Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I've been out on the Island for a month now! It's gone by really slowly day by day, but the weeks go by so fast! It's amazing.

Yes, there is a big big hurricane in Taiwan, but Taipei's not seeing much of it, which is good. All we get is a little rain. We were called in yesterday right after church to stay in our apartments. But today they let us out. We'll see about tomorrow. I hear there's one in the US, too? I hope everyone's okay.

Yesterday we had a baptism for a lady named Grace Zhan. She was great -- she's been going to church for years, but she's never been baptized. And yet yesterday, she seemed so happy after she had performed the ordinance. She brings bread to all the missionaries, without fail, every week. And she always brings too much! We all love her, and her bread. She really is known around here for the lady who brings bread to church. I don't know where she gets it, but she's so willing to share and give of herself. She's a wonderful example.

We had so many meetings this week that it was hard to be productive missionary-wise. We had zone conference, district meetings, special training meeting, an English ward party, and so many other things taking our time. So number-wise it was hard, but I learned a lot. I"m ready to face next week with a brand new start. We've set a goal to get one new investigator per day, as opposed to the standard of 5 per week. Our "special training" was given by Elder Osgulthorpe, the Sunday School President. He talked about how a vision starts with the Leader, or the Mission President. Say maybe 400 new investigators. But then by adding other leaders, such as the Zone Leaders or the District leaders, that becomes more possible, and more likely. But it's only until you add every single person, including junior companions, can you reach a high goal. Elder Hubrich and I have also been talking about standard setting. And how we can't take the set standard to make our goals, but rather, we take faith and confidence and we make those are goals. Like in track, it was considered humanly impossible to break a 4 minute mile. But there was one man who finally worked hard enough to break it. Soon after, there were hundreds of people that flooded the sub-4 minute mark. And now under 4 minutes is the professional standard for mile running.

So this week, we're trying it. We're taking something that seems less possible, and testing it with full confidence. We're going to forget the standards, and start to fly. I know this week I'll see miracles. I'm ready to do everything it takes to reach my goals.

This past week we had a zone conference, in which our district did a musical number for it. I am so lucky to have my viola here -- I'm really bad now, but it's a big blessing to be able to play it. I really miss sharing my testimony and heart through music. I hope I'll be able to do it more in the future. We sang a medley of "I believe in Christ" and "There is a Green Hill Far Away." We found at that we can play the beginning and ending phrases of both hymns together at the same time and it makes a really nice harmony, so that's what we did. We had two groups sing both hymns at the same time. I don't know how it sounded in the audience, but I thought it was cool.

Right now I'm trying to improve most on contacting -- talking to random people to share the gospel. And it's hard! It's hard to rely on the Spirit to know what to do and say. It's hard to discern their needs right then and there. But I know that this is a learning process. I might not be very good at it right now, but I'll be improving day by day. I know by the end of the mission, I'll be miles ahead of where I was here. I'm grateful that I have the knowledge that the message really can help anyone no matter what their life is like.

So yes, last week I had a picture wearing a vest doing service. That was...an interesting use of time. It's called the "Clean up the World" Project, sponsored by 7-11 (oh yeah, they're really really big here). It's just a project to get to try to clean up Taiwan. The thing we went to was a 3 hour pep rally. Afterwhich we just cleaned gum off the floor of the metro station for 15 minutes and then were done. We were all a little frustrated that we didn't really do much for 3 hours, but I think we made a good impact on the people around us.

Right now we have some pretty amazing investigators. There are so many people here that are willing to seek truth and to live by it -- or at least give it a try. And I am really humbled by their willingness every time someone accepts a commitment. I always think, "whoa...they'll do it just like that? Just because we wanted them to?" They have such amazing faith, and they don't even know it yet. I"m blessed to be in Taiwan.

I love you!
-Elder Liu

P.S. Thank you all for your emails. They have really helped me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 10

Hello, everyone!

The mission is going great! This week we've seen wonderful things! But first, some announcements:\

The rule in our mission is actually that everyone can email me! Yes, that includes you. But then the rule also says that I can't respond via email, but rather I have to write you. This way a full reply only takes 2 weeks rather than 3. But you can still write me, and then email me. That's okay, too.

It's been really really hot this past week. There hasn't been much rain at all, and so the heat has just been building. But gang1 hao3, we've been having a lot of lessons recently, so we've been inside the church most of the time. We haven't really been contacting as much.
So for Chinese study, we have 3 phases. The first phase is only Gospel terms. The second is every terms. And the third is reading and writing characters in the Book of Mormon. So I'm on the first phase, in the second lesson, which is all about the Plan of Salvation. Usually people get through all three phases in around a year. It's been hard to focus only on doctrine stuff when I still need to communicate with everyone everyday. But I know that there's power in this system, and it's inspired.
In our district we've been studying about how to use the Prayer of Faith, and how to increase our faith with prayers, as well as praying with more gratitude in our prayers. I would encourage everyone to find/use more prayer tools in their everyday life. They give more purpose and meaning to our prayers. And the Lord will bless us for striving to do better at keeping His Commandments. Preach My Gospel has an awesome list in Chapter 4 about the Spirit. I'll write how that goes next week.

This week we got a bunch of golden people. First we have Jerry, which Elder Hubrich found contacting. When they first met, and Elder Hubrich said he could really get an answer to prayer he was amazed. He was blown away by the fact that God really does listen, and He will respond to our humble prayers. Sometimes it's relearning the power of the simple things that gives us the greates encouragement and testimony-building experience. It's wonderful to see people marvel over the smallest principles that I've lived with all my life. I am truly grateful that I've had the Gospel as a child.
Another golden set are a couple that love religion. They feel that every religion has their good points, and so they wanted to know about ours. Right off, they wanted to know about the Plan of Salvation. They were intrigued about our emphasis on families. They were impressed that even our littlest kids are dressed up like missionaries, running around the church, preparing to one day serve as a missionary of the Lord. We had a lesson with them the night after we met them, and went to church the next day. They're always loaded with questions. They've been prepared so well for our message.

I recently ate at my Aunt Si4gu1gu1's house. We are Er4gu1gu1 as well, and her husband. Her husband isn't a member, so we were hoping that we could spark some interest, maybe. But anyway, we just went over (wow! I still remembered a lot of it! Some very good memories) and we had lunch. We then shared one scripture each and why we liked it. I shared 2 Nephi 4:27-30, and how because Nephi makes the Lord his support, we don't have to fear our weaknesses, our enemies, or our inadequacies. I've always loved this scripture, because it shows that our sorrow really can be swollowed up in the Joy of Christ.

I've been thinking recently about how in the scriptures, Christ says that to be His disciple, we need to carry our own cross. (I'm sorry, I really want to give a reference, but I don't know one now) And I've been wondering what my cross has been. My life has been so smooth -- so normal. Nothing bad has really happened. No sacrifices really needed to be made. So what is my cross? Is it serving for two years? That doesn't seem to bad either...I don't know. But I'll think about it this week. What have I done for the Lord that makes me qualify for His discipleship? Maybe everyone can send me their story? I would love to hear it. What makes you a disciple of Jesus Christ? What is your cross?

I hope everyone's lives are going great! If so, I want to hear it! And if not, I still want to hear it! I'm praying for every one of you. Thank you for being there for me.

I love you,
-Elder Liu

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 9

These week has been crazy. Sorry if you're expecting a letter back from me – Since I've gotten to Taiwan, it's been hard to figure out exactly how mail here works. I've gotten some stamps now and should have them for sure sent out by today.

This week has been filled with miracles. I got my first 3 investigators. My first one was someone named Lin2 Zi5 Fa1. I just met him by a convenience store. He had 3 bottles of wine next to him, but he was very willing to talk to me. I introduced myself, and just talked a little. We ended up saying a prayer, and after, he said, “...Could you say another one so I can stop drinking?” Oh yeah. No problem. So I said one, and he really appreciated it. We're going to meet with him on Wednesday for the first time. He seems to be really willing and ready to learn. I'm excited. I know the Lord has blessed me with success. I think I feel so much more fire now that I have someone that seems...mine, in a sense. Someone that I've worked with from ground zero, instead of a bunch of people I'm just meeting.

Although people here have been amazing. For example, a lady in my ward named Cielo is from the Philippines. She works for a famous artist named Chen..something. I forgot his full name. But he's even met the Pope. We got to help move his enormous pictures for our service. I wish I had some pictures to send, but maybe next time. But in return he gave us some of his books. He's really good – I was very lucky to have met him.

Cielo also brought us to a place called Din Tai Fung. I think it's a Japanese restaurant, but it's really big here. There's always a huge line to get in. They serve dumplings, baozi's, and other delectables. It was awesome.

So a thing I've noticed is that I'm famous around here. I guess Dad, Jonathan, Mom, si4 gu1gu1 Kyleen, and Jay are just too amazing. I've already gotten countless number of “Wait, you're related to _______, aren't you?” And you know what? I used to just get kind of annoyed, because no one knows me as me – It's always by someone else. But I have really learned to appreciate that. I can now proudly say yes, I am related to them. I guess what was the change? I guess I figured that that's all I do out here. I represent the Savior. In fact, we all do. And I am so proud to represent someone who is amazing. I am proud when people look at me, and see someone else that has brought them joy. This was my small epiphany. Small, but powerful.

This week we get to tune pianos! Yes, that's right. There's an senior elder, Elder Hahn, that tunes pianos and teaches piano as his calling. He said he was sad that his profession might die with him, and so Elder Hubrich said that we would learn how to tune from him, and he gladly accepted. He tunes by ear, and so it's way hard, but it'll be way good!
It's rained here quite a lot, and I don't have real rain gear yet. I had a rain jacket, but that's it. So we were biking with soaking pants and shoes. But it was great. I think the Lord blessed me with the ability to not care when I don't need to, which I'm actually really grateful for. I know if it were a vacation or something, I'd definitely be murmuring.

So yes, it's been great. There have been occasional bad days, where nothing happens, and no one accepts our message. But I know that it's a test of our patience and faith.

Jia1 you2, everyone! I love you!

-Elder Liu

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil -- for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff; they comfort me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 8

Hey! Sorry for the late email. Today is our temple day, so our Preparation day always changes to match our temple day.

It has been great out here. It's been a little hard adjusting to noise all the time, with cars everywhere, and sweating all the time. But it's not too bad. I know that I've been blessed to already be half fluent in Chinese. I can already talk to most people with little understanding issues.
(A Peanut Butter burger? It was pretty good.)

This last Thursday was simple amazing. We had a good 3 hours to contact people on the street, and we were probably teaching 90% of the time, which is really good. Everyone was willing to listen, and we taught a lot about the gospel. There was even a lady who poured out her soul to us. We were simply just talking, and she started talking about her life story, and her trials. But she was Christian, so she had faith that God really would help her in her trials. She started crying, and then suddenly went into a prayer. Wow. The Lord really prepared her for us to meet her. As she left, she said that she didn't know why she shared her story, because she usually keeps those things to herself, but there was something special about us. She didn't really set up to take more lessons, but hopefully we planted a seed that will stay with her.
(Elder Liu and Aunt 四姑姑)

The day after that was just plain hard. No one listened. No one even wanted to talk to me, let alone be taught by me. But I think it was for a few reasons. One, we got up late that morning. The Lord appreciates exactness in His commandments. So by slacking on our responsibilities, the Lord was a little hesitant to give us his spirit. And also, because of the success I had the day before, I think the Lord was testing my faith, and building my trust in Him. I learned that I really have a lot to improve on, and I need to rely so much more on the Savior.

I think the hardest part since I've been out here is to try to listen to the Spirit. One of my favorite talks by Elder Bednar is when he says if you're deciding whether it's your or the Spirit, to quit worrying about it. He says just be a good boy, and a good girl, keep your covenants, do what you're supposed to, and the Spirit will guide you. And while I like that principle, sometimes it's hard. We've always being taught "Without the Spirit, you can't teach. They need to feel the Spirit. The Spirit is everything." And while I know that's true, it's hard to know if I'm really following it or not. But I know through more experiences I'll learn to recognize the Spirit more effectively and strongly.

It was recently Father's Day here in Taiwan -- August 8th, which in Chinese is "ba1 ba1" which is very similar to the word for dad, which is "ba4 ba5". I got a kick out of that. It's a very meaningful pun. We Americans need to step it up with our holiday times.

We had a recent convert fireside about Marriage. A professor from BYU talked about how marriages makes you make more money, become more healthy, and makes you live longer. In fact, not being married is worse for your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It was a very good fireside, and I think it was really what the people in Taiwan needed to hear. A lot of them needed to hear that families are still ordained of God, and so blessings will definitely come by raising a righteous family. I'm very grateful to have been born of goodly parents. And we all have. I'm grateful that the Lord can show His love to us through our families and our friends.

Good luck to all! Jia1 You2!

-Elder Liu