Wow, this week has FLOWN by!! It's been such an amazing week. As always, you can't have the ups without the downs, but the ups so far outweigh the downs, it's worth it every single day! The biggest up was standing in the Font with Hank (zhou zuhkai) and baptizing him. Even after only knowing me from one meeting, for some reason he wanted me to be the one to perform his baptism. It was a very special experience for both of us! I just attached some pictures of my companion and I, the views from our flat :), and the picture of us right before Hank's baptism. I am so lucky to live in this area. People always tell me the city is the best zone and I live in the best flat as well because it has the best view! And after being here for a couple weeks, I don't doubt that at all :) Of course all places are special, but It truly is humbling to come home at night and look over the entire city reaching out to the Harbor and just think of how many people live here and how small I am compared to the millions that live here. In answer to some of Michelle's questions:
How has your week been? How is your studying going? Are you starting to read from the Chinese Book of Mormon yet? Any new favorite scriptures or insight? How are things going with your investigator and her husband? How is your area? Are you getting to know things a bit more? Any favorite experience this week
My week, as described earlier has been absolutely fantastic! :) Mamata and her husband are out on vacation for Christmas and I haven't been able to contact them again, however, I really hope when they come back they will want to come to some of the activities we have and become familiar with the Church because she has mentioned several times they are very lonely here in the City since they just moved here. My studying is absolutely sacred and awesome! I never have enough time to study all that I want to, and I see almost daily how my studies affect the things I teach or how I teach and find people. The Chinese Book of Mormon will be a long time in coming, if at all on the mission. President Howes has made mention there is no real need to learn Chinese characters while out here and especially not before I am very fluent in the language. I agree, I would much rather know how to speak the language than learn how to read it, and with the limited time I have, I need to continue to focus on learning and perfecting my speech. This has been really difficult actually. Even with having 2 native speakers, I am not able to use Cantonese a ton because we always teach in English in this area, find in English, and most often when we eat and associate with others, it is also in English. The only time for Cantonese is during language study and when I'm only talking with the few members who are from Hong Kong.
However, I travelled with Elder Wan to a baptism yesterday of someone who he had taught previously before getting transferred here and it was an all-Cantonese branch. They were all very impressed with my ability to speak Cantonese and I was happy to find out that I could understand much of what they were saying. Of course there were a lot of words I didn't know, but I could get the general gist of what they were saying, so that made me really happy! It's just been difficult to adjust to not having 3 or so hours every day to study the language like I had in the MTC and to not use it as much because I need to be finding, teaching, and serving in the ward a lot. I have tons of new favorite scriptures and insights :) Today I really liked what is found in Acts 4:12. Because it goes along so well with 3 Nephi 31's message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe I'll bring my study journal next week and share some more thoughts and experiences.
Our area is doing pretty well but we need to be better. We have a lot of people that dodge out on appointments and express interest at first but then fall away. I personally think it may be because we sometimes get too wrapped up in the signs and indicators rather than focusing on people. We often will treat people the same and say they have the same concerns as others, but I think a little more love and patient understanding would go a long way. Often I feel like our lessons are not as warm and friendly as they can be. We need to always be happy and warm and friendly, and even when people dont keep commitments at first we need to show forth love and concern. For instance, If someone is not wanting to come to church, which is a very important factor for them to progress, there is more than likely a bigger reason than "they were too tired." It's like an iceberg. People often mask off the true reasons for what they do by giving a different reason they didn't come. I think this is one thing we can work on in our zone is just being more happy and loving and concerned for people themselves rather than the small things. We need to not be so worried about the specifics that we lose out on the big picture. All of what we teach- Prayer, Scripture Study, Church attendance and so forth is to help people come closer to Christ. However, often we try to fix the small things such as waking people up by calling them for church, or sending them reminders to read and it seems as though we almost pressure them into things. I dont think this should be the case. People should gain the same desire we have for the Gospel. The gospel is something that is to be truly loved and once people gain a hold of how amazing of a life it is, we wont have to keep reminding them or giving them assignments because they will progress more than we could begin to think possible. I saw this happen with Noy. She is from Taiwan and has really just "caught the fire." she now reads the book of mormon a lot and has lots of good questions and wants to learn. This is what I think we need to work on more as people and missionaries. Like I heard in the MTC- "the main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing." We cannot get caught up on the fact that someone has a difficulty with one commandment or another to realize that overcoming that one commandment isn't where the true source of the problem lies. If someone cannot overcome the desire to sleep rather than church it's because they don't realize how much church can help them. They don't feel it and see it. This is what we need to help them feel rather than just trying to fix the outward symptoms. It's like bandaging up a wound before it is cleaned. If we don't purge and help get rid of the larger and more dangerous problem (they lack the desire to come to Christ) then even if they are coming to church or If we "stop the bleeding" so to say, later with time, the problem will become much worse. I dont know if that's all truth or not, just my own personal opinion on how we should be a lot more loving to people in General. Christ never pressured anyone to do something against their will. He didn't try to persuade or coax through various ways. He taught the truth and allowed people the opportunity to see how much His life and teachings could bless theirs.
Anyways, on a little lighter note, with the time remaining I'll talk a little bit about Sydney in general. This City is beautiful! I love every morning we can play touch rugby in the park and hear the birds and (monkeys on one occasion!) :) and just experience Sydney for the city that it is. The trains here are really slow actually, but one benefit of that is I can see the scenery around me more when I'm on them :) It's been interesting to learn of the different areas and districts. and it's been very cool to experience China-town in it's true measure :) There are SOOOO many different asian ethnicities here. There is a place called the dixon house which has about 12 different asian Restaurants that we like to go and eat at sometimes. It's very authentic! :) And by that I mean the Zone Leader- Elder AU really loves Pork Intestine soup. And so when he got it, He offered it to me and it wasn't too bad actually! Tasted like a hot dog haha :b not quite, but it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. But there are tons of really good people there too. It's absolutely hilarious to see people's faces when I start speaking to them in Cantonese. I've had many people be really surprised and ask me why in the world I know Cantonese, so it sets up really well to talk about why I came out to be a missionary.
Love you all! :)