Saturday, July 21, 2012

7/17/12 Singing, Spirit, and Specimens

Ni hao!

Another week has flown by, and this one was much more trying than the last. First of all, while the weeks pass by fast, the days seem to pass by slow. Very slow. What's becoming my big trial is trying to stay on task. I'll be doing language study and all the words start to mesh together and there's this sort of buzz deep in my ears and I start drifting off to Neverland... And then I remember I'm teaching a lesson in the afternoon and I get all panicked and hunker back down to work. Every morning we are all progressively feeling more tired. Thank goodness for Sunday and P-Day (Preperation Day), they are awesome days to take it easy and ease up on stress.

Sunday we had a big devotional where a world famous violinist named Jenny Oaks Baker and her family came and played. Hans, Leif, Freja, I really miss playing in our quartet. When her kids lined up with their instruments, all I could think about were our many wonderful performances together. Keep practicing! I can't wait to play with you when I get back.

So, wouldn't you know it, I've already been asked to play piano for church. I guess I should have seen that coming. But I am happy to serve. Since I've been here, my love for music and the spirit it brings has grown so much. Our district recently discovered its singing talent. When we sing after our classes, people will walk by and call us "the next Mo-Tab" (Mormon Tabernacle Choir). We are planning to sing a special musical number for a devotional or something, and I'm excited because we sound so good!

I'm afraid I must admit to a big fault of mine. Here in the MTC, all Elders basically judge their self-worth by the quantity of letters they receive. I kind of knew this in advance, and swore I would never fall for such a vain and foolish belief. However, I suddenly found myself buying into this horrible practice when letter after letter was delivered to my district and none were addressed to me, except for one, which was from my Mission president requesting my mission email, so that one doesn't really count. I was becoming so disheartened... I wasn't getting letters and I was angry at myself for caring. I wasn't angry or sad about not getting letters from my friends; I understood that they love me and supported me, and that was enough. So ultimately, I was just putting my cares in worldly things. My companion has really helped me feel better, helping me focus on the work. After all, that's why I'm here, right? Not to assert my self-worth on letters. This has just been a big window for me to my many imperfections, and how much I have to learn.

And mom and dad, thank you so much for your heartfelt messages. They mean a lot to me. I keep looking at my family portraits hanging above my desk and I am just floored at how lucky I've got it. Whenever I feel down, I just think of my family, and I have the strength to put my next foot orward, because all of this is worth it. As my teacher here said, "This may not be the best two years of your life, but this will be the best two years for your life."

Yesterday my companion and I taught a lesson to a new investigator, Sister Jiang. We came in with everything prepared, but she threw us a curveball and told us she only had a few minutes before she had to leave for work. So we had to shift to plan B: listen to the Spirit and talk. In our broken Chinese, we asked her what she expected from our meeting, and she replied that she was interested in leaning about Jesus Christ, that she had been Buudhist all her life, but wanted to check out other religions. But I guess I was too nervous, and I didn't really focus on the key point of her response. Instead of talking about how Christ is the center focus of the gospel, I started talking about the Book of Mormon and how it is the word of God. Good stuff, but not the right time. My poor companion was trying to shift the focus of the lesson towards Christ, but I just didn't get it. The worst bit was that Sister Jiang didn't seem all that receptive to the message at all. I walked out of that feeling really depressed, wishing I had paid attention to my companion, who I'm learning has so many good insights that I just need to try harder to listen to him. I try to listen for promptings of the Spirit, but I guess I don't realize that the Spirit could be prompting me through the words of my companion.

So, this week we had to do some last few tests for my Visa to Taiwan, and I'm sorry to say that the next paragraph might gross some people out. The first test was an X-ray. Totally cool, easy-peasy. However, after that we got a white bag. The nurse informed us that she needed a, um, stool sample, and that we were to collect the specimen and mix it in a preservative for them. It was the most awkward, gross thing I ever did in my life. Imagine walking into your living quarters and seeing a bunch of guys stirring their collected specimens in the hallway. Ugh. That's how I learned I could never be a doctor. How would I ever be able to ask someone for a stool sample while maintaining a straight face?

Love you all, I'll write again next week! Zai Jian!

[Editor’s note: This blog entry is extracted from David’s letter home. David doesn’t actually post to this blog. If you leave any comments, however, we will forward them on to Elder Jorgensen]

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