Tuesday, September 10, 2013

China via Taiwan - Another Journey

It's been a few weeks since I've posted, but I'm glad to be back! Can you believe it?!! I'm in CHINA!! I've been waiting forEVER to get here, and here it is! These pics are actually mostly from Taiwan. 

Phina and I together on a moped (yes, she, a small Taiwanese girl, drove me, a big fat American man, on the back of a smallish moped through Gaoxiong in the south of Taiwan) :P.

Another of me and Phina in Hualian, which is Eastern Taiwan and is known for being absolutely gorgeous, and it was.

There's also a pic of Phina's family and I. Phina is taking the picture. I'll describe in a sec~ 

The last pic is my buddy Eric and I in front of the South gate to Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.

Well, I'm here! It took a lot of time and a lot of money, but I'm here, and I'll make it to December most likely ;P I'll be quick this post, because I have a lot of homework.
I got to Taiwan without a problem and proceeded to visit my mission and meet my girlfriend's parents and family and neighbors. Talk about adventure!!! I had three weeks in Taiwan and I visited all three main cities, and made it to the eastern coast as well. :D Endured and survived two Typhoons and spent every waking hour with my best friend.
Ate a lot of AWESOME food, and managed to not gain a single pound. I'm proud of that :D
One of the most painful days of my life happened on August 31st. I made it to the High Speed Train station and Phina and I stood there for nearly a half hour saying goodbye. We were about to part for the next four months. To us, it feels like it's going to be an eternity. I watched her walk out the station, and I decided that I never want to see her walk away again. That was extremely difficult to watch her walk out that door and have no way of running after her. But we'll be ok! It's good for us! Plus, we have daily contact anyway.
After I got to China, I found my buddy Eric in the motel waiting for me and we proceeded to spend the weekend hunting for an apartment.
We purchased a cell phone, rented an apartment, signed a contract, paid bills, and found our way to the University ALL on our own and ALL in Chinese!! I've never really worked with words like 'megabyte' 'kilowatt' 'degrees of electricity'... we also went and had internet installed in our apartment. The Nanjing Study Abroad program did nothing for us :D we did it all ourselves.
Anyway, that's the deal! I'm here going to class in my second week and we've already gone to see Sun Yat Sen's memorial and the first Ming Dynasty Emperor's tomb. We go to Shanghai this weekend for an LDS district conference. So, the adventure is well on its way.

I promise I will be persistent and consistent, depending on where I am in the country, and I will keep the posts as short as I can.
Miss you all!! Life is good, and I don't want to leave, but I also can't wait to get home to reunite with my ladyfriend and all my college buddies including coworkers. Keep in touch!
I have friends and family managing my Facebook and blog (since I can't use them in China) so feel free to message! My email is kovidude@gmail.com if you feel like directly messaging me.

Love you all!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Day In Asia

Sorry! No pictures this post considering I will not be able to until I have my computer hooked up to the interwebs... Anyhow, made it safe and sound after 5 movies and a 2 hour nap- Passed my first Chinese test by getting the taxi to the right place- He got us lost by misreading the address. But I'm here! I'm going to Taibei today to sightseeing and play. I will probably post again once I get to Taizhong and Victoria's home. Love you all! PS- I'm typing on an Android device, I honestly don't know how you Android people survive...Oi! TOTALLY sucks. Bye!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sunshine in the Willows

Long week...
Monday started off great with a nice open sunny day to give me plenty of time to be inside. Lol. It was nice, though, to be able to spend a few hours just watching Battlestar Galactica and eating food (I'm on season 4, by the way, almost done).
Tuesday was a little different because I had split shift at work~ That means I worked from 7AM to 11AM, and 2:30PM to 6:30PM. In between I usually go study Chinese, take a walk, or go to the Temple, but that's when I'm motivated. I was exhausted and had zero motivation to move. So, what did I do? I watched more BSG. After work, however, we did get social and Phina and I headed over to a co-worker/friend's home to party it up with drinks and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes). No worries, it was just chocolate milk, gatorade, sobe...etc. Shot glasses and tumblers included ;P.
On the way over to David's Phina and I were discussing some Gospel points regarding the eternities and eternal marriage. Phina is two years a member, an amazing convert to the church, and has lots of questions about the scriptures. As a returned missionary, I LOVE to answer these questions, and as a serious boyfriend, it's a blast to be able to help the girl I love understand better the gospel I've lived for 22 years on earth. I asked her in a somewhat joking manner if she thought she could "handle" me for eternity. Could she deal with me for that long? Lolz, I thought I was just being funny, but to the spiritual giant/princess/powerful and mighty soul that she is, it really affected her. She did not like that question. She thought I meant a possible breakup after I get back from China if I've changed enough. Obviously I clarified that and we talked more, but it still stressed her out for the rest of the week. Adding on to her existing stress of having a serious boyfriend and studying for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) as well as getting ready to go home to Taiwan for 2 months, while stressing about a couple minor medical issues, and her boyfriend leaving her for four months, and dealing with her roommates, and ......etc. I told Phina that we would both change a lot over the course of life and eternity, and would she be able to handle a crazy guy like me through all that change and learning. She basically stared me down and I know never to ask that question again. Lol.
So Wednesday comes along. Nothing really happened Wednesday other than a small business meeting I had with my old roommates about a videogame we're developing. We spent an hour and a half discussing this and shooting ideas around, and it was extremely productive and got us all super excited. I'm excited too :D My old roommate Bryce came over to my place later that day and we played Far Cry 3 for a little while and then watched BSG and a Korean archery action movie. Super fun! :D
Thursday rolls around and I end up going to the UPC (ELC- English Language Center) on campus to study Chinese for awhile while I waited for Phina to get off work and come study with me. I studied for a little bit and ended up watching more BSG. I went through the entire alphabet with Phina and helped her with every single sound that exists in the English language. THAT was exhausting, but fun, too. We went over to Phina's apartment afterwards and made delicious food and watched another Chinese movie together. Then I went over to my old apartment at the Glenwood and stayed the night with Bryce and Tim.
Friday. Not much to report other than good day at work, a paycheck from my other job, a good lunch at Cubby's in Provo, and a trip home to drop Phina off at my aunt Raquel's for a girls night with my sister Shelby and my cousin Katie, and a hilarious movie with my Dad (The Internship: Vince Vaughn, and Owen Wilson~ unbelievably hilarious).
That about sums up the week. Now, the reason I relayed all that info and wrote a ridiculously long post was to tell you all just how I've felt this week and what I went through. Hard play that keeps you busy can be more exhausting than hard study and business during the school year. Stress and discussion with my girl to add on top of that. I am and was exhausted all week. Now I'm home and ready to go do some work for my Aunt Raquel, and come home tonight after an Asian Mart shopping trip with Phina to watch the fireworks for our town festival, followed by a hopefully peaceful Sunday. All the while, setting goals and making plans for the rest of my summer and China.
Don't worry, I won't have another post this long :P But be forewarned, I type a lot and talk a lot, especially about experiences I'm having abroad, so please just bear with me :D
Sunshine in the Willows: Having hard and stressful experiences that are brand new, and yet finding myself happier than I've been in a long time. Phina and I have had our differences, and will continue to find them, but after everything I love her deeply, and she loves me more than I knew another human being could (besides my family). So... life is good. :D

Sunday, June 2, 2013

So Begins the Start

And so our story begins...
    The time to start blogging has come again~ The reason? I'm going to China.
As of February of this year, I decided to go study abroad in the ancient capital of Nanjing China.
It's quite the undertaking and its taking every single cent I have (plus a lot), but it'll be worth it!
As most of you know, I served my mission in Taiwan speaking Mandarin Chinese. My future career involves work where I will use my language skills, or at least I hope to.
Great Grandma Hill originally offered funds to help me purchase a vehicle for myself. I later asked if I could use those funds for a study abroad opportunity. If I don't take this opportunity, I won't be able to have another chance at getting to China for a long while. I need experience in the country, and this is it!!
This blog will be a record of my preparations for China and throughout my time while I'm there. So, as this being the opening post, I'll post my itinerary first:

August 6: Leave for California to the Guads.

August 11: I leave LAX at 4:30 for Taiwan.

August 30: Arrive in Nanjing China.

September 3: Start classes

December 13: Last day of classes/farewell banquet/overnight train to Hong Kong

December 16: Arrive in Kuala Lumpur then on to Singapore

December 22: Arrive in LA

December 24: Home to SLC

Dates are subject to change, but that's the plan!!!
I can't wait, and I'm scraping the bottom of the boat for every penny I can find, but it's the kind of opportunity that's once-in-a-lifetime.
Stay posted~

ps~ If you don't know already, I am dating Phina Tsai, a beautiful Taiwanese Princess straight from the south end of the island. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and English. We've been dating for three months. When I return to Taiwan to visit my mission and to see my Taiwanese family, I will spend most of the time with Phina in her home country. We will then spend four months apart while I'm in China and she, at BYU studying English at the ELC. We will reunite in December and go from there. :D

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Time Is NOW

Forgive me for not including pictures everytime I post like I used to. I'm still getting 're-acclimated' to my surroundings and this weird electronic thing called a 'computer'. Anyway...
The last two weeks have been crazy. From running my first 5K, to meeting with psychologists, to skyping with my recent converts and friends from Taiwan... ;) Well, it makes for some interesting experiences all happening in two weeks. Nothing crazy, but it's been fun.
Meeting with Doctor King is relieving. It helps put a name on the problem, which helps me accept what it is, and be able to move on and progress. Knowledge is power.
My first 5K!!! I just transferred from super humid weather to super dry weather. Running is hard as I get used to it. So jumping into a 5K right when I get back, especially the Freedom Festival in Provo's 5K was more than I wanted to do. My Dad and sister walked the mile fun run while my Mom and I ran the 5K. My Mom almost made her goal of 40 minutes (40:35), and I made my goal of 25 minutes (23:42). I was 195th place in the whole race. That made me feel REALLY good. It was even harder than I expected, and I still made my goal. The weather was even more humid on the morning of the 4th. So good!
Been on three skype dates with my friends and 'family' from Taiwan. Absolutely WONDERFUL time to spend, and a beautiful thing. I am extremely happy with the technology that we have today that allows me to speak 'face to face' with people on the other side of the planet and that allows me to write and read chinese right here on my computer. 我真的很開心我可以打中文字!我也希望你們都可以至少開始學習這個語言。真的是一件好事情。我非常的愛你們每個人!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Home Again

It's been a QUICK 15 months! Man, I'm exhausted, worn out, and happier than I've been in a long time. My mission IS EVERYTHING to me, don't get me wrong, but sometimes things happen that you didn't plan for and that you're not willing to accept, but the choice just isn't there to make.
Being sent home on a medical release is, at first, demoralizing. But you quickly learn to accept that it's needed, it's part of the plan, and time keeps turning.
I was released last night as an Emissary of our Lord. I'm dejected, overwhelmed, and sad. I miss my mission and all the wonderful people there. All of my recent converts are still over there! Luckily some of you might get to meet some of them, since they plan on visiting soon.
Mainly, I'm just happy to be home, relieved to be working on the medical side of things, and it's a lot of fun figuring out English again. Thanks to all those who welcomed me home with open arms and warm hearts. I served my Lord, and I gave it all I had. But I'm never finished. I'll never be finished.
Love you all! Get in touch! I'd love to chat!

-Kevin Carter Jr.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marking Progress

Sister Chen and Sister Wang are unbelievable. They are super solid and are making plans to serve a mission in a year's time.
We shared about the temple with Sister Chen and she has an enormous desire to get to the sealing room.
Sister Wang is sharing the Gospel with her family, and absolutely LOVES Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
Brother Shen. He is 67 year old, has severe disabilities, lives by himself on the fifth floor of an apartment building. He can barely move, but he gets dressed everyday, eats his own food, answers the phone, can make phone calls, and goes walking for 4 hours a day. Not to mention he sells lunch box lunches outside the apartment complex on the street some mornings. He's been to church three times now. His baptism is scheduled for Saturday. He's all alone in his home. He has social workers take care of him every now and then. His parents left this earth a while ago, and his brothers and sisters are still around, but rarely visit him. He goes on vacation twice a year with a bunch of other people who are like him.
Through all of his difficulties, he's still alive. He's still breathing. And he always has a smile on his face. He hugs me every time he sees me, looks into my eyes with that big smile of his and says "thank you".
I don't know why. Maybe it's because he finally has people to visit him, to love him, and to just be with him. The ward welcomes him with open arms, and he loves going to church. I still don't know why he would tell me "thank you". When we teach him the Gospel, he hardly remembers anything, but he will immediately respond, "I believe" upon being asked if he believes in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Repentance... etc. He memorized the commandments and is willing to keep them. Alma chapter 32:16, "blessed is he that believeth in the Word of God...without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe." (emphasis added).
The ward has fallen in love with Brother Shen. There are some who say he might die pretty quick after his baptism... lol. I dunno, that'd be sad, but a little funny, too. If all he's got left to do is get baptized, then he can go home, well... that's up to God. He's pretty healthy, so I think he'll have time to share the Gospel with his family, and then be a temple worker for a while and then pass through the veil. I don't know. But I love him. And this is now the oldest person I've helped get baptized, at the age of 67.
From 9 years old, 12, 15, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 33, 34, 35, 38, 42, 50, 53, 57, to 67. Pretty balanced out. These aren't all of them, but it's interesting to see that the people I've helped get baptized span all ages, phases of life, positions, work, areas, personalities, situations that you can think up. With a hundred more in the baptism process. With several on the way. Literally hundreds.
Every move call we get a list of all of our recent converts to see how they're doin', and it's probably what I look forward to most, 'cause I can see whether or not they've been to church over the last 6 weeks. :D. Do they have home/visiting teachers, do they have a temple reccomend, have they been asked for referrals, are they reading the Book of Mormon regularly, do they have a calling, do they have a friend, are they attending institute/seminary? etc... and so on. Anyway, just thought I'd bring that up.
I'm having a real tough time with this new companion. Being with someone who is perfectly obedient, and does everything right is a wonderful experience, but the pressure is miles high, especially since I'm senior companion. I'll just say if there's a woman like Elder Farr, I'm not marrying that one. :P.
I love my companion though. He makes me push for better.
I take time to vent, open up, and get everything in my head OUT when I email or write letters. Sorry. The real experience of my mission will be retold when I get home. I'll keep doing my best to tell you more about my mission experience.
For instance:
We ran into a less-active woman yesterday. Sister Zhang. She has been less-active for 30 years. She is a former companion of one of our sister missionaries' mom. She just opened up to us on the street last night. We've been running into her a lot lately and visiting with her. She was laying on her bed one day just thinking and crying and being Elder Carter--- lol--- when I felt like we needed to call her to ask if she'd like to accompany us to Brother Shen's for his commandment lesson. She accepted, and was relieved to be able to do so. In her venting last night she just shared nonstop about how painful her life was, how she doesn't believe God loves her (she believes He's there, though), how she wants out of Gangshan, how she's done teaching English after 26 years, how she thought she had done her part when she got back from her mission and how she's still not married without any children, and so on.
Elder Farr didn't say a word. All I said was "God loves you. If He didn't He wouldn't have told me to call you that day." She looked down for a second, continued to cry, and then continued on her venting. I just decided to be quiet after that, ;). She thanked us for listening and then drove off.
She's progressing. She wouldn't say a thing to us on the street besides hello when we first met her. Now she just lets it all out. She also was a very big help to Brother Shen in helping him remember the commandments. I mentioned that to her, and she disagreed, but it was interesting to have an experience like that right before we headed in to plan. She's changing. And she says that if she can just get out of Gangshan she'll go back to church. I asked her how long she'd been trying to get out of Gangshan, and she told me years. I told her that it's wonderful to see that she has such a beautiful heart and cares for so many people. I also told her that she's willing to try, which is all she needs to get the change she wants/needs. I said she might just want to try changing here first, before Heavenly Father'll let her get away from here. That might just be why she's been here for so long. Because it's THIS trial she needs to overcome. If she just moved away, she wouldn't be able to overcome that trial and make the progress Heavenly Father wants her to make so she can go back to the Celestial Kingdom and have an Eternal Family.

Anyway. Times almost up.

Love you all. Smile.

-Elder Carter

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taiwanese Big Sister

Well, I don't know how exactly to reply to the last email. So I'll start with this weekend.
Sister Chen came to meet with us on Friday. She had originally planned for later that afternoon, but her friend Sister Lin (former investigator, hates Joseph Smith) called me and asked if we could cancel Sister Chen's lesson. I said, "of course! You two are friends, you should go out together." Sister Lin thanked me, and then we met with Sister Chen just earlier than planned. It turns out that she had to take her Mom home and couldn't go with Sister Lin anyway. So Sister Lin got super mad at me. She's also telling Sister Chen to read the Bible more.
Well, Sister Chen is reading the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, and did not have a good day on Friday because Sister Lin is mad that Sister Chen thinks the church is more important than Sister Lin. What am I supposed to say to that? Well, Sister Chen likes this church better than any church sister lin would want to pull her to, so that's why she keeps coming. Plus this church has changed her, and she believes in God now.
Sister Chen was baptized on Saturday night. She's scared to death of water and almost fainted when she got in (that might've been easier if she had fainted... lol). A beautiful baptism with an amazing testimony. 6 weeks of working with her, of her overcoming all sorts of trials, and then my companion Elder Farr telling me that when he saw Sister Chen leaving the church after her baptism he had a specific feeling telling him that if it wasn't for me, Sister Chen wouldn't have got baptized.
She had work 100% off on Sunday, and came early to church. She received the Holy Ghost and is a different person.
Sister Wang. We took her out to lunch on Saturday with the singles, and had a blast. Got some winter melon tea, and then saw her at her baptism. She was wonderful. I called her one day 4 weeks ago and she came to church the next day. We sat down with her TWICE, and taught her everything. She took it all. Learned it all. Remembered it all. Prayed about it all. Came to church for the next 3 weeks, and is now a member of God's Kingdom.
In her testimony at her baptism with Sister Chen, she mentioned how fast it went, and how it felt, when she came up out of the water, that she had just jumped into the Kingdom of God. She's super hyper like that, and that testimony totally fits her. Both of these young women are working to bring family members to church, we've met most of them, and both of them are already preparing to go on missions. Sister Chen might go on a short-term mission in two weeks. She just got baptized!!!
We went out to an island off of Gaoxiong today, so no time in the morning to write email.
That was fun. With all the singles. I'm having a blast in this ward.
When I got into Gangshan, that was the first time Sister Chen met with missionaries. I've been in Gangshan for six weeks now. She's baptized, and confirmed. I really was meant to meet with her. I don't know why. But she calls me her little brother now. And she's planning to come visit us in Utah next summer/winter, right before she goes out on a mission. Her english isn't perfect, but she understands a lot, so I'd have to translate, but she wants to play in the snow and the cold, so she'll probably be coming. :D Plus I have to be able to come back to Taiwan next June or so so I can attend the temple with Sister Chen. I might say that about everyone that I help get baptized from here on out, lol, but still. This is my proudest baptismal service, these two sisters.

Love you all…
Elder Carter

Monday, May 23, 2011

Should be Spring

Well, here I am again in the middle of what should be Spring. Well, it's not. It's summer. It's hot, humid, and has been raining more and more lately. Blah. That's alright, I got to go see the monkeys on monkey mountain this morning. That was fun. Something Shelby would absolutely love. They're just walkin' around and don't mind the people. They walk next to you on the trail, when you sit they come and sit next to you, when you try to preach the Gospel to them, they shake branches in your face or eat the tracts... and be careful not to take any extra food or drink that the monkeys could take from you. They'll fight you for it, and they'll win ;P.
Not much to say. But let me report what happened this Sunday.
14 INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH!!!!! YES!!!! Was I NOT just complaining about how in the world are we supposed to get people to church? And now look... we must be doing something right. And it's because of member involvement. I don't think the members of this church understand the effect they have on people not of this church. You bear the simplest testimony and it can be better than the testimony of a missionary, just because you're not a missionary. THEY NEED YOU.
12 RECENT CONVERTS AT CHURCH!!! 12!!!! That's just shy of 75%. This ward is AMAZING. Again, it's because of member involvement. All we do is take a 30-minute time period out of our night to call peike's and all is well.
We have a few sisters right now who are progressing beautifully. A couple brethren who are trying. Sisters seriously get the Gospel a whole lot quicker. And a lot deeper, too. Sisters seem to convert on a very real level.

Elder Carter goes on to share that he is feeling somewhat discouraged. He’s putting too much pressure on himself and has seen some of his recent converts struggle with picking up some old habits.
As a family we really think he needs to RELAX…to remember how to laugh and not take himself so seriously. Does anyone have any tips? Funny stories? Maybe silly pictures? We can’t send him links to websites because he doesn’t have access to anything but his email. How sad is it that we are drawing a blank?
Much love to all of you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day


I obviously LOVED the phone call. Lol, even though I looked at the time after and had to repent quick. Sorry. Went over a little bit. I gotta watch that. A lotta bit. ;) But I guess this just might be one of my Mother's favorite mistakes. If you're son's gonna make a mistake, maybe it should be on Mother's Day when he calls from his mission and goes overtime. Almost 20 minutes.... I think anyway, again, I wasn't watching, so NO idea. :D
I have to take you all to Taiwan one day and just show you around. I just KNOW that Mom would love it, and Dad would thoroughly enjoy it. Pretty sure if Dad came we'd have to head up to Japan for awhile at one point. Pretty cheap coming from here to there, not including the price of living and food in Japan itself. Anyway, just was thinking of Mom specifically and just KNEW that you would love it here. Just getting to know people and the areas. You would connect with them like none other, and they would love you! I would have a lot of fun with Dad, too. And, if Dad wants to live here he'd just have to get used to heat. I think he'd best like the south, 'cause it's ALWAYS sunny, it hardly rains down here. Taizhong wouldn't be too bad, but it does get cloudy in the winter, and pretty grey, so I dunno.
I've learned that I don't like one hour phone calls. Not enough time. There is so much that I want to share and talk about and hear about you all, and there just isn't enough time. I have a feeling that we're gonna have to set time limits for when I get home. Surprisingly, talking about that on the phone didn't really affect me this time. Although, I wonder if you noticed my clever dodge of talking about when I want to talk about when I come home. If that just made sense.
President Bishop mentions that before we go home we should have a 6 month plan. So I'll start thinking about that when fall comes up. About 6 months before I go home, I'll start setting goals, and making plans. I need money for school, so I need a job quick. I don't know what Dani's husband's work is like, but Raquel mentioned that before, and I didn't want to talk about it, but if that's a good job, there might be something there. I don't know. But I have a lot of goals, and things I want to start changing right when I get home. Dad can write me and talk to me about the whole going home transition when I get into the fall this year. k?
About those goals, I'm slowly setting them and reevaluating as I go about my mission. There's a lot, and I've been abandoning some for later, because there's just too many. But I'm gonna need help with choosing classes, housing, etc... I'll probably be rooming with Elder Peterson or Elder Farr at BYU, or both.
Anyway, that's for then. We'll talk more in about 3 or 4 move calls. My mission is gonna wind down fast. I can't believe it's almost June already. That really freaks me out. I've been feeling like the summer is super far away, but it's just around the corner. My 1 year in Taiwan mark comes up in three weeks. I thought it was like 2 months away. Ugh. Too fast.
Elder Farr is great! From Ogden, Utah. Not much else. Lol, don't know a lot yet, but I'm pretty sure he's graduated from BYU already (he's younger than me), and working on a Masters, but unclear. He's super humble, so it'll be tough to get him to talk. :P
I don't know. There's a lot to think about, but I'm gonna keep writing down my life goals, and just focusing on the area. We have 9 progressing investigators. 11 came to church yesterday, a record for me.
Anyway, we have to work HARD to help these people get baptized this move call. High goals. But lots of people. Good members. I have a feeling that we'll be able to make our goals this move call. Especially with Elder Farr in the house!
It was good to hear from Grandma Hill. Made sure to tell her I love her, you never know, you know? ... ;P
Was Raquel just not able to make it? Hmph.
And JASON!!! Do you know how hard I was praying for you?!!!! SO happy right now. Preparing to turn your papers in... wow. I want to know what convinced you to make the effort? Sorry I wasn't so open through the phone call to congratulate you and support you. I should've been a lot more excited, but I didn't really know what to say. Sorry, just know that I will definitely be attending your farewell and supporting you 100% the whole way. If you need any hints, tips, secrets (lol, sounds like a videogame), cheats... just ask, I don't know everything, but I can help.
Hope Jennifer is doin' all right. Haven't heard much from her end of the spectrum. Tell her I love her!
It's good to hear that the Guads didn't ditch me, or abandon me, or forget me, and that my efforts aren't wasted. I love them so much.
It's really interesting to look back on my family after being out in the mission field for a while now. I look at everyone here as "how can you help the work move forward? Who are you best suited to be a friend for? Who does your story connect the best to? Does this person need strengthened testimony or a new job?" That's how I think. And then, "How do I help you feel/recognize the Spirit and make the right decision to get baptized? Now, looking at my own family, it's really easy to see where I could put more effort as a family member, and how I could do it. I'm excited to go home and get more involved in missionary work, and family history work the way people are here. It's time to be more faithful. I really do feel as though I didn't help a lot in the church when I was there. I know, I told you today already, I had a testimony and I made a lot of important decisions, but I didn't hold a calling from 14 years old to when I left for BYU. Hmmm... Any connections? Yes. I was less-active!! I never shared the Gospel with the Guads, or Grandpa Lee, or Grandpa Carter, or Cathryn and Dave-- Nothin'. Especially in the ward, what did I do to befriend people? Not a whole lot.
So I have work to do. But I'm gonna be here first. I also need to take my Sundays to work on family history, and dig into church history. But not too much time. Gotta be with family first. :D Need a calling, too, but I gotta know where I'm headed for work/school... etc... before I can push for a calling when I'm leaving for work/school so quick. Hmmm.... anyway.
On my mission though, is where my focus comes first. So no worries, I'll talk more about that stuff later in the year.
I love my mission. I know what I'm doing is right. I know that it's true. I know that it can help anyone in any aspect of their lives, it DOES NOT MATTER WHO YOU ARE. Because we are all children of God. So, His Truth applies to everyone. Alma 36:3.
I love it. Every piece of it.

May God Be With You

-Elder Carter

ps- Need my planners, and the stuff Raquel needs to send me, and I still want some way to see/have all my pictures from my mission. You can all send pictures/video with voice or whatever in cheap SD cards if you like. I can send voice recordings home I think. That could be fun. Anywho. Love you all!
I have a mini-tape recorder now. I might just start using that. (Yes, Brittany I have the tape recorder I told you about. I have one, so maybe that might make it easier to do? Let me know!)

Monday, May 9, 2011


Lin He!!!

Mother's Day:

I guess I will be calling Monday morning at about 6 or 6:30AM my time. So that'll be Sunday, roughly 4 or 4:30PM for you, unless Daylight Savings Time has hit, then it's probably close to 5 or so. Roughly. Sorry, I don't really know the time difference. I thought it was 14 hours from Oct to Apr, then 13 from Apr to Oct, but I don't know anymore. :D I'll do my best!!!
Wow. I've been through a lot lately. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure if I've made Spiritual progress or not. But it's pretty obvious, isn't it? I'm sure you'll hear a difference on Sunday.
BUT, one thing that I have seen and felt lately is the importance of youth and children. All they have to do is smile, keep praying, reading their scriptures, going to church, and doing everything they can to defend the faith and follow Christ, and they can prophesy.
I helped Xu Hong Wen (nine years old) get baptized 8 or so days ago. We watched The Testaments the day before his baptism, and all three of the Xu kids were attentive and not moving the ENTIRE movie. Afterwards, Xu Hong Wen came up and told me something I'll never forget.
Let me explain my recent state of mind for a second first.
I've been doubting the church. I've been doubting the truth of whether or not I'm actually a son of God or not. I've been doubting some of the doctrine I've been teaching. I know it's true, so I teach it. But do I feel it? Do I believe it? Do I really know it? No. At least, I didn't. I felt guilty teaching people when I didn't believe the doctrine myself. I thought of all my friends out on their missions, and preparing. Elder Hart, Elder Bernards, Elder Seamons, Elder Brimley, Elder Stauffer, Elder Byers, Elder Leyva, Elder George... you name it. They are all such an example to me. Seeing Elder Bernards' pictures lately.. wow. It's so cool to see the change he's made. You can see it and feel it just by looking at his pictures. It forced me to take a reality check, and wonder if that's how anyone feels when they see my picture. And then I think, do I even believe in this church?
I want everyone to know that. Of course I do. I lost sight of it, and ran into my own concerns pretty hard. I realized that WE are God's investigators. He's fighting-- for us. He sets up some of His members to sit in on our lessons, and trusts them to lead His children home. Those "members" are the missionaries. And others. That's me. He wants His children home. And He will make sure it's done right. The fact that I'm still here, wearing the nametag, means God still trusts me. He wouldn't let me be here if I wasn't the right tool for His children.
I also realized that sometimes I miss the point. There is no point to life, if you don't change. I've always felt like, I can help others make it home to Heavenly Father, but if I don't make it, oh well, at least I helped others make it. One point I was willing to do whatever it took to get people home to Heavenly Father even if it meant my own Salvation. Obviously that was the wrong route. I never acted on that, of course, but now you can better understand my feelings and my doubts concerning Jesus Christ, and the things I was teaching these people to overcome, while I myself had my own problems.
I just started doing what I was telling my investigators to do. Pray. Read. Church. You'd think these things would be easy for a missionary. Not true. That's why we need to develop habits before the mission. I have not missed a day on my mission for praying, or reading the scriptures. But what did I get out of it? How useful were my prayers? As soon as I started CHANGING is finally when I saw results. And started recognizing my God's tender mercies. I've learned how to really pray, still learning how to really study the scriptures, and now I know how to be a good member, and REALLY attend church. Do I just go and listen, then not do anything about it?
Xu Hong Wen comes up to me after that movie and says one thing. "Xiangxin Ta ba. You yitian Ta yiding hui lai." Translation-- "Believe in Him. One day, He will come."
This kid is NINE years old and he just changed my mission and helped me find my motivation again. He ignited that fire again. Yes, the Lord's missionaries do need this kind of help sometimes, and there are a lot of people that need it. If you are a young boy, man or young girl, or woman... it doesn't matter what age you are, you ARE important.
Mason Hart? Madison Hart? Ashley Hart? How old are these three? Emily Bernards? Hannah Bernards? The Pew Posse (or should I say 'Group'/Band)? And so many more? Cooper Goodman? Ryan Johnson? Do you all know how much you affect your older siblings/parents? For me, if you weren't all there while I was in that ward, I'm not sure I'd have enough reason to be out here. So thank you. Keep pushing. You can all make it out on missions. I can't wait to hear where Mason Hart will be headed, that oughta be interesting ;).
 Moving out here to Gangshan in southern Taiwan was a grand experience. I think I got over the move syndrome in about 2 days this time. And there've been miracles in and out of my ears here. My companion is unbelievably brilliant and loves his mission. He's had a hard couple of move calls. It's cool to see him rebuild and then this special Double Senior companionship, both mission leaders, is just rockin' this area!!! About three solid families are meeting with us now, and they are all pushing forward. There are 5 kids over the age of 8 in the ward that aren't baptized yet. There was a recent marriage. 40% of the ward are recent converts, less actives, and investigators. More than half of the priesthood are recent converts (because the priesthood brethren aren't attending their meetings, and aren't quite as strong as the sisters are because of it...). Because this area does not have sister missionaries, we are also able to meet with sisters and help them progress towards baptism. We are not allowed to contact them unless our companion is next to us, but we can teach them. And we have to have a priesthood brother attending with us before we are allowed to meet with these women. But still! Such a different mission experience! One, I have no idea how to help women. Like any man in his right mind possibly understands these crazy, awesome, magnificent, frustrating creatures ( I meant that in a good way). Ugh. I taught two almost 30-year-old sisters at the beginning of the week, and it was awkward. I have NO idea how to help them open up and share their feelings about the Gospel, life, marriage, etc...
I think I'm done ranting. The great thing is, these women truly appreciate the efforts we as missionaries put into the work, and into their lives. Not to mention the mom and daughter we're teaching, and the other grandma, plus the other 48-year-old mother. It's like I'm trying to teach Tersta, my Mom, and Grandma Hill, plus my sister all how to live the Gospel and change their currents thoughts and ways to conform with God. Sigh..... big job ahead. We also have some recent converts who are female, 17 year olds. Plus a couple 18 year olds that dropped out for some reason.
No worries!! There are plenty of brothers to go around, and that's my focus anyway. The south here in Taiwan is waiting for more temple attendance and more Melchizedek Priesthood brethren before they build a temple down here. So that's my focus, and the area's focus. But there are a lot of solid sisters (they just seem to get it more than men do) that we can't just ignore.
Sister Chen: TOTAL hippy. So funny to teach her. She's super willing. She's not sure if God exists, but she prayed one day and asked Heavenly Father to stop the rain, and it didn't rain. Lol. This was her second prayer ever. She's so funny! Just like Kendall. Just "whatever" attitude. Laugh at everything, and roll it off your back.
Sister Lin: A cat girl. She's got five cats and a dog. LIves by herself. Lol... she thinks a lot more deeply than Sister Chen (lol), and maybe a little too much. But she's willing. Her cat just had to go to the hospital for cancer. So she couldn't make it to Church yesterday either. Grrr... lol. Meeting with these two tonight.
Sister Fang: Wears earrings all around the ear and in. Gross. Don't do that. BUT, her and her daughter are exactly alike, and are a little to touchy-feely with each other (like girls do sometimes... why do you hold hands? Blech!). They're really cool, and really nice to us though. So they progress great.
Brother Ye (Eason): He's a father with a one-year-old kid and another on the way. Met him at a Wedding Reception on Saturday (TRUNKED OUT OF MY MIND), and talked to him about accepting the Gospel. I emphasized families with him, and that seems to be a big hitter with young fathers. They like the idea of Eternal Families. I brought up baptism and what it means, and asked him if he'd like to come with his wife to meet with us, and he said, "this is my wish/desire", he liked the baptism idea. So excited!!
Brother and Sister Su: Tracting down a random street one day and met with this couple. Very happy, but looking for truth. Not super accepting, and prays to our God and their God. Like the simple life. Very nice, and willing to meet.
Brother Liang: Doesn't like to say no to us, just likes making friends, but he's willing to push forward and make the steps necessary to work towards baptism. He is Buddhist, so he's hesitant. But he's a very humble, nice man. He teaches in Junior High History, and has a severe limp. Likes to talk a lot. Got eyes that scare me half to death, but an overall good man.
Student Lu: Good kid. Came one night and attended seminary, and played pingpong with everyone for like 3 hours. We ended up not meeting with him because he was having such a good time, and making such good friends, but he slept in on Sunday and didn't make it to church. I'm worried his parents protest.
Well, there's a lot more, and I don't have time. But I like giving a rundown of investigators every now and then. These people will be getting baptized within the month. They all have dates set, and ward friends (mostly), and are trying to learn. Let's just hope the fire stays and they have the zugou testimony to make the change. 
I'll have to tell you the rest in the phone call.

Gotta go!! Sorry! Love ya!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Move

Note from the editor: This email turned out a little long...Elder Carter wrote in two parts...pre-move and post-move. What a chaotic time for him!

Part 1

Hello. I might write again in a couple hours. Don't know. No time.
Well, last move call was my 7th. I was training. I moved in Week #4 of that move call to Tainan. I was here until this week. Today. I got called last night and was told that I would be moving to Gangshan in Gaoxiong. Just a little south of Tainan and in a different zone.
Someone went home. And one of the short-term missionaries was also sent home. So...we have an emergency situation and not enough missionaries to take care of everything. I'll be there for 2 weeks as a junior companion, until that area's senior companion leaves, then I go senior again. It'll be nice to be junior for 2 weeks, but I have to get to know that area FAST.
Yes, they call me Kong Zhang Lao. (This is the name he got in the MTC and I asked him if that's actually what they call him in Taiwan) What else are they supposed to call me? Lol, the english would be too hard for them to get. Love you!!
The Xu kids were baptized and it was beautiful! Close in comparison with Li Baba's baptism.
Time is moving quick, and I have less than a year now. I spent 6 1/2 weeks in Tainan and LOVED it. It is a wonderful place to come back and visit. Which we WILL be doing as a family one day.
I love you all! So sorry, I'm working back up to every week writing you all letters! At least in my new area I get to hike again... :D And I got to the beach before I left Tainan!
I love my mission! I love all of you! Keep in touch for the next 8 move calls and their adventures.
There will be some. :D

-Elder Carter

Part 2 
Well, I am now in Gangshan.
I have about a half hour or so to write, so I'll write a little bit more.
I don't know a lot about this area, or it's people, or it's investigators, or it's new members, or anything really. I just know it's in the farther reaches of Gaoxiong, and it's pretty big. I'll take some pictures of our apartment complex and some other things in the future when I get to know the area a little better. Elder Harris has been great so far, (hour and a half) lol, and it's great to be thrust into new shoes. He's from Orem, Utah. Right in the middle of Happy Valley, just like me! The first companion I've had that's from my home area. He's getting close to heading home from his mission. Not really, he's got like 5 or 6 move calls left.
I miss my last area super bad right now. I can't miss it too much though, I've got to get in to this area fast. I've only got two weeks to figure it out. At least enough to get around. I'm gonna miss my chapel, my other friends, Henry, the other missionaries over there... etc. I HATE moving.
I've realized just recently that I've been a complete BUMP in the program. SUCH a dork. Made a lot of stupid mistakes, and have no idea what I was thinking. But, I had a lot of success in the 6 weeks I was in Tainan, and expect to push forward here. Still have no idea what Gangshan is going to be like, but I'm ready to go. I really do HATE moving. Because of this sudden move and sudden change in my mission, especially in the last half of it, I just KNOW that it's going to go FAST. Luckily, two Sundays from now I get to talk to you all, and wish my dear Mother a happy Mother's Day. OH, that reminds me............
HAPPY 22ND ANNIVERSARY!!! May 1st, right? Lol, I dunno. I'm not quite sure what Asia has that's special concerning Anniversaries, but I'll check that out, and let you all know.
I think I put too much pressure on myself. I think I do GET chinese, though. Does that make sense? It just makes sense to me. I understand why they say things certain ways, and I can guess how to say something else using that same process and I get it right. Granted, I need to push up my vocab, and my characters (namely, writing... :D), but I think I'm doing alright. I've got some Taiwanese comin' out too. I can tell someone on the street how to get to the church, give a baptismal commitment, teach about God, and get their numbers all in Taiwanese, if I need to. It's broken, and very simple, but it works when I run into the older generation that doesn't speak Mandarin AT ALL. Everyone in Taiwan can speak Taiwanese, or at least understand it (In Taibei, they don't really speak it anymore, "modernization"), but not everyone can speak Mandarin. All the natives to Taiwan speak their own native tongue (no one knows it), and Mandarin (plus they're all christian ;P). So, it's fun.
I love being here in Taiwan. Have I told you that yet? And can you hear the nerves in my voice? I'm scared to death to keep pushing, especially after finally getting my feet into the water in Tainan (literally and figuratively). Now I'm up and into a completely new phase, AGAIN. It's all good. President had a need. I'm filling it. I hope I can do it right. And I hope I can do it well.
Tell Brittany to keep writing me, Mom keep writing me, Dad keep writing me. And other family. It's all you keeping me going out here. And I've still got 8 move calls. I can do it. But not without God. And not without you all.
Special thanks to my Dad, for giving me the strength to find tools to avoid temptation and the will to do so, with somebody to connect to. Another thanks to my Mom. You keep me pushing, remembering that there are still people in America, and keeping an ear out for my family.
A special thanks to Deanna Blackburn for her willingness to keep pushing, set such a great example for me, and her willingness to open up to me and send a letter! (I'll write back soon!)
Thanks to everyone else for writing letters. It's nice to get this support. Especially right now.
I don't have a lot of time, but I'm unbelievably grateful for my parents, and my wonderful sister. You've all done everything for me out here, and thanks for all reminding me that I should put God first. I think I forget sometimes. Lately anyway.
I'm really trying to be happy. I want to be happy. I want to be better. I'm finally able to look back on my mission and see that I've actually done a good job. I have a lot of responsibility, but I'm happy about it. I am actually a good missionary. I just have to keep going. I think I just need to RELAX.
Just know that I love you all, and I'm working real hard to get over homesick feelings for my last areas. Please pray for me. And please pray for the Chen family in Tainan. Chen Jun Liang's son was the first to join the church in that family, and then Brother Chen joined, and now his daughter is taking lessons at her school in Jiayi. Also, his wife is slowly warming up to us missionaries, and is progressing towards prayer right now. Please pray for them. And my recent converts. 
I really do love these people. This is the first time I've felt this kind of feeling. It started in my first area. I've never felt like this before except for my sister, and you Mom, and Dad. I truly love these people. Just like I love my family.
I just gotta push through the new area feeling (I hate it), and all will be well in a few days. Family is SO important in this world.
Without family, we've got no connections, nowhere to go. Just personally going through life. I don't know how people do it. They can't. One day, they'll fall. We all need some family somewhere. It'll be great to relive some investigator moments when I teach my children. And then learn how to do it better because of my children. Then, I get to go back to Heavenly Father with all of them together. The New and Everlasting Covenant is the last one I'm working for... plus renewing all of my covenants every week at Sacrament. Can't wait. Gotta help these people make it to that point though. They'll make it one day.
Love you all, keep smiling, stay strong.
I'm doing my best out here, don't you worry.

-Elder Carter

Hurrah for Israel!

I'm so glad I picked Alma 28:13-14 for my mission scripture. That's EXACTLY how I feel. Just a reminder. Oh, and reread Alma 26 again. Same thing. :D Love you!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Wait until you see it! (Close to the bottom) Who knew this is what parents wait decades to hear from their children? I didn't even know, but now that he's said it...the rewards are SWEET! Missions are AWESOME! 

Hello World!!

I feel like I say that every day! To EVERYONE.
I just took an inventory of my numbers over my mission... and I found out a lot about myself. (I need my first 3 planners. They are in one of the two boxes I first sent home last summer)
It's VERY interesting to see the progression I've had over my mission represented through numbers. And it's nice to know just how many THOUSANDS of people I talk to every 6 weeks. Can you believe that? 2-4000 people every month! The difference between areas is evident, the difference between companions is obvious, but what I love the most is that the MOST important key indicators you can have as a missionary are staying consistent and slowly improving. I've been doing this for a year now! I feel SO good! Like I'm actually doing something right. I also found periods of time where there were no baptisms, like 4 or 5 weeks without one. I'm currently in one of those periods and it's getting REALLY hard, or it has been until this weekend's miracle.
But when I look back at those periods and remember how I got through that and how I felt, it makes it WAY easier to just keep pushing through this one. PLUS we had Zone Conference based on the Atonement, AND a special Church History Conference held by the two top Church Historians, and presided by Area Authority President Watson. He testified that the best missionaries the Lord has are sent to Taiwan Taichung mission. And he's the Asia Area Authority. ;P Lol, I dunno, maybe it's cause he was a Gaoxiong missionary... but it still made me feel good. But the two historians were AMAZING. I learned a WHOLE lot about Emma Smith and her life, Oliver Cowdery and his life, Porter Rockwell, and now have a whole newfound desire to learn Church History. They told us to start in the Doctrine and Covenants. I also know what I will be doing on Sundays and other times for a while. More than just family history, but digging into church history which the Church History Library is putting everything online next year. SO excited!!!
Sister Xu and her kids come to church every week. Her daughter Lia is 12 and not baptized. Her son is 9 and not baptized. Mom is a member, Dad is not. We only need one signature of one parent to let them get baptized. Missionaries have been pushing for these kids for YEARS. And Mom wants to respect Dad's authority as father of the home (to help him better accept the Gospel) and won't do it unless dad is willing to sign. And for the longest time Dad would NOT sign. Grandma protests because of Buddhist beliefs, Dad is scared if he signs he will lose his inheritance... etc. Dad basically just needs to grow up a bit.
I came into this area and the first people I saw were Sister Xu and her kids. The first thing I did was ask Sister Xu about her kids, she rudely avoided me and walked off. Leaving me with a real bad impression. I had a feeling to just leave it be, and be myself, and continue doing my work. A Sunday later, I give my welcome talk and Sister Xu comes up to me after, apologizes for being rude, and compliments me by saying, "A lot of people think missionaries are all about numbers. You're not. You make this ward feel more comfortable about WHY missionaries push for baptisms. You're doing it to save precious souls, your brothers and sisters."
Can you imagine how I felt? Only a week and a half after I had moved. A week and a half of me beating myself up and not having any success (yes there were three baptisms in that week and a half that I was part of, so you see how horribly I beat myself up?), a week and a half of me feeling like I've got no power or authority anymore, and I hear this from Sister Xu? I felt REALLY good. And God was happy with me.
3 or 4 weeks later, I'm talking to Xu Didi who answers all the baptismal questions better than any investigator I've ever taught, and we decide to put faith in God and set up a baptismal interview for this last Saturday. (we met with Xu Didi on Thursday). Setting up a baptismal interview for long-time investigators has a TON of power. It worked for Li Baba back in Tanzi. AND... it worked for this beautiful family!
Xu Didi passed his interview. Dad signed the paper 10 minutes later. Lia wants an interview now, and I will be doing that tonight. Dad already signed the paper.
Elder Turk and I talked with Sister Xu for 45+ minutes last night. (not the best)... ;)
But I finally understood. I shared Matthew 19:29 with her. And we left unsure about this interview that wouldn't be happening until Sunday morning.
Sunday comes, no one is there in the morning. To be honest I gave up on the idea. Then Sister Cooper pushes Xu Didi in for an interview right after church. And it all came together after that.
I don't know what happened. But after Saturday night, talking with Sister Xu and knowing that Xu Didi was begging dad to let him get baptized, to Sunday afternoon when Dad came and signed the papers. I am NEVER more Grateful. I love Heavenly Father. And if we just show even an ounce of faith, EVERYTHING works out JUST FINE. Stop worrying so much, dork!!!
This family now has these two children being baptized after pushing for 4 years. And Dad's heart has been softened. It took 6 current missionaries and 4 years worth of other missionaries, and God, but now, they will be baptized on Saturday night, after the ward gets back from the Temple. There's no stopping it. The papers are signed, and it's meant to be. It's been meant to be for 4 years. And now dad just might have another place in his heart. And my heart goes out to Sister Xu and her strength, her motherhood, and her faith. I also learned, that MOM IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
I love you. All of you.
Remember the Savior. Grandpa, as you go to church, remember what Christ did for you. And remember what I'm helping people out here come to realize. Your temple clothes are still in our basement. Love you.
Another thing I learned is how badly I want and NEED to be a good parent to my children and for my family. I will do EVERYTHING in my power to accomplish this goal. But I won't take it too far. I have to do it with the Guidance from God. Yes, I got a C in Child Education at BYU. But that was without God helping me out. I'm gonna get 200% with the rest of my life.
90% attitude, 10% skill, 100% depending on the Spirit.
May God be with us all!

-Elder Carter


Hurrah for Israel!!!