Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

American Steak, Taiwanese Spices

Sorry for the miscommunication! lol, Move call isn't until next week. This week is POWER week, though. Chinese New Years is nearly over and we need a buffer. The entire mission is going to be out everyday for 12 hours. No time for lunch or dinner, except on the go, and every day is focused on different things. For instance, today is service, tomorrow is finding new investigators (adding on the street), wednesday is all tracting, thursday is RCLAs, friday is contact everyone, saturday is all lessons, sunday is find families. We are using the entire day every day (12 hours) to do these things. It'll be exhausting, but it should be fun.
Today I'll be cooking real American steak for some members. I didn't know I would be doing that til this morning, and I didn't prepare my favorite marinade (like I even know what I'm talking about...). But still. It's not exactly difficult to cook steak, but when you don't have a barbecue, and all you have are Taiwanese spices, I'll just say I hope I don't waste these members' money. I've also never actually cooked steak before. I just know from common sense how to check it out, and I've seen dad do it so many times I think I'll be alright. But things are still uncertain. It'll be a laugh in the very least, so good luck to me!
I met Chen Baba 3 or 4 weeks ago, and he will be entering the waters of baptism on Saturday. His family still hasn't really shown a lot of desire, but they'll come along. I really hope it happens before April 10th. Unless I find another family before then, this is pretty much the only chance to be able to see a family I found go through the temple in a year. I'm really prayin' for it.
My Chinese seems to be slipping, so I'm getting a little more serious with my studies to accommodate the fall. Luckily, the Spirit is still able to be with us as we serve our missions.
Well, my recent converts list came last week, and I was able to see a full list of all the people I've helped baptize. I've helped a lot more than I thought. My personal stats aren't ginormous (like numbers matter...) but, "your" recent converts will also count anyone you've taught or people you found that got baptized even if you weren't their "Gospel Elder". I had a lot more than I thought. Now, numbers don't matter, but when you see a number you realize just how much you're helping build the Kingdom of God. It helps measure effectiveness and efficiency (same meaning, ba). By the way "ba" means "ish". most of the time.
The last week went by pretty ok. You'll be getting a lot of pictures of me at dinners and lunches with members. We get taken out for Chinese New Years every day, lunch and dinner. That's because nearly every store in Taiwan closes for Chinese New Years. There's literally nothing to eat. And we don't have the money to buy food from the grocery store to last us for a week during Chinese New Years, so the ward takes us out every day and night and stuffs us. The miracle is I've only gained one pound. I didn't know my body could do that. I've literally eaten more than it was ever possible for me to eat in America, and I come out today and see how much I weigh and I'm still less than 180.
I have no idea what to write.
We've been having different activities lately on Preparation Day, so there hasn't been a lot of time to write. And I've been handling my own messed up mind by writing letters to other people to clear up idiotic decisions I still seem to make even on my mission.
The members here try to encourage missionaries to come back to Taiwan and marry here. Ugh. Just put me in a mountainous village with nothing but grandmas and old army men, and an 8 and 9-year-old brother and sister maybe, and tell me to spread the gospel for two years. I can do that. Give me a sword and a shotgun, and that's my food, give me a Book of Mormon and there's my source.
I don't know.
WELL, guess what. That's just HOW IT IS right now. I'm kicking my BUTT out here to fix that, and the pressure coming from home is overwhelming me. YES, I'm too hard on myself. YES, I'm a perfectionist. YES, I'm scared to death to do something wrong for fear of someone back home giving up on me. I've TRIED to put that behind me, and not worry about it, and just be ME. But it's not that EASY. EVERY single missionary out here has some seriously awesome background. Literally, I'm not kidding. EVERY one. Whether it's having run the Wall of China three times, or super basketball fan, or Masters degree at 19, they all have something. The only thing I can tell you I've got, is that I'm me. Shouldn't that be good enough? Yes, it should, but it's hasn't quite satisfied the prideful, slothful, addict of a dork I am. I am hard on myself, and I have NO idea how to fix that. I shouldn't be comparing to other missionaries. I've come to accept the fact that they're all better than me, so why worry so much? How about Derek Brimley? Absolutely nothing wrong with him. He seems to have it figured out. Eric Seamons? Knows how to focus. Dustin George, knows how to be humble and love others. Kendall Stauffer? Knows how to laugh. Jake Hart? Knows how to work. Spencer Bernards? Knows how to help and support others. Where am I in all this? I don't know. I'm just Kevin Carter. The player, the addict, the fake.
But I'm still out here. I will not be coming home until April 10, 2012, and that's it. So all I can do is hope that somehow, someway, I'll make it. And that when I get home, even if all my friends ditch me, or girls gives up on me, at least I'll still have my family. I'm not even sure about that. That's the problem.
Ugh, this email sounds WAY worse than it is, but at least I'm getting it out of my system.
Sorry to throw this all at you, and sound so selfish just talking about my self and not Chen Baba, or Elder Zhu. Bear with me. Please be patient. Please keep writing.

-Elder Carter

ps- Forgive me for the weaknesses, somewhere I'll find a strength. I need your support. But please don't overload me with advice. I love you all.
"Hurrah for Israel!" (An Elder Byersism)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Future NBA star?

Here is a pic of Elder Carter's current companion Elder Zhu.
Wow, he is really tall!

Chinese New Year

Here is a pic of the card Elder Carter sent us for Chinese New Year.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Make Life Bright

From the editor: I sent Elder Carter the lyrics to this neat song I love, thought I might share with all of you.


Broken clouds give rain,
Broken soil grows grain.
Broken bread feeds men for one more day.
Broken storms yield light
The break of day heals night.
Broken pride turns blindness into sight.
Broken souls that need His mending,
Broken hearts for offering,
Could it be that God loves broken things?

Broken chains set free,
Broken swords bring peace.
Broken walls make friends of you and me.
To break the ranks of sin
To break the news of Him
To put on Christ till His name feels broken in
Broken souls that need His mending,
Broken hearts for offering,
I believe that God loves broken things.

And yet our broken faith, our broken promises
Sent Love to the cross,
And still that broken flesh, that broken heart of His,
Offers us such grace and mercy
Covers us with Love undeserving
This broken soul that cries for mending
This broken heart for offering
I'm convinced that God loves broken me.

Praise His name, my God loves broken things

So, broken cloud, give rain
Broken soil, grow grain
Broken bread, feed men for one more day.

Yes. I hit a low. A bad one. Maybe there's a lot of people who read that last email and considered me a poor missionary. Maybe that would've bothered me 80 years ago when I was still at home.
I'm NOT A POOR MISSIONARY. The word missionary. What does that even entail? It entails a servant of God. Yes, Mom, unbelievably broken, messed up, a million problems... you name it. But GOD DOES love broken things. Thank you so much for that poem. A broken person is something God can use. Because He loves taking those broken pieces and making something beautiful. I'm not sure I'll ever be beautiful, but at least I've got God building me up.
I won't tell you I'm the best missionary, and I have no goals on being the best missionary anyone has ever heard of. I don't care. The tool God wants me to be? I'm the best that tool can be. I may not look as cool as the pickax, or the power saw, or even the simple hammer, but I'm the best for my part, and that's all I can be. God already has a pickax. So I'm sorry, but I can't be a pickax. I don't know what I am, but I'm what is needed. I know that because two more souls have now entered the strait and narrow path. They did that on Saturday. Yue Zi Xiang, and Wu Jia Kai. I'm good for something, it seems. :P
(Taylor Swift is playing in the background... REALLY distracting... Gonna ask them to turn it down... UGH...)
Anyway, I don't mean to sound down and out, or depressed or anything. I just want you all to know that I'm trying. It's not going perfect. Life is tough. I love my companion, we have a great time together, but he's been here for nearly 6 months and is getting sick of it, and I was invited to attend the leadership training meeting last week. Which means, that, no matter what, I'll be called to a leadership position next move call. I'm nervous, worried, glad that at least I have time to prepare, but it's throwing me off. I don't exactly want a leadership position. My time is too small as it is. I feel I do better work when I'm following, rather than leading. So that's what I'll keep doing regardless of the calling. Just follow in Elder Byers' footsteps and follow his example. He really makes me feel like I can make it to the end. That is a good missionary.
So, you can understand the stress, and the thoughts going through my head. I'm still working on fixing my own problems. But I'm finding that God is doing that pretty well for me. I think if I just take my mind off of my own self, leave that to God, and get to work, I'll find that when I get home, I'll be the person I want to become. Luckily the person I want to become, his biggest trait, is that he is who God needs and wants him to be. I'm working on that.
My point is, I'm realizing I need to focus on my God. I need to remember Him. I need to remember that He comes first. He loves me. I make so many mistakes, and do things that would offend the normal person, and He never acts like He's offended, He just throws another blessing around the corner so that I know He loves me, and "yes, you need to change, but I love you, just thought you oughtta know." I look back at the little boy I was before I came out here, and realize that I'm completely different. Luckily, back then, I was holding on to my God like I should've been (I should've done better, but still... ;), so there was me in the middle of all the 'not me', if you know what I mean. I held onto that string, and that's all that came with me on my mission. The rest was shed off in the car at the MTC. My weaknesses still trailed behind me, but the biggest weaknesses have now become strengths, and the things that I've been focusing on the most, working on improving on the most, the things that no one has commented on or said anything about, were brought up by my companion the other day. He said he admired me for my ability to master those traits, and control those weaknesses. He told me that God had taken those weaknesses and made them strengths. He said that I'm a very "willing to progress and improve" type missionary. He said I'm willing to change. And a lot of other things. But he said that he doesn't know a lot of people who have these strengths.
I didn't even realize these things until he told me, and yes, granted, I didn't exactly agree that they were strengths, since it's those exact things that have been killing me lately, but I realized how far I've come since I started giving my whole self to God. I've not even done THAT perfectly. But I think I've finally come to realize, that it's impossible to be perfect... I may never accept it, but at least I know it's true now... that's an improvement from before. ;P I probably just made absolutely no sense.
Anyway. I'm doing better. I'm still having a tough time, things aren't going smoothly, and my faith is weak, but I've got God behind me. I AM doing my best. And he forgives SO quickly. Because He knows.
Chen Baba. I found him on the street on "Fire Saturday" a couple weeks ago. The day I received a certain letter and went out a fireball that morning, I found this wonderful father.
He's getting baptized on the 12th. His family will follow a couple weeks later.
God loves us. Don't you ever forget that.
I love all of you with all my heart. I'm not perfect. I have a lot of problems. But remember why I'm out here, and remember what I'm doing. I need to remind myself of that sometimes. These last two move calls, I've done the best mission work I've done on my entire mission. Numbers don't matter, but I've done better than my first four move calls combined. I may be stressing out, I may be WAY too hard on myself, but God is using me, and that makes me happy. He uses you the way you are. Yes, we spent too much time with a recent convert one day. Technically, that's breaking rules. We felt bad, and got right out to contacting, but if we hadn't've taken that much time with our recent convert, we wouldn't have run into Lin Hong Zhan, who will be getting baptized in three weeks, who we hadn't seen or gotten a hold of for several weeks before. God really does set things up. He knows everything. He already knows the result. I wish I could know the result. The end of everything. Then there wouldn't be any stress, except wishing for more people to have joined the church. Work really is a Christlike Attribute. Do Work. That's where healing happens.
I love you all, sorry for the roller coasters, and the slip-ups.
-Elder Carter

Make life bright,
Only then do we see light.
"Hurrah for Israel!" (An Elder Byersism)
Love you.