I have a morning routine of water. I go downstairs, fill up a big jug and then drink it down during studies. By the end I'm basically a big hose constantly flowing. As the hot season sets in I'll be really running the system hard every morning. I'm not sure if it will help, it's certainly more water than I've ever seen another missionary down in the morning. Fear of kidney stones is a good motivation. It also keeps you from having to sit too long. My habits have an effect on Elder Xiong, who has really upped his water intake, without me saying anything.
For that matter, Elder Xiong just generally is picking up what I do. This week he has started to understand when people use words that he knows. It may sound trivial, but it is a very important step. He has a hard time with the language. He learns slowly, which takes a bit of adapting to. I'm used to a much faster pace of learning, and hate having things 'dumbed down'. He really wants it slowly, so I have just changed my expectations. However, I'm sure a lot of the difference is changeable. Most of everything is all in our heads. He's doing better. A lot of language time is spent memorizing, various things set by the mission. It's not a lot, but for the complex grammar and unfamiliar words it's still hard. (Due sympathy for those who memorized whole discussions in various tongues.) I once found memorization to be hard, but now it's not nearly so hard for me. (I am lazy, and don't see the point in memorizing though, so I'm not much better off.) I'm starting to coach him to use some simple principles to help him. To practice a few of them, I've memorized several verses in Thai. It's amazing how fast we can learn if we do it right.
Having a child has really re-kindled my desire to learn Thai. Although I understand most everything I hear, there is a lot more to learn, and I'm certain I can't find the end of it in my life.
This last week has been great. I've gotten used to training. It is very different than the last time - because of the things I've learned as well as the different person. It's really cool. I just opened the manual up and immediately saw how I could change how I did most things. It is quite the opportunity to set Elder Xiong on a good path for his mission. I worry a bit that I'm not the best, but I'm sure I'm the person God wants. I suppose that's all that matters. It is different to be in charge of everything again. I'm constantly explaining, showing, and guiding him to be able to do various things.
I used a good metaphor for eternal life the other day
A father once offered his son a brand new sports car as a gift. In order to receive this gift, the son has to learn how to drive. What a deal! Once the son learns how to drive (presumably in a cheap car with an instructor) , he can then be given the sports car.The son doesn't pay for that car by learning. The father gains no real benefit from it. That car is a gift - one the son couldn't get on his own. However, the driving practice helps the son receive the gift. As frustrating as the process of learning may be, at the end the son will indeed be licensed and capable to drive wherever he wants, on his own. Without this practice, the sports car would be of no use to the son.
The Father has offered us an amazing gift. We have been given this life as an opportunity to prepare - to learn what we need to know, or really, to become what we need to become. Many limits are placed on us. We are in the range behind the school, slowly gaining the needed skills. In that process we do not earn eternal life. We merely learn how to enjoy it. Before this life we watched the Father, then he gave us all the chance to be the same. There is a lot we have to learn to receive that gift. However, we can't ever think that our obedience or works are what saves us. Grace saves us. We are learning, and Christ makes it possible to practice. We may not enjoy sinning and repenting, but we are working through our weaknesses, and becoming like God. We have false conceptions to shed off, ideas to change, patterns to remove and form. We have soul to become, and an unknown time to show that we truly desire it. We may drop out of the path, but we can always return and keep on going. Straying off the path doesn't automatically start us back at the trail-head. Life is a journey, and we are to walk in the Master's footsteps.
I love you all.Elder Robert Buss