I appreciate the letter this week. It was very detailed. :) I always look forward to these emails because I don't get the chance to get much other mail anymore. I have received one letter from a sister in the Taibei mission, but I don't plan to read it until I write her and tell her that I can't write her anymore (it's sort of a mission rule, I just want to go above and beyond). I just want you to know that it means the world to me. You are all the best. Thank you for your prayers. I don't know how to describe it, but being a missionary....I just know I'm safe. I don't worry about anything as long as I'm obedient and being smart. I just expect people to accept our message because...well...it's true! And they've all heard it before! Even if they are fojiao (buddhist). ;) I have more time to write today so I'll do my best to really include a lot.
So I have a funny story before I get to into answering your email. So do you remember the drunk man we met with? Well he now has a baptismal date and had an INCREDIBLE DREAM. But let me get to the first part. So we went to his home and asked him if he wanted to take a tour of the church. He said he did so he hopped on his bike instead of his scooter to be "like us" and we set out. It's like a twenty minute ride one way or so so we thought we could make it there and back quickly. Well....he was drunk tonight too of course, and he's very unhealthy to boot. We got about half way, and he stopped saying, xiuxi yi xia (I don't really know how to translate this directly, but it's like...let's take a break for a second). Well we were riding and Xiuxi yi xia(ing) constantly. As we were doing that, dad's addage from pre-mission came to mind and it was PERFECT. Whenever dad saw people doing bad things, he would say something along the lines of, they just need to get a bike. Well...here was this drunk man trying to turn his life around...RIDING A BIKE!! It was perfect. And after having ridden ALL THE TIME lately, it was so perfect and I appreciated it a lot more. Hilarious. I just thought dad would appreciate that story. That night he set a baptismal date. The next day he told us that he had a dream. He was in heaven and he was very afraid (he never said why but probably because of his sins), then Jesus Christ appeared (realize that this man is VERY FOJIAO) and told him not to be scared, and then he wasn't anymore. Also, he said that he thought that this meant that Christ was satisfied with his xili mubiao (baptismal goal). Cool huh?
You may want to write a little earlier from now on. Like only an hour. I got on really close to when you sent it, but I wrote Eric first so it was ok. Meiyou wenti ke shi ni yingai xuyao (no problem but you probably should). That's my goal on my mission, to become permanently changed for the better. I never want to leave.
You guys sounds like you're exercising up a storm! Congrats! Keep it up! Wanna know something funny? When I return, I will likely have ridden more consecutive days in the last two years than Dad!! HAHA! I say this because we ALWAYS ride on Sundays as well and Dad rarely does (unless it's leisurely). My butt always hurts, but my quads are in the most pain. It just hasn't gone away. They're ALWAYS sore. I don't know what to do except keep pressing on. I'll add your advice about the bike height and such. The Azurri is cool. It has the church's name on it and stuff and that I'm a missionary. Pretty slick. It's a real trip. I wish I could keep it after my mission.
Some days here are pretty cool (days in which it rains), but mostly it's ridiculously hot and I sweat like Shaquille O'Neal. HAHA! Seriously though, I do. I didn't think I was much of a sweater.... When it rains...it pours. I'm not excited for the rain and summer seasons (just around the corner). It's great though. I'm always tired.
So let's see. I'm area is called Shalu, but it includes Longjing, Dadu, and Wuqi. It's huge! I'm always sore from all of the riding. It's kind of like a combination of cities and rural areas. There are loads of rice fields, but they're not that big. There's this hospital here which is off the charts nice. It's huge and has a giant expensive restaurant at the top. Pretty cool. It's kind of our landmarker. I went on Zone Leader exchanges this week in Tanzi. It's a much more urban area. More polution. The pollution is really really bad here. The people are nice here. They're very patient, but that doesn't necessarily mean receptive. Supposedly they're less nice up here in the north, but oh well. Many will listen, but yeah...it's hard. Many offer food and none insult you, they just say buyong (no need) or meiyou kong (this is hard to translate but it's like they don't have time plus they don't have interest). I don't like hearing that. President David O. McKay gave a dedicatory prayer in China that we were all given when we got here. It asks Heavenly Father to raise a receptive, righteous generation. I honestly believe it's like everyone 30 and younger. They will almost always listen to you. Many are fojiao here and if you ask why, they say tradition. They don't know why they do it, they just do it. Also, sometimes it feels like we're in a competition with the Jehovah's Witness missionaries. We see they're proselyting materials all the time. The Taiwanese seem to like us much more though. We set up with a member of their faith though which is really rare. Supposedly they use scare tactics to restrict hearing other religions.
Tell Eric that in the apartment we speak a lot of Chinese and a lot of English. Probably mostly Chinglish, but yeah...
The food is good and bad. I'm already a little tired of some of it. A lot tastes the same. :/ We've eaten at McDonald's once. My companion doesn't like it and it's like twice as expensive as anywhere else. You can get a full meal here for 50 kuai ( less than two dollars). At McDonald's, if you get a drink it's like 120ish kuai ($4). Still cheaper than America, but yeah.
I likely won't get to skype, but we're going to call President Bishop about it soon. We'll probably only have forty minutes to chat which is hardly anything but supposedly the rules change all the time here so sometime in the next two weeks we'll find out when we get to call.
My companion has taught me a ton of Chinese. I ting de dong (hear to the point of understanding) most of what he says, but he's taught me useful phrases and things. He's very helpful. Matt is not in my Zone, so although we had Zone Conference on Tuesday with three Zones, he was not there. He's WAAY south. He went to the southern tip and I went to the northern tip (of the mission). Kinda funny. :P I did get to see Elder Chan though!! :D
I've lost a lot of weight. From the sweat and the constant exercise I've dropped like ten pounds. It's nuts. It keeps dropping too. Supposedly Summer accelerates that weight loss too, so we'll see how that goes.
Now, I want you to know how much I love you all. It makes me sad when I see so many families without the gospel, or even part member families. It makes me realize how fortunate I am and how important that temple marriage is. Be grateful that you have this church. I just want to help people, but it's not me who can change these people. I love this work. It's our Heavenly Father's work. He loves us. He gave us this gospel because it's the ONLY way (2 Nephi 31:21). If there was another, easier way, we would have it. But this is it. It pains my soul to see people turn down our message, because I think of what they're turning down each time. But then I linger on the hope that perhaps tomorrow they'll accept eternal salvation.