On Christmas after talking with you all, Sister Huang and I were able to meet with one of the sisters in our ward for dinner. She brought her two children, both of which are in their 20s and not members of the church. We were able to talk to her daughter a lot. By the end, she was getting up to leave and her mom asked her if she would come to the church to play ping pong with us. She said yes! I'm not sure if it is all going to work out (going from ping pong to gospel teaching is going to be a stretch haha), but I really have faith that as long as we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we will know how to introduce the Gospel to her.
We also met with Alex on Christmas. He was not very happy when he met with us. He had watched a video on Youtube of a Chinese Christian woman bashing Buddhism (and his mother is a devote Buddhist, so he felt very affronted). We started teaching him the 10 commandments, but he asked us if we could learn about something else. So we read Alma 7 with him and talked about what the meaning of being Christian is. He calmed down a lot throughout the lesson (the Book of Mormon really is so amazing), but said that he really wants to see miracle before he is baptized. Tomorrow we will meet again with him and really emphasize the importance of faith proceeding miracles and RECOGNIZING miracles (he said that he does not consider being able to quit smoking as a miracle. Said it was his own willpower...).
One of our progressing investigators, Jared, came to church for the 3rd time yesterday! He has been reading the Book of Mormon and reading scriptures (up to 1 Nephi 19), but he says he still is not sure if God is hearing his prayers. We were able to teach him more about prayer and asked him to ask a specific questions in his prayers in order to get a specific answer. He promised to do so and said a rocking closing prayer (in which he asked a specific question. Jared is the best.)
Sister Huang has started listening to conference talks to inprove her English and I was able to listen to an absolutely rocking talk by Elder Holland, called "None Were With Him." It is centered around the final moments when Jesus on the cross cries out in agony, "My God, my God, why hast thou bforsaken me?"
Elder Holland discusses in the talk how, although Jesus knew His fans, followers, and even closest friends would eventually leave Him alone, it is possible that He never imagined the Father leaving Him alone as well. In John, proceeding the Atonement, Jesus addresses His apostles about His oncoming trials, saying:
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not aalone, because the Father is with me.
Christ had complete confidence that the Father would be with Him always. He had never been without the Father and likely did not imagine, at this most difficult time of His life, he would be unable to rely on that strengthening power. Elder Holland states in his talk,
"It is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.
I am so unbelievably grateful for the Savior's sacrifice for me. I already talked about it last week and I will likely talk about it again in the future, because the more I learn about that sacrifice, the more acutely I feel the need to serve Him in any way I can . Because of the Savior, we do not have to feel disconnected from the powers of heaven at any time. We can always have access to the love, blessings, and forgiveness and know that we do not have to be alone! I love you all so much! I hope this year you take what you can from the past and push forward in the future to use this gift more abundantly in your lives!