Sunday, January 27, 2013

It was a really packed week. Got rid of Elder Lin, he is now home in Jiayi. I will miss him, there are very few missionaries that are really the same as him. It was super weird being with a missionary on their last few days, we worked hard but it just felt weird. My new companion is Elder Andersen, who is really smart and we get along great. He also happens to be going home in three months, I guess President wants to keep me with the elders who are on their way out. But it seems like he has a real desire to work up to the end. Things will be good, I will learn a lot from him. 

We will be having a baptism this week! Brother Ren. He is 16 and was contacted on the street. He just wanted to make church a part of his life. He says he never felt like he really got anything or learned anything out of his family's Daoism traditions but he loves the feeling and the learning at church. Just wanted a belief that helped him grow. I am glad he is a thoughtful, smart 16 year old who ponders about this stuff, I probably didn't at that age. We were going to baptize him at a waterfall that the young men will be hiking to on Saturday, but decided not to so the ward could attend. His dad will be coming home from his work in China for Chinese New Year, so he can attend the service which is awesome. I love supportive families. This is such a miracle that he has met the church and progressed so fast, this has all happened over the past 5 weeks. Hopefully someday his family will follow, his mom took us out to eat this week and is really friendly to us. 

Other than that this week was super busy.Trains to Zhubei and Zhongli and Taibei twice and a bus ride to Longtan and it seemed like all our time was just gone. The zone is having a lot of baptismal interviews which is good. I want to teach a family. Elder Andersen does too. We believe it will happen. Still working hard. I think one of the scariest scriptures is the parable of the talents, I have really been trying to decide if my development as a missionary has had an actual increase or if I have just sort of stayed "pretty good". Saw a bunch of good friends go home this week and just made me anxious about how little time I have left. 

I will fast for Keith with you. I am sure everything will work out. It sounds like you are all doing great. Thanks for keeping me updated. 

I love you all!
Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hello

Thanks for the update. The book sounds good. I am not able to read it now though, but if you send it to me I could give it to my president, he would probably like things like that. 

Good week. I had fun. We are finally seeing the area pick up some momentum. Finally seeing real progress! 7 of our investigators came to church, including this one family, this is cool. The mom is from a Buddhist family, met missionaries and was converted at about 17 years old here in Taoyuan. She later served as a missionary, and later moved to America and became inactive. Married a man from Minnesota who was born in a Catholic family but converted to Buddhism at about 17, and they had a son. They just moved here about 2 years ago, and missionaries contacted the husband on the street. He and his son don't speak Chinese. He invited them over but no progress was made then. We recently went over to visit again and they are super duper friendly to us and the dad and son came to church this week. It was fun to have some other white people at church. 

I will miss Elder Lin a lot. He has four days left now. We had a great experiment with cooking this week. Neither one of us had ever tried it and Elder Lin loves to cook, and the opportunity presented itself, so we bought and cooked a full set of bull reproductive organs. Probably won't send pictures in order to maintain the spirit of this email. After cooking and trying it we realized it was not very delicious, so we chopped it all up so it wasn't so obvious and made it into a soup and fed big bags of it to several member families and missionaries. Didn't tell them what it was, until later. A lot of them called and wanted to know why the meat in the soup was so rubbery. Luckily everyone just laughed when we told them, I think that is proof that we have good relationships with the members in this ward if we can get away with something like that. 

I love you all. I have been trying to make it through the New Testament in Chinese, which is written in harder to understand old Chinese, but I am realizing that reading it slower is helping me envision it a lot more. Just really thinking about the humanness of the Savior this week, about how he was still a man, was still human. Had a few times this week where I was cold and soaking wet in the rain trying to talk to people and just remembered this, and felt the biggest desire to just be giving more. It is hard to know how to give more sometimes, but I believe its always possible. 

I am happy. I did a baptismal interview this week for a man who has completely changed his life around. He shared with me his story, when he first started meeting the missionaries all his work friends made fun of him for the changes, like not drinking with them. But they have seen how slowly making these changes in his life has made him kinder, happier, healthier, just better overall. Now no one makes fun of him.  Instead several of them want to start coming to church with him. Just one more reminder that the most powerful way to spread the gospel is through your example. 

I love you all so much! 

Elder Braithwaite





Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hello

Not much time. Things are still improving (slowly) in our area. Elder Lin is still pretty aware that he is going home in two weeks, but we are having fun. He also got T- boned by a scooter but no injury. Going to the temple in an hour or so.

Met this one guy and he was willing to meet with us because he had just recently seen the "Life of Pi" movie and decided he needed to find God and figured meeting us was a sign. It is fun how God sets things up like that.

I have been feeling extra grateful lately, for more stuff than normal. I realized how God doesn't really want to bless you if you think you deserve it. There is a connection between repentance and recognition of your unworthiness with your ability to receive what God wants to give you.
Hopefully I am making some good changes in myself.

Thanks for the letters and pictures and stuff. It is cool that all my friends are home. Tell them I love them, because the odds of me writing them are low. My life is probably way better than theirs right now. Matt's little sister should get here the transfer I leave, which means we would see each other for one day, that would be fun.

I love you all so much! Being a missionary is the best. Thanks for being such a great family.

Elder Braithwaite

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hello

Things were rough this week but still happy. I don't have much time to write at all. We spent all week in meetings which I dislike but I have faith that it has its purpose, just too many trains back and forth from Taipei. Made it hard to help our area which is what I really want to work on. I love my companion though. He is not a normal person in most ways.

However, we still saw some cool stuff happen, like this husband and wife just wandering into church on Sunday and asking if they could attend the sacracment meeting with us. I said no. Just kidding that would be dumb. I said yes. Another cool story, I think I already wrote to you about this, the man who I started teaching in Neihu over a year ago, who had a million challenges to overcome before being able to be baptized. Well he made it, and was baptized on Saturday and since I was already in Taipei for stuff I got to attend. Meetings do have some benefits. Just a big reflective moment for me. I could have never guessed that this man would actually make it someday, when we first started it seemed impossible, but that is a very incorrect attitude to have. Seeing how much he has changed, humbled himself, given his life to God and found faith and become happier. The changes seemed more dramatic because I haven't seen him for a year. So there is a point for team Jesus, about a dozen elders worked with him, just glad as always to be a step in the process. And a testimony that you really never really see the end from the beginning or know what part you are playing in God's plan, just kind of do what is good and hope that you didn't mess up what God wanted you to do and it will all turn out pretty in the end, at least from the perspective of the person who sees the whole picture.

I am trying my best and so that is all I got. Our area is still struggling pretty bad, but it has definitely improved since coming a few weeks ago. The zone overall is also struggling. And yet, I feel like the thing I have learned on my mission is how to not really be negatively effected by dissapointment or stress, what a great skill. That is what is so great about this job is that I always feel happy. Yay!

Thanks for all the pictures! I am glad Christmas was great. I love you all so much.

Elder Braithwaite