Wednesday, November 28, 2012

26 November 2012

It's the last week of November, so why is it still so blazing hot outside? The leaves haven't even started changing color yet.

I made an interesting discovery this week: the moon rises sideways in Taiwan. If you think about it, it makes sense: depending on your orientation on the surface of the earth, you are going to see the sun rise at a different angle. For example, if at the equator the light is on the bottom side of the moon, on the North Pole you will see the light on the left, whereas on the south pole you will see the light on the right. Pretty radical, eh?

I was playing senior companion for a week, and I remember one particular day when suddenly Elder Cox disappears from behind me. I thought perhaps he had gone down a side road to contact someone or something, so I just stopped at the main intersection that I was at and waited at the street corner, biking a little up and down the road I had just come through to try and find him. About five minutes went by, and I started feeling super worried. We are always supposed to stay within sight and sound of our companion, and I had no idea where he was. And then I remembered what Elder Cox had trained me to do if I got separated: Go to the nearest 7-Eleven and use my pay phone card to call his cell phone. But then I remembered with a jolt that I was senior companion this week, therefore I had the phone. And then I calmed down with the thought that he would go to a 7 and call me. I panicked again: I had the call card, he didn't. I waited five more minutes. During that time I was reading through my missionary handbook about what to do in this situation, and it says that we are to notify the mission president immediately if we get separated. I didn't want to call, but I needed to do the right thing... So I said a prayer, and asked Heavenly Father what I should do. The clear answer in my mind was, "Call President Bishop." Ironically, as soon as I pick up the phone and start dialing, here comes Elder Cox slowly coasting around the corner up to me. I was relieved, and then all of a sudden I was really peeved. I didn't talk to him for a while after that. I was super grateful I found him, but he was so nonchalant about it that I was even a little angry. It turned out that he was contacting someone, and it just went super long, and he thought that I could see him.

I realize I haven't talked too much about my day to day life as a missionary. I'll try to start including a little tidbit each week. Something that makes our mission different and special in comparison to other areas around the world is that we contact a ton of people. In areas in the United States, a good week is talking to about 20-30 people on the street. In our mission, we typically talk to 300-400 per week. The reason is the super high density of people, and also the fact that most people drive scooters, which makes conversation very easy. We do try to contact cars as well, but usually the people inside are less than willing to roll down their windows. People on scooters don't have much of an escape. The only way they can get out of a conversation is to be rude, and thankfully, people here often don't like to do that. So contacting on the streets is preferred. On the other hand, we rarely, if ever, knock on doors. Everyone is so busy, they're never home. Everyone is either at work or on the street.

One thing we are encouraged to do is to memorize the first vision, Joseph Smith's experience in which God the Father and His Son appeared to him. The account, if said in his words, have a lot of power, and is the optimal way of introducing our message that this church is the restored Church of Jesus Christ as it was when Christ was on the earth. I quote: "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.... When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose countenances and glory defy all description.... One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, 'Joseph, this is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!'" Elder Cox says that when he recites it on the street, the common response he gets is that "Joseph saw aliens". I guess it does sound a little like that. It's kind of sad, though, that they miss the meaning of the story.

In Taiwanese schools, they teach the children that the smartest people in the world are the Jews. In a close second place is the Taiwanese, and Americans take the bronze.

The baptism was fantastic. I had been fretting about the thing all week: the baptism prayer is specific, and must be done word perfect and I had never done it before, let alone in Chinese. It was a huge blessing to take part in a musical number preceding the ordinance; it helped me calm down and focus better. Elder Hellberg is a beast at the guitar, and we played a Primary song together that ended up making Sister Liu, the woman getting baptized, cry a lot. The ordinance itself went well. I remembered her full name and the whole prayer, and did what some people was the smoothest baptism they had ever seen. Man, I don't understand why I get so worried about stuff. It usually ends up just fine. I was very blessed and honored to do that for Sister Liu. She's truly converted to the gospel, and I was happy to help her make the important step of baptism towards her eternal salvation.

Happy Thanksgiving! I went to Brother Oba's house and had a feast with practically half the ward. I spent half of it talking with Sister Jiang and trying to learn Chinese words for different foods, and the other half talking music with Sister Liu (turns out she's really into classical music). Rich was there, and he is doing great! A big reason for his depression was that he wanted to go to the United States and study English in New York, and he even got accepted by a college too, but the government threw away his Passport and his Visa paperwork, saying that he thought he was a spy. He's doing better now, mostly because he and Brother Oba are working together to figure out what went wrong and try again. Brother Oba works in AIT (America In Taiwan), and is able to help out a lot with this stuff.

The following is some scripture study I did, and I apologize in advance for the tricky vocabulary. This is more geared towards those who are members of the LDS Church, but I think everybody can benefit from this information. I'll try to make this as easily understandable as possible, but if you don't understand something, still have questions, or would like to read the referenced scriptures online, I would invite you to go to or for help and reference.

My dad had sent me a letter a while back with an invitation to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:52, with a few questions, one of them being: "What is meant to be 'ordained and sealed' in this context?" It is interesting that the word "sealed" is used. In all ordinances (acts done by priesthood, including baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, administration of the sacrament, etc.), the ordinance is not valid/complete until the Holy Spirit of Promise has "sealed" the ordinance (see verse 53). The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost's role of telling us if an ordinance you have taken part in is accepted by God, or in other words, a witness that your action is valid. For example, when you are baptized, if you were ready to receive baptism at that time, you will feel a divine witness that you did the right thing (it's hard to describe the feelings of the Spirit; suffice it to say that they are feelings that are indescribable and cannot be forged or duplicated by man). So if we take this into context, I would think that this verse refers to men who have been ordained and sealed by the Spirit of Promise to the office of the Priesthood.

I took this a little deeper: according to Preach My Gospel, the missionary manual, we should receive this divine witness both when taking part in and performing ordinances. When I baptized Sister Liu, I felt powerfully for a moment that I had performed the baptism correctly. When performing ordinances, we should receive a witness ourselves that we exercised the Priesthood worthily and correctly carried out the ordinance. It is possible that you can perform ordinances unworthily and therefore not receive that witness, but this would be to your own condemnation, and would not affect the recipient of the ordinance. This is why someone who may have blessed the sacrament unworthily will not affect the actual power of the ordinance, and the people partaking of it can still feel be cleansed from sin and feel the Spirit.

In summation: The Holy Ghost witnesses to us that we took part in or performed ordinances correctly and worthily.

Congrats to CaryLynn!! Woohoo, California Spanish speaking! Where in California? We have people here with relatives in California; I'd love to send over some names to look for.

Who's ready for December!? Hope all is well, and I love each and every one of you!

-Elder Jorgensen


“Clean room!”


“Baptism of Sister Liu.”


This one made his mama cry.

19 November 2012

Has it already been a week? Where'd the time go?

I passed off the Lesson 2 language assessment this week in Phase 1. It was a little more shaky than the first, but I did pretty well. Elder Chia was my evaluator. For those of you who know Elder Jackson, Elder Chia was one of his old companions. He is from Singapore, and served a year in the army before coming on his mission, where his job was to make different kinds of explosives like mortars and bombs. He's super cool, and really nice. He also has a pretty thick Singaporean accent, but he doesn't use it in front of us. Someday we'll get him to use it...

Elder Hellberg is his companion. One of the most awesome guys ever. He is a super stellar singer, and can play classical guitar. He has a very quick witted sense of humor too. He's only two generations (two move calls) older than me. The other day he was talking with us and a few other Elders at a Zone conference about how his Trainer had kidney stones. When they went to the doctor, the doctor asked him if he had eaten any peanut butter. He then went on to describe how they had this gigantic tub of peanut butter at home that tasted exactly like Nutter Butter filling, which sounded remarkably like a particularly large tub of peanut butter we have at home. Apparently that stuff causes kidney stones. And I've been eating a lot of that peanut butter. I guess I better lay off the stuff for a little while.

Elder Wilson of the Quorum of the Seventy (General Authority/leader of the Church) toured our mission this week. In one of the meetings, he expounded to us the importance of reading the Book of Mormon with investigators. He would tell stories of people that took time to read with others, and as a result both were edified and grew together. As a companionship we are pushing more for this now. We actually got Rich set up to read with the Stake Patriarch twice a week. (A Patriarch is a member with a special responsibility to receive revelation for other individuals in the Stake.)

I forgot to mention that in my first week on island, I found a well-cooked cockroach in my soup. That's just one of those times when you have to scoop it out and keep on eating. I didn't have the heart to tell them, the food was so cheap anyway. Good meals here are literally about 2 US dollars (60 kuai).

One day this lady drove up to me while my companion was talking to someone else, so I started talking with her. She looked about in her 50's, all smiles. She was really interested in our church, and asked me for information about where it was and what time they met. She then asked me my name, which she wrote down on a church tract I had given her. And then she asked me how old I was. I told her I was 19. She gasped, said "I'm 18!" and gave me a high-five. I didn't believe it for a second. And then she asked me where I lived. I said, "Lingya--glad to meet you. Hope you can come to church sometime. Bye!" I grabbed my companion and started riding off. You can't be too careful with girls. Some girls in English class asked me for my phone number so they could practice English. I offered to give them the sister missionaries' number. They said "Never mind."

I've decided I need to give you a quick guide to missionary vocabulary, so that I can use it more in later emails. This includes missionary slang and words particular to our mission due to the language.

Dad = Your trainer, or first companion. He teaches you the ropes of missionary life.

Mom = Your second companion. He goes in and corrects everything your Dad did wrong.

Born = Your first area. I was "born" in Lingya.

Died = Your last area, or someone that has left. Elder Sanford "died" in Lingya. President Bishop understandably doesn't like this terminology because some people will say stuff like, "I 'killed' my last companion."

Larry = To return to your mission and marry someone you met on your mission. By the way, in case you did not know, we do not date on our missions.

Trunky = To be overcome with thinking about home or life outside of missionary life. This is a reference to missionaries that traveled overseas by boat, and when they left they would throw all their possessions inside a trunk.

Babylon songs = Songs that have no relation to the gospel. Not that it isn't okay to sing those songs, but they often have the tendency to make one "trunky".

Chinglish = A mixture of Chinese and English.

"Fang"-ed = A reference to a Chinese phrase: "Fang women de gezi", or "Placed our pidgeon", which means to "stand up" someone. If we set an appointment with an investigator, and they afterwards stood us up, we would say they "'Fang'-ed" us.

"Shuai" = Chinese word for handsome.

"Li Hai" (Pronounced "Lee Hy") = Chinese word for cool or awesome.

"Pei ke" = To sit in with someone and help teach a lesson, or in reference to a person who does this.

"Ba" = Suggestion particle. Tagged on the end of a sentence, it notifies the listener that the speaker is presenting a suggestion or a thought. I could say, "I have 4000 NT in my bank account, ba," which translates to, "I'm pretty sure I have 4000 NT in my bank account."

We found a family this week!!! They are the Deng family, and there is a mother and father and two daughters, ages 9 and 15. We went to their house and taught them about the Plan of Salvation, and afterwards talked about prayer. The mother was gone at work but came home after we had just invited the father to offer the closing prayer. We asked if she could join, but she declined, saying she was really busy. The best part was that the kids all said, "Mom, come on, pray with us!" After a lot of coaxing from the kids, the mom came and joined us. The father then offered a wonderful, spiritual prayer. This past sunday, the father and the younger daughter came to church (the older daughter slept in). He told us afterwards that he wanted his other daughter and his wife to come with him next week. Woohoo! I'm so excited for them!

One of the Sisters' investigators asked me to baptize her. I didn't baptize Rich (he requested Brother Oba to do it), so this will be my first. Here we go!

Friends leaving on missions or in the process of filling out papers: tell me!!! I want to know what's going on! I want to be excited for you! And it always helps to have another pen pal on your mission too.

I love the gospel and the hope that it brings. I am so blessed and privileged to be a part of this great work. On my own, I can't do anything. I'm like a paintbrush. But with the touch of the Master's hand, through me and his other servants he can paint a masterpiece. I am so glad I can be a missionary! I can't wait to take the skills and gospel principles I learn now and be able to continue to use them and build upon them for the rest of my life.


-Elder Jorgensen


“I didn't know you could take bikes on escalators until now.”


“A good view of Zouying.”


“In the Pagoda.”


“Me, Elder Cox, Elder Hellberg, and Elder Chia.”


“Typical Buddhist Temple. They are everywhere!”


“Names written on a wall outside a Pagoda.”


“Our Apartment complex.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

12 November 2012

Li hou!

This week was full of many interesting happenings and events. In the States we had our presidential election. Interestingly, the US presidential election gets as much attention in Taiwan as it does in America. Most people we talked to would ask us if we liked Obama or Romney. That was a frustrating question because we are strictly not allowed to talk about political matters, and yet I very much wanted to know what was going on. Every restaurant out here was playing debate replays, and analyzing the election results. It's almost as if the Taiwanese are more involved in our elections than we are.

One day I contacted this guy who I figured was some sort of doctor. He was in an off-white lab coat, and wearing gloves. He seemed very concerned about being sanitary. I told him a little about our church, and he seemed a little unsettled as I talked to him. When the light turned green he waved to me and drove away. After a few minutes, my companion pulled up next to me and asked, "Hey, how did talking to that Monk go?"

Something that's really confusing about Chinese culture in general is that most people will not change their family names when they get married. It can get really confusing at church, trying to remember that Sister Wu is in actuality married to Brother Li, and not married to this other Brother Wu. You often have to ask people if they're married too because wedding rings are not really a part of the culture at all.

One of the biggest problems we face with the culture is the power that parents have over their children. Typically, people live with their parents until they are married, rich, or until the parents die. Parents tell their sons to not get married until they are rich and can provide a very comfortable lifestyle for their wife. Daughters are told only to marry rich men. Thus, people date a lot, but only tend to get married around 40 or 50 years old. This is a long time that these people are staying home with their parents. This causes us to run into a problem we call "Family fandui", or conflict within the family. Often is the case when a 40-year-old investigator we have tells us that he cannot join the church because his parents say he isn't allowed to. It's cool that these guys really respect their parents but it can really slow down the work.

If you were to walk down a road in Taiwan, you would see a lot of red splatter stains on the ground. This comes from something called "Beetle Nut", a particularly nasty drug that's super mainstream here. They're nuts that have been scooped out and filled with a class 3 narcotic, along with red chalk. The outside of the nut is coated with opium. When people eat it, the nut shell cuts up the gums in the mouth and the drugs can then go straight into the bloodstream. The red chalk causes people's teeth to look a deep red, and it's just plain gross. "Beetle Nut" stands are at almost every street corner, and they are decked out with flashing LED's. It's really sad to see people using it. I'm so grateful for the gospel and how it has helped me stay away from harmful substances like this, as well as tobacco and alcohol. I'm thankful for my body, this wonderful gift God has given me, and I will always treat it with the sacred respect it deserves.

Last week Elder Cox called me out on an attitude change I had. I was getting all snappy and nit-picky, pointing out in a passive-aggressive way the things he was doing wrong. We had a good open talk about it, and I was able to zero in on the reason I was feeling this way. I haven't been very confident in my abilities as a missionary. In fact, I felt extremely inadequate, especially in my language studies. I feel like most of the things I study don't really stick in my brain. So I'd try to compensate for this lacking on my part, tearing him down to build myself up. Really, just opening up solved the problem. I'm more happy now, even if I still haven't been seeing much progress in my studies after that point. Elder Cox is awesome, and I'm glad that he cares and wants to help me out. It takes courage to lovingly reprove someone for their actions. He exercises his authority as Senior Companion in a way that a true leader should.

I just want to testify that I know that this is the Lord's work. A few days ago I was getting so frustrated because I was trying to contact people at an intersection while my companion used the phone, but the lights would keep turning green before I could pull up next to them. After a good fifteen minutes I just said aloud, "Heavenly Father, I have no idea what I'm doing! Please help me be able to talk to someone." Right then, this guy pulled up right in front of me and stopped. I rode forward and started a conversation with him that lasted a good fifteen minutes. I know that God is mindful of His people, and that He will help us, as long as we do all we can to accomplish His commandments and ask Him to fill in when we are lacking. He really does love us and care about us.

I love all of you, and I hope all is well. Remember; never knock on the door four times. It's a death omen. I'd just stick with five or six.


Elder Jorgensen




“Lotus Pond”


“The best Peanut Butter on the whole dang planet. It's huge!!!”


“ShuiJiao's (boiled pot stickers), the Macaroni and Cheese of Taiwan.”


“Elder Cox and his Ukulele.”


“Rich gave me this cool gift as thanks for his baptism.”




“More mural pictures. The ‘love’ mural is amazing.”

5 November 2012

November! Hoorah! Today marks my 4 month point on my mission. I can hardly believe that exactly 4 months ago I was going through orientation at the MTC. So weird.

This week was the first real rain we've had since I've been on island. I was talking with Rich, and he said that since the rain is highly acidic, people who don't cover their heads go bald faster. He warned me that I should, therefore, always wear a helmet when I'm biking. Forget safety, I don't wanna be bald! The rain that we had wasn't that bad, just enough to require some rain gear. Elder Cox says that it can get really bad, with the gutters overflowing with water. In Kaoshuing, there is literally a storm drain every 5 feet. That should give you an idea of how bad it can get. He also says that those days are when hundreds of cockroaches pour out of the drains onto the street, like out of some horror movie.

Remember Zhou Dai Xuan, the 10 year old that was close to baptism? His uncle was concerned that we should slow down and make sure he understands fully. He later explained why: Zhou has High Functional Asperger's Syndrome. That was really cool to hear, because my dad also has Asperger's, and my brother has Autism. This is quite the confirmation to me that I am supposed to be here in this area to help him. It was nice to be able to talk openly with them about it, and know that they were comfortable sharing that information.

That same night, a small child who is two years old was running around being obnoxious. His dad (Zhou's uncle) grabbed him and said, "If you don't behave, we will send you out with these two elders to be a missionary with them." The boy's body went limp and he collapsed to the floor, sobbing. Probably the funniest thing I have ever seen.

I had companionship exchanges again, and this time I was with Elder Forbes in Nanzih. He has been on island for 6 months, and we just tore it up out there. I loved working with him. I was happy to get to know him because later there was some trouble and his companion had to go up to Taichung to pick up a new missionary, so Elder Forbes stayed with us for three days. Being in a tripanionship is so efficient. We talked to tons of people during that time, and had quite a bit of success.

Every six weeks is called a "move call". The point when a move call starts is when new missionaries come in, old missionaries go home, and missionaries staying here can get moved to new places or get new callings (district leader, zone leader, etc.). Today is the start of my second move call. Elder Forbes got a call two days ago saying that he would serve his fifth move call in Magong, a small island off the west coast that can only be reached by airplane. If you get called there, that is true banishment. Those people only come off the island for Zone conferences, and there are only two missionaries there at a time. There's a lot of negative stipulation about the island, many people kind of treat it as a big laugh. But Elder Forbes is being really positive about the whole thing. I know he's going to love it there because of his positive attitude.

A guy I know, Elder Olsen, went home today. Very conveniently, his bike was stolen two days before. You can't time it better than that! People will steal the bikes here with the locks on them. That's why it's really important to paint your bike and make it look old and beat up, as well as put it in a place where it's super inconvenient to steal.

On the last Sunday of October, the bishop's wife asked me to do something, and the only thing I could understand was "play piano". Elder Cox has started doing this annoying thing where he won't help me understand what they are saying, so I was as good as on my own. Since it had something to do with piano, I agreed to help out with whatever it was. She smiled and left, and Elder Cox left to a meeting, so I was running around with Rich trying to figure out what in the world I had just agreed to do. Brother Oba, an American in our ward, walked by at one point and said, "Hey Elder Jorgensen, I hear you have a new important role in the ward!", and then continued to walk off as I felt a boulder sink in my stomach. I ran up to him and said, "Brother Oba, I really have no idea what this important role is. Could you please inform me as to what's going on?" He looked at me kind of funny, and then told me that I was playing piano for the primary program in two weeks. Aah!

I'm struggling with having a good diet. Perhaps the one good thing I've been eating is soy milk.  I didn't like it in America, but I really dig it here, and of course the big perk is that it's really cheap in comparison to regular milk. I also try to get fruit into my diet, but it's kind of expensive. We don't cook for ourselves at all, it's all street food. Street food is usually noodles or rice, some meat, and some vegetables, with an egg thrown in. Everything here is soaked in oil. The food tastes so good, but it's probably not doing good things to my body. And pretty much all the food here has some MSG in it. I'm allotted 6000 NT every month, but somehow I used it all up before the month was over, so I had to take out some personal funds for the last few days. I was able to pay myself back with the next month's funds, so I'm all good. Today I am planning to budget all of November so that this doesn't happen again. As far as weight goes, I'm staying pretty stagnant: I'm hovering around 165 pounds. People usually lose weight in this mission. Elder Cox's trainer lost 150 pounds over his mission. He didn't send any pictures of himself home the whole time, and on his last day bought a fitted suit so he looked really good when he came home. Apparently his parents didn't recognize him until he tapped his dad on the shoulder and said who he was.

Interesting fact of the day: Taiwan doesn't have tax returns. Instead, they have a lottery. Every receipt you get from any purchase in Taiwan is an entry into the Taiwan Lottery. You will often see welfare groups standing in front of malls asking for donations of receipts.

This week I was studying about faith, and I had some cool insights about what faith exactly is.

Many believe that merely having faith in Christ will grant us mercy. While faith is necessary, we do not believe this, so I asked myself, "What is true faith?"

I have faith in my mother. I believe that she gives me commandments and tells me to do certain things because she wants to teach me and protect me from harm. Now, let's say that my mom told me to get out of the middle of the street. There are two responses, faith and true faith. Faith is when I say, “Mom, I know and believe that you will protect me from danger,” and still remain in the middle of the road. True faith is when I immediately obey her words. I would like to say that the prior example is not faith at all, it is just a vain hope that my personal responsibility will be taken away. These people will recognize all too late that the car is coming and there is no one there to rescue them.

Perhaps this sounds rather morbid. Doesn't Christ have all power? Can't he rescue us from the consequences of sin? Yes. He can. . . . but only if we take some responsibility and learn from our actions. And this means that we are going to have to make some personal sacrifices, including giving up the things that God has told us is wrong. Faith is not just a belief; it is a principle of action.

One of the most detailed dissertations of faith in the scriptures is found in Alma 32. Verse 21 states: "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." As it says here, faith, in itself, is a hope and belief on the unseen. He continues in verses 26-27: "Now, as I said concerning faith- that it was not a perfect knowledge- even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words" (emphasis added).

In other words, the only way to know if something is true is to do it. This is pretty much a rule of thumb for life. I don't know if a bed is soft until I lay on it. I don't know that the tree at the MTC smells like cream soda until I go smell it. And I don't know that the Book of Mormon is true until I read it and pray about it. The thing about faith is that it should lead to a perfect knowledge. But if one does not act on their faith, they do not progress in their knowledge. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).

Faith leads to action. The results of the action help us determine if the thing we have faith in is real.

Now let's say that you have gained a knowledge after this trial of your faith. Are we done? Faith has accomplished its purpose, right? No, merely knowing is still not enough. You must apply more faith! "And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life" (Alma 32:40). Faith is like a seed, and if you take time to nurture it, it will begin to grow, and you will know it is a good seed. As you continue to nurture it, your understanding will grow as the tree does, and you can eventually partake of the fruit. "Then, my brethren  ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you" (Alma 32:43).

If you have planted this seed, do not neglect it! For soon the "sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root and it withers away... Ye will not nourish the tree; therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof" (Alma 32:38-39).

Believe in Christ. Then, do what He says. As you exercise your faith I promise that you will come to a perfect knowledge that He truly is your Savior and redeemer, and then shall "ye believe in a manner that ye can give place [in your hearts] for a portion of my words" (Alma 32:27).

What a good week. I love you all, and I hope you can see the Lord's hand in your life as I do in mine. What a great time to be alive! Until next week,

Elder Jorgensen





“Spending some time at the mural place, too bad it's getting torn down soon...”


“Different view of my atrocious haircut.”PA300009

“View over Nanzih from Elder Forbes apartment (15th floor).”



“Some pagodas and walkways in Zouying(?), beautiful!”


“Inside the subway with Elder Cox (Subways here are called MRT's).”

Saturday, November 3, 2012

29 October 2012—Explosions, Earthquakes, and Fruit

How are you! (Taiwanese think this is a greeting, not a question.

I feel like I just have a bunch of random stuff to write about, so I'm sorry in advance about the smorgasbord.

Elder Cox says that Taiwan could be invaded by another country at any moment, and nobody would know. I can't help but agree, because this place literally always sounds like a war zone. Fireworks are a common way to celebrate stuff, and almost daily you will hear explosions. Out of the blue, parades dedicated to certain gods will march down the streets banging various metallic instruments (which can be quite the distraction in the middle of church meetings). And there's always construction somewhere. This week it's been in front of our house. They've been using the jackhammer nonstop, and I can barely focus in my scripture study. Hopefully they will be done with their project soon.

I passed off my first language assessment this week! Elder Cox said he was very impressed with my ability. One part of the test is to teach the first lesson solo, and that lasts roughly 30-40 minutes. I was able to keep it moving, and although I feel I still have a lot to improve, I'm happy with what I was able to do. I am clearly receiving divine help. At one point in the lesson, Elder Cox cracked up because I used the wrong tone for one of the words. So instead of saying, "Christ suffered so He can take away our guilt and sadness," I said "...guilt and pumpkins." Upon further reflection, he realized that he was mistaken, and that I had actually not said pumpkins, but had said the word for Yugoslavia.

We contacted a young guy this week, and Elder Cox felt prompted to give him something out of his backpack before we left. As he shuffled through the pamphlets in his bag, he received a shock when he had a strong feeling to give him the "Law of Chastity" pamphlet, which is about how we should not have sexual relations outside of marriage. Really weird, but we'll see how this goes...

Wednesday at 6:30, there was a decent sized earthquake. We were sitting inside a Family Mart when I saw all the scooters parked outside tip over in a wave. The ground shook for about 15-20 seconds. What was really funny was that nobody even flinched. Elder Cox hardly reacted; he just leaned back a little from the glass window in case it shattered. He said he's experienced 4 larger earthquakes since he's been here (a little more than a year). I learned later that the epicenter was in Ping Dong (the south of us), and registered as a 5.5, so our location would have been about a 4.5.

In Taiwan, it's good manners to give a gift when you visit someone's home. The best gift is fruit. Certain fruit symbolize different things. Often the best fruit to give is a pineapple, because it means you wish them prosperity and more business. There are certain cases when you would not want to give a pineapple. For instance, never give one to a doctor.

I got my first haircut in Taiwan this week. Oh noes. I tried really hard to have an American looking hair style, but it sort of failed... Elder Cox said instead I had the Asian look. The stylist shaved the sides of my head really short, but left the top long, insisting that if he cut it any shorter I'd look really young. Right before we left I overheard him and another coworker bickering if it looked good or not. Not a good sign. In any rate, hair gel is now a definite MUST.

So many people call me baby-face, you have no idea. Tons of people think I'm 15 or 16. I looked in the mirror the other day, and compared that with my driver's license picture. It was a little sad. My face is definitely a little rounder. My cheeks have filled in a little bit. My diet here is not the greatest, WAY too much grease.

It appears my bad luck with bikes that I had in the US somehow smuggled itself in my suitcase to Taiwan. I've had two flats in the first 5 weeks. I just have this dreading feeling that next it's going to be something really expensive. Every month we get roughly 6000 kuai (about 190 US dollars) for food and other things, but we can't use this money towards bike repair; this comes out of our personal funds. A'ya!

Next month is No English November! Shaving daily is in the rule book, so we had to at least figure out something to do. Anybody want to join in with me? Don't worry, I'll still write my letters home in English. I figured having to go through the trouble of Google Translate on your end would be a little mean.

We are working with a 10 year old right now who will be baptized in two weeks. He's really smart, and we've had some good lessons with him. It's really been stretching me to teach to such a different audience: much more hands-on and simple. He's been having a lot of support from his uncle, who is currently the bishop for a ward in Tainan, but living with and taking care of his nephew in Lingya.

When the Book of Mormon is translated to different languages, it is truly a revelatory process. A lot of work goes behind the translation. Sometimes, because of grammar and cultural differences, these translators need a little more information to complete the translation accurately. In the case of Chinese, there was a point where the person was translating the part about Ammon and his brother Aaron. According to Chinese culture, it is respectful to call someone by their specific position in their family. There are different words for older brother and younger brother. At one point Ammon is talking to Aaron, and calls him by his title, "brother". Nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it say which brother is actually older and this posed a problem in the translation. The translator then went to the current Prophet and asked him what he should do. The Prophet prayed about it, and replied later that Aaron is Ammon's older brother. This little detail may seem very minor, but it's interesting to think about the revelation that is given to the Prophet on a regular basis. I know that we truly do have a living prophet that guides and directs our church, Thomas S. Monson. I'm grateful to know that if I follow his words and guidance I can come closer to the Savior and partake of the blessings that He has promised us.

I love all of you, and I hope you feel the joy that I feel when I wave at a person flagging down a bus. I just love that expression on their face.

-Elder Jorgensen


“Cultural Center. Tons of families here! Some security guards think we are allowed here, some think otherwise... We choose the first. :)”



New haircuts!


“A common roadway in Taiwan. Now imagine seeing about 200 scooters and 30-40 cars and buses on that segment of road all at once. That's roughly rush hour.”


“We did an activity where we draw the thing we are most thankful for. I tried to draw mom. She looks a little crazed.”

22 October 2012—First Baptism!

Li hou! (Taiwanese for "hello!")

This week was awesome. Too much happened this week, and I'm going to try to mention as much of it as I can.

First I've gotta apologize to all those who have sent me letters and have not gotten a reply yet. Upon being in the mission field, time has become increasingly restricted for stuff like writing letters and grocery shopping. Part of the problem is that I'm not very good at prioritizing, and I'm trying to work on that right now so that I can have more room to reply to your letters. Thank you so much for all the kind words of encouragement you've sent, it makes me feel special and reinvigorated to do this work. I'm so grateful I have such awesome friends!

One thing I failed to mention last week was that during my companion exchange we went to a member's house and ate a traditional Taiwanese dinner with them. One of the dishes was made of these large, flat, rubbery brown strips which I later came to find out was a kind of fungus. I actually liked it a lot; it was my favorite food on the table (besides the rice of course!). I've gotten to the point where I prefer using chopsticks instead of fork and spoon to eat. Chopsticks are super fang bian (convenient). One thing that I had to learn is that you do not bring the chopsticks from the bowl to your mouth; you actually bring the bowl up to your mouth and scoop the food with the chopsticks. You actually want less distance between the food and you. But don't lean down over the bowl, that's rude!

We had Zone conference this week. There are only four of these per year, and zone conference is split up into two areas: south and north. So I attended the south zone conference. I saw Elders Fronk and Raley there, and was very surprised to see Sister Chord there since she actually is in the north, but was teaching a class for the south conference. Sister Chord told me she sent my little sister a letter, complete with a lot of stickers, so I can't wait to hear how Britta likes it. She also told me that my super buff MTC companion since he has been here shrunk two neck sizes. We don't eat that much food in Taiwan (except when you are visiting people, and then they try to blow up your stomach with all kinds of dong xi ["stuff"]). And Sister Newman, of course, is on fire. She is a mega missionary. I always knew her to throw her entire self into everything she does.

During Zone conference they have a section where the trainer missionaries introduce their new companions that are fresh in the mission field. So Elder Cox prepared a very sweet ditty about me, in which he recounted an experience we had a week ago where a guy we were talking with turned to me and said, "You have very beautiful eyes." He went on to say that the reason my eyes are "beautiful" is because I have the Light of Christ in me, and people can see it. He really put a lot of effort into the introduction, and I am really grateful to have such an awesome companion (even if he doomed me to teasing from the other elders for the rest of my mission).

And Elder Cox, Elder Fronk, his trainer Elder Harper, and I sang "Come thou Fount" for Conference! Totally fun.

One good quote from the Conference: "Stress comes when your goals and your behavior are not aligned."

In Preach My Gospel, the missionary manual, it says in the first chapter that everyone at some point in their life wonders what their purpose is, and where they are going after this life. In Taiwan, however, that's not the case. You ask them if they have ever thought about their purpose, and they say no. You ask them if they ever wondered about where they are going after they die, and they say no. You ask them what they think makes them happy, and nine times out of ten they will say money. This makes things difficult because I've always valued the gospel on the spiritual level, but now I have to make it appeal to someone who lives and thinks in the current, physical realm. Doctrine like eternal families and everlasting salvation don't work. Instead, showing them how the gospel can strengthen our families now and how Christ's atonement can help us have happiness and success now is the better approach. It's helped me really widen my understanding of the gospel as well as distinguish the specific needs of investigators.

And the best part of the week: Rich got baptized!!! It was amazing to see his countenance change. He is totally solid, and to hear him bear his testimony afterwards was truly incredible. He has changed so much. On Sunday he was confirmed a member of the church, an ordinance following baptism where the individual receives a blessing and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He also qualified to have the Priesthood and will be receiving that next Sunday. He is so happy! We are thrilled to see the progress he is making. This week we talked to an American who told us he feels sorry for us Mormons because we are "forced to go around knocking door to door" doing missionary work. I felt sad for him because he doesn't know what it feels like to watch someone come closer to Christ and see the hand of God work miracles in their life. Just seeing Rich take that step made this whole mission worth it, and I am humbled and honored that I can continue to perform as an instrument in the Lord's hands.

Shout out to by bro Dillon, going to Xalapa, Mexico! And my other bro Collin, going to Sierra Leone Freetown! So many of my good buddies are going on missions, it's crazy. I'm so excited for all of you!

I love you, and remember, red lights at intersections are a suggestion, not a requirement. I think. At least in Taiwan. A lot of people seem to think so.

-Elder Jorgensen



“Hanging out with Elders Fronk and Harper on P-day.” (Preparation Day)


“The entrance to our apartment building.”


“Our room.”


Rich gets baptized!


“I love the happy look on his face, absolutely priceless. That’s the moment I live for.”

15 October 2012—Dividends for Mom

Greetings from Lingya!

This week on Wednesday I hit my one month marker in Taiwan. It's really hard to believe that I've been here this long; the time really flies by super-fast. Then again, I feel like I've been here for eternity too, it's quite confusing actually. The days are slow, the weeks are fast.

Rich had his baptismal interview, and he was found prepared and ready for it! He has really been working hard, and we have been excited and proud of his hard work in preparing to take part in this ordinance of salvation. It's incredible to see a guy who has seriously been investigating the church for eight years suddenly understand the gospel and thereafter exponentially grow in his testimony. One of the coolest things about Rich is that he seeks out missionary opportunities. One night we were going to meet with him at a Mai Dang Lao (McDonald's), and we arrived seeing him waving his arms and pointing at a nearby occupied table. We discovered he had started talking to this random guy and introduced the gospel to him, and the guy was remarkably receptive to what we said afterwards because Rich had done such a good job talking with him. In fact, we barely taught anything, he pretty much covered the whole lesson. I am convinced that God gave us this experience, not only to introduce to this man the gospel, but even more so to help Rich discover the strength of his testimony. Rich has been making visible leaps and bounds in his faith every day, and I am sure he will be a great leader in the future. This Saturday is his baptism, and I'm so excited!

One of our investigators took us to this restaurant that was called "Psalms 23", clearly sponsored by a Christian church. They gave us free Dong Guo cha (Melon tea) because we "knew the scripture".

By the way, Dong Guo cha is THE BEST. Sooo good—probably because it's chock full of brown sugar. (Perhaps you have heard already that there are some things that LDS members do not eat or drink, and that tea is one food we should not consume. I suppose I should mention here that Mormons can drink tea, as long as it is not "cha ye de cha", or tea leaf tea. So herbal tea is fine, but red, green, or black tea is not okay to drink.)

Taiwanese people are very friendly. They will usually hold some kind of conversation, even if they aren't interested in talking with missionaries. Some may even write down their name and a fake phone number because they don't want you to lose face. If they do reject you, the most they do is ignore you, never rude words or extreme reactions. I can count on my fingers on one hand how many rude responses I've got in the last month.

However. Foreigners are quite different. They know who we are, because Mormon missionaries like us are everywhere. And the responses we get from them are on opposite ends of the spectrum: either they are super nice and talk with you for half an hour or they do a vulgar hand gesture or curse at you. It's really just a toss-up. We met one nice one this week, his name is Travis and he's from California. He talked with us for a full hour, and what was pretty incredible was that he held a lot of the same beliefs as us, but came to those beliefs on his own.

For all males that are trying to get a permanent residence permit in Taiwan, pretty much the only thing you can do for work to qualify is teach English for five years. So you meet a lot of foreign guys here teaching English. There is a LOT of English schools out here in the city.

One day I was teaching English class, and after it was over I got in a discussion with one of the older students. Meanwhile, I could see two teenage girls out of the corner of my eye, and it appeared to me that they were egging each other on to talk to me. Eventually the younger one came over with a phone and asked if I had a Facebook. Oh. I didn't really know what to say exactly, because I have to be really careful about how I associate with girls. I told her I did have a profile, but that I wouldn't be on it for two years. I think that was a good way to handle it: they seemed a little disappointed. It's hard being a missionary and not being friends with girls... I feel that it's something that's not really in my nature, but it's necessary for my protection and staying focused on my purpose. At any rate, I'm going to follow the rules the best I can because I need all the divine assistance and blessings I can get.

I had a companion exchange this week, in which our Zone leaders and we trade off a companion for a day. It's a good way for people to get new ideas from each other and learn a little more about how to be effective missionaries. I had a few opportunities to teach lessons that day, and Elder Bailey, the Zone Leader who was with me, said he was very impressed with my ability to understand and speak the language. The next day he was inspired to issue me a challenge: Currently I am working on something called Phase 1, a book that is full of vocabulary, phrases, and scriptures from the missionary lessons in the mission language. I originally had a goal to memorize all the stuff in it by the end of January, which I was struggling to see how I was going to accomplish it anyway. Elder Bailey wanted me to cut that goal in half. He is my leader, and he has the authority to receive revelation on my behalf, so I know that he was inspired to give me that invitation. And I know that God prepares a way to accomplish every commandment he gives us. So I have to step forward in faith. This is scary, it's like leaping into the dark, but I'm going to do it. I trust I'm not being led off a cliff, but rather that I'm jumping onto safe ground.

The other night I was lying in bed talking with my companion, and we were talking about our mothers. I told him about how my little brother is autistic, and how my mom spent a lot of her time every single day to work with him on developing his communication skills. My brother would play little games with her, and I would get jealous. I would ask her if I could play with her too. So my mom made time to play with me every day as well. I said that my mom just did her best to be there for me and love me all the time. And then something just hit me. "Man, I miss my mom." And then I just started sobbing. I remembered all the little things that she did for me every day, never thinking of herself and the many things she had to do. I was always a priority to her. And I was so undeserving; I did so little in return. She really is amazing, beyond comprehension. It's sad that it takes separation from loved ones to fully appreciate the role they played in your life. I look forward to the day when I can come back and give her a big hug and tell her I love her.

General Conference was great, a mighty spiritual feast. Now that I've seen it, I'd like to recommend to you friends some great talks to look up on If you are not a member of the Church, and you'd like to better understand what I'm doing as a missionary, check out Russell M. Nelson's talk in the Saturday Morning session. For our beliefs about our relationship with Christ (this is just amazing, it's a must see), go see Jeffery R. Holland's talk in the Sunday Morning session.

I think one of the biggest things I learned from conference was taking our relationship with the Lord seriously. Just as Christ asked the apostle Peter, he now asks us "Do you love me?" If we do, how committed are we in that answer? Do we love him, or do we love him with every fiber and sinew of our being? How do we show that love? How do we grow that love? Please, if you have some time, watch Jeffery R. Holland's talk. It illustrates this point so powerfully, I cannot do it justice.

I loved this quote as well: "God is never hidden, but sometimes we are" (Henry B. Eyring, Sunday Morning session).

I love you all, and hope you have another great week! I remind you that if you want to ask me questions or comment, feel free to do so here or on my Facebook profile. All those messages will be forwarded to me.


Elder Jorgensen