Life never stops moving in this fast-paced world, but it is full of amazing experiences. Here now to document them and make the memories last, following the most important rule, love life and make the most of it. Here is our attempts at making the most out of our wonderful lives!
We were able to talk to Taylor last week on Christmas Day over Skype. Best day ever. He is so mature and so grown up! We are so proud of him. He has sacrificed his time and energy for a year and a half now, to helping serve others and teach people about our Saviour. He has brought so much happiness to the lives of so many...that even those slammed doors...well, it's all okay. Well, as the mom, I wish people wouldn't be slamming doors on him, but the big picture is what's important. He has only 7 months left on this part of his journey and he thinks that's too short! He loves it so much. Taylor, thank you for blessing our lives with your service to others and your love for people in general! And thanks for making us laugh as you acted out some of the reactions of people when you randomly ask them if they speak Chinese (in Chinese...lol). Priceless...I mean you can imagine...a 6' 2" white guy blurting out that question...it definitely stops people in their tracks!
Here's his letter for this week.
I am so eager to hear Jenna's call, that would be sweet if I can watch it at the Piper's. (Been waiting patiently for Jenna's mission call and wouldn't you know it, we haven't even gotten ANY mail delivered for almost 2 weeks...so she called today and they are putting in a special note to make sure we get our mail tomorrow so I'm hoping it arrives and video her opening and then send it to his Bishop's wife...he's eating supper there on New Year's Day so he can watch the video of her opening while he's there.)
Ya so Ben and Delphine and Egide and Beatrice (our wonderful friends from Cochrane) were all at Church on Sunday! They went to the ward before ours, and we were at Church early, so we saw them. It was so great. Beatrice was reminding me how amazing you are mom! It was funny, Ben taught a lesson with us in Chinese! They are just visiting and going to Montreal today. Totally random to have seen them. When I saw Beatrice, she was talking with someone, she looked up and I waved, and she just kinda noticed, then she did a double take and her eyes got so wide! It was awesome. She said I got thinner.
I love the pics! They are so pro! The Christmas tree is beautiful! And everyone in their scrubs is sweet. (Got everyone scrubs this year for their Christmas Eve jammies...including Taylor).
Christmas dinner was great, we decided on Korean after all and had this great food, that comes on these hot metal plates so it is sizzling when it arrives. We went with Steve and Charles and we texted everyone Merry Christmas and someone we met on the street says he didn't have anything to do on Christmas and he felt lonely so we invited him, and he came too! This week was pretty slow missionary work wise, with people being gone and what not. We still had tons of meaningful experiences. We had 6 friends come to Church yesterday, and got fed by a super cool member named Rex. Oh I remember something sad. Our friend Lei Xin, we have been teaching for a few months, and he moved to Windsor on Saturday, so we ate with him on Thursday night.
That will be so cool for Jenna! I'm so excited! That's gonna be the best Christmas present, I hope it does come before so I can know on Wednesday instead of having to wait until Monday. (Jenna's mission call is in the mail and should arrive around Christmas Eve.)
The un-birthday was great, (his birthday is Dec. 20th so I sent his package early so as not to blend too much with Christmas.) I love the pressies! (...and that's Aussie for presents! lol)The Mont Blanc things smell soo good! The shirt is really cool, and it is nice to have a fresh pillow case :) The tree is in the other apartment, but Elder Laboulaye has a cute little nativity we set up, so it is a little Christmassy, at least with the true meaning of Christmas.
That would be sweet if we all worked in medicine. (I told him that both Jenna and Lewis are thinking medicine...Jenna nursing maybe and Lewis surgeon.)
I was thinking about Mac today, visiting him will be one of the first things I want to do when I am back. Thinking of him does put me in a more somber, or serious mood, but I feel good. I am managing for sure.
I can't wait to jam with Lewy and everyone. I love to sing!
I am still with Elder Mataoa, I guess I could talk about my companions for once. Elder Mataoa is a great missionary, he learns really quick. He has a lot of red in him, (he's referring to a personality type from the book The People Code which all of our kids read and take the test once they are old enough to learn more about their own personality and how they can 'blend' well with anyone else) which is great, I don't need to be pushy for him to be motivated or aware of what needs to be done. I like that. Oh the four of us were talking about the Color Code and the 5 Love Languages the other day. Can we get the tests? Elder Mataoa loves to develop his talents. He loves to draw, he loves anime and manga. He is pretty funny, likes laughing and having fun, oh and he is a great dancer! He likes to party, not that we ever do haha. Transfers are the 8th on January, we are about half way through this one. Anything is possible at this point. There might be some shuffling in the Chinese Elders, because we have all stayed for 2, but I could stay out here. I really love our area, we have great friends, a lot of people seem to like us. Our ward gave all the missionaries stockings yesterday for Christmas, it was super nice! I haven't opened it yet (Elder Mataoa peeked at his) mostly goodies, which is great! Oh ya, our ward has 8 missionaries in it; us, English/French Elders and Sisters, and a Senior Couple that teach institute. We are one district, and we are pretty tight. Last Monday night was our ward Christmas Party/Talent Show. Elder Castrejon wrote a poem and we all sang a Christmas Hymn. Then one of the 15 Chinese friends that we brought got up on stage last minute (I asked if anyone had talent and that they could perform) and he beat boxed so well! This guy is a champion, and definitely star of the night! It was sweet. There are so many activities for Christmas, especially with 3 wards in the same building. There is a big Stake one, they do the Nativity with live animals right outside the Church on the 20th and 21st this year. We are planning a potluck for the Chinese folk on the 21st just before the Nativity. Should be fun! It has recently snowed a bunch out here. Something else fun this week. 2 things actually. The Stake does service around Christmas time, gift wrapping at the mall, to raise money for a charity, so Elder Mataoa and I went this week. My presents almost look like Dad's... almost. Then we went to Shu Ling's (our member) house for dinner and she made this awesome special Chinese meat balls, they were delicious! All in all, that makes for a pretty good week.
My favourite part about this time of year is the Spirit that is felt. I love the time we have to reflect upon the Saviour's birth, that wonderful gift to the world. He is central to our whole being. Without him, there would be nothing. His love lifts us up, and pushes us onward. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ, and the chance I have everyday to remind the world that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, that He lives, that He loves us. The peace these simple phrases bring to my heart are worth more than all the presents I get at every Christmas. We have been challenging the people we meet to be kind, and extend a loving hand to someone in need this Christmas season. I love that we can come together in the cause of right. Even if the people we meet don't know what God has done for them, the light of Christ is strong and I really feel like we can make a difference.
Thanks so much for everything mom! Have a good week!
Was Grandma's Christmas party for work? (The kids went to my mom's work Christmas party on Saturday) That is cool that Lewis put up the decorations by himself, I guess he is 16 now. I am starting to feel old! I bet calling on Christmas will be weird, seeing everyone so big now. Oh and I can still Skype this year. So no problems, but just less than an hour for the amount of time.
I can't wait for Jenna to get her call! That is so exciting! She should come here! Or France. Where does she want to go?
I think I'll get you to apply to U of C and McGill, and maybe BYU too, if it isn't too complicated. That would be cool if Aaron went. (A friend on his mission planning on going to BYU) I get Jason's e-mails every week. I think he is in South Carolina, or North. Seems to be doing well, it's crazy that we are on missions. Has Joe Pickett left yet?
Oh hey mom, I was thinking of an awesome adventure! Do you want to go to China? One of our members here, Jeffrey is going back to China in the summer and said if I want I could come and stay, he would find a place to stay and provide food! I told him that you would naturally need to come with me, and he said sure! I thought it would be cool if like you and Dad and I went. Although I don't want to be selfish, I know it would probably be too expensive for everyone to come. But it would give me a chance to use my Chinese! And you could get a chance to take great pictures of things like the Great Wall! What do you think? There is a member here, Kevin, from Toronto, and he lived in Beijing for 1 year on a scholarship from the Chinese government. I thought that would be sweet, seeing as it would help me in my dream to be a pop-star in China, but I don't think I could leave for that long again. So maybe a few weeks would be fun.
I got the birthday package, but I haven't opened it yet, but I guess I can now! Thanks mom and dad.
The car looks so cool! I like Toyotas. (We bought a car.)
We have our ward Christmas party/talent show tonight. Should be fun.
This week wasn't too bad, all of our people are busy with finals, so it was a little slower, but that's alright. Chinese class at church is great, a lot of people have been coming out.
Oh ya, on Tuesday, we road-tripped to Montreal for a meeting. It was great! The Spirit was so strong, and I renewed my resolve to be the best I can be (that happens a lot on the mission). We tend to go on emotional cycles, and when we are on a low, we are self-conscious and realize we make a lot of mistakes, maybe in teaching or in following the missionary schedule, or whatever. But then we resolve to improve and great things happen. I guess this is a life principle, not just a mission thing. But it's great.
This week I gave a training on Charity, I LOVE giving trainings! It is definitely important to think about Charity, and trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ in love and service to others. Also this week I have been studying Patience. I have a lot of room to improve here. I realized I had always thought of patience as the ability to wait. I have now discovered that a more accurate definition would be to endure trial/hardship, while maintaining peace and avoiding frustration... easier said than done. Luckily we can use our faith and rely on the Lord to strengthen us and help us endure (see Alma 31:31).
Well hope you have a fantastic week! Lots of love,
Woah mom! That is sooo coool! That is amazing! Awesome! I'm down with coming to the next one for sure! (I filled him in on our trip to Central America).
All those pictures you took are really pro mom! Look how the Lord is using your talent!
Sister Pieper came to me yesterday and said "I had the greatest talk with your mom!" That was pretty cool. (She messaged me on facebook last week--see previous entry on this blog) We had a Stake Christmas devotional after Church on Sunday, and we sang a hymn. It was pretty cool. I love Christmas. This year feels more Christmas-like than last year, probably because I am in Ottawa with a ward full of Christmas-celebrating people. It's sweet. We got snow this week, I was definitely enjoying the extended summer.
This week was great we had a good time. A couple of our friends invited their friends to church, so we had 12 people in our Mandarin class! It was so cool!
On a more personal note, my stress peaked this week. We have been taught a lot about stress. We categorize it into 4 colours, green, yellow, orange and red. Green is good, normal levels. This week I hit orange, not so good. So I have been struggling my way back down to green. I don't know why I am more stressed than usual, definitely not the work load. Maybe just some internal pressures, but I think I have been managing okay. I feel kinda yellow-green today. I really find relief in studying the scriptures, like really studying. At institute, Brother Turner taught us there are 3 ways to study, swimming, snorkeling and SCUBA diving. I used to be a swimmer, and throughout the mission began snorkeling so to speak. This week I have been focusing on really going slow and diving in to the scriptures. It has been really rewarding. I am learning so much about the Saviour and emulate his example more fully, even in stressful times. Guess I am getting some good habits. (Wow! He really is human...a little stress! I love the analogy with swimming, snorkeling and diving!)
Tomorrow we are going to a meeting for trainers in Montreal. I'm pretty excited to go. I always love the chance to learn from President Patrick.
Oh and I did think about school a little bit. I am really leaning towards Calgary, I guess I need to apply there and I had the thought this week that McGill would be kinda cool to try and get in to. It would be funny living here not being a missionary but just a thought I had. (We've got to get him registered for school for September so he's deciding where to continue his Neuroscience degree.)
What do you think? Also I have thought about living in China to teach English. Just crazy thoughts on my part, looking for your feedback. Hope you have a great week!