Mom, dad, and everyone else,
Wow is it good to hear from you guys. You don't know how awesome it was to see all of your emails, it's been a long couple days - feels like ive been here for weeks already.
Just to get some random stuff out of the way. For some reason I can't find my patriarchal blessing anywhere and would love to have it so if you have the time could you please send it to me? Also, my branch president wants us to have a copy of my certificate of being ordained an elder as well as our priesthood line of authority which I dont have. Thanks!
Oh also please forward this to people as I'm not sure if I will be able to go in depth about everything to everyone in the limited amount of time that I have. We even printed off our emails so that we could have more time typing emails on the computer.
So the food here is just as absolutely wretched as I remember. My stomach is always upset.
So far, the whole working out thing has been a struggle. We wake up and do some dumbbell lifting in the small gym, grab a sack breakfast then the rest of the elders play volleyball in the big gym downstairs while I run a couple miles upstairs and hit some of the weight machines. I'm kinda worried though because theyve been hinting at the fact that they just want to play kickball at the field during our gym time which would be TERRIBLE.
It feels like we literally have no free time. We're always in class, or preparing for an investigator, eating something, or having some other type of meeting. The classes are brutal. The teachers speak only in Chinese and we're forced to learn fast. The tones are impossible - it's definitely frustrating. We've already learned how to pray in chinese, which we do regularly, as well as bear our testimonies in chinese, introduce ourselves etc.
My companion is tang zhang lao, or Elder Thomas. He's pretty cool and frankly I'd much rather have him than a lot of the elders in our district. He's from Tennessee. We get along decently well (we both share the gift of sarcasm) but sometimes he says stuff that I'm just like uhh what did you just say.
THE ROCKETS WON WHAT OMG HOW SO HAPPY JAMES HARDEN DWIGHT HOWARD OMG.
I like my district for the most part, the elders and sisters are great.
My zone leaders are an interesting pair, one is from australia going to taizhong while the other graduated high school 3 months ago and is going to be serving mandarin speaking in australia. They're super nice and have been really helpful.
I saw elder christensen here from the district.
One of the hardest things so far is not being able to say dude/man/bro/etc. Only elder. I catch myself many a day slipping a man or two on accident.
We can't listen to music in our residence halls in the MTC.
This place is a whole different world, the spirit is really strong but it's just different and some things are plain weird.
I also met Kafusi's nephew (byu basketball player).
My branch president is my chemistry teacher that I liked's brother. He and the rest of the branch presidency are super nice but also very strict on "exact obedience."
We have mock investigators here, and we've already taught her two lessons, with a third today, completely in mandarin. It's pretty brutal but we can say some basic stuff and are trying to learn as much as possible.
The temple walk yesterday was awesome - I forgot there was an actual world out there!
This morning we got to go to do an endowment session which was so great, but it also meant we had to wake up thirty minutes early. I'm still learning a lot about the endowment, with a ton left to learn.
I've read a chapter in moermen jing (bom).
Sister smith sent me the most incredible birthday president! A package stuffed with treats and snacks of all kinds, ties, etc. It seriously made my day! I'm going to have to write her a note.
The sleep is rough. In bed by 10 30 up by 6 30. Always tired, not quite to seminary levels yet but im getting there.
By the time we leave we have to have memorized the first vision, d &c 4 and our purpose all in mandarin. To say im overwhelmed is an understatement.
Our sacrament meetings here are a little unusual. Everyone prepares a 3-5 minute talk in mandarin on an assigned topic then the branch president randomly calls on one elder and one sister to give a talk. The rest of the time is filled by the branch presidency. It was great to take the sacrament tho.
I was forced to go to choir yesterday because my companion wanted to go, but it actually turned out to be pretty cool. I never knew I need thee every hour was about jacob/esau etc.
I sent a letter so I hope you guys get it.
I cant believe the cutlers had another baby!
Anyways, it was so good to hear from you guys! I can tell Im going to love P days. Like I said, Im learning a ton but the learning curve is steep and It's hard not to get frustrated at times. Alsop, surprisingly not a lot of time to study the scriptures for your own fulfillment.
Love and miss you!
Ni zhang lao