Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
I'm so happy that you guys sent me an email! I look forward to this time each week. I would first like to address your email because some things were a little concerning. First and foremost, I sent mom a pretty extensive letter last Thursday with about thirty pictures in it (I used the appropriate number of stamps), so it's a little upsetting that it got lost. I hope it turns up on one of our ends soon. I did get the package with everything and I was beyond happy! I mentioned it in the letter to Mom which you obviously haven't received. :/ Bu hao. Everything is safe though, and I haven't needed to use them. The language is coming along very well. I'm always trying to push myself, but it is SOOO hard. I think I can teach most of the first lesson without any notes in Chinese, but the Plan of Salvation is tough. There is LOADS of new vocab involved. I've progressed in that I can more readily recognize what people are trying to say when they speak in Mandarin (meaning that I can pick out words and the general idea of sentences). I don't know if that makes much sense or not. It sounds like your talk went well! I'm happy for you! I love that you spoke with Elder Findlay. Whitney writes me regularly and tells me about their progress as missionaries. It sounds like your day as a whole was rather busy! Keep it up though! You are never happier than when you are serving the Lord! Question though....have you been assigned a new home teaching companion yet? If so, who?
Ok, sorry about the rushed nature of my email again. I'm just trying to cram things in. Now for a few updates on this end. When I said that I wanted "my letters typed up," I didn't mean the ones you sent me. I was more hoping that when I sent you guys a hand-written letter that you would type it up so that it would better preserve them (seeing as I write them in pencil). This last Sunday I got to hear the most INCREDIBLE rebroadcast of a talk that Elder Bednar gave at the MTC this last Christmas on the Character of Christ. It was phenomenal. He spoke about turning outward instead of inward, even in difficult times like death. He also challenged us to read the Book of Mormon to receive answers to our questions. It was more involved than this however. He said to write down one question, then proceed to to read the entire Book of Mormon in response to that one question. Ponder a lot, and pray a lot, and he will answer the question every time. Then write a half-page summary on it your answer. This sounds INCREDIBLY difficult, but a prophet said it, so....it's gotta be true. He said that you should have a couple hundred copies by the time you're his age. I really want to do this. I'm just waiting for the MTC bookstore to restock on cheap BOMs.
Oh yeah....I'm kinda surprised that I forgot to tell you this (glad I wrote it down!), but I'm now District Leader. Our former District Leader and his companion (Elder Chan and Elder Bishop) are now the new Zone Leaders. This (the ZL callings) is kind of a humbling moment for me, because I didn't really expect it....that's a nice way of putting it, but I hope it makes sense. Pretty cool, huh? I'm excited to serve. The older generation leaves this week (the people who came in eight weeks before us). Elder Winters (the former ZL) is an inspiration to me. I have been trying to emulate his example. He studies so hard and is so humble. I want to be that kind of missionary.
I wrote Dad a letter, and I've been working on Eric's letter (he wrote a TON). Dad will get his probably on Thursday, and Eric....sometime after that. I really really hope Mom's letter shows up.
Elder Richards went home again. After coming back, he developed clinical depression and now he is gone. For good. Zaijian I guess. :/ I bought my own olive oil and will consecrate it tonight! STOKED! Just one thing I never really told you: I can't listen to music in the MTC...which has been really hard. I may send my iPod home soon so that you can put more songs on it or something, but I don't know. We'll see.
Brother Liu (my favorite of my two teachers) wrote a "Valentine" for us last night about his love for the gospel and his savior and how he has felt his Father in Heaven's love. He wrote it on the board then had to leave. Each of us were silent for about 45 min to 1 hr. It was incredible. Half of us were in tears and the spirit was so strong. His testimony of his Savior's love was so pure and inviting that it was truly remarkable. We prayed together and headed to bed. Incredible night.
Anyway...I'm once again out of time. Sorry. :/ I'm also sorry that this letter is all over the place. I would like to close with how much I love you guys. It being Valentine's Day, it's only appropriate. I love you guys more than anything. I wish that I could see you guys again, but how sweet will that moment be when we get to embrace in two years. Totally worth it. You guys have raised me in the Gospel and taught me its importance. You have instilled me with a love for my fellow man and a drive to serve my King. This isn't just for Mom and Dad either Eric, so don't discount yourself. I love you guys more than you'll ever understand.
Love, Elder Bryant Jared Woolsey