Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week 9 - Last at the MTC!

Ready as I can be!  We are going to use the party stuff today so have no fear! I got all the packages that were sent! Thank you so much! I don’t know why deodorant is impossible to find in Taiwan it’s a first world country...

Hope all is well at the beach for you guys, think of me, a day of travel, and airports, and…we also said good bye to our tutor, so sad today. Tonight we will have our last class with Chen Laoshi, who is most awesome!  There most likely will be lots of crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth : (

I should be able to call tomorrow, but not for too long, so remember don’t ask for life stories.
Our plane leaves at 11:20 Utah time so it will be before then, so just be ready.

Other than that nothing new other than packing.  It doesn’t really feel real that I am leaving, but I think that will change tomorrow. Hope you have a good time at the beach!

Pray for the Taiwanese people - if I’m going there and trying to speak to them, they'll need all the prayers they can get!

Just some miscellaneous pictures of the last week of district, branch president, friends etc.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 8

We are all really excited as we leave on the 27th that’s next Tuesday.  Still haven’t gotten the physical visa or passport in my hands, because us 18 year olds would lose them so fast it wouldn’t be funny. The travel office issues them the day of travel - however I know I did get a visa because they only give you travel plans if you did.

Our flights are from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles then direct to Taiwan with only a 5 hour layover in Los Angeles so it’s not too bad of a trip just a mere 22 hours.

We did get new badges - all Chinese, but we aren’t allowed to wear them yet.  I didn’t have time to take a picture of it, because it’s been really hectic, but you'll see it eventually!

We will have a devotional tomorrow (rumors of General Authority speaking), and I will be hosting new in coming missionaries on Wednesday, and we have an infield orientation all day Thursday so It'll be the weekend before I know it.

I feel ready as I can be, but it will still be challenging when I get there.  One of our teachers said her Mandarin was still not that great by her third transfer. They have a cool system of "phases".  By phase three I learn characters, so I should be able to read and write in Chinese when I get back, as well as speaking near native.

Last Tuesday we had Elder Scott talk to us. Very awesome! It was really similar to one of his talks from April 2007 on prayer if you’re curious here is the link:

Thanks for sending my District the cinnamon rolls which were great, but I gave myself a gnarly cut opening the box - apparently dear elder uses staples and they hide them under the lid opening!!!

We went to the Temple twice this past week and it was awesome both times.  Some new changes have been made and if you haven’t been for a while you should definitely go.

I got to see Elder Blaylock and Elder Larson before they left for their missions, and I've been seeing Sister Francis a lot in the hall ways as well.

As far as things I may need before I go - only 2 items come to mind.   Apparently I was wrong, and it does get cold in Taiwan, so a coat of some kind would be nice and of course it needs to be missionary attire appropriate.  The next thing is that apparently back packs are no longer allowed and they are changing to the shoulder messenger bags because those look more professional.   Although I grew up around D.C. and everyone uses a back pack (including you Dad) but still that’s what they want us to have. Guidelines for those are also on the website for missionaries.

Love you all!

Ding Zhang Lao

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 7

It’s all good here at the MTC, nothing really new to report, our training schedules keep us all very busy, I don’t think we have more than 15 minutes to email even on our P-day and it has been that way for the past 7 weeks.
Thanks for asking if I want anything before we leave for Taiwan but there isn’t anything that I can think of before I leave, I’m sure as soon as I get there I’ll remember something I really want or need.
I’m glad all is well at home, Church, and work.  On a sad note one of our teachers left cause she got an actual job as teacher. I’ve attached pictures of my two teachers (Sister Chen and Sister Weinheimer) and our entire district.
I sent real letters in response to the Blaylock’s and Grammy and Poppy’s letters because I heard Mom’s voice in my head nagging me to do so and I wanted to sleep - so yeah.
So the Mission President asked for a letter about me? - Well just tell him how awesome I am, and don’t send him any home videos, still shudder to think what was on the one the Johnson’s looked at.
BTW, we are not using Skype for our lessons any more, don’t know why.
We got to go to the temple and do a session it was great.
The folks in the picture that always make a peace sign with their fingers do so because Peace is a nice gesture and they all think it’s 1970 in the USA.
Miss you and love you lots!
And thus I close mine epistle. I am Elder Dickson.  (Sorry I’m studying Alma at the moment)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 6

Hi all,

 I found the bike order form in the mission call packet - Thanks for reminding me I had a copy.

Apparently I was the only who got the form in Mandarin.

Everyone is now requesting to have me send a picture of me on my ordered bike as it is likely to not be the right size and I’ll have my knees by my ears!

About my visa I think all is OK but they had us sign something for it.... but the person who helped process it pointed to a line a said sign here, so striving to be the obedient Elder I desire to be, I began to sign at that line, when he then said, no not that line!!! So who knows what will happen now!

We get to be escorts next Wednesday, and the Wednesday after that - so that will be fun remembering how I felt being dropped off and hopefully re-assuring all the greenies.

Today we get to clean the Temple which is why I’m emailing in the morning, and after this week it will be open, so I’ll get to go at least twice more before I will do a session in Mandarin.

You can send pictures in email, as others do it all the time, so I know it works.

It feels weird for sure being the oldest Mandarin speakers here, although we are excited because this Wednesday we get new Taiwan Taibei missionaries in our zone so were pretty excited!

Haven’t seen any General Authorities yet, when they were here for the new mission president conference, they kept that whole building on lockdown.

Thanks for asking (worrying) about my dry cleaning needs.  They have a service here for dry cleaning; I’m trying to stall out until like the week before I leave to get that done so I show-up in Taiwan with all clean suits.

Lessons are a 3 hour series two times a day with two different teachers.  Both our teachers are awesome! First is sister Weinheimer who is incredible! She is from St. George, Utah but we talked to other teachers and missionaries, and apparently she is like a legend in the Taiwan Taichung mission. The other teacher is Sister Chen, from Provo Utah, but her parents are from Taiwan and she just got back less than six months ago from the Taiwan Taibei mission! Most of our lessons end up having her talk about Taiwan, which just makes us all want to go right now! Usually we'll do about an hour of language study, and hour of teaching our investigator (so if three companionships teach, 20 min each) then some gospel oriented lesson, or coaching when the teacher picks a companionship to work with.

Cool thing that happened yesterday. We get a long walk to the Temple every Sunday, and on this one we saw our teacher sister Chen, so we went up to talk to her, and turns out she was showing around some people from China! So we extended our temple walk time by about an hour, and just talked with them - so much fun!  We even got to teach some as well!! We also began Skype-teaching during some of our lesson time. Of course when Elder Sullivan and I tried to do it, the computers were broken - figures - but in the end we were able to Skype Sister Weinhiemer’s past ward mission leader back in Taiwan. Super fun!

Good to know that the MTC will hire me when I get back - I would absolutely love to teach when I’m a RM - It would really be lots of fun. You get to be investigators for one, and I don’t know for sure but it seems like it would be very cool to help others!  I know Mandarin teachers are in demand as both our teachers are leaving because they are graduating.

A lot of routine here, nothing ever really changes except my Spirit - which is the point.  Crazy I’ll be starting week 7 soon, and in about 22 days I leave for Taiwan! Having fun, absolutely exhausted, but I love it! Miss you and love you all lots!

Ding Zhang Lao