Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 22: Ether 12:2-3‏

Behold! I bring unto you glad tidings of great joy that shall be unto all people that read my email!

It was a good week.  There's something interesting about Christmas in the most diverse city in the world.  A lot of the people don't celebrate Christmas.

Seriously, it's super weird.  For example, our entire apartment building is full of people from India, and so our conversations go like this.

Awkward White Missionary (me) - So, any fun plans for Christmas?
Indian person - Well, I get work off...
Awkward White Missionary - Fun!

By the way, that whole bit about everyone in our building being from India is not an exaggeration at all.  Since we moved in three weeks ago, I've seen 3 white people and 2 Chinese.  Everyone else is from India or Sri Lanka.  If you go out into the neighborhoods, there's a ton of people from the Middle East, Caribbean, and Southern China.  This whole city is just made up of pockets of people from different parts of the world, with the occasional white person to mix things up.  Nothing like Utah at all.

Anyway, as far as investigators this week go, we have a few working with us, but by far the most super dope one is Candice!  We met with here like 4 times this week.  I know I talked about her last week, but she's just so awesome.  This is how our last lesson went (in Chinese):

Missionary - So, how's your reading been? 
     *Note*At this point, we thought maybe she had read a few chapters of 1 Nephi, aside from the assigned chapters we'd given her
Candice - Well, I finished First Nephi, and then I read a part about...Oh, what was his name...Captain Moroni?
Missionary - Wait, like half of the book of Alma?
Candice - Yah, yah!  Alma!  That was it.  I really liked that part.
Missionary - ...Okay...Sweet.  You read half of Alma.  Wow....
Candice - Yah, it was really good.

Basically after that, the lesson just got cooler.  She believes it's true, she reads like a boss, she prays every day, she comes to church and all the church activities we invite her to, she brings her friends, and she totally wants to get baptized.  Her date right now is January 9th, and we're really hoping we can teach her everything before then.

Also, this ward is awesome at fellowshipping.  She already has like 4 good friends here.

This week we had zone conference as well, and it was super amazing.  I did get your package Mom, so you can stop worrying :) Looking forward to skyping this week!  We'll be doing it from the house of some of the coolest members in the ward, so maybe I can give you an introduction.

Hadley - You  had a birthday!?  You're finally 4 years old!  That's so exciting! ;)  Also, no school is super fun.  I bet Mom is having the time of her life right now.  By the way, I got a song from another Elder here that made me think of you and Ellie.  I'll try and send it, but if it doesn't work, then remind me to show it to you guys in two years.  So what's on your Christmas list? Is Emi okay now?

Person not as beast as me - Christmas is totally not about presents, you're right.  We had a Christmas program in sacrament here as well, and it turns out that Chinese people sing super good.  Like, super good.   It was really spiritual, and we had a lot of people talk about the Christmases they'd had when they hadn't been as well off as they are now.  Christmas had been meager, but they had been able to remember the true meaning, and that's all that mattered.
 -Giga beast

Ellie - I don't think you could have picked three Emojis that more perfectly sum up you as a person :)  No, I have not eaten any dog yet, and from what I've gathered, Chinese people don't actually eat dog unless they're really really poor.  Maybe some people do, but I haven't met anyone.  Maybe they would let me call if I had 1,000,0000 dollars, but unfortunately I don't :) Do you have that much?

Mom - The works going great up here.  Yes, Raymond is the one that lost interest, and I was super sad for him, but I think he might change his mind one day.  All we can do is pray :/  Anyway, the Christmas spirit is definitely in the air here, and I'm loving it.  Random spiritual experience - Yesterday night, we were going contacting (talking to people on the street) at a mall, and I really wanted to find some new investigators.  We hadn't found any in the last 6 days, which is kind of a long time, so I had prayed the last night really hard that we'd be able to find 2.  We only had an hour, so me and Elder Mak got out there, and just started talking to everyone.  It was late, windy, and cold, and for about 45 minutes it seemed like no one had any interest.  We hadn't had any success,  and we were starting to feel discouraged. I decided I needed some encouragement.  I pulled out my Book of Mormon (on the street) and we read part of Alma 26 together.  Ammon is basically preaching to his brethren, and telling them how happy he is that they've had success.  After that, I felt better, and we got back to it for 15 minutes.  For a while longer, there still wasn't anyone having interest, and finally my watch said we were out of time.  I was kind of sad, because we hadn't found anyone, but I decided to talk to a few more people.

I'm not kidding, the next lady I talked to had interest, and then I went up to two Chinese people, and they both had interest.  3 new investigators!  God answers prayers, but only when we put in our efforts.

Ashleigh - Ice skating is super hard.  Agreed.  One hundred percent.  Anyway, I'm so excited to see you guys too!  Tell Ethan to remember our theme song from camp, and then to never ever ever believe it.  He'll know what I'm talking about.  I've actually never been night skiing, but it sounds fun.  Also, tell me how many boys gave you a christmas present, so I know how many shotgun shells to buy when I get home.
Love, The Hammer

Kidding Ashleigh :)

Dad - I think it's kind of funny that you guys all thought I was going to freeze, when it hasn't even snowed up here yet.  I'm not joking, all we've gotten so far is frost, and it hasn't dipped beneath 20 degrees Fahrenheit :)  Suckers!  Kidding.  At least you guys are getting a white Christmas :)  I'm excited to talk to you guys too!  Also, I wanted to tell you a quote that I heard from a missionary that just finished her mission this last transfer.  At her last zone conference, she got up and said "Faith is stepping into the dark and knowing that one of two things will happen.  Either there will be something for you to stand on or you will be taught how to fly."  It was pretty dramatic, but it was sincere as well, and I could tell that she honestly believed it.  One of the coolest things about serving a mission has been seeing people from all different backgrounds spend so much time serving the Lord.  It changes people, and I think that quote kind of sums up a mission.  Two years seems really long, but when you take that leap of faith to serve, there are a thousand things to stand on, and wonderful people with you the whole time teaching you to "fly".  Also, I thought I'd send you a scripture that really gave me strength this week.  John 14:31.

Love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Sabin

P.S. Man's extremity is God's opportunity - Elder Holland

 Bayview Ward missionaries!  Sister Chu, Sister Deng (pronounced dung, not dang), Me, Elder Mak, Elder Woo, Elder Earley

 PJ Party!!

I ate our initials out of chocolates.  #cutestcouple

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 21: Update from Elder SabyBaby and Elder MakDaddy‏

Hey everyone!

I'm a bit short on time today, so my email might be all over the place.  Without Dad here to edit all my papers, I think I might get myself into trouble.  Thank goodness for spell check
First off, holy cow, what happened to the email you guys sent me?  It was like a mile wide, so I had to scroll right for 8 minutes to read a paragraph's worth of stuff on one line.  Anyway, it made me laugh. 

It was a great week up here in Toronto, and for all you people who told me I was going to freeze, it's 54 degrees right now.  Not tropical, but from what I hear it's way better than Utah :)  Haha!

Anyway, this week has been fun.  Lately, we've really been trying to push the new A Savior is Born video out into the world, so my street contacts have been super fun.  We don't actually carry cell phones with us that can watch the video, so it's turned into a bit of a game to try and get the other person curious enough to pull out their cell phone and watch it with us.  It's actually easier than you think.  Chinese people are awesome.

Also, I wanted to give a shout out to the people at Bayview Ward for being the best members ever.  Sunday morning I was a bit bummed because an investigator we had put a lot of time into had flipped a 180 and decided he wasn't interested.  I wasn't feeling the spirit very strong, and I was just praying for something to pick me up.  Anyway, we got to church, and immediately our Relief Society president comes up and tells us there's like a thousand plates of food in the fridge for us.  Then, throughout the day, members just kept coming up to us and giving us Christmas presents and plates of food and telling us we were awesome.  I know that to each of them, it probably wasn't a big deal, but to Elder Mak and I it meant a lot.  So wherever you are, go tell the missionaries they're awesome. They might need it!

Also, thanks to everyone who sent emails out. I might not have time to respond to them all today, because I don't have a ton of time, but I do read them all and appreciate every single one!

The language is coming along well, and at this point I can read basic stuff, which is really fun.  I have to say, I have never learned as much about English as I have out here while learning Chinese.  It's kind of a weird experience.  As you break apart words and characters into they're most basic meaning, you start to see where translations don't line up and where meanings overlap. Chinese is a very literal language, and so speaking in it actually changes my understanding of what I'm saying in English.  It's a weird a feeling.

For example, take the word "damnation" in the scriptures.  Usually we associate that with fire, brimstone, etc, but in Chinese they use a different word.  The word literally means "set in sin" or "stuck in sin" which I found interesting.  That's the real meaning, isn't it?  Stuck in sin, and unable to progress.  Kind of cool :)

Also, scriptural discovery!  We talk a lot about Joseph Smith in this church (for good reason) and whenever we tell his story, we always say "Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true."  Not necessarily false, but I think sometimes we forget that the question he asked was actually different. He asked "Which church should I join?".  His question wasn't just a question.  He asked with real intent, seeking to know which path he should take.  He didn't just want knowledge, he wanted a direction.

I think we do that a lot.  We always ask questions expecting to get an answer, when really we should be asking for a direction.  I think that's what Moroni means when he talks about "real intent".  We need to be willing to act on the answer we receive if we're going to get an answer.

So, I gotta go.  I'm sorry I don't have time for the induvidual bits this week, but I'll make them extra good next week. Sorry, and I love you!

Elder Sabin

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 20: If God be with us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Hello Everyone!!! And merry Christmas!

Seriously, the mission has been going crazy up here.  I'm guessing Toronto must be sick of hearing "Merry Christmas" from the missionaries, because I don't think I've let a single person walk by without saying it.  At red lights, we roll down the windows and stop at nothing to get the person next to us to roll down theirs so we can say it to them.  We've gotten some weird looks, but it's totally worth it.

Anyway, this week was amazing.  Seriously, my testimony has grown so much during this week, and I am learning more and more that God prepares people.  We've been working with some amazing investigators, and I want to mention two in particular who I'm so glad I've been able to meet.

One is named Raymond, and I think I might have mentioned him before, but he definitely deserves an update.  We were a little worried about him last week because he didn't come to church, and on the phone he told us that he still didn't think he'd felt the spirit.  We felt like he was losing interest, but this week he totally turned around!  We had a lesson with him earlier in the week, and we talked about what the spirit meant to us.  It was definitely one of the most spiritual lessons I've had out here.  We brought Frank along (recent convert) and when he bore testimony, oh my gosh, it was awesome!  Then a few days later we called him and he basically said - in Chinese - "Elders!  I think I get it now!" and he started talking about all the times he felt the spirit and how he felt it when he talked to his family and did good things.  It was amazing. Then he came to church, which was fast and testimony meeting, and he said afterwards that his testimony had grown a ton just from listening to the testimonies.  Random sidenote - Church was awesome.  I heard some of the most sincere testimonies I've ever heard, and it definitely helps that my Chinese has improved and I'm usually able to get what they're saying.  Anyways, after church, we met with Raymond again, and it turns out he's finished the whole book of First Nephi! He's powering through this book, and he keeps saying that it's getting easier to understand when he prays to God about it.  Ahhh!  I wish I could express my feelings through a keyboard, but I don't think it's possible.  I'm so happy for him.

The other awesome one is named Candice, and we only started meeting with her last weekend.  She's doing great too, and we've already started talking about baptism with her.  She's totally willing to put in her effort by reading and praying, and she talks about how good prayer makes her feel.  We've met with her 3 times now, and she totally wants to be baptized.  She wasn't able to come to church (super sad) but she is doing great, and I'm so glad we get to work with her.

Those are the two most awesome people from the week, but basically it's been a great week all around.  We started teaching English class at a different place and the new place has a ton more students.  They all speak Mandarin, and basically, I'm in charge of teaching all the people who know almost no English.  They're all great, and I'll never forget the first day we walked into the classroom.  Elder Mak started speaking to them, and they were very courteous, but when the big white man in the room started speaking in Chinese, holy cow, it was hilarious.  Anyway, we're all best friends now, and they're all super awesome.  We have a great time. 

Also, I wish I had a picture of Elder Mak's face when he saw a gingerbread house for sale at Walmart.  Utter joy.  So we totally bought it, and I think Elder Mak's goal in life is to create this God-given gift.

We got to go to the temple again, and several of the people were going for their first time.  It was so spiritual, and I got to confirm a bunch of people using a Chinese prayer.  Missionaries aren't allowed to participate in the baptisms, but we still got to watch them, and it was a super spiritual experience.

We taught several new investigators last week, and we brought along Brother Wang (pronounced Wong) for one of them.  Brother Wang is the second counselor in our ward, and he's so great.  His family fed us dinner as well, and they're awesome.

Also, got a new car!  Nissan Rogue 2016.  Just thought that was worth mentioning.

We dropped by to visit a less active the other day that we had never met, and it turned out she hadn't been to church in 8 years.  She met the missionaries in another country, but then she moved to Canada and her life has been really hectic, and her family doesn't really support religion.  We talked to her for about a half an hour, and she expressed several of her concerns to us, so now we're just hoping we can get her to come back.  We're going back on Tuesday, so I'll let you all know how it goes.

Mom - Basically for Christmas, our plan was to go to a member's house.  Their names are the Li's, and they're amazing.  They invited us to come, because they have a bunch of computers.  We're planning on using Skype if that's okay, but we didn't pin down an exact time.  Do you have a preference on time?  As far as the package goes, I got the boots, but the mission office said they're saving a lot of packages for Zone Council on December 16th.  That way they can get them all out at once, and it's closer to Christmas for all the Christmas presents.  So they have it.  Thanks for sharing the wonderful thought.  I wrote it down in my "small plates," and just so you know, the bar for that is set pretty high :)  Also, scriptural discovery!  In Hebrews 12:1-2, which is a great scripture by the way, they refer to Jesus Christ as the "author and finisher of our faith" which I thought was a really cool title.  Anyway, I've loved that scripture for a long time, and then I was reading in Moroni the other day, and in Chapter 6:4 he refers to him as the same thing!  Hebrews was written after Lehi left Jerusalem, so they couldn't have read each other's book, but they refer to him in the same unusual way.  That stood out to me.  Love you!

Hadley - Puppies!  Can you send one in your next package?  Kidding, that would never make it through, but I'd love to see the face of the Custom's worker who had to investigate the package.  Sounds like the ward party was fun, and it definitely sounds like you haven't changed.  Puppies!

Ellie - Actually it hasn't snowed yet up here.  Puppies!  It's not been warm, but it's not gotten super cold either.  Everyone here is saying that this winter is supposed to be much milder.  They use Celsius up here, so I actually don't know exactly what temperature it is in Farenheit (Puppies!) but it's only gotten negative (32 degrees F) a few times.  No snow on the ground yet.  Elder Mak can't wait :)  Also, puppies!  Also, Miriam's sister went to a much colder mission than mine.  She was much further north.

Hayden - Sounds super cool bro!  I'll make sure to include BYU in my prayers.  Is Taysom Hill still injured?  Puppies!  What's the deal with the quarterback?  Also, read Alma 26.  I love that chapter.

Ashleigh - Why did you write your whole message in a scary bank font?  Anyway, I'm totally White Guy #2 in case you were wondering.  Actually, no.  I'm one of the Asian guys.  Also puppies!  So have you beaten anyone up in your lacrosse games yet?

Dad - For my greeting, I'll use a scripture.  Read Philippians 1:3, and then read the rest of the email :)  Puppies.  Anyway, I'm glad the ward party was great.  You kind of already heard the news on some of the investigators, but yes, things are going well.  The mission president wasn't actually at our last zone conference, but it was still awesome.  #ASaviorIsBorn!  Love you!

Anyway, that's pretty much it.

Elder Sabin

PS Almost forgot, another funny thing that happened.  Maybe this will sum me up as a missionary.  Our district got switched up, so we were doing introductions, and we all had to say something we loved about our companions.  When it got to Elder Mak this is what he said.

"Well, Elder Sabin does a lot of really stupid things, and it's really funny to watch."

It was hilarious.

Us in the emailing center!  We're with two other Elders, and this guy is named Elder Ray.  He's super dope.

 A funny sign I saw earlier this week.  Very detailed description.

Sorry, I need to take more pictures!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 19: Sheng dan jie Kuai le!

Hello everyone!  And Sheng dan jie Kuai le!
Basically, that means Merry Christmas in Chinese.  No tones though.  And good luck on the pronunciation.
Thank you to everyone who is sending emails from back home.  I love you all, and I really appreciate the support!

Alright, so this week was a hectic week.  Transfers happened, and Elder Mak and I are sticking together for six more weeks.  However, it's a bit odd, because we're serving in the same ward, but we're opening a new area farther out east of the chapel.  In the past, we haven't really taught much in the area, because it's a bit far away, but President feels like there's some untapped potential out there.

So, a fair amount of this week was spent moving apartments and getting the old apartment ready for the new Mandarin sisters that will be taking over the area.  Basically, that means writing a ton of notes and splitting our area book, which has a taken a lot of work.  It felt almost sacrilegious to mess with an area book :)

In order to deal with the stress, I created a very high-tech Stress Reliever of my own invention. Pictures are attached.

Anyway, the new apartment is pretty cool.  There's no carpet anywhere, which is kind of annoying when you want to do sit-ups in the morning, but we have a pretty cool view, and the elevators aren't that sketchy.

Also, we had Zone Council this week which was amazing.  Super good for two reasons.  The less spiritual one was that I got my boots!  Super happy, but holy cow they're huge.  They said they're going to hold most of the other packages until the December zone conference (because most of them will be Christmas gifts).

On a more spiritual note, Zone conference talked a lot about the new video, A Savior is Born, released by the church on Sunday.  If you haven't seen it yet, I'd encourage you all to go watch it.  Then, tell all your friends about it, and go watch it with them.  It's awesome.  Our mission is going to try and use that along with a bunch of other Christmas-y things and basically it's just going to be the best December ever.

The other night, we were having dinner with two of our investigators, Wayne and Sam.  They're both really fun people to talk to, and Wayne has really good English, which is so nice for all those times when I have no idea what a word means.  After dinner, we watched the video together, and we shared our thoughts about it.  It was just a really spiritual experience and I'm so glad that we were able to do it with them. 

Also, I had to speak in church the other day, which was nerve-wracking to say the least.  I did realize something interesting though.  When I was giving my talk, and when we were teaching Wayne and Sam, my Chinese was pretty much just my normal Chinese.  It's not great, and I stumble over some words and tones, but I can usually get the meaning across.  However, both at the end of my talk and after we watched the video with Wayne and Sam, the Chinese just started flowing so easily.  I was feeling the spirit really strongly, and all of the sudden phrases just started coming together in my mind.  For those of you who don't know, Chinese grammar is completely different from English grammar, and sometimes I have to try a sentence 2 or 3 times before I can get all the right parts in all the right order.  However, whenever I feel the Spirit, I testify that everything becomes so much easier.  Seriously, every bit of the grammar suddenly makes sense, and I can say exactly what I want to say.

It was pretty amazing.  On a less spiritual note, we went to a fancy Asian restaurant the other day with some of the other Elders.  There were 8 of us, and it was basically half Asian elders, half white dudes.  Us white dudes had no idea how to read the menu, so we let the Asian half order all the food.  Still not sure if this was a good idea.

Anyway, dishes just started coming out that looked like various things, and whenever something odd was set in front of us, the conversation usually went like this.

White guy 1 - "What's this?"
Asian guy 1 - "It's good, just eat it!"
White guy 2 - "Is that a tail?"
Asian guy 2 - "No, it's a tentacle."
White guy 1 - *Drops food back on plate* "I'm on a no-tentacle diet."
White guy 3 - "Wuss"
White guy 1 - "Well, you eat it then"
White guy 2 - "Heck I'll eat it." *Place's food into mouth*

Then everyone would watch to see if his immediate expression was one of contentment or bitter regret.

That usually determined if the dish got eaten.

I think a large portion of Asian food was created by some old Vietnamese fisherman walking out into the ocean, picking up whatever he found, and thinking "Hmm, this looks potentially edible.  I bet if we made this part of our culture, then a hundred years from now, a bunch of big white guys at an Asian restaurant will have to put this in their mouths.  That would be hilarious, I'm totally doing it."

For all the crap I give it, Asian food is actually really good, just so you guys know.  Also, we had some fun talking to the Mandarin speaking waiters and waitresses.  I'm still not over how surprised Asian people are when I start talking to them in Chinese on the street or something.  It's a pretty useful tool, and I can usually at least exchange a few words with them.

Mom - Just so you know, I did get a Thanksgiving dinner.  It was actually lunch, but some of the wonderful members of the Chinese ward knew I was from "Merica!" so they invited us over for chicken pot pie, apple pie, turkey, and mashed potatoes.  It was very sweet of them.  As I said before, I got the boots you sent me, and they're super awesome.  Also massive.  I don't think I'll get the other package for a few weeks.

Ellie - I did want to know that, you're right :) The hair looks wonderful, and I hope that you get everything you wanted for Christmas.  I'm getting a new car!  Sort of.  Our car is apparently the oldest one in the mission (which is crazy by the way.  It's a 2014 Chevy Cruze.  Not old at all, but I guess they rotate out all the cars very quickly before selling them again).  Anyway, we're getting a new car to drive on Tuesday, and I don't know what it's going to be.  Pretty excited!

Hadley - I have sacrificed the toaster waffles.  We gave them to some other elders along with some of our other freezer food because we had a ton, and they didn't have much.  But I might buy more today.  I don't know.  You're turning 7?  I thought you were turning 4!  Are you sure you didn't lose count?

Hadyen - So should I refer to you as "BEAST" or "the BEAST"?  How many capitol letters are involved?  King BEAST?  Still not sure on that one.  Glad to hear that BYU has won again.  I think they're pretty much the only team that I get updates on.  I literally have no idea about anything else going on back home.  If something crazy happens like a zombie apocalypse or Mom learns more French than "Je dois faire pepe" then let me know.  K?

Ashleigh - Wow.  Way to many ands.  I couldn't even finish that letter.  But, on the off chance that the part I didn't read said something like "Wow Elder Sabin, you're just the most awesome, super dope guy ever" then I will respond with this.  Thx.  Just kidding :) I read it. And I brush my teeth at least once a transfer.

Dad - There is no work more important than beating those other Sabins in football.  None.  Also, thanks for the advice on returning members.  A lot of them are awesome people, and they feed us and commit to come to church but Sunday rolls around, and they don't come.  We should definitely involve the members more. We'll try that this week and I'll let you know how it goes.  Love you!

Elder Sabin

My stress reliever invention:

Our new apartment!:

Question?  This is the picture on the package of toilet paper we bought.  Do you think they're trying to imply that wiping with this toilet paper is like wiping with a small kitten?  Deep questions...

Elder Mak, me, and Shirley, an awesome lady that we've been teaching lately. She loves making food for us, and I don't complain.

A funny advertisement that has taken over the back of every bus in Toronto.  Seriously, they asked that guy to make that pose?

Two handsome dudes headed to stake conference last week. One is just us smiling, and in the other one I told Elder Mak to do what he would do if he wasn't a missionary and he saw a cute girl.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 18: Well, I wish I knew how to use this line more effectively

I'll be honest, I considered making the subject title "Hola Chavo!  Como Esta?" but I didn't know what Chavo meant, so I held off.  That made me laugh :)

Anyway, it's been a great week.  It's been so great to see the Lord advancing his work, and I've learned to depend on the Lord so much out here.  Some days I come home, and I basically flop on my bed wondering how I'll possibly be able to make it through another day, but then I wake up, and I feel fine.  It's crazy.  I wish I had this ability back when I went to early morning Seminary.

So, I want to start with a discovery I made in the scriptures this week. It's probably already been made, but if it has don't tell me.  I'm pretty proud of it.  So you all know about the vision in Lehi's dream, and you all know about the Parable of the Sower (I hope...).  I was reading Lehi's dream this week, and I realized something.  They're the same lesson!!!

Seriously, think about it. 

There are the seeds that get thrown to the wayside and eaten up by the crows.  These are the people that never have a chance to find the gospel.  They never even grab the iron rod, and they immediately start striving to find the great and spacious building.  They have no opportunity to grow, and unfortunately, they find what they're looking for.

Then there are the seeds thrown into the thorny places.  These are seeds that start to grow, or people that start on their journey along the iron rod.  They start to grow their testimony, and they begin their journey, but they are not able to make it past the temptations aka mists or thorns.

The seeds that are thrown into stony places are the people that partake of the fruit but then are ashamed.  They start to spring up, but they have no real root and no depth of testimony.  Then when any amount of persecution (great and spacious building/heat of the sun) comes along, they lose their root, and they are scorched and burned up.

The seeds that produce are those that make it to the tree and start producing.  Now here's my message.  Unlike seeds, we have a choice to say where we are planted.  Although our world is full of the dark mists and all kinds of thorns, we have the ability to choose whether we will allow the sun to scorch our seed or the people of the great and spacious building to destroy our testimony.  I've heard the quote, "Bloom where you're planted," but in this context, I would say "Choose where you're planted."  Choose to be one of the fruitful seeds in good soil.

Anyway, this week was great.  We had Elder Anthony Perkins come to our mission and speak to us which was amazing.  I got some answers to some questions I had, and he was so great.  Also, he speaks fluent Mandarin.  Plus 10 points.

He talked about something I thought was cool, and I'll share a bit about it.  It's called the Costco principle.

Now, Costco sells everything in huge amounts right?  40 lb lasagnas and 100 count turkeys.  Massive amounts.  But they do something clever to get everyone to buy the big stuff.  All over the store they've set up little sample booths and you can go and have a little taste.  Then, if you like what you get, they encourage you to go for the big size.

Now, let me blow your minds.  The people at the sample booths are the missionaries.  They're out in the streets of cities, and they have this massive thing called The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They want to give it to people, but no one will take it all in one go. You have to give them a taste, and then you have to get them to go for the bigger version.

Now, every time you go to Costco, you'll think of me.  HAHA!

Also, we went to the Montreal Temple dedication (at our stake center, not at the temple) and that was amazing.  Seriously, super spiritual.

Mom - No, I haven't gotten the boots yet, but usually the mission office waits till Zone conference to distribute packages.  Ours is on Friday, so I might get it then.  Also, I appreciated the story you shared. I've definitely gotten a testimony out here about language barriers not stopping the spirit from testifying.  It's pretty incredible when you think about it.

Hayden - Haha, I love the contrast between your letter and Ellie's.  Your week was out of this world and hers was pretty much just regular.  That made me laugh.  Also, I didn't know you were doing choir?  Are you letting your inner diva shine? I haven't gotten the package yet, but I might get it on Friday.

Hadley - I miss you too Hadley :)  I hope you're having a great time with your new friend.  What does the ornament look like?  And you should definitely follow my footsteps in the food department. Mom and Dad's grocery bill is probably too cheap.

Ellie - I'll just say this.  I've eaten more toaster waffles than dog.  MWAHAHA!  Sounds like Emi hasn't changed one bit.  Also, it actually did snow up here, and Elder Mak was super pumped about it.  He's only seen snow like 3 times in his life, so it's gonna be a fun winter.  I think I could see you becoming a mountain woman.  That'd be cool.  Let me know how it goes.

Ashleigh - They're lying.  Completely.  They're taking pity on me.  Don't believe their words.  Also, tell Scotty congratulations from me.  Sorry, I'm running out of time, but I love you so much!  Remember the picture of the Koala bear and the Panda?  That was awesome.

Dad - K, I don't have time to write the email that you deserve, but I just want to say that I will definitely take your advice.  I think it's definitely improved and the spirit is much stronger now.  Also, recently we've been having a lot of trouble getting Standards of Excellence because of the Less Active member part.  Our work with them has been really stagnant lately, and I was wondering if you had any ideas on how to get them to come out to church.  I feel like we meet with them and then we feel the spirit and they say they'll come to church and then they never show up. As far as Investegators and Recent Converts go it's been great, but that's the one area we've been trying to work on.  Any advice?  I love you so much, and your advice means so much to me.  You're the best dad in the whole world!  Love you!

Elder Sabin

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 17: Good Times

So, this weeks been great.  We've been working a lot with a new investigator named Raymond.  Basically, he's awesome, and he's been super prepared by the Lord.  He just came to Canada about a month ago, and he's already got a few friends that are members.  They introduced him to us, and we've been teaching him for about 2 weeks now.  We've scheduled his baptismal date for December 5th, and he says he's been praying about it, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Also, the other day I was texting someone on the phone, and we got a call from an investigator that we had basically dropped a month ago.  We hadn't been able to contact her for a few weeks, and so we had eventually given up trying, but she called us and basically said that she was making a really big decision for her family.  She asked us if she could get an answer through prayer, and you can guess what our response was.  We walked her through how to pray again, and so now we're really hoping that she gets her answer.

Aside from that, we met with a bunch of people this week. Right now, we have about 5 or 6 investigators that meet with us regularly, and maybe 5 others that are not so consistent.  Also, our mission president really emphasizes less active and recent convert work, so we work with about 7 or 8 of them usually.

The language is definitely getting easier,  It's still super hard some days, but people usually understand me now (I emphasize "usually").  I can definitely feel God helping me out.  For instance, last night, we were sharing a spiritual thought at a members house, and they had invited almost half the ward over, so it was a full house.  When we sat down to give the thought, I was more than a bit intimidated, but as soon as I started talking, it started to just come so much easier.  I'm sure I still said a lot of things wrong, but they seemed to understand, and I definitely felt the spirit.  It was awesome.

Also, I wanted to share a cool spiritual thought.  I don't know how many of you know much about Wilford Woodruff when he was on his mission, but he's basically the best missionary ever.  He was preaching once in a small town in England, and after about a week he had about 6 people who wanted to be baptized.  However, before they were ready to go to the pond and perform the ordinance, some people from the town came up and told him that there would be no baptizing in their town.  If he did try to baptize people, then they said they would stone him.

He turned to the people who wanted to be baptized, and said, "if you have the faith to be baptized, then I have the faith to perform the ordinance."

They decided to go through with it, and the next day they walked to the pond near the town.  There was a crowd of around 500 people there waiting, rocks in hand.

He still went through with it though.  The faith of this man is amazing.  He said of his experience that as he was baptizing, the rocks were flying all around him, and that "one hit me in the head so hard that I nearly fell down, but I persevered."

I remember when I heard that story it hit me pretty hard, and out here it has even more meaning.  It made me think about how important baptism really is.  I think in the church we don't always appreciate it enough, because it's just something that everyone does when they're 8 years old.  I've seen that ordinance change people, and whether it was someone that I'd been working with or not, it was amazing to see them go through with it, and come out of the font a different person.

I love that story, and I'd just invite everyone back home to remember how big of a deal that ordinance really is.  It's a promise to follow God for the rest of our lives, and in return he promises us more blessings than we can imagine.

Mom - Huh, that's kind of funny.  We just had our primary program the other day as well.  It was really cute, and we had some investigators in the audience who loved it.  Our ward shares a building with an English ward, and so it was half in English, which was a nice break.  Sounds like everything is going well back home.  I loved the quotes, and tell Dad that that sounds like a great idea.  I just wish he would have thought of the Sundae part before I left :) I love you!

Ellie - You might be the only girl I know who wouldn't be nervous for a solo :)   I'm sure you did a wonderful job. Promise me you'll sing it for me when I get home, okay?  And it sounds like Emi at least is not being underfed :)  Love you!

Hadley - You never told me about a boy!  Grab the pepper spray!  Just kidding :)  So, his name starts with Z?  Is there a reason you didn't tell me his full name?  I can't wait to get your cards!  I'm sure they'll be awesome. Love you!

Hayden - The week was great, and the language is coming well.  What did you talk about in deacons quorum?  That sounds really fun :) I remember how much I "loved" pow-wows.  That was sarcasm, in case you didn't catch it.  Love you!

Ashleigh - I am so tempted to do the joke about "Oh?  You're driving now?  Stay off the roads!" but I know that you'll probably hear it about 30 times in the next 6 months.  Prepare yourself.  Also, that sounds like good-old Dad :) Always using those mormon swearwords :)  Gosh dang-it, BYU lost!  Gosh dang-it, Austin, I knew I never should have adopted you!  Kidding :) Love you!

 Me with Frank and Paul at the Temple.. I think Paul forgot to smile :)

Elder Mak, Frank, Me

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week 16: D&C 30:11

First off, check out the subject title.  I think I've already mentioned the scripture, but it's given me strength a few times, and I hope that it can do the same for someone else.

Second, I just want to say thank you all for taking the time to read my letters.  I know I probably sound like a broken record, but it means a ton, and I really appreciate all the support I'm getting from back home.

So, I want to start off with a cool experience I had this week.  Basically, we were planning a temple trip for some of our new converts and it happened this Saturday.  Going to the temple is always special, but I can't say that I've ever felt excitement while I've been inside.  It's always been a place of peace and comfort, but excitement isn't something that I'd pin down that the temple helps me with.  This time was different though.

Basically we showed up and none of the temple workers knew Chinese.  I guess we should have seen it coming, but they asked some of us elders to help translate at certain times throughout the temple.

As missionaries, we can't actually participate in temple baptisms, so Elder Mak and I were just there to support the people we were bringing.  Their names are Frank and Paul, and they're both awesome.  You already know Frank, and Paul is another one of our recent baptisees.

Now, I bet you're all expecting me to say that the coolest part was seeing them go into the water, but it wasn't.  That part was awesome, but the part I remember most distinctly was right before it.  I was sitting next to Frank, and he had his stack of cards of all the people that had died without receiving the ordinance of baptism.  I explained how the card was laid out, where there name was, etc., but the coolest part was that when I pointed out the date of death, he got excited.  The date on the first one was 1978, and he said something along the lines of "Wow, that's quite a while."  Then he flipped it over, and it was something like 1927.  He was a bit more surprised this time.  He flipped to the next, and it was something like 1888.  He started going faster through these names, and I could tell he was amazed at how long these people had been waiting.

Finally we got to the last one, and the year on the card was 1538.  We stopped on that one, and I just remember having one of the most spiritual 5 seconds of silence of my life as we looked at this card together.  He turned to me, as if to question the date, and I just said "He's waited a long time."

Frank turned to look at the nearby baptismal font, and I could feel more of a sense of purpose coming from him. I don't really know what he was thinking, and I know that this experience probably seemed pretty minor to anyone watching, but I swear I could feel that guy from 1538 just thanking Frank over and over again.  It was an amazing experience, and I just want to testify that the names on those blue and pink cards are real people.

Other cool experience:  We were meeting with a less active this week, and we brought along a member.  I had actually never really talked to her before, but she was more than willing to come. The lesson was on Sabbath Day observance, and our intent was to help this member come to church, but somehow we got on the subject of children.  Usually, this is a bad sign, because if the missionaries lose control of the lesson then the members start chatting, and 15 minutes is gone.  Usually we try and pull it back, but we let it go.  I don't know if it was just laziness or feeling the spirit, but the bottom line is I let it go.  It started out with the two members casually talking about their families, and I'll be honest when I say I wasn't trying to listen to the Chinese as well as I should have, but all of a sudden the woman that we'd brought just started to cry mid-sentence.  I perked up immediately and listened as she bore one of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever heard, Chinese or English.  She is an arthritic 50 year old, and on paper, she was never supposed to be able to have kids, but she talked about how much the Lord had blessed her life in giving her two boys. I don't really know how to describe what I felt, but when you looked at her, you could just see the love in her eyes.  It was a tangible presence, and the coolest part?  The member came to church yesterday!  The gospel is so true!

Two experiences that could, in other circumstances be pretty minor, but this week they both meant the world to me.

The other most significant part of this week was probably that we had zone council, which is always amazing.  I have a new-found love for President and Sister Clayton, and just want to testify that they are absolutely called of God.  It was really cool, and we focused a lot on the Atonement, which is always a jolly good time.

Also, I get a lot of emails asking what missionary life is like, so I thought maybe I'd share our schedule.

6:30 - Get out of bed, pray
6:32 - Realize that you zoned out after saying "Dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee...."  Start again.
6:39 - Finish stumbling through a prayer that is almost completely sincere, with only a few fleeting thoughts of more sleep or how many toaster waffles I'm going to put down today.
6:40 - Get up, go to the bathroom.
6:41 - Emerge, companion is still praying.  Shrug, go eat toaster waffles
6:50 - Several pounds of waffles have been consumed. Companion is still praying.  Begin exercising.  Turn on your workout music, which for a missionary basically means EFY songs or Nashville Tribute band.  Pretty hardcore, I know.
7:30 - Jump in shower.  Companion is still praying.  Practice singing the soprano part of "Nearer my God to Thee"
7:40 - Emerge.  Companion is still praying.  Start getting ready for the day.
7:55 - Companion gets up from praying.
7:59 - Still tying tie when companion emerges from the bedroom, showered, cleaned, and completely ready for the day.  Wonder about 2 Peter 3:8 (Read it.  You'll laugh)
8:00 - Start personal study prayer.
8:02 - Start personal study.
9:00 - Companionship study
10:00 - Language study
11:00 - Training.  This is basically just for missionaries who haven't been out for 12 weeks yet
12:00 - Go proselyting.  Baptize nations
5:00 - Dinner (usually)
9:00 - Return to parking garage.  Go inside.  Realize you left the apartment key in the car.
9:01 - Realize you can't get back in the parking garage without the apartment key. True story.
9:02 - Begin waiting for someone else to come through the door.
9:07 - Someone comes, lets you through
9:08 - Return to apartment with key surgically attached to your hand to prevent further mistakes.
9:09 - Begin 9:00 planning session.  Call Chinese people.  Sometime I even understand what they say back. Plan the day.  Eat more toaster waffles from the bulk package.
10:30 - Prayer, and bed
10:31 - Member that you've been trying to get a hold of for weeks calls.  Can't answer, or else the mission president will chastise you.
11:15 - Realize you're still on your knees, but now asleep, and you never ended the prayer. Say "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" and go to bed.

Family, I love you, but I'm afraid I don't have time for the individual responses today.  I'll make them 5 times as long next time :(  Sorry, but I love you all!

Elder Sabin

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week15: The Infestation Has Been Conquered!

Alright family.  Confession time.  Something that I have refrained from telling you up to this point (to preserve mom's peace of mind) is that there was a bunch of cockroaches in the apartment when I showed up.  Super gross.

However, the other day I found their home in the forgotten cupboard above the fridge that no one uses.  I destroyed their food source, an ancient unopened box of garlic that was probably left by Moroni, and then I basically dunked the whole cabinet in Anti-Cockroach spray.

After some "cleaning up," Elder Mak and I high-fived, and we've only seen like two since then.  Sounds gross, but this is a big improvement.  This must be what Ammon felt like after he chopped off all the arms.

On a lighter, less insecty note, the week's been great! In order to bother Elder Mak, I found a word in Chinese that sounds like "Whoa!" in English, then made a sign for it, and hung it up.  Whenever I get excited, I point at the sign and start screaming, "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!"  The character's actual translation is "asparagus," so basically in Elder Mak's eyes, I'm just really loudly yelling "ASPARAGUS!!! ASPARAGUS!!!" over and over again.

Also, Elder Mak tried to microwave an egg.  I was standing near the microwave minding my own business, when suddenly an unholy sound not unlike a whale giving birth to a roaring T-rex emerged from the satanic box.  Instinctively, I dove for cover.  By this, I mean, I spilled the juice I was drinking, broke the Olympic record for a vertical jump and, after removing my head from within the ceiling, screamed "Elder Mak, what did you cook? C4!?"

Elder Mak promptly rushed into the kitchen, and judging by the sound he was probably thinking "A 12-gauge shotgun has been fired into my companion!" or something along those lines.  We then carefully, CAREFULLY (I cannot stress this enough) opened the microwave, to see the remnants of a formerly-boiled, now-scrambled egg.  Elder Mak's face was kind of like that scene in Remember the Titans when they're all at the grave singing "Hey, hey, hey.  Goodbye."  Kind of like that, but sadder.  It was hilarious.  If the "Whoa" sign had been hung up yet, I probably would have used it.

The language is starting to come as well.  I'm actually sort of sometimes maybe able to read my Book of Mormon in characters, and even though I usually have to look up 1 or 2 characters every verse, it's still really cool.  As far as speaking goes, I am told every day that my Mandarin is getting better by all the Chinese people I interact with.  However, I think this might be a game they're playing with each other.  Like, as soon as I leave, they all snicker and say "I told him his Mandarin is getting better.  Pfft!" and then someone else says "I told him I could actually understand what he was saying.  Haha!" and then they all laugh together and talk about other apostate things.  Or I might just be imagining things.  Hard to tell.

To be honest, I do feel like I'm improving a ton, so don't worry too much about me, but just so you know, my Mandarin still involves a lot of "Ni keyi zai shuo yi ci ma?"  which means "Can you say that one more time?"

Also, we got 6 new investigators this week!  Super awesome!  I don't know how many of them will have an interest in getting baptized, but I hope all of them!

Also, something cool I noticed while reading the scriptures this week.  In Jacob 5, which I know is everyone's favorite chapter, the Lord and his servant go into the vineyard a few times, and every time, the servant says "Give me more time."  Except the last one.  That time he says "I'll get more servants."  Maybe this is something that everyone already knows, but I only just noticed it.  In the past, reading Jacob 5 has involved a lot of zoning out and not paying attention, but this time I really tried, and I thought that it was cool.  In the last dispensation, the Lord is going to need more servants to help further his work.

Also, at the beginning of the week I studied Alma 32, which is a great chapter.  My favorite is verse 27 which talks about how if you only have a desire to believe, then that can be enough for you to gain a testimony.  Then, during the week, I probably used that scripture with 3 of 4 lessons.  God definitely wanted me to read it.

Mom - I'm glad you shared that quote with me.  It's going in the quote book.  It reminds me of one by Elder Holland that says: I had a missionary ask me once if I would give my life for the Church.  I said "Elder, I am giving my life for the Church."  I know what he meant.  what he meant was "Would you die for it?".  Well, that's the easy part, to die for it.  What God needs is people who'll live for it, people who will go the distance, people who are in this race we're talking about that will go all the way to the tape... we're in this together."

I think that quote really sums up what I've learned out here.  No matter what we do, we're not going to do it perfectly.  Accept that. But don't ever let that stop us from striving and putting every bit of our effort on the table.  Don't hold anything back, because there is so much more in store for us.  It's one of the most frustrating feelings in the world to look at all the great people out here and say "I want to be like them," and just not physically be able to do that.  However, I think what I've learned is that we can't be "that good" immediately.  It's a process, and it takes a lot of effort to get there.

Ellie - That's sounds like a super depressing book.  I'll make sure to not...use a broken canoe?  Anyway, I'm glad Halloween was good :)  You probably felt like I did when I got some recent packages (Shout out to Uncle Cabot and Aunt Heather and Gramma!).  I still haven't eaten half of the stuff I've gotten.  Love you!

Hadley - So, are you in the double digits for number of costumes?  Just wondering.  Mormon's a pretty awesome guy, isn't he :)  One of my favorite scriptures from his writings is Mormon 9:19, which basically just says "God is a God of miracles."  It's pretty great. Love you!

Hayden - Ya, our Fast Sunday is on the same day as yours.  During Testimony Meeting we had an old Chinese man who was probably about 90 get up.  He basically started denouncing every other Christian church in the loudest voice he could muster and saying they were are "Cuo le!" which means "Wrong!"  I guess technically it was true, but we had some investigators in the audience with us, and the entire time we were really worried that this wasn't the best intro to the church for them.  It was fine though.  Glad to hear things are going well :) Love you!

Ashleigh - About the "freezing thing" I think I'm gonna get where your coming from.  Everyone's already talking about the winter.  We'll see where that goes. Anyway, were you the murderer in the game?  You were, weren't you?  You always seemed like the murdering type to me :)  Kidding.  I'm glad ski season is going to be fun...*sob*... and all that...*sob*... fun stuff.  I'm not crying...*sob*...it's just allergies!  I don't even care about...*sob*... skiing. :) Just kidding. Love you!

Dad - Thanks for sharing with me.  Seriously, I think that's awesome.  This week I went on exchanges with the English missionaries (which was a really nice break from Mandarin), and while I was with him we were talking about the Word of Wisdom.  We were with a member, and he's fairly active, but our goal was to try and help him to stop smoking. Basically, he thought it didn't really matter since he was doing everything else right, and so who cares if he smokes?  I was trying not to get frustrated with this guy, but basically we had been running in circles for a while and finally, I just shared the scripture from Luke 22:32 which is where Jesus says to Peter "When thou art converted," implying that Peter is not yet converted.  At this point he's walked on water for crying out loud, and he's not converted yet.  Our message with this guy was basically this: If Peter wasn't converted at this point, then neither am I, or my companion, or you.  If you think there is a point at which you are "fine" and you have not yet walked on water, then you are wrong.  There is no finish line in this mortal life.  No point at which people can say "I've been saved" and forget the whole "enduring to the end" thing.  It's never done.  Never finished.

Love you so much!  You're the best!

-Elder Sabin
-Xia ZhengLao

P.S.  The pictures of Emi will be hanging in the apartment.

This is Elder Mak's smile and his serious face.  You have to look very carefully to spot the difference:

A recent conversation between us and one of our recent converts.  This is what you should all try to do:

This picture shows that, according to the ward directory, Elder Mak and I are sister missionaries.  You'd think they would have told us by now: 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 14: Mission-y Things

First off, don't judge my subject titles.  They're amazing.

Second, it was great to hear from everyone back home!  I always love getting everyone's emails!

Things are going great up here in Toronto.  It's started to cool down a little bit, which isn't all that bad for the Utah missionaries, but all the Hong Kong missionaries might go back with PTSD.  This will be Elder Mak's first Canadian winter, and he's already starting to freeze.  Every day he say's "It is negative" at least 10 times in his amazing Honk Kong accent.  This should be pretty entertaining :)

It's been quite an adjustment here without Elder Kendall.  All of a sudden I can't make any movie references or talk about anything American beyond basic vocabulary, so it's definitely been quieter, but Elder Mak's a great missionary.  It's also really pushed us to practice our Chinese a lot more.

Speaking of Chinese, you know that scripture in Acts 2 where they start preaching and everyone just hears it in their own language?  That would be real nice.  Seriously, Mandarin is about the most different language from English that you could possibly have.  I was trying to translate for an English missionary the other day at a Chinese meeting, and my brain just couldn't switch back and forth between the two modes.  The grammar is completely reversed, so I'd have to wait until the speaker was done with the sentence, flip it around, and then say it in English grammar, which didn't always happen the way it was supposed to.

On the bright side, I can definitely feel myself improving.  My vocabulary is still limited, and often it's frustrating, but I can read more of the Book of Mormon every day, and my listening ability is improving.

Also, I just thought I'd share something that I've been doing lately in personal study.  I've been taking all of the greatest people out of the Book of Mormon, and finding 5 verses that, in my opinion, are the most defining verses in their story.  I haven't gotten through it all yet, but here's what I've got so far.

1Nephi 2:3
1 Nephi 5:10
2 Nephi 1:21 and 23
2 Nephi 2:25
2 Nephi 4:2

1 Nephi 3:7
1 Nephi 18:16
2 Nephi 4:17-19
2 Nephi 4:28
2 Nephi 33:3

Enos (Not a ton of material to choose from, I know)
Enos 1:2
Enos 1:4
Enos 1:11
Enos 1:26
Enos 1:27

King Benjamin
Mosiah 1:6
Mosiah 2:14
Mosiah 2:17
Mosiah 4:9
Mosiah 4:19

Mosiah 13:3
Mosiah 13:9
Mosiah 15:11-12
Mosiah 16:8
Mosiah 17:10

Anyway, you guys might not care, and don't feel like you need to look them up, but I'm having fun doing it.  It's been pretty cool.

The biggest thing that happened this week was probably stake conference, which was super awesome.  I don't know if it's just because I'm a missionary now, or if the people up here are just more awesome than all you people back in Utah.  Guess we'll never know.

Kidding.  But seriously it was super cool.  One guy gave an amazing talk about relating our relationship with God to that of a father and a child.  The father want's so badly to give his child his inheritance, but he knows that if it is given when the child is young and not yet ready, then it will probably be wasted.  On top of that, a father want's more than to just give his child every material item.  He also want's the child the become like he is.  To be who he is, and to have the same qualities, strengths, and good characteristics.  However, these can't be given so easily.  They have to be obtained by the child, and although the father can help the child on his way, he can't force the child to be something he's not.  It was a great talk.

Another one of the really good ones was about how much this guy loved the temple.  He had worked there a ton as an ordinance worker and as a volunteer, and he shared some experiences he had had while he was there.  One of the most touching ones was about a family he met that had come to get sealed.  The father had previously been excommunicated, and the only reason he was back in the church was because his 9 year old daughter had asked him why they weren't sealed in the temple.  It was amazing to hear the story, and even though it was secondhand, it was a beautiful story about repentance and overcoming problems.  I think this guy cried for his entire talk, and it was one of the most spiritual one's I'd ever heard.

Mom - As far as a coat goes, we were actually going to buy one today.  We haven't gone to do it yet, so I'm not sure how it'll turn out, but that's what most the missionaries do.  I'll give you an update next week.  I love you so much!

Ellie - What!  Mom and Dad still haven't gotten a hot tub!?  Its been a whole week!  Ammon only needed like 2 days to baptize thousands!  How long does it take?  Halloween sounds like it's going well.  At least it's not lacking for variety.  I think for your Halloween costume you should wear a name-tag, and church clothes, and then you can knock on the door, but instead of asking for candy, just ask if you can go inside and share a short message about Jesus Christ.  It'll be great.

Hadley - K, I'm not sure, but I think you just tried to put a few more x's and o's than Ellie.  I already knew you're a rock star and a princess, but I was wondering what your costume's are.  How does mom feel about the make up? Love you!

Favorite Brother - 70-6?  Are we sure we were playing the football team and not the marching band? What was the face2face thing with the Piano Guys?  That's an awesome scripture :) thanks for sharing it with me.  Alma 38:5, right?  I think that part of Alma where the three sons all get a speech is really cool.  Lots of good stuff in there.

Ashleigh - I don't know what online proselyting would consist of.  I've heard of missionaries that use Facebook somehow to teach people, but the only proselyting I've done has been street contacting and good old door-to-door tracting.  I haven't done a ton of it yet, because the members here are pretty good about referrals and we have a lot of less active and new convert work we're doing, so that keeps us busy.  Any boys I need to know about?

Dad - Loved your letter.  I was going to share it with Elder Mak, but all your emails have that scary message at the bottom that says "This may be confidential" and "No distribution" and "Scary lawyer stuff!" and "Wo unto the person who shares this document for he shall be thrust down to-"  and all that stuff.  Just kidding :) I did really love your thought though.  Next time people ask how I'm doing, just tell them to read Alma 26:29-30.  Pretty much the same thing.

Love all of you guys!  Also, send more pictures of Emi.  Or Emi.  In fact, just send Emi.  Put some air holes in a box, and ship her up here.

Love you!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 13: Frank Got Baptized!

As you can see by my subject title, I'm pretty excited :) He got baptized and it was super awesome!  I'll attach some pictures I got from it.

Anyway, that was definitely the highlight of the week.  Also, I got to go to the Toronto temple for the first time with all the other new missionaries, and I got to see Elder Stowell again, which was great.

On a sadder note, Elder Kendall is being transferred out of our companionship, so now its just going to be me and Elder Mak.  Pretty sad, but he's gonna do great things out there.  I'm gonna miss him :)

My email might seem a bit rushed this week because he's getting moved, and so with all the packing and things we need to do, I don't have as much time today.

Anyway my ponderizing scripture for this week is 2 Nephi 31:19 which says "And now my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."

I really liked this scripture, because for me I think enduring to the end is one of the most important parts of the gospel, and even though a lot of people talk about it, I don't think people try as hard to see examples of it in their life and in the scriptures.  We're always able to point out the people who didn't endure to the end like David, Solomon and Judas, but when we talk about stories of successful endurance it gets a bit more vague.

I think that's partially because it's harder to detect.  We all know Nephi endured successfully, but we don't pin that down as one of his defining qualities because we assume it was easy for him.  We say that he was courageous and bold and fearless and super ripped (according to the vintage photos).  We forget that for people like Peter, Paul, Ammon, and Moroni, endurance was never the easy way out.
Then, when we come across it in our own lives, we ask ourselves why God is forcing us to endure something that is so hard for us.  We read the scriptures every day (hopefully), but too often we read them as stories, and not as people.  Half of Nephi's family became apostate.  Aaron was wrongfully imprisoned.  Moses left behind a throne.  Peter and the apostles were (almost) all killed for their efforts.  Moroni's entire civilization was wiped out.

So as I was reading in Personal Study this week, I was trying to build off my ponderizing scripture from last week (2 Nephi 4:26) which is also a little bit about endurance.  I was thinking about how, as righteous as Nephi is, he still claims that he's a wicked man.  I found myself thinking "Dude, you're Nephi!  Like the most righteous guy in the whole book!" the whole time.  How could he think of himself as a wicked man?

I read the next verse in 2 Nephi, which is one of my favorites.  It says "Awake my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."
So here are my two conclusions.  1 - When God tries to teach me with trials, quit whining.  People died for this gospel, and if I'm not willing to put forth the same effort as them, then what makes me think that I deserve to get the same blessings?  If I want miracles like Moses, then I've probably got to go through the 40 years in the desert.  There's a quote that says "The pathway to salvation always goes through Gethsemane," and I think I'm learning that that's true.  The member's out here are so faithful and amazing, and I think the reason is that some of them had to cut family ties and leave their old world behind to be a member.  2 - Why can't I be like Nephi?  He obviously made mistakes.  He admits it in this chapter, and even if he didn't, we know that Jesus was the only person ever to be perfect.  However, here's what I think is keeping most people from being at his level.  They attribute their success to themselves.  The amazing thing about Nephi is he doesn't say "Having much strength."  He says "Having received much strength of the Lord" (1 Nephi 4:31).  He acknowledges God in every success, and admits his own shortcomings.  He knows he need's to progress, and so he never stops.

So there are my conclusions, and here's what I'm going to do about them:  I'm going to try my absolute best to be the man that God wants me to be.  One of my favorite quotes says "Couldst thou in vision see thyself the man God meant, thou never then would be the man thou art, content."  God see's us for who we can become.  He knows what's best for us, and he knows exactly what trials or tribulations he needs to put us through.  It's okay to feel down sometimes, but when you're going through a trial, just remember that this is the wilderness part of the journey, and the promised land is still ahead.  God's shaping you to be the best you can be, and he will never put you through something intended to bring you lower.  I'm going to acknowledge God's hand in all my successes, and know that "As to my strength I am weak (Alma 26)."  I don't have everything, and at times it will feel like I have nothing, but that's probably what Nephi felt when he had to leave his home and go into the wilderness.

Sorry, that's super long, but I thought it was worth sharing.

Hayden - We didn't have any more experiences with Sam yet :/  He was busy this week, but we're meeting with him this week, and I'll let you know how it goes.  I'm glad to hear Durango was super dope :)  As a joke, I translated "super dope" into Chinese, which is "Chaoji Dupin," which literally means "super drugs," and started saying it around the house.  There were some confused looks, but it's catching on.  BTW it's pronounced "Chow-gee doo-peen"

Hadley - I should have known it was you praying for me!  Who else could make Frank get baptized!  Keep em coming Hadley :)  I hope the flu wasn't too bad :/ Also, I don't know if that was a typo or just something that I'm not cool enough to know about.  What's "honking"?

Ellie - Booyah indeed :)  You should definitely come back with me sometime.  Then I can beat you up the ladder!  I will talk to Mom and Dad about a hot tub.
Mom and Dad - You know what would really help our home to be more gospel-y?  A hot tub.  You should get one
Ellie - They said yes.

Emi - What! You're lonely!!! Hold on!

Ashleigh - Go give Emi a big hug!

Hayden - Go give Emi a massive hug!

Ellie - Go give Emi a super duper big hug!

Hadley - Go give Emi the biggest flipping hug you've ever given!

Emi - Better?  Good :)

Ashleigh - Well, I was going to write a letter, but I can see that I've been replaced by Maddie already.  That's okay.  It's fine...I'm not bitter!  No, no, you guys go have fun!  Go sit in bookstores and have fun together! ;)  Love ya!  And the haters haven't gotten me down yet, although they have tried really hard.

Anyway, I gotta go pretty soon here.  I love all of you so much, and just want to say that everyone's support from home has meant so much.  Love you all!

Elder Sabin

P.S.  Mom, Dad, I have no idea how much it would cost, but do you know that electronic dictionary things?  That would be super awesome to have one if they're not a gazillion dollars. Could you let Santa know?

Elder Sabin and Elder Stowell (MTC companions):

 Frank's baptism:

My zone!  The Sister's thought we were doing crazy faces so that might explain Sister Westerlind's face:

Eating dinner at a buffet with some awesome members and investigators:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Hey guys!  I know the subject title doesn't make sense.  Don't worry, you'll get it in a second.

Anyway, first off, I just want to say thank you to all of you who are writing to me.  I know I don't always have time to respond to all of you individually, but I promise I read every single one.  Also, Grandpa Sabin, you definitely deserve a shout out.  Your letter was hilarious, and I read it aloud to all the other elders in the room.  We were dying!

Anyway, sorry I couldn't write on Monday.  Normally that's P-day, but up here in Canada, that's Thanksgiving.  The Chinese ward was doing a big hike to go see the maple leaves, and a bunch of people were bringing their non-member friends, so it was too good of a proselyting opportunity to miss.  I mean, come on?  Sitting on a bus for an hour and a half with a bunch of potential investigators who can't get away?  Too good to miss.

The highlight of the trip was definitely after we got back though.  While on the bus I spent most the trip back chatting with one of our investigators named Frank about all sorts of stuff.  I don't know if I mentioned him by name before, but he's the one that was going to get baptized on the 17th (This Saturday), and then had reservations.  Anyway, after we had talked for a long time and finally gotten off the bus, he came up to us and asked, "Hey, I've been thinking lately about baptism, and I was wondering if there's anyway I could still get baptized this Saturday."

After I picked my jaw up off the ground, we blurted out something that must have sounded like an affirmative answer, and I've been super stoked about it ever since.  I don't know who's all praying for me back home, but it's working I tell you!

Anyway, that was awesome.  And also, the hike was really cool.  I think Asian people must just be really big wusses about the cold, because every time it even gets a little bit chilly outside, they all start wearing enormous coats and earmuffs and gloves and all manner of things.  Seriously, the day of the hike was supposed to be like 60 degrees, and so I showed up in a shirt and jeans, and every single person I talked to started telling me I was going to freeze.  They all had their winter coats out, and it was kind of awesome.

Also, Asian people feed the missionaries really well.  I know my last letter about the duck heads was kind of gross, but 99% of the time the food is delicious and plentiful.  I'll share an example.

On Sunday, we were talking with the Bishop about the hike, and we turned to each other and started asking each other what we should bring for lunch.  He started to laugh, and said "I wouldn't worry about that.  I'm sure you'll be covered."

I wasn't sure what he meant, but I trusted him, and let me just say I never should have doubted.  We were the last people to get on the bus to go back home, and I'm not joking when I say that I received food from 7 different people while walking from the front of the bus to our seats at the back.  It was nuts!  Seriously, the first seat I passed, this little Asian lady doesn't even say anything and just holds out some egg rolls, and then the next seat shoves a box of sandwiches into my hands, and then I got some string cheeses, and then some croissants, and then some lady handed me a bunch of sodas and then I got a bag with like 9 apples.  How much do they think I eat?

Anyways, after running through the gauntlet of calories, I got to the back, and expected that I would have to share all this stuff with my companions.  This was no problem, because there was plenty of food, but when I turned around I saw that they had gotten just as much food as I had.  And it was different food!  From different people.

So we had a pretty great feast at the back of the bus.  It was glorious.

Also, funny experience number two.  We had a dinner appointment the other day with a bunch of Cantonese ladies, which was going to be amazing.  For those who don't know, I'm a Mandarin missionary, and Cantonese is a whole other language, so I can't understand it very well.

So we show up at this house (and it's already smelling amazing) and we walk inside to see all these amazing Cantonese ladies working in the kitchen and yelling stuff back and forth and laughing.  I had no idea what they were saying, but it was fun to listen to.  (Elder Mak was in heaven.  Cantonese is his native language from Hong Kong, and he hasn't had much of a chance to speak it yet, so he was super happy.)

Anyway, we walked in, and there was Happy Birthday ribbon strung up everywhere.  Like over all the walls, on the doors and stuff.  So anyway, I asked them (in Mandarin) "Whose birthday was it?".  They turned to me like I was the biggest idiot in the world, and shrugged their shoulders.  "No one." they replied.  Needless to say, I was confused.

We walked into the dining room, and there was a whole bunch of Chinese New Year and Christmas stuff all over the place.  I'm no expert, but I know that Chinese New Year isn't at least until January, and it's October.  At that point I realized something.  They didn't even care what the stuff said.  It was all in English letters, which they don't understand, and what I realized was that they weren't even trying to celebrate the holiday's.  They just like having decorations!

Then, when we got in the dining room, I looked across the room and saw in big letters on the window the words "HAPPY BIRD HATY".  It was supposed to say Happy Birthday, but they didn't know that, and as soon as me and Elder Kendell saw it, we looked at each other.  We held in the laughter (sort of) to be kind, but this house was honestly one of the best things I'd seen on my mission so far.  It was great.

Those are the highlights from the week.  It was amazing.

My ponderizing (Hmm... weird.  Spell check says that's not a word) scripture this week is 2 Nephi 4:26 which says "O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?"  Just thought I'd get that out there.  By the way, 2 Nephi 1 and 4 are some of my favorite chapters in the whole Book of Mormon, so you guys should all definitely read them.

Hayden - Sounds like you're doing great bro!  I'm happy for you.  Tell George to make sure he at least gets lots of sympathy for his leg from the girls.  Also, I just wanted to tell you something.  You should definitely read Preach My Gospel a little bit.  I absolutely underestimated how useful it would be before my mission, but now that I'm out here, I use it pretty much every day. Elder Kendell's copy looks kind of hilarious, because he decided to highlight every commandment or advice in the book in pink.  His whole copy is pink.  Like at least 90%.  It's only advice.

Ellie - That's awesome!  Sounds like the solo went great!  I love you so much, and just want to say that I hope next year you guys think of a name even better than the Royal Blueberries :)  I love you so much.  XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Hadley - Tell Mom that "glamping" is for wusses.  If it has indoor plumbing, a shower, a sink, or air conditioning, then it is in no way camping :)  I think I was smart not to eat the duck heads too.  They were super gross.  You'll have to sing your song for me when I get to call home on Christmas, okay? XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Ashleigh - Legend has it that if you put down C for every answer on the ACT, you'll get a 33.  I don't know.  That's just what I heard from some guy.  Also, I suggest bear spray instead of pepper spray.  It's more powerful, and can have permanent effects.  If that doesn't work, try Agent Orange.

Mom and Dad - I don't have a ton of time left, but I love you guys a ton.  Basically XO x 65.  Just wanted to say I'm doing great and I love you guys.  Dad, you know how I sleep talk a lot.  Apparently my sleep-talking consists of a lot of Chinese testifying.  I've said "Wo zhidao zhe ge jiaohui shi zhenshi de" several times already. (I know this church is true.)  The lord is definitely helping me learn.  Just want to say that I always appreciate your spiritual thoughts you send to me and wanted to say something else cool I've discovered.  Have you ever thought about looking at all the first and last words of every prophet and figure in the scripture?  I've been trying it, and it's super cool.  I mean, they knew they were writing to us, and they knew that this was going to be how they were going to conclude a book that would be central in gathering Israel, so its been cool to study that.  I definitely suggest it.  Love you guys!  Caelitus mihi vires! (Look it up.  It's Latin)

Elder Sabin
Xia ZhengLao