Hey! Sounds like you guys are busy at home! But it sounds like things are going well! I always love hearing from you each week! It is definitely my favorite part of Monday!
Well, this week I'm not gonna lie, has been pretty difficult. We have been working pretty hard and trying to go to everyone we can think of, but only got a handful of lessons in. At so many places, there either was nobody home or they told us to come back another time, but wouldn't give us any time that they would be home (that is the way most people reject us here--culturally, they will not say don't come back at all), and then there were a few that did tell us not to come back. Well, after feeling like we were working fairly hard but not seeing any results, it was beginning to get pretty frustrating. Especially because this began at the beginning of last week. Well, after about a week and a half of riding around all over Solo, going to everyone we could think of going to, and some of them several times without any success, we were running out of ideas and getting pretty frustrated. I began wondering what we were doing, and what more we even could do. I was having a pretty hard time. I never really wanted to quit and come home, but I did keep thinking about skiing and mountain biking and Christmas and my family, and how much I would rather be doing those things than continuously getting rejected here. But, I knew that thoughts like that weren't healthy, and they were making it far harder for me to focus on the work and be effective. Well, I kept saying silent prayers in my heart. Then on Wednesday night as we were riding home from somewhere quite far away, we were on a dark road, it was starting to rain, there weren't many cars around, and I was feeling pretty lonely and discouraged and down after a long day without much success. I was trying to think about what we could do the next day, and was honestly coming up completely blank. I didn't know who we could go visit--there was for sure no one that I knew for sure we could visit, and only a few ideas that I was fairly certain would fail. Then I was feeling sorry for myself that I am stuck as a trainer and a senior companion having to lead an area when I myself never really got any training. I have no idea how to proselyte here because we can't just go knock on doors, and none of my companions before ever went proselyting, so I don't really know how to do it.
I was pretty down at that point--one of the lowest points I have been in the last several months. But luckily at just the point I most needed it, my silent prayer was answered. I just felt a peace come into my heart and I knew that things would be OK. I still had no idea what we would do. But I wasn't so scared or feeling sorry for myself. Then President Hinckley's words came to my mind, "Lose yourself and go to work." I have always had those words at the back of my mind and always thought about them, but until this point I never really understand the meaning of them. I thought they just meant go work hard or something. But this week they took on a new meaning for me. I learned that the "Lose yourself" is the most important part. It is super easy to get discouraged if I keep thinking about myself and all the other things I could be doing if I were at home. But, at that point, I decided that what it meant is focus on missionary work. Forget about skiing, mountain biking, boating, Iron Man, whatever it is, for two years,and focus on the missionary work. Focus on who can I serve, how can I serve them better, and what more can I do to help the Lord, and how can I find joy in doing that, not "oh man, I could be skiing right now." Then the next morning for personal study I read 2 Nephi 4 for personal study, and that hit me pretty hard, because I could really relate with Nephi feeling sorrow at the beginning of the chapter. But I love the example of how he recognizes the good things in his life and commits to rely upon God to be his support after he has done all he can do. So, when I started thinking more like that, I did almost a complete 180* turn in my emotions. I realize that if I am doing the best I can, that is the best I can do and the Lord will make up the rest. Well, I had a test of that again Saturday. We had an appointment that didn't go very well--the guy didn't really believe anything that we said and said it. Then after that we had a really hard time getting in any other appointments. It rained all day long and we got wet, we were out riding around trying to get in appointments, but the poeple just weren't home. Well, again, at the end of the day we were riding back to the house on a dark, long, lonely road. And it was raining pretty hard. It was like deja Vu, only this time I wasn't feeling depressed or down. I was thinking to myself, "How awesome it is that I am in Indonesia, living here, speaking the language, experiencing the culture, and serving the Lord. And it is kinda fun that I am in dress clothes riding a bike in the pouring rain and getting drenched! And I feel good about myself because I know that I have done all that I can to try my best to serve the Lord today. I was at that point genuinely happy, where in the exact same situation 3 days earlier, I was miserable and questioning why I was here.
I think that was an experience that I needed--to learn humility, to rely more upon God, and also to personalize 2 Nephi 4, because I think I can use it to help a few investigators and inactive members here. In fact, I already shared it with a guy I contacted last night proselyting after he told me of some problems in his life. Who knows if things will get better, if the work will pick up and get easier or not this week? I don't. But He does, and I know what I have to do, and that He will make up the rest and help me feel joy in the service!
I'm so grateful for all the experiences I have had on my mission. It has been the hardest but most rewarding experience of my life! I know without a doubt that God is, and that he loves us and will help us! I also know that this church and the Book of Mormon is true. My testimony has been strengthened so much from my experiences on my mission, and even if I don't baptize a single person on my mission, I know that my service converted at least one person to the gospel--myself! And for that I am grateful, and know that no matter what else happens, my mission was not in vain.
Well, sorry this email is just all me rambling on and stuff, and different from the other emails. But you probably didn't really want to hear about going door to door to door without any appointments really, so I thought this would be of greater value. I love you all so much and pray for you always! Thank you for praying for me, I can feel it!I love you and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas, though I don't yet know what time. Sorry, we haven't been told by President yet.
I love you!
Love Elder Wood
I'll write a separate email for this. I got the Christmas packages this week! Thank you so much! The pre-Christmas one was totally awesome and I had a ton of fun decorating the tree! That was such a fun idea and I love it hanging in the house! And the "Night Before Christmas Book" Was pretty funny, too! We all got a good laugh out of it! Especially the dogs barking and the rap! Haha!
I don't know if you know how hard it is to not just rip open all the 12 days of Christmas and the big package immediately! It is so tempting! But thus far, I have been good and not. And I think I can make it until Christmas, though it will be a test! But I got some good pictures of decorating the tree and hanging it up today, so I will try to send a few. That is what I spent my morning doing! Thank you so much for putting that all together--I know it was a ton of work, but it means a lot to me and I truly appreciate it! You guys are the best family ever!
Also I have a big envelope that I am going to send off today. It has the memory card with my pictures from the first few months (they are backed up--don't worry) and a few letters for the family, and for a few other people. It is a lot cheaper to send them in one envelope, so can you hand them out to people? Thanks! And I apologize it has taken me so long to get these letters off, I am really bad about going to the post office. But today the envelope is already sealed and in my bag, so it is going! Hopefully it gets there before Christmas!
Well, anyways, I am out of time and need to send the pictures. I love you all! and thanks again!
Love Elder Wood