Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"I Have Learned...."

So I have about a day and a half to the new year.

I guess I'll start off with a quick Christmas update. We had a wonderful time at my house for Christmas Eve. The whole Zone came over. It was a real treat to be home, to be able to meet up with some non-member friends. We got to share a little more about what we believe in. As we were leaving, President got us do sing some carols, which really brought the Christmas spirit.

We spent the next day at President's house, starting with a sleepover that night, then having an awesome breakfast and reading of Luke 2. We emailed, made calls home, watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, walked at the Botanical Gardens, had a great dinner, oh, and played Mafia multiple times! It was a good day, though I ended up getting sick after that.

The Bangladeshi men are doing great!

I had the privilege to be asked to perform the confirmation for a sweet little girl, who happens to be the daughter of a lady who was in Young Woman's when my Mom was the Young Women President.

So, I decided that my new year's eve spill could be a little about what I have learned this year.

As a missionary, you learn much. Talking to different people everyday, spending 24/7 with your companion, studying the gospel, looking at the world through a different set of eyes. It really is a learning experience. Once again, it has been a time of ups and downs, but something that I wouldn't trade for anything. When the gospel changes someone's life, and you have been an instrument in the hands of God to help with that, "how great is your joy!"

Over the course of this year as a missionary, I have learned, in no particular order (because they are of equal importance... that....

1. Family Matters Most
My family meas more to me than I can say. I just received a letter from a friend yesterday who said that the more times she spends in college, the more time she wishes she could spend with her family. How interesting and rather sad it is to only be able to understand what matters most when it's not right there anymore. I love my parents so much. Now, I love the nagging and whatnot. I know that that is part of my parents expressing their love for me, because I can see the care in their eyes as they "nag." It is not nagging at all, but rather, a parent dispensing all the advice and information that they can out of pure love. I am going to do all I can to spend time with my family after my mission. I wish I had spent more time with my parents when I was younger. But, I will not regret. Instead, I will do all I can to make up for it, and, hopefully into the eternities! Challenges and obstacles some along the way, but family is always there.

2. The Lessons Taught By The Spirit Are The Best
There are times on my mission where I've said to myself "That was a great lesson. I taught really well!" Wrong. I was an instrument in the hands of the Lord. The Lord spoke through me to those people, and the Spirit touched and moved them. My patriarchal blessing talks about the need for me to come to understand and remember that, and I have. For that I am grateful.

3. Seeing People Struggle and Change and Become Better is Priceless
With a few of our investigators who were baptized, some had to go through enormous personal challenges to become members of the Church. As I saw them grow and change, as I saw them cry and feel the Atonement in their lives, I gained a better understanding and feeling of the Atonement in my own life. I t truly is being in the service of others that makes our own lives better. I'm still learning that, one day at a time.

4. God Loves Me
Knowing that I am a son of God, and that He loves me. To know that he is watching out for me, knowing everything I go through, knowing that I can turn to him.... enough said.

5. True Friends Are Like the Wheat and the Tares
You learn on your mission how to differentiate between a real friend, and a not so real one. I won't go into how, but there are certain things, missionaries and non-missionaries say and do, that tell you all you need to know. Sometimes it takes awhile, but when the "harvest" is ripe, you know.

6. Diets Don't Work
I've tried to diet so many times and in so many ways. They don't work. At least for me they don't. It's ridiculous! :) Moderation seems to be the key. When you're on a mission, people feed, splurging and binging on chips and big meals from time to time is part of the whole game.

7. The Future Is Bright
The future holds much in store, both for the rest of the mission and after the mission. A positive attitude is key. The trick is to be able to keep that positiveness around you all the time. I can only hope that I can continue to do that. There are days when the world, and other circumstances get you down. But, we hope, we hope for the future that brings much, we focus on that oft cliched light at the end of the tunnel, because it really is there. As we do so, as I do so, I know that things will work out, that trials and adversities are for only a small moment. The Lord will bless us as we have that eye towards that light.

8. You Can't Receive Revelation On Who You're Going To Marry While You're on Your Mission
President Clark talked to everyone about that during Zone Conference :D

9. Budgets Are Great
I'm learning to budget. It helps so much, and it'll help after my mission too!

9 1/2. Planning Is Great
I've been working on that too. Helps a lot, especially with goal-setting.

10. The Gospel Is True
As we have talked and taught people throughout the year, we have been rejected many times. Some nice, some not. It is interesting to see how people react to us and our message, whether it's during a contact on the MRT, or a lesson at the Church. As these people have come by, in and out of out lives, it has been an experience in itself, learning what people are looking for in life, what priorities certain people have. Along with they, we've learned about new belief systems, about what people really think about us, and how to act with certain people. Working with different companions is interesting. You get along with some better than others, but you still have a common cause (most of the time). You love some people easily, and some takes a biy more time. But, all in all, I have learned that no matter the circumstance, lesson, or experience, the thing that I have a testimony of is that the Church is the Church that Jesus Christ restored to the Earth. I love the Church and what it has taught me, about how to be more like the Savior and the joy that comes from that. There is much to hope for.

To end off, the three stanza in the hymn, How Firm A Foundation has found its way to being my motto and motivator for the year ahead:

Fear not I am with thee, oh be not dismayed.
For I am the God and will still give the aid.
I will strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.
Up held by my righteousness, omnipotent hand.

I am grateful to be alive in this world at this time, to be a missionary and a member of the Church. I am grateful for my family and friends, and for the love and care that they provide. Have a wonderful new year's eve. I'll write again next year!

-Elder Chua

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