Saturday, November 19, 2011


Hi Family!!!

How are you all doing? thank you so much for your email to me! I love getting updates from all of you! It always helps me remember you guys are always there helping me and supporting me!  I know this sounds weird, but when you get lost in the work, you totally forget about everythin in your life.  I can't even remember how some people look :P.  When I'm out contacting or teaching lessons, I totally forget about myself and am constantly thinking about the person I'm teaching.  How the gospel could bless their lives and how I could help apply the scriptures to them.  Some of the people here are so well prepared it's nearly impossible to even consider that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't true.

Well, we have two new Progressing Investigators.  They're such awesome people! They're both so prepared to recieve the Gospel and I just hope that I will be a good tool in the Lord's hands to bring them into the Church.

One of our investigators is from China and is finishing her Masters in International Business at the University here.  We ran into her at the bus station and started talking to her about the church.  She's talked to missionaries before, but has turned them down every time until now.  I'm not sure why, but she told us that the Missionaries are somehow reading her life.  Everytime she has had an incredible trial in her life, missionaries have talked to her.  This is the third time it has happened.  We met her on Saturday and she came to church with us on Sunday.  What an awesome person!!!  After church, we taught her a lesson where she talked to us about the trials she had been facing.  We had brought a member along to help us teach her and it was perfect.  They clicked right away.  After the lesson, they kept talking about girl stuff, so Elder Shi and I left to go to a meeting.  We also have a ward missionary (she used to be relief society president so you can picture what kind of person she's like :P hahaha) who has gone through the same trials and challenges as our investigator.  Oh how true this church is!!!!!!  The Lord put the right people in the right places for her so she would be able to better understand His love for her.  I never really understood what they said in the MTC when they said: "The Lord has been preparing people since before you were born." It's true.  We just need to be in the right place at the right time, follow the guidance of the spirit, and we'll be able to help them recognize the Lord's hand in their lives.  This investigator reminds me a lot of Mom. She is such a wonderful sister.

The other new Investigator is AWESOME too.  He looks a lot like Uncle Joe haha.  Usually, tracting (I'll tell you about that in a sec, awesome hilarious stories, I promise tracting isn't usually this successful :P haha) isn't very good, but this time, we tracted into two amazing people.  The first one is here in Australia because he couldn't get into a university in China.  He's been through a lot of trials and already understands the concept of repentance.  When we knocked on the door, we asked him how he was doing (President Langeland told us not to refer to ourselves as missionaries because they already know that) and shared a little bit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He Immedietly asked us if we had time and if we could come in to teach him RIGHT then.  I was kinda shocked because people usually just slam the door, but we said that we definitely could.  When we were learning about his religious backround, we found that he doesn't actually believe in any religion, but he's sure there's a God.  And he practically recited 2 Nephi 28:30 so I HAD to show it to him. He said that he didn't care what we believed, but if it helped HIM learn little by little, and he came to an understanding that he knew that our church was true, he'd be baptised (they spell it "Baptized" here) We then had a discussion about the restoration.  When we recited the first vision in chinese, we could feel the spirit so strongly.  It was like getting hit with a brick.  All of the little bits of information that he believed were in harmony with teachings of the Book of Mormon.  I showed him Alma 13:3 because he knew that we all had a calling in this world, but he wasn't sure of it.

Anyway, he has changed so much from what he was in china.  He was a gangster who got in a lot of fights and got hit on the head with a brick.  Crazy huh?  I hope he gets baptized.  He has such a great base, and he knows that Heavenly Father is watching him and loves him.  This work is going forward without any hands!!!!

About Tracting... Tracting is the least liked method of contacting here in the mission.  We discovered why this area has been closed up till now.  In the middle of every neighborhood is a big baptist community meeting house.  We're supposed to avoid the houses directly next to it, but we knock on those doors sometimes if there's a street between the meeting house or a field or something.  My FAVORITE story is when at one house, A girl opened the door, said: "How can I help you?" saw our tags, said: "I can't help you" and closed the door. hahahahaha.  Another time, it was just like that Jesus Movie where They're knocking on doors and our sentences kept getting cut off earlier and earlier until one time I said "Hi" and they closed the door.  I couldn't help but laugh between houses.  I'm a real missionary now! Sometimes though we get really weird people... one time, A guy wearing short-shorts opened the door (without a shirt) and we talked with him for a while, then some other guys walked past the door all wearing the same thing... bahahahaha.  My companion had to finish the conversation for me.

Oh yes, we just had a baptism (we've had one every week I've been here... crazy) Tania and Mandoza.  It was awesome.

Well, those were some of the stories this week, if I have time in a bit, I'll tell you a few more, a little less exciting, but still awesome.  Though, I did receive two packages from you guys! peanut butter, pork sung, mochi, those weird cracker things, and... man, I can't remember...your letter, and... yeah... why can't I remember?! Gah. I'll tell you later.

I'll put a whole new paragraph for this one :)

I REALLY don't need packages!!!!!! :D (Smiley face so you know I'm not mad :) kinda :P )

I promise I'm taking really good care of myself.  I can get everything here and they give me 240 Australian dollars a month for food, hygeine, and stamps.  They pay for our bus passes, rent and everything else.  I really can get anything I want here.  I've spent roughly 20 dollars a week on food so If I keep this up, I'll have an extra 90 or so every month.  The money also rolls over so I really don't need to you to send me stuff.  I can feel your love through your emails! plus When I focus on the work, I totally forget about myself and everything so yep.  :) You're the BEST family in the world, and I love all the support you're giving me, but you should send more stuff to Vicky instead of sending to me. I won't know anyways :P hahaha.  But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't send any packages.  Letters are just fine!!! Love you though! You're all too nice to me.  (OOH as punishment, if I get packages, I'll spend time writing a paragraph just like this :P hahahaha so my emails will be a bit shorter because a part will be dedicated to telling you not to send me packages and not to worry about me :) the Lord takes good care of His servants as long as they're willing to work hard for Him, just read Isaiah again... Still very hard)

Well, to prove that I'm eating very healthy ( need to take a picture of this and show you) I've been eating salad a lot recently! :D I've come to love salad a lot!  I buy peppers, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, nuts, cheese, and dressing (it'll probably expand) and just throw it in a bowl and munch on that for a while.  We get so many member dinners here that If I eat normal food, I'm going to get super fat hahaha.  Also, my companion cooks a lot, but every time he cooks, he adds SOOOO much oil. It's so funny.  Everybody in the zone knows that he cooks with an incredible amount of oil.  When he cooks eggs, he adds as much oil as he adds eggs... bahahaha.  The other night, I cooked some eggs and tomato (CHENG GONG!!!!) and he was curious why I didn't add any oil... I DID! you just couldn't see it.

NO! I was going to take a picture of it, but I guess I'll just tell you about it.  In the MTC my teacher told us about some graphs of progress that mission presidents made, so I decided to make a personal progress graph for myself :) I"ll take a picture of it and send it to you next week.  Plus it'll have another week on it so it won't look so empty.  Well I"m just graphing out contacts, potentials, lessons, pages of the Book of mormon read, PMG, Goals, etc.  It makes me want to work harder just so I can see the lines keep going up :P hahaha.  but they've been steadily climbing as I get more comfortable talking to people, and as I learn chinese.  :) I know I'm a nerd, but I had an extra hour on P-day and decided to graph my progress to motivate myself.  It's fun because you can always tell which days are P-days and sundays because we have much less proselyting time on those days, though we still talk to people every day.

Ok, random fact: guys here are named Violet, and Jupiter.... weird... I can't spell the others, but as soon as I can, I'll let you know, just fun facts about Australia.  Also, Fairdinkum is an actual word, so is buz, it just means bus.  and if anybody says that they're from "N Zed" to you, it means "NZ" which means New Zealand... yep.  I'm trying to learn chinese AND relearn English at the same time. I keep telling you new words so it's a lot of fun :)

OH yes, well since we have so many chinese missionaries now, my companion and I bike A LOT! and the hills here are worse than the hills in Utah.  Cool thing, my thighs are getting bigger, and I can feel my pants are a lot less baggy now.  :) yay! I'm no longer too skinny bahaha. Also, one of the Elders I live with.  Elder Monsen, has gained 10 kg's (20 pounds) and he's been on a mission 1 transfer (6 weeks) longer than I have! bahahaha. His baptismal pants don't fit anymore and neither do his belts, so I let him borrow one of the belts jeff gave me before I left.  This is why I'm eating salad now :D

Well, I guess I'll explain some of the pictures now.

The lizard in the picture is one of the smaller lizards here.  They're awesome because they eat all the spiders and cockroaches so we were thinking of getting one and just putting it in our flat in case of an insect infestation.  Evidently since the flood, there've been more bugs.  I haven't actually noticed, but I guess some of the other Elders who have been here longer really don't like the bugs here... good thing mosquitoes don't like me :)

Yes, they have the wall urinal :P (Don't worry, I made sure the bathroom was empty when I took this picture) basically, they're all about saving water here so they have two buttons on every toilet.  just to save water. bahahaha.  this kind of urinal is pretty common too.  VERY awkward to use though.

This is the plane we came to australia on.  it was GIGANTIC.  I don't know if this picture describes how big it is, but it was HUGE!!!!!  It took half an hour to get everybody out of it with six exits.

Bathroom signs here are pretty weird.  Sometimes, they're just hidden.  This was the one in the basement of the mall... the most obvious, but they call the bathroom the toilet and the shower the bathroom.  They're separated in homes. So don't ask for the bathroom when you need to use the toilet or they'll think you're really weird.

they have really cool trees here that make me super excite when I'm tracting or contacting.

Sorry I don't have too many exciting pictures.  We really don't go out on P-day, and I never have my camera on me, I'll probably have to change that.  Just for you guys!!!! :D

I just realized I don't have a picture of our flat! I'll have to send that to you at some point.  though you saw our bed-room in that one picture that I sent you.

Well, my time is up, so I'll bid you all farewell! kinda.

Love you all and thank you SO much for all the support you've given me, but PLEASE!!!!!!!!! don't send me any more packages.  I promise I'm fine.  Girls need more love than guys (don't tell vicky I said that) so you could send her two packages to her instead of one to me and one to her.  I promise I'm fine!!! :D

Love you all!


Elder Chen

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hello from Australia

Hi everybody!

Well, so usually my p-day is on mondays, but on transfer weeks it'll move to Tuesdays, so if I don't email you a week, it'll probably be because of transfers.  Anyways.  It was a lot of fun talking to you on the fphone the other day! After we got off the phone, We tried talking to some people in the airport to practice our chinese and stuff.  We're not allowed to proselyte in the airport, but we just thought we'd kinda practice talking to people. Plus, if people ask about our tags or our purpose we can tell them about the church.

Well, we talked to 3 different groups of people.  First was a family from Taiwan.  That was a lot of fun! They were going to Hawaii for vacation and had one of the funniest kids.  we also talked to a guy from singapore who came to america to do some trading in medical supplies.  He was pretty cool too.  My favorite experience was a family from hong kong.  They couldn't speak english and they wanted to confirm their flight with the person at the desk (who was black and couldn't speak chinese) Well, they only spoke cantonese and a little bit of mandarin.  When we went up to talk to them, we just talked about being missionaries and what they were doing in LA.  We said goodbye after a few minutes but theyn they came looking for us because the figured out that the flight lady couldn't speak chinese.  So we translated for them :). They spoke a very cantonese-like chinese so my companion and the other missionaries couldn't understand what they were saying, so I just did all the talking.  It was so cool! The Lord does love His children and helps them in their time of need.  I don't think I would've been able to understand a single word they said without His help.  hahaha.

Well, we got on our flight to Sydney where we said goodbye to Elder Brown.  He went to his mission office in Sydney with a senior couple that was also going to Sydney.  We waited in the Sydney international airport for four hours and talked with Elder Staples, then left him at his gate when his plane was boarding to Melbourne and got on our plane to Brisbane.  On the flight my companion and I just shared pick-up scriptures so we'd feel ready for our missions.  Airport security in Australia is very different from Airport security in America... just a thought hahaha.  Well, our mission president and the AP's were at zone conference so we got picked up by Elder Able, a senior missionary incharge of the finances in the Brisbane area.  We got some Subway (they have that here! but it's really weird... cucumbers aren't called cucumbers here... something that starts with an "s")  Anyway.  Afterwards, we went to the mission office to wait for President Langeland.  We learned all the stuff we needed to take care of our flat and stuff also, we have cars.  Lots of cars.  The fleet usually has 1 car per companionship.  (They drive on the left side here! Gah! scary, plus tickets range from 500 to 1000 dollars! the last ticket a missionary got was 1000 dollars... yikes).  We met with our mission president and had an interview with him so that he could decide which trainer to put us with.

I got paired up with Elder Shi, an elder from Mainland China.  His chinese is very good as you could imagine, but I have been teaching him many ensligh words.  Elder Bellingham is now in the city of Brisbane and I am in Eight Mile Plains.  Also known as Sunny-bank.  very chinese area hahaha.the first day, we went to ward council to discuss problems in the ward and stuff (I cannot understand what they're saying half the time) and they say I'm as green as green gets :).  That night, I unpacked and got ready for proselyting.

The next day, we went finding in our area.  President Langeland opened up a new area for me and Elder Shi.  It's called Rochdale and none of the Elders I've talked to have heard of missionaries in that area... It's a REALLY nice area.  A lot of really big houses with pools and gated front yards.  Very intimidating.  And not very productive to go tracting in.  We've tracted for a long time and we ran into two houses who are now potential investigators.  We also can't tract in some of the areas because it is right next to a big baptist thing.  I'm not sure what it is, but it looks like a warehouse.

We also went Street contacting which I LOVE.  It is so much fun.  We stay near a bus stop and talk to people about the gospel!  I guess I was blessed with the skill to do this quite well hahaha.  In an hour I found 4 potential investigators!!! The cool thing is that all the people here are students attending either griffith university or the university of queensland.  They are mostly Taiwanese or Chinese immigrants that just wanted to get out of home.  The Chinese students haven't really ever heard of religion or anything.  My favorite experience though was when I talked to a sister from Shanghai.  She was christian already, but when I asked her some questions about her thoughts, she said she didn't know and I told her that we had a modern prophet on the Earth today that has told us these things.  She became really interested and asked me to share more of our understanding of our purpose on this life, resurrection and stuff.  It was super cool.  The church is true! I love it so much.

One of the coolest people I talked to is an elderly brother from Taiwan.  He only went to kindergarten and did very well and is very successfull.  He has 3 children all grown up and two of which are christian but he wants his questions answered before he learns more about the gospel.  Some of the questions he asks were perfectly answered by prophets, but I'm not sure of some maybe you could help me? One of the ones that is killing me is "if we all come from adam and eve, where are there so many different races?" I've never thought about this question because I didn't really think it was extremely important, but he thinks it's very important and won't learn more of the gospel until we answer his question.  Well he's super awesome because he doesn't drink tea, coffee, alchohol, and he doesn't smoke because he read a lot of books that told him that those things weren't healthy for him.  He's very talented and I hope he gets baptized one day.

Oh man, there is so much to tell you and so little time.  I actually unfortunately forgot my camera in the flat! NOOOOO! i wanted to send you some pictures.  but here is an extremely accurate portrayal of my companion.  He is a bigger, older version of Kevin Lin.  He also wears the same sun-glasses too.  It's hilarious.  haha, When we work out in the morning, it's a lot of fun. :)

OH! I met a young brother going into the MTC January 2nd! He's going to Panama on his mission and he said he's scared of the winter cold because he can't buy any jackets here that are warm enough for the winter and in panama he won't use the kind of coats required for Utah winter.  I told him he could probably borrow my winter stuff and send it back home when he's headed for Panama.  I'll try to get him in contact with you before he leaves.  there is no way I can spell his last name though :) they all have really weird last names here.

Vicky! you're going into the MTC!!!! WAHOOOOOO! are you WAY excited! you're going to have so much fun in there! My advice is to LOVE it.  Many people want to go out and get into the field as fast as they can, but really, I kinda miss the MTC.  I loved it SO much there, you're always on a spiritual high.  I was on that spiritual hgih for 12 weeks so wehn I came out here and felt my first spiritual drop, it was kinda depressing.  But you can find the spirit in EVERYTHING.  you've just gotta lose yourself in the work and forget yourself.  President Uchtdorf once said: "Humility isn't thinking less of yourself but thinking less about yourself."  I can testify that this is true!  The Lord uses small and simple things to do His work.  As soon as we think we're strong and smart, He has no more use for us! So we must be humble! and when we're humble, we think less about ourselves and more about the people we're serving.  Only then are we lost in the work! Everything falls into place if you think about it! THE CHURCH IS TRUE! Oh man that was probably SUPER confusing, but it made sense to me :).  hahaha, You're going to be such an amazing missionary Vicky!

I bet your Musical number was AMAZING Verina! haha, by the way, some trunky missionaries are coming home soon and every missionary goes nuts when they find out taht I have a younger sister.  Stay in the HFAC! For your own good.  hahaha.  Funny story about that: Our AP is going home next transfer (evidently they call it dying out here) And we were talking in the car about our families and stuff.  He went crazy when he found out I had a little isster in college hahaha.  Fortunately for you, I knew his girlfriend from back home so you're ok :).  I'm sorry I keep telling you about these guys, but missionaries are crazy out here haha :). Don't worry, I'm not like them, when they talk into the night about girls I'm asleep.  (they took a picture of me asleep on my camera so I'll have to send that to you next week, I'm SO sorry I forgot my camera.)

Jon!!!! You'd be so killer out here! I know you're such a stud and I keep running into little asian kids about your age who don't like to talk to us cuz we're old and weird haha.  They're all into beat boxing and breakdancing and stuff just like you, so when you go on your mission you'll be prepared to talk and relate to these people.  it's the bom!

Good to hear Jeff is doing so well! You're moving out of Anatomy and into Biochemistry? that's awesome! you're so smart! one day, I'll be like you haha.  plus biochem is your thing! you're only going to do better from here right? haha, I hope you and kara are doing well ;P haha.  Sorry I don't have anything to say about that.  All the advice we've gotten from general authorities are about avoiding girls and locking our hearts hahaha. We did get a lesson on etiquite during one of the devotionals though.  So I could tell you.  Fork is spelled with four letters and so is left.  So your fork is on the left.  Knife and spoon have five and so does right so they go on the right.  Also, hold your drink(water of course) in your left hand so that when you shake someone's hand your hand isn't cold.  First impression wants to be warm. hahahaha.  I'm just kidding.  You're the man! You know how to do things better than I will.

Mom! Thank you so much for preparing me for the mission! there are so many instances when i want to write home and thank you for preparing things for me, but I can't remember any of them right now.  Maybe I'll write them down when they happen.  Most of the time, I'll be doing something and another missionary will have a hard time, but because you and dad prepared me so well, I feel so prepared and don't have a very hard time! Thank you so much for that.

Thank you dad for being such a good example to me.  Whenever I get down I think of how you always get up so early in the morning and always put up with us at home and never complained.  It had helped me be that much better of a missionary.  We learned that many of our investigators will come not because of what we say but rather from what we do and how we act.  It's very true.  I've learned so much from how you've acted.  Thank you!

Well, concerning mail, we usually get mail from the mission president every week, so don't worry about sending me mail.  I don't really have time to read it anyway :P.  Every night I'm usually too tired to do much other than eat, plan, prepare for bed and write in my journal.  I'll probably just write emails. haha, you can warn my friends that I won't write back too often too :P to send a letter is a very long and painful process here hahaha.  Also I wouldn't be sure what to do with mail.  I'd proabably just read it on p-days.  Also, we get a lot of money here so you don't have to worry about sending me things.  I'm very well taken care of.  Plus the members give us dinner very often.  hahaha.  We just need to find members in our area because ours is new :P.

Well thanks so much for being SUPER supportive in everything.  But I promise you don't have to send me mail on a regular basis.  You can probably just send me a quick short email and it'd be fine.  I need to get lost in the work :)


Elder Chen

Ps.  The bugs and lizards here are SOOO big!!!! hahaha, There's a spider outside our flat that has remade her web every time we knock it down.  She's the size of my hand! hahahaha SICK! Fortunately we have the blade of inventory (companion inventory, only to be used when you have a problem with a companion).  It's one of those wooden swords.  Some elders left it here with some weights.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Elder Chen left for Australia last night!  Before embarking on his 15-hour flight to Brisbane, he called us from the LA airport.  He sounded happy and says he feels "too loved" thanks to everyone who has written him.  His next email will be straight from Australia!

Elder Joseph Chen
Australia Brisbane Mission
PO Box 348
Hamilton QLD 4007

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 10

Ok, so guess what! I got my travel plans and I guess my visa didn't have any problems! Thanks mom for doing so much for me! Vicky said that you were helping me do my visa work a few weeks ago.  It's thanks to you that I get to leave so soon! Thank you so much for being the best parents mom and dad! :)  So here are the important travel plan sections:  I'm leaving the provo MTC at 3:30 pm on Monday the 17. My layover at the LAX will be at 4:15 (LA time).  I'll call you when I get there :) I have a 7 hour layover, so I have as much time as seems appropriate! I'm so excited to talk to you all! Unfortunately because of all of Mom's wonderful efforts and prayers, I won't be seeing Vicky at the MTC, but I know you'll love it.  I told the other generation to watch out for you.  Also, the Branch President know's you're coming.  You're probably going to be advanced so you won't get to meet them until the last few weeks of your MTC stay.  I love our Branch Presidency.  President Baker loves the church so much and has given so much of his life to further the Lord's work.  he is such a wonderful example to me.  He's one of the most strict branch presidents in the MTC and he's very proud of it :).  You'll love him Vicky.
Well, some of the Thai Missionaries said that they saw mom in the temple! Sister Farnsworth and Knutsen said that they loved you and you seemed like such a wonderful person.  Sister knutsen is sad that she's going to miss Vicky, but you'll get to hang out with Sister Farnsworth.  Oh, by the way, You know how I told you that you had 2 luggage bags that can weigh 50 pounds, and a carry-on that weighs 15 lbs? Well you're flying EVA and they also allow one small personal item (not sure what that means) and everybody here usually gains weight into their luggage.  We get a bunch of scriptures (including the triple column, so you don't have to bring one), three pmg's (Pinyin, characters, and english) a few dictionaries, a few grammar books and stuff, so just dont' pack too much :P all the sisters here are so stressed about fitting all their stuff in 115 lbs haha.  I'm also going to leave a few things behind for you so you wont' have to bring laundry soap, I can get a lot from the Elders because they bought a lot here and won't be able to use it all, so don't worry about it.  I'll probably just send most of it home so you won't have to worry about it.
Something that all the missionaries here are covetous about is that I"m going to leave with you my old "white plates" haha.  My old lesson plans.  They've got a few good scriptures and can help you figure out how to start your lesson plans off.  It's really good.  there's so much I want to tell you about the MTC so you don't waste any time getting into the thick of things.  Our whole zone wasted a good 2 weeks because we weren't sure what things were.  Evidently, we're the first generation to go through this special program.  I really like it though.  I'm not sure how the advanced missionaries work, but I'm sure it's pretty similiar.  just the first few weeks are in english.  Mom could probably tell you more :)
Well, I'm going on an airline called qantas which seems to be something of an enigma here in the MTC... I'm not sure what to think of it or anything. Nobody really can tell us the carry-on limitations or anything... So I'm not sure what to pack, it'd be awesome if you could find that out for me.  If not, it's fine, I'll probably just ask the Australian Elder here.  He's going to Hong Kong cantonese speaking and he's a really cool guy, he definitely knows qantas.  (also, there seems to be a lot of australians in the MTC for some reason. I wonder why... huh... ok
Vicky, if you want a little pmg, just let me know, I've got my real PMG and it's got all my notes in it so, I don't know if I want this little one.  If you want it, I'd love to send it to you.  It seems like more of a feminine thing to carry anyway.  It could fit in your purse and stuff. Oh and by the way. Mom I LOVE the little side bag you gave me from Jeff! It is such a wonderful thing! it's perfect for my scriptures but it's not so big that it gets annoying or in the way.  Thank you so much for your for-sight into my mission. It's so great.  All the Elders here are covetous of my lesson plans and my bag :) haha.  Thank you so much! (I think I'm thanking you all so much because I'm finally realizing how cool you all are! you all are SO cool! Love you all)
Well, something funny about the lesson plans, there are some lessons in PMG that have IMPOSSIBLE scriptures to find in the book of mormon because they encourage us to use the book of mormon rather than other scriptures.  Well, I've found a lot of good scriptures for each lesson, but whenever someone finds a new verse about apostasy, or how the gospel blesses families, we all have a really big celebration.  It's pretty hilarious.  We're all so weird here.  We love looking at graphs, progress records, baptismal dates, area books.  hahaha, we're crazy.  Also, they played some strange music over the speakers in the big building and everybody just stopped talking and listened it was SO funny.  hahaha, I'm so weird and I've only been here for about 2 months hahahaha.
Speaking of music, they wanted Elder Staples and I to play again, so we're playing tomorrow.  :)  Just a heads up.  I guess it's just a last hurrah for Elder Staples and I to go and play for the new Missionary orientation.  I'm really excited for it.  haha, he Always keeps joking about marrying verina.  He's so funny, I definitely respect him so much.  He works SO hard in learning chinese.  The first day we were here, I remember he knew how to say Ni hao, but now his vocabulary is bigger than mine! He's an example to all our district.  So you better watch out verina.... mom might approve of him ;) haha.
I feel like I need to say something to Jeff too! Mostly because I just read Alma 39:1.  You can find it for yourself if you'd like, I don't have enough time to type and look up the scriptures.  But you are definitely such an example to me and Jon! I love getting your letters and hearing about medical school and how well you're doing over there! I knew you'd do so well in Medical School.  I look up to you so much! thank you for setting such a wonderful example!  Jon, dont' follow my example, follow Jeffrey's! He's such a hard worker!
When I call you, I'm going to have to speak a little Taiwanese to you.  our teacher has been teaching us a bit.  I can say maybe three words, but I love it.  It sounds so funny.  You'll have to correct it and I don't think it'll be much use in Australia, but it's a lot of fun to learn.
Well good news, we are the coolest district ever! I'm definitely going to miss them.  Our district hasn't had any problems and all the teachers love us! Even the teachers that haven't taught us.  They always love coming to our class and just talking to us and helping us during coaching missionary study time.  haha.  I hope you get such a wonderful district here Vicky!  I feel like you can make any district work, you're just awesome like that.  All the other missionaries wish they could've been in our district. YEAH! hahaha, the Lord had blessed us! he know how we'd all work together and since all the missionaries all have the same purpose and have been trying to reach the same goal, we all get along so well.  Some Elders here have different purposes for being here, and you can see it.  I admire their obedience to the Lord's commandments!  LIke christ, they are doing as their father's commanded.  The Lord will bless them!
One of the devotionals we listened to talked about Help from the other side of the veil.  I thought of mom because she does so much to help our ancestors.  One of the seventy said that: "Your relatives will be the ones to drive the devil out of your lives.  They will be the ones leading the charge against the adversary in your protection."  I remembered what the Temple workers told me every time I went to the baptistry when they said that.  He told us of an experience when the adversary was testing him and trying to get him to sin, and when he prayed for help, he said that in his dream, he saw a host of angels led by his grandpa against the adversary.  How cool is the gospel!!! One of the councelors in our branch presidencies brother Johnson told us: "not only your family, but the family of those you are to teach are protecting you! they want their work done, and they can only do that through your efforts in bringing the gospel into the lives of their posterity."
How great is the church!
Well, my time is up, so I'll wrap it up.  I love you all, I feel like I forgot to tell you some stuff, but I'll probably right a letter before I leave if I can find some time.  If not, I'll just put some in a package I sent home
I'll see you in two years! :)
Elder Chen

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 9

Hi family!
Well, its time to email you again! The time here goes so fast! Its crazy! Haha, so at first my keyboard was configured to some strange language, I think it was cambodian for a bit, but Im not sure.  haha.  Ok, so theres quite a bit to report about this week, so I'll try to fit it all in the thirty minutes that I have :D ready go!
Ok, well first I have to thank Sister Clark for her package! She sent me Twenty-Four Doughnuts from Krispy Kreme!!!!! Crazy huh? the mail-room girl was like: "what in the world? You are loved by somebody!" Haha, so I'll have to write to her thank-you.  All the Elders in my district loved them.  It actually brightened up the day of a few missionaries.  Because the New Missionaries are being overwhelmed by chinese, I thought I'd share some with them, so I did.  Turns out, they had all had a really rough day because their investigators are really difficult and the doughnuts brightened them up.  I love the Lord's timing in all His works.  I believe that they were inspired. As weird as it sounds for doughnuts to be inspired, but by little things are great things brought to pass!
So to answer your little questionaire, I did recieve all of the packages listed and no, I did not know that 1/3 of Americans flush the toilet while they are still on it... that seems kinda gross... but I might try it.  I feel like I'd get wet if I stayed on the toilet.  Haha... Oh yeah, about the departure date, It's estimated to be the 17.  I'm supposed to get my travel plans on Thursday (cross your fingers) I need to check with the travel office if I've received my visa yet, but I'm not sure.  Depending on the status of my visa, I might be transferred to a different mission for my first transfer of my mission.  I think that'd be supre cool.  Who gets to go to THREE missions? (Provo MTC, first transfer, and Brisbane) Whatever happens, There's definitely going to be something good about it! Even if I get stuck in the MTC for a bit longer! I might even see Vicky, and If I host, maybe all of you! :)
About calling you, I actually didn't know that I could call in the Airport, but that's cool! I'll let you know when I get my travel plans when I will call you.  Right now, I really don't know much about my travel status or anything.  Hopefully I'll write a letter to you when I get my travel plans.  I'm really excited about it! Our whole zone is.
Well, I did get the durian candy, and I think one of our elders put it best when he said: "It was ok at first, kinda like salty pineapple, but then weird things started happening to my face.  Then I burped and my companion passed out" haha, we loved it here.  Mostly just because it smelled so bad when you ate one, so we'd all just stand outside the spanish Elder's rooms and breathe heavily.  They all think we're all disgusting now.  YES! haha.  No, we love the spanish elders.  They're so funny.  English elders though... haha, just kidding. I just thought how weird it is that we have 2500 Missionaries here, all with the exact same purpose! how cool is that? I thought it was pretty cool, but I might just be crazy.
One of the funniest new Elders is Elder Babin (BaaabOE) that's how to say it I think.  (put the emPHAsis on the right syllAble) haha.  Ok well, he's from France and he's SO french! it's hilarious.  He has an accent and definitely is one of my favorites.  The other day, he kissed me on the head (which was really weird haha) and started speaking french to me.  It was kinda weird... not gonna lie. My other favorite elder in the new generation ( oh ps, Vicky is going to meet all of these I think! :)) is Elder Hawkes.  He does parkour and does the CRAZIEST stunts.  haha, but he's so funny, he always comes to our room (our whole zone loves our room, they always come to talk because we are the coolest :P... but really, we are hahaha just kidding) Last night, he was teaching me to do some flips and I was teaching him how to dance, Funny elder.
Now to the fun part.  Mom might like this one. :)  I performed in front of all 2500 missionaries on Sunday for Devotional.  :)  We tried out on Thursday and they really liked it so they had us perform.  It was a lot of fun.  There's not much to say about it though haha.  BUT Chad Lewis spoke ( I don't know if you know him).  He played for BYU and the Eagles evidently.  He served in Taichung Taiwan and is one of the coolest speakers we have ever had.  He gave us so many one liners.  though my favorite quote was "Yo-yo ma is the best cellist in the world, but I would have rather listened to "Oh My Father" played by a missionary with the spirit of a missionary, a thousand times more than listening to him." Another one was: "Let your greenie light shine forth!" YES! which reminded me of a saying one of the elders keeps saying to everybody who breaks a rule: "Welcome to the MTC Scrub." Evidently new missionaries are called scrubs... I had no idea... 10 weeks here will do that to you :)
After the devotional, everybody wanted to go talk to him and shake his hand.  (this is my favorite part) He only wanted to speak to the mandarin missionaries so he told President Brown that and President Brown announced: "If I can read your tag, you shouldn't go to the back with Brother Lewis" hahahaha.  Well, we asked him to bear his testimony in chinese for us and we understood it! except for this part: Zhen jin bu pa huo lian.  Our teacher tells us that it means: "Pure gold doesn't fear the refiners fire!"  When he said that, I definitely thought of all of you! you all have been so good to me in supporting me and raising me to be a better missionary. You're all pure gold! Don't be afraid of the refiners fire! let it strengthen you! trials are here for us.  Without them life would get a little bit dull. (For fear of having one of these lines quoted and framed by mom, I'll make you promise that you won't frame ANYTHING I say.) haha
One of my favorite experiences here was conference.  First of all because of what it did for our investigator.  We're supposed to pretend that our investigators are really our investigators.  So we encouraged our investigator to fast for an answer to let him know that our church is true.  We joined him in the fast and then challenged him to listen to zonghui jiaoyou dahui... I forgot what it's real name is hahaha.  I'm becoming so weird already.  When I get home, I'm going to be such a weirdo.  anyway, when we were listenting to the session we had challenged him to listen to, all of the first three talks were perfect for him! it was AMAZING! they answered all the concerns we didn't know how to and encouraged him! The church is true!
Oh yeah, thing about our investigators.  Vicky, I know I already ruined it for you, but you're not supposed to know that they're your teachers, but this will help you.  The investigators that you have in the MTC are our Teacher's favorite Investigators.  They are the ones taht they loved the most in their field.  If you ever think that they aren't real.  They are.  They are the closest ones to the teachers' hearts and it breaks their hearts when missionaries don't understand that they are real people.  Our teacher loved this investigator.  He told us about him and I could definitely tell that he recognized the investigator as a child of God and had come to love him so much.  Just remember that when you're teaching.  Even though you know it's your teacher, remember that they are pretending to be one of the most important people to them.  I don't know how to stress it.  Do your best to make it real.
Well, I haven't gone over my thirty minutes ever yet,( Which is a problem for a lot of missionaries, I usually wait 10-20 minutes longer for my comp) so I"ll end right there :)
I miss you all and thank you all for all the support!
Elder Chen.
See you soon! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 8

Dear Family!
Ok well, update for the week... we got another apostle in our devotional.  Elder Nelson spoke to us about the Book of Mormon and gave every single missionary (that's like 2000+ missionaries!) a copy of the Book of Mormon Ensign.  I love it SO much!  Our teachers keep bringing such amazing insights about the Ensign and it's definitely strengthened my testimony regarding the Book of Mormon.  We have designated time in our day to read scriptures with the district (in chinese) which is a lot of fun because you get a lot of insights and revelations.  Missionaries are lucky and get a lot of revelation by themselves, but when you put 12 of them together, it's like a spiritual feast.  We spent an hour reading and discussing Lehi's Dream.  It was such an amazing experience.  the other missionaries pointed out so many cool things to me that I was writing notes the whole time.  My scriptures are covered in notes :) haha.  One of my favorite insights is that in the mist of darkness, there was a path, but no Iron Rod! People tried to stay on the path, but they couldn't because they didn't have anything to hang onto! cool huh? I had no idea! The church is true.  Also, right when they get to the tree, they fall down and then partake of the fruit.  I thought that it's really hard to follow this gospel.  Our gospel isn't a convenient one.  We have to Endure to the End.
I wish everybody could stay in the MTC this long! I've learned so many things here from teachers, missionaries, and even some volunteers! I know I always have TRC stories, but it's just because that is the one part of our day where we have no idea what's going to happen.  Sometimes we get people that are assigned to us because we need to help them, but sometimes, people are there so they can help us!  Every time we come back from the TRC, we are so excited about the work and really want to get out to our designated fields.  This last time, we had planned out a lesson about obtaining revelation through reading the Book of Mormon with scriptures and everything.  When we got into the room, we started our lesson, but instead of us sharing those scriptures, the volunteer pulled HIS scriptures out and shared the exact same ones with us.  He shared some new insights that we had missed when we had read those verses earlier.  He then shared stories with us.  He had served two or three missions, I can't remember, he speaks french, german, spanish, chinese, and english.  What an incredible guy!  He has truly magnified all of his callings in his life!
Oh I remembered a fun story.  Well, sister Kang's Aunt keeps sending her random Taiwanese food to try to get her used to the food before she gets there. It's so funny to watch people eat some of the food that we get.  The best was the little shriveled dried plums that I don't even like.  She tried some and pulled the funniest face and started to jump around because it was so bitter.  Naturally, all the other Missionaries wanted to try some.  After they had tried a little, they all had similar reactions.  My favorite was Elder Wright ran to the trashcan to spit it out, but the trash can is up against a wall, and he was going too fast I guess. :)  When he was spitting it out into the trash can, he hit is head on the wall and we all laughed at him for a while, but he made a pinky promise to never speak english in the MTC so he couldn't say anything back to us or explain what happened.  Speaking of which... none of are actually sure what he thinks any more... hahaha.  He doesn't talk much.  though he does say shenme a lot... and when he does, he emphasizes the "n" which drives everybody crazy haha.
They all say I have a little Taiwanese accent (I don't believe them) and so they always try to make it sound like they have a lisp when saying their "sh"s and stuff.  Our teacher is really passionate about that though.  One day he just went crazy about it (in a funny way of course) and said that he hated when they made Taiwanese people sound like little 12-year-old school girls.  hahaha, they still make fun of me.
Honestly, not much has actually happened here.  We get mail, we go to class, we study, we go to gym, the usual. haha.  Sorry my MTC experience isn't too funny but I love it here. :)
Oh yes! I keep running into a bunch of people who see mom all the time! There are two foreign sisters from China (I think) that have mom translate the devotional and the temple for them. and then I met and Elder Li who said that she was tutoring him.  They all Love you and think you're the cutest sister in the MTC :).  The two sisters say that you're super nice.  Elder Li told me that you told him not to tell me (WOW weird sentence there... sorry about that) haha, but he told me because he thought you were awesome.  I've been bragging about you ever since. But I brag about our whole family all the time.  The Sisters can't wait to meet you Vicky.  haha.  AND sister Fitzpatrick (because of her foot) is going to stay in the MTC a little bit longer and she'll get to see you!!! cool huh? I thought so.
Well, my time is almost up, but I miss you all, but I definitely love it here.  The MTC is one of the coolest places ever! Happiest place on earth.  One of the sisters calls it the double bubble because Provo is a bubble of safety, and the MTC is a bubble within that... plus some of the Elders are going crazy because they haven't seen a girl their age for a while.  Every time we see a girl we get to yell Yo ho like a pirate.  One of the Elders looked up temptation and thought it said yo ho, not youhuo.  hahaha.  It stuck.
Well, miss you all, and I'll see you soon! I'm already 2 months into my mission! and I have 3 weeks till I'm gone.  If I have Visa troubles, I might even be able to host vicky though :D I doubt it.  but maybe.
Elder Chen
Ping'an! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 7

Hi Family!!!!
So I had the greatest surprise today! it was awesome! I saw mom in the temple! how cool is that? Sorry I couldn't talk to you too much.  They encourage us to just say Hello and then goodbye.  Mom, thank you so much for being such a good example and going to the temple so often.  I love the temple so much now.  It''s the best part of the week.  Kind of haha.  You''ve helped me become a much more effective missionary by making me work hard at home and being such a wonderful example. Oh by the way... did I look fat to you?hahaha, be honest mom!!! :) I''ve gained SEVEN pounds! hahaha
Ok, well, the MTC really isn''t that exciting of a place.  I'm pretty sure I''ve told you all the fun stuff so far. other than gaining 7 pounds and seeing mom at the temple, not much has happened since Tuesday... Wait! We had another apostle speak to us for the devotional! Elder Ballard was such an inspirational talk! He said: "Get up, and go on! Everything will be ok!" And it definitely went along with my personal study for the past week! I've been studying how to recognize the spirit, how to teach, and how to find people.  All of these things supported what he said.  He just added a few really cool insights.  He said that most people worry too much about getting the inspiration when what they need to do is make their own decisions and follow through with it.  God can work in any way!  He can influence your thoughts WHILE your planning as well as when you're out in the field.  He taught us that we plan so that God knows where we are.  If we pray and don't have a strong feeling that we should be in a specific place, we write down where we're going so God knows where to send the investigator.  "If God doesn't send you to them, he will send them to you."  He love us all and will provide a way for us to get His work done!
We welcomed in the new elders just this last week and they seem super young.  I've been trying to help them out with learning their chinese and letting them know what they should be doing.  They're all such awesome people.  We've been told by so many people that they call the smartest and the hardest working people to the mandarin speaking missions.  I was kinda tentative about that at first, but we have a joke about spanish and english elders.  Everytime somebody does something bad we always say: "those spanish elders" and usually, we're right.  hahaha.  Just kidding.  All the missionaries here are great people.
One of the new missionaries is a flute player and she wanted to do a musical number, so she talked to the branch president and he told her that I could play the cello really well (I don't know where he heard that).  anyway.  I'm now practicing Joseph Smith's First Prayer (the violin duet by Beebe) in treble... on the cello... :) hahaha.  It'll be a lot of fun.. Hopefully I'll be able to do it.  So I might perform for a devotional, fireside or something.  I'm really excited! And once again, I have to thank you mom and dad for teaching me so much! I now regret not listening to you more often.  Thank-you for making me learn the cello.  It's definitely already blessed me so much.
We were interviewed by our teacher (because they want to make sure we're doing ok) last class period which was a lot of fun.  When I went in to talk to him, he said that our district was learning chinese faster than any of the districts he had ever taught.  he said it was because we had Sister Kang, Sister Fitzpatrick, and I to help people.  he also said that most of the people with this much chinese background were usually advanced into the other district which leaves in 6 weeks instead of 12, and the ones that weren't we usually less willing to teach the other missionaries in the district. (wow, this is a really weird paragraph hahahaha, bear with me :)) FINALLY, he said that he's thankful that we were humble enough to stay and learn the vocabulary and how to teach and share our experience with the other missionaries.  Thanks for teaching me to be humble and chinese.
I feel like I should thank you for a lot of things right now.  I know that without your example and tiger-mom (and dragon-dad? hehe, alliteration) ways, I wouldn't have been as prepared as I am.  I wish I had listened to mom and dad more so I'd be more prepared, but no regrets right?
Oh yeah, fun story.  When we were playing soccer, one of the elders missed the goal and it went out into the street (north temple drive) so he had to go retrieve it. Well, he caught up to the ball and started dribbling it back then tried kicking it to us.  I guess he didn't realize that the curb was higher than the road because it hit it and then bounced back.  By this time, several cars had started to come up and down the road.  He waited for one car to pass, then started coming back to the field with the ball.  Half-way through, another car turned the corner and started flooring it.  we were all laughing so hard because the elder had a look of horror on his face and started screaming till he crossed the sidewalk onto the field where he just fell down and started hyperventilating.  We were all worried for him until he started laughing.  It was a lot of fun.  I had never seen anybody move that fast so suddenly.
Also, the other day, we were waiting to teach our investigator and the sisters had gone over their allowed time with the investigator (which cuts down on the time we have to teach) so my companion looked into the peep hole to see what they were doing.  As soon as he got up to the door, he kind of exploded away from the door, ran over to a chair, threw open his scriptures and sat down.  Right when he sat down, the door opened and the sisters came out.  I was laughing so hard, they were so confused.
Anyway, somethings in the MTC seem funny to missionaries.  But they really aren't that funny.  I just wanted to share with you a little sunshine from my soul. :)
Well, I love you all, miss you and hope you're all doing great!
Last piece of inspiring cheese: "Live Worthily, Pray Constantly, Listen Diligently, Do Accordingly" I'll explain because I'm looking at it and it makes no sense out of context: Live worthy of the spirit.  Pray constantly for His presence, Listen diligently for his voice, Do according to His will.
See you soon!
Elder Chen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week 6

Hi Family!!!
Well guess what! I've been in the MTC for six weeks!!!! I just realized that! that means that I'm half-way through my MTC stay and in about six weeks I'll be off to Australia!! it's kinda bitter sweet thought.  We had a hump day celebration the other day and it was a lot of fun.  We're going to be inviting in the new mandarin elders tomorrow! Right now we only have 43 Missionaries in our zone and they said only 21 new missionaries will be coming in.  It's a lot less than the usual I heard, but I think it'll be good to get to know them better.  :)
Well, Maybe you've heard, but they're moving the mailroom in the MTC which means no dear elders or stuff for a bit :).  I've written fewer letters to people now.  I haven't even written anybody in the past while, I should probably write them. how crazy! I just got sucked into the work I guess.  Maybe I'll start writing more often.  Oh, And I'll be sending pictures soon. Since I can't email pictures, I'm going to have to print them out, so it might be a bit, but expect a letter in a bit.  Hopefully within the next week, I'll have to find time to go and get that done.
And I might have seen someone this morning! I was heading back to the Residence Halls fromt he temple at 8:20-ish and I think I saw the prius! I got super excited! haha.  Don't worry, i'm not home-sick or anything, though I do love you all and miss you all.  I've learned that I'm in the right place right now! I think the biggest realization that helped me was because of the TRC! Well, once a week, we get to go to the TRC and teach a volunteer.  Most of the time they're members, but sometimes they're not and they come to practice either their chinese or english depending on what they're learning as their second language.  Well, this last week, we had an investigator come in.  It was the WEIRDEST THING!!!!!! I have no idea, I guess you really do learn to love the people you teach.  Half-way through, we were testifying that the gospel blesses and strengthens families and we were telling him how it blessed OUR families.  Well, he paused then he told us that he could see that we loved our families and that there was a different kind of love there and he wanted to know how he could get that.  I was kinda caught off my guard and paused because I don't think I realized that our family is SO blessed! At that moment, I just wanted to jump up, over the table between us, and give him a hug and then tell him EVERYTHING!!! Fortunately, my companion restrained me or that would have gotten weird.  So I didn't actually end up giving him a hug, I just bore my testimony and promised him that the gospel could bless his family.  It was the weirdest feeling.  I just wanted to explode! I love it here! The MTC is such a great place! haha.
Our zone suddenly got super excited about playing soccer, and we're all getting pretty good at it.  Last time, we played the english elders.  If we had been keeping score, the score would have been 4-1 Chinese elders, but since we're not supposed to keep score I don't know the score ;). haha.  and if I were counting, all the goals were from our district.  but we're not so... I don't know who won, and I don't know who scored them :).  But don't worry, I'm not getting too fat.  I think I've found my pre-earth-life-long-lost-twin!!!! Anyway.  yep :)  We're all trying to decide what our chinese names will be so we can tell our Mission Presidents, and he decided that his name was going to be: Ding Xong Long or something.  I'm not actually too sure what he was trying to say.  Evidently it means Thumbtack Fierce Dragon... His last name is Staples so our teacher decided to literally translate that I guess.  Now he introduces himself as Elder Fierce Dragon Thumbtack.  He is going to do wonders in Australia.  hahaha.
Did you know that TONS of people have gone to Australia Mandarin Speaking?! I had no idea! I've met a ton here! it's crazy! They all said that the amount of mandarin missionaries in a mission in australia ranges from 6-10.  Crazy huh? So I'll be 10% of the Mandarin Missionaries in Brisbane! BIG responsibility! Also, I keep running into people that know you Jeff.  they are EVERYWHERE! I'm known for a few things in my district.  One of which is: "Do you have an older brother?".  That has been said to me at least 20 times here.  Mostly in the TRC, but in the temple, teachers... yeah.  Anyway, I've got big shoes to fill.  Fortunately I'm not going to Hong Kong or it would've been much worse ;).  Just kidding.  I love it.  I look like my model older brother.  Definitely makes my day sometimes.
Not much has actually happened this past week... it's been pretty slow with so few elders in our zone, so I'm not sure what else to tell you all about.  I love it here, the cafeteria is clogging everybody up except for me and Elder Fierce Dragon Thumbtack because we just have salad wraps and salads.  My Companion has now learned the word fengpi because he does it so much.  He's cleared out the computer lab twice and our classroom once.  It's hilarious.  As soon as he gets this little sly grin on his face I know he's done it.  Within ten seconds EVERYBODY is covering their face.  Fortunately the sisters are on the other side of the room so I don't think they notice it at all.  Our teacher smelled it once and started laughing in the middle of the lecture.  that was interesting.  Anyway.  I promise we're all very mature here.  Sometimes the cafeteria food does magic on some people.  I've just learned to stop him from eating those potatoes.  hahahaha.
Ok.  :) Well, Vicky! Sister Fitzpatrick is in my district now! She misses you even though she hasn't seen you for two years.  but that's ok.  She's going to Taizhong... is that how you spell it? I have no idea.  Anyway, she has an extra bone in her foot that she needed to get taken out, so she had a surgery last week.  The branch president decided that we should do an annointing and sealing with oil and had her choose whoshe wanted to bless her.  Well, she chose me to do the anointing and help with the sealing.  It was really cool.  Because of that, one of the elders in my district gave me a case for consecrated oil, I bought some oil and consecrated it.  It was a neat experience.  I've never done that before, but after doing that, I can promise you that there is power in consecrated oil.  There is power in the preisthood, and there is power in faith.  I could feel it and everybody in the room could feel its effects.  Sister Fitzpatrick is doing great! she's recovering well from the surgery and has been attending class for a while. The church is so incredibly true.  I don't even know how to convey that over email, but I hope you can feel it!  I love this church!
Well, my time is up so I'll bid you all adieu.  Love you all and thank you all for the support!
Elder Chen
Ps. Because of the visa thing, I might possibly maybe be kinda able to maybe glance Vicky when she comes in :)
See ya'll soon! two years isn't that much! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 5

Dear Family,
Hi family, sorry I didn't get this sent to you earlier today. We switched up our schedule because we haven't been able to get any mail till today since saturday.  Labor day stopped the mail :) haha.  Ok How have you all been? I tried to write things down before because I keep forgetting to tell you some things!  haha, don't worry cuz it's not very urgent.  Maybe I'll start writing you hand-written letters so I don't forget anything.  the little timer telling me how much time I have is very stressful O.o.
Also, don't worry, I have been eating healthy here.  Just salads and wraps and stuff! They're getting pretty old though, so we'll see how much longer I can stay within my weight range haha.  It's good :) I'm not building too much muscle mass because of it though. Also running is killing me.  Elder Staples (the mitton's cousin) makes me run a lot.  That's the elder that Jonjon met yesterday.  He's super cool and is definitely a wonderful missionary.  He is an example to all of us.  :) He keeps reminding me about how I need to help him marry Verina at some point.  hahaha.  Evidently if you're seventeen, you're perfect for missionaries, so watch out verina...
Ok, so I sent the email last week before the fireside.  Guess who spake at the fireside.  ELDER JEFFREY R> HOLLAND! and I was in the fourth row from the podium! it was AMAZING! he is my favorite apostle.  He's famous for chastizing the missionaries and then building us up better than we were! My favorite line was "You do NOT have the right to detract from the glory of this Church!" So Powerful! try to imagine Elder Holland saying it! His talk was so amazing.  I took eight pages of notes on his talk, which, unfortunately, I don't have enough time to talk about.  Vicky, you are going to love it SO much here! Pennsylvania sounds like a lot of fun, but this was something else.  I have never been on such a spiritual high for so long!
In his talk, Elder Holland said that Missionaries are truly blessed! We are the most prayed-for people in the world after President Monson.  But because of that people know that we can be AMAZING! So we cannot damage that image.  We can't compromise that beauty, grandeur and glory.  He said that his three most important life-changing moments were his mission, his marriage, and his education!  He also said that the Prophets in prior dispensations knew that their dispensations would all end in apostasy and that their work was ineffective and little in comparison to our dispensation.  They saw our day, they saw that there were as many missionaries today as people who accepted baptism in their day.  "Our dispensation is where the majority of missionary work will be done both on Earth and in heaven".  It is so true! The prophets kept working because they knew that we would come.  That is what kept them going!  Isn't that so powerful? The Nephi, Moroni, Mormon, and all those prophets saw the work that we were doing!  We are the last dispensation.  The fulness of times.  We have EVERYTHING! I feel so blessed!
That's one of the things I've been working on too! Counting my blessings! During one of my studies (oh ps! I finished the book of mormon because we have so much time here to study) I came across D&C 78:17 "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in His own hands and prepared for you."  After reading that I felt childish! I am a little child because I don't understand how much the Father has and wants to bless me
Well, other than that, not much has happened. The older generations left, Sister Fitzpatrick is now in my district (same mailbox if you want to write her) because she has an extra bone in her foot that started to hurt so she's in surgery today.  we inherited a lot of office supplies and stuff from the Older elders.  Heads up, you can have 2 luggage cases that weigh 50 pounds each, and maybe 2 carry-on that weigh 15 pounds.  Just a heads-up for vicky when she comes.  We got new district leaders! I was released as district leader, but now my companion is the new district leader.  This is so weird because they rarely ever call the companion of a prior district leader to be the new district leader.  I guess our companionship is cursed :) haha, just kidding.  It's a blessing.  I have been helping him lead the district.  Leadership isn't evertythign it's said to be.  It's basically a bunch of hard work, which has been good for me :D.
Anyway, the two goons/ Elder Macfarlane and Elder Wright? they are the two funniest people! I walked into their room and Elder Mcfarlane was drawing circles around all o fElder Wright's moles with a pen! Haha, after that, they taklked about popping the mole and getting cancer.  I just went back to my room to write in my journal, then I heard a really loud noise like somebody ran into a wall, and went out to see what the noise was all about.  They had built a slingshot out of our exercise bands (really big rubber bands).  They had made really dense balls out of duct tape and were launching them down the hall at people... hahaha.  They also made a bat out of duct tape.  It's really dense.  They'll frequently say: "Spank me twice and call me doodle" or "grab your ankles" after which they'll spank them.  They've also learned some of the funniest words in chinese.  I don't even know where they got them, but it keeps our district happy and destresses us after long days of chinese.
speaking of which we have to SYL (Speak Your Language) all the time, so we made a game out of it.  We have a really big rock that someone just picked up and we have it in our classroom for the beginning of class.  When someone hears a missionary speak english, they have to carry the rock until they hear someone else speak english.  I haven't had to carry the rock yet, but I'm afraid I might have to because you have to carry it EVERYWHERE! into the cafeteria, class, back in the residence halls, it'll be rough. haha.  One of the rules is that you have to always be touching the rock... haha, thanks mom and dad for giving me a chinese bakcground so it's not as hard for me to speak chinese.
Did I not tell you!? haha nobody fill up the pitcher! bahahahahaha, just kdiding.  Everybody knows I drink so much water here.
Mom: Our whole zone would LOVE to help with the family work.  We can do initiatories, endowments, sealings.  Just send them to us.  Our zone had 73 people before the old generation left, so if you send us a lot, we can just keep working on it for a while.  Everybody loves doing chinese names.  They all said that the names they're doing in the temple are great, but they're American so they can't help them in Taiwan haha.  I love our district!
Well, I love you all, I'm out of time and I'll write you soon!
Elder Chen
Jonjon, It was so cool seeing you yesterday! Love you! They all think you're a total stud! keep up the good work! Mom says you're working hard! haha.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week 4

Hi Family!!!
How are all of you?! I love getting such fun mail from you all!
Well, this week, we traded our old teachers in for two new ones. We were kinda sad about losing both of our teachers because we LOVED them! They were awesome. So if you ever meet a Kevin Prier, or a Patrick Evans, shout out to them. Brother Evans is Uchtdorf's grandson, and looks a lot like scott storrs. I don't know how to spell his name. Anyway. Brother Evans is the FUNNIEST guy ever. One time, my companion was reading his toothpaste tube lable for fun cuz he was bored, and Brother Evans said "Put that toothpaste away and we can yiqi du us some mo er men jing" haha. His chinglish is the greatest thing I've ever heard. One time, a companionship had to go to the bathroom within ten minutes of each other. (one had to go, came back, and then the other had to go) and he positioned himself up the door and was like: "Over my dead body!" haha. Anyway. That's Chen Laoshi.( Same name as us! cool huh?)
The new teachers a re a lot of fun too! It's really stressful with them too. Fan Laoshi is a convert from Taiwan so she has a really heavy Taiwanese accent and talks REALLY fast. The first class with her was the funniest thing ever. She was giving us a lecture when Fan Zhang Lao raised his hand, turned to me and was like: "Should I be doing something?". Whenever any of the elders in our district have a question regarding chinese, they always ask me. Haha, Turns out, only Sister Kang and I knew what was going on the whole time. It really scared some of the Elders in our district. I feel blessed that I had such a great family that helped me be able to know what to do here :). Our other Teacher, Brother Mix (Mao Lao Shi) is really fun too, but absolutely nobody knows what's going on. He speaks slowly, but he has such an amazing vocabulary that we don't know what he's trying to convey to us. I was writing down new words the whole time when he was talking. It's very stressful, but it's good for me. It's pushing to learn SO many more words that I wouldn't have even thought of using before. He also taught us "Fang ma, guo lai" :). Evidently them be fighting words! haha we're not supposed to use them. :)
Ok, so I mentioned Fan zhanglao earlier, but he and his companion are really the two funniest people I have ever met in my life. They definitely keep our stress in check and keep us alive. I love it. His companion's chinese name is Ruan Zhang Lao, so when they come home, they're going to start a 5k called the Fan Ruan. bahahahaha. That was how they intruduced themselves to our new teachers. They were SO confused for about ten minutes before I told them that it was a "hao wan de pao bu" I don't even think that was proper chinese, but the teacher seemed to get it, so I felt pretty productive for a bit. To kinda get to know them, here's another fun experience. Ruan Zhanglao hadn't been getting much mail, so they were both joking about going home if they didn't get a letter. Well, Fan got the only letter for the day and let Ruan read it right when he got it. Anyway. It was a SUPER trunky letter and our class was laughing so hard because Ruan was acting all sappy to Fan. Definitely the goons of our district, but they bring joy to our hearts.
Well, we went to the TRC on Saturday and I saw a TON of people that knew Jeff. They all saw me and were like: "do you have a brother?" yes. I do have a brother. Jeff is quite the popular man here still. Well in the teaching sessions, we taught twice, and all the rooms have cameras so that people can observe the lesson from outside. My companion and I got two recent converts that had just come to America within 5 months ago. My companion didn't know what was going on because they spoke so fast, so I taught the lesson and let him know when he should recite his prepared statement. Well, the whole district was watching us evidently because they ended their lessons early because they had NO idea what the investigators were saying. When we came out, all the districts new that I could speak a bit of chinese and so now, I'm friends with all the districts! haha. Fun huh? I really like the TRC! It's a lot of fun.
The devotionals here are also way awesome! I've learned that the people I've never heard about before are sometimes the funniest speakers. President Samuelson came and gave a talk once, but it was kinda slow and we had a lot of the elders around us start snoring. That was an interesting experience. But this last sunday, president McCiff spoke. He was awesome. He said "learn the wonderful art of making others feel better abouty themselves because they are with you." What a profound statement! I'm trying to do that now! I don't know why I haven't thought of it before! We're supposed to build EVERYBODY up. Make it a PART of you! I can't remember who said this but: "Become what you wish to be by acting as the object of your desire." It's circular, but true. Unless we act like Christ and keep that in our minds, we cannot develop those Christ-like attributes!
The fireside was really good too! My favorite line was "Don't give an inch" The speaker related the story of a captain who was assigned to protect his position at the top of the hill and to "not give an inch", after which, his commanding officer stuck his standard into the top of the hill and told him not to lose that flag. He withstood 3 attacks fromt he enemies before his men were out of ammunition. Because he new the importance of his standard(flag), he told his men to fix their bayonettes and prepare to charge. Because he wouldn't lose that position, he won the battle by shocking the enemy into retreat. What a great example of sticking to our standards! If we budge a bit, we cannot be the representatives of Jesus Christ He has called us to be!
I have a lot to learn still, and I'm so glad I could learn here in the MTC. I love it here. I might be luckier than Vicky! They might accelerate you, but I love it here. I get 6 more weeks than you probably will :). But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be accelerated. The lord needs you out in the field doing his work. I just have a lot more to learn than you do :).
Well, I love you all! I'm greatful for such a wonderful family that has supported me throught my MTC experience SO much! You guys are so wonderful! I'll see you all in two years!!! I'll see you soon!!!!
Elder Chen
ps. Thank you SO much for all of the packages, I'm getting fat though because of all the candy and stuff. :) I've gained 4 pounds!!!! hahahaha. And I LOVE the backpack mom :) I've been using it so much. It's been really helpful here!
Alright, love you all! I hope you all are doing well! my time is up so I'll write you soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week 3

The MTC is such an AMAZING place! I don't even understand how I walked past it and didn't even feel the spirit that I feel now. Everywhere you go, we feel such an amazing sense of God's love for us! I love it. I'm becoming a little bit less enthusiastic about leaving the MTC for Australia now :P haha, just kidding. I love the teachers, the Elders and our branch presidency. They're all so wonderful and helpful. Our Branch President served in Taiwan when he was younger, and served as a president later when he was 38! What an amazing sacrificing person! He put his whole career on hold and because of that he's still working even though he should be retired. He's such an example of dedication to the Lord. You can tell he loved his mission and the people he served because he continually talks about the chinese people in a very respectful manner. He said that because the church has dealt clearly with China, they have been very friendly to us, and as a result, they have been blessed. Because he does international banking, he could keep track of money and value between different nations and he said that when China re-absorbed Hong Kong, their economy started to do AMAZING! It is because they recieved a mission and a temple with Hong Kong.
Our teachers here are awesome as well. Pres. Uchtdorf's son is one of the funniest teachers I have ever had haha. Most of the time, he'll grin at us as if he's waiting for us to say something, (even though we usually don't cuz we don't know how to say a lot of things in chinese) then he'll yell: Hao! and then look at his notes for a bit then continue on with his lecture. He's also one of our investigators at the same time and he is the WORST investigator ever! haha. When we teach, we're never extremely confident that what we're saying makes sense, but he'll sit there with a blank look on his face the whole 20 minutes. Sometimes he'll yawn and blink a lot, but that doesn't really help our confidence. Other times he'll just rub his eye and then his face while we're talking. We always come out so frustrated, but then when he comes in to teach, he always makes us laugh and class goes by SO fast!
I can't believe I've been here for 20 days already! it felt like a week! Oh, heads up to vicky: The first four days in the MTC are THE slowest days you will ever have in your life, but after the first Sunday, time flies and you wish you had cherished those first few days. Oh, and bring lots of work-out clothes/ socks. :) haha. OK! Jeff was definitely right. You try to stay up and talk about the day and what you learned... it doesn't work. My roommates tried that one night, but as soon as they lay down, they were OUT. haha, We're all SUPER tired here. We took a fun picture of our district. Everybody was sleeping except for sister Kang, Elder Brown, and I. I thought it was hilarious. So we took pictures of all of them. You'll often see missionaries walking around with little stripes down their faces because they fell asleep on Preach My Gospel. It ALWAYS happens to the chinese elders because we're here for SO long and we have 6 hrs of class, 2 hours of Language study, 1 hr personal study, district study, companion inventory, and daily planning. It's a lot of fun until you realize that the tank has been empty and that sudden burst of energy that you get every now and the starts getting shorter and shorter. BUT NO RESTING! We're all on the Lord's time!
The mission has definitely helped me learn things I should have learned A LONG time ago. I don't even know where to start, but I'm running out of time for this week. Just live it and love! Go back and read Uchtdorf's talk! Slow down, take a breath and take it all in! Life is WONDERFUL! We're all so blessed to be alive at this time! in His Last dispensation! The fullness of times!!!! We have it all within our own little city! I never realized it before my mission and I wish I had. When mom told me to the temple, I would do it with a little unwillingness, but now, I wish I had gone more often to feel the spirit more. You never know what you're missing till you feel it! But no regrets! and now, no excuses!
I wish I had more time than just half-an-hour, but I'll try to take notes throughout the week so that I can be more productive when writing you all :).
I love you all, and thank you all for your support! I pray for you all at least 8 times a day (we pray a lot here and every prayer contains: Women qiqiu nin zhufu women de jia ting) hahahaha
Till we meet again!!!!!!! (soon!!! two years isn't long at ALL)
I'll see you soon!
Elder Joseph Chen!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 2

Dear Family,
I hope you're all doing really well! I love receiving your letters int he mail. Since I have to pick up the mail and distribute it to my district it's always good to find a letter int he stack for me ever now and then :).
Ok. So I've been through two weeks now, and I love it still! it's amazing! The MTC is amazing! Most of the time our whole district is tired unto tears :P haha. During personal study, people will be falling asleep EVERYWHERE! One time, I looked up from my scriptures to see three of the elders had fallen asleep and one of them was playing with a fan his mom had sent him. He was trying to keep a paper in the air with his hand-held fan and when he'd mess up it'd make a little noise when the little fan blades hit the paper. Anyway. We have so much time to study and prepare that many of the missionaries just go crazy, but I love it. I keep discovering new things during my personal study time, companionship study, and coaching time. I just spent an hour reading and taking notes from 2 Nephi! It's such an incredible chapter!
We have two new "investigators" now. On of them is You Di xong (we don't know his first name) and the other is Pan Chang Zhi. They're our teachers acting like investigators. Pan Chang Zhi is our teacher Chen Lao Shi (Brother Evans). I was talking to him and realized that he was President Uchtdorf's Grandson! how cool is that? Remember when we went to that massive fireside in Taiwan when President Uchtdorf spoke? he was picking up two of his grandsons from Taiwan. Brother Evans was one of them! his twin is also a teacher here! He was the other grandson! so we talked a bit and he told me that I reminded him of one of the investigators he had. Oh yeah, so when we were "teaching" Pan Chang Zhi, he always acts so bored and tired so we all come out with a look of horror on our faces after teaching him. Most of the time, he'll either yawn, or rub his face/eye. It's rather unnerving. He also asks rough questions to answer in chinese. One time, he asked one of the companionships what Xili (baptism) was. So, they explained that it was how we became clean, but he was asking what happened during it. Since they didn't know how to explain it in chinese, Elder Macfarlane stood up, grabbed his companion by the arm and re-enacted baptism. Since he didn't know how to say basically anything pertaining to baptism, he just grunted and pretended to dunk Elder Wright in water after moving his hands around his waist and saying "shui". After they had finished teaching the investigator, we thought our teacher would laugh, but he had a stone cold face the WHOLE time.
Anyway, not too much more has happened recently. Our district was the cause of two new rules though in our zone :) haha.
So, I guess I'll introduce you to the elders in my district via email :P I would send pictures, but they don't let us send pictures through email while in the MTC.
Elder Bellingham is my companion, I told you about him last time, but he lives on a lake in North Carolina and we looked at his house from google earth. It's HUGE! we'll have to visit it some time.
Elder Staples is Bro. Mitton's Nephew. He went to timpview, and keeps telling me that he and Verina are a match made in heaven :P so you better watch out verina! Something about being able to speak our people's language, the piano, and being soul-mates. Fun stuff. Plus he puts this oil on his scalp every night that makes the back of my throat burn and my eyes water. So I've been trying to get used to that.
Elder Brown is Elder Staple's companion and one of my roommates. He doesn't really talk much, but his chinese is very good. He's a funny kid.
Elder Macfarlane is from one of those book of mormon prophet-named cities. I can't remember which. He's an amazing elder. he's been through a lot and wants to be on a mission more than anything. He's such a wonderful example to me. he's going to Hong Kong and has been to Taiwan before.
Elder Wright is Elder Macfarlane's companion. He's going to Hong Kong as well, and he's HILARIOUS. The other day, he wrote a rap to Eminem's song "Won't lose" or whatever it is. I can't remember. It feels like forever since I came in. anyway, his rap went something like this: "oop there goes Cassidy, What? is she mad at me? Who does she think is better than me?" In reference to Mission break-ups haha. We have a very productive study time.
Elder King and Elder Gray are both really quiet. I really don't know much about them, but I think I'll go visit them during down time some time at night. They seem like really nice guys. When I interviewed them, they both were really happy and confident that this is where the Lord wants them to be.
Elder Peterson and Elder Wolfgramm are my zone leaders from the older generation. They're really nice, Elder Peterson went to harvard and Elder Wolfgramm went to Air force academy. We love making fun of Elder Wolfgramm because he's the epitomy of what a military guy looks like, plus he has a six-inch scar down his arm. it's VERY scary to wake up, walk into the showers and run into it. I always let him take his shower before me :P. No one really knows where he got it, but Elder staples thinks somebody shot him with a rocket, Elder Wright thinks it was from a shark-attack, Elder Macfarlane thinks it's from cage-fighting, and I think it's from running into a tank. Elder Peterson said he got it from being stabbed in Vegas, but I don't know.
The Sisters are just crazy. Jeff was definitely right, they are VERY mature and outspoken about it, but I love them. They're really supportive when we're learning chinese and write us notes every now and then. :)
Sorry the emails aren't too long. We only have half-an-hour on the computers and I'm starting to fall asleep :P. The MTC is a lot of hard work! I'm loving every moment of it. I can't stand to fall asleep because every moment counts! "Moments are the molecules that make up eternity" -Neal A. Maxwell. If I ever take a moment to fall asleep or take a break, I'll miss a little bit of eternity! They give us so much time to study and do things but I still don't feel like I have enough time to be ready before the field. A lot of the missionaries keep pulling new scriptures out for every situation, and I've got a long ways to go. Plus, I still can't explain baptism :P. Fortunately there's 3 Nephi 11 for that. haha.
Anyway, I'm almost out of time, but thank-you for ALL the support you've given me. It means a lot. I know I'm in the right place right now. I know the Lord has a purpose in everything that He does, and because I've placed my life in His hands for the next two years, I know that if I align my desires with His desires, I'll always be in the right place, doing the right thing.
Love you all! I wish I could write you more often, but I only have an hour of open-time at night to write in my journal, read letters and write them, and conduct interviews. So, I'll try writing you as soon as I can :)
Elder Joseph Chen