Nimen hao ma? (I figure you guys should know that one). :P
Dear, Mom, Dad, and Eric,
Thank you for the emails and letter this week! They were wonderful! I'm kinda getting bogged down with letters to the point that I can't write everyone back with exact promptness. :/ I feel terrible about that. I'm only today sending a reply to Eric's letter and I have four I still need to write that I haven't gotten around to. That aside, I STILL HAVEN'T WRITTEN JORDAN!! I'm a terrible cousin. :/ So the computer is freaking out today and my time is even more limited than normal because of it, so I'm going to rush through this, but hopefully I'll be able to cram a lot in. I'll start with what I have to say, then I'll respond to your email and questions.
So I want you guys to go rent "Waiting for Superman." Apparently it's a really interesting documentary on the American public schooling system. Supposed to be...insightful. Ok, so every time a new Zone Leader is called, the previous Zone Leaders will give them some mysterious thing and no one else knows about it but them. The current zone leaders locked "it" away in a suitcase. Anyway, the Zone Leaders live in my room, right? I wasn't going to put up with this blasphemy. So....at lunch, I rallied the ENTIRE ZONE and told them all about it. Then we discovered the many talents of our rather eclectic Zone. Half of them can pick locks. We raided our own room and discovered the mysteries that lay inside the suitcase.....it turns out that it was only a seat cushion signed by all of the previous Zone Leaders and an old clock. Kinda anticlimactic, but a lot of fun. I'm happy that mom received her letter and that dad received his letter. Eric has one coming as I said before. I received Dad's letter as well as the package of rolls. They are highly appreciated! I'll try to send an individual letter to Dad sometime in the not-too-distant future, but there wasn't a TON to reply to. I'm really happy that everything is going so well and that you guys went out for Valentine's Day. On Valentine's Day, all I could think about was you guys. It was cool actually. And Dad, the roses, nice touch. ;) The Bakers (Preston's family -- Preston comes in tomorrow) sent me a nice Valentine's Day card. :) Speaking of packages, Hunter's mom owns this company called "Missionary Munchies" and I seriously got the MOTHER OF ALL PACKAGES. Like...I had to take a picture of this package because it was so nuts. It had Cracker Jacks, Gatorade's, Beef Jerky, Candy, Cotton Candy, a giant Pixie Stick, you name it, it was in there. Seriously nuts. I feel like I'm set for life. So awesome though! My companion made me walk all across the entire MTC campus with it and like forty people told me how loved I was...awkward! Not to mention I had the Cinnamon Rolls under the other arm. Embarrassing to say the least. Matt got one too.
So I heard that the MTC president hasn't set a specific rule for how long we can call during layovers on the way to Taiwan so get excited! I may be able to talk to you guys for a while. I'll just have to pay a lot of money for it....also, it may be while you're at work, so I don't know what you'll wanna do about that... I'll also found out that Taichung is renowned for GIANT spiders....like the size of your foot and larger that end up in your shower. They're so big that they catch birds in their webs and eat them. Also, they eat monkeys....just saying. Lastly, there are massive flying cockroaches...doesn't that sound nice?
Now to answer your guys' questions and email. I'm sorry that Extremely Close, and Incredibly Loud stunk. I wanted to see that one too. :/ That's exciting about the Hunger Games! I wish I was there to go with you! It's nice to here that Grandpa Wilkes is doing better. I can't believe that Grandpa Woolsey fell again. That's so demoralizing. I feel that they don't have long for this world. I hope Denise gets better as well. I'll be praying for them all. There is no one who is more blessed than missionaries than maybe the prophet...so my prayers are worth quite a bit! I'm glad that American Idol is going well. I honestly don't miss it too much right now, but maybe once you guys start talking about individual singers more I'll long for it more. Glee being terrible doesn't surprise me. It's an awesome concept that they just didn't know where to run with. It turned too drama-y. That's awesome about biking Dad! I'm so excited for you! I know you'll destroy. :) Also...650 POUNDS!! That's incredible! I'm happy that you guys like the pictures. Those were some of my favorites that you posted on the blog. Elder Houggard is 6' 5" so not too far off. He played basketball in High School and he and I play together sometimes. He's a cool fella. That's kinda strange what the guy from work said about the "e" sound. I would say it more like "UH"...kinda like someone punched you in the gut. He is a native however, and we are learning the typical mainland version of Chinese. I liked the few things you learned. Just make sure you use them correctly! Zhe ge is this BUT only for specific objects. Meaning, you can't go around and use zhe ge for a situation...like zhe ge doesn't sound like a good idea. That's not Ok. Also, "ge" is a measure word that can only be used with certain objects. So while you can get away with using zhe ge A LOT of the time for objects....it doesn't always work. Like pages, songs, flat things, animals, and other things it wouldn't work with. Same with na ge (that object not that situation).
Am I starving for regular food? YES! Does that mean sweets? No. I'm overwhelmed with nasty food and sweets. Home cooking sounds incredible (there are ways to sneak it in by the way, as long as it's concealed in a box). ;) As far as I can tell from looking around and asking other missionaries, you can't find language DVDs or study materials in the book store. It's mostly the bare essentials. I don't really know for certain if Cantonese is harder, but from what I understand they're about the exact same. Mandarin has five tones and Cantonese has either seven or nine, but the extra tones are between the others. I know that probably didn't make any sense, but from what I've witnessed (the Cantonese Elders and Sisters are on the same floor as us), it seems equally as difficult. Mandarin is harder to to speak pronunciation-wise, but more tones is still more difficult (two elders in my district were transferred from Mandarin). It's apples and oranges. I don't think I need anything really. I'm reasonably set. :) I'll be able to dry clean my suits before I go. I was going to do one today, but my companion didn't particularly want to go with me...so...I didn't. Maybe next week I can convince him. My teaching has gotten much better by the way. My companion is working hard, and as long as he doesn't disagree or not understand why we do something and shut down we can work together reasonably well. We're pressing on! I'm not terribly tired of the MTC. Only a little... The older generation left today and I could feel their energy and excitement. I took pictures with all of them so I'll send those soon. It was sad to see them go. We're who people look up to now. Elder Winters is an inspiration to me...remind me to write about him next week (I have a lot to say and I'm already seven minutes over). Uhh...over doing it? Maybe a little. I wouldn't worry about sweets. I don't need any more. The Branch President doesn't like it either. Also, the language is progressing well. I can understand what people say most of the time now, I just can't say what I want to say very easily. I have to think about it pretty hard first. Also, I'm a little discouraged with my work ethic, but I'm earnestly trying to improve. If they say it twice, I know it for sure. Anyway, I really need to go. I love you guys! Zaijian.