Monday, January 20, 2014

Leanin' On The Everlastin' Arm :)

To All M'Peeps and Homeslicedawgs,
Another week, another destiny! Well, good news is I survived transfers and have lived to tell another tale! I'm still here in good ole Miri, movin' right along :)
Today I'd like to share with you all the adventure from last night that me and my companion had. It had been a crazy day to start off with. My companion reached his nineteenth year of age, which was pretty exciting :) In addition to that, Church, and practicing a song for Chinese New Year with the other elders (it's gonna be a party, that's fo sho), we had a less active lesson that night. We'd invited one of our active members to attend; she happily agreed to, in addition to bringing three additional Relief Society members with her. The house was pretty packed. We were teaching not only our less active members in the household, but also the nonmember husband who likes to refer to me as a 'monkey' (you may be asking yourself why. I'll tell you: I've always had an admiration for those old men that, whenever they can tell a joke or something like that, will rapidly, almost without thinking about it, wink their eye. Dunno why I've always admired it, but I have. Don't be hatin'. Anywho, I've been working on mastering this trait, and I've been putting it into practice in our lessons, particularly in this home, since I get a reaction from this old guy. For some reason it reminds him of a yeah...that happens...anywho, moving on :) )
We started teaching about the reason God created this earth, and then moved onto a lesson on the Godhead: Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. One of these sisters that accompanied us to teach this family is rather headstrong and argumentative, and quickly she and the nonmember husband were in a debate on having faith. We missionaries were doing our best to try and regain control of what I thought was a swiftly-spiraling-downward-kind-of-lesson. They continued their discussion, which I thought at several points would turn into a shouting match. At long last control was semi-regained, and we came to the close of the lesson. We explained that this nonmember had felt the Spirit before, and it would be through that same Spirit that he received the answer he needed. That member that I've been telling you about then started talking about prayer. I gulped and hoped that things would work out okay; "The elders can teach you how to pray!" was what I heard (though it was in Chinese). 
Yes, yes we can teach you how to pray! I went over and kneeled by the man, and I said a slow and simple prayer. He repeated after me, and when he didn't understand my accent or tones, the sister who had been debating with him helped him out. At the close of the prayer and as we were all preparing to leave the house, the less active wife shook my hand and then clasped it tightly in both of hers. Her face was beaming; her smile was huge! All she could say was 'Xiexie'/Thank You, but I didn't miss the fact that, when she released my hand, she held up her index finger. "Xiexie, xiexie nimen."
I was later able to make amends with the member that helped us teach. She explained to me that part of Chinese culture is making sure that what you're saying gets through the stubborn head of certain old Chinese men. She really had been doing her best to help, and it was because of her persistence that the nonmember's heart was softened. She then went on to explain that that was one of the first (if not the first) prayers he had ever said in his entire life (this is also supported by the index finger that our dear less active wife held up).
I learned a lot from that lesson. I learned that I don't understand: A) A whole lot about Chinese culture; 2) A whole lot of the Chinese language; and III) God's marvelous works and wonders. The Lord is in control, and He works through any and all means that He can. He understands the hearts and thoughts, and He knew that that wonderful sister's intentions were pure and good. He showed me that I don't understand everything or know how to say everything, and that it wasn't the missionaries that softened the old man's heart, but the Spirit combined with the powerful words and testimony of that sister. I am humbled to be working alongside such wonderful Church members that GET IT. I'm humbled to be working in the service of a King who knows our inadequacies and loves us despite (or maybe because) of them. I'm humbled to have seen a man change that small aspect of his life and exercise faith in a Being he can't see. I'm humbled to have seen the absolute joy and wonder in the face of his wife, who has at long last seen an answer to a long-pled prayer: "Please let my husband be able to pray." The look of joy and happiness on her face is something that my heart can never forget; I have learned for myself that the Spirit truly is the Teacher, and we are simply mouthpieces. And sometimes it's not even the missionaries that are the mouthpieces at all.
I don't know what specific spiritual principle can be gleaned from this; I personally have learned a lot from it, and I hope that by sharing it with all y'all it will be able to benefit you in some aspect of your lives. :) 
I love you all and look forward to chatting with you again next week!
God be with you till we meet again :)
Zai jian,
Mai Zhanglao

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