Hello! It is raining here and I hear that a cold front is finally coming in. How exciting, eh?
Do you like the pictures I sent of our Christmas decorations? The Christmas tree probably looks better than you imagined, right? :)
This email will be a bit more serious. I usually like light-hearted emails so you don't think I have turned into a robot missionary, but this Sunday the former Relief Society president in the Bade ward passed away. We got the December Ensign last week and I noticed that a lot of the articles were about death. These two things together have made me ponder a lot about life and death these past few days.
The Bade RS president, Sister Jiang, was a really awesome example. Everywhere I went in Taiwan people would ask me how she was doing. She struggled with cancer for a long time and finally succumbed--but it provided a lot of opportunities for people to provide service and for their love to grow. When I first came to the Bade ward I met Sister Jiang. This was before she was too seriously ill and she invited us and a new member over to her house for dinner. When we got there she was rushing around the kitchen with a wrap on her head trying to finish making dinner for us. After eating she told us stories from her mission many years ago in Southern Taiwan--how she got mad because the people only liked the foreigners and didn't ever do anything for her because she was Taiwanese, the lessons she learned, etc. She told us that when she first joined the church she was not active--but she went to church once a month to pay her tithing. She knew that that was a law of God and so she said the law of tithing kept her in the church--going once a month every month until she was fully active.
One of the women in the Bade ward told me that Sister Jiang was their example of faith. One Sunday, after several Sundays of not being able to come to church, Sister Jiang was wheeled in in a wheelchair by her husband. I asked her how she was doing and she said, with weariness and weakness evident in her face, "I am doing so well because I am at church. What else could I want?"
The Jiangs have two children--a son on a mission in southern Taiwan and a daughter in America. Seeing her and her husband's example of faith really changed my mission, and I am grateful that the Lord let me have this opportunity to meet one of His powerful servants here in Taiwan.
With her passing I was reminded of another dear friend of mine, Brother Peterson, who also passed away due to cancer. When people like this leave this world one is brought to his/her knees in gratitude that one was able to be blessed by such an example of service and humility.
As Christmas approaches my heart is filled with gratitude for the great and glorious love manifest by the Father in sending His Only Begotten Son to sacrifice for our sins, our weaknesses, and our pain. I know that God loves us. His Son is our Messiah. And I am grateful that at this season I am able to preach His gospel, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.