Monday, December 27, 2010

BaBa's and such

Well, I just looked at the "attachments" button and thought of how I haven't 'attached' something in a long time. When will I ever use that button again? I don't know. Sending pictures through email is too slow.
Sorry for the random comment. :P

Hallo!!! Well, luckily I have the country code for USA. So I sure hope that's good enough. I'll buy a calling card just in case. They're cheap. Don't worry about a thing! God will set it up so that it works. I never trust all these stinkin' numbers. Why can't I just use the cell phone? Money crunchers.... grrrr.....
Well, I'm sending pictures home this week. They're full of pictures from Dali. I'll send another card home next week with pictures from the Christmas activity. Only a few from Tanzi so far. I focus on taking pictures of the area and with my companion on the last few days of the move call. Within the rules of course. Although I have taken a picture that was taken at !0:42 or so. I thought that was funny. The clock sitting in the background blaring at me that I should've been in
bed. Well, I tell that clock that it was the last day of the move call, I had permission from President, and I was packing. That's what happens when you go proselyting on Sunday. No time for packing at all till the night time, and then the next morning, IF there's time before you miss the train.
The mini move call we had recently sent home a bunch of missionaries and a few small changes. Got a new Zone Leader here, and some missionaries moved all over the place there, some just stayed put in Tanzi. That's fine with me. I'm expected to be here in Tanzi for awhile. Most senior companions are here for 4 or more move calls. If that's the case, when I leave here, I'll be in the summer of 2011 and going home in less than a year.
I've been out for 9 months now. Just passed the 9 month mark. Passed the 1/3 mark, and have 2 move calls left until my half-way mark. 2 and a half until my "one year left" mark, and 3 or 4 until I've been in Taiwan for a year. That'll be here before I know it. I've got 15 and a half months left before I'm headed home. Lol, it makes me happy to see that big of a number. I don't feel like leaving at all. Then again, I do.
That feeling comes when I'm at the mission home when missionaries are leaving for home. I might just want to avoid going there at move call from now on. I get pretty trunky, especially when our financial secretary Elder Greene puts Wedding Announcements from returned missionaries on the wall in the office. Ugh. He knows it annoys us.
The worst is that all the girls are gorgeous, and the guys are just "ok". So it flips us out when we see those pictures. Drives me crazy. Especially when I know half the people up there. Then hearing how FAST people go off and get married when they get home... ugh. A wedding planned in 7 weeks? Is that even possible?
Never mind. Back to my investigators. :P
Li Baba. He committed to quit smoking completely last night. His interview is this Saturday and baptism on the first of January. We had 9 other members besides us missionaries at his house last night (including his whole family). I had set up only 1. But another family came to support him, cause they somehow found out we were visiting them, and when we picked up our buddy to help us teach Li Baba, our buddy Fang Meng Xiang had two friends with him including a less active Zhang Sheng Cheng, and our very own Liu Wen Shen (who just passed his priesthood interview). So, EVERYONE knows that Li Baba is quitting. He's got a lot of pressure, but his desire is golden.
Daniel will be baptized at 4 in the afternoon on Saturday. He can't let his family know or they won't let him get baptized. I think that is super funny :P. So 4:00 is the only time. Then in a couple weeks, we plan on visiting his family. We'll see how that goes.
The twins were caught smoking on Saturday, confessed to my District leader in their interviews Saturday night, and came to church Sunday. Their mom and dad aren't interested in the church, but they say that if the twins want to come they need to come to learn and do good things, be serious about it. Not come to play. Lol, we'll be visiting them soon too. Also, the twins need permission. They're 17, so they need written permission, and we are doing our best to help them out with that. Please pray for them!!!
Our other investigators are coming along. But they all need prayers. I'm dying in prayer every night. It doesn't matter what I do, I'm there for an hour or more because I can't keep myself from falling asleep. Then I go to lay down and think about other things for awhile, but I never get to it, and I don't ever remember climbing into bed. Then it's 6:00 and it's freezing outside, and we still have to run.
Ugh. At least there's no snow. But I miss the snow.... Cold rain is horribly miserable, but it's still beautiful to me, just like I thought before. There's not any kind of weather I don't like. There are preferences, but yeah.
I will call Sunday morning at 7:00. Be prepared with questions you want answered so you can get them out of the way and we can just talk. An hour will go by WAY too fast. I remember thinking "ugh, still have 7 months until I get to call home" (this is when I just barely got to Taiwan). Yeah, well, 7 months disappeared.
I told a recently returned missionary (Li Baba's son) that I had 15 and a half months left and he waved at me and said "bu-bye!" I was like, "why? That's a long time!" And he told me--- "---bu-bye!" I guess time goes fast out here.
I love the work. It gets hard. It gets easy. But at the end of the day I'm always happy. That may have something to do with the fact that I can go sleep at that time and pig out on food, but really. I really am happy every night. And keeping almost every single one of my goals. I have a ton for the new year, and I'm in the process of prioritizing them and shrinking the list. I don't exactly have the longest time. :P
I love you all!!! 

-Elder Carter

ps- talk to you on Sunday, then an awkward email, 'cause I won't know what to say.
"Hurrah for Israel!" (An Elder Byerism)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Climbing Trees

Well, life is good here!
Not a lot of changes.
LIU WEN SHEN: This 17 year old, mischievous, annoying, wonderful, brilliant young man was baptized and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost this last weekend.
CHEN RANDY: Randy is another not well-behaved, but hilarious, very spiritual 16-year-old. He will be getting baptized on Christmas Day.
CHEN JEFF: Randy's twin. A little better-behaved, but is a lot quieter. When you get him alone, he seems to open up better, and is more willing. The two of them put together are quite the hoot, but a really hard lesson to control. Luckily they've been to church a ton before, and are totally willing. Also, obtaining permission from their parents is not a problem. Jeff will also be baptized on Christmas Day.
CAI DANIEL: Unbelievably Golden. He had Word of Wisdom, and Law of Chastity problems, but they were overcome the lesson of. When he heard Sabbath Day, he sat back, took a deep sigh, and told us he LOVES this commandment. He thinks it's very smart, and just makes sense. He likes the idea of being commanded to rest. He thought it was pretty funny. God has to do that every now and then, doesn't He? Command us to rest a little... sounds familiar... I just think it's funny it has to come in command form... :P Daniel, because of a miracle, will be getting baptized on Christmast Day as well. Our Asia Area Presidency has said that every investigator must come to church at least 3 times before getting baptized. Daniel has come twice, and will not be able to come to church on the 19th. Therefore, we thought we would have to move his baptism goal to the first of January, which we hate to do, because delaying baptismal goals is NOT a good idea. But President Bishop is comfortable with it. Daniel's family would protest if they knew he was coming to our church, but luckily he's 25 and doesn't need permission. His reason for not coming to church next sunday is because he is going to Xinzhu to be with family. He doesn't want to tell them, because he's afraid they wouldn't let him get baptized. He almost didn't make it to church yesterday because he was hiking with family, but he booked it over and made it almost on time.
YUE ZI XIANG: Met two weeks ago on exchanges. Set up for an appointment on Saturday at 11 AM. Didn't come, and didn't call (like most of our lessons, lol), so he was dropped off of our APR because he wouldn't answer, but we kept his number around because he was so nice on the street. Friday night, on exchanges with Zone Leaders, he calls me and apologizes for not coming (this is a week later, this never happens) then sets up again for Saturday morning at 11. Doesn't come. Promises he can come to church. He comes to the baptism Saturday night, and we find out that he had surgery and couldn't come and had no use of his phone for a few days. Oh. Patience, Elder Carter. He came to church and brought a friend. They both have interest, and are ready and willing to get baptized on New Years' Day.
LI BABA: A 9 year investigator. He let missionaries in 9 years ago when they were tracting and the whole family was baptized except for him. Because he couldn't quit smoking. Lol. Still has smoking problems, but he, for the first time in 9 years, set up a baptismal interview for Christmas Day. Every missionary that has worked with him before has not gotten this far. So he's progressing. His son just got back from his mission in California, and he pushes hard for his Dad to get baptized. It's about time.
When Li Baba gets baptized, that will be a completed family. And in one year, they can go to the temple. And I can attend. I'm praying hard. Please pray for this man. And for the twins :D.
Me? I've never felt shorter. I've never felt older. I've never been so busy. I've never been so happy. I've never had so little money. Oh wait, I don't have money. :D
But I'm a missionary.
I'm an emissary.
I'm a messenger.
I'm a Son of God.
I have an opportunity for eternity.
I can go to the Celestial Kingdom.
I'm on the right path. I might like climbing the trees on the sides every now and then, but one thought back to Mom and Dad, sends me running back to the middle of the path.
I AM HAPPY.
My relationship with my companion took a couple hits this week, but we worked it out and came out on top. We have a great companionship. And I feel like the way I serve my mission is a little too relaxed sometimes... lol. Elder Zhu is SO much better than me. He makes me feel like I need to be better. I WANT to be better around him. He's so diligent and unbelievably focused. :D I'm so glad he's here. I'm scared about what happens when he leaves.
My trainer, Elder Krantz just went Assistant to the President. Seeing him today was funny. He was totally humbled, and a little scared. He is companions with an Elder who he was with in the MTC. Yes, they are the same age. Elder Krantz has 4 move calls left and will head home. All 4 will be as Assistant. I love him!! :P He's so funny.
I hope all is well at home. I'm doing my best out here and I love all of you!
My feelings are changing. My personality is the same, but more secure. I feel like I love people more, like I treat people better, including myself. But I'm not perfect. Isn't that a great feeling? I'm NOT perfect. Sigh........ All that being perfect pressure is not mine to bear! Don't we love our Savior for doing that for us. Luckily we only need one person to do that for us. But, Mom, you're right. We don't understand all the time, just how COMPLETE the Atonement of Jesus Christ really is. I need it, you need it, everyone else needs it. Who cares if you're perfect? You know who else needed the Atonement? Christ.
Don't forget how easy it is to forget how to use the Atonement, and how easy it is to succumb to pride. Lucifer himself was one in Authority under God, and he fell, because of pride. President Benson (I'm pretty sure it was him) 21 years ago, gave a talk on "Beware of Pride". It changed this church. It had a funny side effect though. This was mentioned in General Conference, but I forget by who. Maybe Elder Uchtdorf? When we feel like saying "I am proud of my son" "I am proud of my family" "I glory in the fact that I'm a messenger for my God"... etc, we feel like that is the bad pride. When this talk was given about "Beware of Pride", the word proud, or pride, became taboo among saints.
Just remember. YOU need the Atonement, too. So does President Monson. Not just the smoker on the street curb, the broken mother pushing her house around in a shopping cart, the drugged up homie with missing teeth and a false sense of what seems to be happy, or even the business man with the shredded suit, empty suitcase, no job, no account, and, at the time, no apparent future.
The Atonement is real. Don't forget it. USE it. Every day. REPENT.
See you next week!!!
-Elder Carter

ps- I'm writing Lindsey, by the way. She's great isn't she? :) Just thought the whole world should know. 'Cause she is great. (LYL) :D (yes, Elder Brimley, I heard that sigh... and Elder Seamons...) :)
Love you all! Gotta go! figure out the call stuffs!! LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pure KJ

Note from the editor: Sorry for the delay in getting this out this week. A lot of it is pretty personal for our little family, so I thought about editing pretty heavily, but I decided to send it out completely unedited. Shelby had her patriarchal blessing last weekend-12/7/10-and it was a pretty special time for all of us. I think one of my favorite things about having our missionary out is the love he keeps sending back our direction. What a reward for those not always fun teenage years! Have a great week everyone...on to the Elder.

Wow.
Have I told Shelby yet how much I love her? It grows everyday, and I'm not even around her! I wonder if that would've worked back home.... But then again, I couldn't really get away from her, could I?
And besides, who, in their right minds, wouldn't want to be with my sister her whole life? Granted there's the toothpaste, the stealing brother's things, the arguing, the getting brother in trouble... etc... the list goes on. But when you get to know her. When you get to see her heart for what it really is.. You begin to understand what being in Heavenly Father's presence must be like. I've always wondered if she was a celestial spirit. In fact, I've been pretty sure for awhile.
Shelby, you knew what you were going to go through in this life. You saw that pain. But more than that you saw the joy. You were willing because you knew that you could at least help your brother. I'm not sure how many other people you've helped, but you've nearly saved me.
I remember the peaceful, closed eyes I saw on that day 15 years ago. The beautiful spirit of my sister in the presence of angels while her body went through mortal pain. But do you know what I remember most? I don't remember a baby face. I remember a mature, perfect, peaceful Shelby. That's who I saw on that bed. That's who I remember. Everytime I see you, that's what I see, that's what I remember. Everytime I think of you, I remember who you are. I can only imagine that you and I were best friends in the pre-mortal life, since we both seemed to have pretty strong testimonies of our Savior. I must have begged Heavenly Father to let you be my sister. You know what else I see in your "countenance"? Our Savior Jesus Christ. The purity of His Truth. I know this all sounds dramatic, but I'm overcome with emotion right now. I want to read your patriarchal blessing so bad! I knew for years, that your blessing would be special. Everything I've heard so far is unbelievably amazing to me, and they are things that I already knew about you. I can only imagine how Mom and Dad feel.
    Mom, Dad. Don't you two EVER tell me you "broke things" in raising us. Do you realize who you're the parents of? A celestial spirit, and Heavenly Father gave you a pretty mischievous, naughty, rebellious son to correct and fix up. I needed you two and my sister. Only with you could I have become what I am, and get to where I'm at.
Because you two are perfectionists and raised me that way, my investigators understand what we teach. They know what they have to do, and all the information our leaders need is given. This is because I'm picky, and a perfectionist. But more so, is because of Elder Zhu's testimony and together, the presence of the Spirit when we teach.
Thank you. I know what I really want now. I know where my hope lies. I know where my heart belongs. And it's because I have the BEST parents, and the BEST sister. I love you Shelbs. You're still the first person I'm hugging when I get home. Don't let me forget that. And don't you dare get all annoying and tell me you don't want it. I'm chasing you from the airport to Taiwan and back until you let me hug you. You first. Not the dog. You. Then Mom and Dad, and then everyone else gets a turn. That's then though.
For now...
160+ missionaries in our mission. Had one week where we contacted 28000 people (the whole mission put together). Added hundreds of investigators, and are helping several progress towards baptism. Our companionship alone has Liu Wen Shen ready to get baptized this Saturday. Daniel, and the Chen Twins getting ready for a "White Christmas" on the 25th of December, which is a Saturday. Perfect for a baptismal service.
Miracles happen everywhere. And they happen everyday. God is everywhere. I'm just starting to see. How could I have been so blind before? I thought I knew things... ;P Now, I'll admit I don't know a thing. I just can't wait to stand before God, with confidence and fire, and take my first steps to Godhood alongside my own, glorified, Eternal Heavenly Father. Although, I'll never be as Good as Him!
Can't wait to see Sister Lee! I'll have to explain that she's a lifelong friend pretty quick, or half the mission will be bearing down on my back. So, Sister Lee! Please make sure you come say hi to me when you see me! So cool! So excited! How do the Lees feel about all this?
Yes, I get Jean's letters. :D I GET JEAN'S LETTERS!!! Is that big enough to see? I hope Jean can see that... ;P I'll write back soon enough, no worries.
Learning the new area is pretty easy, considering it is significantly smaller than my last two areas. Makes it fun. I have my map on my new bag which sits on the front of my bike, so I can see it easier. It's fun visiting people. The mission focus has turned from contacting at intersections to contacting while traveling. We want to be visiting more people. Stopping at intersections is not entirely effective.
There are 20 or so local missionaries in our mission. Probably less, actually. No, I will never be junior companion again until I get married.
Zone Conferences are every other move call. District Training Meetings are every week. Combined District Training Meetings are every other move call. Mission Conferences are Christmas, when Authorities visit, and special calls by President Bishop.
Some fun facts.
Anyway, life is good. My 6'8" companion is super great, and knows how to find investigators. He helps our numbers look good. But since that doesn't matter, it's fun to see how he befriends the people he finds. He's different. I understand the Chinese spoken on the street better than I understand him, but it's nice to have a harder language experience. It's tuning my ears to the way they actually talk. He just barely got into the mission, so his accent hasn't turned into the American accent yet. He's got HIS way of doing things, but he's funny, and we figure it out. It's hard being senior companion of a missionary who just left his trainer after being with his trainer for 2 move calls. Gotta untrain them then train them again. Because every missionary is different. Plus, he doesn't do everything I did when I left my trainer to make sure the companionship has no bumps. He does it different, but everything Dad told me to do, he doesn't really do. So I teach him things here and there, so that his next companion won't be so tough to get used to.
I've been told I'm really good at making friends, and our 17 year old investigator tells me I'm really fun. Another younger missionary, when his companion was in Beiqu for training and came around with me and Elder Zhu for two days, told me that he appreciates that I'm me. What?!! I'm me? Since when has that ever been the case?!
Stuff like this makes me feel better. But I'm even happier to think that people enjoy being around me here, and love talking with me. They enjoy me for who I am. I'm still perfectionist, I'm still me.
Love you all!!
Time's running out!
 
-Elder Carter
 
"Hurrah for Israel!" (An Elder Byerism)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pardon my horrible English

Well, I have no idea what coloquial means anymore or even how to spell it, and I'm nervous that the big english word has a negative meaning to it... It sounds good next to Local, though, doesn't it? Pardon my horrible English.
I love my new area. The people are funny, solid, and ready to go. It counts as a more country area, with really only one intersection that is worth contacting at. The church is on the 15th floor, and going to the roof to eat dinner is an experience worth serving 2 years in a foreign country for. It is BEAUTIFUL up there. I WILL DEFINITELY be taking millions of pictures. Don't you dare delete a single one. Even if it's blurry. That might have been done on purpose. :) There will be pictures coming. With some funny videos and stuff.
I would LOVE to get more pictures of our family together (funny, content, happy, silly, serious, angry types... etc). I would absolutely LOVE to have pictures of me from on my mission, from the ones I've already sent home. That would be fantastic. Oh, I don't know why I just thought this up, but tell Lizzy (Sister Shattuck is our next door neighbor and will be coming home from her mission this month!) to write a letter saying hi when she gets home, and I can ask her questions about differences in England, and how sisters serving is different from Elders (there is a HUGE difference. Not much different from the same situation that exists at home. Girls are usually more behaved (unless you're Taylor Hart, of course... jk).
Anyway, pictures. Pictures from before my mission would be nice, pictures while on my mission would be nice, more pictures of family would be nice, more recent pictures of family would be nice (like thanksgiving or Christmas), and a small book like the one I have would be great. Also, I need Christmas music! Thanksgiving has past (yes, Dad, I still won't sing or listen to Christmas music til midnight on Thanksgiving, and I made sure I did it according to American time.) :D and it's time to start blasting Christmas music for all to hear.
Our apartment building is full of members. It makes coming home, and waking up super fun. Here in Tanzi, you actually run into members on the street. That's new. The baptismal font is a blue tub. I'll send pictures soon.
I need more bubble-wrap envelopes!!!! :D Please?!!!! Or you all won't get pictures for a while.... and that'll be disappointing.
We have an investigator that will be baptized on the 11th of December. I've never been closer to an investigator, and I've only known him a week. He opens up to me, and he's supposed to be the most closed off, shy Taiwanese 17-year-old in eastern Asia. Yeah, ok.
Daniel (Cai Yan Zhang). A very good man. It feels SO good to have an investigator ask a lot of questions who's not asking questions to catch you in false words. Like Zeezrom. Talking to Zeezrom-like people is the everyday thing. But when they turn into Lamoni-type people, where their questions are asked because they are seriously looking for truth... life gets happy in a millisecond. I love Daniel. He couldn't come to Church yesterday, because he was going hiking, and he had a date with what he called a "special friend". I asked him about it Sunday night, and he said she was "hai hao". Which just means-alright. Lol.
Elder Zhu's girl stories are hilarious. And there are SO many. I wonder if that's what I sounded like to my senior companions. If so, I kinda want to apologize... lol. Nah, it's fun. Plus I have plenty to share, as well. Lol.
Well, we all knew I had a feeling before this move call that something was gonna change. Or I wouldn't have asked Dad in written letter how to be a Senior companion only to receive his reply 4 days into this move call right when I was starting to freak and not know what to do.
Now, I'm ok. I know what I'm doing, and how I want to do it. It's fun sharing ideas and doing things your junior companion's way. Because when things work out, man, is it beautiful to see the light that shows on his face. He literally ran over a 75-year-old woman the other day (I'm just glad I didn't do it. Usually it's me that has problems like that). He literally ran over her, and she biffed it hard. I have a new testimony of how tough Taiwanese grandmas are. She's one tough braud (spelling?). She took us over to her house while she was bleeding everywhere from her upper lip, limping after smacking her "had surgery before type knee" (wow, my english is gone. I literally don't know how to say that better.) on the street. We entered and agreed to pay her deductible. (like three bucks american, because of this medical system. One nice thing. I heard America's medical system finally changed. Did President Obama get his way? ... I can't talk about this...)
The next morning we brought her a pineapple (pineapples work miracles, I'm telling you.) and she agreed to meet with sister missionaries. I don't know the results, but they met with her last night, and I'm afraid to call the sisters to find out. But, Elder Zhu's face lit up when he heard she was going to meet with the sisters. He really respects the older people. Very much a part of this culture. And he felt absolutely HORRIBLE. So when he heard that this experience had Gospel-related results, he was so happy. Made me feel SO happy. Isn't that what love is? When you're willing to do things you may not usually do for the happiness of others? Isn't that what Jesus did? Is that true love? I'm literally asking this question- is it?
Taiwan is great. Every area has it's ups and downs, but the Spirit is everywhere. Along with God, and Jesus Christ. Faith. That's my focus this move call. Faith. With faith, ANYTHING is possible. So how do you convince your investigators to use their faith? Now, isn't that the question... By the Spirit, of course, but how? Trusting the Spirit is part of it. But there's more.
It will not be expensive to alter my suit. Less than 20 bucks American. I'll do it next week. Pants also need altering. I'm gonna clean my ties here, too. Since a drycleaner is close and dependable.
Food is not eaten as much here on my part. Portions are smaller. Plus, in a country type area, there isn't "Eat to arrive at Full" restaurants (buffets) anywhere near. And, I want to write letters. Eating time on Mondays isn't as long as before. But I will make it to a buffet every move call if possible. Absolutely delicious. And all the food is all mine.
Christmas activity this month, too. :D Can't wait! Make sure you all have a good phone that I can call that will ensure quality conversation.
Shoes. Size 11.5-12 running shoes. I like Asics, but those are super expensive. I can probably get cheaper here. And I'll just tell you when I need them. Cause I don't need them right now. Don't worry about shirts unless I specifically ask for them from home. Quality shirts here are unbelievably cheap. No worries. :D Once I figure out what I'm gonna be sending home, I'll tell you about how much it might be, and if I could get help with that, that would be nice. Sending home other than by boat is a lot more expensive, so I'll let you know. :D
The Church is true. God is here. "Thou shalt not fear, for I AM near"... (paraphrased, and set up to rhyme). They love us. They have their time. They have their reasons. Love them with all your heart, and you will begin to see Their hands in literally EVERY part of your life. Don't doubt. Love. Don't turn away. Keep focused. Love with all you have, every fiber of your being, every string of your heart. And then we can start to comprehend their love for us... but it's only a start. So keep working at it.
Love you all!!! The work is Golden! 

-Elder Carter

"Hurrah for Israel!!!" (An Elder Byerism)

ps- Being Senior seems to be no different than being Junior. I'm just a missionary. With more responsibility. :) Love you all. (YLTIY)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

VIDEO: Dinner with Elder Carter

Check out the latest video from Elder Carter below. Enjoy!

New Mission Pics on Flickr 11.30.10

See all the new Mission Pics from Elder Carter on Flickr HERE.

Freaking out!!!

Wow. 
Ok.
 I have a bunch to write.
 Hold on.
I'm senior companion as of today. 
My new companion is Elder Zhu.
He is from Taipei. 
He is Taiwanese.
He is taller than Tyler Haws.
I am now north of Taizhong in Tanzi (Tantzu).
I'm freaking out.

I don't know my area, my ward, my own name. My Chinese is still not where I'd like it to be, but that's not gonna change. I got the call on Saturday. I fully expected to continue with Elder Huang for one more in Dali. But SURPRISE!!! On your 5th move call you are going to be senior. That doesn't happen very often. I am one of three people out of the 15 that came with me from the MTC that is going Senior. I'm also going senior with most of the people from the group before me. I fell in love with Dali. As soon as the Move Call came Sat night, I sat down, and literally started crying. I did NOT expect that. I have felt like the weakest, most unable missionary the last two weeks. But near the end, I figured it out, and felt like I was going through a bunch of small silly trials in preparation for something. Yeah, going senior. Too early, mind you.
I have no idea how to be senior. I wasn't expecting it, so I didn't even think about preparing anything. I'm fresh of the airplane, and I'm being put in charge of thousands of people. And taking care of 30+ new members. AHHHHHHHHH!!!! Responsibility?!!! WHY?? I don't like responsibility. But I'm taking it with a full heart and a willing mind. DEFINITELY a broken heart and contrite Spirit. Yes, I'm nervous. But Elder Zhu is a super good missionary, so I'll be ok. Being with him for a short time today already makes me feel like I'm being trained again. Here we go! I've served a fourth of my time on island now, and the halfway mark is coming up in March/April. Plus, this move call I get to call home. Won't that be nice?
Uh.... shirts are perfectly fine. I bought a couple of smaller long-sleeve (3$/each) shirts, since the ones I came with are WAY too big. And I'm gonna need to get my suit altered. And my pants. My suit is way to big. Everyone says I look like I'm wearing Elder Pei's suit. Clothes are ok. Will need new running shoes soon. Starting to fall apart. But I'll let you know. A very light, black jacket would also be good. Cheap. Just to keep me warm in Dec and Jan. Don't know if I need it. Just if it's convenient. I already have a sweater, so probably don't need it actually.
Could use 20$ to buy Chinese materials at the big mall in Beiqu. Have a good book or two there that I would like to buy. Cheap, and eternally useful. I would LIKE a translator, but that involves hundreds of dollars, so that is a big want, not need. And I'm ok without it for now. Plus, I get to carry the cell phone now, (and keys) which has a mini dictionary in it, so-- ok. :D
I need more pictures! :D Most important are good pictures of me, as well as pictures of the family to let people see. They all ask, and I never have one. :D Thanks.
I'm getting Jean's letters :D I love them!!! Thank you!
Thanks, Dad, for getting me those pictures. I appreciate that.
Life's good, but I'm gonna need some tips on transitioning into becoming senior companion. Especially this early.
CAMILLE LEE?!! Sweet!!! I will definitely see her around! She is PERFECT for this mission. And I'll be going home before she does, but not by far! How cool is that? So good! She'll fit right in, no mistake. I might even get to serve in the same district/zone with her! How fun would that be? Tell her to get working on Chinese, and not to worry. Sisters BAPTIZE TONS in this mission. I don't get it.... :( ;) (For those of you who don't know, we've known Camille and the rest of her family since before she and Elder Carter were in elementary school! Camille has been called to Taichung and will be entering the MTC next February. So AWESOME!)
I like Thanksgiving because everyone gets together, and we eat a lot of food. And it puts a break in the pathway to Christmas to remind us to be grateful. I like the history it represents, and the best part is having family together again. Those times are always my favorite times! But, other than that, not much. Turkey isn't even my favorite food... or meat. :P
Stuffing is good.
I don't get to see snow. Meh.
Guess you could say it feels cold. It is a bit chilly right now, but not bad.
I might be wanting to send stuff home this move call. It's building up a little bit with all the study materials and other stuff. So I might need some money. I'll let you know.
Can't wait for Shelb's letter. Love her to death. Life's good. And I miss you so much Shelby!
A new phase of missionary work is about to start. Has started. I'm gonna have new strains, stresses, and breakdowns. I'm already super nervous. But, because Elder Zhu so so awesome already on his 3rd move call, I'm pretty sure there won't be any problems :D.
Luckily, God blesses us with trials and then blesses us with a million ways to handle those trials. The real trial is to find those 'million ways'. It makes life worth it. If we can work through the little things and strive to be obedient and love those around us, everything goes right.
I left my heart in Dali. And I'm pulling at it hard! To get it to come up into Tanzi. It's tough. The members over in Dali were great, and they are already writing letters to give me as well as all the stuff they gave me when I left. You'd think I'd be going home soon with all the stuff they gave me. But it's all cool, useful, and fun. You'll all get to see it in about 16 months.
Stay strong. Keep it real. Love everyone! That seems to be the best and only way to get used to change. Especially when everyone you knew and loved disappears from your side. :D But Elder Durham is now my Zone Leader in North Taizhong, so life will be grand. :P Tell everyone I love them. And I'll talk to you more about Christmas call. Right now, it looks like it'll be around the 26th or 27th. Depends on whether you want a morning or nighttime call. We'll talk more when I get more info.
May God be with you all, and wish me luck in trying to take the place of Elder Zhu's trainer. Ahhh!! :P

-Elder Carter

"Hurrah for Israel" (An Elder Byerism)
ps- Starting to plan for more people to write letters to. Yes this includes females, and no, I won't be losing focus. Yes this includes Lindsey.
Thanks to Lindsey for taking care of my sister. You're great! I miss you, too, and WILL be writing you today. With a letter full of secrets.......... ;)
Lol, Love you all. Make it real. And I'll tell you more about the last couple of weeks in a letter, Mom and Dad. Ok? LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!! Get as many people as possible to the house at Christmas!! And I need to know which number to dial. As well as what you guys think will be the most convenient, loudest, long-distance telephone. I'll get details later.
Loves!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lotsa Hotsa Curry

Hello!
I don't know anything about curry. I just know that I eat a lot of curry, and curry is curry, and shouldn't have fruit, and that's curry, and that's all I care about curry, because I love curry, and curry is curry, so that's curry. (Papa Carter served his mission in Japan, and Elder Carter has been eating a LOT of curry on his mission and got confused about the difference between Japanese and Indian Curry…we had to straighten him out a bit.)

I LOVE Elder Stauffer. I'm SO happy for him. He sounds pretty bored in his letters, lol. He's just playin' the games up 'til he leaves. I hope he does alright, and stays in touch with me throughout his mission. It's a long time til I see him again...
I hope (a friend of mine from BYU) is gonna be alright. I was expecting to see him at this last temple trip, and then found out that he's not even in Taiwan, so I didn't have very good feelings for awhile. Hope Lindsey is helpin' him feel better. I wonder what's goin' on, comin' back to BYU still having not been out is gonna be tough, I think. But he's got a bunch of good friends supporting him. I think he'll be alright.
Lindsey! Sorry to have been so harsh lately! I didn't forget you, I just have been through a "focus" spell. So, all is well. Stop worrying so much about me! I'm ok, you just all gotta know that I vent everything through my emails, so you get the extremes.
It's not easy out here. Watching and hearing my friends grow and blossom in the Gospel is great. It really humbles me, and I truly admire all of them in the field. And I encourage Dustin to do everything he can to get out there. EVERYTHING. I, sometimes, feel like a horrible missionary when reading the other Elders' emails. It's all good. I just have to look at what I've accomplished and then I feel better about myself. I love my mission! If you think about it, EVERY Saturday and Sunday there is someone being baptized somewhere in our mission. I feel good to know that I've attributed to that.
Lai Rong Fu got baptized yesterday and MAN was it a crazy baptism. Three people were baptized, and the baptizer had no idea what he was doing. Ugh. Unbelievably nervous. It got so bad that our investigator left the font, and we had to comfort him and calm him down to convince him to go back and try again. Unfortunately, the baptisms are some of the most stressful times for us. Probably because everyone here jumps up to the front to help out when something goes wrong. There's yelling, and 4 or 5 priesthood brethren with the fire of their Spirits sprinting and pointing and talking, and it is super easy to experience a mach 5 sensory overload. No wonder our investigator left the font. We literally had to pull the 40+ year-old men away from the font and sit them down and tell them to stay and be quiet. That was not easy. And unbelievably awkward, but it had to be done. Gotta love this culture, and this people. SO anal about EVERYTHING. And then they're not at the same time. I love them so much! I'm always laughing. (in a good way).
Yes, it gets hard. Yes, there are times when I feel disobedient, or unclean/unworthy. But I've learned to work past it, trust God, and move on. I am learning more about myself and am extremely self-aware now. Even though I may not think I've changed very much since I left on my mission, I at least see progress here. We'll see what the family and my friends think when I get home. But, unfortunately and fortunately there will only be girls around when I get home. All the guys will be gone. Uh-oh... It's a good time to steal everyone's girlfriend and get my foot in the door before the guys get back... lol. Just kidding.
Everyday I run into trials and challenges. I had no idea there could be so many thrown at me from every angle. No wonder I get so down on myself out here. It's not easy to handle all those challenges and stresses being thrown at me all at once. It's kinda scary sometimes, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle getting over it when I figure out what Heavenly Father wants me to do. In the meantime, I get down on myself, think I'm a horrible person, stress out my companion, throw my feelings out the window and let everyone partake of the insanity, then I finally figure out how to progress and move on, then all is well til the next wave of trials comes around. Which is the next day. So, the new goal, is to figure out how to control the insanity during the process of change. I'm growing up.
We're pretty sure I'm gonna be with Elder Huang next move call and then go Senior. But who knows? And I don't care. I just want to keep going. Take whatever comes, put everything on God and Jesus Christ, and all is well.
Huang Guo Hua came to church!!! Yay!! That was his second time. His baptismal goal is less than two weeks away. He'll get baptized on Thanksgiving weekend. I wonder if he'll ever know the significance of that. He just has to quit smoking. We told him to quit, and finished our lesson last night, and he immediately sat down with friends, and we saw him pull out a smoke, caught the guilty look on his face and then saw him try to hide the cigarette. Lol. Elder Huang scolded his friends and told them that our investigator is quitting and not to give him any more smokes. I don't know what happened after, but Guo Hua was guilty and stopped immediately, so that's good. He's still progressing. He's still got a little time to figure this out. Pray for him!!!
Did I tell you I got a hold of Zhang Shu Wei? My first recent convert? He's doin' ok.
I just realized why I don't say a lot about the country and culture. I have to be careful what I say in email and letters til I get home. So I innately edit. Sorry. I'll try to be more open, but there are certain things I can't share in this mode of communication. Through the phone, or when I get home, that's ok. And please forgive my horrrible English type grammar.
There is one thing that I can tell everyone. I LOVE my mission. I wouldn't give it up for anything. And I'm willing to give up everything for my mission. It's not easy sometimes, but I'm more and more willing, and my view on life is much more eternal and just better. There's a scripture in 3rd Nephi that tells us not to worry about the things of tomorrow, but that of today. God worries about tomorrow. Obviously we need to make plans. But leaving it up to the Lord is much better. Christ himself said that he prefers we get work done while it's still day, "for no man worketh at night". Gotta love gaining scriptural knowledge. Makes me feel smart. And about the only book that really matters, so I feel even better about that.
I'm being eaten alive by mosquitoes, my allergies DO exist out here (just not as bad), and it is not cold. Even though everyone wears jackets and long pants and says it's cold-- IT'S NOT COLD. Elder Bernards and Elder Brimley can tell you what cold means. I just tell everyone I'm from Utah "The greatest snow on earth" and they all freak out. The people here love snow, and there's only one place that it actually snows in Taiwan. On the top of the mountains in Taipei. That's it, and it maybe snows a couple inches. I don't know why, but everyone I know has a secret desire to ski and snowboard. Lol. But they all wish they could visit Salt Lake City. There's a Spiritual desire there.
To all everyone who reads and sees this (including those in Taiwan), I love you all! (LYTMY;) I miss everyone back home, and I love going to church every week and seeing all the members here. The members here are on the front lines in the fire. They are BRILLIANT. Those back in Utah, keep building that foundation, keep maintaining your standards. We need it out here. And keep having kids. :D (if you're married)
Keep strong, the world is wrong, stay to the right, and life gets bright.
Your friend, brother in the Faith, and son,
Elder Carter

"Hurrah for Israel!" (An Elder Byerism)

(Happy Birthday Grandpa!!! 70 here is SUPER old. Congrats!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's Your Name?

Hello!!!

Shenghuo hai bu cuo. Hen duo shiqing guode hen hao. Meiyou shenme bu hao de bu fen. Souyou de mudaoyou dou you kuaile de ganjuele. Wo de mingzi, you keneng, deng yi xia hui gaibian. Keshi, wo yao zunjing wo MTC de yixie laoshi, suoyi, gaibian mingzi... yidian nan zuo de dao. Meiyou guanxi!! Gaibian mingzi gen chuanjiao meiyou shenme guanxi, erqie, meiyou shenme yong! :P 
(If you happen to know any Mandarin Chinese, I’m sure the rest of us would love a translation!)

Anyway, back to English.
Keepin' my feet dry. No worries. Not like that's hard. There's no water anymore. It's all sun, clouds, and cold. Then hot again. Winter has started, and there wasn't any sort of fall. That's disappointing. But, no worries, I'm going down to Nantou next week to go hiking, so all is well. I haven't hiked in FOREVER. Coming on my mission, I've realized, hiking was literally my favorite thing to do. At least one of them. So excited!!!
Not much goin on this week. It was power week, and I learned a lot. Humbled a lot, and learned more about my companion. I don't think I've ever been closer to any one companion other than Elder Huang and Elder Pei. Maybe it's because I HAVE to get to know them quick just to get over that initial feeling at the beginning of every move call. Don't know. Meiyou Guanxi.
The bike is fine. The bike needs oiling probably every week or so, literally. It gets rusty like that quick. New chains aren't exactly that expensive, so if something happens, no worries! I've got my emergency cash stowed away... Plus, I've already had the experience of getting a nasty flat tire about 1 hour away from our apartment (that's one hour on bike), and about 2 or 3 hours walking distance. Luckily there was a bike shop around the corner. It was about 8:00 when the flat tire happened, and we were on our way home. Bu hao. That bike shop fixed the tire for less than 6 bucks american. The next morning it went flat again. Lol. At least I got home on time. :D
Power week just about killed me. Yesterday, I woke up the most exhausted I've ever been, and that wasn't even a real, true power week. Ugh.... I could barely get up, and could barely see anything for the life of me.
Our apartment is funny. It's situated right next to a University apartment building, and the windows in our apartment that look that way (the only windows with any view, if you call it a view) look towards the girls dorms. Weird feeling, and they're less than 10 feet away so we hear everything they say. And we avoid those windows, lol. Also the other windows look out towards the other people that live in our apartment complex and they're mostly all old couples or middle-aged couples, and they aren't very good about closing windows, or wearing more than underwear. It's just cause it's hot, and more than once we've knocked on doors and had mom and dad answer the door in their underwear. Lol, it's just funny. At least winter has come and everyone wears long pants and sleeves, so all the girls are now modest. That's SUPER nice. It really makes me appreciate the girls back home who dressed modestly. And it's a lot easier to focus on contacting instead of focusing on avoiding.
It's also super fun to pretend like I don't know Chinese, and hear all the people talk about me all around me like I can't hear or understand. It's really funny what they say, too. Then the random guy (students usually) comes up and asks a really simple question, and then I respond like I've been speaking Chinese for years, and they're all surprised. Then I invite them to church. And they actually accept! :D Not all of them come, but I've helped a lot of people be baptized using this method. Lol.
One of my favorite questions to answer is "How many years have you been in Taiwan?". I don't think my Chinese is very good. In fact, I feel like it's digressing lately. But that might just be my local companion talking. But the people on the street always ask how many years I've been in Taiwan. It's fun to say, "5 months" quickly and then move on. But lately, I just tell them that it's not important, they need to focus on what I have to share, and move on. The people that aren't interested are really easy to find using this method. but I'm not looking for uninterested people!!! If the person continues to listen, and ask pertinent questions, then I know I can pull the huge building crane driver over (to the inconvenience of everyone, but no one in Taiwan seems to care, or, at least, won't say anything) to the side of the street and give him a baptismal commitment. If I'm lucky, he gives me some Winter Melon tea, his info, and a OnionOil cake. (SO GOOD. I'm learning to cook these. AMAZING. And, surprisingly healthy, given the name.)
My favorite restaurant is a Japanese restaurant that sells Taiwanese food and Japanese food. So I don't get the guilt trip from my Dad TOO heavy by going there. The food is GREAT, and I have now eaten everything my Dad ever gave us to eat at home that had anything to do with Japan. Dad's curry, I found out, seems to be more of an Indian variety. I can cook real Japanese curry (or so I'm told) and it's very different, but still good. I'm not sure if you'd all like it though... It has coconut milk in it. That might be the only difference. Dad? Do you know?
The people here are blown away by the environment I used to live in. Where nearly everyone is a member, how easy it is to keep commandments, because not a lot is open on Sunday, not a lot of places sell Word of Wisdom stuff, and how many chapels/temples you can see from a hilltop. They're amazed at how small our stakes are (boundary wise) and how many people attend church. Our ward at home (Utah) has about 100 families, right? That's 300 to 600 people. And a 90% + attendance at church, right? Well, here, there are 600 to 800 members of one ward, and 140 coming every week is a TON to them. They are overwhelmed by the fact that a ward clerk might say, "oh, today we only have 400 in attendance". 400?!!! They want to live there so bad!! Count your blessings everyone...Here, it's pretty seldom that you run into a member randomly on the street. Granted, it's a city, but still. You can feel the light shining from it's source in the middle of some out of the way "living alleys" from that one member that lives there. We, as missionaries are drawn to that light without even knowing it. It's like following a scent, LITERALLY.
Mosquitos EVERYWHERE. And I have a million bites, again. ugh.
Dogs, everywhere. And it's not too hard to find a small store somewhere that will sell dog meat to eat. They just pick up those dogs on the street, and ... well yeah. The small street markets are uncertain whether or not you want to eat there. It's good food, but you don't quite know where it came from, what it is, or how it was cooked, cleaned, prepared, etc...
The banana farmers, or farmers in general that are old men are super funny. I'll give you a video of Zeng BeiBei (grandpa) soon. Their hands are huge, because of how many times they've been broken or bruised, and when Zeng BeiBei takes the sacrament he just sticks his finger in the cup to pick it up. He can't quite dial a cell phone, and he's just hilarious. When he takes pictures, he's got the best smile. He's got the best laugh, and only speaks Taiwanese. I've learned most of my Taiwanese from him, if I can hear him clearly that is. He's hilarious, and his Chinese is even funnier to listen to.
Shi Baba is still forcing food down our throats, along with scarves, mittens, more fruit, using excuses from everywhere to everywhere to get us to take his food. He's got a new excuse every time, and makes us feel terribly guilty if we don't take what he offers. Ugh.
Bishop forgot my name last baptism... (yesterday), and it was a huge laugh. 'Cause everyone in the ward yelled up at him (in English), "ELDER CARTER!!!" And then he had to read my nametag to remember my Chinese name. Lol, I've been at his house multiple times, borrowed his bikes, introduced plenty of investigators to him, presented new members for Priesthood interviews, etc. You'd think my Bishop would remember my name... lol. Sara and her mom seem to know me the best. They're great! I make really good friends with all the youth, it makes for a fun Sunday, and lots of great member lessons with a lot of fun on Preparation Day. My flirty self has taken a long trip to a dark, consigned to silence type place and won't be coming back anytime soon, but in this culture I really have to lock that down. If you even ask a girl "How've you been recently?" when she doesn't know you or she's not an adult, she thinks your flirting. Flirting here means you have marriage interests later. Yikes! Run away from the females!!! Eeek!! Freaky situations.
And we can't eat at any single restaurant too many times in a row, or the girl waitresses will try to get our number. Ugh. This applies to most of the girls that we see on the street or at intersections, and does not include the members or girls in the ward if they even contact us. The members are all much more mature and understand why we're here. 
Anyway. Life is good. gotta go. Sorry there wasn't a lot of preaching, and I've gone over time a little, so I gotta go..
Love ya

-Elder Carter

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pink Dragon Tie

No time.
Just thought I'd tell you. Today. It's 5:11. No time.
Sorry it took so long to get an email out to you this week. I forgot to tell you last week, so I hope you all aren't freaking out or something like that. Lol. (Elder Carter got to go to the temple this week. When that happens, his PDay changes to Wednesday, so we get his email a couple days later than usual.)
And I'm super sorry in advance this email is short. But you get another one on Sunday night (your time) so that's not so far away!!!
Just wanted to tell you all I'm still alive!!! I have a pink dragon tie (not joking, I'll send pictures), maybe I'll hunt another one down for Shelbs or somethin'. The ties I get here, I really don't want to wear except for temple day, Zone conference and when I get home. So when I end up with 3 not falling apart ties from Missionary Mall, I'll let you know I need some more of my old ties sent over. :D
Of course, the temple is amazing!!! I love it!!! Absolutely love it!!!
This week is Power week. Just our companionship decided to do it. We're hunting down everyone who has been to church once before and fighting to get them baptized before November runs out. Bai Qing Feng is doing great, and his smoking is down a few a day. It's getting better.... come on!!!
Met another guy at a 7/11. He was just smiling at me and doing nothing, so I contacted him. He's been to jail before, and was willing to drive with us super far to the church the very next morning to meet. We usually don't meet at the church because it's too far away. He's great.
Lai Rong Fu is another brilliant investigator. We just ran into a miracle and saw him on our race home from the Mission home (on bikes this time-- too far). He's comin' along. Slowly.
Power week. We wake up at 6, excersize to 6:30, start personal study at 7, start companionship study at 8, leave at 9 (an hour and a half earlier than normal) Total proselyting time is 12 hours a day. From the normal 9 to 10 before. We eat a half hour lunch and half hour dinner, then get home at nine so we can have a good planning session, and my companion the District Leader can do follow-ups and numbers. This is just for a week.
Numbers: We teach, on average, 80 street-side lessons a day. At least 30 actual sit-down 20 minute lessons per week. October had 100 baptisms in the mission. We have 4 to 7 investigators to church every Sunday. We contact those 80 people which includes: about 10 baptismal commitments, 20 referrals, one or two member referrals, and us contacting other referrals and street-side contacts. The rest are all people who reject the message. Out of those 20 referrals will come 5 to 8 baptismal commitments. And out of all 18 baptismal commitments maybe 2 or 3 will get baptized within the next 3 months. But isn't that worth all the effort? Even if you have no idea what's going on, or what is happening to the seeds your planting? God takes care of the rest. If He gives it to our care, we take care of it. Water the seed, dirt it up, sun it up, pray for it, smile at it, give it love, let the little kids stare at it and take pictures at any sign of progress, then let the kids run and tell their teachers at school. Then we flood it with the waters of life, dry it up and nearly burn it alive with the fire of life, and then give it it's own power to keep growing with includes: Members, new convert lessons, PRIESTHOOD, CALLING, and the usuall CPR. Church, Prayer, Reading. Boo-yah.
I love everything! Yahoo!! I have a new sense of satisfaction lately. I've gotten down a few times, and continue to grow out of them. But I realize that bottling up the feelings does nothing for them. Telling God is one part. The most important. But telling your companion is another. The telling your companion is essential. Without telling God, nothing happens, but telling your companion helps you continue to grow on those feelings and grow closer as a companionship. I've now had two Taiwanese 25-year-old men tell me they love me, I'm the best companion they've had, and tell me I'm a great missionary. I tell them, go home, and get married. Lol, jk.
Elder Pei, and Elder Huang both leave in February. I'm expected to be with Elder Huang next move call, and I'm ok with that. If that's the case he's 100% certain I'll go senior after I'm with him. Whatever, I don't mind. I might even forget to tell you all if I go senior.
Not much to report. Letters will be coming next week, hopefully. Sent out tomorrow, so maybe by the monday after this coming monday. Hope it's not that long. Blech.
I love you all. Thanks for the letters. I got a boatload on Friday the 29th. It was great!! The big 20 was on the wall for a couple days then got ripped off.... sorry... Maybe I just don't like being reminded that I'm OLD!!!!!! Blech.
I will do my best to answer questions and stop preaching so much to make everyone happy. I will address more of Taiwan's culture, happenings, and everyday street-life instead of so much Spiritual stuff. But don't think you're gettin' out of the Spirit stuff. :D Considering I can't control it... lol

I love you all!!!!!

-Elder Carter

Monday, November 1, 2010

Star Wars and the Scriptures

Ok. Pretty sure it is completely pointless to worry about typhoons and me. First of all, they're super fun, second, I'm in Taizhong where Typhoon effect is smallest (virtually NOTHING, so this last typhoon you were freaking out about? We got a couple sprinkles and some sweet lookin' clouds-- I'm not joking), and third, when I move to Gaoxiong, you can start worrying a little, and I'll start being a little more careful, 'cause in Gaoxiong, things actually get a little "water-logged" lol. They're not a problem, and everyone is used to them. Even though they all act like its the worst thing in the world, when it happens, everything is normal, except work is cancelled, school is cancelled, etc. All is well.
Yes, I would like a list of EVERYONE in the ward with pictures of new families. I need EVERYONE'S birthday, age, and picture. And I need it before New Years'. I would also like the Elders' "snail mail" addresses just in case they need something special from Elder Carter, lol.
Yes, don't worry about me. All is well, and the Lord is shaping me into who I need to be. I have so many weaknesses, follies, faults, problems, and broken thoughts that I can only imagine what the Lord can do with such a broken down piece of equipment. I have so many things to say, and not enough time to say them. I finished my first journal today. Seven months and one week in one journal. So about 7 months per journal. I'm gonna need two more of the same type. You should get those details in my coming letter. So sorry there wasn't a letter last week.
I've been reading the other Elders' emails, and it's fantastic to watch them grow, as well as the knowledge and feelings that come from being in the mission field together. I was meant to be here, at this time, in this place.
By the way, every day I try to write in my study journal, and I have several little sticky notes sticking out of my study journal. Those sticky notes represent notes I have made to help me remember connections I found in the scriptures that have to do with Star Wars. I don't focus on it, but I don't want to forget those insights either, so I mark them. Lol... there's your Star Wars note... lol. (I told the elder in my last email that he is growing so much I’m not sure I’ll recognize him when he gets home…I need him to do something so I know he’s still my boy…something about Star Wars or something…;-))
Apparently, there are a million people here who have checked out my Blog and Facebook page. Ok, not a million, but a fair few. I don't even know how they got my blog address. Is there a link on my Facebook? Whatev, all is well. But speaking of my Blog, could you put a link up to www.mormon.org, and a link to www.lds.org on there for me? We were asked by the Area Authority 70 and the visiting Authority Elder Pratt to do so. Thanks!!
Life is good so far. My first baptism on island, Zhang Shu Wei, pops up randomly every now and then. He was supposedly in the hospital for a while, and moved into Beiqu. He set up with the Zone Leaders the day I was on exchanges with Elder Prier last move call, and then he didn't come. Keep prayin' for him. I still haven't heard from him, and his cell phone is still off.
Jun Xiong is backtracking still, but he called me today and we are eating dinner with him, and he sounded happier than he's ever sounded before. Wei Han visited me at the church yesterday, since it was Stake Conference and gave me some cake for my birthday. Joie brought his wife to church, and she expressed a desire to be married in our Temple. And wants to know how to get there (spiritually and physically, lol). They took us out to eat lunch today. That was nice. Remind me to tell you all about Joie's work and life.. it's pretty crazy. I can't really tell you over email or through letters, but I can when I transfer to Cedar Hills on April 10, 2012. :P
Life gets hard every now and then, but I have got to keep remembering to trust in my God. Satan digs and digs and digs, and it is really hard to avoid him sometimes. When you have a more relaxed companion, things get tougher, too, lol, so I'm still pushing forward. The Taiwanese are funny people... :P
The love I have for these people is unmeasurable. Yes, there are times when I feel like chasing someone down and dragging them to the church and baptizing them, but we all know that that's against the rules. It's just hard, when someone tells you their life is miserable, and you tell them you can help them, and then they reject you. That's the worst rejection. When they know it's true, or they know it can help, and they still reject you. Rejection is tough. But I wasn't sent here on my mission to baptize the unprepared. Those who reject you are unprepared or using their agency wrongly. As long as you are in the Lord, and letting yourself be directed by His hands, it's not your fault if someone doesn't accept the invitation to be baptized. You are there to find the PREPARED souls, and by talking to everyone, you find them. There will be success, and when you go home at the end of all of it, you'll be able to see the difference He made in you. But don't focus on that now. Depression swoops in and takes hold and the Satanic temptations rip at our hearts, but if we stay focused on being directed by His hands, we need to not worry about how good we are, or how many people we talk to. Just keep a prayer in your hearts for where to go, who to talk to, how to do it.. etc.
I love this work, and sometimes we lose sight of the success we actually have. President Bishop spoke at Stake Conference, and said that 28 years ago, there was just a small branch of a few people in Taiwan Taizhong. Now there are at least two stakes, 5 wards and two branches. That church was full to bursting with people coming to hear the words of our leaders. In 28 short years, the church has flown. In my own mission, I've helped 7 people's lives change. And many more. I don't like numbers, but they help us see what God can do. I have names behind every number you see, and I can tell you every name, every friend that person has, what their baptismal service was like, their conversion story, what their families are like, and so on. This mission baptizes 20 or so people every week. I've baptized one person a month. A goal I intend to keep. These people need us. All of us. Every member a missionary.
Trust in God. And He'll trust in You. Even if you don't believe in God, that doesn't matter. Because He believes in You.
(Although, I would recommend believing in God. It makes life a lot better... ;P

I love you all!!!
-Elder Carter

ps-Shelby.......... wish I was there for your first date. Sorry I missed it. I love you! Tell every boy you date to be nice to you or they will have the righteous justice and inidgnation of your big brother on their backs. I may be a world away... but I'm right next to you in heart and Spirit. What I wouldn't give for our family to be serving a mission together. Wouldn't that be fun! Shelbs, I love you, and I'll be home sooner than you know it, but right now, I'm asking you to pray to Heavenly Father to protect me and help me stay motivated out here. Plenty of young women out here remind me of you, specifically a girl named Sara. I'll have to send a picture. Amazing members and it just makes me happy to know my sister is working on her own Personal Progress. I love you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Mission Pics on Flickr 10.29.10

Click HERE to see Elder Carter's latest pictures from Taiwan.

VIDEO: Dali Apartment Tour

Here is another video from Elder Carter. This time he takes us on a tour of his new apartment in Dali. We get to meet his companion Elder Durham.

A Little Help from My Friends

Note from the editor...Typhoon Megi went raging across the Phillipines headed due west the earlier part of this week, then decided on Thursday to turn directly north. She headed straight up in between Taiwan and China before striking land in China Saturday morning. We haven't heard a single word from the church or the mission office or Elder Carter, so we are pretty sure he is just fine...probably pretty wet. I hope the rest of you don't mind, but these emails have turned into a kind of neat little circle of communication for several brothers in the gospel who the Lord has sent all over the world. They each send emails home every week and all of their families print off and mail these emails to each other. It is such a joy to hear from all these amazing young men and their families, and the editor of this email (me) took some liberties with Elder Carter's email to send a couple of personal thoughts along with his. Thanks to the rest of you for your forbearance, and hopefully some part of all this will be uplifting for you, too. On to the Elder...last we heard from him, he was getting a new companion, his fourth in four move calls, and his second native companion...he was pretty stressed but trying to move forward in faith...

Well...
I've decided I need to snap out of the old KJ attitude of just getting all freaked out at any big changes. I'm sick of those feelings. Of course, this transition was no problem. In fact, I feel like I've been with Elder Huang for ages already. We've already shared miracles, and had investigators come and go, and laughed til the time runs out... etc. He's quite the interesting missionary to be with, and I just love the fact that I'm with another local.
My Chinese, I find, is still horrible. Blech. This is literally a lifelong thing to try to learn a new language. As I go, I find that not even the people who natively speak it, know it all. The same thing goes for our own culture and language. It is apparently the best language for the Church to use, but there is SO much I don't know. I definitely have a lot more focus on how I can improve my English as I go, as well. I definitely have a different opinion towards English class now, except that I don't want to be writing any essays, still.... But I'll get over that one day, or never, I don't really care... It might just be one of those things that I grit my way through... etc.
The language is tough, but I can communicate with people. They understand me. I understand a lot more than I can speak, and I'm starting to recognize characters, and read them. Writing is a far ways off... :D No worries, that's not important right now. I need to focus on improving my skills in speaking, understanding, and then teaching.
I've been blessed with a companion, who I've been told is the best teacher on the island. And he really is. He's brilliant in lessons, and makes EVERYTHING super clear. Who'd could've ever imagined that the most important soul-searching, soul-saving, Godly principles could be fully understood in a five minute lesson on the Plan of Salvation? Obviously we need to take what we learn and put it into practice to understand it better, and to see the effects, as do our investigators, but with Elder Huang by my side, everyone understands everything!!! And we teach pretty equally as well.
Yes, my Chinese is not super amazing, but it's better than I expected it to be 7 months into my mission. I have a long way to go, though. I find that as you progress in the language/understanding the culture, people slowly speak in more advanced tones and words. To start, they see that I'm white, so they automatically speak slower, then they use what English they have, and as I learn more advanced vocab and grammar, so do they. And they speak faster, and the English disappears. This is all well and good, but the problem is, you don't exactly get to see where your Chinese improves... lol. My English is absolutely horrible now... With Elder Durham, I realized that super fast. My English has taken a nosedive. My grammar is gone. Oh well. That just makes my first English class at BYU all the more exciting.
This last week has been fun. I realized that I didn't really know my area really well. I did better here than I did in Zhongming with Elder Pei at the beginning. I did not know Zhongming at all, but I at least knew Dali a little bit this time. So, now, after a week, with one of the best missionaries I've ever seen, I know my area better than I know my neighborhood back home. Maybe not that well... but still. It just feels good to know how to get around, where to avoid, where the shortcuts are, who's who, who's on what corner at what time of the day, which stores are open, which crazies are at the parks when, when is "swear in Taiwanese" man gonna show up at the KFC, where all the white people are (that also counts as places to avoid :P).
Anyway. It's been good. We have three people moving ahead at a fantastic pace now. Plus several other Golden potentials. I'm learning to cook REALLY good food. I'll just say breakfasts will be GRRREEEAAAATTT. :D
I know where every new member lives, what their schedules are, I know where a big clump of members live, where there are less, where the strongest members are, and so on. It's great! I know the big streets, I know where the food is, where the clothes are, where the Betel nut is, where the flirty waitresses are (counts as places to SERIOUSLY avoid), where the consistently accepting baptismal goals but never show up people live, I know where all the homeless people live (huh? aren't they homeless?) The truth is, homeless people aren't really homeless. They have a home. And they don't like to leave it. It may be bigger than some other's homes, it may have a lot more bugs, but it's still home, and to them- it's all they've got. Until you give them God. Then everything changes, and they show up to church with a brand new bike because they wanted to look good at church. Pretty sure the random suit they wear was found in the nearest garbage can, but at least it's pretty clean! :P Gotta give credit for that.
I'll just say I know where Elder Brimley is right now.(Elder Brimley is another missionary serving from our ward. He is in Ukraine and from his emails home, it sounds like maybe he’s been having some companion issues, and has been finding the people don’t seem too receptive.) Missions are different, and I'm not authorized to give others counsel that aren't in my mission or that I haven't been assigned to receive specific revelation for, but I'll just say I know where he's at. And all I need to say is "Obedience".
Follow that handbook. That applies to the Lord's ambassadors all over the world. Not just here in Taiwan. Yes, different areas of people are more prepared, and have different ancient promises that apply to them, so sometimes hearts are soft or hard, but the point here is-- LOVE them. Look in their eyes and you immediately perceive the state of their Spirits. Their souls. What they need, who they need, how much time it might take, when they're lying or when they're not, when they love the Lord, and when they don't, or when their eyes are clouded over with something that repels anything Godly of any kind... all of these. Even when they are rejecting you, even when their bodies have lost agency because of substance abuse, even when you know they know it's true and they still won't listen, you can still perceive their Spiritual state of being. And you immediately love them. You immediately long to find a way to touch them, to bring them home, to TEACH. I, at least in part, understand how Jesus felt a lot of the time.
This church is true. There is no doubt left in my mind. My testimony has been tested too many times for me to not say that I KNOW I cannot move. I have found my foundation, I have found my life, I have found my Savior. Those that are unsure or confused about this church, just need to understand one thing. And that one thing is Love. God loves you. The most basic principles of this Gospel answer ANY SINGLE QUESTION OR OBJECTION EVER DIRECTED AT THIS CHURCH. Is that not enough evidence that even a 4-year-old can change a man's heart? A recent Liahona addresses the fact that a 4-year-old boy acted on his testimony of Jesus Christ, and ended up being a major step in the conversion of a family to baptism. All this little, innocent boy wanted to do was tell his teacher about Jesus, all he wanted to do was be a missionary, and he surpassed them all. The pure innocent testimony of the truth of this Gospel is enough to create a universe. And that's no small thing- I was four once... was I a missionary then? Did I help people come unto Christ? I remember sharing my testimony in school, and telling my friends about my church on the busride home in Washington State... did that help? My challenge is this--- Be a Four-Year-Old. Be a Missionary. Whoever taught that child has got parenthood down pat.
And from Elder Hart's (Another missionary serving from our ward…he is in Tennessee) testimony on the importance of families we know that a Gospel-based family is a Celestial one. It really is obvious, the difference between families based on the Gospel, and families not. So those of you already steadfast in the faith, as a family--- STICK WITH IT. DON'T YOU EVER GIVE UP ON EACH OTHER. THIS CHURCH IS MEANT TO PULL US TOGETHER, not apart. Satan gets in there and rips at the steel that bonds families together, and, unfortunately, he succeeds sometimes in pulling it apart. He will stand there forever with the tiniest match to melt the iron if he has to. You wouldn't think matches would do much to melt steel would you? That's what he wants you to think.
My point is this. STOP WORRYING. Like Elder Bednar said in the MTC almost two years ago- "Be a Good Boy, Be a Good Girl, and Stop Worrying About it!" God has told us that with His church, He is "Well pleased." We are not failing, we are succeeding. Yes, there are less active people in every ward. REACTIVATE them. They need it more than they think (duh). There are nonmembers everywhere-- MEMBERIZE them!!! They need it more than they think (duh), and they might even think that a certain Missionary's heart-felt testimony about this church may just sound wacky and not quite know how to respond. Keep pushing. Like Elder Seamons (Yet another missionary from our ward…he is in Florida speaking Haitian-Creole.) mentioned, "If you think you can't move God's Kingdom forward, You are DEAD WRONG." (paraphrased). Or as Elder Bernards (Spokane Washington…all of these are fine young men and need to never forget that their old Webelos den leader loves them and knew they could do it 9 years ago, just like they are now…mighty warriors every single one.) mentioned in his letter- "Sometimes you run into more animals than people, but the work still moves forward." (paraphrased). You can't stop it. The king of Devils, who knows your innermost thoughts and desires, even HE can't stop it. If you think you can, then your pride exceeds that of Satan himself. Because even He has to admit that Jesus is the Christ, and that the work can not be stopped.
This work is real. And I am a key factor in it. As are all of you. The plan is in action. The Master is moving, Follow Him. And know that He loves you. Each and every one. Individually. As if you were the only human being who decided to follow Him in the beginning. He loves you. As do I.
May God Be With You. And at the last day, when all is said and done, may the Armies of God cry in one great call of trumph, "HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!" (A Seanism) (Or should I say, an Elder Byerism) (Elder Byers is our new friend serving in Nevada…we love him!)

-Elder Carter