Sunday, March 10, 2013
HOWEVER LONG AND HARD THE ROAD- November 19, 2012
"As you wage such personal wars, obviously part of the strength to 'hang in there' comes from some glimpse, however faint and fleeting, of what the victory can be. It is as true as when Solomon said it that 'where there is no vision, the people perish' (Proverbs 29:18). [...] What if it is the fight of your life? Or more precisely what if it is the fight for your life, and your eternal life at that? What if [...] you really can see and hope for all the best and right things that God has to offer. Oh, it may be blurred a bit by the perspiration that keeps running riverlike into your eyes, and in a really difficult fight one of the eyes might even be closing a bit; but faintly, dimly, and ever so far away you can see the object of it all. Like Coriantumr, you will lean upon your sword to rest a while, then rise to fight again. (see Ether 15:24-30). --Elder Jeffrey R. Holland ("However Long and Hard the Road")
My dear ones....I am so full of joy I feel that I might burst. I am finally learning to really glory in tribulations. It's a topic Sister T. and I discuss a lot. I feel like it is too big for me to try and fully explain all the things I feel about it...this week we had some general authorities come through Taiwan for a mission tour. Elder Wilson's last stop was here in my area and Elder Walter F. Gonzalez was flying through from another assignment and decided to stop by! It was so incredible and I felt like I learned so much about myself....I got a lot of answers to prayers.
One of my favorite parts was getting to see Boden. He looked very handsome and happy, and I can tell he is just flourishing. My other favorite part was that after the meeting was over we had a special sisters-only meeting with President Bishop's wife and Sister Wilson. Sister Wilson talked about mistakes and being refined. She shared Zechariah 13:9 (a new favorite) which talks about how God refines us...we are His people, and He is our God. It was so beautiful. Then we had a chance to share something we've learned on our missions so far that has changed our lives forever.
I talked about how before I came on my mission, I felt so weak. I really, really wanted to come, but I didn't know what I was doing or how I would do it. I talked about how grateful I am that in the process of helping other people learn about God and Jesus Christ I have brought myself so much closer to them than I ever could have dreamed I could come. I'm so grateful that this mission was part of Heavenly Father's plan for me, that I have been snatched and can never be the same person I used to be. I can never leave God. I will never leave my Savior. I'm so grateful I am learning to rely on their grace, love, and power. Day by day I feel like my weaknesses have never been more prominent andnumerous, but somehow God can work through those to accomplish His wonders, and He can even turn them into strengths. I'm so overcome with joy to know that as I'm serving this mission, I'm really learning how to put God in the center of my life....the way I always knew it should be...but never quite had strength enough to do by setting aside my own selfishness.
It has been an extraordinary week. Sister T. and I are quite the kindred spirits....I love our long, deep talks. She teaches me so much and I feel like every day we explore the deep questions of our souls....it's a sublime experience.
A few other experiences from this week....
We went to go visit a less active Hu JieMei, but she wasn't home. Her dad came out to talk to us...he's extremely old and hard of hearing. His eyes are really small and his tan skin is folded and stretched across his face. He is always wearing the same old brown sweater when we go by. And my favorite thing about him is his fine, healthy, PURPLE HAIR. It's a very light shade, but it's definitely purple. We talked to him for a little on his doorstep and prayed with him. He rocked back and forth on his feet and told us he was so happy that we came to see him. I don't think I stopped smiling for the rest of the day. I love doing what Sister T. calls Ninja Missionary Work....the little things that no one ever knows about. I've spoiled this one though, cause now you all know. But our area is so huge, and there are so many people we are trying to work with who are moving so slowly that it feels like all the things we do are just so small.....but it is through small and simple things that great things are brought to pass. I love feeling that that is true.
We started teaching a family!!! One of our investigators, Wu JieMei, decided she wanted her husband to hear what we were teaching her, and he is an extremely prepared person. Poor Wu JieMei....she doesn't really have much interest, though she likes what we teach her, and we can see how much it has made a difference. She just isn't progressing very fast cause she won't act. Well, "man man lai" as we say (slow slow come). Her husband, Jiang Dixiong, is doing really well. He came to church this Sunday even though his wife was too tired to come. He felt bad that he can't come next week cause he and his wife booked this thing months ago that they already payed for, but said he was going to be careful never to do that again because he doesn't want to miss church. When I think about our lessons with him, I just feel like he is a shining example of the honest seeker of truth...he really wants to know if what we are teaching is true. He really wants to know if what Sister T. said about this gospel making him more happy is an actual feasible thing. I'm so excited to be teaching them. Hopefully their son will start meeting with us too.
I'm sorry...I feel at such a loss for what else to say. I'll just tell you that I am happier and more dead tired than I have ever been. Sister T. thinks we are so exhausted every night because we are so incredibly happy every day. This is a hard area, harder than my first area in a lot of ways. I just want you to know I love every second. I feel very strange thatmy release date is exactly one year from today...how can that be? I love this country. There are mountains here, and they are covered in trees. Yesterday the mountains were hemmed with fog. I don't think I'll ever get over Taiwan...it is too beautiful. I still can't believe I'm really here that this is my life...living in Asia, doing small and simple things and usually not seeing the fruits of my efforts....it makes me think of another quote from Elder Holland....
"Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. The best things are always worth finishing. 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?' (1 Cor. 3:16). Most assuredly you are. As long and laborious as the effort may seem, please keep shaping and setting stones that will make your accomplishment 'a grand and imposing spectacle.' Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Dream dreams and see visions. Work toward their realization. Wait patiently when you have no other choice. Lean on your sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again. Perhaps you will not see the full meaning of your effort in your own lifetime. But your children will, or your children's children will, until finally you, with all of them, can give the Hosanna Shout."
We are all enlisted till the conflict is o'er. Happy are we! Happy are we!!
Open the gates and seize the day, my friends...know that I'm doing my best to do that myself all the way across the world.
Love love love