Monday, March 18, 2013

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
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

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