Wow, I have SO much time to write today haha! First off, as you may have heard, we set an all-time record for heat in Sydney this last friday. 46 degrees celcius. Not sure what exactly that is in Farenheit, but when you find out, just imagine walking in suit pants and a shirt and tie for 2 hours in it :) Lets just say it's a day I wont forget haha! This week has been really good but has had some unexpected things as well. Guess that's the way life goes! Our zone needs to keep working hard on accomplishing our goals. We are quite behind right now and it's hard to see the effect it's having on our zone. I think sometimes we need to be given more carrot rather than stick. I've learned some good tips for helping people improve their performance and output. I've started to learn that theres a certain tactic it takes in order to still be a leader and an example when you have no leadership position or role. If I can be so arrogant to say.... I think I have been blessed with the gift of leadership. Some may disagree, but as I've seen being here, it's made me look into the past of my life and I think that is one of the gifts that has been given me, is to naturally be a leader. I dont think I have to be the leader or use it for power or position, but unless there is already a strong leader I can follow, I naturally feel that I try to take upon myself the responsibility of leading others to be better. This has been something that has needed special care and attention here though. Because this week i've learned more the "rubber band" analogy :)
Here it is...... a rubber band at first isnt able to stretch near it's full capacity when you first take it out of the bag. And thus, if you immediately try to stretch it really far, it will snap. But as you over time keep stretching it and letting it relax, then stretch again, over time, it can stretch a lot more and is able to last and be more durable. I think this is the same way with people. If we constantly are stretching them and trying to pull every ounce that we can out of them right in the beginning, they will snap. But if over time, we stretch them by giving constructive feedback and recorrection, and then allow them to metaphorically relax by telling them all the successful things they do, they are able in the long run to stretch a lot more and reach a better potential. Because we all know that the more stretched a rubber band is, the further it will go when we release it. I have been able to observe how other people lead and see the good things they do, but also what I would maybe add or change. 1 of those things would definitely be to praise people for the good that they do. So many times we when just look at the numbers or logistics, it's very easy to find the faults and not look at what people are doing right, but when you take more time and find out why those numbers or the facts are that way, we can truly solve the problem. For example, one of the things we are all working on is getting the members more involved in fellowshipping the investigators and helping them feel comfortable at all the activities. We have realized as of late however that very often, the members are "burnt out" they are already busy with their own work, schooling, and personal lives, and then are trying also to help us by being friends with investigators, joining us for discussions, supporting the activities we have set up for investigators, and it just becomes too much for them. We found that we, were not giving enough thanks and enough time for people to relax just a bit and praise them for the good that they do in order to help them to reach more of their potential. As we have started to change this, and try to focus more on loving and supporting the members in addition to our investigators, we have found that the members have started wanting to help, rather than just being willing to help, and the work presses forward. This same analogy I think I need to keep using and keep in mind with my companion and myself. We get along pretty well, but sometimes one or both of us needs to stretch a little bit more and we need to make sure we are careful to stretch each other without making us snap, and then pouring on the good things that each of us do and the success we've been able to have.
Elder Wan taught a really good training this last Friday in which he asked: How do you let other people know you love them? In thinking about that, I answered that when I love people, I am willing to sacrifice for them. That is one of the ways that I show I love someone. I think that is part of why I am here on my mission is to learn the lesson of sacrifice. Sometimes, it is hard for me to still feel successful when I get home at night, look over what we did for the day, and realize that all the lessons we taught were in other people's areas so they don't count for our numbers ( a lot of times the other missionaries are double booked, or have an appointment and then pull someone off the street for another appointment and so we help them teach) or that even though I went out finding for several hours throughout the day, there wasn't anyone who wanted to learn more. It is at these times I have to realize that sacrifice is what truly matters. When I love the Lord, I am willing to sacrifice my time and my efforts for Him, and allow him to do his work. I need to realize that when I love people I am concerned about them and their progress, no matter who is teaching them or the fact that me spending 45 minutes to teach them won't help me to directly accomplish my goals for that day. And sometimes, I need to sacrifice what I feel is the best method or what I would like to try in order to keep love and unity in the companionship. It is a difficult tactic to learn of how to try to do your very best and not waste a single minute of the day, without pulling other people to the point where they snap. Don't get me wrong, the missionaries in our zone are very good and I love and respect each one of them so much. I think that all of us have different times where we droop a little bit. In those times, it seems contagious that if one person droops, or just "takes 5 minutes to rest" that it soon becomes longer and more people following suit. That is why it has been really important for me personally to try my best to never have those moments. I honestly dont feel that I can put my head to rest at night feeling that I did everything I could have if I let myself just sit down to rest for a minute or two. I've had people here warn me to make sure I don't get too burnt out by working too hard, but I think there is a difference between overexertion, and doing the Lord's work to the fullest. My purpose is to do the latter.
It reminds me of my talk that I gave right before entering the MTC on duty, and the phrase "God is easy to please, but very hard to satisfy." I think our Father in Heaven is glad when we do anything that is right. He is pleased when we try hard and do good, but in order to satisfy Him and His expectations is a higher level. That is my goal here on the Mission. The question was asked last week "what do you want to have accomplished by the time you finish you mission." I think I truly want to satisfy God's expectations for me. It is a very high mark since He expects much of me, but that is my goal. I have been so blessed to have this opportunity to come and serve here. In regards to sacrifice, I feel that the mission gives me so many blessings and opportunities that it's the most one-sided gift exchange I've ever seen haha. I sacrifice my time and exertion, and the Lord gives me back strength to work, joy to encourage me, love, peace, comfort, guidance, knowledge..... the list goes on and on. The amount that I sacrifice compared to how much I receieve is unexplainable. I need to always keep this in mind as I continue to work.
I am sorry if this letter was really random and if it doesn't apply to anyone reading it, but I am grateful I could write it because It has helped me a lot. Sometimes, I need to listen to myself and my own advice haha! :) and my own ecouragement. So if none of this makes sense, as least you all know I was benefitted from this because it's truly impossible to explain all my thoughts or feelings in an email. Next week may be a more interesting letter, we will see :)
Thank you for all the love and encouragement you give me. Please pray for Noy that she will continue to prepare for her baptism on the 23'rd of next month. Also, please keep in your prayers Edward, Cindy, Simon, Donna, Bee, Sue, Yuteng, and Danny. I could explain more of their situations next time, but I had the idea come to me this week that a prayer list for my investigators would definitely help. Out of time.