Monday, July 27, 2015

我很老

I'm old. I mean that in a couple ways, first of which is the fact that I had an awesome 19th birthdayon Wednesday, complete with 9 letters at once from my wonderful family and surprise chips and salsa from my district! Secondly, I'm old because July 22nd was the arrival day to end all arrival days at the MTC. We got 23 new Elders and Sisters in our branch, which puts us at about 70 now, like 140 Mandarins total for both zones. In addition, we are one of the 4 oldest districts all leaving in 2 weeks! The missionaries we hosted weeks ago hosted these new districts, it feels weird to be a grandparent and an example to them. It's good though to have the added pressure to be obedient and anxiously engaged in a good cause!

Thank you so so so much for the gifts! (And Mom, you're hilarious and super cool :D ) I hung the French flag up in our classroom to join Taiwan and Australia, still need a New Zealandish one... (hint hint to the three Elders emailing their parents right next to me). The language is coming pretty well, it just comes at the cost of all the others :/ I tried speaking French last night to a Sister from France and my mind simply wouldn't come up with the words. I had to resort to English and I felt awful, hopefully that will change in just a few weeks!

By the way, dearest Mother and Father I hope you know that I did mentally acknowledge your anniversary on the day of, and I now wish you both all manner of joy! Hope Trek goes well, I think it's going to be awesome. Dad, have fun in India again! Let me know how it goes and see if you can't run into some Senior Missionaries that just recently left the MTC. New Delhi and Bangalore are both in my mind kind of mysterious mission calls that I never really hear about, but a few days ago during dinner we ran into a senior couple going to Bangalore! I don't remember their names, sorry. 

Fun to hear about all the happenings going on at home, hopefully life settles down just a bit but if it stays busy that's okay! 'Tis the Lord's will. 

I got the Mission Newsletter this week in my email, so now I know for certain that President and Sister Brown made it to France, as did the Frenchies that left a week ago. I've met a few of the new Frenchies, but I fear they don't remember me from social media as well as I remember them so I come across a little stalkerish and annoying, plus I rarely see them because I'm Mandarin-speaking. Hopefully I can find them today and set some things straight.

I don't have much longer, but there are a couple more things: my tongban was just made district leader so we're now in charge of getting the mail, which means we get to pick up the flight plans when they come at the end of this week! Woohoo! Also the normal choir director Brother Eggett came back after his 2 and a half week tour in Canada, and we're singing an awesome arrangement of A Child's Prayer. Those choir practices with him are some of the most spiritual times I have here, it's fantastic. The language is still coming, but I know I could be progressing faster. I need to revise my goals and really work and be perfectly obedient (the focus on that doesn't wane, by the way) and the Lord will help me to bless others. Okay I have to go! Be obedient all the time and the Lord will bless you all the time!

Fare thee well,

Monday, July 20, 2015

He seeks them here, he seeks them there, he seeks those Frenchies everywhere!

That title was mostly to give James and Emily a laugh :) But it does have meaning! The French group (both Paris and Lyon) that came in the same day as me left this morning and their flights left either 6 minutes ago or in about 23 minutes. Les Lyonnais fly to New York (as I had suspected previously, see the letter regarding my mission call dreams), then to Paris, then a short flight to Lyon. Les Parisiens however, they have a direct flight from Salt Lake to the The City of Lights. Lucky ducks. But I do get my flight plans a week from this Friday (knock on wood)!

Life in the MTC is still good and HOLY COW my aunt is awesome. She sent me Perrier sparkling water which almost my whole district hates (more for me) and croissants which were a huge hit and a box of amazing incroyables qímiàode cookies. Pictures will be sent very shortly. We had our last TRC session on Saturday, so later on today we move from teaching real members or investigators in person to skyping people in Taiwan. Good gracious. Fun times though! I think getting a whole new group of Frenchies on Wednesday will be an awesome birthday present so I can feel their excitement as new missionaries and rekindle my own excitement that does wear off a bit after 6 weeks in the MTC. Apparently so does one's health, since our district has been struck with the sniffles and a cough. Not as bad as the next district over though, I first heard their problem described as "the plague." Oh and my district is getting good at volleyball! Like, way better than when we all started playing about a month ago. At least we know we're improving in one area, but most probably we're improving in many.

We got to go the temple again this morning which was awesome, I encourage you all to go to the temple as often as you can! Even just walking around the grounds (which is totally allowed and encouraged for member and non-members alike) is a great way to feel the Spirit and feel the peace the Gospel brings. We've really been working on speaking Chinese more, especially outside of class since we're not improving as well as we could or should be and we leave 3 weeks from today. Not much time left. I've seen so many friends here in the MTC! Elder Madsen who leaves tomorrow, Elder Bateman is out of here next Monday, Sister Gordon who leaves for Brazil in 2 weeks, Vanhin Aldous who is still here for a while, Sister Rosenlund, and a whole host of others who are super awesome. At choir last night I was sitting in front of a group of Anziani (Italian for Elders, they're going to Rome) and try out my very limited Italian. Theirs wasn't a ton better, they've only been here a week and a half, but it's coming along well. I actually sat by a couple of them already last Tuesday so it was fun to see them again. I don't think I mentioned this last week, but just here in the MTC I can see so much that the Lord is hastening His work in Europe! I've seen people heading for Germany, France, England, Belgium/Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, and Portugal (plus others that I'm either forgetting or didn't quite recognize the language on the nametag). It's awesome, I'm so excited to be a part of this great work! And I don't want to take away from the others that I've met going to Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Argentina, El Salvador, Belize, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, plus others and of course these great United States. I've been really falling behind in my letter writing and journal writing, wicked and slothful servant that I am. At least I have today to try to catch up somewhat. I'm not 100% sure what time I started emailing so I should probably err on the side of caution and get off, but I love you all, the Church is true, and I can't wait to get to France and continue this work!

我一点不舒服,



Amazing cookies sent by the awesome Aunt Melissa! Thank you!








Monday, July 13, 2015

哇很棒!

Dear everyone,

I'm ridiculously out of time, so I apologize in advance. But it's been a good week! We have a new investigator (who is yet another of our teachers) and it's been interesting to teach him because he has a Buddhist background, so comparing that with the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is kind of fun. We got to watch President Packer's funeral live, it was really nice and I loved hearing stuff about him that I never knew. We went back and watched Elder Perry's funeral from lds.org yesterday, and hearing about both of their lives made me realize that in addition to studying the ancient apostles and their lives and teachings, I (more importantly) should also be studying the lives and teachings of modern day apostles. They really are inspired and called of God to perform His work. In both funeral services they talked about how these great men loved to teach, and they were good at it! Death isn't the end of their labors, and nor will it be the end of mine when my time comes. There is still so much left to do on the other side and they need all the help they can get, so while we're sad to lose such amazing people here I'm sure those in the Spirit World rejoiced to receive such wonderful missionaries into their midst who could continue to hasten the work just as they did in mortality.

A bunch of people are getting sick here, so last week I had three companions in four days as they all took turns getting sick or getting better (mostly). I sent a new friend from here off to Tonga yesterday, he and I were both excited for him to go and I know he'll be awesome! The rest of the missionaries going to France all got their flight plans on Friday, which makes me jealous but I'll have those myself in less than two weeks! Plus also I'll get to meet the new French group, while the current one leaves two days before that. I guess my birthday is coming up, but all I want is a deeper conviction of Christ and His Atonement, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the reality of Heavenly Father's plan. Slowly but surely, it's coming :) In district meeting yesterday, I taught about the simplicity of the Gospel, which is one of the things I love most about it! I invite you all to read the Book of Mormon for the first/second/third/umpteenth time and pray to know that it's true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Whether you've received that witness before or not, Heavenly Father will grant you those feelings and you will know that it's true. Remember, if you're selfish with and try to hold onto your testimony, it will slip away, but the more you give it out and share your conviction with others the more it will grow and the surer you can be that you'll never lose it. The Church is true and I love you all!

The Lord needs willing servants, so be one!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Roundin da bend, secon time

Sawaadiikrap! Wo de Taiyu bu tai hao, danshi wo de fuyin de Zhongwen danzi bijiao hao duo le! I have a ton of stuff to write about so let us press on! Firstly this week is the halfway point in my MTC experience which is NUTS the time is really starting to fly by. I got here June 10th and I leaveAugust 10th, so July 10th (this Friday) is halfway! Secondly I forgot to mention something super awesome from mission president week, and that is that my tongban and I got to teach Elder Paul Johnson and his wife (of the Seventy) about the Book of Mormon. It was really weird to do it in English but we managed. They said we did really well, I was happy :D On July 1st we hosted again which was cool, with a bunch of people going to Pittsburgh and a bunch to Detroit. One guy has a sister serving in my mission, so I'll have to let her know that I hosted her little brother! Howweevveerr later that day was not so great. It was like 100 degrees that day, so we were all super worn out after hosting and then had to sit through a bunch of class and one guy in our district had symptoms of heat exhaustion so he had to go lie down and drink gatorade all afternoon. The district mood was down that evening, people were getting discouraged and frustrated but we shaped up the next day and it's been nice ever since. Oh and the sunday before that In the middle of sacrament meeting the fire alarm went off so we all went outside (again, super hot) for like 15 minutes and then only had time for the guy who was supposed to give a talk to give a quick testimony and then end. Yesterday MTC President Burgess and his wife came to our sacrament meeting to release our branch president which was sad :( He's been the branch president for about 4 years though, so I guess it's okay. We still have the same counselors, they're both so cool. One is a little jumpy and ridiculously nice, and the other is Mr. Miyagi's Singaporean quintalingual brother. For a couple days we could see the hot air balloons off in the direction of BYU (I guess that's south), that was fun to see since I remember going to the hot air balloon festival way back when! Didn't see the pig-shaped one sadly. We found out President Packer had passed away about 5 1/2 hours after it happened, which was really fast considering how closed off we are. We just happened to get on lds.org during study time and see the announcement. Sad, but nice to know that he's doing a lot better now. A couple days ago a guest (real investigators that come to the MTC to learn about the gospel) was walking out and stopped by me, my tongban, and another tongbantuan who are going to Taizhong to ask us some stuff about the gospel. We ended up having a pretty long discussion and doing our best to answer questions without being overwhelming since there were four missionaries and one investigator, but I think we left a good impression. We even set up a return appointment for the same time and place this week! It was really good for helping me realize where my testimony is and that I really do believe in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It seems counterintuitive, but it's easy to lose sight of that when everyone around you believes the same thing so your faith is never really tested. On the 4th of July which our district called "Ziyoutian" (Freedom Day) we had a cool devotional about how America is the promised land even though this church is an international, everlasting Gospel (not an American church). It also included two stories from missionaries in Ghana which was awesome because it made me realize all over again how much I want to go to Africa and how excited I am to meet Africans in France (and Chinese people and French people and Tahitians and Italians and whoever might wander into the light of the Gospel that my companion and I will be shining wherever we go).

I have a couple requests! Thanks so much for the French flag, but when I opened it up it was all dirty and smelled like fish, so I tossed it in the washing machine (alone, not with my socks or anything) and it made it smell fine, but that stain refuses to come out. I'm not asking for another one, but if that's the conclusion y'all come to then so be it...hint hint. LOVE YOU!! Thank you so so so much Mom and Dad for loving me and helping me grow and preparing me for this adventure! I'm really excited! I hope Courtney's LOVING the Dominican Republic, she's now somewhere I've never even been close to! How cool is that?

Oh and also I need to get Elder and Sister Frogley on my email list before I get to France! They're the PreMTC teachers at BYUH, so you should be able to find them through the BYUH PreMTC facebook page. Also Elder and Sister Russell that are currently there as well, I don't know exactly how to get ahold of them though :/ Sorry.
Last night we had a great devotional by Jenny Oaks Baker and her family! It was fun because I'd already seen her in concert once a number of years ago, and they played a number of songs for us. Her kids are all musically talented as well, including her 8 year old son on classical guitar -_- whatta boss. They did two Kurt Bestor songs, the first was the one she played for President Hinckley's 90th birthday and the second was Prayer of the Children, which two of her daughters sang. Wow it was awesome. Also last night, it being movie night, we watched Legacy in Korean and I can tell you that Joseph Smith's Korean voice really is something. In TRC on Saturday we had a couple really good lessons about receiving answers to your prayers, both our appointments were with members from places like California (quite a few Chinese people there), Taiwan, and Mainland China, no surprises there really. I've run into so many people I know, some from college and some from home like Sister Gordon going to Brazil and Vanhin Aldous headed for Finland! I did get to talk to Sister Aldous just for a minute after they dropped Stephen off but I didn't see him until I think Friday morning. I probably forgot some stuff, it's really a happening place but I love you all and I do have a testimony that the Church is true! Joseph Smith really did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and we really do having living prophets today who guide us under the direction of God. I know that as we study the scriptures, ponder them in our hearts, and pray with faith, or at least trusting that we will gain faith (faith and trust are different), we'll receive an answer every time that it's TRUE! All of it!

Wo ai ni!




Garrett & Julie Aldous (Stephen's mom)

Elder Jensen hosting for arriving missionaries

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pic: Garrett caught in the act serving as MTC host for new missionaries

[editors note: Garrett friend Stephen Aldous entered the MTC this week on his way to Finland, and as Stephen's mom dropped him off she and Garrett saw each other and she grabbed these pictures of Garrett - thanks Sister Aldous!]