Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hey

Your letters were fun to read this week. Everything has been going really well here! Some important stuff happened:
 Brother 王 got baptized! I am pretty sure I told you his story already. He is super, and this was by far the best baptismal service I have ever had, or seen. Things just worked out great.  About 30 or 40 members came and supported him, including pretty much every young woman, which should help with his fellowshipping! Usually we are lucky to get maybe 10 people to attend a baptism, including us and the investigator. Our mission president just happened to come to this baptismal service as well, so overall it was great. No flooding problems. Oh and the best part is his whole family came.  They don't oppose but instead are really happy for him, and hopefully his little brother will follow him soon. 
After the baptism he shared his testimony and it was so great. Told about how good his life was on paper, how he had made the college basketball team, things were good with his coach and everything was going well, but inside he just felt so empty. One night he finally was sick of the way his life was going and knew he needed a change, and basically tried praying and it made him feel better and the next day he met missionaries. I think I have written this before. Anyway, he started tearing up a little, and that was awesome because he is the tough, cool jock type and he says now he doesn't feel like he needs to be cocky to show others he has faith, because now he knows that real faith comes through humility and trusting God. Awesome.

And my other investigator bought me a teddy bear! I didn't even have to ask! He ordered it online and it is a really nice one with removable eyebrows. And he also ordered my companion a tie from Paris.  I feel like this was a very Christlike thing to do, spontaneously buying someone a teddy bear, which I take as a sign that I am doing my job well with him. It was cool -- this guy hasn't really been progressing much, he is a really smart, logically minded computer programmer and he just thinks really deeply about everything we teach him and questions everything. But this week he was feeling pretty blue and decided to go over to the chapel and try reading scriptures because he likes the way it feels there, and as he sat there drinking his tea some members who were cleaning the chapel talked to him about the Word of Wisdom. Even though it really shocked him that we don't drink tea, for some reason he was willing to accept it. He felt like God led him to the church that night because He wanted him to change his life, so he accepted it. To me this is a miracle. I feel like if any of the commandments are illogical, avoiding tea is probably it, but he was just able to accept it without any questions. Super cool, and we didn't even do a thing. His English name is Barney. 

I have been thinking a lot about why we seem to be having so much success lately, in very measurable ways. Our relationships with the ward are improving and we are seeing miracles and having baptisms and the Lord is blessing us. At other times on my mission, I feel like I have put forth more or less the same amount of effort, just really doing my absolute best to do all I can to serve the Lord, and then the results just didn't come, at least in measurable ways. Right now everything is great. I am not sure why this is, why Heavenly Father blesses us so much at times and at others, withholds those blessings, even though there is no change in the amount of effort, faith, obedience, or love you have. But what I am learning is why the first commandment is to "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart". That way, the service you give, whether you see abundant results or none at all, will make you happy, because you are doing exactly what God wants you to do and that just makes you happy because you love Him. Like what I read by Elder Wirthlin this : "Those who make happiness the chief objective of life are bound to fail, for happiness is a by-product rather than an end in itself. Happiness comes from doing one's duty and knowing that his life is in harmony with God and His commandments." Never thought of it like that, as a by-product. But I feel that my connection with Heavenly Father has strengthened over the past year and I have learned to simply love serving Him, and have a testimony that happiness comes in that process.

I love you all and am so grateful for this gospel and for the support you give me!

Elder Braithwaite




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