I am currently in a small internet cafe in Pingdong. It is a breezy, sunny morning, and I am sitting with Elders Buckwalter, Bardsley, Liekse, Teerlink, and Averett, hashing out emails to our family and friends. My short-term missionary companion left last night to go back home, and I am now waiting for my new companion to arrive at the train station. I got to talk with him this morning on the phone: Elder Wadley sounds absolutely amazing. I'm excited to tear it up with him down in Hengchun!
Life is exciting!!! We saw many miracles last week. We now have five investigators with baptismal goals, and four out of those five are either member referrals or willing to meet with us because they personally know members. I feel that missionary-member relations are improving at an exponential rate. I've never felt more exhilarated.
We are beginning weekly activities with the branch, starting this Saturday. The idea to do activities came as a stroke of inspiration while I was studying about using our talents to do missionary work. I thought, what are my talents? I listed as many as I could think of on a white board. After looking at the list, I thought that we could plan activities based around these talents. My reasoning is that activities are more fun when the person in charge is excited to do them; it would be impossible for me to not be excited about running an activity based on one of my talents. I'm borrowing most of these ideas from activities my own youth leaders did, and just adapting them a little bit. I'm so grateful for my fantastic youth leaders.
A member asked us to plan activities for his wedding on December 14. He personally knows all the people in Hengchun with the family name "Zhang" because he is a genealogy consultant, and he is inviting all of them to his wedding (about 300 people). His plan is to invite all these people to attend church with them the day after the reception. He is pretty confident that, with some good planning, we could have at least 150 guests attend. We will be planning activities that will allow members to share the gospel with their guests.
In preparation for this, I've been focusing on building members' faith and helping them do missionary work. I came across an article in the September 2012 Liahona magazine. It taught that thinking too much about the method or activity to introduce friends to the gospel can often make things feel unnatural. I personally feel this includes committing members to give missionaries referrals. The article goes on to show that personal conversion is the better way: (1) Others notice your change of heart and are naturally curious, and (2) living the gospel better prepares us to answer their questions. We are trying to make this more of a focus when we meet with members.
I'm having a BLAST out here! I've never had so much fun! And as for an update on some weird foods, this week I ate:
- Hairy meat (I actually eat this quite often, but it's still weird. I can't describe it, sorry... just imagine cotton balls of meat.)
- Sweet potato leaves
- Pig intestine stew
- Hog skin (Pale Jello jigglers, but they taste like fat.)
I wanted to puke. Love you!