One night they had Chick-fil-a for dinner at the MTC
This week I have been thinking a lot about that random saying (isn’t it from a Chinese philosopher or something?) that says “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And this week I have taken my first step in this whole mission thing! Even though it’s been hard I’m glad I’ve made it through this first step.
Before my family dropped me off at the MTC campus we went to BYU and ate ice cream from the cannon center creamery. Then we walked up to campus (because why not?) and I showed Sam and Diana around the library (because why not?) It was so weird to see students going about their daily studies like I was a few short months ago, and that I wouldn’t be doing that along with them for so long.
I was part of the last group scheduled to arrive at the MTC on August 3rd. My hosts were two french-speaking missionaries! One was a solo missionary going to Madagascar, and the other was going to Tahiti. We dropped my stuff of in my room and I was whisked away to class. I’ve heard stories about the teacher only speaking in Chinese and I was definitely not surprised! My teacher is called ou yang lao shi and apparently he is from Guatemala and learned Chinese just because he felt like it. I’m not entirely sure though because of the whole only-speaking-in-Chinese thing, so don’t quote me on that.
The rest of the day passed by in a blur. That night all the girls in my room unpacked our bags. There’s me, my companion, two other sisters going to Taiwan, and two sisters going to the Australia Melbourne mission. We’re all speaking Mandarin. I’ll talk more about them later.
This past week has been full of class, class, class and class. It’s so frustrating because I feel like all the hours of class time make learning so much more inefficient! We’re in class so long that my mind kind of just shuts down and I can’t learn anything at all.
My companion is Sister Rhynard or rao jie mei. She is from the Seattle area. Her dad is American and her mom is Taiwanese.
It’s so great to see random people from all around! High school, BYU, my home stake, everywhere.
Dad, you’ll enjoy this: I went to choir practice! My companion wanted to go as well but I’m more of a soprano and she’s an alto. On Sunday we practiced “Praise to the Man” for the Sunday devotional. Elder Holland’s son spoke and it was great! I sat next to two sisters going stateside and one of them was from Riverton so we were able to have a great conversation about Utah! Ha ha.
On Tuesday, yesterday, we also had choir practice where we sang “More Holiness Give Me.” Apparently they like to make fun of new missionaries at the MTC to tell them that an apostle is going to speak at devotional (and therefore disappoint them) but I got real suspicious when, right before devotional was about to start, they told us that it was going to be broadcast to all the MTCs internationally. They also were really concerned about our public image and told people to not sing “Called to Serve” with a little flourish they do at the “forward, pressing forward” part, to take out flowers and headbands and other random stuff. They were also really strict about me taking my camera into the devotional area (which I did without thinking.) Elder Andersen from the quorum of the twelve walked in and it was so cool! He gave a great talk about being faithful even though your mission is difficult. It was inspiring.
I really love the girls in my room. There’s Sister Bernhardt and Sister Richards, who are also going to the Taiwan Taipei mission. I don’t have any pictures of them so you’ll have to hold tight for now. They’re really social, crazy, and fun to talk to. Sister Richards was actually at BYU in the dorms last year as well so we relate to each other a lot. She’s from Provo! Sister Bernhardt is absolutely adorable. She likes to say “what the shenme?!” whenever anything funny happens. (In Chinese, shenme means “what?” Grammatical incorrectness is so great.) Sister Patchell and Sister Gasinski are going to the Australia Melbourne mission! But I actually have a surprise: Today Sister Gasinski is leaving because she was feeling strong promptings ever since she got here to the MTC to go home, that a mission wasn’t for her. I support her fully in her decision! Both her and Sister Patchell went to BYU as well so that’s great! They’re both very chill. I don’t have a picture with Sister Patchell but I made sure to get one with Sister Gasinski last night before she left.
My district is awesome! All of us are going to the Taipei mission. (Honestly there’s a million missionaries that are going to Taipei. It’s rather ridiculous but great as well.) Most of the elders are soooo tall it’s funny haha. I have fun imagining them all wandering through a Taiwanese street somewhere. there’s elder Anderson, elder Rhoton, elder Kleine (who is the district leader), elder Olsen, elder Woodward, Elder Balmforth, Elder Doyle and Elder Hooker. They’re all so chill and funny! Most of us are from Utah but Elder Balmforth is from Massachusetts and Elder Woodward is from California.
On Tuesday and Saturday nights all the Mandarin and Cantonese missionaries set up/take down chairs in the gym for the devotionals. They say that we all have the best schedules in the entire MTC. We like to think that it’s because they pity us for having to learn Chinese. Our service is also really easy because some people have to clean bathrooms in the morning, whereas ours is just really fun.
On Tuesday our district was able to get out of class so we could get our blood drawn for our Taiwan visas. I got blood taken from both my arms because my right arm didn’t give enough blood. The lady in the MTC health center took one look at Sister Rhynard’s arms and said her veins were so deep she didn’t even want to try to draw blood, so we got to leave the MTC and go to the BYU health center! It was a blast. I watched a little bit of the Olympics because they were on the TV! Haha yay that was great. We even got to miss our lesson with our fake investigator because of it. (Well maybe that’s a bad thing because I need centuries of practice.) What’s funny is that we saw her walking into our classroom building just as we were leaving the MTC. Oops. This Friday we have to go to the Student Health center again because we all have to get X-rays. What even is with Taiwan and their visa requirements?
Today when we were doing laundry some elder had to ask me for help about doing his laundry. He had no idea how to pour soap properly into the washer! Turned out it was his first time EVER doing laundry. I thought that was so so funny. What are moms teaching their sons nowadays?
Because the girls in my room are so much fun, we have never ever as of yet gone to bed at 10:30 like the schedule says. It’s always more 10:45 or 11:30. Haha I always regret it in the morning, but it’s fun though. We talk about Chinese, the other girls’s boyfriends, Chinese, funny stuff that happens during the day, and Chinese.
The food here is exactly like the cannon center at BYU. Every day at lunch I get a wrap and they’re really good. i like to put spicy things like salsa and peppers on it. It’s one of the few healthy options here. Mostly everything else looks really unappetizing.
In general this week has had tons and tons of ups and downs. I laugh a lot even when I am feeling miserable. I have cried because of the spirit, because Chinese is so, so, so, so hard, and because of difficulties with adjusting to missionary life. But looking back it’s been great! They say that the rest of your time at the MTC really flies. I sure hope that’s true.
P.S. I really want to do a “Chinese Character of the Week” as a part of my weekly emails but I haven’t been able to figure out how to put characters onto this keyboard without the help of google. So I guess it will have to wait ’till next week.