“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone” -That one song by that one band.
These past two weeks at the MTC have been SUPER DUPER difficult but I am just starting to get used to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just wanted to pack up my bags and leave, or wanted to not get out of bed, or not wanted to SYL (the MTC slogan of Speak Your Language, a method which helps your skills to develop as quickly as possible before you head out to the mission field. For foreign language-speaking missionaries). But I can see it’s all starting to pay off! Even though I can still see that it’s going to be really hard, I feel more prepared for all the obstacles that will come my way because God has loved me enough to humble me this past week!
I think of a quote from J.K. Rowling which is “Rock bottom was the solid foundation on which I built my life” or something like that (Don’t quote me on the exact phrase). But I think that quote has fit me so well
On Thursday me and Sister Rhynard got a special new addition to our companionship–Sister Patchell! She’s great. She played beach volleyball at St. Mary’s for a year and then went to BYU for a year. She’s going to the Melbourne Australia mission…speaking Mandarin! She joined our district and is doing great, although now our teeny tiny classroom is extremely crowded with eleven people. Tripanionships are the BEST!
- On Saturday I RAN AN ENTIRE MILE and did a whole LEG WORKOUT. For anyone who doesn’t know me really well, I don’t exercise much at all. Or at least I didn’t before my mission. So this was HUGE for me, haha. By the time I get back I’ll be so athletic you won’t even believe it’s me. I’ll have, like, rock solid abs or something when I get back.
- Our zone likes to play beach volleyball during our exercise time which is way fun. Even though I’m really bad, I still try to play my best and have fun. Any time that you get to spend outside the MTC building complex is a blessing.
- I kind of had a block with the language ever since I began at the MTC, but yesterday something just clicked. I was so stressed out and overwhelmed before but now I am excited to learn tons of words a day and progress with our fake investigator lessons. So far I can bear my testimony, say a prayer, and teach a really, really, REALLY basic lesson in mandarin. Plus my entire district has memorized the missionary purpose in both Mandarin and English. Sometimes though I memorize random words from the back of one of our books like “duck”.
- This past Sunday and yesterday, Tuesday, were GREAT devotional and choir practice days. Yesterday Sister Oscarson, the general Young Women’s president, spoke and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. We sang “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” and it was AMAZING. Our choir director is great. Everything is great. I meet so many great sisters at choir practice and then we sit together for devotional.
- After devotional yesterday we had a “devotional review” as a district and that was so cool. It was kind of like a testimony meeting as we all talked about how we felt about Sister Oscarson’s remarks. Most of the elders in my district just got out of high school, a couple are 20, and then there’s me and my companions. It’s cool to think how we were all whisked away from our families and were meant to spend hours a day together cooped up in one tiny little classroom in the basement of the Mandarin/Cantonese/Korean/Japanese building. We have one tiny little square window in one of the top corners where you can see a patch of leaves during the day. This is where I get to see everyone in my district reach a higher level of maturity spiritually and materially. Even though we all come from different backgrounds we have a lot to share with each other.
- So, all the MTC zones have “service.” For some, it is cleaning bathrooms. For others, it’s washing windows. For our good ‘ol Mandarin zone, we get to set up and take down the chairs from Sunday and Tuesday devotionals (set everything up Sunday night, take everything down on Tuesday.) It is SO much fun haha. We think they gave us such nice service because they pity us for having to learn Mandarin and for being here for 9 weeks. Yay for not having to clean toilets!
- On Friday we got to go to the student health center again for x-rays! It was me, my companions, Sister Richards, Sister Bernhardt, and three of our Elders. I got to see the US men’s swimming team win some relay event and other little things. So cool!
The Funny/The Weird/The Stupid
- The elders in my district looked up Elder Balmforth’s Chinese surname in the dictionary–he’s bao zhang lao (包) and one of the translations for this character is “bag.” So sometimes we call him “Elder Bag.” Literally anything is funny in the MTC where we’re all cooped up in this fun little place. I guess it’s kind of derogatory but that’s the kind of humor that all the elders in my district adore. And Elder Balmforth seems okay with it haha!
- Apparently the MTC barbers aren’t very good because they gave Elder Doyle the WORST haircut the other day. It was pretty funny, the more you looked at it the worse it seemed. They basically just buzzed the sides of his head and left a little patch at the top.
- The other day me and my companions were in line at the Cafeteria, talking to one of the MTC district presidents (I think–he could have been a branch president or something) who was behind us in line. He was Kyle Collinsworth’s dad. The dumbest part is that he said “3 of my sons played BYU basketball” and I SAW the “Collinsworth” on his nametag but I didn’t put two and two together until long after we sat down. I felt SO stupid! I had made some silly comments during our conversation which made me feel extra ridiculous.
- The word for hymn book in Chinese is “suh ge buns”. (That is NOT the correct pin yin AT ALL but that’s kinda what it sounds like.) They don’t sell any Chinese hymnbooks in the MTC bookstore (possible MTC present, Mom and Dad?) so the few that our zone does have always roam from classroom to classroom. Of course, all the elders in my district picked up on how it sounds like “sugar buns” in a Southern/British accent type of thing so we all laugh whenever someone comes in to our room looking for the suga buns. “No, we don’t have any suga buns. Do you want any suga buns?” It cracks me up.
- We found a thing of bubbles sitting in the corner of our classroom and sometimes we have fun messing around with it. Who knows how it got there but it’s literally the funnest thing around right now.
- I’ve started to call the elders in my district “my elders” or “our elders.” I love them so much haha…in a missionary way. It’s so easy to pick up on because all of the sisters who have been at the MTC longer do it as well. It has the same kind of tone as when you say “Oh they’re idiots…but they’re my idiots.” So the elders may just be elders…but they’re my elders 😉
CHINESE CHARACTER OF THE WEEK
Drumrollllll please! My character of the week is 穌, which is pronounced “su” flatly. It’s the second character in the word for Jesus Christ, or yesu jidu 耶穌基督, all pronounced flatly. I really like this character because the radical on the left means “fish”, which is a huge symbol in Christianity. Also, according to Google Translate (don’t you just love my reliable sources?) “su” by itself means to revive or resurrect. How cool! You can tell that people really tried to find good characters for how to say Jesus Christ’s name in mandarin. That’s one of my favorite parts about this language.
Thanks SO MUCH for all your prayers and well wishes! 7 more weeks to go in spirit(ual) prison (uh…I mean the MTC.)
Love you all,
Sister Anne Watson (孫姐妹)