Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28, 2011

Ni Hao,

This week was just a solid week. I honestly can't remember much of what happened. Today one of the older temple workers had on some all white sneakers, not the typical temple shoes. It made me wonder if the temple has a gym in the basement and he was going to ball it up after his shift. I think so. I'll have to look into that thought.

Saturday night my teacher was meeting with the sisters and they were practicing teaching on him. He told the 2 companionships of elders to say a prayer and ask God what he wants us to teach, and then pray and ask who he wants us to teach, and then basically go out there and teach. No rules, no regulations, no time limit, just go teach. It was cool because we felt prompted to try to go knock on the security booth door at the front of the MTC. We were nervous because we weren't sure if we could even do that, but we went for it and we shared a message about prayer to the 2 security guards. It was really spiritual and cool. We taught others but that one was the coolest.

Another cool teaching experience this week. We were teaching one of our progressing investigators and they said they felt good when they prayed but how could they know if that is the holy ghost, because a lot of people can feel joy and peace without it being the holy ghost. We struggled for a good 5 minutes trying to explain what the holy ghost feels like in our lackluster Chinese. Then all of a sudden I felt prompted to just stop what we were doing. I told the investigator I was going to share my testimony, and began sharing. It was really spiritual and cool and my Chinese came out really well. Then I let there be 30 seconds or so of silence and I asked the investigator what they were feeling, and if it was the same feeling they felt when they prayed. When he said yes, I told him that is the holy ghost. It was way off the book and not something I would've premeditated doing but it was really cool and really great.

This week we had to learn all the second lesson (plan of salvation) vocab during the week in preparation to teach it Saturday. It was a small window of time to learn. I worked my tail off though and teaching it Saturday went really well. I'm gaining a testimony that the harder you work the harder the holy ghost works to help you. Its really cool. My branch president wrote me and told me that my teachers have told him I've made tons of progress and had great things to say about me this week. As I've focused on just being the best I can be and not trying to slow down or change what I would otherwise do to accommodate my companion's work ethic, I've been able to grow a lot as a missionary. The branch president told me that its tough to not have companions on the same page but he said that he hopes that Elder VandenBerghe steps it up and to not slow down for him or let him drag me down. As I've done that I've been able to grow a lot this week.

Speaking of Elder VandenBerghe I think his best quote this week was, "Wild dreams are what dreams are made of." That was my personal favorite at least.

In other news this week I made a spectacular tie trade. I traded one of the really ugly missionary mall ties we got for free when we bought shirts there for an awesome tie. I sent pictures home on the memory card of this tie. It features leaves and fruits in an autumn type color scheme. It's glory defies all description... I think that's how it goes, I'm beginning to forget the English first vision and only know it in Chinese.

One cool thing about teaching the second lesson in Chinese is the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial kingdoms translate in a really cool way. The celestial directly translates to "high glory kingdom" than there's the "middle glory kingdom." and the "low glory kingdom." I know what you're thinking "teaching in Chinese to people who don't even believe in God is super easy. Anyways there is a map in our room of Taiwan, and there is always joking going on over mission rivalries of which mission in Taiwan is the best. Taipei is at the very top of the Island, Taichung is right in the middle, and Gaoshung (now closed down, but there are a few teachers who went there) is at the very bottom. Our map is laminated so I took a dry erase and labeled Taipei the High glory kingdom, Taichung middle glory kingdom, and Gaoshung the low glory kingdom. Both of our teachers served in Taichung and our native teacher is from Gaoshung, so needless to say they loved it. But actually both of our teachers have great sense of humors and laughed. I really love our teachers and wish I could go on and on about them but I'm out of time. Amazing people and I'm blessed to be able to learn from them.

I'm outta time and I've got to run because Elder VandenBerghe is getting a haircut, They do an awful job here and just butcher people when they cut their hair so I'm actually really looking forward to it. I think he is excited as well to get his second ever haircut that isn't from a vacuum. Good things at the MTC.

LOVE you all so much. Miss you all
love elder White

Also as district leader I have a part of the white board I can write announcements. I wrote shuo yingwen ruguo in xihaun sadan. It means speak English if you like Satan.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Taiwan is 4 weeks away from tomorrow. Words can't express how excited I am. I honestly can't wait. This week was such a spiritual week. Tuesday night's devotional was absolutely incredible. Elder Pearson from the quorum of the Seventy spoke and it was absolutely unreal. His talk was so great, and he spoke so straight forward and bluntly, really made me want to be a better missionary. It was a mission changing talk, that´s for sure. I´m really lucky I got to be here at the MTC for it. I realized this week that this is in no way my mission. This is the Lord´s mission, and I´m just privileged to be able to be a tool in his hands and represent him to the people of Taiwan. With that attitude adopted I´ve worked crazy hard this week and I´ve seen it pay off.

We got new missionaries this week which was really exciting. There are quite a few Taibei bound missionaries (6), they seem like a solid group of missionaries so I´m really excited. I´m pretty shocked at how much Chinese some of them knew coming in. I guess they actually went to their high school Chinese class. My bad.

I´m really glad to hear mom´s book is doing well and that the book signing went well. Did mom figure out how to do a cool authors signature or did she just use her normal standard cursive that has been the easiest thing to forge ever since the fourth grade? That's great news though, how is everyone else doing? update me.

Elder VandenBerghe is still just Elder VandenBerghe. His sister made him some purple satin pajama bottoms (purple is his favorite color). They just happened to come on Valentines Day, so I told everyone on our floor that his 26 year old girlfriend back home gave those to him as a Valentines Day gift. That was funny. He had to explain to people throughout the whole week that he doesn't have a 26 year old girlfriend. He wears those bright purple pants with his purple hoodie and wears his purple towel as a cape and runs around the residence halls. I dubbed him the purple prince, and today someone slipped a note in his coat calling himself the crimson crusader and informed him they are his arch nemesis. Ever since he's been freaking out trying to figure out who put the note in his coat. I know everyone reading this is assuming it was me. I wish I could say it was but I did not have the honor of doing so, although whoever the crimson crusader is, I love them. This is a quote he had the other night when we were talking about girls in our residence halls after a long day. I specify that it was a long day because I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and just assume he was tired, but he said "I like it when girls have a tiny bit of mustache." We were all taken back, and I asked "so you prefer a girl with a little bit of a mustache to a girl with no mustache?" He replied "yes." He definitely keeps things interesting.

I'm just so excited for these next 4 weeks to pass. I've loved the MTC and I will not take these next four weeks for granted. This is the time at the MTC when the learning begins to really take off because we now have that bit of a foundation, but words cannot express how excited I am for Taiwan and to take this gospel to his children there. Real investigators, with real conversion. I love the gospel and cannot wait to be in ASIA sharing it.


Elder White

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011

HALF WAY!!!! Taiwan is so close, last night it sank in a little bit that I will soon be in Asia. About as foreign a mission as there is. I'm so excited.

First off a couple of things. How did Mom's book signing go? and also can I get Uncle John's address? I need to write Thomas back for a letter he sent me and I have questions for Uncle John.

This week overall has been a good week. Taught in Chinese for the first time. It definitely had its ups and downs, but overall it was great.

I'll start by talking about our Tuesday night fireside. Elder Gavarro from the Seventy and his wife spoke. When they walked in they looked nervous. This is their 3rd language, and when Sister Gavarro stepped up she told us it was only her second time addressing a group of people in English. She proceeded to bear her testimony, first in English, then Spanish, and then Portuguese. I felt the spirit in all three. It was a great reminder to me that the spirit is not bound by language barriers. It made me feel better about learning Chinese. Although I could feel the spirit in all three the one that meant the most to me was the broken English testimony. It made me realize how important it is for me to learn this language so that the Chinese people will have the opportunity of hearing this gospel in their native tongue.

This last Friday I taught my teacher, who was taking on a role of an investigator he came across in Taiwan. The lesson went horribly. I felt like I couldn't understand anything he was saying, let alone find the Chinese I needed to vocalize my thoughts and feelings. I left the lesson discouraged and frustrated, wondering if I'd ever be able to learn the language. A bit later my teacher pulled me out of class. I thought it was going to be about what had just happened. I was sure he could tell I was upset. Instead he mentioned nothing of it and asked me about a sister in the district and told me that I need to help her with her Chinese and teaching. Here I was sitting here feeling bad about myself, and I wasn't able to recognize the needs of someone else in my district. It was a great lesson to me.

Saturday was the day we teach investigators in certain scenarios at what they call the TRC. Teaching Resource Center I think. We don't know about them and we've never met them so we have to get to know them and then teach them. Its like the test we work up to the whole week. It was great to see the turn around after Friday's teaching, It went really well and I was able to understand essentially everything our investigator was saying even though I hadn't heard a lot of the vocab before and my companion and I were able to teach well too. We had finished the first lesson and I was able recite James 1:5, and the first vision in Chinese by memory. It felt great.

Another cool thing this week is I got my Chinese name. It's Bai (2nd tone) Jie (2nd tone). I wish you could see the characters because that is what looks cool. Bai translates to White, and Jie translates to outstanding person or hero. So that's pretty cool. My teacher served in Taichung 4 years ago and his twin served in Taipei. He said that in Taipei they had both their first and last Chinese names on their nametags. I hope that is still the case. In my next written letter I'll draw my name for you. I'm beginning to learn how to read Book of Mormon characters. It's pretty cool. I can't write them yet and I only know like 80 characters so far. But I like it.

I'm so, so, so sad about Jerry Sloan. Please give me more details this week. It's hard to picture the Jazz without Sloan at the helm. I wish him the best and can't wait for him to accept the gospel in his next life. I'll miss Phil Johnson too. On the bright side we are able to get Corbin as our head coach before he leaves for somewhere else and I have a cool story with the Jazz head coach now.

Saturday I made a goal to not speak English. I went all the way up until gym and dinner time and then spoke some English after gym and dinner. Only because none of the Elders I played basketball with spoke Chinese. What's up with that? It was really fun to not speak a word of English. There were some things that I just had to keep to myself that I wanted to say, but overall I was surprised at really how much I knew. I was speaking Chinese so well by that afternoon and I was thinking in Chinese all day. When I first got here one of the Elders who had the best Chinese in the older districts told me his goal that day had been to not speak any English in the whole day. I thought he was crazy! Now I can't wait to do it again. It helped my Chinese so much.

This week we get new Mandarin missionaries!!!! I'm so excited. I was so confused at how excited all the older district's Elders were when we got here the first night. Now I fully understand. I cannot wait at all.

Saturday night after gym, our whole district wore Tobasco ties. We made it Tobasco Saturday and we plan to do it every Saturday night. It was hilarious and people loved it. At dinner we grabbed the Tobasco sauce from the condiments area and elevated it on top of some upside down cups and ate with it as our centerpiece on our table. We also all ate some Tobasco sauce with our meal. Elder Vandenberghe unknowingly, when we Tobasco sauced his cereal while he was up getting chocolate milk. Elder Vandenberghe had another wild and crazy week of doing weird things and saying funny stuff. I'm just going to tell you my favorite Elder Vandenberghe quote this week.

I told Elder Vandenberghe that I think he'd make a bad African American, because although we frequently have him rap he just can't pull it off while talking about dragons and dinosaurs... This was his reply:

"I know I'd make a bad African American because they have cornrows, and how is a flobee going to do that?"

I laughed so hard.

Our district has also formed a Chinese boy band. We plan on making it big when we get back and return to China. We have a couple of really good hooks and really good lyrics. Our choreography is top notch and we've already decided Elder Vandenberghe will the be the band member who bleaches his hair and has an earing through the top part of his ear, because every boy band has to have one of those.

All in all things are good and I'm out of time.

Love you. Bye.

Monday, February 7, 2011

February 7, 2011

Hello Everyone.

It's tough to think another week has already gone by. The biggest news this week is that the older Mandarin Districts are all leaving, either to Taiwan or Canada. It's sad to see them go because they've been such a help to us, but I'm really excited because it means I'm that much closer to Taiwan! And my favorite of the other missionaries is serving in Taibei as well so that is nice.

My companion received a couple of Taiwan travel books in the mail and ever since I looked through them I've been SOO excited. This place is absolutely amazing. It's gorgeous and tropical but so modern, and Taiwan is known for all of it's delicious eats from the street markets, which we found out we will be eating basically every meal because it is cheaper to eat out at the markets than cook the food. We can get meals for $1-$3 U.S. dollars at the markets, I just can't wait to eat snake meat. Needless to say I'm really really really excited for Taiwan.

The older Districts sang a musical number in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, some medley of Sisters in Zion and Armies of Helaman, The spirit was amazing and by the end of it all of them were in tears. Yesterday we had fast and testimony meeting, all of it in Mandarin Chinese. Almost all of the older missionaries who are leaving this week bore their testimonies. It was a really spiritual meeting. 4 of the 24 missionaries in the younger districts bore their testimonies, and I was one of the 4. I just felt prompted to go up. When I got up there and bore my testimony in Mandarin it was a really cool experience. I was able to express my feelings and speak sentences in Chinese I had never said before. None of it was new vocab or anything, but it just all flowed together and it wasn't until after I sat back down that I realized I just bore my testimony in Mandarin.

Being District Leader of my district is awesome because of how great my district is. Of the 4 missionaries from younger districts who bore their testimonies 3 were from my district. We are doing so well as a district both spiritually and with the language. This week we make the switch to teaching in Chinese. SO HARD. It's tough to not be able to understand all of the investigators questions or be able to express yourself how you want to in order to answer their questions. The good news is that the older districts have said that this is the time when our Chinese really starts to take off. I hope that truly is the case. My Chinese has improved so much this week. I'm beginning to think in their grammar patterns and it's allowing me to speak full sentences and speak great Chinese. On the other end of that spectrum, for some reason this week has felt like one of the hardest and most frustrating weeks with the language so far. There were a couple days in a row where I promise every word in this language sounded the exact same. It was tough. But overall the language is coming. Preach My Gospel tells us that in learning a mission language we must be patient and struggle. check and check.

Anyways I'm sure we all want to hear what Elder VandenBerghe did this week. Well Elder VandenBerghe purchased a dream journal a few weeks back and was really excited to write all his crazy dreams in it. We all have had weird dreams here at the MTC. Since purchasing it 2 and a half weeks ago he has 4 entries, all of which are about 2 sentences that say "I was at the MTC. I was learning Chinese and spoke it to some Spanish speaking elders." That is literally every day of our lives here. But this week he heard that eating oranges before you sleep will give you nightmares, so the next day at dinner he was going to eat an orange. He came back with a tray and said "look at how big this orange is" excitedly. I replied "That's a grapefruit Elder VanDenBerghe." He then proceeded to peel it the way you would an orange and ate some of it. That night, myself and the 2 other elders in our room woke up to Elder VanDenBerghe screaming in his sleep. It sounded like some English, some Chinese and some German? maybe Russian? We all thought we had just dreamed it, but the next day we discovered we all heard it. Was it due to the grapefruit? Doubt it. Did I enjoy every bit of it? YES!

We as a district gave Elder Vandenberghe instructions that he has to eat 1 fruit OR vegetable a day. Just 1. His recent fascination with experimenting with fruits and their effects on his dreams has really helped him meet that quota.

Wrapping up, I talked to my district and we all want to wear Tabasco ties on the same day one day. so dad if you could send some that'd be great. I need 4. With that send my 80's style knit tie, those are allowed.

This week we were able to hear from Elder Duncan of the 70. His talk was amazing. I loved it. Also he retired at age 45 which is absolutely insane.

I really miss all of you and hope you are all doing great. Write me and let me know what is going on in your lives. All is good here.

Love, Elder Bruce William White