What, week 72?! UGH this is the worst. Whose idea was it to number my emails anyways? I can't believe it's mid-November--I feel so old! Seriously, I'm one of the oldest missionaries here right now. Hong Kong is filled with peppy, super cool 19-year-old sisters, and I feel like the awkward old lady in the corner, SO last year, just like Angry Birds or Twilight or JBiebs. (Actually, let's be real, I have no idea what's cool and what's not anymore, I'm just guessing.) Anyways, that's enough about that.
T-shirt of the week: this one's just a little weird, I don't know. It says, "Mind if I have a bite?" Oh, and on the way to the library I saw a shirt that said, "WINNING," and it reminded me of that celebrity whose name I cannot remember who said that a lot.
This week I learned several things. The first is how simple this gospel really is. In K T, they had a gospel class every Wednesday night, and we called it the Kolob class, because they just loved to get into deep, ridiculous doctrinal speculations. Sometimes people just look for the most complicated things and debate these minor points and get all caught up in things that aren't as important. But really, it's simple. We had a lesson with Sister N this week, and we set up three chairs in the room, each several feet further away than the one before. On the first chair we put a mint; on the second, an onion (our fridge has a limited variety of food, okay?); on the third, three delicious homemade cookies (courtesy of Betty Crocker cookie mix). And we asked Sister N which one she wanted. After asking if the mint was some kind of medicine (as if that would make a difference in her decision?), she said that she wanted the cookie. We pointed out that she'd have to put out extra effort to get it, wouldn't it just be easier to settle for the onion? But she walked all the way over to go get the cookie. (This object lesson is more poignant because earlier this year she had a stroke which left her unable to walk for quite a while; but in the past few months, she has been able to go from using a walker to walking without any help at a completely normal pace. Miracle? Absolutely.) Isn't this life the same way? Our joy is positively correlated with the effort that we put forth.
But the trick is this: as Elder Joseph B. Worthlin said it, "Those who make happiness their chief objective in life are bound to fail." In our leadership meeting this week, we discussed this quote, and I've thought about it ever since. It seems so illogical, but it makes sense to me. Who was the happiest person to ever live? I'd say it was Jesus Christ. Yes, he experienced all the pain and suffering for all of our sins and our trials. But because of that deep understanding and capability to feel pain, his understanding of true joy was more complete and perfect than any other person who has ever lived. A newborn baby can only experience so much joy, because he has no real understanding of what joy isn't. But Christ completely understands what it means to have a fullness of joy. And what brought him a fullness of joy? Doing the will of the Father. When we turn our will over to Heavenly Father, he can make so much more out of us than we ever could. If our focus is always on getting the things that will make us happiest, we'll fail. But if we focus on doing what God wants us to do, we can't help but be happy. And it's a real happiness too, not anything that the world can give us. I've only started to understand this concept, and I feel like the more I figure out, the more I realize I don't understand! But I guess that's life, right? I wonder if there's ever a point in the eternities where that reverses? Probably not. Which is great.
We had another great lesson this week--we had a family home evening with a member family, the bishop's family, C (who recently got baptized), and C's dad, who doesn't really know much about the gospel. We taught about how important the simple, basic gospel habits are, and compared our lives to Jenga. If we remove just one block, it doesn't seem to make a big difference, right? Just like not reading scriptures for a day or two doesn't seem to make a difference either. But as you keep removing blocks one at a time, the tower becomes less stable, and you realize the difference that one little block can make. We talked about Helaman 5:12, about building ourselves on a sure foundation, on Jesus Christ; when we do so, the storms are still going to come, but we won't fall. And again, it hit me how simple the gospel really is. It all comes back to these simple building blocks. That's what builds a powerful testimony, consistently making small, daily decisions to build on Christ. Just like Aristotle said, "We become what we repeatedly do."
Well, now that I've written way more than I planned to about all that, we're headed to buy Christmas presents! Thank you to Granny Kate and to Uncle Marcus for the package and birthday card, I'll open them on Wednesday! I love you all, hope you have a great week!