G'day brothers and sisters, friends and family!
As the title (and I seem to be running out of creative ideas) may have implied, it is very quiet in Broken Hill as of now. We received transfer information last night- Elder P and I are staying in Broken Hill! I was extremely excited when I heard this because I love my companion, who (I know I shouldn't have favourites) is probably my favourite companion thus far, and I love this area and I love the members and I love being a missionary out here! So I was just elated to get that information!! This week there was a Christmas party at church (Elder P and I were the ones who set it up... that took two days...) and we actually had more people come to the party than to church- parties (appropriate parties) are the way to go. They allow us to meet people, get to know them on a social level, and then they become interested in hearing about the gospel. I wish we could do more things like that but there just isn't enough man-power. If the members were young and youthful we'd be well off, but they are not as young nor as youthful.
The P's also had their break-out session (they run a sheep-shearing business) so we helped them to put that together as well. I wish I could say we were able to socialize and get to know people and invite them to church, but it's difficult to talk sense to those who are inebriated. Two of our female investigators were more interested in in flirting and inappropriate conversation with us, so needless to say, we told President that we needed to leave and we were promptly taken home. Ah, the joys of being in Satan's playground. We also went to a caroling thing last night at Stuart Park, in which probably the whole of Broken Hill assembled to sing Christmas songs, many of which were hymns. Elder P and I stuck around long enough to listen to them change sacred hymns with modified lyrics that took meaning away from the hymn and long enough to be seen by everyone, then we left the party and went home. Now all of Broken Hill knows we exist- there is no way everyone in this town has not at least seen us. Now we just have to tell them what we're all about.
What a blessed week it was though! At church there were around 30 attendees, Sister C being one of them (turns out that all the talk of her grave illness was just Small Town Syndrome kicking in again). There were also 6 young women in attendance, which brought our total youth class numbers to 7 -that is 5 more youth than the usual- (do the math- there was one lucky young man with all those young women ;D), and two of our official investigators came. At least half in attendance were members of a part-member family, but not members of the church, and people we had not been teaching. Unfortunately many of them still don't want to take the discussions, but that is hardly of any concern at this time- so long as they come to church, the desire to learn will come when it comes. Elder P gave a talk this week directed for the youth, and Sister D then gave a talk on pride. She listed heaps of things that stem from pride, and I don't think there was a single person in that Sacrament meeting that didn't feel at least a little bit of necessary pinching (I know I did, but it was a good pinch). She sort of cheated though, because half of her talk was based off of an apostle's talk, which she ended up reading. XD
Overall, everything is well in Broken Hill. I'm actually sort of excited to show up in Adelaide for Christmas, mostly because I've twisted my thinking enough that I want to keep a tally of how much "New Guy" treatment I get, and I'm excited to see the looks of shock that will undoubtedly accompany their faces after I reveal that it's almost been 9 months. For the most part, our teaching is slowing down and we're scraping the bottom of the bucket for things to do, though, so that is why I say it's all quiet out here.
In Broken Hill, I'm isolated and virtually alone and only a companion away from being physically on my own, which is the way I like it (doesn't that sound anti-social). Honestly though, there's just a bit more adventure out here and it keeps you on your toes when you don't have 4-6 other missionaries right at your fingertips to help you out. Being out here requires you to learn to lean on the Lord instead of others- A great example of a solid "loner" would be Moroni- after the Nephites were destroyed, he was on his own. If he did not have the relationship he did with Heavenly Father, and was reliant on social belonging to function, he might have abandoned the plates that contained the Book of Mormon, and he might have decided that it was better to be a Lamanite. There's also Joseph of Egypt- had he needed social inclusion to function, he would have straight up laid with Potipher's wife, he would have switched to worshipping Egyptian gods, and he would have adopted all of their customs. And what about Jesus Christ? If He had relied on being socially included, He might have decided that He didn't want to be the Only Begotten, and He might have adopted Roman gods and even sought after Roman citizenship- such would have made him VERY popular indeed, and virtually untouchable. (I am thankful that He didn't do that!)
I am not saying that anyone should go and live under a rock for the rest of their lives and shun being sociable- that is definitely defying God's commandments, but relying on social standing can be dangerous. The only person we should be solely dependent upon is our Heavenly Father- we should be our own person. I am my own man- I make my own choices, I do what I want to do, I have my agency, and the only one who I allow to hold any sway on what I do is Heavenly Father. I have the utmost respect for my Mum and Dad because they have always recognized that I was going to do what I wanted to do regardless of what anyone said, but in saying that, they have always been an honest source of guidance and direction. The trust and freedom they gave me ultimately helped me to turn out a better person. I think that was because I respected my parents more because of the way they chose to raise me, and therefore I was more prepared to listen and learn from them, and more willing to do so, as well.
In my opinion, marriage and family is a good example of what a healthy social circle is, assuming it is a good marriage. Within marriage, two people have the opportunity to grow, learn, improve themselves, and learn to be a little less selfish and a little more giving. The same comes with raising children, and the children must learn this same humility. This is a good social environment because the good that results from it is more than just self-satisfaction. Marriage requires sacrifice, family requires sacrifice, and sacrifice requires heaps of love.
My social standing is usually that of loner because I choose not to do what everybody else does. Standing up for what I believe in has not -and is still not- very popular, and immediately limits my potential number of friends. My code of conduct is the Lord's code- I am not perfect in following it, but I try my very best and strive to follow it perfectly. I may be the only person who knows that I followed my code when I refused to do this or that, or in some cases, refused not to do this or that, but ultimately that's okay. Where no one else will know of my actions, that in the moment of testing I stayed true to what I believe in, there is one who will always know, and that is our Father in Heaven, and in the last days, before the judgment bar of Christ, all things shall be made known.
I didn't think I'd go on that tangent and I hope it all made sense, but that's about all I've got to say this week. I'm sure there will be more exciting things next week, and they will be very Christmas-oriented. =D
Love you heaps!