Hello again everyone! It's great to hear from you again. Things are going pretty well for us these days.
Did you hear that at the start of this last conference, the reason Elder Scott spoke first was because President Monson wasn't even at the conference center, and nobody knew where he was? Pretty funny.
We had something of an eventful week. Even though it was Chinese New Year, we were able to get some stuff done. We got treated to a lot of meals by members. Wednesday morning we rode a bus up to Jia-Li, which is one of our secondary areas. It's really far away, so I've never been there, but one of the member families invited us to lunch, so we went. The dad, Brother (name), who is also a stake high counselor, took us to visit some less active members. One visit was to the (name) family. Sister (name) and her four teenage children have been members for awhile, but because of how far it is to the chapel and her work situation and the fact that their dad is not a member, they haven't been coming to church very regularly. However, she's a very faithful member and her kids are pretty cool (but also pretty quiet). Then on Sunday I walked into the chapel and right there on the second row was the (name) family! They had taken a bus all the way from Jia-Li in order to come to church. That was a really great thing for me to see, and they committed to invite their dad to come to church with them next week.
We had zone conference on Thursday, and I got to conduct. It was kind of fun, because I've never done something like that before. It was a really good zone conference about obedience and the blessings of following God's commandments. Then when we got home we ate dinner at the home of a less-active former bishop. Yeah. They seemed pretty nice, it's just that the dad was really lukewarm about a lot of things. It really is sad to see somebody who's made so many serious covenants with God have such pitiful excuses not to come to church. I realize I don't know his life situation, so I really hope to help him work through whatever challenges are stopping him from coming.
We've got several investigators progressing steadily toward baptism. One is (name), who I may have told you about. He dropped out several months ago because some health problems stopped him from coming to church. Recently he called me and said he wanted to start coming to church again, and he's got a goal to be baptized on February 11. Our recent converts are doing really well still.
On Sunday all four of us missionaries had the privilege of speaking in sacrament meeting, and I really hope that it had an impact on the members. I spoke on how we have chances every day to share our beliefs with friends and family and people we meet. I used Elder L. Tom Perry's talk from last conference as my basis. Then Elder Jensen spoke on how those members who have unbaptized family members, like spouses or children or parents, can help those family members get baptized. He shared a bunch of real life stories from his other areas, which was really powerful. I realized that I really didn't try hard enough before my mission to share the gospel. There really are so many simple ways to do it. Preach My Gospel suggests that families can create family mission plans just as wards make ward mission plans. They can set goals for who they'll prepare to hear the gospel and how they'll do it. I want to help families in this ward make such a plan.
One more cool experience: last week we challenged one of our really active members, Brother (name), to let us meet his family, because he's the only member of the church in his family. He agreed, and yesterday we went up to his house. Unfortunately, his older daughter and his wife weren't there, but his fifteen year old son and his next-door neighbor’s daughter were there, and we were able to teach them a very simple lesson. He was pretty funny--he's the very picture of an awkward teenage boy, too shy to answer our questions. But I think both he and the family next door have some great potential; the dad next door came out just as we were leaving and chatted with us for a few minutes, saying he really admires Brother (name) and noticed that he goes to church every Sunday.
That's about it for the week. I did go on exchanges twice this week, and it kind of shocked me and made me realize I have been here for a long time. I honestly felt like an experienced missionary, because for both Elder Zheng, a new senior companion and new district leader serving in the same ward where I was a year ago, and for Elder Nickell, who's been out for two weeks, I have been where they are now. It's a weird feeling that they're asking me for advice and I actually have experiences to draw on and share with them. Strange how time travels when you're on a mission. It seems to go by at lightning speed, but when you look back it seems like those things happened forever ago.
Well, that's my spiel for the week. I sure love you all and I am glad to hear from you each week. Thank you for your prayers and so forth in my behalf. I feel the support of all of you, and I pray for you in return.