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.