Monday, November 22, 2010

Letter # 81 - Final Letter and Testimony

Well this is my last letter.

I can't really explain the feeling that are going in my head right now. I feel that at moments that nothing is wrong and that everything is just normal, and then I am suddenly reminded that my mission is just about to be over and I am going to be home in a day. Thoughts of nervousness, anxiety, and obvious excitement all at the same time is quite the emotional roller coaster.

The first thing I should talk about is the report from this week. This week went well for us. It was a weird thought thinking that it was my last week but I was constantly just trying to do my best not to think about it but while at the same time needing to face reality. This last week I had decided in my heart that I was going to endure to the end no matter what, that I was really going to try my best and treat it as if it was just another missionary week. I feel like I did well and because of that decision we were still able to be productive.

In Taiwan, the members love to feed the missionaries, especially ones that are heading home. We had lots of people feed us and take us out. One were the parents of a new member we taught and was baptized in my second area. Her parents are not members and it was a cool missionary opportunity, especially for a couple that knows absolutely nothing about the Church, or Christianity in general. With all the people wanting to take us out it could have been incredibly easy to slack off and take it easy my last week but my companion and I, like I said, made a very conscience effort not to waste time and to do what we could with the time we had left together. I believe that we were blessed greatly for it. I believe it also taught me a lot about the principle of enduring to the end with all things, not just referring to Commandments and Covenants.

The Baptisms yesterday were great. The 4 people baptized were just so prepared. Their testimonies were so powerful and I was so happy to be a part of their progression on their way home. Does everyone remember the Sisters I told you about last week? Their testimonies were amazing. I have never seen people that were so repentant and truly fulfilling the baptismal requirement of a "broken heart and contrite spirit."

One of the other women that we baptized this weekend. Her name is Sister Yang or "Carrie". That is her English name. She is in English teacher so at least half the time we were speaking to her in English. I am not sure if I have told everyone this story yet. But basically this women was contacted a year ago by a missionary and after that the missionaries had lost contact with her. Then exactly a year later the same missionary contacted her on a bus and she said she would be willing to meet with the missionaries. She lived in our area so the missionary gave me her number. It took me about a month to get her to set up with us. But we kept calling her and eventually she was able to find a time to sit down with us. I remember the first time we met with her very specifically. She told us that she didn't really care if God existed or not, and that if she believed in God he was probably a mean God who punished people for not doing what he wanted. As we kept meeting with her, her entire countenance began to change. As weeks would go on she would start to express the changed feelings in her mind towards God and the world. A week before she was baptized we had a powerful lesson with her about the Atonement and she expressed these different feelings that she was having, and especially her view towards happiness. She expressed that her happiness now did not derive from short-lived spurts of Joy, such as Candy, or being able to sneak a seat on a crowded bus. She went on to explain to us that she is starting to understand what that true happiness that we were always talking to her about really meant. In other words she was explaining how she is being converted and she didn't even know it. Her testimony at her baptism was great. She sat down after she gave her testimony and I told her that she did an awesome job with it and she looked at me and said that it was God that helped her with it. This is coming from a person who said about a month and a half ago that she did not care if God existed or not.

I truly testify from the bottom of my heart that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has the same effects on every human heart, and why does it have that effect? Because we are all the Children of a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to be like him! I know the Church is true. I love it so, so much. I especially love the leaders of the Church and their inspired teachings. I could go on all day about what my mission has done for me. But I just want to say that it has saved my life and I am in so much debt to my Heavenly Father. A lifetime of service is the only thing that I can think will suffice for the most precious blessings he has given me. I love this Gospel and it is true. My mission has been the hardest thing that I have ever done. I mean incredibly difficult. But it's much like what Mom would always tell me "You get what you pay for." I tried to pay a lot and I got so much out of it.

I can stand before the entire Family and say that I worked. I worked hard on my mission, and I tried to serve my best. I really tried. I was not perfect. But I tried to change every time I knew I needed to. So I believe that I stand accountable to my Heavenly Father for the work that I have put it in. I believe he is proud of what I have tried to do. I love my Family so much that there are not words to express. I truly love you all so much. I have that I have grown so close to my family while I have been here, especially my parents. I love you both more than you know. I truly realized the blessing that I have been given and I am truly grateful.

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Thank you all so much for your support and your love. I will see you all soon

Elder Weinberger

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Letter # 80

Okay this week had a turn of events, and it was all for the positive.

Some great things have happened to us, and we have truly seen the powers of heaven. To anyone that might doubt that there is a God and that He does not work by miracles and by the prayer of faith, I say that I know with all my heart that He does. I have seen it on too many accounts and this one just strengthens more than ever.

Well, as I have told the family, we have been teaching these two sisters for the last 2 months and they have been so prepared to be baptized the whole time. In my last week email I believe I told everyone how we had a set a goal with these two sisters so that they could be baptized on the 20th of November. We set this goal about a month ago and we were going to pray every single day for the mother's heart to be softened. (because as of that time the answer was absolutely NO!). The Mother was not going to let them both be baptized. But about a week and a half ago, after praying for a long time, we had decided that it was time that the girls talk to their parents about allowing them be baptized. They decided that it was also time, and so they decided to be very forward and tell their Mother why they wanted to be baptized and what it meant to them.

After they had the talk with the Mom the conclusion was that the older sister was permitted to be baptized and the little sister still could not. The Parents thought that she was too young and that she did not know what she was doing. At that time we only had one week to get the parent's permission for the younger girl because she needed to get the signature from them before the 13th. Last Sunday we asked many people to help pray for these girls, including multiple missionary companionship's. The girls also fasted with us last Sunday. My companion and I were really filled with faith at this point. I felt excited because I knew that faith was truly being expressed by so many, and there was absolutely going to be a result.

On the next Monday (the day after they fasted), we called them to see if there was anything new with the situation. The older sister went on to tell me that the little sister had talked to both of her parents the night before and they both gave up on trying to stop them from being baptized and signed the permission slip. I don't know the details of those conversations that resulted into what happened. But I know that God was present helping those girls. The girls passed their interviews two days ago and are now planning on being baptized this coming Saturday on the 20th of November.

I believe with all my heart that this miracle occurred because of the faith of those girls. They set a goal and they were willing to pray for it. We also did our best to pray every single night for them to be baptized on their scheduled date. Miracles really do occur. I know they do. It is all based on faith. This miracle has set a great foundation for me personally for the future. Heavenly Father is a God of Miracles, and I am never going to forget it.

Besides those two passing their interviews, we also had another two investigators pass their interviews this last week. So we are planning on having four baptisms on the 20th. It is also my last weekend in Taiwan. I feel extremely blessed. The feeling of leaving is getting more weird as time goes on. It doesn't feel like I am leaving at all, and I am a little torn about it. I love this place with all my heart. Of course I am excited about coming home and seeing my family, but the feelings I have for this place are not going to be easy to leave. I have seen so many miracles in the last few months of my mission including much spiritual growth and love for missionary work. It is not going to be easy to leave. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is real. It is true because I can stand as a personal witness that it changes hearts. I love my Savior and his Atonement. There is so much I have to learn, and I do not have a perfect knowledge, but my testimony is strong enough to keep me on this path that will lead me back to my Heavenly Father. I know its true because I feel it everyday. For anyone who doesn't know if its true or denies it, it is because they have not "Experimented upon the word." In other words they have not FULLY tried, and they will continue not knowing until they put it to the test.

The Scripture that I want to share this week is Alma 32. The whole Chapter.
I love you all so so much.
Elder Wei

Monday, November 8, 2010

Letter # 79

Sister Guo
Brother Guo
Okay Family,
Well things are really starting to feel weird. I know that my time is so short and it is with honesty making me a little sick. I think one reason is because I know that there is still so much I desire to do, and the other being the fact that I feel like I am just getting to my prime, and it hurts knowing that right as your the most focused, obedient, spiritual, and just overall prepared, the next step is the plane ride home. I remember what my trainer told me on one of my first days here. He told me that it takes about 2 years to figure out missionary work and by the time you do, it's time to go home. Ya well it's true. President Grimley told me that it is that way with every calling I will have in the Church. I guess it's just the learning process that Heavenly Father is constantly putting us all through.

Well this week was extremely trialsome. I feel like Heavenly Father is putting my companion and me in a very deep trial right now. He and I have been struggling to find new investigators for almost a month now. We still have the blessing of a few great investigators that are really progressing. But the thing that is hard is that we are spending so much time and effort outside trying to find them and it just seems that every single person we set up to meet with us, at the last second will not show up for the lesson. That is incredibly irritating. But because of this I have never been so fired up to go outside and contact everyone. This trial is starting to push me into competing with it. In a way, I guess in a that is a great thing. It could be possibly keeping me from turning into an old missionary that many Elders fall into. I believe that this will end and that great blessings are in store. That again is solely predicated on our obedience and our work. We believe we have that. Now its time to wait it out and endure.

Other than these things, there already is great blessings that we received this week. As far as right now we have 4 scheduled baptismal interviews for this Saturday, which means that the following week (My Last Weekend here) we would have 4 baptisms, which would be great and the most I have ever been able to see at one time. We are praying earnestly for those people and I sill give their names so that everyone can start praying for them too.

1. Wen Hong Lin
2. Hong Jia Yang
3. Zi Wen Lin
4. Zi Chen Lin

The bottom two are these two sisters that are amazing. One is 20 and the other 16. They have so much faith and I think they have more desire to be baptized than any other investigator I have ever worked with before. Their one problem right now is that they are getting a lot of opposition from the family for wanting to be baptized. For more than two months now their Mother had put her foot down and said absolutely NO. She told them they had to be mature and married before they were baptized. The Mother believes that the Church has brainwashed the two girls and that they had no idea what they are doing. The Mother originally gave permission saying that they were allowed to go to church. But they just could not be baptized. The girls have continued to meet with us and they have progressed so much. They have so much Faith. So about a month ago we set a goal with them saying that we wanted them to be baptized on the 20th of November and that we were going to pray every single night for this goal and we told them that if they were willing to put in the faith necessary that God would step in and soften the Mother's heart. As of right now we have seen that miracle starting to come to pass. As of two nights ago their Mom just gave permission for the older sister to be baptized. Saying that she had decided that they she was old enough to make her own decision. Right now we are just waiting on approval for the younger sister. Right now there is so many people praying for them and we really do need everyone's prayers. We believe its going to happen.

Well one of the other things that happened this week was my final Zone Conference. That was a very weird feeling especially when they have all the departing missionaries get up and bear their testimonies. That was not easy for me. The two things that I really talked about in my testimony was my love for the Gospel and my testimony in the change that comes from it, especially the Atonement. My Testimony is something that I hold on to so strongly.

I can solemnly testify that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes hearts. That I know because I have felt it first hand. This gospel has shown me what is really important in this life and the things that just really are not. I am so thankful for my family. Every time I think of any one of them my heart swells, and it does that because I know what the purpose of families are and how sacred they truly are. I love this Church and there is nothing in this world that can bring such goodness into a persons life than this Church. That I can say because I know it. It is true!

This next week is going to be a big one for us, and we need everyone's prayers. I love you all.

The Scripture I want to share this week is one of my favorites if not my favorite and I have probably shared it many times. Moroni 7:33

And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

Letter # 78

Hey everyone,
This week was filled with many blessings. I know that last week I expressed the blessings that I felt we had received with the baptism of the Zhou family and the others. But I don't think that blessing really hit me until yesterday at Sacrament meeting. We had 5 of our investigators get confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost yesterday. Sister Zhou was crying the entire time. After that they all got up and bore there testimonies. It practically took the entire meeting. But it was so powerful. Every single one of their testimonies were powerful and everyone knew by the things spoken that they were new members planning to stay and truly endure to the end.

My companion and I were talking about it yesterday, and we had decided that the people that were baptized in October, were truly a special group, and that the Lord had special things for them to do in the Ward. One thing I thought that was particularly cool was that in the confirmation of the 15 year old that we baptized, the person giving the blessing kept talking about his mission, and how he needed to prepare himself for his mission. After the blessing I talked to him and asked him if he was listening to the blessing. He said yes. I asked if he was going on a mission then? We both kind of laughed. He said that he had a while before he goes and then he went on to asking me questions about what he had to do so that he could go. Basically the whole experience at church yesterday was great.

The Ward is completely thrilled, especially the Leadership. Another great miracle that happened on top of that was the Guo family. I have talked a lot about them. The mother of the family is one of our new members. She was baptized about one month ago and her 9 year old son followed her two weeks later. But because he was getting confirmed this week and had to say a quick testimony at church, the husband of the family was willing to go. It was amazing, because the night before I had a feeling that it was something that I wanted to pray about. Then the next morning at Church we were standing in the door waiting for everyone to walk into church and there they were. The whole family walking together. Everyone was in their Sunday clothes and the Father was in his suit. We were both shocked. Just another tender answer to my prayers that the Lord allowed me to experience. Tonight we are taking the whole Guo family over to the Bishops house to have a Family home evening and dinner. We are praying that the Dad will be able to make it.

One of the other really cool things we saw this last week was when we went over to the Zhou family house. When they were baptized the ward gave them a big picture of the Washington D.C. temple. "I don't know why that one?", but it's still big and pretty. Anyway we got there and we saw the big picture of the Temple right in front of the main room on top of the mantel. It looked like a Mormon family home when we walked in. It made me laugh and made me so happy to see how fast they were progressing.

This week, our finding efforts did not go as well as we would have hoped. We had huge goals and we worked really hard but we still were not able to see as many new investigators as we would have hoped for.

Oh, here is some new for everyone. In case you were wondering? The country of Taiwan has Halloween. Probably about 1% of the population actually knows or does anything about it. This week we were asked by the Taipei city government to go to this Halloween fair that they were holding for families and be volunteers there and work at some of the booths and basically just play around with the kids. It was right in Central Taipei so President asked my companion and I to be the ones translating and maintaining everyone, making sure that everyone was doing what they were supposed to. It was fun but a little exhausting. One of the activities we had to do was tell scary stories to all the kids. Elder Clavel, Elder Acorda and I got up and tried to tell this scary story about how Halloween got started. Elder Clavel was the narrator. I was the designated "witch" or the person that did all the actions, and Elder Acorda was the sound effects. It was a disaster. There was no real story line and not enough time to prepare and the in the middle of the story we were interrupted by a homeless man who walked through our performance and said some things that kids probably shouldn't hear. It was so funny all the Missionaries were just busting up laughing at us 3 up there trying to tell this story. The week was overall good. We are excited for this next week. My time is short but I am trying to leave it all out here. I try not to think about it. But it seems to be a haunting thought in the back of my head constantly letting me know that it is almost up. I have grown to love this work so much and I am so so grateful that I am still a "full-time" part of it. I love this Gospel and all that it brings. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has the sweetness that everyone needs in this life. I love it with all my heart.

The Scripture this week is one my companion picked. 2 Nephi 9:28-29.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
  But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.