Monday, July 12, 2010

I don't want to eat Doritos

We asked Elder Carter to tell us what we can send him in packages. We wanted to know if there is anything he can’t get in Taiwan, and this is his response…

I can get whatever I want here, really. Just gotta go to the right place. But I don't want to eat doritos. I just got on a diet and plan that actually is working, and I intend to keep it that way. I did buy toblerones at one point and some oreos, but any food comes out of money from the Mission office. And I leave a little bit every month, so by the end of my mission I should have a bunch saved up and have no problem.
Don't need new anything yet, and it's MUCH cheaper here to buy, so I'll just tell you if I need more money for new clothes, and you put it in. (I won't need more money) Really. I just bought new speakers. In America, it would've been like 20 plus dollars to buy any kind almost. Here? 6. 6 American dollars. For pretty nice speakers at a little roadside shop. They're great! Clothes are even cheaper. So I'll let you know. Everything is holding up just fine.
All four of my black pants from Missionary Mall got that hole right in the bum, just like the suit pants. So, I'm slowly fixing them. The shirts are staying white, and, yes, i'm gonna need to do something else for the collars- blech. Socks are holding up great. Some have holes in them, but only on the leg part, because of my bike pedals catching them in awkward situations. My fault. But the socks are great. The shoes are holding up great, and I only wear my suit coat on Sundays for 3 hours, and Baptisms. So it just stays at the church, out of the humidity.
Moving on.
Zone Leader Exchanges not last week, but the week before, that I forgot to write about. So good!! I went with Elder Prier (on his last move call) and stayed over in the apartment that I stayed in when I got here. I learned so much. I added 18 people in 3 hours that night and the next day did another 10. I learned a lot better how to talk to people and how to help them want to talk to me. It's almost easy to add now. Except that a couple days this week I only got like one or two... ;)
But, on exchanges, the next day in early, super rainy afternoon, I was sitting with Elder Prier in the middle of the city on abandoned planks of wood in an alley in the back of nowhere. The rain was pooring down on top of us, and it was warm. We talked about how the exchange went and what I could improve on. Also on what I thought I was good at. Elder Prier gave me tips, helped me understand, and committed me to do things to help me improve. It was super spiritual, and a wonderful experience. One of the best so far. Then the baptism, of course.
We met a man at a park a while ago. We call it the Gazebo. Cause that's pretty much all that's in the park. He was sitting there contemplating. His family is going through a rough time, and he was trying to think about what he could do to help them out. Smoking a cigarette under the neon lights in a quiet park in the middle of the city, he was remembering when he met the missionaries. A quick meeting on the side of the street. But he remembered that he wanted to go back. He was thinking that maybe going to their church might give his family something to improve with. But he didn't know where the church was. He turned around, and Elder Krantz and I were standing there with our goofy smiles, sweaty hair, soaking clothes with our hands held out to shake his. We had a good 20 minutes with that man in that gazebo (or pagota-whatever) and taught him about Joseph Smith. He stood us up on our lesson the next day, but he knows where the church is now, and it's up to him from now on. God gave him what he was asking for, and I can only hope that he acts on that answer.
That next day, at night, on our way back to the apartment, we stopped in a Family Mart on the corner of our apartment complex. A man was sitting outside. When we started talking to him, we found out that, he, too, had seen missionaries before and had that streetside 2 minute contact experience. He knew about us. Well, he had just gotten out of jail that day. Literally, he was still inside the gates with his jail clothes on when we woke up that day. And he meets the missionaries that night? Now get this, he has to go back in three months to finish up 8 years. He tried to kill a man, and he seriously feels bad about it.
He was looking for a way to help his family relationships get better, remembering the missionaries, and getting ready to get real busy to earn money in that three months for his family. We taught him the first lesson, and planned on meeting him again, but he's too busy. God has to work miracles for that man. He's accepted the Gospel so far, and he accepted us. God is with us, the Spirit works through us, and Christ walks before us. It's as literal as the computer sitting in front of me. We just sometimes forget that we have a God with us all the time, and take it for granted.
But when you walk through the slums of any city, you start to realize just what a lot of people live like. But, at least in Taiwan, the slums of New York are the niceties of Taizhong. Everyone lives in muck. Open sewage, and filthy rain. We've forgotten what we've gained. We've forgotten that the world isn't quite to the same level... but that's just standard of living! Who cares about open sewage, and dirty rain, and no clean clothes? Only those who don't have the Gospel, or those who have it, and take it for granted. I would live here, if it meant I could have the Gospel, and the fulness of truth. I would live anywhere. Of course, you want more, you want a clean home, and a clean bed, but these people don't have that. AND they don't have the Gospel. We really have forgotten what we have.
Huang Dixiong, our ward mission leader and Elder Krantz and I were talking about traveling, and we saw a picture of the Salt Lake City Temple in the Liahona. He asked us where that was, and if we had been there. I told him I had been there a TON. All the time. He looked at me with a little smile, a hint of desire behind his eyes, and said, "bu gongping". It means- not fair. He laughed a little and we moved on. But I'll never forget the look in his eyes, and how badly he wished he could go. And here I am, bragging about how often I've been there. I felt horrible.
These people have a different level of happy. They can have peaceful, humble lives and live great! I wish I could sometimes. But, when they have the Gospel as part of it, everything gets better, and they see it in a much more literal way. The nicest places I've been have been owned by members, besides restaurants. There is a special light behind their eyes, that I love to see on Sunday, and is so different than the average punk you find at the next stoplight. People think they're happy. Or they don't. But they don't understand where true happiness comes from. And if they would just take an hour out of their week to meet with us, they'd find it. The source of truth itself. The beginning of true happiness.
That's my mission here. To help people find that. But it does NOT happen without the Spirit.
When I hear that people at home are struggling, or finding it hard to keep going, my heart cries a little, cause all I can do is send a few words. I can only hope that the Spirit accompanies my words and carries them into hearts at home.

(Elder Carter’s friend, Eric Seamons, is now Elder Seamons and is in the MTC. He was having some trouble adjusting to the MTC transition and we let KJ know. We asked him to write to Eric and a lot of the rest of this email is meant for him, but neat to share with the rest of you.)

My buddy Eric. Oh man, how I wish I could sit down with him and talk like we used to. We both seemed to always find strength from each other when we would hang out, and upon arrival home, I would never forget our conversations. I've been through it. I've been through the MTC. I KNOW how hard it is. At least for me. And so do so many other people. So you bet I will write him soon. And maybe, just maybe, it'll feel like old times.
But isn't that what Christ did? He actually knows every single one of our pains, trials, and challenges. 'Cause, in some universally miraculous way, he suffered the same pain. Take joy in the Atonement, my friend, and KNOW that someone out there knows how you feel. In the darkest moments, in the scariest places, in the midst of the devil's angels, the light can still penetrate. And even you can be a source of that light. Because the Light of Christ is in you. You have His Spirit with you. Let it shine. I share about the Atonement every day on my mission and try to help people understand what it does for everyone, and I don't use it or understand it myself.
When you feel like you can't move forward. When you feel like you can't see. When you feel like there's nothing left tomorrow, you've spent it all today, when you feel like you're at the bottom of the deepest pit ever dug. Take a second, and stop looking down at the dirt tryin to get out that way. Look up. Look around. You can look up and see the light still. No matter how far you are. And if you can't? Then reach your hands out and start climbing. I promise, before you even get off the floor of this hole, strong, scarred hands will wrap around you and help you up. Then you'll feel them pull you close and tight. And when you look up, through your tears, with new motivation to get out of that hole, you're looking into the Face of Christ. He's smiling, and by the time you're done crying, and recomposing yourself, He lifts you up again and when you look around, you find you're already home.
Take joy in the Savior. Help Him help you. Don't forget that He's there. Friends, family, leaders... they can all give you advice to help you through those times, but they didn't serve your mission. The Million missionaries that have successfully served a mission before you, they didn't serve your mission either. You are serving your mission. And Christ has, too. So, pretty sure He knows what to do to move forward, get off the floor, and get out of the pit. Exactly what to do for you. It's different for the next person. Maybe the next person has to climb aways up the walls of the pit before He helps them up, who knows? But you know how to find out? Pray. Read. Go to church, and IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE WORK.
Don't give yourself time to think. It's not your time anyway. God loves you, you're on His errand, so inevitably, you are entitled to His blessings, and His help. This goes for everyone, for any trial. I have no idea how hard it is to quit smoking. But I've had addictions of my own, and I know how hard it was to quit those. I don't know what it's like to have an unhappy family, but I can teach you how to make it better. Because, if you take the steps toward Christ, if you go through the door we've opened for you, He'll take you the rest of the way. He knows how to fix it. He knows how to make it better. He knows how to make your life the best life you ever thought you could live.
He loves you.
This goes for everyone, including me.
I love you. All of you.
Be happy!! Soak it in! You have the Gospel!! Give it away!!!
The blessings that come are beyond what anyone ever told you they would be. I promise. I know, that as you get on your feet, and at least try to start climbing, God will be there to help. Why would He leave His children in the dark? Would you? I'll let you answer that question.
It's true. I know it. I've felt it. I've seen it. I love all of ya!
-Elder Carter

1 comment:

R. Jeffrey said...

Very cool! Thanks for sharing with all of us.