Sunday, February 24, 2013

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

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


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

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! 

Elder Braithwaite