Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

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: