Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sundays are great

Isn't the Sabbath great?  Some people dislike it and see "keeping it" as a burden, but really it is a great day when we can rest from work!  Except on a mission, though, when it's the best day for our work.  But some day, I will enjoy going to Church and then coming home to read the Greek Old Testament for a few hours or something, then doing my home teaching, of course.  I know, I know, it won't really be so idyllic, but it is still an ideal day of rest that everyone should embrace.

I was able to baptize three people this past Friday.  They had been taking lessons from our sister missionaries.  Afterward, we taught a lesson to our deaf investigator.  I testified of Christ and the importance of baptism, and I felt a great spirit of these truths.  I hope our investigator can understand what we are teaching.  Sign language is hard to learn in, no matter how fluent both parties may be.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Still Signing

We had transfers this week.  I stayed and my companion was transferred.  My new companion is Elder Anar from Mongolia.  I am still the sign language Elder. 
I went to the countryside for a day! My companion got permission to go back after the transfer to baptize his investigator, so I got to ride to Baganuur, about 2 hours out of town. It was a fun experience, though I'll admit, the city's not that bad, and though the countryside is nice to visit, It won't devastate me if I don't get to serve there. But it was fun to see some more of the mongolian steppe. 

Portion of Baganuur, Mongolia.  Due East of Ulaanbaatar

Monday, August 5, 2013

Getting chilly

We have had to put our suit jackets back on, as the weather is starting to cool down here.  But it is still nice.

I have been in Mongolia almost 5 months now, and so I have had plenty of time to get to know Mongolian people.  Missionaries are often asked what they like about the culture or people where they serve.  Well, in Mongolia as with anywhere, there are really wonderful people and some who can be pretty bad.  But that doesn't matter.  I am here to serve them all.  Christ loved the Jews and served them His whole life, and then gave His life for them (and all of us, good and bad).  He didn't do these things because He liked Jewish cuisine or the climate or the language of the day.  He didn't do it because the people were the most faithful or most humble people (see the New Testament).  He served them out of love because he made a covenant with them and He kept it.  Today, the Lord doesn't ask us to spread the Gospel throughout a hardened world because he wants the Celestial Kingdom to be a multicultural place, but because He loves us and wants us to have joy.  I love the Mongolian people because they are God's children, and He knows who will follow Him and He wants me to find them.

Sometimes speaking in sign language can be tough, but at other times it can be great.  This last week, I was humbled at the opportunity to speak simple but important Gospel truths with my hands.  I see the Lord's promises and prophecies fulfilled in my life all the time.  It is great to use simple ways to invite people to come closer to Christ.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flecks of Gold

Missions are full of simple joys, sometimes very small but meaningful.  When the work is hard, as it often is, I look for these simple things...from smiling at funny English signs on buildings to seeing friends around the city to remembering childhood fun to trying to smile at everyone I meet so they have a positive experience with me.  Just trying to be a good representative of Christ every day is part of that, too.  These are all like the tiny gold flecks from the conference talk by Elder Ballard.  The grateful collector can gather a wealth of gold.  I want to be a grateful collector.

(From Joshua's mom, here is an excerpt from the talk to which Joshua is referring.  M. Russell Ballard spoke in April 2011:)

Oftentimes we are like the young merchant from Boston, who in 1849, as the story goes, was caught up in the fervor of the California gold rush. He sold all of his possessions to seek his fortune in the California rivers, which he was told were filled with gold nuggets so big that one could hardly carry them.
Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.”
The young man replied, “There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.”
Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.
Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, “I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.”
The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.
The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”
This story illustrates the spiritual truth that Alma taught his son Helaman:
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. …
“… And by very small means the Lord … bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Alma 37:6–7).