Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov. 25, 2013 - Chinese Etiquette & Helping Investigators Feel the Spirit

Hello Family. This week I will be slightly shorter because I watched a couple of the Bible videos already, and we have to go play RISK afterwards, which is an essential P-Day activity, very important to missionary work.

This week was great. We had two investigators turned over to us, both of whom have been taught the First Lesson, and one investigator who we found by our own efforts, e.g. street finding. One thing that I have learned very quickly since coming on a mission is that nothing in missionary work is ideal, especially not the investigators. You do find some people like my first baptism kid who accepted baptism on the first visit and always calls to confirm appointments himself, but not many. Most are hard to schedule, hard to get to read, hard to give a really strong desire to. That, as I have found, is probably the most difficult and most essential thing that we do, is giving people a desire to progress. If they don't have that they won't keep commitments and won't develop faith, and it's something we have very little control over.

This week we were facing that challenge with A-Keuhng, who is very happy to meet with us but will not accept baptismal date, go to church, read a lot on his own, or feel the spirit very much. Elder O'Gara explained to me that one of the most important things we can do is have some spiritual experience with them, or help them see during a lesson what the spirit feels like, because if we can do that they'll want it again, and then they're trapped.

I feel like one of the tough things for me is that it's impossible to describe to people or convince them of the power of the atonement, which is the center of our message and gospel. I have experienced the edifying and sanctifying power of the Atonement many times before and on my mission, and I know that that is the real reason we teach people, or accept this gospel for ourselves, is because we all need that power and the change it brings. But it's just not possible to let other people know that in a street lesson. Very few Hong Kong people want to change, to be honest. It’s one of the biggest challenges, besides the business.

Taught an atheist kid last night, and he started just discussing a lot of unnecessary stuff, lots of weird kind of anti material and ideas from "1984" (George Orwell (he he Joseph)) about brainwashing or something, and the rest of us in the lesson spent about 10 minutes trying to just discuss things with him and answer his questions, basically wasting time, until E.O'G randomly burst in and cut the kid off mid sentence. I got nervous, because E.O'G occasionally gets irritated and rude to really annoying people while finding, and I think walking away from someone is more acceptable when you just met them on the street instead of scheduled a lesson for them. He basically said that he respected the kid’s thoughts but that he had no interest in hearing them, and that as missionaries we really just want to help him understand us. It was a little rude, but actually quite appropriate, since we had little time and no one else was really willing to say anything to get things on track. SO, we taught the rest of the lesson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and challenged him to read. I think that illustrates a very important principle that is worded well in some verse in the Book of Mormon but I don't remember where. Basically, if we don't believe we won't understand. There is no point in trying to argue an investigator into belief using logic. We have to help them believe, then the spirit helps them understand. That actually takes a load off us as missionaries. Our job is not to teach people these huge complicated concepts and get them to understand them to the point where they're baptized, it's to give them experiences with the spirit, teach them how to repent, and let the Holy Ghost do the rest. That is true of us as well. We need to believe, and then trust God will help us understand. Otherwise it's not faith.


You go first today because I always run out of time for you. Your dance sounds like it's going great. I remember the Arabian dance as just having the 2 people, where they do a lot of crazy lifts and stuff, kind of acrobatic. Help me remember which part it actually is (unless you're so good you are the Arabian acrobatic girl).

It is a good thing that you have taken my mantle upon you and spearhead the religious discussion in your classes, my sister. Now that I am away in this strange land the heavy burden of maintaining the impeccably righteous and in all ways scholarly Morrell fall to you (because David's too goofy, Joseph too cynical, Abby too young and quirky). Bear it well or depart.


Here I am trying to rid the world of silly religions that lack the truth and lead the sons of man astray, and you, my younger brother, are actively striving against me! As I live, you shall cease this despicable idolatry and hearken unto the words of your siblings. Pray I do not return to end this heresy in person, for you would not abide such a chastisement, wretch that you are. Harden not your heart, and heed my words, or at least send me a copy of some of your ideas that I might counsel you in wisdom and the cunning of the world, not that I would ever take part in such heathen practices. And as for your various repulsive sensory and artistic experiences, I say wo wo wo unto such as reject the arts and the craft of his family, both literal, clerical, and academic. Censure your soul, youngling, lest you be pierced with spears or other sharp things.

Hello, my esteemed Father.

I feel like before my mission I would always point out Pride as my fault, but I didn't really understand how I was prideful. I just had a feeling I was. Since working with Elder O'Gara, however, I really have come to understand what it means to be humble and how lacking of that I was, and still am. E.O'G is a very nice guy, not super picky, not really annoying, but he is also very quick to correct things, and expects me to follow his example as a trainee. That was really hard for me at first. I thought that he was just being dumb, or refusing to discuss things or explain his reasoning, and I would often assume that he was wrong because he had gone against an opinion of mine that I considered absolute truth. Over time, however, I've learned that unless I stop trying to get my own way or argue, or even follow half heartedly or grudgingly, I would never be able to see the truth behind what he was saying and I'd never grow from it. It's the same as it is with Heavenly Father, but I'd never been able to really apply that to people who I considered imperfect. So I feel like I've learned a ton. How to improve finding, teaching, etc. If I could become the most humble missionary I can, I will be happy when I come home. It's the quality of not just accepting criticism, but seeking it out, and not just listening to people's advice, but wholeheartedly applying it.

That reminds me. That principle has been heavily applicable to my language study, because in the MTC I thought my Cantonese was great, and here I realize it's not. So I've been trying to listen to advice more, which has been hard but good. Just wondering, how did you learn German on your mission? What worked for you?

Almost forgot to mention. Yeah, in keeping with my statement about un ideal missions, one kid never showed up, the other's phone number was lost, and he was probably mandarin speaking, so we need to somehow find him and then turn him over to the mandarins. Yeah, underwhelming. But finding them was still a miracle, helped me a lot.


I am joyful to hear of your online strategic exploits in the game of kings. Do continue, but beware I will return to pawn yo face. So be ready. Also, you should try Chinese chess. It's weird, but cool. I like the coding idea, and I can only hope that your words of warning are a reference to a certain fictional narrative involving pencils...


I feel like you love me most because you sent me twoooooooo letters! You can send me a DVD of your recital, we all have little DVD players, though it might be slightly rebellious, not sure. I definitely want to hear it. I love the First Noel. 12 songs is a ton. How did you do it? I would be exhausted, and I'm way more diligent and naturally talented than you. And I LOVE big black stick figures.

I love them.

Hey Mom,

Sorry, you get short stick this week being last, and I don't have a ton of time, but I will endeavor to comfort your weeping soul.  Writing late last week made me realize how much you guys must depend on me. If I stopped writing you'd probably all just weep all day.

The etiquette dinner sounds nice. Etiquette is rough in China. Everything has bones in it and you spit them out on the table. Really. And, my chopstick skills are rough, so that's always slightly comical. Our ward mission coordinator “chenged” us out to a place that served really good tomato stuff and rice, not very Chinese but delicious. People in China give the missionaries a lot of food, which is nice. It's very weird to think of another musical come and gone without me there. It's such a big deal at Hillcrest, and through the lens of nostalgia it seems very nice. While I was there it was pretty boring. Thanksgiving should be interesting. We are making turkeys and potato and coco rice, very weird. Sorry, not a lot left to say and my hands are literally frozen right now, dumb air conditioning. Your little Star Wars reference made me laugh and feel bad for you.

WOAH almost accidentally discarded this. That would have been tragic.

P.S. I tried to plug in the camera but the computer is all characters and I can't figure it out. I'll ask E.O'G for help next week. Sorry, but that's me. I don't like cameras.

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