Well, judging from that scary subject title, I'm sure you figured out what happened this week. However, it had much less to do with me, and much more to do with my companion.
Elder Carroll got pretty sick this week. He's feeling much better now, but we spent a lot of time around the house this week. It's really weird as a missionary because we have to stay together, and so I was around the house as well, but unlike my companion I didn't want to just lay in my bed for hours on end.
I got pretty creative with ways to entertain myself. I had a lot of time to do language study, but after a while, studying the same stuff in Chinese and French gets old. Luckily for me, we have some Arabic learning supplies in the house, so I decided I would crack it open. Turns out, Arabic is actually a really cool language!
Also, I subdued our "Narnia Closet". This is a term for the places in missionary apartments where things just begin to accumulate. It starts out with some basic supplies like Bibles and pamphlets, but over the years it just starts to collect a lot of fun stuff. With my spare time this week, I was able pretty well annihilate one of the ones in our house. Among other things I found some CD's produced by the Seventh Day Adventist church, enough band-aid's to make a mummy, medical supplies from the 20th century, approximately 5,000 copies of the church produced movie"Joy to the World", materials in like 40 languages, a few copies of The Quran, a poster about eternal marriage that was quickly taped on the door of the other elders study, lots and lots of family history posters, and some important looking medical documents that a missionary probably lost years ago.
Anyway, that's probably more than enough coverage on my time in the house this week. We did actually get to see some really cool miracles. On Saturday night, I went with one of the other elders to go teach Javane. We usually meet him at a restaurant that's a few minutes away from his house by walking. He doesn't drive though, and so he texted us about a half an hour beforehand and said "Hey, can you give me a ride? It's really cold outside." His concern was understandable. It's been super freezing lately.
Well, I just texted back saying "Well, we can't give rides, but we could meet at your house. Does that work?" He said yes, and I assumed that we would be meeting inside his home.
Well, we got to his house, and I sent him a text saying that we had arrived. He texted back saying "Okay, one sec." and so we waited on his doorstep for a minute or two. Then, he came out in a big coat and said "Okay, I'm ready to meet." Then he walked over to his driveway, and I just thought "No!" We were going to meet outside.
Well I, being stupid, didn't wear my big coat. I thought we would only be outside for a few seconds. So the entire lesson I was FREEZING cold and on the outside I'm trying to be a very professional missionary type person. Here we are, externally asking very calm, well-thought-out questions like "So how has the Book of Mormon been a strength to you?" and on the inside I'm just screaming "WHY CANADA!?"
Now, there's a happy ending. The lesson actually went super well. The member that we brought was awesome about helping him get to church, and there was some really good stuff said. He's still feeling good about baptism, and so we're super excited to keep working with him. However, that didn't stop me from running like a maniac to the heated car the millisecond he walked in his front door.
Also, we had some awesome people come to church this last Sunday. One of them is named Ola. Yes, it sounds like "Hello" in Spanish. He's from Nigeria, and he's super cool. Also, Raj and Daniel came as well. It was really awesome to see them all out.
This week we also had MLC, which was really fun. It's always a blast to see all the other zone leaders. I've served around many of them before, and so it's a bit like seeing a bunch of old friends every month. They all come over the night before and then, we all lay in our bed's talking until 1 in the morning. Then, the next day we have an 8 hour spiritual meeting that just slays us. It's a good time.
Family, in response to your email, yes we did name the squirrel. His name is Truffles.
Mom - I'm so sorry your cold. I'm sure you are experiencing what the pioneers went through. Moving around from place to place in the freezing cold...with heated cars....and stereos...and handwarmers...etc. Kidding :) I don't mind your complaining. Usually whenever an elder complains though I just say "This must be what the pioneers felt like". They usually shut up pretty quick.
It sounds like you all had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. Those are really fun as a missionary. Yesterday at church we had a Jamaican guy come into church for the first time and he decided to share his testimony. Literally, he's never been to this church before, and so I was pretty excited to hear what he was going to say. Well, it was going pretty good as he shared a story about him and his friends driving through Jamaica at unsafe speeds. Then, when he hit the climax of the story he screamed out "JESUS!" from the pulpit through the microphone and started yelling like I'm sure they do in his church. It was wonderful. Anyway, love you!
Hadley: The newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - I'm so happy you got baptized! Haha, I laughed really hard when you signed your letter like that. Congratulations Hadley. That's a really important day in your life. Just remember how big of a privilege it is that you're now a member of the church of Jesus Christ :) Also, I heard that you bore your testimony! Way to go!
Hayden - Hayden, you're asking a question that I've been asked many times on my mission. It's one of the hardest questions there is. "What do I have to do to get a testimony?" Well, the first thing you should remember is that God loves you. He doesn't want to hide the truth from you. That would be dumb. However, the blessings he gives to us depend on us following the commandments, so you're not wrong when you say that we should follow the commandments to get a testimony. There's a little more than just doing the stuff though. In Moroni 10:4 it says we have to have "a sincere heart and real intent" when we do it. So when you pray next time, think about why you are praying. Are you doing it because Mom told you to? Or are you doing it because you really want to know if God is there listening to you? With reading the scriptures it's the same thing. Are you doing it because you have to to pass seminary? Or are you doing it because you want to know if it's true? God is going to answer the question that you are asking.
Also, you have to be willing to act on the answer you receive. I have met a lot of investigators who want to know if this is the church of God. However, they won't change anything even if they get answer saying "YES!". They're not willing to change, and so they don't get an answer.
Let me give you an example. Let's say you are praying to ask if you should serve a mission. Before you pray, you have to be willing to act on the answer you receive, which means that if you get a "Yes," you will go. Your thoughts have to be something like "Heavenly Father, I don't care what the answer is. I just want to know your will, and then I will do it.". However, some people will pray without that way of thinking. They will pray to ask, but they don't really want to know and they won't go even if they get an answer, and so they never will. Does that make sense?
That being said, it may not come as something enormous and life changing. But look back at your life a little bit. How many times did you feel better after we knelt down and said a prayer as a family? How many times did you share your testimony and then feel good afterwards? How many times did you feel good when you were passing the sacrament? All these little experiences (and maybe a few big ones) start to add up a little bit. They lump together, and then one day you realize you do believe it! Maybe you don't know everything, but you believe that the gospel and the church and the scriptures and the atonement of Jesus Christ are all real and true.
Well, sorry for the essay :) But you got me going. To sum it up 1) You have to keep the commandments and do good stuff to get a testimony. 2) You also have to have "a sincere heart and real intent. 3) Remember that it doesn't come all at once.
To answer your other questions, yes I did take a half of a year of guitar. It was fun, but I didn't keep with it and forgot it all. Probably take something that you want to keep learning.
As far as Chinese goes, I'm so pumped you're learning it. Keep it up! :)
Ellie - Science projects? You should take pictures of 20 hands and put them together and see if people can spot their own. Test the principle of knowing something like "The back of your hand." I bet not everyone will be able to do it if you make it hard enough. Or you can test brand names. Buy a whole ton of off brand Oreos or something, and give people a blindfolded taste test. Give them 4 off brand versions and 1 of the real things and see if they can guess which one is the real Oreo. Or do it with something else like candy bars. Or you can make a list of 30 or so random words. Have some words repeat, some said louder than others, do an action when you say one of them, have a visual aid for one of them, etc. Then after you've read it to some people out loud, ask them to write all the ones they remember. I'll bet they'll remember the ones at the beginning, the end, any that were repeated or emphasized, etc. See what kind of things influence what a person remembers and what they forget. Maybe apply it to the classroom and show how certain things can help students remember concepts.
Or you can make two lists of colors. On the second list, the writing and the font color match. One the first one, they don't. Have people say the colors of each line as fast as they can and time them. I'll bet the second list goes faster because the two ideas going to the brain match, whereas on the first one they conflict. Throw in a few other lists where the writing is just random words and not colors at all, or where you have to read the writing instead of saying the color. I think the idea would be that conflicting signals to the brain slows you down.
This email's formatting is being stupid, so the rest of my email will be written on the centered format.
Ashleigh - Don't make fun of my turban jokes. The squirrel is fine. There was some tension, but we had a good talk, and some problems were reconciled. We're bros now. Don't worry. Also, you went to Zumba? Weirdo. Yoga is where it's at.
Are you still obsessing over Hamilton? And yes, Canananananada is doing well :)
Dad - Haha, I laughed when you said "I had a baptism this last week." *Slow clap* Well played dad. Well played. This one was 8 years in the making. Haha, It's funny that you shared about Ephraim Hanks. Ephraim's Rescue actually got approved by our mission president last week because some elder got it as a Christmas gift and asked about it, so I literally saw that movie for the first time last week. Coincidence? Probably. Cool? Yes.
Wow, the formatting just did something magical and fixed itself. Sorry that this is so inconvenient. Anyway, where was I? Oh ya, Ephraim Hanks :) Ya, I was really inspired by his story. He had a lot of amazing experiences. I'm sure you'll be just like him on Trek :)
Anyway, God bless you all! I love you!