Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011

Ni Hao Everyone!!!

This has been the longest week ever. I feel like the MTC was 6 months ago, not last week. Just so much crazy stuff happening. I don't even know where to begin. So I'll begin with Tuesday morning when we woke up to catch the shuttle up to the Salt Lake City airport. Woke up at 2:30 a.m., went to the travel office and got the ticket and boarded the bus. We passed Salt Lake City en route to the airport and I missed it so much. I'll take this opportunity to give you my last Elder VandenBerghe update. When missionaries leave for the field, they throw things they don't want to take with them or send home in a "free box" on every residential floor of the MTC. Elder VandenBerghe LOVES free box items. He grabs things that are of absolutely no worth, but he loves them. So it was 3 a.m. the day we depart and of course the Chinese Elders' free box is stuffed since we're all leaving. Elder VandenBerghe is stressing because his bag is 3 pounds overweight, and then he see's that someone has added some new things in the free box, so he stops to sift through it and starts grabbing stuff even though his bag is already overweight. One of the Taichung Elders pointed this out to him and he was so torn as to what free garbage he should take and what he had to part with.

Anyway, we got to the Salt Lake airport and boarded our flight bound for Detroit. In Detroit I was trying to get ahold of Mom on the phones there so I didn't have time to go get a lunch. I gave a couple of the Taichung Elders my card and said pick me up a meal wherever you go. As the flight was boarding I was brought back some Taco Bell. That's right, my last American meal was Taco Bell, my least favorite joint in the U.S. But beggars can't be choosers. I just thought it was ironic.

The Detroit to Tokyo flight was LONG, really LONG, and I didn't sleep on it. I wasn't able to sleep on the flights at all except a little bit from Tokyo to Taibei. The Detroit flight I spend most of my time standing in a back area by the bathrooms. Me and a Taichung Elder named Elder Hermanson just made conversations with everyone. It was really cool. It was so different being a missionary. Before, I would've still talked with everyone, but it was different because I was seeing everyone more as God's children. We had some great conversations and met some great people. There are several Taichung Elders I really wish were coming to Taibei. The flight took forever but we eventually touched down in Tokyo. In Tokyo we had a longer layover. I found a vending machine that had a bunch of things I'd never seen and had to try them, so I found out where I could exchange money and went and exchanged for the Japanese yen. When others saw this, they too wanted to taste the foreign beverages and went to exchange their money. I tried two beverages. The first tasted like Airborne, the second tasted like Smarties. Needless to say I got a horrible headache and I loved it. Then we boarded the flight en route to Taibei. I was so excited. When we'd say things like hello or thank you or politely decline things on the flight, the Chinese speaking people loved it. We started our trek 2:30 a.m. Utah time, March 22. We touched down in Taibei and got to the mission home at 11:45 p.m. March 23 Taiwan time. Almost 48 hours of travel with 14 hours subtracted for time differences. Still crazy long flight! But I'm in Taiwan.

The temple is absolutely gorgeous, The mission home is right across the street. We stayed there that night and I got to bed at 12:30, woke up at 2:45, went back to sleep and got back up at 5 a.m. for good. So between my inability to sleep on airplanes and my excitement the first night I was not getting the z's I needed, but I didn't care. I was in Taiwan. Taibei is absolutely gorgeous!! The first morning we ran at Chang Kai Shek memorial which was absolutely unbelievable. So gorgeous. None of the pictures I've seen do it justice, and while we were running I saw all the old people in the park doing the funniest exercises!! It was so great! Then we went and I ate my first Taiwanese food, a breakfast sandwich that was unreal! Loved it. Next I we went back to get ready for orientation. It was my MTC district and a Taiwanese Elder that spent his first 6 months of his mission in Hong Kong but had to come back for government reasons and will finish his mission here. He wore a t-shirt with a wolf on it running, so I immediately knew we'd be friends. I hurried and showered quickly and asked him if he wanted to go spend 10 minutes with me contacting on the street before orientation. We did. I didn't know what I was doing, but it was fun. We had orientation and ate a bunch of delicious foods, then that night was AWESOME.

Some of the Elders currently in Taipei came and we went on splits with them. Luckily I got paired up with an Elder Rasmussen who was awesome, set the perfect example of everything I want to be in the mission, the epitome. He was really really hard working, but really funny. His Chinese was unbelievable and he was so great with the people. He promised me we'd see miracles before we started and we really did. We started by going and teaching a lesson first thing that he had. We went upstairs and he said to me be prepared to share a testimony on faith. So here I am getting geared up to share about faith, and twice during the lesson he turned to me and asked me to share a testimony on other things, but it went fine. Then we took to our bikes and after praying and goal setting we hit the streets of Taipei. Riding bikes in that traffic was nuts! I just stayed on his tail and was fine but I had no idea what was going on. It was crazy. He talked with EVERYONE!! It was so great, such a great example. We got a lot of information and people said that we could call them. I got 3 that I actually initiated the contact with, we got 3 set ups for him and his companion to go teach, and we taught one lesson to a random lady on the street. We taught an entire lesson including teaching her how to pray. She said that her daughter was down at college and is actually interested in our church and we ended it with her praying how we taught her, I was able to share a scripture about prayer and bear a testimony. It was really cool and definitely a miracle to run into this lady.

Then Elder Rasmussen took me to "Dan Jones" which is basically just street preaching. He took me to an overpass that a bunch of scooters were stopped under, and I got up there and just started yelling about the Book of Mormon! It was so funny. Then I came back to where he was at and he said "you've got 35 seconds go stand in the cross walk in front of all these scooters and just hold up the Book of Mormon and start yelling. I did and it was really fun. Another missionary later told me that Elder Rasmussen "dan jones" a lot. He said his district will get together and one person will go in the cross walk and scream their head off, while the others go weave in and out of the 40 scooters giving out tracts and contacting. It sounds so fun. After that we returned to the mission home. Each missionary was supposed to buy their assigned new missionary their favorite drink in Taiwan. He bought me his 4 favorites. He was a great guy, and a real example of how mastering the language can really become an amazing contacting tool.

The next morning we woke up and went to the Grand Hotel and the site where Taiwan was dedicated. It was so cool. Taipei is so beautiful. I hope I get to spend some time there on my mission. I have pics but I forgot to bring my camera with me to email, so I will send them next week. We read the prayer and had a cool little meeting at the dedicatory site and then president invited us to have a dedicatory prayer dedicating our lives to the mission and stuff. It was really cool and so spiritual. I really love our mission president and his wife! They're great. President is really serious about missionary work but has a sense of humor at the same time. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

At 10:30 we met our trainers and found out where we were going. The anticipation was insane, but I'll be kicking my mission off in Zhubei. It's in the west and up until a year ago it was in the Taichung mission. We took a train down to Zhubei, the windiest city in Taiwan, and it was freezing yesterday!! My trainer is Elder Erickson. I'm really excited. I think we're going to do great things here. The last two days his last comp was with us and we were in a tripanionship, so I was sleeping on the floor. We just dropped him off at the train station so I'm excited. I feel like now it really begins. The only negative is my 2nd meal here my trainer took me to McDonalds, and today he talked about going to a western restaurant. I love him so far but he's not a fan of the culture, and I don't plan on being in Taiwan and eating at McDonalds everyday, that's for sure. I'm excited to start submerging myself in this culture, and getting to work.

Friday night we met with a guy named Scott. He's an awesome new investigator who's recently married and all about families. I'll tell you more about him next week as we teach him this week but I'm excited for him. Sunday we went to church. Church here is SO different. It was really funny. I, being a new missionary, got to bear my testimony. I hope I did all right. In Sunday School we watched the Jesus movie in Chinese and an investigator got up and said the closing prayer (in this area there are a lot of investigators who are like completely active and some of the best members. They just haven't been baptized because they have 1 or 2 commandment things. It's interesting) Anyway, this investigator's prayer was so awesome. She started thanking Jesus for all the things he did in his life that we had just watched in the movie, and she was listing them off, saying and.... and... and... then she said and... I forgot what else, actually I don't know your life that well. I will learn and I will repent. Sorry. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. It was so great. And then in priesthood they started the lesson with asking who had been to the temple. All the people that had been raised their hands and thought they were so cool. It was really funny. The conversation went to the sealing and the discussion was how many of yourself can you see in the never-ending mirrors. It was competitive as to who could see the most of themselves. It was hard not to laugh.

We then ate at bishop's house that night and went tracting. Tracting is awesome. I really love tracting, but without my trainer I would have no idea what's a home door or not. We walked through tiny alleys and knocked on some crazy areas. I absolutely loved it. I'm so excited.

This is going to be great. I'm finally here, got my trainer, ready to work!! so excited!!
Love you all and look forward to hearing from you.
Do your best and good things will happen.
Love Elder White

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

Welcome to my last email from the MTC. Tomorrow at 4 a.m. I begin my journey to Taibei. I'm just a little bit excited!!!!! I can count the number of hours until I fly out on 22 fingers. I can also count the number of hours I'll spend on a plane on 22 fingers. I will likely have 10-15 minutes from the Salt Lake airport I can call and say hello, somewhere between 5:30 and 7. So I'll give you guys a quick ring. Can I call collect? How? As soon as you read this write a dearelder so that they can get it to me today and let me know if I should try to get quarters or what?

Reflecting back on the MTC it's been such a great experience. It's really a place that becomes what you make out of it. If you treat it like the dedicated place that it is, the spirit can be so strong and you can grow so much, and the flip side, the Elders that feel like they're just doing "time" definitely don't seem to get as much out of it. It is such a blessing to have a general authority come every week and address us. It is such a blessing to be able to be gathered and sing hymns as a body of 2000+ of God's servants. It is such a blessing to have amazing teachers to learn from.

My 2 teachers were absolutely amazing. The first was Rita Fan (Fan Lao Shi). She is a Taiwan native and a convert to the church. She served her mission in Taichung and now goes to BYU. She is literally one of the funniest people I have ever met, and it was such a blessing to have a native teacher to practice, listen to the accent and speed that they speak. The second teacher is Brady Hodges (He Lao Shi) and without a doubt he's already greatly influenced my mission. He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met. He's so good at Chinese, but spiritually he's like Nephi or something. He's also famous because his wife and son are in a picture in the May 2010 Ensign. Yup, we're talking conference edition. Big Deal. He's someone who truly dedicates his entire life to the Lord, and he's taught at the MTC for 4 years. We're his last district, and I feel incredibly blessed to have had him, as well as Fan Lao Shi. Both have prepared me well and strengthened my testimony a lot.

Thank you to all family and friends who have had me in their prayers, as well as who have written me. I think I've had one day in the MTC where I haven't received mail, which is quite incredible being here for so long. Thank you all so much for your love and support.

I'm so excited to go to Taiwan!! I'm so excited for the food, the culture, but most of all the people, God's Children. I'm so so so excited to be going to serve among the people of Taiwan. All the teachers in our zone who went to Taiwan have such great stories about the people there. The people there have such great humor and mannerisms. I'm so excited!!!!

This week was our final "TRC" time, where we go and have random investigators in which we have to do a task and then teach a lesson. We had a native Chinese lady, and her accent was so different from anything I've heard here yet, (different parts of China and Taiwan have seriously different accents) but I was able to pay close attention and get it. Before the TRC I prayed specifically and asked God to allow me to have a confirmation that this is truly his work and what he wants me to be doing since I'm about to get on a plane and go half way around the world for this. The TRC was so amazing. So spiritual. It is impossible to describe. I know without a doubt that this is the true church. This is Jesus Christ's gospel in its fullness and that he is at the head of this church and leads his church through his prophet, Thomas Monson. I'm so excited to get to Taiwan and immediately have conference. I hope I can get it in English. I know that I'm right where God want's me at this time in my life, and throughout the MTC I've had several experiences that have confirmed to me that Taibei is the mission for me and where the Lord needs me. Out of the 300+ missions in the church the Lord has put me in the one that I will be able to do the most good among his children, where he needs me to labor. I've felt God, and my Saviors love for me stronger here than ever before in my life. This is his Gospel, this is Salvation, I can't wait to share that with the Taiwanese.

I love you all, You are all so great. I love you especially Dad and Mom, and my sisters and brother. "always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name"- Avett Brothers :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

Hello family and friends.

In 8 days I will be boarding an airplane to fly to Taiwan. I can't even explain how slow these next 8 days will be. This week we received our travel plans, so I will tell you about them. We will report to the MTC travel office at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday March 22. We will fly out of the Salt Lake City airport at 7:00 A.M. heading to Detroit, yes I said Detroit. I don't claim to be a geography expert in any way, but I did win the geography bee in 6th grade, and I'm pretty sure Detroit isn't between Salt Lake and Taiwan. Almost every older district heading to Taiwan has flown through L.A.X. We'll arrive in Detroit around noon, and fly out of Detroit at around 1. So we have a very, very short layover. From Detroit we have a nonstop to Taiwan, and we will arrive at the Taipei international airport at 9:40 p.m. local time March 23. So we will begin travel at 4 a.m. march 22 in our current local time, and end travel at 9:40 p.m. on march 23, Taiwan local time. We did the math and we have 22-23 hours on airplanes.

Our MTC branch president goes over to Asia a lot on business and said that if it's the route he is thinking we will fly out of Detroit, over Alaska, come down over Russia, then Japan, then we will reach Taiwan. I hope so, that will be awesome. I'm really really excited. wo kaixing wo hui kandao heiren zai detroit, yinwei liange nian zai taiwan wo bu hui (Uncle John can translate, probably horrible grammar) I'm also pumped because the Taichung Elders will fly with us before they take a bus down to their mission, and so we'll have a total of 16 missionaries on the flight which will be sweet.

This week I did Choir for the first time here at the MTC. I had no idea what to expect but it made me wish I'd being doing it more often. To my surprise I actually liked it. I hit all the notes, and really made the song my own.

We (Chinese Elders) had the whole residence hall floor to ourselves until about 2 weeks ago when some Spanish elders moved in because their building was being converted into sister housing. Since that time there has been an outbreak of athletes foot among the Chinese elders and I fell victim to the epidemic. Thanks Elders, because I wanted to use my weekly 6 dollar allowance from the church's tithing funds for flip flops and cream.

This week our district finally got to host new missionaries, something we'd been wanting to do since day 1. As district leader me and my companion got to work traffic. Probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. We got to wear huge yellow neon jackets. We would send the cars down, and then park them in the spaces giving traffic signals to the drivers. I really developed some good traffic signals, as I directed and parked cars. My traffic signals made me look like an SEC referee among MWC referees (the other elders). This week we got the assignment again so I'm really looking to perfect each signal. I'm even entertaining the thought of integrating leg work into my traffic signaling, we'll see. I'll let you know how it goes.

Such a good week in the TRC "teaching resource center" we we're teaching the people as themselves, we had an RM who just got back 4 months ago from Taibei and an native Chinese man. We had an awesome gospel conversation and testimony sharing experience with them. The spirit was so strong the whole entire time, and then afterwards we realized that we had just done it all in Chinese without a problem. I feel comfortable conversing the gospel in Chinese. haha Anything else not a chance. But Chinese is no longer what it was in my mind 3 months ago, not this far eastern, completely foreign language I thought I'd never speak. I have a LONG ways to go, but I know before I know it, I'll really be speaking Chinese.

This week we were practicing teaching tithing and we split into pairs in our district, I teamed up with a sister and she began giving me the analogy if I give you ten of your favorite food and then asked for one back would you give it back. When we pair up in these teaching practices I like to have fun with whoever I'm being an investigator for. When she asked what my favorite food was I said jinguo, translated to forbidden fruit. She didn't catch on so she was talking about giving me 10 forbidden fruit. My teacher was laughing and she was oblivious to it. It was funny. I laughed.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give a priesthood blessing to a sister in our district. It was a great experience, and I know without a doubt that the priesthood is God's power. I'm thankful to be able to hold it and use it to bless others.

MOM dear elder me about my bike info. Love you all, I will send a box home next Monday of things I won't take to Taiwan. I'll send a bunch of letters with it you can give to people. Bye. Love you.
Elder White

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011

Hi. I leave for Taiwan 2 weeks from tomorrow. Then I won't hear English for 21 months straight.

Speaking of not hearing English, I've quit speaking it. Our teacher challenged us to not use it at all these last couple weeks so it won't be an adjustment when we get to Taiwan. We'll have a lot of adjustments to make and that's one less thing we'll have to get used to.

The greatest thing is happening this week. Through Dear Elder I am getting letters to a "Brett White." I just get them out of mine and put them in the "lost mail box" but they bring me and my district a lot of joy in reading them before we return them. They are from his girl friend. She calls him "Burly Bear" and she ends the letter "from your kinky bear." Have you ever heard something so cute? The letters are all about her drama at home and how much she loves him and how much she wants to hug and kiss him and how they're going to get married. Make for really good reads.

Overall this week was great. I've really tried to just put aside all differences with my companion (so basically everything) and just focus on the work. As a result we're teaching really well together. At our TRC lesson, the lesson at the end of the week that we study and work toward all week our teacher pulled us aside when we were done and told us that we taught perfectly, our Chinese was really good, and he had no feedback for us. He then especially complimented me on my Chinese. Not speaking English helps a ton because it forces you to think in the Chinese grammar pattern, which is really strange.

This week I had a vending machine lit conversation with a Spanish Elder down in the basement of our building. How's that for imagery? Anyways he was asking me about Chinese. I told him I've been here 9 weeks and have 2 more left. He asked me "Is Chinese hard?" I replied "A lot of people say that it's one of, if not the hardest language to learn." He then replied "I heard mandarin was the hardest language in the world." I said "Zhendeme Zhanglao" + "really elder?"

I've heard from a number of sources that speaking Chinese makes you a better singer, because you learn to control your voice really well in order to speak all the tones. I'm finding this to be true. Watch out American Idol 2013.... Here I come. J-Lo won't know what hit her. She's a judge right? Michael Jackson's fat brother was the only one that stayed right?

This week the crimson crusader has been really having his way with the purple prince "Elder VandenBerghe." The crimson crusader has become a collective movement comprised with about half the elders in our zone. Actually an Elder Bentley in our zone put on red shirt, shorts, cape(blanket) and a Santa hat that flashes "Merry Christmas" in red lights. He also had a red light saber toy. It met Purple prince clad in all his purple glory in the hallway and they had a duel. I didn't know what to think.

Elder Cannon Clark is here and I talk to him in the cafeteria a lot. He pulled me aside one day and asked me in the most sincere and honest voice "is your companion all there?" I laughed so hard.

Overall, I'm just really excited to get to ASIA. Start doing this work for real. Really wish I could know my first area or see my first companion. I hope he's a good trainer who works hard. Can't wait. We'll get our travel plans this Thursday. We'll likely go from SLC to LAX, and then a direct from LAX to Taibei. I'm stoked. It's not even that bad with the direct from LAX to Taibei. 15 hour flight is all. In LA if we have a layover we're allowed to call home during that layover time. I hope we have a bit of a layover, I'll give you the details next week when I find out, so that if I do have time to call, you can plan on being home so I can talk to everyone.

Oh our devotional speaker was Bishop Edgley this week, so that was really cool because of the connection. I was right in the middle like 6th row and NY Times came and took a picture for an article they are doing about the MTC. Look for me, also Deseret News came a few weeks ago and took pictures of our class in particular. If it made it in the paper it would've probably been already printed, but you might want to go check that out.

Everyone hit up these last 2 weeks while you still can. Then I head to Taiwan, and communication will go way down.

Love you all, Love the MTC, It's weird, I feel like I love the people of Taiwan even though I haven't even met them yet.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD. I sent you a card today. You'll love it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Pictures

The captions are from Bruce
My District
My District
My Companionship
A new missionary admiring me
Me and Elder Luck A tie I traded for
Elder VandenBerge's alter-ego "The Purple Prince"
Elder Luck and I sing Rick Astley together a lot
Me and Elder Langi. First ever Chinese-speaking missionary to go to Tonga
Light Sabers
Tobasco Tie Saturday - Elder VandenBerge, Elder Wyatt, me, Elder Townsend
I convinced Elder VandenBerge to do his hair like this.