Monday, April 26, 2010

Catching Up

Catching up on a few new letters from Elder Carter:

Email dated April 12

This week was fantastic, and really hard. Like Mom said, there will be the downs. I love it here! It's blesses me so much and it is so easy to see all of the different blessings I get and can get from the work I do here. Some people may believe that you don't really do much in the MTC, but that's false. You do a ton! And I think they mean that you don't do much in terms of actual investigators, but that's false too. Everything we do here revolves around the people we are going out to find. I'm not learning this language as fast as I am because I want to for my future career. No one learns a language this fast, unless it's with the Spirit. In five weeks of work at the MTC, I am going to be able to teach Eternity saving principles in a completely different language. It's nowhere close to English. I don't feel ready to do that in two weeks though! :P I'm nervous, but not worried. God is with us and makes it easier for us when we need it to be, and the words come to our minds when we need them most. I believe I've started to find the true spirit of preaching. When we teach the Spirit is there like I've never known it could be!
The first and second lessons we've got down, and could teach them on the street if we needed to. Any principle! My part so far seems to be that I ask really good questions and really get to the bottom of investigators' concerns. I teach a principle here or there, but I really make sure that people's questions are answered and they understand the doctrine. I kind of retrace steps and question their understanding while my companions teach the principles first. I take my turn teaching, but I live with the questions and concerns.
I find it hard not to watch the investigator. They push that so hard and it makes sense. I don't understand how missionaries aren't super focused on the reactions of their investigators. It makes sense now, why so many people reject the missionaries. The TA on Saturday went smoothly and we committed him to baptism!!! (We aren’t sure what TA means, maybe Teaching Appointment? Regardless, he is referring to Saturdays when they role play teaching discussions with volunteer investigators. People from the area volunteer to come in and role play being interested in the church.) So exciting!
We're also making progress with our progressive investigator, and he seems to still be very curious, but starting to believe what we're teaching him. James is very engrossed with his bible though, and it’s hard to teach him out of that rut. But he's coming. We teach him the second lesson the next time we see him on Wednesday. 
Working with my companions this week has been tough. I think I finally found my zone of focus however, and seem to not cause so many problems with everyone now... ;) It's been hard with my companions, but we've worked things out and if I just focus on how to be one with my companions then everything comes easier, as it promises in my Patriarchal Blessing.
(We asked KJ if he was getting any packages, and this was his response) I have only received those two care packages, and I would love packages, and letters all the time while its cheap and while I can, cause other missionaries get like 10 a week, no joke. I won't eat a lot of junk food, but it will get eaten somehow. I've been pigging out on one of my companion's stuff, because he feels the same as me. We now have two week old cinnamon buns cause it takes forever to eat when we're all focused on not gaining weight. (I guess we’ve been falling down on the package sending…who knew?)
Sorry about the mix up! Oh, can you dig out my pocket watch? It needs new batteries, but I'm getting sick of not having the time on me...(Aunt Raquel sent him a watch)
Love you!
More soon...
-Elder Carter

Email sent 4/19
(Note from the editor: This week it appears Elder Carter has been thinking a lot about whether he is well enough prepared to be on his mission. We are thinking this is pretty common among all the missionaries. We considered not really sending this letter out, but figured it is fair to show that there are ups and downs. Please note that we received his letter in the mail the day after this email and we really are sure that he is okay. Fascinating to see how much you can grow and stretch in such a short time.)
It's been hard. I've been worried a lot about things I don't need to, and not forgiving myself for things I've done before. I don't know, Dad, if you had problems with that, but considering you were the "perfect teenager", my guess is you didn't, and that you'd just tell me to forget myself and get to work. Well, that's what I'm going to do.
(More companion conflict)-This week came to an apex with my companions and we were getting pretty hot in the face. We couldn't figure out how to plan the week out in preparation for our investigators this last Saturday. We had differing veiwpoints, and neither would work for the other, and compromise could not be found. It's hard being in a threesome companionship, I don't know how many times I've said it. (Summary from the editor: I got pretty stressed and really needed to get the stress and anger out.) But one of my companions came up to me and gave me a huge hug and we both realized we needed to be unselfish and try to help each other.
Saturday's TA was probably the best TA we've been here. When you honestly seek to be one with your companion(s), you find that everything goes smoothly. Stop thinking about yourself, and move on. I was senior companion last week, too. ;) I've been humbled beyond belief, and I had no idea I was so unbelievably prideful before. How did anyone tolerate me? I learned this week from Brother Rice (who was Lone Peak Student Body President when I was a freshman, who went to Taizhong) that pride is the language of sin, and humility is the language of the Spirit. That is what it literally boils down to. When you sin, it's cause you think you're better than God, and when you listen to the Spirit, it's cause you are subjecting yourself to the will of someone else, God Himself.
We teach the first lesson this Saturday completely in Mandarin. So for an hour on Saturday morning, we can't speak one word of English. Yikes! We try to do that every day, but obviously that isn't as consistent as we would hope. Our district is behind in Chinese learning, because we don't SYL like we should. It's hard, and we just want to get to the field, where we KNOW we are going to HAVE to SYL. Speak Your Language. Dad, how did you do it? It's hard to write down EVERY word you don't know in a day and learn that along with the vocab for the weekly investigator situations, and learning the entire first lesson in Chinese. I urge all of you to obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel, and study it so you know what I am doing out there, and share some insights you might have with me. :D Hope the temple stuff is holding up, and sorry I'm not there to mow the lawn, or clip the trees... :P
(Then Elder Carter spent some time bonding with and giving advice to his sister. He ended his email with this note) As a representative of Jesus Christ, I can tell you right now, that if you do what your parents teach you, and if you continue to do this everytime you feel bad about something you did, He will tell you He loves you. And You will feel His hands hold yours and turn you around to wrap your sweet, beautiful spirit in HIs love. Remember that.
I love you all, more soon.
-Elder Carter

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