Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 22

I was shipped off elsewhere, I'll let you make your guesses! I'll give you a hint, I'm not on the east coast anymore, so that rules out Hualian and Yuli.  I'm as far west and south in the mission.

I am in.....

Miao Li! sat on a train for like 8-9 hours and am literally right on the border of the Taizhong mission. I joke that President Day doesn't want to see me, so he keeps sending me to the outskirts of the mission, that or I am secretly a Taizhong missionary.
I already love it here though! the members are super nice! One of them has the same last name (Chinese) as me! My mission given name is super rare so that is really cool to have another Ding in my home ward.

Our branch had a thanksgiving day party in Taidong right before transfers. I don't know why but we seem to celebrate holidays like 5 weeks early, so yeah I have been super confused, plus the weather doesn't change here, so it is really throwing me off.

Monkey See...
Had some turkey and they also had mashed potatoes. I am definitely missing the US every time we try to celebrate our holidays.

My new companion is Elder Weng! He is an ABC from wild and wonderful West Virginia! pretty cool! Morgantown to be specific! Make sure to tell Grammy.

There are a total of 4 Elders in our apartment. Its waaaaay nicer than the one we had in Taidong.  The area has more city stuff like one way streets and many more people to talk with.

Hope you guys are really giving thanks this week - I am!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 21

Battle Scars
I crashed on my bike pretty bad this week! I'm OK just some scrapes and bruises. My bike tried to change gears on me while I was standing up to pedal harder, it like skipped and jumped through a couple of gear changes and I lost complete balance and went down.  I'm fine and no cars nearby but maybe another reason to pray for me to stay in Taidong, or at least not to transfer to super busy Taipei.

Wow! It’s amazing to think that I have been in Taiwan for what is quickly approaching 3 months! I feel like I just got here, and at the same time like I have been here forever very hard to describe.

The photo of the plunger is because our kitchen flooded this past week.  So I had to ‘borrow’ it from the church building as our apartment doesn’t have one. Our apartment has so much charm, it’s the only residence in the mission with 6 elders, and I really love it - yet another reason not wanting to leave.

Sister Day's Gift to our District
Interviews happened this past week with President and Sister Day and they were great! With Sister Day we just pretty much talk about how I am health wise and how my family is, and making sure you all are communicating with me ha! - You guys better keep up on your emails, letters, and packages - I hear she can really get after those who don’t write their missionaries. Sister Day gave our whole district very thoughtful gifts - picture enclosed.

When meeting with President Day however we talk about the goals I have set for myself and discuss them. Then he helps set new ones or adjust the ones I had. During the interview we were talking about Taidong, and I said "I really do love Taidong", he chuckled and said "Yes, Taidong is a great place", then twisted his head a bit got a wicked smile and said "but you won’t be in Taidong forever Elder Dickson".  Puzzled I inquired "will I be here next transfer?” he paused and just let it hang in the air. After what seemed like a minute of dead silence he said "well move calls go out Wednesday, so if you get one you get one, and if you don’t, you don’t need to worry about it".

Dad attending 12 primary programs sounds like he now knows all the songs by heart.  Speaking of primary program - we had ours here this past week.  Just letting you know the church is true, because it’s the same everywhere, especially primary.  Don’t have to speak Mandarin to pick up what the music and the youth talks were getting across. It was really adorable and made me miss all the primary programs I made it through back home.

Our Newest Member
In other news, we had a baptism this week!!! Our newest Brother is super cool. His mom is a member, but his Dad is not - we’re working on that.  Super nice family! The baptism was a little crazy though. His Mom was crying and we had to share the baptismal service with the other branch, I had to say the ordinance a second time because hey it’s my second language and I was a little nervous.   He was super hungry so he kept sneaking off to eat super messy curry AFTER HE WAS IN HIS WHITE clothing, and after getting baptized he tried to swim in the font - it was a little hectic but hey he and his family are really committed to the gospel.

Love you all and miss you all so very much! Hope you all have a great week, and be sure to pray for me that I get to stay in Taidong and upright on my bike.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week 20

I am glad you two are keeping busy! Empty Nesters - sounds a little creepy - personally I didn’t care for the group FHE’s at school and that’s what it sounds like to me.

So happy that Catoctin Ward finally has sister missionaries - they are always special. You should really try to do what they say!

The work here and what you have been reading, well yup pretty much true.  Way cool that a Taiwan RM came and spoke to the High Council this week and I have seen the scroll picture on the life of a convert that he showed you - it is a cool picture, and I always loved it.

Camilla’s mission call! I already knew. Her email didn’t send right away though, so I had to wait for it before reading anyone else’s email because I knew everyone else would tell me (as if I don’t email her), so that’s why I was late in sending you all an email. Camilla’s call is super great and I am incredibly psyched for her! It looks like she'll get back like a month and a half after me, but that may mean she may get back too late to make it to the fall semester at BYUH, but we have time to figure that out…

Snail Trail Up My Pant Leg : (
This week was harder than most. We didn’t meet any of our goals. All of our people from the tsunami are no longer meeting with us so it’s pretty much constant rejection. It was crazy hard to stay positive this week, however I really love to look at the things the numbers don’t tell. One of my favorite members (who I guess doesn’t count as a less active anymore : ) is receiving the Aaronic priesthood, and one of our investigators actually passed their baptismal interview so there is good but still an amazingly hard week.

Crazy thought though that I might be leaving Taidong soon but only the Lord knows, but still this is all I know of missionary life in the field and I’ve come to really love the people we work with.  The picture with the ‘snail trail’ is after an impromptu service project we worked on, and I think he was hitching a ride because it was too wet for him as well.  The other photo is from a place called Sam’s Burger. The one I ordered is called the "Big Hungry Now" it is three beef patties and six strips of bacon - yes my pants still fit!
Sam's Burgers - Triple with Bacon!

Thanks for always asking if I need anything. My shoes should be good for a bit longer. Probably will make a great birthday present though! I told Jillian about an herbal tea (dong gua cha) which won’t be too hard to send back home so that and the scroll - I’ll see what I can do.
The members think Elder Allred is leaving after this transfer, and they love him to death, so they (and very nice of them) keep taking us missionaries places on pday, which are actually really fun, but that means I'll have less time to get this stuff, but I will try - just don’t be too bummed if it gets there later than Christmas!
Taidong is honestly looking up, and hopefully lots of people we can teach coming up!

We too are hoping for a white Christmas - because we believe!  Love Elder Dickson.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 19

Hi Jiātíng!

We didn't even feel the earthquake, so you’re email asking if we are OK is the first I heard of it.

Crinkle Cookies Recipe Worked!

The missionary tsunami was somewhat successful. Through all our work we taught five new potential followers of Christ! A lesson for us means a face to face discussion with someone who is unfamiliar with the Gospel and usually has an opening and closing prayer and some kind of spiritual discussion - typically starts with families and how we are all His children.  So far we have only one person out of those 5 who actually met with us on the day we set-up after our first meeting. Judging from the other companionships this sounds like it was the about the average.

So we had four additional missionaries with us during the tsunami this week - so if you’re keeping track that means 10 teenage young men in our 4 person apartment, including one of President Day’s assistants. The whole time they were with us they kept discussing how much different Taidong is for doing missionary work compared to the ‘big’ city areas farther north.  This actually
Finished Paint Job
made me feel a little better, as I often feel I haven’t had too much success here the past 2 months.

Some of my concerns are that every Sunday I look to see how many people attend sacrament services and honestly I have been thinking, especially as I do more prayers and reflections, that we should be focused more on strengthening our existing members.  To help make my case - an example - one of our less active members has, for about the past month, been coming to church regularly, attending all the meetings, connecting with the full time missionaries, and helping us teach and go on splits when we have these extra lessons.  He told us this Sunday he now has his interview to receive the Aaronic priesthood. There is one other new priesthood holder who is on the path to becoming a Melchizdek priesthood holder.  I believe that is really to the key to everything in "building" the kingdom and expanding the faith and blessings of the people in this area. Of course what I am writing is probably all xie du (blaspheme), but these are just my thoughts.  The branch technically has over 200 members but only around 50 come on the Sabbath so this is why I feel we should really be focused on strengthening from within.

In other news, I have a pretty bad sore throat, and am trying to cope with that now, while speaking Chinese - a little more challenging and pretty interesting sounding like a frog, but hey now I kind of sound like everyone else!

Soaking Wet - All Day - But Still Smiling
The weather report you quoted was very accurate - it has rained here - downpour almost every day this past week.  All the rain and being wet all day doesn’t help with the sore throat. Other than weather challenges nothing really new here somewhat feels like the same day over and over again, especially with the rejection and resistance in all things Christ. Feels like I rarely get anything done, but it’s where I am supposed to be so I'll just keep going.

Certainly glad to hear about Luc Besson - kind of cool that he is shooting a movie here and if you are correct the movie’s release date will coincide with my release - so maybe I can sit in a warm and dry movie theatre and watch Taiwan on the big screen when I return.

I've been asking all the members here their opinion about where I could do my best work in helping the Church to grow and they all think I'm leaving this next transfer and will head up to Taipei - not sure if that means they want me to go or they really think that is where I can magnify my efforts.  Taipei - who knows, but I guess I will in about 2-3 weeks where I am to be working and who my new companion will be.

Hope everything back home is good, and just think of me at Thanksgiving, with no mashed potatoes, or cheese.  Our local ward is trying to do a thanksgiving party - everyone here seems to love US culture, but the food is always Asian based - always - so I hope to experience Thanksgiving like in the movie “A Christmas Story” - and hope the “turkey” is not smiling at me : )

At least there is always hope...Love you all and miss you all lots.

P.S. You asked what you could send me - does chocolate count as necessity? Pretty sure mom thinks it anything chocolate would be great!  You also asked why my bike looks so horrible - it’s supposed to look horrible so it doesn’t get stolen!