Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hey hello

This week went swell. Not too much to report on I think. I am really
enjoying being here and doing this. Sounds like you guys are all doing
well. Mom, congrats on the race, I am jealous that you get to go out
and run and stuff.  That is one of the things I have missed most on my
mission is being able to go on a run, for more than twenty minutes,
and not on a track. But that is okay, this week actually we started
playing basketball with some members for morning exercise so that has
been fun.

Our investigators are doing okay. I have never had an area where
sickness/accidents have been such a problem. Brother Liu, who was
supposed to get baptized last week but couldn't because of food
poisoning, was supposed to re-do his baptismal interview this week,
but also couldn't because he was in the hospital. Now his family is
starting to tell him that they think baptism is a bad idea and stuff.
So that is not desirable. Hopefully things will all work out but right
now there is a lot of opposition. So we are pressing forward with that
situation.

Better news is that Brother Wang, who is 19 and awesome and plays for
his college basketball team, is excited about his baptism. He and his
family went to Japan this week but when he gets back he wants to do it
so we are stoked about that. His testimony is way cool.  One night at
school he just couldn't sleep and was stressed about a lot of stuff,
so he turned on the TV and ended up watching one of those Christian
televangelist guys who taught him how to pray, so he tried it and he
said he just felt really peaceful and was able to sleep and decided it
was time to find God. The next day he met the missionaries on the
street. Cool huh.

I am doing great. This area is doing great too. Actually I will
probably not write much more because my companion is feeling really
sick with the diarrhea. The joys of coming to a new country. So I am
concluding now for his sake. I love you all so much! The gospel is
true!

Elder Braithwaite


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hello,
Hey nice to hear from you all. Sounds like everything is going really great. Travis, the new job sounds really cool! You'll be a much better cook than me when I get back. In Taiwan, we aren't even allowed to cook for ourselves. It's a rule that you don't go back to your apartment because it wastes time.  Food is so cheap and convenient on the street so we eat that everyday. So I definitely will not be a missionary who learns to cook on his mission.
Here is the update on the last few days. We did have our baptism! 張育安! He is great. The 16 year old. He was really happy, and his baptismal service was so great. First, only like 3 members came so that was a little disappointing but then actually the little group made it really spiritual. But this was funny -- our ward mission leader started the water filling the font, and then we started the baptismal service, (the part before the actual baptism), in the chapel, which is sort of raised from the rest of the building by a little. But when that was done we walked into the hall and saw that no one had turned the water off and that the rest of the building was flooded with a half inch to a full inch of water -- there was a ton. Luckily the floor was all tile and no carpet, so it was just like a pool, but still bad news. So the bishop and mm leader and us worked for about an hour using trash pans to scoop the water into buckets and dump it outside while everyone else sat in the chapel and sang hymns. Really funny experience. When the water was mostly gone we did the baptism. Brother Zhang and I went into the men's room right before going down into the font, and the men's room was still in about 2 inches of water, and we were laughing and he said at least he won't forget his  baptism.

It was great though, and after the baptism he shared such a great testimony and said he had never felt the same way in his life, that he was really feeling the spirit and he knew it. He is super solid. And the best part was his mom came to support him, and she was happy and smiling with him. Even though she probably won't be willing to accept the message for now, I just think about how much he is affecting his family and what a huge difference he is making in his own future family. He tells us he really wants to go on a mission too. So great, I think this was one of the times I have felt the spirit the strongest on my mission. 

Then there is 劉弟兄. He didn't get baptized, because two days before his baptism he got seriously sick and at the same time  got food poisoning, so he was unable, and is going to the hospital tomorrow. He should be good though, it sounds temporary. Still way lame. Satan is the worst. But he still wants to do his baptism, so hopefully we will re do his interview this week and then he can have his baptism in two.

That is about all that has happened since I last wrote. The other big news this week is that I bought a blender! I was getting sick of not being able to eat through all my fruit before it goes bad, which is quick in this climate. So now I can blend the stuff that gets too ripe. Also I have been blending up soybeans and water to make that soy slush stuff, doesn't count as soymilk cause it's way too thick, but it is really good especially if you add fruit or chocolate powder.

That is all for now. My companion is great. I feel like I am a pretty inadequate trainer but whatever, he seems to be doing fine. We're both happy at least and I think usually when both missionaries are happy everything seems to go fine. He is good at stuff like being Christlike so that is helping me learn.

I love you all! 

Elder Braithwaite

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



  Hello

Fun stuff this week. Thanks for the letters, I am glad you got to meet
President Grimley, yes he does have a lot of character. Hope everything is
going great, sounds like you are all good. This week we have temple day so
that is why this letter is delayed. Yay temple!

Things went great with Brother 林. Baptismal service was great, had my
companion do it and it took him several times to get it right in Chinese
but all was well. We all laughed because every time after my comp said his
name to start the prayer Brother Lin would loudly state "I am here", just
kind of funny. The ward loves him, he shared a really funny, rambling old
man testimony that lasted about 10 minutes after the baptism, but he did
tie it all together in the end and it was cool , and he really has found what
he has been looking for.  I wore a little jacket for it.
.

Things are hot, and humid. I have never been so consistently sweaty. This
place is nuts. But then this week we suddenly had more storms, I think the
hardest rain I have seen, hard enough that the drops hurt. And there was
lightning right over this part of the city, so it would strike and the
thunder was at the same time and would echo off all the buildings, just
kind of a fun day for riding around the city and talking to people.
Benefits of the summer though is that fruit has gotten cheap and I
have eaten 2 mangoes daily for the past few weeks and then lots of other
fruit and it has been great. We went to Costco and I bought 5 pounds of
raisins but after I got home I remembered how much I liked raisins and
finished the bags this week. So too much fiber lately.

Things were great this week and next week will be awesome too because we
have two more investigators getting baptized, both of whom are so great.
張育安 is 16 and is such a stud, he has developed such a love for the gospel
and is one of the smartest and most mature 16 year olds I have met. I am
always especially impressed when youth like him have the faith to join the
church even though it makes them the first one in their whole family
history to not follow the traditional Buddhism. But he has felt the spirit
and that is enough for him. I have seen it several times that someone his
age gets baptized and later the family sees the good changes and then
follows. So we're hoping for this, and I also have plans to start prepping
him for a mission cause he would be awesome. Then there is 劉進吉 and he is
also great, has gone from one of those guys who is just sort of curious and
has not a lot of desire, to someone who really feels like this is exactly
what he needs. Just a really good guy, also he is learning how to be a
makeup artist which I think is just great if that is what he wants to do.
He also has a more real job though so its okay. They both passed interviews
already.

We are doing our best to follow the spirit and that is exactly what my
companion is teaching me. His Chinese and teaching abilities are still
about where you would expect them to be after 2 weeks, but I am realizing
that it doesn't really matter, if you have the spirit. Compared to the
Savior we are all pretty poor teachers anyways so the point is whoever has
his help making up the difference is the one that effectively spreads the
message. For example. This week we were meeting with this guy for the first
time and my companion wants to share a scripture, Mosiah 3:5 and I let him
go for it but in my mind thought that it was a little too confusing to
share on a first time visit with a Buddhist guy who has never seen
scriptures in his life and has no understanding of Christ at all. But then
we read it and as we discussed it the investigator kept reading on his own,
then shares with us that he was really moved by verse 6. Which is "And he
shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the
children of men." And then he explains that he always knew Jesus was a
really influential figure in history and has always wondered why, but when
he read this it makes him think that maybe it is because of the influence
he has on changing an individual heart, that he gives us the power to
change the bad parts of ourselves. And it clicked for him. And I would
never think to share that scripture with someone, or expect someone to get
that insight out of it, and yet the spirit knew this guy, so just another
moment where I feel humbled.

So here are some pictures of last p day too, we took a bus up to this city
in the mountains outside of Taipei, it was great so great to get out of thecity even for just a few hours. Pretty.      




Love you!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hello,
Big week.
We got our new mission president and his wife. They are from Tennessee, brought a nice accent with them. Actually he is a humble guy, but still proud to be from the South. They brought pictures of their barn to show us, which they are also proud of. As far as culture, I think there couldn't be a bigger gap between Taiwan and the southern US. But it will be good.
I feel like things are going super great. We have multiple investigators that should be baptized in a week or two. So great, have seen so much progress, the Lord's really been helping these people.
 
Seeing my comp struggle with stuff makes me laugh a little, only inside usually, because I remember being frustrated with Chinese and other stuff and thinking that it felt so slow coming, but looking back it comes fast. I think maybe I learned some patience on my mission and didn't even realize it. But man, people come out on their mission and can't even say their name right in Chinese, makes me wonder was I really like that? Also what do I still say wrong?
So here is maybe the biggest miracles of my mission: 林列賢. Wow. This man... here is the story. He is a 72 year old man, super funny and polite and old fashioned Chinese man, sometimes hard to understand. But he has always had a real attatchment to his family, including his ancestors. Has made it his life's purpose to help his family have peace, his entire family. This includes his wife who passed away not long ago. So he was raised a devout Buddhist and figured that was the way to accomplish this goal of helping his ancestors, and when he was in his 40's he retired and spent a ton of money building and operating a temple in his ancestors' name, in order to help them. After 30 years of that, he just didn't feel like it was real or that he had actually accomplished anything for his family, so he decided to try Christianity. Joined a church, developed a lot of faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior. But this church said that there wasn't really anything they could do for his ancestors. They took down their names and prayed for them and stuff but he said he still felt that his ancestors hadn't been put at rest. Then one day his son had a dream, 3 times in one night, where a man came to him and told him he had to 拜 him. Basically the Buddhist/Daoist/traditional Chinese way of worshiping an ancestor's spirit. In each dream this man stated his name, and the son didn't recognize him. But when he shared the dream with his dad, the dad recognized the man as his own brother, this son's uncle, who had died as a two year old child and who the son had never met or heard of. This was a sign to him that his ancestors were still waiting for him to help them. About one day later he shared his situation with his friend, who is a member. The member told him about temples, took him to church, then this Tuesday introduced him to us. We have met with him every day and by Saturday finished the lessons with him. Sunday he came to church and we did his baptismal interview and this Saturday he'll get baptized. I have never met someone so prepared to hear the gospel, and I have never heard of such a quick baptism in this mission. He was just so excited to hear that our church has authority from God, that we do believe in being sealed to our ancestors for eternity, and that God will be fair and give them the chance in the Spirit world to hear the Gospel. He wants to get baptized so bad, to save himself, then his wife, and then he says he just wants to go be a temple worker for the rest of his life. Every day he has fed us too. Oh, and as far as his family history, he pulled out all these ancient looking books he has collected and showed us that he has over 700 years of really detailed information on all his ancestors.
Us with 林弟兄. I didn't realized until I loaded this, but I think that statue is my favorite part of the picture.
So, that was this week's miracle. I now have a testimony of the spirit of Elijiah. If any man ever had his heart turned to his fathers', its this guy. Biggest stud ever.
Another miracle is that I finally found something I have been looking for since the beginning of my mission -- those eggs with a 90% developed bird embryo inside. There is this little Vietnamese  that sells them. The lady was really nice and told me that they are really healthy, especially drinking the embryonic fluid that is in there, and that women in her country eat them during the month after they give birth. I could probably get some to Ashley if she wants. I included pictures, so Mom, if you don't want to see the little duckling and fluids and all, have Dad open the files. I thought about not warning you, so be grateful.
Oh and yes I ate it. 
I love you all! The miracles will continue in Yonghe. Thanks for keeping me updated.

Elder Braithwaite


                                                                 

 

  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello

This week was more odd. Things are going well and we did have some good stuff happen, but for the most part it was tough because our area had no missionaries in it until the weekend. My new companion still hadn't come from America  and so I had to spend a few days in 中和 with the zone leaders in a tripanionship. So we only had a few days to meet with our investigators and do finding and stuff so it was a little rough. But good nonetheless.

Training will be exciting. My companion is Elder Davidson and he has moved around the country a lot but now his family is in Layton. He is a really humble guy and super nice, loves football and just has a really earnest desire to serve the Lord and love the people. A very simple guy. Man, it reminds me of how hard it is when you first come out - still can't even say your own name right in Chinese, let alone talk to anyone. It will be good though. We'll see miracles.

I am still enjoying it all, trying to think of what really happened this week that is noteworthy. Some investigators made a lot of progress, we should be having more baptisms soon. 張育安 is this kid we are teaching, he is 16 and he has been learning really fast, he is a stud. Really smart, friendly, wants to go to law school, loves the gospel, prays for opportunities to share it, and his family supports him in meeting with us because they think if he likes Jesus then Christianity could really help him. So he wants to get baptized and it will probably happen in two weeks.

There is also 劉弟兄 and he is great. He is a really happy guy and we feel like he has been doing really well and his testimony has grown so much since we started meeting with him. It has been great to see. We don't have too much left to teach him and he has been coming to church so hopefully all goes well with him too.

I am really excited about all the success we have been seeing lately. It is cool to see hard work paying off, but it is also reminding me how every little bit of success you see as a missionary is completely because of the Lord. Sometimes I get stupid and think it is my effort that is leading to these people accepting the gospel but it really is all up to Heavenly Father, it is the Spirit that changes them. He is like 99% and we just do our little part and feel important, like a little kid. I look at these people and their lives and all the events that lead them to the point they are at now where they can and are accepting the gospel and the hand of God is present at every step, preparing them and helping them at the moment and giving them answers.  It makes you think why Heavenly Father even bothers using missionaries at all. He could use any method and I'm sure there would be a more effective one than 19 year olds, but I guess it is important to give us an opportunity to help so we can grow and also feel the happiness that he feels when His children accept the gospel. Read Jacob 5 this week and that is what I thought of, just noticed how much the Lord of the vineyard does and how much the servants do and it isn't even, but he still wants us to be happy with Him. Verses 70-75 I think. Good stuff. I'm just glad to be here and be doing this.

That is all I can think of for now. I feel like my head is just tired and I can't remember what happened. But I do know that everything went well. I love you all a lot!

Elder Braithwaite