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

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