Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fwd: Week 53, in which I probably appear in tons of random people's photo albums across the world, and in which I reminisce about that one time when I had lice

Mom, I don't know if I ever thanked you for combing my hair every night for weeks as we combated those evil little creatures of the devil. But yeah, thanks. We've been on guard for a while now, because one of the sisters in our apartment is being harassed by those evil menaces, poor thing. She's amazing though, doesn't complain or burst into tears or anything! But good grief, these people in Macau are not equipped with the heavy artillery that is needed here. They're just asking for a lice infestation!

But I did find some Cinnamon Toast cereal!

T-shirt of the week: This is a pretty good one, kind of reminds me of some episode of Dr Who or something. "Meanwhile, an automatic, unfeeling army marches unstoppably into the future." (Autocorrect is telling me to change 'unstoppably' to 'unflappably' but that just sounds WEIRD.)

Oh Babylon, Oh Babylon, I bid there farewell...
 We've been working with Sister P, a girl about our age from Vietnam, for a few months now, and she just had her baptismal interview this week and will be baptized on Sunday! I'm so excited for her! She is the sweetest thing, and she has such a love for the gospel and for Jesus Christ. As we talked about her baptismal service, she just thanked us over and over again for teaching her. Little does she know, but I'm actually eternally grateful to her for her huge desire to learn and her amazing example of charity. She's really special and I just love her so much! The love you feel for people you meet in the mission is different from any other kind. I can't really explain it, but it's so exciting to see her love for the Book of Mormon grow and grow every day. And I'm so grateful for the members in the branch, because they are so good at embracing every new person that comes in, helping them feel part of the family. That's one of the many things that the members here have taught me. The world will tell us that power comes from being above the rest; the most powerful one stands alone. But the gospel teaches us that power comes from being together, bringing others up to where you are and leaning on each other; the most powerful one is actually many, united by love. The members here show love and friendship like no one else, and I learn from their examples every day. They don't go to church to be served, but to serve. I want to be like that.

Book of Mormon/Keystone...Get it?
A week or two ago, we were discussing our different finding techniques and strategies. Believe me, after this much street contacting, you start coming up with some pretty crazy ideas... I suggested that we 'photo-bomb' contact people! Just go to a popular tourist attraction and stand in the back of everyone's pictures holding up a Book of Mormon or pointing at our nametags or something, then run away before they notice. One day, they'll be flipping through their scrapbook (actually, let's be real, there's probably like 3 people in the world who aren't members and do scrapbooking, so they'll probably be looking on Facebook) and they'll say, "Wait. What's that? Who are those strange, white people with black nametags? I want to meet them and be their friends" BOOM. Seed planted. (I'll be honest, this wasn't really my idea. I got it from the episode of Lizzie McGuire, you know, the one where she goes to all the different club photoshoots and jumps in the back of the picture so that she can have the most pictures in the school yearbook. Classic episode.)
I was reading a talk by President Monson about missionary work, and he said, "A mission is a family affair." And I've been thinking about that all day! He's right, of course. The actions and choices of each member of my family has contributed to my mission experience. Mom and Dad, I am so grateful for you and your choices; they've shaped my life and, because of that, have definitely influenced the lives of the people I've met here. Our little, daily choices really will have a huge effect on the rest of our lives, as well as the lives of many others. When we choose to sacrifice for the Lord, to give things up for him, that's when we start to feel his influence in our life. I love what Elder Neil A. Maxwell said: "Consecration is the only surrender that is also a victory." When we sacrifice something for the Savior (who, by the way, sacrificed everything for us), we find true joy. It's when we lose our lives that we really find them. I know that's true, no doubt in my mind.

Our will is the only thing that we really can give to God, the only thing that he didn't have first. And when we do that, we slowly come to find that God's will really is what's best for us anyways. I love this quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard: "That's the way it is when Jesus Christ becomes a reality in your life. It isn't that he somehow makes you do things that you wouldn't do otherwise. Rather, you find yourself wanting to do what He would do and respond as He would respond in an effort to bring your life into harmony with His. And an interesting things happens whenever you attempt to place your feet in Christ's footsteps. If you really concentrate on trying to walk the way He walked--loving, caring, serving, and obeying each step of the way--one day you'll look up and discover that His path has led you directly to the throne of God. For that is and ever has been His great purpose and mission: to lead us to our Heavenly Father so we can dwell with Him in His heavenly home." It's a slow process, and sometimes I get a little discouraged while I'm out here because I get impatient with people, I get prideful, I get frustrated when people don't understand me. But It's not about where we are, but what direction we're facing. So it's okay that I'm not where I want to be, because I'll get there eventually, I just don't have to stress about it.

I love this mission so much. These people, this place, these miracles! I love it. Wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

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