March 11, 2013

No New Missionaries for Asia

The announcement of new missions is not surprising.  Alas, Asia isn't getting too much.  However, our mission is expecting a huge group of missionaries in about two months.  The current estimate is 30. Time will tell how many that actually is.  I'm not sure how the mission will train that many new missionaries.

This last week was really good.  We have been working hard.  I feel like it's not too effective.  We've only got a few investigators, which is frustrating as always.  I feel like that's been the most frustrating thing my whole mission.  I always want more investigators. 

Monday-Thursday we've only got a few hours free to work.  P-day, English Class, District meeting, and weekly planning really just eat it all up.  To make matters more complicated, Friday and Saturday we now will have branch missionaries helping us.  Thus, I've got to double book two totally empty days at the end of each week.  If only it was more evenly spread out.  At least we are really seeing some changes happening in the church here.  I feel like we are starting to coordinate the work better, and figure out how to make everything run as it should. 

I'm not sure if I'd ever explained how the church is here in an email.  I've spent a lot of time as a missionary in these smaller branches - ever since I left my first area.  This week we had 31 people at church (including us).  It brings a whole different outlook about church and the role of the church in our lives when you are in such a small branch.  I love the experience, but it comes with a very different set of expectations and capabilities.  Although you may wish for active, productive church leaders, sometimes there simply isn't anyone who is what you wish for that's active or a member.  Most people still don't know what their duty really is. 

Fortunately we have a great branch presidency, one of the best I've ever worked with. I hope to see this branch get it's numbers back up.  I have met with 60-80 members here. - and I don't know half of the members on the records.  Us and the branch missionaries are going to try to really work on the less actives here together.  Up until this point we haven't had a lot of direction in the work with less actives.  We try to do a lot, but the long term change is minimal.  I hope to strengthen the branch such that the retention rate is a lot better so that God can bless this branch with baptisms.

I have no idea how my Thai is these days.  I know it's got to be getting better, but as time goes on, the difference is harder and harder to see.  I'm no longer sure what will be useful for me to do to improve.  Elder Xiong is doing well.  He isn't a fast learner by any measure.  Training him is very different.  He isn't like anyone I've worked with before.  He is very determined to be a missionary, come what may.  I hope that he can pick up the language.  Language in general isn't his strong point.  He's still back in the state of not being able to follow along at all.  Everyone speaks too fast, and I'm no different.  He is very good about learning new words that will be useful in the work, I'm sure that by the end he'll be just fine.  I worry about how long the journey will be for him. 

I'm not sure what God is doing, but I am happy to be part of it.  I know what the big picture is, and what my duty is.  I work hard, and I love it.  Sometimes it's hard to see where it all fits in, but I'm sure it is indeed a part of the puzzle.  I love the comparison given in general conference about bees.  Because of the simple dedication of each bee, the entire hive prospers and amazing work is performed.  Sometimes in the midst of training, phone calls, biking here and there, talking about the gospel, it feels like I'm not getting anywhere.  But the Spirit tells me that I've become something, and that God always has work to be done, as long as we are humble enough to perform it.  So I do it, and I love it.

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