Exploring Hung Shui Kiu. Declaring repentance. Pictures and a recording.
First attached file is of me and a sister missionary performing a folksy rendition of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" that we prepared for a stake talent show a few weeks ago. She's on guitar, I'm on violin, and we sing some stuff. Sorry it took so long, Mom.
I think yesterday was possibly the longest day of my entire life. Moving to our new area and then walking around semi-aimlessly all day for a week took it's toll. I nearly fell asleep walking about 50 times. Good news is, Hung Shui Kiu is an awesome area. It's basically a split-up of two other areas that already exist, due to the building of a new beautiful chapel. It has been erected to accomodate members in the area, so the HSK boundaries were added and they threw Elder Farnsworth and I into it. Technically, missionaries are already plenty familiar with this area, but because we currently have no Area Book, just barely threw together an incomplete Member book, only one investigator we managed to find yesterday, no investigator/potential records, and the ward itself won't be opening until the 3rd week in October, you may as well say it's like opening a completely new area. I love it though; it's been quite the adventure exploring everywhere we can, finding member's homes, and trying to keep from looking like a tourist.
Needless to say, my companion and I bought a couple of map books and have had our noses buried in them more hours of the day than not. At least it feels that way. I don't think I've looked at a map more in my whole life than my first day in Hung Shui Kiu. We've focused a lot on finding and developing relationships with the prospective members in our area. That includes attending two wards, and you guessed it -- we had a wonderful 6 hours of church last sunday, and we'll probably be doing it again this week. The majority of our days are looking through the member records that we have, finding their estate or village area on the map, and going there and trying to visit them. A lot of members keep telling us next week, but we've had a few really good visits. The members are SO awesome and are so willing to help us do missionary work. Several have told us the names of less-active members in the area, and one told us she wanted to bring a mother and her two sons to church. We'll see how it all works out, but we have a feeling this area is going to have the majority of it's progression through the members. It's really inspiring to see how willing and loving these people are, and it makes me think of what a lazy member I was! I hope that I'll be able to make as much time as possible to help the missionaries when I return home. Missionary work is something that is constantly intriguing, always moving and progressing, and more satisfying than any other work. Everyone who puts their heart into it will testify of the same.
It's Mid-Autumn Festival this Sunday, and all the Chinese people are getting ready. I'm not clear on the point of the festival. All I know is that everybody eats these over-expensive moon cakes, and almost every member who has invited us in this week has given us one. They... aren't that good. The lotus paste inside is alright, but the reason they are called moon cakes is because they have this nasty orange preserved egg yolk in the middle to represent a moon. The more yolks, the more expensive. And more nasty. I just love the sneaky smile that forms on the members faces just before they ask you if you've ever tried moon cake. You always know it's coming. And when you say yes, they think it's an invitation to give you one because you must like it. I honestly don't think anyone really even likes them.
That pretty much sums up my week. I had one interesting experience on the street the other day where a teenager was willing to talk with us but kept telling us that these things were impossible, he didn't believe, and didn't think it'd be important even if God existed. I started to get kindof frustrated with him after I pulled out a Book of Mormon to answer his question and he wouldn't read it. He waved his hands at it and said, "Msai, msai" (don't need, don't need). I didn't understand why he'd bother asking a question and sharing an opinion and then stubbornly refuse to read a scripture. I pulled out our phone and told him to pretend he was in ancient times. I asked him where the phone came from, and he replied, "Modern times." I said, "Well, how do you know that? You're ancient, you don't have a clue what this thing is. You'd probably break it or get rid of it because you wouldn't understand it's value or it's capability to help one communicate with another person from an incredibly long distance." I told him that the reason that we have such things now is because people were open-minded enough to believe in something that seemed impossible, and because people believed they were able to accomplish their goals, and over time we have these incredible things that seem normal. I told him that people are enabled to accomplish things because they believe, and they are hindered when they doubt. The same is with God -- Heavenly Father has commanded us through Christ to be believing. When we open our minds to God and believe in Him, we enable ourselves to feel His power.
The kid said it was all impossible. I pointed to the phone and said, "Ancient people would think this is impossible." He paused, and then simply said that these things didn't matter and he could do everything by himself. Then without really thinking about it, I looked at him straight in the eye and told him he was prideful. I then said, "If you don't open your mind to spiritual things, I promise you that you'll never be able to overcome your own shame and guilt."
I walked away and wondered what the heck I had just said, but I didn't feel like I had done something wrong. I felt my calling to declare repentance among the unbelievers, and that was as bold as I'd ever been. But I know it's true. Sin cannot be overcome ourselves. It cannot. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It enables us to achieve Christ's command of perfection, through the power of repentance and forgiveness. I've felt it in my life, and every day as I've come here to serve the Lord. Open your hearts! It's just too good.