Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello
 
What to write. I don't remember what I actually talked to you about on the phone now. Christmas was great, had a mission talent show and I performed with my companion and another elder.  Everyone thought our song was hilarious. I will show you the video someday but you wont get it because of language and also because only missionaries will think it is funny.
 
Christmas night I got to take a bus out of the city into Longtan by the mountains for exchanges there with Elder Wang. It was so fun to get somewhere rural again, and I saw stars for the first time in about 8 months, because you don,t see them when you are in Taipei, or in my area now. Took a few minutes and looked.
Got to spend a good part of Saturday taking a train to and from Taipei and playing there with our investigator, plus his mom. We went to see the temple and do a tour, it was really great and now the mom is way more aware of our church and is willing to meet with us along with her son. Big miracle.
 
Our area is still not doing well at all, still almost no investigators, but we did get to meet with this awesome family, contacted on the street and their two year old daughter is super cute. Have hopes there.
Things are still fun with Elder Lin. He continues to make me food and tea because he is super nice. He is also very excited to go home in a month, but for the most part is still able to focus and work hard. 
 
I really love being here. Really just love doing this, the feeling is so great and Elder Lin and I are just happy. Time goes super fast. Trying to work my hardest. I love you. It was great to talk to you!
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hello,
 
Good news is I love my new companion. He teaches me stuff like how to make fried rice and some teas. Also helping me learn a little Taiwanese, which is fun. But we still don't have many investigators.
 
But this week we got one who is awesome! He is this 15 year old kid that was contacted on the street a long time ago, forgotton about, then re-found and started being taught by some other missionaries and then they turned him over to us because he lives in our part of the city. Brother Ren. He really wants to get baptized and be a part of this church, just really sure of what he wants. His parents encourage him. Willing to find time to meet as often as we want to, and loves to learn. Came to church and already fits in great with the young men in the ward. It is just a really big miracle, at this rate he will probably be baptized in a few weeks.
 
Other miracle from this week: A year+ ago when I was in Neihu on my second transfer thinking that me and Elder Chen were having no success, we started meeting with this man, and he was super cool but then 2 weeks later we both got transferred and the area shut down, so he wasn't able to keep learning. Later elders got put back in, and started teaching him again, and it has taken a long time and lots of different missionaries (including current comp Elder Lin) but he has finally accepted the gospel and will be getting baptized on Saturday. Just thinking about how cool it is that over a year later and with a lot of teamwork, this man is ready, cool to see that my time there was not wasted even though I was only a small part in this process. President might let us go to Taipei and attend the service since we both taught him.
 
Another miracle from a previous area: Heard news that the super golden guy me and Elder Kattelman found in Yonghe, Brother Zhang, who was absolutely amazing and wanted to change his life and find meaning and understand God and everything you would hope an investigator would want, but then disappeared to China, finally came back and recontacted Elder Kattelman and his new companion, and wants to get baptized. And durning the two months he spent in China he thought a lot, and made changes and felt he needed to quit smoking, and did it. So he is now progressing again and I think it will be only a few weeks. Once again, feel humbled and blessed to play my small part in these stories. It amazes me how people are changed by the spirit and prepared for the gospel.
 
I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese this week, started the New Testament. The Chinese bible is a lot harder to understand than the Book of Mormon, we'll see how it goes.
 
This area has still been the biggest challenge of an area yet for me. We pretty much have 4 city blocks to work with, it is tiny. But this week we have 1 investigator, and that is very different from 0. And I know soon things will be much better. The zone overall is doing awesome.
 
Oh last: I got a letter this week from someone letting my know about a lot of the girls I knew from high school who now have mission calls. Awesome. I love communication and knowing stuff, and also sister missionaries, and especially all my friends going on missions because I know what an amazing experience they are going to have. It just made me really excited for them, and also sad about how little time I have left. But also I will have no friends when I get home.
 
I love you family. Talk to you soon!
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hello

Weird week. Super sad to leave all those people in Yonghe. 7 months of stuff done with. Just feels odd to be gone. No more Taipei.

Sad people saying goodbye to me. Very sad. Lots of tears (on their part, not mine obvioiusly). One member had us over for dinner and sang me that song in English. I forget. "One hundred miles, one hundred miles, one hundred miles, one hundred miles, -something- I'm still one hundred miles away from home." Something like that. It is old. Anyway it was super touching and also funny. I realized how much a blessing it is to make all these great friends.

And weird to be here in Taoyuan again. I moved back. Not back to Nankan, my old area north of Taoyuan city. Now I am in the middle of the city. I am the same ward as I was before though, which is great because I love this ward. What I love most of all is seeing my new converts. Yes, the people I previously loved and taught and baptized when I was here last time are all still ACTIVE. Very much so. Brother You and Hong and Chen are all now Melchezidek preisthood holders. Best Christmas present ever.

President did not pay attention to the clear direction I gave him to let me continue training until the end of my mission. I don't know why he doesn't listen to me. Instead I am a zone leader, which is not what I wanted because that just means you have to do a bunch of stuff. However, Taoyuan is a great place to be because this zone has a fun mixture of big city and really rural areas. It will be real fun, I hope. We'll see if they like my methods.

New companion is Elder Lin. He is Taiwanese. He is really great, but also pretty odd. Very full of fire and really funny, we have had a ton of fun together so far. His English is not too good at all.

The thing is Elder Lin has 6 weeks left, and the elder I replaced just went home, so this area has been full of missionaries that have not really been serving with all their heart. Great missionaries though! But this is by his own confession. First day we sit down to plan and he says "I'll be honest with you, we have 0 investigators right now. My bad". I am super excited though because he is totally repenting and we have worked really hard and are already seeing the blessings come. It may take some time until we have any results but no point in worrying. Challenges are fun. I love the city and my life and being back in my home from before. Me and Elder Lin have been laughing and reveling in our days of full street contacting and it has been great. And finally I have a Taiwanese companion who likes to cook and is willing to teach me some stuff so maybe I will learn.

I just realized, all my friends are getting home from their missions. Didn't Matt give his homecoming yesterday? Or I guess today for you. That is weird.

Well I got nothing else to report. I will miss Elder Kattelman. Son #2. What a great guy. One of the best. He will take good care of the heart of Taipei for me. Here are some of our pictures together from the last while. Merry Christmas.

I sent a Christmas package home but it will be late.

I love you all!

Elder Braithwaite


 
 
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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hi

We had another awesome week. I am tired but I feel consistently happy.

I have been here in Yonghe for close to 7 months now. I was sort of secretly notified a few weeks early that I will be leaving with transfers this week, so I was able to say goodbye to all the members and investigators and such. I felt a real outpouring of love from the people here, I know I have been able to help and serve a lot of them, have really made a lot of friends. I will definitely be sad to leave. In the past 7 months we have seen so many miracles in this area, and so much success. I have given birth to two sons. We have had a lot of baptisms. I don't know why we have been so blessed but we have, and thinking back on it makes me feel so humbled and also happy to be a missionary. Good times. This is by far the place that has most become "home" for me so far in Taiwan. I love it.

I was able to see all of our new converts this Sunday too, except for Grandpa Lin because of health problems he has had lately which limit his church attendance. I think the biggest blessing of staying in an area for so long is that I have been able to watch multiple people go through the whole process, from investigator to new member to solid active member, go from punk kid showing up to church for the first time in their life in a tshirt and basketball shoes, to a solid young man who wears a suit and tie every week. Saying no to cigarettes or swearing with their friends. Thinking specifically of both Brothers Wang and Zhang. and Brother Wu. And yang. oh I am so proud. These people are all such good people.

I will be so sad to leave our investigators here too. I think about Brother Zhang and how awesome he is. God doesn't care who we are, this man is just a humble wall painter who has no education and no money but he knows he loves the feeling of peace he has at church, and that he loves God, and that is enough to get him to quit smoking and want baptism. I am sad I won't be here to see it, but that couldn't matter any less. Saying goodbye to this man wasn't easy to do.

Elder Kattelman is great too. What a solid guy. Taught me a lot. That is all I need to say. We'll be friends later I'm sure.

Okay but overall we had fun this week. I don't know why but we have met a lot of Christians lately. Weird, but fun. One couple we contacted at the street took us out to an Italian restaurant for dinner, they said they saw us and just thought about how if they had 19 year old kids in some foreign country talking to strangers in the rain all day, they would want someone to do that for their kids. So that was nice, I am being taken care of. I realized how it is easy for a lot of people to have problems with the church, but almost no one normal can look at a bunch of 19 year old kids making a sacrafice and working hard for something they believe in and actually be mad or prejudice towards them.

Oh man what actually happened this week? A lot of stuff, so much stuff. I feel like the smoky environment of this email place never helps me remember. It is fun to bear testimony of the Savior. I know how much His teachings and example change my life, and have changed the lives of everyone I have worked with here. I have also seen and felt the influence of the spirit and of peace of heart that the gospel brings, it is real. No one really changes without that. It is such a privilege to be here.

Okay thanks for everything! I got the Christmas package and it was great. The socks are so long and perfect.

Love you all so much! I will probably call maybe Christmas morning for me, which I guess if I do it late enough would be Christmas Eve for you guys.

Elder Braithwaite


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hello
Happy birthday Father! I congratulate you. Thanks for being so great as a father and at supporting me in everything that I do, not only on my mission but always. I love you.
It is odd to me that the sister missionaries in the MTC with me are going home in two weeks. Their missions go really fast, so fast. This also means I am older than I want to be.
 
George got baptized! He is nine, we have been visiting this family for a while now. It is a big miracle that his mom was willing to let him. It is interesting, his dad is a really active member but the mom is not a member, is just hard hearted. But a month ago George asked her if he could and she agreed! Before I was a missionary, I expected things to be the other way around mostly, but it seems like here there are at least as many families where the dad is willing to accept the gospel but the mom will not. Anyway, George's mom doesn't like church at all. We were sad that she didn't come to the baptism, but we were super happy that she let it happen. This is a big step for this family.
 
I am really enjoying everything right now. Two of our new converts helped out with George's baptismal service, and another one got a calling this week. Overall I have been so grateful that the people we have baptized in this area have stayed active! Inactivity has had a huge impact on me, especially when I was younger as a missionary. Looking at how many people have been baptized in the past and then just disappear later really shocked me when I first got here, and I went through a period where I really just had a hard time wanting to work at all. So many names on a ward list, and only such a small percentage will you ever see, or even be able to contact. It bothers me deeply. I felt like missionary work was just a failure. Which it is, if all these people don't stick around. This is something I think most missionaries feel really conflicted about, like what we do in the end has little effect. I feel really committed to never baptize anyone I feel is not truly prepared to be a member for life. I would so much rather have baptized less people but had them be truly converted than have a lot of people who choose in the end to turn away. Not that I can completely affect this decision one way or another because it isn't completely up to me, but I guess I just want to do my part now and hope for the best. So far so good though.
 
Had a fun baptismal interview this week. An 80 year old man who just wants to follow Jesus. He remembers when he was serving in the Korean war, and there was one American soldier (named Steve, he remembers) that wouldn't drink the tea, and when asked why, Steve talked to him about the Mormon church and Book of Mormon. And so this Taiwanese soldier went and bought a Book of Mormon when he got back to Taiwan after the war. Never really investigated much more than that, read part of the book and just forgot about it. 60 years later he is tracted into by the missionaries, and now is willing to be baptized. God works in mysterious ways.
 
We stopped to use a public restroom in a library and I started talking to the guy next to me and he ended up being super nice. Usually bathroom contacts aren't super successful. Asked him how much his headphones cost because they didn't look cheap. 100 dollars. But anyway this guy just got back from Australia and doesn't know what he is doing with life and wants to learn about Jesus and find direction. We sat down with him right outside the bathroom on a bench and he was so interested and now has set a baptismal goal. He lives somewhere else so we have to give him to other elders. But it is interesting how easily something as important as the direction someone's life goes can depend on whether or not I say hello and start a conversation. That makes me feel odd and also really bad for not being better at this, but also very privileged.
 
There are lots of other things that happened too. Glad that I can be here and do this. Having a lot of fun. I feel my time here in Yonghe is coming to its end. I have been making Elder Kattelman lead us lately, which is fun.  He has to use the map a lot. I have been here long enough that I know where everything is. I forget that these streets are basically mazes. I enjoy training, I have requested to President that I just continue to do so. We'll see.
 
I love you! I got the Thanksgiving package. Thanks!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hello! 
Fun week. Oh, Thanksgiving was fun, I completely spaced that it even happened until that night. I ate a bunch of peanut butter in celebration. We had a lot of fun teaching our English class about it, drawing turkeys. I liked the ideas you sent, mom -  Interestingly, I have really been using that "acting the clown" idea, just doing stupid stuff in front of the class, making all the five-year-old's laugh. 

Here is a cool miracle. I feel like practicing teaching the children in English class was preparation because this week we had this single mom come, who has always taught her little daughter about Jesus even though they aren't Christian, and has always wanted her to be involved in church. So she came to us and wanted us to teach her 7 year-old girl, who has aspergers (spelling?). We got a toy to give to her so she would want to come in the church and like us and want to meet with us. Success! So this will be another teaching challenge for us, how to keep the girl interested and having fun while also converting the mom.

Brother 張, the painter guy, still blows my mind! He still hasn't smoked, it has been three weeks now! I have had so many investigators that I have tried to help quit smoking, because everyone smokes here. Always has ended in failure, despite my efforts. This time, I literally do nothing but invite him to stop, and the man just drops his two packs a day at once and keeps them off out of sheer grit. And prayer. I think God wants me to remember that I never really do anything anyway, He just does stuff and sometimes I pretend it was me. Oh and then this guy talked to his boss and figured out the situation  with church, and even though he works all the time, miracle occurred and his mean old boss decided to let him come. Excellent. 

This week was full. Re-invited our protestant mother to set a baptismal date, and she thought for a long time, and then committed. The spirit, it does work. This is probably the most progress I have ever had a Christian investigator make. 

Met with this man, had a fun lesson and got to know him, then pulled out the Book of Mormon and things just changed, he got all reverent. Handed it to him and he just looked at it, then slowly opened it and felt the pages, then started reading the introduction. We just sat there and watched him read for about a minute. Probably would have been really awkward if it wasn't spiritual. He read to the part about "brings peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come" and just looks up and says "I like that". I like it too.  

Did a lot of tracting in the rain. Makes me feel more like a missionary, when there is some physical discomfort involved, like sweating or freezing or being soaked. I don't know why. We visited this one lady in a really ghetto place. She had been fired and had about a dollar in her pocket and slept on the floor of her little concrete apartment. Still wanted to share her bananas with us though. We said no. The bishop will try to help her. When we left, there were some little kids playing in the stairwell and we made faces at them and kind of played around, and they thought it was so fun to make friends with some white guys.  Just made me think about how little these kids had, just judging by where they live, but they're still so happy to make new friends, even if only for a minute. This society is so confused about the relationship between money and happiness. 

Then we met with this really rich guy, who took us out for Myanmar-ese food. His goal is to make as much money as he can so he can build an orphanage. And he was talking about traditional Chinese religion and told me "we don't actually worship many gods, like you might think. We aren't really worshiping these people or these gods, we are worshiping behavior." That made me think. Our religion is the same. The real core of what we worship isn't Christ because he was the man or the position or the king, but His behavior, when you think about it. The fact that he was the perfect example, that he sacrificed his life for us, that his love and service were perfect. So our level of faith in him is directly connected to our level of trust that his behavior is literally the standard we should give ourselves. I guess its just the "what would Jesus do" principle.  

I love you all! Oh, Christmas stuff, maybe get me long socks. My chain guard fell off my bike a long time ago, so I tuck my pants into my sock when I ride, but my socks don't come up far on my calves so my pants come untucked sometimes if I ride fast and then catch in the chain and get torn up. Plus my socks are gross. So new, long ones would be great! If I think of other stuff I'll write next week.

Oh, we have a baptism this week! George!! He is 9. His dad is a member, but his mom doesn't like church, and has always opposed him going. But we started meeting with them a few months ago and the Lord really softened her heart, and she agreed to let him be baptized! This dad is so so happy, he has hoped for years that this would happen someday. So that is fun. 

Okay that is all. Bye!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hello
Glad everything is going well. This week went really quick. Every week goes really quick, but this time I feel like it was about a day ago that I was writing.
We had a fun meeting this week, learning about the Book of Mormon. Our mission president gave us lots of warnings about how Satan will attack our families to get us discouraged and stop the work. So watch out I guess... Kind of joking, but not completely, be careful. Mostly it just made me feel really bad for never writing you real letters. We'll see if I can do that today.
Well, my mind is blank. I don't remember what went on this week too much. I do remember that this week, I was so happy.  That investigator who we taught the Word of Wisdom to two weeks ago has still not smoked, about 14 days now. Went from 2 packs a day to none and has kept it up. Still working with his boss about having some time on Sunday for church. It is amazing to me, but true that in this country I think the number one problem I have run into with investigators is time. They get too busy with work, 7 days a week and can never come to church. Or can't continue to find 30 minutes a week to meet with us, because they are always working or at school. It happens so often, I am just reminded about how vital it is to truly sacrifice our time in order to do the most important things. But so many people just can't let go of what they see as most vital and believe us that if they spend more time on God, spiritual things, and family, they will be so much happier than if they work all the time and make some more money. But money is the real god here, it really is, it is everyone's goal, and an unnerving amount of people will honestly answer me that it is the most important thing in their life when I ask. And if I try to discuss with them that life might actually have more to it than that, they just smile and won't be convinced. Sad. That is my rant for today. Obviously this isn't everyone, but it is too many people. I'm so grateful I don't have that sort of outlook on life.
Having a lot of fun teaching the little kids English class.  That is my and elder Kattelman's responsibility in our weekly English class for now. I have taught the kids class in the past, but it has always been bad. So far we have done okay, just realized how much more difficult this is for me. Probably something I need to learn though. If you can think of any fun English learning games or something, let me know. Desperate for ideas.
The sister missionaries in my district had some problems this week. Some completely out of their control, like health stuff, which is fine, but others that were just dumb, like fights in the companionship. Sometimes I am grateful that I get two years away from interactions with girls, more or less. Not that sister missionaries aren't great, they are. Super awesome. Just sometimes more needy. Sorry, I guess this is really vague. Whatever.
 
Oh this was funny, last week for p day we had nothing to do so Elder Kattelman and I just did a ton of push ups, and when we were completely exhausted decided to try the Rocky thing and chug some raw eggs. I got them down, but he threw them up, probably more because of tiredness and not raw eggs being gross. But also that too.
 
                                
 
I have just really felt a strong love for all these people I work with lately. It is amazing how much you can care about someone when you teach them the gospel. All of sudden this stranger becomes such a central focus of your life. For them, we are just a couple of guys that they meet with sometimes. Honestly, it would probably creep some people out if they knew how much we thought about them, prayed about them, loved them. I guess the ones who don't get creeped out get converted. It is hard to describe, but I have been feeling such a strong desire to help these people and always feel so unable to do so. I know I should be feeling more adequate as a missionary as I get more experienced, but I almost feel like the opposite is true.
Well, that is enough rambling for the week. Thank you for all the support you give me. I love you all so much. I am so much more certain of the importance of families now, so I hope you know I love and pray for you all as much as I do for my investigators.
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hello,

Great week. No one here really cared about the election. But we had 7 investigators come to church, which is way more important! Hooray! We have been seeing a lot of miracles here.

 This week was one of those weeks where nothing seemed to happen for the first 5 days, like where we went all day long without a single person being interested, a single lesson, etc., just feeling really ineffective. But then all of a sudden the weekend was packed full of awesome stuff.

Mostly, Brother Zhang who is awesome. He is this really humble guy who paints walls for a living. He is great and really just wants to be happy, and he was met on the street and now he meets with us and his girlfriend for the past few weeks. And last time we met we discussed baptism and he just felt this is what he needs. We said if he wants to do it he has to start coming to church, and he has to quit smoking. And he initially told us both of those were impossible, but then he just got all thoughtful and then "Okay. I need to do that." He has been smoking like 2 packs a day for decades. But that day he just threw it all out, and this week he didn't smoke once!  And he showed up to church and loved it and stayed for the whole time. What a miracle. That is the power of faith in action.

 
And I don't know if you remember that investigator we were trying to help quit binlang(beetlenut - that red stuff) about six months ago. The super fat one. He was doing so well, coming to church every week and just awesome, but then he failed at the quitting his drugs thing, and got all depressed. He disappeared at the end of June, and we couldn't contact him. Then we finally found him again in September, and he had opened his own noodles stand and business is bad so his life is still really hard. But we go and sit with him and eat dinner there and teach him. We got him to slowly start praying again and reading scriptures, and now this week he showed up at church for the first time in 5 months or so. So that was a cool miracle. God doesn't forget about anyone.

 Last week we went to Costco and my companion and I bought 8 pounds of peanut butter each. So good. And I have been trying to sneakily encourage him to eat it at every opportunity possible, and it worked and he is several pounds into it after only a week. That is funny.

 Reading in the Bible (totally forgot the reference) about "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump". Aside from the funny words, the main influence this scripture had on me was with in relation to these spiritual experiences. Thinking about why they used this imagery. Like when investigators get an answer to a prayer, or have a super spiritual lesson, or come to church. When you think about how much of our life is actually a spiritual experience, with all the other stuff we do, it is probably the same proportion of leaven in bread, like maybe 1% of the mass of the bread mix. Yet that leaven has such a huge effect on the finished product, gives it form, makes the bread what it is. So even though it is a small part, leaving it out makes a big difference, because once it is in, it turns the rest of the mix into something it wouldn't have been otherwise. So just thinking about how important it is to strive to have the spirit in our life as much as possible, because these little events have such an influence. They end up changing every other aspect of our life if they are there.

 I can testify that the Spirit is real and it changes people, when they feel it, the influence in their lives really is there.
 
   Realized that I forgot to send the Picture of Brother Su's baptism last week. So here it is, he is so great.

 
 
The picture I sent last week was me and my two sons. They are both taller than me. So proud.
 
 
 


 Also sending cool night pictures we took from an investigator's house during dinner.
 
 
It is almost winter. When did that happen? Have I really been in this area for about 6 months? Because it definitely doesn't feel that way...

 Thanks for everything! I LOVE you! 

Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hello
Good week!
Brother Su got Baptized! That guy whose wedding we went to. It was a super great service. Elder Davidson and I were able to start teaching him back in August, and with the switch last transfer some other
elders got to finish up the teaching, but it was cool because Elder D got to come back for the service, so it was fun to see him again. Really awesome overall.

Here I am feeling that I didn't actually do much. Some of the times teaching him were really powerful spiritual experiences, but in the end conversion, if it is real, can't come from anyone but God. That is why I always feel that I do so little.

Here is what was said after he got dunked. He was a man who had no clue what anyone was talking about when discussing spiritual things, it just sounded stupid to him. His girlfriend would talk to him about
her feelings and it made no sense. And for years it was like this and for years she just prayed and fasted for him. He would come to church frequently but no real feelings. But slowly things started working
out. I think I have written before about how he felt his radio was slowly tuning in to the right station. So she invited us over to start the lessons again, and this time he just got the Spirit, he just understood. Other missionaries have done this before but this time was different. He feels like he is the lamb that just walks with its head down and doesn't get that he is lost from the flock, and now he has looked up and is headed back.


So he and his now wife are preparing to get the temple marriage and go on a senior mission. I just think about all the change that he has gone through and it makes me believe that anyone can find God when
they look, as long as they have enough patience. Someday things will just click in the heart. Just really respect the people in this story who had the faith to keep waiting and hoping. The whole ward was
behind this one.

And here is one thing that I loved: When he was fifteen back in the 70's he remembers looking out his window and watching two white guys knocking every door on a summer afternoon, no clue what they were
doing. When they got to his, he invited them in for water, and they shared about a weird book he hadn't heard of and Jesus Christ, in Chinese he could barely understand. Although they talked for a while,
he didn't really set up a time for them to come back, and that was the last time they met.
So I was just thinking about how many experiences I have had that are exactly the same as that. Talking to a kid on the street or sitting down with a family and it appears to lead to nothing. I wonder where
those missionaries are now. Probably stake presidents in Idaho or something. Have no idea that the kid they sat down with one summer, one kid of thousands probably, ended up making it in the end. God has
His way to get stuff done and we all play some part if we want, but only if we want. Just little tiny parts though, but the finished product isn't tiny.

Congrats, Valeria, or Sister 趙 I guess, for getting called to the best mission ever. Be excited to come play your part here. Its a great feeling.

I am loving it. We frequently skip out on meal time to get in more work. It is a blast and I feel like more than ever before I am just trying to do exactly what the Lord wants. I don't really care what results I see anymore, I just love teaching the gospel. There is nothing more fun.

Halloween came, little happened here. I ate pig feet, which is secretly just fat and grisle, it could be any part of the pig for all I know, they just told me it was a foot.



                My companion and I carved  passionfruit in the lack of pumpkins. 

Love you all
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hello,

This week has been good. A lot of fun. 
We had a baptism! Brother Wu. He is great. Super great guy, loves the gospel so much, grew up Buddhist but just never really felt anything about it. We only met him about a month and a half ago, but he has come to church every week since then, and everything we have ever shared he has just loved, he has just found exactly what he is looking for. Super cool. He was really happy.

And next week our other investigator will get baptized, Brother Su! He didn't make it this week because of some problems that came up, but it has been super fun to see how much he has changed. I will share more about him next week. 

Elder Kattelman and I will be together for another transfer, and I get to stay in Yonghe for another too. YAY! I do love it here, it has been such a blessing to get to stay in an area for a while finally. 

I feel like not much else has changed. I still feel like I am learning a lot. Still trying to figure out what it means to be a good missionary. 

The pictures are of Brother Wu. He is great. That is the new method of baptism. 

Well that is all I got this week. Maybe next week I will write more. Thanks for everything! I love you!

Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hello

Good week. I had fun. It's only been a few days though.
This week some stuff I should tell you is that we have two investigators that will be baptized. Hooray! One is Brother 蘇 who is that guy that got married and I sent you pictures. He is super great and it was a blast to work with him. Because of new elders coming here, they got to finish up teaching him, so there was a team effort on this one. The other is Brother 吳. He is perfect, which is probably why I haven't mentioned him. We found him last month and he is one of those people who just loves the gospel, he just wanted it. Truly prepared to receive it. Super great guy, super happy, a lot of faith. Each time we shared a commandment he just accepted without question. We asked why and his answer was always "Because God is right". Plus he is buff. I feel like having been able to teach him and be his friend was just a privilege Heavenly Father gave us, that we really didn't do anything at all. Just a reminder to me that God will give the Spirit and faith to anyone who really wants to find it.


Ya I have felt really blessed lately. I love being here. We are working hard and feeling the Spirit and seeing miracles. Like we knocked on one door and this youngish couple let us in and they were friendly and open and willing to learn more. Except they had this big dog that peed all over when it saw us and made a mess that the wife spent five minutes cleaning up, which was not an ideal first impression. And then we sat down and I showed them some family pictures, including the one of Ashley and the kids and this woman just loved that picture, looked at it for so long. And as we talked we found out that they really wanted to have kids and were trying but no success. Sad, and this woman is in her 30s so seeing 30 year old Ashley with 6 kids made her sad I think, and at the same time was likely the reason (or a main one) they invited us to come back. So many people see that picture and think, this is the kind of family I want, they look so happy. I showed the same picture to this one man, and afterwards we were talking about his faith and he says "I have seen God". So I was surprised and ask when that was and he said he just saw Him in that family picture, that there is no way that family could look so genuinely happy unless they had God with them. He has a point. So I just wanted to thank Ashley and the kids, their family picture is honestly one of the powerful tools for missionary work. Something about little kids just gets people to feel the spirit, to feel that there is something different here. So thank you all for being such tools.

That is all I got for now. Thank you so much for all you do! I love you! Mom, I have a friend coming into the MTC this week headed to the Salt Lake Temple, she is a Sister in the ward here, I might give her something to give to you if I can find something to give to you, so watch for her when you volunteer. That is all.

Love 
Elder Braithwaite

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hey hello
 
Sorry no letter Monday, pday is really today which is because we get to go to the temple! So that is fun. Always fun to do that. Can I still go in Chinese at home? Won't be the same anyway but it is interesting to see what different things you get out of it.
Conference was great huh. Not surprised. Love hearing so much great direction. We got a bunch of investigators to come listen and this less active mom that we ran into on the street came to church for the first time in a long time too. I loved what President Monson shared. There is so much more I can be doing to get the will of the Lord accomplished. I believe if we care about receiving direction and being able to help others, God will help us and allow us to do so, we will be an instrument in his hands. Actually I like the Chinese translation of that, the word the scriptures use really means "tool" in a more normal sense, which makes me think of like a hammer or something more blunt and awkward than a surgical instrument or something. Which I feel fits me better. President Monson can be an instrument, right now I just want to be a tool. A big tool.
 
This week I got to feel like that a little. One day my companion and I prayed to know where to go, and as we prayed we both got some inspiration. My companion said he didn't know where we should go but he had a feeling we needed to talk to someone sad and alone. I didn't get that but I really did have a view of this one street corner and felt we should go there. Team revelation! So we did and right at the spot I had felt to go was a lady, sitting on a bench by herself just like he had thought of. We started talking and I asked how she was feeling and she just smiled sadly and said "what do you think?". So we talked for about 10 minutes, about all her family troubles and about God and how he wants to help. And the spirit was there. And we invited her to just give it a try, and she said no, and then she just left, she said she couldn't try to learn more right now. And I was thinking about that. I have no doubt that we were led directly to that mom. Can you measure following the spirit? I know we did, and the tangible results were zero. But with God you never really know what you're accomplishing for him, you probably never will in this life, but the job is just to really try so hard to know what he wants you to do and then do it happily and with love and without doubt. I have learned to love that feeling. I know I was a complete tool.
Things are great with the comp, we are having fun. He is a good guy and we are a lot alike. I have been blessed on my mission, I feel that I have had very few companion problems, not that I haven't had some harder ones but never anything we couldn't work through. More and more people keep saying he looks like the witch from Narnia. Probably just because he is pale and has blonde hair and blue eyes. And I keep getting Christian Bale. I don't see it, but for some reason Taiwanese people all do. I have just started answering by telling them they look like Jackie Chan. They take me seriously though so its funny.
 
I hope my companion's mom still blog stalks me. This is a little odd, but on our first day together Elder Kattelman said he had actually heard of me because, when he was in the MTC, his mom found a bunch of Taiwanese missionaries blogs and printed off their letter from their first week in Taiwan and sent it to him. Coincidence? Your son is great, Sister Kattelman!
 
We met with Brother Zhang. He is cool, he likes motorcycles and the band Boston, which are not common for Taiwanese. And he met with us last week and just really wants direction in his life. Just got done with his military service and college is over and he is sick of playing around and having no direction. After we met, he stuck around for a baptism our ward was having, and we were like "its Saturday, don't you have plans?" and he said he planned to go drinking with his friends but this seems like it had more meaning. So great, some people really are just looking for this. So we have been meeting for the past week and had some awesome lessons. But he goes to China today, hopefully not forever but you never know. I am sick of China stealing my investigators. If he does comes back I have no doubt he will get baptized.
 
Things are all great here. Thanks for all you do. I love you all so much! These pictures are from where we went hiking last p day. Another really pretty day. We get those a lot here.
Elder Braithwaite

 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hello.
 
Good week! I don't see Conference until this weekend. Are you sure that no one knew about that missionary age change thing, because I had heard about that for a while now. Maybe it just wasn't for sure or something. But I remember them talking about that. Slightly jealous, but it doesn't really effect me now so not really. Except that it means all my female friends will probably just go on missions now. I guess this also probably significantly increases my chances of marrying an RM.

Speaking of that, our investigator got married this week! It was fun to watch their wedding. He got married to a member so it was in the chapel. Taiwanese people are so socially awkward in so many ways. Hard to explain. But it was good. I felt like it was just so unsatisfying though, when they say "married for time" and leave out the eternity it just sounds so sad, that last part is so obviously absent. But we are getting him baptized soon hopefully, so all should be well. Weird part of the wedding was when this song came on and everyone started doing the exact same dance that looked like horse riding, even the little flower girls and stuff, and the only people not doing it were the missionaries. We just stood there so confused. I am guessing this is just me being out of the loop again, but it really made me laugh. Someone explained to me that it is a Korean thing -  is this big in America too? 

My focus is still mothers, especially with babies. I am going to learn how to get Taiwanese moms to not be afraid of me before I leave this island. I don't blame them for being suspicious. It just shows that they are good parents, because I am large-ish and probably seem like a threat to their children. This has been my struggle and it really bothers me because my intents are so far from sinister. But most just don't give me a chance to show it. So I have talked to my comp and we are really making a focus on finding families. The problem is he isn't much help because he is just as tall and foreign looking. We are learning though. 

One cool miracle of God making up for my weaknesses: We were contacting this nice mom, she had a few young kids, and she was really nice and sort of interested, but just not really trusting us completely and wasn't really willing to try or to leave a number or anything. Right when she was about to leave this other mom was pushing her stroller by and I noticed she was a member in our ward, so I said "hi" and started talking to her and got her to start talking to the mom we were contacting. Then this member mom explained some stuff about church and they began chatting about that, and their kids started playing together, and it just turned the whole situation around. So in the end the mom was willing to leave a number and expressed desire to come to church. I have no doubt that that member mom was sent by God, and I also have no doubt that members are so much more effective at missionary work than missionaries are. A mom talking to another mom about how much her kids love church and then inviting her to come works way better than two tall 19 year old white strangers doing that. So if I can't help the moms, Heavenly Father sends moms to help the moms. Just a cool insight for me of how much influence a normal person can have when they share the gospel in natural and normal ways. 

Had a super spiritual lesson with Brother Wang, the 15 year old with the basketball issues. He is so great, he just has to choose. His coach says if you don't go to Sunday practice you don't play. So he wants to come to church, and he wants to get baptized, and he knows it is right, but basketball is his life right now. He promised he would talk to his coach this week. I'm so proud, he really is a brave kid and is an example to me. But we have been praying and fasting that things will work out and he will make the right choice. So let the agency be used and we will see. 

Have been really enjoying everything lately. Not just lately, for a long time now. I love being a missionary and I feel that my testimony has grown of the gospel. So glad I can do this. My comp is great, we are good friends, he is a hard worker. No complaints. I'm also glad you got to meet my trainer, he is a good guy. 



Here is a cool picture of my corner of Taipei with the sunset. Sometimes I get reminded that I used to live in a place with no buildings or people and it seems weird.
I love you all! 
Elder Braithwaite
 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hello

It is so happy to talk to you again. This week was so good. I am so happy. Good that you are all happy also. 
I did get the package, thank you. The decorations have been applied. Hey also do you have the charger for the translator too? Oh and don't worry we got beds. Yay!
Hey you knew it was mid autumn festival! Yes we were given a lot of those moon cakes by members, they are good. That is a sweet story, about that guy. For the holiday our investigator invited us over to his apartment and then we had a bbq on his roof and I got some really cool pictures of the city at night because we were like 20 stories up. I'll send pictures next week. And then everyone sings really awful karaoke in the parks and that made contacting fun. Also, stoked to hear about Lydia's call, she is a good friend -- thanks for telling me. If you ever meet any of my friends, tell them I apologize for never writing letters back. 

Elder Kattelman is a great guy. We went and visited our investigator on one of his first days, and this guy gives us each a bowl with a big old fish head in it and tells us its a specialty he made for us. It was special, I actually enjoyed it, and was grateful my companion got it all down without trouble. It is truly surprising how much of a fish head is edible, you go at it with chopsticks and pullout every bit that is soft enough to swallow like skin and eyes and all, and in the end there is really almost nothing left, just a few small bones. Anyway, We are seeing a lot of success. Had a bunch of investigators at church which was awesome. Plus all of our new members have been coming too. We have a solid teaching pool, and are seeing a lot of these people progressing. Hoping to continue having baptisms. Every area of the work seems to be going pretty well right now. 

The only problem right now is our 15 year old investigator. He is super good at basketball and really wants to do well -- his older brother is that guy who plays for his college and just got baptized. And so his team now has practice on Sunday mornings, and he has to choose between that and church. Basically this is a solid test of faith, so we are praying that he will make the right decision in the end. He wants to get baptized like his bro and obey the commandments, its just going to be a sacrifice. So keep him in your prayers. If he can make the right choice, he's going in the font, so salvation is hanging on this decision. No pressure. 

I have been so happy lately and really believe we are working through the spirit here. Mostly we have been focusing on finding families and praying for families. This is kind of weak point for me. Which means going for the maternal contact. Honestly, I have always been bad at contacting moms and stuff because usually they seem really suspicious and scared of me when I talk to them, which I am sure is due to my absolute foreignness in every aspect and I don't blame them for thinking they need to protect their small children. So that makes me feel sad. But this week we saw some success in finding some moms/families who might have interest. We'll see. 

It is such a privilege to ask the Lord every day what he wants me to do and then to get to try my best to do it. What a good habit to form. I am so far from perfect but I have learned that God doesn't really care, as long as I am trying. So we are being blessed here despite Elder Braithwaite's imperfections. Thank the Lord. 

And I want to give a little picture tribute to Elder Davidson, because I liked him and am sad he is gone, mostly because he is a super weird guy but he taught me so much about loving people. But he is odd. Goodbye son number 1. So here are a couple pictures from our summer here in Yonghe. 

I love you all! Thanks for everything!




Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hello
Happy Birthday Andrew! Hope eveything is happy for you in Boston. I love you!
Good stuff this week. I am excited for training again, Elder Davidson is gone, new companion is Elder Kattelman, from Farmington. He is taller than me and real blonde, so we will continue to stick out badly. He is a great guy, very different from my first son. Elder Davidson is the kind of guy who is great, probably got C's in school and was satisfied, had a really rough time with Chinese but had the biggest heart ever and touched so many people. Just always laughing. A great elder, really odd personality. Elder Kattelman is a lot different, his Chinese is already pretty good, seems a lot more normal, a typical hard working smart guy. So should be good. 

Other changes, they cut my area in half and added two more elders in this chunk of the city. Which is great, because more elders will mean more people hearing the gospel. But also sad because now I lose that part of the city to work in, and also have to give them some investigators who lived over there, including Brother Su who I love so much, and he will be getting baptized relatively soon. I have loved teaching that guy from the beginning. But hey, as long as someone gets him baptized, he is great and all the work is for the Lord anyway, regardless of who does it. The more awkward part about this is that they have crammed us all in one apartment, with two beds and two chairs and two desks and two clothing racks for the four of us. So I have been sleeping on the ground for now. It has been fun though. 

Everything is great. I am loving it all. I am always real happy with how hard we are working and how hard everyone in this area is working. Makes me really happy, because everyone is seeing success right now. We should continue to have a lot of success here. 

I am drawing a blank on everything that happened this week.
 
This Monday my friend from Taoyuan, Brother You who got baptized while I was there, came and took us out to some cool places, he has a car so we got to go see some stuff we wouldn't normally get a chance to see. It is super fun to see new converts and know that they are still active. I took Barney again. Some more cool pictures of stuff. Getting ready for rainy fall and winter to come. 
 
Thanks for everything you do! I love you! 
 
Elder Braithwaite



 
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hello

Good stuff this week. Had a lot of fun with elder Davidson. Last week
together. President told me I will be training again. I'll be honest,
first reaction was not super excited, mostly because the training
program the church has for missionaries now means you stay in your
apartment doing studies until noon. So that is what I have done for
the last 3 months. It is rough, to sit for that long, and also to have
that big chunk taken out of proselyting time. And since I am going to
train again I will probably be inside till noon for another solid 3
months.

But then I decided to be excited about having another baby. So now I
am. I feel like controlling my attitude towards things is one skill I
am developing on my mission. So I will get the new comp later this
week, still don't know who he is.

A lot of people here are talking about some thing with Japan and China
and some islands. And we got letters from the church telling us that
we need to be careful because many Muslim countries are angry about
the US and some ambassadors were attacked. But I would just like to
point out, when you start talking about current events to a missionary
you need to remember we have no connection to the real world, no
source of news. Even the letters from the church assumed that we
already knew what they were talking about. So if you want to update me
on current events that would be fine, just be sure to add adaquate
background information so I get it.

Things have been great. We were able to get out and do a lot of solid
work. Had some pretty fun lessons. Found this guy who recently lost
his job, is doing fine financially but is totally looking for God and
is willing to spend his time meeting with us and coming to church.
Another young guy who sells houses and wants to learn about Jesus, and
is just loving everything we teach, he soaks it all up, and has been
to church for the last two weeks consecutively. These awesome
investigators are just coming really easily right now. When Heavenly
Father decides to bless he just does, and your job is just to be
grateful and then show that by staying obedient.

We should have a baptism in the following weeks, our new convert's
(that basketball player one) little brother, he is super good. He is
only fifteen, but he loves the gospel, feels a lot of stress from
school and sports and stuff and has learned to find comfort from the
scriptures, reads 5 or 6 pages a day, which is definitely not what I
did for fun as at 15. So I respect him. There are so many great people
out here.

One thing that stood out to me was some dinner appointments we had
with members. One family that has 6 kids, which is real big for
Taiwan. And then this other girl, about my age, who is going to the
Salt Lake Temple Square mission soonish, was talking to me about going
to China and visiting her dad there who owns some factories and almost
never comes home, and how she met a lot of families over there that
are members but have no church support really because they are the
only members in their city, so they just sort of become their own
little branch and still do their best to have Sunday meetings and
stuff. And I was just so impressed with these strong, faithful
families in this part of the world, who are choosing to be associated
with Christ's church despite these difficulties. How alone would you
feel if you were the only mormon familiy in a Chinese city of however
many million? I feel like the church just has so much support in the
US and specifically Utah, how can so many people still get lazy or
become inactive? But then, sacrifice is a law of the gospel and always
has been. So maybe as soon as we stop actually sacrificing for our
faith, it starts to weaken. I think a lot of the members here are so
strong specifically because of the amount they sacrifice to be who
they are. Just a cool example to me. Maybe learning how to really
sacrifice for what you believe, despite your possibly comfortable
circumstances, is a key to enduring to the end.

We went to this cool old Japanese gold mining town in the mountains by
the coast last p day. Sme nice pictures. I feel like this country is really photogenic.

 






  




           Also brought Barney my bear.


Also, fun food for the week was pig brain. In soup form. A little
bitter. I feel like I am running out of odd things to try, if you can
think of anything I haven't eaten yet let me know.

I love you all. Sorry I didn't have anything cool to share this week,
hopefully next week will have some more interesting news.

Elder Braithwaite

  





Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hello

This week I hit my year mark on island. SAD. But it is fun, took some time and read through some journal entries, specifically from the MTC. It's been a pretty packed year. I have been real good about journals, haven't missed a day actually except the first night in the MTC, totally spaced it then. But it is fun to see how much I have learned and experienced, hopefully changed some too. Maybe. Don't be surprised if I come back more or less the same in a lot of ways though. 

It's great to hear that you're all doing really well. Thanks for writing me updates. Some of the missionaries I know don't get emails from their families, because going on a mission was against what their family wanted. I am lucky you guys are so great. 


Most importantly is that my bike is now one year old. It sounds much older when I ride it. I figured I should do a tribute to that thing, it has served faithfully for so many miles in so many different cities and parts of this island, being shipped around and rode through so much traffic and so many fields and so much rain.
I love it. It has also changed over the last year, I took a picture outside the email place this morning and it is fun to compare to the one I took last year when I got it.

August 2011
September 2012


Got to try out translating for a zone meeting. A lot of the training is in English so these meetings are always translated for the Taiwanese missionaries. Kind of humbling actually, a fun experience and harder than I thought, but it was cool because even though I felt like my Chinese isn't good enough, afterwards one missionary told me that they could really feel the spirit when they listened to me and I just had this feeling that God made up for my less than perfect skills and was able to communicate the most important things through me anyway. Translation is a gift of the spirit right? 

This week went really well, I was really happy. I feel like we were able to help some people. I think that we have a lot of great investigators right now, I really love them. Just hope to help them be happier and find what they are looking for. I have stopped caring about a lot of stuff on my mission, I feel like my motives for being here and doing this have been slowly eliminated, until all that really makes me go out and work is because I love God and the Savior and really believe this is what they have asked me to do, and because I love people and want to help people. Not that my reasons for coming were ever corrupted, but I think all missionaries at least at some times, get motivated to work hard by pressure from their leaders or a desire for personal success, or because they want a sense of accomplishment or to see results so they feel like they aren't just wasting their time. Or maybe they even work because of something like a desire to see miracles or to have baptisms. But all these are so unimportant compared to the two motives that the Savior gave us: Love God, and love your neighbor. I did a training on this for our zone this week and it is something I have been pondering a lot, how to make sure that everything I am doing is because I genuinely want to help someone, and in doing so serve God. I really think the only accountability I will have to make for my mission to Heavenly Father will be based off those two most important commandments anyway. Goes for our accountability for our lives too. 

I don't have any specific stories from this week. One cool man I contacted on the street, a really really buff guy whose voice is super deep and he also speaks German which is special, met with us. He is a philosophy major and has always loved learning about religions, but has always been disappointed when talking to most Christians he knows because he feels like their answers are just limited, like the doctrine they talk to him about just doesn't satisfy his curiosity. So we have met a couple times and they have been some really fun lessons, really interesting discussions. Not sure how to answer half the stuff he asks. But it has been a fun experience. He says our church is definitely better at having patience with him and with giving him answers too. So that was fun this week. 

Oh I did baptize that older woman whose picture I sent last week. She wore the most extravagant pink princess dress to her baptism.  Funny thing was, like many superstitious older Taiwanese people, she is afraid of water. So I had to try three times to get her baptized, every time I finished the prayer and started lowering her into the water, she would start screaming, then laughing out of fear. The first time it scared me really bad. Really awkward situation, I have never pictured a baptism being scary in any way. The only reason it worked the third time is because I just dunked her fast enough so she couldn't react first. It is hard to maintain the sacredness of that ordinance when people are screaming. She was happy when it was over though. 

Okay that was a lot of stuff. I hope all goes well for you this next week as well. I love you!

Elder Braithwaite
 Tell ashley her kids are really cute, can't wait to see them someday. 






Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hello
 
Fun week. It has been interesting having a new mission president. We have had some good opportunities to really change some things about the mission, things that I think needed to change. But this stuff would probably sound boring to you. I am just excited overall, things here in this area have been great and should continue to be great. I really just feel super blessed, I know that Heavenly Father is the reason we are having any success at all. Humbled, more and more, that He blesses me so much.
 
This week was cool because people did what we asked them to do. We had 7 investigators come to church! That was great, plus maybe even more important was all the new converts we have baptized have been coming too. Even Brother Lin with his old man heart. He has been in and out of hospitals lately. But he was as happy as ever. It was a really great week.
 
Mom, we found a guy to teach through the ukulele! We have this brother in our ward who is pretty good, and he teaches ukulele, and one day he invited us to come over before one of his lessons and he had the student come early, and then we got to sit and talk with him and he agreed to keep meeting. So that's creative right?
 
This morning we woke up early to come email, and riding through the city I realized the air is cool. Is it really September already? Fastest summer of my life. I don't think I complained about the heat once (at least, to you). There were some days where I literally felt difficulty breathing. The heat and humidity and pollution can't escape this part of the city, it's too crowded. It has not only been the fastest summer, but also the sweatiest and I have never worked so hard, or felt so genuinely happy. I have such a testimony that working really hard is a key to happiness, especially when that work is for others.
 
I felt like there were a bunch of deep insights I had this week, it is hard to remember though. I do remember having several very spiritual lessons, and just thinking how cool a feeling that is, to say something and then feel the spirit enter the room because of it, and see that the person you're teaching suddenly understands something or feels it's true or commits to change. This one investigator we have described the process to us, that he has slowly been adjusting the knob on his radio and more and more frequently he is receiving the message, he just needs to keep narrowing down until he finds the balance, the point where his needle is at the right spot to get what God is trying to tell him. Isn't there a conference talk about this? I thought it was a good description. Not that the message isn't being broadcast, we just need to mess with our knobs a little until we are at the right spot.
Sorry I'll write a more interesting letter next week


Oh I got to do a fun baptismal interview this week. This lady who is one of my English students, she is super funny, just a crazy old lady, but she is a famous flower arranger and makes all her own really over-the-top clothes and fancy hats, and used to date the president of Taiwan (she does have pictures, I made her prove it). And she says she is tired of focusing on men who have problems and wants to make Jesus the center of her life now. Good reason to get baptized? Actually her testimony is better than that. But that is probably a significant part of it. I just want to send you a picture cause she makes me laugh. The other pictures are from our last pday, went to eat and stuff with a bunch of members. I hear my teddy bear might be from a movie or something? I don't know, I don't watch those anymore.
 
 
 
I love you! 
 Elder Braithwaite
 
 
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hey

Your letters were fun to read this week. Everything has been going really well here! Some important stuff happened:
 Brother 王 got baptized! I am pretty sure I told you his story already. He is super, and this was by far the best baptismal service I have ever had, or seen. Things just worked out great.  About 30 or 40 members came and supported him, including pretty much every young woman, which should help with his fellowshipping! Usually we are lucky to get maybe 10 people to attend a baptism, including us and the investigator. Our mission president just happened to come to this baptismal service as well, so overall it was great. No flooding problems. Oh and the best part is his whole family came.  They don't oppose but instead are really happy for him, and hopefully his little brother will follow him soon. 
After the baptism he shared his testimony and it was so great. Told about how good his life was on paper, how he had made the college basketball team, things were good with his coach and everything was going well, but inside he just felt so empty. One night he finally was sick of the way his life was going and knew he needed a change, and basically tried praying and it made him feel better and the next day he met missionaries. I think I have written this before. Anyway, he started tearing up a little, and that was awesome because he is the tough, cool jock type and he says now he doesn't feel like he needs to be cocky to show others he has faith, because now he knows that real faith comes through humility and trusting God. Awesome.

And my other investigator bought me a teddy bear! I didn't even have to ask! He ordered it online and it is a really nice one with removable eyebrows. And he also ordered my companion a tie from Paris.  I feel like this was a very Christlike thing to do, spontaneously buying someone a teddy bear, which I take as a sign that I am doing my job well with him. It was cool -- this guy hasn't really been progressing much, he is a really smart, logically minded computer programmer and he just thinks really deeply about everything we teach him and questions everything. But this week he was feeling pretty blue and decided to go over to the chapel and try reading scriptures because he likes the way it feels there, and as he sat there drinking his tea some members who were cleaning the chapel talked to him about the Word of Wisdom. Even though it really shocked him that we don't drink tea, for some reason he was willing to accept it. He felt like God led him to the church that night because He wanted him to change his life, so he accepted it. To me this is a miracle. I feel like if any of the commandments are illogical, avoiding tea is probably it, but he was just able to accept it without any questions. Super cool, and we didn't even do a thing. His English name is Barney. 

I have been thinking a lot about why we seem to be having so much success lately, in very measurable ways. Our relationships with the ward are improving and we are seeing miracles and having baptisms and the Lord is blessing us. At other times on my mission, I feel like I have put forth more or less the same amount of effort, just really doing my absolute best to do all I can to serve the Lord, and then the results just didn't come, at least in measurable ways. Right now everything is great. I am not sure why this is, why Heavenly Father blesses us so much at times and at others, withholds those blessings, even though there is no change in the amount of effort, faith, obedience, or love you have. But what I am learning is why the first commandment is to "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart". That way, the service you give, whether you see abundant results or none at all, will make you happy, because you are doing exactly what God wants you to do and that just makes you happy because you love Him. Like what I read by Elder Wirthlin this : "Those who make happiness the chief objective of life are bound to fail, for happiness is a by-product rather than an end in itself. Happiness comes from doing one's duty and knowing that his life is in harmony with God and His commandments." Never thought of it like that, as a by-product. But I feel that my connection with Heavenly Father has strengthened over the past year and I have learned to simply love serving Him, and have a testimony that happiness comes in that process.

I love you all and am so grateful for this gospel and for the support you give me!

Elder Braithwaite




Sunday, August 19, 2012






Hello,

Everything is going great here! There are definitely a lot of areas I would like to improve, we have got to make changes but hey I'll be patient.

Good to hear from you. Oh man, you might think it is weird that people I went to school with are already getting home... I can just tell, based off the last year, how quickly my mission will be coming to an end. Not that I am at all looking forward to it, but I hear that the second year goes faster than the first and my first year flew. Which just makes me want to do even more, it isn't worth it to waste any time at all. Technically I still have a few more weeks until I have been on island for a year. Still crazy.

Here is a cool story: This week we were out contacting on the street one night and I talked to this kid, about my age, and after a little while he mentioned he had met missionaries before. I asked him how much he remembered and he mentioned something about the Book of Mormon, how he had been interested but at the time he hadn't had any time because he was a high school senior and had a lot of tests. I asked where and he said Taidong, and I told him jokingly that it might have been me because I used to be there. But then he said that it was about 6 months ago and he felt like that elder was named Bai also. It really surprised me, because 6 months ago was when I was there and I was definitely the only Bai. So it really was me that talked to him before. I knew he looked a little familiar. I later went and checked my old planner, and found his name and number recorded last January. And now here we are in Taipei, other side of the island, and the most crowded district in the whole city, and somehow I run into him again. The odds are not large. He says since he has moved up here by himself to start college and he knows no one and was super excited that I talked to him and would love to hear more. Cool, because as missionaries we do a lot of planting seeds, and most of the time you just hope that those people you talk to will later accept a different missionary or something, but you don't usually get a chance to be that person they later accept.

Brother Wang finally did his baptismal interview! His baptism is set for this week. Super excited about this. Slightly worried becuase he just told us he still hasn't told his family, which is technically okay because he is a legal adult but still really praying he isn't disowned or anything. But he wants to do it, and he knows it is right, and I just love seeing the faith. I have loved teaching him, he is 2 months younger than me so I really feel like I am just teaching the gospel to my friend or someone I went to school with or something. Its been great.

Last night we went to a fireside at the temple and my new convert brother You and his girlfriend came from Taoyuan to see it, and so we ran into each other and when he saw me he was so excited, just the biggest smile and ran over to give me a hug (which isn't something that Taiwanese guys do much) and it was great, and it just reminded me of how grateful I am for this opportuinty to make these lifelong, actually eternal, friendships. Being a missionary is such a privilege. He is still super active and is preparing to recieve the Melchezidek priesthood. Yay! Oh also he says he googleearth'ed our house and is jealous and thinks its really pretty. Yards are really a novelty to people here, let alone an open field across the street like we've got.

Biggest accomplished goal for the week: Finally made it through the Isaiah chapters in Chinese. I thought it was confusing before.

Okay so I can't think of much else. I am happy, this week our numbers weren't super great, but I felt so happy and I love being here, and there are so many miracles in my life and in the lives of all the missionaries in this area and we are really seeing to work take off. Pray for us, I love it, we just gotta keep it up.

I love you!

Elder Braithwaite