This week was kinda slow in the middle, but it started and ended really well.
Anyway, right after I finished emailing last Monday, we went off and hiked the hills of Fan Lihng - two subway stops away. We got high enough up that we could see the Mainland! Plus, we passed through a pretty nifty Buddhist cemetary - some of the big graves were actually really cool. On the way back down, I managed to convince everyone to check out this nifty Taoist temple right next door to the subway stop. There was really neat stuff all over the place. I really wish that I could read characters. It'd be cool to know what it all said... oh, and yes, I took pictures, but I forgot to bring the camera today. I'll get those to you guys next week.
Then on Tuesday we got to have the all-mission meeting with President Holland. That was way cool. The start was a bit of a bummer though. We stacked up all 150 missionaries for a picture, and then waited for about an hour for him to show up. He wasn't late - the mission just wasn't taking any chances. Since I'm the probably the third or forth tallest missionary, I got to stand in the place the entire hour with my chest in the next guy's back for the entire hour while all the shorties lined up. Woo.
But then Elder Holland was really cool. I got to shake hands with him on the way into the conference, and he asked me "How's that blonde hair doing out here, Elder?" Woah. Most of everyone else got a "Hi, how are you?" Anyway, his talk was really good. He didn't seem to have a very prepared message - it seemed like he was more talking according to what he felt like what needed to be said. He talked a lot about making sure that this mission can becoming an enduring and lasting change for us. He also gave a really cool training/talk on the Book of Mormon. He talked about how the very first chapter of First Nephi can prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet and why that's important. Basically, when you boil it down to basics, Lehi's story and the Joseph Smith story are pretty much the same. They prayed to know the truth, were visited and instructed by heavenly beings, received a book, and went out and shared their knowledge. In other words, if Lehi's story in the first chapter of Nephi is true, then Joseph Smith must also be a true prophet of God. It was a really neat experience.
After that, we had some pretty long and fruitless finding days. Which was kind of disappointing. It's really kind of tough to find youngish people that aren't on their way to or from work here. We probably could talk to high school students or super old people all day, but we've been asked to prioritize on families and young single adults. We're working on it, but it's gonna be quite a process finding new people to teach. Meanwhile, "I'm in a rush" is slowly becoming my least favorite phrase in Chinese.
Anyway, we still got to have some good teaching experiences this week. Ms. L’s dog finally died - that's a relief. Now the problem is that since she's not taking care of the dog anymore, she's looking for work again. (she stopped working for a while to take care of her invalid dog. Kinda weird, but, whatever, right?) She, like many people around here, seems to have the impression that if you work a full eight hour day you don't have time to do anything else. Hopefully she doesn't get too busy to keep meeting with us. Either way, we had a pretty good lesson with her this week, so I think she's still got potential to get baptized.
Other than that, one frustrating thing this week is that we met with a former investigator who seemed to be making fun of us. He brought a friend, and just by his general, vague responses to questions, his lack of real attention, (he started playing games on his phone at one point) and the way he kept smirking at the friend he brought along, it feels like he was a fake investigator. It's a little confusing to me, since any chance to bear testimony is a good one, but it just felt like he didn't have a sincere desire to learn about the gospel. Hopefully I can figure out if this punk is going to be worth our time later on.
We also taught Mr. L on his own for the first time a few days ago. He's quite the character. He really, really, likes to talk. He was very excited to tell us all about how the earth and sky both come from Jesus and he created them and plants grow on the earth and sky and people can grow food from the plants and then eat the food and if you don't eat the food you'll get really hungry and die but you can also grow other plants on the earth and make clothes out of them so that you can wear the clothes so that you don't have to be cold because it's been really cold lately but the weatherman on the TV said that it would warm up soon and that he likes to watch the other things on the TV too...
Yeah. He's still maybe got some potential - the fellowshipper confirmed that he's not crazy, he's just a bit old. And likes to talk. A lot. He also gets confused really easily. I gave him a pass along card last week that had a example of how pray. It basically said "Dear Heavenly Father... Thank you for.... please bless.... In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen." But when I handed it to him he ignored the "..." (are those called ellipses? I'm starting to lose some of my less useful English vocabulary and spelling...) and just read straight through the thing. We stopped him and explained that you could fill in the blanks. He kind of got it. But then when we met with us this time, he reported that he "did it three times before he ate and thought very hard about the meaning of each character." In other words, sounds like he forgot how to work it. Sigh. Maybe we'll be able to successfully teach this guy correct doctrine.
On the good side of things, we got to teach A, our closest baptismal date this week. He accepted the Word of Wisdom and Tithing really easily. Cool stuff. As soon as he gets a little more into the Book of Mormon, he'll be golden. We also got to help confirm Aubrey, so that was also pretty neat.
Oh, and we got cheng'd out by our Bishop last night too. That was some really good food. Plus, he arranged for investigators and less active members to be there too so that we'd be justified in showing up. Sweet. He has a really nice house. I think his kitchen may actually be bigger than our living room/bunk room/dining room. One thing that made me sad though was that they had a big tray full of the biggest, most delicious looking shrimp I've ever seen. Unfortunately, they were uncooked, and therefore "mh dak" for us missionaries. Sniffle. Oh well, I ate plenty well anyway. But all I could do was look longingly in the eyes of those tasty little shrimps. One day I'll be able to eat Sushi here...
Oh, and last thing - if you guys do happen to send a package any time soon, could you send an industrial sized case of Tums? You can't buy them here. And man, there's been some nights where I would have sold a kidney to get some.
Love you guys lots!
-Elder Brennan McEwan