Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Ni hao,
I hope everything is still going well at home. It sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun. I am really jealous of all the hiking/enjoying the outdoors in general. I think that is probably what I miss the most so far. Besides family, right?
This week has been slightly more eventful. Earlier this week I got called down to the mysterious A-hall rooms in building 1M, which are all the administration offices. This man from the church's PR department had to tell me about something they wanted to do with my district. Every year, the church buys thousands of cars from Ford for missionaries, so I guess every once in a while some executives from Ford come visit Salt Lake and renegotiate contracts and see what this church could be doing with so many new cars. Anyways, these guys got a tour around SL with Elder Holland and Elder Scott, then went and ate lunch with Cecil Samuelson at BYU, then got sent to go visit our district at the MTC. It makes sense to someone I guess. But apparently they (church pr) chose our district out of all 2600 missionaries at the MTC to represent the church's missionary force because they heard we were the best. So that was really cool, made me feel good.
So these executives came and visited us and asked us some questions and we demonstrated some Chinese (a member of the 70 was supposed to come too but he had to go out of town at the last minute). I loved hearing their reactions. They thought it was so cool when they found out that we weren't paid, that we had been waiting to go on missions for years, that we were willing to give up school and everything else, that we didn't choose to go to Taiwan but believed we were called by a prophet, etc. But the best part was what they had said after they left (one of the church guys came back and told us later). My companion had been asked to bear his testimony to them (in Chinese), and they said that even though they had no idea what he said they could feel something, and they could tell that whatever he was saying meant everything to him. So cool. One man also commented that he saw his 20 year old son smile about once a month if that, and would give anything to see him as happy as we all were. And that made me realize, I can do so much proselyting simply by being happy and letting people see that. These men didn't know what we said (and we technically weren't even allowed to proselyte to them) but they were still able to notice how much our faith meant to us and how happy it made us, and they specifically said they wish they could have that. It reminds me of that St. Francis quote, preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words. Anyways, just gave me a new perspective.
So the church people said they were really happy with the example we set, that we really helped them negotiate the contract. The true motive's revealed.  I know that success as a missionary isn't measured by baptisms, but now, even if I don't baptize anyone, I can still feel successful because at least I helped save the church money on car insurance or something.
Other than that, nothing much is new, still just working hard. We had a cool devotional about missionary work (surprise!), and how all the great missionaries in the scriptures frequently use the word "perhaps", like "perhaps we could bring some soul to repentance" or "perhaps we could be an instrument in the hands of God." Even though these people gave their entire lives to the Lord and his work and did eveything they should, they understood that there was no guarantee of success because it is based on the agency of others. In Jacob 5, the Lord himself even does everything he can to help his olive trees that "perhaps" they may bring forth fruit. Even he doesn't have a formula for success in this work. We can do our best, but there is no way to ensure results of your efforts. The point is that you give everything and expect nothing in return, kind of contradictory but also how it has to be.
And I think this makes sense in every area of life too, that we should do everything we can to serve the Lord and others, and never really expect to be loved by men for our efforts or to receive blessings or anything like that. The real definition of "success" is knowing that our efforts are making Heavenly Father proud, and that knowledge should always be enough.
Anyways, sorry if this week's letter was kind of long. It is weird actually having a story to tell for once, I don't know what I'll do in a few weeks. I love you all, thanks for everything. Oh, they took our picture with the Ford guys, I'll send it home sometime.
I love you all, keep me updated on life!
Bai Zhanglao

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