Monday, March 28, 2011

I Can Smell the Ocean

Hello, family, friends, comrades, brothers, sisters, people,
Here I am in the beautiful ocean city of Tainan. I smell the beach and the salt everyday, but we haven't been there yet. No worries there will be pictures soon. It's unbelievably hot. It's only March. Oh boy. But I'm gonna enjoy it because it's the last one I get to enjoy for awhile. Now that March 17th has passed, I'm experiencing everything twice. I realize that the end of April and May, well this is the only April and May I get in Taiwan. Except for the first part of April next year. So I'm enjoying it. And drinking a whole lot more water. Getting skinnier. Muscles are actually growing (finally), and my hair needs a good shave. I've still got unibrow problems, and it bothers me to the point where (yes, Dad, I tweeze my eyebrows) I tweeze my eyebrows. That's it. Who really cares a lot about how handsome we are in the mission field as long as we look like emissaries of the Creator of the Universe.
Tainan is fun, hot, and big. And it's the city, but I still LOVE it. We live right on a beautiful canal (except the water is brown, worse than Moab river), and the sun is always out. Dad, you would LOVE it here, except for the heat. Sometimes I literally feel like we're on a cruise boat.
Have I told you that I'm reminded constantly of California? It feels like California here. Cali to me, always reminds me of the 80s for some reason. I never lived in the 80s (and barely a year in California), but my Mom did, and she's an 80s girl. So I have that affect. I am CONSTANTLY reminded of Cali here. I feel like I'm in Cali half the time, and it's WONDERFUL.
The problems?
The ward is not as active as it could be. They have their own chapel, and they're smaller than Tanzi. Only one person attends the Correlation meeting. The mission leader. Makes me want to be SO MUCH MORE ACTIVE in my home ward when I get home.
I realize I was NOT an active member of the church before. I never did anything. I just went to church. Barely read my scriptures. If Dad hadn't've blessed Shelby when she was hurt as a baby and emphasized the importance of prayer to me, I wouldn't have had that personal love of prayer or connection to it. Therefore, I would not have continued saying my personal prayers. That was what kept me in. And my parents of course. Young men's leaders played a big part. I only went to mutual to hang out, I didn't care about the spiritual part.
I was not active before my mission. I feel horrible now. Seeing how important it is to be an active and involved member makes me wish I was more of a help to my ward than I was. It's vitally important to friendship new investigators that are coming to church. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. A strong convert will stay converted. Duh. But, sometimes people come to the church just because they're ready, and it's easy to accept. No friends until after. But if all new investigators have is the missionaries, their motivation to stay going dies FAST. Because missionaries move FAST. Look for investigators. Love them. Friendship them. Help them get to the next class. Talk to them after church. Yes, the missionaries are to teach, but you can share, you can still answer questions. If you talk to them about Joseph Smith, the missionaries have a lot more they can share about him in that lesson, cause the investigator already understands a lot.
Anyway, I've been hit with huge responsibilities down here. Obviously it's to keep me busy. I've realized something lately.
The way the church works, when in it's prime, is when the people that need to work on testimonies, stretch themselves, go above and beyond what they think they can do, are put in those positions that will help them do so. Dad, that's why you were called as Sunday School Teacher that one time. You hated it, I know you did. But then you grew to at least start to love it, didn't you? It was NOT what you liked to do, and it pushed you. Yes, it didn't last super long, but you affected everyone in that class with your testimony.
And you grew.
Well, I need some help, some strength, and some pushing. (Now, you can't say that because you have a calling in the church, you must have a problem, so that's why you were called... lol, but regardless there is something you can improve and progress on in that calling...) So I've been called to a leadership position here in Tainan with Elder Turk. He is my junior companion. He has no leadership position. He grew up in Utah for 16 years, then moved to Texas for 3. He claims he's a full-blood Texan.
I am not training. I was pulled away from my trainee after a measly 3.5 weeks with him. Elder Mohr is great though, he'll be strong.
My numbers also took huge jump this month. Not that that matters, but it was nice to see on paper.
I do Baptismal interviews and handle follow-ups. Our district is made up of 6 missionaries, 4 Elders and 2 Sisters. The other 2 Elders are the Zone Leaders. So, yeah. I also get to run, and plan district training meetings. That'll be fun. :D While trying to get to know this ginormous area, and it's people.
Had kind of a hard Sunday yesterday, right now we only have 1 progressing investigator. That's really low. We had 7 last week. The rest of them dropped out, cause none of them came to church. Doh!
President Bishop is changing things, but it's kinda hard to explain. The focus and purpose of missionaries is to FIND, TEACH, and BAPTIZE. But we are putting a little more focus on RC's and LA's. The goals are HUGE for this year, but we are well on our way to hitting them. I'm keeping my part of the goal. :D It's really hard to explain President's Bishop's changes without telling you face to face or over the phone.
Time's almost up, but I will say this.
I've changed a TON. I am a completely different person, while still being 100% me. I love it. I have all sorts of problems, but the biggest ones that I thought I would never be able to overcome are starting to disappear and become my strengths. I love Ether.
I am so peaceful just thinking about the fact that these problems are disappearing.
God is real. And He's there. Just go find him.

Love you all!

-Elder Carter

Monday, March 21, 2011

Movin on to Tainan!

Not a whole lot of time today...

I moved. I left my beloved home in Tanzi, for a strange, alien world in Tainan, just above Gaoxiong in south Taiwan. Yes, I've finally left Taizhong.
I miss that home. I didn't get to see the baptism of the young man who became one of my best friends. 'Cause I had to leave. But I got to see three more when I got down here. I was called to leave my trainee early. I didn't finish that call.
I was thrust into Tainan to become unbelievably busy. I've now done two baptismal interviews for two of the Sister's investigators, and all is going well. I got here on Wednesday, and saw two baptisms on Saturday, and another on Sunday. I'm already falling in love with the ward. But I miss the people in Tanzi.
The phone call came on Wednesday morning at 8:03 AM. I was told I would be moving to Tainan that day- and the train left at 2:16 PM. I had a couple hours to pack, and Victoria, my Chinese mom, was trying to take us out to lunch first. We got out to a beautiful restaurant and had a good lunch with Victoria, her husband Lin Dixiong, Anna, and Olive. Along with me and Elder Mohr. Took some good pictures.
I missed Lin Hong Zhan's baptism, and I don't get to see Guo Jin Ming's baptism next week along with the Lin Zi Xiang and his girlfriend's the week after that. At least I got to call them to say good-bye. Including most of the members. My other best friend Yu Jie was devastated, and all my recent converts in Tanzi were sad to see me go. I hated to leave Chen Baba behind. But my heart is with them. If I ever come back, I'm going back to Tanzi.
I'm scared, again. It's been just a few days, and I've been unbelievably busy. I no longer have time at night, because I'm on the phone doing follow-ups with everyone. I'm exhausted. My companion is amazing, and super diligent. He knows how to do missionary work, and I feel like I have a lot of work to do. I finally moved all the way in today. I knew I would be coming down to Tainan at least at one point on my mission, I knew it was coming. I also knew, and could feel from the start that my 7th move call was going to be special. The new move call doesn't come for two weeks from today, so when my 8th move call starts, I'll write an email and say hey.
March 17 comes up in three days. That's a weird feeling. But the biggest feeling is I'm scared to death that I'm gonna lose contact with the lifelong friends I'm making here. I don't want to leave, I can't leave. They are EVERYTHING to me, and I can speak Chinese with them from dawn til dusk and still have energy to go stuff my gizzard with Taiwanese food. My Taiwanese language is getting better, and it's fun to speak it, 'cause almost no other missionaries know how to... lol, thanks to Victoria.
I'm learning lately just how much I've changed. I guess I'm happier than I've ever been, even though I don't feel like it sometimes. I love contacting now. I know how to save my money (better), and I can connect FAST with people here. I'm working on writing and reading now, and am SLOWLY making my way through the Book of Mormon. I know upwards of about 1500 characters and have roughly 10,000 more to make it through the newspaper. My goals are getting hit, and I have to make a new goals sheet now. I'm scared to start watching my time count down. It's also fun to reminisce with my junior companions now, since they are all in the very beginning of their mission. I remember when I was their age...
I've also realized that I DO NOT want to be a Zone Leader. WAY too busy. That is NOT how I want to serve my mission, but I guess if I'm called... ;P
We just ate dinner at a white man's house last night. He met his wife at BYU. She's from Hong Kong. They all speak English. Brother VanCott speaks Cantonese and very little Mandarin. Their kids all speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. They have four. It TOTALLY feels like America in that house. Not to mention Brother VanCott is tall, skinny, loves computers, loves Macintosh and it felt like I was in the vicinity of Mike, Dad, and Kirk Lee, maybe add a little Paul in there.
I got SO trunky last night. Ugh. Don't really want to go back to dinner
Doing messages and visiting as missionaries to an American's home really brings back memories of when we had missionaries over and what the purpose really is, what the expectations are. It made me think of how easy or difficult it would be to make it back to Taiwan to live, if I could. I don't know. That's not for now. I still have over a year left.
I'm extremely proud of my family and all you are accomplishing at home. I'm finding myself again and slowly working myself back up to where I thought I was before Christmas. It's nice to learn more about who I am. 
I'm growing, I'm learning, and I'm getting better everyday.
Love you all.

-Elder Carter

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stuck in the Middle

Dajia, Li He!
Well, our investigator pool is up to tiptop shape again. We have three investigators lined up for the next three weeks. One of them is Lin Zi Xiang. His situation is VERY special, and VERY hard, so I don't know how much I can share through email. But it's good we're able to meet with him. I have to talk to President Bishop now on how to handle and figure out his situation. It's almost out of my hands it's just THAT special, and just THAT hard. ;P
I guess the work is moving forward. It kinda feels the same as it always has. Not a lot of change.
I'll thank Elder Derek for the simple advice and the friendship he offers a world away. Thanks, bro.
I need to thank you all for writing me. I still have all the letters I need to reply to, sitting in my desk. So I'll get to that as soon as I have some time. But, I'll apologize first, it may be awhile before anyone gets anything from me besides email. I'm sorry, I just can't find the time or the will to sit down and write. The members here are dying to take us out to do fun things, and I'm sick of staying inside. Went out to eat at a good Japanese restaurant today. Not too expensive and I will TOTALLY be taking everyone to eat there when the opportunity comes around.
I don't care what happens, but I figure the only thing I want for Christmas for the rest of my life is the opportunity, ability, and possibility of coming back to Taiwan. The best would be if I could come back EVERY year. Obviously that won't happen for awhile, but I just can't leave it behind...
I'm sick of writing emails that are just me venting all my thoughts and problems, and all that. Aren't I supposed to be sending things about how this church is true, how Taiwan is, and the weather, the investigators, and all that? I end up sending eulogies, it feels like sometimes. (Hahaha...)

Sorry. Just know that I look up to all of you. Every one. I'm just stuck in the middle of finding my identity again... A Son of God? Really?
There's so many things that I was doing so well at, at the start of my mission. Now, I'm doing horribly. I thought I knew I was a Son of God. But how do you really figure that out? How do you go about learning your identity? Who are you really?
Well, it starts with prayer. Then you go do what you can to bring the blessings you wish for to the forefront. If your desires are righteous, you'll get what you need. But it's all up to God's time.

Remember God delights in the weak. That's where His power is most evident. Thanks Heavens I'm so weak... now I get more God-power. :P lol...

I pray for all of you everyday. Dad, to know I love him. Mom, and Shelby to find peace in her world of over-sensory overload. For Raquel, Grandpa, the Blackburns, Eric Blackburn, Jason and Jennifer. Grandma Hill to be alright by herself, to feel the presence of her husband and her family constantly, Cathryn and Dave to be happy and find energy in the Gospel, Sarah to find the balance she needs in her life, Tersta, Nana and Grandpa Lee, and for Mike and Nise, hoping for forgiveness from them, CJ and Katie, begging for their successful lives.
There's more. And more. Including all my buddies on their missions (the Magnificent 7). And all the people in our ward, like Brother Johnson, the Goodmans, the Campbells, and anyone else pushing through trials.
I feel bad saying stuff like this when I, myself, am having troubles, and doubts, but I know that true happiness and everything we've ever wanted can only come through this Gospel. You find pieces of it in other places, but this Gospel is the only one that even makes sense. I know it's true. I'm just working to grow closer to my God, and develop my own personal testimony, which will allow me to lead my future family, back to their God, to our Loving Heavenly Father, where we find peace. Eternal peace.

Love you all.
Pray for me, I need it.
Love you, Shelbs, keep smiling

-Elder Carter

Monday, March 7, 2011

The American Culture is So Weird!

Welcome! To the END of February! It's a holiday again. Huang De Kai (Jack) who I was with in Wufeng for a move call is visiting us today with one of my recent converts Li Sheng Jie (Alan). We're hangin' out on Preparation Day together, and they're both super funny! Huang De Kai has returned home from his mission, so he's down today just visiting. It's great fun! Except that they're all playin' around on Facebook, and my blog, and stuff next to me... grrr.... ;) Although I have seen some interesting pictures now, that I didn't know were on my Facebook. I guess there are a few people who still remember I exist and keep things updated for me.
It's a little weird seeing a couple of those pictures. I feel absolutely no connection to them, and it is literally an entirely different world. It feels SO far away, that there's no feeling at all. lol. The person in those pictures is a completely different person, and my life now is the life I'd rather be living. I am scared to death to see the year mark come up. I don't like the idea of having less time left than I've been out. I like having more time left than I've been out. Why does Taiwan have to be so far away? And why is it so expensive to get here? I have literally found myself here. And I've realized that nearly EVERY part of my personality that didn't mesh with the Americans back home, meshes perfectly here. Elder Mohr comes in from California, like, totally, like, he's, like, got, like, a, like, totally, like, Californian accent, and like, total Cali lingo!

BUT, the other thing that's great, is that I've realized I have literally become a part of this culture. The American culture is SO WEIRD! And, in fact, the difference between American culture with Elder Mohr, and Taiwanese culture with me, has caused some small contentions. It's interesting to see how he handles that. It's like I'm Elder Zhu, Huang, or Pei, and Elder Mohr is me. So weird! But I love Elder Mohr with all my heart, and because of his diligence and willingness to learn (and his AMAZING Chinese), we've been able to pull Tanzi out of the slump it was in for a couple weeks. The investigators are FLYING in by the boatload to talk to Elder Mohr (the ''cute" one). And I just watch, and push, and train, and handle the background stuff. Elder Mohr baptizes. :D
On a normal move call: The last Saturday of the move call, we receive what we call "move call". The President calls or talks to the Assistants, the Assistants call the Zone Leaders, the Zone Leaders call the District Leaders, and the District leaders call the Seniors/Trainers. That day, we find out where we're moving, who our companions are, and how to go about handling the travel needs. Some need the train, some need the bus, others get taken by members, and so on. We have to maintain a companionship of missionaries at ALL times. Always 2. So that causes difficulties sometimes. RARELY does a missionary travel by himself.
For missionaries going trainer: We get called on the last Wednesday of the move call, right after English Class. That night the new missionaries come in and start their 2-day orientation. Thursday is spent with last minute visits to investigators/members for the departing missionary and the departing missionary needs to pack. Friday: The departing missionary leaves for the neighboring area in his district to make a 3-way companionship until the next Monday. The newly called (not set apart) trainer will travel to the Mission home Friday morning to pick up his new companion. Then they go back to their area and start proselyting. VERY efficient, and VERY smooth. VERY nice. The whole process is nerve-racking though. Imagine how English class feels that Wednesday night when you've attended leadership meetings recently when you're not a leader (so you know you'll be becoming a leader soon). The ENTIRE time at English Class is nerve-racking. And when you see President Bishop's name on the phone when he calls at 8:35... yikes. And here comes a new phase of mission work, just like that. It's easier than I thought it would be, though. Elder Mohr is better than I ever could hope to be, so it's not a problem serving with him. I've never been happier.
Got the coat. It WAS needed, and I was SUPER happy. Now it's too hot. If I'm still in Taizhong next winter, I'll need it again. If I'm in the south, I'll be sending it home. Sorry! Just remember it WAS 100% worth sending. I was freezing my pants to my bike seat before I got that coat. So thank you! (sweat, wet bike seats, cold, wet weather, and far distances... don't work out so well... ;)
Uh... that CTR ring... New Years Day. We went to build DiGua (sweet potato) dirt mountains in the rice fields of one of the members, and it must just be the shape of that particular kind of CTR ring... but it decided to run away. Last time I had a CTR ring of that shape it disappeared in a bunch of leaves in Heritage Park. Now, it disappears amongst a bunch of rice, and dead grass. Well, there's a story there at least. Sorry. I'll pay you back or something.
It's not temple move call. That's next move call. Once every two move calls, so once every THREE months we get to go. If we are close enough. It is 100% uncertain whether or not we will be moving every move call. No one knows. I may be moving (I personally think I will be), but it is literally 100% uncertain. President Bishop has changed a bunch of things, so no one has any idea anymore. :D
So you all won't know if I'm moving, until my first day in my new area. :D
Love you all!!! Great talk Shelbs! I loved it!

-Elder Carter

ps- And it's been a hard month. A lot's happened. A lot I don't even feel like sharing through email or letters. It's been hard. It's still hard, and I don't know when I'll pull out of it, but I've decided it's pointless to keep focusing on getting out of the rut, and figure out how to take the best path through the rut, and make the rut better for those that will follow. It's kinda fun being on the rough road. That's what I always did when I went hiking in Utah. I found the most rocky road and hiked that. Made hiking a lot more interesting. Now, that's what's happening here. I just need to not focus on the smoothness of the road to my right, and focus on making this road the best one I've ever walked. Only by walking this road can I progress and improve anyway. If all I had was the smooth road, God would be doing me a disservice, someone once reminded me. Plus, I am happier than I've ever been on my mission, so it's comin' along. We'll make it.

Love you.
See you too soon.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Still ME!

Well, here we are again.
My 37th or 38th time.
I still have quite a few.
It's February 21.
March 17 is 3.5 weeks away. My 1 year mark.
February 28 is next Monday. 1 year from my farewell talk.
March 28 at midnight is my halfway mark.
April 10 is my 1 year left mar.
May is Mother's Day, time to call again.
June is my one year mark in Taiwan.
And then I'm home.
But I still have over half my mission left, so why think about it? Lol, no worries. It's just gonna start going REALLY fast, and I am doing everything in my power to slow it down.
I CAN NOT leave here. 1) I absolutely LOVE Taiwan. Everything about it. 2) I absolutely LOVE Tanzi. The ward I'm in now. How can I possibly leave when I've seen the numbers grow from 84 people every week to 117? How can I possibly leave when I've helped and seen long time members work through horribly challenging trials and concerns and come out on top? How can I possibly leave when I've found SOLID lifelong friends here, specifically in this ward?
How can I leave after helping several people enter the waters of baptism and become a part of the friendships that exist in this beautiful place? After attending the singles Family Night with 2 investigators, and 3 recent converts, I've come closer to these people than I thought I could. I'm a part of these peoples' lives, and I love them. And they love me. Not only do we share these things in common, but I am 100% myself around them, and it feels GOOD. I rarely got to be like that at home. Only with family and my ward friends was I ever 100% myself.
I've made a million mistakes. But I'm still following my God. People from both sides of the veil are supporting me. I found out about Bailey's (our 10 yr old chocolate lab) passing last week. I had a hard time getting to sleep. A rush of memories overtook me. This is the closest I've come to a real family member that I knew this well passing away. Obviously, family member relationships are more important and a lot more connected than me and a dog, but let me clear my point.
I just remembered Bailey sticking her nose in my door every day. Scratching her paws on my door when it was closed, coming home to a messed up bed from her sleeping on it, playing hide-and-seek with the tennis ball and me. Taking her on walks, wacking tennis balls to oblivion and back, and so on. But I'll never forget how well she knew me. She knew when I was sick. She knew when I was sad. And she would walk slowly into my room, and just sit next to my bed and wait. She gave me companionship when I thought I had none. She helped me through some of the most trying times of my high school years. I may not miss the every morning slime fest presented by my dear mother and sister (We used to solicit Bailey’s help in waking up brother…big slobbery kisses in your ear usually do the trick.); I may not miss the 10 pounds of poo left as a present for us at the bottom of the stairs, I may not miss cleaning her spot. I won't forget her cuddling in mom's arms 10+ years ago when we picked her out. I won't forget her dislike of fireworks. Her camera-shy personality, which she seemed to overcome right when she needed to leave us.
I remembered all this, and couldn't quite get to sleep. I took to cleaning right before 10:30. Then getting in bed took a long time. The next morning she went running with me. I miss her. She's off doing other things now, and I'm not entirely sure what, but I do know that her spirit was with me that day. At least her presence.
Lately, our area has been low on investigators. We're just low on progressing investigators. We still find 6 or so new investigators every day. But the actual progressing ones are smaller and lower than usual. This week, we went through former investigators, and found 2 that are willing to get baptized and have set goals.
Elder Mohr and I planned one night, and we had no idea what to do one morning at 11:30, right before lunch. He said he just kept thinking about the park with the basketball hoops. So we decided to go there to find some lessons and investigators. We woke up the next morning to find the weather bleak, rainy, and with this weather it was very unlikely there would be anyone in the park, especially in Taiwan. But, we went anyway.
We found some old men playing chess, checkers, and majiang (like old men do) and gambling. Not much success there (grumpy old men... hmph.), but we decided to walk around the rest of the park because we were tired, and like walking around the park, and had a good reason to walk around the rest of it, so we did. Needless to say we found (should I say, "Elder Mohr found") an investigator by the name of Tom. He got a Book of Mormon from missionaries 15 years ago. Still has it. Still reads it. Still prays about it. He just never found missionaries again, they never contacted him, and his parents don't accept it, so he's unwilling to come. Elder Mohr and I helped him understand that us running into him was a miracle, and it represented that he needed the Gospel at this time in his life, and invited him to come with us to church and meet with us. He's 27 years old, and still asks his parents for permission to do things. So he only agreed to meet with us. He wouldn't come to church. But I looked at Elder Mohr after we contacted this man, and we chuckled, and left the park. We knew why we went there that day. It's nice to know the Spirit is still with us, guiding, directing, protecting. Sometimes you just can't tell. And I'm scared to death to watch that nametag leave my shirt pocket. Cause there's just something different when you’re serving a mission. You have a power that just can't be explained. And I can't even imagine what it's like to not have the inspiration, and revelatory power I do now. How is it possible that some 20-year-old goof-ball can receive inspiration and revelation for a 50-year-old father and how to help him turn his life around? It's not possible. But the Spirit can, and we're just the mouth-piece. I need at least two companions to even speak those words of authority. My companion Elder Mohr, and the Spirit.
Miracles happen everyday. Do they when you're not a missionary? I never saw them before my mission. I'm scared to go home. But at that point, I have a different viewpoint, and miles better understanding and maturity. Maybe it'll be easier than I think. But all I know right now, is that I still have over a year. And I'm just happy to spend another year here. But I've added to my wants list. I have three most wanted things now.
1)Get home to Heavenly Father
2)Have my own family, be a husband and father.
3)Come back to Taiwan, and do it A LOT. I will NEVER stop studying Chinese.
Obviously BEING with family is important, but that doesn't really need a goal yet. Cause that'll be pretty easy for the most part. I'll set those goals in my last move call, and on the plane.
But I don't know if I can make it on the plane. Please help me come back here!!! I HAVE to come back!!!
I love you all!
We've got to go back and finish Spring Cleaning.
Yes it's 68 degrees outside, and I'm FREEZING.
Yes our apartment is DISGUSTING, but it won't be tonight. :D
Yes, I'm still ME.

-Elder Carter
Hurrah for Israel!



Thousands. What does that mean? you might ask.
I leave the apartment on a dreary, wet, windy day. I feel the chilly wind brush my cheeks and sweep through my hair as we walk swiftly to our bikes. As I wave hello to some members who just happen to be leaving, I see our bellboy waiting to greet us at the gate. "Carter! Goo Moning!" He cheerfully waves.
"Hey John! When can you get to church?" I reply in unison with my new companion.
"Church? It's always on my mind! My soul, ready to move on, accept the truth you offering!" He says as he returns to his little guard station.
I reply, chuckling, "Welcome you to church on Sunday!"
I see our bikes waiting for us, gleaming in the morning dew. I turn to my companion, and ask, "Elder Mohr, are you ready to save souls today?"
He responds by quickly, almost nervously attaching his huge proselyting bag to his bikerack, and, smiling, he turns and says, "Of course! Where do we go?"
"Right here. Just take a footstep."
Well, I'm training. Elder Mohr is from California. He's adopted and joined the church when he was 11. He plays the flute, majors at BYU in Music, and his main instruments are the organ and the flute. He plays the valve trombone, and did marching band in high school. He loves Star Wars. He's 19, he's BRAND new, his chinese is brilliant, and he's already helped a man be baptized.
I'm scared to death, but I've all of a sudden realized how to be happy every day. I know how my trainer did it. And I can be happy. I'm still working out of the rut I found myself in lately, but my new trainee is helping me pull myself out. But I couldn't do it without the Savior.
I miss Elder Zhu. He's a great friend. I'll definitely be keeping up with him. It's easier to hug my companion every night though... lol. Elder Mohr is just a tad shorter, and everyone in Taiwan calls him "cute". Elder Zhu was huge, I lost myself and my breathing abilities everytime I hugged him, so it's a little bit of a relief. But now he's moving to my first district and his Mom lives in that area. His mom is not a member. So please pray for him.
Meanwhile we are working to help Chen Baba's family accept the Gospel. This is the first time I've worked with kids, and I'm not quite sure what to do. Mom has no interest, and the kids are half-willing. Come on!!! Elder Mohr's ability to testify and promise blessings is beyond me. I don't know how he does it, but people are touched by the Spirit in ways I never thought possible. I wonder if that's how Elder Krantz felt about me.
I'm scared to lead a new missionary into the field, especially when I feel like I'm not a good enough missionary as it is.
But God will guide me.
The Savior is there to lift me.
The Spirit is there to touch me.
Can I make it? Of course. But there is no way on God's green earth that I can do that by myself. I need to rely on other people, and that's it. I think I've finally figured that out. Without Christ, I'd be home staring at the computer screen right now, or not even created yet. I'm so worried about impressing those people back home. All of them. Even those who might be reading this email with my family members in an ambulance somewhere in North or South Dakota. I'm scared to death to do anything that might make anyone back home think I'm not good enough, or I'm not being a good missionary.
But the stress that gives me is not condusive to serving a mission. I am spending 2 full years in 100% service to my God to help people have a chance to hear this message and help others start sharing the Gospel. It's important. If you don't believe in God, why do you think EVERYONE has a different personality? Personalities can't be birthed out. Some traits come from our parents, yes, but we have more than two parents. Heavenly Father is one of them. You must believe you have a soul. If you don't, than you think you're not unique and you're the same as the person next to you. That's not true is it? So you must have a soul. Where did our souls come from? Pray about it and you'll find out.
I'm out here beating myself up. That hasn't changed. I'm trying to figure out how to put all my worries on Christ. I'm trying to figure out how to be happy. It seems that a happy person is the only person that can build God's Kingdom.
What is exact obedience? Have you ever defined it for yourself? If I was exactly obedient to my definition, I end up overdoing things and getting myself out of balance to the point of freaking out. I've done it before. Too many times. I'm trying to learn how to be a good missionary, a good companion, while realizing what it's like to be a father, and a good husband. I'm only worried about my trainee's welfare now. I'm stressed out about making sure he makes it ok out here. I've got to feed him, take him to the bathroom, tell him what everything says and what everyone's saying. Just kidding lol ;P. It's no wonder missionaries call their trainees their sons. That's how it feels. When I start applying what my parents do with me to what I do with my companion, I all of the sudden am happy and able to keep moving forward with minimal stress. He is my equal out here, so it's not the same, obviously, but it's similar.
What is success? Have you ever wondered what your personal definition is? Have you ever tried to define it and discuss it with you coworkers? Your family? What is a doctor's definition of success compared with a soldier's? What is your definition of success as a paramedic? Once you find that definition, you'll realize where you need to improve where you need to not worry so much, and how to be happy at your work. If you're definition of success is accurate and it still doesn't bring happiness, maybe you should change your job. But how do you tell if your success definition is accurate or not? Well, that's what I'm figuring out right now. It's easy for me though. I know when my definition of success is wrong, because that's when I'm not happy. What I'm doing out here is 100% true and real. I know it with all my heart. That's hard to understand at your current job. Is your job the right job? Is your lifestyle the best for you? Are your friendships helping you or hurting you? In normal life, it's difficult to understand if what you're doing is right or where you are is the right place, if you don't have this Gospel. I'm out here 100% focused on this Gospel, so I know it's right. So it should be easy for me. It is. I'm just weak like every other man or woman. But I have the Spirit, I know about the Atonement, and I can speak to God. So can you. Just get on your knees and talk to him. Tell him you want to find the right path, the right job, the right friends, and you will. I have 20 years of experience with 13-14 million people behind me and billions more, plus the several people that I have helped enter the waters of baptism. This is the truth. And it works. But you need God. You need Heavenly Father. I want you to remember what Jesus Christ calls Heavenly Father in the Book of Mormon. And I think it's the same in the New Testament. He only calls him names that refer to Father.
Maybe we should remember that relationship.
Lately I've realized that my entire life I've believed in Heavenly Father, but the relationship I have with him just feels like a boss and his employees. His employees just happen to be family members. That's not what it is, but that's still how I feel. I want to understand that better and figure out how to see the relationship the way it really is. I know it's Father and Son, but I never feel like it's that personal. Sometimes it is, just like how a boss would treat his employees if his employees were his sons. I know that's not what it is. I'm striving to understand that relationship better now. I'm starting (the way everyone and everything should start) with prayer. Just like with Adam and Eve, it starts with communication. EVERY relationship is exactly the same. Communication. But sometimes it takes a frisbee, or a friend, or a missionary to start that communication. And then you realize just how special and unique those relationships really are, and how much you really treasure them. I love frisbees. ;)
I love you all. So much. Sorry for my recent slump. But I'm coming out of it. I'm happy again. Love you!

-Elder Carter