Friday, September 13, 2013

Letter - September 9, 2013

Hi all,

It was nice to hear about Bear Lake and the poisonberry pie, and the Parade of Homes.  As much as I liked the Parade of Homes, I always thought that my home had something better than any of those.  I think it was the love that was always felt there.  I realize just how much strength I have gained from the testimony that was constantly shared in our home - thank you, Mom and Dad, and keep sharing love and testimony with Noelle and Lauren and Erin and Evan, because they will benefit from it so much more than I think you may realize.  I know I have, and I can't thank you enough.

Candy stash
The wealth/burden of candy in my room increases with every departing district.  We can barely hold all of it in our shelves/closets/drawers/pockets.  I still love getting packages on "free Fridays," though, so don't stop! 

Learning to fly indoors

This week has been great, but unpredictable.  The weather has been awesome - rain every day, and thunder most days.  The downside is that I haven't been allowed to play Paiqiu (volleyball) for days - I can see the effects of this deprivation taking toll on everyone in my residence.  We had to resort to learning how to fly indoors (see pictures) and two-on-two basketball in the room, using Elder Simmons' new Nerf basketball hoop.  It is just like Evan's, and it has provided us with a lot of fun and several bruises.
Two-on-two Nerf basketball

This Saturday, for district FHE, we watched "Johnny Lingo" and "The Phone Call."  Wow.  Mostly we just laughed the whole time.  I would recommend watching those to the kids, and then Noelle and Lauren can send me their reviews via dear elder.  Watching these movies brought back fond memories of watching old films with Mom, like "Cypher in the Snow" and "The Mailbox."  Those really left a strong impression on me when I was young, about paying attention and being kind to everyone.

Oh, earlier that day, BYU played Texas, and I could hear the roar of the stadium, and the trumpets and snares from my residence.  I've never really had a desire to go to games other than my own school's, but at that time, I felt a real sense of longing for the life I left behind.  Until that day, I had never considered what kinds of things I was actually giving up to serve a mission, and I had actually never considered it a sacrifice, but now I realize it is a bigger sacrifice than anything else I've ever done.  I guess I knew that, but I never really felt it until two days ago.
 with Elder Sessions

with Elder Wagner
Hey, this week I met Elder Neil Sessions and Sister Dorothy Petersen (although I didn't get a picture with her, darn!)  I also said a final farewell to Elder Caleb Wagner, who has just left the MTC for Daejon Korea.  Also, I ran into a Megan Wengreen, who I sadly cannot remember, but who graduated a year before me, and sends her regards to Dad.

We've gone through three teachers so far.  First, Bi Laoshi left us (I think I wrote about him last week).  This week, Shi Laoshi, our "yoked" (he is a personal trainer) half-Taiwanese teacher left, and we've already driven away his replacement, Bai Laoshi.  Bai Laoshi played a very difficult investigator - it took him 6 months in the field to help him be baptized - but was a great Zhongwen grammar scholar, and taught us powerfully how to focus on the needs of people, not just teaching lessons.  But, he's gone, too.  Now we have Jiang Laoshi, who I really like because she helps us plan effectively, and she helps us feel love for our investigators.  We now have Jin Laoshi.  He and I demonstrated teaching in a role-play, in which I was the investigator.  He taught with real power, because he related every principle he taught back to my interests, and he based it all on one broken sentence I said at the very beginning!  Wow, I'm learning so many lessons from all my teachers.  Teaching is getting harder, as we go into more detail, and use new Chinese, but I've been getting so much help at the same time.

I've always felt a little lacking in the "character" department, and so I was hoping that a mission, begun with the words of Elder Bednar in mind, could help me gain some much-needed "Character: deeply developed, strikingly displayed, and consistently practiced."  I've been looking for ways to develop, display, and practice Character.  This week, I learned, from "The Life of Thomas S. Monson," that an important step in developing character is acting on a prompting, setting to work immediately.  I'm reminded of President Monson's dedication to never postpone a prompting, and as a result, of how many people were blessed personally and immeasurably by his humility and trust in the Lord.  That's the kind of character I'd like to have, and the kind the world really needs.

Well, I'll keep working on it here, and I hope that similar good things are happening at home.  I'm doing fantastic, as always, and I pray always that the family is well.  (I really love to hear it from you, though, and not just trust. :)
Y Mountain

Oh hey, I can see the "Y" through the window I'm sitting at.

Elder Grievous
Party -- shh! don't tell

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