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)