August 20, 2012--Last Mission Letter

So you asked about the Chinese Activity? Overall the Chinese activity was a great success, we are not sure of the total count but the number of Chinese members and investigators there was between 30-35. We had about 8 from Manchester, 2 from Preston and the rest from Liverpool. Although the total number was not what we were expecting, we were still happy to see so many show up, like was said, they could have been doing any number of other things on a Friday afternoon and evening and we are grateful that they were willing to come to support us and each other. We learned a few important lessons that we can use for the next activity coming up in January sometime. We want to make sure that the next activity is more suitable for both the male and female gender. I think we did too many tough activities that the girls did not want to participate in all the time, so next time we will accommodate for that.

Mt. Snowdon? To be honest it was physically the second most miserable experience of my mission. Haha. The mission went in two groups on two separate days. On Tuesday the weather was perfect, Sunny but not too hot. Lucky half of the mission. The next day, Wednesday, it poured rain for the whole three hours we were walking up the mountain. When I say pour I mean pour. Buckets and buckets of water cascading all around us, forming into natural waterfalls all around us on the trail. 40 mph winds buffeting us from all directions thrashing the water into our bodies and stinging quite a bit. My supposed water-proof jacket was no match for the torrent of rain and I became completely soaked along with all of the belongings in my backpack including my mini Chinese Dictionary. (I am not sure what i was thinking about when I put that into my bag, who studies Chinese on a mountain?) I had to throw it away. :) On the way down came the chaffed legs and feet from wet jeans and shirt. We were cold and miserable, but we loved it.

That was the Physical side, but the mental, emotion and even spiritual side was fantastic. As it was the worst day it could have been weather wise, our spirits were high and we enjoyed every minute of it, kind of... Honestly though, it was a great opportunity to test our attitudes and character. In a way it made me really thing about Hel. 5:12. We will be buffeted in this world from all sides by the adversary, it may not be physical attacks but the will be moral and spiritual attacks trying to push us back and keep us from our goal on high. We will be tested and tried over and over again, just to see if we will keep trudging and pushing through and with what kind of attitude we will do it in. It was a great day for insights into what will be the rest of our lives. Once again, we loved it, I loved it.
Yesterday in Church Bishop Murphy told the ward that after serving for so long in Liverpool I would be leaving, after which he then invited me to share my testimony. The Bishopric and the ward for the past two months have been joking that they need to request my records to the ward because I was now a permanent member. Honestly that is exactly how I feel, Liverpool is my home ward in my heart. I just realized that in the past 3 1/2 years my longest time in any ward has been the Liverpool ward, even when I lived at BYU I was not there as long. Liverpool will always have a special place in my heart and will be the center of the memories of my mission because of the members, and because of the Chinese work that has gone on here. I will miss Liverpool, I will miss the Chinese people, I will miss my mission, but I know there are greater things in store for me to build and grow upon in the future. Yes I am sad to go, but also am excited for the new adventure ahead.

As my mission comes to a close I continue to ponder on how insignificant we are in comparison to God and eternity, but at the same time I joy in that fact. I know that we are nothing, but at the same time we are everything to someone, either ourselves or or family or our friends. You are everything to me as my family. After all the things I have been able to learn on my mission I want to with all my heart keep moving and progressing in every aspect of life, whether it be learning Chinese, gaining a greater spiritual knowledge and testimony, or even being successful in my future education and career. I know that these past two years have been a refining and building two years for the rest of my rest, a springboard to fulfilling the potential I have. I will love and cherish these two years for how hard it has been and how amazing it has been. My biggest goal I have right now is to stay in contact with those I have grown close to on my mission so that I can continue to develop my relationship with them and support them in the faith they have. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

In closing to this epic novel of my mission life I want to share with you my appreciation for the support and encouragement you as my family have been to me on my mission. There are missionaries who do this work without that support and I admire and respect them deeply for it, but I am forever grateful for the coaching and advice you have given me to help me keep going. Once again, I look forward to this continued service from you and the service I will be able to give to you, just now it will be more personal and face to face. :) I know that this work is true, the work of God and his Son. I am honoured to be able to wear his name on my chest and to follow in his footsteps. May we all continue to do so whether or not we are full time missionaries. I plan to. Know that I love you, I am sad to leave this great land with great people, especially the Chinese, but I will be happy to see you.

August 13, 2012

The weeks fly by faster and faster and the closer I get to the end the more anxious I feel that there is so much to do and get done here in the mission field. In a way it is kind of a panicky feeling because I feel like there are so many Chinese people who still need the Gospel here in Liverpool and I can't talk to all of them. This past week has been extremely busy and this next week is going to be the same if not more so.

To be honest I am very grateful for all the things that we need to get done because many people say it is easy to get distracted about going home, but for me, I literally have no time to think about the next day let alone going home. I know that the principle of diligence talked about in PMG is true, the more you work the more you feel the joy of missionary service and the less you worry about anything else. I look forward to this upcoming week with climbing Mt. Snowon and having the Chinese activity.

This past week as we went to the temple as a Zone on Friday I felt it was a great opportunity to really think about what recommitments I need to make in my life. I love the idea of repentace as being an amazing thing rather then a drag or something to dread. Repenting daily doesn't necessarily mean changing what you have done wrong in the past, but about doing better than you did the day before.

Repentance can be seen as adding another dimension or a better level to a house rather then cleaning up piles of rubbish that have been lying there for a while. Yesterday a Chinese student who will be baptized this Saturday asked me what is the real difference between buddhism and our belief. I told him that from my understanding buddhists believe that you have a never ending circle, while we believe that you have an eternal ascending line of progression. We can have eternal learning and progression if that is what we really want.

Yesterday we had a wonderful surprise show up to our church. (Elder) Landon Smart my Father Trainer came back to England with his family to go visit all the areas and people he had met on his mission. It was great to see him again and see that he is still a very sacred missionary. It gives me great comfort and hope that there are greater things for us to achieve even after our missions.

He has only finished two months ago, but two months can still be a long time for someone to change and I can see that he has changed for the better. He will be attending BYU so I will be seeing him around there. I am very grateful for the former Elder Smart and the knowledge and wisdom he has and the knowledge and wisdom he passed on to me throughout our missions. I really could not have asked for a better trainer.

We just had three new Chinese speaking Sisters come into the mission four days ago halfway through the transfer. Sister Smith is from Utah, her mother is from Taiwan and her father served a mission in Taiwan. Her understanding is ok but her speaking level is not the best. Sister Miner from Utah had no Chinese background except for some characters because she is pretty much fluent in Japanese, and now she has spent 12 months in the MTC. Sister Embley is from Michigan and lived in Shanghai for four years so her Chinese level is pretty good. Now is the time for us to start passing over all of our knowledge and experience to them. I had language study yesterday with Sister Embley and Miner and it seems they are doing well. I am excited for their future here in the EMM.

Things are going really well in the work now, most of the next few days will be packed with plans for the Chinese activity. We will be playing the balloon stomping game, waterballoon toss, chopsticks relay, crab soccer, charades and some other games which should be fun. I will let you know how it goes. More and more recently I have been thinking of what I can do in the future to work with the Chinese. They have been such a massive part of my life for two years I can't really imagine them not being a part of it for the rest of it. I look forward to finding out how I can interact with them.

Have a great week, keep your sights high and be safe!!

August 6, 2012

This week has been a great one just like all of the others. When we had Zone and District Leader Council on Friday and Saturday we focused quite a bit on the importance of making a recommitment to the standards of excellance in our mission. As we emphasized the importance of knowing or at least having faith that each companionship can reach these goals, I thought of how that relates to the individuals that we teach. If individuals don't believe they can do something, they will have no determination or motivation to accomplish it. Whether it be missionaries who believe or not that they can reach the goals set for us as a mission, or people we teach that they can truly know God is their. If they have no faith in it they will never make it.
This led me to think even more about the Christlike attribute of Diligence. I am very grateful that I have been able to develop the attribute of diligence to some extent in my life. First while growing up at home and now on my mission I can see the importance of just working hard through challenges and plowing through trials. All people want to be happy and successful and I have seen how the Gospel and living the Gospel can bring that. Not only because it is true, but when you can have the determination to live gospel standards even when it is extremely difficult, you can have the same type of determination to help in the real struggles of life. Many people tell us they just can't live the word of wisdom because they will have to drink for some part of their career, but they don't understand that if they are willing to comprimise their values do be successful, they won't be strong enough to work hard enough to actually be successful. They think they can have it both ways but they can't.

One of my favourite scriptures is in 3 Nephi when Christ tells his disciples not to worry about what to eat or what to drink or what to wear because God knows that all people need those things and will provide while we are on his errand. "When we put God first all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." It sounds easier than it really is, but how simple can it be, just worry about building the kingdom of God and he will guide you with all other aspects of life. He knows we want to be successful in life and he is the best one to help us do so, but we just have to put our trust in him first. Unfortunately too many people can not understand this principle of putting God first, and they let other things get in the way of the spiritual, then physical progression. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of this principle and look forward to putting it into action as the days and years go by. The same determination that we need to follow Gods commandments is the same determination that will lead us to be successful in life.

We have been pretty busy with meetings and other non-proscelyting activities and it will be pretty similar for this upcoming week. We will be going to the temple as a Zone on Friday and then we will have a Chinese Missionary meeting on Saturday to prepare for the Activity next week. Nothing too special to report except for our investigator Pinky is preparing for baptism on the 25th of August. Hopefully there will be more to report of interest next week.