Another week gone by. I've been gone for almost a month now, which just feels weird. The weeks are beginning to all feel exactly the same so I apologize if I mention something that was actually part of last week and you've already heard about it. It's so difficult to remember everything when it all runs together so quickly. First things first, how is everybody?
Really exciting news about mom's book!!! I hope all goes great with it. I hope you book signings go well and it doesn't prove to be five hours of awkwardness. How is everyone holding up? Glad to hear Savannah's team played well. That brings mom and dad's coaching record to .500. Not too shabby. Why are the Jazz horrible? What is their record and where do they stand in the west?
Anyway, I guess the biggest news this week is I was called to be district leader. Should be fun, I'm the man with the mailbox code. The group of missionaries in our zone that came in before us are all leaving this week or next Monday. It's sad to see them go but I'm very excited to be the senior group, I can't wait for the next group to come in. It also means that Taiwan is that much closer which is super exciting.
Anyway, the 3 missionaries going to France leave this week and the rest are gone next. I'm going to miss one of the zone leaders a lot in particular. He is such a great guy and we've become pretty good friends. He is 6'7"and his brother (who is the other zone leader) is 6'4". They are older, they have both finished graduate school and are going to France. They both speak French, Spanish, English and now Chinese, and currently live in Dubai. Pretty cool. Anyway, he knows I studied architecture and am into it so he shows me pictures of all the amazing Dubai buildings. Last night he pulled me aside when we were in the residence halls and gave me a gift, a notebook that has the Burj al Dubai on it. It was really nice, and I'm going to miss him a lot. Ask grandpa and grandma if they had Chinese speakers in their mission. We have a LOT of people in our zone going to Canada to serve. Three are going to specifically the Toronto West mission. Was that their mission?
The older Taibei missionaries received their travel plans which is really cool, considering ours will likely be identical. We will fly to LAX, and from there it is a direct flight to Taibei, which is really nice.
Also CJ Pilling left today for Switzerland. He got a pic with me before he left but I didn't have my camera, I'll see if I can get him to email it to me once he gets over there.
We found out the next group that comes in for Mandarin will only have 16 missionaries. Our zone is going to feel small.
Mom, you asked to know more about him. Elder VanDenBerghe is from Holliday Utah, He went to Olympus High School, and worked at Myers Chicken for 4 years, He is an expert on cooking chicken and sometimes at meal time he will give us 15 minute lessons on how to properly fry chicken, and where the MTC kitchen went wrong. He wants to be a paleantologist and/or own a fried chicken fast food restaurant when he grows up, but not a KFC, because he hates KFC. This loathing for KFC is a feeling I share with him, and has strengthened our companionship. This week we determined he is more of a Dwight Shrute than a Napoleon Dynamite, but he possesses qualities of both. In our rooms there are wardrobes where we hang our suits and shirts etc. The point is they are not big at all. Just big enough for someone to curl into a ball and sit with their knees to their chest. I told my companion I would buy him a hot pocket if he slept in there all night with the door shut. He lasted 45 minutes. A solid performance if you ask me. When we were learning about repentance our teacher challenged us to pick something we could change to become better and do it this week as a personal goal. I said I'd quit smoking, but my real goal was just being more focused and making sure I was out of bed by 6:30 no matter what, not 6:33 or 6:34. Elder VandenBerghe's goal was to not think about dinosaurs for a whole week. He has struggled mightily with this task, and has continued to make multiple dinosaur drawings each day. I encouraged him to draw Joseph Smith riding a dinosaur, so I think that will be the next masterpiece of his. In our zone there is an Elder Langi. He is Tongan and serving in Tonga. He is the first Mandarin speaking Tonga bound missionary anyone in the MTC has ever heard of. He is HUGE and he is struggling with the language. I hope he can get it (he is Elder Brown from Grandpa and Grandma's ward’s companion). My companion frequently asks Elder Langi in Chinese if he eats people, Elder Langi doesn't understand what is being asked so He replies yes. When we contact random people in the MTC in Chinese my companion always ends the contact by saying, "goodbye, you are extremely ugly." It's pretty funny speaking Chinese in at a place where no else speaks it.
Anyway, the language is coming along better than I could have ever expected. Tell the Spirit I say thanks. This week will be our last week teaching in English, then it's all Chinese from there. It's going to help us teach more simply. That's the bright side of things I guess. The spirit that can be felt at the MTC is quite amazing. I love it, On paper this place shouldn't be fun at all. Living 3 months of your life on a city block, with subpar food, dressed formally, and spending 13+ hours a day in a class room learning Chinese. But in actuality I love it here. I've grown so much spiritually since I've been here and I feel like life in general has been put into such a clearer perspective. I understand God's plan for me better than ever before and I've felt my Savior’s love stronger than I ever have before. I'm doing great but I miss everyone like crazy. Thanks for all your love, support, and prayers.
Love Elder White