Thursday, June 26, 2014

Week 52! One Year! - Over the Hump!

Photo-Bomb from Taiwan!
Size - It Is a Difference

Thank you for all the pictures! my companion and I had a good laugh at all the life size cut out. Weird that its already happened. looked fun though! and everyone is still alive and friends!

Only transfer news is we find out this Wednesday if someone is moving. First time in my mission I hope we don't change...therefore I'll move haha

Glad trek was fun! Glad your family was great. My family was a bunch of stinkers and 'debbie downers'. Don't worry, it rained the whole time for me too. My family was pretty happy I was in their family when they realized I was the one who reinforced all the tents and made sure they were water/rain safe.

Weird the front of the house is going to be all different - I can't believe all the work you guys are having done to the outside.

Nothing new here. Still in Lu Zhou. Gonna be here for 1/4 of my mission. That's crazy. What is even scarier is that it could be longer. Next transfer 31 new missionaries are coming to Taiwan. President Day said that a total of 3 companionships in the mission would not be training a new missionary. IF I end up training here, I'll be in Lu Zhou for like 9 months...This place feels TINY!!!

Other news we finally had someone come to church!!! :D prayers for Sister Liao are always appreciated.

Other than that nothing new... Same old same old. Feels weird I will have been gone for a year this week. Definitely hit my mid life crisis. I'm now an "older missionary". Feels weird I'm on the down hill slope of things now - the language is second nature now and it's true what others say - I even dream in Chinese.

Anyways miss you all and love you all lots! Thank you for sending me stuff! Hope you all have a great (and finally relaxing) week/summer!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 40

Yes! heard about Anna's call to Rome - awesome, she'll do great!
Can't wait to hear from her and Lauren.

So the Asian face. we call it here "bu hao yi si" basically means they are too polite and nice to tell you they don't want anything to do with religion. So you'll be meeting with folks for a month before they finally tell you they like bai bai -ing (worshiping ancestors). Honestly the whole family thing is kind of used as an excuse. They try to make it a big deal so you think they would love the whole forever families doctrine right? nope. They go for the "no other success can compensate for the failure at home". Most people just do it out of tradition. They don't know why, they just do it, and life seems good enough for them. They have food so they are happy (or think they are). Honestly as far as teaching them I just talk to everyone and whoever will listen I keep going.  So we may see more rejection, but the people that don't run away, or yell at us in Taiwanese, stick around and are actually good investigators. So that's pretty much what I and the whole mission are doing besides teaching English.
Me and Elder Thornley

Nothing too new on my end. Its warm here. Like the summer is going to be rough. I was already sweating and dying and its only spring. The name of the game now is to not have yellow shirts by the end of august. Don't worry I'm washing them frequently! Elder Thornley and I are both still here in LuZhou. Though its weird. There are already six people from my generation who are now training people! Elder Rasmussen from my last area, he was always going places (Princeton man), and Sister Tracy and Sister Thornley! So happy for them!

Please know my companion and I spent like 10 minutes starting at the iPad picture that you sent from the Sister's iPad in our home Ward there in Virginia. That would be so all the work and coordination is done for them...We have to hand write all of our stuff...and use paper! Can't wait to get some technology.

Yeah I used the skin products you sent for like 2 weeks, and my acne just kept getting worse and worse. I changed back to some cheap face wash I found here, almost immediate difference.

I knew you guys were due for a crazy snow storm this Spring but I had no idea it was to be so many. Here is nice, this week is supposed to be sunny and 80's! which actually stinks with dark pants on...but seems that spring is here, and summer is coming fast! and its probably going to be a hot one. Got me a 2L bottle so I don't get dehydrated.

Classic sitting on the bridge picture
Thanks for asking but you really don't have to send an Easter package! My birthday and Easter are super close so just do one package if you must. Though if a package is coming, can you please send my electric shaver (and power cord)? It'd save me lots of time...and pain.

We are trying to go to families and members here and help them create a family mission plan (focus of the training with President Day). Should be interesting! As far as investigators go, Chen Di Xiong - If he had a baptismal interview he would pass, he just has a huge issue with tithing. He asked if it would ever change -_- so we are going to be working on faith this week.

My district here, I am the youngest (time in the field) missionary. Only one person from my MTC district is in my Zone but its okay, I like getting to know new people! Though this week ends the transfer!

Hope you all are well. Miss you and love you lots!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 35

Thanks for sending the picture of 'getting the band back together' - Haha its good to see all those guys are still going. and I can't wait to see those videos of dad playing the drums!

Why so much snow in DC? and why couldn't that have happened while I was there? Oh well hope it isn't too bad.

Emails and letters, would love to get a few more emails - my email is still

Thank you for the package! I really try not to be too needy but chocolate always helps!
Thanks for sending the acne stuff, but no guarantees. With all the stress, sweat, oily food, and lack of time, it'll have a lot to fight against. If all else fails, we can just nuke it when we get back.

Trying to send a picture, its hard as every internet café' place is different and I'm still trying to figure out where I can insert the SD card from the camera, but we took a few pictures today that should get to you.

The work is going well.  People here are either hot or cold - no in between, either they want to hear about our Lord and Savior or they do not makes it easier to figure out where to spend your time and His.

One of the people we are working with 'CDX' had an awesome experience, well we did too. I have been really bad about praying for investigators and their specific needs, I just usually pray about their efforts in general so I really tried to work on that all this past week. We went in to talk to him about prayer and how we can pray for anything and Heavenly Father will help us. So we had an appointment with him earlier this week and he let us know that he has been struggling to find a job (he has been for a while), and one day he just really prayed for help. He said pretty much right after praying his phone rang, got an interview, and then got a job the very next day! Needless to say my comp and I had our jaws drop more than just a little. It was really cool. His prayers weren't the only ones that were answered!

Elder Holland's visit was incredible. Notes from my mission President are at the bottom.
Hope you all have a great week and that the snow doesn't get you too bad! I miss you all very much, and love you even more! Stay warm!

A Letter From My Mission President This Week 
Is there any question in anyone’s mind that having an apostle of the Lord visit our mission is one of the Miracles of February?
Elder Holland shared with me that he was very impressed with each of you.  Your singing of “Hark, All Ye Nations” as Elder and Sister Holland, Elder and Sister Wilson, and Elder and Sister Hallstrom entered the Cultural Hall where you were assembled touched each of them deeply.  You heard how Elder Wilson mentioned your singing brought tears to his eyes.  You were an impressive sight.
Many thanks to each of you who arrived on time, waited patiently to sing and then have your picture taken.  Everything went off without a hitch, and Elder Holland commended each of you for how you acted and performed.
I know that each of you felt their Spirit as you shook the hands of these General Authorities and their wives. They commented on how appropriately you conducted yourselves and the mighty spirit they felt from you.
It was impressive to see all you rise as these great men and their wives entered the chapel and took their seats on the stand.
The Mission Conference started a little later due to no fault of ours, and originally, Elder Holland intended to finish the meeting at 8:00 p.m. as originally planned.  I sent him a note in the middle of the meeting asking him to stay as long as the Spirit directed because I knew that each of our missionaries wanted to be fed by him.  I know that he could feel  your desires as I plead on your behalf, and as he handed the note to  his wife, I saw some tears come to his eyes.  As you know, he stayed to 8:30 to feed you.
And I know you were not disappointed.
I know that you will never forget the testimonies of Elder and Sister Wilson and Elder and Sister Hallstrom as they testified about the nature of Elder Holland’s apostolic calling.
I know that you will always remember the sweet testimony of Sister Holland and her declaration to you that “you are the greatest miracle” even “greater than the parting of the Red Sea.”
And I know that the words of Elder Holland, spoken directly to you, individually and collectively, will be forever engraved upon your hearts.  Many of you were taught by his words, but as I watched your faces and the tears streaming from your eyes, I know that many of you were taught even more by the Spirit that he brought and what you felt.
Here are a few things I wrote in my notes concerning Elder Holland’s remarks. I know that many of you have much, much more:
·         “We only send the world’s best to Taiwan.”
·         “We didn’t get up this morning and decide to come here and share a fairy tale.”
·         “Don’t go home with any regrets.”
·         “I want you for the rest of your life to feel like I did about my mission.”
·         “This is real life.  You will never come closer to real life than right here.”
·         “You are on an ascending curve.”
·         “Everything you want for your investigators, He wants for you.”
·         "You are to take interested people from the Sacred Grove to the Garden of Gethsemane.”
·         “When we shake your hands we interview you.”
·         “I know that the Taiwan Taipei mission is poised for the hastening of the work.”
·         “Why is this so hard?….Because salvation is not a cheap experience.”
·         “God never intended a mission to be easy.”
·         “It cannot be easy for you because it was never easy for Him.”
·         “A little bit of your mission must be spent lugging a cross.”
·         “The road to salvation goes through the Garden of Gethsemane.”
·         “Don’t think you’re going to have a picnic in Taiwan.”
·         “You have to sign on for the whole experience.”
·         “Don’t spend time wondering why your mission is hard.”
·         “You are being shaped and molded into disciples of Christ.”
·         “Difficulties will make you more like the Son of God.”
·         “Your family has you on a pedestal.”
·         “you are the most prayed over group in the Church”
·         “Everyone wants their children to grow up and be just like you.”
·         “We’ll absolutely change the world.”
Take these words and ponder them - and let’s absolutely change the world.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 30

Sorry, but I didn’t get any emails last week!
And so sorry I assumed so quickly that you didn’t send any!

So you want to ride a bike here?!
Please understand what goes on in a missionary's mind. Our biggest fear are those horror stories you hear about being forgotten - left behind and alone - and everyone has moved somewhere else back home. Yes we all laugh at them, but really inside we are petrified that it will happen to us.

So cool that Stevie is going on out! I know he will do great! Good to know that with Lauren and Stevie going I won’t be the only one serving from the Catoctin Ward. 

Thank you about the school advice. I think that is kind of what I was leaning for - to go back and finish and then look for something in my area of study - may be international - seems to make the most sense to me.

The reason why I keep bringing up my acne is because in Taiwan, within 1 minute of talking to me, the Taiwanese person starts talking to me about how bad my acne is. I’m used to it now, the culture is rather blunt, but they talk about it lots - well at least they speak to me : )

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner!
Luckily we have a temple day coming up which means that in a couple weeks, my personal day will get messed around, so please don’t panic and worry if I’m late in getting emails out - like I did : (

This past week has been really long. We had lots of meetings and other administrative things we had to go to.  We have been ‘invited’ to do this when we introduce ourselves - touch our name tags and let the person know our purpose!  It has been a crazy challenge, and really scary at times, but it’s actually been working. Lots of people quickly steer clear of us but we know if they don’t run away when they read what our badge says that they probably actually have interest in why we are here - weird - but seems to work! So we are all to remember to be bold in what we do and everything else takes care of itself!  The Spirit rules!

I miss you all lots and love you all even more.

Thank you so much for all the support and love you all give me.

Elder Dickson

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week 28

Oh wow it sounds so cold there! pretty much the same here like 15-17 degrees...Celsius ha ha. Nice that it hasn't been as rainy recently which is really starting to feel like a decent spring!

Thanks for the screenshot of my records - good to know that the University officially recognizes that I'm on a mission. I made sure before I left that my counselor had multiple records of me being here so credits carry and I am still able to continue my work.

Something I have been thinking recently is that while I do love biochemistry, and still fully plan on it being my major but I really want to keep studying music in some way shape or form. Like I was dying back at school before being so focused on just biochem things, so would it be really dumb if I took some music classes and such? I don't know just something I was thinking about recently.

New years for Miao li... president day said we could celebrate!! bed...with our eyes closed. The folks here acknowledge that it is a new year, but the big thing here is Chinese new year. I hear it is pretty Taiwan basically shuts down....

Yes Miao li has lots of Ke jia (hakka) stuff. It's a little strange because back in Taidong I was picking up more taiyu (other aboriginal group). So now I know like all three languages. but I understand when people say that hakka language sounds pretty harsh. The food is okay, nothing really to rave about. Its pretty much the same. Your only choice is rice or noodles really...

Chinese Hymnal
This week was certainly interesting lots and lots of finding more people that want to learn English and inviting them to our classes. We did have one lady who we thought was a little crazy come to class and then show-up at church, but turns out she is just eccentric. We followed-up and invited her to come to family home evening at a
members house. We knew should could play piano, so we asked her to help the evening by playing a hymn. Her first time reading the music for "Be Still My Soul", and she turned it into a concert level performance - like adding her own flurries and side threads, the members just looked at us with their jaws dropped. It was really cool. she's really good at piano. so we are going to keep meeting with her and see what happens!

Also at church we had like over 100 people come, which is like huge for Miao li. We actually had people out in the hallway, and we had to use the additional back-up host and Spirit during sacrament. So yeah miracles in other unexpected ways!

Today we plan to go to a kaorou chi dao bao. (bbq buffet(chi = eat Dao = too bao=full)). We also found a place here that has a 72 oz. steak challenge like the one in Texas. We're going to tackle it as a district at the end of the next transfer.

'Old' Street in Miao li - foodie heaven at night!
When I was in Taibei during Christmas there were a lot of new missionaries listed as coming on island soon - so start praying for me to not be a trainer : )

Hope you all are having a good time and managing to stay warm!

I am still fine and alive, and it is weird to think I have been living here for like over 6 months now. Hope you all stay happy and healthy and that everything is great back home. Miss you and love you all lots!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Week 27

Thank you so much for getting all the pictures from my “homies” Great to know I’m in their thoughts at Christmas!

"a river runs through it"
Skype worked! Yea! Kind of an empty interesting feeling afterward, but once I got back into doing all the work we have here all I could remember was that I was lucky enough to see all of you and talk to all of you.  Something that surprises me - I hate doing nothing…One day we had some down time and I just knew I needed to be doing something, before I knew it, I was actually shaking I was so uncomfortable not doing anything.

The Taiwan member that let me use his laptop to communicate with you is Zhu Di Xiong.  He just came back from his mission. He is super nice and a strong member. I know you guys want to send him something to say thanks and I tried to hit him up and see if there is anything he would want from the USA, but he caught on pretty quick to what I was doing and shied away…I'll think of something.

So you guys overheard me talking with Zhu and you were impressed with my language skills - that’s only because he speaks really slow so I can keep up : ) Yes the language is...still coming. But I think about where I was 6 months ago, and well its improving so that is the goal right?

This week was certainly interesting. Our English class is down to just a few people and our service projects have slowed way down too - so I guess we have lots of time trying to find people. Anyways we still are working very hard.  I seem to have a collection of badges now...changes in the format throughout the mission...I prefer the bi-lingual ones at the top and I think these are the ones we'll stick with.

The next time I email I will be in my 4th transfer on island. Time is really flying. It does go by faster the more you do the work though.

I hope the trip to the temple goes well! Thank you for selling my motorcycle and transferring me the money for all the rest of my unused dongxi (stuff) that you sold.

I hope you all have an absolutely amazing New Year and set good New Year’s goals!! Have an amazing week!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 25

Elder Dickson's Ward family back home sent him some Christmas wishes!