Monday, January 31, 2011

Wow look what happens when your missionary doesn't get his email!

From the editor: Okay, so I'm trying to be a little funny with my subject line but it really did break my heart when we received this email last Sunday night from Elder Carter and realized that our email to him hadn't left our out box, so he thought we hadn't written him! Then it seemed like he was being so hard on himself, we wondered if he really wanted everyone to read what he was saying, so I thought pretty seriously about not sending out this email. But then I thought I'm sure there are other missionaries who have these times and these feelings, and even though he is struggling, Elder Carter is exercising his faith that good is going to come of the experience.

So what I'm trying to say is Elder Carter's email from last week in all its painful glory-mostly sent in the hopes that someone out there might find some comfort that they aren't the only one who has ever felt this way. For those of you who might not know him as well as his parents, don't worry too much about him...he is venting and blowing off steam and often after he does that he feels much better. And for those of you who know him as well as we do, you won't be surprised that he is stressing over girls and buying stuff...some things never change. I do support him in his request for letters...they really do bless these missionaries I think more than we can appreciate here at home.

Have a great week!

Oh well. I don't exactly have an email to reply to, but I guess I can still write.

Not much to share.

I've been doing better. I feel more focused on my work, and more willing to follow my God. I've had a lot of problems lately, and they all have come around because of my disability to be nice to myself. I get lazy. I forget why I'm here, and it's too easy now to chat with my companion about whatever we want in Chinese. My pride has taken a hold of who I am and told me I'm someone else. I've been distracted, overwhelmed, and pushed. This is a time of growing, I know it. I don't feel a whole lot better than I did when I started running into these trials. In fact, I feel like I'm doing worse than before. I can only have faith that as I slowly overcome these problems and progress and get better through the power of the Atonement, that when I come out of it, I'll be a better missionary, a better man.

I've slipped, fell, scraped up my knees and hands, let tears fall, and let my heart fall into self-slavery. Luckily, we still have success, and God still loves me. ;). We have Yue Zi Xiang and Wu Jia Kai both entering the waters of baptism next Saturday. Why in the world have the feelings of happiness and peace disappeared? When I have a baptism, I'm usually happy and super content. That's not exactly the case right now. Why? I have no idea. I give myself WAY too much pressure. WAY too much stress. At least I've been figuring that out lately. This week's numbers were out of balance, and my Zone Leaders had to talk to me about it. As well as one night when coming home later than 10 o'clock got me scolded out by President Bishop. At least it was a good reason. We were participating in a service project, and the member we were serving would not let us go home til she fed us chicken, bagels, and cranberry bread balls. I tried to avoid it, I even walked outside and waited by the car, but she was persistent. I called President Bishop, he laughed, said it was alright, just to make sure to tell these wonderful members how much time we have and when we need to be home BEFORE you get in the car.

These events all led up to me feeling a little under-qualified to continue preaching the Gospel. This is the most important thing in the world to me! What in the world am I thinking trying to have a girlfriend back home? What in the world am I doing buying four different Rubik's cubes? Why in the world do I not realize that the time from 9-9:30 at night is important and precious? Why haven't I done better on my language studies? Why haven't I grown up yet? WHY do I STILL have SO MANY problems?!!

Because I'm human. Because I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and being attacked by Satan and his devils. I've been told before that Satan would destroy me now if he could. Sometimes I wonder why in the world would he care about me? What affect have I had, what affect could I possible have? Even now, as I write this, I wonder if I'm still doing the right things. I wonder if I'm not just saying all these things to impress some girl back home, and try to convince her that I'm brilliant, I'm following my Savior, and I know how to handle all these problems. Then convince her to be mine, and wait for me because she just knows that I'm meant for her? WHAT IN THE WORLD?!!!!

All I know, is that my mission is out of balance again. Both my Zone Leaders have told me I worry too much. My self-confidence has flown out the window, and all 7 of our investigators that have a baptismal date set don't seem super solid right now except one or two. It seems that my faith is failing, my teaching has disappeared, my patience was gone a long time ago, and my self-mastery as become nothing else than self-discrimination. We sat down with 21 RCLAs this week (Recent Converts, Less Actives), and sat down with only 12 other investigators. 3 of which didn't have a member present. WAY out of balance. Is my companion growing? Is he learning? Will he be a better missionary? Is my area growing? What does my ward feel about it's missionaries?

I sit here fretting, worrying, freaking out, and realizing that I'm still the prideful, cocky, rebellious dork I was before I decided to serve my God. I worry about what the "Magnificent 7" (Elders Brimley, Hart, Stauffer, Seamons, Bernards, and Dustin) and how they feel about me as a missionary. Do they really take inspiration from what I write? Or do they sigh, shake their heads, and stop reading when they hear me bring up girls again?

But then, I look at the entire mission here and compare for a minute. I was told by Elder Krantz, my favorite Assistant (and trainer) that my companionship is leading the mission. That this district is leading the mission. Then I look at how it was doing before I came up here, and I shake my head and realize that I'm doing just fine.
But, WHY am I not trusting my God? WHY am I not as happy as I was before? WHY can't I stop be so hard on myself? This is the one thing I most want to overcome, and it KEEPS GETTING IN THE WAY. I realize that I'm running into trials that have to do with these weaknesses BECAUSE Heavenly Father is helping overcome them and make them strengths. But did I not just say my patience was gone a long time ago? WHY is it taking SO LONG?!!! Plus, I still have forever left on my mission (which is actually a good thing, even though I made it sound complaint-like).

Maybe the girls I'm apparently trying to impress will realize that I'm really a 10-year-old and run away screaming. Maybe my family will wonder what a 10-year-old is doing in the middle of a foreign country without his blessed parents to feed him vegetables.

All I know is this.
Someone knows how I feel.
Someone knows how to overcome it.
Someone knows how to achieve my personal goals.
Someone knows how to be me.
Someone knows how to serve my mission.
Someone knows where I need to be.
Someone knows what will happen.
Someone knows what to worry about.
Someone knows what to not to worry about.
Someone knows me.
I'll be forever grateful for the Atonement and the unbelievable, eternal extent to which it reaches into my heart and mind, and comforts. There is someone out there who knows all of the above, and I am lucky enough to know that I can talk to Them anytime I want. What would happen to me if I didn't know I could talk to someone who knows exactly how to solve all my problems? Now, I'm motivated to preach the Gospel. Now I'm motivated to bring that priceless gift to those who sit on the sidewalk smoking, twitching from drug abuse, and the poor 5-year-old child who sits next to him with a cigarette in his mouth.

I MUST HAVE FAITH. I MUST OVERCOME. I MUST SERVE MY GOD. These people need God. And only I can bring it to them. What a blessing to see that little 5-year-old in church the next Sunday, wearing a tie.
God knows us. He knows how to save us. He knows how to help us. 
Thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ.
I may not be perfect. I have every problem in the book. I may not be super attractive to any girls anymore because of it. I might not ever receive another letter from home.

I don't care.

I'm doing the right thing, and I'm NOT going home. I owe the Savior my life. I should be giving him an 80-year mission. Not just a measly 2. 1 of which is almost gone. In fact, the Savior deserves my life, my eternity, and my everything. But He only requires us to love Him, and keep His commandments. Why don't people get that? Why don't I get that?

I used to pride myself on being optimistic. But I was reminded recently that no one likes the negative aspect I put on myself. Any tips? I've been working on this problem from before the dawn of time, and it JUST WON'T GO AWAY. :D I'm doing better lately, but today I'm just extra tired, and feeling pretty down. Sorry to let it all out on all of you. Mom and Dad, you can edit if you like. Up to you. But I guess I don't really have to ask.

Just keep writing! I agree with Elder Seamons when he says, "One of the best gifts missionaries can get from home is a letter." So all of you, please keep writing. If you've got time, of course...
Love you all (TIYB)
-Elder Carter