"When was your holocaust? --Oh! I mean, birthday?"
This was one of the first questions my new short-term companion asked me after meeting up in Pingtung, and I couldn't help but laugh. I empathize; I still have the same problem of mixing up vocabulary here and there in Chinese. Brother Li is very diligent in his English study, and while he slips up here and there, he has really earned my respect for his hard work.
His language study is only a type and a shadow of the giant of a man he is. Four months ago, he was in Australia, working for the summer, when he met missionaries. He shortly had to leave, however, and agreed to meeting with missionaries in Taiwan upon his return. Two months ago, he was baptized. He developed a desire to serve. Being 27, he is too old to serve a full-time mission, so he dropped his accounting job and applied to serve a short-term mission. His story of faith and action has inspired many here in Hengchun.
It's been a rewarding experience to be with Brother Li every day and see his progression in the gospel. I have a wonderful opportunity of not only teaching him how to do missionary work, but also to teach him the doctrine of the gospel as well. Our companionship studies are often conversations about passages in the scriptures that he had read earlier. He's excited to be out here; I often catch him talking to himself, saying "Wow!", with a big look of awe and realization on his face. I know how he feels: My first month of my mission was exhilarating.
His faith has reaped great miracles. We met with a member referral named Agatha, and she is an absolutely amazing investigator. She accepted a baptismal goal for five weeks later, and she has diligently studied the scriptures and prayed for answers. We are hopeful that she will find the answers she is looking for.
We have been able to share our lofty goals with individual members of the branch, and their responses have been, for the most part, wonderful. Unity between us and the members is growing, and I'm optimistic that we might just accomplish our visions for Hengchun.
General Conference was absolutely amazing, and directly answered my prayers. I came to the meeting seeking to know how I could help the members in Hengchun grow more faith. The answer came from M. Russel Ballard, who said, "Fear will turn into faith as members pray for missionary opportunities." It could not have been any clearer than that.
After the Priesthood Session, some members took us out for dinner at Sister Huang's restaurant. Sister Huang feeds us a lot, and as payment she requires that I play a few songs on the piano for her customers. As usual, she asked me to play, and on this particular occasion there were about 150 mainland Chinese people dining there. It had been awhile since I've done a performance for others on the piano, and I found my left leg severely twitching when I took my seat at the bench. I broke down with "All Of Me" by Jon Schmidt, and to my surprise, I played it pretty well. I got a large round of applause when I was done, with some shouts of "Encore!". I sat there wondering if I should attempt another harder piece or not, for about five minutes. I decided to go for it, and as soon as I hit the first two notes, the place went dead quiet. "Waterfall" turned out to be a great hit, and there were lots of people posing with me for pictures while I played. It's amazing how popular a white guy at the piano can be.
I love you all, things are going great out here!