elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
This past week was another great one here in Gaoxiong. It's pretty cool to me that I finally ended up down here considered that this is where I've wanted to go since day one. I know I've already said that a lot, but still, I think it's cool.
Last P-day, we went on this super fun bike ride down by the ocean. We biked up by the British consulate, a college on the ocean, and on this really cool road that wound around the coast. It was sooooo pretty. Taiwan is such a cool place haha. I attached a lot of pictures and some videos, one of which shoes me almost getting attacked by a little monkey haha so hopefully you enjoy those! Our round trip was about 33 km. I'm surprised my bike held up the whole way haha that bike has seen better days. Elder F has a super shuai bike with arrow bars and everything, so I'm sure it was a sight to see him flying up and down the roads with me on my bike with a basket following him.
This week was another good, busy week. Our investigator Sister C set a baptismal date this week! Her date is for the 21st of April, and we feel really confident that she can hit it. She has progressed so much in the two weeks since I got her, and she's overcoming a lot of concerns that she previously had. She came to church this last week, so that was really good. L is doing good as well, he came to church and meets with us once or twice a week in addition to that. He's slowly starting to develop more faith, and we are hoping that we can keep him moving. We've met a lot of new people lately, but we are still kinda in the sifting stages. One thing that is hard is we've had a lot of really good, spiritual first lessons, and then the people just don't set up again. It's tough, but it's all part of the process.
We also had the opportunity this past week to go on exchanges with the Xiaogang Elders. I went with Elder C, who is a little bit younger than me on the mission. We had a good time teaching lessons, meeting with LA's, and finding new people to teach. He's a great missionary, and we had a good time.
This past week we had Zone Conference, which was really good and spiritual. For a portion of the conference, the time was turned over to Elder F and I to talk about how we could do better at getting new investigators, new baptismal goals, and more investigators at church. Rather than get into a long lecture about finding strategies or something like that, we decided to focus on faith and attitude and how that plays a role in our finding. I wanted to share a story from a BYU devotional by Bruce C. Hafen that we shared with our zone about how much faith actually does play a role in our decision making and thought process.
When I was a law student, my wife and I attended a student ward in which most of the members were graduate students. We developed close friendships with many of those who were experiencing, as we were, the great expanding of our minds as we learned the tools of intellectual analysis and the expanding of our spirits as we drew close to the Lord through such experiences as marriage and the bearing of our first children. One Sunday morning, the Elders Quorum in our ward held a special testimony meeting characterized by spiritual warmth and personal openness. During that meeting, a fellow law student related a boyhood experience that had occurred just after he had been ordained a deacon. He lived on a farm and had been promised that a calf about to be born would be his very own to raise. One summer morning when his parents were away, he was working in the barn when the expectant cow began to calve prematurely. He watched in great amazement as the little calf was born; and then, without warning, the mother suddenly rolled over the little calf. He could see that she was trying to kill it. In his heart he cried out to the Lord for help. Not thinking about how much more the cow weighed than he did, he pushed on her with all his strength and somehow moved her away. He picked up the lifeless body of the calf in his arms and, brokenhearted, the tears running down his cheeks, he looked at it, wondering what had happened and what he could do. Then he remembered, he told us, that he now held the Priesthood and had every right to pray for additional help. And so he prayed from the depths of his boyish, believing heart. Before long the little animal began breathing again, and he knew that his prayer had been heard.
After relating the story, the tears welled up in his eyes and he said to us, “Brethren, I tell you that story because I don’t know that I would do now what I did then. I think I might not expect the Lord’s help in that kind of situation. I am not sure that I would believe now, even if I relived that experience, that the calf’s survival was anything more than a coincidence. I don’t understand what has happened to me since that incident, but I sense that something has gone a little bit wrong.”
My friend in the Elders Quorum was not saying that he had lost faith in the Lord; rather, he was simply being very honest with us, I think, in sharing both the childlike and the sophisticated dimensions of his experience. This story reflects the thoughts and feelings that many of us experience, in our own way.
We then challenged our zone to have faith like the little boy in the story. Go out the door trusting that the Lord is going to provide those people for you, and trust that he will use you to find them. I think this story is really inspiring, and the spirit was super strong in the room. I think we could all, in our everyday lives, do a little more to be like the boy in this story. I'd invite you all to think about how much faith and trust you put in the Lord. It really helped lead me to do some repenting and help me get back on track.
Well, that's about it for this week! I love you all so much and hope you have a good week! Be sure to tune in to General Conference and sustain President Nelson as our prophet :)
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.