Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012

Helllooo family! News from Taiwan. All is well! This week was full of adventures and amazing experiences.
Last preparation day we woke up early and to the elders' apartment nearby ours. They actually live in our area but their assigned area is the one next to ours. In their apartment they have an excersize room with a ping pong table in it! So for our preparation day excersize we played some sweet games of ping pong. It has been a long time since i have played ping pong, it was nice. Afterwards we had a yummy breakfast of pancakes and buttermilk syrup.  Elder Bentley and I needed to get haircuts so we went to a nearby place and we walked in, sat down, and i realized i have no idea how to get a haircut in chinese. I asked Elder Bentley what he usually does and  he said to just tell them shorter, so i did. They cut it a little....weird. She only thinned out one side and would use her little buzzer all over my head and then randomly scizzor cut other places. It was kind of interesting and it turned out a little un even in places, but hey my hair is shorter!
The next day we had district training meeting, Our district consists of the elders we played ping pong with, and two sisters that serve in both our area and the other elders area next to ours. It was a great meeting, we just talked about how the work is going in our area and how we are going to get better! One thing we talked about is consistancy. I think it was Dallin H. Oaks that once said the difference between all of us and the prophet is consistancy. That is not to belittle the prophet, but to show us that the amazing faith, testimony, and knowledge that our dear prophet, Thomas S. Monson has is attained through consistancy. Consistantly living our covenants, consistantly keeping God's commandments, consistantly being true to what we know. After district training meeting my companion and I had companionship exchanges! I went with Elder Bailey to his area and Elder Bentley went with Elder Miller back to our area (they are the Elders we played ping pong with). One of their investigators took Elder Bailey and I out for dinner, and it was expensive but delicious. Apparantely he is pretty well off and likes to take them out to eat, so elder miller was pretty jealous i got to go instead of him. He got us a noodle and beef soup with a pidan (one thousand year egg) and some other treats. Pidan is pretty much an egg fermented in something for a really long time and i thought it was going to be terrible but he put some sauce on it and it was actually not bad! Afterwards we had a lesson with a shuai ge (handsome man, it is not weird to randomly walk up to people and call them handsome here it is pretty sweet, it is actually super common) named brother Bai. We reviewed the restoration and watched the restoration video, it was weird for me to watch it in chinese!
The next morning we woke up and Elder Bailey told me we were going to do his ultimate cardio we did. We ran up 26 flights of stairs! That was an adventure, and my legs were dying the next day, but the view from the top of their apartment is amazing! We could see all the way to fengyuan, which is a city where brother Smith served in! WE actually went to their ward building to watch conference a few weeks ago too, you will have to tell brother Smith I have been there! I had the opportunity to go visit the Chen family, who were taught by Brooke! (Sister Smith) They said i kind of look like her heh. They are super funny and are doing so great. They tried to give us their whole house pretty much. They just kept bringing out more and more food! We had a great lesson with them about the sabbath day and the amazing blessings that come from keeping the sabbath day holy! Growing faith and understanding of the gospel, and renewing our covenants with God are just a few! After that we switched back to our normal companions and headed to Daya to teach our english classes! Of course our friend Karen brought us snacks again, this time cream filled wafers! On our way home from Daya it rained..again..i don't know what it is about wednesday nights but pretty much every ride home from Daya it rains! It is fun though, because people are always so surprised when two white people out in the rain pull up next to them on bikes and start talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We get to talk to someone at pretty much every red light, because almost everyone drives scooter so you can just pull right up next to them and start talking. Sometimes if you catch people off guard by pulling up and enthusiastically saying hello to them they get startled and jump and sometimes even quickly drive away.
The weather lately has been fantastic lately because of all of the rain! Elder Bentley lost his rain clothes on saturday though, and he says boy i hope it doesn't rain tomorrow, so of rains! Hard too! It was sunday night around 6 and it started pouring, and i didn't want Elder Bentley to be wet and miserable alone so we did it together haha. We were pretty much as wet as you could possibly get. It was probably the best ever, we just tried to find as many people as we could but there wasn't very many people out so we went tracting and then went to visit a  young man who's mother and little sister are very active, but he is not. He is 17 and a very smart, awesome kid. I think that his mother has wanted to talk to him about going to church and about the gospel, and last night was the night. She bore an amazing testimony on how she feels the spirit in her life and then right after the lesson asked us to help her talk to her son about the importance of church. We taught about the sabbath day and the blessings of it and right after she told her son how important it is to her. It was such an awesome experience to get to be there for the teaching moment she had with her son. The spirit was strong. They are such a sweet family, the mother brought out a blow dryer to dry us off because of the rain.
Well time is up and i feel like i can never quite express what i want but it is time to go! Thanks for all of your love and support family, i love you all very much! Please thank Brother Smith, Sister Law, The Ferris's, Dena Sterling lexi ashton, and cyndi, and the feddocks for the things they have sent me! Thank you all so much!
Things to send:4 generation pedigree chart if we have one.
-Music! Ask celeste to make me a CD :D Just put at least john schmidt (all of me and waterfall) and a song of off youtube-if you could hie to kolob instrumental arrangement by lex de alv-something(not sure on the name) They rest is up to her, but basically just make sure it directs your thoughts to the savior! Thanks very much!

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

Hello family! Week 2 is already over! Even though i have only been here for 2 and a half weeks time already seems to move quicker and quicker every day.
Last Monday we played some ultimate frisbee at the park with the Elders from the area next to ours called da keng, their bishop, and another brother in their ward it was pretty sweet. The big park nearby our apartment is pretty sweet, in the morning there are tons of older people there all doing tai ji (tai chi) to some awesome music, and there are some people doing some sort of dance instruction, it looks pretty fun maybe we will have to try it out one day. Just went until you here where we went for lunch, blake is going to be so turtle pizza! There is a restaurant right by the mission home (which is about a 15 minute bike ride from our apartment) called ninja turtle pizza and it is probably the coolest pizzeria i have ever been to. They have pictures of ninja turtles everywhere and the handles on the doors are sais (which are raphaels weapons). I will send you the pictures soon.
On tuesday we had zone conference which was great! My zone is so awesome i love them all. There are all such great examples of great missionarys to me. We talked about having faith to find. Have faith that there are people out there who are ready to here the gospel and will accept it.You need to talk to everyone no matter who they are or what they look like. You never know what there life is like and everyone deserves the chance to hear the gospel. Here in taichung city it isn't hard to find someone to talk to. There are people everywhere! It is hard to find the balance of talking to as many people as you can and also be on time to appointments and meetings. Side note-at zone conference we got to eat chicken bakes from costco...score.
Wednesday was a super rainy day! We had english class, and for english we go to Da ya which is about a 25-30 minute bike ride from beitun (my area) because the only missionarys in da ya are two native taiwanese elders so we go to help them out. My english class is so great, they are all super nice, especially janet! (We all go by our english names in english class) Janet is probably in her 40's and she travels all of the time and whenever she goes on a trip she always brings presents back for the missionarys. Last week she gave us these little cheese cake snacks from japan! This week she bought us some fruit from one of the markets, she is too nice! On our bike ride home from english it rained super hard the whole time, but yes, i did buy rain clothes so no worries. Rain is nice, it cools the weather off for a few days. Also, on wednesday we taught one of our new investigators, brother Liao. He is a little older than us missionarys. We went to church with him last week and this week was our first lesson with him. We taught the restoration and he just got it. He was understanding and willing to pray and read the book of Mormon to learn for himself of the truthfulness of it. During the lesson we asked him if he knew what prayers was, and he said yes so we asked him if he had ever prayed before, and he said yes i started praying about two weeks ago every night for God to help me. People are being prepared for the gospel there is no doubt about it. I can't wait for our next lesson with him to see how he is doing. I know that when we are truly looking for an answer, God really does answer our prayers. An amazing answer to how to recieve answers to our prayers came from a speaker in the MTC, Julie Swensen. She said often the answers to our prayers come not when we are sitting waiting for them, but when we get up and serve others. Or as Elder Bednar says we should go forward with an idea and look for a confirmation rather than wait for the heavens to tell us what to do. I know that as i have followed this advice in my life, i have truly recieved answers to prayers while serving others and looking for a confirmation rather than waiting for the answer fall out of sky and hit me. Thanks for always being such amazing examples to me of always serving others mom and dad.
On saturday one of our investigators had his baptismal interview! Hi name is brother Su and he is 16. Our district leader is the one that interviews him so we didn't get to be in the room during the interview, but Brother Bailey, our district leader, told us afterwards that the very last question he asked was Brother Su, why do you want to be baptized, and he answered I want to recieve complete forgiveness from God. I am so grateful to be able to watch Brother Su's testimony grow everytime we see him, he understands the importance of the steps he is taking in his life and i am so excited to watch him make those decisions and recieve such huge blessing sin his life.
Sunday we had stake conference and Elder Gong from the quorum of the seventy was there! Afterwards i had the opportunity to talk with him for a little bit. He is an apostle of God and it was an amazing experience to feel the spirit he brings, even though i didn't understand all of his talk...heh he speaks very good english though. Also on sunday one of our referrals just called us up and wanted to meet! He and his girlfriend came to the church to meet us and we talked with them for a little about their questions, and they had a few about ancestors and what our beliefs are about them, because alot of people here in taiwan worship their ancestors. After a little explanation a church meeting was going to start so we went ahead and attended it with them and the topic was temples and temple work! How perfect. He wasn't very excited about church but his girlfriend (coral or yu shan) loved it! She wants to meet more so we reffered her too the sisters. She said she felt very peaceful at church.
This week I found a new favorite food in the streets of Taiwan. nai you bing. It is hong dou bing (Read bean cookie) But instead of red bean in it there is a vanilla, butter type mixture and it is absolutely delicious. They kind of look like hockey pucks. Just the shape though.
Well time is up. Hope your guy's week was just amazing and i hope this coming week is even better! Jesus Christ is our savior and He loves us all. Rely on the atonement "the atonement not only gives a remission of sins, it increases capacity to do good. It gives us strenght beyond our own" -Elder Bednar. Love you all!    Mom if you can find a way to get a cable for my camera to hook it up to the computer i can just send all of my pictures through email. The camer is a Nikon coolPIX S3100. 
           **Please don't send meat (including beef jerky), seeds, fruit, plants in packages. Pretty much any animal or fresh plant products. They are not allowed and i will have to pay to send them back i think. Just a note. Any type of candy or anything else is fine. Thanks love you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Hello family! First full week and i am alive and kickin! Taiwan is the greatest. It is probably really nice having Dad working so close now. Tell Blake i am proud of him! He must be the best soccer player i know. I can not wait to see the Gilbert temple! Send me a picture! Tell Rachelle and Natalie thanks for taking care of my momma! Love them! Let Kalvin know there is a letter on the way for him, and surprisingly enough there is hardly ever a time when you see someone riding a scooter without a helmet here, i think it might be a law or something. Dustin got a new motorcycle? Tell him to send me a picture! This week i saw quite a few miracles! This truly is the work of the Lord.
Last monday night we were riding our bikes, it was getting a little late and there was a man walking across the street in front of us so we stopped and to talked to him. Turns out he was baptized about a year ago but is too embarrased to come to church because he has been smoking lately. The first thing he did when we started talking to him was ask if we had a Book of Mormon on us that he could have, and of course we did! He wanted to buy us dinner but we told him we had already eaten. He told us he has been sleeping at the internet cafe nearby because he doesn't have a home right now. Despite his circumstances he continued to ask if he could buy us dinner! I was very humbled by his willingness to help where ever he can.
On wednesday we had english class which is so great! I got to teach the advanced class so i talked in english pretty much the whole time it was weird to speak so much english to taiwanese people! 
The next day we had a lesson with brother Deng who i think i talked about last week a little bit. We talked more about the restoration, and as i was quoting the first vision i got to the part "I saw two personages", and he suddenly interrupted me and says no you got it wrong he just saw one person! My companion and I looked at eachother slightly perplexed and brother Deng continued oh yeah and he was in his bedroom not in a grove of trees. Finally we realized he was talking about Moroni, and we explained to him that those were two different experiences. He had read in the intro to the Book of Mormon about Moroni, it was a funny experiences. We then talked about baptism, what it means and how to do it. He seemed to just understand, and we set a baptismal date for may 12th! I am excied to watch him as he changes his life to follow the Lord. Our lesson was at Seven eleven again and he bought us sodas again, what an awesome guy!
Friday the thirteenth was a fantastic day, despite it having the reputation of being unlucky! We met with brother Chen, who had met with the missionaries about two months ago and has not met with them since because he has been busy. We called him up to see how he was doing and set up an appointment! We went into the lesson thinking we would review the first lesson, the restoration, since it had been awhile since he had met with the missioanries. We started talking about how God is our loving heavenly father, and we said that because he loves us he provided a way to return to live with him again. After that brother Chen asks us well how do we do it then? And we told him the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he asks well what is that? Our lesson totally switched tracks and we started talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ, faith repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. The whole time we were teaching he was furiously taking notes. When we got to the gift of the holy ghost part he says so...when can i get baptized! My companion and I were startled! He proceeded to pretty much set up his own baptismal time and everything on may 12th! The Lord really is preparing people all over the place to accept his gospel, we just need to find them!
Well i am about out of time. Hope all is well at home! I love you all and miss you much! Mom if the family, bishop, or stake president has an address change please tell me. Kind of random i know but president Bishop needs to know if that happens. Next package you send me throw a picture of the whole family in there please! Nothing urgent, just next time you send a letter or something. I am so grateful for all of you! Jesus Christ lives! His church is growing everyday and there is so much work to be done but the laborers are few! We need your help! Love you all so much. Talk to you next week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

1st letter from Taiwan

April 9, 2012
Area: Beitun
Companion: Elder Bentley

Hello family!! I made it! I am in Taiwan!! I can't belive i am actually here, i think to myself sometimes and say am i actually in Taiwan or just dreaming? It is a whole different world here. Everything is different, it smells different, it looks different, the people are different it and it just feels different.My first companion and my trainer is Elder Bentley! He is an awesome missionary.  I learn more and more from him every day about being a good misionary. I know that the Lord matches up our companionships, no doubt. My first area i have been assigned to is in taichung city! I am in the beitun area.There are scooters EVERYWHERE. And i don't understand the traffic 100% quite yet so it is a little scary riding around on my bike with scooters whizzing by and past and every which way. It's good though because you never run out of people to talk to, ever! At night before heading home all the stores and buildings all around are lit up with flashing signs and what not, it is a pretty cool site. I haven't had the chance to get to know alot of people really well yet but i already love how amazing the people here are. Just the other day we were headed to a less active members house, brother jin, to visit and we saw a middle age looking man sitting at a table by 7 eleven so we went up and started talking to him and he just got up and went into 7 and bought us slushies! Haha it was pretty awesome but apparantely sometimes you have to be careful because you might get something you don't exactly want to drink! We gave him a book of mormon and encouraged him to read the intro before we meet again this week and then headed over to brother jin's house. Right as we sat down at brother jin's house and started talking to him, Mr. Deng (the man who bought us slushies) called us and says hey i started reading that book you gave me and i just wanted to say it is a really good book, ok bye! He is a funny guy. All of the members i met at church on saturday and sunday while watching conference were super kind as well. (Conference was shown here this week so i got to watch it twice!) I still struggle with getting to know them really well becuase my language skills aren't the best, but i am working on it.
These past few days we taught a new investigator brother Lin. So far we have only taught him the first lesson, and he has committed to read the book of mormon and pray about it so hopefully this week we will have a chance to meet with him again and see how he is doing.
Right now i am just working on getting into the groove of things, getting rid of jet lag, and figuring out how things work around here. Don't worry about sending me abunch of crazy packages or anything, i did not think you forgot about me! My preparation days are on mondays so i will probably check my e mail around 11AM which is 9PM sunday night for you i think. I am glad Darci was excited to get my letter! Tell her i love her for me! Tell Dad he better be glad i never sold that weight set because now he can get back in shape! Love you family and I hope you all enjoyed conference weekend and Easter weekend! Hope all is well! 
Love, Elder Ripley