- Found out on Preparation Day that I didn't get the internship I had interviewed for, but all is well because I still have some leads in, drum-roll please...BOSTON! We'll see how that goes.
- Tuesday we had Zone Conference. It was awesome. I may have had to step out of lunch for a few minutes in order to compose myself. The reality of how quickly the best year and a half of my life is wrapping up hit me pretty hard. But things really picked up after a super spiritual experience performing a musical number with two elders in my zone. Elder Gunnell and sang "I Never Stand Alone" from The Hill Cumorah Pageant and Elder Whitney accompanied on piano. I was rather nervous, mostly because I haven't performed anything other than a song sung straight out of the hymnbook in like...forever. We practiced throughout the previous week, so we had had time to work out the little rough spots, but still had some butterflies. Right before we sang, I had been feeling a little down (a lot of "I'm absolutely terrified to go home and not be a missionary and I have no idea how to live a 'normal' life and be a 'normal' person and what am I going to do with my life kind of worries) and had said a prayer for comfort. Then as I came in with my solo at the beginning of the song, the strangest thing happened. As the song starts, the character (Moroni) is talking about how he feels rejected and alone. A few lines in, the lyrics go along the lines of "but I am not the first to be regarded as weak and simple-hearted for choosing to believe that He keeps watch over His own?". But that's not what I sang. Despite the fact that I was staring at the music in front of me and had practiced the lyrics a million times, when I sang I ended up saying "but who am I to be regarded as weak and simple-hearted for choosing to believe that He keeps watch over His own." Aside from the miracle that somehow the words I messed up ended up being able to fit perfectly into the timing of the song and nobody noticed my mistake, the greatest miracle was the peace I felt as I heard and sang those words. I know those words were sent to me by the Spirit. As I sang them, I felt a sense of defiance against the fears that I had. Who am I to be afraid? I am a child of God and He truly does watch over His own. I've known that there are others that have had trials, that wasn't the message I needed to hear. What I needed to know was that my inherent nature is enough reason not to fear. That I can be brave because of who I am. It's a powerful thought. The strongest sense of peace entered my heart and I knew that I didn't need to be scared. That no matter what big changes await me, if I choose to believe and act upon the faith I have in Christ, it'll all work out. It's a lesson I've learned many times over on my mission. It'll all work out.
- Wednesday we had an AMAZING lesson with Zachary. He accepted a baptismal date and everything. He kept every single commitment we gave him! I was awesome! (Bummer Saturday night update, his parents super oppose him learning about Christianity and, out of respect for them, he dropped us. Saddest day ever. But that doesn't make the lesson we had with him on Wednesday any less AWESOME!)
- Weekly planning on Thursday along with a great time tracting and an old Chinese guy offering to host me should I ever come to China (I can't describe how often this happens to me. All these old Chinese men and women are always like "I don't want to learn about your church but you speak Chinese and that's cool so if you ever come to China call me and even though I just met you like two minutes ago you can stay at my house and I'll feed you and take you shopping and introduce you to all my Chinese family and friends but no, I don't want to learn the Gospel.") Then we had dinner and a yummy super spicy Chinese restaurant with a member and two formers. That was fun. The formers didn't want to start studying the gospel again, but the food was delish! And then coordination and music practice for...
- Friday's special mission conference with Craig A. Cardon of the 70! Yay! Two full length conferences in one week! It was super good! He talked a lot about "beginning with the end in mind", making sure that we aren't looking at baptism as an end goal, but simply as a first step towards living with our families forever. He shared a story that Elder Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared this summer about a man named Joseph Zhang whom he introduced to the gospel. Coolest part? Joseph Zhang lives in my area! And I know him! More on this topic in a bit. But yeah, he also talked a lot about the importance of prayer in receiving revelation. An altogether great meeting. Sang "More Holiness Give Me" with Elders Gunnell and Pumford (he's from Michigan too!) and Sister Davidson. Once again, Elder Whitney was on the piano. (We had wanted to perform it with the organ, but couldn't find the key. Another elder and I spent a good chunk of time trying to pick the lock, and got pretty dang close too, but we were only able to find one paperclip that was stiff enough and the bobby pins we had had these little bumps on the end that kept getting them stuck in the lock unable to reach back far enough. Oh well.)
- Saturday was awesome as well :) Our investigator Rona had her baptismal interview and passed! While she was in her interview we had some time to talk with the member we had brought along. I was really hit by the reality of how much my Chinese has improved since I came here to Bayview. Like, I can totally understand people now! I still have an accent, and I'm still learning lots of words, but I can totally communicate! It was a happy moment for me :) Later in the day after some time spent tracting on Lucifer Rd. (yes, that's it's real name) and meeting some seriously solid potentials, we headed to the YSA family home evening at one of the members houses because another member had gotten in touch with a former of ours who just returned from China and brought her along! So now we are teaching Kavi again! It was awesome! My previous companion S.Leung and I found her six months ago and I'm just so happy to be teaching her again. She's awesome :) That evening we went over to visit our recent convert Rosie and her father who is investigating the church. Rosie has been in China for several months as well, so it was good to see her again. Oh the blessings of serving in the same area for 9 months straight! :)
- Sunday morning we were surprised by an invite from Pres.Clayton and his wife to accompany them and Elder Cardon and his wife to go and visit Joseph Zhang! We ran to the church to meet them and attended the English Ward's sacrament meeting and then arranged with the elders in our ward to take care of our investigators during our sacrament meeting (which we were going to have to miss) and drove to the Zhang's with our mission president, his wife, a member of the seventy, and his wife following behind me in their car. I have never been so glad that I know my way around Toronto really, really well. President Clayton even complimented me on how easy it is to follow me when driving. It's almost like being told you're a good driver, but not quite. I don't think I'll ever get that compliment haha Unfortunately, Joseph Zhang and his wife (who are both well into their 90s and can't leave the house) didn't answer the door. We figure they were probably taking a nap. Elder Cardon seemed a little bummed, I think he was really looking forward to meeting them. I was both bummed and relieved that I didn't get the chance to teach a lesson with a member of the 70. A lot of pressure, but it would've been really cool. Oh well! After that, we rushed back to church, caught the closing hymn of sacrament meeting and then spent the next bit of time prepping for...Rona's baptism! It was so good! So many members came and gave her some really good fellowshipping. She brought a friend who we got to talk to and after seeing a baptism, wants to learn more! Yay! Oh! And Kavi came to both church and the baptism! Yay! After the baptism we cleaned up, went tracting, and then had a great dinner at the Bishop's house. It was a solidly good day!
The gospel blesses lives!
Love,Sister Makena Bauss