As the title may have implied for you more nerdy folk, "H-Hour" is commonly associated- in military jargon- as the time before an assault is made on an enemy position/location/stronghold, etc., etc. That being said... it has happened- I'm leaving for the Mission Office at, will arrive hopefully at , and after that I will be headed to Adelaide, Australia! I don't know anything about flight plans or whatnot; I was told to pack my gear and show up , so my gear is packed, and now I wait. I'm sorry that I don't have any more information, but if I'm allowed to, I'll try to call home before I leave the country.
This week has been... crazy, for lack of better words. Our third companion, Elder Toone, actually went to high school with Elder Fishburn, so those two hit it off pretty quick. The same day we got him (last Tuesday), President McKee informed me and Elder Taylor that our visas had come through and that we were departing. After that wall hit us, we went back to work, and we worked hard. I'm sorry I keep forgetting to report back on Zach and Josh, but here's how those fields are: we made contact with Zach (finally) and he came to church to play some church ball with me and my companions and a handful of priests and their friends. He has a girlfriend that he's "very attracted to" and we have reasoned that he fell off the face of the earth because of this. Before he went under the radar, he was almost ready for baptism, and then we mentioned the law of chastity... I'll let your educated minds fill in the blanks.
I had to say goodbye to my good friend Josh yesterday; he came to church and brought our mutual friend Joy with him (only after I guilt-tripped him into it [and I "laid it on thick", to hear Josh put it]). It was necessary; he felt bad for some things he had done in the week and wasn't going to come because he didn't feel worthy to. Unfortunately for him, he has a friend like me, and I'm very blunt and straightforward when it comes to things like this. So yes, I spoke some hard things against him and he came in the end. Joy and Josh also fed us dinner that night (I haven't really mentioned Joy, but Josh and Joy are very good friends and we're friends with both of them. Joy is a member and has been going through some difficult tribulations so we've been doing our best to help her along). After they fed us, we took some photos and parted ways. Yesterday was... melancholy for me. It was a good day for missionary work, but not so fun in regards to parting ways with some people whom I've come to greatly appreciate and respect.
I don't have any fun stories to tell about this week, and I'm not even sure I have anything spiritual to offer. We handed out a few copies of the Book of Mormon, we were offered water and shade by a Presbyterian man (left him with a Book of Mormon too), and tracted in 80 degree weather with probably 70 percent humidity (thus making it feel more like 100 degrees). It rained, as is custom, and I went on exchange with Elder Allen, a Spanish missionary (that is to say that he speaks Spanish but is of European descent), and so for a day and half I contributed virtually nothing to the lessons we (or rather, he) taught; hablo no Espanol, los siento.
Yesterday at Sacrament meeting (here, something spiritual!), I did truly come to appreciate what the Sacrament is. After having pushed Josh so hard to come to church, I found myself sitting next to him and Joy and wondering what had compelled me to have spoken with such guilt-provoking conviction as I attempted to get Josh to come to church. As I took the bread, I thought of a story I heard awhile back about an apostle or prophet who, once passed the bread and water, took them and looked at them for a moment before partaking. I was not looking to mimic him, but instead wanted to really understand the Sacrament as he had. I took the bread and passed the tray along, and I sat there and looked at that small piece of bread. I pondered over what it meant, what it symbolized, and why it was so important to take it every week. It more or less hit me like a freight-train; the Sacrament, or partaking of it, literally is a re-baptism of sorts. It is a renewal of baptismal covenants and much more.
I thought long and hard about what I had covenanted to do, having been baptized into the Lord's church, but more so, I thought of what the Sacrament did. Like baptism, which symbolizes a rebirth, taking the Sacrament symbolizes starting anew. It symbolizes our willingness to repent for mistakes made over the past week, and it shows that we are going to try again, even harder than last time, to do as the Lord would have us do. It enables us to become clean again, as baptism first did, and that really hit me. The opportunity to become clean and fresh in the eyes of the Lord through taking the Sacrament, and being able to access Christ's Atonement -and therefore be able to be rid of the guilt that comes with past transgressions- is one of the greatest gifts given to us, and we would not have it without Christ's sacrifice.
Alas, it is that time in which I must be going. Please don't mail anything else to Tennessee (I have sent letters out with Tennessee return addresses and those will reach you after I have touched down in the land down under). I love you all, keep on keeping on! The next time you hear from me I won't be in the US!