Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 28, 2010

Well, this week was pretty special.. Why, you ask? Oh, no particular reason.. Except that it was the new mission president seminar and we had apostles at the MTC.. Of course, their building was walled off and locked up so we couldn't see them.. However, one day after class, on the way to lunch, we came out the door and looked to our right and there was Elder Nelson talking to a group of missionaries.. We went over there and some of my district got to shake his hand--I unfortunately didn't get to, because more people kept coming and he kind of didn't want to be there all day shaking hands, so he and his wife skidaddled.. But it's not a big deal; I still got to see him in person!

Then on Friday evening Elder Oaks spoke at a special devotional.. It was pretty cool.. He talked about what makes our church different from others, and that we're not just another Christian church among huuuunnnnddddreds (this computer is really annoying.. it does that like every thirty seconds).. I wish I could go into more detail, but I want to get to other cool stuff that happened.. After the devotional, we did indeed get to meet President and Sister Bishop.. They are both very good people.. I'm so excited to get out there and actually start helping people get baptized! That's actually one thiiiinnnngggg (oh my goodness......so annoying, this computer) that President Bishop told us..

We have 156 missionaries in Taizhong, and there's a tradition of inviting to baptism early.. He said we baptize in Taizhong.. As for the travel plan, I'm not entirely sure yet.. They haven't told me anything; I wasn't aware that my date had changed, and they haven't said if we could call from the airport. I'll be sure to let you know when I find out.. Oh, and today we got the chance to go help clean the Provo Temple.. That's why this letter's so late this week.. It was kinda fun.. We just cleaned a bunch of lockers, nothing reall exciting.. But that's (finally) enough about me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010

Hello again! Man, I don't know about you, but to me it seems like the weeks just fly by. It seems like I was just writing you a letter a short time ago. It's really good to read your letters--you may have noticed this letter is early, because the Provo Temple is closed for the remainder of my stay at the MTC. P-days are now actually p-days. Hm. But the good news is they've assigned our district to go next Monday and help clean the temple while it's closed! They're going to give us white work clothes and everything. One of our branch presidency members said, "You're going to clean the temple? It's already clean, isn't it?" But that's going to be a pretty cool experience, I think. This computer is being annoying. When I press the period it puts in two, and when I press enter to start a new paragraph it doesn't do anything. :( So I will go ahead and save this draft, go get my haircut, and come back and finish my letter.

I want to share this scripture, which gives me strength and hope when things are just a little down. D&C 121:7-9 "My son [or daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends [and family] do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands." That's the truth. Heavenly father loves each and every one of us and is mindful of us every minute of every day. So I hope every one of you are happy! Even when you have one of those days we all have, where nothing seems to go right. Know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of hope, joy, and light. Anytime you feel discouraged, gloomy, or depressed, turn to the Lord in prayer, because those feelings are not of Him. He gives us hard times for but a moment, and then rewards us for enduring well.

This week we have the awesome opportunity of having the new mission president seminar take place at the MTC. The First Presidency and many of the Twelve will be here at some point during the week, though the MTC is unfortunately closing the building to missionaries so we don't go a-hunting for Thomas S. Monson. However, on Friday night they're having a special devotional for the missionaries and new mission presidents. I have a good feeling that it could be the prophet speaking. I hope. Oh, and yesterday I got released as district leader. They're doing four weeks at a time instead of six so that more missionaries get a chance to serve as leaders. It was a great growth opportunity for me, and I really learned to love my district and serve them.

It is so crazy to think that I only have three weeks left. There's so much I don't know, and yet right now I feel like I want to get out there. Don't worry--I'm not wasting any time trunking. In fact, I'm going to work harder in these last weeks than in the first eight combined, because Heavenly Father has truly blessed me with the gift of tongues and increased my ability to learn this language. I'm so excited to get out there, though. I want to teach somebody who has never heard this gospel and watch them come to know their Father and Savior and make their first covenant with Them in the waters of baptism. So. Excited.

I promise you all that if you take ten or fifteen [or more] minutes a day to sit at a desk with a notebook and really study the scriptures, recording the thoughts and impressions that come to you, your days will go so much better and you'll feel like your spiritual battery is charged for the day. Let me know!

I love you all very much. I look forward to your letter every week. Always maintain a firm faith in your Savior Jesus Christ and you will always be led to happiness. Also know that I am putting forth my very best effort for the Lord and I won't waste any of this precious little time He's given me to be a missionary.



Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

Today we went to the temple for the last time; Provo Temple is closing starting next Monday. I'm kinda sad, but we did get to do sealings, which was the first time I've ever gotten to do them. I was only allowed to participate as a son being sealed to his parents, but it was a very cool experience. And now I'm here typing my letter early because we're going to have forty new missionaries in the laundry room today. Forty! Which reminds me, yes, the new Chinese missionaries came. It's kinda cool to be the senior elders, but it's not quite the same as I thought it would be. Mainly because over half of them have had Chinese classes in college or lived in Taiwan or whatnot. So it's not exactly like training a total greenie. But it's fun to get to know them.

Last Tuesday we had Elder Robert D. Hales come and speak to us in our devotional. I think we've been pretty spoiled having an apostle every other week. The older group told us (before they left) that that was pretty much unheard of. Elder Hales spoke a lot about light. How the gospel is the light that cuts through the darkness in people's lives. He told a story of an airplane that got lost in the night with their equipment broken. They had no idea where they were or where to go to get to safety. They were surrounded by blackness. They radioed the tower, asking for another plane to come up and guide them to the airport.

That's us. Not just me--every one of us who knows the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We know where we're going, where we are, where we came from. What we do is find those people wandering around without purpose and let them follow us back to where they will be safe. I know that's true. I just think of that time we were in Mexico and met that LDS family at Tulum. I think I knew they were LDS before we asked because people who live the gospel just look different! The light of Christ shines from their faces and you can totally tell a difference between those who radiate that light and those who don't. But you know what? We can help people turn that light on. That's what I'm going out to Taiwan to do. I'm so excited to really teach a person who's never heard the gospel before, because I'll get to see the process of them turning their light on and coming to realize who they are and where they're going and how to get there.

Other than that, we've being doing lots of studying. This Saturday we teach the Plan of Salvation and Word of Wisdom for the first time in Chinese. So I'll need to be prepared for that. Here's a fun insight for you all: I was reading my Chinese Book of Mormon, reading about the brother of Jared, and the Chinese word was the word denoting an older brother. So that's kinda special. Something you don't know just by reading English. My timer says 3:40 and I feel like I should write something more, but it's been quite a bit of the same around here. And when I say "the same," I mean awesome, of course. But the same, nonetheless.

How about a quick Chinese lesson? I learned a fun new word, really fun to say: bingbao. It means hale. (pronounced like it sounds: bing bow, rhymes with king cow)

I always look forward to reading your letters. It's good to hear that you're all doing pretty well. Know that my prayers are with you and Grandma. Till next week,


Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010

Today's been a pretty normal p-day. Went to the temple, doing some laundry, and all that as usual. I want to apologize in advance--I had to go to the health clinic this week because apparently the MTC has a rule that if you've had symptoms for a certain length of time you have to see the doctor so you don't get other missionaries sick. I'd had a cough for four days or so, and it turns out it's probably bronchitis. Don't worry about me though, I'm doing just fine now. He put me on an antibiotic. I just want to apologize for the bill you'll probably get in the mail for my co-pay and prescriptions. And I've been so careful lately, too. Can't imagine how I caught bronchitis. But oh well, like I said I'm doing great now.

Well, this week has been quite standard. Last night's fireside featured three old people, all of whom had written the music to one or two hymns in our current hymnbook. It was kind of funny, because most of them spoke like it was less of a talk and more of a telling stories to their grandkids. You know what I mean--where an old guy will just keep thinking of other interesting stories that relate to some little thing in the story they're telling so they get way off track. But it was fun. They had some really interesting things to say about how hymns have an importance to our work as missionaries.

This week is when our zone gets forty new missionaries. It's only two days away and then I'll be one of the "older missionaries." That's too weird! I've been seeing lots of people from my high school here. In fact, most of the ones I've seen are learning Asian languages like Japanese and Korean. I've seen at least three people I know learning Korean. When does Brad enter the MTC? It'll be interesting to see if I see him around here.

One of my teachers, Sister Tanner, reminds me so much of Aunt Shannon. It's pretty hilarious. My other teacher, Brother Hodges, is also really awesome. In fact, you can see a picture of him and his wife and kid on page 57 of the conference Ensign. He told us and the other teachers that he got a letter from church headquarters saying that as a result, his calling and election has been made sure. :D

Well, I'm down to less than five minutes and the timer is flashing, urging me not to procrastinate the day of my repentance...er...sending my email. I want to leave you all this week with a commitment (proving that I am becoming a missionary...mwahahaha). I've been finding that my personal study has been an incredible blessing and a great way to get closer to my Father in Heaven. I challenge you all to continue doing family study of the BoM, but also do some personal study. Sit at a desk, pull out a journal, and read a few chapters and write down the thoughts you have. How can that scripture apply to you? I promise you if you make the effort to do that every day this summer, you'll feel so much better. Be anxiously engaged in a good cause and Heavenly Father will bless you!

I love you all very much. I look forward to your letters. Remember--it doesn't have to be exciting for me to care about it. Tell me about it! Love you all.