Well it's p-day again. To start off I will let you know that I am sick of third world country technology. I have a virus of some sort on my memory card so I can't send pictures home today. I am going to try to get it sorted out so I can do it next week but I don't know.
Alright to respond to your email.
Both Merkley talks sound solid, good job.
I like the lesson. Definitely goes well with the obedience lesson, and I like what you said about not making exceptions to make people feel good. President Boyd K. Packer said it very well I think in this last conference. He said "Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues if taken too far it can become a vice. We must avoid the tolerance trap." We need to remember that the laws of man are ever moving and ever changing, and that, to quote another apostle but not directly (Robert D. Hales) the laws of god are not moving, and they never will. The gospel is an ever steady compass. If we keep our eyes on the prize, as it were, we will have no problems. I would encourage you to go through the last general conference and read all the talks about obedience, because there are a lot, but you sent me your copy of the ensign. So maybe just buy a new one or something haha but they are really insightful.
Following Gods commandments needs no rationalizing. It just is. If we try to find our way around things or try to make the thing OK then we need to stop and rethink what we are doing. It is hard because sometimes we really want to do something or make something fit into our lives and it sometimes will hurt to have to stop and look at the real thing or action that we need to take. But if we follow the pathway set before us the road will be clear and we will find success in our endeavors.
Thank you so much for the portion of Sydnee's email, it was really cool to read that. I actually sent her an email to let her know I am happy for her. Since she is a sister missionary she gets to have lots of people write her letters and emails, so I don't know if she will be able to write back but I could care less honestly haha I am just happy she is hitting her stride and having things go good for her.
No really interesting proselyting stories this week. I hit a new personal record though for lessons in a single day, with 13 lessons taught on Friday. We barely made it home on time and we were hauling between lessons but I didn't do any wimpy little 15 minute spiritual thoughts. That's for shmucks.
Saturday we had Zone Conference with President Adams. It was AMAZING. He is so I-don't-know-a-word-that-works-here-in-english-so-mahay be. He spoke/taught about the Atonement. Really opened up my understanding of the amazing-ness of what Christ did for us. He talked a lot about our potential to become like Heavenly Father, the things that prevent us from doing so, and how Christ's eternal sacrifice made it possible for us. It also gives us one person that understands exactly what we feel at all times. Christ suffered not only for our sins, but for all the pains and experiences we have in this life. He has felt the striking pain of cancer. He has experienced the sadness of a wayward child, he has felt the utter hopelessness of someone who feels there is nothing left to lose, and he has felt the stinging homesickness of a missionary who has been away from home for over a year. It is incomprehensible to me how he did this, but I know he did. President Adams read a small section of a book called "The Infinite Atonement" by Tad R. Callister. I would thoroughly enjoy reading that book, so you should buy it and read it and I can read it when I get home. It is very insightful. There was a really good quote by C.S. Lewis too, but I don't remember what it said. It was good though. Then the crowning speech, he ended with a talk by Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient". It was so amazing. This is the link http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966 I recommend watching it but be warned that I cried a little bit so be in the right mood and make sure you're not in a crowd or something. It is so good. Talks about grace and the miracle that it really is.
Then he taught us about repentance. Mostly just better ways to teach it and use the resources we have. It was really good and I think it will help us help our investigators and help them become more solid members.
Interesting news from HQ is the dress standards have changed a little. Good things for me are light colors are in. Khakis, light gray pants and suits, are all OK for missionaries. Bad things for me are backpacks are out. This makes me sad. Not only is my backpack too destroyed to use in America again, but it still has at least a year of Madagascar life left in it. Also I am pretty emotionally attached to my backpack. Also it is gonna be really hard to ride bikes with a sidebag. President Adams has said though that the backpack thing will be a phase out type thing. Basically that means that the new missionaries will be bringing sidebags and if we have a sidebag we should use it but we don't have to run out and buy one. Personally I think I will just keep my eyes out and if I find a nice one for a good price I will snag it and start using it when I am off a bike. Sure you can ride fine with a sidebag when you are on pavement, but over half of our area is what I would call extreme mountain biking. We are up and down and jumping ruts and over rocks and through puddles and all sorts of fun stuff like that. The last thing I need is to be hauling down a dirt hill and have my bag go free willy style into my handlebars. That could spell something that rhymes with gisaster but more likely it would just make me crash. So I am gonna start looking for khaki pants today. Should be fun. I am excited.
So, you think that weeks go fast? You clearly don't remember your mission. I legitimately woke up this morning thinking it was friday. I had a fast week. Or maybe it's the whole close to the equator thing. I dunno. Just saying, I'm a big deal so my days go fast. Maybe that's like a blessing for serving two years away from home, the time goes faster than civilian time. I don't know how that would work but there are a lot of things that I don't understand and God makes them work anyway. See the atonement later in my email.
So just be aware that the rest of your email is what mom got, I am going to add a story and a few thoughts I had that mom didn't get so still swap emails.
First added story: At the end of the Zone Conference we had a testimony meeting. I shared my testimony and I told the other missionaries there that sometimes members ask if I get trunky and want to go home. I always answer them the same way. I say "You know, I would love to be able to talk to my mom every day and live in America and all that. However, I do not want to go home." They are a little confused at that point, and some of them ask if I want to stay here forever. So I explain "When my mission is over there is little anyone could do to keep me from going home, but until then there is little anyone could do to make me leave. I know without a doubt in my mind that I am where I need to be right now, and home will be there in another year. I would not give up this experience for the world." Then they understand. Then Elder Rasmussen stood up to bear his testimony. He said he remembers watching the olympics a few years ago, and there was a guy running the four hundred meter dash. About 50 meters from the finish line he tore his hamstring. He was a competitor so he wanted to finish, so he was limping and struggling towards the finish line. Then from off the sidelines, his Dad comes out, puts his arm around his son and helps him to the finish line. He said this is a great representation for what Christ does with us. He gives us everything we need and more. When we hit a rough spot he is ready to put his arm around us and carry us the rest of the way, and he will do it for every single person. All we have to do is not give up. If we try, we will succeed, because He paid that price for us. Man I am such a baby now. I was thinking about this story and how it really does resemble what Christ does for us. I was also thinking about how great that father is. He ran from the sidelines on national television in front of millions of eyes and carried his son. What an expression of love that is. I was thinking too that I am so glad to have that type of father. I know that you love me (you remind me often enough haha) and I am so glad that you are always there for me, to give me the help that I need and to carry me and help me limp to the finish line when necessary.
Second thought. I was thinking about what my days were like before my mission, how I spent my free time, what I enjoyed doing. Then I thought about the huge contrast between those things and how I spend my free time now, what occupies my thoughts, and what I enjoy doing. It's quite a difference. Then finally I was thinking about the people I have come to really admire here in my mission. President Adams, Elder Todd, even people like Grandpa and the members of the 70 and 12 that I have never met. I was thinking about how much closer I am right now to being like them than I was before my mission. I was thinking about life after my mission, and what I am going to do. How am I going to adjust to suddenly having so much free time, to being able to be alone, to having a choice on what to wear? I had a thought that yeah missionary mindset is not normal for the real world, and yes, you have to adjust and adapt to a lot of things. However, I also had a thought that my mindset right now is a lot closer to what Heavenly Father wants it to be than it might ever be again. I don't want that to change. I want to continue to be the kind of person that can have the spirit with me at all times. I want to continue to enjoy my scripture study time, I want to continue to look forward to general conference, not just because I get to go to Uncle John's house but because I have the opportunity to hear from the living prophet and apostles. The servants of God here on earth. I don't want to spend my day thinking "how can I become a rock star and not make my parents disappointed in me?" but I want to keep thinking "How can I make my parents, especially my heavenly parents, proud of what I am doing?" It's not easy, and I am ready to take some falls. I enjoy the way I am right now. I am not perfect, and progress is a constant goal and a struggle almost as often. But I think I am headed in the right way. I know, old fashioned, mission centered thoughts. But I am in the center of my mission, what do you expect?
Well I think that's about it for this week. I love you all, have a great week. You're the best. Also don't judge me most of this email is going to both of you.