Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011

Mom, Email me Monday morning with any questions you have and would like me to answer.

Ni hao family and friend,

Another week in the books here at the MTC. My friend who came in the same day as me and is going English speaking is headed out tomorrow... I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit jealous of that. But I'm also super excited to be going to Taiwan. It is still hard to fathom that in late March or early April, I will be stepping off a plane onto an island in far east Asia.

Where to begin? Every day is beginning to run together now. I have no concept of time anymore. One Elder in our zone put it best when he said "it's like one long day and we just take naps at night." Well said Elder Hansen. Well said. I'm beginning to really love my teachers and I'm so glad I have the teachers I do and I'm in the district I am in. I'd never have thought Chinese would come as quickly as it is, but the very second I start to feel good about learning something, I'm in someway reminded about how far I have to go. I memorize the purpose or the 1st vision and I don't even have time to feel proud about it, because we're immediately thrown another assignment.

I've repeatedly found myself wishing I would have taken Chinese in high school more seriously. Or even really gone to class senior year for that matter. Although Saturday my high school Chinese came in handy. We go each week to a teaching center where we teach investigators and our teachers watch us on hidden cameras and then critique us. At the start of this activity we have a task we have to do in Chinese. This week was tracting and trying to set up an appointment, and then we would go back and teach that appointment in Chinese. We got the coolest old Asian man. He was so funny. He was in a full suit and tie, and then had slippers on. It was great. When we were tracting he invited us in and offered us beer. Luckily the word for beer was one of the half dozen I retained from my high school Chinese studies, so I was able to decline, and overall the Chinese tracting went well.

My companion and I teach and work so well together. I can tell the rest of our district is getting annoyed because we're progressing so fast with the Chinese and the teaching, yet we have the most fun and kid around and joke the most. There is a sister who is quite grumpy and thinks that the gospel can't be fun. I have a hard time picturing Jesus as a grumpy man personally, and in our Tuesday night devotional Elder Gong (who served in Taiwan!!!) spoke on being of good cheer. The message we have is something so amazing. We have to be happy about sharing it. Thankfully I got a lot of counsel before coming out here about finding a balance between working hard and having fun. I'm also thankful for a companion whose outlook is similar to mine. Our whole motto is that we can be having fun while working hard, you can do both simultaneously, and I think that drives some of our district crazy. They work on contacting by locking themselves in our class room and studying vocab all day. My companion and I go walk around the MTC and contact random people. If we mess up, it's in Chinese so the people we are contacting won't even know. The MTC is about making mistakes and as long as we're learning and progressing from those mistakes, that's all that matters.

I have learned a few other things since being here on my contacting strategies.... first of all, I'm not allowed to take advantage of the favorable currency exchange rate and bribe people to be baptized. I'm also not allowed to say that I know Yao Ming and that if you meet with us we will bring Yao Ming. I've also been counseled against telling people I'm Jason Kidd so that they will want to meet with me, and they tell me I can't say "I'm Buddha reincarnated and have come back to tell you I was wrong." So I guess I'll have to come up with new ways to get people to meet with me.

My companion is crazy, wacky, words cannot describe, but I love it because we teach so well together, and because if I'm going to be here 12 weeks, he'll keep things fresh. One thing that isn't fresh is his diet. I'll break it down for you. Everyday he starts off with a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch and chocolate milk for breakfast, for lunch 2 bowls of cinnamon toast crunch and chocolate milk, and for dinner, 2-3 bowls of cinnamon toast crunch and chocolate milk. Then every night he gets a hot pocket from the vending machine. He's about 6 feet tall and 130 pounds soaking wet. We have this game in our room. We have a foam apple, and whoever wakes up with the apple in their bed loses and has to bus everybody's trays at breakfast the next morning. My companion claims to be really sneaky. 2 nights ago we caught him crawling on the tops of the wardrobes, and last night he was really sneaky, he took 30 minutes to slowly crawling across the 12 foot room and put it in an Elder's bed. It was one of the sneakiest things I've ever seen.

He also loves to draw dinosaurs and to draw animals mixed together, like Napoleon Dynamite. Wow, now that I mention it he's a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. There is a sister from Texas going to the other Taiwan mission in our zone. We convinced him to draw an armadillo body with a dragon head and give it to her. It was hilarious. I have a picture on my camera. I will send the memory card home soon. We've also convinced him to give other sisters dinosaur pictures. It's incredibly funny. Last night he told me his first ever haircut that wasn't by a flowbee was the one he got right before coming on a mission. Needless to say, I'm thankful for my companion.

Last night I watched the legacy pioneer movie. Thankfully we had a crowd who was all laughing, I guess some of the older Elders said the first time they saw it everyone was trying to take it seriously. Last night even the presiding branch president was busting up. It's so cheesy and the Joseph Smith they cast thinks he's a male model. The week before we got to watch the Joseph Smith movie. Now that is a well cast Joseph Smith. Legacy was exactly what I needed last night after a long week.

I love you all, I'm sorry for those who have written me and haven't got a reply yet. They give us hardly any time to write letters, and I have a lot I've already written, I just haven't sent them off.
Love you all. Can't wait to get to Taiwan.
Love Elder White (bai zhanglao)

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