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