10 things I've learned on my mission so far
Wow! 6 months down and only 1 year to go. The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. I cannot believe how short the time has been and how much I have grown and learned in such a short period of time.
Since I have six months under my belt and I'm SUPER experienced now (HA!), here are some things I have learned so far:
1. You may be a missionary, but you are also still a person and your taste is style and food does NOT change. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring clothes that you love and that you feel comfortable in. Bring enough bras. Bring enough T-shirts and bring p-day/barbeque shoes (i.e. vans or converse). I will forever regret not bringing my converse and not bringing enough bras. It's not fun to have to ask your mom for stuff because you didn't pack well. Also, dresses, skirts and shirts that you don't have to wear undershirts with, or slips with are heaven sent. If you go shopping, buy the quality stuff that you don't need all the layers for, it's not worth the sweat or the discomfort.
2. On that same note, PLEASE invest in some waterproof stuff. The Hong Kong mission call packet will tell you to bring rainboots, DON'T. That packet is lying to you. You will not use big, heavy rainboots here. It's too hot and you'll be wasting precious suitcase weight. Invest in waterproof flats or short, waterproof boots. Also, waterproof makeup is NECESSARY. You sweat, you cry, it's humid everyday, and it RAINS. Also, thin rain jackets are amazingly handy in the winter/spring-time. Buy one.
3. Panda Express is NOT real chinese food. Sorry. It's just not. They eat weird stuff here. Fish bladders, fish eyes, chicken feet, pig intestines... you name it, they probably eat it. That being said, there are some INCREDIBLY yummy foods here so don't freak out too much. (I promise I'm well fed, Mom.)
4. You're not perfect and you never will be. Mistakes happen, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Learn from them and move yourself right along. There is no use holding those things inside and letting them eat at you. The power of the Atonement through repentence is real. It's hard but it's worth it. Have faith, have trust and LET IT GO.
5. The places that you teach in are not always going to be the best places to feel the spirit. You preach on the train, the bus, the bathroom, and in the store next to the pigs faces. You preach in dirty, dark houses where kids are running around and screaming. You have to either make it work or find somewhere else to teach. If you are trying your best to bring the spirit, they will fell it. But I'm warning you now, it's not always easy. It takes effort, concentration and prayer but you can do it.
6. Commitments are important. If YOU as the missionary are not giving these people commitments or things to do until the next meeting, then you are failing at your purpose. These people cannot change until you help them know how to do it. They can only recieve a witness after the trail of their faith, so TELL THEM TO EXERCISE THEIR FAITH. And please follow-up at the next visit. Following up is crucial and can lead to some powerful and spiritual lessons.
7. The powers of Heaven are real but you need to be willing to make some sacrafices in order to really see the benefits and to be able to use them. We all come on our missions carrying unnecessary things. We have specific diets that we like, boyfriends/girlfriends,nicely shaved legs, sick or troubled family members, or clothing that we just can't give up.. whatever it is, you know what I'm talking about. It's standing between you and your success as a missionary. Let it go. This is something that I am still working on because as it turns out, there are many things that need to be sacrificed when you're a missionary and some things are harder to give up than others. It's worth it. The changes that I have seen thus far are incredible and the light that shines in others eyes when they feel God's love and use the power of Christ's Atonement is worth the sacrafices.
8. "This work can be summarized into one word and that is LOVE". This was a quote said at my zone training (which are awesome) by a missionary that is going home this month. It is 100% true. Why else would we spend 18 months to 2 years in a strange place, eating strange food and missing our families? Why else would we walk around in the rain, in the snow, in the 100 degree, humid heat? It's because we love our Savior. We love our Heavenly Father. We love every single person on this earth because they are our brothers and sisters and we want to see them happy and home with us again. If you don't love, you can't do this work. There is no way. The testimonies won't have power. The time here is wasted if there is no love involved (See 1 Corinthians 13). "Charity NEVER faileth." and that's a promise.
9. "This is not YOUR work". Sadly, this was said to me by my trainer the other day when I was feeling fear instead of faith. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to get you off the ground and loving others again. As I said earlier, you WILL make mistakes, but God trusts you. He knows you can do this or He wouldn't have let the prophet call you. This is His work. He is at the head of it. HE is the one preparing these people, baptizing these people, helping these people find truth. YOU are just the instrument. You are nothing without Him, so get off the ground, shake it off, say a prayer and keep moving. Remember how blessed you are to have been given the privilege to help God in His work. The be a part of His "work and glory". It's not about you anymore.
10. Jesus is THE Christ. There's a song that the Mormon Tabernacle choir sings called "He is the Christ". The lyrics were written by President Faust. Part of the song states' "HE is the Christ! The holy Son of God. The Savior and Redeemer of us all." I cannot tell you how often that song rings through my mind and my soul as I walk the streets of Hong Kong everyday. I do not have the words in English or Chinese to tell you how much that statement REALLY means to me, but I want you to know that I KNOW that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is our Brother. He is our Redeemer. He is the LIGHT and the LIFE of this world and of my life.
I'm grateful for these last 6 months. I'm grateful for the trials I've had. I'm grateful for the joyful times I've had. I'm grateful for the times I've been humbled, been amazing, been uplifted and for the times that I've been able to "feel my Saviors love in all the world around me". Being a missionary is hard, but I'm loving every minute of it.
I hope that you all have a fantastic week. My invitation to you this week is to so something to support the missionaries in your area. Feed them, help them teach a lesson, pray for them... whatever it is. We are ALWAYS grateful for whatever help we get.
LOVE YOU ALL!