Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,
Your letter was relatively short this week which is both good and bad. Because of this, I'll be able to be more detailed and make up for the things I was going to send last week but couldn't. Speaking of that...did Eric ever get his letter?!? You'll all be happy to know that I got Mom's letter, and Eric's letter, and the pie, and the popcorn. You guys are spoiling me!! Haha! My roommates love it, however. :P
So a week ago from today was an incredible experience: The MTC celebrated their 50th anniversary. Needless to say, for the entire week preceding, rumors abounded that "the monsoon" was coming (I'm pretty proud to say that I came up with that). But...that night arrived and Elder Russell M. Nelson, and Elder Jeffery R. Holland showed up. Incredible. Elder Nelson was the main speaker so Holland only bore a quick, but powerful, testimony of missionary work. Very inspiring. Elder Nelson's talk was wonderful as well, but it mainly focused on the history of the MTC and incredible missionaries through the ages.
This week was really hard on my district and zone. Elder Snyder (an Elder who switched from Cantonese to Mandarin a couple of week ago and is now in my district) broke his back about three years ago and he has been having some pretty severe pain. So much so, that he has had to undergo several MRI's already and there is a HUGE chance that he'll need surgery and an equally large chance that he'll have to go home. We're seemingly dropping like flies out here! Anyway....we fasted on Thursday as a Zone and it was incredibly spiritual. We fasted again on Sunday. I pray for him and wish him the best. He is an incredible individual and I know that the Lord has great things in store for him. The night that we began our fast, he had a prompting that he should extend an open invitation to give blessings to those in our district who wanted one. So the eight of us gathered in his room before bed and he blessed Elder Bishop and Elder Dagenais. INCREDIBLY spiritual. I just felt the love of the Lord so much in the room that I began to cry (and I don't know how much of a crier I am).
I need to address a MASSIVE misunderstanding. I don't know how this happened, but my companion isn't and never was British. Sorry to disappoint. There's a British Elder that I'm rooming with who I get along swimmingly with, but my companion is from Mesa, Arizona. And I don't want it to sound like we are at odds or anything, it's just that he has this tendenancy to correct me on most things I do (ex. calling me stupid for wearing my watch on my right hand). Make sense? He's actually a really good guy, and we've had some great experiences together thus far, we're just very different people. No worries though! I love him all the same! He's a smart guy with a lot to bring to the table!
This is kinda random, but could you guys type all of my hand-written letters up, I don't wanna lose 'em. Ok...now comes the section full of random things I wanted to say, so this will be beyond all over the place. I get $6 a week on a pay card kind of thing that I can use to buy my supplies and things, so don't think you need to keep sending me supplies all the time. I use it to buy soap and things like that. It's not much, but it's enough for now. Snacks I want sent to me....I don't know, something yummy that I wouldn't normally get that I can keep in my room would be great....and maybe a drink or something. :) Surprise me! Also....PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send some hair paste or product. I can't get it here and I may die without it (jk). :P My Branch President is really cool. He served in Taiwan, but so long ago that they didn't have a Mandarin branch at the MTC. He had to learn in the field! He actually can't even read pin yin, only characters. Pretty funny stuff! Great man though. He likes to correct us on our tones and pronunciations. :P I was thinking today that you guys should try practicing Mandarin a little so when you come out to pick me up, you guys can know a thing or two! I'll send my grammar books and things home when I no longer need them. That'll be like six months from now or so, but yeah.... My mission is moving like lightspeed. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that people say it's fast. I'm trying to soak it all in, but it just moves too darn fast! Elder Snyder actually has an incredible story. He was kind of a partier, and he was flat drunk one night when he received a prompting that he needed to clean up his life and serve a mission. Everyone thought he was crazy, but he did it. He is an incredible man. I wish I could give more detail, but I still have that dang time constraint. Please send my baptismal clothes if you get the chance...along with the pedigree chart...I think I'll need 'em in the field. Thanks for sending Jordan's address. That's fantastic! I get a lot of letters from people, it's great! I've felt the most intense outpouring of love ever. Missionaries are probably (aside from the prophet) the most prayed for people in the church. I feel invincible in a way (not like a teenager does though).
So...this is what I've heard about Taiwan recently. Supposedly you can't sit on the toilets in fear of Hep C, so you have to master a squatting technique (Elder Bishop's brother served in the same mission). Sounds pretty funny. I'm gonna get so owned.
I get to play basketball and four-square a lot. I run quite a bit now too. I'm trying to build some endurance and shed some pounds. Dad would DIE if he had to eat the food here. Everything is either covered in fatty sauces/cheeses or deep fried...not to mention it tastes like plastic. It's SO GROSS!!
Sometimes, when I'm not working as hard as I feel like I need to, I think of Dad. I think about what it would mean to him to be in my shoes. I think about how hard he would work if he had the opportunity that I have. I definitely came out for the right reasons. It makes me work harder. It makes me want to be a better missionary. I had a feeling yesterday that so many people in my life are angels (in a manner of speaking), sent down to earth to help me. Everyone has their "angels," I just feel like the Lord is really looking out for me. I love you guys and I think about you all the time. I pray for you. I often think about what I can do to make you guys proud and live up to my name (not that I'm here just for you, because I definitely came out here to serve the Lord FYI). It motivates me. I've already written mom's letter; I'm just waiting on pictures to print (YES! PICTURES!). You guys will likely get that letter on Friday.... I have a few more things to say but if I say them all now, I'll have nothing for next week! I now know what Nate meant by the MTC feeling like groundhog day. :P Please ask more questions and tell me more about home! I'm not upset that I missed the Super Bowl that much, but I would KILL for some of mom's cooking right now. Seriously. Anyway...I love you. A lot. Zaijian.
Love, Elder Bry ;)