Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 you like sushi?

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric (I guess Belle too...)

Well, here we are. After approximately two and a half months of spiritual and Chinese overload, nasty food, and loads of anticipation, it's time for my "final" email before leaving for Taiwan. I put the word final in quotes because if you are prompt about returning this email (before 6:30), I will be able to write another brief one to answer questions/get answers to questions. Anyway, like I was saying, here we are. There are a lot of practical matters to be taken care of this week, so I suppose that I'll respond to your email, then add anything and everything I feel like I need to. If you can't respond before 6:30, respond sometime when you can, and I will find a way to get on and check. I just want to make sure that Tuesday goes off without a hitch.
Now to your email:
I did receive the package. We had loads of guys over to our sùshè and we ate the cookies and bought some milk. It was nice to kick back at the end of the day a bit. Thanks so much! With regards to a calling card, I bought one today. It was only $5 for 500 minutes...or so she said. It doesn't actually say how much time is on the card , but....I don't know. If that sounds weird, let me know and I'll look into it more. I'm going to save the travel itinerary and its accompanying story till the end because I know you're eagerly anticipating it. ;)

Am I excited for Taiwan? Umm......was
Ammon's joy so great at the sight of his brethren that he collapsed to the ground?! Uhh....YEESSSSSSSSS!!!! Are you nuts?! How could I not be. There are nineteen of us flying out on the same day (16 to Taiwan) I can't wait to talk to you either! I need to start packing!!

I LOVE the reviews on Hunger Games. I'm SOOOOOOOOO jealous. I heard some girls who work at the MTC discussing it and I almost died!!
haha! I wanna see it so bad! P.S. Eric, I got your letters. I just don't have much time to respond. I'll email you either later today or in the field. My preparation day will be Monday from what I understand. That's awesome that you did so well Dad! You're moving up and up!

I'm happy to hear that Nate is doing well. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest! I bet he's a phenomenal missionary! Eric's life sounds kind crazy, but a lot of fun. He better not get married while I'm away.... I'm glad that
Fablehaven is good. You should remind me to read it when I return in two years. Mom seriously got ANOTHER oven just for the extra burner....hmm...that's cool. :) Kaiwan xiao. I'm so happy that Dad and Mom are going on dates and such. I've heard that you should be dating your wife until the day you die. I like the thought of that!

I'm so stoked for conference. I'll be thinking of you too, Dad. It's going to be an odd though, looking at my mission in terms of priesthood sessions. Don't be sad that I'll be gone. I'll be safe. The Lord protects His missionaries. I know that that is true.

Curb-side missionary welcoming is fun! We get to do it again tomorrow because we're awesome. I helped a kid from West Jordan going to New York English-speaking and a kid from Alabama going to Mexico City. The West Jordan kid's parents were pretty emotional, but it's fun to be their transition from the real world to the MTC.

Last Tuesday, it wasn't Packer who came, but
Dallin H. Oaks (don't fret about the chair, it was just his wife who needed it. She had just received foot surgery). He gave a phenomenal talk on having the spirit. Zui hao de. President Jenkins talked to us about how about twenty-five years ago, people used to discuss the USSR, and how it seemingly never would open. He then shared some talk or something from...I think Spencer W. Kimball, that said that the Lord would help after everything we can do. He seemed to think that China's being opened is very near. I would like to think that as well. Conference weekend will be crazy here. All classes and church activities are canceled and basically we just eat, sleep, and breathe conference. We go, ponder, discuss, those kinds of things ALL DAY LONG. I'm tremendously excited!

I'm glad that you liked the movie so much. You know how much I appreciate Peter Travers' opinion as well. It sounds phenomenal, mom. You'll NEED to show me as
soons as I get back.

Now for all the extra stuffs.
Elder Bates left for New York on Monday. He woke us up at three a.m. (upon our request) to say goodbye to him. I'll miss that Elder. He's such a hard worker! It really hit us, that we are leaving soon when he left. I'll be excited to see how he changes, because he's truly an example.

I'm so overjoyed that Eric loves his job. It sounds nerdy, but incredibly awesome. My companion
Nie Zhanglao, is totally into those kinds of things, so it gave us some common ground to stand on.

Now for the grand finale!!
DELTA AIRLINES FLIGHT 1741 : Leaving Salt Lake City at 11:20 a.m. 03 APRIL 2012 (I SCORED THE BEST DEPARTURE TIME)!! I can sleep normally!! I don't have to be at the travel office till 8:00a.m.)!!! I may have to time to call around 9:30-10:30a.m.

Arriving in Portland, Oregon at 12:19 P.M. I have about a 1.5 hour layover here.
DELTA AIRLINES FLIGHT 617 Leaving Portland, Oregon at 1:55 03 APRIL 2012
Arriving in TOKYO NARITA, JAPAN BABY!!!!!! WOOOHOOO!! at 4:55 04 APRIL 2012.
Leaving Tokyo Narita, Japan 6:55 PM 04 APRIL 2012
Arriving Taipei, Taiwan at 9:50 PM 04 APRIL 2012 WOOHOO!!!

The mission president will meet us at the airport. We get right on a bus and travel to the Taizhong mission home. The bus ride is three hours long, and we're expected to stay awake because orientation begins on the bus! BE JEALOUS! HAHA! I don't even care. I'm stoked. The rumor is that during orientation, we have to stand on a box and cry repentance to the people. We'll see....


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"My time in this world is very brief..."

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric
Another week has come and gone and my time grows short in the MTC. The days feel both long and short, but I know in two years it will all have felt brief. I wish that I could slow things down, but unfortunately time marches on and God's work moves forward. Two weeks from today. As this week has progressed, my thoughts turn to how I can work harder to serve the people of Taiwan without being there. Elder Chan (the British Elder who I get along famously with) and I have developed a renewed and refined language study plan that involves us getting up at 5:35 every morning. I'm excited to get rolling on it, because if I'm not doing everything that I can on my end to serve the Lord, how can I expect to call upon Him to answer my prayers? I only have two years to serve, I need to make the most of every moment. Since I've entered the field, I've really noticed a change in several things. For example, I've gotten up at 6:30 or earlier EVERY SINGLE DAY since being here. I don't tell you these things to be prideful, but I tell you because you know how difficult it was for me to wake up on time at home, and mainly because it gives me an opportunity to praise my God and give you one tiny, tiny, example of how the Lord has provided for me since being here. He's even helped me in waking up.
Now to address your email. I am ridiculously jealous that Mom and Eric are going to see Hunger Games. It's going to be incredible, I can feel it.
Haha! I was riding the stationary bike during gym yesterday and I overheard two of the "fitness specialists" discussing it. I SO wish I could go with you guys to it, but it's a sacrifice that I'm more than willing to make. Nonetheless, I miss the midnight showings.

How did Bryan Parry's talk go? I didn't imagine him to change too much. This work is SO important and the Lord needs all that He can get "for the field is truly white, already to harvest (D&C 4)". I'm excited to hear more about Tyler's progress (he'll be a great missionary I think). It's also very exciting to hear that Nate is doing so well! He's a stud!

With regards to Brother Tillman's thoughts: What inspired Elder Chan and my language study overhaul was a teacher here. He was discussing his Chinese progression with us and it's remarkable. He, after four transfers, had better Chinese than his senior companion of ten transfers. This guy isn't prideful, he only told us because we asked. It was remarkable. If I do everything I can to learn the language, then the Lord will magnify my efforts and I'll be unstoppable in Him. I want to be all but fluent in four to six months from now. I have every intention of working even harder. I'll "command" the language. I also look forward to that day, Dad, when I get to report. I know it's more of a payout for you, but it will be a choice time of reflection for me. I'll be sad to have left, but it will be great to look back on the experience with so much joy. I can't believe that I'm over two months in. It's....staggering. Truly. It's FLOWN by. It only gives me more motivation to work.

I'm glad that the Suns are doing better. I imagine they still won't amount to much, but I'm happy regardless. That stinks that BYU got
pwnd. Bu hao yise. That's great that everyone is so in shape over there in Draper. You guys are all studs. Keep it up!!
 I have some other exciting news: There's going to be an MTC choir for General Conference! Bad news: Everyone in my Zone (who signed up) got accepted...but me and my companion....yeah....
bu xihuan.
I didn't get my travel plans this week. I get them on Friday. The people who are going to New York leave on Monday and they have to be AT the travel office at 3:00a.m....poor guys. That includes our wonderful District Leader Elder Bates (great guy!) I hope mine isn't that early. I'm so excited to talk to you guys. It's going to be awesome! I'll purchase a calling card for sure. How many minutes do you think I should plan for??
I LOVE this gospel. I love it. It has become to mean everything to me and I imagine that it will continue to. If the only thing you two and look at as a success is that Eric and I are active, then I hope that has incredible value in your eyes. I get kind of emotional when I think about the alternative...the "what if's"...but thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I couldn't have asked for better parents.
To answer your questions: I did get the cookies and things. The letter was lovely from mom.

The package was delicious. I've burned through the chips, the box of cakes, and a sleeve of cookies already ( and I got it yesterday....). The donuts were also yummy, and they lasted two days (I share my bounty
f.y.i.). Sister Mitchell wants you (Mom) to send more. I can only get the Children's Book of Mormon in Chinese in the Book Store ( which is $5.20), the other things like the Chinese hymnbook and children's song book can't be found, sadly. The BOM is the same one I had to read before my baptism, but in Chinese. Hen you yong! Dui bu dui?! I very much enjoyed the way that the blog looks. You guys are doing a bang up job!

Now to add a few more of my own thoughts: I don't know if I mentioned this last week, but I would appreciate it if you could print off and save my original letters somewhere as I have written them. That would be sweet. Also, I sent home my name on a cardboard paper thing. Please save and scrapbook things like that! I may send some more pictures and my memory card with a video or two on it before I leave.
I did
initiatories today and it was PHENOMENAL!! A man took Elder Neil (his has well) and I aside and discussed our missions and how wonderful it was that we were serving and what the initiatory meant for him. Truly great. I also read some powerful scripture that I feel like REALLY answered my prayers and will help me work harder. Also, every now and then the Initiatory workers will talk to you during the initiatory and one of them was convinced that I'll get home and a little bit afterward, get called to China. I have to admit, I've felt very similarly for some time now. I may serve two missions! Imagine! I'm pretty sure I told you what President Jenkins said about this, but if I didn't, please tell me and I'll inform you.

I'll be
uber busy for the next while working hard and getting ready to leave. I'll be able to dry clean and things like that.
Did you understand my testimony at all? Or get it translated (I realize it's very difficult without tones, but I bet Wes Tillman could help you out)?

The new generation is....young. Like...some are older than me, but they just feel young. They also tell us that we look older than they. I don't know what it is, but I think that on your mission, a lot of change occurs. A spiritual change that in many degrees is manifested physically. Anyway, because conference is in two weeks, we are having a sort of going away musical number for the younger generation. We are singing the EFY medley....wait for it....IN CHINESE!!! We found parts of it and translated other parts and practiced today. Please look up the English one on YouTube...You'll love it! Anyway, they are really good guys, but I don't really know them that well yet. I'm sure they'll do well. They're generation isn't as large as ours (and most are only here for nine weeks). Most are going to Taipei where as most of our generation consists of half Taichung and half elsewhere (New York, Scotland, England, France, Australia, and Canada).

Anyway, I don't know if I need anything. You guys spoil me WAY too much. I thank you sincerely for it as well. I would like a nice picture of the family before I go if you have one. If you can manage a Chinese (pinyin and characters) hymn book (the small ones are cheap) that would be sweet, but I can always get one when I get there. No worries.

Thank you guys so much for your diligence and example. Knowing that you are all doing well, helps me focus on the work and work even harder. You are all great and powerful members. Remember that the Lord loves you. I've been reading about Nephi (3 Nephi) and
Ammon lately. Perfect missionaries. I want to be like them.
Anway. Wo feichang ai nimen. Wo hen xiang nian nimen. Dang wo huilai de shihou, women hui bao he ai.
I love you all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slower Week

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,
Nimen hao ma? I'll begin by following up on the email I was sent. I got the package with everything in it. It was easily the most random package I have ever received hands-down. Kool-aid, a journal, pistachios (spell check that for me), and chocolate. Zhende ma? Kaiwan xiao. It was seriously awesome! Thank you so much! I'm always very appreciative of everything you guys send me. Also, what was super bizzare is that I LOVED the pistachios. I don't normally like them much at all....actually not at all. I think it's just that it's the first real food I've had in forever and a day and it was delicious. My favorite part is always the letter that's included. I read it first thing, then I looked what was inside. What you guys have to say is always a million times more worthwhile than any candy or treat.
Hmm...I don't know what you could send that would be beneficial. Maybe IF YOU CAN FIND IT, a Chinese hymnbook. Our generation of missionaries isn't going to have them because, for whatever reason, the shipper in Taiwan won't send them. I think they're retranslating a lot of the hymns. That aside, I feel like it would be very helpful. Supposedly I can purchase a children's Book of Mormon (like the one I had to read before I could be baptized) and a children's song book in characters. I may try to do that while I'm here if I can (I'm trying to save my money for it, I feel like it would be a wonderful tool when dealing with children). I don't know though. I think I'm going to stock up on sticky tabs (I mark all of my scriptures with Eric's key and then put a tab on the edge so I can access it quickly) and paper, and sticky notes, and stuff like that. I've been burning through those like crazy. Hard to say for sure though. I don't know what you guys can actually send me. I feel like I'm putting you guys through too much with all of these packages.

The General Authority who spoke on Tuesday was only a regular 70. No big name, but that being said, it was still a great talk. I've noticed that outside of General Conference, 70-members and other General
Auxilaries are outstanding speakers. Maybe it's the fact that I'm on a mission, maybe not.

I'm glad that Eric is happy about hanging out with "a bunch of nerds" at his new job. It sounds like it's something that Eric enjoys. He'll be able to save up heaps of money (I've been saying "heaps" a lot because of Sister Mitchell).

I'm not surprised that mom destroyed in cycling. She needs to ride with a tougher crowd! She's a beast! GO MOM! And you as well dad! It sounds like going up in category has really been a tough transition, but I'm confident in your ability and imagine that you'll catch '
em all before too much longer! It's funny because I told Nie Zhanglao that Dad must be enjoying Daylight Savings (for us, it's just a lost hour of our PRECIOUS sleep time), and then Dad mentioned it in the email. Keep it up you two!

I'm happy that BYU sort of made it to the NCAA Tournament. I imagine they'll win the "play-in" game, but get their stuffing kicked out of them against Marquette. The Suns stink man. :/ I'm disappointed. There are loads of
Arizonaites here who comment on my apparel. It's really funny, but awesome. I don't much mind if the Jazz don't do well, but I despise the Spurs and Heat. I've always like the Bulls and Thunder.
I wish I could hear Bryan Parry speak, I bet that will be phenomenal. Sister Clawson as well. I miss Bryan. I imagine that he has developed into an outstanding young man,
kinda like Spencer Apsley. Not that they weren't already, but they're even better now! :D
The language still seems to be going along at a steady rate. I mean, it's a lot of refining. I didn't even realize that I was leaving in three weeks. Some of our Elders (the ones going to New York) leave in two! Next week, I get my travel plans! DON'T PLAN ON TAKING WORK OFF UNTIL I DO!! It probably wouldn't be the fifth anyway, it would be the third. This is because I think I actually get there on the fifth and leave on the third. Just saying. Just sit tight for the next while, unless you can't, then count on the third. I'm....relatively pleased with how I'm progressing. I ALWAYS feel like I can work harder, and I'm really trying to do that. I've developed a detailed language learning plan that I'm excited to begin tomorrow.
I'll try to record the Elder's comments, but I can't make any guarantees. It might be against the rules. I'm glad you liked my scripture and those videos. The scripture is so eloquent. It really makes me happy and realize the importance of what I'm doing. I found another one that I like equally as much but I forgot to write it down for this email. La Costa seriously sounds DELICIOUS. I would kill for real food.
Zhende. I can't believe that Hunger Games is already here! I can't wait to hear ALL about it! Oh ya, and....Wo ye feichang ai nimen. I'm sorry to hear about Grandpa Wilkes and Grandpa Woolsey. Please keep me updated. It's very upsetting, but I would like to know.
I actually talked to Elder Taylor last night for a while. He feels like he's learning a lot. He KNOWS the tones super well, but claims his vocabulary is poor. I don't know. He's such a stud and ever so humble. I seriously doubt he would tell me if he was destroying the competition. With regards to my emails. I would like you to print them off and store them somewhere, then you can edit them and put them up on a blog. I would love to have the original copies.

This week, my companion and I had the
zui hao de kecheng we have ever had. It was seriously epic. We traded off and were led by the spirit the entire time. Our investigator understood what we were teaching and we could apply our purpose to everything. He accepted commitments and we really grew as a companionship. This is several prayers in the making here! It was awesome!
Oh yeah, Dad, the other Elders thought that your handwriting was so good that it was typed. Keep it up! I feel like my decent handwriting is hereditary! Umm...I want you guys to look up a talk by Neal A. Maxwell from 1981 that I stumbled upon. It's so eloquent and beautiful. I think it may be the first talk he ever gave. He is essentially just bearing his testimony the entire time, but it's so extremely fantastic. It's called "O, Divine Redeemer." I think you'll love it. You know how smart that man was. :) I'm also sending a letter your way that includes about 10-12 pictures. I think you'll like them. I took most of them the day Sun
Zhanglao (Elder Snyder) went home.
I get to do curb-side pick up next week and possibly the week following that as well. ALSO, most importantly, we get the younger generation next week and we are finally the
BMoC. So...that should be sweet. Sorry about the hurried nature of the ending of my letters. I'm usually very near my time limit so I apologize. I love you guys so much, and I hope you realize that always. I always want to reflect on my performance by thinking about how proud of me you would be if you were here. KEEP LEARNING CHINESE! When I've mastered my grammar (in about eight months), I'll send home my grammar books and things. They break it all down so much that you'll love it and hopefully learn a lot quickly!
Wo de Zhongwen hai hao ke shi wo hui jinliang zuo wo do jianzheng. Wo guanyu wo de jiuzhu yao zuo jianzheng. Wozhidao wo de jiuzhu huozhe. Ta wei women shouku. Yinwei ta wei women si suoyi women hui fuhuo haiyou gen women de Tianfu zhu. Wozhidao ta wei women si yinwei ta zhende feichang ai women. Wozhidao zhege jiaohui shi zhenshide. Wozhidao Mo'ermenjing shi Shen de hua. Wozhidao Yuesi Sime shi Shen de xianzhi. Dang women jinliang fucong Tianfu de jieming de shihou women dedao henduo de zhufu. Feng Yesu Jidu de ming. Amen.
Sorry that that was so brief, but my companion really wants to go to dinner. I love you guys and I can't wait to hear from you next week and I can't want to go to Taiwan. JIAYOU!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,

This week has likely been THE MOST crazy week that I have had in the MTC thus far and likely my entire life....well, I may not go that far, but it was nuts.  So let's start with last Tuesday and move up to this Tuesday, shall we?  So, on Tuesday, Jeffrery R. Holland came to the MTC.  He gave the most intense talk that I have ever heard any apostle ever give.  He talked about converting yourself on your mission and only yourself if it must be that way.  He wants us to get this gospel so deep inside our hearts that it can NEVER be pulled out again.  It made me realize that the only thing I can do in this life for my Heavenly Father is to promise my life to him and hand it over.  The talk really shook me.  I never want to have any regrets on my mission.  I don't want to grow out my hair again, I don't want to get back into the same entertainment, I don't want to watch television on Sunday.  My mission is forever. 

Now for the next MAJOR and CRAZY thing that happened.  An Elder (the only who gave up major league baseball to be here, and has had serious back problems that are incapacitating him) developed stomach ulcers this last week from all the stress.  He is a spiritual giant, truly.  I feel so bad.  That's not the kicker though.  Yesterday, at lunch, we found out that he is being sent home.  Needless to say, we were all very upset for the rest of the day.  Well...the worst part is that about one hour later, Elder Dagenais busts into the room and says that this Elder is leaving in two and a half hours and that we have to help him pack everything now.  We rushed around the room, then back to the dorm to help him pack up all of his belongings.  He lefts loads behind.  We skipped our assigned times that day and just talked and walked with him.  We hugged and took pictures and sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."  As we prayed and sang, I cried.  It doesn't seem fair.  Why do I get to stay and he doesn't?  He had to work so much harder than I did to be here.  He's probably the most loved Elder in the MTC after yesterday.  I'm going to miss him.  He gave each of us a tie and signed it and wrote a scripture on the back.  We've all committed to wear our ties every Monday now. for the things I have to say this week.  If you could, send me that journal from my farewell.  I want all of the elders and sisters here to sign it. :D  This singer name Alex Boye (look up his 'I'm a Mormon' video and his cover of "Paradise") came and spoke on Sunday. He was phenomenal.  He sang and spoke about his conversion story.  He's a black, English man, who decided to devote his life to singing uplifting music for the church.  He's also hilarious.  David Archuleta comes to the MTC next week.  Pretty cool, huh?  You should tell me where he's going!  Haha!  I can't find those kinds of things out!  I got the brownies!  We're all happy with them! last thing before the major thing, Sister Ochoa's Dad, the one who's in the general young men's presidency is speaking in the Priesthood session at the end of this month.  HOW NUTS IS THAT?!

I hope BYU makes it to the tournament. GO COUGS! Also, there's this guy who works in the Book Store from Phoenix who gives me Suns updates. I've heard that they and Sacramento are stinking up the place. :/ I guess I picked a good season to miss, eh? Oh well, I needn't worry about them. 

Am I excited to leave? More and more each day. I have four real weeks left, and only two and a half until I get my travel plans. It's pretty insane. The nearer it gets, I imagine I'll get more and more excited. I hope you watched those Chinese "I'm a Mormon" videos. They got me SO CRAZY PUMPED. To hear and understand their Chinese and to see Taiwan, it was just so crazy awesome! I was so overjoyed! I love you guys from the bottom of my heart, I truly do. I just want you all to understand that not a day goes by when I don't think about you and pray about you. Homesickness hasn't really hit me yet, but from what I understand, it doesn't until you get to Taiwan. I may not be homesick, but that doesn't devalue my love for you all. I truly miss you and hope you understand that. The Lord is pouring out endless amounts of blessings upon you. Wo zhidao wo you zui hao de jiating. Wo feicheng ai nimen

This is pretty easy Chinese, but still. This one is good to get translated. Sorry about the lack of tones.
Maybe next week I'll bear my testimony in Chinese for you guys, then you can have it translated. Would you like that?
I just thought that maybe it would give you a bearing of where I am Chinese-wise. I'm also going to send a letter sometime soon with some pictures.  I love you guys.  I'm ten minutes over however.  Thank you for the support.  Wo (3) ai (4) nimen (3)!!