Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

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!