Quote of the week:
"Back in my day, two plus two equaled three. That was before inflation."
So it's been one week back in the glorious province of Kaohsiung, and it's been a tough one. Perhaps I should paint the picture for you: I was super lucky in Changhua. In the three weeks that I was there, we had about 6-8 investigators attend church every week, roughly 28-30 lessons each week, and nine investigators with baptismal goals. It wasn't easy work, but we were super blessed and spirits were high. Gangshan, however, is a different story. Elder Jensen only got here three weeks previous, so he and I had practically no knowledge of the area. We didn't know the members, we had no investigators, and even worse, no phone numbers of people contacted on the road by previous missionaries. With nothing to go on, we had to start from the ground up. (So far we have found two investigators from street contacting, one of whom is convinced that he is a prophet.) There's a lot of pressure on the missionaries too because the local congregation has been told by the Church that they can't build a chapel until they have 120 people attending sacrament meeting: currently they meet for church in the 4th and 8th floors of a commercial building. It reminds me how incredibly blessed we are in the US to have meetinghouses. In mainland China members will meet at people's houses and do conference calls to conduct Sunday services (Sister Busath used to live in mainland, and that's how they had church meetings).
Despite these setbacks, we've been hard at work. Our numbers are still terrible, but I'm sure that the Lord will bless us eventually for our hard work. The thing that we have to remember is that the Lord works by His own timetable. He promises us blessings for following His commandments, but note that He never mentions when He will give them to us. The important thing is that we do all we can to be ready to receive His blessings. Yes, it requires patience. Lots and lots of patience. But the wait is worth it.
Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my time with Elder Jensen. He's in the Navy, and is super strong. Yesterday one of the sister missionary's bike tires popped, so he got her bike, hefted it on his shoulders, got on his own bike, and took it the next three to four miles home. He also did drama for two years, used to live in Whidbey Island, Washington, and loves quoting A Very Potter Musical. So, naturally, we have gotten along splendidly.
I think it's interesting that I've been paired with all these athletic companions; Elder Christianson, Elder Dailey, Elder Edwards, Elder Jensen... I think God is trying to send me a message...
The number four in Chinese culture is very unlucky, because the word for "four" and the word for "death" sound very similar. So on April 4th, the people will often get off work and go to clean up their family graves. When you clean a grave, it is said that you get good luck for your family. As a service project, our mission assisted in cleaning up graves that were not maintained anymore by family members, mostly because the family had moved away or that person did not have any posterity. The people really appreciated our help, and it was a lot of fun! Sister Chord was there, and I had fun catching up with her. Something interesting: after a body has been in a grave for 10 years, they will dig the body back up and cremate the bones. To signify that the grave is vacated, they break the tombstone.
Monsoon season has started. Lots of rain is approaching!
So I realized I practically skimmed over Easter last week. It's pretty much non-existent in Taiwan. They mention it a little at church, but nobody really knows it's a major holiday. I was kind of thrown for a loop when I realized I had completely missed it. Maybe I'll have better luck the next time around.
I love all of you, and I hope you have a terrific week! Anybody reading this that is not a member and would like to take advantage of a rare opportunity to hear the words of a living prophet, I would invite you to visit www.lds.org and check out the most recent session of General Conference. I have yet to see it, but I'm excited to see it this weekend! I know President Monson is a prophet of God, and that through him, God Himself directs this church.
“My really short letter to Rich. My Chinese needs to improve, Ah!”
“Elder Fiso struttin' his patriotism.”
“We live in a four-man apartment. Elder Fiso and Elder Wu are the other companionship.”
“Elder Jensen loves steak.”
“Good ol' A1 sauce.”
“Elder Jensen's terrible sunburn.”
“Panorama of the view outside my apartment.”