Anyway, this week in Toronto's been pretty great. The chopstick skills are slowly improving, and I can pick up some things... provided that I have 8 minutes and the ends of the chopsticks are stabbed through the objects. I think I actually might be wasting more calories trying to pick up my food than I'm getting from it. No wonder Asian people are so small.
So one of the highlights from this week was from when we were teaching an investigator named Sam. He's super cool, and I've already met him a few times, so we were looking forward to teaching him about the Word of Wisdom. Therefore, it was an encouraging sign when he answered the front door while lighting a cigarette.
He was a very gracious host though, and we started teaching him about the Word of Wisdom. He already knew basically what it was, and he's tried to quit with the missionaries in the past, but he hasn't yet. Our goal that day was to help him realize how important it is, and to help him to know that God can help him do it. I felt the Spirit really strong with him, and despite his thick Beijing accent, I could understand a lot of what he said. The Spirit is definitely helping me out.
Anyway, we shared 1 Nephi 3:7 with him, and he said that he would try to quit smoking again. I'm really praying for him that he'll be able to kick the habit. He talked about how hard it was to stop drinking and smoking when all his friends were doing it, but luckily we were really blessed to have a member with us. His name was Paul, and he talked to Sam about how important this was. I think it really helped him, and I just want to let you guys know, whether you are members or missionaries, that members absolutely help with missionary work. Missionaries can help the investigator to feel the spirit and gain a testimony, but next transfer, they up and move, and if the ward hasn't reached out to this new investigator yet, then there's a lot of fear keeping them from being baptized. If they already have a relationship with members, it becomes so much easier to join the church.
Anyway, the lesson went well, and we're going to meet with him again on Friday to see how he's doing. The last thing worth mentioning was that at the end, he gave us a bag with food in it that he said was duck. He works at a restaurant, so I kind of assumed it would be really good, and we went home planning to eat it.
Well... we got home... and it was indeed duck. Duck heads!!! Like, just the heads!!! I didn't think I could eat anything that still had a distinguishable face, so I gave them to Elder Kendall, who ate them. Sometimes I worry about him :)
Also, I don't think this letter could be complete without me talking about conference, which by the way, was amazing! Some of you guys have already told me how much you loved it, so I'm glad to you you haven't all gone apostate while I was gone.
Anyway, we ended up watching most of it in Mandarin (with English subtitles) and I just want to talk about what that was like. My Chinese is obviously still very basic, and I didn't pick up a lot of what the speakers said, but what was interesting was that I could feel the spirit, even when the subtitles hadn't told me what they'd said yet. It was one of the cooler experiences of my mission so far, and I realized that maybe it doesn't matter so much that people can understand what I'm saying as long as they understand how I feel. The Chinese will come (I pray) but for now, I can at least contribute my testimony, even if it's rudimentary.
One thing that I made clear to my companions was, that as soon as Elder Holland got up to speak, we needed to run over to the English room, so I could hear his talk in his voice. I've always loved his talks, and this was no exception. One of the most touching moments for me was nearer to the end when he was talking about the woman who held her daughter's hand aloft so that "in groans only understandable to her and the angels above, she could say Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb". He has a way with words. Anyway, just wanted to say "I love you mom!"
Dad, don't feel offended :) I'm getting there. I also thought Bradley D. Foster gave an amazing talk, and when he talked about Pablo and the impact fathers have on our lives, I absolutely agreed. You and mom both have made such an impact on my life. There's a famous Chinese poem about the love of a parent for a child, and the translation basically says "How could one blade of grass ever give enough thanks to the sun that helped it grow." I know there's been a lot of influences in my life, but you two are by far the most prominent, and from one "blade of grass," I just want to say I love you both.
Mom - I'll be honest. I probably hear "Eh" more from the missionaries trying to be Canadian than I do from actual Canadians. Apparently they say it much more out in Alberta than they do here. Also, just warning you, apparently there's a "Mandarin Missionary Mom's Group" and you might get sucked in. Our mission has a lot of Utah missionaries, and I guess their moms all know each other now. My plan for a coat was basically to slay a lion and wear it's mane as a coat, but I guess they don't have those here. I might have to make do with a grizzly bear pelt. I loved Elder Nelson's talk as well, and I have to say I'm very impressed with him. He has had to be going through a hard time recently, with three of his closest colleagues passing away and having to take over as president of the Quorum of the 12. That would be hard on anyone, and I think that after having seen him speak at the MTC and now at Conference, I know that God helps us to always be strong, even in the midst of trials.
Hadley - I don't really make much of the good food around here :) Elder Kendall can make some good stuff, but we eat a lot of pretty basic food unless we have a meal appointment. I haven't had anything gross show up my plate (except for those duck heads) so it's been pretty good. We drive most places, but we do some walking when we want to talk to people out on the streets. You should go trick-or-treating as a door, and when you knock on peoples door, you just stand there. Then when they open their door, they see you, and you have a sign or something that says, "Knock please". Then they knock, and you "open up" and then take the candy.
Ellie - Grossest thing I've eaten so far? Nothings been very gross yet, but if I'd eaten those duck heads, it would have been those. About the picture, just be glad that they didn't misspell you're name as "Satan". I had a teacher do that once, and it was super weird. Anyway, I have tried PEZ :) it's very good, and I'm glad you like it too :)
Hayden - Eh Beast? Is that a Canadian reference? I'm just not going to question it :) Anyway, about the baptism thing, we haven't had the actual ordinance yet. We set a date for him to do it and he accepted it, but oftentimes it has to be pushed back a few times. Anyway, I'll let you guys know when it happens.
Ashleigh - I'm glad the crepes were "delish" :) Hey, I just wanted to let you know something critically important. You know how I told you to avoid talking to boys, thinking about boys, or being seen by boys and use pepper spray if needed? Do that. Also, I love you!!!
Dad - Don't worry :) When I get home, we'll watch Oliver and Company together, and we'll sing all the songs and it'll be super dope. The teaching lately has been going great, and we're probably teaching 6 or 7 people that are actually involved in being taught. Tell those boys back home I send them my love, and if they ever falter, just remind them that God's on our side. One scripture that's really helped me is 2 Nephi 1:21 and 23. It's some of Lehi's last words to his son's who were faltering, and when you put it in context, it's a pretty powerful scripture.
Anyway, glad to hear you guys are all having a wonderful time back home, and just know that I'm doing great up here. Remember that, although we can't be perfect, we can give perfect effort. Don't get discouraged. Even Nephi claimed he was a sinner (2 Nephi 4) and next to him, I'm sure we're all inadequate.
Also, I thought I'd tell you guys that I'm trying out that ponderizing thing from conference. I'm going to try and keep them coming from wherever I'm studying in personal study, and right now I'm just wrapping up Second Nephi. Mine for this week is 2 Nephi 26:24 - He (God) doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation
Also, I thought this was pretty funny. During conference, we were listening to the translator, and when he said "Ponderize" the translator paused...and then just said the word. Until the meaning was explained, the translator had no idea how to translate it. It was pretty hilarious.
And finally... the quote of the week from this week. We were talking during planning, and a problem came up. Elder Kendall's response was "That's a bridge we'll burn when we get there!"
At our lesson with Sam:
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