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The 2 Year Journey of a Lifetime

June 21, 2015
Well, I am not sure I can really use words to describe how I am feeling right now, nothing seems adequate. All I can say is that these past 2 years has been the most intense time of my life, on the good side and on the bad side. I cannot even count the amount of things that I have learned out here on a mission, but I am soo grateful that I made the decision to come out here. I am so grateful that God gave me this chance, that He allowed me to serve him full time for 2 years, being a representative of His Son, and I hope that I did everything that He sent me here to do. One of my goals for my mission was to just be a vessel, a tool in the Lord’s hands, and to not get in the way of what He wanted me to do. To let His light shine through me. While I stumbled along the way, making mistakes occasionally… ok well, a lot, I hope that I did that, that I was able to let His light shine among the Taiwanese people, so that they could feel of His love for them and His desire for them to return to the fold. I have felt the pure joy from missionary work from time to time on my mission, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can compare to that feeling; to know that God is looking down, smiling upon you. All the miles you bike up mountains, all the times your butt gets sore from riding all day, all the gallons of sweat, all the rejections, they all melt away, and you cannot even remember them anymore once you feel of that happiness and joy that comes from serving the Lord.
This past week we actually were on exchanges like all week, we had 4 of them. Haha my companion wasn’t in our area from Tuesday to Saturday afternoon, except for 3 hours. We were going to have a baptism on Sunday, but he had some family problems and had to cancel it, hopefully will get baptized in July. It was a little sad that I didn’t get a baptism my last week here, but its not that big of a deal. It wasn’t the Lords will, because we did everything we could for him, fasted and visited everyday, we did our part. So I don’t feel bad about it at all. Am I sad? Heck yes, but you can’t let stuff like that get to you, if we are doing everything we can and being obedient and worthy, then anything that happens to us like that is the will of the Lord, so knowing that I did everything that I could makes me happy.
Yesterday at church was when it really set in that I was leaving, it hadn’t set in too much before that, but getting up in church and bearing my testimony, knowing that I will never see these members again, or get to hear them sing the hymns in Chinese, was a really bittersweet experience for me. This whole thing is bittersweet, because this place is now my new home, and now I have to leave home all over again, I am so happy and excited to see my family again, but so sad to have to leave these people.. and especially the mangoes. Oh man how I will miss those!!!
Being out here on a mission, I have learned that it is not easy. Not in the slightest bit, but like Elder Holland said, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” I absolutely love my mission and it has changed me in so many ways that I couldn’t even begin to count. I am trying really hard not to be cheesy or cliche, but I think I am failing… Anyways, I love you all. Missions really are the 2 Year Journey of a Lifetime.
Elder Mansell
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One More!

June 14, 2015
It was a pretty hectic week here, and I am exhausted right now but still feeling pretty good! Haha we went on 4 exchanges this past week and have 4 more for this week because its a shortened transfer so we have to go with everyone in less time. There was a really funny experience last week that we had teaching a lady that we had met on the street a couple days earlier. We were teaching the restoration, it was going pretty good and then we got to the part about Priesthood authority and she is already a Christian so this topic gets a little touchy with them, so I pulled out the Ice Cream Truck analogy. If you haven’t heard of it, well here it is; Imagine you are driving down the highway going a little over the speed limit and the ice cream man pulls up behind you honking his horn and flashing his lights telling you to pull over, after you pull over he tries to give you a ticket for speeding. Are you going to listen to him?? Of course not, because he doesn’t have the authority to do that. It is a pretty simple analogy that everyone gets pretty easily… well everyone except for this lady. When I asked her if she would give the guy money she was like,”Well, I mean if he is going to pull me over then that means that he really needs some money, so I would probably pay the money to him cause he obviously needs it more than I do.” I just kinda sat there like,” well now how in the heck am I supposed to save this one?” I was speechless, absolutely no Idea how to respond to that one, and mean while my companion was just trying his best to not bust out laughing at the whole thing, and eventually the member with us explained the whole thing to her and it ended up fine. But yeah that was probably the biggest analogy FAIL i have had out here…
We are hopefully having a baptism on Sunday!!!! Our investigator is a lot more prepared than we thought he was, we went over the baptismal questions with him and he said yes to all of them! He just has a smoking problem still, went from 2 packs to 2 cigarettes a day, but he is going to have to stop now if he wants to get baptized before I leave. He would be the only one that I found and baptized on my mission, everyone else was baptized after I left, honestly like 5 of them so far!! But it is all for Team Jesus anyways, I don’t really care who gets it.
Not too much else from last week that was terribly exciting… wait I just thought of one. So this is probably the greatest baptismal service story I have to tell, it happened last Saturday. I did the interview for the guy that only spoke Taiwanese, so I tried my best to do as much of it as I could in Taiwanese, but I just ended up speaking really slow and really loud Chinese to him. Ha I was like yelling the questions to him and he is like 75 years old, doesn’t understand a bloody thing I am saying. His daughter taught him all the lessons in  Taiwanese and he would just say yes to all the questions, even when we got to the abortion question, he was like,” yeah yeah I’ve done it” then after me repeating the question about 5 to 6 times would he finally understand what I was saying and be like,”oh NO, come on do you think I would do that?” haha it was definitely the greatest interview I have ever done. And that is only half the story, the guy they had baptize him was a 78 year old recent convert, don’t ask me WHO in the world thought that was going to be a good idea, cause whoever it was needs to go get their frontal lobe checked out. I was a witness, and those 2 got in the water and had no idea where to stand so I was literally like pulling them around the font putting them where they needed to go and the first attempt they tried to go straight backwards… right into the back wall. After a couple more failed attempts and almost drowning the poor guy, Elder J got in there and had to do it, and he tried to do the sit attempt and that failed, he got all the way under except for his hair, and every time they failed this guy would come up in a panic attack so his daughter was standing right there wiping his face off and encouraging him the whole time, so we would wait a minute or 2 and try again. It still wasn’t working, after like 15 failed attempts the recent convert baptizing him gave him an example of how to do it and just dunked himself like 3 times, and then Elder J did the same thing, just sitting down really fast and after a couple more fails then Elder J just held him like a baby and literally went all the way under with this guy. Finally, success. They were in the font for like 20 minutes total, the guy almost dying of a heart attack and getting drowned. I will definitely not forget that one. Love you guys!!!
Elder Mansell
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I hate socialized medicine!

June 7, 2015

 

I felt like it was a really good week last week, we saw a lot of success. Probably the coolest part was going to the temple with the 2 Recent Converts that we have here!! Every month on the first thursday night there is a Recent Convert temple night, and we got both of them to go, it was super fun.  I did the confirmations, and we were doing some names and then all of a sudden the guy doing it looked at the name and his eyes got really big and went and showed the name to the member of the temple presidency and then came back and told me that we just confirmed Buddha a member of the church. WHAAA???? Like the one and only, well in English there are a lot of people named that, but his name in Chinese is how you know which one he really is. So that was pretty dang cool, ya don’t get that every day in the temple. ha.
We also had to go to the hospital on Friday cause I had the one-two punch of an ingrown toenail and athletes foot. Yeah weird, I have never gotten it before in my life, but it isn’t too bad. I have some cream stuff and its already going away, but my companion had to get his shoulder checked out cause his right one is a lot lower than his left one, like significantly so we went to get an xray, and his collarbone literally had a V in it, like no joke it looked pretty serious. But the doctor just said,” Ya know, I don’t see anything wrong, I think its just a problem with your posture.” I just sat there thinking, did this guy see the same picture I saw?? Cause I ain’t no doctor but that doesn’t look right to me. And we had to wait 4 hours to see that dang doctor. 4 HOURS, it was brutal. Hence why I hate socialized medicare.
Umm right now we only have 1 more guy who could be baptized before I leave, I actually found him a couple weeks ago and he has been to church 2 times and only has a smoking problem.  But pray for him.  Everyone else kinda dropped off for a couple weeks and some came back and are still progressing but can’t get baptized before I leave. Its weird that I can’t see people that I contact now get baptized, but that doesn’t  mean that I don’t have the responsibility to still teach them!! Man I am getting sooo tired though, its ridiculous. President Day gave me an invite in my last interview that they should have to pull me off the plane in a stretcher. And I am getting close… haha but mom would literally die so I don’ think I will do that:) Love y’all!!
Elder Mansell
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Out of ideas for a dang subject. This is the hardest part of the email, is choosing a subject!!

June 1, 2015

It was a great week here in the hottest freaking island in the world! And it’s only going to get hotter as well.
 I guess I can start off with a huge coincidence/miracle that we had last week. Being on my mission, I no longer believe in coincidences. There is no way they exist. so this story goes back a couple of weeks ago when the sisters called us and told us to get to the church really fast cause there is someone that really wants to learn about the gospel walking around the temple grounds and they don’t have time to talk to her cause they had a dinner appointment. First of all, you can be a few minutes late to a dinner with a member, they will understand. And second, you could have at least gotten her number, but they did neither. So we rode about 20 minutes to the chapel only to find out that she had already left. We were pretty ticked at the sisters and we were just like,”Well if she is really prepared then she will show up again.” And last Monday we had a lesson but he didn’t show up, so were were praying about where to go (normally we set backup plans in the Daily Preparation Session the day before, but we are really busy following up and reporting on Sunday that we have no time to plan for that) and we were choosing between 2 parks and I had the slightest feeling to go to what we call the “big park” We have 3 parks in our area, the big, middle and small park. So we went there and I was thinking,”There probably isn’t someone really prepared here cause I didn’t get the really strong prompting, only just a tiny one. But we will go anyways.” And I kid you not, before we could even get off our bikes when we got there, some lady came up to me and said that she wants to talk to me. So we park and go talk with her, and she is pretty good, really wants to know more about our church. About 10 minutes later she tells us a story about how a few weeks ago she actually went to the temple, and came across 2 sisters that talked to her for a few minutes and then had to leave and others will be here soon. But she had to leave and kind of forgot about it. As she was telling us this my jaw literally dropped to the ground and I was thinking, “you have GOT to be kidding me?????? We actually found her!!??!!??” My companion and I just looked at each other and were speechless. She doesn’t have time until July… so I won’t get to see the fruit of those labors.. But how cool is that?? Our area has over 1 million people in it and we found her.
That was easily the best part of the week, cause after that it was just full of people cancelling on us. Some of our investigators are starting to fall off, but we still have a couple that are hanging on.
But we did have a baptism yesterday!! I had the privileged of performing the ordinance, and it went really smooth, didn’t even have to do it more than once!!! haha that is a miracle in it of itself. She really was just another gift put right in to our laps. Both from May we really didn’t even have to do too much for. Gotta be grateful for that one!
Wow its already June!! My favorite month of the year!!!! and my birthday is in a week, wow sooo much good is going to happen this month! Love yall Ping an out!!
Elder Mansell
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I hate rain

May 24, 2015
As you can tell by the subject, it rained nonstop last week. My shoes are finally dry after a solid few days of being soaked all day every day! And when it comes down here, believe me it pours. And how it comes down is super cool, the sky will get really dark all of a sudden and it will start to sprinkle, and at that point you have roughly 5 seconds to find some cover before it just comes down! And then it will stop 5 minutes later, have never seen rain like it before, but this week should be pretty good weather.
Recently I have been using the term ‘hitting the streets’ when talking about finding here, and just the work in general. We have been hitting them pretty good in the past couple weeks and I think they were a little sick of being hit by us so much and, with a little help from Satan, came back and kinda slapped us in the face last week. Yep that is about how it went, we had 6 or 7 appointments fall through, and a lot of people not answer the phone, but we do still have a good amount of people planning to get baptized, we have one this weekend! We might have 2, but the other will probably be moved back to next week. As of right now, we have at least 3 planned to get baptized on my last Sunday here. How cool would that be??? Everyone should definitely be praying for that:)
We did find a family last week! We actually contacted them a couple weeks ago and they were busy until last saturday when we went over, and they are super cool! Mom is a flight attendant, and the dad is a stay at home dad, with a 9 year old kid. I have only seen 2 or 3 other stay at home dads here in Taiwan because the culture here really is against the dad not making the money.  They are set for the 21st, my last Sunday.
I have been feeling really sentimental recently, just kind of realizing now what I am going to miss about this place. Yesterday, it was singing the hymns in Chinese and realizing just how weird those sounds seem to everyone that can’t understand what it means.The generation above me just left, so now I am the oldest in the mission, its weird, but I honestly just try not to think of it too much. There were some members that came to the chapel from Utah the other day and as we were talking to them, they asked me how much longer I had left. I said just over a month, and one of them was like,”You getting trunky yet??” For those of you who don’t really know what trunky means, its kind of like homesick, just ready to be done and go home. I was thinking about it, and I got all the time in the world to be trunky when I go home, actually I have the rest of my life to be trunky. But do I have the rest of my life to serve a mission, and be able to completely forget myself in the service of the Lord? Nope. That time is limited, and yeah it is fun sometimes to think of what you are going to do when you go home, but honestly I was a lot trunkier at earlier times in my mission. But the longer you are here, the harder it is to leave, and it is going to be one bitter sweet experience. It really is so hard to focus as the end comes near, but that is when it counts the most. so I would appreciate some prayers from y’all, and that is about it. Ping an out (haha now you finally know what it means!!!)
Elder Mansell
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Pretty much call me famous.

May 17, 2015
It was an amazing week here! all capped off with the baptism of Sister L, it was so great. She gave a really powerful testimony of the truthfulness  of our church and there was actually some people here from Salt Lake that were taking pictures of some missionaries that went to our sacrament meeting and heard her testimony, and even though they couldn’t understand what she was saying, they were still touched by her testimony. Wow, that is super cool, they even recorded here telling her story of how she met us and her process to baptism and conversion. Then they recorded us telling our side of the story in finding and teaching her. So if you see me in the next Liahona, don’t be surprised:) Haha and then it got even better! Because the photographer wanted to take pictures of us in a lesson in an investigators home, and we had a college student that came for the first time yesterday (super golden as well) and she said yes to letting him take pictures of our lesson in her house! It was so cool, I thought that it would be a little distracting to the lesson, but it was one of the best lessons I have ever been a part of. It was not a distraction at all, and now we are definitely getting in the next Liahona. Heck yeah, hence the title of my email.
That was probably the coolest part of the week. It is starting to get HOT here. HOLY COW it is toasty, and honestly has taken me a little bit to get used to it again. Sweating all day, nonstop. No amount of deodorant can do anything in this situation, and so most people just give up on trying to wear it anyways. Haha, but we have to take showers at night now too cause its just awful. I am mostly sad to be leaving in a couple weeks, but I will NOT miss the heat and humidity here.
I feel like I say this every week, but I still don’t think I can convey just how blessed we are right now. I have never had as much success on my mission as I am having right now, we have another baptism in 2 weeks and then we have 3 pretty solid ones planned up for June. They just keep coming! I don’t know how else to explain it.
Transfers are this week, but I am pretty sure that neither of us are going to move, Elder V is gonna kill me (in the missionary sense, meaning that he is my last companion) and he is super funny about it. He still has about 10 months left and when he tells people that, they all just say”Wow, still got a while!” and we make fun of him cause of it a lot, so he just flips it back on me and tells everyone just how fast it will be until  I go home. Haha, well that is about it for the week. Love ya’ll
Elder Mansell
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Hey- I just saw you…

May 10, 2015-  Mother’s Day!!
This kinda feels weird emailing ya’ll cause I just skyped like an hour ago! haha but I seriously cannot tell the other kids apart from their voices. They still all look like posers, which hasn’t ever changed! haha, but it was a super good week last week! We are still hitting the streets every day, but just coming across so many prepared people everyday! Most of them honestly don’t live in my area, only about 20% of the people we talk to live here, everyone just comes up here to work, so I give out referrals like its my day job. But the ones that live here are super good!
One we found last week was a guy who lived in America when he was a kid, so we taught him in English. Which was really weird and I found myself just translating everything I say in Chinese back in to English at first. Then I figured out how to freaking talk, and it went really well. So many people have questions that we can answer, but we just have a weird rep around here that makes people not want to talk to us, cause they “already know”.  Oh man that one drives me crazy, cause if you really knew then you would already be a member of this church, so obviously you know nothing. But we rarely get those people anymore here in downtown.
There is a talk, well its a letter, that was written about missionary work that I read last week that honestly changed my view about a mission. Its called “The Riccardi Letter” and it is so good! Its about a guy writing his friend who is the MTC about his mission, and he shares a story about how when he was about 8 months in he hit a really tough spot, hard area and nobody listening. He would be super diligent in following promptings to go tract in a specific neighborhood and then just get really depressed because he was being rejected by everyone. He sort of wondered why he was even here, why all the bad missionaries get baptisms and the ones that work hard do so much for so little success, and he was praying about it one day, and really let Got have it. He was angry at Him for doing this to him, and the answer he got was profound. He said it came to him just as clearly as one man talks to another, and He said “Elder, I know all the names and addresses of every prepared soul in you area, every single one of them. And I sent you to those tougher neighborhoods cause I was testing you, to see if I could really trust you. I could just send you to those prepared people only, but what good would that serve you??? You are here to serve me, to do what you are told and forget about yourself. That is why you are here, and if you do so, I will bless you.” That wasn’t word for word, but you get the meaning. I think that is one of the greatest lessons to learn on a mission, and was probably the most profound that I have learned after reading this. Cause sometimes I would be confused about why I got the prompting to talk to someone, and they reject you. But now I know why, and it has made all the difference, and honestly totally changed my view on missionary work.
I would just like to thank my amazing mother for everything that you do! Happy mothers day, I hope it was a good one, topped off by the best part, seeing me!:D
We have a baptism this week! Sister L, she is super golden, just loves us and is super willing to follow all the commandments, probably the easiest road to baptism that I have ever seen, no problems. We are pumped, see ya next week! Ping an out (now you finally get what that means;)  (Peace out)
Elder Mansell