Wow, I officially reached my one month mark on Saturday. That's so crazy! This has been the fastest and slowest month of my mission. I am absolutely loving every minute of it and I am constantly learning so much! The devotional on Tuesday night was by Bruce C. Hafen and it was pretty funny. He told a story about how he asked some boy who was called to serve in the Brazil mission if he knew any Spanish, and the boy responded completely serious, "I only know one word in Spanish... Aloha!" haha! He also talked about how going to the temple gives us power and so many blessings. I completely agree. Every time I go to the temple I walk away feeling empowered and so blessed by my loving Heavenly Father. Tuesday night Sister Strong and I were talking about how much we hated taking the language assessment test last week and we wished we could try again. Well, our wish came true because they didn't receive our answers! So we got to try it again and I felt much better about it because I actually tried! Haha. Elder Jensen came and told all of us that apparently we're leaving on September 5th, which is a Friday, which means that we are actually only here for about 8 1/2 weeks instead of 9! That was super exciting, and that meant that our "hump day" at the MTC was Wednesday or Thursday!
Celebrating One Month at the MTC
Wednesday morning I walked into my classroom and the Zhonglaomen (elders) began an elaborate game of charades and drawing on the board to try to explain that the night before a magic dragon cursed them so they can't speak English the rest of the time at the MTC (they gave up on that about 24 hours later). So I spent the whole day trying to figure out what they were trying to tell me! It helped me Zhongwen I have to say. I hosted again; 7 girls! And they all had about 3 pieces of luggage per person. Ugh. But I met a couple of Sisters who are going to the Roseville, California mission! I was super psyched for them(: In class we all had to teach Wu Laoshi together. We took turns teaching him, but I had no idea what was going on the whole time because it was all in Zhongwen. I got called on, and I felt prompted by the Spirit to bear my testimony. I pretty much said, "I have no idea what is going on, but I know that if you follow Christ's example and his commandments then He will bless you." Wu Laoshi told me that my testimony was very powerful. I know that I am inadequate at this moment in the language, but I know that God has called me to teach His children in Taiwan. I know that through Him all things are possible, and He will help me speak the language and bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel! Tan Laoshi interviewed me later and told me that she has been noticing how much I have been improving in the language. Yay! But then I kind of got "san shi san"-ed. She told me that I need to be careful with how I interact with the other Zhonglaomen. She said that she was a lot like me when she was in the MTC; loud and outgoing. She said that she got lectured about "flirting" and stuff. But she told me that she didn't want to lecture me and that she understands that I just have a loud laugh. Gosh darn hahaha at least she understands me. Elder Heaps got the same talk, so basically any time we talk to each other my whole district "san shi san"s us. Hahaha.
Sister Jenkins and Sister Strong reading the Book of Mormon in Zhongwen (Chinese).
Thursday morning Sister Strong and I were sitting outside during personal/companion study and people kept coming up and teaching us short phrases. One pair of sisters asked us what our favorite phrase in Chinese was and we didn't know. When they walked away I told Sister Strong that the only thing I could think of was "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." She said that the only thing that came to her mind was "wo xuyao yong sheshou jien," which means "I have to use the bathroom." hahaha that girl cracks me up! In class I was being kind of sassy to Wu Laoshi again, oops. So he said, "who wants to teach the class about this concept?" and I said a little too loudly, "oh, I'm an excellent teacher." So he made me teach the class. I didn't understand the concept either so I asked the class, "does anyone have any suggestions on what this sentence structure looks like?" and they all responded in unison, "meiyou," which essentially means "no." Gosh darn. My district told me they were thoroughly entertained though. So Sister Lew's friend sent her doughnuts, so we had a doughnut party that night with our district. We were all going around and sharing love stories. Elder Elliot told a story about how he got offered a $1,000 dollars by his mom to take a girl to prom, and he turned it down. (Andy, you're going to appreciate this next part). So Sister Porter (a sister in my zone) was like, "Ahhh Elliot you idiot!" and I, being like my mother (lacking a frontal lobe) responded, "It's pronounced Elliot!" Everyone busted up but I felt so bad! I told him "I was quoting a movie! Open Season!" Oh dear me, me and my big mouth! Ever since I met him I have been quoting that in my mind, so I guess it finally came out at the right (or wrong) moment!
Friday I found out my score for my language assessment: 3.5 out of 7. Not too bad seeing as I got the same score as several other Elders in my district who have taken the language before(: Sister Strong and I taught our investigator Huang Li Xin and it was the most spiritual lesson of our life! We both knew what the other was going to say before we said it, and the spirit was guiding us around our lesson plan in a completely different order that flowed so much better. And we committed her to baptism! It was so incredible! We left the lesson and instantly said a pray to thank God for this opportunity. I know that the Lord will help me, and that He knows His children individually and how to help them. I know that through Him I can do anything. I know that He was guiding that lesson and that Huang Li Xin felt His love and His spirit through us. The Lord's work is absolutely incredible. Without Him I would not be able to learn Chinese as well as I am right now! I'm this white girl with four and a half weeks of experience with the language and I can bear my testimony about God's love and His restored gospel. Wow. Miracles do happen, we just need to take the time to notice them. Friday night we had another district bonding time over 3 boxes of doughnuts that Elder Elliot received. We went around and told everyone our first impressions of each other. Elder Jensen said that I had a good laugh and I reminded him of his friend, Elder Elliot and Elder Robinson both said that they were grateful that someone was worse at Chinese than them, and Elder Heaps said, "Well... she's loud." Haha! I love my district so much!
Saturday morning I played soccer, AND I MADE A GOAL! Whoo, first goal ever ;). Tan Laoshi evaluated my language assessment in class. She said that the person grading me said that I have a foreign accent, like a white girl trying to speak Zhongwen (weird, right?). But she also said that I sounded confident with the language! That's good to know because I don't feel confident! She said that I have a good outlook on learning the language and that she can tell I'm very determined to learn. All I can say is that the Lord's hand is in everything I am doing. After dinner we had 3 hours of personal study, but Sister Strong and I ended up wandering around and bearing our testimony to everyone in Zhongwen. Then she made me close my eyes and she lead me around the campus telling me directions in Zhongwen. I looked pretty ridiculous! We celebrated our one month mark by eating a ton of food with our district. #fatfatfat haha. My district is so funny.
Sunday morning I woke up sick. Ugh. I hate colds. I felt tired and achey all day! In Relief Society Elizabeth D. Rose talked about the importance of trusting God. She said that the Atonement is an every present power that we can call upon everyday of our life. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for EVERYONE. It doesn't matter who you are, the Lord has atoned for our sins. We are still accountable for our actions, but through Him we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. We can use the Atonement everyday. I know I do. I am constantly praying and asking the Lord to send me guidance and comfort. He knows exactly what we are feeling and what we are going through. He loves us unconditionally and wants to help us all the time. I am so grateful for the atonement in my life. So my awkward moment of the day: right before Sacrament meeting one of the elders started to frustrate me, so I said really loudly, "Oh my gosh!" and everyone in the room went silent and stared at me. It was worthy of one of my dad's "be quiet Courtney" looks. Oops. I sometimes forget how loud I am... The devotional was sooo good! Richard I. Heaton invited converts to come up and share their conversion story. One girl said that a mom gave her a Book of Mormon so they both could make fun of it, but she ended up reading it and getting baptized! Nothing happens on accident. I know that for a fact.
I promise that if you read the Book of Mormon the Spirit will testify to you of it's truthfulness. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith translated it through the power of God. I know that Christ's church is on the earth today. I know that God still talks to prophets through revelation. I know that God loves everyone. Wo zhidao shen ai mei yi ge ren (I know God loves every single person). I am loving it here. I know this is where I'm supposed to be. The language is hard and humbling, but I know that all things are possible through God.
Thank you for writing and sending me your love(: It is so great to have so much support! I love you all!
Wo Ai Ni,
Jian Jie Mei