I'll be honest. I'm pretty wiped out. These last two weeks had Elder Carroll and I running around the mission a ton, which was really fun, but I'm so tired. Saturday night was the first night that Elder Carroll and I had slept in the same house in 14 days. We had the Quebec exchange and then the last 5 days we had back-to-back exchanges with other zone leaders throughout the mission. I've had a lot of fun :)
I have had a lot of questions about whether I'm still in Quebec. I was there until Wednesday morning, at which point Elder Carroll came up and we came down and exchanged back in the city of North Bay. It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed spending time with the elders up there. They are a ton of fun :)
More recently, we've been preparing for a visit next week by a man named John Gonzalez. He's from the mission department, and he's going to come and do some exchanges with the missionaries here. This week is our Mission Leadership Council (which we're also preparing for) and I'm really excited for what he's going to share there.
Also, next week is transfers, which means that we're making final arrangements for the movement that's going to happen in the mission. But enough with the boring stuff!
This week we met with Rohit, and had a stellar lesson. In the past he's had trouble recognizing his answers from God, and he didn't feel like he had a witness. However, he had an experience that really built his faith this week, and it made me laugh a little bit.
He was looking for his key one day, and he couldn't find it. It was some important key for one of his classes or something like that, and he searched and searched, but just couldn't find it. Then, after some time, he threw his wallet down on the table in frustration. The wallet opened, revealing his key inside of it.
It was a small experience, but it got him thinking. He started watching more carefully for when things happen in his life, and he saw a lot of miracles. This week he came to church with newfound faith and a desire for a baptismal date. We sat down, and after some discussion, I asked him how he felt about a baptismal date. In the past he's been really reluctant, but this time he said "Ya, I'm busy these next couple weeks, but how's January sound?"
I was pretty stoked, and pulled out my phone to pull up the calendar so we could set a date. Before I even looked at the phone though he said "Is the first a Sunday?"
It was. And so that's his date. I'm pretty happy :)
Also, one of our members Kenneth shaved his eyebrows. That doesn't really have anything to do with the week. I just thought it was really weird. He looks angry or surprised all the time now. Remind me not to shave my eyebrows.
Also, this week the Christmas initiative began! Family, I know you already said that you've started but for those of you who will read this that haven't begun, REPENT! It's awesome, and it's going to bring many miracles.
One of the reasons that Ontario is so much fun to serve in is the diversity of the people here, and the different backgrounds they all come from. Christmas, being a holiday that has spread to many cultures, is almost universally celebrated in some shape or form but many of the festivities have little to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.
By now, I'm sure that worldwide there are stores pulling out decorations, people going shopping for gifts, and lights being put up on roofs all around the globe. People tend to connect this with "The Spirit of Christmas" but I disagree. This is a happy afterthought, but I worry that in the commotion of the holiday season, we forget the real reason we celebrate.
The first Christmas was a very small event. There was no shopping to do, there was no Christmas feast, and there was only one light put up - the star that would guide the wisemen from their native lands to find the Christ child. There was one family; no turkey; no Christmas tree; and no tinsel. That was Christmas.
And yet, there was something memorable about that day - something that has inspired the lives of billions around the world who believe in Christ. It had nothing to do with flashing lights and fancy toys, but it was memorable. It was inspiring.
So this Christmas season,I want to invite you all to worry a little bit less about what you'll be getting and focus a little more on what you can give. Take a little time. Cook a meal for that new family that just moved in down the block. Stop by the rest home and see those who could use a visit this season. Find some way to express your love to others and most importantly to the Savior. In two words: be inspiring.
Best of luck this Christmas season.
Ellie - Haha, I'm glad to hear that you've really taken off with this swimming thing. I bet by the time I get home you'll be able to beat me at swimming. Also, your favorite classes are health and math? Interesting.
Hadley - Loving the nicknames this time around. Also, thanks for the run down on the latest fashions back in Utah :) I'm super excited to hear that you guys are doing Light the World! Keep doing it!
Mom - Yes, I am always with a companion， Even on the exchanges, we drive somewhere to meet with another companionship and trade companions, so we always have someone with us. In lessons, I obviously don't usually use mandarin, because there's some chinese missionaries that cover our area, but Elder Carroll and I usually speak to each other in Chinese, so I can still practice lots. It's been good. Also, I love the quote :)
Hayden - Yes, I know the difference. Are you ready? Think of Chinese as a written language, but not spoken. Each character (letter) carries a meaning, but the pronunciation of the character can change depending on the dialect. Originally in China, there were lots of dialects, but a long time ago, the government made Mandarin the main one, and so everyone was supposed to learn Mandarin pronunciation. About 80 percent of Chinese people speak it. Cantonese is just another dialect that is spoken, and it has survived really well because it's what they speak in Hong Kong, which wasn't part of china for a long time, and therefore never really experienced the government's push to learn Mandarin until recently. For instance the way to write missionary in Chinese is 傳教士. In mandarin those three characters are pronounced "Chuan jiao shi" but in Cantonese they are pronounced "Chuhn gaao shi". But the same writing. It's complicated.
Ashleigh - You know that Alexander Hamilton was kind of crazy, right? He died because he challenged another guy to a duel and lost. You better get an A in english class this year. If you don't, I'll never let you live it down :)
Dad - Ya, we have a few investigators looking good for baptism, but the closest is probably Rohit. He's doing awesome. Yes, I'm healthy (I think). Anyway, I'm running low on time, but I appreciate your thoughts. Tell Chase that I approve 100 percent of his idea. That sounds like it's amazing.
Anyway, I love you!