My dearest family!
Oh how I treasure each of you so, so much! I was thinking of planning out a good little April Fools joke, but because of time, I’ll tell you about the clever one our District Leader, Elder Bentley, played on us: He called us up yesterday morning and was like, “Elders, I just wanted to thank you for the chance I could serve with you, but today is my last day in Taiwan and tomorrow I will be going home. Some stuff happened, but just wanted to tell you guys thanks for your example.” He had it down perfect. His voice was quivering like he was going to cry and then just kind of hung up. We had totally forgotten about April Fools and Elder Jackson and I were speechless. Our fearless leader was going home!!! Oh man, he got us so good. When he did it to the sisters, Sister Yeh started crying! At church it was so funny. She was so mad! haha!
Anyways this was a remarkable week out here in Taiwan. There is a festival that regularly occurs around this time of the year called Saomu that is translated as the “grave sweeping festival”. Ancestors are a HUGE part of chinese culture! Ancestors are truly the basis of a lot of people’s lives. They constantly worship them and do ceremonies to bless them in the afterlife. At this festival they go and clean their graves and adorn them with beautiful flowers and fake paper money and then worship the ancestors’ spirits. Because our church also believes in the importance of our ancestors, the missionaries every year participate in Saomu. However we go and clean what is called the Wuming graves or “unnamed”. These are the graves with no living relatives or they don’t know who it is. These graves are often overgrown and dirty and broken up because no one cares. So all us missionaries in Taizhong got to go serve for all of Saturday afternoon and transform sections of these graves. The Taizhong city officials were so impressed they had the officials there and they had photographers and we all got to wear the “Mormon Helping Hands” vests. I’ve always wanted to do that since I saw them in conference. It was a wonderful experience.
I am so grateful for what Mom has taught me about hard work. Mom has always taught me when there is work to do, roll up your sleeves and get going. I noticed not everyone has that same outlook. A lot of missionaries would stand around and just watch. Our district really got down into the dirt and transformed some aisles of graves. Take a look at the pictures! It was such a great experience to feel the spirit through giving of ourselves!
Everyone was talking about conference and that threw me for a loop at first! I forgot that we are delayed a week because of translations! So our conference is actually this weekend! So I will have to listen for all those talks you told me of!
Remember I love each of you and our family is most precious! 😀
– Elder Bailey