Hello mine beautiful family! You may have noticed my letter is delayed by one day, which is because we went to the temple today. Even 10,000 angsty college students protesting couldn't stop us this time. It actually is pretty interesting, the protests. It doesn't really affect us over here too much, we just have a ton of people who think that we're involved somehow and want to talk about it. But the missionaries in Central are probably getting really bored, not allowed to go out finding.
This week has been really great. Nothing too crazy, but the work keeps on keeping on. Our investigators are doing well, especially Brother Wong. His wife has really been helping him learn, and though he's busy with work he still has had some time to read the Joseph Smith experience of getting the plates in the Book of Mormon, and she's been explaining it. Surprising how useful it is. Actually it's not surprising, we literally tell everyone we meet that the family is important and the best place to learn and apply the gospel. Gema. That was Chinese.
Finding has been cool too. We got a chance to go district finding and do splits with our district leader, Elder Osbourne, who gave some great advice on using questions and silence and the pictures in the pamphlets to sort of guide the people to learn things on their own. It's part of a big push in our zone to improve teaching, which has been fueled by a super cool video by Elder Bednar and the Sunday School General President Brother Osguthorpe on the Mormon Channel, about Teaching No Greater Call. I highly recommend it for anyone with a teaching calling. He talks a lot about making the learners agents unto themselves but giving them chances to put in effort, think of things themselves, etc. Really interesting, because it sort of shows the doctrinal link to a lot of the teaching skills that we've sort of known of before and are attempted in secular education (though gospel and secular learning is really different). I really love learning and developing this skill. It really is so fun.
I am now in the last part of 2nd Nephi. This ongoing (9th) read through of the Book of Mormon on my mission has really been changing me. It is so, fun. There's no real way to describe it. I recall Sister Palmer once sent some mission prep notes to me, and one of them was something to the effect of "have a love affair with the Book of Mormon". That advice has been realized.
I have 2 things to say about General Conference, which I can't wait for. One is an idea that I gave some members in our ward. 3 step process. One, prayerfully choose a friend. Two, for the next few weeks (or days for you) pray and maybe even fast that a talk will answer that friend's need and lead them into the church or activity. Three, do anything you can to either get them there at conference, or if not carefully watch and find which talk is meant for them and let them read it. It is my testimony that if we all do this, miracles will happen. General Conference is an amazing thing. I know that the leaders of the church are not giving their own views on things, they are giving revelation from God for our individual concerns. This is my testimony, because I have felt those miracles for myself.
The second idea about General Conference is a sort of study plan that I have. I have noticed recently as I read through last Gen. Conf. that almost every talk essentially has an invitation attached to it. I propose that we all take note of and record what that invitation is, then in the coming weeks and months we follow them. It's that simple.
I am still mightily enjoying the boxed food sent by you. I made the stroganoff with ground pork, because we have some really cheap ground pork at a street market under our house (which is called Sui Wo Street Market), and I ate it all in two meals. I wish the Church News hadn't spoiled the surprise, that would have been hilarious if Elder Gong just started speaking in Cantonese without warning. I wish Pres. Uchtdorf could do his talk in German. I still add two spaces after a period. When did that rule change?
Don't go to too many cool places without me, you'll have to repeat them all. We can save the good ones for when Joseph and David are gone. Love you Mom. You have told our ward the truth. Today at the temple there were two Indian couples going through for the first time and getting sealed. So cool.
Thanks for the effort, at least. I suppose it's the thought that counts. On Saturday we went to a ward member's house, and his daughter (who was I think a little older than you) reminded me of you. She was super busy with school and church and sports and stuff. Luckily I had our family photo out to show them my superior sister. By the way, when you guys have a new family photo you can send it. I use it a lot.
Your name in Chinese (which is one of the few non-celebrity names to have a real translation, you're lucky because it's a Bible name and they all got translated) is pronounced leih baahk ga, or you would read it lay back ga. How do you feel about that? What language are you learning in school, and how goes it?
I don't comment on political things, unfortunately, but if I did I would say that while politically China and Hong Kong are not the same (sort of) and while the people politically have a barrier, the culture and the family relations between the two lead me to believe that they will always be at least loosely connected.
I will tell you what the point of the academics is. 1) to actually learn the stuff, because though much of the homework is not the most useful, the work and repetition will teach you the things more effectively then not laboring, and knowledge is its own reward, and 2) the hard work will prepare you for your mission and life. Plus the best scholarships go to those who are willing to look beyond the pointless drudgery and system and see the money there for the taking.
They are all just so mean to you. A lot of people think that you are older than Rebecca when they see your photo, because you're sitting really far in front and look a ton taller than her. How is violin going? Do you have any plans for Halloween? And how do you like middle school now that you've been there a while? I really loved Midvale Middle School, happy place. Are you learning a language yet? Your questions also apply to Rebecca, and vice versa.
If it makes you feel better, these days I tell people that I plan to do gung ching, which is engineering, but I haven't decided which, maybe gei haih or dihn ji, which means mechanical or electrical. And that would be cool to go on a study abroad to China. Plus I think that President Hawks (my mission president) is going back to work at BYU when he gets back. :)
The choir agrees with the preacher. When I read that, I had the idea that all of Judaism and Israel thought that the Messiah would come and solve their national problems, that He on his own would force a change on the world and thus redeem them in a physical sense. But as you said, his ministry was short and personal. It was centered around the Atonement, but the example he set was also essential. When I think of the New Testament I realize that most of it is not complex political or religious discourse based on a scientific study of God, it is Jesus’ example and all the teaching and Gospel that the Apostles learned from watching him. That's why when they chose a new apostle they looked for someone who had seen Christ living. He changed the world because he lived perfectly and left it up to his disciples to tell others, and left it up to the natural goodness of his life and the power of his atonement to change everyone who heard and accepted it. And frankly, if the example that he had set had been in the context of a national conqueror, how would it help any of us? I have never found myself in need of an example of how to redeem an enslaved nation by military means. That's what video games are for. Our lives are composed of person by person interaction and individual moral agency, and that's what Jesus showed us how to do, and that, as you have said, is ultimately what will change the world. Now the choir is preaching to the preacher.
I did something very similar to the Discovery Space Center once called Star Lab, it was super cool, though I think you were better because Star Lab had no weapons. I assume when you mention how one person's mistakes can ruin everything you are referring to attacking a (presumably) neutral ship while lifting off. Har har har.
I can draw a loose parallel to missionary work. In a lesson, there are (ideally) 5 parties operating. You. Your companion. The investigator. The member. And the Spirit. Essentially, you all have to work together to get anyone to progress, to feel the spirit, to convert. And a lot of that comes down to preparation, on the part of the 4 of us who are not omniscient, and trust. you have to trust your companion to do well and not hog it all yourself, you have to trust the member to help the investigator, and hardest of all you have to trust the spirit to work on them, give them some quiet time to feel the truth, trust that they are spirit children of God and they will accept this plan again. Data data data, I cannot make converts without revelation.
Love you all, and I feel your prayers. Missions are great, let me tell you. They are never easy, rarely just fun, but so worth it.