nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
Another week down, and we are all so anxious to get to Taiwan!! Haha we are now the longest residing missionaries in our zone, and it is definitely a really good feeling to be on top of the pile now. It's crazy to think about how far we've come; when we got here, the 6-weekers felt like they were so much older than us and were our mentors, and now we are in that position. I definitely don't feel or look old enough to be a mentor so wish me luck haha.
This week went by so fast and was one of the funnest weeks I've had at the MTC. On Sunday, I was called as a zone leader with Elder H, Elder B, and Elder B, all of whom are some of my best friends at the MTC. It is so awesome to have the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and do it with my buddies. Everyone around here kinda looks up to us and it's awesome to be able to provide the example to them of how to be the best missionary you can be while still enjoying every second of it, because it really is true, I love it here and have so much fun. We have the opportunity to do new missionary orientation for our zone tonight, so wish us luck.
As you may know, our zone decided we were gonna celebrate Christmas on August 25th since most of us will not get that big of a celebration in our missions. We have all been receiving gifts of Christmas decorations and gifts from home, and we are starting to decorate the residency. We have a Santa picked out, elves, and reindeer, and Elder C and I even set up a Secret Santa hahaha. This is gonna be one to remember, so there's something to look forward to in my next week's email.
We had a couple of really hard goodbyes we had to say this week. On Monday, we had to say goodbye to our favorite teacher, sūn lǎoshī. He was such an awesome teacher, because instead of just focusing on the Chinese language (which is still very important), he also was able to give us the most powerful, spiritual, teaching lessons on how we can better help our investigators. Through these lessons and my constantly trying to set him up with Elder B's teacher (yes it did actually happen so call me the match maker), we became really good friends. On Monday night, as we were about to say goodbye, he bore us an amazing testimony, in English for the first time, about his mission experience. Right before he was about to go, he tore his ACL. He had to push his mission date back and he was really discouraged about the whole situation. One thing he was blessed with during this trial was growing really close to his family, friends, and the Savior. He said he was so thankful for that experience in his life and how it allowed him to become a more effective missionary. He said that your spiritual conversion is the most important thing; you need it to be able to teach to people's needs and help the Holy Ghost enter their hearts. The Chinese (or whatever your mission language is) will come with hard work and dedication, but never put language study ahead of your personal study as you try to strengthen your conversion. We then sang "God Be With You til We Meet Again" at which point almost everyone was crying. sūn lǎoshī then said the prayer and everyone who wasn't crying yet lost it at that point. We gave our final goodbye hugs and gave him our goodbye presents: a Chinese Dragon poster signed in our character names, candy, and chapstick and mints hahaha. Every time he would leave, I would always say, "nǐ kěyǐ zuò hěn nán de shìqing," which means you can do really hard things, at which point he would say it back to me. Saying that for the last time was actually really sad haha but really happy at the same time. The way you can grow so close to someone through learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly incredible. He gave us all his email and said he expects us to write to him about our experiences. I will never forget the influence he was on my conversion and overall MTC experience.
We also had to say goodbye to some our best friends leaving to the Taibei mission. It was really sad to see them leave because we had all bonded so much, and the fact that they are going to Taibei rather than Taizhong is really sad for us, but hey, we will get to see them in October at this special David Archuleta concert for the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan mission! I am especially grateful for the influences of Elder B, Elder K, Elder C, Elder K, Elder B, Elder C, Elder C, and all the other amazing people in that District. They helped me adjust to the MTC and learn how to better pick up the language. We have this thing in our zone where someone says, "yuànyì ma?" which means are you willing? we respond, "yuànyì!" Then they say "kuàile ma?" which means are you happy? we respond, "kuàile!" As Elder K, who is someone I really look up to, was walking to get on the bus after we had all hugged them goodbye, he turned around and said those things. We all responded, sad that they were leaving, but so excited for them to have the best 2 years. It's little stupid things like that that really show how close we all are. I love all of them.
Tuesday night we had an amazing devotional given by Brother Uceda of the 70. He gave a wonderful talk from the perspective of an investigator. He talked about how every investigator we meet deserves the opportunity to receive peace, joy, and understanding from this gospel. Every investigator deserves our love, help, guidance, support, and encouragement. He said, "Talking is not teaching. Missionaries must act." This is a very powerful statement. We can't just teach without involving the investigator or demonstrating how to pray or do stuff like that. We must engage the investigator. Make the lesson a conversation rather than a lecture. He also told us to consider how we felt when we first got here and compare it to where we are at now. When I took some time to ponder on that invitation, I was amazed by how much progress I have been able to make at the MTC. I am amazed by my daily growth, the inspiration I receive, and how much stronger my testimony has gotten because of this mission opportunity. I love this gospel so much. I am 100% set on giving my all to this missionary opportunity and inviting others to come unto Christ in my broken Chinese. I am beyond stoked to get to Taiwan.
Two thoughts I want to leave. First, we listened to part of a talk by Elder Uchtdorf called, "Always in the Middle." This talk explains that because our lives are eternal, we are always in the middle of them. We always are working towards something, there is no end. This is a really good reminder of how we need to constantly be moving forward and progressing in our lives to try to be the best that we can be as missionaries. If we think of our lives as always in the middle, I know we will make the necessary progress we need to be making.
My second thought comes from the Chinese Translation of Moroni 10:32. In English, this scripture says, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him." In the Chinese translation of the BoM, the word perfect is replaced by the word wánquán which means complete. I love this translation of this passage. When we come unto Christ, we can be complete in him. It is such a blessing to have this knowledge and know that Christ can make up for anything that we lack. I love knowing that he is my Savior and can help me through any trial, any challenge, learning Chinese, etc.
I love you all!! I am now on top of the MTC so if you have anyone coming in let them know who's in charge lol. Hope everyone is doing great!!
Love, Elder Jones
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
Matthew is currently serving a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Blog is for family and friends interested in following his adventures for the next 24 months.