Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 30: in which I teach a Queen song to small children, and in which I figure out a little more about "the real world"

Hello everyone! It's P-day again! We're going on a hike this afternoon to Lion's Rock, so I'm wearing jeans! It's so weird. I feel more constricted than I've felt in months. But I also feel so so free!!! As we were walking down the hill from our apartment to the market, I felt like running and jumping off things. So it's probably a good thing that we wear skirts all the time--it keeps me dignified
Today's t-shirt of the week is currently being worn by my lovely companion, Sister Chan! It's pink and black, and says, "Women drss alike all over the world. They drss to annoy other women." I love it. It's so sassy that it doesn't even matter that 'dress' is spelled wrong.

So kids English class might be one of my favorite times of the week. Either that, or my most dreaded time of the week. It's funny how you can't always distinguish between anticipation and dread. On any given Saturday, we could have anywhere from one to ten kids, ages ranging from one to ten, and hyperness ranging from one to a gazillion. The sound of the day for this week's class was 'long i.' We usually practice reading simple words with flash cards, teach them about eight new vocabulary words, watch a short video, and then learn a song. So since it was 'long i' day, naturally I thought of the song, "I like to ride my bicycle. I like to ride my bike. I like to ride my bicycle. I like to ride it where I like." SO MANY LONG I SOUNDS! It was perfect, and the kids loved it.

This week has been even more exhausting than usual, which means I've been crazier and weirder than usual. Sometimes I'll be totally fine, and then all of a sudden I'll just get this weird look in my eye and start singing songs from musicals under my breath and I won't be able to sit still. And then I'll crash and fall asleep in the middle of language study. It's a good thing Sister Chan loves me haha. After an especially long day, we were kneeling down to pray. I rested my head on the floor to start out with, but as soon as I started saying the prayer, I picked my head up... and bumped right into Sister Chan's head. So we just sat there, trying really hard not to laugh, for about 10 seconds. And then we just couldn't hold it anymore and we cracked up right there with our eyes closed for a good minute or so. I like to think that Heavenly Father was laughing with us, that it was just part of the prayer. And then the next day, while Sister Chan was praying, I fell asleep. Like, really asleep. I didn't hear her say Amen, and I just kept kneeling there with my eyes closed until she finally woke me up haha.

One of the ward members has become one of our really good friends. She's so willing to help and always calls to check on how we're doing, to see if we need help. We just love her! One day she helped us while we were teaching English to A, one of our investigators, and I was teaching some opposites like hot/cold, big/small. When I taught near/far, I started singing the song from Titanic (Near, Far, wherever you are...) and they thought it was just the funniest thing. And so one night I called this ward member, and she said that she'd been feeling really unhappy today. She started crying and telling me all of these problems, saying that she knew that God prompted me to call her because she needed someone to talk to. So we talked for a while, and I asked her if she wanted us to sing a hymn for her. She said, "No, but could you sing Titanic for me?" And with no hesitation, I put on my best Celine Dion impression and sang "My Heart Will Go On" right there into the phone. Sister Chan and the other sisters in our apartment and I had the giggles for about an hour afterwards. The things we do as missionaries...

Jesse and Drew, I usually boast about my missionary cousins about once or twice a day, and last week I was talking about how Drew is in Spain and Jesse is in Africa to a couple of our members, A and L. And A said, with a huge smile on her face, "Wow, Africa! Wow! Jesse must be so much smarter than you!" And I said, laughing, "Yes, he definitely is." She said, "No, really! He must be way smarter than you, and stronger, and more spiritual too!" And I said, still laughing, "I know, it's so true!" And she said, "No, I mean it! I mean Hong Kong is really easy compared to Africa. He's so much braver!" And it's so true haha :) I love you two so much! Keep being awesome!

Do you remember me talking about the girl we visited in the hospital? Well, we went and visited her again recently, but this time was very different. She has been in a coma for almost a month now, and her brain is no longer active; basically, her body is still alive, but it just felt like her soul was gone. We visited with her older sister, who kept talking to S like she could hear, even though the doctors all said that there's no way she could hear now. And there was just a strange, overwhelming calm in the room, a calm that was heavy, like a really thick blanket pushing down on us. I didn't really know what to do. I felt like I should say something, but I wouldn't even know what to say in English, much less in Chinese. So I just suggested we sing a hymn. We sang, "Nearer My God to Thee," and the last verse really touched me in a new way. "Or if on joyful wings, Cleaving the sky, Sun, moon, and stars forgot, Upward I fly, Still all my song shall be, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee." And I knew that S was listening from wherever her soul was. I just felt it. The other side has never felt so real before; the veil has never been so thin for me. It reminded me of something Elder Holland said once, something that I've been thinking about a lot recently: "The mission is as close to the 'real world' as you can get." Since we are trying to just focus on what God wants us to do, the world's distractions are eliminated, and I can see more clearly than ever what really matters, what is REAL. All that matters are the things that are eternal. This life is just a tiny point on the eternal timeline, so why worry about things that end with this life? Family and God, that's what matters. I've never been so grateful for my family, and I've never felt closer to Heavenly Father. I've never felt my weaknesses so keenly, but I've never felt God's love for me so strongly. That's what this life is about--we had to leave our Heavenly Father's presence so that we could learn how to come back. This life is about constantly getting nearer to God, and that's all we're trying to invite others to do. I love this mission so much! I'm so tired, and maybe a little crazier than before, and I feel like my body is slowly breaking down, but it's so worth it!

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