I miss you guys so so much!! I keep having dreams that I'm back home and then I wake up really sad :( The first few days here have been AWESOME! I don't care what anyone says about it, the MTC is FUN! Don't get me wrong its really hard work and Chinese is not a language, but I am having such an incredible experiences and great times. I wish I had my journal with me as I begin to write this, because I barely remember the first day or two and don't even know where to start. Every day feels like a week has gone by, I can't believe its only been 5 days! First off, I LOVE my companion! I was so scared that I'd get some stiff, lazy person, or someone really weird. I'm am very thankful that he's not any of those. His name is Elder Namaan Trotter from Gilbert Arizona, and we're having a great time together. (You can see some pictures of him down below if I can figure out how to send them). We're having a great time studying zhongwen (Chinese together) as we are the only companionship in the district that doesn't have at least one Elder with a ton of Chinese experience. The Elders in our district are awesome, but I was very sad to not be in the same one as Elder Cole. He is in the classroom next door and we room in the same hallway so we have seen each other a lot. Our districts also do almost everything together, so we have been able to actually talk a lot. Its been really nice having a familiar face around so much. Every Elder in our district is brilliant! They're all super smart, a bunch of us were SBO's, everyone plays instruments and I promise that half of them can solve a Rubik's cube! Also, a good portion of them have been studying the language for many years and are very advanced in it. Every single missionary is really great at something, I can tell Taichung is getting the cream of the crop. It's also been awesome to see so many other friends I recognize around the MTC. (I have a few pictures with other Elders as well). The days are crazy here, I never realized how much could be accomplished from 6:30 AM to 10:30! compared to the MTC, I don't think I've ever had a day that's been really productive. I was also able to meet the branch presidency. They are great and are so kind to us. President Teng is from Taiwan and is the perfect branch president. I have been selected as the district leader over our district of 10 Elders which is a gives me a great opportunity to learn and serve more. I'm learning so much from all the Elders in my district, and they are quickly becoming great friends.
Right away on day one, we were introduced to He laoshi, our Chinese teacher. She is native Taiwanese (Maybe Chinese) but she's great! She is super nice and very patient with me. She reminds me of a much nicer, non communist Li laoshi from Woods Cross :) The language is a struggle to say the least, but I feel like steady improvement is being made every day and that I'm gaining a lot of confidence. It's comforting to see how far the Chinese speaking Elders that have been here for longer have come. They are super fun to talk to and really build me up when I get a little frustrated or down. I'm working super hard and have really tried to get as much as I can, its funny how sometimes I seem to be on fire and other times I can't learn anything. The first four days were all pretty similar, A LOT of study and class time as well as workshops about our missionary purpose. The craziest thing that happened was being thrown into a discussion on Friday, We didn't know how to say anything! It was a train wreck and afterwards was probably the only time so far that I've gotten really discouraged. I was also getting really sleepy during the day and felt very low on energy, so I was pretty bummed that night getting into bed. Just before bed I read my patriarchal blessing and read that I would be blessed with energy and success, which really boosted my spirits and I haven't looked back since. It was pretty cool that those words helped change my attitude so quickly.
On Saturday morning one of the best things of the week happened when Elder Trotter and I went in for our second discussion with our "Investigator" Han Gehui. In the earlier discussion, we had just read off paper mostly and didn't really feel the spirit. On this second discussion, we focused on what we knew how to say and memorized our testimonies of Christ in Chinese. It was a really short discussion, but we could understand a lot more, and the spirit was much stronger. We were so pumped walking out of the lesson! But don't worry, I'm not getting cocky, we had Chinese class right after and I was reminded of how far I have to go. Although Saturday had the best moment, Sunday was by far the best day, and I can now see why all the older Elders told us that once we made it to Sunday it would get much easier. We had sacrament meeting and gospel classes, which I loved (and were in English). We had a devotional last night given by Elder Allen of the missionary department which was awesome! We finished the night by watching a recorded talk Elder Bednar gave at the MTC called character of Christ which was very thought provoking and inspiring. P day is weird, I feel so lazy and like I don't have anything to do, but its good to take a step back from the hardcore studying for a day.
My testimony has really grown this week in a number of ways and I've learned more than anyone should be able to in 5 days. I know that in order to be the best missionary I can be I need to lose myself in the work and turn outward in service. It's been really interesting to me at some of these workshops, the teacher has shown us interviews and asked us to focus on what we love about the investigator and the potential God sees in them. Thats what the gospel is all about: Love. I know I'm not going to be able to be my best self if I'm not constantly full of love and loving everyone around me. I've also learned there's no way I'm ever going to learn this language, but that through Christ I can do anything and helping me learn Chinese is nothing! I love you all so much and really want to hear about everything that's going on!
Wo ai nimen