This past week has been a whirlwind with many different things happening that are completely different on my mission and the ups and downs I have been through with my companion on a physical, emotional, and spiritual roller-coaster. First of all, I just want to say that I really love my companion Elder Esposito and there is absolutely no problems in our relationship except for the occasional impatience on my part because we don't always understand each other. Honestly our relationship is one of the best I have had on my mission. That being said, this week has been really hard for me...
From October 5 to now I have been able to see the unhappiness in Elder Esposito caused by the frustration of language and maybe a little homesickness and some other things. We struggled to communicate at first and he was not opening up very much. After about a week things got pretty bad with him. He was still a very humble and loving missionary, but it seemed that he had lost the motivation to learn English or anything else. This past Tuesday we had Trainings and Interviews with President Preston as a Zone. While I was speaking to him he asked me what we needed to do to help my companion. We then had a good conversation of what we could do differently and how we could help him. He told me to put a plan together and so I did.
Later Elder Esposito interviewed with President and we felt that the encouragement he had been given by everyone really helped. Then the next day we went out to street contact (talk to all moving objects that speak a language and need to hear the gospel) in other words, everyone. The day was particularly wet and cold and no one wanted to speak to us. :) I tried to give Elder Esposito chances to speak to people, but no one would listen to him for very long. After an hour we went in for lunch and that is when he told me that he was going to go home. My heart dropped to my stomach and I didn't know what to say... For a couple seconds at least. Then I went on a much needed rant (a good rant that he needed to hear) and told him that he was not going to go home and how he needed to stay here in England. We talked for a long time so I could understand all the reasons and concerns behind this decision.
Fortunately through the scriptures and his own testimony of the Gospel I was able to change his mind for the time being. Since Wednesday we have been on a special program to help him learn English and feel more comfortable here. This program being no street contacting or tracting because of the tendency it has to create low moral. Teaching lessons and making sure he always has a specific part to play in the Lessons we teach. If we don't have any lessons planned or other helpful activities we stay in the Flat to have extra language study and to talk about his feelings. I have felt like a Psychologist for the past week trying to figure his mind out and the problems that create his low feelings of self confidence and desire to stay here. Maybe I should be a psychologist, I think I am pretty good. :)
We have also been going to all the YSA activities so that he can speak with other people his age who will help him practice English. So we went to Institute on Thursday and a fireside last night and we will go to FHE tonight. It has been very interesting to do these not very missionary oriented activities. It has helped him a little bit and has helped me gain a greater relationship with the YSA which will help the Missionary work later. So I have enjoyed these activities very much. It has been somewhat hard for me not to be a regular missionary at points. Staying in the flat and these activities are not usual, but I know that they will help Elder Esposito.
This morning President Preston came to personally spend time to visit Elder Esposito and I. I know that I appreciated this time very much and so did he. Elder Esposito understands and feels that everyone that he knows in the mission loves him and wants the best for him and that we are doing all in our power to help him here on his mission. He does not want to go home at all, he wants to serve the Lord, he just does not feel that he can do that here without English capabilities, and he doesn't feel he can learn English. So there are some options of maybe going to the Provo MTC, and maybe to a mission in Italy. As of now, we will do our best to help him stay here, but at the end of the day it is up to him.
This past week has been quite different for myself and the situation we are in. One of the greatest things I have been able to learn and apply in my life this week is the concept of changing the way you do things now because you have the whole picture in mind. I spoke with Elder Boswell (one of my greatest friends and hero's in the mission) on Tuesday at trainings and he could tell that I was a little upset or frustrated with the way things were going. I said something to the effect that the numbers were low and that the Chinese are put on the back-burner for a bit and it was hard. Elder Boswell then told me very clearly and bluntly that it was not about me or the Chinese or the numbers right now, but that my number one responsibility as a trainer is to help and uplift Elder Esposito in any way that I could. Then I had the same conversations with President Preston and others.
After these conversations I have begun to realize to a greater extent that numbers don't really matter if we don't care about the people behind them. I have taken this to a more literal sense when looking at our investigators and especially Elder Esposito. Right now we are doing things very differently, but I know why and I feel that they are absolutely necessary right now. I have come to truly love Elder Esposito faster than I have any of my other companions and I know it is because I am focusing solely on his needs and how I can help and serve him. Because of that, my love for him and my desire for him to be happy has increased tremendously. Service truly is the best way to learn Charity. So if we are having a hard time getting along with someone, either in our family or out, find ways to serve them and the love between you will grow.
As I have told you before this week, I am very grateful for the time I have now to serve with Elder Esposito despite the challenges and the different focus. I truly know that for however long I serve with Elder Esposito, it will have been because I needed to learn something specific and that maybe I could help another Elder learn and grow and strive to live up to his potential. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that you have been a part of changing someones life for the good and that you have as well gained a true friend in the process.
I feel that that is the longest most specific email I have written to you, as well I feel that it was very unorganized and maybe you won't understand it. But for me I just needed to get my feelings about this very important experience on paper. I hope you will be able to learn from it a little as well. Let me know if you have any specific questions about any of what I have shared.
We have been blessed with teaching of many people and finding some new people to teach who are really good, as in they want to learn more about the Gospel themselves. I have learned the principle even greater of leaving something behind for people to think about. On the street when you have a Gospel Conversation with someone, you should leave a pass along card or something so they will be reminded later, or maybe so that someone will see it and desire to learn more. I have seen the blessings come from doing so.
Last week we received a phone call from a Chinese Student named Mark. He said he got our number from his friend Tony and that Tony was not interested but he was. I had spoken to Tony 4 weeks earlier and he said he was not interested. I gave him a card with our number on it and told him to call us if he was in the future. We taught Mark this week once in a members home and he came to church with us yesterday. He does not really believe in God or Jesus Christ, but he had a desire to learn and become a better person, he wants to know how this can help him in this life. What a blessing!!!
Right now we have an investigator dated for Baptism for the 29 Oct. He is the husband of a Recent Convert named Yu Ping and is doing very well, he has to work on following the word of wisdom, but he has the desire to follow God. I love working with this family, they have a 4 year old son who is loud and noisy, and a brat sometimes, but I love him anyways. :) They are Chinese and don't speak any English so I have been able to work a lot on improving listening skills. We are also in the process of teaching them English which is a load of fun. I am not a good English teacher!!! Blessings, blessings, blessings!!
Well I feel very grateful now for being a missionary and for the love and support that I receive from you as my family. Keep up the good work and enjoy the time you have this week to make decisions, learn and grow, and grow together. Remember to Smile!!!