The MTC is ridiculous, I've heard the mission has it's ups and downs, I just had no idea that they'd come and go so quickly. On two occasions already I've felt extremely down and really wanted to come home, but then I've bounced back and had a breakthrough of some kind. It's hard. Chinese is hard and a little bit stupid. It's by far the hardest thing I've ever done. At home a lot of things came pretty easily for me, and if they didn't I usually just didn't bother myself with them. This is a real challenge, but I have faith I can do it. The Lord will provide a way for me to do it. If I exercise faith and patience I know I can do it.
Now about my companion, room, district, zone.
My companion is an interesting fellow. I can't really read him or tell what he's thinking. I'm continually praying to find ways to connect with him both spiritually and as a friend. When we got here, a couple of the older Elders who are going to Taichung were eating with chop sticks. We wanted to practice. We bought some from the bookstore and we made a rule that if we can't eat it with chop sticks, we can't eat it at all, (I also figured that's a way to avoid gaining the ridiculous MTC weight some Elders gain. There is rumor of an Elder who's gained 40 pounds and he's only an 8 week language.) Anyway, I've actually gotten pretty good at them. It's surprising. The other two Elders in my room are great. I love them so far. Our district is just us 4 plus 2 sisters, all going Taibei. Our zone is made of all the Mandarin speaking missionaries in the MTC, so we're a tight knit group. We all sit in the same place every day at lunch and all the other missionaries know that those tables are for the Mandarin missionaries--its cool. So in the group above us there are only 3 Taibei missionaries and there were only 2 above them. We have 6. The point is there aren't many in Taibei. I heard 48 missionaries in the whole mission. Taichung has tons, it's amazing.
Elder Oakman from my high school Chinese class is going to Taichung. He got here with the older group. He's been an amazing help to me here both spiritually, with the language, and with the ins and outs of this place. I'm so thankful for him. My zone leaders are also amazing. They are brothers who are really smart. They both have graduate degrees. They are from Spain (the southern most tip by Africa, if that means anything to you, Dad). They are French, and studied at English schools so they speak English with British accents, they are learning Chinese as there fourth language and are both going to France Mandarin and French speaking. They are a big help and I love talking with them and receiving guidance from them. They're very nice.
I love gym time. The basketball is pretty good if you're at the right hoop. There is an Elder Barr from Colorado going somewhere stateside Spanish speaking who I always try to play with and have on my team. We play really well with each other and its fun. I can't believe I know so many people here I completely forgot about or didn't know were serving. It's amazing and exciting. I'm loving and hating the MTC already. I really feel enclosed, but there is a great spirit here. Sunday temple walks and going to the temple today helped. I loved the temple today. I feel like I understood it a lot better. It was amazing.
As I said the language is pretty tough. I get so frustrated. Patience isn't my strong suit, but I'm learning faster than I ever thought I would be. I can already pray and bear my testimony in Chinese. I know enough to get me by day to day here at the MTC without needing to speak much English. I'm shocked at how fast it's coming. I'm running out of time and I want to save time to come back and print if you send anything. I also have a list of what I need sent that I forgot so I've got to save time to send you that.
I love you and miss you all. It would be nice to hear from family and friends. Post about dearelder.com on my Facebook, and have people send their addresses when they send letters, please!!!!
I love you. I know I'm forgetting things but this timer is really high pressure.
Zaijian, Elder white.
(Once I get the camera cord I can send you a picture of my nametag. It's amazing, all in Chinese characters.!!!
I need you to send me my brown shoes that were falling apart, I want to wear them around the MTC until they're done and save my other shoes for Taiwan.