New Year’s New Pants Size

013017-dinner-with-zhengs

Dinner with the Zheng family.

Hello all! This week definitely has been the most unique of my mission thus far! The people here go NUTS for Chinese New Year’s, and it has made doing missionary work next to impossible. The days here are filled with fireworks, food, ancestor worship, and more food. Our time has been spent going to members houses and eating with them, and tracting because there is nobody on the streets and everything is closed for the week. The best way I could describe it would be like the aftermath of a hurricane. Outside is eerie and quiet. On the other hand, every house is a rowdy party. So it has been interesting trying to get anything done.

Last night while we were tracting we tracted into a house full of “Buddhists”. I called them out on their apostate Buddhist beliefs, and how they claimed to be Buddhist but didn’t adhere to basic Buddhist principles. They then whipped out this laminated sheet of paper with this prayer chant written on it in like 5 languages and started trying to force us to read the chant out loud. As soon as they did this, I could physically feel the Spirit leave and I knew that it was some satanic stuff. As I read the Chinese characters of chant in my head, and as this lady was literally chanting to Satan right in front of us, denouncing that Jesus had ever lived, and saying they we needed to stop lying to the people of Taiwan, I felt impressed to start sharing the Plan of Salvation, and how prayers aren’t rote things we read off, but literally personal communication with a God who loves us and knows us personally. I looked to the lady’s husband who initially was aggressive towards us, and I could see his countenance change as he was touched by the Spirit and listened to the testimony I was giving him. We ended up testifying on their doorstep for about 20 minutes all while this lady was calling us liars and all sorts of other awful things, but in the end I feel like we did what the Lord needed us to do. I honestly was a little shaken by the experience afterwards, one because it is rare to have an encounter that close with Satan, and two, because I was filled with so much of the Spirit that it left me a little weak as I was literally calling down repentance unto them. Thankfully we were protected and went to a member’s house to eat dinner right afterwards, and were able to get back to feeling normal.

Aside from satanists and aside from eating until we no longer could, this week all of the missionaries in the world got some new schedule changes which will allow us to be more flexible with our time. The biggest news of the week is that pday (our day off) has been extended by 2.5 hours, so instead of starting at 10:30am our pday is now 8am-6pm on Mondays.

It was a week full of learning and growing, and a week where I really just appreciated being a missionary! I love Taiwan and I love what I am doing right now. I hope you all had a great week back home and I hope you maybe ate some Panda Express in honor of Chinese New Year!

Love you all!

Elder Stroud

013017-jesus-tracting

One of the funniest things I have ever seen. We found this picture of Jesus while tracting. The Chinese have a custom of putting red things on their doors during the new years, and most doors have that same character 福 (Fú) on them, which means blessing. Jesus tracting in China.

Taiwan Elders going “Stateside” with Eating Appointments this week.

Hello all!! This email will be really short, not because we are going out to 玩 (play), but because I have nothing to write…

012317 old and new companions transfer.JPG

Out with the old and in with the new! My former companion, Elder Evans and my new companion Elder Daines.

So biggest news of the week… I GOT A NEW COMPANION! His name is Elder Daines, and he is from Bend, OR!  Which is sweet because I have been there on multiple occasions!  Even in Taiwan the world really is a small place!  He has been out for only 5 transfers, which means I am the Senior Companion now, which is kinda fun but a little overwhelming, as my Chinese still isn’t perfect yet…

But as for other things this week, not much else happened!

012617-kyries

Fresh Kyries $30 USD Were gonna take basketball contacting to a whole new level.

I bought a pair of fake Kyrie Irving shoes from China for about $30 USD and they are pretty fresh.

All of our investigators are home for the Chinese New Year, and our pool is dropped down to about 0 right now. People aren’t willing to meet because of Chinese New Year, and that has been wrecking us pretty good… The good thing about New Year’s though is that we get dinner appointments out the wazoo. Usually we will get fed by a member once every few weeks, but during 過年 (Chinese New Year) we get fed at least twice a day. Kind of like serving in America haha! Expect Elder Stroud to be a little bit more 胖(fat) after next week haha!

Well that’s about it for this week. Pray for me and my stomach this upcoming week!

Also I just wanted to testify of the Plan of Salvation. It makes me sad when people here don’t realize that there is more to life than just the present. People here are so focused on the now that they don’t see the big picture of things. It is frustrating to see people straight up reject something that you know would give them so much happiness, but that’s ok!  We keep on working anyways!  I love you all and hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stroud

012317-favorite-drinks

Super good drink place that has happy hour every Friday night. Every drink is 50 Kuai or less than $2 USD This is a guava kiwi, and a dragon fruit pineapple!

咩咩咩 = Baaaa,Baaa

011617-we-know-our-sheep

We know our sheep, and they are numbered.

 

 

Pretty cool week on my end over here in Taiwan. On Monday we had one of the best P-days of my mission by heading up to the QingJing Farm (清境農場). Basically it took us a 30 minute train ride, and a two hour bus ride to get up into the mountains of PuLi where the farm is located. To describe it simply, it is a farm taken out of the European Alps and placed on top of a mountain in the middle of Taiwan. It was a super fun, super cool, but exhausting trip.

 

 

As for the rest of the week… We are kind of getting wrecked here investigator wise… about 80% of our investigators are college students, and all of them have finals this week, so none are willing to meet with us. Also Chinese New Year is coming up next week and nobody wants to meet with us because of that either, so its been interesting trying to find new investigators lately.

We had interviews with President Teh this week, and once again, it was confirmed to me how he truly is a man called of God to lead this mission. His wisdom and experience dwarfs mine in every aspect. He truly cares about us missionaries, and the people of Taiwan.

Funny story… we were tracting a couple nights ago, and while we were chatting with this man at his door step, a couple of very annoying 10 year old’s came up to us and started gawking that I was white and speaking Chinese. We felt that they were killing our contact with this seemingly interested man. After the contact was over, the kids told us that they were Christian, so we asked them if they could take us around the neighborhood to ALL of the Christians that they knew. We immediately started racing around on our bikes with these kids hitting up every Christian’s door in the neighborhood haha. At the end of the night, we had received 10 referrals from these kids for all of the people they took us too!

Yeah pretty much that’s it… sorry for writing a boring email. At least you can look at the pictures, so enjoy! Have a great week! I love you all!

Love,

Elder Stroud

PS… A few more pictures of the view from QingJing Farm.

011617-views-from-farm

Pretty incredible views

011617-gethsemane-tree

This tree looked uncannily similar to the tree in the famous Atonement painting

Anotha’ One

Another week down here in ZhangHua. Again, pretty standard with not much deviation from the norm.

Today we are going to the Qingjing Farm (清境農場) in NanTou for pday, which is this super sweet place up in the mountains about 2 hours away, thus why this email is coming a little early.

This past week for pday, a member took us out to DaKeng to go hiking and it was also super sweet. Pics below.

img_1823

Hiking in DaKen

I think the funniest thing of the week happened when the ZhangHua 3rd ward sisters called us at random and started screaming into the phone “QUICK HOW DO WE THROW UP, HOW DO WE THROW UP” as they explained to us that they were just at a members house and the got fed a ton of pork buns with very under cooked pork in them, and had just realized this after they had eaten the batch. So instead of risk getting a parasite, or even worse… dysentery. They thought the best approach was to just clean their systems themselves. We laughed and gave them a few methods of forcing yourself to throw up, and all were merry and on the way.

We went on exchanges again this week, and I had a blast doing work with Elder Rindlisbacher. We decided to head out to the extremely busy morning market in our area on Saturday morning, and do a little “Dan Jones”-ing. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it basically is going to a super crowded place and standing on something tall, and yelling your testimony to the people there. As scary as that might sound, we weren’t even the least bit scared, and we saw some success too! In between all of the insults and swears thrown at us while doing it, we found a very nice old man who pulled up a chair and listened to us. We went up to him afterwards, and it turned out he was a Christian and happy to meet with us later!

I love you all! Have another great one!

Love,

Elder Stroud

Happy New Years! (But actually not yet in Taiwan, that’s next month)

img_1156

The best restaurant in ZhangHua is a tiny little coffee shop that makes delecious american food, and although very expensive (about 250元) it is well worth the price to be reminded of home sometimes.

Pretty standard week here in ZhangHua and in Taiwan. Nothing really interesting or special happens anymore lol! This week I realized a few things…

  1. It is always better to be nice to people than to be mean.
  2. I speak fluent Chinese, and just the thought of that is really strange.
  3. Asian people love really weird things.
  1. While tracting (knocking doors) this week, I decided to try to be nice to people no matter what. If you know me, you know that I have a really stubborn personality, and I hate it when people aren’t willing to consider a new thing when it is clearly better than the old thing, whatever that may be. Well this week I decided to do as Christ would do and react positively to any insult/罵 thrown at me. So as we had doors literally slammed in our faces, and old Chinese dudes “ma-ing” us out in Taiyu, i just took it all with a smile and wished them a happy day, instead of blowing up back at them and telling them how wrong they are. I feel like I definitely learned a lot from doing this, and in the end it made me happier too. Cool life lesson learned!
  1. While contacting the streets this week, we happened to talk to this guy and have a good 10 minute conversation with him about Gospel stuff, and about other random stuff too. As I walked away from the contact, I realized that I understood everything he said to me and that he understood everything I said to him. The realization hit me- I am fluent in Chinese. What a strange thought, and something I wouldn’t have even imagined a year ago. I sometimes catch myself thinking in Chinese, and at least a couple times a week I have dreams in Chinese as well. I still have lots of room for improvement, and I still have like 5000 Chinese characters to learn, but The Lord has definitely blessed me up to this point.
  1. Asians love weird things. I think everyone knows this, but over the past few months it has become more apparent to me. Missionaries aren’t allowed to watch TV or pretty much anything of the like, as they want us to focus on the work, but this past week I caught myself watching the Taiwanese news are some little rice shop we were at for lunch. They had a segment on people just dancing in Pokemon costumes, and they played the segment for like 15 minutes. There was no story behind the segment, just people in Pokemon costumes dancing to weird Korean (not even Chinese) music.
    010217

    蛋黃哥兒 “Yolk Brotha”

    Also there is this thing here called 蛋黃哥兒(which literally translates to “Yolk Brotha”), and it’s this weird (sometimes naked with a butt, and usually in some sort of weird sadistic position about to be eaten) cartoon egg thing from Japan that is on everything… scooter helmets, store windows, magazines, you name it. I have a McDonald’s card that is on, and it is just a weird Asian thing. People love it here, and every time I ask them why they say 很可愛 (Translates to “It’s so cute!”) Asia is so dang weird, and I live here.

Well that’s pretty much it for my week! Our investigators are all progressing nicely and are soon to be baptized! As much as it feels like I am going through the motions sometimes, I have to step back and remember that we are changing other people’s lives, and for them, these things are huge. I know there is no better place for me right now than serving the Lord, sweating and struggling, learning and loving, on a mission, 傳in’ 教!  I hope you all had a great New Years, and continue to see happiness in 2017! I love you all!

Love,

Elder Stroud

img_1154

There is a guy here who will hand paint fans with whatever Temple you want on them for about $50 USD, so naturally I got an Orlando Temple one.

Christmas in ZhangHua!

122516-christmas-tree

My Christmas tree made by my mom, aunt and Grandma NJ, from Old Peak Tree Farm. Counted down 24 days before Christmas with a note from a family member in each pocket.

 

 

This week we had a very Christmas themed week! It was 32 degrees here all week long! …But… it was 32 degrees Celsius, so it was actually like 90F and super hot! Yay for Taiwan! We spent our time testifying of Jesus Christ, as well as singing lots and lots of Christmas carols at various locations around ZhangHua.

I also had an awesome Christmas Eve dinner featuring the Stroud Christmas Eve spaghetti sauce, made, dehydrated, and mailed to me by my Aunt Christy and Uncle Preston.  You guys are AWESOME!

I was lucky to be able to Skype my family this morning, and am so thankful for them and their examples to me. I am truly grateful to be blessed with such a loving family. My Christmas day here included opening up two boxes of packages from my family in the morning.  We got invited to a lovely Christmas brunch by the American couple in our ward here teaching English.  Then we went to church, where Christmas wasn’t mentioned even once… (lol Taiwan).  We ate a Christmas dinner of curry rice with the ward, we went to the old folks home to help two members in their 90’s partake of the Sacrament, and then we went out Christmas tracting at night. Tracting was super ineffective, as it always is, so we headed to the College basketball court to do a little bball contacting. The Lord helped me rain 3’s that night, and after balling up these two sophomores, we gave one of them a Book of Mormon and testified about it. Fun times! Other than Christmas, it was a pretty standard week, nothing much ever happens in ZhangHua, so we are slowly progressing our investigators towards their baptismal goals next month! Big things are in store here! I hope you all had a magical Christmas, and remembered to remember the reason for the season! I wish you all a happy new year! Until next week!

Love,

Elder Stroud

122616-lion

There weren’t any signs saying we couldn’t climb on the lion… so we did!

122616-rc-family

My Recent Convert family came and visited me on Christmas Eve! They looked so happy and beamed with the light of Christ!

122616-train-ride

Train ride back from zone conference with the district