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! :)