Thursday, January 2, 2014

December 30, 2013 - Missions Make You Malleable

Hello ngoh ge ga tihng, as they say in the Kong. This week has been pretty interesting. We had almost no success whatsoever. I feel basically all the way better from being sick, and I have been pretty happy, but we honestly had no success. We taught one lesson with a member present, one lesson without, and had one person come to church. The member present was an investigator who I've been meeting my whole mission who hasn't progressed much (though he has some, it's been pretty cool). The one person at church was Elder Tong's Grandpa, who despite being 82 walked what I think must be at least 3 or 4 miles early in the morning to go to a church that he doesn't belong too. Pretty amazing, but it might just have been that he wanted to see Elder Tong.

Pretty slow week all around, and we have been working pretty hard. On average we do at least 3 hours of finding a day, sometimes more. Christmas day we did 3 hours, no Christmas miracle. No one is available to talk to us. But I feel like it is not too bad of a thing, though. It is very discouraging at times, and all that walking around gives too much time for thinking. (A middle aged man just walked past me in the library and recited some Catholic prayer, I think for my benefit. Weird) Thinking for long amounts of time is usually bad on a mission. You get too introspective and depressed, or you get distracted. But our lack of success has been giving me some really strong motivation to improve things. I really want to become a good missionary. Really. And if we weren't having such hard times right now, I probably wouldn't want to that much. It makes me willing to practice finding techniques a lot, willing to humble myself and look at what I'm doing wrong, willing to try to learn Cantonese harder, etc. I feel like Missions are cool because you become very malleable. It's very easy to change yourself, because you have a ton of pressure on you. And hard times just amplify that effect.

I also have been thinking recently a lot about what Dad said. I think that I have not tried hard enough to love the people, not developed enough charity. I want to work hard, but when I work I'm doing just so that I can have a good mission, not to actually help people. So I'm going to try to serve more, try to be more sincere, and as always try to be more obedient.

Oh, fun tidbit, today we ate at possibly the most expensive buffet I have ever been to. It was in a hotel in Shatin, called 2+2 if you want to try to find it, all you can eat, lamb chops, curry, ice cream, all sorts of ridiculous stuff. So I feel pretty sick full right now. We were chenged out by some friends of Elder Tong's family. We both felt pretty guilty, because it probably cost them $700 or $800 for the two of us (Hong Kong, not US). But all we could do was make sure their sacrifice was not in vain.

Before I forget, thank you to everyone for the emails. Brent Gray, your email was really cool. I did feel like I understood what Christmas was actually about a bit more this year, as I think we all can. And Grandma and Grandpa have been pretty amazing at sending letters.

Well that was quite a work of art, my young sailouh (that means younger brother). I like how you implied that I would be able to do that given enough time, but I probably wouldn't. That level of eloquence eludes me, to my chagrin.

Your presents sound lovely and sophisticated, which sounds a lot like sophistry to me. But, to each his own. I got candy. So there.

Being on a mission really makes you realize what is most important in life, but unfortunately it doesn't make you not want the unimportant things. In fact, you find yourself wishing you had time for some pretty random stuff, like sitting on benches, or getting up early and not doing anything, or walking at night, or playing video games. Oh well. I think I really do need to develop greater desire to serve, so I'm with you there.

Carry on, my pen wielding Brother, until we again meet to say farewell. That's quite poetic.

Dear Dad,
We are pretty starved for music here. Your gift was appreciated, but I would like to listen to some rock and roll every now and then, and I didn't listen to music much when I was home.

I really do feel like I have some barrier, some incorrect attitude that I need to breach. Something about going out finding and actually working towards a goal instead of just putting in time. I appreciate the advice a lot.

The hardest thing for me right now is that I often find myself just not having much desire or excitement or hope for what we're doing. Actually, not often, I feel pretty happy and pretty good most of the time, but right now for example it's hard to really have a lot of hope towards what can be accomplished, or towards me becoming a really good missionary or even person. I'm not sure how to explain it, but it's pretty difficult to shake at times. Don't worry too much about me, but that's the hardest part right now. I do really want to work harder, but somehow I just don't feel right some how. Like there's something holding me back. But that's just me typing right now. If I didn't feel a bit down right now I probably wouldn't have this view.

Love you and miss you Dad. You've been a really good example to me.

It has been pretty chilly recently. Chinese people don't heat their buildings well, so church is always a bit frosty. You wouldn't like it.

Not much time, but I have been working on just caring more about helping people like them. One thing that I've found is sometimes I just have to imagine what people would look like as members, at church, because all the members are just so happy all the time. It is a pretty cool contrast.

I liked the call, but it was a bit weird. Email is fine for me, I think. Have a fun time in California.

That sounds impressive. You should find somewhere to use it, I don't know which of your friends have air soft guns. Chinese get pretty into that.

They don't have embellishments, they have things missing. Like open pipes, unclean water, corridors open to the outside. It's pretty weird. The middle aged man just blessed me again on his way out.

Becca & Abby,
Sorry, no time this week. Your presents sound pretty cool. I loved the stuff you got me. Make sure you read. Becca, I have no idea what that is, the dance thing. Send a picture. Abby, you got a ton of stuff. And that was a really good idea for David. I am going to send back some pretty awesome presents next Christmas, so get excited.

Love you all, but I need to focus, so goodbye.

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