Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Week 5

Dear Friends and Family,

Another week over at the MTC. The time is staring to fly by! We now have less weeks left than we have to go, which is very exciting. Although the MTC is awesome and I'm learning a ton, it is starting to become very repetitive. I'm still loving it, but feel like I've been here for a lot longer than a month.. I'll try to tell some of highlights from the week.

Tuesday we had a devotional from Elder Walker. He gave a great talk on how to be a happy and successful missionary, and it was one of my favorite talks yet! Wednesday was really fun because we got two new districts of mandarin Elders in our zone! They are going to Taipei, Canada, and Australia. It's really fun to have new faces in the building, and fun to finally feel "older' than some of the people in our zone. Me and Elder Trotter are getting a lot better at teaching in our "discussions." We realized from some of the things we've learned that we try to teach too much every time. We've begun to cut back and only teach one or two concepts every lesson, but make sure they're taught very simply, clearly, and bring the spirit. For example, a few days ago, we taught nothing but the first vision, but we knew exactly how to talk about everything, went really slowly, and I think for the first time felt a little power from the gift of tongues! I memorized the first vision in Chinese, but when I've tried to recite it in lessons, I fell really pressured and stumble all the way through. This time, it just kind of came out of me and I even had to stop for a second in the middle because I was feeling the spirit so strong! It felt like me and Elder Trotter knew exactly what we were thinking, and were soo hyped when we got out! Probably the coolest thing that's happened at the MTC, its especially crazy that we can feel the spirit like that considering the investigators are actually our teachers and its all role play! Crazy stuff. I can't even imagine what its going to be like when I actually get out in the field. Ahhh I can't wait! The lessons following weren't as cool as that one, but we see improvement every day!

The rest of the week pretty much blurred by. We had a devotional last night from Brother Allen again. I think they just have him come every once in a while when someone falls through, because apparently he comes a lot. I don't mind though because he's hilarious and fun to hear speak. So many missionaries are hear now, I'm starting to feel claustrophobic... Sometimes I'll walk into the cafeteria, and there's barely an empty seat in the whole place! Sometimes I'm kind of annoyed when its super crowded like that, but then I think about how everyone there is a missionary. It gets me pumped to know that many people are willing to do something this crazy for the Lord!

Hopefully I didn't bore you, I'll try to keep the letters as exciting as possible! So grateful for all the love and support!! Love you all :)

-Elder Gilbert

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 4

Spotted on the field today.  This picture of James was taken by some loving Aunts, an Uncle, Grandma  and cousins. It was just good to see that he is happy and doing great.  
We love our Elder Gilbert!

Dear family and friends,

Another GREAT week at the MTC. I can't believe how many nice notes and packages I got from people this week I really felt loved! I will try to thank everyone individually, but for now just know that this has probably been my favorite week here. I feel like I've been here forever, and when I think of life before it seems strange and distant. I will try to give a good recap of the week and try not to make it sound too similar. 

Tuesday had a lot of highlights as me and Elder Trotter got to teach our first "Gold Tag." The MTC has a bunch of "investigators" that walk around, and if you go up and talk to them, you can set up an appointment for a discussion. We set one up for Tuesday morning, and it was SO nice to teach a lesson in English. It went really well, and we covered so much more than we've been able to in our Chinese discussions. It was good practice, and it was kind of fun to see how easy it is to preach the gospel in my own language now that we've seen how difficult it is in Chinese. Also, we had a devotional that night from an Emeritus General Authority, Elder Banks. He was really funny, and also gave an inspiring message about how to not be a mediocre missionary. Also, We had a district from our zone leave this week. Most of them were going to Taichung, and I was so jealous of them being able to go! Although I was jealous, and we even got to see pictures of them actually being in the country, I'm so glad I'm here, because I have a lot to learn before I could hope to do anything in Taiwan. 

The rest of the week all sort of blurred together, it was fun to see a lot of missionaries I know enter on Wednesday. I'm seeing a lot from Woods Cross, and actually a ton from Rexburg. It's been really fun to catch up with them. Me and Elder Trotter have started to sing hymns in Chinese for our lessons, because we realized that its the only time we can get away with reading things off a paper during the discussions. Thats been a good way to bring the spirit, except sometimes we don't know the tune of the song, and even gave up in the middle of one one time. It was a little embarrassing, and now our teacher always makes fun of us.. 

We taught four lessons on Saturday, which was crazy! One of them was with the same BYU Idaho guy who took a picture of me last week. He's obsessed with dad, so he was really nice to us in the discussion :) since the district left, there's less people in our branch. i don't know if I've said this, but on Sunday, we all have to prepare a talk (in Chinese), and then they call on two random missionaries up from the audience to speak. Now its more scary. We are getting two new Chinese districts in our zone this week though, I'm so excited to not be the youngest anymore! I think we have two Elders from Woods Cross coming, Kelson Lee and Zach Slatter. That will make five missionaries in our zone from Woods Cross! I saw both of their names on the list. It'll be fun to have some more familiar faces! We had a devotional last night by one of the district Presidents about teaching. We also got to go to the temple today, which is always a highlight. 

Even though the weeks all feel the same, I continue to learn new things every day. Elder Trotter and I have made a goal to both memorize 100 new words this week. At first maybe that sounds high, but there's an Elder in our zone with a photographic memory, who can do 100 in half a day if he tries! Everyone here is so smart! Its been nice as I've started to learn not to compare myself to other missionaries to get a better appreciation for others knowledge and skills. While I'm maybe not the best at anything, I'm the best I can be, which is all the Lord wants! So fun to hear all the updates from home! I love you all so much :)

-Ge Zhanglao

With Elder Dallin Cordon at the Provo temple

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 3

Dear family and friends,

It was another great week at the MTC, but also very similar to the other weeks. I don't know how I'm going to come up with enough interesting material to keep you all entertained for the next 7 p days! I'll try to go through the highlights and any lessons I've learned. 

The highlight of tuesday was hearing Elder Condie speak in devotional. He talked about the conversion power of being able to recite Joseph Smith's description of the first vision. Afterwards we made a goal as a district to memorize it in english and chinese, one of which was very easy... I actually have it down in Chinese, but it takes me a very long time to say. Sometimes when I'm speaking or listening to someone speak Mandarijn, I just stop and think "What the heck am I getting into?" Although I know I still have a very long way to go, it's so cool to see how far I've come and how much the Lord has blessed me. Wednesday is always really fun because we get to see incoming missionaries. My companion and I also have two "investigators" we are teaching now, and it's so exciting. They are both of the teachers we have and are ruthless when they're in character! They ask some questions that I don't even know if I'd be comfortable answering in English! We have this little orange book with lots of really good discussion phrases in it that we call the orange bible. A few days ago we started to go into discussions without it, which makes them way scarier! Elder Trotter and I were thinking that our investigators would go easier on us because we had less material, but that was not the case. They still have no mercy! But its very fun to see improvement and continue to get more motivated to learn! 

The coolest thing of the week happened on Saturday when we had our TRCs. I don't know what it stands for, but basically, we have two 20 min lessons with people we've never met that are either members or 'nonmembers' (I'm not really sure anyone is the MTC or Provo for that matter is a non member, but they are very convincing). The first was a discussion with members, which was alright. What was awesome was that in the second one, the person turned out to be a nonmember! It freaked us out because our whole lesson plan was based on teaching a memeber about lessons we can learn in the Book of Mormon, and having them share their favorite scripture. Although we had already gone in without our orange bibles, we still had a lot of phrases for the discussion written down. In that second lesson, we were forced to just rely on the spirit, because none of our notes helped. We taught about prayer and the Book of Mormon, and it was easily my favorite discussion yet! It was the easiest for us to understand, and almost any word I needed to use was in my head! Even one's I didn't really think I knew, it made me happy:) Also it was pretty funny as I was walking out, a MTC worker that happened to be a BYU-I student saw my last name and freaked out: "Are you President Gilbert's son?" "I have to take a picture with you!" He was so hyped and it was awesome to see someone appreciate the great work he's doing. Last night we had a devotional about the power of the Book of Mormon which was also awesome. Today the temple finally opened! It has been closed for cleaning since we've been here. It was a very nice thing to go to, and so fun to be in the Provo Temple. I love all the lessons I'm learning and how much I get to rely on the Lord. Fun to hear how everything is going back home! Love you all so much!!

Elder Gilbert

Me, Elder Nelson and Elder Cole
P-Day at the Provo temple

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 2

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope this E-mail will be as good as my one last week, but I'm not sure if it will be because it was a pretty similar week. Highlights were seeing Elder Eli Nelson enter on Wednesday, devotional speakers, studying the Gospel and Chinese, and of course the 4th of July.

Tuesday through Friday were all pretty similar, filled with A LOT of language and other study. We continued to teach our investigator, who turned out to actually become our teacher at the end of the week. I know I have a long way to go in the language, but its really fun to see myself progress and become better at it each day. I've really learned during my time here that there's no point in comparing yourself to any other missionaries. All you can compare yourself with is what you were the previous day, if its an improvement, we're doing exactly what the Lord wants and that's really all that matters. In Tuesday's devotional, we had Elder Sitati ( I think that's how to spell it) come, he was inspiring and great to hear from. Wednesday was really exciting, as we got to see all the new missionaries enter the MTC. I feel so much older than them, and its nice to not feel like a new Elder anymore. I loved seeing Nelson (When I finally found him on Tuesday) I would've taken a picture, but I didn't have my camera on me. I'll send one next time I see him. We got fast track missionaries (native speakers that are only here for 2 weeks) in our branch that are going to Taiwan, and they are SO good at the language. If I ever need to be humbled a little bit, all I have to do is start a Chinese conversation with them. They speak so fast! 

Saturday was the coolest day! there had been rumors floating around that they were going to let us see the fireworks outside, but that seemed like something they wouldn't let us do here. I thought it for sure wasn't going to happen when they took us into the gym at 8 and we had a really long devotional. The speaker was great, he was some professor from BYU that spoke about our country, but I was disappointed because I really wanted to see the fireworks. Then as we were leaving, they told us we could go out into the parking lot and watch stadium of fire until it was over! It was so crazy! It was hard to see because of all the trees, but a few of us found this really good spot at the edge of the MTC grounds by our residence where we were pretty close and could see them well. If we were quiet we could just barely hear journey playing and the crowd cheering :) It was weird, because the show didn't end until way past bedtime, but I guess its ok on holidays in the MTC. Sunday, as always was the best day here. I especially liked hearing the devotional, which was given by Jenny Oakes Baker and her family. Her and all here kids also did a few musical numbers which was fun. Later that night when we got to watch Meet the Mormons, and it actually made me cry when the part of the missionary leaving was on.. It was the first time I felt a little homesick, but I'm fine so don't worry about me:)

This week I learned a really cool lesson from Preach My Gospel. Elder Trotter and I had just had a pretty tough lesson and I was really frustrated with how little of the language I was comprehending. I studied the learn your language section in PMG and read that strengthening your own testimony in English will help your mission language to improve. From that point on I've studied much more in the scriptures and about the Gospel during personal and companionship study where I was previously doing Chinese. The ironic thing is that since I've started doing this, I feel like I've been learning faster than ever! I know its because I'm learning new things and obtaining more power from the spirit because of it. I know that there will be more bumps in the road, but its been cool to have a testimony builder. 

I was sad to hear of President Packer's passing this week, we watched his final conference talk as a district yesterday. I'm going to miss his sweet spirit and powerful lessons, but know he is in a much better place and am happy for him. I think that's it from my weekly report. Hopefully my letters don't began to sound too similar as I continue to write here in the MTC. 

Love and miss you all! Keep giving me updates from home, it gets lonely here sometimes and its good hearing about the outside world every once and a while.

All my best,
Elder Gilbert
Selfie with Stadium of Fire
The district on a Sunday walk to the temple