Monday, November 22, 2010

Lotsa Hotsa Curry

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?


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, and a link to 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.