Sunday, April 26, 2015

Easter party, spontaneous, by some miracle, becoming a saint, a new self

Easter party for our English class
April 27, 2015
Egg hunt

Dear family,

Easter party!
Every 6 weeks, we have a "party" for our English class and we get to choose the theme. So we decorated eggs together and had an Easter egg hunt which was fun for them because they had never done these "American" traditions before. 

We wanted to make it fun and challenging, so I and my companion hid the eggs in really hard spots all around the church outside. Then we split the class up into teams and gave each team a flashlight to try and make it competitive. 

Members of our English class
But they couldn't find all of the eggs. I guess because it's not a tradition they do every year here, they weren't very competitive. They sort of casually walked around expecting to just see them sitting in the bush, but we hid them in branches of trees, etc. So they never found all the eggs, but that's okay! I think they still enjoyed it and it was hilarious to watch them. 

The last few days have been pretty spontaneous! It's weird using that word because usually nothing about missionary work is spontaneous. In general, we have every single 30 minute period planned out and back up plans for each plan so we can best use this precious time.

But it just so happens that sometimes things don't work out as you plan! And the last few days have turned out that way, and it was actually sort of fun for a change. We found ourselves biking all over, back and forth, and we had some unexpected lessons scheduled which was a pleasant surprise. 

By some miracle
Lin Jiemei is still on track to be baptized next month on the 16th which we're looking forward to. But she's crazy busy so can only meet with us on Sundays after church. But on Sunday she was going to the temple in Taipei (she's so awesome!) so wouldn't be able to meet with us. But we still have a couple lessons to get through with her, so we weren't sure how we'd get through everything. 

Helping class members decorate eggs for their first time
But at the last minute she called us up and said she would meet us at the chapel so we met her there. 

It turned out that by some miracle, at work she got to leave early and she was able to come. She's super cute and said she's been praying that she would have a way to meet with us and be able to go to institute. It worked out perfectly that we could meet with her and have Bishop join us for the lesson before he taught the institute class.

Becoming a saint
Mosiah 3:19 has always been one of my favorite scriptures.
"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."
Our teeny district
In the past I mostly liked it because of the last part of the verse describing how we should become childlike. This always stuck out to me because of how much I love children and how much I would work with them in summer camps, in my neighborhood, babysitting, etc. and truly learned so much from kids and loved how Christlike they are. 

But I usually ignored the first part of the verse, because I didn't like hearing that I was an enemy to God. This was years ago of course, when I was younger, and didn't fully understand the scriptures and sometimes found the language harsh and was almost even offended by that first statement. 

It still remains one of my favorite scriptures and now years later, I realize how doctrinally rich that verse really is. Now when I read the first phrase, "the natural man is an enemy to God" I am still taken back a bit at first. I think to myself, "Who is God's enemy? Not Satan?!" But how true those words are. Of course Satan is also God's enemy, but so is the natural man.

Fortunately we have the Atonement to help us change and become clean and worthy to return to God's presence. I love Elder Bednar's talk The Atonement and Journey of Mortality; it has really helped me understand this verse even more. I would encourage everyone to study it on your own! 
Companions: Sister Biancardi and me :)

Through the Atonement, we are first cleansed of our sins, we go from "bad" to "good", this is the cleansing part of the Atonement, the part that helps us "put off the natural man." 

Then, from the strengthening and enabling part of the Atonement, we "becometh a Saint", that is, we go from "good to better" little by little as we rely on Christ's grace, as we continually try our best trusting Him to help us after we give our best efforts. 

It is through this grace that we find the strength through Christ not that He will change our circumstances for us, but that we will have the strength to change ourselves. 

A new self

This quote by C.S. Lewis has been the goal of my mission: 
“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”
It might seem like a daunting task at first to rid ourselves of the natural man that is within all of us, but through the Atonement it is possible as we continue everyday, little bits at a time gradually changing our desires, actions, and thoughts. And we are always promised help from our Heavenly Father!

Beautiful Qishan
You are all in my prayers! So excited to be able to Skype on Mother's Day! And next week I and my companion are going to the beach (woo hoo!) so we'll be emailing earlier than usual.

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Training  follow up with President and Sister Blickenstaff (April 17)

Fresh cinnamon rolls--yum!

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