Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Home Again

It's been a QUICK 15 months! Man, I'm exhausted, worn out, and happier than I've been in a long time. My mission IS EVERYTHING to me, don't get me wrong, but sometimes things happen that you didn't plan for and that you're not willing to accept, but the choice just isn't there to make.
Being sent home on a medical release is, at first, demoralizing. But you quickly learn to accept that it's needed, it's part of the plan, and time keeps turning.
I was released last night as an Emissary of our Lord. I'm dejected, overwhelmed, and sad. I miss my mission and all the wonderful people there. All of my recent converts are still over there! Luckily some of you might get to meet some of them, since they plan on visiting soon.
Mainly, I'm just happy to be home, relieved to be working on the medical side of things, and it's a lot of fun figuring out English again. Thanks to all those who welcomed me home with open arms and warm hearts. I served my Lord, and I gave it all I had. But I'm never finished. I'll never be finished.
Love you all! Get in touch! I'd love to chat!

-Kevin Carter Jr.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marking Progress

Sister Chen and Sister Wang are unbelievable. They are super solid and are making plans to serve a mission in a year's time.
We shared about the temple with Sister Chen and she has an enormous desire to get to the sealing room.
Sister Wang is sharing the Gospel with her family, and absolutely LOVES Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
Brother Shen. He is 67 year old, has severe disabilities, lives by himself on the fifth floor of an apartment building. He can barely move, but he gets dressed everyday, eats his own food, answers the phone, can make phone calls, and goes walking for 4 hours a day. Not to mention he sells lunch box lunches outside the apartment complex on the street some mornings. He's been to church three times now. His baptism is scheduled for Saturday. He's all alone in his home. He has social workers take care of him every now and then. His parents left this earth a while ago, and his brothers and sisters are still around, but rarely visit him. He goes on vacation twice a year with a bunch of other people who are like him.
Through all of his difficulties, he's still alive. He's still breathing. And he always has a smile on his face. He hugs me every time he sees me, looks into my eyes with that big smile of his and says "thank you".
I don't know why. Maybe it's because he finally has people to visit him, to love him, and to just be with him. The ward welcomes him with open arms, and he loves going to church. I still don't know why he would tell me "thank you". When we teach him the Gospel, he hardly remembers anything, but he will immediately respond, "I believe" upon being asked if he believes in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Repentance... etc. He memorized the commandments and is willing to keep them. Alma chapter 32:16, "blessed is he that believeth in the Word of God...without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe." (emphasis added).
The ward has fallen in love with Brother Shen. There are some who say he might die pretty quick after his baptism... lol. I dunno, that'd be sad, but a little funny, too. If all he's got left to do is get baptized, then he can go home, well... that's up to God. He's pretty healthy, so I think he'll have time to share the Gospel with his family, and then be a temple worker for a while and then pass through the veil. I don't know. But I love him. And this is now the oldest person I've helped get baptized, at the age of 67.
From 9 years old, 12, 15, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 33, 34, 35, 38, 42, 50, 53, 57, to 67. Pretty balanced out. These aren't all of them, but it's interesting to see that the people I've helped get baptized span all ages, phases of life, positions, work, areas, personalities, situations that you can think up. With a hundred more in the baptism process. With several on the way. Literally hundreds.
Every move call we get a list of all of our recent converts to see how they're doin', and it's probably what I look forward to most, 'cause I can see whether or not they've been to church over the last 6 weeks. :D. Do they have home/visiting teachers, do they have a temple reccomend, have they been asked for referrals, are they reading the Book of Mormon regularly, do they have a calling, do they have a friend, are they attending institute/seminary? etc... and so on. Anyway, just thought I'd bring that up.
I'm having a real tough time with this new companion. Being with someone who is perfectly obedient, and does everything right is a wonderful experience, but the pressure is miles high, especially since I'm senior companion. I'll just say if there's a woman like Elder Farr, I'm not marrying that one. :P.
I love my companion though. He makes me push for better.
I take time to vent, open up, and get everything in my head OUT when I email or write letters. Sorry. The real experience of my mission will be retold when I get home. I'll keep doing my best to tell you more about my mission experience.
For instance:
We ran into a less-active woman yesterday. Sister Zhang. She has been less-active for 30 years. She is a former companion of one of our sister missionaries' mom. She just opened up to us on the street last night. We've been running into her a lot lately and visiting with her. She was laying on her bed one day just thinking and crying and being Elder Carter--- lol--- when I felt like we needed to call her to ask if she'd like to accompany us to Brother Shen's for his commandment lesson. She accepted, and was relieved to be able to do so. In her venting last night she just shared nonstop about how painful her life was, how she doesn't believe God loves her (she believes He's there, though), how she wants out of Gangshan, how she's done teaching English after 26 years, how she thought she had done her part when she got back from her mission and how she's still not married without any children, and so on.
Elder Farr didn't say a word. All I said was "God loves you. If He didn't He wouldn't have told me to call you that day." She looked down for a second, continued to cry, and then continued on her venting. I just decided to be quiet after that, ;). She thanked us for listening and then drove off.
She's progressing. She wouldn't say a thing to us on the street besides hello when we first met her. Now she just lets it all out. She also was a very big help to Brother Shen in helping him remember the commandments. I mentioned that to her, and she disagreed, but it was interesting to have an experience like that right before we headed in to plan. She's changing. And she says that if she can just get out of Gangshan she'll go back to church. I asked her how long she'd been trying to get out of Gangshan, and she told me years. I told her that it's wonderful to see that she has such a beautiful heart and cares for so many people. I also told her that she's willing to try, which is all she needs to get the change she wants/needs. I said she might just want to try changing here first, before Heavenly Father'll let her get away from here. That might just be why she's been here for so long. Because it's THIS trial she needs to overcome. If she just moved away, she wouldn't be able to overcome that trial and make the progress Heavenly Father wants her to make so she can go back to the Celestial Kingdom and have an Eternal Family.

Anyway. Times almost up.

Love you all. Smile.

-Elder Carter

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taiwanese Big Sister

Well, I don't know how exactly to reply to the last email. So I'll start with this weekend.
Sister Chen came to meet with us on Friday. She had originally planned for later that afternoon, but her friend Sister Lin (former investigator, hates Joseph Smith) called me and asked if we could cancel Sister Chen's lesson. I said, "of course! You two are friends, you should go out together." Sister Lin thanked me, and then we met with Sister Chen just earlier than planned. It turns out that she had to take her Mom home and couldn't go with Sister Lin anyway. So Sister Lin got super mad at me. She's also telling Sister Chen to read the Bible more.
Well, Sister Chen is reading the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, and did not have a good day on Friday because Sister Lin is mad that Sister Chen thinks the church is more important than Sister Lin. What am I supposed to say to that? Well, Sister Chen likes this church better than any church sister lin would want to pull her to, so that's why she keeps coming. Plus this church has changed her, and she believes in God now.
Sister Chen was baptized on Saturday night. She's scared to death of water and almost fainted when she got in (that might've been easier if she had fainted... lol). A beautiful baptism with an amazing testimony. 6 weeks of working with her, of her overcoming all sorts of trials, and then my companion Elder Farr telling me that when he saw Sister Chen leaving the church after her baptism he had a specific feeling telling him that if it wasn't for me, Sister Chen wouldn't have got baptized.
She had work 100% off on Sunday, and came early to church. She received the Holy Ghost and is a different person.
Sister Wang. We took her out to lunch on Saturday with the singles, and had a blast. Got some winter melon tea, and then saw her at her baptism. She was wonderful. I called her one day 4 weeks ago and she came to church the next day. We sat down with her TWICE, and taught her everything. She took it all. Learned it all. Remembered it all. Prayed about it all. Came to church for the next 3 weeks, and is now a member of God's Kingdom.
In her testimony at her baptism with Sister Chen, she mentioned how fast it went, and how it felt, when she came up out of the water, that she had just jumped into the Kingdom of God. She's super hyper like that, and that testimony totally fits her. Both of these young women are working to bring family members to church, we've met most of them, and both of them are already preparing to go on missions. Sister Chen might go on a short-term mission in two weeks. She just got baptized!!!
We went out to an island off of Gaoxiong today, so no time in the morning to write email.
That was fun. With all the singles. I'm having a blast in this ward.
When I got into Gangshan, that was the first time Sister Chen met with missionaries. I've been in Gangshan for six weeks now. She's baptized, and confirmed. I really was meant to meet with her. I don't know why. But she calls me her little brother now. And she's planning to come visit us in Utah next summer/winter, right before she goes out on a mission. Her english isn't perfect, but she understands a lot, so I'd have to translate, but she wants to play in the snow and the cold, so she'll probably be coming. :D Plus I have to be able to come back to Taiwan next June or so so I can attend the temple with Sister Chen. I might say that about everyone that I help get baptized from here on out, lol, but still. This is my proudest baptismal service, these two sisters.

Love you all…
Elder Carter