February 9, 2011
Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit. Also, welcome to the biggest hindrance to missionary work I have ever seen.
First, there were no changes affecting me. Although Elder Vance has a new companion, everything else is the same.
I’ll start with last Wednesday. It was nuts. We decided to stay up and watch the fireworks from our bedroom window. The power went out at about 11:30 p.m. No air conditioning, no lights, and no hot water. It got so hot in the house that we all went outside to cool off a little. We were just in time for fireworks. It was insane. Chinese New Year here blows July 4th out of the water. Everyone had fireworks, even little Adam next door. He ended up badly burning his fingers, but that’s the worst casualty I’ve heard about. It was so loud that we wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway. They guy across the street had the fireworks that launch and explode. We were all watching his fireworks. Well, one of them didn’t work quite right. It shot up, then came back down, and blew up about 10 feet off the ground. Scared the living daylights out of me. It was nuts. Elder Vance had his camera on video mode and caught us all freaking out and almost falling into the gutter. Pretty funny stuff. The fireworks still haven’t stopped. They’ve been going from random places every night for the past week with no signs of slowing.
Since Chinese New Year began we’ve spent every day visiting members. It’s called Bainian, which literally means “Visit Year.” Families and friends visit each other for about two weeks and it’s just fun, fun, fun. Every house we go to gives us a certain set of snacks that are traditional to the season: peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sour plums, some kind of strange gummies, 100 Plus (a soft drink), prawn crackers, dried pork, dried cuttlefish, cheese cakes, and – the most traditional of all – Mandarin oranges. I originally wasn’t a big fan of anything they gave us, but I’ve come to like the prawn crackers and most of the other stuff too. But the cuttlefish and cheesecake, still cannot. Also, when we visit, no one will let us share a message or give us referrals or anything. They all say, “No, only can have fun. It’s New Year!” It’s such a pain. So, I guess it’s good for building relationships, but that’s about it. Contacting is also useless during Bainian. Yesterday I decided to tell people I’m their relative visiting from America and two people almost let me in. They were intoxicated enough that they almost forgot they don’t have any relatives in America. It was worth a try. They even cut an hour from our church meetings so people can visit.
Now for the positive section of this e-mail. I learned a lot this week from the few lessons I did get to teach. First, pride stands in the way of the Spirit. Elder Vance and I were teaching Gary Fong and his wife on Sunday night. It was going really well. We watched the Restoration video and they asked some really good questions that allowed us to discuss the authority of the priesthood. At one point Gary asked if we believed in revelation through dreams. I said, “Of course, so long as it’s consistent with the scriptures.” So he told us he had a dream where someone he couldn’t see broke his wine glass before he could drink. Well, I can’t interpret dreams but it seemed like a good chance to talk about the Word of Wisdom. I told him I wasn’t sure but that maybe the wine glass breaking was his obedience to the Word of Wisdom. He and his wife both really liked our “health code” and it even got Gary to open up to us about his family life. It was way cool. Later in the lesson, Elder Vance set me up perfectly to commit them for baptism. I was definitely inspired to talk to them about baptism but, instead of promptly obeying, I thought I’d say something else first and then come back to it. Well, I got carried away and as we left their home that evening I realized what a huge mistake I’d made. Pride ruined an amazing lesson and it was solely my fault. There’s nothing I can do now except repent and move on. I won’t do that again.
Second, prayer works. Yesterday Elder Vance had a flat tire so I took Elder Aikens with me to teach one of their investigators. She’s actually from China. She has an awesome accent and, being “born” in Singapore like I was, that’s the accent I’m most used to so it’s easier to understand for me. That worked out well. We taught her about the plan of salvation and I asked if she had anything she’d like to discuss with us. Did she ever! She told me that on Sunday she had a really bad headache so she decided to just pray really, really hard for Heavenly Father to make it better, and He did. That was cool in itself, but she kept going. She told us that before she began talking to the missionaries she had some kind of illness that made her head … heavy … maybe? (I don’t know how to say it in English.) It means dazed and just kind of out of it. But now she reads and prays every night and it hasn’t troubled her since. But there’s more. She said she had a dream about Jesus. Now this next part I didn’t completely understand so please forgive me. She said that in her dream Jesus Christ was either at her baptism or he baptized her or something of the sort. She said that she was dressed in all white and her hair was tied back, neither of which we have taught or explained to her. It was like I was experiencing an Ensign story. Really, really cool stuff. I love missionary work!!!!!!!!!
Have a good Year of the Rabbit, ya’ll. Elder Moody loves you!