Wow, this week has been pretty fantastic! There are some huge things coming on the horizon in our zone. As you all mentioned, yes there will be a new Sydney Australia North mission. However, just like we can read on LDS.org, that's all we know as of now. But in the future when I know more, I will let you all know. Hooray for Vancouver, WA!!!
Our zone is really on the brink of some really big things we think. We've had many trainings and have received a lot of counsel regarding increasing our zone and superseding our goals. We all can feel a certain energy that is coming into the zone. Very similar to being on the starter block of a swim race when the countdown is happening right before the gun fires. Mark may understand this reference the most, but when those 3 seconds are counting down, if you are prepared and ready to go, it is a very anxious and exciting feeling. We have made some needed changes in order for us to be more focused and accomplish our purpose. The ward recently has been lacking, and we need more cohesion between the missionaries and the ward leaders as to how we can best help accomplish both of our goals, which are really the same goal. The answer has come with a new ward mission leader, a change in "not very effective" meetings, and the calling of many new ward members to positions where they can grow. This allows more of the burden of the missionaries lifting up the ward to be set upon the ward's shoulders and us to really focus more on finding and boosting ward numbers. The Branch President here is really wanting to use us more effectively and so has made some needed changes to allow us to focus truly on our goals and boost the ward. Lots of exciting changes brings more enthusiasm and desire into the work. Also, one thing Elder Imeson (the new zone leader) shared with us last evaluation meeting on Sunday, is that within the past few weeks Elder Oaks, of the quorum of the 12, called him personally and asked "how is the Hyde Park branch doing?" That's our branch! It's because so many people come from all over the world (especially China) and are able to then take the gospel back to their families when they return home. Hearing Elder Imeson talk about the personal inquiry to our branch and zone made me realize that we truly are accountable and are on a great errand here.
We need to make sure we are all living up to our potential and fulfilling our duty to the fullest. I ask that you will continue to pray for me specifically to increase my finding skills as we will be doing a lot more finding with the changes in the ward, and also with me being finished with my training. This now gives us another whole hour that we can go finding rather than doing the 12 weeks training program that all new missionaries have to accomplish when they enter the mission field. We have 2 investigators that Elder Wan and I believe will be baptized on the 23'rd of next month. Please keep Noy and Jodie in your prayers as they will both need help and encouragement to keep preparing for baptism. We have many other investigators, but few that are actually progressing :( So many people are very content with their lives and aren't all that interested in changing their lives, but I am very grateful at least that they still answer our calls often and are not opposed to speaking with us. It's all about when the time is right for them. I've thought a lot about that concept on timing. How the right timing is so important for things in our lives. The Lord always has His own timing. For why the Restoration took place when it did, why missionaries are transferred at specific times, why people experience certain trails at certain times.... the list goes on and on. I think it's the same for us as missionaries. That we are often a part of that process in helping people prepare for their perfect timing. I'll use a baking analogy this week :) for a lasagna, if it's not completely cooked, it may still be edible, but not taste the best, if it's overdone, it's even worse and you want to eat it less, but when the timing is perfect, you can enjoy it to it's fullest. Sometimes I feel that we go out finding and looking for people who are "golden." as if we come home from work and expect to just pull the lasagna out and eat it right up. More often than not, I've found that is not the case. The Lord uses us to really monitor that person's preparation and then allows us to act when the time is perfect for them. We have many people that I can tell are close to being ready, but the timing just isn't quite right yet for them to give them the best chance of success and best happiness. Also, we need to know when it is right to act and help them so that they don't get "burnt out" and become uninterested in the gospel. Just some "food for thought"... haha! :)
This upcoming weekend is mardi gras here in the City, so as I wrote in my planner at 7pm on Friday, all the missionaries in the zone will be "fleeing from babylon." We are all being flushed out for the weekend so that we are not here in the city during the parade and party. I've heard that every year, there is a big banner that is put up and paraded of missionaries badges. Some missionaries have had their badges stolen from them which then end up on the big banner. Luckily, it hasn't happened to any of the missionaries in our zone here this year, but we always need to be careful and make sure someone isn't sneaky and snags our badge off our shirt or our jackets. I really don't want my badge up on that banner. There is such a need for the gospel in this city. I am reminded so often of the quote from PMG "only the gospel can cure the ailments of society." on page 2... something to that effect :) This city desperately needs the gospel and I pray that many people will come and drink from the fountain of Living water found in Christ's true church on the earth. It is hard to respect someone's choice when you know it will not bring them happiness. However, I trust and believe that all will be well in the end. I have seen many miracles and felt the spirit in great abundance to where I know that the Lord is guiding this work and that it is in His control. I just need to keep working ever more effectively to bring about His purposes. I love you all and will write you next Monday. As in the hymn... "the time is far spent", and I must go :)
Lots of Love,