Livin’ the Běndì Life

082916chickenwaffles

We managed to find some VERY EXPENSIVE chicken and waffles, but it was worth it because it reminded me of home in the South!

Hello all! My life is pretty dang crazy right now! Honestly probably the hardest time I have ever gone through in my entire life. Definitely a major test of my faith and will. I got a little surprise this week. I found out that I was getting a new companion. His name is Elder Jiang and he is from Taibei, and he is known as being the hardest missionary to work with in the mission. I guess President Teh trusts me with this responsibility, so that’s why he did it. Elder Jiang speaks absolutely no English at all, and now I am no longer in a three man companionship, so it’s just me and him. My Chinese is very basic at this point and I understand what he’s saying maybe 50% of the time. It makes life extremely difficult when you can’t effectively communicate with the person you live and work with 24/7. I pray every day that I can have the Gift of Charity to serve and love him, because right now that is the only way I can communicate effectively. Please pray for me as well, I need all the help I can get. Missionaries call having a Taiwanese companion “the Běndì life” and it really does take a toll on everyone. It’s very difficult to live with someone who you can’t 100% communicate with, and who’s outlooks on missionary work are very different from yours.

082916Goodbye

Dropped Elder Chen, my former companion, at the mission office.  He finished his mission today!

082916Elder Jiang

Me and my new comp Elder Jiang! No English here lol

I don’t really have any cool or interesting stories from the past two weeks. My area here has been very hard and very exhausting. We contact and tract about 9 hours a day in the hot sun, and have seen 0 success. We occasionally set up lessons, and they almost always “fang4” us, which means they don’t show up and they don’t tell us that they won’t. Basically it’s just being stood up. It’s very depressing and really does take a toll on you every day. The fact that I can’t speak English ever is just physically draining on me as well. I’ve lost about 15 pounds so far, so it’s all taken a toll on my body as well.

We did have one pretty cool miracle last two weeks ago! We were walking through a park contacting, and we ran into a 60 year old man named Shawn who said “Hey the Mormons! Where are your bikes?” I was like hahah very funny, but they are over there thanks. He then told us that he got baptized around 40 years ago and hasn’t been to church since then. He is Taiwanese, but lived in San Francisco for the past 35 years, so he is also an American citizen. We sat down with him and he had been doing a lot of soul searching recently, and we managed to get him to church on Sunday. The coolest thing is that there is an English Branch that meets on Sundays, one of the only two in Taiwan, the other is in Taibei, so we got to go attend that with him yesterday. He really liked it and decided that wants to come back to church, so we’ll continue to be meeting with him until we pass him off to the Senior Missionary Couple that handles the English Branch. So that was a pretty cool miracle!

802916park where we go contacting

A little view of what my area looks like. This is a park we go contacting in almost every day.

Basically my life is living in a Chinese bubble right now. I don’t speak English anymore with anybody because nobody will understand. It’s a pretty depressing thought to know that nobody here speaks your language, but I’m using this opportunity to get some really good Chinese. At this point I have abandoned all logic and am solely moving forward in faith. It’s pretty strange, because I am a very logical person, but we’ll see if it works out for me. All supportive emails and prayers sent in my direction are much appreciated. I would love if you would write me letters as well! Those can really make any hard day a little bit easier. My address is:

Elder Zachary Stroud

# 498-11, Wu Chuan Road
Taichung, Taichung 404-46
Taiwan

Thank you all so much for the love you show me, it really does make a difference. My advice for the week is that through faith in Jesus Christ we really can overcome any of our trials. I am living that right now. Have the faith to put the faith in the Lord, and you will see miracles. I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stroud

 

David Archuleta is My Backup Singer

Hello all! Here’s another quick peek into my missionary life in Taiwan this past week! Like I say every week, things just get more and more outrageous here!

As for my email title, you may be thinking “why is David Archuleta his backup singer?” Well I’ll tell you why… So as you know, I got transferred up to Taizhong last week, and I am now serving in the heart of the city. Its super strange to be biking past an IKEA and a COSTCO every day, as well as seeing Ferraris and other super cars all the time, when my last area was straight rice paddies and old Taiwanese grandmas. Well anyways, David Archuleta, (who also served a mission like I currently am, but in Chile), came to Taizhong and had a concert. He called the mission office and asked if we could sing with him, so my entire zone, about 20 missionaries, went and sang the concerts finale, “God be With You Til’ We Meet Again” up on stage with him a cappella. To say it was a strange experience would be a major understatement. I remember watching him on American Idol, and if you told me back then that I would be preforming with him on my mission in Taiwan eight years later, I would never believe you. So that was fun and cool! We got to hang out with him backstage and chill out as well.

TZS With David Archuleta 8-16 (1)

David Archuleta and his back up singers, yep that’s me!

As for other things this week:

Since the COSTCO is in my area, and is literally a block away from the church building, we eat there all the time! It’s pretty much like going to America when you walk inside, so every single missionary loves it! Also you can’t beat a 50 kuai hot dog and drink. Also there are white people everywhere in Taizhong!! I hate it. I honestly don’t know how to speak to non-missionaries in English anymore. Every single person I talk to is in Chinese now. In Anding, it was rare to see one white person a week, now I see at least one a day. It’s always super awkward, because neither of us belong in this country, and we both know it, and 100% of the time awkward eye contact is made. But I actually contacted this white girl at a red light, and she was from Doral, FL so I kinda bro’ed down with her about that, and it was cool!

POKEMON FEVER IS ALIVE AND WELL- We went and did some contacting at this huge park in the middle of the city a few days ago, and I kid you not, every single person was playing Pokemon on their phones. Asians eat that game up. There were probably like 1000 people there all looking for some rare Pokemon. It’s almost like cheating at missionary work, because the people are already there, and you don’t have to go find them hahah. The hard part is that 99% of them reject you and get mad at you for interrupting their Pokemon hunt, so it’s not all easy :/

Oh also at that same park we ended up contacting this dude who said he studied for a semester at BYU!! That was another thing I thought I would never see on my mission. He wasn’t a church member, and I’m pretty sure he was less active, but it was still cool to talk to him!

The investigator pool here is super small, and it’s much harder to contact than out in the rural areas. Everyone here has these preconceived notions about missionaries and our message, and most of the time will refuse to even give you a “Ni Hao” back. It’s pretty discouraging. It’s also been really hard because this month is the month of the Buddhist/Taoist religion (which 95% of Taiwan follows) where they believe all the evil spirits come out to haunt people, and it’s been hard to work around that as well. Every day people “Bai Bai” or basically throw a bunch of crap like fake money and food and stuff into these little pot like things out front of their houses and businesses, and light it on fire to appease the spirits, so the entire city looks like a campfire with all the smoke in the air.

People: Funny story of the week-

Elder Chen, the missionary from Taibei who is one of my companions, speaks fluent Taiyu, so it’s been really helpful to have someone who can understand all the old people who talk to us. But anyways, I contacted this ama and her granddaughter on the street and I greeted them in Taiyu, like I always do with amas. Well the ama turned to her granddaughter and whispered something to her in Taiyu, and said “that’s all they know how to say in Taiyu”, which she’s not wrong about me, but joke was on her and Elder Chen heard it and got pissed and continued to do the whole contact in Taiyu, which was super funny to watch. The ama basically had to eat her words and sit and listen hahaha.

081516 New Comps

My new comps, Elder Chen, and Elder Cox

We have 1 baptismal goal, which is sweet! His name is Zeng, but his English name is literally “Green Tea” like I’m not even kidding. So you already know that the word of wisdom lesson was fun with him hahaha. But he is on date for 8/27 so that’s sweet! He comes to church on his own every week and comes and plays ping pong with us on Saturdays! In the states, missionaries usually set up a basketball activity on Saturdays that they bring investigators to see and hang out with the missionaries in a relaxed fun environment. Well in the Republic of China, you should expect nothing less than playing ping pong instead, lol. Well the first two matches I played I won both 6-0, so it felt super good to smoke some Asians at their own game hahah! My cousin Grant, who likes to think he is better than me at ping pong would be glad to know that when I get back to America, I’ll be even better than when I left lol.

081516 ping pong

Smoking Chinese people like its my job. (If you look closely you can see the other dude’s paddle. No I’m not playing by myself)

Well that’s pretty much it for this week! I only have a few pictures, and I promise I’ll be better at sending more next week, this week was really strange trying to adjust to a new place! I know that this church is true and that this gospel blesses families! Have a great week and stay safe!

Love,

Elder Stroud

White Clothes and Whitewashes

Well this past week was definitely the strangest of my mission thus far. I feel like I say that every week, but it honestly is the truth every week.

First things first. We got whitewashed out of our area, and Elder Nelson is a zone leader in Taizhong West, and I am now in a Tripanionship in Nantun which is also in Taizhong, but not his zone. It came as a surprise to both of us because something like this never happens, usually when they whitewash, it’s when an area closes and reopens, but they just straight kicked us out of Anding and brought in two new elders, one of which is being trained. To be honest, it sucks. Our ward had just started to trust missionaries again, and the work was going incredible in Anding. We had the first baptism there ever, and just like that it’s all over. Sunday was super hard saying goodbye to everyone and it just sucked. I don’t know why it happened, but I trust President Teh and his leadership.

8-8-16Anding Asparagus Tower

Gonna miss Anding, “the home of asparagus in Taiwan!”

I’ve only been in Nantun for about 4 hours, but I already know that it’s going to be a completely different experience than Anding. Basically my area is super small and is straight in the middle of this huge city of Taizhong. It’s the wealthiest part of the city and the complete opposite of the rice paddies I’m used to. I’m pretty much never going to be riding my bike for more than 20 minutes here, which honestly sucks compared to being outside for days in Anding. My companions are Elder Cox, and Elder Chen. Elder Cox is from Logan, UT and Elder Chen is from Taibei, so I finally get to live that “bendi life” with someone who doesn’t speak English. I already know it’s going to be a really hard transfer, because he is going home or “dying” in missionary terms in three weeks. If anything, my Chinese will improve a ton these next 6 weeks. Honestly all the prayers I can get will help. We went from having a solid pool of investigators in Anding, with one who is going to be baptized in 3 weeks, to absolutely nothing here. Like I said… it’s going to be rough.

Sooo on the bright side, we BAPTIZED last week in Anding! His name is Wang Yuan Zhang, and like I said before, his wife and 7 year old son are members. It was so incredible to help him come unto Christ and accept the gospel, because he has rejected missionaries for the past 6 years. Baptizing him was definitely one of the most tender moments of my life. The fact that I helped that family become eternal will forever touch my heart. I can’t wait to go with them to the Taibei Temple in a year and watch them get sealed.

1st Baptism 8-8-16 Anding Ward

Baptism! One of the most tender moments of my life. And this pose is so Asia hahaha!

As for other things, Pokemon Go came out in Taiwan this last week! To say it’s been nuts would be an understatement! Imagine Pokemon Go in America, and then imagine it in Asia, and that’s what it’s like here! Every single person is playing it. Our bishop was playing it in church this past Sunday… yeah its crazy. The roads are even less safe now because people are playing it on their scooters and while driving, so that’s fun. The craziest thing about it is that almost all of the church buildings in Taiwan are Pokemon finding sites, or whatever, so we literally are having investigators walk into the church looking for Pokemon, and we just add them hahahahahaha. Shout out to Pokemon for helping spread the gospel! We literally added a dude last week and set up a lesson with him because of Pokemon!

So about that sketchy zoo I hit up last P-day… yeah it was the sketchiest place I have ever been in my life, and only cost $5 to get in. Imagine if the Joker from Batman had a sadistic zoo, and that’s what this place is. It would 10000000% be illegal in America, but I guess it fly’s here in Taiwan. They had a lion and two tigers in a cage about the size of my super small dorm room at BYU, it was soooo wrong. The craziest thing was watching a live chicken get brutally murdered by a boa constrictor, like the dude just threw this screaming live chicken into this glass cage and it was like a murder scene. The boa lunged at the chicken and blood spattered all over the glass walls and it was like straight out of a movie, then it squeezed the chicken like boas do, and it just got wrecked. So crazy.

8-8-16 Zoo Monkey holds your hand

Monkey that will hold your hand at the zoo!

All in all a bittersweet week, I don’t have much else to say except that this church is true, and I have seen the impact it can have on families lives. It’s really hard to be away from my own family for so long, and I miss everyone every day, but I know my job now is to help families be together forever. I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stroud

8-8-16 Mango Bing

Mango bing is a summer time must in Taiwan!

ANDING ELDERS ARE GETTING WET (Week 12)

Aug 1 2016 B

Taiwan is cool

Well this week was a strange one!

It started off with an Active Member Lesson on Monday night. In the states they do AMLs almost every night. That one was my second one since being on island. We went to the Yang’s house in AnNan and ate dinner there with their family, and shared a dope video about Christ that really brings the Spirit! Y. D. is super funny because he is a chef, and at church he told us that “if you haven’t eaten my food, you haven’t eaten”, so we took him up on his offer… and he wasn’t wrong! His food was super good, and he made a TON. In Taiwan, the people expect the missionaries to put down food, so we have to put the team on our backs and eat a tonnnnn of food every time we get qinged. Let’s just says it’s a good thing I bike around 5 hours a day hahah…

Aug 1 2016

Yang Family Dinner (He insisted on a selfie)

I went on exchanges with Elder G. this week in my area! We saw a freak ton of miracles which was super awesome!! We managed to add 4 new investigators in a period of 24 hours, which is nuts for our area. We did work in Anding.  I had to clutch the language in the lessons and try super hard to teach, so that was dang hard, but I did it!

We did something COMPLETELY NUTS. So this week WE HAVE A BAPTISM!! Anding Ward’s first baptism ever. Not even kidding. But we had to teach all of the commandments, which takes like at least two hours, and is usually spread out between different lessons, but we didn’t have time for that, and we taught all of them in a span of 2 hours. Super crazy. I basically spearheaded that lesson as well, so it was pretty difficult, but W. D. passed his baptismal interview, so I think I did my job! He’s getting baptized on Saturday, so it should be super sweet! Baptisms in Taiwan are super hit and miss, some missionaries get 10+ and some get 0, it’s all about the areas you serve in, so I’m pretty lucky to see this one in training. His wife got baptized 6ish years ago, and his son is turning 8 in October, so we really hit Eternal Families hard with him! It’s awesome to see someone come unto Christ! The coolest part is that I’ll get to go to the temple with them in a year to watch their sealing! I truly am blessed.

This week we went out tracting with Z. D. in our ward which is always super fun! He’s like 27 and served his mission in Taibei, but he speaks fluent Taiyu, so he can talk to all the people we can’t talk with! Taiwan is probably the only mission in the world where the main language of the country (Mandarin) isn’t spoken by all of the locals. The older generation (think grandmas and stuff) speaks Taiwanese, and some of them literally don’t even know what “Ni Hao” means.. It’s nuts. Basically the more south and more rural you get in Taiwan, the more Taiwanese is spoken. People who live in Taibei don’t speak it at all. Since my area (Anding) is super south, and super rural, we get a lot of Taiwanese. It’s completely pointless in studying, because it’s a dying useless language, but it’s frustrating sometimes when you can’t even speak Chinese to the people… But anyways… it’s fun to go out with him and not have that language barrier!

On Saturday we went out with the Young Men in our ward (We have 2 total!) and played badminton at this super legit badminton place! I thought badminton was something you only played in middle school P.E., and something that you laughed at when it comes on during the Olympics… but let me tell you.. Asian people freaking love badminton! We showed up at this legit facility and there were dude there decked out in like underarmour tights and headbands, and all this swag, and they straight balled out. It was super fun! It was great to give the young men a chance to see missionaries in a not as formal environment!

Aug 1 2016 badminton

Badminton with the YM bros

After badminton we got qinged the most ridiculous meal on my mission thus far! The lady who is LA who loves taking us out to eat at nice places took us to a super upscale restaurant with 2000 kuai a plate meals! We had this 10 course feast prepared for us by our own personal teppenyaki chef, and some of the food included, caviar, truffles, the best scallops I’ve ever had, and AMERICAN BEEF RIBEYE!! It was sooooo good! The craziest thing is that the most expensive thing on the menu was a 10,000 kuai meal that literally cost as much as my bike. It’s so weird because my area is literally just rice paddies and Taiwanese grandmas that are super poor, but we have this one nice hotel in the middle of nowhere, and that’s where this place was at!

Aug 1 2016 Fancy Dinner

Scallops and caviar for dinner!

Another funny thing was that we went out tracting alone last night, and we went to this super nice apartment complex that has never been tracted out before, and the guard on one side wouldn’t let us go in, so we went around to the other side, and waved and smiled with these huge goofy smiles at him and he let us in! We get to the first house, and right as we get the dude inside to the door, the mean guard sees us and starts yelling at us in Chinese, and we were like “What? your friend let us in” and he got even more mad, and then we acted like we didn’t understand Chinese, and then he kicked us out, lol. As we were leaving, another lady came out with her chihuahua and was super pissed at us and started telling us how her dog would bite us.. and we were like “lol that dog weighs as much as my dinner did hahahah” and we left! But we managed to find a sweet family before then, so we’ll go back to teach them later!

All in all, another great week out here! I love Taiwan and I love the adventures we have every day! Bringing people unto Christ is the most rewarding thing, and it’s awesome to see the change in people’s lives through the gospel! I know this church is true and I know that it can change lives! I love you all! I’m about to go to this SUPER sketchy zoo that costs $5 to get in, and they let you play with cobras and other cool things, so I’ll talk with you all next week!

Love,

Elder Stroud