no time at all...week 41

Monday, May 30, 2016

Notes from Mom:  I sent Ian a few pictures.  Susan Hawks, a ward member and long time family friend sent one of Ian and Emily from their baptism day so long ago.  I forwarded it to Ian.
Wow I was so tiny. Emily still looks a lot like herself from before (but then again, she always looked more mature than her age as a kid). Could you please tell Sister Hawks thank you for me. I really appreciate it. I've been thinking about Baptism a lot, specifically about the interview (since that is one of my responsibilities as District Leader is conducting the baptismal interview). The entire experience is focused on testimony and the spirit. I love how Joseph Smith described the Godhead as "God the first, the Creator; God the Second, the Redeemer; God the third, the Testator." The search for the Holy Spirit of Promise is part of our purpose here, an approval of all of the priesthood ordinances done for us. That spirit can continue with us, reminding us of our covenants and our desire for salvation, comforting us when we feel hopeless or troubled because of the wickedness of God's people (3 Nephi 17:14 is part of my ponderizing scripture). I'm grateful to have been able to share that scripture with Emily, and I am so overjoyed to know that we have both pressed forward in our covenants, consistently seeking to enter into MORE with our Eternal Father in the name of our Savior having the Promise of the Spirit that all things will work out for the good of those who love God.

Notes from mom:  I also gave Ian some bad news about a tragedy regarding a family in our neighborhood that we love and have known for a long time.  Ian's friend, Kadyn Hillstead, is serving in the Brazil Maceio mission:
About the Hillsteads, no I didn't know this. I cannot communicate my devastation at hearing this, so I won't even try. Elder Hillstead has always been an example to me of humble power, and we can know that his family will make it through this trial. Something that I feel in my heart though is that they wouldn't be able to if Elder Hillstead were not serving right now. The burdens are lightened, lives are saved, and as my ponderizing scripture said, we can be glorified through receiving our experiences with gratitude. Kadyn will be a legend that will be told for generations in his family, and because of it, his children's hearts will be turned to him, and his heart will be turned to his children. It's very powerful, and I feel the spirit very strongly right now. I hope to be able to bear his burden in any way possible, but I don't think I'll bring it up with him any time soon. I just want it to be known that heroes are made legends by fulfilling their duty to something higher than themselves.

Notes from Mom:  The end of the year held a lot of recognition for the kids at home.  Simon had all As this year (again), and was recognized at a breakfast banquet at school.  Ana had all As this year and through junior high school, and Adam had As and also received awards for perfect attendance and no tardies.  Owen has never brought home anything but an E on his report card from elementary school, so we were feeling very blessed again. Adam had 2 awards-one was written to Adam Taylor and the other one was written to Taylor Adams.  We got a kick out of that.  "I'm so proud of all of them. Adam looks very happy. I hope the Taylor Adams girl wasn't too sad that he stole her award. I'm sure she'll be fine ;) I'd personally prefer to have a breakfast for all a's over a piece of paper anyways."

Sorry I don't have time today. Ponderizing scripture is 3 Nephi 17:14 and 20. Let your hearts be full. So sorry again about the time constraint, but I will try to be faster next week. Important stuff. I LOVE YOU ALL AND AM GRATEFUL FOR YOUR LOVE!
This was it from Ian, but Sister Hoxer's mom posted a picture on facebook of their conference that included Ian and many of the missionaries from his MTC stay!

The heat is coming...week 40

Monday, May 23, 2016

Well this week was pretty awesome. It's starting to get a lot more hot a lot more often (except the day that it rained ALL day this week). The rain felt super nice after a pretty hot week. Not too many mosquitos though, so that's a HUGE plus. We also have a HUGE jump in our numbers and I will describe what happened in specifics next week, but suffice it to say for now that when I got to this area, they were on average teaching about 13 lessons. We just got 21 this week, and we already have 17 planned for this upcoming week because of this specific thing that Elder Love have started doing. It's a lot to do, but it's so worth it. Our finding activities feel so much more fulfilling and successful. We are happier more consistently throughout the day, and I feel more successful as a missionary doing the work this way. We are definitely pushing the limits as far as time though, running home as fast as we can from a 25 minute lesson so that we can be home on time every other day because people are so nocturnal here that they refuse to meet if the sun is visible. It's good though because the entire time we're running, we're smiling and panting our comments about the lesson, what went well, what could be improved, etc.
My area isn't really effected by the boundary changes that will be happening since we now have 6 stakes, but Tai Wai and Sha Tin now have to go to the Kowloon Chapel, so that's a little more inconvenient for them. It's all working out for the best though. I am so happy to see how the members are growing right along with these changes. The youth are especially involved, and the Sheung Shui ward already has 4 missionaries out with 3 more sending their applications for this year! I don't have any pictures this week, but instead of wasting time with that, open up your scriptures to D&C 78:19 for my ponderizing scripture this week (cuz I need to recommit to that).

Love you all!

Notes from mom:  Ian also included some other pieces of information in another email response. A member of our ward served his mission decades ago in Hong Kong.  I told him at church that 2 more stakes had been added to the mission.  He was so happy to hear this news!  I told Ian about Brother Jackson and he replied with this:  "One question for Brother Jackson: Did he ever have a companion named Elder James? I ask because Elder James is probably one of the most powerful men in China. He's one of the counselors of President Lam. Just wondering."  

I asked how the new area was coming along and Ian said, "Something else I would like to tell you about this week that I will elaborate on NEXT week. We were getting about 8 full lessons a week in the Tai Wai area. The Sheung Shui area had about 13 or 14 when I first got there. Because of something we have started though, we got up to 21 full lessons this week. I will be very excited to explain it in full to you next week."  It sounds as though things are busy!

From 4 Stakes to 6 Stakes...week 39

Monday, May 16, 2016

This week, we had a regional conference that included the Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong stakes. The meeting was AWESOME!  I was actually able to understand the majority of it in Cantonese (there was no English translation given to us). We went from 4 stakes to 6, so we are now short on missionary forces, so we are going to be getting a larger support soon (hopefully).

Elder Gong of the Presidency (who served as the Seventy in Hong Kong just before becoming a member of the presidency and served his own mission in Taiwan), and Elder M. Russel Ballard spoke. A specific scripture mentioned was D&C 64:33. We are especially exhorted to not be rebellious, but faithful in keeping the commandments (specifically mentioned were tithing and Keeping the sabbath day holy). We are invited to open the windows of heaven. A rather simple action in itself, but with great and influential consequences. We can all become willing to let those small and simple things begin to take a larger precedence in our own mortal ministry.  

A man I would like you to meet is Brother Tong. He just received baptism a month ago. I actually had the opportunity to teach him before his baptism, and even then I could tell he was solid. We are trading back and forth three times a week between reading in the book of mormon and Preach My Gospel with him (we are in 2 Nephi in the Isaiah chapters). He loves and cherishes the word of God. He has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith being the one who by the power of God translated it. We love him and pray for him daily as he grows in wisdom and favor with God, as we all should be striving to do.

Kind of short today, but know that I love you all, I pray for EACH ONE OF YOU, yes, even if you don't read this every week. I don't really care about that as much as whether or not we are all keeping the commandments in exactness. Allow God to lead you into Life Eternal, Life Peaceful, and Life Fulfilled. Ga Yauh!

Notes from Mom:  This week we received a letter from Ian's mission president, President Lam.  It informed us that Ian had been chosen to serve as a district leader.  President Lam made some more personal comments about Ian.  "Sister Lam and I love and appreciate Elder Taylor and have great confidence in his ability to serve as a very successful District Leader.  He loves the Lord and I know the Lord loves him."  We are sure it isn't the first letter President Lam has sent to various families with missionaries serving as District Leaders, but we love getting his letters in the international envelopes with Chinese characters.  Ian had this to say when we mentioned it:  "The letter is mostly a form letter, but there are specific parts that he specializes. I have a cc of it in my journal. It definitely wanted me to act like I had earned the trust of President Lam. The responsibilities themselves are going very well. I love being able to see the progress of not only our companionship, but the entire district from a slightly "taller" view. It makes me think about the prophet being similar to the guard at the top of the watchtower, and he has a few people closer to the ground to be more individually based with those who need help and support."  Ian is so committed as a missionary and working hard.  

We also received an email from Bryan's abuela in Argentina.  She gets Ian's letters translated by Bryan's dad and read to her by Bryan's aunt Graciela.  She wrote us:  "Mis queridos nietos: Graciela me ha leído las cartas de las experiencias en la Misión de Ian .Me ha resultado interesantísimo ver que madures para explicar todo lo que va conociendo en aquel tan lejano país.Sólo quiero decirles que junto al orgullo de ustedes está el mío viendo en que forma maravillosa va creciendo mi bisnieto .Deseo se lo expresen a él.
Todo mi cariño en un abrazo imaginario para todos ustedes.

We sent the message translated to Ian.  "My dear grandchildren (she is addressing me and dad).  Graciela has been reading me the letters of Ian’s mission experiences.  I have found it very interesting to see his maturity to be able to explain everything that is going on in that country.  I just want to say that I am proud with you for the wonderful way I see that my great-grandson grows.  I hope you will tell him.  All of my love and a pretend hug for all of you.”
Ian was glad to hear she is getting his letters.  She is not a member of the Church and will turn 95 this year.  He sais this:  "I am so happy to be able to read that message from BisAbuela. I can't believe that it's had such an impact, but I'm not super surprised either. I'm so grateful for God empowering my words in the Spanish translation."  Thank you, Ian, for sharing your experiences and testimony with all of us.  As you can see, it is not just a blessing to your immediate family, even though we love hearing it too!  Your happiness and your efforts in being a missionary is a blessing to many.

One of those days that should be celebrated more often...week 38

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Well it's Mother's day again. Guess I had better put together the usual 5 minute card that I usually make for her (or maybe I could find last years and give it to her...would she notice?)...
NOT! I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with my family. I love my parents. It's a lot more profound and exaggerated, the reality of how much closer they are as parents. They may only have 4 kids in the house right now, but in this season, I want to thank my mom for supporting me in all my decisions and in correcting me for the decisions I make that may not be necessarily the most positively affecting. She's always seeking to find people that she can strengthen, but not simply for the purpose of getting a blessing. I believe that she does it because she is so naturally charitable and caring for others and their concerns. I try to seek her example very often as I strive to be more nurturing towards those around me. I know that simply because I am a man, I am not as naturally designed to be that type of person, but thankfully, man and woman are supposed to be equal partners, which leads me to think that we should then be able to learn from their gifts and seek them in all efforts.

I am glad to feel at least a little more deserving of their being proud of me. I only say that because I know and they know that this is where the Lord wants me to be.  I also miss them very much, and that's okay. I don't need to let that take control of me. I hope that they continue to strive to keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father.

That's something that I have been studying very in depth recently. In the third chapter of Preach My Gospel, the fourth lesson is about all of the commandments that are required for us to be worthy members of this kingdom of God on earth. I have been studying for weeks at a time, and I am only just finishing writing down what I believe to be a quite thorough compilation of all the blessings of Obedience, Prayer, and Scripture Study. Pages upon pages of paraphrased scriptures, general conference talks, personal thoughts, and highlights in the Preach my Gospel manual. I have that much stronger a testimony therefore of the reality that the blessings far outnumber the most thorough requirements that are written in the scriptures for us to view, observe, apply, and magnify.

President Monson has made it more simple than I believe any prophet save the Savior Himself in last General Conference: Keep the Commandments. Just keep them. REALLY, that's all you have to do. Don't complicate it, don't embellish it or chisel at it. Just keep the commandments. If you feel you are not familiar enough with them to keep them well enough, I have news for you: No one knows anything perfectly. There will always be doubt and apprehensiveness seeking our attention. Brush it aside. 3 Nephi 13:33 (super easy to memorized that reference number!) Seek ye first the kingdom of God. You think that you are saying something new when you realize that you really do have to completely lose yourself and your habits and tendencies. You ACTUALLY will even be required to give up the things you like that ARE good. Interests, hobbies, family, friends, the Gospel takes it all. The portion that enables us to do this is understanding and TRUSTING the promised that it will come back to us as refined, sanctified, and more beautiful than anything we could ever do ourselves. If you don't know how to "Turn it over to Him", I suggest you spend more time on your knees. I suggest that you spend more time in the scriptures. Remember that Christ doesn't need fishermen or pharisees like Simon bar Jonah or Nicodemus. He doesn't need men zealous for the Law like Saul of Tarsus or Chief Judges like Alma before his ministry. He needs real men like Peter, the rock that he built his church on. A man that will be born again. One like Paul who, rather than kicking against the pricks, stands as a soldier at the fight of faith and the championship of charity. An Alma that gives his seat to other able men in search for something more fulfilling. He needs disciples. So maybe next mothers day, or even on fathers day if your quick to observe, you won't take so long to start on that thank you card. I testify that Christ didn't take any moment to procrastinate the Atonement for our sins and suffering. He willingly drank the bitter cup, and because he died of the pain, being a perfect individual, we can be forgiven. Because he is all powerful and is now a resurrected being, we can live and die without fear. Let the peace of the spirit hush your fears. Let charity be your guiding light. It will never lead you astray. Jesus of Nazareth truly is the resurrected Lord of the Earth. He truly is our advocate with the father. Seek His approval in your actions. I leave my testimony of His justice, mercy, and grace in HIS name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

My companion, 

 my companion's twin (ha!),

and the elders of the district on the way to a banana farm that turned out to not have any bananas. Just a bunch of fermented stuff that he is using to make mulch (I hope he's not drinking it because the stuff we were pouring smelled STRONG!).

These are just a few of the many friends that I made in my last area. I love them very much and I wish them the best. William,


and Hugo Lee and his mom. 

Tai Wai forever. (Sheung Shui is awesome too really awesome!)

The closest a missionary can get...Week 37

Monday, May 2, 2016

So transfers happened just last Thursday. I am now the District Leader and I serve in the Sheung Shui Area with Elder Love. He got to the MTC with his group right as I was about to leave it, so he's about the same language level that I am at. His trainer was Elder Anderson, another one of the Legends of this mission whose Cantonese and Teaching skills far exceed what I myself can write about. Elder Love definitely absorbed a lot of those traits from Elder Anderson, and personally has even more to offer. My district is the youngest in the mission, where other than Elder Chu, who's been here for about a year, everyone else has been here about the same amount of time or less than even me. I am really excited though because of the powerful faith that I feel, especially from the two trainees fresh of the plane last week. It'll be good to see them grow.

In Sheung Shui, we are definitely teaching quite a few more lessons than I'm used to (though we can definitely fill in more of our time with the progress that will happen). We have some very good investigators that have so much faith and desire to learn. Let me tell you about one of my favorites:
Umer is Pakistani. He was born in Hong Kong though. He speaks Urdu, Cantonese and English all pretty fluently. He actually was an online referral that we received and are still waiting for the mission president's approval to give him a baptismal date. He has told us multiple times that when he meets with missionaries, he feels lighter, brighter, and happier. He wants baptism so much and is willing to do what it takes. We are just waiting for the ok.

Our apartment is the second smallest in the mission, and the closest one to mainland in the world. I'm about as close as I can get at this moment to accomplishing my prediction for the mainland missionary. Maybe later...who knows though, we're supposed to be having some weird meeting that only includes Taiwan and Hong Kong. Maybe china will be opened then (for all I know they have found another ancient record of scripture. Missionaries tend to get creative here when weird meetings happen).

I hope that you are really doing as well as I have heard. To all the Springvillites, we now have 4 missionaries here representing: Elder CJ Belknap, Elder Chance Farr, Sister Emma Terry, and I. WOOOO! Elder Farr and I are actually in the same District now though. I'm the district leader, which I didn't see coming when we got transfer calls.

I also made a realization this week. There is a system called CPR (I call it the missionaries tricycle of success). Church, Prayer, and Reading. If an investigator does this though, why is it that it is so sure to lead them to the gate of eternal life? In preach my gospel chapter 3, prayer itself is said to provide communication with God. Church can be considered the communion with him. Scriptures can then be confirmation, or an evidence of God's will and love revealed throughout eternity and now. This confirmation, communion, and communication can be used to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement." It just fits more and more precisely in our views every day as we consistently read and ponder the scriptures, speak with God, and seek to feel his guidance in our lives through the spirit (a little bit of Gospel-ception right there for me).

Home Teaching this Month: The message from President Eyering is beautifully simple. I personally would like to express my testimony of the restoration of Prophets, revelation, and that it will carry on from now until the end of time. No more breaks. We are in the final round, so let's get our gloves up and fight with all we got. I'm so grateful for the revelations that I receive every day and the ability through them to aid in the work of the Lord our God. I know He lives. He is the Creator, the King of Heaven and Earth. Our Advocate with the Father. Our one and only hope.

Strive for that hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ...together. Your families, friends, wards, and even strangers. Hope brings forth a Humble and Sanctified heart. I leave my testimony of the Savior and his Infinitely effective Atonement in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

This is Elder Love and me

This is Elder Love and I as well as (front to back) Elder Love, Elder Wilcoxson, Elder Farr, Me, and Elder Chu on our way to service on another farm (this time didn't get my arm bitten to pieces).

So you remember President Uchdorf's crack about the family photos where you end up being Chewbacca?....yeah, that happened. I also have a sword now (don't worry it fits in the suitcase). I love the Chewbacca mask though. Elder Guinn is the one in the Rebel Fighter Pilot mast, Elder Love is in the front trying to use the force as a storm trooper (what a noob!) Elder Jensen is the one with the cleaner looking mask.  Never mind, Elder love actually has a feather duster instead of a lightsaber.

Notes from mom:  Ian will Skype with us this weekend for Mother's Day.  "We have found a place for Skype. We will be doing it on our Monday (pday) your sunday. We can do it no earlier than 12 our time actually though, because the place isn't open until then."  So we anticipate a call sometime after 10:00pm this Sunday!

We also had some bonus photos provided by Brother Yoshi Yu.  I can't say enough about this wonderful member of the church.  He is always taking care of the missionaries!

From Yoshi via Facebook: "We have 2 sets of pizza today. And we are arranging to meet with E. Taylor, Powell and Love on Thursday."

So on Thursday:  "Transfer.
E. Love and Taylor to Sheung Shui.
E. Merrell and Powell to Tai Wai.
They are good."

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