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?