It's been a very busy last few weeks :) Let me answer some of the things you've said in your last emails, then I'll go on to highlight a few main events that have happened recently.
Oh my goodness, I left my camera on my desk this morning, so I don't have it on me right now. I'll start them uploading at some point during the week if we're ever sitting down.
- Thoughts on why I wanted to serve
I believe you asked me why I wanted to serve a few emails back, and I wanted to give you an answer I had actually pondered a bit. My missionary "pre-purpose" is what you're asking for, and as I've met a wide variety of missionaries I've found that this varies from person to person, circumstance to circumstance. The missionaries I admire most come from a variety of these backgrounds, from humble backward-class India to the most wealthy areas of Europe and Japan, from Alma the Younger type experiences to just wanting to get away from their parents. This has lead me to believe that "pre-purpose" is not a very important factor in what God has planned for you on a mission, an opinion which I often express by encouraging young men to simply get out into the mission field; however, "pre-purpose" is an important factor when it comes to achieving what God has planned for you.
Those who come out with the wrong purpose are usually humbled with regret and unpreparedness, then they change their purpose. I would almost call it an initial stunt of growth. It comes back to my favourite study theme right now: purpose behind action. Without a valid and sustainable purpose, your actions are meaningless. You can do a lot of missionary things but still not be a missionary because your actions are not aligned with a vision. It's similar to throwing all of the contents of a toolbox at a mechanical problem and hoping that it gets solved: that is action lacking purpose and vision. Young men and women who fulfill their purpose by just taking the action of going into the mission field find their actions in the mission field are not heartfelt, because their purpose had nothing to do with those actions (i.e. your purpose will not sustain or affect your actions in the field because you've compartmentalized your mission to a check box on a requirement list for something else). A righteous and properly pondered "pre-purpose" allows missionaries to immediately make their actions in the mission field more meaningful, to themselves and to others. [they hit the ground running]
As I continued to ponder this topic in regards to myself, I was actually led to feelings of gratitude and respect toward you, my parents. I knew I had a choice to go on a mission or not. Because of that sense of choice, it made me feel like my decision mattered and wasn't just a matter of course. I would say my "pre-purpose" was to gain experience and knowledge, with a tidbit of wanting to serve others. That carried me pretty well at the beginning of my mission, as it inspired me to study hard and get out of the flat to experience what I came out to experience, ha. My purpose has long since changed and evolved into something I feel is much less selfish and therefor much more fulfilling and joyfull :) But that's a whole other story.
In summary (why do I always end up writing essays to you?), the reasons I went out on a mission are threefold: because I knew I had a choice, because it seemed exciting and like something that would help me (in essence, so I could tell stories about it later, ha), and because Dad instilled in me a small portion of his love to serve. It's not much to brag about, but it's definitely something to learn from. I hope that gives you some thoughts on the subject. Who knows, maybe you have more questions now :) Let me know if I can clarify or help.
- Snow...I wish
It was awesome to see snow in our video chat!!!! I haven't seen snow in ages. My companion is a skier, and so we both have dreams about waking up to a white blanket over East Grinstead. *sigh* well, one day it will happen, but probably not this winter.
- What we did for new years
New Years was a normal day! :) No proselyting restrictions or anything. English holidays are pretty mild. Except maybe bonfire night, ha. We were actually driving people for moves because it happened a day before. We had to pick up two Tongan missionaries who arrived late from the Airport and get them out to Poole to be trained. It was an exciting trip mainly because we got to drop by President's home on the way out so they could be interviewed. Oh, you know, just eating dinner with the President, in his posh, out of the way mansion (by English standards ), while talking about the work #dayinthelife
- Goals for the new year
Yeah, I've got a few goals for the new year. Most of them have to do with the Zone, and what we're all doing to start off this year well, and keep diligent :) My goals have to do with things I want to do before I finish. Hm, it always makes me somewhat scared to think about going home. I feel like all of my friends are coming off their missions...time to finish strong and stay the game.
- Investigators and Zone
I'm actually going to talk about our new investigators below in the event/miracle section. In this section, I want to pose a question to you. In the last few accounting sessions that we've had with our district leaders, we've found a pattern that is worrisome. Companionships in the Zone are struggling with feelings of inadequacy. As I think about past experience and missionaries I've served around, I think these feelings are more common than rare. How do you help someone overcome this?
Let me give you my initial thoughts, hopefully they feed your brainstorming. The reason I don't call it a temptation is because there is nothing inherently evil about feeling inadequate. The temptation is to allow these feelings to discourage you instead of drive you to trust God. I think it's more of a weakness, really. Something that certain people struggle with more than others, and there are varying degrees. It can be turned to a strength, just as any other weakness, or it can spiral into discouragement and reduce your effectiveness as a missionary, as well as your faith that God can do all things (PMG pg. 10, A Successful Missionary).
I just don't know how to help someone feel adequate. That is a very personal thing, having to do with your relationship with God and your understanding of His plan for you. I mean, we can encourage and point out success, but is that enough? I would love to hear your thoughts.
- Moves week
It was a big one, much larger than we expected around Christmas and New Years. But, it's done now, and everyone is safe and sound where the Lord wants them to be :)
Yeah, we made it through. Thank goodness, it was not a fun little thing. Everyone in the Zone is back up and running, as well as practically every other missionary in the rest of the mission.
- Mission President
I heard about President Gubler :) He'll do fantastic. He's in for the ride of His life. I leave with President Millar, which I am very pleased with. I would have been so disappointed if my exit interview was with another President. I've learned so much from and been privileged to work so close to President Millar, I'm glad we can finish up together.
Events and things that have been happening lately:
- The Kings Christmas
Our vegetarian Christmas was quite the experience :) The Kings treated us wonderfully, and gleefully banned us from the bubbly. I never thought nut roast could taste so good (to tell you the truth, I didn't even know nut roast existed). I loved it, and it filled their missionary son with such joy. I testify that all of the feelings a missionary mother experiences are not limited to mothers in the church. Sister King goes through the whole ride without half the understanding of the purpose. She is an amazing woman.
- Moves miracle
Story time! So we're sitting at the moves board, working on day three (we normally split moves into three days). Basically, this means we're pretty far along. We then get a call from President, which is mortifying in and of itself, because it usually means he's changed something. However, instead it turned out that someone had just failed their driving exam. Not too bad, until we found out it was someone with a full car, driving on day one, and no one in the car had their licence either. This may seem inconsequential, but while attempting to solve the logistics-logic-problem that is missionary transfers, this meant that all of the people relying on that car would also have some changed plans.
So, in the midst of despair, we call President back to tell him we may have to start the moves process over again. The first thing out of his mouth is "kneel down and pray, then call me back in five minutes." It was very much a "duh" moment as we knelt in front of the moves board, asked God for a solution, and stood up to have it stare us in the face. We ended up having two cars meet up and swap a passenger to get a licence into one of them. I know it's a simple miracle, but I've found that those simple miracles are some of the most fulfilling and powerful testimonies I have that God cares about me.
- Easton Family
Remind me to tell you more about the Easton family in my next email :) I'm running out of time, and have had to cut some sections. But I really love this one, so remind me and I'll write about it!
- Meet the Mormons
We finally got to see Meet the Mormons!!! :) We saw it in a special pre-viewing. I don't think I've ever been to a pre-viewing of something in my life. The Visitors' Centre staff pulled our Zone into a training to prep us for all of the response we would hopefully be getting online. It will be officially released in Europe this week. It was wonderful :) My favourite story was the man from Kathmandu, actually. He is ridiculously similar to Elder Ganta, first of all, and his comments on culture and religion are right on the money for the south of England. I would definitely invite you all to go and see it, if you haven't already.
We met a man on exchange with whom we talked for about a half hour. We taught the entire restoration to him, and he really felt the Spirit. So did we. That was a month ago and we hadn't seen him that whole time, until yesterday. We called him out of the blue, finally got a hold of him, and set up an appointment. It was an incredible sit down lesson. He grasped everything we taught and has committed to be baptised on the 7th of February. We're definitely praying for him along the way :) Sometimes, the Lord prepares people like Rony to strengthen wards and the people in the area. He is going to be a wonderful member :)
We've been running a lot of meetings, mainly for brainstorming goals and training the leaders of the Zone. Now we're working our way up to Zone Training, which is a meeting that gathers the whole Zone of missionaries together for the presentation of what we as a mission are focusing on this transfer. It's going to be good. Or at least, it has required a lot of thinking, so it better be good :)
I love you! I hope that catches you up with my thoughts and experiences recently. Talk to you next week,