Hello family and friends! I am so grateful that it is Monday! We are in Tai Po today, right near the borders of Mainland China! Pretty exciting, huh? After emailing, we'll venture into the rain to buy some fake jade and some cheap clothes. This is the life!
T shirt of the week: "I shoot people." It has a giant camera with a bullet coming out of it. I thought it was kind of clever actually!
This has been another challenging week, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, but do you want to know the miracle? I can honestly pray every night and thank the Lord for these experiences, because their role in my growth and progression as a missionary and a person are so readily evident. I feel stronger and braver than I've ever felt before! And I've never been so aware of my weaknesses either. I'm praying harder, crying harder, working harder, smiling harder, laughing harder, sleeping harder than I've ever done before, and I'm not even one-third of the way done with this mission thing! You won't even recognize me when I get home! And I'm not just saying that because of how much weight I'll have gained by then haha. (Just kidding. Kind of?)
So the other day I saw a sign advertising for the annual Cantonese Opera Festival. Of course, I immediately thought of last summer's wonderful opera experiences with Granny and Rebecca, especially singing La Donna Est Mobile and the Queen of the Night's song in the kitchen while washing dishes. And then I noticed one of the special events on the poster: Opera Sing Along. YES. They have a sing-along section at the festival. And if I weren't a missionary, I'd be there in a heartbeat haha.
Speaking of singing, turns out I have a solo in the mission Christmas program! Yes, that's right, I'll be hitting the big stage! The elder in charge of the choir just kind of told me (no, not asked, told) in the middle of rehearsal haha, so that was a lovely experience. I don't think my ears have ever turned so red before, but I did alright anyways.
Good news! We've been doing a lot of praying and thinking about Raven, and we talked to her the other day about her baptismal date. And we challenged her to get baptized before the end of the year, so we're planning on December 30th! We're praying so hard that everything will work out! She is so clearly prepared, and we just love her! She is a light!
We've had a lot of trouble finding new people to teach recently, which means we've been doing quite a bit of finding, and I'm actually starting to love it. Secretly. Don't tell Sister Taylor quite yet haha. I talked to a few school girls this week, and at first I got really nervous before talking to them, but turns out they usually are kind of in awe of these 20-something year old American girls, so really there's no reason to be nervous! It's all an adventure, and even the straight-up rejection by the old po-pos (old grandmas) can make it fun if you have a good attitude about it!
In English class, we were teaching a bunch of idioms, one of them being "Keep your chin up!" And Paul, our English class regular, asked, "So what does 'Keep your chin down' mean?" So now we've started saying that all the time haha.
I love this quote by Elder Maxwell: "Consecration is the only surrender that is also a victory." It's so true. When we truly consecrate our wills to Heavenly Father, that is when we truly succeed, truly find happiness. Sacrificing for this mission is the best choice I've ever made, and I love the trials, the challenges, and the small, daily victories. I love the people, I love the food (although maybe not what it does to me or my bowels haha), I love the work, I love the Lord. And I love all of you!