Well, we've certainly had a wonderful week! Elder Pace and I did very well with contacting and teaching many people as we traveled around the island, and managed to teach over 130 lessons! We are both so grateful for the opportunity that we have to share the message of the restored gospel each and every week!
The Zone Leaders have started a competition among the different companionship's, and the winner of each set of companionship's gets a free meal at Carl's Jr, dubbed "The C.J. Challenge." But, I have since started on a no fast food/no soda diet for the rest of my mission. The reason for that is because of what I ate last week. For dinner one night, we went to KFC, where I had 2 big pieces of chicken, three smaller pieces, cheese fries, and soda. I felt really sick after that. Also, I have been eating much fast food that has been really unhealthy. And, with a slightly dysfunctional "ticker", as President Skelton likes to call it, I have sworn off the fast food. So, if we do win the challenge, I'll go to Subway instead. Oh! The challenge. Elder Pace and I are pitted against the Filipino Elders, and the challenge is to have 7 investigators each Sunday, two weeks in a row. This past week, we had 8, while Elder Crofts and Elder Bukchuluun had 7, so it's going to be a fight to the end this Sunday!
We were able to make some great progress with the Oon family this week. Because of that challenge, we planned really well, and hard, to get our investigators t9o come. With the Oon family, Brandon had already been consistently coming with his Mom. Christopher, who is only 6, is too young to be counted. Alex, the 16 years old, had time and time again told us that he would come but he never did. On Friday, Elder Pace had to stay at Church to help with the Young Men mutual. So, I went along with Trent, a member around Alex's age, and we headed over to the Oon residence. On the way, we contacted some people. One of them was a man from China, who we struck up a conversation with, and who I taught. It wasn't really going anywhere till I asked Trent to bear his testimony. As he overcame his fear of talking to a stranger, Trent bore a sincere and humble testimony, that turned that man's face from a cheeky smile, to one of inner thought and reflection, and that was wonderful to see, that a young man's simple testimony can sway a perspective to the light.
Anyhow, when we got to the Oon's, Sister Oon still wasn't back, so Trent talked to Alex, while I talked to their helper, to whom we had given a copy of the Book of Mormon to in Tagalog. It turns out that she had been reading it each night and had read up all the way to Mosiah! I was so excited, so Trent and I taught her a lesson right there and then. When Sister Oon got back, we taught them about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and committed them to all coming to Church. This time though, we really emphasized the point of coming to Church. Alex said that he didn't think he could because he had a major exam on Monday. But, we promised him that if he came to Church just for sacrament meeting, that he would be blessed for it. We also committed Sister Oon to switch her sons' tuition times so that they wouldn't be on Sunday, so we'll have to see how all that goes.
We were able to teach Moses again, and we'll be teaching him again tomorrow. He is progressing well, and gaining a testimony, so we'll be doing our best to set a baptism date with him in the very near future. Jovian is away in Australia for the next couple of weeks, but we gave him the addresses to the chapels there, along with the address of the temple there, so hopefully he has time to go, and we'll be continuing to teach him when he gets back. He is definitely doing better now. He talked to his Mom about his faith and belief in the Church. But, as a staunch Presbyterian, she unfortunately still is not too fond with the idea. We're working on it! Peter, our recent convert, has been calling members and bothering them, a long with some other personal problems, so it's been a hectic week trying to help him solve it. He's a great kid, but just needs some guidance and direction.
Yesterday, Elder Pace, Elder Ogden (a visa runner), and I, taught two young men named Eugene and Keith. They are both Christian, and very knowledgeable. It was refreshing to have a discussion with people who actually know what they are talking about. More often than not, we have people who are ignorant of what we believe in, but make judgements anyway. These two didn't, and were open to what we were teaching. As we answered their questions and talked to them about the apostasy and restoration, my faith and testimony grew, and I gained a stronger testimony of the restoration for myself.
We were able to go to a nursing home yesterday to sing for the elderly there, while Elder Kwok played the violin. We plan to do it every week for service from now on. It was fun and great to be able to entertain these older people, who paved the way for us, to build up the world and make it a better place for us. Sometimes, I think about how my parents will be older someday, and how much I love them, so I had better start showing more love and respect to the elderly now!
Of course, the joy of our week was Aravin's baptism! After more than 8 months of learning, he entered the water of baptism on October 18th. As I mentioned last week, I was disappointed that I wasn't able to participate in the baptism. Well, I was able to. Beacause Bishop was supposed to preside, but said that he wasn't coming, Brother Soh, of the Bishopric had to preside. They needed a new witness for the baptism, and so Glen, our Ward Mission Leader, asked Elder Pace to be a witness with him, though they both had roles in the baptism. Boy, was I mad. But, at the last moment, Glen asked me to take this place, and I was really happy to be able to be a witness. After the baptism, I realized just how childish I had been, thinking how unfairn it had been. But then, I realized that the real joy came from teaching Aravin each week, and seeing him change as the gospel changed his life. That opportunity to help him see the joy in the gospel is something that I will always remember and love. So, in the end, it didn't really matter what I did get to do, because I have already found that happiness in doing my part to bring one of Heavenly Father's children back to Him.
The last thing that I wanted to leave with you all today was something that I learned from Jesus the Christ by the late Elder James E. Talmage, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Talmage talks of the disciples in Matthew 17:24-27, where the disciples could not comprehend the fact that the Savior would soon be crucified and killed. The savior had told them before and was repeating it, but they failed to understand what he said. Elder Talmage explains it as such:
"The thought of what the Lord's words might mean, even in the faintest outline,
was terrifying to these devoted men; and their failure to comprehend was in part
due to the fact that the human mind is loath to search deeply into anything it desires not to believe."
As I pondered on that statement, I thought of how frightened and confused the disciples must have felt that their Lord would soon be taken from them. But, what I really gained from that was the understanding of why so many people are unwillingly to listen to what we teach, and who are unwilling to change their ways. So many people hear things about what we teach, and are told by their friends and pastors that we are this, and we are that. But what they don't realize is that that point of view is very much one-sided. As such, they aren't willing to listen. But, even if they are willing to listen, and it makes sense to them, even if the Spirit touches their hearts, they are more often than not unwillingly to change, simple because they are unable to get past their preconceived notions, and search more for the truth that lies just in front of them.
That's the end for this week! Take care! Please do send some letters! :)