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!