Hello Mon Famille...and friends, but I don't know the French word for that...,
So I have been assaulted this week with dozens of questions so I'm going to answer them.
I play quite a bit of basketball! Hamilton is really the only place this happens because there is such a Mormon influence on the city. Most places just play rugby. We could play a game every now and then on P-day, but we don't have a key to the chapel so that's the only barrier.
New food...kumara! Pronounced Koo-Muh-Da. They have slow cookers here called hangi (unsure about the spelling) and those are pretty darn good. Basically it's just heaps of meat and whatever else they throw at us.
When we sing in members homes we try to sing songs of the Restoration...so We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet and songs like that. When we sing to someone who just said no, we'll sing them Love at Home or something. Something to pierce their hearts, basically.
Elder McFarland, oh dear. He's actually a great guy and we have become pretty darn good friends. He is a very talented volleyball player and actually went to nationals a couple times before his mission...his girlfriend is still waiting for him so he'll be old with grandkids by the time I get home. By the way, I'm like 1/12 done...weird as. He is a good missionary although we both have lazy tendencies so we just have to fight those and push really hard when the work gets discouraging.
Discussions are coming fine. Trade-offs helped me to realize how much I actually do know, I just never get to use it because Elder McFarland does such a good job so I just try to help him whenever I can. Apparently President wanted to make him a ZL several times but always felt he needed to be somewhere else. Crazy, eh?
Funny experiences...Well, we had a Born-Again admonish us to put down the BOM "for a season" and realize we were damning ourselves...it was funny when we shoved it back in his face and walked out... :D I don't know! I haven't had any super funny experiences, just lots of little ones with Elder McFarland. Although, it is funny when people are walking on the same side of the road as us and then cross the street so they don't have to talk to us and then cross back after they pass us. That's always really funny.
Spiritual experiences...this whole week has been a great big spiritual experience, but not in the way you would think. It was actually the toughest week I have had on my mission thus far. We had a couple days where we felt we were trying our hardest to be obedient and follow the Spirit but every single appointment fell through. We were even asked to fast to be able to commit someone to baptism for this month, and we are still working for it. But what that has taught me is that trials of our faith can last much longer than we expect. But actually I feel like we are supposed to keep hitting up this guy named Mike and the email I got from Pops this week actually might have been the answer and strategy we were looking for. So take note we are going to try it on him this week and if it works I will tell you about it.
Basically Mike has been opening up quite a bit over the past week but he is just so dang stubborn. He has specifically told us that he is looking for that lasting happiness not just moments of pleasure to get him through the day. But he won't listen to anything we tell him! He just starts rambling on about some Buddhist nut and how he teaches the "basically" the same thing we do. Ya, OK. I take that back, he does listen. He just doesn't have the desire to really know if it's true at this point. That's why we need to get him to experiment upon the word like it says in Alma.
I'm getting worried about our one set baptism for this month. His family really wants him to be baptized and he is a smart kid who understands it all, but they are really flakey so we can't ever get into the home because his uncle is never there, only his nana and aunty. So basically we are just going by every day hoping for a chance to talk with him. They also won't bring him to church. He can't be baptized if he doesn't come to church....they don't seem to understand that yet.
Anyways, basically the Spirit has been teaching me humility over the past week. To forget myself and my frustrations with stupid people and to have empathy and tell them what they need to hear instead of what I want to tell them. That was one of the biggest messages I got this week. And I'm trying really really hard! I'm such a sarcastic person that it has proven difficult but I just need to keep my cool and rely on the Spirit to guide through the discussions and through the days. It's all good in Zion.
So basically this week was a week of trials, but I know we just need to keep up the faith and show our Heavenly Father our dedication to Him and His work. That's what I have to realize. This is His work. Not my work. I need to do what He would have me do and say what He would have me say. Pride is no good, everybody. Get rid of it! Crush it!
I love you guys so much and I'm so thankful for all your emails and words of encouragement! And I'm also glad to see my neice is becoming exponentially more beautiful by the day and that my nephew has an ear-to-ear grin. Absolutely fantastic. And if anyone had doubts after General Conference about the truthfulness of this gospel you did not pay attention. I have never felt so strongly about the BOM and Joseph Smith. Totally awesome. And I guess loving people is good too.
Love you all!
Elder Seth Jenkins