Hello Mom and everyone!
Wow.. I'm on a mission. We aren't really given all that much time to do emails, so I'll try and sum up my experience so far sufficiently and concisely.
My District has hit the ground running on Cantonese -- that's how they do it here! You walk into your classroom and you hardly hear a word of English for the next 3 hours. I love it. The gift of tongues is a real thing; I can already pray, bear my testimony, and retain a long chain of vocabulary in Cantonese and I've been here for 6 days! It's amazing; we all feel like our capacity to fill our memory caverns has peaked beyond the usual limit. And, for the record, Cantonese is just seriously legit. There's no other way to put it.
I've been given a new name. You may, if you wish, call me Hah Jeunglouh (upward accent over the e and the o to represent a middle rising and a low rising tone respectively). In English, this would be Elder Hah. I tried to explain this to my branch president, and he said he'd never remember my name. So I just said "I'm Elder Hahahahahah" and figured he'd remember. It suits me just fine; I'm filled with laughter and joy in the service of God!
I've been called as District Leader over the Cantonese portion of our Branch. It was overwhelming at first, being asked to take responsibility over other missionaries while frantically trying to figure out how to teach a lesson in Cantonese after being here for two days only. But I'm grateful for the call to leadership so early, because it has really solidified my focus. The responsibility to be an example and look out for my fellow missionaries is helping me immediately focus on my purpose and how to be the best missionary possible. That's what I'm here for, right?
Teaching the lessons in Cantonese have been difficult, but very interesting and very fun. A lot of the time we'll sit there and stare when we have no idea what our "investigator" just asked us. But I've truly learned already that it is NOT eloquence that brings people to the Gospel; it's sincerity. I remember looking at A-wai (investigator) and trying really hard to explain in Cantonese how I knew the BoM was true. It wasn't working, and because my companion and I were spending so much time trying to explain something that our abilities in the language wouldn't allow, the Spirit seemed to be waning. So I looked into his eyes and said, "Ngoh jidou, ngoh jidou..... Ngohdeih jidou." It means, "I know, I know... we know." I said I didn't understand Cantonese enough to tell him how, but that we knew. I could feel the Spirit teaching in that moment through my sincerity, not my eloquence. Eloquence, at that moment, was impossible. But sincerity is never impossible.
Missionary work is difficult! You NEVER know what to expect as you step into another person's life; thier experiences and background is always going to be unfathomable to you because the experiences that have created them are almost always vastly different than our own. We alone cannot fathom or understand any one person. We must rely on an omniscient God to help us really serve, because only He knows the needs of all men. I'm learning here what it really means to let the Lord go before me and direct my path.
Last night one of the Sisters in our District asked for a blessing because she was feeling sick and in need of comfort. She asked if I would give it. It was the first blessing I've given as a missionary... We really are set to a higher plane. I can't remember what I said, but I remember how I felt. Never in my life have I felt the Spirit so strongly as I gave a blessing. It felt as if power was surging through me and God was speaking His everlasting words of comfort through me; I could feel His love for our Sister. The priesthood really IS the power of God. To have that power and authority is such a blessing, and experiences like that convince me ever more that God is real, and that He loves us all in a very individual way. His love is pure joy, and you can always feel it if you open your heart to it and are worthy to receive it.
I love the MTC.