Elder Sabin

Elder Sabin

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 53: Loving Bayview!

Hello family!  This week has been wonderful.  Honestly, it's hard to have a bad week out here in Bayview.  The ward is super cool, and the area is about as Chinese as it can get.

First big piece of news, do you remember that guy that I taught in Kitchener, Emerson?  He got baptized!!!  How cool is that?  I'm so happy for him.  If he happens to read this, I just want him to know I'm so glad for the choice that he's made.  He's gonna be a wonderful disciple of Jesus Christ!

Anyway, I just had to get that out there.  In other news, we're still teaching a whole ton of other sweet people out here in North York.  Richard has been doing really well.  We were a little worried about him for a while because he was almost baptized, but then his family disagreed with him joining the church, and he stopped coming to English classes for a while.  He doesn't have a phone so we couldn't talk to him, but he's started coming again, and now he's bringing his family!  Miracles are in store!

Patrick and Henry came to church!  They're both super awesome, and we really feel like they're ready to be baptized, but they just both feel apprehensive about it.  They've come every week I've been here though, so apparently they love church.  They're just super good people, and they're mom-wife Kelly is a super funny lady.

Also, we've been teaching a guy named Weibo, who may be a Jehovah's Witness.  He hasn't said so yet, but he asks some very J-dubbish questions.  He's really cool, and we're actually going to be meeting with him again tonight.

We started meeting a new guy this week named Austin, who's really nice.   He's an interior designer, and he had a lot of questions about what the church's stance is on modern controversial issues like gay right, abortion, marijuana, etc.  We really enjoy meeting with him.

Jimmy is still doing awesome.  He loves Jesus more than ever, and we always look forward to going over to his house, because he's always got funny stories to share.

Martin is doing good.  He's been really busy, so we weren't able to see him this week as much as we would like, but he said his schedule will calm down this week, so we should be able to see him a few times.  He lives literally 3 or 4 houses down from the church, so that's fun.

Vivian is still sweet.  She doesn't feel ready for baptism yet, but she really likes church, and she's been thinking super hard about the gospel, which is awesome.

Norman is coming back from St. Catherine's this week, so we should be able to start meeting with him again.  He's really got a lot of potential to be baptized, and he has some sweet member friends who have been bringing him to church.

Joshua is coming back from the states this week.  It'll be good to see him again.  I taught him once or twice back when I was here with Elder Carroll, and it sounds like he's come a long way.  I'm excited for him.

Also, we're going to be meeting with a super cute kid from primary named Andrew this week.  He's getting ready to be baptized, and bishop asked if we could teach him, so that's going to be really fun.

We met with Christopher this week, and he's doing really well.  He's a really nice guy, and his wife is awesome too, but she's out of town right now.  It's been a while since we saw him too since he's a trucker and was out driving for the last little bit.

All of the new converts in the ward are doing great.  Xiao lin, William, Jane, Victoria, and Lance are the ones that we're meeting with (the other companionship is meeting with a few others) and they all have super strong testimonies.  Lance just got the Melchizedek Priesthood on Sunday!

Anyway, that's pretty much been the week.

Mom - Last P-day we went with some other elders to one of the super-Asian malls that are in the area.  There's quite a few of them.  P-day's are usually pretty fast paced, but that's really just our fault.  There are too many things that we want to do.

Ellie - Darn that technology.  Now I'll never know who's sending me emails...  Oh, well, I'll respond anyway.  Are you rocking it at swim team?

Hayden - Wow, sounds like you're having a pretty active summer.  I love you too bro.  Keep having fun!

Hadley - Does Emi still do that?  How is she by the way?  She hasn't emailed me in a long time ;)

Ashleigh - They probably hated you already, but whatevs ;) Haha, I'm sure the bishopric loved that.  The new mission president is super cool.  He's a great guy, and his wife is really cool to. So you finally sang in church? After all these years?  Wow, that's pretty cool.

Dad - Haha, best of luck on scout camp!  I'm sure it will be tons of fun.  The work here is going great.  We have a lot of people go back to China in the summer, so ya, there's definitely less here, but honestly it's Toronto.  It's like a quarter Mandarin speakers.

Anyway, I love you all! God lives, he loves you, and he wants you to be happy!

Elder Sabin

The zone.  Please ignore Elder Brown's hands on Elder Bybee's head.  We don't know why he did it either:

Man, this sign is all over town.  I just think it's super goofy:

We should be models:

Elder Earley and crew :) They're so fun:

Some of my wall souvenirs.  One is a Chinese character that a member drew for me.  It means love, and it's really commonly seen on calligraphy:  

The other is a Chinese style scroll that comes from an ancient Chinese legend about why we have eclipses.  Turns out, there's a giant dragon that's ticked at the sun, and he's chasing him around the earth.  That's why the sun moves.  Sometimes, the dragon almost gets him and starts putting his mouth around it (eclipse) but then the sun escapes.  Therefore, this picture:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 52: Pokemon Go

This is actually hilarious, because I came to the library today planning to start my email by talking about Pokemon Go, but I've seen that tons of other missionaries have already said a ton about it.  Haha, it's a worldwide epidemic :)  Elder Stowell and I started noticing a strange phenomenon this week where people will start wandering around at random places with their phones right in front of them.  For a while, we didn't ask about it, but it started getting more common, and at this point I'm not even surprised when someone wanders into the church grounds looking for their next catch.  Interesting stuff.

We can't decide if this is a good or a bad thing.  On the bad side, it means that we have to deal with a lot of "zombies" that don't really want to talk to us because they're too busy battling Pokemon.  On the good side, it gets people outside that maybe wouldn't normally be outside?  Also, people don't cross the street when they see the missionaries, because they're too busy looking at their phone.  I don't know.  I guess the Lord can even use Pokemon to help his work roll forward.

Mom - It's totally fine, don't worry.  I got the two packages from you guys in the last two weeks, so I'm definitely still feeling the love.   Yes, there are quite a few new Chinese missionaries in the mission.  Elder Stowell and I are sitting at about the middle of the pack right now.
Chinese missionaries in the Toronto mission according to mission age:
Elder Blanscett
Elder Holt and Elder Scott
Elder Mak
Elder Carroll
Elder Stowell and I
Elder Hudak
Sister Skinner
Sister Deng
Sister Chen
Elder Kong
Elder Martin
Elder Leung
Elder Chi
There's a few other Hong Kong missionaries that are in English work but could potentially do Mandarin work that I'm not counting.  Haha, Ya, Elder Lemon seems like he's doing fine.  I talked to him at MLC right after it happened, and he was making jokes about it, so I'm sure he'll be okay.  Elder Stowell and I are back in the super tall apartment on Yonge Street.

Ashleigh - Lets be honest.  Volleyball is just a really intense version of don't let the balloon touch the ground :)  Kidding, I love volleyball.  I'm not very good, but I'm tall, so I just stand on the front row and spike it usually.  That's about it.

Dad - Things are going great out here :) I'm loving the work, and I love the quote that you shared.  It's definitely true what you say.  There are people who jump off the ship, even though they know that the one guiding it is Christ.  Though we may not understand why the ship turns the way it does, we can trust that He does. I do not know where the world will go.  I do not know if the church's growth will speed up or slow down in the last days.  I do not know if all the people who have left will come back, though I pray that they will every day.  Recently I was studying in 3 Nephi 6, where it says that "the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites, who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord." I don't know if the second coming of Christ will be preceded by a similar situation, but I hope that we will be among those converted to the true faith.  We all need to be led by the light of Christ, because relying on others testimonies won't always hold true.

As a super quick update on the work here, we've been meeting with...
Vivian - super cool, taught her before when I was with Elder Carroll, likes church
Patrick and Henry - part member family, comes to church every week
Jimmy-loves Christian rock
Richard - English student, could get baptized right now but his parents are opposed
Norman - York University student, smart, likes church a lot
Martin - Lives next door to the chapel, comes to sports night, really cool
Joshua - in the states on vacation right now, but coming back soon. I taught him before with Elder Carroll as well
Xiang Dan - Cousin of a member, really cool, met her a few times
Huan En Ci - Literally the most prepared guy you've ever met.  Started believe in Christianity a  few months ago in China, moved here last month, super fun.

Anyway, I need to keep my email pretty short today.  We're going somewhere for P-day today, so I don't have a ton of time. The week has been going great. I'll describe it with emoticons as best I can.😁😂😄😎😋😇😇😇😇😇😇.  That's pretty much been it.  Oh, I forgot, here's one for Elder Stowell 🐼

Love you all!

Elder Sabin

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 51: Agents of (President) Shield!

Hayden - Honestly, the slang is getting scary :)  Will there come a point when we will no longer be able to communicate?  Just kidding, I love you.  You're definitely right when you say you can't beat free ice cream.  Sounds like you're loving lacrosse :)

Hadley - Don't worry, I totally felt the hug you put in there when I opened it.  You're so sweet Hadley :)  Wow, 10 bucks! That's a lot of money.  I love you times infinity too :)

Ellie - Haha, a beanie boo?  At least that will last longer than candy.  Sounds like you've been loving the swimming :) How often do you go to swim team?

Mom - Ya, I got the package safe and sound.  It was super funny to see him :)  ya, I'm sure Elder Earley did a good job.  He's a really great guy :)  Love the quote as well, and I love the package.  The beef jerky is awesome.

Ashleigh - Wait, your sending another package?  Man, how fat do you guys want me to get ;)  Just kidding, it's great.  I'm sure he's super excited to come up to Bayview.

Dad - Ya, seriously, I've moved around so much.  The way things are in the mission now with the Chinese missionaries means I'll probably be here quite a while though.  You never know, but I'll probably be here at least a couple of transfers. Ya, I don't know why he was complementary of me either.  Elder Earley's a really cool guy.  It sounds like you saw Elder Kendall too then?

Anyway, I guess I'll tell you all about the week.

Twas a wonderful week and all through North York
The city was filling with gospel galore
For Stowell and Sabin, together as one
Will now and forever kick some major butt (butt rhymes with one, right?)

Nothing like some poetry to really get those creative juices flowing eh?  Darn.  I said eh again.  I'm turning into a Canadian.  Pretty soon I'll be apologizing all the time and going on postal strikes.

Actually, that was a pretty authentically American offensive comment.  I'm probably doing fine. But hopefully I didn't just offend a whole ton of Canadians.  If there's one thing I've learned it's that THE GOSPEL IS TRUE even if the missionaries are dumb and make offensive comments sometimes.

On a note completely unrelated to the comment I just made, Canada's postal service is on strike currently, so don't send me anything.  It will get stuck in a warehouse somewhere and make it to me in a few months.  Honestly, the mission has warned us like 10 times to not mail any of the mission information.  I know you all love expressing your love to me with abundance of letters and packages, but you're all just gonna have to hold it in for a little bit.  I know, I know, it's hard, but you can do this.  With God all things are possible.

If I could describe this week in one word it would be "This-week-has-been-really-crazy-because-we-whitewashed-in-but-also-awesome-because-I-am-back-in-bayview-serving-with-elder-stowell-who-is-celestial-and-beautiful-and-I-am-having-a-hard-time-expressing-this-in-one-word-so-I-am-just-using-lots-of-hyphens".  There.  One word. It's a really long one though.

Anyway, life has been good here.  It's so nice to be back in Bayview.  We don't even have to try hard to find Chinese people here. We just walk outside and and talk to a random guy who turns out to be Chinese. Then he usually says something along the lines of "no english" and then we try our best to baptize him.  Sometimes it works.

Elder Stowell has been awesome.  I haven't seen him too much since the MTC, and it's been great to be with him again.  Also, it's even better now because our Chinese doesn't stink.  Just kidding, it probably still does, but less so.

One of the highlights of this week was that we got to go to MLC in Brampton and meet the new president!  He is super cool.  President Clayton was awesome, and I love both of them, but they are way different.  President Shields was a YSA stake president, and that was a really good calling for him.  He's super energetic, and loves to share stories from his life.  He loves joking around, and Elder Stowell and I are going to go running with him before next MLC.  Haha, it was great.

MLC was wonderful as well.  The night before, all the zone leaders drive to Brampton and go stay with the AP's so no one is late the next day, and we all get to catch up with each other.  That was really fun.  Then, the meeting itself is super spiritual and we just get tons of revelation.  One of the things that came to my mind was the commandment "Be ye therefore perfect."  As a mission, we do wonderful things, but obviously we are far from perfect.  The problem with the perfect organizations of the church and the mission, is that they are staffed by those who are imperfect.  Those who are flawed fill the positions required to do this incomparable work.  God entrusts the work of saving souls to those who aren't perfect at it, and it is virtually impossible for us to fulfill that calling to the extent he asks us to fulfill it.

Luckily for us, there is hope.  He commands us to be perfect, and he provides a way.  It is only in and through Jesus Christ that we are made perfect, but in order to access that power, we have to put forth effort.  We have to strive and work and sweat, and only then do we have the promise that we can be made perfect in Christ.

So now that we know we don't have to be perfect, let's worry about being good.  Joseph Smith once said "Let the Saints remember that great things depend on their individual exertion."  I know that that is true.  One of the greatest diseases I've seen not only in the church, but in any organization is the problem of thinking "Someone else will do it." No.  You will do it.  There is too much riding on this.  This is a matter of salvation and exaltation, and there is never a reason for you to wait for someone else to do it.  When a friend stops coming to church or a member needs a helping hand or you feel a prompting to share what you know about Jesus with the person next to you on the bus, do it.  There isn't really a good excuse to wait.  Waiting for someone else to do it?  When did Jesus preach that?  The reason you have been put in the situation you are in is so that you can help the people that God knows only you will be able to help.  You are qualified, because the only requirement is a desire, and if that's there, everything else will turn out.  We, as a church and as people need to stop waiting for the green light when it comes to doing good.  If we continue asking people "is there anything I can do for you" the answer will always be "no."  Think about it.  Every time you asked that question, the only thing you got in response was something trivial like "pray for us" or "just keep doing a good job."  Quit asking and start doing the work that you've been called to do, because "great things depend on YOUR individual exertion."

I love this gospel, and I love this church, and I know that everything we teach is true.  I am far from perfect, but I love the people of Toronto and I have a desire to serve them.  Everything else has worked out.

Elder Sabin

Me and Jim:

Me and Nan:

Cheryl (awesome member missionary) and me:

Us with a bunch of the Kitchener YSA:
 Counterclockwise from me:  Me, Tommy, Elder Early, Jim (big eyes), Jack, Leah (big smile), Stephanie, Sam, Elder Brand (blurry), Bella, Sister Skinner, Sister Deng.  Nan is on the right kind of cut out.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Great to See Austin!

The following is an email from our good friend and next-door neighbor, Trent Howell.  He went to Toronto on business last week and hand delivered a package to Austin at church on Sunday.  It made my day (more like my week or month)!  It was so fun to read these extra details about the ward where Austin is serving and to get these great bonus pictures.  Thanks a million Trent!!

I thought I'd send you the full version of the photos from seeing your boy. 

It's interesting how they do the English and Mandarin wards in this chapel. 
The English ward (Don Valley) has sacrament at 10:00.
Then at 11:20 the Mandarin (Bayview) ward begins starting with gospel doctrine. The adult classes are held separately between the wards but the youth are combined.
During the last hour for the Priesthood/RS it's the same where the youth are combined and the adults hold their classes separately. 
Then at 1:10 the Mandarin ward holds their sacrament mtg. 

I opted for the English option and met a bunch of elders before and after the English sacrament mtg. The program listed 8 elders covering the Don Valley ward (2 sets English and 2 sets Farsi). One elder spoke in sacrament mtg and said he was serving as a Persian missionary and would therefore be with them for 18 months. I checked later to realize that Farsi is Persian. 

It was the most diverse English ward I've ever been too. Visibly different nationalities all around. So cool. 

I tried to spot him after the English sacrament mtg, but no luck. So after gospel doctrine I met a few more folks there and found the Mandarin priesthood area. But he wasn't there either so I went to the other side hallway and there is and his companion were walking my way. 

It was so great to see him. And thinking about you longing parents I felt my eyes start to get moist as well. I couldn't stop with just a handshake so I gave him a big parent hug saying it came from both of you. (boy he's a big man)

We chatted a little bit in the hallway as they related the places they've served and that it's funny to have MTC companions serving together in the field. 

I showed them the care packages and Elder Stowell was so surprised to have one too. It was one of those "I guess our moms talk together. Well, duh. That's how moms are." kind of moments. Very funny. 

A couple times Austin mentioned it being so weird to see a face from home there. It's just so unexpected to have those worlds cross. 

I told them we needed a photo together and since everyone was now in classrooms, there was just an elderly Chinese couple walking down the hall and both elders called out to ask if they could take our picture. Of course, my Mandarin's a little rusty, but I'm pretty sure that's what they said. 

I also mentioned how much I enjoy reading his updates that you post - and that I love his writing style as well as his testimony. 

We chatted just a bit about Jaden's call and departure in a month and that they had an MTC instructor that served in Malaysia. 

Like a good missionary, he wanted to get into priesthood and I didn't want to hold him up much longer. So I passed along the care packages and wished them the best. 

Most importantly they both looked so happy. Such outstanding young men!

Cheers from far away!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 50: Back in Bayview!

Alright, I'm gonna be straight up.  This week has been one of the coolest, most faith filled, craziest experiences of my mission. I honestly felt like I was in a movie for much of it.

First off.  Transfer news!!! I'm getting transferred again!  Man, I just can't stay in an area I guess. Other crazy piece of news.  I'm going back to the Bayview ward!  Other crazy piece of news.  I'll be serving with Elder Stowell, my MTC companion!

Man, that was a crazy call.  This will be my third time getting transferred there.  I was super scared, because Elder Carroll (one of the APs) kept messing with me and making it sound like I was going to English work aka perdition.

But it's okay!  I'm still in Chinese work!  That being said, I'm super sad to be leaving Kitchener.  We have a ton of people that will be getting baptized here in the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to miss them :(

Nan is still doing great testimony-wise, but his parents have decided they're opposed to him being baptized, so we're praying for him super hard.  He really wants to be, and he has such a solid testimony. He still comes to church every week, and everyone in the branch loves him.

Emerson is totally going to be baptized on the 16th.  During a lesson the other day he sat down and said "So I was doing some online research about Joseph Smith..." and we just thought "Oh no, here we go."  but then he continued "It is amazing that he was able to translate this whole book that fast! Man, there's no way he would do that without the power of God."

That was pretty cool.  Then we talked about Joseph Smith, and he had a ton of questions, so for our next lesson we watched the restoration video on Canada Day (July 1st).  After we watched it he told us he had an experience he wanted to share with us.  He proceeded to share that he had felt really bad in the past, because due to his amount of homework and assignments he was only able to read a little bit of the Book of Mormon each day.  However that morning (we were meeting in the evening) he had decided that since he didn't have school, he would just read the Book of Mormon.  So he read it for like 3 or 4 hours and prayed about it, and got a super strong confirmation.  He described it as "filling him up" which was amazing to hear, and he knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I'm super sad that I'm not going to be here for his baptism.

Robin is also doing great.  He is literally doing everything that an investigator can be doing.  We had a hard time thinking up a new commitment for him, because he reads a ton of the Book of Mormon, listens to hymns all the time, prays a bunch, goes to church, etc.  He's doing awesome, and will be baptized in the coming weeks as well.

Ivy is a friend of Emerson (see above) and she loved church too.  Also, she's good friends with Emerson, so he can share his awesome testimony.  We've taught her a few times, and she's super cool.

Larry is still doing good.  Taught him again.  Hasn't made it out to church yet, but likes learning.

Augustine is another guy we've been meeting. Super interested.

Lulu is a guy (yes, he is a man) that we've been meeting, and he's really cool.  Religion confuses him, and he's so confused as to why Christians are so happy all the time. Wants to know why, and we want to tell him.

A few others, but those are the main ones.  Sorry, some of those updates are pretty sparse.

Mom - Elder Earley is doing great.  I guess you guys will see him in a few days :) No, I haven't met the new mission president yet, but I'll see him tomorrow at transfers.

Dad - We've been eating pretty good. I stopped buying junk food a few transfers in, so it's been okay.  Frozen food is too expensive.  We do eat a fair amount of cereal.  Lots of stove top cooking.  Fajitas.  Sandwiches.  Member's food.  Just depend on what we have in the fridge.  Lots of rice and noodles.  Bananas.  Apples.  I'm honestly just listing off things I ate in the last week. :)  Ya, Mormon is a pretty cool guy.  Never really saw the fruits of his labors, but today he's made a pretty big impact.

Smaller Family members - Sorry, I'm a bit short on time today.  We're trying to get ready to whitewash out, and since I'm one of the zone leaders, we have to run some errands. I hope you'll forgive me :)  I love you guys!  Sounds like Sun Valley is super fun. I love you all!


Elder Sabin

We went to lunch on P-day with Yiwen, a convert from the Bayview ward and the other Mandarin sisters, sister Skinner and Sister Deng:

Me and Emerson:

Me and Robin:

Me and Jin, a member who loves marble slab ice cream (hence the background):

 Me, Bryce Nabrotsky (our Ward Mission Leader) and Nan:

My tie collection: