Okay. Hi there. So you're aware: an elder in my district (and house) has been passing through some personal stuff which has WRECKED all of us mentally. I won't give any details, but it has been a long week. All is now well, as it would seem, but...I don't know. Pray for us. We need all the spiritual support we can get.
The area hasn't been the best this week, either. A couple of investigators who had had baptismal dates before expressed a lack of testimony (or a lack of desire to obtain one, although they didn't confess that openly). Please, PLEASE always keep your priorities straight. I have seen FAR too many people say no to coming to church or other commitments because "I am in debt and need to work" or "my business will go under if I close for three hours" or "I had other stuff to do." It is a step of faith, but put the Lord first. If He asks something, DO IT. I haven't been doing so this week, and perhaps that is why stuff has headed downhill. Our mission president has promised us that we will reach our goals (in particular, to help 300+ people enter the waters of baptism this month) if we do 6 things:
1. Keep all our covenants
2. Be obedient with exactness
3. Repent sincerely
4. Talk to everyone and ask everyone for references
5. Exercise exceptional faith (as explained in Revelation ch. 12 and the Book of Mormon)
6. Strive to meet the goals of the members
I have been failing in #4 this week (and, by correlation, #5). While I have been striving to talk to everyone in the street as we pass by, talking to people on trips in busses and cars makes me afraid; thus, I make excuses and keep my mouth shut. This fear is merely an absence of faith, and I know that with my head--I need to know it more with my heart. I have fallen into a pit I've fallen into before--I do everything from the head, but not everything from the heart. I have been striving to pray more sincerely about that. I am not enjoying my mission as much as I should, but it is not because I am overworking myself; rather, I am doing less than fulfilling my potential, and am thus uncomfortable. Every time I have to give a report on the progress of the area and our goals, all is low, and instead of being inspired to work harder I work less and look for excuses to take it easy. However, I am going to fix it. I am going to throw myself at my wall if fears until I or it breaks. These first few days are going to be rough, but... here we go.
Not all has been bad this week, though. I did indeed see tender mercies (and plenty). For example, this week we found probably the most receptive family ever near our house, and they may just be our miracle so that we can reach our part of the mission's goal. Even though they had family visiting from afar, they asked us to come in and share anyway. I had to reject some hugs :). We are beyond excited to continue visiting with them.
This week has been hard on the mission. A lot of opposition. As far as I am aware (there may be more), this week 3 missionaries went home early. One for knee problems, one for personal problems, and one for a combination of the former, the latter, and personal preference. With the problems (personal and otherwise) in both the elder houses in our zone (we live in a house of 4 and the rest live in a house of 6) (Elder H*****, my ex-companion, got something like chicken pox and couldn't leave the house the entire week, for one example), the ánimo is a bit low. However, we had a great zone activity today where we had a domino tournament and watched "Ephraim's Rescue" (parallel to 17 Miracles; if you haven't seen it, get it and watch it together ASAP--it is just as good as 17 Miracles). We are all feeling a bit better. I have come to see the mission as a real battleground. People fall wounded or fall out left and right. 3 of the missionaries from my MTC group of 14 have gone home already, and a lot of missionaries that I have known here. Satan really wants to stop the work of the Lord, and it can be despairing at times. However, the Lord knows what He is doing, and He will support us in all things. I hope to have great things to tell you by next week (along with my transfer info--I CANNOT BELIEVE that this transfer is already over (almost).
It sounds like you guys have been having quite the experience over there in TC. Sheesh. I wish I was there for it. XD (We have had record breaking snow fall and school has been cancelled or delayed more than we have ever experienced in the 8+ years we have lived here.)
His sister asked him what he thought his biggest inner strength was... I think the biggest inner strength in me is my desire to be happy and to see others happy. I have been feeling a lot of pain this week seeing other missionaries pass through hard times, but that desire has been a motivator. Basically, the easiest way to get me to do something here in the mission has been "if you do this (usually a combination of keep the commandments and be diligent, in one form or another) you will be happy and you will lift others up with you." As a missionary, while happiness is still a decision as ever, it is quite profoundly tied to your obedience and diligence. If you are not being as diligent or focused as you could or should be, it is nigh on impossible to be happy for more than brief moments. Unfortunately, that is something I have only come to realize in the latter half of my mission. I wish I had done so before; I would've enjoyed the mission so much more up to this point. In all honesty, my motivation to stay in the mission field and to keep working was "to make the time pass faster" for a good while. More than 6 months, I think. I hope that I can eventually completely repent of that.
I think I have exhausted my thought pool for now. My fingers are certainly exhausted. I love you guys so much. I am actually starting to miss you more than just when I write home. It's hard! I appreciate as always all your prayers. Have a great one!