Yup so that is pretty much me at the amusement park in Taiwan! Out in front with a grin on my face. :)
As for the ward Newsletter, no I don't get it at all. So I don't really see anything or hear a lot from ward stuff unless it is through you and/or dad. That is really cool though what you shared from Sister Larsen. It's funny, interesting, and not a coincidence that last night and this morning I just read through a talk (it has been about 3 months since I last read it) that is entitled "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary" by Elder Bednar. It is a talk he gave back in 2011 at the new mission president seminar at the MTC. I think it was given though for all the missionaries, not just the mission president. But so actually talks from the MTC are really hard to get any hands on, but when I came to Taiwan, President Blickenstaff gave a copy of this talk to all of us. It is very powerful and instructive to become the Lord's missionary and an effective representative and instrument for the Lord. He shares about 5 parts: 1.Remember who you represent 2.Be worthy 3.Treasure up the words of eternal life 4.The Spirit is the ultimate teacher 5.Preaching the gospel is not just talking and teaching
The part I want to share with you and focus on is the last step, because what you shared brought specifically this part to mind. We are called to preach the gospel, but it is much more than just talking and teaching. Elder Bednar said if you go through the simple motions of meeting, teaching, and talking with someone, then all you are doing as a missionary is talking with yourself with an investigator present. Harsh, but very true at the same time. The particular part I liked that he shared is talking or speaking is the last part we really do. We first should observe, listen, discern, and then speak. This is something more and more I try to do as best I can because I really want to as best as possible help people according to their circumstances and situations. But so observing involves learning anything and everything you can, understanding from not just words spoken (that is more listening) but from everything else. Discerning revolves around seeing and hearing by the Spirit. That which cannot be understood by the naked eye. Discerning what an investigator's real concern or question is from what they ask or say. What really needs to be said or shared with them, the next principle. Then you speak. Which actually brings me back to the 4th step where I really wanted to share with you is Elder Bednar sharing about it doesn't matter how worthy or how much devotion and desire we have within us, we ultimately cannot convert someone or confirm to someone truth. Simply what we have been called to do and can do is preach and share, bringing truth UNTO the heart of our investigator. But ultimately the investigator through righteous desire, sincere intent, and willingness to act will let the truth INTO their heart as the Spirit teaches and confirms it to them.
I say "hi" back.........Just kidding, but really yeah say hi back to the Starks as well as Trevor!
That is crazy that Johnathan Peterson is going on a mission! Seriously?! I still see him as being just like a teacher or something, not that old yet. Where is he going?
About the topic I could share a lot about how Satan uses fear and anxiety as tactics to tempt and deceive us. Because that is very much what him and his followers have been doing hardcore, non-stop against me. You really don't feel just how much there is opposition to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and their plan until you are set apart as a missionary. And it isn't really in the basic temptations that the adversary strikes at missionaries (like there isn't just going to be beer thrust at you or cigarettes, although many times I have been offered beer, cigarettes, and tea on my mission now). This was a lesson I learned from Elder Mudrow, that very much doubts and fear are temptations that the adversary and his followers use against us to get us off focus, unbalanced, not working at our peak capacity. Which in parts I feel bad about because I am working as hard as I can to get past, over, under, around all this crap so that I can be the best me possible. But it isn't easy. It's a work in progress and trying to get better. I feel though at times it getting at me hard. Like worrying, stressing, anxiety, nervousness about being a good missionary, being a good senior companion, being a good English leader (yeah this move call I am the English leader for Zhanghua), and such. In parts it also has felt at times that things become kind of rote. I don't know if at times this is a good thing or bad thing. Makes me think to maybe try and make each day special in some way.
As for the stomach thing, I haven't heard anything about that. Yeah really my health is all ok and everything. There was at one ZTM we showed up in Yuanlin and the ZLs ended sharing that the Yuanlin Sisters (4 of them, all live in the same apartment) wont be coming because the night before they had a cockroach and I guess went crazy on spraying the Raid and basically poisoned themselves a little bit that they ended up throwing up throughout the night. At least we aren't doing that. We have more fun with the cockroaches. We sometimes use Raid, but are conservative with it. Or Elder Oldham just smacks them with his fist. Or we work together in directing them towards our racket zapper and then fry them. It's all pretty fun! But so yeah health is ok. Nothing really big or different. Just more exhausted and everything, which also sometimes gets my eyes a little more bloodshot.
Have so much fun on Girls camp this week! I am sure you will have a blast!
Love you so much!