Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 12, 2015 - Don't Just Read, Don't Just Study, But Search the Scriptures

I learned an important principle of obedience both from my own life on the mission and from President Hawks, which is that doing the right thing first is the key to obedience. If you put it off, it doesn't get done and then you don't fully obey. That is very true of P-Day, personal study, morning and evening schedule, and life. And in that spirit today I'm emailing you first and putting in the pictures first.
I mean, the name says it all, right?  Exclusive lactima ser topiony z oliwkami.  If you can figure out what language that is, I'll give you a sticker.  Illegible as it may be, this was my snack food for the week.  Very rarely do we find cheap chesse, even less with bits of olive studded in it.

This is the frozen food section in the supermarket.  You'll notice lots of dumplings and dim sum.  The dim sum is essentially what Elder Tse lives off of.

This is the soy sauce section.  I never really looked for Soy Sauce in the U.S., but I would guess it occupies about a 7th the space as the Chinese variety.

This is a random picture, and the bottom is a graph charting our progress on some numbers that President Hawks wants us to keep.  The shadow is a young man's arm and a camera.
This was a pretty good week.  We had some decent success, especially with two new investigators, Stephy and Frankie.  We found Frankie about 3 or 4 weeks ago but have only really started meeting last week, and Stephy was turned over from the sister missionaries in Kwai Fong.  She's also great, and she brought her little sister to church on Sunday. It's just tricky because whenever we meet we have to make sure there are members there and find a relatively public place, avoid all appearance of evil and all.  I don't know if Dad ever had to worry about that, I'm guessing you had it harder than us since you actually visited people's houses, where as we usually teach at the chapel.  Obviously Mom had it easy.

Our finding recently has been a little tough.  It's always harder in the winter.  Though it's much more comfortable than the summer, everyone is busier and people are afraid of the cold.  Finding is always an interesting thing because so often you have very little control over the situation.  Usually when you don't have success it's not necessarily because of what or how you're doing things, it's just that there's no one willing to stop long enough to say anything.  So in that sense finding becomes more of a test of faith, endurance, optimism, and your understanding of the way the gospel relates to the most common and fundamental parts of people's lives.  I'd love to force Joseph and David to practice street finding.

I've been having a great time in my personal study recently, trying to focus more and really learn new things, and I feel that I've already been richly rewarded.  In that regard, I am primarily motivated by Grandpa Carmack's example from his mission.  It's easy to see what his first months of study did for him and his life, and I want to be like that.  Obviously I encourage you guys to do that as well, don't just read, don't just study, but search the scriptures and the teachings of modern prophets.

Abby, (Abby sent John her email in color so John is reciprocating.)
I think that it's funny how taahn baahk, or seut jihk, or frank you are about how you and Becca both hate the story you are writing.  I had a lot of ideas for books but I never really did much for writing them.  I always got super bogged down in details and sentences that I felt like didn't flow well.  Obviously Joseph has a lot more experience than I do.  It sounds like you got everyone to start writing stories.

It's weird to imagine you in middle school already.  I remember when I was in the swimming unit I was already doing swim team at Hillcrest, so I just destroyed everyone else.  The teacher gave me a special work out.  That made me feel pretty good about myself. 

I've been pretty chilly recently.  The temperature isn't too low but it's so humid here that it very quickly gets cold, especially in the morning doing studies.  The cold showers obviously don't help.  I've thought a lot about the cold showers since I started doing them.  When I started it was mostly about self discipline and because I wanted to be faster in the morning, but it quickly became more of a sacrifice to God.  Often I would feel like it was too big a sacrifice, to never enjoy a warm shower again.  But somehow it's come to mean something to be, like a personal vow or something.  And I feel that, silly as it is, I've been blessed for it.

Make sure you are working out hard and eating healthy!  Being in shape is a very good feeling, and you will be able to do it if you put your priorities on it.

Okay, I admit, the picture that Mom sent shows that you have changed a bit.  But not as much as Joseph and David still basically looks the same but he and your voices are way lower now.  I feel you on the sleep thing.  The worst feeling for me is when I wake up at about 6:20 am.  I can sort of tell that it's late, but I'm not sure, and I can't get back to sleep until I check the time (that reminds me, the watch you guys sent is great but the battery doesn't seem to work.  Was it on when you sent it?) and then I realize that I only have 20 minutes till my alarm goes off.  Ugh.  I analyzed a bit ago about why I actually get up on time, because a lot of missionaries will be a little late.  I think that it's not just wanting to be obedient, because I wanted to get up earlier before my mission too but always failed.  I think that I've really been able to develop more control over myself and more perspective.  Anyway, you always get sick and I think that I specifically told you about a year ago to not get sick so much.  What does "one of my beehives" mean?

I just want to let you know that I have been drinking a lot of hot chocolate recently.  Because I'm cold, and because I'm sometimes too lazy to cook pancakes (though the syrup is amazing) and I just have hot chocolate and crackers.  I miss cereal.

I do recall that story.  I think the part that I liked the most was the idea of the space station being a front in the war.  It seemed so ridiculous but actually plausible.  And the bushmen.  And the bees.

Two notes on the Counter strike reference.  One, that's not new at all, I knew about that game 3 years ago.  Two, the most an FPS can ever have is tactics, unless each battle relates to some greater scheme or war.  Tactics in the positioning within a battle.  Strategy is the more overall scheme of the war.  Yes, RTS games should probably be called RTT games in most instances.

I feel to tell you that today a pork seller guy robbed me.  He usually likes me a ton because I always say hi to all the people who work in the market underneath us, and usually he gives me pork for ridiculously cheap, but today he gave me less than I asked for for the full price.  IT"S SO UNFAIR!!!

I too feel a bit sick today.  I worry it is because my sleep is interrupted by the multitudes of snorers around me.  I have lost one of my ear plugs, so my defenses are weakened.  Yes, it may seem useless and arbitrary, but think of the real purpose of school.  It is not to get into college, it is to prepare so that when one gets to college one's knowledge is sufficient to survive and eventually start actually doing stuff.  Some things are arbitrary, but I think that most have intrinsic value.  The Vietnam vet one, for example, in a couple years there won't be any living vets left and then you'll be happy for the chance to know it.  There's some guy behind arguing with a bunch of kids about being loud, and now he's using kung fu to threaten them, and now they're all kicked out of the library.  The devil is strong in this world.  You think I'm joking but seriously, that just happened.

I also enjoyed Elder's Quorum more, but to be fair Elder's quorum isn't based on age, but on priesthood.  There’s not a fixed age for the priesthood, after all.  Right now the policy of the church and God's direction is at least 18 years old, but people have been Elder's at much younger ages before.

Thanks for the letter on Monday as well.  That was a really interesting story that I've never heard before.  That'd take a lot of faith to do.  I think going on a mission was much easier for me and for Elders, because we don't have to wonder about whether or not we are supposed to go.  I just heard from President Hawks about the Lams as well.  I think that they're probably Chinese, because Lam is a very common name, but I don't know anything about them.  Honestly I'm a little sad because I'd like to have my exit interview with the mission president that was here for the majority of my mission, but I am happy to have a bit more time here.  You guys are all slothful.

Did you or your companions ever have to deal with being trunky, wanting to get home earlier?  I lean more towards the wanting to stay longer, but some of my companions have been a bit trunky.  Elder Tse doesn't always super enjoy missionary work but he's also not trunky at all.  He's a very interesting guy.  He's done basically every job that is legal and doesn't involve specialized training.  It reminds me that I don't have much working experience.  I'd like to do some work in some machine shops or stuff like that because I hope to be able to design and build things on my own.  My mission has given me a ton of experience with working with people, obviously.  I try not to think too much about that, though.  How's the remodel going?  Why do we need a second kitchen?

So, you haven't heard too much about Rachel because she's still a pretty new investigator.  We only met her about 5 weeks ago or so, but she's totally accepted what we've taught, she's read all the way to Mosiah 5 or 6 already, and she's been to church every week since meeting us.  She's a bit shy, but very humble and willing to learn.  She won't be baptized this next week because though we've taught everything, she needs a bit more time to think about her desire, maybe develop some more faith in herself first.  But probably soon.  Her only sticking point is that while she gave up tea, she doesn't like it.  But she's willing to sacrifice for it.

The investigator with the smoking problem we haven't met for a bit because he was busy last week.  It was interesting because when we talked on the phone it was clear that he hadn't been too happy and just didn't feel as good that week.  Then, he came to church again and felt better.  The influence of the spirit on him is very clear.  It'll probably be a bit for him to be baptized because he still hasn't quit smoking.  I've been doing a lot of personal study about how to make hard changes and repentance for things like this, where our own strength isn't enough.

Ben is still doing great.  He's just a solid kid.  We're really hoping to be able to visit his family, but for more than a month now we haven't been able to.  Oh well.

We have some other guy, named A Ho, who is about 60ish.  He's really willing to meet and read and pray, his main problem is that his relationship with his wife is poor and she doesn't like any churches very much, so he's nervous that she'll be opposed.

Ah, science fair.  Basically a chance for Dad to do some simple science experiments.  I have fond memories of science fair.  I recall some of mine were really not scientific at all, especially the wood burning one.  I've been thinking that I'll have to start getting active in some college science fairs to get some good graduate school options.  I think that the extra curriculars were my biggest weakness.

Love you all, family!

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