Well I feel to mainly write one BIG email today since things I have already pondered on will address many different parts for different people.
So first off, this past week has not been an exactly fun week. I feel like I have been on a freaking bullet train almost about to derail! I feel like it has been a bit of a way too big roller coaster for me. Some really touching and meaningful experiences as well as some worst feelings and times in my life. It actually made me think of when I was home this past year and thinking wow I wish I could just be back at that time because those emotions and challenges are nothing compared to what I am handling and going through now.
To start off a clarification the picture from last week, that was not Elder Chen. Elder Chen helped to take the picture, and that was Elder Chiang with me in the picture. I just had the picture because I thought you would think it funny of eating McDonalds in Taiwan and eating none other than pancakes (kind of like England, right?). I have a picture this week though of Elder Chen.
So to start off every Tuesday we go and visit a very elderly man in the ward who is 80 years old. He has to be the cutest, sweetest, old man I have ever met. He lives more up on the mountain part here in the city at a senior citizen home. But he is way faithful in coming to church each week (actually another member who drives a taxi picks him up each Sunday). We sit with him while he eats his dinner and then afterwards have a lesson with him. It is so cute because he is sitting at his table with his food and 3 other old men (one of them is 96 and he is still lively as ever and can tell that no worldly things really have any concern or matter in his life). But even still he bows his head and says a little prayer to bless his food. We are working right now to plan for him in May or June to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and then be able to go the temple to do his endowment (he is too old to do baptisms for the dead). He wants to achieve this goal himself. And we feel that it will bless his life more than ever for him to be able to go to the temple.
After Tuesday though it felt like things just broke down like none other. Pretty a lot of these feelings I will share are still stirring around in my soul and I have been praying and seeking for guidance and help. I just wish to have peace and comfort in my life about myself and about what I am doing. Pretty much things collapsed down as several lessons went on that I felt like the less actives didn't progress at all even though I sincerely tried to listen, understand, and testify of truth. Pretty much feeling like I am inadequate, in no way qualified for this work, and that there are so many others more qualified and better workers than me that can be here in 彰化. Like even with my Chinese I have been feeling like it is so bad as I see other missionaries (even Sisters who are just a move call ahead of me) whose Chinese is so much better (they use them to translate things sometimes in FHE or other settings). I feel like I am trying to put in my effort and really working hard each day to study Chinese and practice things. So because of my character of perfectionism it pretty much has been shooting me down. It has been such a heavy load to handle because I feel like I should try and help more as well in the companionship, especially since I am senior. But I am new to the area, don't really know everything, and what makes it more difficult is the Elder Chen has already been here for 3 months, already fluent in the language since he is native. I don't know.......I feel like my worst enemy is myself. I tear myself down from the inside out. What I would like to have happen most is confidence and faith in myself, in the Savior, and simply in my little sphere or bubble of influence and capabilities for there to be peace and calm.
Last Thursday though (and I like how this day as well Mom was having a tough time but still remembered about me) was a big day as we biked out to our only secondary area 芬園. We have an investigator out there who makes cakes. No joke the bike ride was an hour or more straight riding. And there isn't really much between there and here so not much stopping or contacting. So just an hour straight of riding on a bike. But definitely it is worth it to visit someone. We actually helped this investigator in making some cake with him. It was really fun and I have never seen a bigger whisk in my life. You know our KitchenAid thing we have and the big wire wisk for it? This guy had an even bigger one. The wire wisk no joke was bigger than my head! But so his cakes he make are really special and really good (like just as good as the ice cream cake Marty and Allisa had for their wedding). He makes everything from scratch. He has a bottom layer of cake and then the middle isn't quite ice cream but is a very good creamy filling (that needs to be kept in the freezer) and then another layer of cake on the top. It is really cool to see the whole process of it all. But so afterwards we walked with him for a bit and then shared the first lesson with him as well as gave him a Book of Mormon. He still hasn't done our invites (as well as the wife might oppose) but this Thursday we are going back out again to visit him (and yes I got to eat some of the cake for free, maybe about 4 1x2 in. pieces since we helped make cake with him). Then we had a 1 hour bike ride back. Over these past few days it actually has been a bit cold and even raining kind of hard some days. Not fun at all.
Then Sunday in church I was sitting thinking about the phrase "forget yourself and go to work". I was focusing on the 'forget yourself' part and had two ideas come to mind. First is focused on worry and fear. Basically stop worrying about yourself, family, home, etc. (things out of your control). Tomorrow will take care of itself tomorrow. Turn your thoughts outwards. Guarantee someone close around you has a much greater struggle or challenge in which you are needed to help strengthen, encourage, uplift, and support that person. Second is focused on glory and riches. If you aspire for riches and glory of men, you will be frustrated, disappointed, and saddened. This isn't YOUR work, it is HIS work. You are blessed and called to help in this building up of the kingdom in your sphere of capabilities, limits, and talents. So it is not a competition between missionaries, because we are all doing the same work, His work. We are all components of a greater machine, and EVERY part is needed to allow this machine to work. In humility, work your best at your sphere. If you are called to lead, it is NOT because you are better, but because Heavenly Father trusts you and needs your talents and will stretch your limits by furthering the building of His kingdom through you.
As well I have been reading the Liahona from January this year. I was reading an article by President Eyring about "Preparing Gifts". There is a section I wish to share with you:
"Then a young man stood up near the back. He had said little during the term; I'm not sure he had ever spoken before. He was older than the other students, and he was shy. He asked if he could speak. He told in a quiet voice of having been a soldier in Vietnam. One day, in what he thought would be a lull, he had left his rifle and walked across his fortified compound to mail call. Just as he got a letter in his hand, he heard a bugle blowing and shouts and mortar and rifle fire coming ahead of the swarming enemy. He fought his way back to his rifle, using his hands as weapons. With the men who survived, he drove the enemy out. Then he sat down among the living, and some of the dead, and he opened his letter. It was from his mother. She wrote that she'd had a spiritual experience that assured her that he would live to come home if he were righteous. In my class, the boy said quietly, "That letter was scripture to me. I kept it." And he sat down."
Many times your letters and emails to me are like scripture. There have definitely been a few that shared and said exactly what was need in the precise moment. Truly the Lord puts His hand into our lives and blesses us on both ends.
Love you as always with all my heart (sorry for a more downer email this week, but I always feel in being honest and open and expressing my thoughts and emotions so I that I can better be helped and healed),