Good morning. We received your package this week, finally. The one that had Mom's church bag, letter and an SD card in it. You're right about the photos being grainy. I don't know if that can be or how to fix that. Maybe there is a different setting on the camera you can use to get better quality pictures? The boys loved the video clip you included. They thought it was neat being able to see your flat and to see that you were still "Eph", the happy and sometimes goofy brother they love. All of those things your mother really appreciated. Send more photo's etc., when you can. We don't want it to distract you from the most important work you are there to do.
I was thinking about some of the comments you have made about tracting and approaching people, talking to them about the gospel. I can totally relate. I hated tracting. It was my least favorite mission activity to do but necessary at times. However, once I got started, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it stopped being a chore and became fun. The point is to be engaged in the Lord's work, to just get out there and do it and the Lord will bless you for your efforts and obedience. I can promise you that (see D&C 82:10).
I have been reading a book called "Matthew Cowley, Man of Faith" by Henry A. Smith. I know that's a shock for me to be reading because you know how much I love it, but seriously, I can read believe it or not. It's a book about the life of an apostle from the 1950's. It tells a lot of Matthew Cowley's missions and apostle activities to which I am interested in because he served in New Zealand. In fact, he went on his first mission to New Zealand at the age of 17 and was there for 3 years, some of that time he served without a companion. He went back a 2nd time as mission President and was there for 10 years. Then as an apostle, he was assigned the south pacific area which includes Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and you guessed it, New Zealand. Needless to say, he spent a lot of time among the Moari's of New Zealand and had a great love for them so you can understand my interest in the book.
Brother Cowley shares with the readers the counsel his father gave him right before he left on his first mission. I will quote:
" 'My boy, you will go out on that mission; you will study; you will try to prepare your sermons; and sometimes when you are called upon, you will think you are wonderfully prepared, but when you stand up, your mind will go completely blank.' 'What do you do when your mind goes blank?' was the concerned query. (Eph, here's the part I want to share with you and you remember son) ' You stand up and with all the fervor of your soul, you bear witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the living God, and thoughts will flood into your mind and words to your mouth.' "
I thought of you when I read this. I thought about your description of your first door approach and it still makes me smile. I can totally see you doing what you described and I know you sometimes have trouble saying things and expressing your thoughts to others, especially to strangers about the gospel and I thought this advise from Bro. Cowley's father is good advise for you. When your mind goes blank and you can't think of what to say, just bear your testimony about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Lord will fill your mouth with things to say.
I hope you have had a good week. I love you and hope you are well.