Tuesday, July 16, 2013

LAST LETTER FROM TAIWAN

你好
我沒有太多要說的話.

我愛你們.
好難相信.兩年怎麼會那麼快.怎麼辦.
我感覺好像我才剛開始而已.
我永遠不會忘記這兩年的經驗.
用我所有的時間來為神服務是我做過最快樂的事, 也是我做過最有價值的事.
我有看到很多很多的奇蹟,認識了很多的好朋友,也有變得更像我的救主一樣.
我現在能說我知道福音是真實的.我知道天父愛祂的小孩.
我知道神有力量來改變人的心.祂會幫助我們克服軟弱,她已經有幫助我很多.
我知道家庭是人生中最重要的事,我非常感謝我有一個很棒的家庭.
Nothing much else to say.
I love my mission, I love the taiwanese people, I love preaching the gospel, I love serving others, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ and my Father in heaven.
See you in a few days!
 
白長老
 
****TRANSLATION:
 
Hello
I do not have much to say.

I love you.
Hard to believe that two years how would that fast. How to do.
I feel like I just started it.
I will never forget the experience of the past two years.
With all my time to serve God is the happiest thing I've ever done, but also the most valuable thing I've ever done.
I have seen many, many miracles, I've met a lot of friends, but also to become more like my Savior.
I can now say I know the gospel is true and I know that Heavenly Father loves His children.
I know that God has the power to change people's hearts, and He will help us overcome the weakness, he has helped me a lot.
I know that family is the most important thing in life, I am very grateful I have a wonderful family.
Nothing much else to say.
I love my mission, I love the taiwanese people, I love preaching the gospel, I love serving others, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ and my Father in heaven.
See you in a few days!
White elder

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7

Hello,
 
Things are all good. This week we spent almost all of our time in meetings, going back and forth from Taipei, probably the last thing I would want to do but we learned a lot.
 
I have been either eating a mango or drinking a mango smoothie every day, because I figure that will be one of the things I miss the most so might as well indulge.
 
Investigators continue to progress. Brother 張, who we were hoping to get baptized before I left, probably wont make it yet. He has his trials. Which is totally okay because he will make it someday. He has made so much progress over the last six months. After we met this week he gave me a hug and said "you will always be my brother." Correct, Brother 張. As cheesy as that is, it's true.
It has been wonderful during these last few weeks to meet up with recent converts from other areas. Seeing them a year later, actually assimilated(am I using that English correctly?) into church culture and stuff instead of as a brand new convert, is so happy.
 
Had a super spiritual lesson with one investigator, Brother 鄭. He previously investigated Christianity for a long time, got really involved with a church, but in the end decided he just didn't feel anything and was never baptized. Years later, he met us on the street. As we met this week, he shared with us what made him think we were different. Interestingly, right before we stopped him on the street, he had had an experience where he saw some people littering, was a little angry at them, and went to pick up their trash and throw it away. The next week when he showed up at our chapel for the appointment he had scheduled with us, he noticed that, as we walked into our chapel, my companion picked up some garbage on the street nearby and threw it away in the church's trash can, which is something we always do to keep the area around the chapel clean. He said even though this was a small thing, it seemed to him like a sign that he should give our church a decent shot. One point for random acts of kindness! He is a great guy, and was willing to set a goal to be baptized in august.
 
I have felt really at peace about everything over the past few weeks. It will be bittersweet to leave, but I have no doubt that I will be happy about it despite how much I love this place, work, people, mangoes, etc. One of the biggest lessons I have learned on my mission is how to choose happiness regardless of circumstances.
 
I love it all. Next week we have temple day, so I won't email until Wednesday for me, Tuesday for you.
Mom, can you order the Liahona in Chinese for me? (Simplified, not traditional. I need to force myself to switch over, as annoying as it will be.)
Set up the stake president for Saturday night, that would be better. Still can't hug anyone if I have the nametag.
 
I love you all and am so grateful for everything. All the support and encouragement. I am blessed to be here.
 
Elder Braithwaite
 

 
 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hello
 
It is hard to believe I have less than 3 weeks. They are going to be really busy. I am sad. But things are going pretty well, I feel very happy about everything. This last transfer has probably been the one where I have felt the most genuinely and consistantly happy.
 
Life is great, we are working really well. Companion has been struggling for a few weeks, kind of getting worse, and then we finally had a serious discussion and now he is not struggling so much. Communication is important.
 
Met with 吳中who I love. He was that goat milk salesman that I contacted on his scooter and then he set up and has just been the most spiritual little investigator. He told us how he heard someone talk about tithing in church and really wants to pay it. And then on Sunday he started crying when we sang "I Stand All Amazed" during sacrament meeting, and he didn't stop for a while. Cool when big men cry.
 
Last week we planned to go leave a note in the mailbox of a less active we didn't know, but when it came to that time of day we only had about 10 minutes, and it would have been easy to go to our next thing. But we still went and dropped the note off and then rode really fast to still make it to the train station on time. A few days later, that less active came to church and told the missionaries he saw (not us) that the note was really important to him, that he really wants to come back and also wants his son to be baptized. It was a really cool experience for me to see the importance of following little promptings and doing little things.  That note was an answer to someone's prayers.
 
I got to go on exchanges with son #1, Elder Davidson, this week, and it was great. He teaches me so much about love and other stuff. Coming home we got on the wrong train, but that is okay because God had a plan. When we got on, this group of teenage girls started giggling because two white guys were standing close to them and so, to make fun of them, I turned to the more mature woman standing next to me and said loudly "They must not see many white guys". The junior high kids were all shocked we spoke chinese, and this woman started laughing, and then ended up being really cool. We had a great discussion about the Savior and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She wants the sister missionaries to come visit her family. Wrong train=prepared people.
 
I don't really have too much to say. Many other similar stories. Many reflections about my expeience as a missionary. I love being here and am excited to keep doing it for a little while. Today I will be hanging out with some of my friends and converts from previous areas. I have been so blessed to serve here.
 
I love you all! Included the picture of brother 王's baptism from last week.

 
Elder Braithwaite
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hello,
Hit the 2 year mark! Also, this week I finally wore a hole in the bottom of my Timberlands. Those have lasted amazingly well for $40 shoes.
Not much time today because we were asked to watch the missionary broadcast from the Mission President Seminar, which was live for us this morning. So I will just write the basics.
Brother 王宗允 was baptized. Good! And his mom came! The same mom that has said no for 6 months when our investigator wanted to be baptized. She met the Relief Society president and saw most of the young men in the ward. When her son bore testimony after the ordinance, she even cried. It is amazing to see how much God has softened this woman's heart. Afterwards, a member of the bishopric came up to me with a big smile and said, "Good job, that mom is going to follow her son someday." She also brought brother Wang's 10 year old little brother, who is willing to learn and wants to be baptized also.
 
Things continue to go well, I still love being here and we are seeing great successes with other investigators.
About 5 weeks ago we were calling names on the ward list that we didn't recognize, and talked to a man who let us come visit. We talked to him, found out he used to be in the bishopric, but went inactive and hasn't come in over a decade. We started going to visit him weekly, the progress was slow at first and it seemed like not much would happen, he has his thoughts about things and didn't seem to change for the first few weeks. But the desire to come back is there, and he is slowly working through his own problems. As we have been talking to our ward about him, many of the old members who remember him were shocked that we could even contact the guy. But they are now excited to help, they want to be involved, and we have seen the man really changing his attitude. He is close to agreeing to come back. It is fascinating to see that people really can make progress when they just can re-establish contact with the spirit.
 
I love you. Happy birthday mom. That picture last week was for you. I will bring home lots of stuff for you so that our house can get even more cluttered. I know that is what you want.
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hello!
 
Happy Father's Day!
Happy Birthday Mom! (I know I'm a little early)
I love you! See included picture.
 
This week was great. Big miracle. Our favorite Brother 王宗允 is going to be baptized! He is the one who started meeting with us in January, and has been ready for baptism since probably February, but his mom always said no. We have been slowly working on her, leaving notes at their house, trying to get any chance to make contact with her and help her see how normal we are, etc. This week she finally agreed to meet with us, and discuss why her son wants to get baptized. So I did all this preparation, was basically ready for this epic battle where we (humbly) use the spirit to force her to allow him to be baptized (Preach my Gospel says that spiritual things CAN be forced, right?). So she came to the church, we sat down and right after the opening prayer she just looks up and says "so, he is getting baptized tomorrow right?" I was shocked, my companion was too, took a second to think of how to respond. I said, "well, tomorrow is a little fast, how about next week?". And she just agreed. We still aren't entirely sure why, what happened, but for some reason she just decided it was all okay. She will even come and support him.
So the spiritual battle I was expecting ended up as nothing, God already changed her heart and I don't really know how, but once again I didn't have to do anything. After 5 months of saying no, she was a pushover. Anyway, the important thing is that brother 王 will be getting baptized. His 10 year old brother also came with the mom that night, and he was really curious, said he wants to get baptized too, which I think bothered the mom a little, but we'll see. Who knows, maybe someday the whole family will want it...
Here is an interesting thing about brother 王. I contacted his friend outside of a 7/11 back in december, and when we met with this kid, we invited him to invite his friends to come learn with him. So the next time he brought some friends, who had not too much interest. But we kept telling him to bring more. About the third round of friends, brother 王 came along. In the end, all the others lost interest, including the first kid, but I'm sure this was God's way of getting us to the one who would want the gospel.
Other than that the week was good. Had a special training meeting with Elder Kent Watson, who is funny. When he does things slightly less "appropriate" like give people high fives or j-walk, he likes to use the excuse that "there were no stoplights 50 years ago in Cedar City"or "that's not the way it was done in Cedar". He talked to me about Carl and Doug, he will be released from being a general authority in a few months. Dad, do you remember him? It was also a spiritual meeting, was able to learn a lot.
Had exchanges this week with a missionary who has been out for a week that taught me things I wish I had learned 2 years ago. Proabably will change the way I look at my remaining time. At least I am learning new things up to the end right?
My birthday was good, I didn't really tell anyone but some missionaries found out and took me out to dinner, other than that nothing special.
 
The pictures are from a beach that a member drove us to last week. My companions camera is good and he takes pictures of stuff, so it's all good.
I am so happy to be here. Thank you for all that you do! Love you all.
 
Elder Braithwaite


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hello,
Things are great. It is still real hot. I won't be leaving the area or my beloved companion, thank the Lord, get to finish it out here. I am trying to make sure that I "leave it all on the field", so sweating a lot is really helpful for making me feel like I'm working hard. Found out my second son is training, I am so proud to be a grandpa, hope I meet the guy before I leave.
 
We are meeting with a family who used to live in Utah, have been back in Taiwan for decades though. They are great, have nothing but a good impression of the church. One of the first questions the dad asked, in all seriousness, was "what's the difference between a Mormon and a jack Mormon?" I laughed, he must have heard the phrase when he lived there, it's impressive that he remembered it all these years.
 
Brother 張, our high school education rice farmer investigator is making good progress, hasn't missed church in 4 weeks now and has read to Mosiah, I am just not sure how much he really believes it all. We are working on it. Nonetheless, there is something different about teaching this type of person, so much more humble and less complicated than the average person. He is the first investigator I have taught who read what Alma said about praying for flocks, fields, etc., and really felt like this was God talking right to him.
 
It's fun to look back at every transfer and see the different things I have learned. Why does it seem a lot easier to recognize God's hand in hindsight? It's too bad that we are wired that way, at least I am, it is relatively difficult to pick up on how He is leading you or teaching you or pushing you in the moment, but when you move on and see some of the effects of your experiences, it all ties together and you say "oh, that's why". Actually, I still have a bunch of unanswered "why"s about my mission but that is not a problem. I have just been thinking about my mission and my conversion experience in general, and I can't really deny that Heavenly Father has been giving me a specific "course" so that I can learn what he wants when he wants. I think one of the blessings of teaching the gospel is that you witness firsthand the miracle of God supporting and leading these investigators to their answers and spiritual growth, and it helps you better understand and recognize the way He has and does work with you.
I am mostly drawing a blank on what else happened this week. I still think that seeing my new converts bless and pass the sacrament is one of my favorite experiences. I used to be a little sad that, for one reason or another, I have always seemed to work with a lot of young men investigators and not so many families (which would be ideal), but when I think of how much "learning in thy youth to keep the commandments of God" will bless these kids, and see them as future priesthood leaders, I feel privileged to be the one who got to teach them.
Thanks for all you do, I love you!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hello
 
Fun week. What to say. It felt incredibly hot this week, which is draining my energy. Some days I go through 4, almost 5 liters of water. We are hoping for miracles and have hope that we will have another baptism in the coming weeks, and we will need the Lord's help with that, I am trying to help our young men investigators get over these parental opposition problems, we saw a miracle with brother 徐 last month so I know it can happen again. That is the goal for now.
 
Things are going great, I love teaching all the people we are teaching, many are making real progress, and I know that many of the people we have found and are helping will in the end accept the gospel, just not sure about the timing yet. Our area and zone is doing well.
 
I have contacted this man in a park probably 5 or 6 times over the past 6 months, he is always there walking his dog that he loves more than anything. He had previously investigated the church a little bit, but no interest. For some reason, this time he was willing to meet. He has recently quit his job, and is pondering what is really important in life. We had a great discussion and he showed up to church on Sunday. Cool stuff, persistence works.
 
We are seeing a lot of success with less actives right now, I have focused more on that in this area than I have in any other, and we have really seen the Lord working with these people. Some of them are having very powerful experiences with repentance, I know that the power of the atonement is real.
 
This week I was privileged to perform the baptism of one of the sister missionaries' investigators, and I had a really special experience. I have performed the ordinance before, and every time the spirit is strong, but this time was different for some reason, maybe God wants me to "get it". When we went down into the water, it felt like we were in a different dimension or something, like we had stepped out of the chapel and were somewhere else with no one watching. And it was absolutely silent, and as I said the prayer I just felt amazingly peaceful. After the ordinance I stood alone on the top step of the font and stared at the water for a minute, really had this distinct impression that I had just very literally represented the Savior, stood in his place and that this girl had just used His atonement to clean away a lifetime of sins in one moment, it is hard to describe but it really was a sacred moment for me. I guess that is the meaning of the priesthood, representing Him. Afterwards, this girl bore her testimony, said that at the moment I started to lower her into the water, it all slowed down and she thought "do I really belive all this". she paused, then tearfully stated "I immediately felt, I really do believe in Jesus" and then went under the water. Just a cool testimony to me, the ordinances we make are real, the Savior really is right there as we make them, His power is real.
 
All is well, transfers next week, pray that I don't move, I want to finish my mission in this ward, can't describe all the connections I have here.
 
Oh this was funny. Last p day we rode our bikes out to the coast then up north following the ocean, across two counties, most of the ride was very beautiful, sunny, nice to get out of the busy cities. About 2 hours both ways. Along the ride, we saw a sign for a bike station, so we pulled over and saw a Buddhist temple thing with a bike pump and a faucet, I guess that was the station. It was right next to this big old looking factory, all of this is in the middle of nowhere. But then, there was this little sign posted on the wall of the temple thing, it said "If you want chocolate, ring the doorbell." so we were confused, but we found the doorbell next to the gate of this factory place, rang it and said "We want chocolate!" and the voice answered "come in" and the factory gate opened. We rode in, past all these facilities/machinery to the end of the road, where there was a building with two guys waving to us. Inside was all deserted, aparently the place was a landfill facility, and this was some sort of really weird publicity thing. I think they were surprised to see 6 white people show up. They gave us chocolate, took our picture for facebook, and then we hung out with them in the lawn out front and played with the 6 pet goats and a fat old pig that they kept, though I am not sure why. Really odd, but if I ever come back to Taiwan I will remember that on the northeast coast of the island, along a random stretch of highway, there is a buddhist temple/bike station next to a landfill factory thing where they will give bikers free chocolate and let you play with the factory livestock if you ring the bell.
 

Us at the free chocolate landfill

Okay I have nothing else. Love you!
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hello!
 
Good week. First, brother 徐盟凱 was baptized! Yay! Thank you for the prayers and faith, I am sure they were heard. The baptism went great and the ward has been really accepting. He fits right in. In the picture, he is the one with glasses.
 
The week overall went wonderful. This week had lots of fun stories I could share but I don't have too much time because I have been emailing new converts as well and it takes me too long to type chinese. Sorry.
On exchanges, got caught in this crazy rain storm, it was nuts, so heavy you couldn't see in front of you, it made everything white, but it was only for like 5 minutes. Weird. felt like I jumped in a pool after about 3 seconds of it. But right before that we were tracking down a less active's address, and we got to the house but one of his neighbors told us he moved. This neighbor was old and was unloading a bunch of boxes of bottled water from his car, so we went over and helped him and brought them all into his house. He then wanted us to sit down and it turns out he used to be sort of a christian, but hasn't thought about that stuff for a long time. Now he is retired and has time so he wants us to come back. Go service!
 
We have one investigator who we shared a message about temples with, and showed him pictures of all the temples online, and he was really touched by how beautiful they were. He shared with us how much criticism of our church he has read online, he felt like no one likes us, and many seem to hate us, and was confused because he feels like the missionaries are so nice, so his impression of us didn't really fit with all the hate towards the mormon church. But after seeing all those temples in so many countries, he feels like the church is actually a beautiful thing, and there is no way so many people could want to be part of it if it were evil. And then he promised that he will get baptized in our church someday because of the feeling it gives him, and that it seems like the people who are so critical and angry are probably the ones who are truly misguided. Thank you! So glad that some people can see this too. Also, I love the temple, it really is a symbol of the good that the church stands for and it has the power to change peoples hearts, even if they cant go there yet.
 
Everything is going great, I am happy, thanks for all you do. Love you
 
Elder Braithwaite
 
 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hello
 
Good week. I am tired. It was wonderful to talk to you. You asked about some of the people I am teaching. Here you go. We saw some big miracles.
 
FIRST: Brother Xu. I have written about him a lot, the 16 year old whose parents say no to baptism. We pumped him up to talk to his parents again. He did it, and they said yes and signed the paper. I don't know what it was that changed their hearts, maybe just his persistence, maybe time, no doubt God was involved. But what it means is that after waiting about 5 months he can finally get baptized. This is something we have prayed and fasted for many times. I have seen this kid from the first lesson to now, and he has changed a lot, still has a long way to go, but I have loved seeing this whole process occur. He will be baptized this Saturday. God has his time and his plan, family opposition won't stop it in the long run.
 
We have been trying really hard to help the members here do missionary work, share with friends, etc., and haven't really seen too many results. This week in a market we talked to two students that were willing to meet and learn more, and it turns out they are actually good friends with a young woman in the ward. When we told her that her friends were interested and would meet with us later that week, she was shocked, and was willing to teach with us when we met with them. You really never know who you know that will have interest in the gospel. Then we had the same experience with another guy who is friends with a less active here. I guess if we can't get any referrals, we will just contact members friends on the street.
 
We have been meeting with a really simple man, high school education, loves his wife and kids a lot, has a rice field and fixes agricultural equipment for a living. It has been fun to teach him. When we talk about dates like when Jesus was on earth or 1820 Book of Mormon stuff, he has to think of it in Chinese calendar, like what dynasty it relates to and stuff. He came to church this week for the first time. He has promised us he will be baptized. He is really very sure about it, but he can't promise he will go all the way under because it is a little scary. He did promise up to his knees at least. We'll work on that.
 
We ended up meeting a less active priest on the street, who at first pretended he wasn't a member, but we figured it out. We found out when he waits for the bus each afternoon, and we go and sit with him as he waits and read scriptures for 15 minutes or so. Good kid, he'll come back.
 
Talked to a cool guy at a stoplight. He is a goat's milk salesman and he spent years with heavy addictions to drugs, but turned his life around by finding faith in the Savior and has now been clean for 20 years. He met with us on Saturday and felt like this was God calling him back, because he hasn't gone to a church for a really long time, but has always felt like he needed to go back, and now the time is right. Came to church on Sunday for the first time in years.
 
I have lots of other stories I could tell. We have been blessed with many people to teach right now. Our triathlete investigator didn't come to church this week because of a race he had down south, but it turns out that the swimming part of the race had some sort of asian pirahnas (spelling?) and a lot of people were bit. I didn't know Taiwan had man eating fish. That's what you get for breaking the sabbath.
 
Love being here, love my life, God is blessing us and I have faith He will continue to, in his timing. Still love being a complete tool, in the hands of God.
Thanks for all the support, Love you!
Elder Braithwaite

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


 
Hello
 
Not too much time because we are leaving for the temple soon. Excited to be going again.
I still love being here and am enjoying the new companion. He is full of fire for the work and that is what I need.
We have been having a lot of fun. Seeing a lot of miracles. We met with the vice president of a university the other day. Intense lesson. Or this dad and his step son from beijing who has funny chinese and is really interested in Jesus. We have investigators seeing changes and miracles, and others that are struggling. But we have faith that the average will come out on the miracles side. I still feel super busy.
Sorry this email is lame. But I will be calling you in a few days anyway right? Hope that spring is good there, it is hot here now and very sweaty.
Nothing else new to report on. I love you so much. I love the gospel and feel the truth of the things I teach, I think I feel that more so now than I did before. My testimony is continuing to grow. Thank you for everything you do for me. Talk to you soon.
 
Elder Braithwaite
 
Pictures of this cool place we went the other p day up in the mountains, it is where they do that famous lantern festival, you are supposed to paint up your lantern with hopes and desires and stuff and send to God, I think that is the idea. Fun stuff, pretty place.
 




Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hello
 
Sounds like all is well at home. Thanks for keeping me updated. Yes dad, I will do things with you when I get home. Gladly.
 
Still raining a lot but it is a lot warmer now. Elder Andersen is gone, he did well until the end. His last day was funny, poured torrential rain, no raingear so absolutely soaked, needed some repairs so we rode everywhere looking for a bike shop that wasn't closed (why were they all closed?), just kind of a really great, miserable experience to end his time in Taiwan.  And my new companion is Elder Lin. He is from the south of the island and has only been out for about a year, I am happy to have a "young" companion again, it is different than being with another "old" guy. We will do well here. Elder Lin is funny and has a lot of faith.
 
I saw Sister Chao,
 
She gave me the camera and stuff. Thanks! It works, hooray! Talked to her for a few minutes, doesn't seem like much has really changed in the past two years, she seems like the same person and I probably am too. She got sent off to the east coast, an area similar to the one I used to serve in, and she will probably not come back up to Taipei until I leave, and maybe not even then. So probably won't see her again, until she gets home. Still fun to talk to a friend from high school though.
 
Still having fun being here. I am tired. But happy. Had a big miracle with Brother Wang, one of those 15 year olds whose parents oppose baptism. We have been working with him for a while to get his mom to come to a church activity or something in hopes of softening her heart. This week she came! to a ward dinner thing, came too late for the food but still met members and us, and was willing to let us share a little with her about the church. There is still hope for Brother Wang, it is cool to see how he hasn't given up hope for baptism, and I know it will work out someday.
 
I am happy to be here, we have been having a lot of struggles and also a lot of success, I have been trying to figure out what I really want to get out of these last few months. Reading my old journals has been insightful, seeing these attitudes and expectations and excitement I had on my first transfer, I feel like Elder Packer's poem about aging. There is so much gained over the course of a mission that I wouldn't trade for anything. Even returning back to the beginning and having that "youth" again.
Found out that my old investigator I started teaching in Taidong will be getting baptized this week, over a year later, he also had family opposition problems and I guess it is just his time, his mom changed her mind even though she is a super Buddhist. I wanted to help him get over those problems then, while I was there. I have been reminded a lot lately that it matters very little what I want, God has his own timing. Great to see His plan working out.
 
Thanks for all you do. Love you.
Here are pictures of the Du family's baptism from last week, plus Sister Chao and I at the transfer meeting.
 
Elder Braithwaite


 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hello,
That is amazing about Drew. I was actually wondering all week how affected he was by the explosions, but I assumed nothing happened because I didn't get called or anything. That is scary that he was right there. And amazing that he is fine. I'm so grateful. I still feel relatively unconnected and uniformed about everything back home, this was a reminder for me that life goes on. Put things in perspective.
Our week here was really good. Brother Li was baptized. He has a stronger testimony than most new converts that I have seen by a lot. When we asked why he believed in God, his answer was "Because Joseph Smith and the first vision, I know that God is our Father." I have never heard someone make that connection before on their own. Tons of members attended the service. Our bishop commented that "he just looks like a member".

I was also able to attend the baptism in Zhongli for Sister Du and her son. It was beautiful. She is the woman I had contacted at a light about 5 weeks ago, so I feel a special connection to her family, and I was so moved as she related the story of how she met the missionaries, because I had forgotten many of the details, but she remembered clearly and it gave me a great perspective on how a person sees a missionary. She had been willing to stop simply because of how enthusiastic I was. She actually turned me down at the first stoplight, and then we met again at a later one and I was persistent, so she gave. All of which I forgot. It makes me never want to do this work halfheartedly. Still grateful to have played my small part.

This family was actually an answer to my prayers from over a year ago. When I was serving in Taidong, I had a dream of finding an aboriginal family to teach, but it never happened. But as I was helping Brother Du (her 16 year old son) change into his baptismal clothing, I noticed his native American-looking seashell necklace and asked if he was an aboriginal and he informed me that he was, his mom made the necklace and his tribe is the one native to Taidong out on the east coast. It turns out this family actually comes from my old area, by a bridge south of Taidong city that I rode past every week. This was an amazing miracle for me to get to participate in part of the conversion process of the exact sort of family I had always hoped to teach, and they even come from my old area. God will answer prayers.

Being with two companions in a row that are finishing their missions has prompted me to think a lot about how I want to finish mine. I commend both Elder Lin and Elder Andersen's commitment to the Lord even at the end.
It is good to be here and I will continue to love it. 3 months left for total immersion in the work. Sorry I didn't write much this week. A lot more happened. I am excited to get my new companion. I won't be leaving, hopefully I can just finish my mission out in this area, but we'll see.
The picture is of Brother Li's baptism. Please compare to the standard picture of the First Presidency. I think we did pretty well. Next week I will send the Du family pictures.
Thank you for all that you do, and for all the love and support!
                                                              
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hey
Conference was wonderful. It seems so much shorter on the mission than it did before. Maybe because I am so much more used to meetings.
I am happy to be here. The church is true.
Our investigator will get baptized this week, Brother Li. He is 18 and is probably the investigator I have taught who just gets it more than any other. Specifically the restoration of the gospel, he loves it, the leaders in the ward feel like he is more active than the other priests.
 
Here is how it went; when he talked to his dad about baptism, his dad was furious, wouldn't even listen, just a flat out no. So we met with Brother Li and said he has to try again, and when he brings it up, just be sure about what he believes and wants, and we prayed and fasted with him. And a few days later he went back and talked to his dad again, and he said he was really bold about it, and his dad was just silent, and thoughtful. And then said, fine, whatever you want.
Family opposition loses.
I don't know why this time was different than the previous three, but I guess it is just in God's plan for Brother Li to receive baptism here and now, he provided the miracle and softened hearts and made it possible. I am so grateful for this.
 
And the mother that I contacted and gave to the sisters, she and her son will be baptized this Saturday as well, after about 5 weeks of meeting with missionaries. I am so grateful to see this miracle happen and be a part in it. God is so cool, preparing all these people and doing all the work Himself and then letting us play our little part...
 
So I feel so grateful for so many things recently, especially family. And the Savior.
 
Well, my return date is July 20th. Still have plenty of time left, hopefully it feels really long. I do love being a missionary. I also love America, I felt reminded of that during conference.
 
I don't have too much to share. We need to see more miracles in this area. My companion goes home in a week and a half. I will stay, and then I will probably stay again and finish my mission here. Which is great. Last night we had a singles activity at the home of a family, who was baptized about a year and a half ago, right before I served in this ward for the first time. As I looked around the room, not only the family hosting the activity, but 8 out of the 10 people there were baptized within the last two years, and 3 of them I got to teach as investigators. And they are all so active, so involved and so faithful. It just hit me, how much the work is really progressing, how the church really does grow. It is a blessing to come back to this ward again, and see these kind of changes.
Thank you for all you do. Thank you especially for all the good examples.
Elder Braithwaite
 
 Don't worry about signing me up for the St. George, maybe one of the winter marathons would be good. I actually don't know how good of shape I will be in when I get home, it would be a bother to force that too fast. I would like to do training the right way this time.
If they want to know, we first dropped a bag with our clothes in it in Taipei on p day, left them at a set of elders' apartment that live closest to the mission home. After running to the temple, we walked the one block over to their apartment and showered there. It worked out really smoothly.
The acid rain is what taiwanese people tell me, they say it makes you go bald... I don't believe them, but the pollution here is very bad, all air and water is just dirty.
Still haven't bought a camera, I will when I get time.
Thanks for everything! Don't worry, we will find a time to come to taiwan someday. Maybe when one of my new converts gets sealed in the temple, there are several on that route now.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hey
 
Good week. I am stoked for conference this week.
 
This week saw some big letdowns, followed by several miracles. We have really been struggling to find people who live in our area, because our area is 4 square city blocks. Being a missionary means being the last thing on most people's priority list and the first thing to go. Like when you ride your bike 10 hours in the rain, and then the one lesson you have set up stands you up and gives the excuse, "I couldn't come, it was raining". So I was feeling bad.
 
Then we saw a big miracle. Over a month ago, a young couple, the Chens, came to English class, attended my class. I remember thinking they were great and seemed to listen intently during the gospel part. Then they stopped coming to English class. But this week, after class finished I walked out and saw them waiting in the hall for me, with a very serious look on their face. They talked to me, and the husband said that they had been through some trials lately, and that there was something that I had shared in English class that he couldn't stop thinking about. I had challenged them to tell my why they were on earth, and they couldn't come up with the reason. So I told them, "you are here to learn." I don't particularly remember this lesson, but apparently it struck him deeply. So they decided to come back, not for English, but for the gospel. We met with them this Saturday, and they are one of the most prepared families I have met with. They asked all the perfect questions, were very willing, the lesson was wonderful, the peike did perfectly, the spirit was there. And after, as we set up again, he told me "this is my priority, if I need to I will change my work schedule, whenever you can do it." and then added "the church will be helping me so much, what can I do to help the church?" It was the complete opposite of feeling like the last priority again. It was an answer to our prayer that we could teach a family. They live in another area, we will give them to the other elders this week.

In addition to them, the other week we contacted a man in a park gave him a book of Mormon, and had a great lesson about it right there. He later came to English with his friend, and she is now the sisters investigator and is making great progress. He lives somewhere else as well, and we have plans to transfer him over this week. They both may very well get baptized.

I was informed this week that a woman I contacted last transfer while on exchanges in Zhongli, Sister Du, is now close to baptism. I had contacted her at a stoplight, just smiled and introduced myself and invited her to pull over, and she talked to me for about a minute and left her number, which I gave to the sisters. Now, she has been coming to church, is planning on getting baptized in 2 weeks or so. Her 16 year old son has also been investigating with her and meeting with the elders there, and he is planning on a baptismal interview this week or next. I was thinking: I spent about 1 minute, just smiled to a woman at a stoplight and she was nice and we talked and she left her number. And because of that small action, a chain of events occured leading to a mother and son recieving the gospel. You can never know the effect of your actions, even the small ones. Big miracle for me.

And we have a golden investigator, Brother Li, that we have been meeting with for the last month and a half, who is a member referral from a young woman in our ward. He has a wonderful testimony, is close to baptism, just needs to discuss with his parents a little more. He is 18, but seems to be more spiritually mature than many of the priests in the ward, has a great testimony of the prophet Joseph. His date is on the 20th of this month, I believe he will make it. I believe he will not have family opposition. If he does, I am sure we will be setting a mission record for number of prepared investigators in one area who are kept from baptism by family opposition. But it won't happen this time.
 
So overall, in the past month or so, we have found about 6 golden new investigators for other areas, at least 3 of whom will almost certainly be baptized this month, and the other three are all progressing amazingly. And our area never saw a single number come from it. It reminds me, I play for team Jesus, not for my own team. And I take comfort in the fact that coach knows exactly where he needs me and what he wants me to do. And that I know our team will win.

Elder Andersen and I were excited to complete our 18 mile run into Taipei this week, we ran from our apartment in Taoyuan to the mission home in Taipei for our zone leader meeting thing.  It was great. The thighs! I got so sore. Not in good enough shape to do that, we took about 3 hours which is not super fast, but we did run the whole way.

It was a reminder that running in Utah is way more enjoyable than running in downtown Taipei during morning rush hour with acid rain pouring down on you. Thanks to the pollution here, I will probably come home with smoker lungs. Unfortunately I am not exaggerating any of that, including the acid rain.
Nonetheless, I love the work.
Thanks for all the emails, I love your insights and thoughts. I love you.
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, March 31, 2013

 
Hey hello
 
Happy Easter!
I will not type in chinglish today. It was a good week. I continue to enjoy myself and we continue to see cool things happen. Generic week. I will try to write more specifics.
 
On exchanges I taught this man from Shanghai with weird Chinese, I could still communicate but he sounds funny. And he has always been Buddhist and loved reading scriptures, including the bible, just loves that stuff, really loves searching for truth. And one night he had a dream, where he saw a pillar of light, and saw two things descending, and it was two books, one was the Bible and the other he couldn't recognize but he could see it was blue. And not long afterwards, he ran into missionaries and as they talked, one pulled out the Book of Mormon and he recognized it immediately, and was shocked and excited, and in the past month has read the whole book, and is currently most of the way through D and C.  As he reads he is keeping a written log of all the different and new doctrines revealed in these two books that he has found no where else. He has no doubt the book is true.
 
I was pondering why one man might be so miraculously prepared by God to accept this message, while others may not. Had no answer at first. But I realized that is false, this man is not more prepared. He is prepared in a way that is impressive to human understanding, and that may lead to him being able to believe in this life, right now. But I think that God's plan for each one of his children is just as intricate and perfect, and will lead to just as perfect of an opportunity to accept the truth, at the right time and in the right way for each individual. The plans are already in place, and I think it is comforting to know that He doesn't just give everyone crazy dreams to help them believe, but instead does exactly what is needed in the eternal scheme for each of us.
 
Was also up in Longtan on exchanges. Interesting fact: That area has had about 40 baptisms in the last two years. Yet for the past decade, the number of active members on Sunday is about 60, and that hasn't changed at all. This is a widespread problem but in this case especially bad. What to do?
 
My real desire is conversion, I have seen it happen and I know it is possible, and it really doesn't matter if it happens in investigators or members or missionaries, I just want to see people believe in Christ with a faith that will secure their lives, see people develop that determination to never give up. There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like you were a tool used in the generation of real conversion.
 
And look at 徐弟兄. He is the 16 year old that has the parental un-permission problems. Not been baptized, yet this week I asked him what he feels about Jesus, and he says "I don't really know much about him, but I feel like I know him, and I know he is my savior." And it hit me, this kid 2 months ago had no concept of God and now has a faith in the Savior. But here is something cool: He has never read the Bible. Thinking about it, he is like a blank slate, never heard the stories of Jesus or anything. Doesn't know what Jesus did in Jerusalem, about his miracles of life or anything. He came to his savior entirely through the Book of Mormon, which is how we taught him. And he knows that Jesus is the Savior. We haven't touched the Bible yet. I am not saying that we shouldn't, or that the Bible isn't of value. But the fact that someone who is not religious at all has developed true faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior, and has done so through no method other than the Book of Mormon, is, to me, proof that this book brings people to Christ. I am confident the Bible could have the same effect, but that wasn't the case here. This is a book from God, if it weren't there is no way this kid could have felt the spirit or experienced this level of conversion.
Having said that, we have started teaching him the Bible stories, because they are invaluable. I just thought that was a cool little experiement.
 
For easter I read about Christ with his apostles after his resurrection. Thinking about how it must have started to dawn on them how this man they had spent years learning from and living with had actually conquered death, it had actually been done. And when they sat at the sea of Galilee and he tells Peter to "feed (his) sheep" and later commissions the 11 to tell the world. So there are 11 people, told to tell the whole world about Jesus. They didn't even know how big the world was back then. They must have thought it sounded impossible, to convince anyone at all, let alone go to every one of the different places, peoples, cultures, languanges, etc., and convince them of a "new" god, who had conquered death and sin.
And now there are missionaries in nearly every country, speaking nearly every languange. But in 2000 years, the charge and the message have not changed, we preach the resurrected Christ. It is happening. I do it every day in a place those apostles never even knew existed. Taoyuan county on the island of Taiwan off the coast of China seems pretty remote when you think about them sitting there at Galilee thinking "okay, sure, the whole world. Whatever you say." Isn't it amazing that this has happened, and that people believe it?
 
And last night, I stopped on the way home to talk to a high school student, and he was interested, so we taught him to pray and said one with him, and the spirit just came. He felt it and said he has never felt that way before, he used "warm","miracluous",and "indescribable", and then standing there on the street corner he said his first prayer ever, and thanked God for letting him feel that He is watching him. This is why people believe at all, even in a place where the majority of people are very set in the traditions of their fathers that they have been raised in. Because God confirms it to us one by one, in a unique way, to each person willing to try, and the confirmation is so special. 
 
I love being here. I know that the Savior has risen and that we all will as well. I love telling this to people every day.
Hope this email was better than last week's. Thank you so much for supporting me, and for the easter package, and for registering my classes. SO MUCH LOVE.
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hello
 
Oh man I feel like I was just here. Tired of weeks going this fast.
Update: Those investigators without parental permission still don't have support. They do have faith though, and that is more important. We decided we need some investigators that are not minors.
 
We continue to work hard, our area continue to see changes. Didn't have the best week, but still happy. Saw some miracles.
 
We teaching a brother 張 who is great. This man very humble, and has been prepare. As we talk about the restoration, he tell us how he always believing in the bible, but he also is always believing the world need something else, like sort of second record, to help convince people that Jesus is the Christ. When we share about both book of Mormon and about the modern revelation, he is very excited.
We also teach a other man, 石. He very has faith. Also, he feel the Holy Spirit very much. After we're pray, he tell us that the light is all around him, that he feel like there are a language, not Chinese and also not English, that teach him the things God want him to learn. We very much hope he continue to progress.
 
This week I get chance to return to my old area, 南崁. Very good opportunity, very much a fun time to see the place I before go to. I give call to my old investigators, and they remember still! I will be friends for all life with these friends.
 
This week at Sunday morning, we have feel to go to the park. We also feel that we need to find the family. We see and stop and talk to the girl, and she still remember that when she is little the missionary come to visit her family, but now she is in 20's. We talk, and say she want to learn again. Then, her boyfriend come to talk too, they both are very nice, and they both are having the interest. Big miracle, we know that it is the Holy Ghost that tell us to go, and when, and I grateful I can be tool in God's hand.
 
Oh this week I hear the 永和 missionaries tell me that at Saturday, the mom that elder Davidson and me begin to teaching back in August is baptized this week. Yay, 8+ months after, and through 4 sets of missionaries. So very happy to hear. God never give up on the investigator.
 
Thank you very much for to tell me the message of the family. You all are happy, so I also am happy. Sorry this week email is not long, but I write it in my best English, so I am hope that you are still finding the interesting.
 
I love you,
 
Elder Braithwaite

Monday, March 18, 2013

 
 
Hello
Thanks for all the emails, definitely fun to have a lot to read. Actually we just recently had a rule change, I can now email anyone, not just family, so if anyone wants to email instead of write a letter my email is evan.braithwaite@myldsmail.net
 
Arizona sounds great, I am still jealous, although I am not looking forward to the hot weather coming back, it should start getting warmer soon here. Transfers came, and Elder Andersen and I are a still together here in Taoyuan, which is great. We have learned to work well together. I will be "killing" him, this is his last transfer. It is funny, I trained two brand new elders in a row, and directly afterwards will be companions with two dying missionaries in a row. The difference between a missionary on his first and last transfers is very apparent.
The baptismal interview for Brother Xu didn't go through because his parents said no. He was so sad to tell us, he wants to be baptized so badly.  He really has a testimony, but they just don't want him to. This, in case you weren't keeping track, is the third time in three weeks that one of our investigators has been ready for baptism and we have started making plans, but then we cancelled the interview last minute because of parental opposition. Bringing our total of male investigators between the ages of 15-19 who have strong testimonies and are willing to be baptized, but whose parents say no, up to 5. So this is by far the most frustrating period I have had in my mission so far, working with these people for the past few months but not really getting that result, like we have done everything we can but in the end the situation just gets taken out of our hands. I don't feel bad for myself, but for them. It is so sad to see their hopes go down. These 5 people all need miracles to happen, please keep them and their parents in your prayers.
Nonetheless, I realized that I haven't failed at accomplishing the real goal. These people, 4 of whom I have seen from the first time they met missionaries until now, are becoming truly converted. They have gone from not believing in God to having faith in both Him and the gospel. They are finding joy in the scriptures and in prayer, and they want to come to church. It is such a miracle to me. So even if the step of baptism can't happen right now, it doesn't necessarily interrupt the process of conversion, not as long as they don't give up. That is what I am scared the most for, that they will start to fade, start to lose their drive or focus on the goal of baptism because of the challenges that they are facing. We'll see, it is more in the Lord's hands now, but we will be doing whatever we can to strengthen them.
We had other successes. We visisted a less active man, very very old man, and he tells us he will come back to church, and then he showed up on Sunday. I was shocked to see him, he actually did come, for the first time in years. Just because we went and visited him. I felt like all he really needed was someone to be his friend and talk to him, he is just a lonely old guy who lives by himself. When we went over, he told us "I always love when the elders visit, because they will always tell me 'you're so great!' and they mean it." Cool miracle.
I still love being a missionary, and I feel to humbled and grateful by the things we are accomplishing here. I know we will continue to be successful, and if God wants us to, we will have 5 baptisms, and then some others. But if not, that has little to do with whether or not I accomplish my purpose here. I love being a missionary and making all these friends, and I love the gospel. Thanks for always supporting me.
Elder Braithwaite
 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hello
 
Great week. We will see what happens, transfers are this week but there is very little chance I will leave, and I wouldn't want to, really. The zone has been doing great and seeing miracles. When I think back to how this area was when I first got here with Elder Lin, and the difference now, it is amazing. This is the place where I have seen the most change and felt the greatest sense of accomplishment. Seen it build out of nothing, more or less. At first I was annoyed to move to an area that wasn't doing well, and a little ticked at the previous missionaries for what I assumed (probably unfairly) was a lack of effort, but I realized that that attitude is wrong. First, God gave me an opportunity to really work hard and make changes, instead of just take something good and keep it going, and that has been a blessing. But also, I realized how little this all matters with an area, regardless of how bad it looks or what the past has been, that if you just trust God and do your part, things will work out. Doesn't matter what the circumstances are. It's not about the missionaries, it is God doing His stuff.
 
Our investigator, Brother Li, is also ready for baptism. And we wanted to schedule his service for this week, but no, his parents said he can't be baptized. I don't know if you have been keeping track, but that is 3 investigators we have now, 2 of whom I have contacted on the street and been able to see through the entire teaching process, that are completely ready for baptism, but cannot because they are under 20 (legal age) and their parents won't allow them. So they are just sitting around until either they turn 20 or their parents have a change of heart. Frustrating, this is the one problem I feel more or less powerless to overcome. With other stuff you can use the scriptures to help them get over whatever it is, this isn't really the same. We will keep trying, in the meantime they are all coming to church and reading and praying for miracles. I have faith that someday, maybe before I leave but maybe not, they will be baptized. Makes no difference really.
 
Nonetheless, we do have one more investigator, Brother Xu, who will be doing an interview at the end of this week, and should be baptized next week. Despite our track record, I have faith that his parents will give him permission. Please. This kid, just like the other 3, is great, and has a real testimony.
 
We talked to this guy on a massive BMW motorcycle, after chatting for a while found out his has run hundreds of triathalons and just recently took second in the nation for a super ironman (an ironman but all distances are doubled). Nuts. He invited us over to his house and we met him and his two sons who are the same, little sinewy Taiwanese guys who can probably run indefinitely. One of them wants to come to America when I get home and visit/run with us in Utah. He seemed pretty serious. I told him our house would be open. They are willing to learn about the gospel too. We'll go back next week.
 
Things have been fun lately. I love being here. A bunch of the missionaries here put together a dinner and invited some members and investigators, Elder Andersen and I made chili and cornbread. They don't sell cornmeal here, so we bought popcorn and put it in the blender to make meal, which worked great. The dinner went great and I made friends with these two aborigine friends of a member, I think I have said before that I really like the aborigine people here, they are all hilarious.
 
I did get the pictures, Mom, thank you! Also got the Saint Patricks Day ties. The Irish population is relatively small here... I don't think there will be much celebration. Thanks, hope the Arizona trips all go great. I am sure that changing the Mother's Day call time will not be a problem. I love you all!
 

 
 
 
 
The pictures are from one morning after exercise. Elder Andersen and I wanted to go up to the roof of our building, ended up getting a pretty good view of Taoyuan. Everything you can see is our area.
 
 
 
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, March 3, 2013

 
Family,
 
I am happy to be here. Still loving the mission. Had a lot of spiritually powerful lessons this week. Our investigator Brother Li will be doing a baptismal interview this week. I love that guy, he is very pure, very simple, which is special for a college student. We met him on the street 5 weeks ago, literally did nothing but say hello and be friendly for a minute, and then invited him to come to church with us on Sunday. His family is a pretty devout branch of Buddhism, they are all vegetarian and all that, but on Sunday he actually came and liked it, and has kept coming back.  Now has heard all the lessons and loves reading the book of Mormon every day. It is funny to me -- did I really have to be a missionary to say hi to a stranger and invite him to church? I probably wouldn't have done it if I wasn't, but it wouldn't have changed anything if I was just a normal member. Some people are just ready to hear it. All he needed was an invite.
 
Elder Andersen and I had to go back to Taipei this week for meetings, so we decided to ride our bikes up the rural hilly roads between Taoyuan and Taipei instead of taking the train. It was an adventure, fun to see what is up there, it has probably been years since any missionaries have every been up there. After about an hour we desceded into West Taipei and it was just packed city again. And I got a flat tire, which was bad and was exactly what I had said would happent the night before but my companion said, stop worrying, that won't happen. But we got a member to save us and take us the rest of the way to central Taipai for our meeting.
 
Why did God tell us not to worship idols? Sharing that with an investigator. God wants us to be happy so much. There is no better way than putting him before everything else. When anything in life becomes more important than Heavenly Father, you are giving up some happiness. The secret is right there in the first two of the ten commandments.
 
Got to exchange with an elder who played rugby and we spent an hour just talking about it, when we definitely should have been studying Chinese. However, I realized I miss that. But being here is worth it. YA!
 
I am including a picture of some gods parading around at this festival last week, up at a temple in Longtan. They are about fifteen feet tall, there are about 7 or 8 different gods, they walk around the city streets and then gather at the temple, and then leave. A lot of people came to watch, it was fun to see.
 
Love you!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hello,
I love you family! Happy Birthday Ashley! People are always still shocked by the fact that you have so many children at your age, so I hope that helps you know that you aren't old yet. Thanks for sending me the class schedule, Mom. Go ahead and do Chinese instead of music. Whatever works is fine, it sounds great, I am not too worried about it. Thanks for taking care of all that for me. Dad, you can tell that friend of yours that I would be interested, it sounds like a great oppotunity.   
 
Taiwan is great. Missionary is great. This week we had Elder Evans, the Director of the Missionary Department, come speak to us. Very cool. I learned that I should be more humble. I also learned that President Watson, in the Asia Area Presidency, knows us. He was at the meeting too and he stopped me and asked, "Who is your Dad" and I said Doug and he said he knows you and is from Cedar City, and he knows Grandma and Royden, and "Coach Wilbur", and was friends with Karl growing up. He is a very friendly guy and it was weird to have this connection to home and Manti and Cedar, just odd, but it was nice to remember family. You should look him up.
 
In his talk to us he discussed a lot of things, but specifically about the doctrine of the Lord making up the rest, with regards to our responsibilities. We have the work he has given us, whether our families or missionary work, and we have to do our best to fulfill these responsibilities, but we often won't do all we wish we could. Christ will make up for it all. I think he was trying to tell me to quit stressing so much about the areas I feel very fail in. Good reminder.
 
And I was still dealing with all these personal inadaquacies and doubts and stuff, just kind of not feeling very full of faith. And was walking back to the subway in Taipei and met Grandma Jeen, in Taiwanese form. She stopped and talked to us. Just reminded me so much of her, super genuinely happy and radiating niceness. She started talking to me and my companion and forced us to let her buy us some street food and eat it with her. One of the happiest old ladies I have met. She loves missionaries so much, she met them when she was in college and they changed her life. She converted her husband and they were pretty much pioneers in Taiwan, helping as leaders of the branches back when there were no members. She rode the subway with us and we waited at the bus station with her and just talked for an hour. I realized, the gospel has absolutely shaped this woman and her whole life and her whole family, and has made her so happy. She now lives in China, was just here visiting. She has to travel 6 hours round trip to attend her branch of 10 members each Sunday. I was just so impressed with her love and dedication. And I felt so bad for ever doubting that what I am doing has real effects.
 
Our investigator that is awesome, and is become so converted, Brother Wang, found out this week that his parents won't let him get baptized. We were planning on doing it this week. He is sad, but I am sure the Lord will provide a way in the end. This work doesn't fail. However, we are continuing to see success in many areas, we are working hard.
 
 
I love the work and I love being here. There is nothing I would rather do. Thank you for all the support. I wish I had more time, will write more next week maybe. Love you!
 
Elder Braithwaite


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hello
It sounds like everyone is happy! Congratulations Travis! Also Katelyn!
 
Great week. Chinese new years is now over. Not nearly as out of control as last year, in Taidong. Fireworks but nothing too weird. Last Monday we did drive with some members to this rural city south of here where there were a ton of people. Our lobster fisherman friend from New Brunswick (not Nova Scotia) came too. He may not progress as an investigator but is a buddy. Ate lots of stuff with members. Most of our investigators were gone for the week so not too much to talk about this week. One of those weeks that feels like we were busy but didn't really get much done.
 
Tired. I feel like remembering this week is hard. But I liked it, I remember that. Had a couple cool experiences following the spirit. Trying to continue to repent, realizing how difficult it is to even do the really simple, basic aspects of the gospel the right way, like prayer and scripture study. Things can be done, and then they can be done right, and I am trying to do them right.
 
 
We are still seeing a lot of progress here. Brother Ren has been really active since his baptism. His mom decided this week that she will stick with Taoism, doesn't really want to learn about the church for herself, which was sad, but I feel that someday she will follow her son. Several people are preparing for baptism in maybe a month or so. Seeing the difference between this area now, with real progressing investigators, and 8 weeks ago with no investigators of any kind, is really cool for me. So far this is maybe the area where I have felt the biggest change and sense of accomplishment. Still a lot to do though. My companion has been really blunt with the ward about some things that need to change. We are making plans, member work is our next goal. Always the hardest part of the work I think.
 
 
I am still not really sure about a lot of things, just trying to figure out how to be a good missionary. Still just want to really help someone. Grateful to be here. Feel like I could be doing more to help the zone members sometimes, some stuggling missionaries need saving. We are all just 20 year old kids. In the end ,it is a miracle this whole system works out at all. But still so happy. We will keep following the spirit.
 
I love being here. I love Jesus and the gospel. I love you family.
Sorry this letter was lame, I will pay more attention next week.
 
 
Tell Matt and Patrick I am willing to live with them if they promise to be nice to me. It will be weird to go back to being the shortest guy in the room instead of a head taller than everyone. Oh well. Let me know about how school registration goes.
 
 
Oh thanks for the inflatable moose head! Now everyone knows my mom is the coolest. We hung it up.
 
Elder Braithwaite
 
The picture is at the market we went to during new years. That bear is a great contacting tool. Everyone looks at me and most girls want to stop and talk/take pictures and know why I am here. Success.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Hello,

I am enjoying life still.  

Rode a lot this week, down to Yangmei from Pingzhen, out to Huwei and the coast with my companion to see the ocean. I know all these names mean nothing to you but I hope you know I'm tired. Lots of fun exchanges with interesting people who teach me a lot. The assistants stole me and made me go back to Taipei.  Fun to serve back in the central district of the city.
 
We are in the middle of Chinese new year. The fireworks and festivities are still big, but not nearly as nuts as last year when I was in Taidong on the east coast. That place exploded for this, so much crazy stuff going on, here is not too weird. We'll see how the rest of the week goes. Members will be and have been feeding us lunch and dinner every day. I will probably gain weight like I did last year. Worth it though. I ate sea cucumber last night. Lots of really good food.
 
Last night we were out on the street and saw this big white man with long hair, stopped him and his name is Mack and he is a lobster fisherman from Nova Scotia. It's an interesting story how he got here. We talked about God and he is our new friend, and we tried to read the Book of Mormon with him but he never learned to read or write. Somehow has still successfully created his own lobster business. He may come hang out with us today for P day. One of the more interesting white people I have met in Taiwan.
 
I had an epiphany while reading Jesus the Christ, learned that prayers aren't really about the words in the end, but about the feelings: that it is your spirit, your heart, your desires, communicating with the Father, and that this form of communication is so much more pure; that we as humans must direct these thoughts through the medium of language, but that when we pray with real emotion, pray through our innermost desires, the communication is that much more real. So I have really been trying to pray more with my heart, and it has already led to miracles. On the street, we met a man, and I said a prayer with him and did it with as much of my heart as I could, and when we finished the man was in tears. I know that this is because of the spirit, and because God answers when we ask with "a sincere heart and real intent". It is amazing how I have never understood this simple principle before.

 When I was serving in Nankan about a year ago, we had met with a member’s nephew, who is twelve and comes to church a lot but has never been baptized. I don't know why, but he hasn't continued meeting with the missionaries since then. He must have just been lost, because we had been whitewashed when I left back then. This week I saw him at church and remembered him, and we were able to start meeting with him again, and now he lives in our area and he was willing to set a baptismal date. I feel like the Lord is giving me a chance to help this kid and do what I didn't finish before.
 
We taught the atonement to an investigator and I asked him "how does it make you feel to know that Christ died for you?" and he pondered for a pretty long time, and answered, "I really want to know him." Reminds me of 3 Ne. 27:14 "And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father..." I love my Savior and I know his atonement does draw men to him, and it does change us, and I am so grateful that I can testify of Him each day.

 What else is there to say. I love my mission, it is going great, we are working hard. I expect to continue to do so.

I love you all so much. 

Elder Braithwaite
 
We made pots last pday at this city in Taoyuan County known for ceramics.

 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hello
I feel a little odd this morning, we ate at a members house last night and their old Hakkanese grandma fried us lots and lots of traditional Hakka turnip cakes, a little like hash browns but gooier and with stuff mixed in, which  we had to finish. They eat this at New Years. She was nice though but too much turnip.
Some highlights from this week: First, Brother Ren got baptized. He is super great. The ward was very supportive and he was nervous. He talked to me about how coming to church has improved his relationship with his mom, and they don't argue as much anymore, which is a success for any fifteen year old, so that made me happy. The cool miracle about this was his father, who works in China all year except for the week of Chinese new year when he comes home to visit. His dad got off the plane about an hour before the baptism, and came straight to it to support his son, and was really tired but we were so happy to have the whole family attend, really the Lord setting it all up so it worked out. Both his parents testify that their son is genuinely happier now that he comes to church, the gospel does change people. All three of them came to church the next day as well, and the dad will be back in China soon but the mom will probably have a chance to meet with missionaries.

We got a bunch of missionaries together last p day and played ultimate frisbee in this park and a lot of people stopped to watch us. Taiwanese have frisbees but they are only childrens toys or for dogs, so I think we were really interesting to them. One 60 year old man came and played with us for the last half hour, just wanted to make friends.

A priest in our ward brought his friend to meet with us, he is a super great kid. When I saw him he looked familiar, and he recognized me. Turns out he lives by the church and gets contacted by missionaries all the time, and he thinks I have contacted him before, which is pretty likely. But he always rejects the missionaries because "it was weird". But because he had a friend invite him to church, he was willing to come, and when he met with us he really felt good and realized we aren't that weird and even wanted to set a goal to get baptized. A testimony of how much more effective it is for a member to share the gospel than for a missionary. 

Finally found someone to teach using family history. We met this guy who talked to us for an hour about his ancestry, aboriginal Taiwanese and people from this part of China where all the people got converted to Islam centuries ago, and just went on, and wants to come to our family history center with us later. 

In Taipei for more meetings, but when we finished, the missionaries from the Taizhong mission were just getting out of the temple (they come up every once in a while to do that), and I got to see some people I knew from high school like Ryan Allen. It was fun and we both realized that not much will really change once we all get home, people are more or less the same people. Obvioiusly we will have some good changes and will have learned a lot but it just made me not excited for this to end, just kind of felt weird. 

That was a better letter than last week I hope. There is actually a lot more I meant to write about, maybe next week. I love you all, glad to hear about Keith, I did fast for him with you. Also glad to hear that Katelyn is getting baptized, it will be on the second day of Chinese New Years which starts this Saturday. Happy Birthday and Happy Baptism Day, Katelyn, billions of people in China will light fireworks for you! 

Love,
Elder Braithwaite