你好 (Ni Hao) from Provo, Utah!!
Still just chugging along in the MTC...sadly...but I'm still loving it. We have been here a whole extra week but I've been blessed to still be learning lots. Our teachers, Bro. Chia and Sis. Ochoa, still teach us everyday...we have a normal schedule. Also, we are officially the oldest (longest staying missionaries) in the MTC right now. The missionaries that stay for 12 weeks all left last week.
As for our visas, we still have no idea. They travel office is being so kind. They all know us when we walk in. Its kinda funny. They are just going to continue to keep us here, at the MTC, until our visas do come. I will keep you updated as I get more information (hopefully today).
I'm glad to here that you are all doing great. Family, I'm glad your week was busy and that the Community Christmas Party was fun.
This week was pretty great. I learned a lot and had some pretty cool experiences. It gets pretty repetitive at the MTC so I'm sorry if this is like the same email I sent home last week.
Thanks for all the letters and packages. I really appreciate and love getting mail throughout the week! :)
Every day we have been teaching 2-3 investigators. Since our district only has 5 people (2 companionships) there is time everyday to constantly be teaching. Our lessons have been going well. Some lessons are definitely better than other lessons though!! I have learned a lot from teaching investigators. Our less-active is also coming to church now so that has been really nice.
Tuesday: For the opening song in class, we sang Angels We Have Heard on High, but, we sang it popcorn style. I was praying so hard I wouldn't get the Glory part. Luckily, I didn't get it Elder Bates did and then our teacher, Bro. Chia got the second one. It was super funny. In Chinese, Glory is rong2 yao4 (榮耀). This is how we enjoy ourselves at the MTC.
Tuesday night devotional was given by Elder David F. Evans and his wife, Mary. They set up microphones all over and we watched the Christmas Movie, He is The Gift, and had a really good discussion about it. My favorite part of the clip is when they show the scriptures and it says, 'Discover the Gift'. We have the Gift so we need to share it so others can discover it. I challenge you all to reach out, especially this Christmas Season to those who still haven't discovered the gift.
Wednesday& Thursday: Wednesday morning, Sister Allen left for Canada. We got up early to say goodbye to her and to take her to the travel office. Other than that, it was a normal day of classes, and study. Thursday the same.
Friday: Friday was an interesting day. Sister Lindsay got called down to the travel office so we were down there for about a hour in the morning. Her birth date was filled out incorrectly on her visa application so we had to sit and redo the entire thing online. They said it wouldn't have to be sent back to Taiwan--just to San Francisco. They were going to Scan & Fax it over so hopefully she will be able to leave the same time the rest of us do. While we were down there, they told us that today, the agent in charge of getting our visas was meeting with the government. So whatever that means..are visas are close to being complete...hopefully. Friday was full of class, teaching, and learning more language.
Friday night was a really special night. Since we are in the MTC Choir, we got to leave our second block class a little early. Friday night, the MTC Choir was able to surprise all the branch presidencies and their wives. They had the Branch Presidency Christmas Dinner in the gym. The UVU Institute Choir sang during it and the very last song, they had us all enter from the doors all around the gym. We were waiting outside for about 45 minutes so by the time we got in there, we were all ice cubes but, the Spirit that was already present in the room was phenomenal. We sang Silent Night and what we did was all go in between all the different tables spread out around the gym. It was so powerful. The Spirit was so strong. During the 3rd verse, I looked down at a Brother sitting somewhat in front of me and he was wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. Of course, I was already trying to hold in my tears (yup mom, I'm just like you :) ) and so this made me shed a tear or two. After the song was over, we went and found our branch presidency and talked to them for a while. They thanked us all for being apart of the choir and how cool is was to see all the missionaries walk in. Everyone kept it a secret so it was a total surprise and they said it was super cool. I was so glad I was able to be apart of that. Most of our zone stayed to help clean up after. We were able to meet some of the UVU choir members. I talked to one Sister who served in Taipei and also one who served in the Philippines!
Saturday: Saturday, we have all our personal, companion, and language studies at night instead of in the morning and towards the end, an Elder walked in looking for someone. We got started talking to him and he told us he was going to Cambodia. I told him I have a friend that I lived with in China, Sister Lindley, serving in Cambodia right now. He asked where I lived in China and guess what?! He also lived in Shanghai!! He moved there his sophomore year and graduated over there. He also went to Shanghai American School-Pudong!!! We talked so much about school. He asked if I remembered Timothy Young (this is his best friend from high school) and I remembered him! I started listing off some names that I remembered--Heidi Lund, Matteo Gardini, Laura Grenon, Billy Lomason, etc. and He knew most of them...the ones that had stayed in Shanghai!! It was so cool!! He told me about church and how the church rents out a conference room now in a plaza every Sunday. He told me that there are 3 branches now (dad, I'm sure you know all of this) I asked him if he knew a couple of the families I remembered..I didn't remember many and he didn't know most of them but the Buttar's family was in his branch! He and his family just barely moved back to the states before he came on his mission but it was so cool to talk to him and reminiscence about living in Shanghai. It makes me want to go back to bad some day after my mission!! It has changed so much there but it would definitely be cool to go back soon!!
Sunday: Today was quite an amazing day. Since it was Fast Sunday, we had Mission Conference. Brother and Sister Radebaugh (a district president), Pres. & Sis. Roach (MTC presidency), and Pres. & Sis. Nally (MTC president) all spoke to us. It was meeting full of the meaning of Christmas and Our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of my favorite parts was the special musical number sung by and Elder. He sang I Stand All Amazed. It was a beautiful arrangement. The part that stood out to me the most was the first line of the 3rd verse. He sang, "I think of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt," and then He added, "My debt." While being here at the MTC, I have learned so much more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will probably never fully understand the power that the Atonement has but, I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and the example He is in my life. We all use the power of the Atonement differently and apply it to our lives differently. One thing to always remember, if life ever gets to hard or you feel like you are about to just give up, give all your burdens and hardship to the Lord. He has already bled, suffered, and died for us. He knows how we feel everyday. He knows our hopes, dreams, and desires. If we allow Him to enter into our lives, he will be able to help and bless us. I know this to be true!
After mission conference, we had a combined District Meeting with the other district that are waiting for their visas with us in our zone. There are only 4 Elders left in that zone-Elder Liston, Elder Matua, Elder Dorius, and Elder Brinton. During this district meeting, we went around and shared what really stood out to us during Mission Conference. We shared Christmas memories from home as well.
Sacrament Meeting was also really good. I was able to bear my testimony in Chinese today. Even though it wasn't perfect and I was super nervous, I was glad I got the opportunity to bear my simple, Chinese testimony. After Sacrament Meeting, I was able to sit and talk to Pres. Woodfield (my branch president) outside in the hallway of our classroom. He shared some missionary experiences from his mission with me. He served in Berlin, Germany. He is such a neat man. His wife is also amazing. I have been so grateful to have the branch presidency I have. They all mean so much to me and have always been so willing to help. I can't wait to enter the field and have similar experiences like Pres. Woodfield.
For devotional, Sunday night, we were able to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. I really enjoyed the entire thing. I especially enjoyed Elder Eyring's talk about the Light of Christ and how it is an influence that we can recognize by its' effects. I hope you all were able to watch it last night!
We decided to stay, District E and my District to watch Meet the Mormons for the 3rd time. While we were waiting for it to start, I talked with Elder Liston about how much the MTC has changed us and how we are so looking forward to entering the mission field and being able to serve those people in Taiwan. It was kind of funny because he brought up how emotional the MTC has made him become. and I totally agreed with him. We both have never seen each other cry but I told him that if he is crying in one room, I am probably crying in the room next to his. We both laughed and he said, "Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one."
The MTC is such a great place. I am so excited to leave and enter the field but I have learned so much and made some great friendships here. I know that this work Bryan and I and the rest of the missionaries are doing is true. I am so grateful I am able to be one of the Lord's representatives in this time of my life. I hope you all have a great week!! You all mean so much to me! Thanks for all you do! I sure do love you all!!!
Saying good bye to Sister Allen. Yes, we all look ridiculous. Elder Bates looked like a homeless man so I decided to take a pic by him.
The picture of us 5 was taken right after Sister Allen left. We started with 8 in our district...now we are down to 5.
We all decided to "mourn" our visas this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday...mostly as a joke. Thursday even our teachers joined in.
Our temple walk:
Sister Lindsay and I with our branch President, President Woodfield.
Selfie Time w/ Elder Liston, Sister Proffit, Sister Good, and Sister Hendricks.