Well, we're kind of short on time. I promise a better letter next week. I will, however, take the time to tell you what I have learned a lot about this week, and that is about the Pride within me. This week I have been reading and studying about "the Natural Man" in Mosiah 3:19. I see a lot of the Natural Man in myself, and I am learning how to combat him. It is terribly hard. In "Preach my Gospel" (PMG) we learn about Christ-like values such as charity, love, and humility, just to name a few. This is my favorite chapter in PMG for many reasons. Mostly because within this chapter, it talks about the person, missionary, husband, father, priesthood holder, and most importantly, the son of God, that I aspire to be in this life. As I study all these values, I am constantly reminded by the Spirit when I am not following my Savior and His example. I know that through the power of the Atonement, the Natural Man within me can be fought off everyday.
So here is the first of two experiences I had this week that has driven this principal home to me: All week, it has been POURING rain here in Choibalsan. Literally everything is flooded and muddy. There is no such thing as drainage here, so everything just pools up into rivers and puddles of water all around the city. Thanks to my good, sturdy mission shoes that are pretty much "anything proof," I just walk through it all and let them get muddy. Then when I get to the house where a lesson is scheduled, I just wash them in the pools of water before we go in. On the other hand, my companion, Elder Osorjamaa, will never walk in the water or mud. It was pretty funny to watch him try to avoid all the water and mud puddles. It eventually got a little annoying because he would take like a 3-minute detour to avoid it. I finally asked him why he won't just suck it up and walk through the puddles. He replied that the shoes he has now are the nicest shoes he has ever owned and he is not going to ruin them. He has been out on his mission for 23 months and these are the only shoes he has worn. I then thought, well you will get a new pair after your mission....duh. I mean I probably won't be wearing my mission shoes after my mission. I will get a new pair just like my brothers did. Then it hit me like a brick and I realized, Marc, he doesn't want to ruin these shoes because he will not be able to afford another pair after his mission. I felt awful, let me tell you. So instead of him running around finding dry ground, I just started to give him piggie-back rides across all the water and puddles. I am sure we looked ridiculously funny, but oh well, that's mission life....and it made me feel somewhat better about how I behaved..
Here is the second experience where I fell short of the mark. Every morning, before companionship study, my companion and I always say a prayer to invite the Spirit into our study. Afterwards, we always shake hands then get started. This time, when we shook hands, I let go but he kept shaking. My companion commented on my hand shake and told me that it is important for a missionary to have a good, firm hand shake. Here is the lesson I learned: I'm sorry to say that I was offended and my companion could see it in my face. I thought to myself, "Are you kidding me? That is the first time Iin my life I've been told I have a weak handshake." That was the pride within me that I am talking about. My companion told me that he was just trying to help, and then he apologized. Again, I felt awful as I saw the lesson he was trying to teach me. This is what I learned. Over these past two years since my high school days, I have been very humbled. I have gone through experiences that have changed me for the better, and have undoubtedly humbled me. I would like to think that I have changed from the prideful, cocky, high school kid I was, but I see everyday that I am not done. The Natural Man is still in me and I need to work harder and harder everyday to combat him by "listening always to the enticings of the Holy Spirit," and thus become a "saint." Something as little as my missionary companion questioning my hand shake, got to me and I responded in a way our Savior would never have. As I have thought about that experience, I am sad and disappointed in myself, but I have faith in good things to come. I know this change is not fast, nor should it be, but I do know that My Savior is supporting me. He smiles upon me while I make these changes, but He also is sad and disappointed when I take a step back. All in all, I am very grateful for the experiences I have had this week and the lessons I have learned from my companion. I hope and pray, that when you see me again, you will see the change in my countenance and in my labors. I hope even more that my Heavenly Father and my Savior will have no problem recognizing me as a His disciple, through trail and error, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, it is scary to look inside yourself and see where you are lacking, but I know that through the merits and mercy of Christ, I can make the mighty change in heart that is talked about so often in the Book of Mormon. I can become a better Disciple of Christ.
This week, even through the rain, the Work has progressed in many ways. We have been finding and reaching out to less active members. I know they are being placed before us by a power not of our own. It is obvious. The Branch is finally starting to come together well, with callings being filled and members learning and knowing their roles in this faraway branch of Zion. I know it is still a work in progress, but we are very pleased with this, and there is a lot less stress with the help of the members knowing their callings.
I love you all. Be safe.
My companion, Elder Osorjamaa and I.