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.

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