This week was so good and so eventful, I don't even know where to begin! So after 8 weeks of our choir director teasing us about hearing from an apostle every single week, he finally spoke the truth! We all knew that we would hear from an apostle on Thanksgiving, but then on Tuesday night, we were surprised to hear from Dallin H. Oaks! Our choir number was Nearer My God to Thee. There's just nothing like singing such a beautiful hymn in the presence of an apostle of the Lord. He spoke about how we can be instruments in the hands of God by using an analogy of a pen. When we use pens, we want them to be able to work, we want them to be filled with ink, and we want to know that it will work every time we use it. Likewise, God wants us to be healthy and able to work, He wants us to be filled with a knowledge and a testimony of eternal life, and He wants to know that we will always serve Him. Even on our P-days, even when we're "too tired". We signed up to be missionaries - to be His instruments. It is our calling to diligently serve Him, and to work in His way according to His timing.
So me, Sister Good and about 20 other random missionaries were invited to go to a private luncheon with the apostle that would be speaking on Thanksgiving! We didn't know who it would be, but some people hinted towards Bednar. Sure enough, Elder Bednar entered the room on Thursday morning prepared with a really interesting talk. He had his family members pass out cell phones to us and we could text questions to the number on the screen and it would send to his iPad and we could discuss the questions that were asked. It was very different and unique, but it was effective. Some people asked some really interesting questions. One of them was about Christ's atonement. Christ was a perfect being, but He still had agency and He still had to be baptized. Was it possible for Him to deny the will of the father, and not atone for our sins? It brought up an interesting idea, that Christ was sent to Earth TO DO the will of the father. He covenanted with God, and there is a big difference between exercising your agency, and breaking a covenant. Technically, Christ could have said no. But He didn't for several reasons. 1. He made a covenant with the father, and knew what the father's plan was for him. 2. He absolutely loves all of us, and being the perfect, charitable being He is, He didn't want us to suffer that pain. 3. If He didn't do so, none of us could be saved.
There were several other questions asked as well, but that's the one I think I learned the most from. After the devotional, Sister Good and I went to the luncheon prepared with several questions we wanted to ask him. He shook all of our hands and asked us where we were from and where we're going and then began a discussion about his talk and asked us several questions. So we didn't really get to ask as many questions as I thought, but it was a really cool experience. Afterwards, we shook his hand again and Sister Good asked him what his favorite scripture was. Of course he didn't have "just one", but he said his favorite theme is "one by one". That phrase appears in the Book of Mormon 6 times, and he invited us to find where they were without using lds.org. It was so amazing being with an apostle of the Lord.
The rest of our Thanksgiving was awesome. It was very laid back. We wrote letters home, did a service project, and were surprised to see Meet the Mormons finally! It was just really fun relaxing a little bit and enjoying the holiday. They seem to really spoil missionaries on the holidays since we're away from home.
So I finally got called to speak in church on Sunday! I spoke about recognizing and understanding the spirit. I just knew I'd get called. I had that feeling. It was alright, not as bad as I thought it would be! And now I don't have to worry about writing talks at the MTC! It was pretty humbling though - and I feel like I should use these extra two weeks here wisely to improve my Chinese.
Oh yeah, speaking of which - our reassignments have been cancelled. They said that our visas are only going to be a few days late so there would be no point in sending us to the states for a transfer when we could just go straight to Taiwan. But then we went and talked to the Travel Office today, because they still haven't told us anything, and they said that our new departure date is Dec 15th. Our visas can come anytime between now and then so there's still a chance we'll get out of here by the 9th, but there's also definitely a chance that we're here for two more weeks. Not the best news we've heard, but I guess it does give me more time to learn Chinese whereas if I were to be sent to the states, I would lose a lot of it. We still don't know anything for sure, but this is what they've told us!
I think we're all going a little crazy. We were not mentally prepared to be here for 11 weeks!Our district has been pretty bummed out about it, but our Branch President came and talked to us and he made a good point. He thinks that if the Lord wanted us to leave for Taiwan today like we were supposed to, He would have made it happen. But for some reason he's keeping us here. Whether it's because we need to learn something, or the new districts need to learn something from us, or whatever it is - there is definitely a reason for this and we need to be looking for what that reason is.
Well that's all the news I have for this week! It really was an awesome week despite the bad news about our visas. Such a cool opportunity to hear from two apostles, have a perfect Thanksgiving to reflect on the things we hold dear to in life, and to relax a little bit. I do love the MTC, and I'm still learning in ways I didn't think possible. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and did some fun Black Friday shopping! Miss you and love you all!
I love Mai Laoshi! She is such a great teacher, and she really has such a big heart.
Luo Laoshi never fails to make us laugh. He has the best accent.
Almost all of the Taiwan missionaries!
(Mostly) all of the departing missionaries! Eventually...
Having some fun with the lights on Thanksgiving!
Our attempt at a district photo ha ha