Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 22: Ether 12:2-3‏

Behold! I bring unto you glad tidings of great joy that shall be unto all people that read my email!

It was a good week.  There's something interesting about Christmas in the most diverse city in the world.  A lot of the people don't celebrate Christmas.

Seriously, it's super weird.  For example, our entire apartment building is full of people from India, and so our conversations go like this.

Awkward White Missionary (me) - So, any fun plans for Christmas?
Indian person - Well, I get work off...
Awkward White Missionary - Fun!

By the way, that whole bit about everyone in our building being from India is not an exaggeration at all.  Since we moved in three weeks ago, I've seen 3 white people and 2 Chinese.  Everyone else is from India or Sri Lanka.  If you go out into the neighborhoods, there's a ton of people from the Middle East, Caribbean, and Southern China.  This whole city is just made up of pockets of people from different parts of the world, with the occasional white person to mix things up.  Nothing like Utah at all.

Anyway, as far as investigators this week go, we have a few working with us, but by far the most super dope one is Candice!  We met with here like 4 times this week.  I know I talked about her last week, but she's just so awesome.  This is how our last lesson went (in Chinese):

Missionary - So, how's your reading been? 
     *Note*At this point, we thought maybe she had read a few chapters of 1 Nephi, aside from the assigned chapters we'd given her
Candice - Well, I finished First Nephi, and then I read a part about...Oh, what was his name...Captain Moroni?
Missionary - Wait, like half of the book of Alma?
Candice - Yah, yah!  Alma!  That was it.  I really liked that part.
Missionary - ...Okay...Sweet.  You read half of Alma.  Wow....
Candice - Yah, it was really good.

Basically after that, the lesson just got cooler.  She believes it's true, she reads like a boss, she prays every day, she comes to church and all the church activities we invite her to, she brings her friends, and she totally wants to get baptized.  Her date right now is January 9th, and we're really hoping we can teach her everything before then.

Also, this ward is awesome at fellowshipping.  She already has like 4 good friends here.

This week we had zone conference as well, and it was super amazing.  I did get your package Mom, so you can stop worrying :) Looking forward to skyping this week!  We'll be doing it from the house of some of the coolest members in the ward, so maybe I can give you an introduction.

Hadley - You  had a birthday!?  You're finally 4 years old!  That's so exciting! ;)  Also, no school is super fun.  I bet Mom is having the time of her life right now.  By the way, I got a song from another Elder here that made me think of you and Ellie.  I'll try and send it, but if it doesn't work, then remind me to show it to you guys in two years.  So what's on your Christmas list? Is Emi okay now?

Person not as beast as me - Christmas is totally not about presents, you're right.  We had a Christmas program in sacrament here as well, and it turns out that Chinese people sing super good.  Like, super good.   It was really spiritual, and we had a lot of people talk about the Christmases they'd had when they hadn't been as well off as they are now.  Christmas had been meager, but they had been able to remember the true meaning, and that's all that mattered.
 -Giga beast

Ellie - I don't think you could have picked three Emojis that more perfectly sum up you as a person :)  No, I have not eaten any dog yet, and from what I've gathered, Chinese people don't actually eat dog unless they're really really poor.  Maybe some people do, but I haven't met anyone.  Maybe they would let me call if I had 1,000,0000 dollars, but unfortunately I don't :) Do you have that much?

Mom - The works going great up here.  Yes, Raymond is the one that lost interest, and I was super sad for him, but I think he might change his mind one day.  All we can do is pray :/  Anyway, the Christmas spirit is definitely in the air here, and I'm loving it.  Random spiritual experience - Yesterday night, we were going contacting (talking to people on the street) at a mall, and I really wanted to find some new investigators.  We hadn't found any in the last 6 days, which is kind of a long time, so I had prayed the last night really hard that we'd be able to find 2.  We only had an hour, so me and Elder Mak got out there, and just started talking to everyone.  It was late, windy, and cold, and for about 45 minutes it seemed like no one had any interest.  We hadn't had any success,  and we were starting to feel discouraged. I decided I needed some encouragement.  I pulled out my Book of Mormon (on the street) and we read part of Alma 26 together.  Ammon is basically preaching to his brethren, and telling them how happy he is that they've had success.  After that, I felt better, and we got back to it for 15 minutes.  For a while longer, there still wasn't anyone having interest, and finally my watch said we were out of time.  I was kind of sad, because we hadn't found anyone, but I decided to talk to a few more people.

I'm not kidding, the next lady I talked to had interest, and then I went up to two Chinese people, and they both had interest.  3 new investigators!  God answers prayers, but only when we put in our efforts.

Ashleigh - Ice skating is super hard.  Agreed.  One hundred percent.  Anyway, I'm so excited to see you guys too!  Tell Ethan to remember our theme song from camp, and then to never ever ever believe it.  He'll know what I'm talking about.  I've actually never been night skiing, but it sounds fun.  Also, tell me how many boys gave you a christmas present, so I know how many shotgun shells to buy when I get home.
Love, The Hammer

Kidding Ashleigh :)

Dad - I think it's kind of funny that you guys all thought I was going to freeze, when it hasn't even snowed up here yet.  I'm not joking, all we've gotten so far is frost, and it hasn't dipped beneath 20 degrees Fahrenheit :)  Suckers!  Kidding.  At least you guys are getting a white Christmas :)  I'm excited to talk to you guys too!  Also, I wanted to tell you a quote that I heard from a missionary that just finished her mission this last transfer.  At her last zone conference, she got up and said "Faith is stepping into the dark and knowing that one of two things will happen.  Either there will be something for you to stand on or you will be taught how to fly."  It was pretty dramatic, but it was sincere as well, and I could tell that she honestly believed it.  One of the coolest things about serving a mission has been seeing people from all different backgrounds spend so much time serving the Lord.  It changes people, and I think that quote kind of sums up a mission.  Two years seems really long, but when you take that leap of faith to serve, there are a thousand things to stand on, and wonderful people with you the whole time teaching you to "fly".  Also, I thought I'd send you a scripture that really gave me strength this week.  John 14:31.

Love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Sabin

P.S. Man's extremity is God's opportunity - Elder Holland

 Bayview Ward missionaries!  Sister Chu, Sister Deng (pronounced dung, not dang), Me, Elder Mak, Elder Woo, Elder Earley

 PJ Party!!

I ate our initials out of chocolates.  #cutestcouple

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 21: Update from Elder SabyBaby and Elder MakDaddy‏

Hey everyone!

I'm a bit short on time today, so my email might be all over the place.  Without Dad here to edit all my papers, I think I might get myself into trouble.  Thank goodness for spell check
First off, holy cow, what happened to the email you guys sent me?  It was like a mile wide, so I had to scroll right for 8 minutes to read a paragraph's worth of stuff on one line.  Anyway, it made me laugh. 

It was a great week up here in Toronto, and for all you people who told me I was going to freeze, it's 54 degrees right now.  Not tropical, but from what I hear it's way better than Utah :)  Haha!

Anyway, this week has been fun.  Lately, we've really been trying to push the new A Savior is Born video out into the world, so my street contacts have been super fun.  We don't actually carry cell phones with us that can watch the video, so it's turned into a bit of a game to try and get the other person curious enough to pull out their cell phone and watch it with us.  It's actually easier than you think.  Chinese people are awesome.

Also, I wanted to give a shout out to the people at Bayview Ward for being the best members ever.  Sunday morning I was a bit bummed because an investigator we had put a lot of time into had flipped a 180 and decided he wasn't interested.  I wasn't feeling the spirit very strong, and I was just praying for something to pick me up.  Anyway, we got to church, and immediately our Relief Society president comes up and tells us there's like a thousand plates of food in the fridge for us.  Then, throughout the day, members just kept coming up to us and giving us Christmas presents and plates of food and telling us we were awesome.  I know that to each of them, it probably wasn't a big deal, but to Elder Mak and I it meant a lot.  So wherever you are, go tell the missionaries they're awesome. They might need it!

Also, thanks to everyone who sent emails out. I might not have time to respond to them all today, because I don't have a ton of time, but I do read them all and appreciate every single one!

The language is coming along well, and at this point I can read basic stuff, which is really fun.  I have to say, I have never learned as much about English as I have out here while learning Chinese.  It's kind of a weird experience.  As you break apart words and characters into they're most basic meaning, you start to see where translations don't line up and where meanings overlap. Chinese is a very literal language, and so speaking in it actually changes my understanding of what I'm saying in English.  It's a weird a feeling.

For example, take the word "damnation" in the scriptures.  Usually we associate that with fire, brimstone, etc, but in Chinese they use a different word.  The word literally means "set in sin" or "stuck in sin" which I found interesting.  That's the real meaning, isn't it?  Stuck in sin, and unable to progress.  Kind of cool :)

Also, scriptural discovery!  We talk a lot about Joseph Smith in this church (for good reason) and whenever we tell his story, we always say "Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true."  Not necessarily false, but I think sometimes we forget that the question he asked was actually different. He asked "Which church should I join?".  His question wasn't just a question.  He asked with real intent, seeking to know which path he should take.  He didn't just want knowledge, he wanted a direction.

I think we do that a lot.  We always ask questions expecting to get an answer, when really we should be asking for a direction.  I think that's what Moroni means when he talks about "real intent".  We need to be willing to act on the answer we receive if we're going to get an answer.

So, I gotta go.  I'm sorry I don't have time for the induvidual bits this week, but I'll make them extra good next week. Sorry, and I love you!

Elder Sabin

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 20: If God be with us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Hello Everyone!!! And merry Christmas!

Seriously, the mission has been going crazy up here.  I'm guessing Toronto must be sick of hearing "Merry Christmas" from the missionaries, because I don't think I've let a single person walk by without saying it.  At red lights, we roll down the windows and stop at nothing to get the person next to us to roll down theirs so we can say it to them.  We've gotten some weird looks, but it's totally worth it.

Anyway, this week was amazing.  Seriously, my testimony has grown so much during this week, and I am learning more and more that God prepares people.  We've been working with some amazing investigators, and I want to mention two in particular who I'm so glad I've been able to meet.

One is named Raymond, and I think I might have mentioned him before, but he definitely deserves an update.  We were a little worried about him last week because he didn't come to church, and on the phone he told us that he still didn't think he'd felt the spirit.  We felt like he was losing interest, but this week he totally turned around!  We had a lesson with him earlier in the week, and we talked about what the spirit meant to us.  It was definitely one of the most spiritual lessons I've had out here.  We brought Frank along (recent convert) and when he bore testimony, oh my gosh, it was awesome!  Then a few days later we called him and he basically said - in Chinese - "Elders!  I think I get it now!" and he started talking about all the times he felt the spirit and how he felt it when he talked to his family and did good things.  It was amazing. Then he came to church, which was fast and testimony meeting, and he said afterwards that his testimony had grown a ton just from listening to the testimonies.  Random sidenote - Church was awesome.  I heard some of the most sincere testimonies I've ever heard, and it definitely helps that my Chinese has improved and I'm usually able to get what they're saying.  Anyways, after church, we met with Raymond again, and it turns out he's finished the whole book of First Nephi! He's powering through this book, and he keeps saying that it's getting easier to understand when he prays to God about it.  Ahhh!  I wish I could express my feelings through a keyboard, but I don't think it's possible.  I'm so happy for him.

The other awesome one is named Candice, and we only started meeting with her last weekend.  She's doing great too, and we've already started talking about baptism with her.  She's totally willing to put in her effort by reading and praying, and she talks about how good prayer makes her feel.  We've met with her 3 times now, and she totally wants to be baptized.  She wasn't able to come to church (super sad) but she is doing great, and I'm so glad we get to work with her.

Those are the two most awesome people from the week, but basically it's been a great week all around.  We started teaching English class at a different place and the new place has a ton more students.  They all speak Mandarin, and basically, I'm in charge of teaching all the people who know almost no English.  They're all great, and I'll never forget the first day we walked into the classroom.  Elder Mak started speaking to them, and they were very courteous, but when the big white man in the room started speaking in Chinese, holy cow, it was hilarious.  Anyway, we're all best friends now, and they're all super awesome.  We have a great time. 

Also, I wish I had a picture of Elder Mak's face when he saw a gingerbread house for sale at Walmart.  Utter joy.  So we totally bought it, and I think Elder Mak's goal in life is to create this God-given gift.

We got to go to the temple again, and several of the people were going for their first time.  It was so spiritual, and I got to confirm a bunch of people using a Chinese prayer.  Missionaries aren't allowed to participate in the baptisms, but we still got to watch them, and it was a super spiritual experience.

We taught several new investigators last week, and we brought along Brother Wang (pronounced Wong) for one of them.  Brother Wang is the second counselor in our ward, and he's so great.  His family fed us dinner as well, and they're awesome.

Also, got a new car!  Nissan Rogue 2016.  Just thought that was worth mentioning.

We dropped by to visit a less active the other day that we had never met, and it turned out she hadn't been to church in 8 years.  She met the missionaries in another country, but then she moved to Canada and her life has been really hectic, and her family doesn't really support religion.  We talked to her for about a half an hour, and she expressed several of her concerns to us, so now we're just hoping we can get her to come back.  We're going back on Tuesday, so I'll let you all know how it goes.

Mom - Basically for Christmas, our plan was to go to a member's house.  Their names are the Li's, and they're amazing.  They invited us to come, because they have a bunch of computers.  We're planning on using Skype if that's okay, but we didn't pin down an exact time.  Do you have a preference on time?  As far as the package goes, I got the boots, but the mission office said they're saving a lot of packages for Zone Council on December 16th.  That way they can get them all out at once, and it's closer to Christmas for all the Christmas presents.  So they have it.  Thanks for sharing the wonderful thought.  I wrote it down in my "small plates," and just so you know, the bar for that is set pretty high :)  Also, scriptural discovery!  In Hebrews 12:1-2, which is a great scripture by the way, they refer to Jesus Christ as the "author and finisher of our faith" which I thought was a really cool title.  Anyway, I've loved that scripture for a long time, and then I was reading in Moroni the other day, and in Chapter 6:4 he refers to him as the same thing!  Hebrews was written after Lehi left Jerusalem, so they couldn't have read each other's book, but they refer to him in the same unusual way.  That stood out to me.  Love you!

Hadley - Puppies!  Can you send one in your next package?  Kidding, that would never make it through, but I'd love to see the face of the Custom's worker who had to investigate the package.  Sounds like the ward party was fun, and it definitely sounds like you haven't changed.  Puppies!

Ellie - Actually it hasn't snowed yet up here.  Puppies!  It's not been warm, but it's not gotten super cold either.  Everyone here is saying that this winter is supposed to be much milder.  They use Celsius up here, so I actually don't know exactly what temperature it is in Farenheit (Puppies!) but it's only gotten negative (32 degrees F) a few times.  No snow on the ground yet.  Elder Mak can't wait :)  Also, puppies!  Also, Miriam's sister went to a much colder mission than mine.  She was much further north.

Hayden - Sounds super cool bro!  I'll make sure to include BYU in my prayers.  Is Taysom Hill still injured?  Puppies!  What's the deal with the quarterback?  Also, read Alma 26.  I love that chapter.

Ashleigh - Why did you write your whole message in a scary bank font?  Anyway, I'm totally White Guy #2 in case you were wondering.  Actually, no.  I'm one of the Asian guys.  Also puppies!  So have you beaten anyone up in your lacrosse games yet?

Dad - For my greeting, I'll use a scripture.  Read Philippians 1:3, and then read the rest of the email :)  Puppies.  Anyway, I'm glad the ward party was great.  You kind of already heard the news on some of the investigators, but yes, things are going well.  The mission president wasn't actually at our last zone conference, but it was still awesome.  #ASaviorIsBorn!  Love you!

Anyway, that's pretty much it.

Elder Sabin

PS Almost forgot, another funny thing that happened.  Maybe this will sum me up as a missionary.  Our district got switched up, so we were doing introductions, and we all had to say something we loved about our companions.  When it got to Elder Mak this is what he said.

"Well, Elder Sabin does a lot of really stupid things, and it's really funny to watch."

It was hilarious.

Us in the emailing center!  We're with two other Elders, and this guy is named Elder Ray.  He's super dope.

 A funny sign I saw earlier this week.  Very detailed description.

Sorry, I need to take more pictures!