Leih hou, ngohdeih puhngyauh!!
I know I say this every single week, but I learned so much this past week! Sometimes it’s the same lesson over and over that you have to learn, even when you think that you’ve finally got the hang of it. And sometimes it’s a new one that you never even knew you needed, but you’re glad you learned!
The other day I got to sign a support beam that will go inside one of the new MTC buildings. It was actually kind of cool to think about. because for as long as that building stands my name will be written on it. I will be able to say that I quite literally left a piece of myself behind when I leave the MTC! After everyone who wanted to sign it had, there was a ceremony where some people spoke and then they lifted the beam onto the building. All of this took place outside and as it so turned out that day happened to be the hottest and sunniest day that we’d had while I have been at the MTC. It really was a beautiful day and I relished the opportunity that I had to feel the sunlight before heading back to class. But when I returned I found that I had gotten sunburned! We really only could have been outside for 30 minutes, tops, but I was definitely sunburned! Over the past 8 weeks that I’ve been in the MTC I have quite honestly spent very little time outside. Like, not very much at all. Being in class all day inside the same building will do that to you I suppose. I’m sure the first picture that I send after I leave the MTC will be of my beet red face!
This week we were teaching one of our investigators about the word of wisdom and how she couldn’t drink tea anymore. Just a side note in case you didn’t know, the “investigators” that we teach in the MTC are just our teachers taking on the persona of someone that they taught while they were on their missions. They’re in a sense not real people, but when you’re teaching it sure feels like they are! She was devastated to hear this because green tea is coincidentally her favorite flavor of everything: chocolate, ice cream, you name it! As we were teaching her about the blessings she would get if she followed this commandment, we invited her to try not drinking or eating it for a week. She thought for a minute and then told us that she would accept our invitation if we would promise to not speak English for a week. I’m sure my face must have dropped when she said this, but my companion and I quickly looked at each other, gave the “nod”, and then agreed to her demands. I think at this point we were willing to do anything she asked, and she probably knew it! We did agree, though, that we could speak English with people who didn’t know Cantonese, so that made this a little more bearable. I don’t think that we realized what we were getting into. It has definitely been a struggle and there have been a few times where my companion and I have communicated primarily through hand gestures and charades because of our still very limited vocabulary. But what a learning experience! I really have been humbled so much and also motivated to learn the language more than ever. And through the pains and struggles of me and my companion (just kidding, but kind of not really) it has actually helped the rest of our district to be more motivated in learning the language and speaking the language as much as possible. Ah, blessings in disguise.
Every week we have TRC which is where we teach members a lesson. These past few week we have started doing Skype TRC where we get to talk with people from our mission. On Monday we got to talk with a member in her early twenties from Macau. We taught about some of the attributes of Christ, primarily service to others and charity, and she seemed attentive to our message despite our many language errors. She had a great testimony and was always willing to share it, even when unprompted by us. At the end of the lesson though, she seemed slightly distraught and we could hear what seemed to be her mom yelling at her in the background. We thanked her for her time, said our good-byes, and ended the call. As we walked back to the classroom, I could feel my heart weighing down in me so heavily I though it might drop right out of me. As I thought back on our lesson with her I felt so much sorrow at the state that we had to leave her in. We had given an alright lesson, but I felt that there was so much more that we could have done to help her. I so desperately wanted to help her. After my teacher came into the classroom, she told us a little about the member we had taught. She was a recent convert of just a few years and her family was very unsupportive of her joining the church. She worked as hard as she could to try to support her family. At the end of each month, she would save up about 100 dollars just to get to Hong Kong so she could go to the temple. Every month. Without fail. She then told us that she has been struggling lately, though she didn’t know with what. This is probably why she volunteered to Skype with the missionaries for TRC, so she could feel the Spirit that she had so desperately craved for and desired. And did we help her feel that? Does she know she is loved?
This experience helped me to realize just how important it is to help everyone. Everyone. My mission isn’t just to help investigators get baptized and receive the gospel, though I won’t downplay how important this is. But it is to invite all to come unto Christ. If I had known what I know now before I taught that lesson, I might be writing a different e-mail. I am grateful for this opportunity that I had now to learn just how important it is to love everyone, because most of the time you don’t know their story. You don’t know what they’re going through or the valleys of despair that they might have passed through or perhaps are still in. My heart aches thinking about their anguish and grief, but is filled again with hope when I think about how I have the opportunity to help. Please don’t forget how important it is to reach out your hand to all, just as the Savior constantly does for us. We are the Lord’s hands to help lift them out of the depths of despair. But to find people to help, it requires looking outside of yourself and your own worries and needs. Don’t forget to serve. Don’t forget to love. Everyone.
I love you all and wish you the best this week!