As this new year has come and I'm drawing near my half-way point I've been doing a lot of looking back. Looking back and evaluating is an important thing to do. But there are also great dangers in looking back. Looking back at this last transfer and this last year - in my life in general - as a Missionary and a leader and a human being there are a lot of things I wish I would have done differently. A lot of things I wish I would have done better. I know hindsight is always 20-20, but despite realizing that from my mistakes and failures there is something to learn, in my life I feel I've never been much good at forgiving myself and I'm rather good at flogging myself over even the smallest of things. I will say with honesty that I kind of sunk into that this last week.
But there's no time or reason to feel sorry for yourself in the Lord's service. I've realized many things and changed in many ways in this great work. As a missionary something I've been learning how to do much more effectively is rather than just letting all of those shoulda-coulda-wouldas turn to darkness and destructive regret, is learning from them and identifying ways to avoid past mistakes and improving. I've learned how to make honest apologies to others who I feel I've let down or failed, and how to go about asking for and receiving feedback on how to improve. It's much more helpful and it brings about a lot more growth and progress for everything when I don't let a mistake turn into a reason to throw a brick at my head. Just learning how to repent and applying my energies for good is something I've realized the Lord has really helped me change in myself as a missionary.
I appreciate what you sent me about President Uchtdorf's message in the next Ensign. We'll probably get the new Liahona soon and I'm excited for it. I've been reviewing his talk "You can do it now!" from last conference lately as I've been considering my vision for myself and for my mission this year and from here on out. I've definitely been feeling the need to remember the importance of now as I've been setting goals.
Just another little thought that I had and something I've noticed in connection to what I shared last week about belief. As my actual stance on what I believe has congealed in my heart, it's so much easier to share with other people. It invites the Spirit so much more to declare honestly what you believe, have felt, and experienced than when you put on the facade that you believe or know something more strongly than you actually do. It's so much easier to just open your heart and say what's inside of you - because no matter how hard anyone tries they can't argue with or take away what YOU have felt and experienced.
This last week for new years we've been treated a bit more than usual. The Branch President had us over for dinner. They fed us sushi, and it was so good! Also, the other day a member came by and brought us sashimi, also incredibly delicious. Just last night we went over to the "Active Non-members" house and had the most delicious karage I have ever eaten. Karage is like Japanese fried chicken, and it's so scrumptious!
Weather was unusually warm (but still not warm at all) this last week. All of the snow we got basically disappeared, and it was just super cold rain for most of the days. But it's snowing again today. Yoshi.
Elder Kyle Hutchings