elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
Well, as Elder Y and I would say, we've been gettin' the spankin' recently here in Pingdong. It's been really tough to find people to teach, and it seems like once we finally find someone that is decently interested, they flake out. It's been tough to try to stay positive through the whole thing, but one thing that we've done to help ourselves still stay positive and effective is working with the ward and doing service as much as possible. Let me tell you, this ward is so awesome. There are over 100 active members which is definitely one of the bigger wards I've served in on my mission.
All the members are really friendly, and it's been really fun getting to know them over the past couple transfers. We've got a great Bishop, and we are really excited about the direction that this ward is moving in. Lately we've been trying to spread an excitement for sharing the gospel, and although we as missionaries haven't seen anything numbers wise, it is easy to see the ward is more willing to help out and they are more excited to talk to us, so it's been fun. We've also continued to look for more service opportunities, and they keep on showing up. Our goal for this next week is to get 1 hour of service every day and at least 1 active member lesson every week, so we'll see how that goes!
It's nice that even though the finding efforts have been rough, we are still finding ways to be effective. If you remember back from one of my previous emails, "When you work with the ward, you work with the Lord," so that's exactly what we're trying to do! Speaking of working with the ward, we went out to a couple of our secondaries like Bishop asked us to. We had a really cool miracle of being let into an LA's house, and he said we could come back and mow his grass sometime! I've never been more excited to mow a lawn in my life haha. We also got attacked by a dog while we were out in the middle of nowhere. We were just flying by on our bikes and all the sudden it came out of nowhere. Luckily, we both made it out unscathed, but I kinda hate dogs now lol.
In terms of this week, I had the chance to go on exchanges with Elder B. It's always fun to go to someone else's area and see how they do the work over there. It really helped me to realize that as long as we are out doing our best, the Lord will be happy with our efforts and will bless us. As long as I keep doing my best, the good things will come. This week we had some tough news. Sister Y's husband acted up and threw away her Book of Mormon. She's been going through some rough times, but she is a trooper. She's got such a strong testimony, and the ward is really helping her out. She could use a lot of help right now though, so pray for her!
This week I was doing my personal study on the Christlike Attribute of Patience, because Patience is something that is really hard sometimes and something I really need right now as we try to get out of this rut. I was studying with the PMG recommended scrips and the Topical Guide, and came across James 5:10-11. It says,
"Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
I think the prophets are a perfect example of people who had patience in suffering and the down times of their lives. Our prophets are our great examples. We should continually read their counsel to us and listen to it, especially during the tough times in our lives. I'm very grateful for the guidance of our prophets, and especially grateful that we have a living one today.
Well, that's about it! Hope you all have a great week!! If anyone has any ideas of how Elder Y and I can work with the ward better or find service opportunities, hit me up!! email@example.com. Love you all!
Last Pday we went to 佛光山 or as I like to call it, "Big Buddha Mountain" which was really cool even though I'd already been. It's cool to see another form of religion and see how the people really treasure their culture up there. I've been trying to be more accepting of other people's religion, which is sometimes really hard when you get rejected by them day after day but it's been a cool learning experience. The monks and people up there were all really nice to us, and it was a good time.
This past week was really cool, cause we found ways to serve almost every day and did lots of member work. Our service included building a small shelter over this woman's garden, picking up trash in the street, helping people learn English, and moving stone slabs up a mountain haha Luckily we had a car to help us with that one. It was actually super awesome. We went up into the mountains to move the stone slabs and it felt like a totally different country. It was soooo pretty, and the houses all looked like cabins. It felt way more like a rural American city than Taiwan haha It was nice to get a little time in the mountains to serve. The family was super awesome and really grateful for our service. They fed us some of the best Curry I've ever had on my mission, and it was a good time. In terms of member work, we have just been trying to visit as many families and members as we can and build up their desire to do missionary work. It's been really cool to see that even though we are struggling to find people lately, we still feel really good about the work we are doing. The Bishop recently told us that he wants us to spend more time in the rural parts of our area and visit the members that don't get visited very often, so I'll keep you posted on how that goes :)
This past week we had a Zone Conference in Gaoxiong to talk about the smart phones and the rules and regulations for them. It was a good meeting, and I got to see some homies so it was a good time. This week was also the primary program in our ward, and it was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Taiwanese kids are adorable haha and hearing them sing and give small talks was so awesome. We also had the weird opportunity to contact a white dude. He said he'd come to church, but then he didn't lol.
Well, that's pretty much it for this week! Hope you all have a great week and remember to read the Book of Mormon, it's a good one.
Well, another week down and I'm now at the 16 month mark. Kinda crazy how far I've come, but I know there's still a lot more to do and a lot more for me to learn. One of those things is more patience haha. We got pretty wrecked last week trying to find new investigators. We didn't find anyone, and it's not like we weren't trying hard. We were talking with everyone, trying to share the gospel with smiles on our face and invite them to learn more, but for some reason no one wanted it. It was tough, but it's all good, we'll work through it.
One thing that a rough finding week allowed us to do was work with the ward. This week, we worked with the ward more than I ever have in my whole life. Every day we had multiple appointments with members and have been really trying to strengthen our relationships with them as well as help them strengthen their desire to share the gospel. We've been inviting the families in the ward to share the Book of Mormon with their friends and family, and it's been really cool to see everyone getting excited about it. We've also tried to 關心 the less active members in this area by taking them cards with a handwritten note on the back. So far, we haven't seen anything come from our member work in terms of numbers, but yesterday during church, the YM's President started his talk by saying how big of a blessing it was for us to come to his house and share a message. He said when we were over there sharing a message was the first time that he had ever heard his dad (nonmember) read the scriptures as he read with us, and it really made me feel good about the focus we have been putting on the Lord. I've heard many missionaries say, "when you work with the ward, you work with the Lord," and I definitely know that it's true. Our wards are special and have been given to us to help us learn and grow together, so cherish the relationships you have within your wards and look to strengthen those around you! :)
Another thing that was really awesome was some cool lessons we had this week talking about the first vision. I think the first vision is one of the things that we often take for granted, but we don't remember the things leading up to the vision or following the vision as much as the actual vision itself. I know that Joseph Smith sacrificed all that he had to restore this church to the earth. I know that he is a true prophet of God, and truly did see God the Eternal Father and His son Jesus Christ. I also know that the best way to gain a personal testimony of these things is through the Book of Mormon.
Well that's it for this week! Love you all so much, and hope you have a great week!
This week was a really hard week in terms of finding, but there were lots of other good things to be done, including baptism!!! Sister Y finally was able to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After she was baptized, I really felt a huge weight lifted from off of my shoulders. It was a really good service. The Bishop's family did a great job at helping for the service. They are really close with Sister Y and did a great job of inviting the spirit. Elder Y did a great job with the baptism, and Sister Y gave a great testimony after. She was crying pretty hard, and it was a really amazing feeling to know that we are helping her change her life and the lives of all her family for eternity. Our Bishop said something really cool when he spoke, he said, "When Sister Y got baptized, I didn't just see one person, I saw a multitude of people." That is the power that one person has. Our actions really do influence those around us, and Sister Y's decision to get baptized will influence her family forever.
Other than that, we have really started to try to work with the ward as much as we possibly can. The culture in this mission has always been to contact for as long as you possibly can every day, and the more that you contact, the better missionary you are, but President Teh is trying to change that, and I'm honestly a big fan of it. We have been visiting more members and giving them ways they can share the gospel. We have been inviting every family to write their testimony in a Book of Mormon and give it away to a friend, which has been really awesome cause they are all getting so excited about it. We also have a basketball activity every morning and have found lots of service opportunities, so we are hoping for more of that stuff! I'm excited to see where the work can go with the members!!
This week, Elder Y ate Stinky tofu for the first time. Not his favorite haha not gonna lie it's pretty gross, but it makes for good memories. We also went to Shitou twice. I love that place. Unfortunately, I have no pics cause they all got deleted, so sorry about that!
Well, that's about it for this week!! Half way through training and ready to hit the last half hard! Hope you all have a great week! If you have a minute this week, watch "Staying Spiritually Fit" on lds.org. Ask yourself, "did I leave it all on the field today?" when thinking about if you did all that you could to help others and yourself come more unto Christ. You'll find that there is always room for improvement, and will also come to appreciate the power of the Atonement in helping us to become better and better each day :) Love you all so much!!
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.