Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 7 - First email from Taiwan!

Hey, just so everyone knows, I got here very safe and sound.

The trip was great! 24 hours of travel time actually seemed pretty fast. On my first plane to Detroit, I talked to this methodist missionary named Cosme, originally from the Phillipeans . He is awesome. He's very open to new ideas. I shared the first lesson with him and left him a Book of Mormon. We also switched emails and he said he wanted me to write an article for a self-run internet publication describing me as a Mormon missionary. I talked to my Mission President, President Grimley about it, and he said they would check whether or not I could. I think that would be a wonderful opportunity.

Taiwan is amazing! I remember a lot from 5 years ago since I was here, but there's still a lot to get used to. I guess I'd thought about it before, I never realized I'd be in mega-busy urban town, with cars everywhere.

My very first day we had Orientation with the mission office, the Mission President and his wife, and the Assistances to the President. We just talked about how everything would work around here. We ran to the ChenKaiShek Memorial for our excercise. We ate out at wonderful vendors. We had fruit sandwiches and other breakfast sandwiches. Oh yeah. The food I can definitely get used to.
At the end of my first day, we had 2 hours of contacting. My temporary companion was Elder White, who has been out about a year. It was only then when I realized, "oh....this is what I'm doing for 2 years." And it was hard -- we never practiced contacting in the MTC, so I never knew what to say. But through listening and observing I was able to try it myself. Elder White also had me Dan Jones for a bit. Dan Jonesing is....interesting. The motto around here is to talk to everyone. But this isn't the way I'd normally think of it. It's when you stand up and just preach to everyone, like they did in the olden days, and just preach the gospel. But of course we made it modernized and did it with a megaphone. They said they don't do it very often, but it helps you break out of your comfort zone. So I did it for about 5 minutes. Oh yes. Welcome to Taiwan.

I think the hardest thing for me has been contacting. I'm usually not one to go out and talk to random people, especially if they don't like me, and I can't even understand them sometimes. But it's not my work -- it's the Lord's. Sometimes the Lord requires things of us that will stretch us. In fact, he always will. That's His purpose; making us grow and become better people is why we're on Earth. But I've gotten the hang of it a little. I was reading in 2 Nephi chapter....13? I'm not sure, but it described how the Jews were the only people that would kill our Lord, Jesus Christ. Others would have seen the miracles and repented. But since this had to be done, the Lord was sent to the Jews. But it just testified to me that some people, no matter how well I teach or represent the Savior, will still not accept me or my message. But some people will see the miracles and repent. And my job is to find those that will soften their hards.
The next day was also some orientation. We went to the dedicatory prayer site of Taiwan, where the island of Taiwan was dedicated for missionary work. We offered our own prayers to the Lord for our dedication for our missions to bring souls to Him.

I think it's been hard to let the Spirit really guide me, because I'm just afraid that I won't completely understand them or that I'll disturb traffic or whatever excuse I have. But now that I've gotten more used to it, I feel I can listen more intently to really find those that are ready.

I've met so many people I know here. I ran into Matt Seibert on day 2. He's doing really well, and his Chinese is really awesome, too. I also have seen Sister Van duren, Wai Gong and Wai Po (grandparents), Si4 Gu1gu1 (my aunt), and the Chen's, who came to our house one time in Utah. I've been blessed to be able to see so many people I know. I know that the Lord provided that comfort and support for me here.

I've been assigned to the JinHua Area, which is right where the mission home, temple, church, and distribution center is. It is also the area where my grandparents and aunt go to church. I'm also in charge of the English ward of our mission, so we go to two sacrament meetings.

My companion is amazing. His name is Elder Hubrich (Hughbrick). He's from Kaysville, UT. He was in the Davis Marching band on the trombone, and he's going into physics at USU. He's been out a year now, and is really a great person. I also have a second companion, Elder Li, who is leaving today to his transfer area. He's from Taichung. He's such a great guy, a bit silly and exaggurated at times, but it helps me be a little more relaxed and comfortable. I'll send pictures of them next week.

On Saturday I attended my first Baptism here! It was for an 82 year old man who was just amazing. He bore his testimony to us after he was baptized, and you could tell he was prepared. He bore his testimony in Chinglish -- I mean true Chinglish. Every other word switched languages. There was a couple caucasian missionaries that don't speak Chinese, and I'm sure they got a kick out of it. He talked about becoming a new man, even at a good age of 82. It was truly a blessing to see the fruits of our labors so quickly after getting here.

Each day is so tiring, but I know the Lord is sustaining my body. Each night I just plop on my bed and I"m out until the next morning. The work is hard, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Best of luck to all. My next letter should be a bit better organized.

-Elder Liu

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Elder Liu's Mission Address

Write him letters and he'll try to write you back!

Elder Justin K Liu
Taiwan Taipei Mission
Floor 4, No. 24, Lane 183
Jin Hua Street, Da-An District, Taipei

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 5

Hey everyone! This week has gone by sooo fast. At first I didn't believe it, but it seems like I've been here for months, but yet only days. That doesn't make too much sense...but it does to me.

So I have been changed schedules, but not branches. I'm still in the international branch. There is probably more racial diversity than I've seen within these few weeks than I have in my whole life. It's great! It's great to see so many people from so many different places, all wanting to serve the Lord.
I got my travel plans. I'll be going to LA=>Taiwan on the 26th of July. The Elder Slawson, the elder who is also going to Taiwan in my branch, didn't get his visa in time, so I'll be the only one going to Taipei. There will be 2 other elders going on my plane, but then to Taichung.

Thank you all for your letters. Every single one helps me a lot. It's great to see how everyone is doing. I also get very well chosen snacks. :D Thanks.

Anyway, this week's fireside was great. We had a talk by W. Blake Sonne and his wife. He's part of the presidency of the MTC. Sister Sonne talked about how Heavenly Father always has His eye on you, how we don't have to worry about what happens, because He is always guiding those who trusts Him. (Hey, Consider the Lilies is playing here in the laundry room. Those lyrics almost go exactly with my last sentance.)
Brother Sonne talked for most of the time. His talked was centered around The scripture in Helaman 10:4-5, where it tells that Nephi, the son of Helaman, has great power, and why he is given that power. He is mighty in word, deed, faith, and works. And this is because of his obedience, asking the Lord's will, not seeking his own life, and not fearing the people. I hope I can strive to be able to strengthen those attributes in my own self. I think I can do better at trusting in myself less than trusting the Lord. Although I take time to pray morning and night, for meals and study sessions, for devotionals and meetings, I still feel like I don't spend enough time listening to the Spirit in my daily life. I feel like once I pray, I just get up and do whatever I want. I need to remember that the Lord promises to tell us all things we should do.

This past week we learned how to make a language study plan. It's been hard, but I've been trying to learn ten words a day, reviewing often and moving on. I think it's working. I feel that I can express myself better as I teach people (not lessons) and to get around easier. Sometimes personal study gets frustrating -- I just want to focus on the language, because I feel that that is what I need -- that's what's keeping me from more success. But I know that building my personal testimony will do so much more. By building my own testimony, the Spirit can then witness to anything I say, and that's the most important part.

For Prep days we play piano and sing. I love my district. They all love praising the Lord through song and through sharing their testimony. We've come so close, and it's hard to leave them just next week. An elder from Taiwan, Elder Chu, already left last week, and we've all missed him already. I know these will be friendships that last forever -- especially since most of them will end up at BYU or somewhere around here.

Thank you all, again, for your support. I am really grateful for each letter and present you give me. I feel so blessed.

Best of luck,

-Elder Liu

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 4

This week went by really really fast! The time seems to go by faster, so it seems like I'm less productive. I don't know if I really am or not, but I think we've gotten a little too comfortable, maybe. I think our district doesn't work as hard as it did, but I'll try to keep it up.

Yesterday we had a devotional about Repentance by Brother Richard Heaton. He talked about how repentance is a wonderful, joyful process, and shouldn't be dreaded or avoided. If we have any conceptions of bad that come with repentance, then it's Satan's work. Repentance is a gift from the Atonement. In D&C 19:16-19 it shows that Christ did the suffering for us so we don't have to. So by repenting, we can actually avoid suffering.

A lot of people are leaving our branch -- about half of them. It was an international branch, so all of those who already spoke their language were in there. But this week we're going to move districts to the Chinese district. We're going to finally be joining those who will also be leaving July 26.

I don't have my study journal with me, so I'll explain some things that have been going on.

I have an elder in my district who is also going to Taipei, Taiwan. His name is Elder Slawson. He's the only white person in our district. The rest are ABC (American Born Chinese) or Taiwanese. Two other elders are going to Taichung, Taiwan. So we'll be in the same plane over. The other three are going to the LA California mission and the Seattle Washington Mission. It's awesome that we're all switching spots -- everyone from America is going to Taiwan, and vice versa.

My companion, Elder Hsieh, is a wonderful guy. He's a bit lazy at times, but I know he has a great testimony and wants to share the gospel. His family was converted when he was nine, so he was kinda raised in the Church. He's going to LA. He misses Taiwan a lot -- he always compares here to there. It's great to have my companion be from where I'm going. He teaches me some Taiwanese (a dialect of Chinese) that people use every day, and it's almost like slang. He also is patient in me asking him a bunch of Chinese questions. It's been hard recently because his English isn't the greatest, so it's harder for him to be able to teach his part of the lesson. He tends to recite things rather than pour them from his heart. He also isn't very willing to learn English, beacuse even though he was called to LA, he'll be speaking Chinese. I keep telling him that more English will only help him at LA. But we'll see how it goes.

I hope everything is going great. It was nice that today was actually cool. Our classrooms have been really stuffy because it's been hot, but it has all gotten better.

In class we've been going over things they call "Fundamentals" of teaching. These are points like "The Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion" or "Teaching People, not Lessons". They've been really good. This is a pilot program that they're teaching a bunch of districts. I think it works really well. I don't know what they've been teaching others, but I feel that I'm learning a lot, and though I'm not perfect, I know what I need to work on and how to work on it.

My teachers are named Brother Da Silva and Brother Richards. Brother Da Silva is from Uruguay. He actually just left to get married in Brazil. Brother Richards actually hasn't taught us very much, because he's been having some family health problems. But both of them have been amazing teachers. They've really stressed in teaching with the Spirit. They always answer questions really clearly and well. They also become our "investigators". We teach them and try to get as far as we can in the lessons. They've been good, but hard, because we don't get direct feedback. We have to talk with our companion to self evaluate our work.

Anyway, time's about out. Best of luck, everybody. I love you all!

-Elder Liu.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week 2

This week has been wonderful. There have been some ups and most downs, but it's all been great.

I can see why people don't like the food here. It seems to get really repetitive, even though it's still different every day. It just seems all the same.

My district has continued to amaze me. They are full of wonderful people who all want to learn more of the gospel, and who want to be able to teach more effectively. We all help each other with our languages. I already feel that I've learned so much Chinese. We haven't really focused on Chinese yet. In fact, we're encouraged not to take personal study time to study our language yet, but rather focus on the Gospel. But nevertheless, my Chinese has improved. I feel more comfortable with it, and I know that I'm learning a lot.

One lesson that I've learned is that I have really underestimated the Book of Mormon. My teacher taught us that we can teach the first lesson even with 1 Nephi 1. Before, I would have thought "that's no good, get them a good scripture. Like this one." But I know that the Book of Mormon has enough power that one can gain their own testimony of it with any verse. Any scripture can influence people and draw them closer to Christ.

We were priviledged to have Jenny Oaks Baker come for our Sunday Fireside. She performed for us as well as talked to us about her experiences, and how they've drawn her closer to God. This was a wonderful experience for me, to still have that testimony that music can still draw us closer to God.

But speaking of music, last week I had an amazing TRC experience. TRC is when volunteers come and allow missionaries to come teach them. Usually they act as investigators or inactive members, but this time they let us teach the volunteers as themselves. This allowed us to really fit our lesson to the member's needs. My member's name was Mo. He's a Polynesian that works at Nordstrom in Orem Mall. For respect to Mo, I won't mention very much about his situation. But I know that from the lesson, we increased all of our testimonies. That day I tried to apply what I learned in class, that is, to not be afraid of silence in a lesson. Silence not only gives time for the Spirit to guide your thoughts and actions, it also lets the investigator feel and learn from the Spirit as well. Since I've applied that concept, my lessons have become sooo much better. I feel the Spirit more, and I feel like I know what I'm listening for to gain heavenly guidance. I just hope that I can continue to practice and improve so I can invite the Spirit more in my life and in my lessons. My lesson with Mo has been the highlight of my MTC experience. I have learned to love silence as much as I love silence.

I hope everyone is doing well. God be with you.

-Elder Liu