Monday, August 30, 2010

Gift of Tongues

Hello everyone!

Well, the pictures from Dad are great! Lol, Except CJ and Kate are in none of them, that I can recognize anyway... :(
If you want to send me stuff, EFY cds (new one from this year, and every year following), and Christmas music. Church's christmas music. Since we can only watch, listen, speak, hear Church produced, published stuff, etc... :) So good! Except that when I hear music I used to listen to at home, on the streets? I get way too trunky. 不好. :)
This week was hard. I've been hit on all fronts of my personality, thought processes, Spirit, culture, Gospel understanding, and so on. It made me feel like no one at home would ever accept me back into their friendship circles or even families if I go home like I am. Lol. Then I realized that the best friends and real family members are the ones who haven't let me leave their circles... I'm still a part of them.
The one thing I wanted most in my life was to be one of my Dad's best friends. To be friends with my parents. And to be accepted by Mike and the Guads. I've always just wanted to be included.
But even here, I find that it must be me. I'm just different. I connect better with people than I have before, but even here, a Taiwanese person, who has a completely different culture tells me that I'm hard to understand. Is that because I'm so flip-floppy? Is that because I think too much? Elder Pei told me I do. Great. Oh, and everyone here in Taiwan recognizes me as Jim Carrey. Ok, Mom. You win.
Anyway, that was a random thought... I'm only on move call two, and YES, I think too much. But how do you fix that? Do you? Dad says relax. Ok. ...  ... Not working. :P
Just heard that the mission has 20+ baptisms a week. Pretty cool, yeah? Still have people that come to the baptisms not knowing that they're gonna get wet... uh... huh? It's a BAPTISM. First of all, if you don't know you're gonna get wet, that's understandable. But if missionaries don't tell you that? Hmmm.... All well, I just think it's funny. Lol. They all still get baptized, almost every single one!
I'm just trying to be myself. It's hard. I don't know what choices to make, and where to go. But I don't care. I guess I'm being led by the Spirit. But how to tell the difference when you can't even define the word miracle? If I go by what everyone at home constitutes as miracles, then I see one every second. NOT an exaggeration. I live amongst miracles. But they don't feel like miracles to me anymore. "Miracle" always had a special connotation to it's sound. It's not special anymore. And I take it for granted, because OF COURSE they're special. Every miracle I see is special, to someone, somewhere. But I don't know it and maybe won't know it for the rest of my life. Sometimes you see the effects, but not all the time. And something you do may not have any affect until years and years later, but you still did it, you still followed the Spirit, and you have no idea why.
Kendall just recently sent me a letter that said that I meant more to him than I know. That made me feel a lot better, since he was the one who never really told us how he felt, it was good to know that he didn't absolutely hate me in high school (although I wouldn't be a bit surprised if that was true), and after high school, or maybe before, I did something that affected someone I respect. How is that possible? They all affect me, I am always asking other people for advice, for help, how to change, how to help them be happier... etc. But not once have I had someone tell me that I affected them like Kendall did.:D
Love everyone! And miss the guys so much! It's comforting to know they're all entering the battlefield (and heaven knows it's a battlefield) with me. I've never been happier to serve alongside my brothers. Tell them thanks for me. All of them. Not just Kendall.
Yesterday was Sunday. Best day of the week. Chen Zhao Yuan's baptism was successful, and peaceful. There were three baptisms that night and a TON of people were there. Wang Yi Hua (Orlando) helped him get baptized. Orlando has been a member for 2 and a half months. He goes to do baptisms for the dead this week for the first time, and he is unbelievably amazing. Chen Zhao Yuan, on Sunday, asked us questions about Patriarchal blessings, and specific parts of Alma, specifically in Alma 42. We got into some complicated doctrine (not deep), just basic stories that he hadn't heard before like David and Bathsheba, or David and Goliath. Patriarchal Blessings? Man, I think this guy might just be an apostle some day. But here's something special- I was privileged to be the Lord's mouthpiece once again.
I was asked to perform the confirmation ordinance for Chen Zhao Yuan. WHAT?!!! I've never done that before, and my first time isn't even in English. What the heck. You can imagine how I felt when they invited me to do it for him. Saturday night was full of memorizing...but when I received the call to help him receive the beautiful Gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt a resounding calm. I was not nervous. I was a little freaked out, but quickly overcame that. And after, of course I don't remember a word that was said, except that I felt like my Chinese wasn't too good. Plus, the members came up to me and congratulated me (after Zhao Yuan, of course, the more important person here) and told me that I sounded like I'd lived in Taiwan for 20 years. They said I spoke perfectly, with no mistakes and my American accent disappeared. It came back right away, of course, but this experience was an answer to prayer. I asked God to bless me with the Gift of Tongues, then got to memorizing, knew that He would help, so I wasn't nervous, and boom. I'm overwhelmingly grateful for that experience.
Question. What happens when you are so sure that God will help you, when you KNOW He will not let you down, and then when it comes time to see if He'll keep His promises, He does? The question here is, you expected it, you knew it would happen, so it was just- normal. I'm so used to expecting something and being overwhelmed by it actually happening.
Trying to be faithful, but at the same time, thinking that it might not happen. Those were great experiences that helped me know He exists, but now? They just happen. I expected it, because I knew He would help me, and He does. It's just normal.
And how to stay humble? That's also a lot harder than the scriptures make it seem, even though the scriptures are all about the pride cycle, and how to overcome it.
I love you all, I tried to not get too Spiritual, and not freak people out or make them feel uncomfortable, but, as you can see, that's impossible for me. The only time I'll tell you "meiyou banfa".

-Elder Carter  
Love you all! May God be with you-

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stinky Tofu

New pics from Elder Carter are now on, check them out!

A new video from Taiwan has also come in. Check out Elder Carter eating Chodofu or "Stinky Tofu".

Monday, August 23, 2010

You Banfa - "There's a Way"

(Elder Carter got to go on a trip with the other missionaries in his zone to the temple in Taipei. It's not in his mission, but they get to go every 6 months.)

Heaven on Earth. Ever thought about where that might be? LDS members have an easy answer, but we're not the only ones who think, have thought, or will think about it. But where is heaven on Earth? It's different for every person, I believe. But one place is a given answer to that question, and in Chinese, you'd say "fei hua" (useless words/speak).

The temple. It's more than it use to be. For me anyway. Prophecies have been told from the ancients to today about temples. But what's more special than any prophecy? What could be better than having a temple right outside your front door? Having a temple in a country on the other side of the planet where you're serving the Lord. It doesn't quite get better than that. I forget how special the temple is. But when you take a whole day out to go to the temple in a country where thousands have doubted would ever have a temple, it just gets special. We forget that there are people in the world who have a temple days away from them, and it's a Summer vacation type of trip. I come about as far away as I can get from home, and there's still a temple. Let's just say I love the temple. And it's one of my favorite things to be able to have a temple here. It's such a blessing!

Could always use more ties. No question about that. It's a great thing to give to members, and new members (since they usually don't have any), and you know how I love ties. I'm gonna have a ton of Taiwan ties by the time I come home. :P There may come a time soon where I just might need more pants. I'm getting skinny, and there's still a big hole in the bum on a couple of them, especially the one that ripped huge when I helped a member move in and I had to ride through most of Taizhong back to the apartment to change... all the while with that blaringly large hole in my pants. Yeah, that was fun. :) Let's just say I was on my bike seat the whole way. I did NOT want to stand up or stop for anything. Ugh...

I'll let you know on all of that. And vocab books. If I find good ones when I need them, I'll tell you about them, you can send money if you want, and I'll buy them here, or you can find some back home and send them here, but it's probably a ton cheaper to buy them here. So, when I'm ready to buy them, I'll let you know. The stuff here is just cheaper. So it's ALWAYS easier to buy here. Even Apple Notebooks are cheaper. WAY cheaper. Like half the price. Not joking. Not gonna buy one... but just saying.

Lol, maybe next time I'll send you a conservative list of things I've wanted to look at buying here. Obviously I will NOT buy almost any of it, and I will NOT take too much home, and I will ONLY buy things I know I will use, or will have meaning to me in the future. So I really have no idea what to ask for or what to say. Really, it's just ties. And maybe near the end of my mission, a new suit to wear home. Cheaper here. Much better looking, I think :P There are other things, but I'd like to serve my mission for awhile to see if I still think I need those things or if they're worth buying. I'm on a low budget, and therefore need to learn how to handle my money better. Right now, money spending is on food. Except for recently, because I was low on money for a couple weeks. Don't know how that happened. Ooops. But thanks! :D

(Elder Carter ended his last email with the term “You Banfa”. We asked him what it means.) You Banfa. Means "There's a Way." President Hoer changed the mission landscape here. The tools this mission has are priceless. But what this mission has, and what this mission does, keeps track of EVERYBODY we ever contact and their status with the Gospel. It focuses on those closest to being prepared for baptism, and brings them to the water, fast, but not too fast, and well-learned in the principles of the Gospel. You Banfa, is our mission theme. You Xinxin, You Banfa. Have faith, have a way. It will forevermore be inappropriate for me or anyone I know to tell me that there's not a way. Yes there are times when I will say, "Uh... There's a way. Just-- later." I just never want to hear "meiyou banfa" (there's no way) ever again. There is ALWAYS a way. I firmly believe in that. And with this mindset, it's easy to find that way, when you think it doesn't exist.

Last week was kinda tough. I got depressed and down again. But I'm a lot more aware of myself, and I'm finding out the little things I can do to pull out. The biggest thing so far, is that people need to not bother me too much about it. I need a few minutes or so to try to think my way out of it, and if that doesn't work, then I'll ask someone to put me to work, or just keep working myself. That's the next biggest thing. When I just start working, and literally forget about my feelings-- They disappear fast. I may not have had a lot of number success that day, in fact, absolutely NONE. But I'm not disappointed in myself, and I'm still a successful missionary. It works. Elder Pei has been hard to get used to. Everything is different. But I've never had a tighter companionship, and, apparently, this is the first time he's told one of his companions "Love ya".

I'm gonna be so weird when I get home, it's gonna be so fun to awkward you all out with my subconscious Chinese culture!) It's getting so hard to speak English when talking about the Gospel, and now in other things. I say Chinese words here instead, 'cause everyone understands. I don't know what I'm gonna do when I get home. No Chinese-speaking missionaries I can sneak in a Chinese word or two here or there to help them understand my meaning. Everyone will completely misunderstand. I wanna go to Chinatown at one point and take you guys around. It's almost exactly the same as here, no joke. :D

I love you all!

Note to Everyone: I miss you all, love you all, and am working slowly on getting letters out to those who wrote me and still haven't received a reply letter.

Holly- Get me your address. I can't write you until I have your new address.

Lindsey- Sorry it's been awhile, get you a letter soon, no worries.

Nana- Gettin' there!!

Kendall- Coming

-Elder Carter

Love you all!!! You Banfa!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hairy Meat

Note from the editor: We sent Elder Carter a list of questions and his email this week was primarily answering our questions. I thought it might be good to show you what we asked so his answers will make more sense. Here is our note to him…
Hey, you said you like answering questions, how about this...give us another schedule like you did in the MTC. Pick a day last week and go through the day from when you got up until bedtime.
 And tell us how the English classes are going.
 And be sure and tell us the details about your upcoming temple trip...
 And try describing your favorite dish that we haven't had before.
 mmm...I'll think up some more for next week.

 Well, again ate at the ginormous hot pot place again. Except this one was different. It had all you can eat Haagen-dasz Ice Cream (I know I spelled that wrong, but since when do I care about English? I'm learning Chinese, not English. Oh- it's not even English. Whatev). I LOVE ice cream. It's a special treat here, and I think I ate about 200$ worth of it. Just kidding. I am eating healthy (when I can), and just so you know, almost ANYTHING in Taiwan is healthier than food in America. Even streetside food. There may be a lot of oil, but NO sugar, and NO salt. I don't know, I still eat my fruits and vegetables, and I'm doing God's work, past that, who cares what I eat? I ate blood today. I said I wouldn't, but I did, and it was... alright, I guess. A little weird.
What I've eaten:
Chicken feet
Duck feet
cow, pig, chicken, (you name it) STOMACH
Shrimp head
Fish head
Fish eyeballs
Fish brain
Duck brain
Duck eyeballs (not bad, actually)
Duck Beak
Pig's blood
Duck Blood
Meat (I don't know what it was... but I ate it anyway)
Hairy meat
Pig intestine
Other seafood, that doesn't have a name... well- I can't read it yet anyway, but I still eat it!
Who cares anymore? The only problem I have is texture. I didn't realize that was my picky side until I got here. If it has weird texture, I WILL NOT eat it. I hate gross texture. (But duck eyeballs aren’t bad? Ick!) I don't know what it is, it messes with my mind, and is gross. Hairy meat is nasty to eat... blech.
Now, you all told me to learn how to cook... I'll try... but pretty sure you don't want to eat this stuff. When I have time I'll learn to cook the REAL food. Nothing super specific to Taiwan so far though. It's all Japanese, Chinese... etc. It's the experience of going to these restaurants that's different. Taiwan has it's specifics, but I haven't found anything good yet. I'll work on that ;)
My Chinese is getting better, at least more fluent! :P I have passed phase 1 now, and my Gospel Chinese is good enough for the President to feel comfortable with me learning other Chinese. I will constantly review Phase 1, but we teach everyday, so I practice that all the time. Now I am working on phase 2, that has 4000 some odd words in it and 300 or so names, titles, and idioms. So Good! After I finish going through that I will review phase 1 and 2 and start phase 3, which is characters. By that point, I hope my Chinese is flowing better, and I have means by which to continue learning words. When I start phase 3 it will probably be after Christmas. So, maybe by then, I could either use money to buy some dictionaries or word books with things like sports, movies, school, animals, cars... etc. And then character dictionaries, too. Then I can set my goals then. So excited that I passed phase 1! That's a scary pass off. But Elder Prier, my zone leader said, it's not about the words, the phrases, the grammar... etc. He says, the point is to evaluate teaching, and if you're a convincing teacher of chapter three in Preach My Gospel-you pass. I guess i passed. But I still need SO much practice! I still need to work on having the Spirit with me. And simplifying. But that's coming easier now. Elder Pei tells me that my Gospel Chinese is to the point where the only thing I can do is keep practicing it. He says, now, that we are going to talk about different things in Chinese, at night. Like the army, or airplanes, or cars, or work, or countries, or history, or just life stories. All in Chinese. He says he wants to do this to help my "non-gospel" Chinese. I agreed immediately, because my Dad told me to learn the rest of the language besides just Gospel Chinese. Preach My Gospel, President Holland says that we should "stretch ourselves in the language" and "do not restrict yourself to a 'missionary-vocabulary' only"-- I tend to agree. I find that the times that we connect with our investigators the best are when the Spirit is there in our lessons. But when relationships are solidified are when we just talk with them outside of the lessons. Through the phone, with members in the foyer of the Church, or on Preparation Day taking them out to eat somewhere. Obviously we need to keep our purpose evident and always work towards their baptism and their Enduring to the End, but when we just talk- about other missionaries, about friends, girlfriends, life, work, favorite movies... etc... that's when the relationships solidify, and they really begin to connect with the members, cementing them into the ward. So good! The transformations are fantastic! And they really respect us for trying to learn their language, so when they see you trying so hard to use it, and learn it, and when you say four swearwords in a row because you forgot a certain tone on a word, they laugh, and laugh, and you all become super great friends.
It's also nice to see how they warm up to you as you talk with them. At first they hear that you're new and probably don't have that good Chinese. I don't have good Chinese. But then you start talking, and they understand that you can understand a lot more than they gave you credit for at the beginning. And they become a lot more comfortable talking with you. Plus, if you just TELL them you don't understand, or ask them to slow down, or use a different word, they WILL do it. They respect your hard work. And now that I can pick out words I don't understand and say them right, I can tell them the word, and they can explain, and then I understand. And with my basic Chinese, I have enough to be able to explain almost anything I want in a way that they'll understand :P But My Chinese is still on pins and needles and it still sounds horrible! :P
I also realized, recently, that when you are in an argument, or in a potentially contentious situation, the Chinese leaves you. At least the Spirit of understanding does. I can still speak, but they seem to have a harder time understanding. I was down on myself last night, and was starting to get a little contention in my voice with Elder Pei. He couldn't understand a thing, even though I was saying everything I could to help him understand.
Then, this morning, I prayed for help and begged God to be behind me as I confronted him about problems in our companionship. It led to contention from him, but I had prayed for help, and I spoke smoother, and more fluid than I have yet. And later today, he came and talked with me, and we figured it out. He understood me perfectly this morning, and I don't even remember what I said, but the Spirit was there, and now I feel a lot more respect coming from him. Our companionship is better because of the companionship of the Spirit. It's been a hard week, with Elder Pei being sick, and having problems in the companionship because of my pride, and Elder Pei's culture, and not a ton of success otherwise. But today is great. And we have 3 weeks left in the move call to blast this place out of the water. I'm not worried about my Chinese anymore, really. I still misunderstand a lot of words, and people's accents, but I'm confident in my Chinese, now that I know how to use it. With the Spirit.
English is great. Being English leader is pretty easy, and it's funny, this move call we've had the best attendance yet! But, I'm pretty sure it's because I put Elder Buenning on teaching Intermediate English which gets the most students ;) Probably 'cause he's the best looking Elder this mission has. Lol. I teach Beginning English now, which had a ton of students last week, but I wasn't there, becuase I was on exchanges with Elder Prier. (Best exchange yet!)
English is good. We added a fair amount of people from that English class, as well. :D
Normal Schedule:
5:55 wake up. 6:00-6:30 running without stopping at about a 6-minute mile pace (I am at 6:11 now for my mile time. My watch died this last week, though, so I'm unsure:P, and we don't go to the track anymore, so it's hard sometimes :D) Then it's get ready, contemplate life, eat breakfast, shower from 6:30 to 7:30. 7:30 to 8:30 is personal study, 8:30 to 9:30 is Companionship Study, and 9:30 to 10:30 is Language Study. We say prayer at the door, and leave at 10:30. 10:30 to 12:00, proselyting, lessons, calling... 12-1PM Lunch with Language study. 1 to 5:30 is proselyting, tracting, lessons, calling.. etc. 5:30 to 6:00 is dinner. 6-9/9:30 is proselyting, lessons, calling, tracting, ward activites, baptisms, etc. 9/9:30-9:30/10 is planning. Then 9:30/10 -10:30 is study, talk, eat, talk, laugh, get ready for bed and bed at 10:30. Wake up again at 5:55 the next morning. It's the same everyday except for Sundays when we sleep in to 6:30 (cause we can't exersize, and church is at 9), and when your companion is sick. If Elder Pei is sick, we stay in all day, and I'm just calling everyone that lives in Taizhong. At least 3 million people. Yes. My ears hurt.
There's a quick run-down of my schedule. We don't stop contacting. We literally talk to everyone on our way from church to appointments or appointments to lunch or wherever. We stop on street-sides, at every red-light, and every-where else (sometimes even in transit!) and in the coolest places! Remind me to tell you about PMG changes Training changes next email.
Also let everyone that has written me and not got a letter back know that I love them, and I'm doing my best to write them!!! I love you all! (thanks Sister Byers!) and lately I've only had time to write family, so I hope my friends don't hate me :P
Love you all!
Gotta go-
til next Wednesday-

Elder Carter
A You Banfa! Missionary

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Finished Egg"

Welcome to the world of a Missionary. You've been there before, all of you. Even I have. At home, at school, at work, on vacation, if you've been living right, you feel the feelings missionaries do. Not exactly the same, and not near to the same level most of the time, but close enough. I can't even begin to imagine how Mothers' must feel all the time. And I'm a Missionary! I have WAY too much to do, WAY to much to think about, and NO time to do it. It's one of those times when you wish the days were longer, and then as soon as you think that, you're unbelievably grateful they're not. Have I ever told you how I love sleep? OHHH... the best blessing Heavenly Father could give anyone is to give them the ability to sleep, but then, at the same time, if I didn't have to, I could get so much more done! Yeah right, I don't care if I don't need it, I'm sleeping in Heaven. 'Cause that IS heaven. Sigh....
The next best part would be the saving souls thing, and the baptisms, and the people who don't reject you, and the miracles you see everyday in people's lives... I still like sleep. ;)
Of course, everything is fine. My parents know me just as well as they did before, and I'm just happy to feel closer to you guys than I ever have before. Yes, I've been trunky, yes, I've been homesick, yes, I've been trunky... (did I say that twice?) and, yes, I've failed. THAT is the best part. When you FAIL, Heavenly Father has the BEST way of letting you know that it's a good thing. He tried to tell me through my parents for the first 19 years of my life (which I wasted) that failure is a good thing, and I just wouldn't accept it. Well, if you don't accept it here, you're "wandanle" which means "finished egg" in Chinese. In other words... you're-ugh, can't say it, I'm gonna say a quick prayer to repent for thinking it... :)
But anyway, you get the point. This last week was a little tougher than I've thought before, and I've let myself do things I didn't want to. Elder Pei got sick, and that was NOT fun. Just sitting in the apartment all day making calls from 10:30 to 6:00 at night. At least there was success from that. But you know me, I would've gotten up and gone anyway, but I forgot what feeling sick feels like, since I haven't been really sick for a long time... so I didn't say anything. I just shared some inspired scriptures with him, bore testimony, prayed my heart out, and hoped that Heavenly Father could take care of the rest.
He did. Lol, He always does! "Danglan!" lol, that means "of course!" or "duh!"
I guess I can accept what Mom says when she says my Chinese is improving and I don't even know it. 'Cause I can NOT see it improving at all right now. In fact it feels like its digressing, not progressing. But, that's because I have a companion who speaks it perfect, so... yeah. I still have my days when I can not understand a single word! I hate those days, SO discouraging!! Ahhhh! But then the next day I can go on for a half hour telling a story.
Elder Pei has been teaching me to take it easy. I'm so nervous, and stressed all the time about getting baptisms, because I don't want the older missionaries to think I'm a bad missionary. Lol, baptisms do not measure success. They are a result of success, if Heavenly Father wills it. Elder Krantz had 0 baptisms his first move call; I still can't decide if that makes it harder or easier. Probably about the same. :P
Having Elder Pei sick for two days tested my patience. But here's a cool thing. I can see Heavenly Father in my life so much better now. I study one Christlike attribute, specifically, every move call. This one is patience. For some reason, I knew I'd need it... :P And I'm being tested on patience this move call. In varying amounts, but in ways I never thought I'd have a problem. And it worries my for my future, why would I need to be patient in this kind of trial? What kind of experiences are ahead? Lol
When you focus on any one attribute or any thing specifically, you tend to see the effects of it more in your life anyway, so that's one reason I am having trials and things with patience everywhere now.
Life's good. Sorry this email came a little late, but my Taiwanese companion likes eating too much and we had to go get food, and then go straight to lunch to eat until 3. Soooo, sorry. :D
What else...
Chen Zhao Yuan is quickly progressing towards baptism. He came to our morning session of Church on Sunday, and then said that he wanted to see what singles' ward was like. So he came to that, too. 6 hours of church! Blech. Love ya, Heavenly Father, but 6 hours? Only on my mission... now that I say that... I change my mind. I love church!! :D I'll go for a whole week! Yeah! I love it! (please don't give me a calling when I get home that makes me be at church for 6 hours, please don't, please don't, please don't.... ) Ahem. Sorry. :) I do the will of God, and that is my work. Obedience. ;)
I love the pictures, and I hope everyone enjoys their trip down to Cali! Except Mom. Mom, you are too hard working. I would not be able to do that. Not if I could go see Mike and the Guads. Uh-uh. Make sure everyone knows that I love them. I can usually only get letters out to Mom, Dad, and Shelbs, and I'm trying for everyone else. They're coming. I promise! I love you all, I haven't forgotten you. :D
Miss ya! Telling me names of movies and who's in them is great... but don't tell me too much about what's in them. That makes me unbelievably trunky. (Trunky is a term missionaries use that means they are thinking about when their missions are done and they can pack their bags and head home) Movies are the soft spot, I guess ;P. But I still want to hear what comes out. Make a list!
Love you all, enjoy the next part of all of our lives, and make it a blast! I'm still gonna have hard spots, and so are you. Help me help you help me help you get through it all together! Heaven knows I need all of your support and faith. And, I, in turn, support you and pray for you everyday, along with our investigators. Like Zhang Shu Wei. He has officially disappeared off the map. So sad. I have no idea where he is. And his cell phone is always off. But God knows, so I put my trust in God.
Love ya!! Another letter soon, with Shelb's birthday gift, and Mom... I hope a letter is ok for a little bit... :) Sorry. I don't know what you'd like that you could use! It's all useless junk here. The stuff I have I'll bring home with me to give you. Hope that's ok, no super special gifts for my Momma. Sorry. Working on it.

-Elder Carter

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heaven at the Apple Store

Life rocks!!
Well, only 3 months left of my teens. (Elder Carter turns 20 the end of October.) Blech. I can't wait to get out, and I don't want to at the same time. Like it even matters, I'm on a mission. Since when does age matter? It doesn't.
Being with Elder Pei is a new challenge. I love how you turn corners in life, having overcome the latest "street" and come up on another street. You think you're almost where you want to go, but then you realize that you have a lot to learn. I remember that feeling in New York. Walking down the street, I can see my goal (the Apple Store- boo-yah), with Central Park glistening in the background. But I'm still 10 blocks away. I can't see what's on each street, except that I know there are people, places, and opportunities. I can only see, in detail, the street I'm on. What each store has to offer, and what people are around to connect with or just glance at, smile, and move on. You know where you can't go, cause the street is full of traffic and not too happy people. Some stores are naughty. Some places are too "dark". You could go in...but you won't. Because then you'd lose sight of your goal. If you go into the better places, there are still temptations, still people who don't like you, but you leave the place in a good mood, maybe with a new piece of knowledge or so. And you regain sight of your goal, and move on. You come to an intersection. You don't quite know what's around, or what to expect, because you've gotta cross the street. No stores to your right or left, just more streets. You could go, but then again, it's not the best way, is it? You've been taught that you can cross the street when the light turns green, but we all know, that you should still look. You follow with the crowd, and trust that the laws will protect you. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes others who don't follow the rules get in your way and impede your progress. But you keep going and you're now on the other side. You left the other street behind you with all of its experiences, people, places, and opportunities, and you're starting down a new street. You can still see your goal, or at least the next spot you know you have to turn. And you know your closer. But you also know that there is a lot in between you and that goal. Lots of streets. Lots of people. If you have to turn left or right at a future stoplight, you don't know what's beyond it, until you get there. Sometimes you get sick of the temptations, the rude people, and the boring opportunities. Or places where you didn't have any interest. All you have is the knowledge that you've gained knowledge and such along the way. Starting down that new street is scary sometimes, and sometimes hard. Sometimes it's really easy if you can see a good place ahead and are excited to run to it. You are allowed to cross the street, you're still headed the same direction. Even when you reach your goal, there's a whole lot you don't know. That Apple Store is underground. What's down there? All you know is that it's good, and full of wonder, and enlightenment, like heaven. Even when you get down there, you still have to deal with temptation. Sometimes when you reach your goal the trials get even harder, but you're there, and you've set a new goal. Get back home. And it starts all over again.
This idea, I think, can apply to almost anything. At least for me. Being with a local companion, started out rough. I got a little homesick again, and wasn't excited to change. Because, of course, Elder Pei does things different. But I'm just gonna follow. Just gonna take advantage of as many places as I can, and talk with as many people as I can while I walk along the road towards my goal. I just crossed a street, and have a new set of experiences to enjoy, and avoid, along with the constant danger on the street next to you. But every time you get a smile, your journey becomes worth every step. You helped someone smile today. Shouldn't that be enough? Especially for me, sometimes it isn't. And it's hard to change. I was trained by Elder Krantz, and I'm used to doing things his way. I'm in this area, and know mostly how it works, so I was used to my little rut. Then Elder Pei comes and changes it up.
I love it! We've had great success this week, even though we didn't hit all of our goals.
I love his spirit, and I'm sure you'll get video soon. He's WAY too funny. Like, really. I can't study with him around.
He HATES contacting at intersections. So we don't do it. WHAT? That's the only place I got ads before... How am I supposed to keep going? He does it this way; while we're traveling is when he contacts. So, it often takes FOREVER to get somewhere. That's the only time we have to get ads, and he loves calling people. Both opportunities to speak to people have one thing in common. These people have more time to talk (usually). They're not pressed for time, and not pressed to get through the light. Now, if we're traveling at a stoplight, we'll still stop and contact, if the light's red. But every time, Elder Pei says, "Where did your baptisms come from? Referrals? How did you find them?" He tells me that not one of his has been from an intersection contact. It's either been travel or referrals. Same with mine. 2 were referrals and one was while Elder Krantz and I were traveling. Hmmmm..... So. My ad numbers took a dive, and I was discouraged. But, I bumped back up and know what I need to do. Also, we were told to ad a week C every day. This is a person who will get baptized in 3 weeks if they progress. I added 6 in one day. These are people who have been to church at least once recently. So, we've had success. Plus, we had 5 progressing investigators attend church this last Sunday. So good!
I've also been called as English Leader in my area. That's half of Taizhong. ????!!! It's really not that big a deal, but the fact that I'm not a trainee anymore and I have a leadership position, makes me feel a little better. But every trainee on their second move call, if in the same area, usually gets called as English Leader. But still. It's fun. :D
(Mama Carter gave the Elder a hard time in our last email about all the Costco muffins and asked if he is eating his vegetables.) I am eating vegetables. You remember how you said that your voices would always be in my head for the rest of my life? And how Dad emphasized that Mom's would definitely be in my head the rest of my life? Let's put it this way...I don't really need to call home. That's how much I hear your voices in my head. It helps a little bit, but it gets annoying after awhile, and it's not Chinese, so it doesn't help my study. (Don't worry, I'm still gonna call home. I promise :P) I am eating my vegetables. :D
Keep up with the miracles! I wanna challenge you to do something that I'm doing, if you're not already doing it. This goes for everyone. Every day, before you go to bed, when you write in your journal, or just right before prayer, think about your day and find a miracle. I promise there'll be one every day. Then thank God for it in your couples' prayer and your individual prayer, and go to sleep. Then look for another one the next day. Do it! It helps you see God a whole lot better in your life. :D
Thanks to Dad, of course, for the advice. No worries, everything's great, and I will take time to write you about it in letters. Maybe in reply to your coming letter.

Love you all so much!!!

-Elder Carter