Monday, June 15, 2015


It didn't take long to find someone I recognized. When I drove up to the MTC curb for dropoff, my host standing there was Ammon Luckart from Camp Helaman, it was cool to see him again! Christian Broberg also found me at lunch the other day, we had a nice quick chat.

I am doing great, but it is hard for sure. Getting up at 6:30 isn't too fun, and once the novelty of the first couple days wore off my companion and I both felt kind of overwhelmed by the language. I'm only learning Chinese, but I've been able to run into some guys going to my mission that I talked to on facebook previously. My companion is Elder Fristrup (Feng Zhanglao) from Logan, he had Chinese in high school and we're really similar. We both quote the Best Two Years all the time, we like to sing, and we just bonded really fast. In some ways the MTC isn't what I expected, but I don't really even know what my expectations were so I'm not really sure about what surprised me or what didn't. I've seen a ton of people from BYUH including Elder Peterson (Bi Zhanglao) who was in one of my classes first semester and is now in my district! He's going to Taipei and he's the only one in our district with no prior Chinese experience. It's been tough, but he's a good sport and really working at it, we've had a lot of fun. There are two sisters, one going to Melbourne and one to Brisbane and they actually knew each other at EFY I think last year. One tongbantuan (companionship) is a guy from here in Utah and one from Arkansas both going to Brisbane. Elder Peterson and Elder Clark from Georgia are both going to Taipei, Elders Pedersen, Brown, and Fristrup are all going to Auckland, New Zealand leaving me as the lone man going to France. However, I heard a rumor from Elder Kimble going to Lyon that this week another Mandarin Elder going to Lyon is coming in! I hope it's true, that'd be super fun to meet him. Elder Clark and I, due to our more advanced Chinese, were both given the option to be on "fast track" and get out of here in 6 weeks, but I don't think either of us will. Our district is already like family and Elder Clark has been really valuable as Elder Peterson's tongban (best Chinese + worst Chinese in the district).

Quick favor to ask: Could I get a copy of my priesthood line of authority? I forgot to bring it with me. And tell Mom that our very first day in the MTC my tongban mentioned that a lint roller would be really helpful, so I reached down and guess what I pulled out of my bag? Thanks Mom, you're the best! Wish I could have sent a quick email last week but that wasn't an option, we really jumped into it. Class is all in Chinese and our teacher knows a few people I knew at BYUH, both missionaries and Taiwanese students. He had zero knowledge when he entered the MTC and now his Mandarin is fantastic, so it gives us all a lot of hope.

I promise I've taken pictures with my tongban, my diqu (district), and the MTC but we can't figure out how to upload them. We haven't been able to find wifi that we can access and the missionary-safe computers won't allow anything but this email,, and TALL which is a language learning program so we can't figure out how to get pictures from our cameras onto the computer.

Our whole district went to choir practice last night and it was super fun, there were more people there than the entire MTC had before last wednesday. We more than doubled the MTC population on the 10th and we're not even at half capacity yet. We're supposed to get like 45 more Mandarins in the next couple weeks including the Taizhong group (we've got a bunch of Taipei in our zone right now). For a little overview of our zone/branch, the destinations of all us Mandarin learners are Lyon France, Auckland New Zealand, Melbourne Australia, Brisbane Australia, Arcadia California, Los Angeles California, Richmond Virginia, Washington DC South, Taipei Taiwan, Taizhong Taiwan, Leeds England, Birmingham England, and Hong Kong. I might have missed one or two, but you get the point. Very different from the Malagasy Elders, one of whom I was talking to yesterday and found out he did HEFY in Tonga last year, so we had a bunch of shared experiences in Fiji and Tonga. Super fun to relive that a little bit!

Our third night Feng Zhanglao and I taught our first lesson, it was mostly awful partially due to the language and partially due to a lack of preparation. However, I bore my testimony right in the middle and the Spirit was so strong, I had this huge smile and it was awesome. Our investigator from Taipei might have started to tear up a little bit, I wasn't 100 percent sure. Anyway, the next day we had our second lesson for which we were a lot more prepared. We taught her about Jesus Christ and baptism and then invited her to follow Christ's example and be baptized on July 1st. She ACCEPTED! In the second lesson!! It was super cool and we still have a ton of stuff to teach her, but the MTC missionary guide says that we should always invite someone to be baptized in the first lesson (which we did, albeit rather awkwardly) and invite them again with a specific date in the second lesson (which we did much less awkwardly). Prayer works!

Also last night the choir director (who is hilarious and an amazing singer) told us all about Parley P. Pratt, his life story and why he was such a boss missionary. It's an awesome story, ask a Parley P. Pratt expert about him being locked up when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail and then going Rambo-style for a week after breaking out of prison. Yup. The Sundaynight devotional was given by Brother Heaton, the MTC administrative director, and he talked aaaallllll about prayer. He had cool stories about prayer and miracles and my companion and I just looked at each other and said "I think we know what we're teaching in our next lesson." That lesson is tonight, we still have a lot of preparation to do for it.

One big thing that's been stressed here (in addition to Speak Your Language) is "Fucong chansheng zhufu; wanmei fucong chansheng qiji." That means "Obedience brings blessings; perfect obedience brings miracles." Our branch president told us in district meeting yesterday about an amazing string of miracles during and right after his mission all brought about by perfect obedience, it was really inspiring!

We watched Meet the Mormons last night! It was really fun to see it again and I completely forgot that Dave from Melbourne was in it until we got to the part and I FREAKED OUT because it was the same guy in the same store and I totally had the sit-down with Dave about proper foot hygiene and the testing tie colors with suits and that whole gig. It was so much fun to see it.

To close, I love you all and I know that perfect obedience and going the extra mile will bring more blessings than you could possible imagine. Also, go watch Legacy with the Korean dub. According to the other tongbantuan in our room (Wang and Zong Zhanglao both going to Auckland), the Korean voice of Joseph Smith is super smooth and intense and amazing to listen to.


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