Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mission Letter 11/24/2014

Hello, everybody!

Me and my companion finally moved into our area this week! One of my tripanionship companions got a new companion, so they split us up. They found us a new apartment, and we've been making it very comfy (and clean, because I can't stand my last apartment and I'm determined this one won't become like it). It's a very nice 5th floor apartment, and because missionaries have literally just the essentials, it looks very empty. But nice. So I'm back to a regular companionship, and we now can spend the full week in our area.

I also had the strangest dream this week, one of the first dreams I've remembered on my mission, too. I was in my family van, kinda waking up, so a little groggy. It was after my mission, because we were driving away from the airport where my family had just barely picked me up. It was the year 2017, but the strangest thing was that... I couldn't remember anything from the past 18 months of my mission. I could only remember the first 6, which is where I'm almost to right now. So I started to panic a little. I asked Dad in the car what happened during those last 18 months, and he said, "Oh, it was great! You had an awesome mission. Your weekly letters were good, and your converts are doing well." I thought, what am I going to talk about during my homecoming talk on Sunday if I can't remember my own mission! So I took my Mom's phone and started re-reading my mission letters to try and jog my memory, but it wasn't working. So I started to panic, and I decided, I must be dreaming. So I slapped myself. I didn't wake up. So then my heart really started to beat, because I thought, "I slept through my whole mission! Two years and I ignored all of it!" And that's where the dream ended. Yes, it was weird, but pretty funny.

On a totally different note, I had the opportunity to baptize one of the Sister Missionaries in our ward's converts this past week. We showed up to the baptismal service, and about 15 minutes prior to the starting time, I discovered that the person who was supposed to baptize wasn't able to that night. And so, because I was the only one there who hadn't baptized anyone before, they decided to give me the opportunity (because no matter who got wet, no one had a change of dry clothes). I then had to memorize the prayer in Chinese in about 10 minutes, and then I baptized their 14 year old convert. That was an amazing, really cool experience. So, that's the first person I've baptized on my mission, even though she wasn't someone we taught. But we have someone that we found in our area a couple weeks ago, who is scheduled for December 13. We think she will make her date, which makes us very excited. It's awesome.

There's a scripture that I really like in The Book of Mormon. It's in 1 Nephi, Chapter 11.

 1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.

There are many things that can be learnt from this one verse, from the example of Nephi. Of course, we know that Nephi was the most "in tune" with the Lord, I guess. He was always teaching his brothers and his family, and he was always receptive to what his Father, the prophet, was teaching them. But Nephi also relied on the Spirit to confirm the truths that he was taught.

This is something that in the most recent General Conference, they talked about "the confirming power of the Holy Ghost," because "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Something we teach everyone in our contacts is that through the Holy Ghost we can come to know truth, and that's how they can decide whether our message is true or not.

But that's not the point that I was originally trying to make with this scripture. It is that, Nephi, first of all, was receptive. He sat, and he listened, and he learned. Then he had faith that the Lord could make these things known unto him. Finally, he sat "pondering in mine heart," and that's when he was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord to greater learning. 

We're always taught that the steps of scripture study are Search, Ponder, and Pray. We usually pray to start and end out of habit, and then we read in between, but how often do we sit there and ponder the things we've read? Do we throughout the day think back to the things we've read? I know that I very often, don't. That I didn't before my mission, and that it's something that I'm working on, because it opens another door to revelation. This is where the Holy Ghost can speak directly to us, about matters that we're personally dealing with.

I'm glad to be a missionary. It's a wonderful experience, watching people progress and change their lives.

And I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sequoia Ploeg

Taiwan Taipei Mission