elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
nǐ hǎo wǒde péngyǒu hé jiātíng!!
Super crazy week. So last week, we went and visited a lot of members houses. That was a super awesome experience, I think we got to visit 1 member a day which is a lot here in Taiwan and it was super cool to sit down with them and get to know them a little bit better. I always love playing with the kids when we go to these lessons, because no matter how bad my Chinese is, I can still get the kids to love me :)
So now for the kinda tough news. There have been a few problems the whole time I've been here. So our 4 man was really interesting, because I really loved the Elders and really got along with them really well. But there were some issues. Last week I thought it was pretty much over. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all really solid days. Friday was pretty tough. And then Saturday everything blew up. We were told that because of the issues, we were going to move to Houfeng, about 20 minutes north. Our area is part of fengyuan and houli. I was sad but not really surprised because President doesn't like 4 mans and just the stuff that had happened. I just feel so crappy about leaving my first area early. I loved Taiping. The members were so awesome and nice and welcoming. I finally felt like I was settling into this crazy situation, and now I'm moving again. I just don't know what to even think about it. The other elders are both my good friends and I already miss them a ton.
On Sunday night, I ran into Adam C, who was in the same ward I was in when I was littler and also served his mission in Taiwan. He is back here because he loves it so much, and he just really seemed to have happiness coming out of him. You could tell he really loves the place and the people. He gave me some really good advice to help me out in my situation with what's going on. Super nice of him to do that, and if you're in Taiwan in the next few months, go buy a corn dog from him!
This week has been really tough for me, but even through the tough times, there is no where that I can see myself right now besides Taiwan. I love the people here so much, and I think that is one major thing that keeps me going. They are so awesome and so patient with me and my horrible Chinese haha. One thing that my homie sent me this week really helped give me some encouragement, and it can be applied to all people, even if you are not a full-time missionary. He said, "Just remember when we're cast out, spit upon, rejected, mocked, forgotten we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the greatest missionary to ever live: Jesus Christ. That's something that's given me a lot of help and hope during my time here. Its a talk form Holland that I'm sure you've seen. Press forward man. They that be with us are more than they that oppose us!" Straight from Elder McKay, one of the most spiritually in-tune people I know. I know that this is true. No matter what hardships we face on our missions, and really in life in general, Jesus Christ is right there with us every step of the way. That's what keeps me going, that's what gives me the drive to wake up every morning and do the work, because I know the Savior is gonna be right there with me.
Love you all, thanks for all the letters and support and prayers in my behalf. Have a good week, and remember, if life ever gets to hard to stand, kneel.
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde péngyǒu hé jiātíng!!!
This week was pretty rough, haha one of the toughest of my mission so far, but there was definitely a lot of good stuff too, so I'll probably just stick to that haha.
This week we had mission conference, and President Funk from the Asia Area Presidency came to speak to us. It was an awesome meeting, and the main points of emphasis were very similar to points made in General Conference: Working with members and the Book of Mormon. Very good to receive some more guidance on these two things and how we can be more effective. We were guided to use the Book of Mormon as our first tool to get people to talk to us rather than a tract (flyer with information about our church). It was super great, and built my testimony even more about how important the Book of Mormon is.
I got to go on an emergency exchange on Thursday because my comp had some health problems, so I went with my District Leader Elder D. He's super cool, and we had a good time talking to lots of people and getting a bunch of numbers. We also saw a pimped out Lamborghini and you already know I wanted a picture with that haha. Super funny cause it was tricked out like an American police car. Lot's of people here love America, we see American flag clothes every once in a while.
This week we got to meet lots of cool people. One of my favorites was a guy named Gary. He looks like a super thug, tats all up and down his arms and legs, but he is the chillest guy ever. He is a tattoo artist and likes swimming and basketball. He said he really wants to make changes in his life, and turns out he is an LA (less active), he was already baptized a while ago. He is super cool and wants to hang out with us on Pdays so we'll try to get him back into the church. He loves Steph Curry just like me so we're homies haha.
We also had Stake Conference which was pretty cool, and we got an investigator at church!! He loved it, he was crying cause of the spirit and it was really awesome.
Like I said, this week has been a little tougher for me, but one quote that always keeps me going is, "Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on Today, Tomorrow, and Forever." Elder Holland is the man, and I know that I'm getting lot's of help every day. Just have to stay positive and realize this is his work!!
Love you all, have a good week!!
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!
This week was super up and down, but hey, that's sometimes how the mission is haha. I've definitely learned how much joy we can experience through this gospel, even when we are suffering, so that has been a huge blessing. This week was pretty average, so I'll just jump right into it.
This week we got to go on exchanges for the first time, and the person I went with was Elder Chen! He's the other trainee that I'm staying with, so we have both only been here for 4 weeks, but he is from Taiwan so he's a lot better off than I am lol. He is super cool and his English is super good. We joke around a ton and we are already planning his visit to Utah. I told him I'd find him a wife when he came to Utah so fingers crossed I don't let him down on that one lol. But yeah, it was a super good experience to go out and teach with a bundy (Taiwanese missionary) He made me talk a lot and it was super good for my language. We had a lot of fun teaching English class together, and it was a really fun exchange.
Every Saturday we go to a park and do some good ol' basketball contacting which is so much fun. We love playing against the people, they are all so funny and love basketball. We usually beat them and then get to share a little message with them and invite them to church, so it's all around a good time. It's a great way to relieve stress and keep positive.
This week I got 3 flat tires. Yes 3. In one week. It sucked haha it felt like we were always in the bike shop, and every time they tell me I need to ride more carefully, but deep down I think it's their fault lol. But yeah, just little stuff like that kinda gets you down sometimes, so that was a little rough to deal with, but on the bright side, we got to see a Chinese parade! It was super dope, and there were dragons dancing around and all that good stuff.
It was a tough week. Both of our baptismal goals are struggling to keep commitments, but I still have faith that they can make it and be baptized. We pray for them a lot. The important thing is you can definitely see the desire is there, they just have to act on it. Our goals are Li and Yu. They are both about 40. Both super willing to listen and change their lives, but both struggle keeping commitments like reading and praying at home. One of them was a referral from the AP's, and the other we just talked to randomly he was sitting in his car and we just biked past him and we were like 'we need to go talk to him'. They don't pray like we do, so it's pretty foreign. They don't really understand it that well so we have to explain it a lot. They don't really read scriptures either, the Christians here read shengjing (the bible) but there aren't that many of them.
We have one investigator right now named Daniel who was born in Louisiana and I get to teach him in English so that is awesome haha. Daniel is probably half Taiwanese and has lived here for 15 years and we met him up at the college. We have a college in our area that is really good for proselyting cause there are so many people there, and it has amazing food. I understand more and more each week, but it's still really hard haha. Food is better and better, except I tried this nasty thing called fuzzy meat this week which is the grossest thing ever lol.
Getting the letter and pictures from the primary kids this week was awesome :) Their sweet spirits were definitely felt here in Taiwan and was a much needed boost to my week. Today we are going to play ultimate frisbee and eat pizza, so it should be a good day! This pizza is amazing. Soooo good haha it's called Pizza Monster. We are going over by the mission home which is like 20 minutes away by bike.
So yeah that's about it! The thing I'll share last is a part of one of my favorite talks from conference, Be Ambitious for Christ. "My dear Brothers and Sisters, we are ambitious for Christ when we serve faithfully, accept humbly, endure nobly, pray fervently, and partake worthily. May we be ambitious for Christ as we accept our difficulties and trials with patience and faith and find joy in our covenant path."
I know for a certainty that part of being a missionary is being ambitious for Christ. I hope that we can all take principles from this talk and apply them to our own lives, and strive to better ourselves and be more ambitious for Christ. I love you all, thank you for the emails and encouragement that you give me, it means more than you could know. I know that through Christ, anything is possible, and I'll keep doing my best to share that in the Chinese language with the people of Taiwan!
Love, Elder Jones
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
So last P-day, our trainers had the great (crazy) idea that we should all shave our legs, because that is what some other trainers had done with their trainees a couple of months ago. So we did, and it was awful haha. Don't ever shave your legs, it takes for ever and it feels so weird. I feel bad for girls who have to do it all the time, xinku nimen.
The first half of this week was one of my least favorite parts of my mission. I didn't really feel engaged in the work, my companion and I butted heads, and it just wasn't bringing us any success. We didn't see any success those days, and everything just felt off. On Thursday, we decided to reevaluate how we were gonna do the work. We decided to compromise on some things, including talking with everyone and handing out more tracts and stuff, and we hit the work really hard. We worked so hard to talk to everyone and give as many tracts out and just try to spread the word about our gospel, with our focus being sharing about Jesus Christ. These days were so awesome. They were long, but I loved them, and I felt better about everything. I was able to speak better Chinese and understand more, and we just did an overall better job together. We got 3 new investigators in those 4 days which was absolutely awesome.
One of the biggest miracles from our hard work came on Sunday night. We had contacted this guy earlier on Friday and he set up to meet with us. We were wondering if he was gonna show because he was 20 minutes late and we kept calling him and he said he was coming but he couldn't find the place. So we were really wondering whether he would actually come. He finally showed up and was the most prepared person ever. He told us he wanted to make changes in his life to improve and he felt like this was the right place. I had the opportunity of inviting him to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and accept baptism on November 12th. He accepted all of our invites, and it was the most awesome feeling ever. I know I will never forget this lesson, because it was the first time I've ever got to invite someone to baptism. I was so overcome with joy and the spirit, and the Chinese flowed out of me it was awesome. I truly know that the Lord has prepared people for me on my mission, and this was a huge testimony builder. I have never been so happy haha.
We got to watch Conference in English with Chinese subtitles (thank goodness) this week and it was absolutely amazing. Every single talk had something that I could use. It gave me so much to ponder as to how I can improve, and things I can work on to become a better missionary. One of my favorite talks was Elder Yamashita's talk about the importance of missionary work. His quote, "Be ambitious for Christ" stuck with me, and is truly inspiring. That talk brought the spirit so strongly and helped me want to strive to be a better missionary. I also loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk about the Plan of Salvation, Elder Oaks talking about member missionary work, and Elder Curtis Jr. talking about the Book of Mormon. Conference is the best.
My invite to everyone this week is to try to contribute as a member missionary. I know that on my mission, when the members are willing to help us, everything goes so much better. I invite all of you to share the gospel with those around you, get to know missionaries, and help in any way you can. It really brightens our spirits so much.
Love you all, have a great week!!
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
MOM'S NOTE :
Funny experience this week: ' A funny thing I can share is while we were giving a lesson, I was trying to say, "We have a special book called the Book of Mormon" but I said "We have a special food called the Book of Mormon" Hahah super funny '
Favorite treat/food: '7-11 has all the good stuff, I mostly get HI CHEWS. Favorite meal might be gali (curry) or just rice, meat, and egg. Favorite treat is Mcdonald's ice cream or 7-11 slurpees but favorite Taiwanese treat is probably these dough things filled with fruit inside.'
Funny fact: 'For breakfast here they actually eat burgers. They think it's weird that we do it for lunch and dinner so the only place you can get a burger after breakfast is McDonald's.'
Teaching? 'We usually have 3-4 lessons scheduled a day, but only end up teaching like 1 of them. There is a lot of bailing here in Taiwan haha so that is a bummer but that's ok. '
moms note: Matthew said, for the first time, he understood something at church and the members are impressed at the way his language is progressing. He's loving Nutella, peanut butter, Ritz crackers, pineapple slurpees and green onion pancakes (?). He said the time between p-days is getting shorter. All's well in Taiwan.
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
Last P-day we got to go to Costco. It is just like American Costco haha I love it. They have great pizza and ice cream and it was definitely much needed.
Tuesday was when the Typhoon hit. We were doing studies when it started getting really windy. We were told that everyone was staying inside today, no one was working and school was cancelled. We didn't think it was that bad, but no one was on the streets, so we stayed inside, and it's a good thing we did haha. The winds were like 80 mph, and it rained really really hard. There was lots and lots of destruction, and we were told that 4 people died which is really sad. We stayed inside, cleaned, played games, and chatted. It was actually a really fun day haha a good break from the constant hard work. We called all the members and made sure they were all doing ok and asked if they needed service. Everyone here doesn't like to ask for help, but they all really appreciated us checking up on them. We also visited some of our members throughout the week and are continuing to do that so we can better get to know them. In PMG, it says members are the most valuable asset in finding people to teach, so we are really trying to get to know them and ask them for referrals.
The next day we went out and did service, helping people pick up around the town. We didn't get to do much contacting this week because people were not interested in learning about the gospel while they were trying to clean up all their messes. We really did this for the rest of the week as people were not super willing to investigate. We taught a few lessons to members, RC's (recent converts), and LA's (less actives), and that was basically all we could do.
During our free time I have the chance to play guitar and ukelele because the Elders I'm with have them, so that is really fun. We play lot's of Monopoly Deal and just tell stories about what we used to do back home. Everyone here is really cool. My bundy (native Taiwanese) Elder staying with me is awesome. His name is Elder Chen and his English is really good. He teaches me a lot of Chinese and is the funniest guy.
This week I also met my man Frank. Frank is an LA who loves missionaries, so he buys them basketball shoes and soccer jerseys and stuff for really cheap, so that was really fun for me. I'll have to try really hard to hold on to my money around him lol sorry mom and dad but luckily I've gained a little bit of self control.
One of my favorite things we get to do is teach English. The Taiwanese people that come to learn English are awesome and really have a desire to get better each day. A lot of them are not interested in investigating the church at first, but through our classes, they gain a desire, and it is how we get a lot of our investigators. They are all super hard working and I love all of them. It really makes me appreciate how nice everyone is to me while I'm trying to learn a language, cause my Chinese is terrible haha.
I just really love my mission so much. The people of Taiwan are so loving and kind, and everything is really getting so much more fun. Even though I don't understand what is going on half the time, I still love every second of it. I sweat every single second haha but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I always wished I could learn Spanish on my mission before I went out, but after the experiences I've had in the MTC and here in Taiwan, I can tell you that each mission call is from God, and you are going exactly where the Lord needs you to serve. I testify that this is true, and that you are needed where you are called. So to those who have calls or are preparing to serve, come join the Lord's army. It's pretty amazing :) you will see miracles you never thought were possible, and your faith, love, desire to serve, patience, charity, humility, and worthiness will grow so much. I know that this church is true, and I get to share that with everyone all day long. Love you all, have a good week!!
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.