Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Work Is Love

This work is true, this work is hard, and this work is crazy.

That guy we ran into last week we were able to get to church with us and have a lesson with him, which was a miracle in and of itself, but he's got a lot of concerns and we're not sure if he's willing to open up to us. The problem we've had for the past couple of weeks is the fact that Chinese kids have been enduring their testing periods. The kids here are extremely pressured in their schooling, and Elder Ng calls the testing period "whitewash time" where we take a break from people, try and find new people, and start fresh with our previous investigators when the testing is over. Good news is, today is the last day for testing, so the work should pick back up this week. Most of our time lately has been invested in improving our relationships with members and less-actives to pass the time, and of course making all those cards.

There's something I'd like to explain about missionary work that I would have never been able to fathom or describe had I not made the decision to come out here. One of our investigators, Leung Cheung Kyuhn, (we'll call him A-Kyuhn), has had a rough time with schooling through the years, and has been extremely stressed about the testing. If he doesn't pass, he's too old to go to the next form. We had a lot of talks about faith in our lessons with him, and he seemed for a while to be our most promising investigator. Right when the testing began, however, when Elder Ng spoke to him on the phone he told us that he can't meet with us until the tests are over and said, "You know what, Elder? I don't believe in these things." He said he had some more things to tell us but it'd have to wait. My experience with him has not progressed beyond that, but that I've fasted for him multiple times now and that I pray for him constantly. I have watched him feel the Spirit. I've felt it and been able to discern that he also felt it. You can imagine what a slap in the face it is to a missionary to hear those awful words, "I don't believe this."
To my point -- sometime last month I had a long talk with Elder Ng about all these experiences, over half of which I can't possibly relate over these emails. He told me that because I am an emotional person, sometimes I let my highs and lows really get the best of me. I refuse to let discouragement rest upon me long, although the huge wave of disappointment that accompanies being rejected on a spiritual level is deep and penetrating. 

We work our muscles, we work our brains, and we work our spirits. Of these three, I believe the spirit is the most difficult and exhausting to exercise. It isn't hard for me to recognize why, as a new and inexperienced missionary, my emotions have been magnified to the highest of highs down to the lowest of lows. Never in my life have I experienced the intensity of spiritual exhaustion -- to invest the deepest part of my being into the salvation of other people, endeavoring to open their hearts to the truths of eternity with unwavering diligence and unfeigned love. Although I can hardly understand it myself, this love is powerful and profound. It enables me to see every man as my brother. 
Time and time again I feel the Spirit of the Lord descend upon my creature, filling me with the purest sensation that the people listening to our words have unspeakably beautiful and eternal purposes to fulfill, and time and time again these same people choose to reject us, care little about what they try little to understand, and give up on the prospects of forever because the temporary, materialistic, and ultimately meaningless pursuits appear more satisfying and comfortable.
If I am expected to be the best missionary I am capable of becoming, and therefore expected to open my heart to people in this level of profundity, then it is little wonder that I feel like 9/11 happened in my chest every time someone gives up on us!

I hope that made even a bit of sense. But don't take that as a complaint, because it is far from it. In fact, it is one of the most profound things I've ever learned in my life, because the experience itself is tangible evidence to me of the reality of God, and our spiritual connections as literal, eternal brothers and sisters. 

I wish I could say so much more, but I can't. Time limits me, so I pray the Spirit will do the rest. I'll probably have a new companion next week, but it's more than likely I'll be in the same place. I've learned so much from my companion. This work is about love. It will always be about love. The love of God. The love of family, friends, and people. 

I love you all so much. Never, ever give up on yourselves, or God. I am a special witness to His reality. 
Elder Hazen

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