Well I was super happy to hear that the Hansen family has invited you guys over for Tsagaan Sar in February! Enjoy the buuz! That should be a great time! Make sure to wear your дээл (deelth) and bring your best хөөрөг (khuurug)...a little bottle that you exchange, open up, and sniff)!
Well, this week was pretty good! My companion and I taught 11 less active members, but only two investigators. New Year's definitely happened here (I write that as if it didn't happen in the rest of the world), and it was so great to be a part of such a big holiday with the great Mongolian people I have come to love. So New Year's here is the Christmas equivalence. It begins on New Year's Eve, with family and friends coming over to your home to celebrate, then people come and go for about two more days. Everyone here prepares tons of Capital Salad (Potato Salad), and tons of other salads, and lays them all across a table, along with a large cake, fruit, and candy. Then you just grub down as much as you want. Then you are free to go. They are just pleased to have you over and feed you! They are such great people! Christmas trees here are for New Year's, and the cool thing is, people that come to your home put money on your tree as kind of a donation to help reimburse them for the money they spent over the holidays. We met with some great people and ate a lot of cake....success in my book!
Something that really hit me this week was a quote from the Saratov movie (Missionaries getting kidnapped in Russia...). In the movie, one of the Elders had just hit his one year mark and is burning his shirt on top of an old Soviet-style building, just like they have in Choibalsan. The movie eludes to, and so does the Elder, that they have little success and most missions teach more lessons in a week than they do in a month, which is very comparable to Mongolia. But then the Elder says something along the lines of, "Don't you just love that feeling? You come home after a long day, tired as can be, but knowing that you did just a little bit of good in the world?" For me it has been really easy when I get deep down in the ruts of Missionary work to think that I am not pleasing the Lord and my labors are not enough. This has been a battle I have had for most my mission, just trying to feel like I am in line with the Lord's will during those times with small amounts of lessons taught or little to none progressing investigators. Well there has also been a theme that has stuck out to me in the Book of Mormon, and some of the Brethren have given talks about it in conference recently, and that is, "One by One." Jesus Christ ministered and continues that ministry "one by one." When he healed the lepers, he didn't say a prayer that cured them all, but he healed them, individually, "one by one." When he blessed the Nephite children, he called them forth and blessed them, individually, "one by one." When He knelt before an olive tree, great drops of blood fell from every pore of His perfect body, suffering for us, individually, "one by one." His gospel reaches out to the individual by way of the Spirit, in a personal way that does not touch the masses or multitudes. When they say in the scriptures that the Spirit was upon them, or that it fell upon the multitude, yes of course that is true, but it was not like a blanket that was draped over them. It hit every person individually in their heart, "one by one," and converted them to His gospel, individually, "one by one." Just a side note, the phrase "one by one" is only mentioned in the Book of Mormon six times, but in the stories that are of most importance, according to Elder Bednar, and that will fill the individual "one by one," with knowledge and the Spirit of confirmation of truth.
As missionaries, we "Teach People, not Lessons." Our ministry is one that can only be done to the individual, reaching out "one by one." This week, on New Year's, Sister Bolor Erdene was in the hospital, as she has been lately for her kidney and other illnesses that she has. She decided not to go to her home, where the party was, but just to say and read the scriptures and spend New Year's with the older woman who shared her hospital room with her. We stopped by, gave her some great chocolate, and a large bottle of juice, and wished her a Happy New Year. She never said much, but when we sat down, she wept. We didn't say much to her as we knew that things are hard with her relationship with her sister. But before we left, I prayed for her and asked for the greatest blessings of the Lord to come upon her and her son this coming year. As we left, she wept again. I truly felt that night that we did just a little bit of good in the world, and it felt great. On New Year's Day, we went over to Purew Emee's house and played a Mongolian card game with her for about 30 minutes, and man she was just tickled pink. That felt so good just to brighten her day up, and I know it is something she won't forget. The Zone Leaders came from the city to do a 5-day exchange with us starting last Saturday. Saturday night, Elder Hill and I just went around visiting Grandmas in the branch, and making sure they were warm and had ways to get to church the following day. We walked.....a lot. It was super cold, and we taught not a single lesson that day, but when I came home, I thought to myself with a smile of my face, "Harris, that was a good day." Right now we have no investigators. Recently we have been burned and burned and burned. But I have learned that getting too caught up in the numbers is just a waste of time and causes stress. I am reminded of the hymn:
"Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed."
Well, that is my soap box for the week! Please know that I am happy, everything is good.
Love you all,