For those of you who may not know, our Eldest son Sam, is serving as a missionary for the next two years in Taiwan for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Below is a recent email letter we received from him. If you want to follow along, just click on his picture to the right of this post.
WOW! This week I really realized what kind of work I have ahead of me and how I have no time to get what I want done! I realized how every second I spend on bended knee and searching the scriptures really counts. I have just finished my first move call (transfer) which means I am 1/16 of the way done with my experience on Island. When I looked at it that way I though oh well 15/16 is so much and that means I have SO MUCH TIME! But then the math brain that my dad gave me kicked in and I thought well if I do one more transfer (which is the duration of my time training) Then I will have 1/8 left....well that is quite a bit less...Then I thought but 7/8 is still a good amount. Then I thought well if I spend THAT time again (only the time being trained) well then I will be 1/4 done....HOLY COW! 1/4! No matter how you think about it that is a lot! AHH! How am I ever going to be able baptize the 22 million people here?! :) Well you know what I need? My Mom's study habits and my Dad's powerful teaching presence! I sure am lucky to be the son of Harvey and Shannon Gish! :). You know what is also amazing!? I am able to look to my parents for their incredible examples, I am ALSO able to look to my wonderful Brothers! L. S. (for example) I was studying in 1st Nephi 18:2 recently about Nephi building his ship. Then I remembered something Chase had taught our family! For those of you who are not yet aware Chase is a GENIUS! If you don't know you must not have talked to him ;) haha. But he taught us about how we all have our own SHIPS to build. We have our friendSHIPS and our companionSHIPS and so many different SHIPS that we have to build while here on Earth! Well this verse talks about how Nephi built his ship after the manner in which the Lord showed unto him and not by the manner of man. Well this got me thinking about how I am building my "ships?" Am I building all of my "ships" after the manner in which is pleasing to man or am I building them according to how God has instructed us to build our ships. Am I loving like he loved and being an example as he was the perfect example. Am I teaching simply and directly, am I bold enough, am I faithful enough, diligent, humble...am I doing all of these things in the manner in which Man would have me do them or is it according to God's standards and is it for HIS glory. Well Chang hua dian shuo (to make a long story short) I hope and am praying and working hard on building my ships and building myself the way God would have me do it.
I am so glad that I have my amazing family to be examples to me and that have blessed my studies and have blessed this work! I mean even my little 10 year old Ninja Brother Gage has been the BIGGEST blessing out here! He has drawn me a few pictures while I have been out (do you all know that he is a master artist?) and I carry them around with me from time to time and will look at them and read what he writes to me and it will just make me smile so big and laugh and helps me to maintain a positive attitude no matter what (which is SO CRUCIAL to the work!) So thank you family! :)
Okay, fun things or blessings first?...Let's save the best for last, so we will start with the fun!
This week has been pretty fun and funny! Some of the pictures I sent today are from a place called Smoky Joes!
It is a Mexican food place and is the closest thing I have had to american sit down food in a long time! It was so funny and so amazing! Especially because the waiter was so surprised when we started ordering and talking to him in Chinese haha. I guess a lot of foreigners go there and he said it is so frustrating because they either just can't speak Chinese or their Chinese is terrible haha. My Chinese is still pretty awful so I am lucky I am with a bunch of masters to help make me look good hahaha. But speaking of Chinese I was able to Pass off my Phase one this week! Phase One is all church words and then there is Phase two which is just random words and Phase 3 which is all Characters. I am studying Phase two and three together and it is amazing how you will study words that you think are NEVER going to be used, but then the Lord blesses you with experiences so that you better memorize your words and you will hear the weirdest things! For example I learned BoyScout, tong zi sun (aren't you proud brother Lambert? :)) but there are NO boy scouts here I have never seen one or anything...all the way until I learned the word then BAM!...there was ONE boy scout! And I was able to talk to him! I mean really?! Heavenly Father is just the best blessing you with small things like that!
Oh and as a side note the Smoky Joes theme is indians and cowboys, so that indian....yes....we placed a Book of Mormon in his hand hahahaha. I don't know if it is STILL there but we left it there! How hilarious is that? :) Maybe the manager will find it, take it, read it, then get baptized. Because if someone REALLY reads that book then there will be no way to deny that it was written by prophets of God and translated by a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon will NO DOUBT lead to baptism and true happiness in this life! It reminds me of that hilarious sign that was put up awhile ago that says "Don't read the Book of Mormon, that is how they get you!"...hahaha, well I'll tell you what...they are right, if you read it, you will be hooked and you will have a desire to be baptized. You WILL have a desire to follow Jesus Christ example and grow closer to him.
So this week while teaching at a place we often go to teach, the She jiao guan (culture learning center...it is just a nice place where it is easy to sit with investigators), there was an anime festival! Oh my gosh it was CRAZY! It was PACKED!!!! People out here LOOOOOVEEEEEE their anime! Everyone was all dressed up like crazy! It was AMAZING to see some of the outfits and effort people put into this. They even decorated their cars and scooters! I think it was pretty funny to see how as I looked around I was actually able to recognize some of the outfits hahaha. And when I say some I mean like one or two...Anime out here is like....I don't even know what to compare it to back in the USA...but there is SO MUCH anime and so many different shows and crazy stuff! It was wild haha. I wished so bad it was a Monday so that I could have taken pictures to show you all because it really was so crazy! But alas...it was a Thursday so Meibanfa (no possible way) Oh well, I am sure it will happen again some other time haha.
One thing that happened this week that really wasn't a super crazy funny thing or anything like that, but that I still wanted to write about because it made me smile, is that a family that we love (the H.J) has this son that is about 10 but can't function quite like a ten year old. Anyways, we were at their house and like in most Asian cultures we take our shoes off when we enter a house. The young boy walked over and slipped his feet into my shoes and started Clomping all around the house! It was pretty funny actually to hear him and watch him. But it reminded me of how when I was younger I would slip on Mom or Dad's shoes (yes....sometimes it WAS Moms...not my proudest moments haha) and would clomp around. Now I think about how if I put my feet into my Dad's shoes they would fit pretty nicely, in fact I used to borrow his shoes., and If I tried to do Mom's...well first off they might brake my foot and second I don't know why I would put on Moms shoes....haha. But anyway, I thought about how Mom and Dad must have looked at me back then and how they look at me now and how I still feel like I have Big shoes to fill! I looked at that sweet little boy and thought about who he would be when he was 20, the kind of life he would live and experiences he would have. How he will now have a chance to grow up with a righteous mother and a priesthood holder for a father. How someday he may have the chance to receive the Holy Ghost. Yes, that is them getting baptized in the pics! The poor boy tried 3 times but all three times it wasn't complete because he is scared about going under water. They even had the dad in the font with him to try to help but every time the boy flailed just enough to keep something out of the water...It was hard to watch, but I was so proud of him for trying! And I hope that as he grows he will get another chance and will be able to truly be baptized! They are an amazing family! (IF you haven't noticed I have slowly moved into Blessings haha). You should have seen the Dad, he just got baptized and he bore his testimony, in his testimony he quoted hymns and talked about the numerous blessings of God! He is going to be a church leader no doubt!
AND ANOTHER MIRACLE IS ON THE SAME DAY WE BAPTIZED ANOTHER AMAZING MAN! C. D.! He truly was a miracle. On a rush home Elder Erickson basically just stopped long enough at a red light to give a guy this slip that says where the church is and told him that on Sunday we had an amazing meeting....well of course we think nothing of it then BAM he comes to church! He has been smooth sailing ever since and is now baptized and will also be an amazing leader!
It is amazing to see how the Lord Blesses and sanctifies your efforts no matter how small they may seem!
I know that this gospel is true. I hope that everyone who reads this can feel how much I truly mean that. I KNOW IT. This has become a part of who I am.
My invite for this week is to write a copy of your testimony whatever it may be! Then share it with someone, maybe even give a copy to the missionaries to use! I know that EVERYONE who reads this has a testimony. It might be a super power crazy power packed testimony like my amazing mom's, or it could be as small as a "I believe God exists" or "Truth does exist in this world." No matter what it is, it is important! So share it!!!!!!!!
I Love you all so much!