Hello my family! We started emails a little earlier today because we are going to go practice music today for an upcoming mission tour/conference with the area presidency. They want us missionaries to sing “How Great Thou Art”, so we've been practicing that in our companion study every day for a week. Mom and Dad will be proud to know that while my voice is not particularly nice, I am not great at playing the piano, and I don't have very perfect pitch, I can at least hear when I'm wrong, I can read music, and I can figure out the bass part to a song if given time. So that'll be fun. It is taking up all our time today, which is a pity, because we have an apartment back in Shau Kei Wan that is in need of serious cleaning.
This past week we've had 2 summer missionaries, Brother Yeung and Brother Geung, ages 17 and 16 respectively, who've been with Elder Yim and Lee, respectively. They've been pretty fun. It tends to shake things up a bit when you have new missionaries, and our apartment now has 3 bundei speakers, which has done wonders for my opportunities to SYL (sorry Elder Ferrar, but I still have to explain everything I say in English). The drawback: 6 people using one too small kitchen to cook meals that have to be finished in one hour. 6 people using one bathroom in the morning. 5 people who take evening showers. Lots of shoes to bring dust in. Lots of food being eaten over the floor because our only table is being used as an office space. Very messy.
The work has gone on pretty well this week. We haven't been quite as crazy as we had been a few weeks ago, because people got baptized or became a bit busier. But we still have had a ton of chances to teach recently, and really think about how to teach better. I feel like my teaching now is definitely more powerful, shorter, more relatable, more sincere, more scriptural, etc than before, and a lot of that is because of training Elder Ferrar. We spend a lot of time going over the fundamentals, which I unsurprisingly still have a lot of room to improve on.
The longer I have been on my mission the more and more apparent the importance of the spirit has become. I have come to realize that in a lesson the most important thing that we can do is not actually teaching the doctrine that we have planned on, but rather helping the investigator feel the spirit, essentially have a spiritual experience, and through commitments and follow up help them to have more spiritual experiences on their own, a full understanding of the gospel is helpful for investigators and eventually essential for salvation, but not the first or most important step of conversion. Take the father of King Lamoni, who was converted pretty thoroughly after the first lesson he heard. He definitely didn't understand all that Aaron and his brethren taught, but he felt the spirit and the spirit that he felt gave him an intense desire to be reconciled to God and put off the natural man, to gain the happiness that Aaron had testified of. It was the spiritual experience that he had and later continued to have that converted him. When we teach, if we are not helping people feel the spirit and calling them to repent and thereby continue to feel the spirit we are going to have a really hard time getting them to progress.
Sorry for how wordy I've become. I started reading Jesus the Christ again, which always seems to have this effect on me.
Your email has just arrived, I shall respond shortly. I know that the message we share is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have spent a lot of time on my knees asking if it is true. I still haven't seen an angel, but I know it's true. Nothing false could make such an impact in my life. I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is true. I've felt it work in me to the remission of my sins, and I've been privileged to see it work in others. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that as we live the gospel unashamedly, unwaveringly, and untiringly, we are walking back to Him.
Your oldest and most handsome Son,
I should add a bit about our 65 in July goal. We got 48 people baptized. I am proud to say that I was a bit surprised we didn't make it. I won't go into too much detail, because it's hard to describe how much that goal has meant to our mission and to me individually, but let me say that while we failed, we didn't fail. The average baptisms for August is somewhere around 20 something. We more than doubled it. We set a mission record for people baptized on one day, the 27th of July. 30 people. And there was a great remission of sins. But we still didn't make the number. The thing is that the main miracle of this goal was not the number. It was the desire to be more obedient, to do more; to be better that it gave us, or at least me. They have set a new goal for 65 in December. I was so happy when I heard. Goals have an amazing power. That goal changed me. I am so grateful for it.
Not too much time, other things to write.
I would say that I don't have vacation, but while my hours are actually higher than yours, I get paid directly in eternal progression and happiness, so I think it's in my favor. I think my relation with the ward is pretty good. I always try to be super positive to them, and participate a lot in class, so at the very least they know my Chinese and gospel knowledge is good enough that they can ask me questions when no one is talking and it gets a bit dead.
We go to Ward Council and one of the companionships goes to PEC as well. The members definitely love us, though I really do feel that there is so much untapped potential in the ward that I really haven't started exploiting well enough. I want referrals to come from them and get baptized. That'd get them excited.
I almost typed Barbara for some reason, maybe because that's what Dad would write. Stan sent me one email once about his research, I think about the phrase 'even that to' which I found quite fascinating. I think we could go on some bike rides when we get back. Obviously not mountain biking, but it's nice just to ride around. And by the time I get back people will be getting more independent, you'll have more time. I feel like the mom in our apartment sometimes, I clean a lot. And I'm the go to guy for English advice because I find the grammar really interesting.
I'm almost half way done on my mission but honestly I keep forgetting. Pretty weird. I don't feel bad about what I've done so far, and I feel excited for the future. So you should too!
I know what you mean. After we went running all the time in Ma On Shan I realized that I could actually run and it wasn't too hard. Very surprising for me, to be honest. I hope we'll have a chance to go running or hiking when I get back. You always hated it before but now maybe there's potential. Finding is interesting because it is sort of a mental and physical work out. Obviously you're walking around in the hot sun, but the toughest thing is that you can't let yourself get distracted or go off on conversations. When you do your mission, remember that you only have so much time to think per day, and you can't waste it on daydreaming about games or movies. It's tough.
Your wording has a pleasant twist to it which Joseph also contains but is expressed more ridiculously through you. A career as a writer or other writing related careers is not too far out of it to consider. Alas, I am caught lacking sufficient time to word my thoughts. Perhaps in the future our correspondence will be more effulgent. Repugnant. Once in the Book of Mormon.
What is this, taking breaks from swimming?! You have a legacy to consider. It is clear Joseph will not take up the mantle, and David, though amusing, is rather too wooden to swim. There can be no breaks, my dear sister, for yours is an inheritance of grandeur and liquid. Get too it.
Also, locked doors breed locked hearts.
I love the Artemis Fowl books. Top class. I am glad I have so many likeminded readers in the family. And obviously the missionaries are coming over to see you. Duh. Also, why would I come home now? That question concerns me...