elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
nǐ hǎo wǒde péngyǒu hé jiātíng!
Another week in the books and another week closer to finally getting to Taiwan. We are all really anxious to get out and start to figure things out because there comes a certain time where you're just done learning language at the MTC and you just have to go over there and figure it out. The studying and diligence are definitely slowing down a little which has been really hard to figure out, but I've been able to kind of get past it a little and keep studying thanks to Elder H and Elder G. Anyways on to the week.
As many of you know we celebrated Christmas last week which was littttt hahaha. So the night before, we moved our cardboard tree (constructed by Elder C) into the common area and put all the presents under it. We then went around and taped everyone's doors so that they wouldn't lock when they closed them (definitely not allowed - do not do this) and then at 6 in the morning we had Santa Claus run in and jump on everyone's bed waking them up for Christmas. It was soooo funny. The rest of the day was full of Christmas fun. All the Elders in the zone wore sweaters, we exchanged gifts, we caroled around the MTC, and just had a really good time. It was so funny to see the looks people would give us. Most people loved it but other people were like, what the heck is going on. Our janitor said we had to take down all the decorations, but we quickly stopped him from being a Christmas scrooge by giving him some cinnamon rolls (which I guess didn't work because he wrecked our whole zone on our room checks - lol). The best thing about this whole Christmas celebration was how much happier we all were all day. The day went by really fast and everyone was in such a good mood. It's crazy how something so dumb could brighten everyone's spirit as we try to make it through these final couple weeks here.
In other news we moved classrooms this week. We moved from one of the more run down buildings to the newest building. They had to combine our district with another district due to a lack of teachers now that school has started, so we now have a district of 15 which is crazy hahaha. We are on the very top floor, have awesome views with awesome sunsets, and I'm right across the hall from Elder McQ! The weird thing about it is we are completely separated from the rest of our zone; they stayed back in the other building. Kinda sad but we love our new room, we call it "the roof" cause it's so much nicer than what we used to have.
Our devotional on Tuesday night was really really good. It was given by President Maynes of the 70 and his wife. They talked about the miracle of conversion and the power of the Book of Mormon in conversion. President Maynes told the story of a young man and woman that were converted while he was serving in the Uruguay mission. The young man's name was Carlos, and they found him after a really tough day of knocking and getting rejected. He was so eager to accept the gospel. He also converted a young woman named Rosario. Carlos and Rosario showed up together at a young mens young womens activity, both being about 17, and they ended up dating after that. They went to a devotional together where the speaker talked about the importance of every young man serving a mission and the sisters helping to motivate them to get to that point. As they were walking out, Carlos told Rosario, "I think I need to go on a mission." To which she replied, "I think you do too." So Carlos went, and about 6 months later, Rosario also went on a mission. They got back from their missions and ended up getting married. They had a son who ended up also going on a mission, and President Maynes stayed in contact with them this whole time. While serving as a Mission President in Uruguay, he asked Carlos if he could tell this story, and then have Carlos come up and bear his testimony. The simple testimony Carlos shared of the power of conversion was incredibly moving, everyone in the room had teary eyes. The point of him telling this story was to illustrate the effect of converting even just one or two people. Through the conversion of Carlos and Rosario, hundreds more were converted through their missions and their son's mission. Plus hundreds more through temple work. The worth of a single soul is incredible, and it really gave me some perspective and helped me want to love every single one of my investigators, because you never know what kind of impact one conversion could have.
This week we talked to an Elder heading to Sacramento from Taiwan. He taught us that wǒde màjí means "my homies" so while we were at this Chinese showing of a movie on Sunday, as we were leaving, I turned to the Native Chinese missionaries and said, "zàijiàn wǒde màjí!" They loved that they were all laughing so hard and it was so funny to make some Chinese Elders laugh a little.
Our zone is so much fun. We play volleyball during exercise time pretty much everyday and we all have a lot of fun with that. I love the strength that I've gotten from each one of them and the friendships that I've made. It's also so much fun to see all my friends from back home here. Seeing them so happy doing this work makes me so happy, and makes me want to try to be the best servant of the Lord I can be. I really do love being a missionary. There are times when it is really hard and really frustrating, but I know that we are getting so much help from the Lord. I really do feel all the loving support from home, it helps me so much and makes things so much easier.
My spiritual thought for this week comes from the scripture D&C 68:2-6 which has been one of my favorite scriptures this past week or so. It reads,
2 And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth--
3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
5 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.
6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.
This scripture is just the best haha I don't know how to describe it with words. It gives me so much comfort and peace, especially when I'm struggling with teaching in Chinese or trying to figure out how to bring my investigators unto Christ. The Lord promises me that when I speak as I am moved upon by the Holy Ghost, it is scripture, and will have the power of the Lord. I love the part of verse 6 where it says, "be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you." I know that because I am relying on the Lord and trying to do his work, He will always be there for me and can comfort me, help me, aid me, and direct me to help those who have been prepared for me. I know that the Holy Ghost speaks differently to each person, but I also know that the Holy Ghost is the same for everyone. The same Holy Ghost that spoke to Joseph Smith is the same one that will speak to me and you, even though we may receive his words in a different way. This has really strengthened my testimony knowing that we can have the power of the Spirit that directed and still directs the prophets.
I love you all so much!! Make every day count, read your scriptures, and help yourself and others come unto Christ. This life is an amazing blessing and a privilege, and we should do all we can to show our gratitude for every day we are given. So go make something happen haha. Stay safe, and I can't wait to write you next week! jiā yóu (good luck)
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
Another week down, and we are all so anxious to get to Taiwan!! Haha we are now the longest residing missionaries in our zone, and it is definitely a really good feeling to be on top of the pile now. It's crazy to think about how far we've come; when we got here, the 6-weekers felt like they were so much older than us and were our mentors, and now we are in that position. I definitely don't feel or look old enough to be a mentor so wish me luck haha.
This week went by so fast and was one of the funnest weeks I've had at the MTC. On Sunday, I was called as a zone leader with Elder H, Elder B, and Elder B, all of whom are some of my best friends at the MTC. It is so awesome to have the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and do it with my buddies. Everyone around here kinda looks up to us and it's awesome to be able to provide the example to them of how to be the best missionary you can be while still enjoying every second of it, because it really is true, I love it here and have so much fun. We have the opportunity to do new missionary orientation for our zone tonight, so wish us luck.
As you may know, our zone decided we were gonna celebrate Christmas on August 25th since most of us will not get that big of a celebration in our missions. We have all been receiving gifts of Christmas decorations and gifts from home, and we are starting to decorate the residency. We have a Santa picked out, elves, and reindeer, and Elder C and I even set up a Secret Santa hahaha. This is gonna be one to remember, so there's something to look forward to in my next week's email.
We had a couple of really hard goodbyes we had to say this week. On Monday, we had to say goodbye to our favorite teacher, sūn lǎoshī. He was such an awesome teacher, because instead of just focusing on the Chinese language (which is still very important), he also was able to give us the most powerful, spiritual, teaching lessons on how we can better help our investigators. Through these lessons and my constantly trying to set him up with Elder B's teacher (yes it did actually happen so call me the match maker), we became really good friends. On Monday night, as we were about to say goodbye, he bore us an amazing testimony, in English for the first time, about his mission experience. Right before he was about to go, he tore his ACL. He had to push his mission date back and he was really discouraged about the whole situation. One thing he was blessed with during this trial was growing really close to his family, friends, and the Savior. He said he was so thankful for that experience in his life and how it allowed him to become a more effective missionary. He said that your spiritual conversion is the most important thing; you need it to be able to teach to people's needs and help the Holy Ghost enter their hearts. The Chinese (or whatever your mission language is) will come with hard work and dedication, but never put language study ahead of your personal study as you try to strengthen your conversion. We then sang "God Be With You til We Meet Again" at which point almost everyone was crying. sūn lǎoshī then said the prayer and everyone who wasn't crying yet lost it at that point. We gave our final goodbye hugs and gave him our goodbye presents: a Chinese Dragon poster signed in our character names, candy, and chapstick and mints hahaha. Every time he would leave, I would always say, "nǐ kěyǐ zuò hěn nán de shìqing," which means you can do really hard things, at which point he would say it back to me. Saying that for the last time was actually really sad haha but really happy at the same time. The way you can grow so close to someone through learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly incredible. He gave us all his email and said he expects us to write to him about our experiences. I will never forget the influence he was on my conversion and overall MTC experience.
We also had to say goodbye to some our best friends leaving to the Taibei mission. It was really sad to see them leave because we had all bonded so much, and the fact that they are going to Taibei rather than Taizhong is really sad for us, but hey, we will get to see them in October at this special David Archuleta concert for the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan mission! I am especially grateful for the influences of Elder B, Elder K, Elder C, Elder K, Elder B, Elder C, Elder C, and all the other amazing people in that District. They helped me adjust to the MTC and learn how to better pick up the language. We have this thing in our zone where someone says, "yuànyì ma?" which means are you willing? we respond, "yuànyì!" Then they say "kuàile ma?" which means are you happy? we respond, "kuàile!" As Elder K, who is someone I really look up to, was walking to get on the bus after we had all hugged them goodbye, he turned around and said those things. We all responded, sad that they were leaving, but so excited for them to have the best 2 years. It's little stupid things like that that really show how close we all are. I love all of them.
Tuesday night we had an amazing devotional given by Brother Uceda of the 70. He gave a wonderful talk from the perspective of an investigator. He talked about how every investigator we meet deserves the opportunity to receive peace, joy, and understanding from this gospel. Every investigator deserves our love, help, guidance, support, and encouragement. He said, "Talking is not teaching. Missionaries must act." This is a very powerful statement. We can't just teach without involving the investigator or demonstrating how to pray or do stuff like that. We must engage the investigator. Make the lesson a conversation rather than a lecture. He also told us to consider how we felt when we first got here and compare it to where we are at now. When I took some time to ponder on that invitation, I was amazed by how much progress I have been able to make at the MTC. I am amazed by my daily growth, the inspiration I receive, and how much stronger my testimony has gotten because of this mission opportunity. I love this gospel so much. I am 100% set on giving my all to this missionary opportunity and inviting others to come unto Christ in my broken Chinese. I am beyond stoked to get to Taiwan.
Two thoughts I want to leave. First, we listened to part of a talk by Elder Uchtdorf called, "Always in the Middle." This talk explains that because our lives are eternal, we are always in the middle of them. We always are working towards something, there is no end. This is a really good reminder of how we need to constantly be moving forward and progressing in our lives to try to be the best that we can be as missionaries. If we think of our lives as always in the middle, I know we will make the necessary progress we need to be making.
My second thought comes from the Chinese Translation of Moroni 10:32. In English, this scripture says, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him." In the Chinese translation of the BoM, the word perfect is replaced by the word wánquán which means complete. I love this translation of this passage. When we come unto Christ, we can be complete in him. It is such a blessing to have this knowledge and know that Christ can make up for anything that we lack. I love knowing that he is my Savior and can help me through any trial, any challenge, learning Chinese, etc.
I love you all!! I am now on top of the MTC so if you have anyone coming in let them know who's in charge lol. Hope everyone is doing great!!
Love, Elder Jones
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé wǒde péngyǒu!
The weeks are really starting to fly by here at the MTC, partly because I really love it here and the days are always a perfect mix of spiritual and fun. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting here writing about my 4th week. This week was pretty normal so there might not be a ton but I'll try to think of good things to say haha.
First off really exciting news I was able to finish the full MURPH with a couple of my buddies in the zone. It means we ran a mile, did 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, then ran another mile. Doing these kind of challenging workouts every Friday is really fun and believe it or not, we all look forward to it every week. We think if we can do this insanely hard workout, we can learn Chinese. Maybe.
This week was really good for me spiritually. I was able to read the first half of Alma this week about Ammon, Amulek, the Sons of Mosiah, etc. I love their examples of diligent missionary work.
A scripture that was really important to my district this week was Alma 26:35-37 it says
35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power,all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of everypeople, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
I love these verses because they help us remember that it is not through us, but through the Lord's power that we can bring about miracles. Whenever we begin to become too prideful in ourselves and our work, we have to remember that it is through God and Jesus Christ that we can do this. It is through the Holy Ghost that people become converted, not through us. I know that without the help of my savior, there is no way I would be able to be doing what I'm doing. The MTC has had people come in and ask, "How do you teach all these young adults their languages so fast? What kind of crazy methods are you using?" What they fail to comprehend is the help we are all receiving from on High. It is really amazing the progress that we have all made in these short 5 weeks. I went from not being able to speak or understand any Chinese to being able to teach a whole lesson without notes and understand most of what our investigators say. It truly is amazing, and I know it would be impossible without the help of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
This week was a really funny week for some reason. During one of the choir practices, Elder B and Elder K, two of my good friends and two of the funniest people here got on the big screen. When Elder B realized he was on the screen, he looked directly at the camera, gave the cheesiest smile, and winked. After that they started laughing uncontrollably and everyone was dying hahaha it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Elder B also tried to "fight" Elder K (related to Bronson Kafusi the NFL player from BYU) and Elder K picked him up and dumped him on his head hahaha it was so funny. We have a lot of fun times here at the MTC which definitely makes everything a lot better.
On Tuesday, Sister Oscarson came and gave us a great devotional message about the great worth of our missions. She started by sharing the experience of her daughter while she was serving a mission. One day, she was feeling really down about the trend of her mission. They weren't really getting through to the investigators in the way they would have liked to. They were getting really discouraged and didn't know what they could do to turn it around. Then, a question popped into her head. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" The answer is a definitive no. The Lord has experienced everything that we could ever experience. He knows exactly the challenges we go through and how we can make it through them. Most importantly, he knows each of us personally, and how to best help us to meet our needs and fulfill our divine purpose. When we rely on the Lord, we can become instruments in his hands to bring this gospel to those all over the world. She went on to talk about the holiness of each mission call. She said "Our mission is divinely right for us...The Lord has a mission experience prepared just for you...trust that the Lord knows what you can become." These are such powerful words and I know with certainty that they are true. My mission could not be more perfect for me. I can already see evidence of that in the MTC. The Lord knows exactly what I can become and exactly how to help me become that. If I can put my trust in the Lord, he will give me strength, guidance, and help in becoming an instrument in His hands. I know this mission experience will stay with me throughout all eternity, and help me to rely on the Lord and his direction in my life. I know that by coming unto Christ everyday, I can set the course for the rest of my life, and influence those around me for good.
I'm so grateful for every day I get to have on this mission. Even though I desperately wish I was in Taiwan Already, I'm thankful for every opportunity I have in the MTC. The tender mercies in my life are all around, and I know there is nothing better I could be doing with my life right now. I promise you all that as you draw nearer unto the Lord, he will guide you and bless you in ways you never thought possible. I love and miss you all. I pray for you and hope that you are all finding lasting happiness in your lives. Most importantly, make the most of every day. The thought I'll leave you with is a quote I recently heard. "The business of life is the acquisition of memories, after all, that's all you have in the end." Make memories. Have lots of fun. Most importantly, come closer to Christ each day. I testify to you that this is the way to lasting happiness.
Love, Elder Jones
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé wǒde péngyǒu!
Wow, it's so crazy that I'm already back here emailing again. The weeks are starting to fly by, and I can't believe I've already been here for almost a month! This week was filled with so many ups and downs, and it really helped me strengthen my faith and realize that I really do need to rely on my Heavenly Father every day.
The biggest struggle that I had to deal with this week was the fact that I've been sick since last Thursday and am just today starting to feel a little better. I did a really hard workout on Friday which definitely didn't help with my condition. I had a cough, headache, and a sore throat that got really bad on Monday and Tuesday, and it has made it really hard to focus during class, study time, and everything else we do. I've taken cough medicine, mucinex, ibuprofen, you name it and I've probably taken it haha. On Tuesday I was really struggling, and it put me in sort of a bad mood. After the devotional on Tuesday (which I'll get into in a minute), we were sitting in our classroom when Elder P spoke up and said that we had been instructed to not hesitate to give Priesthood blessings to Elders and Sisters who were feeling sick or otherwise in need of comfort. It hadn't really occurred to me to ask for a blessing, so him speaking up was a tender mercy for me. I asked my companion to give me a blessing, and as my district gathered around me, I felt the power of the Priesthood so strongly. That blessing gave me so much comfort and relief, and today I have started to feel a little bit better. I was so grateful for the willingness of my companion Elder G to give me a blessing, and I'm grateful for his worthiness to be able to give that blessing to me. I testify that the power of a Priesthood blessing is incredible, and I challenge all holders of the Priesthood to be worthy of their calling and power. The Priesthood truly is God's power to act on the earth, and when we are worthy to use it, we can bless those around us.
This week my companion and I taught a couple lessons that were truly amazing and testified to me of the power of the Holy Ghost in working through people to testify of the truths of this gospel. Saturday was a particularly amazing day. We started with TRC which is where we teach a member about a principle of the gospel, and this week's principle was the power of sincere prayer and the blessings it can bring us. We had only 10 minutes to prepare for this lesson, so we were stressing about filling the whole 20 minutes. We can pretty much teach without notes now which is so amazing, so that definitely helps. We walked in to our first appointment and sat down with a young man who had served his mission in Taizhong and was attending BYU. We started out by reading a couple of scriptures about the power of prayer with him (which I believe were 2 Nephi 32: 8-9, D&C 9:7-9, and one other that I can't remember right now) and then bore our testimonies after each one. We reviewed some principles of sincere prayer found in PMG and continued to share testimony and experiences of times we have felt the power of sincere prayer and blessings we have seen in our lives. We challenged him to pray sincerely every day and try to recognize the blessings, help, and guidance he had received in his life. On our evaluation slip he returned to us, he said, "Not gonna lie, that was probably one of the best lessons I've ever been taught at the MTC!" It was so amazing to read those words and know that our testimonies and experiences had gotten across to him and made him feel more converted. The next lesson we taught was very similar, as the couple we taught told us that they loved our strong, sincere, simple testimonies of prayer and the power that it has in converting and blessing us. I love being able to share my testimony with others around me. I know that through sharing testimony, you and those around you can become more converted to Christ. It is amazing to see the effect of pure testimony in the lives of those around you. We also got one of our investigators to commit to baptism!! A big problem she was having was how Jesus Christ could atone for all of our sins and how he did that, so we showed her the video, "Because of Him" in Chinese, and the Spirit was so strong. We were all on the verge of tears as she said she understood and was thankful for Jesus's sacrifice. The next lesson we taught her, she committed to baptism. It is so awesome to watch your investigators progress, even if they just are fake MTC investigators. We love them so much and it is amazing to see them come unto Christ.
For our weekly movie Sunday night, we got to watch Ephraim's Rescue and the funniest thing happened. When the boy and the girl kissed, everyone went insane and there were like 1400 missionaries cheering and yelling. Everyone freaks out about that kinda stuff and it's so funny. Our maturity level is definitely lower than you might think haha.
On Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to hear Elder Neil A. Anderson speak to us, on his birthday. His grandson, Elder H, is our zone leader, so we got news that he was coming about a week ago. He gave a really good message about the desire of a missionary and the importance of keeping that going strong throughout your mission. He compared desire to a small flame burning, and warned us not to let that flame die when we go through challenging times in the mission field. He also told us to see the good in everyone, love the people you serve, talk to everyone, and search tirelessly to find those that God has prepared for you to teach. He said this mission will build the foundation for the rest of our lives, and build the foundation in the lives of those we teach. He closed by saying, "Don't be discouraged, be full of courage." I love that phrase, and while it is true we will all go through challenging times, we can work through them and come out better if we rely on our Father in Heaven. In our devotional testimony review of the devotional, the Spirit was so strong. After we closed in prayer, we all started humming Nearer My God to Thee, and Sister T who is the wife of the second counselor in our Branch Presidency and sat in on our testimony meeting, was moved to tears. It was such a cool spiritual experience.
I am so thankful for this mission experience that I am having. It is starting to fly by, and I'm thankful for the opportunities I get to become converted to Christ, convert others, share my testimony, bond with those around me, and serve the Lord. I know Taiwan is exactly where I am supposed to be going. I know that with all certainty. Even though the language is tough, I can slowly feel it coming, and it is amazing to see all the progress that I have made in this language. I apologize if my tones are a little wrong, but most of you couldn't tell even if they were haha so I'm gonna bear my testimony real quick.
wǒ zhídào zhège fúyīn shì zhénshìde. wǒ kěyǐ gándào shènglíng gēn wǒ gōutōng. wǒ zhídào yuēsè sīmì fùxīng zhège jiàohuì. wǒ weì tā shì hěn gánxiè. wǒ zhídào yēsū jīdū weì wǒmen gěi tāde huó. wǒ zhídào tóuguó yēsū jīdū de shúzuì, wǒmen kěyǐ biánchèng géng hǎo de rén. wǒ ài zhège fúyīn. féng yēsū jīdū de míng, amen.
I love you all, and I appreciate the love, support, and prayers that are sent my way. This gospel is truly amazing, and I can't wait to bring the knowledge, joy, and truth to the people of Taiwan.
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒ de jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
I love this mission so much. I am filled with so much love and compassion for everyone here and the people of Taiwan that I haven't even met yet. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost with everyone here is truly amazing, and something I have never been able to experience before. The weeks are starting to fly by, it's honestly crazy that I'm back here emailing again.
This week was really so much fun and so much work. We got new investigators to teach, zhōuxīnlì who is a buddhist and dīngxuélái who is somewhat Christian. It's been a really interesting experience for me learning to teach them and learning from experiences we have had. The first lesson we taught both of them was so bad. Elder G and I came out of both of those first lessons so frustrated and overwhelmed by the difficulty teaching them. I was really getting down on myself and thinking I couldn't do it, when we had a lesson on teaching simply while still meeting the investigator's needs. We decided to try to implement this method on our second teaching appointments with both of these investigators, so we quickly outlined the message of the Restoration in 8 simple bullet points centered around the fact that God loves us and the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. The difference between those lessons and the first lessons was insane. We were able to reach these investigators and teach from the heart to meet their needs, all while teach very simply about the doctrine of this wonderful gospel. I am now able to somewhat communicate with the investigator, bear testimony, pray, and teach in Chinese. It is truly an incredible blessing to me to be able to see the Gift of Tongues working in my life. Chinese is incredibly hard and I struggle with it every day, making so many mistakes every time I try to speak my mind, but I know that it will come.
Another thing that has truly amazed me while I've been here is to see myself becoming more converted to Christ. It is often said that this mission is not just about converting others, it is also about converting yourself. I truly believe that. Being able to read the Book of Mormon everyday and study out of Preach My Gospel has strengthened my conversion so much. I love the Book of Mormon so much, it helps me get better each day and draw nearer to Christ. Our Branch President's wife challenged us to read at least one scripture out of the Book of Mormon a day for the rest of our lives, and I'd like to invite all of you to accept that challenge. I know we can all better ourselves through diligent study of the Book of Mormon. It is the converting book and strengthening our individual conversions is one of the most important things we can do in this life. I know that is true and I know the Book of Mormon is true.
Our Sunday devotional was really amazing. It was given by Elder Allen and he showed us a bunch of old commercials put out by the Church. They all had these really good simple, one sentence messages at the end of them. For example, "When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can" "It's often life's small moments that are the greatest moments" and "People can't hear what's in your heart. If you love them, let them know." If you're getting this email, know that I love you all and I wouldn't be here without the support I have received and the friendships that have strengthened me throughout my life. I'm so thankful for each and every one of you and know that my friends and my family are one of the most important things in my life. The Sunday and Tuesday night devotionals are really special, we all look forward to the advice and guidance we receive and it helps so much with the lessons, enduring through days, etc.
My Zone is honestly so much fun. All the Districts are really tight with each other, and we are able to have fun while keeping in line with the missionary standards and having the spiritual moments each day. We studied Jacob 5 in depth with the Taibei district which was really cool to hear everyone's insights on the doctrine contained in the parable of the Olive Tree. We also played signs with them which is pretty much the funnest, funniest game you could ever play in the MTC. We have such strong testimony meetings but we also laugh harder than anyone here. It's the coolest mix of people. Elder B from the Taibei district has music on iTunes, Elder P shoots lots of guns, and Elder H can beat box like nobody's business (like I'm talkin spinning the CD beat boxing). Hahaha which reminds me we had the funniest rap battles this week. Elder V, Elder F, and Elder B duked it out and we were all laughing and having a good time. The Oldest district left to Taizhong on Tuesday, which was really sad but also really good. We got to hug them goodbye and picture ourselves in their shoes in 6 weeks. Wow 6 weeks is a long time haha but it's so good and I'm so excited for my turn to have that opportunity.
The MTC is so great. I love it here. The friendships I've made have helped me manage to make it through the long days. My continuing conversion to Christ has been so important to me. Learning Chinese and seeing it come little by little each day has been amazing. I'm so thankful for this opportunity in my life. A saying we have in our District that Elder V gave us is "Two people can do anything, as long as one of them is Jesus Christ." I love that quote and I know it to be true. There is no way in the world I could be doing what I'm doing: learning Chinese, leaving everything for two years, going to Taiwan, without my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for him and his Atoning Sacrifice. I have grown closer to him in these first 3 weeks and I can't wait to continue my conversion to him. I know with all my heart this Gospel is true and that we can all live together again with our Heavenly Father. What a blessing it is that I can share that message with the people of Taiwan. I love my mission.
I love getting dear elders and packages and I love hearing from everyone, so please write me! I'll be sure to respond, I have a lot of time to email on P-days and can write letters any day. I love you all and I love this Gospel of Jesus Christ!!
yīnweì wǒmen yǒu jīdū gēn wǒmen, wǒmen kěyǐ zuò měi yī gè shìqìng
(Because we have Christ with us, we can do anything)
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
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.