Thursday, July 7, 2016

Happy 21st Birthday!

Today Tom turns 21.  And today Taiwan has a special birthday celebration for him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


As you start to approach the ending of your mission, there's so many emotions and thoughts going through your head that you can't keep them straight. It's hard to express what you've done, felt, experienced and learned. If it's at all possible for that matter lol. But I'll take a shot at it with this being my last email home. (Next week I'll be busy ;-)

My reflections are as such:

The mission is an eye-opener. Words can't express the things you see, whether it be the bustling streets, the crazy traffic, interesting people, funny accidents with your companions, interactions with investigators and members, and many countless other interesting things.. But you grow up so much. Unfortunately the hardest thing perhaps to see is the new "self" you acquire, but with others' help you can be reminded of it.

You become so much less self-centered. How could you not? You are always having to think of others, whether it is your companion, your family and friends, your investigators, you name it. Suddenly so many things that were once important become so unimportant. I think you find the true "you" doing so though. I have a much clearer idea of who I truly am as a person now.

If there's one disappointment I feel weigh on me at the end here, it's some of those difficulties you run into that actually don't seem to be resolved ever. Of course you always have really high hopes that you can see miracles happen and you put lots of thought and prayer into it suspecting that God would like it to happen too. But some miracles don't seem to happen because the interesting thing is that everyone has the God-given right to choose what route they want to take for themselves.

By no means do you think that by them not accepting your message that they are bad people or doomed to some certain fate. However, you do wonder "where did I go wrong as a messenger?"

At the same time that you have these emotional lows though, you have some really high good times. Perhaps you have to convince yourself a little that those good times really do outweigh the tough times, but to be honest there really are some times that are priceless.

Regardless of whether the good or the bad is more or less or whatever though, the mission is worth every cent. Every drop of sweat. Every step. Every breath. I've become a man. I have faced the winds of life and have built muscle in those places in your heart and mind that I didn't know existed.

I have seen miracles. During my highs and lows, the Lord was always with me. I know it now. As practically minded as I am, I can accept that there's a God up there watching over me. I'm very comfortable with that idea now. And regardless of all the questions I once had about history and commandments and the definition of sin and like things, I can finally accept everything as I've been taught. I am happy living the commandments. I feel secure inside. I feel at peace with myself. I will never condemn others for their actions, however, as for myself, I will conduct myself in the way I've been taught the Lord expects me too. Because what I was once taught, I now believe. Faith is an interesting concept. It is empowering when one can grasp it.

I once had a moment on my mission where I had to ask myself the question, "Who do I choose?" That question is much easier to think about than to actually have to answer. But when faced with it, I chose the Lord. I can't say how it happened, but after that decision was made, my life was changed forever. And I saw the biggest blessings I've ever witnessed before.

Perhaps King Benjamin had had his own experiences behind what he meant when he said that those who keep the commandments of God are happier than those who don't? My humble witness is now the same. I am happy with the gospel. It is my life. I am finally converted.

I choose the Lord.

I hope everyone has a great week! See you at the end of July!!!!


This week went so fast. I don't think much crazy exciting happened. We did meet one golden investigator. We ate some wacko watermelon bread. I hiked to the top of a super cool mountain with an awesome view. I laughed a lot. I talked to some missionaries in Taizhong over the phone that I knew from the MTC. Cool stuff.

Also, I had to buy yet another camera this week. It's the worst when you sweat so much that you soak your camera...

Sorry for the lame email. I don't feel like writing one today. Next time!

Love you all!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Happy Father's Day to my young and awesome dad! World's best. I'm glad there are still so many courageous men in the world who are willing to take the world head on like my dad did. Having a good father is a blessing everyone ought to deserve.

This week was super exciting. We saw two awesome baptisms! I'm not sure how big my role was in their conversion process, but it was certainly fun to watch them over these past few weeks. The baptism was awesome and they're talks afterwards were even better. One got up and she was talking about meeting all these different missionaries and how it switched to me and Elder Falck a couple months ago and how at first she thought I was very witty and funny and that Elder Falck was just dumb (not smart). Says it as directly as that in front of the whole congregation! Everyone busted up laughing! Even Elder Falck. He's a stud. Funny moment! She later apologized by bringing up these huge plates of Costco cookies and brownies! Worth it for sure.

I took out the YM's with me to go street contacting for a night. It was hilarious to watch them being super uncomfortable out there, good reminders of what it was like in the past for me. But thinking of it, they are all so much cooler than I was. Before the mission, if I would've been asked to hang out with missionaries I would've definitely said no. Haha. Good thing I've been able to change. These people are awesome examples to me.

Elder Falck and I are having such a blast together here for my last few weeks. Its cool to think that I now have two best friends living in Taiwan and Sweden, two of my favorite places in this world. If the mission was a complete failure for me, it would still be worth all the awesome friendships I've been able to make out here. Missions are the best.

They're even better when the end is near. I've loved this last transfer and it is just going to get better!

Love you all!

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Happy Dragon Boat Festival everyone!! I feel bad for all those of you who don't know what that is! Haha.

My blood sugar has risen significantly this week due to all the Taiwanese shaved ice I've been eating. Elder Falck is also addicted which makes the temptation all the greater. We can get up to 5 or 6 in a matter of two or three days depending on how we are feeling.. Coated up with some good green beans, grass jelly, chewy taro balls, salty peanuts and then coated over with condensed milk. Don't judge it till you try it!

We also played basketball a few times this week. I was flat out embarrassed with myself. Needless to say, I will be practicing a bit when i get home..

As far as gospel scholarship goes, I finished the Bible and D&C back to back again. There is some interesting stuff within them. Gotta do it just a few times in life right?

I made it back to Danshui this past week for the first time in 6 months. I felt like I was in heaven. :-)
Even got to hang out with some old friends of mine!

As I approach the end of my sojourn here, I am so glad that I have the people around me that I do. We have an awesome investigator who just cannot get an answer to prayer to save his life. It's great for me. It entertains my mind thinking of how to approach his problems from all angles. Thank goodness I can have some things that I find entertaining during these last weeks.

Life is good. Time goes fast. It's a blast.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


This week was a pretty fast and good one. We saw lots of good progress with our investigators and also found out that a lot of them have more problems than we previously thought. God knew all too well that I would need some interesting problems to fix to keep me excited about what I'm doing lol. But sometimes you wonder how in the world can some people find themselves in such a deep hole and continue living.

I just learn from them. I won't ever consider making a living of helping people solve their problems either..too many headaches..

We were able to go play on a beautiful beach with our favorite member again last week. Chilling with Taiwanese people is pretty fun as it turns out :-) Especially when you can finally talk to them for hours at a time without any trouble. You make pretty good friends while on your mission. Honestly all the friendships I've made out here alone have made my mission more than worth it!

The best moment of the week though was a contact Elder Falck and I had together. Elder Falck does his best with the language, but its still fun for me to watch him in the early stages of his mission where he's still figuring out the language lol. This man we contacted was probably the most perfect contact any missionary could think of, almost a little cliche, but he was genuine. He kept telling us that ever since he had a spiritual experience last year, he realized how "神奇"(shen2 qi2 meaning "miraculous") all of god's workings were. However, Elder Falck misunderstood him for saying "生氣" (sheng1 qi4 meaning "angry") and butted right in to the rescue by offering to say a prayer for him to not always be so angry at everything. I got a good laugh out of that. :-) Sometimes companions are the best part of your mission haha.

I'm still loving life. Trying to enjoy every second of it. Time goes fast.

But of course I'm still really looking forward to the jungles of Thailand and Cambodia and the coast of Vietnam. I have the best family. Super exciting lives they live.

Life is all about experiences.

Love you all!

Sunday, May 29, 2016


here is what xizhi looks like

As I write this, the sisters are sitting next to me with their speaker they brought blaring EFY music off Even after these two years of a mission, I still can't stand Motab or EFY music. Some things just never grow on you I guess?

This week we celebrated the 60th year anniversary of missionary work here in Taiwan this week. We had Elder Kitchen here too who was one of the original 4 who opened the work here in Taiwan. Super cool stuff. Things have come a long way since then.

Mostly everything was centered around that. It was super fun to go to this super huge celebration and see SOOOO many past friends of mine. It was especially neat to see people from my first area that still recognized me! Super cool stuff. I even saw Elder Coleman there from the Taizhong mission. Fun times.

We will be having a great month ahead of us. Lots of baptisms on the horizons and lots of fun Pdays. What could I ask for more than that?

Thanks for all the love and support!

Have a great week!!