Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 27

I'll be honest.  It was a pretty uneventful week.  We taught some lessons, some people came to church, Elder Lau cooked up some good food, etc.  We did quite a bit of street contacting this week as well, which is super fun, but the problem is that the winter keeps most of the Chinese people inside.  The streets have gotten pretty quiet with the cold, and we can't tract the apartment buildings where all the Chinese people live, so we've been having to get pretty creative.

Hamilton is so awesome.  Elder Cruz and I were walking down the street the other day on exchanges, and he was telling me about how he'd never been in a downtown area before on his mission, so he was hoping that he'd be able to see some fun stuff.  Not 5 seconds later, a dude comes dancing around the corner, and I mean DANCING.  This guys arms are flailing, he's got a cowboy hat on, and he's just having a great day.  He's decked out in cowboy clothes (including spurs) and he's patting the back of everyone he passes.  He's pretty touchy too, and everyone is kind of doing that awkward run, where they want to keep away, but they want to see this crazy guy up close.  I just remember Elder Cruz saying "Well, God answers prayers," and then this guy spotted us.  He totally flips out and starts screaming "JESUS!  JESUS IS COMING BACK!"  I nodded thoughtfully at his thorough expounding of doctrine, and smiled.  He smiled back, revealing about 3 and a half teeth, and yelled "HE'S COMIN' BACK AS A LION".  He then proceeded to undress himself, ripping his jacket open to reveal a t-shirt with a lion's face and a cross.  So it must be true.

Also, I found an amazing quote this week that really hit me.  It's by Elder Holland and it says "You only get one chance to serve a mission; it is your responsibility, your duty, to use it to it's fullest; to give every last ounce of energy until you collapse in exhaustion at the end of it.  All the hardships, all the tears, all the hard work will be looked back upon as the best thing you've ever done, not because you enjoyed it, not because you baptized everyone, but because you gave it everything you had, even when you didn't think you could, and especially when you didn't want to.  Live your mission to its' fullest, work harder than you've ever worked before.  Let people know that this is the most important thing in the world to you.  If you do not run until you have nothing left to give, and then keep going anyway; cry and pray and work and sweat and plead until you are so drained that all you can do is turn to the Lord; if you don't do this, then these people will not come unto this joy because of you - their failure to come unto Christ will be partially upon your head.  Come out of your mission proud of what you've done, and and this experience will bless the rest of your life."

I know that quote is super long, but man it got me pumped.  When Elder Holland speaks I can't really decide whether to cower in fear or stand up on a soapbox and preach.  He's super awesome.  I was thinking about that quote, and about how different a mission is from the other 17 years of my life.  It's so interesting, because I've had the chance to see so many different kinds of missionaries with different levels of commitment, and oftentimes the numbers don't make sense.  I remember specifically one missionary who was giving absolutely everything he had to his mission, and he just wasn't having success.  In fact, I remember hearing other elders comment on it, and assuming that he just wasn't trying hard enough.  Take my word for it, if anyone in the mission was trying to help people enter the waters of baptism, it was him.

Anyway, I was in a conversation with him later, and we were talking about his mission thus far.  He's a fairly experienced missionary, and so he had a lot of cool stories to share.  I just remember listening to him share them, and feeling the Spirit so strongly.  Most of these stories didn't end in a success, but when he shared them, they brought tears to his eyes.  His mission meant the world to him, and no matter what amount of success the Lord would give him, he would give everything he had.

So I want my mission to be like that.  Like Elder Holland said, I won't love it because I baptized everyone, but I hope I can love it because I gave so much to it.  Mom, I thought that quote from Liberty Jail that you shared was perfect.  I think my favorite part is when he says "With utmost assurance."  Let us not doubt that the Lord will fulfill all his promises he has made to us, and let us not fear that he will make all things right again.

There's a lot of stories in the Book of Mormon of missionaries who never saw the fruits of their labor.  They never had any success preaching.  Abinadi preached and was slain.  Moroni wandered alone for two decades.  Mormon had no success preaching repentance to his fallen people.  Ether lived to see the destruction of his people.  Many of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's were slain because of their pact to never war against their brethren.  The list could go on for a long time.

I think what my point is, is that although many of these heroes of the Book of Mormon never saw the success of their preaching, they died with the utmost assurance that what they were doing was for the Lord.  They were planting seeds, and that was all they needed to feel successful.  Abinadi's preaching ended up converting one of the most successful missionaries of all time, and a man who would go on to have some of the most spiritually mighty posterity of the entire book.  Moroni had no tangible way of knowing what would happen to the plates, and yet, where do we find the most famous and most concrete promise in the entire book?  Right at the end of his writings.  How many people have been touched by that scripture?

Mom -  As far as the voice recorder thing from last week goes, it looks like it will be about 90 bucks (70 American dollars) to get one with a USB.  Are they cheaper in Utah?  And as far as packages go, I have not yet gotten Grandma's chocolate or the money from Grandmas and Grandpa.  Our next zone council is at the beginning of February, so I'll probably get it then.

Hadley - For the most part we ride in a car if we're going somewhere.  In Hamilton we have to drive all over the stake, so if we need to get somewhere, it's much faster to drive our own car.  However, we often will just go walking downtown to find people who want to hear about the gospel.

Ellie - Ya, the area looks a lot like Gotham.  Not really the big city part of Gotham, but more like the factory/warehouse/port areas.  It's pretty cool.  They actually film a lot of movies here.  We've driven past 3 different camera crews filming some movie in the city since I've been here.  Super fun.  Tell Sister Miller I say hi!

Ashleigh - Chick flicks are a waste of life.  That's what one of the sister missionaries here told me.  So.... Repent!  Just kidding.  Anyway, it sounds like skiing has been fun :)  Car skiing is a blast.  Seriously, super fun.  Also, congratulations on the patriarchal blessing! I've studied Elder Lau's like 6 times.  Just kidding.

Hayden - Thug life? Jank'n? Man, what's happening to your vocabulary?  :) just kidding.  I take it you're hanging out with George and Max a lot lately.  I'll remember to "always be a beast like you".  Love you so much!

Dad - I see what you mean about the meaning of "beast".  Will I be able to communicate with my little brother when I get home?  Things in Gotham are going well.  Actually, our car's name is Lisa, which isn't quite as cool as the Batmobile, but still cool.  Right?
Anyway, I'm out of time, but I love all of you guys!

Elder Sabin

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 26: Update From Batman

I'll explain my subject title later.  Anyway, this week was great!  Elder Lau and I are out baptizing nations in the Hamilton Zone!

Wow, this area is way different from good old Bayview.  Basically, this town has a big college called McMaster University, and that's where all the Chinese people are.  So we go there a lot.  There's not a ward like there was in Bayview, and there's no branch either.  However, we do work with some awesome English wards!  And they're all great.  Basically, most of the Chinese people here have at least decent English, so we just send them to one of those wards.  We don't really go to any one ward either.  We basically just float around to wherever our investigators are going.

As for Hamilton, oh my gosh, this place makes me laugh so hard every day.  I won't say it's sketchy, but I will say that they filmed all the scary parts of Batman in downtown Hamilton because it has a Gotham-y feel and there's lot of factories and stuff.  Hence the subject title.  I'll just say that Hamilton has a ton of awesome solid people and a good portion of crazy people too.  I've started writing down the weirdest thing that's happened every day.

Tuesday - Got to Hamilton.  Dude tried to kiss me during a street contact.  Got like 2 inches away.  Not even kidding.  Luckily my Batman reflexes were able to back away in time.

Wednesday - Dude got up during dinner, changed his pants in the adjacent living room, and came back and sat down like nothing was weird about that at all.

Thursday - This one's not bad, but super cool.  I found out one of the guys in my district used to work for Top Gear!  We talked for like an hour about all the episodes he was there for and all the crazy stuff that happened.

Friday - Van exploded on a street corner while the missionaries were driving by.  Big fireball.
Saturday - Van was still there!  Just chillin' on the street corner.  And this wasn't out in a suburb or something, this was Downtown!

Sunday - Actually that day was pretty normal, but maybe because we were at church all day.  We sometimes go to 2 or 3 churches to meet up with all our investigators.

Anyway, this place is awesome.  I'll definitely come back to visit after the mission.

The members here are super awesome too. We usually work out of a YSA in the nearby town of Stoney Creek, and I can already tell the people there are really cool.

As far as a teaching pool goes, we currently have 1 consistent investigator, 1 awesome new convert, and 2 returning members that are meeting regularly with us.  It's a smaller pool than before, but we'll make it grow pretty quick.

The new companion is awesome!  Seriously, we're getting along great so far, and he makes me laugh all the time.  For those of you who asked, his English is really good, and he also cooks really well.  I might get through a transfer without eating a single toaster waffle :)  Elder Lau is from Hong Kong and he's a convert of 3 years.  That's even more impressive when you realize he's been on his mission for almost 2 of those years.  He goes home in April, but he's not slowing down yet!  He likes to play soccer, eat Mexican food, and play guitar.

Also, Candice did get baptized on Saturday!  I haven't gotten the pictures yet, but it sounds like she's doing well!

As far as District leader stuff goes, basically I do companion exchanges with each missionary each transfer, I do follow-up calls each night with some of them, I run district meeting, and collect the numbers for the zone leaders. Including me and Elder Lau, there's 4 companionships. They're all English missionaries.

Mom - Ya, I didn't hear much about the fireside, but it sounds really cool.  The gospel will get to China someday!  There's always rumors going around about China opening up, and most of the stuff people say is probably untrue, but what I know for sure is that we've been told not to get too comfortable with where we are.  Pray for China!

Hadley - Alright, so the outside of a dumpling is kind of hard to explain.  It's kind of like soggy bread, but it tastes really good. Then you basically wrap that around whatever food you want, and then eat it.  In chinese they're called jiao zi (pronounced jyow-zuh).  Really good.  Anyway, next time you go skiing, ask mom to take you over to three kings terrain park.  You'd love it ;)

Ashleigh - Sounds like skiing was super fun.  You know, I've actually skiied here a tiny bit, but it was a bit different.  I used a car to do it.  Just kidding :) sort of.  Anyway, sounds like conditioning is fun.  I was talking to another Elder the other day, and we totally agreed that boys lacrosse is way more dope than girls lacrosse.  Out of the mouths of two witnesses shall all my words be established.  Boom!  Scripture punch!  Love you :D

Ellie - We can go to Niagara Falls if we want to.  We could actually go proselyte there, since our area is technically the entire Hamilton stake.  However, we live Downtown, so it would be quite a drive to get there.  I haven't been yet, but I'd love to go sometime and see America again!  Our new apartment is actually super awesome.  We live in a house with the zone leaders, and we have two stories all to ourselves.  It's still pretty tight, but it's in a really cool area, and it's nice to be living with the zone leaders as a new district leader so I can ask for advice.

Hayden - Glad to hear the week was "chill" (say that in a surfer voice).  Is Mr. Baugh still teaching the French class?  Tell him I say hi!  He's great.  Also, bossishly still isn't a word.  Ya, all the new people we're teaching are pretty great.  We have a returning member named Bao, and he is awesome.  Plays the piano wonderfully.

Dad - Great scripture.  We used that the other day to counter a guy who didn't like Mormons.  He hated the idea that we believe we can become like God and Christ, and he wouldn't stop following us and trying to fight our doctrine.  He didn't really have an answer to that one though.  The tie hasn't come back around yet.  It's still in Uruguay, and Elder Bowen may have lost the journal :)  It's okay though, it will get here soon.

Love you all
Elder Sabin

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 25: Transfer Week!

Alright, I'll start out with the sad news, and slowly get happier.  First news: Candice isn't baptized yet.  She wasn't feeling good that day healthwise, and there were some technical problems with having her baptism that day, so we pushed it back a week, but holy cow her testimony is on fire!  The delay wouldn't be a huge problem, except that I'm being transferred! To Hamiliton!  So I'm not gonna be there :(  But she's still getting baptized, and the new missionaries are going to love her.   She's seriously amazing, and I'm super sad I'm missing it.

Anyway, that's the bad news of the week.  There's no problems with her testimony or anything, and we still pretty much see her at least every other day, so she's gonna be just fine, but we were all really sad when we heard.

Anyway, the transfer news is in, and I'm going to Hamilton to be with Elder Lau!  I don't know him, but I hear good things!  Elder Mak is going to Windsor to be with Elder Stowell (My old MTC companion).  Those guys are going to do awesome.

This time around the transfers shook things up quite a bit, so a bunch of missionaries are getting moved.  Some of them are coming to Hamilton with me, so that's fun!

Other piece of big news - Apparently President Clayton has just given up on the Hamilton Zone, because they're making me a district leader.  I guess he just wants the work there to fall apart :) Because that's what's going to happen.  How can they call me to do that!?!?  How can I tell people how to go missioning when I just got here?!

I'm super sad to be leaving Bayview.  Seriously, the members here are so awesome.  We're saying goodbye to a few of them tonight (including Candice) and there may be tears shed.  HOWEVER I do know that President Clayton is inspired, and there's someone in Hamilton that needs me and Elder Lau to baptize them.  I'm excited to be serving there, and I know good things will come.

Also, I hear hilarious stories from Hamilton all the time.  This place is famous.  Seriously, the place sounds super fun, and every time I tell someone I'm going to Hamilton, they get this distinctive smile and say something like "Oh, your going to Hamilton?  You're going to love it....mwahahaha"

I'm excited.  And sad.  Super weird feeling.

Mom - Give Sister Howell my best wishes.  She's awesome, and her dad must be too :)  And don't worry, I'll have plenty of nice things to say about you when you go.  However, your leniency on leaving the garage open will not be one of them ;)  Haha, I love you so much!

Ellie - Emi's getting fat?  Fun!  Now there's more of her to cuddle!!!  And I think I have a better idea than a pool.  Why don't all the puppies go sleep in mom's bed?  I think that would be a way cooler idea.

Hadley - Dumplings are basically food wrapped in more food.  Chinese people love to put food inside of food, and these are one example. There are a ton of different kinds though.  They're super easy to make, so you could probably get mom to make you some (although they probably won't be real Chinese ones ;) )

Ashleigh - What does non prehensile mean?  And your out of shape from Foosball?  Really?  That must have been one heck of a game.  You should use that as an excuse next time you go to conditioning.  "Sorry coach, I can't play...I played foosball last night, and I'm just too exhausted." 

Hayden - Okay, I can believe that non prehensile is a word, but there is no way that spell check recognized "bossishly" when you typed it in.  Glad to hear your humility is improving.  Start calling Dad "cyber-dad"

Cyber dad - Please tell me I can call you that now. It would make my day.  Seriously though, I hope the surgery went well, and although your in bed a lot, just remember that Emi's puppies can keep you company.  Suggest it to mom.  Then take a picture of her reaction and send it to me.

I love all of you!   I don't have a ton of time today because we have to get ready for transfers, but know that I appreciate all of your emails!  You guys are the best!

Elder Sabin

 Bayview missionaries and Bishop's family.  Top left to bottom right - Elder Earley, Elder Woo, Elder Mak, Me, Sister Chu, Sister Deng, Angela Cheng (return missionary), Bishop Cheng, Sister Cheng, Jeffery Cheng (my same age)

 Us at Christmas dinner with some members  Left to Right - Don't remember her name (she was visiting and it was a Korean name), Sister Goakery, Brother Goakery, me, Elder Mak, and Kayla (from Korea, here for school)

Same scene from our apartment balcony one day apart.  It got cold fast!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 24: #frozenchosen

Sorry about last week, we ran out of time, and I seriously had like 10 minutes to read my emails.  I'll make this week's report extra exhaustive.

First piece of very important news.  Candice is getting baptized!  Yay!

Seriously, she is the most amazing person ever.  You know what's even cooler?!  Frank, the other guy we baptized and the guy who referred Candice to us, is going to baptize her!  Ahh!  It's so amazing!
Let me update you on our lessons with her.

Tithing Lesson - 
Missionary - "So, you have to give the church a bunch of money.  Are you cool with that?"
Candice - "Ya, totally.  That makes perfect sense."

Law of Chasity Lesson - 
Missionary - "Alright, so don't do any of this stuff.  *point at list of stuff not to do*  Do you have any problems?
Candice - No, actually I want to bear testimony of how true it is.  *Proceed to bear testimony*

Other Commandment's Lesson - 
Missionary - "Alright, do this stuff.  Don't do this stuff.  Cool?"
Candice - "Totes"

Okay, I'm kind of kidding, and our lessons were much longer and more spiritual than that, but if I could sum them up in two lines, that would be it.  She's amazing.

Anyway, the plan is Saturday at 5:30.  Elder Mak and I are super pumped.

That's probably the biggest piece of news.  Aside from that, it was a great week.  One of my favorite quotes from this week comes from teaching English class.  We were teaching about relationships and dating, and when the class was over, I asked one of the other teachers what his class talked about.  He said "I taught them all about dating culture in Utah.  At first, they just wanted to go out to a movie.  NOW, they want to climb a MOUNTAIN!!!" Gotta love Utah.

Also, a lot of people asked what we did to celebrate New Year Eve.  For those of you who were wondering, yes, Chinese people do celebrate this New Years.  Mostly because it's another excuse to party together and eat boatloads of food.  However, as far as missionaries go, we were required to be back in our apartments for the evening, so in order to celebrate the New Year we did.... PLANNING!!!  Yay!

Ya, so that was my New Years :) Pretty hardcore, I know.  

As far as food goes, I want to tell you guys about something called Hot Pot.  It's super expensive, but if you ever get the chance, you should definitely try it.  Basically they bring out a pot of water, and set it on stoves on your table.  They boil the water (therefore a "hot pot") and bring out all sorts of raw mystery foods.  They come in various shapes and sizes, and since the menu is in Chinese I have no idea what they are.  Our method is usually just to point at things and tell the waitress to bring them.  Last time, to make it extra entertaining, we put the new missionary in charge of ordering.  I think, in her eyes, the conversation went something like this.

Waitress - "What can I get you?"
Missionary - "This one, this one."
Waitress - "The cow intestine?  Are you sure?"
Missionary - "Bring, bring."
Waitress - "Alright, if you're sure."
Missionary - "Thank you." *Nods, as if he understood anything she said.*

Anyway, the food comes out on plates, and there's tons of it, and no one asks what any of it is - mostly because no one is brave enough - and we dig in.  You take this stuff, and put it in the hot pot for a few minutes, and then it comes our magically cooked!  The wonders of modern technology. Super good food.  Not kidding about that part.  Tastes awesome.

Anyway, that was pretty much our week.  We had some other great lessons, but frankly I'm too lazy to write about all of them.  

Mom - Glad to hear that the Priest's Quorum hasn't fallen apart without my incredible leadership. (Put as much of a sarcastic spin on that sentence as you possibly can).  I love Nephi too!  He's like the most optimistic guy I've ever heard of.  2 Nephi 4 has some great verses about that.  I know I've mentioned it in an email before, but I love him so much.  I listened to a great talk given to me by another missionary this week about that.  I think that the reason optimistic people are much more successful is not because they don't have as many trials, but because they don't fall as far when they happen.  Nephi has a lot of crazy family problems, but he's never willing to let go of who he is and what he believes, and, for that reason, he's able to hold onto the good that he still has in his life.

Dear Hadley Jane the Insane - As far as New Years goes, we did have a dinner appointment, and I was force fed delicious dumplings.  It was great, but I nearly went into a food coma.  You broke a tooth?  Maybe you should have the dentist pull out all of your teeth, just to be safe.  You know, so you don't break another one.  Is that a good idea?  Also, did the song I sent last week go through?

Ellie Kate the Great - Well, in the Land of the North (I like that you capitalized it) things are going great.  I don't actually know when Chinese New Year is this year.  It should be near the beginning of February.  I'll ask around.  They usually celebrate it by having all the family get together, eating lots of food, and blowing up a ton of fireworks.  They don't actually do that here (Canadian Law) but back in China... holy cow.  They like blowing stuff up.  

Ashleigh Taylor the Sailor (Really?  We're going with that?) - Do you know why no one was motivated to play the Risk game?  Because they don't have anyone to gang up on and mercilessly beat into a corner!!! (Australia).  We did celebrate your birthday, but it was more like Memorial Day.  You know, the remembrance of something terrible and violent scarring the world, and remembering all those who have been slain because of it.  It was kind of like that ;)  Kidding.  Love ya!  Also, I don't think you can have the name "Sailor" if you've never been sailing in your life.

Hayden the..... really?  The boss beast of burden?  That's worse than Sailor! :)  It makes me think of like a huge herd of alpaca's, and there's one in charge.  Therefore, the Boss Beast of Burden.  Is that the image you're trying to convey?  Anyway, just be glad you don't have to bear your testimony in Chinese.  Much harder. Also, love what you said about reaching out to people.  Totally true.  Fellow shipping is so important for investigators, and it definitely applies to members as well.  

Dad - You're having surgery?  If they put any artificial parts in you, I'm gonna start calling you Bionic Man.  Or Cyber Dad.  Okay, I'm super excited now.  But sorry about your surgery.  I'll pray for you for sure.  Glad to hear you got to watch a lot of football.  Turns out, they have football in Canada!  Kind of weird.  When you say football, half of the people think of soccer, and half of them think of American football, so you have to be really careful about how you say it.  On a more spiritual note, I've really been trying to get the most out of personal study, and I wanted to share an insight with you. I was reading the beginning of Alma, specifically his two speeches to the people of Zarahemla and Gideon.  If you'll remember, the two parts are very different. In one, the message is "are ye stripped of pride?" and he basically chastises the people of that city for a few chapters.  The one given in Gideon has a much different tone, and Alma gives a beautiful sermon about the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I was thinking about that, and I realized (it's kind of obvious) that Zarahemla could have had the same sermon, but they just weren't ready.  Instead, they got the "fire and brimstone" speech, while the people of Gideon were able to have their faith strengthened.  What I think I learned, is that we always need to be ready to hear the messages of the Lord, because when the time comes, He's either going to chastise us or uplift our good qualities that we're already working on.  Anyway, just wanted to share. Love you!

Elder Sabin

P.S.  Cool Quote - "Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory." Neal A. Maxwell