elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
This week was a great one here in Pingdong!! You'd think that by September it would start cooling down, but no, it's still ridiculously hot haha. Last Monday, we went to the famous 石頭 buffet, and it definitely lived up to expectations. To top that, some members said they want to take us there today, so 石頭 round two comin’ your way :)
In terms of really exciting news, Sister S passed her baptismal interview!! She is getting baptized this Saturday, and we are so excited for her. She's overcome a lot and come a long way since I got here. When I first got here, she was kind of a borderline investigator, but she has progressed the most out of any of our investigators by far. She's been really great to work with, and it's been great to see her faith grow and change. In terms of other investigators nearing baptism, we are still waiting for the permission of Sister Y's husband, but we think it might be getting closer! We will hopefully have an opportunity to visit them this week, so we'll see how it goes.
This week's finding was great, we were blessed to find 5 new investigators, 2 of which came from referrals, so that was a really cool miracle. This ward has been really great, the members are so nice and are willing to help us in taking care of our investigators. There are a lot of cool families here, so it's been really fun. This past week they had a moon cake activity, and needless to say, our apartment now has a lot of moon cakes haha 好吃
This week we had the opportunity of interviewing with President Teh, which is always a privilege. He then attended my DTM, which was super cool. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous, but I wasn't, I was just stoked to spend more time with President and Sister Teh. They are so awesome, I can't wait for you guys to meet them.
This week in my personal study, I came across a scripture in Deuteronomy that I really loved. It's in chapter 8 and it's verse 3. It says, " And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." I love how this verse helps us understand how much we truly rely on the Lord and his Gospel. It is truly by Him and his sacrifice for us that we are able to live a life worth living, and I'm so very grateful for the gospel truths that we have through this restored gospel.
Well that's all for this week. It's lit over her in Taiwan. Hope you all have a great week!! Love you all so much!! :)
Wow, the weeks are really rollin' on. Sometimes it's crazy to realize that I'm already back here emailing again. This week flew by, we were pretty busy and had lots to do, so that always helps. This week, I really saw some cool miracles as we went out and contacted. I feel like for a lot of my mission, every time it was time to go out and contact I would look at it like "well, better grind it out this next hour or so and then I'll get to take a break," looking at it as a suffering rather than a great opportunity. This past week, Elder H and I focused a lot on being positive while we were outside contacting. It lead to some cool miracles, as we were able to find 3 new investigators. One of them, Brother L, reminds me a lot of Ben, my RC from Fengyuan. He has lots of good questions, and wanted to give us a hug at the end of the lesson haha. He's a bro, and really wants to learn more. Back to contacting for a minute, I think the most important thing is that I really enjoyed every time we got to go outside and contact. I didn't look at it as suffering, and I actually was super stoked every time we went out to contact. It really made a big difference, because I was able to testify of the gospel with a spirit of excitement. It was really cool. People can really feel when you testify with excitement, so be stoked every time you leave the door to go proselyte :)
Our investigators are all doing alright. Sister S came to church again, and is lookin’ pretty good for baptism. We might have to move it back to the 30th, but I think she will make the goal :) Sister Y is still waiting for her husband’s permission, so keep praying for her! The work is really starting to pick up for us. I feel like we are meeting lots of really cool people each day and really finding those that are prepared to receive us. We've also had a lot of opportunities to meet and serve the members. Every Tuesday we help Sister T pick weeds in her garden, and next Wednesday we are going to a member’s house to help her organize all her stuff. She's a bit of a hoarder, so it should be a good time haha. She called her house "outer darkness" so I'm a little worried lol.
That's pretty much it from this week! This Thursday is my 1 year mark in Taiwan, so we are going to eat some good food today to celebrate :) Love you all so much!! If you have time this week, study 1 timothy 4:10. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. His Atonement really has the power to carry us through all of our problems and trials. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had on my mission to get to know him better.
Another week flies by and here I am again writing about the great times over here in Taiwan. In case you forgot, it's still 4681789 degrees and I sweat pretty much from the minute I walk outside til the minute I get inside at night. If it's not that hot, it's raining super hard. I still can't decide which I prefer haha. Nah but for reals, Taiwan is super amazing. Last P-day we had the opportunity to go to 佛光山, or for those of you back home, you can probably just call it buddhaland. It was soooo cool. It was actually really cool to learn a little more about what a lot of the people here believe in. It helped me realize that when we try to help people come to our church from a religion like that, we have to respect what they worship and believe. It was really pretty, and we went with our zone leaders Elder M and Elder V so that was super fun.
This week we had Zone Conference and Stake Conference, so that was super fun. I got to see Elder H for the first time in forever. We chatted about how a year ago, we were still in the MTC getting ready to finally make it to Taiwan. Crazy how time flies. While we were at Zone Conference, I had to translate the 6 hour meeting into Chinese for Elder H. My throat was wrecked after, but that didn't matter when Elder H expressed how grateful he was. It was cool to be able to do that for him so he could understand the great messages that were given. Stake conference was also awesome. President Teh spoke and gave the first couple minutes of his talk in Chinese, which was so dope. Really cool to see that even with how busy he is, he's putting time into learning the language. Gotta love President Teh.
This week was a little tougher in terms of finding and teaching. One of our investigators was sick, the other had busy work until Sunday, and another had a ping pong tournament and was not able to attend church, so that meant we had lots of time on the streets to contact. We keep meeting really cool people, but for some reason they just won't take the next step and meet with us again. It's been a little discouraging, but we've been able to keep our heads up so far and keep working hard.
Last night, we saw a really big miracle. We were biking to our next contacting activity and pulled up to a traffic light. Elder H said hello to the guy next to him and then the light turned green so nothing really happened. As we kept biking, we realized that the guy he had said hi to had pulled over to the side of the road. We biked past him, and then he followed us and tracked us down, telling us to pull over. He then just blurted out, "I hope this isn't weird, but I've always wanted to know the difference between your church and other Christian churches." We were just like whaaaat that never happens!! We took him to a nearby family mart and we were able to share the whole first lesson with him. It was really rushed because he only had like 20 minutes, but I felt the Spirit very strongly. He is moving to Jiayi Minxiong this next weekend, but we will make sure he gets in contact with the missionaries up there. Super big miracle.
One thing that has always been cool for me is how I've been able to feel the spirit through music. Music is something that has always been really important to me in my life and something that I've always loved. I remember being very young, singing "Nearer My God to Thee" and feeling the spirit very strongly, maybe for one of the first times in my life (at least that I can remember). This week, as I was doing some extra studying, the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" came on. This hymn always reminds me of my Grandpa Joe, who told me once about how special the 7th verse is. As I listened to this song, especially the 7th verse, I was filled with the spirit. The words to the 7 verse are
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!"
Through my mission, I have really come to love my Savior and know him more, and I want Him know that I will never "desert to his foes". I'm really grateful that this special hymn came on this week.
Love you all so much!! Have a great week!!
Another great week over here in Pingdong!! We've been working really hard and had some really cool experiences this past week. I've had a blast here with Elder H. He has been so patient and willing to help my Chinese, so that's been a huge blessing. He's super funny and positive about the work, so I've really enjoyed that. The ward here is great, and I've really enjoyed getting to know them more. We've been trying our best to get members to all of our lessons and help them out in any way that we can, which has been really cool.
In terms of investigators, Sister Y was not able to be baptized this last week cause her husband isn't ready to let her be baptized. Oh well, her faith is so strong, and she's ready for this, so we are confident that in the next couple of weeks it will happen. Keep praying for her!! She's so prepared. Next is Sister S. She's been meeting with missionaries for about 3 months and is really willing to accept the gospel. We taught the word of wisdom, and at first she questioned the part about tea, but about thirty seconds later she was like "well there's lots of other stuff to drink, I can do it." I was just like whaaaat?! No one ever says that haha it was so awesome. Next is Sister X. She has also been meeting with missionaries for about 2 or 3 months, and her faith is pretty strong. She has a goal for the 16th, but she said she wants to read the BoM all the way through before she gets baptized, so we'll have to see how that goes. Lastly is our family, the L family. Brother L came to church for the first time yesterday and seemed to really like it. We were sitting in church and he leaned over and asked me, "do they put missionaries together according to their body type?" I was like what are you talking about and he said "well the other missionaries are both really strong and you and elder h are skinny" 😂 hahaha I died and then explained that it just happened to be that way. What a funny guy. He's super cool and really progressing well. He loves his family so much and loves how the church is a way for them to all be together. More about them later.
This week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder B. He just barely got to Taiwan, so it was fun to talk with him about his experiences in the MTC and such. Sounds like the MTC is very plush now compared to back when I was there haha jk. He's a super hard worker, and his Chinese is coming along great. It was fun to be able to work with him. We taught a few lessons and had a great time.
This week was a little tougher in terms of finding. I'll tell a short story really quick. Saturday we had 4 lessons set up. None of them came. Sunday we had 4 more lessons set up. None of them came. These were all lessons with people we were hoping could become new investigators, and it was a tiny bit discouraging that none of them came. Just as we were leaving the church Sunday night after being stood up for the 4th time, we got a call from the L family. They said, "Are you at the church?" I said yeah and then he just hung up. I was like what the heck? Then all of the sudden they pulled into the parking lot. They just showed up at the church wanting to meet with us!! We finally were able to get through the rest of the 1st, and they seem to be progressing in the gospel. That was a really cool miracle. God works in many different ways to bless us and bring miracles to pass. I've been reminded over and over of His hand in everything, and that I should always trust him.
Well that's about it for this week!! Love you all so much!! Have a great week :)
This week was a great first week here in Pingdong!! The area is super cool, one of the busier areas that I've been in so far. It's been super fun to be with a Taiwanese companion. I'm learning so many words that I wouldn't learn otherwise, and it's been cool to see that even though we are from opposite sides of the world, we can still connect and be friends. Elder H is super awesome. He is a very Christlike missionary. He is humble, patient, and willing to learn. He's only in his 3rd transfer but he seems so mature. He's always thinking of others, and it's been great to learn with him.
This week was a fun week full of getting to know lots of new people. I'll give a quick update on some of our investigators. We are teaching a really cool lady named Sister Y. She is so prepared, and really has a testimony of the benefits of this gospel, especially related to family. She is a mom of 2 kids and loves how the gospel strengthens families. She passed her baptismal interview this last week and will get baptized this week so long as her husband doesn't oppose. We're definitely praying for her!! We are also meeting with a couple other moms and a family, so our teaching has definitely been centered on the importance of family, which has been awesome. Gotta love sharing about something that means a lot to you :)
This week we got to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. The Zone Leaders also live and work in our area, so we didn't have to go anywhere which was super nice. I got to go with Elder V, which was super fun. He's only got a couple transfers left, and is also from Utah. We had a great time teaching some lessons and getting treated lunch at a buffet haha. It was a good exchange.
I also get to teach English class in this area, which is the first time in about 4-ish months. It's kinda fun to be able to offer that kind of a service to the people here. We also had the opportunity to give a couple of blessings this week, so lots of good opportunities to serve :)
Well that's about it for this week!! This next week will have lots of opportunities to find people to teach and meet even more new people! Love you all so much!! Have a great week!! Good luck to those of you starting school this next week :)
As you can probably tell from the title of this email, I've moved areas! I moved to the wonderful city of Pingdong! Pingdong is one of the most southern parts of our mission and yes, it's still really, really hot haha. My new companion is Elder H. He is from Tabei and is my first Taiwanese companion!! He just barely finished being trained, and really seems to have a love of talking to people. He's super friendly and nice, so it's gonna be a great transfer. Hopin' my Chinese will improve lots this transfer. It was really sad to say goodbye to both Elder D and Guiren. Elder D got called to train there, and he will do a fantastic job. He's such a bro, I'll miss him a lot! Love you Elder D! It's always so hard for me to leave areas and the people I've met, but I know God has a plan for me. I've seen his hand in every one of my transfers so far, so why not trust him now? :)
Also had to say another hard goodbye this week to the one and only Elder A. It was really awesome that we got to serve around each other for the last three transfers after being companions earlier on. This last Thursday, I got to go on his last exchange with him. It was super fun. We found a new investigator, worked hard, and had lots of fun. It was really hard to say goodbye to him, but, America needs him now haha. Love you Elder A!
We also had another exchange this last week with the Anding Elders. It was a busy week, and we didn't really get to spend much time in Guiren which is a bummer but it is what it is. I went with Elder R, who also happens to be from Kaysville. We taught one of our investigators the WoW, so hopefully he can start experiencing the blessings from following that! We also dropped in a baptismal goal for 9/9. His name's Kevin, we've been teaching him for a while, and he said he's finally ready. I'll have to get updated on that!
Another cool thing that happened this week was I got to read some family history stories about my great grandpa and grandma. As I was reading these stories, I really felt a spirit of love come over me as I was getting to know these people. It was really cool to read about their lives and what they went through. Family History is actually pretty cool, I feel bad about not doing much before my mission haha.
Well, moving days are always a mix of nerves, stress, and a little bit of sadness. It's always hard to have a new start, but at the same time, it's great. I'm super excited to get working here in Pingdong!! I know this is where the Lord needs me now :) Love you all so much!! Be safe and have a great week :)
This week was a little bit slower in terms of the work, but there is still lots of good stuff going on here in Guiren. Last week we made it out of the typhoon and were able to go to the church to play ball. That's always a good time. I miss playing ball everyday. I'm feelin very rusty over here in Taiwan so I'll have to play with Mark lots when I get home ;)
While we were eating lunch this week, the restaurant started playing, "Here's to Never Growing Up" which was our graduation song. It was a kinda surreal feeling sitting there and realizing, wow, we actually are growing up. Led to some interesting reflection on how the last year has gone, and made me feel really grateful that I'm out here on my mission :)
This week we met with A 湯奕辰 for the first time in a while and had one of the best lessons I've had in a long time. We had Brother L help us with the lesson, and we started off by showing "Hope of God's Light". A loved that video, and he said he thought it was really cool that God was there every step of the way. We then transitioned into sharing about why we need to read and pray to recognize God's influence in our lives. Lots of good testimony was born, and I could tell A was really touched by it. He said he'd read and pray, so we hope he'll do it! We have him set up again for Wednesday, so we are excited about that.
Another cool miracle was we were tracting late Wednesday night and it was almost time to go home. we really wanted to hit standards that day, so we prayed really hard right before tracting to be able to hit that standard. We also expressed that we knew it was possible. On the last house we knocked, we were let in by a 15 year old kid named J. J was super cool, and seemed pretty interested in our message. We shared about the BoM and Prayer, and ended up going back a couple of days later to teach the restoration.The only problem is J has a very interesting family situation. We've never seen the parents, and his older brother and sister seem to not like us very much. He was hesitant to set up again and wouldn't give us a phone number, but we told him we'd come back and check on him this week, so we'll definitely make sure to do that.
All the RC's finished their review lessons this week and are all set to go!! It's been super fun to watch all of them grow and learn in the gospel. One of them, K, is giving a talk next week, so that will be fun to see. J should also be getting the priesthood soon so I'm stoked about that. We've also been working with some LA's recently. It's really interesting to meet lots of different people and see their views on things. One thing it's helped me realize is not to judge people based on outward appearances or what other people say about them. These people have all been very nice, and despite their varying problems, they are still great people and have helped me humble myself a little more and be more accepting, which I definitely need haha.
This week we also had interviews with the best mission president out there. President Teh is so great. He talked to me about skiing for a little bit and then shocked me by showing off his character reading skills. Pretty impressive considering the small amount of time he has to do language study. He's full of wisdom, and I always look forward to meeting with him.
Well, that's about it for this week. Transfers are next week, and I have no idea what is gonna happen haha. I've loved this transfer with Elder D, he's a stud and we've had lots of fun. Despite the recent downs we've had in terms of getting dropped by investigators, we've maintained a positive attitude and had a lot of fun with the work. I'm grateful for the time that we've had together so far!!
Hope you all have a great week!! Love you!!
Taiwan is super bipolar with the weather. One week it's super sunny, one week it's super rainy. The one constant is it's super humid and I sweat a ton, so there ya go. This week was an interesting one. I was still pretty congested so that wasn't super fun, but we still went out and worked hard. Of our 8 new investigators that we found last week, 5 have already disappeared, so that is super sad :( no worries though, we just keep going. Finding is a sifting process. For P-day today we are going to play ball if we can make it over to the church. It's been really rainy lately, but we'll do our best.
Yesterday we were supposed to get hit by a massive typhoon. Everyone was freaking out, and everything was preparing to close down. They announced the night before that our church was cancelled, which was a huge bummer cause we were supposed to give talks and now we just don't have to. I had prepared a bomb one one President Holland's talk from last conference, so that's a bummer. We woke up that morning, and nothing was even happening. We ended up eating lunch at a members house. I got to play "The Judge" by Twenty One Pilots on the Uke. That was pretty fun, and they all enjoyed that. Later on in the afternoon, the second typhoon hit, and this one was much worse. It was raining really hard all night, and made contacting very tough haha. Still a good time though.
This week, we had a pretty cool finding experience. We were tracting and this dog started following us. We stopped to pet it for a second, and then this guy pulled up on his scooter. We asked, "is this your dog?" He said no. We then asked, "Is this your house?" He said no again. He was chewing betel nut, so we were a little hesitant to talk to him, but he turned out being super friendly and nice. He set up to meet with us the next day, and we were able to share a first lesson and give him a goal. His background is really rough, and we know he can find comfort and peace in the gospel. Super cool stuff! We also found one other new investigator that is pretty cool and can meet every Tuesday, so don't worry we're still moving the work along!
For my spiritual share this week, I wanna talk about some thoughts that were coming to me last night as we were tracting in the rain. We had been outside all night working hard in crazy rain, and barely met anyone. Everyone was turning us down, and I was feeling a little down in the dumps haha. As we were walking our bikes home (we got a flat tire) I was wondering why we hadn't gotten blessed for going out and working hard when we didn't want to. The thought popped into my head that the reason for working hard should be because it's the right thing to do, not because we wanna get the blessings that might come. The success we might get as missionaries is a blessing from the Lord, and the motivation to work should be we want to be like Christ and do what he would do. Pretty humbling thought for me, but really glad I could learn that lesson last night in the cold rain haha.
Love you all so much!! Have a great week!! :)
Hope everyone had a great week this last week, cause we certainly did!! I'll just start off by saying this was the best finding week of my whole mission. We saw so many miracles, and it was the busiest I've ever been, which meant the week flew by haha. The only unfortunate thing about this week was I was sick for most of it, which was not very fun. Sometimes I'd catch myself thinking, "man if I was home right now I'd be sleepin' or chillin' or something," but I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind and work hard anyways. Luckily, we were busy so that was a big blessing.
This week we found 8 new investigators, did lots of work with less active members, and saw a mormon family! I'll talk about that first. We were sitting at a 7/11 doing studies, and all the sudden we noticed there were two boys sitting next to us that were definitely not from Taiwan. We said hi and they said hi and we thought that was gonna be the end of it. All of the sudden their mom comes out of nowhere and buys us slurpees. She said they were from Denver visiting (I'm assuming she was originally from Taiwan). She said it's awesome that her boys could see the missionaries in Taiwan and she hopes one day they can serve here. They already have fluent Chinese, so that was pretty cool considering they were both around 10 years old. Pretty cool miracle to run into a Mormon family in Guiren haha.
On to the new investigators. I'll just share about a few of the really cool ones that we found. One of them is Sherry. Sherry was contacted by the Anding Elders, who then gave us her number. She is apparently a former investigator, so when she showed up to the lesson, we weren't sure exactly what she needed to hear. We shared about prayer, the Book of Mormon, and Church, as well as touching on the Godhead. She was super prepared to hear that, and had lots of good questions. We met with her again this week and shared the 1st lesson. She was considering everything we said very deeply, and I think she is really prepared to accept this message.
Another cool thing that happened is right after we finished meeting with Sherry, we walked outside to our bikes and these two college age guys rolled up on their motor scooters. One of them was wearing a LeBron shirt, and sort of instinctively I just shouted, "LeBron!" He was just like "Yeah, he's so good!" using perfect English. We started talking to him and he studied college in Canada. He and his buddy (who happens to be his cousin) set up for the next day, and we were able to share a restoration with them. They both listened very intently and were really pondering the message. They accepted invitations to read and pray about it, and we have them set up again for tonight so hopefully it goes well!!
Lots of cool miracles happening here in Guiren. We met with a couple less actives this week and shared messages about the importance of CPR: church, prayer, reading. It was cool to be able to help these people and get to know them better, and one of them came to church yesterday! I've loved this week getting to know lots of different people and working really hard.
Lastly, I wanted to share one of my favorite scriptures. I came across it this week as I was studying about Jesus Christ for the Russell M. Nelson challenge. It's Moroni 7:48
'Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.'
I love this scripture, because it helps us understand that our end goal is to become just like God and Jesus Christ. They are the perfect examples, and the amazing truth that this plan they have for us can allow us to become like them is the best thing we could ever hear. I love sharing this gospel with others and helping them realize the true potential they have as sons and daughters of God. What a blessing it is to be a missionary.
Hope you all have a great week!! Love you all so much!!
Hope everyone had a great week this last week. To explain the title of my email, last week we were biking on one of our main roads just doing our missionary thing, when some lady walking out of an office yelled, "Hello, nice to meet you, I love you!" all in English. That was quite the shock. Elder Densley and I just looked at each other and started dying. Gotta love Taiwanese people.
This week we met with the 3 RC's. They are all doing great and loving the gospel. We are trying to see if we could meet with some of their friends/family members, so we'll see how that goes. We also came across a couple cool new investigators, as well as a few potentials for this week, so the work is looking great here in Guiren. We also started working with some LA's in our ward and that will be a great experience. All the Taiwanese people are very kind, and it's a great opportunity to be busy having lots of stuff to do with lots of different people.
This week we went on exchanges, and I got to go with Elder T again. He's the man. He's a younger missionary from West Valley, and he really has a desire to help these people. He's also one of the funniest people ever, so we had a good time telling stories from home and such.
Last week we had Zone Conference, and I really loved the messages that were shared. We talked a lot about finding and the faith to find, and Elder D and I decided we were gonna put that to the test. Our first 30 minutes of contacting after the zone conference, we were getting rejected left and right. No one wanted to talk to us, but we stayed positive, laughed it off, and kept going with a smile on our faces. The next 30 minutes, everyone we talked to seemed to want to listen, and although they may not have all added or become new investigators, we got some numbers and an add so we were really excited. Faith is a miracle worker let me tell ya. If you have time this week, read Alma 32 about building our faith. It's always a chapter I go back to time and time again.
Love you all so much!! Hope this week is great! Fam, have fun at the Man U game :) GGMU!!
Matthew is currently serving a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Blog is for family and friends interested in following his adventures for the next 24 months.