Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All Chinese all the time (Week 5)

Yes! got the beef jerky - Thanks!!!
Kind of a crazy and rougher week, but definitely learned lots. Our District is now the 'oldest' group of Mandarin speakers.

Some kind of a stomach virus is now spreading  - so yay pretty fun just waiting for the vomiting to start.
About a call to home letting everyone know I got to Taipei safe - I don't know if I can call, they have changed almost every single rule for electronics and communication now, so I won't know until it happens but if I'm allowed I'll be sure to call Dad's phone cause I know he always has it.
We now are starting to teach people in Taiwan by using Skype, which is interesting but I have a few questions:
Do you pray with the people you are teaching via Skype?
How does the Spirit work that way?
Can you really commit someone unto Christ by using the internet?
- Guess we'll find out.
So I'm trying to send pictures but only 3 computers at the MTC actually allow you to do that, so it's a little frustrating.
We've been focused a lot of the time this week discussing the Iron rod and righteousness vs. obedience. I didn't realize that the Iron Rod was right next to the dirty unclean river. So the choice is, you can walk on the side with the river holding the rod, but still be close to the river (obedience), or on the other side as far away as you can (righteousness). good example are Lehi's children. Think about it, Weren't Laman and Lemuel obedient? but still looked what happened. It was Nephi who was righteous that ultimately prevailed.
By the way my knees have bruises, and my pants have fade marks on the knee areas from praying so much - like all the time! - good problem I guess : )
Here's a quote cause Mom keeps sending me some of her favorites:
"Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required" President Thomas S. Monson.

Love,  Ding Zhang Lao

PS do you remember what bike I ordered?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best Kind Of Studying (Week 4)

What kind of companion study? It was the best kind of companion study! the chocolate milk in the photo is from the BYU creamery, and it is like liquid crack.

Oh I’m no longer the district leader as DL’s only serve for 3 weeks now its elder Gonzalez and he is the man! We call him ni fei (Nephi).

Scary thoughts, this Wednesday marks the beginning of week 5 and next Sunday means I’m halfway done at the MTC this scared me into intense language study. My goal is over 40 new words a day.

I get to be an investigator for another companionship which will be fun, but it means that my companionship is now teaching four investigators. Also when we go to the TRC (teaching resource center) all these volunteers come in, and it’s like Monsters Inc. when they’re are on the scare floor and they just go in all these doors.  Some of the investigators are members and some are not, but it’s really fun.

From my last email an English fast, to help clarify, is just a thing that was invented at the MTC and our district likes it - No English all day.

When I'm the companion doing the teaching I probably understand 90% of what the investigators say, and throughout the day about 65% of what I say is Mandarin.

Chinese is STPVO (subject, time, place, verb, object) so it’s "I today at grocery store bought food", not "I bought food at the grocery store". The worst part is my mandarin grammar still isn’t too hot, but now my English grammar is suffering!!! Tried to teach a new concept to the District in English this past week and it was near impossible.

In about a week and a half, my “generation” will be the oldest Mandarin speakers here, so that’s super crazy! It’s also weird to think about the outside world or "the mission field" as the folks from Utah refer to it, as time here doesn’t feel like it is passing. Also as more groups leave, the more I want to go as well.  I’m not completely conversational in the language yet, but if they gave me the choice to leave tomorrow for Taiwan, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

I met a returned Missionary that just came back from my mission less than a month ago, and he actually recognized me! Apparently the mission office has a wall in the mission home with all the incoming missionaries pictures posted - no pressure.

Small request, apparently there is no beef jerky in Taiwan, so if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, maybe you could send me some to get it out of my system now?

We’re all on a very rigid schedule so not a whole lot new happens here but life is still good!

Wo Ai Ni Men!!
Ding Zhang Lao

Oh also my district says thank you for the cookies you sent!

My mail address until August 28th is:

Elder Evan Dickson
2007 N 900 E Unit 84
Provo UT 84602

You can always use http://www.dearelder.com/  select Provo MTC --Free

You send them an email and they print it out and I get it the same day instead of waiting for me to get email time which is only on Mondays.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Called to Serve - Taiwan Taipei


                  My Mission Call letter came when I was attending BYU Hawai'i

Hey everyone! This is my blog for you all to keep up with my adventures while I serve a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Taiwan! Looking forward to hearing from you guys when I'm gone, and I'll miss you all!

My BYU Hawai'i "Family"
So we decided to come to Utah a couple days early, because we have never been here before. It certainly is very different, and very dry. First day we went to the Tabernacle and the took a tour of the conference center, which was really cool!

The next day we went to the Salt Lake City Temple in the morning and then did some shopping for some last minute stuff for my mission. I ended up getting the world's comfiest shoes. Literally the best. We got back and then got a visit from these crazy kids.


(Week 1 and 2) Everything has been great so far!

First day was intense (LiHai), but I'm learning lots. First companion is Elder Sullivan, from Provo. We get along super well, so it has been really fun so far.

On Thursday night I was made district leader. The district itself is outstanding. The people are Elder Gonzalez, Elder Leo, Elder Nelson, Elder Carbine (Who was Elder Blaylock’s roommate at byu), Sister Tracy, Sister Beazer, Sister Nicholas, Sister Thornley, and My companion (TongBan), and I. I normally would hate the job, but they are so great, they make it really easy.

One little request, maybe please less care packages, some of the members in the district do not get as much from home, and its not good for their morale, so if we could just keep it lighter that would help me a lot. Still thank you for the ones you did send!

The teacher gave me a mandarin name. Ding. Like the doorbell sound Ding Dong. Its pretty legit to say. On Friday we started teaching lessons - completely in mandarin, I was surprised how well we could do just after two days of being here. There's usually about 6 hours of language study a day, plus we have to use it as much as possible, so by the time I leave here I'll know so much. already had some language slip ups, when the "investigator" asked when we should pray I said "good morning, good afternoon, and good night" instead of just morning afternoon and night. another one is that when I meant to ask the branch president how he was Sunday morning, instead of saying Jintian (today), I said Mingtian (tomorrow), so I asked how he was tomorrow ha-ha.

I can only use the email on my pdays which are Monday, so sorry if that's not enough, but obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles.

Miss you guys lots. Love you all!

(Week 3) Hey!
Sorry for the email issues! it was extra crazy last week.

We began working in the Teaching Resource Center (TRC) where we get to talk to members who speak the language, and its kinda like when the elders would visit our house - except in Mandarin. Elder Sullivan and I walked in, and turns out the volunteer was from China! Zhong Guo Ren Shuo Zhong Wen Hen Kuai!! (Chinese people speak Chinese very fast!) it was really fun though!

We also had about 20 missionaries leave from our zone/branch which was a little sad, because they were our mentors, but as most of them are going to Taipei, I'll see a lot of them not too long from now. The district is still going great, and I'm still the district leader - it’s not too bad, and the branch president seems to like me.

Most recent language slip up: so in Mandarin, it’s basically all statements - to make something a question you add a "ma" at the end of it, however, I often forget the ma, as my sentences are getting longer, so during TRC I may have told her that "she needs to repent!" instead of asking about repentance.

Other news, this Wednesday marks the beginning of my fourth week here, which is crazy! once that week is over it means two things: 1. I'll only have 23 months left on my mission. but even scarier 2. Only a month until I’m in Taiwan! I definitely do not feel like I know the language well enough - oh and fun fact, I keep studying the language when I’m in Taiwan so not only will I be able to speak Mandarin, but I’ll be able to read and write it as well.

We have this super super super nice, BOM, PoGP, and DC triple combo that’s all in Chinese characters, that I still haven't opened, but one day I'll just pick it up and read it like it’s all no big deal - I just know I will be blessed to make that happen.

In what little spare time I’ve had, I've been thinking more and more about school after my mission - nothing crazy serious, but I still really want to return to BYU Hawaii as of right now, but if its too tricky with my classes that I need, BYU Provo itself wouldn’t kill me for a semester. Provo itself still sucks though - it’s so dry here it’s killing me - I feel like a raisin and I also miss trees, and thunderstorms.

My companion Elder Sullivan is still the man, no other companionships get along in our district like us although the whole district gets along super well.

We tried an English fast as a district - which as it sounds, means no English all day long, only Mandarin - it was super fun. We all loved it so much were doing it at least once a week now but its intense. I love love love the language so much, and the people are the coolest. I wish I could be there now. I love the new friends I have in Asia already and so does God - that’s why he made so many! There is a distinct possibility that when I come back you will all have to de-Asian me, who knows.

It’s just really fun that i understand most of what people say now - like a good 70%. All my prayers are in Mandarin, missionary purpose, and Joseph Smith first vision from memory are all in Mandarin. It’s weird praying in English now like I instinctively start my prayers with "Qin Ai de Tian Fu" (dear heavenly father) and then have to correct myself. That’s happening a lot with just everyday phrases as well. I no longer say thank you, sorry, hello, goodbye, we, us, you, meet, prayer, Holy Ghost, Jesus, Joseph Smith, God, heavenly father, etc. in English. it just comes out in Mandarin out of some kind of instinct - I don’t even think about it!

Must be Yu Yuan de En Ci!!! (gift of tongues). Miss you all lots! Love ya!

Ding Zhang Lao