Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

And Happy Birthday Travis! So big, Yay! I hope you all had fun, for us it was pretty normal. I did get to go to this native Taiwanese celebration, their calender has the same New Years as ours. It was real interesting, they fed us a ton, some of which was pretty similar to Chinese food and some a lot more odd, like the raw fish steak things or these things wrapped in leaves kind of like tamales but inside was this odd purple goop. I decided when you look closely their outfits look more like something South American, maybe Peru or something.

Also for New Years we got invited to this member's home, a real rich guy, super nice who gave us American food like pizza and salad and chicken. They all liked me because I wanted to eat the chicken foot. I'll send you a picture, they're fun looking, you just kind of suck until the fat and skin come off. But it was cool, there was a non-member family there too and we all got to go around and discuss how the church blessed us, a powerful lesson and afterwards the family set up with us. Cool stories, the church really will bring so many blessings.

This week we had some cool service opportunities. Cool story: the other elders in Taidong are teaching the coach of the junior high basketball team, and he lets them come once a week and teach his team a short lesson after practice. One week they taught about prayer, and one kid decided to go home and start doing it but didn't say anything of set up with them. Later, we contacted into the same kid on the street (not very likely), and he left us his information, and we were later able to set up and go visit him at his house. Now he is meeting with us to learn more. Cool process of giving him the opportunity to learn about the Savior, plus I think it is a miracle that a fourteen year old kid would be interested in what we have to share at all, I doubt I would have at fourteen. So this week we got to go play basketball with these kids for service.  It was fun to see that coaches are about the same whether they yell in English or Chinese. They loved me, but once again only because I'm tall. They all asked me what I eat, as if that was my secret.

This week we also got another cool service opportunity. We usually ask everyone we talk to if they could use any help of if we could serve them, but almost everybody says no. This week a real old lady said yes, so later we went to her apartment with four elders and a member and she took us to one of the dirtiest, oldest rooms I have seen. We spent hours cleaning it out, scrubbing all the walls and ceiling, and then giving it a new paint job. One of the most satisfying transformations I have ever seen, I am really mad I didn't take before and after pictures. I was the only one that could reach the high parts of the wall so I got to do a fun balancing act by standing on this ancient chair on top of an ancient stool. Anyway, it felt really good to just do some manual labor and  help out this old lady. We are going back next week to finish.

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to become over the next year, and I've got some real good goals. Overall I realized I still have so much to learn it is overwhelming. But we had this awesome lesson with our investigator Li, we just got to get down and really talk about why the Savior is important, what difference this makes. He has some physical handicaps, and the stories of healing, miracles, and resurrection have given him so much hope. It is so powerful to testify of the reality of the Atonement. So I realized, I may still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I do know that much. I know that the Atonement is real, and that it both heals and gives hope to anyone with the faith to truly believe. I am so thankful for the opportunity I get to spread the message that Jesus Christ is the Savior and that miracles are real. I know I am going to see a lot this year.

I love you all and am grateful for all the support! Oh yes the Chistmas stuff came. I got a ton of letters and the package don't worry. My companion laughed when he saw you sent so much peanut butter - I hope I don't make it sound like I am in a third world country. Peanut butter is at any grocery store. And I eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast, so don't send more of that. Also, the raisin bran shirt is being put away and not touched till I get home. Not risking it, also not amused. But really, thank you! It was fun to put the legos together. Yay, Christmas!

Okay love you!
Elder Braithwaite

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