Heeeeeeelllllllo family. It was really creepy when I started answering this email because it arrived here only 45 minutes ago. Spooky, but that's how you can tell when to send it. Any later than that and I might not get it.
This week was very good. I'd been feeling like I was going through a very long humbling period, which is great, but not productive to missionary work. I don't know if I'm just desperate, but every time someone stops to talk to us or if I even testify before they mhdaakhaan (I have no time) us, it makes me feel like the day was a miracle and I have been richly blessed. So that's kind of funny. This week though, I actually did have some success. On Thursday, I stopped some kid walking by a park and he sat down for 10 minutes, took the first lesson, and prayed. Almost a new investigator, but we needed a concrete reschedule, and he didn't know when he was available. So that was amazing. Then, like 40 minutes later, stopped another kid and the same thing happened, except he did give a solid revisit, making BOB the first new investigator of my mission. THEN at dinner at the chapel, Nick, the first kid, called us and RESCHEDULED HIMSELF. That means 2 new investigators, one day, various other success, me very happy. Granted, BOB ended up not showing up (or we couldn't find him, he was unclear on where we'd meet.), but Nick showed up and is still awesome (though quiet, and he'll probably get switched to the Mandarin Elders, we think he's a Mainlander). Also, I had made a goal to talk to people on the train every train ride, which is incredibly hard. I don't know why but it's super awkward for me. I'm not great at casual conversation, but I read this article given by President Hawks about being a testifying missionary, so one Saturday, I had great success talking to people (though no one listened) and on Friday evening had a good discussion with a Catholic guy. He didn't have any interest, but my Cantonese was good enough and maybe it helped prepare him. He was really nice, so maybe later if something horrible happens to him he'll realize that Catholicism is flawed. Don't know.
Had a very cheap week of food. We had several people give us food this week, 4 chang outs. Oh, I have now officially eaten Chicken Feet, which were really boring to be honest. They're just steamed chicken feet, most of what's on them is just skin, and there's no real flavor, so, disappointing. Did have a very good dish with eggplant and dried fish in it. My taste has expanded a lot since coming here. I'll at least try basically anything, though there's plenty I still don't enjoy. Coconut, for example, or cantaloupe is now much more edible to me.
Read a great article about faith, you may have heard it before. Story of a farmer who needed an irrigation ditch to water crops during summer, but would never use it on Sunday. He would find some way to get water throughout the week and things would work out. Then one year, there was a drought, he absolutely needed to water, but received a witness that things would work out again. Although it looked like he was dooming his farm and maybe his family, he chose not to water, and it miraculously rained. I think that is a great example of true faith. Exercising real faith is doing things that will be, at best, a waste of time and at worst dangerous or deadly if the Lord doesn't support or help us. It is when we commit to these things and rely on our faith that miracles happen. Something that always bugged me was how it says in the scriptures and the prophet's words, we need to have faith. I never understood, how do we choose to have faith? What are you supposed to do? The answer, I think, is this. We can choose to do the things that require faith. We can choose to pay tithing, read scriptures, repent, bear testimony, go on a mission, follow the pioneers and abandon our possessions, ask for a priesthood blessing, give a blessing, and other things. We don't need to have absolute faith to do them, we choose to. And when we do them, and the Lord follows through, our faith is strengthened and confirmed. And if we're looking for them, we will find as many opportunities to try and strengthen our faith as we want, until we finally have a perfect knowledge.
(Part of Glen's letter to John that will help explain John's words to Glen)
up a metaphor when I was a missionary about how to deal with constant
rejection. I thought of it as if you
have a nice patch of green lawn. Either
you can fence it off so that no one can walk on it, or you can make it so strong
and hardy that it can handle any stress and still be green and beautiful. If you try to shield your psyche from
constant rejection, you can preserve your own sense of self but you don’t help
anyone. On the other hand, if you let
your grass grow like crazy, you can share it with others and not worry about
whether they mow it down a little. This
might not make much sense to you, but this is the mental image I envisioned to
help myself keep putting myself on the line.
If the grass is growing strong, it really doesn’t bother you much when
someone takes a swipe at it. If you try
to fence off your own psyche, you can’t reach other people very
effectively. When you reach the point
where you are talking to people on the street out of love and a sincere desire
to communicate with them, their response changes."
I like the metaphor, because it doesn't require fence building or lawn mowing. I think that fencing yourself off is an alternative that also doesn't require any growth or strength, and the other way encourages. I agree with the sentiment.
I had a very cool sort of revelation thing this week about what type of people we teach and how we teach. It occurred to me that the Lord will put people in your path based on what type of missionary you are. If you're lazy, he'll put no one in your path, if you're industrious, a lot of people. That is fairly well understood. But, I realized that the same is also true of how you teach. If you are a very careful teacher, who tries to not offend your investigators and is patient with them, you will find people who will take time, will maybe be easily offended, or in other words need more preparation before baptism. If you are a teacher who is very committed, who testifies boldly and challenges their investigators to be baptized, you will probably find more people who have been prepared and will respond well, because the Lord trusts you to teach them boldly and very spiritually. I for one would prefer to find a lot of the elect pre-prepped investigators, who will feel the spirit and respond to challenges to repent and be baptized. Obviously, this metaphor can't be taken too far. Having patience and tact and teaching to an investigator's needs are really important, and I don't want to drop people who don't respond to testimonies or who take a lot of time to be baptized. But, I think that if you won't testify boldly, you'll never find those miracle people who would accept a bold challenge.
Those are just my thoughts. I have considered how hard it will be to try to keep doing missionary work at home. I would say, one truth that comforts me is that you'll never regret trying to share the gospel with someone. If you ever feel like a middle aged man might be a good avenue for a friend to be converted, you know the gospel pretty well, so you've got no excuse.
Thank you for the advice, Dad.
Trying to write super fast, only 25 min left.
Your dream made me laugh. I've had some odd dreams, but I don't really remember any.
District meetings are on Tuesdays, in Ma on Shan, which is more convenient for us I guess. We're the only companionship in our district not in Ma On Shan.
Tell Eva that Book of Mormons are free now. We grab like 10 every time we go to Kowloon Tong, try to pass them out a lot, and Pres. Hawks wants us to have one in our hands at all times. Emails are done in a library, which is very pretty. We actually go to Kowloon fairly rarely. Kind of pricey, and we're spending about $80 on train each week as is.
We have a washer and dryer. We actually wash all the ward baptismal stuff, because most of the members don't have one. Yeah, living with Elder Ah Mu again. He makes a lot of food. He's Samoan, so, yeah.
Yeah, heard about Spencer, he emails me. I'm pretty careful on money, almost obsessively so. I really feel like buying treats is a waste. Tastes good for 3 minutes and then what. You wasted $7. So yeah, I'm okay.
I wish I had Deux Arabesques, but I don't think I could ever justify practicing it, so no. Sigh.
Love you Mom.
Sorry, you didn't say a ton, so I ain't got much backwards to say, iffen you picken it up. Jsut hang in there. Coding does seem really cool, I feel like I need to learn.
Convert the habibins, david.
In Hong Kong, they have gross ice cream bars made of beans. Beans. Not bean flavor, beans!
I do understand with the running. I actually really enjoy running, I'm just not great at it. We run in the morning 3 days a week, and Elder O'Gara really likes it, so hopefully I'll get good. It does wear your joints a bit, but the lack of chlorine and total body workout/immersion is a lot easier. You should do some weights for you arms, be all buff when I get back.
Keep it up with the book. See, me still waiting for it is like the faith I was talking about earlier.
Oh, I have felt recently like there were a TON of things that I really wish that I had done earlier that I didn't do. I therefore challenge you and David to
Go to the temple on your own once a month or so.
Actually plan and do some real work on organizing at least one YM activity. It sounds weird, but just do it.
Be nice to siblings. Lots of regrets there.
Keep up the inscribing, mein Bruder. IA sounds like it was okay. Don't skive off in school, I'll have to look down on you and apparently you're taller than me now, so it'll be awkward.
Love you girly. Sounds good with cleaning the playroom. Sorry, not a lot of time, but I hope you and Becca are being nice to each other. And Mom, she's probably still mourning me. Long after you guys have forgotten. Don't send me gold fish, I don't like them. How do you like the idea of jade bracelets? They have a lot here...
P.S. I'll try to be nicer, but only if you pay me money.
My companion is doing a stretch routine to be able to do the splits, so that's funny. I like the Laser Quest story. Isn’t Star Wars 7 coming out soon?
Keep up the dancing. I think I had a dream where you did dance, but I don't remember. You and Abby should read the Book Of Mormon together at night. I just thought of that, and I'm a missionary, so you need to do it. Make sure you actually discuss stuff. Please, actually do that. Tell me about it next week. I'm not joking.
How do you like the idea of a silk Chinese shirt thing? Like in the Nutcracker, but better? Lady Street has some...
And Mom might get a picture...
Don't know what the rest of you will get or if I'll be able to at all because the shipping might be too much, but...
I found out that there are Triads active, but not very active, and they keep the other criminals down. Hopefully I can become first Triad elder...