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