Sunday, January 27, 2013

21 January 2013

I've been having a hard time lately. A missionary's success is measured by their commitment to baptizing people and helping them receive the blessings that come from activity in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I personally want this. But the problem arises with something our mission president has said many, many times: "Every companionship is committed to, and will, baptize every month." I believe he is inspired in this statement, which would mean that every companionship truly can baptize every month. And I have not been doing so.

This, of course, leads me to question myself. Why am I not baptizing? Am I doing something wrong? Why am I not having the promised success President Bishop told us about? Sometimes I try to comfort myself by saying that the Lord has His timetable, and perhaps not having baptisms now is just His will, and I must comply with it. But then again, we have received a very direct promise from our mission president. So it really should be happening if I am doing my best.

Elder Dailey and I talked about this, and we both resolved that we would baptize this month. We've been having one investigator, Brother Chen, who has gotten close but has struggled with gaining a spiritual confirmation that what we have taught him is true. It looked really shaky . . . we had a lot of doubts as to whether he would be able to be baptized in January or not. But we decided to have faith and pray that he could be baptized by the end of the month.

Then we had Zone Conference on Thursday. President Bishop opened up the meeting, saying, "I have a friend that conducts temple marriages, and he is also a professor of education. He says that the one time that people are the most humble, receptive, and ready to learn is when they are at the alter getting married. The only other time that comes close to it is Zone Conference." And it truly was a spiritual feast.

A big change has just been initiated in the mission, and that is the elimination of mission standards. Mission standards are not exactly like quotas (we won't be fired or kicked out if we don't reach them), but they are goals we are expected to reach. For example, we were expected to be getting 30 lessons a week. Now, the numbers are gone, replaced instead with a very vague goal: "Every companionship baptizes, rescues, and retains every month." The focus has now changed to not just going on a mission, but rather, becoming a missionary.

During the meeting, much emphasis was placed on desire. Desire is the main motivator of all missionary work. Do you desire baptisms? Then you are going to do everything you can to get them. How strong is your desire? Do you need to grow it some more? Do you have some unrighteous desires you need to get rid of?

They also talked about expecting miracles. We are promised God's help as long as we exercise faith in Him and do all that we can on our own.

Elder Dailey and I realized that the Lord was not included enough in our day-to-day activities. So we decided to change that. That night, we stopped our bikes to tract a little alley on ZhongXiao road. Before we began, we said a prayer, asking that Heavenly Father could grant us a miracle, that we could find a prepared family that would let us come in and teach them about the gospel. We knocked on many doors. Every person that came to the door rejected us. Just... nobody. It was almost a little, no, very frustrating. But we asked God to give us a miracle, so we were going to expect it. So we pressed forward. After 30 minutes of closed doors in our faces, our faith was rewarded. We knocked on a door, and an older lady answered. She exclaimed, "Hey, you're missionaries! I've seen you biking around before! Come inside and tell us about your church!" We found ourselves teaching a beautiful family of an older couple with their daughter and husband who were expecting a baby. All of them were super friendly, and they were asking us how to pray and excitedly trying to pray themselves. They asked us to come back another day and teach them more. It is clear to me now, more than ever, that the Lord truly is in charge. As long as we use our faith, He will grant us blessings.

And then there is more. We had a lesson with Brother Chen on Wednesday, and the ward bishop sat in with us. The bishop decided that even though he did not have an answer yet, we could baptize him the next week. On Saturday, we called him and asked him if he would be willing to be baptized the following week, and he agreed. He told us though that he really wanted an answer first. So, we decided to fast (forego two meals) on Sunday for Brother Chen to receive an answer about the church.

Sunday morning we went to church, and Brother Chen wasn't there. We tried calling him multiple times, from different phones, but he never picked up. It was nerve-wracking. What happened? Why wasn't he there? They announced his baptism in church, which felt weird because he wasn't there. But we kept fasting. That night there was a dinner and meeting for young single adults, and we were in the area, so we stuck around for the free dinner. And then the miracle occurred: Brother Chen was there! Apparently Rich had called him at some point during the day, and he had seen that Rich had called, so he called Rich back, and Rich then told him about the activity. And the meeting was fantastic: the theme was "Finding Answers to Life Questions through the Scriptures". Exactly what he needed. Miracles happen, I can attest to it.

I have grown so much since I've left. It's weird to think I've already been gone over 6 months. A fourth of my mission has just blown by. And yet I've still got three-quarters to go. Imagine how much I have yet to learn! I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord. I know that I am in the right place, doing the right thing. I know this is the Lord's church, and that only through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can man find true peace in this life and a fullness of joy in the life to come.

Your brother in Taiwan,

-Elder Jorgensen


“Elder Dailey biking around the Cultural Center. (I apologize for the pin-hole effect...)”


“Me and Elder Dailey!”


“There are tons of 7 Elevens in Taiwan.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

14 January 2013

I started off this week charged up with the fresh energy that a familiar culture brings, obtained via Costco goods. I bought my fair share of overly large muffins and *real* milk (you know, straight from the cow kind), along with a jumbo sized box of Raisin Bran and Oreos. As it turned out, I was going to need all the energy I could get. The following week turned out to be a near fiasco.

The tough stuff started out when Elder Haag, assistant to President Bishop, stayed with us for a day to evaluate how we were doing as a companionship. We were talking about how the area was doing, and how we felt about the work, when I expressed an observation I had made about street contacting: "It seems that people have been ignoring us a lot more the last few weeks." 

He asked, "Have the people changed?"


"Then that says to me that you've just lost faith in the area."

I was a little stunned by this statement. Did he just tell me I didn't have faith? People have told me that's one of my strengths, and here he is tearing that down with almost no emotion in those words. I wanted to be angry. But instead I just sort of panicked. I started to doubt myself... What if I really was lacking in faith? But no, it can't be that I don't have faith in the area, right now we have several investigators looking good for baptism. No, perhaps it's just faith in myself as a missionary. I often doubt in my abilities, thinking I'm not adept for this work.

I expressed these thoughts to my companion, and he told me that it seemed to him that I was putting my faith in the wrong place. I should have faith in Christ,that He can make up for my weaknesses. Only when we have faith in Him can He help us.

I figured one way to grow faith in Christ is to see the blessings that He has given me, more specifically how He's worked through me to bless the lives of others. One way this can be measured is by the amount of love I have for others. So, I prayed for charity, which is the pure love of Christ. I started to pray for that every day, hoping that if I can see the love growing within myself; it would grow my faith as well.

Something that everyone knows is that if you pray for patience, you will be given very stressful experiences. It's just the way God works. He will give you trials that target the weakness you have. This time was no exception.

There is a man we know that is extremely physically handicapped. He suffered polio when he was young, and somehow this left him with almost no muscle control in his entire body. We often go to visit him and his 12-year-old son, often to clean the house for him or change his clothes and take him to church.

On this particular week there was going to be a party on Saturday night, and he was invited to come. The ward had planned on a certain member to give him a ride there, but the member couldn't do it, and the member somehow, on Friday night, placed us with the responsibility to find a ride for him. We struggled to find members to help him, but we had two major problems: There was a church activity all day in Taipei, so everyone was out of town and wouldn't answer their phones, and very few people in Taiwan actually have cars. What was especially frustrating was that we were on exchanges when we got this assignment: my companion was in Zouying at the time, so I was the only one who had enough knowledge of the ward to make the calls.

I finally called him Saturday morning and told the man, we'll call him Li, that I hadn't found a ride for him. He told me that I must find a ride for him, that he must go to the activity, and that I must go at 2:00 to visit him because he must get a haircut so that he can look good at the party. The latter part was not in the plans, so I was just flabbergasted. I had no idea what I was going to do, because absolutely everybody was gone and nobody would be able to give him a ride to the barbershop. All I could do was tell him I would do my best and drop by at 2:00.

Of course we found no one to give him a ride, so my stomach was all clenched up in a knot when we went to visit him. Li at first was stressed out, and told me to call some members right then. This didn't do anything, everyone was gone. I decided then to call our bishop and tell him the situation; miraculously he picked up. Thank goodness our bishop speaks English, or I would have never understood his instructions: have him take a taxi, and when he pays the driver have him get a receipt, and he can get reimbursed by the church. But Li didn't have much cash, so we still had to borrow money to pay for the taxi. Missionaries are strictly not allowed to lend people money, even if they are going to get reimbursed. I asked Li how far away the barbershop was, and he said it was very close, so I decided that we could walk him there. I asked him if he had any cash, and he pulled out of his bag 150 kuai, enough for a simple haircut, not enough for a taxi later that evening. I figured we'd worry about the haircut first. I had to go pick up my companion at that time, so I said I'd come back at 4:00.

When Elder Dailey and I came back, we spent the first hour talking about the taxi situation, and trying to convince him that missionaries really weren't allowed to lend him any money. We spent the next hour lifting him off his bed onto his wheelchair and back again multiple times until his seat was perfect. It was ridiculously stressful; everything had to be executed perfectly or else he'd tell us to take him back to where he was and restart the process. He asked his son to wheel him out of the room, and I guess he wasn't satisfied with the exit technique, because he grabbed the wheel and told him to take him back inside and wait for a minute. This happened probably about 100 times, no exaggeration on my part. The son, needless to say, was getting angrier and angrier, eventually flinging his dad against the bed every time he said to "go back". Elder Dailey and I were exasperated and fuming. This felt like an immense waste of time. It may have been a service, but this was just ridiculous. Finally, Li was okay with the exit procedure, and after a few back-and-forths, became content to get into the elevator.

The barbershop was only a block away, and after waiting for about 20 minutes he finally started getting his hair cut. During that time, Elder Dailey and I were making calls and studying language, anxious to make up for lost time. This was bad though, because we weren't paying attention to Li, who was requesting additional services and racking up a bill. So imagine our surprise when the bill was 250 kuai, which meant we would have to break rules and lend him money anyway.

No members were picking up the phone except for one, who told us the activity was a 10 minute walk away, so we decided to walk him. He wanted the wheelchair pulled instead of pushed so that he was facing backward, so Elder Dailey and I each took a handle and dragged him along the busy streets. Every so often he would grab the wheel and tell us to go back and wait for a minute, and I quickly found I needed a way to control my frustration. I looked at his young son and suddenly the answer came. At some point Elder Dailey was telling me how stressed he was about the whole situation, and I just told him, "Pretend this man is your father."

That young boy is an amazing example of charity. The reason I say this is that he has to go to school, buy groceries, take care of the home, and take care of his father every single day. He sacrifices time with friends and a lot of basic needs to help his dad. He gets frustrated sometimes, but I don't hold that against him, because he still stays and takes up that responsibility anyway. The only motivation I can think of that would make him keep coming back is love.

I got a wonderful letter from my friend Kelly on Friday, and I want to share a portion that helped me understand what charity is all about:

"I believe every single thing that you do each day should be propelled by love. Love for cleanliness, food, safety, punctuality, whatever. To me, love is the most powerful thing in the universe. It makes life here (spiritually and physically) possible; it makes the atonement [of Jesus Christ] possible. ... If we are to become like Christ, and Christ is charity, than we must be charity. Charity lasts forever. It is the only thing that doesn't fail. Christ lasts forever. So it stands to reason that in order to live forever, we must become the only thing that can endure forever: love!"

While this experience may have been insane, I want to tell you that I grew to love that man more than I did before. I understood that love is what makes the trials in life worth enduring. What started out as something negative became something positive. I understand a little better now how God must feel when we try his patience and continually make mistakes, and yet He loves us through all that. "His hand is stretched out still." Love is what makes repentance possible. Love is what makes life possible. Love is what made Christ willing to sacrifice His own life to redeem all of mankind from physical and spiritual death. Love is what made it possible for Him to live again. Love is why we will rise from the grave as well. Love is what gives our life purpose, direction, and happiness. Love is everything!

I am so grateful for the many friends that I've had in my life, and the love they had for me. I am especially grateful for my family, who still loved me even though I was not always an angel at home. I hope I can learn from these examples and love the people of Taiwan just as much as all of you have loved me.

You make my life worth it!

Until next week, love,

-Elder Jorgensen


“Oh, beautiful Costco.”


“Rich and Elder Chia waiting for some Costco pizza! Seafood flavor, I don't think so!”


“Uh oh, that lady doesn't look to happy to see cameras in the food court.”


“Sister Zheng helping us interpret our Chinese receipts.”


“’Focus on the good.’ –Kelly”


“My glorious bounty of Oreo's. I used most of them for an English activity, mimicking the vision of the Tree of Life.”


“Lots of cool architecture in Gaoxiong.”


“Mmm, chicken head.”


“Sister Zheng babysits this adorable kid. Reminds me of Inge.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

7 January 2013

This is my first official post in the New Year of 2013, so to celebrate I will be going to Costco and buying some much missed American food.

After I emailed home last week, we were going to an appointment with Rich when we came near a large shopping mall, and there was a huge gathering of people listening to a live heavy metal band. The guy was screaming and it was amazing how quickly the Spirit fled from me. Music has a powerful influence on us, and it can be used both for good or for evil. This music felt purely animalistic.

Something interesting about Chinese screamo: it's not much different from English; I still can't understand a single word they're saying.

It was spiritually rewarding to see Rich teach a gospel class this week. On Sunday nights all the singles from the area get together and have a gospel lesson and play games. Rich taught for half an hour, and he is a brilliant teacher. His understanding of the gospel has skyrocketed exponentially, and he is always so happy. I remember how he was before his baptism: he was happy, yes, but not the pure kind of happiness, the kind that radiates light. Now, his smile is infectious. He has made a ton of friends in Church. And even better, his testimony is rock solid. I asked him the other day what he would do if Elder Cox or I rejected the church and became bad people, and he replied that he knew this church is true and that nothing could ever shake him from it. He is going to be a great leader someday.

We taught a guy the other day that could have been on the TV show "Hoarders". I was floored at how much stuff he could fit in his house. It definitely grew a desire in myself to keep a cleaner home. (I'm sure my mom is very happy to hear this news.)

Last night we were contacting at the Cultural Center, and we ran into an adorable family with a two-year-old daughter. I showed them a picture of my sister Inge, also two years old, and the little girl's eyes just lit up. It was adorable. The mother would play with her and bounce her around, and she would do the cutest belly laugh. The father was holding a balloon animal for his daughter, and I could tell he seemed like a very loving guy. After talking with them a little bit, we shared our message about how through God's church families can be together forever, not even separated by death. We then asked them if they would be interested to meet with us, and the father said, "Well, if it's destiny that we join this church, then we'll do that. But right now, we're not interested." That felt like a virtual punch in the stomach. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn't the passive attitude of his response that I was disappointed about. When I saw that little girl, I saw my sister. When they rejected our invitation, I imagined what my life would be like if I was not eternally sealed to my little sister and the rest of my family. It was a terrible feeling. It's been difficult to be separated from my family for so long since I've come on a mission, but the one comfort that has sustained me is that in the eternal perspective, this time is only the blink of an eye, and that nothing can permanently separate us. I am so, so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who provided a way for us to be sealed to our families eternally. To me, this is heaven. I can't imagine a better life. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to share this glad message with the people of Taiwan.

Until next week, love,

-Elder Jorgensen


“Christmas caroling picture from Sister Liu.”


“Our busy District Leader, Elder Dailey.”


“We sometimes forget to turn off the A/C, so I made a useful tool to see if the fan is running. Pretty nifty!”


“A pretty scene from my travels at the Christmas conference.”

31 December 2012

Xinnian kuai le! Happy New Year!

This week was a good wrap up to the year. I must first say thank you so much for all the letters I received during the Christmas holiday. It truly brightened my spirits hen duo (a lot), and it helped me to feel that connection I have with each of your lives, despite the time and distance that keep my world and yours apart. I have a lot of good memories of my hometown, and I am grateful to be able to recall those a little bit over the holidays.

On the same note, I've been sending letters back to all who send me one. I must apologize though, it takes me awhile to respond (Mondays are the only day we are allowed to write letters, as well as take care of shopping and writing to family and such, so not much time!), and occasionally I'll get letters back saying they failed to find the person. (Sorry Amy, I'll try to resend my letter today.) If you haven't received a letter yet, be assured one is on the way!

Last week I sprained my ankle. It was during the caroling activity, and I had run a little bit only to roll my foot after tripping over some protruding stones on the sidewalk. I was a little nervous I had gotten a Jones fracture (the pain seemed to be focused to a point), so we went to the hospital the next day. We asked around where a doctor was, and an old man said, "Follow me!", got on his scooter, and took us to the hospital. He was so nice: he set up an appointment for me and took me to the orthopedic office. (We tried to give him some tracts when he left, but he just waved his hands and said, "Bu yong!" ["No use!"]). The doctor sent me to get an X-Ray, and the lady in there told my companion to leave. We were a little worried about this because we are always to be within sight and sound of our companion, and here I am being left alone with this lady. He and I exchanged a surprised look just before a giant metal door slid over the room entrance and separated us. The next few minutes that followed were very weird and, I'll admit, a little nerve-wracking. This seemed so against the rule book. I had never been separated from my companion except for once on my mission so far, and that time I was a couple button clicks away from dialing the mission president. Its crazy how used you get to having another person with you at all times, you kind of freak out when they disappear. 

I got a great photo album from my family for Christmas! There is one particular photo in it that makes most Taiwanese folks laugh. For our family reunion, my dad printed photos of the members of the family who were gone on missions. They were all life size posters, of just the head and top of the torso. After showing a humored English class, they told me that in Taiwanese culture, you only see pictures like that if the person in the picture is dead.

Speaking of dead people, my companion and I went to go find a former investigator in our records. When we went to ask the security guard of the apartment complex if we could find "our good friend, Mr Li," he told us, "Mr Li is not here. He died." Oh. That's awkward. I can just imagine him thinking, "What kind of 'good friends' are you?"

I got to call my family this week! Skype is such a miracle. We are so blessed with the technology we have these days. It felt really good to see all of them, and I was touched to hear my little brothers say they were excited to serve a mission. They probably couldn't tell, but I was fighting tears as I told them they needed to serve a mission. This is, by far, the best thing I have ever done in my life. I am so thankful I made this decision. I can't relay even the smallest fraction of how much I've changed so far. I am a better person than I was before, and I hope to continue this progression into the man the Lord wants me to be.

The night after I called my family, I had my first dream in Chinese. In the dream, I had already been released from my mission, and I was at home in the kitchen with Dad. He was speaking into a giant brick phone, so clearly the phone was an important focal point of my dream. He was trying to set up a time to hang out with a friend for lunch, and his friend was Chinese. The man was speaking a lot of Chinglish (Chinese and English), and Dad was having a hard time understanding him, so he handed the phone to me and asked me to set it up. I continued to have a conversation in Chinese with the man, and the man said he was very impressed with my ability to speak Chinese that well. It was a very, very good dream. A definite milestone. I've been waiting for that moment for months. And the reason I had this dream was that I asked God for it. The night before, I asked Him if I could have a dream about how I could be a better missionary, and he gave me a dream showing me how far I've come. I take it to mean that I need to stop worrying too much about meeting my potential; I've been making good progress as it is.

Us Latter-Day Saints abide by a certain law called "The Word of Wisdom", which dictates rules about what we are and are not to eat. It's a health code of sorts. It stipulates five things we are not to eat, and they compose of the following: alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea (tea leaf, not herbal tea). Elder Cox had introduced me to this awesome pear juice, and I've been drinking quite a bit of it. But when we went to lunch with a native today, he grabbed the glass I was filling and told me that the juice had black tea in it. Oh noes. I had him write down the character for tea and I'm going to memorize it so that I don't have another mishap.

And now for an announcement: My official release date has been moved from July 25th, 2014, to July 8th, 2014. Because of the recent age change for when missionaries are allowed to serve, there is a massive number of missionaries entering the MTC, so the MTC had to shift their schedule and shorten everyone's time there by three weeks. To accommodate this change, we are cutting a six week move call in half, which shortens my time to serve by three weeks. My thoughts on this... I'm not sure how I feel. It's just interesting to me right now, but I'm sure that as I get closer to the date, I'm going to wish I could have spent a little more time here. Taiwan truly is an amazing place.

We currently have four investigators with baptismal dates, one with a goal for the 12th of January, two others for the 19th, and Zhou Didi, the ten-year-old, for Valentine's Day. We're excited, and hopeful that they can hit their goals. It's a great time to be a missionary in Lingya!

I love all of you, and I wish you a wonderful year ahead.


-Elder Jorgensen


“An English Flyer prototype I made. Oh, did I tell you I'm English Leader now? I basically just run the English program in my area, provide training, and plan English Proselyting events.”


“Check out the Instant Noodles isle. Cheap noodle paradise.”


“Elder Dailey's old companion from when he served in California.”


“No, I did not eat that whole burger by myself.”


“Street scene in Lingya.”

24 December 2012

Sheng Dan Jie Kuai Le!!! Merry Christmas!!!

I've had the wonderful gift of getting to know my new companion, Elder Dailey. He is super easy-going, which is great because I've been feeling particularly stressed and he can really soften the mood. He is also quite the athlete, which motivates me in exercise time in the mornings. I enjoy his optimism and his humility, and he sets a high bar for the kind of missionary I should become.

On Thursday, the whole mission got together in a great Christmas celebration. We all met up at a Buddhist temple and took a picture, and sang Christmas songs. We ate our fill at the Taichung Steakhouse, and had a spiritually uplifting Fireside (Church Meeting) afterward. It was awesome to see all my old MTC friends and catch up on our mission lives. Elder Christiansen has lost weight, and he just had his first baptism. Elder Fronk is living it up in Ping Dong, talking with fisherman BeiBei's (old men) in Taiwanese. Elder Raley seems to love his work and has become very good friends with a lot of fellow Elders in his area. Sister Chord and Sister Newman have both exploded in their Chinese speaking abilities, and have been doing terrific work. Elder Cox is actually in Sister Newman's district right now, and he says that she has been setting an amazing example for everyone of dedicated service and limitless charity.

During the Fireside, President Bishop said he wanted to call three people up to bear testimony, and as he announced the first two names he was staring right at me. I was not surprised when he asked me to speak last. My heart was pounding over the next six or seven minutes as I waited for my turn, pondering frantically what I was going to say. When I went up there, I just felt the Spirit take over, and I was able to speak from my heart. I'm glad I had the opportunity to share my testimony with my fellow missionaries, and it certainly reaffirmed my own testimony that God loves me and truly can help me overcome any challenge I face.

During a Christmas activity in our Ward, Elder Dailey and I talked with Brother Oba about his work as a US Ambassador in Taiwan. I asked him what his craziest assignment was, and he recounted the following story:

"My first assignment as an Ambassador was to work in South Africa. I have two main jobs: One, I am to be the US representative whenever anybody wants one, usually for meetings, funerals, and such. Two, if an American gets into trouble in the country, such as being arrested or dying, I have to sort out the problem and, for the latter problem, make arrangements to ship the body back the US.”

"While I was there, we had a man come from the US for some business, and some way or another died while he was still in the country. The family wanted the body back in the US so they could bury it. We put the body in a freezer, and then we were faced with a problem: People in Africa don't embalm bodies, and there were no iron caskets that met the requirements to be allowed to ship on an airline to the US.”

"I went to my boss to inform him of the situation, and to ask him what I was to do. He looked at me and said, 'Son, by the time I was your age, I had embalmed two people.'”

"We still had the problem of the casket, so it didn't matter if we embalmed the body; it still needed to get back to the US. During the middle of trying to sort this all out, we get a phone call from the FBI, who had caught wind of the situation, and after doing some investigating, told us that this man was possibly someone on the FBI wanted list. They wanted a picture, dental sample, or fingerprint sample for analysis. The picture we had of him was terrible; it didn't look anything like him. We tried to get a dental sample, but when we took him out of the freezer, his jaws were frozen and clamped shut, so there was no way to acquire that either. Our last choice was the fingerprinting, and we doubted that would work. His fingers were much like how your fingers look when you've been in the bathtub too long. Nevertheless, we tried our best to stamp his wrinkled thumbs on the sheets, and it ended up working. The guy came up positive as the criminal they were looking for.”

"In the end, we had no way of getting the casket, so a coworker and I embalmed the body ourselves and planned to bury it in South Africa. Right before we finished, the lady working with me said, 'Mr. Oba, you're a religious man. You should do a funeral service.' So, I read a couple scriptures, and then buried him, and that was that."

Brother Oba is just plain awesome.

And now for a Christmas miracle:

All the young single adults in our stake went caroling last night, and we went with them to spread the holiday cheer. The first place we sang was in front of a grocery store. While we sang, there was a man standing just inside, listening to us. As we started to leave, the man started talking to one of our Taiwanese friends, and asked him if we were Christian. He went on to say that he had just gotten out of prison, and that his friends had stolen his identity to scam others, using up all his funds in the process. Now homeless, he was wondering what he was to do next. Our friend told him that us missionaries would be able to help, and then took him over to us and introduced him. Elder Dailey, not understanding what was going on, just started to share the gospel with him. At one point, he told the man that God loves him, and that He will help all of His children if we ask for it. Suddenly, the man bends over and starts sobbing, clinging on to Elder Dailey's hand. We were surprised and didn't really know how to handle it. I feebly patted his shoulder and tried to help him, not sure why he was crying in the first place. We set up a time to meet on Christmas day, and he left in tears, clutching the Church flyer we gave to him.

There is no better way to spend Christmas than to be out here helping others feel the hope and joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no better gift I have to give than my time and efforts to serve my fellow sons and daughters of God. I may be gone from my family, but in reality my family is all around me. I just have to choose to see it. And when I do, I stop thinking about how sad I am to be gone for the holidays. I stop thinking of myself, and start thinking of others. I start to love others as Christ does. This is the spirit of Christmas. How blessed I was to be there to see that man feel of his Heavenly Father's love for him, on that winter night in front of a grocery store in Taiwan.

God loves us. I know he does. I feel it when I'm among friends and family. I feel it when I read the scriptures, and when I listen to the prophet's voice. I feel it when I am at church. I feel it when I serve others. I know he loves me, and I know he loves each and every one of you just as much. Let us grow this love within ourselves, let it swallow us whole and fill us up, and then let us share this love with all we meet. Let us live the spirit of Christmas. 

I love all of you so much, and I wish you a very merry Christmas and many a happy year to come!


-Elder Jorgensen


“My new companion, Elder Dailey.”


“Elder Christianson (MTC Companion). I actually got a near smile in this one.”


“Elder Raley and Elder Fronk (MTC District).”


“Me and Elder Cox with our old Zone Leader, and now office Elder, Elder Bailey.”


“MTC district reunion picture!”


“Elder Cox with President and Sister Bishop.”


“Sister Newman and Sister Chord, best friends!”


“Me and Elder Dailey.”


“Some candles at the (Buddhist) temple entrance.”


“Check out the beautiful sights!”


“Elder Christianson and Elder Casperson eating at the steakhouse.”


“Elder Lathan eating a mini octopus.”


“A beautiful French Horn bookmark given to me for Christmas by Amy in the ward neighboring ours.”


“Some more pretty scenery.”


“A guy playing guitar.”


“My sprained ankle. ‘Zao gao!’ (‘Terrible’, or literally translated, ‘Upside-down cake’.)”

Gaoxiong West-East Zones

“Another photo from Mission Conference a month or two ago... can you find me? :)”

17 December 2012

Li hou!

This week has certainly kept me on my toes. We started it off on Monday afternoon with a fun trip to the beach with the other Elders in our Zone. We played Ultimate Frisbee and Football. We actually got quite a gathering watching the games. Football is not a very common sport in Taiwan, to say the least. To see a whole bunch of Americans playing it must have been quite a sight. When we got touch-downs we even got screams and applause!

Monday night ended in a fiasco that led to a miracle. We had arranged to meet with a recent convert, Brother Chen, but right when we got to the church we got a call from Sister Busath and Sister Gibson, saying that their keys had fallen down the sewer and that they needed help retrieving them. Apparently they had called Elder Bailey in the Taichung office and he had told them he felt inspired that Elder Cox would be able to help them. Elder Cox, Brother Chen and I rode our bikes over to where they were, and met them with their investigator family as they were poking around the inside of the gutter with a pole. It looked pretty hopeless: Taiwanese gutters are typically spaced out three meters apart, with two or three small 10 cm diameter holes in between, and her keys had fallen in the hole exactly in the middle of the gutters. The Sisters hadn't had dinner yet, and they had been planning on having a dinner with the family, so they left, the mother leaving her 12-year-old son behind to help us. We tried using a pole with a magnet on it, as well as reaching in the gutter with a long shovel and scraping all the sludge away to find the keys, but nothing worked. The boy was working the hardest, moving shovels and flashlights around constantly. At one moment, Elder Cox was laying down on the ground with his torso in the gutter, trying to scrape at the sludge with his shovel, when Brother Chen said to him, "Elder Cox! Look up, it's Superman!" He was greeted with the sight of a boy stripped down to his underwear, armed with boots and a flashlight in his mouth. The boy then proceeded to step down into the hole, get down on all fours, and start crawling through the sewer. Everybody was excited and nervous. At some point a police officer came up and asked us what was going on, but upon hearing the news, he got excited too and waited to see if the boy could find the keys. It was a little nerve-wracking. The boy, after all, was in a crawlspace no taller than about two feet, and two feet wide, with about six inches of sludge coating the bottom. The sisters arrived after he had been in there for a couple minutes, and were a little amused to see all the people gathered, and then very shocked to learn why they were there. Sister Busath was a little peeved with Elder Cox, I think, for letting him go down there. All at once, we heard the muffled yell, "Zhao dao le!", and everyone applauded as he backed out of the sewer absolutely covered in muck, keys in hand. He was a hero! Reflecting on this experience, while Elder Cox was not the one who found the keys, this could not have happened without him. There was no way the Sisters would let the boy go down into the sewer. God has his own plan, and we may not understand it, but He knows what He's doing. That boy was meant to save the day. He just had to have the right setting, and God orchestrated that. Pretty cool, huh?

Speaking of miracles, Elder Chia and Hellberg had one with an investigator they have. Their investigator was having trouble reading the Book of Mormon. He didn't understand why it was important to read. One day they met with him, and brought along another member. Imagine Elder Jeffery R. Holland's passion, and put it into a Taiwanese man and you've got this member. He proceeded to practically yell the entire lesson, testifying of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, and how it will bless every aspect of life, and how he needs to read it, that his salvation depends on it. The next day, the Elders decided to drop by in the morning at the investigators bread shop to see how he was doing. They were surprised to see the Book of Mormon sitting open on the table outside the store, fifteen chapters in. They were even more surprised when they went in to talk with the man, and he replied, "I'm too busy, come back this afternoon. I must make more bread!" They found this very hard to believe, because the man barely ever had any business at all. Very, very few people bought his bread. When they came back later, the man told them that he was too busy, that he couldn't meet with them. "It's amazing! I read some of that book, and all of a sudden people are coming in and buying my bread! I ran out of flour and had to go get some more!" While they were there, a person every thirty seconds would come in and buy bread, some of them buying pretty big orders. It is clear that God will bless us if we make the effort to come unto Him and keep His commandments.

I met the official Mandarin translator for Elder Bednar!

I was talking with Sister Liu, the Sister that I baptized about a month ago. She gave me some sheet music to play, and I was replying about how grateful I was. At one point, I tried to say, "You're very kind," but the English word "kind" and the Chinese word for "cute" are very similar, and I mixed stuff up in my head. I said, "You're very cute" instead, and I realized my mistake as her eyes got big. "Uhhh... Well, I meant to say that you are kind, you know... and... uhh..." At this point she was smiling awkwardly, but seemed confused. "Yeah, you're really nice, I didn't mean to say that other thing, you know," (And then I felt bad for retracting my earlier statement,) "Not to say that you aren't cute, because you are, but, uhh..." and then it was all just super awkward, and I just said, "Thanks. Bye", and quickly walked out. Man, I'm dumb.

The other day we were buying Jua Bing's, or Green Onion Pancakes, and a little girl started talking in English with Elder Cox while we were waiting. Elder Cox said, "How old are you?"

"I'm 11. How old are you?"

"I'm 20 years old."

She sighs. "Oh. You are too old for me."

Elder Chia is training for the next move call, so Elder Hellberg stayed with us for the last few days. He brought his guitar, and he's really, really good at playing it. We spent our free time singing songs together at the end of the day. We even learned a song, "The Prayer of the Children", and performed it at the Bishop's for Family Home Evening on Sunday, which I am sure, is on Facebook by now. We had so much fun. Today, Elder Hellberg left for Tainan, and Elder Cox went to Jiayi. It was sad to see him go, but I figured it was going to be alright. Elder Hellberg had my next companion as his own companion previously, and he said they got along together very well. I picked up my new companion, Elder Dailey, from the train station today. And guess what: he was MTC companions with Elder Jackson! Crazy!

Elder Jackson is heading home today. He certainly left a legacy here in Taiwan. We will all miss him, and I personally wish him a great future in college and finding his new (eternal) companion. :)

I'm thankful for a mother that pushes me to reach my potential. I got a letter from her that talked about my language studies, and about how I needed to apply all the energy I have to overcome this challenge and that I have God's help to do it. She is an amazing example of perseverance and optimism, and I wish I had taken her instruction more seriously when I was at home. I could have been leagues ahead of where I am now! I love her so much.

I love you! Until next week,

-Elder Jorgensen


“District "band pic". Sister Pang's son is on the left.”


“Hangin' out at the beach.”


“Our zone is super awesome.”





“Brother Chen, our investigator with a baptismal goal for Christmas.”


“Us Elders with our good friends Sister Jiang and her daughter Amy.”


“Sister Yang, the one I thought looked like Freja (my sister).”


“Us with the Singles in our ward, and a few investigators.”


“Our district members in Shizhong.”


“How about some squid?”


“Us practicing ‘The Prayer of the Children’.”


“Elder Hellberg goofing around.”