Hello everyone! How is life in the good ol' US of A? Hong Kong is as exciting as ever!
T-shirts of the week: The first one seemed really normal at first. But when I did a double-take, I realized that it had a huge UK flag on the front. And printed underneath: New York, New York. Yeah, I don't know. Whatever. The second t-shirt: "Now I will eat ice cream for breakfast." Yeah. I almost offered to buy it from her. But then I thought that'd be weird.
So I guess the Hobbit is coming out or something? Because I can't escape the posters of Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel, the dwarves (not that I'd want to escape anyways). Every time I see them, my heart is filled with joy and love and serenity. Kind of like reading the scriptures, but a little different.
So last week, we were in the elevator of our apartment building with a woman, and we started talking to her. Her name is Emmy, and we just greeted her and did some small talk (Have you eaten yet? Our equivalent of talking about the weather.) And then we left the building to walk to church. After a minute or two, we heard, "Hello! Hello!" And she was running to catch up to us! And she asked me, "Do you have a coat?" (It's not quite cold enough for me to wear one yet, but everyone here is already freezing cold haha. Utah trained me well!) And I told her I did, but she still offered to give me one. So we kept saying no thank you, and then she walked with us for a ways on her way to work. And that evening we came home around 9:30. And I had a giant bag on my desk! And the other sisters told us that Emmy had found our apartment (we have a picture of Jesus on the door, so it's pretty easy to find) and dropped off two coats for me! And they were NICE coats. So now I have a beautiful, black trenchcoat! I am so blown away by how charitable the people here are. They follow Christ without even knowing it.
Raven asked us a couple weeks ago to help her learn hymns so that she can participate more in sacrament meetings, so we started last week with Silent Night. And can I tell you, there are few things sweeter than teaching someone who is just learning what it means to be a Christian the words to one of the most sacred, precious songs about him. I felt the Spirit so strong. What a blessing to be here, to help people come to know Christ. Their Savior. Who knows them perfectly. What a blessing. I wish I could explain it more fully the feeling I have as I'm typing about this experience, but there aren't words in the English language (or Cantonese) to describe it.
I've been learning so much these past few weeks, and I feel like I'm coming up out of that emotional valley I was in for a while. It's hard climbing out of valleys, because it's all uphill. But when you get out, the view is so worth it and you learn so much more. I've struggled (and am still struggling) with a lot of negative thoughts: about my body, about my lack of ability or competence, about things that I miss or that I gave up to come on my mission. And I was wondering what was wrong with me, why I couldn't overcome this negative thoughts. Why did they affect me so much? Am I doing something wrong, am I weak? Why can't I just choose to not think those things? But then I read a quote from a note Rachel sent me in the MTC. Albus Dumbledore once said, "In the end, Harry, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you." We all will struggle with those thoughts, and sometimes we can't always control what we think. But that doesn't matter. What matters is whether or not you push through those thoughts. What matters is your desires, your testimony. And when everything else was up in the air, when I couldn't stop the churning, frantic thoughts in my mind, the thing I held onto was my testimony of Jesus Christ. I don't know what to do or where to go, but I know Christ lives and that because he lives, I can live again with him. And I held onto that until the storm in my mind stopped. And the storms will always stop eventually. They will always stop, and when they do, the sun will shine through the clouds and you will see that you've made it to land, you've made it home.
I love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers, letters, and support!