of the prophet.

You know those guys from the Bible that were basically the spiritual leaders of their time, people like Moses, Adam, and Noah? They are what we would call prophets. Prophets are people called and chosen by God to reveal spiritual truths to His children, and to guide and direct His Church. God has given him the priesthood authority to be a leader for all people on the earth. This priesthood authority can be traced back to Joseph Smith, who received it from Peter, James, and John (Christ's original apostles), and in turn bestowed it upon following officers of the Church.

Prophets receive spiritual truths through a process called revelation. Revelation is an instance where you receive promptings or knowledge from a divine source, namely the Holy Ghost, a spirit whose job is to protect and guide us. We are all entitled to revelation, but in order to receive revelation for others, you must have the authority to do so. Prophets have the authority to receive revelation for the entire church. 

There has never been a time when we needed a prophet more than now. There is a living prophet on the earth today, and his name is Thomas S. Monson. God has not left us alone; He has given us a guide. I testify that he is a prophet called of God, and that if we listen to and obey his words, we will be greatly blessed.

Twice a year we have the opportunity to hear from our prophet and other church leaders in a worldwide broadcast. One of these broadcasts took place this past weekend. I encourage you to visit, and hear what he has to say. Look up the October 2012 General Conference and you can find videos, podcasts, and text of the event.

I love you all, and have a wonderful week!


Elder Jorgensen PA020440 PA010428
He looks happy and that warms this mother’s heart!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

1 October 2012 - Pig's Blood and Fish Eyeballs

Hello all!
The food here is fantastic. I forgot to mention in my last email: My first two days I tried pig's blood and fish eyeball. The blood was decent, but the eyeball threw me for a loop. I expected something blubbery and squishy, but instead, if you can imagine, it's like a really tough nut coated in fat, with a thin clear shell that had the consistency and taste of plastic. I drank plenty of orange juice after that one. Street food is really good here. I discovered a new favorite, something called "turkey rice". It's, you guessed it, turkey and rice. Just put it in a bowl with some of the turkey juice, and plop a nice fried egg on top. Gooooood stuff. And I'm getting pretty skilled at the chopsticks; I'm not getting any more hand cramps.

Elder Cox has been pushing me hard, but we get along very well. He's sensitive to how I'm feeling about the culture shock, and he's done a good job helping me adapt and yet throw me in the middle of the work. Contacting people is getting easier, and while I still can't understand anything, the Spirit is helping me discern what they are saying. Elder Cox has been practicing with me quite a bit on talking with people. One cool thing about him is that he loves to sing, and he's a really good tenor. We sing every day before Companionship study. And to answer your question mom, he has been hit by a couple vehicles. One of them was a close call, a bus had him pinned up to a sidewalk curb, and his handlebars were catching on the side of the bus. Luckily the bus passed by right before he lost control of the bike.

The sisters in our zone had two baptisms this week, a mother and a daughter in this very sweet family. Brother Oba, the ward mission leader, asked me right before the meeting to give the opening prayer. We had an investigator with us and my companion was making calls, so I found myself frantically asking our investigator if he knew the last name of the family. I eventually thought I heard Brother Oba mention they were the Wu family at the beginning of the meeting, so I said the prayer and mentioned them in it. When I sat back down, I realized that they were not the Wu family, but the Pan family. Ugh. Brother Oba was cool about it; he understood that there is a definite learning curve when it comes to the language. But one thing is for sure, I am learning a lot about humility.

We contacted an awesome family the other day in a direct answer to our prayers. The father and mother were 20, and they had an adorable newborn with them. We talked some about the blessing of eternal families, and they arranged to meet with us on Tuesday. I'm very excited!

One night we came home to a bunch of cockroaches in our kitchen. We had a pretty good cockroach smashing fest; my favorite tool is a hefty water bottle. :)

Our ward (Lingya ward) held a primary program, and had fun little activities about preparing to serve a mission. Elder Cox and I got to come and teach them about what they needed to do to prepare. They are such sweet little kids!

I got a letter that had a fantastic question: "I understand you are an elder now. How do you become an elder?" For the sake of the reader, I will also address the question, "What is an elder?" To get a clear answer, you must take a step back and understand that an "elder" is an office of the priesthood.

The priesthood is simply the power of God. He used the priesthood to create the earth, and uses it now to accomplish His work and glory, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Christ worked his many miracles through the priesthood.

We as mortals can have this priesthood too. We need it because it is through the priesthood that saving ordinances like baptism and the sacrament are performed. Only worthy men can hold the priesthood (I will explain later). When a man receives the priesthood, they are given God's power and authority to carry out His will on the earth. In other words, they can only use this power when they are bringing about the salvation of mankind.

If someone holds the priesthood, they cannot use it unless someone in authority directs him to exercise it. For instance, I cannot baptize somebody unless my mission president authorizes me to do so. This is important to understand because we believe that this authority was lost when Christ's apostles were killed long ago, and that this authority was restored when these apostles, now resurrected beings, bestowed it upon the prophet Joseph Smith.

To become an elder, a person in authority officially set me apart for this office. Elders are called to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the Church. That person gave me the authority to exercise the priesthood in this capacity.

Now why can't women hold the priesthood? I'm afraid I do not have an official answer, as many people even within the Church don't really know why. I can tell you my limited understanding. Men are called to provide and protect, to carry out the work of God. Women are called to rear and raise children. In today's world where such a large effort has been made to prevent the oppression of women, this may seem remarkably discriminatory. But I firmly believe that these duties are equal in importance. In reality, the power of the priesthood benefits everyone, regardless of gender. And the power to have children benefits everyone as well. This is why family units are so important in the Church: the husband provides the priesthood to the family, and the wife provides the nurturing of children.

Happy moon festival everyone! And remember, don't point at the moon, or it will fall down and smash you! (I'm completely serious here, by the way. If you point at the moon here, people freak out.)

Elder Jorgensen P9160314 Elder Jorgensen with his MTC companion Elder Christiansen—his first and  very awesome companion.

Elder Cox—Elder Jorgensen’s first (and equally awesome) companion in the field.

“Doesn't that exit sign remind you absurdly of the game "Portal"? Just like exit signs in America, they are everywhere here.”