Monday, May 23, 2011

Should be Spring

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

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day


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

May God Be With You

-Elder Carter

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

Monday, May 9, 2011


Lin He!!!

Mother's Day:

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

Gotta go!! Sorry! Love ya!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Move

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

Part 1

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

-Elder Carter

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

-Elder Carter

Hurrah for Israel!

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