Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy birthday Father! I congratulate you. Thanks for being so great as a father and at supporting me in everything that I do, not only on my mission but always. I love you.
It is odd to me that the sister missionaries in the MTC with me are going home in two weeks. Their missions go really fast, so fast. This also means I am older than I want to be.
George got baptized! He is nine, we have been visiting this family for a while now. It is a big miracle that his mom was willing to let him. It is interesting, his dad is a really active member but the mom is not a member, is just hard hearted. But a month ago George asked her if he could and she agreed! Before I was a missionary, I expected things to be the other way around mostly, but it seems like here there are at least as many families where the dad is willing to accept the gospel but the mom will not. Anyway, George's mom doesn't like church at all. We were sad that she didn't come to the baptism, but we were super happy that she let it happen. This is a big step for this family.
I am really enjoying everything right now. Two of our new converts helped out with George's baptismal service, and another one got a calling this week. Overall I have been so grateful that the people we have baptized in this area have stayed active! Inactivity has had a huge impact on me, especially when I was younger as a missionary. Looking at how many people have been baptized in the past and then just disappear later really shocked me when I first got here, and I went through a period where I really just had a hard time wanting to work at all. So many names on a ward list, and only such a small percentage will you ever see, or even be able to contact. It bothers me deeply. I felt like missionary work was just a failure. Which it is, if all these people don't stick around. This is something I think most missionaries feel really conflicted about, like what we do in the end has little effect. I feel really committed to never baptize anyone I feel is not truly prepared to be a member for life. I would so much rather have baptized less people but had them be truly converted than have a lot of people who choose in the end to turn away. Not that I can completely affect this decision one way or another because it isn't completely up to me, but I guess I just want to do my part now and hope for the best. So far so good though.
Had a fun baptismal interview this week. An 80 year old man who just wants to follow Jesus. He remembers when he was serving in the Korean war, and there was one American soldier (named Steve, he remembers) that wouldn't drink the tea, and when asked why, Steve talked to him about the Mormon church and Book of Mormon. And so this Taiwanese soldier went and bought a Book of Mormon when he got back to Taiwan after the war. Never really investigated much more than that, read part of the book and just forgot about it. 60 years later he is tracted into by the missionaries, and now is willing to be baptized. God works in mysterious ways.
We stopped to use a public restroom in a library and I started talking to the guy next to me and he ended up being super nice. Usually bathroom contacts aren't super successful. Asked him how much his headphones cost because they didn't look cheap. 100 dollars. But anyway this guy just got back from Australia and doesn't know what he is doing with life and wants to learn about Jesus and find direction. We sat down with him right outside the bathroom on a bench and he was so interested and now has set a baptismal goal. He lives somewhere else so we have to give him to other elders. But it is interesting how easily something as important as the direction someone's life goes can depend on whether or not I say hello and start a conversation. That makes me feel odd and also really bad for not being better at this, but also very privileged.
There are lots of other things that happened too. Glad that I can be here and do this. Having a lot of fun. I feel my time here in Yonghe is coming to its end. I have been making Elder Kattelman lead us lately, which is fun.  He has to use the map a lot. I have been here long enough that I know where everything is. I forget that these streets are basically mazes. I enjoy training, I have requested to President that I just continue to do so. We'll see.
I love you! I got the Thanksgiving package. Thanks!
Elder Braithwaite

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