Monday, August 18, 2014

 Making the MTC Interesting
So- about a month has gone by of this mission. That’s crazy!   On the other hand,  I feel like I’ve spent my whole summer here. 

School is about to start at BYU and that's a little weird for me. I kept getting distracted because they’ve lit up the "Y" at night for Education Week. I finally told myself if I turned and looked at Y Mount then I would turn into a pillar of salt. That seemed to help. 

Someone said this week that "we need to share our faith-building experiences so that they can serve more than just us, and help build other's faith." So, I'm going to tell you about some of they funny things that happened here and then some of the spiritual experinces from this week. 

But first, 


So we’ve been here too long-- just long enough to think of ways to try to make the MTC fun.

For example, when the sisters get back to the dorms we have a different accent we have to speak in each day of the week. Wednesday is SouthernSaturday is RussianThursday is IndianFriday is Brittish etc etc. 

But the Elders have had some fun of their own this week. HERE ARE MY FIVE FAVORITE:
  1. One Elder got a plate of cookies from his mom. So he decided to play a joke on the Elders next door. He walked over with a plate of cookies and said, “Hey anybody want one?" Then, when they reached for a cookie he went, "Oh, not that one." “Oh wait, not that one either." "Oh that one is my favorite." And finally he just said, "You know what? Nevermind." and left. 
  2. One Elder lost a dare, so he took a fruit-by-the-foot and unrolled it. Then, while he was taking a shower, he flung the fruit-by-the-foot over the stall wall and said, “Hey man, want a bite?" I'm still not sure the reaction the other guy had. 
  3. Another Elder lost a dare so he had to go up to ask a random Sister for her powerade. That she was drinking. Mid sip. We watched from across the room as she explained that there was a powerade machine and he still insisted. She looked at him like he was insane and sent him away. 
  4. One Elder's mom sent him a spatula (we dont know why). So, he hid the spatuala in someone else's room. Then he went around the floor yelling that someone had stolen his spatuala and searching through people's rooms. He "found" the spatual in an Elder's room in the other Chinese zone and they were all like, "We didnt know man! We didnt take it Elder we promise!" Now everytime they see him in the cafeteria they just hang thier heads and aplogize. 
  5. An Elder lost a dare and had to throw a temper tantrum in the middle of a four-square game when he got out.  He had to beat his fists on the ground and everything. They didn’t know what to do, so they just let him stay in. I have never laughed so hard.  I mean they're still 18.. But they're so much fun.
A couple other things happened with the Elders on accident too.  We went an auditioned another musical piece for Sister Nally  (I wasn’t singing this time but I went) and one Elder looked down... He had gotten dressed in the dark.  Literally.  And had bright blue pants on and a black blazer. Sister Nally (President's Wife) had to tell him. 


Four Square- you know they children’s game- Four Square is not a joke here.  It is not for children.  Honor is eternally lost in that court.  I've starting waking up early and going to the Sister's workout classes so that I can just play Four Square the whole time. We're supposed to not be competitive so there's no score, but I've never seen anything so competitive in my life. The elders in our district make us practice and we have district plays. 

I left kinda bad though because I picked on Elder Eyring (not the apostle, the missionary) (his grandson though) and said, "Hey look, if Eyring is King, we can all definately make it to King's Square." I was kidding but right after I said it, he lost. I went to apologize and he just laughed and said, "ya ya ya I have five older Sisters; Throw at me whatever you want." 


And now I will tell you of the wrestle I've had with Zhong Wen (Chinese)

So there are no cases, no past tense, no future tense, and no plural words in Chinese.  And then you add emphasis by repeating words or rearranging them one or two places over in the sentence.  So, I often get what all the words mean, but I still don't know what they mean in the context of the sentence. But other than that it's going about as well as it could. Here's a couple language moments I've had this week:

  • So I listened to all the Korean missionaries talking, and I thought I figured out how to say hi. So one morning I said hello in Korean! And the Elder just looked at me and said, "Ya... you just said 'Hello peasant." whoops.
  • In Chinese, to ask how someone is, you say, "Chi boa le?" which literally means, "Have you eaten?" I think thats one thing the Chinese definitely got right. 
  • We have to write a talk every Sunday and then they call us up at Random to talk about it. Well I wrote lovely talk on the Book of Mormon and its promises.... too bad everyone else had gotten the memo that we were speaking on repentance... lovely talk though. 
  • We had to watch a video in Spanish in a lesson, and then our teach translated it into Chinese. I understood everything in Spanish, every word, and none of it in Chinese. -__-. The Spanish missionaries here have a goal of learning at least 1,000 words a month. What a fluffy language. We're supposed to learn 1,000 before we leave to be in the "excellent" category hahaha. 
We had to say goodbye to the districts here who went to Taichung this week. That was a little sad. But! We get five new sisters this week all going to Taipei! Two are international and ONE SISTER IS FROM BEJING CHINA! Its so crazy exciting. 


So Jenny Oaks Baker came and performed for us last night. She’s one of America's most accomplished violinists and Elder Oaks daughter. Who knew right?  I never put two and two together.   She played I Know That My Redeemer Lives as a duet  BY HERSELF on her violin. By herself.  She was not just playing in thirds below, playing the alto part with accidentals- holding out bottom notes- while playing scales up with the soprano notes. I've never heard anything like it. It was incredible.

I was most struck by (1) That beautiful song
(2) Her talking about how her mom would quote scriptures to her to comfort her before she went on stage.  One time,  Jenny got a blessing right before she stepped on stage, but she performed her worst.  She told her mom she wasn’t blessed.  Just then she got a phone call saying she had won the competition.  Her mom told her to get on her knees in the living room and repent (haha.)  But I love how her mom quotes scriptures to her.
(3) She said that God, "by allowing me to experince somethings that were so terrifying, allowed me to be able to tell when I was being blessed"
(4) She said that what we remember most from primary is the music. Think about it though, can you remember the primary lessons?  No!  You can just remember the music.  And the lessons that go with that music.  Like, "I am a Child of God.  I'm trying to be like Jesus. etc"  We can remember those truths better because they are tied to music. 

Anyway, my time is up but I did want to mention a couple other things. Our Choir teacher was talking about how when Christ entered the city on Palms Sunday the Pharisees wanted him to call the people off cheering for him. And Christ said, if they stop the very rocks will begin to testify (Now you wish they had stopped, huh). Because he's all powerful.  He stopped the wind and the skies with one breath. The whole earth shook when he died.  His power we do not comprehend. I know that we are weak, but he is strong. That we can do anything, or be anything, or accomplish anything that is a worthy goal with his help . He is not only all powerful, he is the ultimate of compassion. He can send blessings for us through the veil.  He will send angels to be on your either side; He will safeguard and protect you.   Through priesthood blessings, and other’s support, and the Book of Mormon, and sincere prayer, he can soothe deep questions of our souls. 

 Christ said, when others come unto him, "I will not send them away hungry."

Ether 12:27:  “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them.”
I don't even think this was that funny.. but he wanted a picture so bad.

So we were hosts this week! That means we got to help the new missionaries arrviing! My sisters were going to Russia, and St.Lewis, and Argentina  and Seoul, South Kroea! And thney were all so awesome! One even got special permission to bring her guitar to Korea!

My district had a moment where they all shot rubber bands around... they actually have really good aim. Sister Ashby has the best aim.. right into the AC. ;)      (Ya, they're still 18)

It wasnt until after that I saw it said dont put fingers in... 

Remeber when I mentionioned Elder Tattons mom and the Chexmix? Did I tell you about that? Well.. I GOT CHEX MIX! She sent it to me :) To make matters even better, Elder Tatton picks up the mail :) Elder Shi wasnt happy about having to be the pciture but we dont mind bc we have homemade CHEXMIX!

just us dilligently sutdying.. with a bunch of books...

I'm so excited to wear pants I needed a picture

I put this pciture on my wall to remind me that God's help and the help of heaven is just as real today as it was then. Angleic messengers still come

so I post all my letters (hand written) on my wall. Thanks everyone :)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Humility by the Handful

We have a saying here (you've probably heard it) that goes, "English-speaking missionaries come back scriptorians, Spanish come back linguists, and Asian-speaking missionaries come back humble." Well. let me tell you, they're serving humility by the handful. 

Elder Holland said about a month or two ago, "I don’t think any of us can deny that when we speak of hastening the work that wont ever be anymore true than, that couldn't be anymore true anywhere, than it is going to be in Asia... I think it would be impossible not to grasp, not to feel there's a great work unfolding in Asia." 

I was thinking a lot about when they open China- lets face it, all of us Mandarin-speaking missionaries think about that a lot- and I think in a way Taiwan is a footstool to opening China. They don't speak Mandarin in Hong Kong, so the only way we'd have a large number of missionaries and possible mission presidents ready or church ambassadors is through all those native Mandarin-speakers in Taiwan and the missionaries that go to Taiwan and learn Mandarin. Because we have Taiwan, we can be ready for China. A guest speaker told us that when China opens, it will be because of the example of the missionaries and members (but especially missionaries who will be allowed into China) in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It's just so exciting. 

Okay so on with how the week has been. First, we will talk about spiritual things and then get into some more butchering of the Chinese language. (Veggies before dessert). 


One of the Elders in my district shared a scripture about the sons of Mosiah and being discouraged in missionary work, and how they prayed for strength and the Lord helped him. And then he said, "You see, its not the things of life that are the problem, its our reactions to the things of life that are the problem." And I think it's true- your reaction to the situation has the power to change the situation itself. 
This gospel is the logical. It's meant for logically minded people. Don't get me wrong, at some point you have to exercise faith, but the gospel (a) makes sense (b) explains all the witnesses of God around you (c) you could spend forever logically peeling apart doctrines only to find them more and more solid. This is the perfect gospel for the atheist, and those who scrutinize, and peel apart the world in search of truth. Its what they've been looking for their whole lives. 
So I can only use the Book of Mormon to teach, because its the only things I have a translation for (verses side by side) so I have to be able to find all the doctrines and uplifting things in the BOM and memorize where they are. Its incredible. Everyone should try to only use the Book of Mormon. 
Wether the trial is great or small, "Do not be discourage, God is over all." So don't worry, he's got this.
Where more is given, more is required. Not expected, required


1. My companion woke me up to card some sisters door open. She knew I could do it and they had locked themselves out. Not every day you get to card a door open as a missionary. I just said, "The atonement is real sisters. We all have a past." and left them to wonder. 
2. There are now over 20,000 sister missionaries, which is more women than crossed the plains to come to Salt Lake. 
3. There are now over 150 senior missionaries (the most ever) in the MTC. The cafeteria lines move considerably slower. 
4. We looked around and realized all missions have a stereotype of sorts. Some a bunch of big guys go to, or.. I don't know. They just have a "type" and its interesting. The East coast missionaries are always really savvy. So we sat for awhile trying to figure out what ours was. The only conclusion we came to is that we all have a musical background (only me and one other Elder don't play multiple instruments and everyone sings. Like... incredibly well). 
5. I decided someday I'm going to write a book, something like John Bytheway's "How to be Totally Miserable" book, but instead of a self-help book I'm going to call it a "self-hinder" book. 


So a few people this week have asked me what a typical day was like in the MTC. So, I figured I'd take some time to tell you! First, I wake up at 6:30 everyday, and have to dressed and down to breakfast before 7:00 to get my sack breakfast (or else the line is horrible long). Then I eat with my district (like my class of 12 people) and get to go to gym by 7:25. Then I have an hour to work out, run, lift, play soccer, etc. Hey! It turns out I'm not too bad at soccer and sometimes I help lead the sisters in some polymetrics. But anyways, then I come back and shower and get to class by 8:55. Then I have an hour of personal study, then an hour of study with my companion, and then an hour of rigorous language study on our own. Then lunch, then another hour of language study. Then- I have 3.5 hours of Chinese and doctrines class, dinner (at 4:30, yes 4:30) and then another 3.5 hours of class with another teacher. Than another hour of individual study. Then a half hour of planning. sometimes my extra hours of language study are broken up with practicing how to teach real people (in Mandarin) and Saturday volunteers come in who are LDS and we practice giving them devotionals in Mandarin. Tuesdays are a little different because devotionals are at night, but every day I have 30 minutes to do personal things and then lights out by 10:30. Opa!


An Elder was trying to tell the investigator to open D&C and read about revelation. Instead he said Ether 9:7-8 which says...
               7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be ajealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death. 
                8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that    which his father had done unto his brother.
Our teacher was telling us about how she was in Taiwan and was explaining to the investigator things she needed to bring and she said, "You'll need a change of clothes, a hair band, a brush, a towel..." Well she thought she said towel. Apparently she told the investigator she needed to bring a cat to get baptized hahaha. 
Yes, we still have very broke sad little Chinese sentences. I speak so slowly I have to repeat things because by the time I finish the sentence the investigator forget what I was originally talking about.
A couple nights ago we were in our room with the lights out and Sister Ashby (Bi JeiMei) goes "Oh... I forgot to take my nametag off). I don't know why it was so funny but I laughed so hard that I kept the other sisters awake. And then, because I knew I had to be quiet, it was so much funnier and I had to muffle my giggles. Then the other sisters started laughing so hard because I was laughing so hard and couldn’t stop, that all of us stayed awake. I literally laughed myself to sleep. I woke up with really sore abs. 
We were brainstorming things prayer brings with out Taiwanese teacher (who hardly speaks English) and every time we said something, she would draw it. We said happiness- a smilie face, a heart for love, a peace sign for peace, and then we said faith. She looked puzzled about what to draw so someone said, "oh draw a little seed" then, she drew a little tiny "c" on the board. We tried to tell her, but she just didn’t understand. We tried so hard not to laugh but we just couldn’t help us. Her trusting us enough to draw a little "c" was an example of faith though. 
One of the elders was trying to ask the teacher something and he used "qiqio". So basically, he addressed her as a God. I've never seen a teacher laugh so hard in the face of a student. 
So we had to get blood drawn for our Visas. We weren't really sure why we had to go there at first, but they took the sisters in first while the elders waited. When we came out of the room I turned to the Elders and said, "well... its gunna be a little embarrassing. They don’t have an male nurses." and then watched the confused horrified looks on their faces :) and just walked away…


On a last note, we heard a devotional on Mary Fielding Smith Sunday. I can’t describe how much it touched me. All she did alone, and all she faced, and how steady and solid she was. I can’t describe how much I want to be like her, a steadfast beacon to her family who did so much alone by raising so much of her family on faith without Hyrum. I mean, I know she must have had doubts and fears but she choose not to live them, and put those aside for her son. President Joseph Fielding Smith said he had the most powerful memory of his unyielding faith-filled saint of a mother. I just want to be like her, and choose the faith over the fear. Because fear and encouragement come to us all, but its what we do  with it that makes us the strengths others can lean on. 


Thank you! I love you! Please keep writing me!

Now picture time :) 
Told you my district was musical! Thats my companion playing- sight-reading on the piano a masterpiece. Its unreal.
This is Sister Ashby playing the violin but her companion can play too 

Elder Varvel getting his many packages 

I also may have written a note (on behalf of all the sisters) to Elder Tattons mom. He doesn't know that we did this, but he jokingly invited us to write her and ask for chex mix. Well. He shouldnt have joked about food. :) 

Sister Geddes and I

Hey guess who found Elder Neff!!!!

Our closet sized classroom

We try to do something nice for the Elders every friday. This time we drew them all pictures based on random jokes and experinces we've had together.

"To the Elders who shared the Ether scripture" 

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Monday, August 4, 2014

First of all-- 

Happy Birthday Michala!!! Did you open your presents from me?? Whoohoo birthday! I have matching jewelry like you now (because thats just precious). 

And Congratulations to Brian, in whom I am well pleased. Yay for getting into one of the best finance programs in the country! You've worked so hard, and you earned it. 

So roughly five percent of my mission has gone by. I am not a happy camper about that. 
Okay so some things from this week: 

SINGING (and other fun stories): 

So I went to choir (didnt want to go, companion wanted to go, glad I went) and we were in the middle of practicing this power piece when he cut us off abruptly, and then I went HICCUP! Soooo loud. In a crowd of 588 choir members and you could hear my hiccup clear as a bell. He just busted out laughing and said, "Well someone gets to write home and say, 'dear mom- I had solo.'" So.. Dear Mom... I had a solo. 

I also got to audition a piece for the MTC presdient's wife. She said it was nice and to look for a notice in my mailbox of when I'd be singing at the MTC. So I'll probably sing at relief society or a small devotional or something in the next few weeks. 

Elder Groberg came Tuesday and talked about the ways which we bear testimony. Of course singing to investigaors was one of the ways. He pointed out that the savior sang at the last supper- which I had never really thought through before. How cool would it be to hear the savior sing hymns? ??? Cool. It'd be cool. 

The BYU President came and spoke Sunday (which was a little hard for me because he's so awesome and I'll miss BYU so much) and he said, "We can learn through music spiritual things that otherwise would take a long time to learn." 


So you know the investigator thats a Taiwanese native? Well we taught her five lessons, which got progressively more organized (I think she could actually understand us near the end) and then SURPRISE we find out shes going to be our new teacher!!!! We are so lucky. We are the only district that has a native speaker to teach us Chinese, and our Chinese is flying! The first day she went through class no one had any idea what on earth she was saying. We just all hung our sad little heads in our sad little desks and were sad. 

BUT I can actually understand her better than LoaShi Olsen now (our other teacher)! I think she speaks clearer in some ways and she's making us so much better. Seriously, we are the luckiest district to be taught by a native. She says all the words differently than the other teachers and we would have gotten to Taiwan and not recognized the language (which will probably still happen). 

Sometimes I realize what a benefit it is to be a little older. Many of the missionaries cry every day or have break downs and sometimes I feel like a broken record going, "Cmon guys this is great! We have a teacher we cant undrestand, isnt that wonderful?" lol. But really I do feel so incredibly calm about it all. We had a workshop on stress and I was like... stress? Are you kidding me? You feed me and do half my landry and I sit in an AC classroom all day and all I have to do is try my best and the Lord promised me I'd learn Chinese. This is a sweet little gig. 


1. My companion told and investigor that she was a member of the church "since the bain or mortality". So that's inspirining. 
2. The word for sad and believe are the same word, with one slightly idfferent tone. So the investigaoor was saying she believed in prayer, and Elder Redding thought she felt sad when she prayed. So he starts going, "well sometimes I feel that way too, like when I've sinned, but blah balh blah" and the woman was so so confused lol. 
3. My companion was teaching in a lesson and all of the sudden the girl busted out laughing. we still have no idea what she said wrong. 
4. Some of the Elders swapped teaching times with the other sisters, because the other sisters were sick. So they sat down with the investigator and tried to explain that the sisters were coming later because they were sick. But instead they said the sisters were dead. 
The investogaotr started crying. 
5. One Elder tried to stay that "he would owe them a favor" and the word for favor is renxiang. Instead, he said he 'would owe them a xiangren" which is lover. And the teacher was like NO NO He didnt mean that!! hahahaha. We laughed so hard. 

  • So Chinese actually has a lot of french sounding vowels. It doesnt sound like it because we have to say words on tones, but we have to practice some french vowels. Two of the Elders here are fluent in French and things are so easy for them. Maybe I'll work on french when I get back. 
  • There are sisters here who are learning English from South America and guess what? I can remember enough Spanish to speak with them! 
  • You know how I stutter sometimes in English? I don't in Chinese. It's werid. 
  • I heard a girl say Joseph Smiths first vision in Danish at a devotional, and I understood every word. I was so shocked. I turned to Elder Braden next to me and he went, "Ya I heard it to" before I even said anything. It was insane. 
  • So we don't have Sunday School here. Priobably because we have 12 hours of not-so-secret sunday school in Chinese every day of our lives here. 
  • Hey has anyone seen the new temple movie? With blonde Eve and the water colors? Me likey. 
  • Someone send an Elder here a cookbook called "101 Ways to Wok Your Dog: A Chinese Cookbook". lol cleverness
  • I was thinking and I don't think all the effects of hastening the work missionaries will be seen until after this generation raises the ebnxt generation. Can you imagine a whole generation of missionaires taugh by two RM parents? And prepared by their mothers like the stripling warriors? Because oms spend more time with their children than anyone else. And then also the children of the converts they'll bring to the fold? I'm SO GRATEFUL I am here first hand
  • And I'm so grateful I'm born now. Someone told us (I have no idea where he's getting his numbers or if they are valid but) a speaker said that if we filled every chair at BYU stadium, the MTC, the Marriott, and BYU then one of those people would get to be an LDS missionary. How much more blessed are you to be an hastening the work missioanry. I have no idea the answers or how true that is but still.
  • I am so happy that I get to experience missionary work first hand.


We watched a devotinal about the Character of Christ by Elder Bednar. It was amazing. His whole point is that Christ always turn outward, away from the natural man and towards others when we would turn inwards. Even as he carries the cross he makes arrangements for his mother and does missionary work to the others on either side of him. He said Satans greatest temptation to all of us is to think of ourselves, use the natural man to think of ourselves, but he promised that if we would turn outward we would become different people. 

I've been thinking about this and I think that soemtimes we understimate our ability to change. I mean really we know that we can repent and make different choices much thats like makeing lifestyle chagnes with our diet or expercise. I think really spiritual expereinces, just like strong physical experinces (like cancer or hormonal changes in our bodies) can change the make up of our character, who we are, to be more Crhistlike. Yes even aspects of what we call our "personaility" just like our body can start growing a different hair color or develop/get rid of certain allergies. To think something else would be to limit the atonement. 

I know we can change our very natures to be differnt, better people. Whoever or whatever the Lord needs us to be, if we will let him and not limit him by our faith. Elder Maxwellsaid "without repentence no one can be saved. Without repentence no one can even progresss". 


So everyone of my favorite missionaries in every workshop are going to Federal Way Washington. I don't know what the deal is or why they are getting such awesome missionaries, but they are. There are two sisters that are dynamite and several elders, espeically a little Elder Grahm. I've never heard a person his age be so involved in what an investigator needs. Seriously they were impressive enough to journal about, and I dont journal. Washington is so lucky.

Okay so our of time, love you all, sending pictures now:

This is the Chinese board I used to teach the five principles of the gospel to Wu Sia Xin

We wrote notes to the elder of all the things they had done well and posted them all over thier desks for some encouragement. Some of the elders still wont take them off thier desks and its been days. Its pretty cute.

This is our district in front of the world! We're the largest district we've seen.

These are photos of our daily life! I stood on some chairs to get these photos. The next day we all got a notice saying no more pictures in teh careteria. My bad. 

This sister and I have become fast friends. She's Sister Ashby from our district. 

On my temple walk. 

                                                                  Check out the swirling clouds... so scary

I spent a good amount of time on my Sunday walk trying to capture this little friend the bee. Pretty proud. 

behold human coatrack

                        Yes, We have a closet full of food. We eat at 4:30 here so we get a little snacky. or a lot. 

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