Ouch. Rebecca's last line really got me in the spiritual kidney. (Rebecca's last line: P.S. I can’t really imagine you here anymore you’ve been gone so long).Before I write anymore I want you all to know there is a kind of strange guy who keeps muttering to himself and occasionally burping right next to me. Had to be said.
This week was the start of a new epoch (longer than an era, shorter than a period) of my mission; the not junior companion phase. And also the training phase. And the new companion I am training is Elder Ferrar, that's right Ferrar as in Ferrari, but more masculine and human. Elder Ferrar is from Lester England, a little shorter than I am, skinnier than me (after gaining 10 lbs in the MTC) and possessed of a luvly British accent.
On Thursday we went down to Kowloon Tong bright and early in the morning, lined up with trainers on one side and trainees on the other, and got paired up. Usually President Hawks doesn't know who we'll be with until that day. We ate some breakfast, then had a training session by President Hawks that was really great. We learned a bit about why exact obedience is so important, seeking for correction, and especially how your mission can set a pattern for the rest of your life. I really find that idea very cool, very important. How you live your mission will set a pattern for the rest of your life. If you live your mission trying to get by as far as obedience goes, being sort of hard working, etc, your life will fall into that pattern. I obviously haven't been the best missionary ever, but I am happy to think back on my mission and feel like it is a good pattern for my life. I have been trying to be obedient. I have been improving and growing. I'm not trying to brag about how great I am, because I'm not, but that's the point. You don't have to be great. If your whole life you're an average guy who is trying to be obedient, trying to work a bit harder, you will be fine. You will excel.
After the training we went back to our area, planned, and went finding. To answer Mom's question, his Cantonese is not great (unsurprisingly). Elder Ferrar said his companion in the MTC had better than average Cantonese, which I think made it a little easier for him to not learn a ton. It's not especially bad, but this is a rough language, and new missionaries struggle. I would say when I got here I was able to say a bit more than he could, but there's no way out of the pain at the beginning.
It has been really weird to be in charge all the sudden, especially with a comp that can't understand anything anyone is saying and can barely speak. But I feel pretty well prepared for it, I guess. The hard part really is figuring out how to stretch Elder Ferrar without pushing him too hard and getting him learning fast. I have been making him stop people and teach any parts of lessons that he knows. His Cantonese has already gotten a lot better from the beginning of the week. It is cool to be able to help him. It's also cool to feel like I can give advice to someone new. In the training meeting I was thinking, "What have I learned on my mission that I can tell this new Elder? What has been important to me?" Some of the answers are that even when things are unfair, you just have to work to get what needs to be done done. Don't worry about what your part or your fair share is, just work more. And be a representative of Christ in lessons, outside, in the apartment, and on your own.
Church was great this week. I can understand almost all of what they say, and the teachers usually thank me because I try to participate a lot and make it as good as possible. See above theory.
Mission work wise we are doing pretty great as well. We've got a lot of investigators right now, not all progressing but all with great potential. Pray for KK to make it to church on time. She's going to be baptized in July, it's been amazing to see her learn so much.
First things first, next week is temple week, so I will email on July 2. Whew, I thought I'd forget that. You'll be happy to know that I've been eating better and better. These days I make curry, vegetable and chicken soup with rice stuff, someone gave us some Mexican food (!), homemade spaghetti sauce, baked chicken legs, the works. And some fruit and vegetables. I've gotten into the habit of adding onion and peppers into everything, for flavor and nutrition.
I remember you saying you trained your last move. How was your trainee's French? How hard did you push? I've been trying to push Elder Ferrar, I think I need to step it up. I've also been trying to praise him a lot because I think he's pretty nervous to talk to people. I remember I was really bad at contacting people when I got here. He's better than me; he got the girl on the plane next to him to accept an invite to baptism. Seriously. I just worry about his Chinese.
Make sure you keep forcing everyone to go to the temple and read scriptures and stuff. As a missionary I just worry a lot more about these things. I really want Joseph in particular to be more prepared for his mission than I was for mine. Family Home Evening is a good chance to read Preach my Gospel and practice teaching. You don't need to hear this. You already know it.
Stripling warriors were only as good as their moms taught them to be. President Hawks’ biggest Book of Mormon heroes are the mothers of the Ammonites.
It's really weird to try to set an example, because I'm not used to thinking of myself as an example or role model, and obviously I'm not perfect at things either. I remember being annoyed at how Elder O'Gara would do some things. I hope I don't have any bad methods that Elder Ferrar doesn't like. We read a really cool thing on Christ-like Leadership in our trainer packets that really inspired me. It talked about how Christ's purpose was not just to get things done but to get leaders growing. I've been thinking about that a bit as I force Elder Ferrar to invite 3 people to be baptized this week. They haven't all accepted, but I think the biggest thing I can do for him is help him see that he can speak. He's pretty down on his Cantonese.
We have some investigator who says her marriage is not happy at all and she would've divorced, but she knows that other Christian churches are against it. Obviously this is an opportunity to help her see how the gospel can help and fix this problem, but I don't have a lot of experience. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear. What can we teach her that will answer this problem?
We were talking last night and I mentioned how my brother is basically already an author and showed them how thick the story outline (which I have yet to be able to read) is. Pretty cool, being related to a famous guy. Your writing is pretty impressive, going off your emails.
You have always seemed like more of a manager, less of a floor worker. I'd like to ask, have your plans or ideas for future career evolved at all recently? Off of the church advertising theme, there is a real and urgent need for good latter day saint directors and film writers, take my word for it. If you could get into that, it'd fulfill the film idea while also serving the church a bit and staying away from the nasty side of the film industry. The War Chapters could be a pretty epic movie. The director for 17 miracles and Ephraim's Rescue visited us in the MTC. There is a market.
Like I said to mom, I really think about and pray for you a lot to be well prepared for your mission. Go to the temple. Study the scriptures. Magnify your calling right now. You don't realize how valuable it is. Really, you don't. Everything in your life is connected. If you work on your calling more, other aspects will be lifted up. Light in one facet of your life will help purify, sanctify, and uplift other aspects.
TFT 2, now there's an interesting economic system. Forget trading one imaginary share in a company for some symbolic blips in a bank, now we're trading pictures of symbolic blips for other symbolic blips. What progress we've made.
I am glad you enjoyed Youth Conference and EFY. I didn't answer last week, OYA is like EFY but with a lot of outdoorsiness and less awkward teenager stuff. You'd probably love it. Do it if you get a chance. I loved OYA so much.
At English class (which I did a pretty boss job teaching, by the way) last week we had some kid, about 10, who rememided me disturbingly of you in a sort of skinny, twitchy way. Freaky.
I'm sorry, I don't have a picture, and it probably wouldn't look good to see a missionary staring at and photographing a picture of a female skin model. Sacrifice must be made. If you really want to see, put on some green eyeliner, stretch your face a bit and look at the mirror. Seriously, it was you. In the future.
Do you think I'd look good with a mustache? Hmmm....
I love the Book of Mormon. You can open it up to any page and go off on stuff for an hour. Are you reading it with Abby? Did you ever really? Why do you hate me so much? You used to be the one who remembered me...
I won't argue on the Institute thing, I'm just happy that you are admitting that swim team is good for you. Maybe what they should do with great grandparents is instead of adding greats just stretch it out like you do with words. She was my mmmmmom. My ddddddddddad was named John Throckmorten. Look him up.
I miss you all, but things are good for now. Probably the calm before the storm. Please be righteous. If you love me go to the temple. Tell Caroline I am planning on writing her today. It's harder than you'd expect.
Elder JoHn MOrrell