Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 6 (Happy Birthday Ellie!!!)

Thanks so much for writing.  Yes, you did send me that talk, and it might just be my favorite one so far.  It's currently tied with "Lord I Believe" and "Safety for the Soul".  Gosh, I love Elder Holland.

I love that thought he gives, and it might just be my favorite part of the New Testament.  Peter is a man I admire so much, not so much because of where he ended up, but because of where he started out.  He was impulsive, quick to anger, and he made plenty of mistakes.  He denied the Christ, and he fell asleep in the Garden.  But the difference between Peter and Judas is that one had his heart set on the silver and gold of the world, and the other never took his eyes off of heaven.

Peter was never perfect, but Jesus saw something in him that would change the world.

After the death of Christ, you have to feel bad for the apostles.  I believe in that talk, Elder Holland talks about the loss they must have felt and the lack of purpose they must have experienced.  Their Savior was gone, and they had no master.

However, after the Savior returns and gives his famous "Feed my Sheep" speech to Peter, the apostles go on to preach to the world.  Peter becomes such a standard for truth and righteousness that when he walks the streets of Jerusalem, people lay on the road hoping that his shadow will cross over their body, for they know that it will heal them.

I think living and growing up in the Church (especially in Utah) made me take for granted the connection I had with it.  It's pretty easy to go to church when all your friends do.  Even Judas Iscariot could do that.  However, as I've come here and seen so many missionaries coming from around the world, I can't help but feel admiration for them.  For them, the Church probably feels a bit far away.  Salt Lake City is an exotic land, and for them the nearest church is miles away.

But for Peter, it was that distance that forged him into God's tool.  When Christ was with him, he struggled and sometimes he fell.  He got right back up, and for that I admire him, but he was by no means perfect.  But then, after Christ left them, Peter truly becomes the mouthpiece of God.  He realizes that even though Christ is not in front of him leading the way to the next village or city, he is still going before his face and is on his right hand and on his left.

Sorry, if that's a bit lengthy of a comment on the talk, but I just wanted to communicate how much I love Peter.

Anyway, I'm doing great up here at the MTC, and I'm looking forward to this Wednesday.  We're getting 30 new missionaries in our zone, and Elder Stowell and I get to do the orientation.  It's crazy looking back to when I first got dropped off and had the orientation.  It feels like it was a year ago, but really it's not been very long.

Hadley, I just wanted to say thank you for the picture you sent.  It's pinned up in my room, and I love it so much.  The sister missionaries in our zone saw it, and are now in love with you, and they haven't even met you yet.  I do have a quick question though.  What's that thing you drew in my hand? We took a vote and decided it was a football.  Not sure though :)  I'm glad you're having a great time at first grade.  Pretty soon you'll be smarter than me.  Also, I know the reason Emi has been getting out.  She keeps coming to visit me here at the MTC and then she runs home really fast before you guys get home.

Ellie, I thought we agreed that you wouldn't get any older until I got home.  Now I have to miss out on banana cream pie.  I'm really mad right now ;)  I technically do sleep in a bunk-bed, but me and Elder Stowell were lucky enough to get a 4 person room to ourselves, so we both get to sleep on a bottom bunk and then we use the top bunk as storage.  Tell mom that I'm super clean, and I always make sure that I can at least see the floor through all my junk.  It's an improvement, right?
My companion's name is Gideon Stowell, but he really likes it when I call him Giddianhi or Gidgiddoni.  He likes BYU, so we get along well.  Sometimes I feel like I'm getting good at Chinese, but then I hear a native speak, and I wonder if it's the same language.

Hayden, just so you know, I got my Eagle when I was 6 years old, so you've already lost.  I was one of those "super advanced", "incredibly intelligent", and "ridiculously handsome" scouts that gets their Eagle when they're younger.  So... sorry.  I win.  I am super excited to go to Toronto!  At this point I've developed a hatred for English speaking missionaries, just because they get to go out so soon :) Tell CJ I said that.

Ashleigh, I'm very disappointed to see that Lehi is no longer undefeated.  For an instant there was a glimmer of hope that we might win more than one game in a row, but alas, my hopes have been dashed.  Also, great job getting your medallion!  I thought you would never be able to do it, but you've beaten my incredibly low expectations ;) Have a great time with lacrosse, and scratch Emi behind the ears for me.

Mom, what can I say :)  I miss you loads, and I'm loving the packages you've sent me (although you gotta stop with those donuts :) they're 400 calories each, and super tempting.  So stop helping Satan make me fat!).  Thanks for the conference talks, and for sending a picture of Emi.  Elder Stowell and I can finally settle whose dog is cuter.  Sorry my letters formatting is a bit messy today, but to relate it back to that huge thought at the top about Peter, I just wanted to say thanks for all the spiritual thoughts you (and dad) send me.  It means a lot, and I love reading them.

Dad, I hope you're having a great time in South Dakota :)  I loved that thought about always making sure we ourselves are converted.  That has special meaning here at the MTC because we hear so much about how "we can only convert people to the things that we are converted to."  A successful missionary isn't judged by how many baptisms they get or how good they are at the language.  They are judged by how dedicated they are to the cause.  I was thinking a lot about Abinadi these last few days (he's always been one of my favorites) and how dedicated he was to his mission.  He probably didn't really feel like he made a difference.  He didn't go anywhere exotic, he (as far as he knew) didn't have any converts, and in the end he gave his life for his cause.  But would you say he was an unsuccessful missionary?  Of course you wouldn't.  Any man that can have the glory of God shine in his countenance is obviously dedicated, and anyone who says otherwise is named King Noah.

Anyway, I love you all, and I hope you all are having a great time with school and life.  Love you!

Elder Sabin

PS Ashleigh, random note.  One of the Elders in my district wants a picture of a koala bear holding a panda bear by the fur about to punch him in the face, and a red panda standing behind them about to hit them with a chair.  It's a really long story, but basically its supposed to be a fight for who is the cutest animal, and he wants a picture.  I told him I'd ask you.  Make this happen.  I believe in you!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 5 (Insert Clever Subject Title Here)

Hey everyone!

First off, I just want to say thanks to everyone who's written emails and letters to me! They really make a difference, and I love reading them, even if I don't have time to respond to them all personally.

So, this week's been pretty average for the MTC, and by that, I mean it's been freaking awesome. We had a member of the 70 come and speak who's name is Larry J. Echo Hawk.  First off, coolest name ever.  I can already see that being the title of the next Marvel movie.  Someone make this happen.

But really though, he did a great job.  I think that in order to speak at the MTC, there's a pre-requisite that you have to talk about exact obedience for at least 5 minutes, so he did that, but then he started telling the story of his conversion, and that was very touching.  He grew up in poverty on an Indian reservation, and when he spoke about how grateful he was to the missionaries that came by his house, the Spirit just washed over the whole room.  I think every missionary's goal now is to convert someone, and have them go on to become a member of the Quorum of the 70.

Mom, as far as your concerns about my health go, I'm doing fine.  Our district was a bit under the weather this week, but I think Elder Jackson got the worst of it.  I had a cough, but it's getting better now, so I think I'm in the clear.
So, this week, I've been reading some conference talks (thanks mom!) and there's one by Elder Holland that I especially love called "Safety for the Soul."  It's always been one of my favorites, but it had new meaning to me when I read it the other day.  There's a point during the talk where he speaks about the faith that Joseph and Hyrum must have had in the Book of Mormon in order to endure until their deaths.

He says, "Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be "house less, friendless, and homeless" and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor.  Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true.  Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as impostors and charlatans until the end of time?  They would not do that!  They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."

I know it's a long quote, but it's also really good.  For me, after reading it, I realized something.  We give Joseph Smith a lot of credit.  We talk about him, we have hymns dedicated to him, we make movies about him, and he deserves every bit of that credit.  But what about Hyrum?

Before going to Carthage, Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were out of town, getting ready to leave Nauvoo.  They knew the mob was after them and, like any sensible person, they decided to get out of town for a bit.  However, as they were about to get on the ferry to cross the river, some members from town caught up to them.  They called them cowards and chastised them for leaving the town in its' hour of need.  They said this all to the very man who had been dragged out of his house, tarred and feathered, chased from city to city, and persecuted and mocked since the age of 14 for this church.  They disregarded all that, and in their moments of anger, they attacked and accused a prophet of God.

Had any normal man been in this situation, I'm sure he would have ignored their complaints and continued across the river.  But Joseph and Hyrum were no ordinary men.  Hyrum turned to his older brother and suggested they go back.  Joseph in tears said the famous line "If we go back, then we will die or I am not a prophet."

They went back.  Hyrum followed his brother to his death, knowing the whole time what was going to happen, and yet his faith never wavered.  I can't imagine how difficult that must have been.  

I don't think we give enough credit to Hyrum.  To be able to follow a man, knowing that you'll die if you continue in this course, knowing that your wife will be a widow and your children fatherless, and yet continuing in your course because you don't fear what man can do.

Our district motto is "Fear no man" which comes from D&C 30:11 (Look it up!).  We've basically taken it to mean that, as long as God is with us, we should not fear what man can do.  I think Hyrum really understood that message, knowing that as long as he stood with his brother, he would be okay.  He was no Laman.

We can't all be prophets.  We can't all restore a dispensation or have God manifest himself to us, but we can all be Hyrum's.  We can all work a little harder not to fear what people will do or think or say.  We can't all be at the top of the pyramid, but we can all have faith.  Sometimes it's hard to work under a bishop that you feel is too young and inexperienced or to obey the commands from a prophet who can't possibly know your personal situation.  I'm sure for Hyrum it was hard to accept his little brother Joseph as a prophet of God, but he did it, and God bless him for it.

Someone once said "Some men will get results if kindly encouraged, but give me men who will do things in spite of Hell".  Hyrum followed his brother, and he did it without the glory or the calling of prophet, but he followed God and he got results.  He did it in spite of the whole world telling him what a fool he was, and he had no evidence to give them other than a little book his brother translated.

Anyway, there's my spiritual thought for the week.  Hope everyone back home is doing fine!

Dad:  Thanks so much for sending me that email.  It really meant a lot, and I printed it off, and I'm going to keep it in my dorm.  I hope you're doing well, and I just wanted to say thanks for all you've done for me.  I couldn't ever thank you enough.

Mom:  Most missionaries can listen to music as long as it's hymns (In some cases they can listen to EFY type songs) but our branch president discourages it.  It might change when I'm out in the field.  I haven't taken many pictures, but I'll try and take more in the future.  Sorry!  And no, I don't think there's anything else I need, but thank you for asking.  By the way, those Dunford donuts you sent were very popular with the other elders.  I think I could feel my arteries clogging as I ate them.  Also, thanks for the quotes!  I really love hearing spiritual thoughts from all of you!

Hadley:  Tell Emi to get better soon!  Also, I'm so glad to hear you're starting first grade!  You're going to love it.  My favorite food at the MTC is probably the food that you guys send me :) the food at the cafeteria isn't too good.  

Hayden: I'm glad to hear you "merged" and became one of them.  Are you sure you didn't just make friends with the Borg?  If you don't get that reference, ask Dad about it.  He's old enough for sure!  I am doing great up here, but the food is just okay.

Ellie: There are about 40 people in my zone, but a lot of them leave today, so it will be about 20 for a week and then we get more coming in next week.  They are all learning Chinese, and a lot of them are much better at it than me.  We have to go to bed at 10:30 every night, and wake up at 6:30, even if it's P-Day.

Ashleigh:  Tell Mrs. Allen and Mr. Seastrand that I say hi :)  They're both fantastic teachers.  Glad to hear that the Lehi football team has finally won a game.  I think East Germany was still part of the U.S.S.R when that happened.  Remember, no kissing boys until I get back.  You'll just have to give them high-fives after the date.
Emi:  Bang!

Thanks everyone for writing and reading my updates!  You are all amazing!

-Elder Sabin

P.S. Happy Birthday Cara!



Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 4

Hey everyone!  Before I get into the update for the week, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone back home who has sent me emails and mail.  I feel so bad that I'm not able to respond to each of the emails personally, since we only get a certain amount of time online on P-day, but I thought I'd let everyone know that I have as much time as I want to respond to written letters.  I'm totally aware it's more trouble to send it, but if I don't have time to send back an email on Monday, and you want a response, I promise I'll always respond to mail.  Thanks!
 
Mom - Thanks so much for the talks!  One of them has probably now been read by everyone in the district, and I've enjoyed reading them all.  I love that line you shared about how he was an example of what it means to do good for the right reason.  I hope everything is going well back home, and I wish you the best!
 
Ashleigh - I gained about 5 pounds in the first few days after eating like crap.  When I realized what was happening, I told myself, "This will not happen to me!"  Me and my companion immediately started working out really hard in the morning, and eating much better, so now I've probably actually lost weight :)
 
Ellie - Yes, we get to go to the temple every P-day morning, and it is awesome :)  Also, we play soccer, we do laundry, we take a nap, and we go running sometimes.  It's pretty much a "do whatever you want" day.
 
Hadley - I told Emi she wasn't allowed to do that trick till I got home, so I'm glad to hear she kept her promise.  Keep telling mom there's no way you'll stop growing up :)  glad to hear you're teacher is nice.  It is so crazy to think the school year is starting.
 
Hayden - I'm doing awesome here.  Yes, some of the people I meet at TRC are from Taiwan or China, and one of my teachers is also a native.  You'll have a great time in Middle School, so stop worrying :) the teachers are mostly nice, and as long as you don't annoy the ninth graders, you should be fine :)
 
Dad - Sorry I don't have more time to respond, but I really appreciated the email you sent.  I keep a book of all my favorite quotes, and here on the mission it's probably doubled in size.  I love you so much and thank you so much for taking the time to send some thoughts.
 
Alright, so this week has been fantastic!  First piece of big news - Me and Elder Stowell just got called as the new zone leaders.  Three weeks in and they're already putting me to work :) Basically, all this means is that I give tours to new missionaries, my Sunday schedule is crazy, and - best of all - I get a phone!!!!   I mean, sure, all it can do is call the front desk and get calls from the Mission President, and it's probably older than me, but IT'S A PHONE!  I don't think the outside world realizes how far back in time you go when you come into the MTC.  I haven't held, touched, or seen a cordless phone in almost 4 weeks, and it's a bit crazy to have one, even if it is a flip phone :)

Haha, now for the serious stuff.  So, yesterday, we had the Nashville Tribute Band come and do a performance, which just may have been the best experience yet at the MTC.  I had forgotten how much I loved their songs when I was younger, and when they all got on stage and bore their testimony through music, it was amazing.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire audience.

They played one song called American Dreams that I especially loved, which is basically about an immigrant who leaves his native Ireland to go to Kirtland, where he hears a prophet is building a temple to worship his god. He leaves, and the song follows his travels until finally, he reaches Ohio, and Joseph Smith reaches out his hand and says, "Welcome, my friend."  The chorus then changes from "They're building a temple to worship my God" to "I'm building a temple to worship my God" and he bears his testimony of his belief through his work and effort.  Today, very few of us have to build a temple with our own hands and tools, but like those saints in Kirtland, we are in the business of building a kingdom, and whether that is with toil and sweat, or with words and testimony, we are building.  The first saints had to give up everything including their homes around the world to follow a prophet.  I'm sure their friends thought they were crazy when all the evidence they could give was a testimony of the gospel and a recently published book, but they went, and they went by the thousands.  As they sang the song, I looked around and saw that, sitting in this room with me, were people from all around the world with no reason other than a testimony and a book they held in their hands.  Now, I know that serving a two year mission is nothing compared to what the early saints went through, but it's hard not to feel admiration for these people from Tonga and Japan and France and New York who probably were the only one of their friends who thought giving two years of their time to the Lord was a good idea.  And when I'm with them I feel like "We're building a temple to worship our God".

They also sang a song called something like "The Hardest Thing," and I don't remember the exact lyrics, but it was inspiring.  It went something like "The hardest thing I've ever loved to do was when I stepped out of that car and said goodbye," as the singer talks about his family and his life he's leaving behind.  The mission starts, and the comments start to change their point of view.   Instead of dreaming of home, he starts singing "The hardest tears I've ever loved to cry, came when I opened up my mouth and testified."  The singer's whole view of a mission changes, and it made me realize how quickly the Lord works wonders in the lives of the missionaries who serve him.  I have yet to meet a missionary who doesn't miss his family back home, but I also haven't yet met one who hasn't felt the spirit here stronger than anywhere else.  There's something special about the MTC, and I know to missionaries out in the field, my point of view seems a bit naive, but I've loved every minute here. The last line of the song says something like "The hardest thing I've ever loved to do, was to fly on home here to you, when a land so far away still owns my heart."  I look forward to the day I get to come home, but I hope it's hard.  I hope that, at least in me, Toronto will always have a place.  That after two years of serving and working and loving, it's a bit hard to get on that plane and come home, because if it's hard, I think that means I've done it right.

I have no regrets about coming out here, and for those young men back home entertaining the idea of serving a mission I have a few words.  Do it.  You'll never be able to thank yourself enough for making the choice to leave your family for a couple of years to help others be with their families forever.  Pray about it.  Ask God, because I know the answer He's going to give you.  He'll tell you there's nowhere He would rather have you be.

For those lacking in faith or in conviction, stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others.  In the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland "If it was right when you prayed about it, and trusted it, and lived for it, it is right now.  Don't give up when the pressure mounts."  There's an elder in my district who left everything behind including a family who doesn't support him and friends who have ridiculed his decision.  He has more determination than anyone I've met here, and I am in awe of his decision.  He's a convert of two years, he comes from a pretty rough background, and I love him.

In order to get from the airport to the MTC, he had to call up a few old friends.  Well, it turns out, that these friends of his were the missionaries that converted him, who have since returned from their missions and are back in Salt Lake.  They picked him up, and I couldn't help but think how amazing that must be for them.  On their missions they found a kid who no one would have guessed would accept the gospel, but they followed the spirit, and it turned out amazing.  Here they are, two years later, dropping off this elder at the MTC.  They get to watch the fruits of their labors and see a man begin his mission just because they took a chance and saw a kid like no one had seen him before.

I have no doubt that they looked at him through God's eyes, and saw something.  Something that maybe I get to see a little of now.  I'm not really sure what the point of telling his story was, but I felt like I should, and I hope it helps someone back home.  Never underestimate the power of the Spirit and the effect it can have to soften someone's heart.  Faith without works is dead, so go on in the work, and if you haven't started, then start now.  We are building a kingdom, and sometimes the pieces come from the most unlikely places.

Love you all so much.  Gotta go!!!

Elder Sabin



A link to the songs he refers to, if you are interested:

American Dreams:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mT4ol_JMfc

Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do:

https://youtu.be/DlZYihQrhLs

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 3

Thanks so much for writing guys!  Mom, I'll do my best to send pictures, but the technology here only works about half the time.  I think its powered by the spirit... like the Liahona or something :)
 
Hayden:  I think maybe you should just move to Nate's house and have "sleepovers" at our house.  That might make more sense :) Also, about my companion, I asked him if he was super uber-luber-kuper-juber-licious dope and he said yes.  I'm skeptical, but I guess we'll just have to take his word for it. 
 
Hadley: I am having a great mission, so thank you for hoping :) I did get the donuts and the chips and salsa, and they were both very good.  I liked them both a lot, but not quite as much as all the other guys in my district :)  Haha, I love you too!!!
 
Ellie: I do get to eat Teriyaki Chicken here sometimes, and it is super good, but whenever its on the menu we have to hurry to lunch to get it.  Pretty much everyone in the whole MTC likes it, so if you don't make it there quickly then the line is super long, and you get stuck with something dumb like a salad :)  My name in Chinese is Xia Ao Xin (pronounced shaw ow sheen) or, since Xia is the last name, Elder Sabin translates to Xia Zhang Lao (shaw jong lao).  I don't know how to say your's in Chinese, because normally we get our names from someone who is from China, and they know what the common names are.  Volleyball camp sounds like tons of fun!  We've been playing volleyball up here a lot on our Pdays, and I think I'm getting pretty good.  We'll have to play when I get back.  Also, tell Mom if she wants to stop making so much food, just cut the recipe in half.  That should be about right.

Ashleigh:  Poggy?  Really?  Poggy?  That's what we're going with?  Fine, I'll put up with it :) Good choice with the drivers ed.  In all my years of high school, that was the most pointless class I ever took.  99 percent of it was a waste of time :)  Mom and Dad both told me you did a great job in church, and I'm so glad to hear you had a great time at girls camp.  We were listening to a talk that Elder Holland gave to the MTC a while back (It's called Missions are Forever.  Look it up if you can) and he gave some really inspiring thoughts.  One of my favorite parts was when he started talking about preaching the gospel in all time and in all things and in all places, and he told us "Go out and astonish somebody!!!" in the fire-spitting Elder Holland-ish way.  He told us we must always be ready to make a stand for our faith and to send it out to a world that dearly wants it and to souls that dearly need it.  He really spoke to me, and I've realized that we have much more of a responsibility to this gospel than I ever knew.  To defend it, to endorse it, and to proclaim it to all the world.  As members and missionaries we need to go out and astonish people with our words, and so long as we're doing it right, the Lord will help us in every way we can.  It won't be easy, because it wasn't easy for Him, but it will absolutely be worth it.  One of the most famous scriptures in the LDS church is Moses 1:39 which says "For behold this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," and, although I've always loved that scripture, it now has new meaning for me.  Although this is God's work and glory, we need to make it OUR work.  To bring to pass immortality and eternal life by preaching and proclaiming to the ends of the earth, and whether that's in Sacrament meeting, Toronto, Bolivia, Uruguay, Houston, South Dakota, or Argentina, it needs to be our work.  The gospel gives us more power than any King, Congress or Parliament ever had, so lets act like it.  Love you Ash!
 
Mom:  Thanks so much for all the packages.  You've basically fed my whole district, and they told me specifically to tell you to keep it up :)  Haha, thanks so much for writing, and I'm sorry about the pictures.  I'll do my best to send them.  So this week our districts topic was about repentance, and I read a lot about forgiveness and the atonement.  In one of our devotionals we were talking about how no matter how many times we stumble and fall, we can get back up.  Even though we may have a hard time forgiving ourselves, God's love and Christ's Atonement are always ready to pick us back up and put us on our feet.  The devotional was awesome, but then the next day we found ourselves teaching at TRC (Teaching Resource Center) which is basically an event were a bunch of volunteers from Provo (some members, some investigators) come and get a lesson from the missionaries who are learning a language.  My Chinese is still very limited, but I was still excited to teach people from outside the MTC.
We got to teach a lady named Brittany who was actually an investigator, and although we obviously struggled a bit with the language, she was very patient and kind.  The lesson was on faith, and it was going very well, but as soon as I started testifying about the Atonement, my mind went back to our devotional and I found myself almost crying.  In broken Chinese me and my companion both started to share our testimony about the gospel, and as soon as I started feeling the spirit the language just started flowing so easily.  Our testimony was still very simple I'm sure, but I know she felt the spirit, because I know I did, and afterward me and Elder Stowell just walked out in awe of what the spirit can do.  The gift of tongues is real, and my testimony of repentance and forgiveness has definitely increased.  There's a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that I love that says "It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of great deeds might have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and come up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great detentions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who if he wins knows the triumph of great achievements; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."  I know he wasn't talking about repentance when he said it, but I can't help but feel that he's talking to me.  That even though we may come up short again and again, that we fall over and over, there is glory in trying.  All God cares about is direction, and although we may get discouraged and down on ourselves, we need to pick ourselves up and get back in the fight. God wants nothing less for us than exhalation so stand up, and if you can't stand, then kneel.
 
Dad:  Thanks so much for the letter.  I really appreciated getting to hear from you and knowing that you're doing well.  I'm pretty sure everyone here at the MTC has had at least a few hard days, but every missionary got a huge morale boost when we got to hear from the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Russel M. Nelson.  Before he spoke, we had choir practice which is always amazing, and the director Ryan Egget is so fun and so spiritual that he gets more than half of the MTC to be in the choir.  The song he chose for us was a version of Be Still My Soul, which I've always liked, but he brought new meaning to it for me.  He spoke about how it's an odd hymn, because if you look at the lyrics, we're actually singing to ourselves.  He then revealed that Russel M. Nelson would be speaking that night, and how he chose the song specifically because President Nelson is probably going through a lot right now.  He is now the head of the Quorum Of The 12, several of his good friends and co-workers have passed on, and many are currently ill.  When we sang Be Still My Soul, it was going to be for him, because although he's going through a lot right now, God can always help us to "still our souls".
After that we got to actually hear him speak, which was amazing.  He gave one of the most sincere talks about missionary work I've ever heard, and although I know he must be reeling from the impact the church has had, I also know that he feels the influence of God in his life.  It reminded me of the last few lines of the poem Invictus which say "It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."  No matter what happens to us, it is up to us to decide how we continue.  Its during hard times that God shows us who we really are, and whether we fall like Saul, David, and Solomon or fall on our knees like Alma, Nephi, and Moroni, we can always come back.
Patriarch Dallon once shared a story in sacrament about a silversmith who was asked how he knew the metal was ready to be shaped.  He replied that after heating, smashing, and bending the metal, it would only be ready when he could see his reflection in it.  God shapes us, he bends us, and sometimes we let the world break us, but we will only be ready to live with God when he can see his reflection in us.  As Elder Holland said "If for a while the harder you try the harder it gets take heart.  So it has been with the greatest people who have ever lived."
 
Anyway, thank you to all the people back home who have sent so many kind letters and emails.  I appreciate all of you, and I wish I had time to respond to all of them individually, but unfortunately I'm limited :/ Just know that I know this gospel is true.  If you're struggling with your faith, then lean on mine.  God lives, and he loves you.  He knows you, and he knows what you're going through.  He knows how hard life is, and he is cheering every second for you to stand back up and keep going.  Just remember that sometimes the road to Salvation has to go through Gethsemane and Calvary.  Keep true to the faith!
 
Elder Sabin

P.S. Mom: If you could send a lint roller, one of those stain remover pens, and some conference talks (especially Elder Holland's) in your next package, that'd be awesome.  Love you!
 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 2

Letters to Mom and Dad:
(side note: the picture he describes was not attached to his email... maybe next week :))
 
 
Hey Guys!
 
Alright, favorite district quote from the week.

(one night we were talking about studying outside instead of the classroom)
Elder Harris: But we can't go out there, there's no lights
Elder Ball: Well then Elder, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and be glorified in them!
Elder Harris: ...Wha-?
Elder Ball:  BALL ONE HARRIS ZERO!!!

It was super funny :)  Anyway, I'm glad to hear everything back home is going well :)  I think the address is 2007 but I got both packages, so I'm not sure it matters.  They'll probably get to me either way.
 
There are 10 elders and 2 sisters and our zone has 3 districts so multiply it by 3

Honestly, I can't really think of anything I really need right now, but if I think of something, I'll let you know.  Also, I don't discriminate against treats :) anything is good

A typical day is almost all studying and eating :) Seriously, we wake up, eat breakfast, have an hour of gym time, shower, Personal Study for an hour, Companion Study for an hour, Language study for an hour, then lunch, then three hours of Chinese Class, then dinner, then three more hours of class (when we teach investigators), then additional study for an hour, and then planning, then bed.  Super busy, and not a ton of variation except for Sundays and Mondays, but its been great :)

I have two favorite parts of the day.  Gym time is super fun, because I get to wear normal clothes and be active for an hour before sitting down all day, so I really appreciate that.  Spiritually though I really love teaching investigators because even though its really hard with the language, its also really gratifying.

The hardest part for me is probably staying focused :) There's a lot of really fun guys in my district, and it's easy to get distracted talking about random things.

It's kind of hard to pin down what the funniest part of the week was, but we have some very funny elders in our district, especially Elder Ball, who can just make you laugh at anything :)

Also, I tried to attach some photos today, to try and give you an idea of what everyone looks like.  In the photo labeled DSCN0358 you should see everyone in my district.  The back row (right to left) is Elder Lee, Elder Jackson (Parker), Elder Henson, and Elder Harris.  Middle row is Elder Brown (from England!), Elder Thompson, Me!!!, Sister Edwards, and Sister Roberts.  Front row is Elder Ball, Elder Smith, and my companion Elder Stowell.

Also, just so you know, I'm sending the tie journal back through you guys, so you can read it if you want.  Just make sure it gets to CJ before his farewell.

Anyway, I'm having a great time out here!  It's been super spiritual, and we've already heard talks from Steven Allen (Jeff Allen's dad), Sheri Dew, and a former 70 named Lionel Kendrick.  Also, we watched Meet the Mormons, and if you watch it, I'm 99 percent sure that the guy who helps the missionary Anthony with his suit is that same guy that helped us when we went there.  Find out for me :)

Anyway, I'll talk to you guys next week! Gotta go!
 
 
Hey Dad!
 
Things are going great, and I hope everyone at home is doing well too :) Tell Emi that I love her, and give her a treat from me :) 
 
I have not yet told Elder Stowell my opinion of soccer players, but mostly because my district has like 5 soccer players, and as manly as I am, I don't think I could take them all on :)  He hasn't snapped at me yet, so I think I'm doing pretty well, and I was also pretty lucky to get one of two other missionaries in the district with Chinese experience as my companion.  Teaching lessons has still been hard, but I can feel the language coming a little more every day :) However, morale was low last Thursday, because we got some fastrack missionaries coming in who are already fluent in Chinese, and we couldn't understand a word they were saying.  I still got a long way to go :)
 
Also, there's rumors here that Russel M. Nelson is going to speak at our devotional Tuesday night! Nothing is certain, but they're broadcasting it to all the MTCs around the world, so it's gotta be big.  Also, the Nashville Tribute band is coming to do a performance, so I'm having it pretty good so far :)

Super jealous you got to do that mountain biking trail :) We'll definitely have to go again sometime when I get back
 
I was reading this really cool article the other day, and there was a quote in it that I loved from C.S. Lewis that read "We profess to believe in Christ as we believe in the sun at noonday.  Not that we can see it, but that by it we can see everything else."  He went on to say how seeing people through the light of Christ, and looking at the potential of who they can become makes it so easy to love them :)  I definitely have gained a testimony of that as I've met people who, outside of the mission, I probably would never have associated with just for lack of common interests or hobbies.  However, now that I'm here with them spending several hours a day with them and learning their stories, its been really cool to see that everyone out there has a background.  So many of these people on the surface look like you're average guy, but they have incredible stories.  One almost didn't come because his dad is dying in the hospital, another had an entire house fall on him and was trapped for several hours, and another was legally dead for several minutes before he was brought back by a priesthood blessing.  Everyone out here is so amazing, and I'm loving my time here :)
 
-Austin