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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week 1

Hi guys! I've been here for about a week now. Six days exactly! I love it here! thank you all for all your love and support! Jeff was right when he told me that I'd be the most loved missionary ever! I've been here for six days and have already received so many letters! Thank you ALL for the wonderful support! I can see how the lack of support has made the MTC harder for some of the other elders in my district. I get to see which Elders in our district are having the hardest time, because the District Leader picks up and hands out the mail. Fortunately I've had a letter every-time, but I could see that one of the elders was really struggling, so I've been trying to give him a hand, give him support while learning and be positive.
After you dropped me off, I went into the main building to pick up my tags, meal card, and companion information. We dropped my stuff off in my Residence hall, and then went for the orientation/first class meeting where I met my district for the first time. They're all really cool people. My companion, Elder Bellingham played golf for BYU so he's REALLY good! He's from North Carolina, but came to BYU for a year. He has no Chinese background so I have to help him out a bit. I was thinking of moving to the accelerated group for a bit earlier, but I decided that the Lord knows where I need to be. My teacher told me the first few days that I'm here to help the other Elders out with their chinese and so far, our district is much farther along than any other of the new chinese districts. Sister Kang and I have been helping everybody learn new vocabulary during class and we have helped the teacher explain some concepts. The Lord knows what he is doing! We just need to have faith in Him and stick through whatever trial or situation we find ourselves in.
The MTC is definitely the most spiritual place ever! I love it! Since my first Sunday here was a Fast and Testimony meeting, I went up and bore my testimony in front of the Branch. There's no better way to learn than to practice right? Well, the older Elders said that they never have new elders bear their testimonies on their first fast Sunday and the branch presidency doesn't expect any of the elders to talk during sacrament meeting until they're six weeks in. It was definitely a new experience. I should have practiced more chinese while I was at home :). The branch president can actually speak chinese and he's very picky with the tones so taht was very scary.
We practiced on an "investigator" in the TRC! His chinese is REALLY good and nobody but Sorah and i could understand what he's saying half the time. We've been teaching him every two days and probably will commit him to baptism. It's really difficult to speak chinese while teaching the gospel. SO MUCH NEW VOCAB!!!! haha. But it became easier because he's actually a teacher. We weren't supposed to know that but he accidentally walked into our class. He opened the door, saw our faces and then there was kinda a look of horror on his face before he just turned around and left. Our whole districted started laughing. Definitely a bright spot in our week! haha.
The other day, we were assigned to vacuum the walls... for our cleaning. Jeff was definitely right. We get the WEIRDEST jobs here. We just threw the vacuums on our back and started vacuuming the walls. I guess they really do have SO many missionaries who need to clean that they start making up things. So our district just went around like the ghost-busters with the extensions and ran around the building. we definitely have a lot of fun.
I think we frustrate the sisters sometimes though haha. They're all so mature about everything but we're just 19 year old guys, growing up and having fun! Fortunately, the Branch president comes around every now and then into our rooms to make sure we're not commiting iniquity and visiting us. It's really good.

Elder Chen

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Elder Chen's Mission address

Elder Joseph Chen
MTC Mailbox # 130
Australia Brisbane 1017
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793


Welcome to Elder (Joseph) Chen's blog.

Elder Chen received his mission call on April 13, 2011 and was called to serve in the Mandarin Speaking Australia, Brisbane mission.

Here, you can read all his letters and emails.  

P.S. Verina and Vicky will be taking care of this blog and his facebook for the next two years, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask!