I probably jumped the gun last week. Suddenly the temperature just plummeted the following day, and it started to rain a lot. It's still warm enough to wear short sleeves, but all the Taiwanese are wearing thick fur coats, and they continually comment about how freezing they are. I get a lot of concerned looks from elderly ladies. They keep looking at me and rubbing their arms, asking me if I'm cold or crazy.
Little moment of jealousy here: Elder Cox's older sister just got married a couple months ago, and she with her husband moved to Texas. Apparently, her new Stake President is the popular pianist Jon Schmidt. He lives down the street from her. Elder Cox said he's going to visit his sister and meet Jon Schmidt. I said I would stow away in his car and go as well.
Every Tuesday we do English proselyting to promote our English class. Something we commonly do is called "Powerboarding", in which there is one person that holds a sign that says "Free English Class" and they yell "Welcome!" and "Free English Class!" and other stuff like that. The other missionaries pass out flyers. We do this on busy roads, so when the light is red at an intersection, we can flood the waiting people with flyers. Each wave we pass out about 150 flyers. I'm usually the guy holding the sign; they say I'm the best at it. I guess I can look into being a school mascot for football games when I get back.
Anyways, this week I was shouting and yelling as usual, when an American lady on a scooter said to me, "Don't you have a better way of doing this?" I was a little taken aback, and asked her what she meant. "What you're doing isn't dignified or professional," she said. "It's disrespectful. Don't do this anymore." I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well, it still works." She zoomed off, and Sister Busath who overheard the conversation said, "Don't let her get to you! You're fine; she has no right to say that!" The whole episode kind of dampened my spirits. It took a few more rounds of shouting before I was feeling confident again.
Rich went to the temple! Woohoo! AND he passed the sacrament (commonly referred to as "communion" in other churches) for the first time on Sunday. He's rockin' it up! We are very excited for him.
Something interesting I learned this week about Buddhism: Everyone has the potential to be a god, but what makes you a god is how much people worship you. Gods in Buddhist culture were real people that people worship, therefore giving them power. In essence, they are saying that us as humans have the power to make God. Christian theology is different: we believe that power is given to us from God. It's amazing working in such a different world than the one I have previously experienced.
I've been struggling with studying the language. It's boring to study (let's be real here), and all it does is remind me how far behind I am. It also shows me how much I don't understand myself. I say I'll pass off a language evaluation in a week, and a month later I'm only halfway ready. Am I too ambitious? Or do I just not know how to study? My biggest suspicion (and frankly, fear) is that I don't know how my brain works. I don't know what I have to do to wake it up, to retain information. As soon as I crack open my language study materials, it's like my body was just pumped full with a sedative, and I find myself struggling to remain conscious. What's my problem? What am I doing wrong?
I tried to analyze why I'm struggling with this, and I came down to several reasons. One, I don't see this dominating need/"impending doom" that urges me to learn the language. In my past experience, when there are gaps in lessons, the Spirit and/or my companion will fill them. That's pretty much how it's always been. (See Proverbs 17:28) Two, stress kills my ambition. When I feel something is beyond my control, a task too big to accomplish, I tend to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not there. Yes, it is a horrible, irresponsible reaction, and sooner or later I'm going to be jabbed with the cattle-prod. Every time I think about learning the language and coming up with a study plan, however, my stressful feelings are sometimes so strong that I feel sick to my stomach.
So how do I awaken a desire in myself strong enough that I would be motivated to overcome such obstacles? Is there any possible way I can turn this into an "impending doom" scenario in my mind? Or is that approach too negative and destructive? Is there a fool-proof way of getting someone like myself motivated, or is it a long trial and error process? Self-motivation is a weakness that has impeded my progress throughout my entire life.
I fasted and prayed about this yesterday, and the answer I got from the Spirit was that I needed to start memorizing scriptures. The reason is that it would purify my mind and help me focus on the work, therefore increasing the retention of the things I learn because of the amplified assistance of the Spirit in my studies. Fill your mind with good stuff, because it cleans out the bad/mediocre stuff, thus creating more room for even more good.
And last but not least, a funny, depressing story. I got a package the other day from my mom for Christmas. It had three small wrapped presents inside, and my companion and I had fun shaking the gifts and guessing what was inside. Yesterday I was in the middle of scripture study, and I looked up for a moment and my eyes rested on the open box that contained the presents. On the side of the box was a packaging slip. Written on that was my mom's name and address... my name and address... contents of package... And then it was too late. Written in my mom's bold, neat writing were the gifts that she had gotten for me. I just started moaning, I was so depressed. Elder Cox asked what happened, and when I showed him the box, he just started laughing super hard. He guessed two of them right.
I love you all, and have a great Christmas season!
View from Monkey Mountain.
“Check out that huge peanut butter sandwich I made that only cost me about $0.80. Sooooooo good. “
“I gave my first blessing in Chinese this week to Su Yong Xin, a recent convert who broke his head after he passed out and fell one day.”