Sunday, March 28, 2010

November 24

Dear family and friends,

I am staring at my last week at the MTC. It is rather exciting. I don't know if Taiwan is prepared for what it about to hit it--and by that I mean my district. We are all very excited to leave and to begin our "Taiwan-type" mission.

As this week is Thanksgiving, I decided to write 4 things that I was thankful for that refer specifically to my time at the MTC. I will try to make it interesting but if you aren't in the thankful mood you can come back next week when I try to share something funny again. :)

And now for the gratitude portion:

First of all, I am incredibly grateful for one of the teachers here, Chiu lao shi (Sister Chiu). She is from Taiwan and served in the Taipei mission. She is also a convert and her conversion story is amazing. I like many of the teachers here, but if I am allowed to have favorites (which I give myself the privilege of having) she is definitely that. My favorite, I mean. I like to joke with people that if I were a native Taiwannese I would be just like Sister Chiu. I have asked her if she could come with me to Taiwan and be my trainer, but I guess her time to teach me was here at the MTC. Each time we teach her she tells us how we can improve using Preach My Gospel, and it is real feedback, not just smile more. She really makes me think about what is important to Taiwanese people and why the gospel would matter to THEM. I treasure up all of her words like precious silver. :)

Speaking of Preach My Gospel, I am so incredibly grateful that I am a missionary during the PMG time period. I can't even find words to express the growth in my teaching and missionary character that has come from Preach My Gospel. My faith has been strengthened, my teaching has improved, and my doctrine has been more sound as I have studied that book. I feel so priveleged to be a Preach My Gospel missionary. (As a side note, to those who know what "The District" is, Crystal Meyers from the District spoke to us last night about the forming of the movie. It was an incredible experience to hear how everything went!) I would encourage all of you to study PMG in your family and personal studies (in addition to your regular scripture study, of course!).

Third, I am so grateful to be called to a Chinese speaking mission. I feel that I am becoming part Chinese and that I have a special kinship with Chinese and Taiwanese people. I am especially grateful that I could be in the MTC when the pinyin Book of Mormon came out because I have been trained how to use it effectively. Just think, with PMG and the Chinese Book of Mormon that we can read, what can stop us? :)

And finally, but certainly not least, I am grateful for the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. As I teach and testify every day of this priceless gift to mankind, I have come to know that the Atonement is also for me when I feel inadequate or cannot procure up love for someone that bothers me or when my teaching is less than ideal or when I wonder how I, as a mortal, can ever do the work of the Lord. Truly, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can and does bless us in every aspect of our lives, and I am eternally grateful that I get to share this news with everyone, especially the people in Taiwan.

And of course, I am grateful for all of you. Your letters, missionary stories, and awkward moments uplift and inspire me. And knowing that this coming month I leave for Taiwan, two sisters get married, and Christmas happens makes me grateful for stalwart parents. :)

Love always,

Sister White

November 17

Dear friends and family,

Today I would like to share with you the best thing that has happened in my life, besides of course the saving ordinances such as baptism, temple ordinances, and being called to Taiwan on a mission.


For those of you who do not know what this means, I have never been able to read the Book of Mormon because the only copy the church had was one in Chinese characters--and since there are about 3,000 or so characters, and I can't by any means memorize them all at the MTC, I couldn't read it. Pinyin is the sounds the Chinese makes but written in the English alphabet. We have a Pinyin Preach My Gospel, but the work will move forward so much more incredibly quickly now that we can read along with our investigators, or write talks using scriptures for sacrament meeting (which we do every week and, wouldn't you know it, this week the branch president called on me to give a talk--the first week I could actually use the Book of Mormon!).

Our teachers have been preparing us for this and said if we exercised enough faith and showed the Lord that we really wanted it, we might get a Pinyin (actually a 3-column, with characters, pinyin and English) before we left the MTC, and we have been praying and exercising our faith. Miracles do come through our faith and the timing of the Lord!

So that you all can share in on this bounteous blessing, I will share a verse of scripture with you all. Since this computer doesn't even have italics and definitely doesn't have the Chinese tone marks you will miss out on that, but here is the core:

"Ta bi dao ge chu qu, shoujin ge zhong tonku, zhemo, shiran, yiyingyan ta yao chengdanren min tongku, jibing de yuyan." (Alma 7:11)

Wow! Exciting! I feel like I should declare glad tidings from Cumorah! Imagine a life without being able to read from the Book of Mormon--and then one day after gym you walk into your classroom and there it is, sitting on your desk, in all of its newness and glory!

Needless to say, the Chinese-Mandarin department is quite excited about it. I feel incredibly blessed to be a Chinese speaking missionary at this time--lots of incredible things are happening that are moving the work forward at an incredible pace--and in two weeks I will be in Taiwan! With a Book of Mormon!

In other news, my younger sister got engaged. So in the first 9 weeks of my mission, I missed my brother's baptism and two sisters got engaged. Really, I should go on a mission more often! (Both will get married in December-or Kaitlyn early January.)

And finally, the topic I have been studying to teach in Chinese this week is tithing, so I decided I should share a story with you about how paying tithing has blessed my life. Last year I bought an old car with a lot of problems. I had no money (I never have money!) and my brother fixed the essential things at cost for me. I took it in to be inspected one day so I could get a license and it didn't pass the emissions test the first time around. When I took it back in, with my brother having done what he could, they tested it again and it almost, but not quite, passed. They said they would run the test again since it was so close.

I immediately started praying. I had no money to pay for another inspection, let alone get it fixed, and I told the Lord, "I am a faithful tithe payer. I don't have money to fix this car. Please let it pass inspection."

I am sure that you all know the end of the story. Matilda (my car) passed inspection--and I fully believe the Lord helped it pass because I paid my tithing and had faith that by obeying that commandment He would bless me.

So what about all of you? I would love to hear stories of how tithing has blessed your lives.

I love you all. I love the Book of Mormon. I love this gospel. I love Chinese. And in two weeks, I go to Taiwan. !!!!!

Sister White

November 10

Dear friends and family,

Just so you don't get in a boring routine of reading long letters with the same sort of content, I thought I would switch things up a little. Besides the fact that I have very little email time and writing long emails always takes up way too much time and stresses me out as I watch the clock count down, I have way too many things to say this week--so I won't say any of them. :)

So today is my "top ten" list--ok, not exactly the top, but ten things I have learned from being at the MTC (I only have 3 weeks left and then...TAIWAN!!!). I won't expound, but the more perceptive of you might be able to discern what I really mean. :)

1. If you think "Master, the Tempest is Raging" is a hard song to sing in English, try singing it in Chinese.

2. Missionary work, if done right, produces miracles, even at the MTC.

3. The Spirit comes in direct proportion of how obedient we are and how sincerely we ask for guidance--and the Spirit is absolutely vital to missionary work!

4. 3-some companionships are very, very difficult. (But, for my Scripture Scouts friends, nothing's too hard for the Lord!)

5. Missionaries are called to bless the lives of others-everyone else, not just unbaptized Taiwannese people :)

6. Preach My Gospel is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to missionary work. I lost mine for four days and felt like I had lost part of my heart.

7. Cafeteria food gets really old really quickly. Cereal, though, is my eternal refuge and I have discovered for myself that Life cereal is good at every meal, every day.

8. I hate public bathrooms, especially public shower stations.

9. The gift of tongues is very, very real.

10. While I knew this before, my testimony has only been strengthened that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Jesus Christ! What a marvelous gift and blessing we have all been given! And how blessed that the Lord gives us opportunites to share that gift with others!

And now, just because I have a few more, you get some bonus material:

*When you know half of the population of Provo, you know more than half of the people in the MTC. Almost every week I have known my "investigation" at the "Teaching Appointment." For my Arabic friends, I taught Jameson Fox last week. For my Jerusalem Friends, I taught Tadd a couple of weeks ago. And for my Chinese friends, I have taught you.

*The Lord has given me an incredible love for Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. Every time I see a Chinese person, I practically trip over myself running to talk to them!

*As for "church" experiences, such as meeting/hearing General Authorities, knowing church doctrine, and being familiar with church history, I am very, very blessed--I don't even flinch when we have had several General Authorities as well as Sister Dalton, Sister Dew, and Sister Matsumori (who spoke at RS yesterday--and I sang the musical number!) come during my MTC stay!

*Everyone that speaks Chinese is my instant friend. I have gained a lot of popularity "status" in these last few weeks! I mean, someone has to be cool who knows English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese, right?

*Finally, I have leared and continually learn that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to everything we teach and everything that we ask our investigators to do.

So yeah, I guess that is my top 15 list. And it still took way longer than expected! I hope all is well with all of you, wherever you are in the world. Don't ever feel shy about dropping me a note or an email--only three more weeks before you have to send it to Taiwan!

Sister White

Week 6--halfway done!

Dear family and friends,

First of all, thanks for your letters. I love being reminded that I have a fan club, even if it is only one letter a week :).

Secondly, since I took so long to tell my funny story last week, I won’t have one this week (don’t worry, I am still bruised from the fall last Monday—I got a bruise bigger than my hand on my leg and it is still a beautiful color of purple—I think I only burst about 3 blood vessels…). This is because I have an excellent story to tell about a miracle that happened involving a real investigator from China in a teaching situation. But first I want to tell you about the gift of tongues.

Before I had come to the MTC I had heard about the gift of tongues. Of course I knew that the Spirit assisted the work at the MTC, especially the work of learning another language. And when I was set apart, I was told that I would be able to speak to and understand people even when I first got to Taiwan, which I thought would be miraculous since I am learning Mandarin. Well, it is miraculous, but it is a miracle that every missionary leaving the MTC is expected to have. What I mean by this is that teachers, mission presidents, everyone fully expects missionaries to leave the MTC able to give the first and second lessons in their mission language—and to perform many other tasks as well.

To keep it short, I will tell you what I have learned about the gift of tongues. When you are called as a missionary, as you exercise 100% faith in Jesus Christ, work with 100% of your heart, might, mind and strength (on everything, but especially your language), and are 100% obedient, the Lord will give you the language ability that He needs you to have. Let me tell you what I can do in Chinese: this past Saturday I, along with my companions, taught the first lesson in Mandarin—to native Chinese speakers—and they understood us. This was the second time of speaking in Chinese. Most of the day we speak mostly Chinese (if you ever wonder why the grammar in my letters is weird) and I have held conversations with native Chinese speakers for at least five minutes.

After seven weeks.

Really, it is so incredible that it is humbling—that the Lord would give me the ability to speak MANDARIN and teach the gospel in seven short weeks is incredible. Just as a side note, though, this gift does not come without some (or many) frustrations. The other day one of the elders in my district was teaching me and, instead of saying “You bless me with your spirit,” as he had intended, he said, “You bless me with your body.”

Awkward. But we work hard every day and definitely are seeing miracles as we do the work of the Lord.

And finally for the miracle story. I see miracles often but this one blew me away. Many of you have picked up from my letters that I sometimes get discouraged because I am not teaching real investigators. Call me impatient (but really, does my impatience surprise anyone?) but I am more than excited to leave for Taiwan--in less than a month. Anyway, we teach at the "TA" every Saturday, where volunteers come in and we teach them a lesson--since 2 Saturdays ago, we have been teaching entirely in Chinese. This Saturday we had 3 investigators--one from China, one from Taiwan, and a returned missionary. We rarely have so many people, so the lesson was somewhat awkward, but I felt the Spirit testify to me strongly throughout the lesson of certain truths and experiences shared. The sister from China shared with us that she had gone to General Conference, and we asked her to share her experience with us.

Thus commenced 4 minutes of Chinese--and I understood about 8 words! One of my companions understood about that much as well (and I could tell) so I started praying that I couldn't understand what she was saying and I needed help! The Spirit let me know that what she was saying was true so I could nod and smile (I am always afraid that people will say something like "Oh, so you mean Christ is like Budda?" and I won't understand so I will smile and nod!) and then afterward I testified to her that I felt the Spirit testifying to me that she knew what she was saying was true--that she really had seen a prophet of God. Well, we taught about God as our loving Heavenly Father, how to pray, and told the story of Joseph Smith (by the way, through much study and another miracle, I memorized Joseph Smith's first vision in Chinese and quoted it in the lesson--yeah!) and committed them to pray.

Later that evening, during our planning session, I ran into one of the other teachers in my zone. She asked me if I had taught Jane in the TA, and when I responded in the affirmative, she told me that she was a "real" investigator--that she was from China and went to SUU and we were the first missionaries to have ever taught her!

And I thought she was just coming up with good "investigator" questions but faking it!

So there you go. The Lord answered my prayers to allow me to teach a "real" investigator--the very one who had shared with us her story of General Conference. So I guess I should stop complaining, eh?

And finally the committment--but this time it will be a follow up. How many of you checked out the new and prayed about how it can help your missionary efforts? I would love to hear thoughts/stories about it. You can even send me a blank email with the subject line "I did it" if you don't have time to write a whole email. :)

My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Thank you for your prayers and your emails and letters.

Sister White

Week 5

Dear friends and family,

I am sure you can hardly believe it, but I have only 5 weeks and 1 day left at the MTC! For many of you this may seem like an eternity, but I am more than halfway done. This is exciting stuff. I am practically fluent in Chinese and have decided to start learning Tagolag as well, as my roommates are going to the Phillippines. So the Tagalog word for the day? pinakamakapangyarihan. It means "almighty"--no joke. I always tell them that it sounds like their tongue is on a treadmill when they speak!

(This is Sister Perry--she is teaching me Tagalog)

So the funny story of the week actually happened about 50 minutes ago, so it is still fresh on my mind. I was walking out of the cafeteria (you would think I spend all my time there or something!) with my two companions and two of the elders from my district. Our "P-day hours" start after lunch (we have about 5 hours of P-day) so we were going to get the mail (well, my district leader was going to get the mail. For those of you who wondered, we can open our mail every day here at the MTC but not until 9:30 at night. I have heard that in Taiwan, we get our mail once every three weeks--so you might as well write me in the MTC while you can, right? :). We started walking down the stairs and suddenly I found myself tripping (carrying a whole armful of stuff, I might add!) and falling down the stairs. It was probably one of the most graceful falls you could imagine--I turned sideways and slid down as though I was snowboarding or something, but my left leg was the snowboard. As soon as I reached the bottom I quickly tried to gather all of my stuff that had fallen everywhere, while about 6 elders were standing awkwardly on, trying to help as I grimaced in pain (really, I could hardly walk!). One of them asked, "Is there anything we can do to help you sister?" to which I replied "Just forget that you ever saw that. It was kind of embarrassing!" all the while hiding my face so they wouldn't recognize me if they saw me again and tried to limp away. Don't worry, one of the elders from my district said "not likely"--and I am pretty sure that I will be reminded of this incident often. I already have an excellent bruise about 6 inches in diameter and spreading.

Speaking of health, I will just share a little about myself. Several of you have written me and told me that you have been very, very ill. If it is any comfort, I too have been quite ill--so ill that I finally went to the MTC doctor (for those of you who know how I feel about doctors, this was pretty big). I decided it was time after I went through about 90 cough drops and almost started coughing up blood. Ok, maybe not, but it was pretty bad. The doctor said I had something between bronchitis and pneumonia and gave me some medication to fix the problem. On the up side, however, my eyes have finally healed, I don't have to put steroroids in them anymore, and I can wear contacts. And the other illness is almost gone. Life can't get better than this, can it? :)

I have been thinking long and hard about what to write in my letter home. I never want my letter writing to distract me from my missionary calling, but I take my emails seriously because first of all, I like writing and I like people reading my writing (do any of you actually read these? :) and secondly because my purpose is to bring people unto Christ (see pg. 1 of PMG) and I count all of you who read this as "people." So if my letters don't do something to bring you closer to Christ, well then I obviously need to change something. Sometimes I forget that people actually read these emails and I say things that probably reveal my weaknesses a little too much. But this week I wanted to write about my feelings about the MTC and how they have changed over time.

First of all, let me tell you that I was a little anxious when I learned that I would be in the MTC for 12 weeks--it is 1/6 of my mission, you know. I wondered how it would be to not be in the field for that long--but I was excited for the "spiritual petrie dish" that is the MTC (it is also a germ petrie dish--see illness above).

When I first got to the MTC everything was new and exciting--and in Chinese. It was great. We studied the gospel all day long (and Chinese--actually a lot of Chinese) and we have General Authorities speak at a devotional every Tuesday night, we have firesides on Sundays, and I sleep in a building right next to my classroom. I have dreamed about efficiency like this--the most walking time between buildings is about 4 minutes. I would have done alot of things for this kind of efficiency at BYU! But I am not at BYU--I am a missionary, and for the first several weeks I felt as though I was wasting valuable time sitting in this spiritual "city of Enoch" while the world was wasting in sin. Why was I not preaching the gospel?! I didn't go on a mission to teach missionaries! I could teach members at BYU!

But you all know of these frustrations from former emails. The worst part for me is (and I am ashamed to admit this) often the teachers at the MTC. I am probably going to shame my family name or something, but I thought that MTC teachers at BYU (males, not females) were some of the weirdest people there (if you are reading this, you are obviously not included in my negative stereotype). They seemed so snobbish--that clearly they were more righteous than everyone else because they landed a job at the MTC. And then they always seemed to think that they had a "pat" answer to every question--if it worked for their 19-year old missionaries, it should work for everyone, right?

Well, yesterday a member of the bishopric was interviewing me and said, "The MTC was set up for 19-year old males. You have had a lot of experience. You know alot. You are the exception to the rule. Is this frustrating?" Well, maybe a little. For example, the other day a substitute teacher was interviewing me (they interview every Thursday) and he really didn't know anything about me. He gave me all of this advice (that I did not ask for) in a very arrogant and ignorant manner--and I left feeling very offended. After repenting for my pride, the Lord told me that this experience will bring blessings. When I told Him I didn't think I wanted these blessings, He gently told me, "They are not for you--they are for your investigators."

So there we go. I only have 1.5 minutes left so my family won't get any personal emails--sorry. But my MTC experience is preparing me to bless the lives of my investigators--and their salvation is something I cannot treat lightly.

I love you all. I love your emails and letters. I love you prayers. And I love your missionary efforts. How is reading PMG going?

Sister White

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 4 at the MTC

Dear all,

So the funny story(ies) is first this week. First of all, the other day in the cafeteria I was standing in line to put my tray on the dishwasher conveyer belt (does this setting sound familiar? :). A rather kind elder came up to me and said he would take my tray for me (this happens often--there are a lot of excellent elders out there, too--don't think I only look at their weaknesses!) and I thanked him and turned to leave. Well, since I am so short and most of the elders are so much taller than me, I turned and ran right into the tray of another elder that was standing right behind me. My cheek hit the corner of his tray (my face was conveniently positioned at his tray level :) and almost knocked the tray out of his hands. It was quite embarassing--except I just thought it was funny. Perhaps awkward would be a better word to describe it?

And you actually get two funny stories this week. As many of you might have heard, two of Elder Uchtdorf's grandsons are in my zone. One is going to Taipei and one is going to Taichung, and I have talked to them a few times. (One of them, I can't tell which one because they are twins, once said to me when he found out I know Arabic and Hebrew, "Thant's so cool! I totally want to learn those languages! Picture that in a heavy German accent, a bit like Arnold Schwartzenegger, and you might realize why I thought it was so funny. I guess we're even, because I want to learn German!) Well, it turns out that Elder Scott's grandson is also in my zone (they aren't very public about their family lines). I wanted to confirm the fact with him, so I tried asking him in Chinese. It was one of those awkward moments where both of us were waiting for companions outside of the restroom, and I quickly realized that no better opportunity would present itself. I asked him in Chinese because this elder, out of everyone else, is one that I have rarely spoken with because he only speaks Chinese. I didn't even know he spoke English until just barely. And I felt intimidated and, let's be honest, I thought he was stuck up because his Chinese was so good when all I knew how to say was hello. I don't know why I told you all of this, but let's just say that the whole situation was incredibly awkward. It was kind of like--why do you care who my grandfather is? To make up for it, though, he finally spoke to me in English today (he leaves tomorrow--most of my zone does). I guess the elders finally thought I was interesting enough to bridge the language barrier--or maybe they are just tired of Chinese! :)

And now to the spiritual side. I am quickly running out of time so this might be short. Speaking of Elder Scott, he came and spoke at the devotional at the MTC Tuesday night (we have them every Tuesday). It was an incredible devotional where he talked about our receptiveness to the Spirit. I don't have time to give the highlights--sorry. Maybe next week. But at the end he asked how many of us had never shaken an apostle's hand. When it turned out to be most people (I, clearly, was an exception :), he said that if we wanted to shake his hand, he would stay and shake everyone's. I was touched by the obvious symbol of the Savior that this was--shaking a few thousand missionaries' hands is not an easy task, but he did it out of love. It reminded me of what the Savior did in 3 Nephi 11--He invited all to come unto him, to touch the flesh of his hand(s and feet and side), and to change their lives. I realized that we invite people to do the same thing--to come unto the Savior and repent of their sins, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. It was a powerful devotional.

And now for the informational part--this week it will be a "real" missionary experience. I was in the RC this past week (a place where people can call in when they see church commercials or from pass-along cards, etc) and we take down their information if they want a movie or whatever, and then we testify to them of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have to admit that I don't love this place because I hate telephones. I especially hate calling people. But I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, so as long as people are nice it is not too bad.

So on Friday I was doing inbound calls, waiting for someone to call me, when I felt prompted to do outbound. After putting it off several times, I finally switched to outbound. Several (actually in the 30's) answering machines later, I was getting discouraged. Finally someone picked up and told me that the missionaries never brought his Bible by because "I told them that I was going to die before they could bring it by. But thank you for checking." Before he could hang up, I quickly said, "Well, what do you believe about the resurrection?" He wasn't getting off that easily. Well, it turns out that he believed in reincarnation and didn't believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. I shared several scriptures with him from the Book of Mormon, testified at least 20 times of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and after about 35 minutes he wanted the missionaries to bring him a Book of Mormon. Well, I can now testify with even greater surety that God does work through our patience and our faith--if we can be patient enough to allow miracles in our lives, we will see them!

Missionary work is wonderful. For those who upbraided me about my companionship problems, first know that I forget the people actually read these things so I don't always censor what I say! :) And secondly, I think my weaknesses are helping me understand that I really can't do this without the Savior. None of us can. I testify that He is real and He loves us.

And finally the commitment--will each of you go to the spectacular (it is newly updated) and see how it can help your family missionary work? I know that you will find new ways to prepare for missionary work as you do. Love you all,

Sister White


Dear friends and family,

Finally, the long awaited letter. I am sure you all anted to know what important message I would take the time to write (I much prefer typing).

First, a thought about conference. I loved the Saturday sessions. Perhaps my being a missionary influenced it a bit, but I felt like a main focus was missionary work--and the joy of conversion! I loved what Sister Allred said about member missionary work. May I humbly suggest that writing me (and other missionaries, of course) letters contributes to missionary work? Letters and prayers are powerful motivators and sometimes contain heaven sent inspiration. But what to write about? This was always a puzzle to me, and thus I rarely (if ever) wrote my missionary friends. But I am starting to understand how important correspondence can be. May I suggest a few things: 1. Missionary experiences from your life. 2. Mission stories from your mission. 3. Cute things your children have done. (this is one of my favorites) 4. Ups and downs of life. 5. Normal things--thoughts you have during the day, what is going on at BYU--anything, really. Really, I do love hearing about the everyday things of your lives. I think about and pray for all of you often. And on the subject of prayer--may I say that I was humbled to realize that hundreds of thousands of people have added me to their prayers as a missionary. May I suggest something to add to your prayers? Pray for the people of Taiwan that their hearts will be prepared for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And pray as President Monson asked in conference, that other countries will be prepared for and open up to missionary work--especially China.

And now for the long awaited companionship story. The more discerning of you have realized that I am not quite as compatible whit Sister Pickering as I am with Sister Chen. I think that is an understatement. I was bitter from the moment she was placed in our companionship because her companion never came. Every little thing she did seemed to bug me. For example--she has the bunk bed above me and she tosses and turns violently the first 10-15 minutes after bedtime. Not only does it shake both beds, but also the squeaking of the springs echoes around the whole room. Sometimes I have to leave the room because it is so annoying! She is going to a different mission in Taiwan, and the music that she listens to is not appropriate for my Hymns-only mission (not to mention I really don't like it). She walks incredibly slowly, and worst, she doesn't seem to have the same commitment to missionary rules and an understanding of Preach my Gospel that I expect from any missionary companion of mine.

The first few days were a real struggle. After several hours and days of weeping and many heartfelt prayers, I finally told the Lord, "I can't do this alone. I don't have the capacity to love this sister. I need to love her with the love the Savior had for her when He suffered for our sins in Gethsemane. But I can't do it alone." As many of you predicted, the Lord wanted me to know very early on that I had to turn my heart totally over to Him to be a good missionary--a consecrated missionary--which especially means having a united companionship.

Then three Mondays ago, the week leading up to General Conference, I was sitting in the temple after a session. I was thinking about the scripture in D&C 84:88, picturing angels round about me "protecting" me from my companions and the annoyance they provoked. I am sure many of you feel this was a selfish self-envisions vision. I thought the Lord thought so too, because all of a sudden the vision changed. The "angels" I had been picturing in my head vanished, and my companions were left in their stead. The Lord gently told me, "The angels aren't protecting you from your companions--the angels are your companions!"

My mouth literally dropped open in awe, and shock, and amazement. I quickly opened the Bible Dictionary to the entry on "angels", and sure enough it says in there that sometimes in the Bible people were depicted as "angels". Well, there was my answer. How could I be annoyed by an angel sent from God? The answer was only confirmed when that Saturday, Elder Holland gave his talk on angels--both mortal and immortal. How is it, I ask, that Elder Holland always seems to speak directly to what I have been studying for the last week (or month or year)? Anyway, I am not saying it is easy. I still fight my natural man every day as I try to have a unified companionship so we can teach with the spirit. And some days, lets be honest, I don't even want to try. I am still Breanne--not fully Sister White yet. And I am finally starting to understand how incredibly difficult it would be to have to fight and addiction every hour of every day. But I am fighting and growing and becoming a missionary--a consecrated missionary who can be a tool in the hands of the Master. The Lord doesn't expect perfection overnight, but He does expect progression, right? (I didn't make that up, but I can't remember who said it--someone in one of the MTC devotionals/firesides.

Now I am sure many of you are wondering why I wrote this. You all already knew that I would struggle with my companions, right? Well, I hope that in some small way, this might help one or two of you. After all my purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ--and that includes the people who get my weekly e-mails.

I love you all. I am grateful for your prayers, your thought and letters, and most especially the member missionary work that you do to join in this great work of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Sister White

Week 3

Dear friends and family,

So this past week has been incredible. Conference was absolutely amazing. Someone mentioned that we will always remember this Conference because we were in the MTC for it, and I completely agree. It was a different experience watching Conference as a missionary. But, I only have 30 minutes of email time a week, so I will write my normal email now and then write a letter and send it to my mother and have her type it and send it out to all of you. I have an experience that I want to share but I just can't type that quickly! :)

So the funny experience first. Some days I remember that I am surrounded by 19-year old guys. Many of them have turned into elders and some...not so much. So the other day I was putting my tray away in the cafeteria. For those of you unaware of how the cafeteria at the MTC works, when you have finished your meal you put your tray on a revolving conveyor belt and it takes is back to the "dishroom," where MTC employees have to clean them up, wash the dishes, etc. The missionaries can't see the dishroom, but I used to work there so I am quite aware of the fact that "real people" have to clean up your mess. So I put my tray down and this elder "cleverly" balances an empty box on top of my cups, looking at me as if to say, "isn't that cool?" Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "You didn't want that to go through the dishwasher, did you?" (thinking, "real people" have to clean that up, elder!)
Him: "Umm...yes?"
"Why don't you throw it away?"
" the garbage?!"
"Where is the garbage?"
"Right outside the door"
"Oh! Thanks!"

I walked out of the dishroom line rolling my eyes, and I saw one of the elders from my district standing right outside, laughing. I said, "Did you see that?" and he just kept laughing. He saw that, all right! He thought it was really funny. I thought it was funny, too...but sometimes I just wonder about some of these elders. Good thing I am here to teach them the right way, right? :)

And now for the spiritual, in case I don't have time at the end. So I have been getting so anxious and antsy to get out in the field. I mean, the MTC is great. All I have to do all day is think about the gospel and study the gospel and teach gospel lessons and pray like 15 public prayers a day and go to devotionals and firesides and hear from General Authorities...oh yeah, and learn Chinese. But I have been so frustrated because there are people all around the world that don't know that Jesus Christ is their Savior and Redeemer, and here I am living in a miniature "city of Enoch"! So the other day, I was complaining to the Lord. Really, Lord, are you sure you wanted me to be in the MTC for this long? I didn't come on a mission to teach missionaries the gospel! Basically, I had a similar desire to Alma, who wished he could be an angel to preach the gospel to every nation. And I wouldn't have to waste precious time going to the bathroom or sleeping if I were an angel!

These thoughts are clearly not abnormal for me, but I think the Lord thought I was going a little too much into excess. Right in the midst of this tirade, the Lord told me, "Breanne, I can do my own work. I could do it by myself. I know what I called you for, and I called you to Taiwan--which means I called you to go to the MTC for three months. Deal."

Wow. I guess it was a bit humbling. I realized that I am doing the work of the Lord, but not a work He couldn't do without me. I am just blessed enough to share in His work and in a bit of His glory, in helping others along the pathway to immortality and eternal life.

And finally for the informational part. I still have 7 minutes so I might as well take advantage of them, right? This information, however, will be more about my family. My little sister, Avalon, was in the Children's Choir at General Conference. They kept showing the same little kids, however, so I never got to see a close up of her. I was a bit disappointed, but I think I saw the top of her forehead and hair. My little brother, Bronson, is getting baptized this Saturday. I am excited beyond all reason. It is my first baptism as a missionary! :) I don't think I can take credit for this one. And about my other family--many members of my zone (and my DL) were in the MTC priesthood choir. Didn't they sound wonderful? I wish we could have watched them, (and I wished the sisters could have sung too!!!!) but we did get to hear them at choir practice.

The elders in my district are finally letting their guard down a little. I think we are getting into the rhythms at the MTC and so they break a smile once in a while. We took pictures at the temple yesterday so I will have to send those soon.

And to all of you who have written me emails, I so dearly appreciate them. I appreciate the letters most of all, but the emails are also wonderful. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts and your prayers.

Sister White

Week 2

Dear family and friends,

I have survived another week at the MTC. Pretty hard to believe, I know, but I don't even think I have gained any weight from the cafeteria food (just wait, it will come, right? :). I feel like I have been here for years, or at least months, and I still have such a long, long, long way to go! I feel so jealous of the missionaries who are here for 2.5 to 3 weeks--just think, I would already be more than halfway done with my stay here! And all they do all day is study the gospel, while I am trying to learn yet another language! :)

Speaking of the language, that will be my "informational" topic for the week. Chinese is really, really difficult. I am sure that some of you out there think that I have "special language learning skills," or something, but I think that I do not. Perhaps "special insanity skills," or something, but whatever. Anyway, Chinese is difficult for several reasons, not least of all that I have finally trained my mind to think in Arabic! So things go from English to Arabic (and sometimes Hebrew, German, or other languages) before they finally get to Chinese. I really sound ridiculous when I speak :). The other day I was talking to one of my companions about skiing, and I couldn't think of the word for "slalom." I kept calling it "shalom" skiing (which means hello in Hebrew)! I felt kind of ridiculous--but hey, it is all part of the language game, right?

The second item of business about Chinese is the tones. There are five tones in Mandarin, and while I don't have a hard time hearing them, it takes me twice as long to memorize words because I have to memorize the word and the tones (one tone for every syllable). My Chinese is totally understandable, though (when I get the right word), because I completely overemphasize each tone. It is kind of like Eliza on "My Fair Lady" when she starts speaking proper English. Perhaps I will start a new accent trend in Taiwan! :)

The language will come, though, and I pray daily for the gift of tongues. It is coming slower than I wish but faster than I expected. Yesterday was fast Sunday and I bore my testimony in Chinese. I can also pray in Chinese, ask what time it is, and make hand motions in Chinese. I can make hand motions in almost every language, actually. :) Tomorrow is our first SYL day, which means all we can speak all day in Mandarin. We will see how that goes!

My second item of business will be the spiritual, which in this case will be speaking about my district. I don't know what in the world could have given me this impression, but I always thought that MTC-elders (and often beyond) were quite immature, not gospel-oriented, playing pranks in the residence halls, ignoring the sister missionaries, not-hard-worker types. And, I do meet plenty of those (they are usually going Spanish speaking...) (just kidding Corban--my brother went Spanish speaking!), that is an exactly opposite description of what the elders in my district are actually like. I had no idea that brand new 19-year-old elders could be so diligent in their language study, so core-doctrines-of-the-gospel centered, and so normal-acting to the sisters (namely, myself and my two companions). All of the teachers and plenty of others in the MTC are talking about our district and how amazing (why step around the bush?) we are! I am amazed every day and how excited they are about missionary work. For example, Sunday evenings we have movie night, and 4 movies play each Sunday to choose from. Yesterday the choices were Legacy, The Mountain of the Lord, The Restoration, and "The Desires of Our Hearts," a devotional by Elder Oaks. When the four elders in my district saw the "Desires" film, they said, "An apostle of the Lord! Let's go to that one!" Unreal, right?

I, on the other hand, was in Legacy, the choice of my companion. And I have to admit that I don't think 19-year-old missionaries should watch those kissing scenes--I guess I realized that not all the missionaries are as "mature" about such things as the ones in my district! And my zone (branch) is also quite excellent. They are coming up daily with new ways to keep the rules in ways that I am sure no one else in the MTC does--such as not reading mail until 9:30 at night, and not going back to our rooms during the day, etc. All of the elders in my district are going to Taipei, so I am excited to work with them in the field. Good things are coming to Taipei!

And finally, the funny story for the week. I have called in my contacts and set forth my usual importance (just kidding) and left the MTC campus twice last week. The actual reason--going to the eye doctor and picking up a prescription--is not that exciting, but how many people get to leave the MTC while they are there? In the eye doctor's office, my companion and I were all ready to hand out some pass along cards, but the only person waiting was a man and his 4-year-old son. We did, however, get the son to commit to go on a mission in 15 years. We felt quite successful. And when we went to pick up the prescription, everyone in the whole store (all 4 of them--it was Rite-Aid :) spoke to us about our missions. It is easy to forget while you are in the MTC what being a missionary means to other people, so I was grateful for the opportunity!

For those of you who are concerned, my eyes will be fine. It is something I picked up in Jordan (Israel actually) and I have finally found what the problem is. I got some eye drops to last me 10 days that cost $100 (no joke) but otherwise all is well.

Thank you for your love, support, and especially prayers.

Sister White

Week 1 at the MTC

Dear friends and family,

I have officially survived the first week (well, half-week) at the MTC! No companions have been strangled (yet) and I still want to be here. I consider that a success, right? :)

I have decided that in order to make my emails more interesting, I would make a format. So, in each email you can expect something spiritual, something funny or awkward, and something informative. That is, if something funny or awkward happens to me each week...

First, the funny. My first day at the MTC, while waiting for my flu shot, I told an elder that I was going to "Taipei." He quickly corrected me, telling me that it was "Taibei." I quickly (probably too quickly) responded that since I was in America, American, and speaking American, it was "Taipei." Yes, I really did. And then I said just kidding, as if that would make it better! I guess my pride was helped when I started learning Chinese and quickly found that I was already behind the first day of class, as most of the elders and sisters had studied Chinese before they came!

And now the informative stuff. I am in a threesome companionship, and will be until I leave the MTC. !!! If you thought I would struggle with one companion, how do you think I am doing with two people following me wherever I go?! It is kind of crazy, slightly (or more than slightly) annoying, and definitely trying my patience. But I came on a mission to preach the gospel and not to have fun companions, right? Sister Chen is from Sandy but her parents are Taiwanese and she knows quite a bit of Mandarin. Actually, she is a blessing from heaven because she helps me often (always) with my Mandarin, which is quite difficult, in case you were wondering. She is also very funny and says off-the-wall, unexpected things all the time, which are made even funnier because she is this tall skinny Asian who looks like she should be really quiet. She keeps me laughing. My other companion, Sister Pickering, is also very nice with a lot of good attributes. I am sure I will learn a lot from her too.

This week you get two items of information. This next one is about my district. They are amazing, absolutely and completely. The other day I was walking to my classroom and I saw an elder with his tie around his head. I have to admit, these are the kind of elders that I expected to be in the MTC, but these kinds of elders are definitely not in my district. They are all very serious about the gospel, and especially about Chinese, and speak Chinese everywhere and take every opportunity to learn a new word or ask about the tones in the word. There are four elders and three sisters in my district, and we are really rockin. I guess I never imagined that 19 year old men could be this spiritually prepared for a mission. I guess it is about time my perspective changed, eh? :)

And finally, the spiritual side. I remember the first letter or two from the MTC are always so spiritual, with the missionary trying to communicate in 10 minutes or less how amazing they feel at the MTC. Well, it is impossible, and the letter is usually a bit boring for those who are not experiencing the MTC, so I won't try. I will say, though, that I feel completely different as a missionary, even staring at the same mountains and still being on BYU campus. The other day I went to the missionary field to excercise, and I thought about all the other times I had walked past this field. Each time I had looked at the field and the missionaries and longed to be with them and like them. It was the one spot in all of Provo that I was not allowed to enter. But two days ago, as I was on the field, knowing that it was the only place I was allowed to enter, I felt completely happy! Crazy, I know, but I think it comes with being set apart.

I see miracles happen every day here, and I am excited to keep watching them happening. For those of you who work at the MTC, I look for you all the time. And for those of you who care for me but don't think that I like letters, I do. I have received one so far--a package actually, with cookies!--and Noelle, your letter is in the mail--thanks!. I really appreciate mail, since I can read mail any day and email only one day a week. No pressure or anything! :)

Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your letters.

Love always,

Sister White

An Introduction

Since before my "real" mission I went on an Arabic "mission," I thought it would only be appropriate to have a blog about my real, full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I served in the Taiwan, Taipei mission, speaking Mandarin Chinese. And it was an incredible experience. So on my blog I will include the emails that I wrote home weekly as well as pictures and some personal thoughts. Enjoy.