Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello everybody!
Another week has come and gone; this one really felt like it flew by. I've seen a bunch of friends from home and from college here at the good ole MTC; that's been kinda fun. I really do enjoy seeing people that I know; it's like a little taste of home away from home. We've been learning Chinese more and more, and I'm beginning to understand a little bit more of it. It's a hard language in the fact that the tones are very precise; if you say a word wrong, then essentially you're saying a completely different word. That's so challenging for me; I'm so used to using the tone of my voice for different reasons, not for indicating completely different words and phrases! Ack! But I've been called to speak this language for a reason; I've had that truth emphasized to me several times throughout this week.
I've decided that I'm probably not doing my best to dedicate myself to the language; a goal of mine for this week is to be better at studying Mandarin and to familiarize myself more with the words and phrases I need to know, as well as with the sentence structure. The nice thing about Mandarin grammar and sentence structure: There is a very methodical and sensical way to construct sentences. It's nowhere near as confusing as it would be to learn English...but that doesn't mean it's not confusing :)
This past week has had several unique and unforeseen challenges, but it has definitely been quite a rewarding week at that. You can definitely tell when the Spirit is with you, and when It is not. On Wednesday the latest bunch of Mandarin missionaries came it; there were 36 of them! (About the same amount that arrived the day I did). Yesterday me and my companions were announced to the ward as new Zone Leaders. We're going to be the leaders that usher in the next wave of Mandarin missionaries that come in in June--the largest wave yet, with over 50 new missionaries!!! The Lord is certainly hastening His work, and we have the privilege of being a part of that hastening.
Last night at the Sunday Devotional, a man named Ted Gibbons spoke to us. He was portraying Willard Richards, and spoke of the closeness he'd had with Joseph Smith. It was interesting and very spiritual! My testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith has grown tremendously during the short time that I've been here at the MTC, more than I ever thought it would. He truly did see what he said he saw, and because of that, look at how much happiness has been brought into the world! Remarkable and amazing! :)
Please feel free to send me letters and stuff like that; I love getting them! Mail is pretty great :)
So this past week I had the chance to read the Book of Enos during Personal Study. There is so much of this wonderful part of the Book of Mormon that is personally and universally applicable! Throughout the first verses of the book, Enos mentions that he 'wrestled' and 'struggled' with the Lord during his mighty prayer. I think that sometimes people automatically assume that testimonies can and will come with the snap of a finger, and that all of our trials and temptations will vanish with that same snap. I'd just like to say from personal experience (particularly gleaned from here in the MTC)--That is false!! Many of us, myself included, have to work and struggle in order to come to know God. And when we increase our efforts, the adversary will certainly increase his. His whole goal is to make us miserable; but God will NOT forsake those that turn to Him with real intent and a sincere heart. Enos struggled to come to know God, and it wasn't easy. But it was worth it.
In verse 8 he hears the voice of the Lord confirming to him that his sins are forgiven, and that his faith hath made him whole. At the end of that verse, Enos could easily have finished his prayer and gone on his way...but then he felt a desire to pray for his brethren. He didn't have to, but, just as Joseph Smith once said, "a man filled with the love of God is not content to bless his family [or himself] alone".
In verse 10 we read: "And while I was thus struggling in the spirit." Look at the word 'spirit'. It's NOT capitalized! It was his own spirit he was struggling with, not the Spirit of the Lord. Enos, although he'd received a testimony from the Lord Himself, was still struggling with his own personal weaknesses and testimony. I can totally relate with this, as I'm sure everyone else can. It wasn't until after he prayed for his brethren and the Lord answered THAT prayer that his "faith began to be unshaken in the Lord". It wasn't until Enos lost himself that his faith was fortified, and it wasn't until he committed his heart to the Lord and to others that he found true happiness and that his strugglings with his own testimony were quenched. I testify that this principle is true, whether or not you're in the MTC :)
For now, I'll be going. Have a grand week everybody!
Zai jian,
Mai Zhanglao

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