Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Two Weeks at MTC

 Since I knew Carly's "P" day is on Tuesdays, I hurried and sent her an email Monday night.  We corresponded a few times back and forth yesterday; she finally received all of our letters and she was embarrassed to realize she had my email address wrong.  Communication is back on track and here are some of her excerpts:
Tuesday, August 28th - (email that bounced back to her last week)

Well I made it through the first week! The first couple of days were so extremely hard...made me doubt my decision just a little...but the spirit here is so strong I can't even explain it. All of us missionaries are here all working for the same goal. I love it! As for the language, they do NOT waste time. As soon as I arrived after I got my tag and assignments I went to my classroom and it is complete immersion. Our teacher ONLY speaks Mandarin to us, that Is how we "learn". Yeah right...I DON'T KNOW WHAT SHE'S SAYING! I was so make things harder there are 11 of us in our district and only 2 of us (myself included) have not had previous Mandarin instruction. So everyone else is on a much higher level than myself and Elder Bramwell. We just look at each other like...don't look at me I have no clue what's going on. Haha. 

I made it to Sunday without crying though so that's good. Oh how I wish right now I would have been sent English speaking. SO much easier! But I have faith in the Lord and I know I was sent to teach in Mandarin, the language will come. My teacher actually met with me the other day and I told her I was feeling a little discouraged, she said not to worry and that I'm way ahead of what she would expect me to be as a beginner. (She's probably just saying that). I have TWO companions. It's a tri-companionship. From what they say this can either be really great or really difficult.  Sister Ashcraft is from Brigham City, she has taken Mandarin courses for five years and did study abroad in China. Sister Anderson is from Detroit, Michigan and also took a college course in Mandarin. 

On another note, I absolutely ADORE my district! The Elders are so awesome, It's amazing how you can be around 3,000 19 year old boys and most of the majority seems to be pretty mature. It's amazing what studying the gospel can do, of course they have their immature moments, we Sisters just have to roll our eyes. They are all really smart and driven, they will make such good missionaries. And we all are just like a little family, we play volleyball together every day during gym, we're starting to get really good actually. 

So here's a FUN FACT for the day...I found out myself and two other sisters (One just barely left for Australia, and one is in my zone and she leaves in a few weeks) we are the FIRST NON-NATIVE Sisters to serve in the Sydney, Australia Mandarin speaking mission. SO AWESOME! We feel special...Elder Lewis and Elder Young (Jacob) and Sister Stevens are the only ones going to my mission. We're all so excited. Sunday's are one of my favorite days, every Sunday we get to hear from a General Authority! How neat is that? The big joke is to spread a rumor every Sunday that it's going to be President Monson...of course like a newbie I believed it. Sick joke. But we actually heard from the President of Training at the MTC. Really good talk...and then afterwards we all gather to watch a different devotional that has been recorded from previous visits and we watched Elder Bednar's talk to the missionaries. I wish you were able to see amazing. He's a pretty funny guy..who knew. He said in his talk.."why do you act so surprised that I'm a funny guy? It's not exactly the place to pop off in general conference" haha he kills me. 

There is this Elder..I'm not sure his name but I call him Elder Hugs-A-Lot because he LITERALLY hugs everyone he sees (excluding sisters, he gives us high fives) but he is always so happy. Love having him in my zone..keeps me positive. The Elders are starting to catch on to my personality...They call me Sister Sass...hahaha. Love them. Well I don't have much time, I only get a half hour to email. I have to go...I have choir practice. I joined the MTC Choir! We're performing at the devotional tonight. Can't wait. Love you, and miss you all! Wo zhidao Shen shi women de Tianfu, Jesu Jidu shi Shen de erza. Wo ai nimen, wo hui qidao ni. :) Have a great week! Can't wait to get a million letters.

haha Chinese is SO HARD. But I am getting better, I can pray and bear my testimony in Chinese, but i have to read it off my notes when I teach. Well I love you, tell everyone hello. Zaijien!

Tuesday, August 28th - (email - current)

Hi Family!
Mom, yes I did get all of your cards. Not to worry, I also got Kelsey's Dear Elder and I wrote her back as well she should get it soon. Dear Elder is great! I encourage all of you to use it, we get them delivered to us every night so if you just want to send a quick update feel free to, they are sent the same day! Alright so as you know I am in the MTC choir and last Tuesday night at our weekly devotional Elder Nielsen from the Quorum of the Twelve came to speak to us! And I got to be in the choir to sing to him! Super cool. 

We've been teaching an investigator Zhou Wen and It's been super hard because oh ya...I DON'T SPEAK CHINESE! haha but I do what I can, anyways..we were in the lesson and every so often I'll chime in and testify of the truthfulness...etc. And I was listening to my companion speak and I noticed she said the word "Xili" which means I just went for it and piped in and asked if he would like to be baptized..(what I really said was.."You want baptism?") haha It's all I knew how to say! And he said YESSS!! So we committed him to baptism! A couple days later we got a new teacher, guess who it is...Zhou Wen! Those sneaky little MTC tricks...So yeah our investigator is now our new teacher which is great because he knows exactly where we are at in our Chinese. I'm at a level negative 3...haha. I really am getting better each day but it's very frustrating...why can't I just be FLUENT?? We are also spending lots of time learning how to teach in English, I really like that! I could teach all day long in English! We also have another new teacher and he is from Australia! What are the chances, I really like him. His accent kills me every time. 

I can't remember if I mentioned this in my letter but tonight a general authority has requested to meet with just the Chinese speakers....THEY'RE OPENING CHINA! hahaha just kidding I don't know that...but all of us keep spreading the rumor. It's funny we'll be in class and Elders from other districts will come in our class and be like "hey did you guys hear? The prophet is coming to talk to us cause we're going to china..." hahaha. Everyone in the MTC has heard about it...the Korean Elders were like.."Is it true..? Is someone really coming just to talk to the Chinese speakers?"....yeah we're goin to China. Cracks me up. I'm starting to make some friends here, there are lots of funny Elders in my zone...not to mention they think I'm a hoot. Clearly. 

In the pictures I sent you, the short haired sister is Sister Ashcraft and the other is Sister Anderson. The group of Elders are the Elders in my zone. They have different days where they wear special ties like...Ugly Tie Friday...etc. DINKS! Well time is starting to go faster, the days feel like FOREVERRRRR but before you know it it's P day again. I love P days. I told Kelsey to send me lots of pictures, everyone here likes to show each other our families and friends etc. I've also been craving popcorn? Speaking of the sisters on my floor blew up the microwave so we had to evacuate at 6 in the morning, smoke was everywhere! 

Volleyball is still the fun thing to do with my district, we're really good. Well pretty much that's all that has been going on, just studying for a thousand hours a day and then sleeping and eating. Same routine everyday, we refer to our life here at the MTC as Groundhog Day (the movie). But the Spirit is incredible, especially on Sunday's and Tuesday's when we have devotionals. I'm just a MESS, waterworks, I can't keep it together especially when the choir sings. :) I miss you all so much! Remember, Dear Elder is a great tool, but I would also love lots of handwritten letters! Sorry for the email mixup last week, that was my fault. WO AI NI!
Ruan Jiemei

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