Monday, January 24, 2011

Instrument in his Hands

(From the editor: in our last email to Elder Carter, we reminded him of something President Uchtdorf told his mission at a conference a few months back. He said for the missionaries not to worry about anything going on at home and promised them that because of their service, everything would work to a satisfactory resolution. This is the quote Elder Carter is referring to here in the beginning of this email. Sorry in advance for the longer than usual email this week...couldn't figure out what to edit.)

Lol, I've been meaning to bring up that President Uchtdorf promise for awhile. I thought it was really cool that he promised the same thing to Elder Seamons. So, stop worrying at home! All your problems will melt away because you were such great parents and are supporting a floppy, immature, dramatic, 10-year-old boy on his mission in a foreign world. At least he's growing up, however slow it might take... This promise from President Uchtdorf isn't just for family, but for my closest friends, too. So all of you writing me right now, and those of you who I am close to, life still won't be perfect, but any problems WILL come to a satisfactory conclusion. That makes it so easy for me to calm down about what might be happening at home.
It hasn't been very long since my last email, and I don't know when Dad puts my emails up on my Blog, but there really isn't a whole lot to say. Maybe make a couple apologies though.. lol, then explain why I'm making those apologies, and make sure everyone knows that I'm working my hardest to NOT beat myself up like I've been doing for 20 years.
Apology. I actually like that word. Someone once told me that "the way you treat people will show that you are a disciple of Christ" (TB). This seems like a totally obvious statement, but its truth is Eternal. Apology has a hint of humility to it, and, if you look at it just right, you can get a sense of the Love of God emanating (sspehlleinge?) through that word. It makes me feel so good when I go up to someone and tell them that I would like to "make an apology". The relationship you have with that person immediately becomes Godlike. Regardless of angry feelings, or angry actions, saying these words with the intent to act on them will change that relationship for the better. The result of making that apology may not be what you expect and may actually look worse than it was before you apologized. But, regardless, the situation is better. Say a prayer, ask God to help you move on, and bless the person you just apologized to, and all of the sudden you find that you love that person. After that it gets really hard to say or do anything that would hurt that person. Once you feel love for someone, you don't forget that person, and you can't forget that feeling.
Lately, I've been a little distracted. I've been prideful. I've been too focused on my time here (today is 10 months, btw), and it's not fair to those back home. I haven't been focused on my own feelings, and because of my pride, and laziness, my prayers have slipped. They're not what they used to be. I've set goals and made plans to change, and it's working, but that doesn't change who it's affected back home. I've expressed feelings through email and letters that may not have been entirely accurate. Also, it's evident that I'm not 100% focused on my mission. That changed about three days ago when I received a particular letter from a good friend.
If it seems like I'm not being me, or not being the best missionary I can be, or the missionary you all think I am, I'm sorry. I've been pretty hard on myself lately because I've realized a lot of things need to change. And I've made mistakes that haven't been solved. After reading this letter from my friend, I realized something. I need to get back on my feet. I need to take my optimistic attitude about our investigators and my mission and include myself. My friend explained to me that my negative aspect on myself was something I could improve. Well, I've known that since before I was born. But how do I fix it? I decided to start with an apology to my family and friends that may have been affected by my bad example. As I continued to read this letter, I could've started beating myself up pretty bad. I could've gotten worse. The letter's contents included everything I already didn't like about myself that I've been trying to fix for the last several years. Having one of my best friends realize these things and address them made me realize that I really do have to get a move on. I don't want to let you all down. I've been working on these poor traits of mine since I entered high school, and it seems like nothing's changed. Also, lately I haven't been focused on overcoming those weaknesses. I'll be grateful to this friend forever!
So, please forgive me for my bad example. But I say thanks to this person who has only written me 2 or 3 letters and changed my mission. You helped me take the step I needed to change. I already knew I needed to. But, because of your guidance, wisdom, and friendship, I've been able to find the old fireball that was Kevin Carter, and turn him into Elder Carter. My mission should be 100% #1 on my mind, and if it's not, I need to stop whatever I'm doing that's distracting me.
  Luckily, because God loves me, He's still helped me find success. And I'm pretty sure that's because I still got up every morning, kept the rules, and did the work. I may not have done it perfectly, but because I was willing, He blessed me. My willingness doesn't come from my own finding, it comes from the hundreds of letters I've received. From the letters I get every week from my Mom, Dad, and my Sister. From my Aunt Raquel, my fellow missionaries, and my other friends that consistently help me grow and change to become the man I'm meant to become serving in God's Army. Being able to fulfill my future priesthood duties as outlined by my Heavenly Father. My strength also comes from God. Actually, it first comes from God, then it comes from these letters. I've been reminded that Heavenly Father should be first on my mind. Well, He hasn't been lately. So thanks to all of you for saving my mission, and helping me find God again! I made a promise to Elder Leyva (serving in Thailand), that I would not come home before April 10, 2012 unless it was in a body bag. I am keeping that promise, and I've covenanted with my God the same way. According to God's plan and needs, that is... ;) And to this certain friend-who's letter came last Friday(Jan 14)-thanks for putting me on the right track and helping me realize what I've been doing wrong. If you know who you are... please don't stop writing! :D If you don't know who you are, you will soon, and keep writing anyway! :P
Okay, moving on.
Mom and Dad asked me about the language in the Christmas call last month. Let me tell you what I can and can't do as of right now. And let me first tell you that it's because of the Spirit and the Gift of Tongues that this language has come to me so fast. I'm scared to death to not have the Spirit with me, because I KNOW the language will leave me if the Spirit isn't with me. I can order food. I can talk about the army, Age of Empires, basketball (including specific moves and shots), football (every position), almost any Spiritual topic (yes, I can say the word "Kolob", not that we discuss that with investigators... ;), and so on. I can read almost 6 or 700 characters (I've been moving slowly), which gives me the ability to read most of what's outside and what I see. When I read the newspaper I get the idea, but misunderstand most of it. The language is so simple, that most of the time, if I don't know a word, I can guess it out. Usually it's right, and even if it's wrong, they still know what I'm talking about. Reading the Book of Mormon is slow, and my head hurts after about 10 minutes. By the way, except for the characters part, that's all me speaking English.
Chinese: I've got nothin'.
Alright. Now you know how I feel when I think about having an American junior companion. How in the world are we supposed to get around, and get into the depth we do in lessons when my companion isn't Taiwanese? I'll really have to trust the Spirit then, huh? But, it is true. When I don't have the Holy Ghost next to me, I have no way of thinking up anything to say when I want to speak. I immediately go find a way to bring the Spirit back, and, immediately the language comes back. Better than it was before. I may not be as diligent as I'd like to be studying this language, but I'll tell you the two best things about my Chinese (if it's not being prideful). 1. My accent is gone. 2. When I speak, I'm told that I sound natural, not speaking out memorized lines. This is thanks to my 3 native companions for 4 move calls (6 months), and my Mission President, and God for giving me the opportunity. I literally never speak English. And when I do, I don't understand what I myself am saying. I only read English during studies, and when I write or receive letters. But there is one thing that I know from all this... It's not me speaking. I have nothing to do with the Chinese I have. It's all come from God; and because I'm willing to be an instrument in His hands, He's using me. I fully expect all my Chinese to disappear when I go home. ;P Although I'm praying it won't... :P
Through constant focus, study, worthiness, obedience, and diligence, you receive the Gift of Tongues and learn to help God save souls.
Not much time left, and I didn't quite get to my testimony of the Savior. Or my investigators (you see? I'm focused on myself!), but just know that I'm doing fine. Life is good. Keep writing, keep being my friend, no matter what happens. And to my good friend who keeps me motivated and seems to understand me better than I do-- Thank you. Your letters change my mission every time I get them. So keep 'em coming! (TYB) Mom, Dad... keep writing. I'm not super diligent... but I need those letters to keep me going every day. Besides my prayers, that's my greatest source of strength. Thanks.
I love you all!!! Keep striving to hit your goals! Set them, then make plans to achieve them, and don't wait 'til December!!!

Your Brother, and Son--Elder Carter

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