This last week was fantastic. We received transfer information last night: I will be with Elder Pickett and Elder Lam again for another transfer in the City Zone, my last one. By the end of my mission my longest area will be here, North Adelaide. I will have been here for 6 transfers: 9 months. This is my favorite area by far: I feel I've experienced the most growth in myself and seen the most growth in people here. And I feel like I've contributed more here than anywhere else.
Last Sunday Chris, my friend (recent convert) from Malaysia who we baptized on my birthday, taught for the first time in Elders Quorum. He was recently called as an Elders Quorum teacher, a responsibility he felt was intimidating at first, but he gladly accepted the opportunity. Chris taught about baptism: what we promise when we get baptized, the role of witnesses at a baptism, and how to perform the ordinance properly. He smashed it (Aussie slang for "He did fantastic"). I sat back and reflected for a moment, just looking at Chris and thinking how far he's come. Chris was standing up front wearing the blue tie I gave him when he was baptized, energetically pacing back and forth as he taught, writing on the board, answering questions from the class. It felt so fulfilling to see him in the right place with the right people, enthusiastically teaching what he first learned himself not long ago. I look up to Chris--he's a great man.
I know not every person I've baptized is a rock-solid member; they have some development to undergo, just like we all do. But to see those I've taught who excel and rise up to become someone so much more amazing, confident, and brilliant than they were at the start--that's when I feel at peace; that's when I feel I've fulfilled my mission; that's when I know the time and sacrifices I've given have been worth it. That's a positive influence that will last long after I'm gone.We have 2 baptisms in our area this weekend (Chinese investigators my companions and I have been teaching) and the City Zone (the zone is made up of 20 missionaries) will baptize 5 in total this weekend. Our City Zone goal for the year is 60 baptisms, and we'll be at 25 after this weekend. That's how many the city zone had the entire year of 2016, but now we've done that in only 6 months. Light the fire!
As far as what I've learned the past few months: I feel I've taken on the role of a parent so many times. Ministering one-on-one to missionaries who are struggling, often to the point of tears--I've learned to understand, to love, to feel, even to shed tears with them. Those are experiences I never would have had without a mission. Without those experiences I never would have found my true self. I've been given opportunities to encourage people when they're at their lowest, to congratulate when they're at their highest, and to motivate when they're in-between. I need a lot more development myself as far as Christlike attributes go. I've changed even though I don't see all of it--it's difficult to see it in ourselves because change is so gradual, almost imperceptible. But I know I have grown. It's been such a privilege to serve a mission.
I'll be bearing my leaver's testimony in MLC. I don't feel like I'm going anywhere. It feels like you start off on this grand adventure: you discover new lands, new people, learn to conquer new challenges. And then suddenly, you find yourself in the last chapter, wondering what happened to the future, and then the storybook shuts all too suddenly. But I know it's time to move on. I have 6 weeks left and I'm prepared to smash it I'm not done baptizing yet. I'm not done teaching yet. I'm not done training yet. I'll be alive and awake here until the day I die, the day I step on that plane and cross over into a new life. I'm so excited to see you and the family when I get back. I love you so much. Don't ever forget that :) Have a fantastic week.
1. Hot Pot. A traditional Chinese favorite. Complete with pork blood, duck intestines, and cow stomach.
2. Me with Elder Kuru, a missionary I trained. He's now a zone leader and will be going up to serve in Alice Springs this week.
3. Zone temple day
4. Recent Convert temple night