We began our letter to Elder Galbraith by giving him grief because his letter last week was so short. I joked that perhaps he had spent too much time writing to friends instead of us. He replied:I utterly failed last week with my email...no excuses, and it will NOT happen again. I immediately felt like a terrible person, no sense trying to explain why it happened that way. I hope to make you both proud with a long email today! I have been writing things down in my planner everyday that I can tell you, so sorry (pronounced so-ry) here if things get very random down the line. Take a deep breath, and here, we, go!
Happy Birthday Kim! I am sending a letter off to you today or tomorrow, depending on when I can find a mailbox. Happy Birthday! You know I love you and look up to you so much!
Well, I suppose I do not know where to start. Pretty anti-climatic right? But this email will be good, I promise! So, is it official that I can be a Canadian citizen AND U.S. citizen? If so, I am so excited! I'm a Yankee Canuck! It would be kind of bad if they took away my U.S. citizenship, ya...
Spiritually speaking, there is a lot that goes around in missionaries heads, a least my head. I have 2 fairly serious investigators right now: Edilyn, a Filipino (ya Nate!), and Sergio, from Moldova. Lots of immigrants eh? Actually, Elder Woods and I set a baptismal date with Edilyn this past week! The 17th of October. Really excited here. In the few weeks I have been here I have already seen changes in people, especially in Edilyn. She is genuinely happier. She lives with her nephew, who is a member, and much of her family are members. I feel that her nephew Roel was very hesitant with us teaching her at first, but he has really warmed up to us and we even study the Bible solely with him each week. I cannot explain how important it is to gain member's trust. So important, and I am reaping the benefits of that trust here. Edilyn is unique in that she feels much more comfortable reading Gospel Principles instead of the Book of Mormon, and I was very hesitant of that at first, but she is really feasting on the words in Gospel Principles. Oh, another great fact here is that she had not been to any church for many, many years until last week when she came. She came again yesterday, and really enjoys the Gospel Principles class. All of this is very exciting here!
This past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was a part of a large Bi-Zone meeting in Winnipeg, which had about 45 missionaries. We met each day from 8:30 to 5. Whoa. Long days, but they went past quickly. We really focused on things from chapters 4 and 10 of Preach My Gospel. Powerful stuff, let me tell you. Elder Woods and I are really focusing on "teaching people, not lessons", which really is preparing lesson plans unique to them, but going to the appointment and asking direct questions that really make the investigators think. These questions are difficult to come up with, but when done correctly, they are personal/on the spot, and allow the investigator to bear their testimony through their answer. That way the Spirit teaches them. Interestingly enough, the Spirit puts the questions in our minds, and the Spirit just is abounding everywhere. It may sounds corny, but it is totally true. Elder Woods and I applied these tactics this past week and our investigators really opened up to us! We in turn opened up to them, the Spirit taught us all, and I left feeling like I had conquered death. Wow, what a feeling.
Along those lines, the most frustrating thing with missionary work is...agency. Ga, agency. I can deliver what I feel is the most spiritually-packed message and people still have the choice to accept or decline the message. I was told that "missionaries bring the message unto the hearts of the people, but only the investigator can bring it into their own heart. That is so hard to accept once I have really delivered a really spiritual message and I think "How can they not embrace the Gospel after that?" and I hear, "You know, this is not for me". Agency!
I feel I am getting a good grasp of the doctrine and the scriptures that support it. Scripture mastery...if I only did it. I love marking up my scriptures in different colors, its like relieving stress, seriously.
Being that Primary teacher sure helped me begin to develop patience. Many people out here do not keep commitments and is frustrating. I just think, Christ-like attributes...Christ-like attributes...Speaking of which, I absolutely recommend to everyone everywhere to earnestly seek to develop the Christ-like attributes set forth in PMG chapter 6. It benefits everyone. I am at the point in my companionship where there is a little contention, but we have our "companionship inventories" and talk it out and seek to improve. It sure takes humility, but I am always looking for ways I can improve. To tell you the truth, I love improving and learning.
I see this mission for me as much as it is for the Lord. I know I am becoming a better, more mature--ha--person, and it is joyful to be able to see my own progress, along with investigator's progress. I have kept part of a letter Michael sent to me in the MTC where he says his mission really set the foundation for the rest of his life. Anyone who knows me knows how much I look up to my siblings, and it is so meaningful to me to hear that, and I too see this as me setting the foundation for the rest of my life. Its very exciting in that way. I seek to find service opportunities to serve my companion, as a way to better care for him and to begin to give service more. I have found that washing the dishes is kind of my thing. I enjoy trying to cook for my companion and doing the dishes. My wife will sure like that. See, doing these things will better prepare me for the rest of my life.
I have struggled balancing my constant energy with having a dignified persona. As a representative of the Lord, I am what people think the Church is. I simply cannot sporadically burst out in song or things like that. I am trying to just be energetic and enthusiastic about the work. I feel this is one way to get my personality out. Maybe this is...growing up? Sheesh, it all sounds so simple, but I feel a large part of my personality has been being full of energy. So its almost like I have been trying to find the "mature me" if you would say. How do people grow up without missions? But I feel I am coming along.
Dad, refresh my memory, what was your experience with missionaries in your conversion?
I went on an exchange to a rougher part of town this past week. Wow, truly humbling--and I thought I was in a humble part of town! For Auntie Susan and Uncle Brent, it was an area the missionaries call "Tyndall", north of downtown Winnipeg and south of the railroad tracks. Wow. I have seen South Chicago, and it was not too much different. The entire mission experience has been very humbling and I was especially grateful to the Lord for the blessings in my life. Though the area was rough, it yielded some of the most humble people I have met. Truly only families bring happiness. Reading my Blessing, I am excited to serve the Lord, but so very excited for my own family some day, so excited.
A few fun things: I have somewhere between 200-250 otter pops in my freezer right now. They are the frozen juices things in little plastic sleeves. But they were on sale, how could I not pass them up? 250 for less than $3, in Canada? (For those who do not know, Canadian things are more expensive, just try buying cheese) So I am snacking on those all the time. Ashley Johnson, if you read this, I know you are proud of me right now.
My ward's Elders quorum had a legitimate pig roast this past weekend. An entire pig! Head and all. I was kicking myself that I did not bring my camera! But I viscously ate part of its ear--so fun to do and tasted like bacon, ironic right? We missionaries had lots of fun, and a few of our investigators came and seemed to have plenty of fun too.
There was a car show going on yesterday and I saw tons of classic cars. Yes, it was similar to Christmas excitement. Some cars are different in Canada, but I would bore most of you as to what is different, so I will save that.
What is the latest on my Captain Canada shirt? Maybe its already here in Winnipeg and I just have not yet received it.
I really appreciate all the letters I have received! Letters literally are Christmas presents and I pour over every one that I get. The mail is very slow here and I can only write a few each P-Day, but I am really trying to get back to most. But thanks to all who have sent some, they are very much appreciated.
Dad, I would like to send a package in the mail with things I do not need, and saving me much needed space in my bag! It will likely be large, because I would throw in my LW blanket, a few slacks (don't need as many as I have) and other odds and ends. So, I am not sure when that would head off, but hopefully before the transfer ends (end of September). And no, I have not received a letter from you that was sent last week. Oh, Canadian mail.
Yes, I do play the piano a significant amount up here. A lot. I have already assumed the role of Priesthood pianist for most Sundays and have played prelude in sacrament meeting too. SO GLAD that I took it up again in high school. And, I am proudly part of my ward's choir, which is VERY small.
So my first transfer is in 2 1/2 weeks! Scary! I have been away for...lets see...about 7 weeks now. Wow. Time has flown by, yet the days are long, the weeks short.
Last thing, I had someone in the Mission Office call me about my Health Card. Does my Regence card cover me in Canada? I have no idea.
I am really glad you have kept me up to date with things! Great to hear about Dad and that accounting place. Please keep me posted. How are you doing Mom and Dad? How are you running the blog? Just copying and pasting these emails? Summing up? How is it coming?! Not huge things, but I remembered my Inbox and Facebook (does it still exist? ha). Please just keep my Inbox fairly clean and my Facebook active by signing in maybe once a month and posting something quick about how I am doing. Thanks much! I hope I did not forget anything and that this email is better than the last!