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,
“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.”