Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
REJOICE! THE LORD IS KING! HE REIGNS OVER ALL AND IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD! ELDER RICHARDS HAS RETURNED! His side-burns have been shaved and his countenance is bright. I'm so happy that he left, for now he has returned and he knows EXACTLY why he is here. The Lord is in fact the a God of mercy and prayers have been answered.
Well, now that that's over with, it's that time of the week again, when you get to hear from your most favorite missionary son! I loved receiving letters throughout the week because I could better plan out what I could say to conserve my time. However, I am ridiculously strapped for time each time I write, so bear with me, for my letters will be lacking in detail greatly. As a quick note, if I don't get to everything, expect a letter with more details, and tell Eric that I will send him a hand-written letter in reply to his letters (which I am extremely grateful for), and not to expect personal emails until I arrive in the field. You wrote a lot, so I'll do my best to reply to everything:
The fact that Bishop Thompson complimented you on that tie is wonderful. Thanks for the honorable mention. ;) I'm happy that ward conference went well! Mom, you are a choice daughter of your heavenly father, and he loves and appreciates that you were willing to sacrifice your Sunday for such an honorable cause and for supporting your husband. I would, mother, like to hear some more personal things from you!! It seems like Dad writes the emails and you mention a couple of things for him to place in them...this is not good enough! I want to hear from you! The Mandarin is going surprisingly well. I'm picking up a lot, and although some have had experience before, I am ahead of some of them. I'm still behind the ones that have had more than two years, or actual experience in the country. They are beasts. I will work harder. I have Jesus' name on my badge.
I'm not sure what I have forgotten necessarily, but there are a few things that I would like (but don't need immediately). I would like some more hair stuff when you get around to it. I have plenty for now, but I'll run short soon and I can't get any in here. I'm sure whatever you get will be fine. Regarding the tie clip, I DO NOT want it. I left it at home intentionally so that Eric would wear it for me while I was away (like I wore his). The pretzels that mom sent me were VERY YUMMY! Keep it coming (within reason)!
The sleep schedule....well, let's see. Surprisingly perhaps, I am the best at going to bed when I'm supposed to and waking up when I'm supposed to. I have been able to follow that rule with an exactness and I have been blessed accordingly. Matt is doing very well in Mandarin. He's a smart guy. He can speak the language (which is most of the battle) so all he has to do is memorize grammar and words...I'm not quite there yet. He's an incredible young man and an incredible missionary. He really is one of my best friends in the entire world. I adore and admire him. I'm so happy he's here. He feels like my second companion (that's how much I see him). His companion, Elder Hougaard (or however you spell it) is such a nice guy too.
Thank you for praying with me. It means the world to me. I truly can feel the strength of your prayers in all that I do. They bolster me up and strengthen me. I greatly appreciate them. Read Moroni 8:3. This is exactly how I feel that you feel about me. I think you'll love it. I feel that I have been placed in a hyperbolic time chamber of spirituality and maturity (ask Eric for the reference). I feel like I have aged years in the weeks I have been here. I feel more mature and I have NEVER understood the spirit the way that I do now. I always need help with the language, so keep those coming. Also, my patriarchal blessing is stunning, please take a peek at it again. I did, and I got loads more out of it this time.
I'm happy that I've inspired your biking Dad! :P Congrats on your success! I honestly mean it. And I'm sorry for all the times that I gave you a hard time about it. I know it means a lot to you. And I know that I mean more to you than cycling. That's all I need. You are a wonderful parent.
Mom, You are one of the most incredible, humble, kind people I know. Don't let your talents go to waste!
Elder Neil and I.....are......Elder Neil and I. I KNOW that we were meant to be put together and so with that knowledge I have persevered.
My daily schedule isn't very exciting. I get up early, then eat, then go to class (which is three hours long) which is a fusion of language and spiritual study. Following that I'll have personal study (where I read scriptures and stuff) then I have language study (where I study the language) then lunch, then class maybe (the schedule varies daily) which is another three hours (also a fusion). We'll teach investigators, or practice the language on computers, or a dozen other things. Sorry, I'm over my time limit as we speak so this part isn't very specific so I will likely send you a letter.
Last thing. Today I was sitting in the temple and I read 2 Nephi 4:18-the end I think. read it. It is inspirational. I feel great. The Lord loves you guys and he loves that you love me so much. Thank you so much for everything. Expect a letter sometime before next Tuesday with more stuff.
Love, Elder Bryant Woolsey