elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
Wow, this week was insanely hard, but by the end of the week, I found myself having a more sincere love for the people of Taiwan and my mission as a whole. As you can see from the title of my email, I have not stopped sweating since I got here lol. It's so bad that I take a shower at night so my sheets aren't just completely disgusting, but by the time it's time to go to bed, I'm almost sweating again hahaha. It's actually not been too bad to adjust to for some reason, it doesn't bug me too bad. The food is still kinda crazy but it's getting better. I love the people, the culture, and the language, even though I probably only understand 20% of what is going on haha. I love everything about Taiwan; it's like a mix of Tahiti, Hawaii, and New York all in one. Every day is a crazy culture shock, but I'm getting more and more used to it.
So my companion and I are whitewashing our area, which means both of us are new to this area. We didn't have any investigators at first, so all we did from basically 1-9 was talk to people on the street and try to find people interested in the church. It really is a grind; we work so hard each day and try to be happy and cheerful with everyone, so by the end of the day we are all exhausted. We play Monopoly Deal like every night haha so it's a good way to unwind. I think by trying to have a good idea about the work and going out each day with a smile on our faces has helped us a lot, and we've already seen so many miracles. We got an absolutely golden referral who has a baptismal goal!! We also met an awesome guy at church yesterday named Wang who has friends in the church. Everything is getting better and better, and so is my enjoyment of the mission.
At first, I was really really homesick. Last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were really really tough. I kept having thoughts of how long 22 months is, thoughts of how hard Chinese is, and thoughts of how much I wished I could be home doing what I wanted to do. One thing that was similar about all of these thoughts, is that they were centered on me. It was all about me, and what I wanted to do. It took me a little while to realize, but this mission is not about me. It's not about what I want and what would be the most fun for me, it's about helping God's children come unto Christ and realize how awesome this gospel is and how much it can bless their lives. Once I realized that, the week started to get a lot better, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were great. When you really turn your own will over to the Lord, everything gets so much easier. You love the people more, you love the mission more, you love your companion more, and you are able to face the challenges of the day with more optimism. So yeah, I just try to smile and wave at everyone and be a positive influence, and it seems to help everything feel much better.
Last P-day, we got to go up to the bat caves. It was a 45 minute bike ride up into the mountains, and the ride was definitely worth the journey. It was so beautiful and peaceful. The bat caves were super small and narrow, and we squeezed our way through them. They were super cool and a lot of fun to go do something like that for my first P-day on island. I got to eat McDonald's twice this week which was a blessing haha American food was nice to have after trying lots of Chinese food. By the way, Chinese Chinese food is definitely not the same as American Chinese food. It's a huge adjustment, but it's getting better.
The rest of the week was a lot of finding mixed with a couple lessons taught to investigators. A big problem in Taiwan is a lot of the people here just want to talk with us because we are white haha so we get a fair amount of numbers but not a lot of people that are actually interested. So sometimes we will teach a really solid lesson and they'll be like we weren't really interested in the first place. On Saturday, we taught the weirdest lesson of my entire life haha. This guy invited us over to share our message, and we then found out that all he wanted to do was bash on us for not believing that every church was true. He just kept saying that we were very rude for not accepting his beliefs as true. It's not like we were bashing on his beliefs at all, he just wouldn't hear us out. It was really crazy haha he invited like 5 friends to listen too. It turned out one of his friends actually seemed to have real interest, so hopefully he'll want to meet with us. We've taught a lot of really good lessons, trying our best to follow the Spirit and discern the needs of our investigators/contacts, but a lot of people aren't interested in changing their beliefs. A lot of people in Taiwan don't really even know what they believe; they mix Buddhism with Daoism and all this random stuff so a lot of them are kinda ignorant haha. But hey that's alright, I love them all anyways, even the ones that are super rude to us. We talk to a lot of people, and every time we talk to high school or college aged guys we say, "bu yao tai shuai hao bu hao" which basically means "you don't want to be too handsome right?" and for some reason they absolutely love that hahaha but the funniest thing is my companion or I will always say that and they'll look at me and point and say, "Ta tai shuai" which means he's too handsome haha just funny stupid stuff that we say with the people we talk to makes the days so much better. Everyone loves to talk to me about how tall I am and if I play basketball haha.
One of the funnest things we get to do is teach English class. It's awesome for me to get to speak English again haha. The people love coming and listening to our English and practicing talking with us. It's so fun to talk to them and teach them English. We always share a little spiritual message at the end, and it's an awesome opportunity. Apparently a lot of investigators come from English class, so that's super cool.
One of the funnest and most effective things we did this week was go set up a booth at the college and talk to a ton of college students about the church. We had so many opportunities to share the gospel and got a lot of numbers, so fingers crossed that works out for us! They loved to come and talk to us, but it may be because we are white lol.
The most overwhelming thing I've noticed about this mission is how much God loves us. He has prepared us with so many opportunities to succeed, and I know he is looking out for me and everyone else. I hope you can all feel His influence in your life, and if you can't, strive to come unto him and strengthen yourself spiritually. I love this gospel so much. If it wasn't true, I wouldn't be here I can tell you that for sure. I hope you all have a safe week and I'll talk to you next week!! Love you all so much
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.