Monday, November 25, 2013

Companion love, Singing, and Travel Plans!

We unintentionally sort of matched and so we took a picture.

Hello all! This week has been a pretty great week. There were some ups and downs (as always) but I was much happier this week than the one before. And for that I am very grateful! Last night was particularly awesome so I will start there.

Studying a grammar principle with Sister Larsen and Rohlfing
Sister Rohlfing and I auditioned on Thursday to sing "Come Thou Fount" for a special musical number and we were chosen to sing it at Sunday Night Devotional. Our accompanist was a girl learning Japanese upstairs who is really good. This was really exciting that we were chosen but also scary because it is in front of the whole MTC. We both prayed for humility so we could perform our best but also just be a means of inviting the Spirit into the meeting (which is why the church likes musical numbers in the first place!) It ended up going really well! It was fun for us to sing because we both love to sing a whole darn lot and we could also tell we had touched the audience. When the speaker stood up he told us we did really well and then asked us if we could sing it in Chinese. Ha ha. The speaker was Elder Allen who is the Managing Director of the Missionary Department for the church. I had heard him before and he is awesome! I guess when you have been to 16 MTC devotionals you are bound to get a repeat now and then. ;) He taught us how to be better companions. My favorite thing he said was, "You don't have the luxury of choosing your companion. You do have the luxury of loving every companion." I've been so blessed to have SUCH A GREAT companion for my whole MTC stay. So I'm kinda worried about what is in store for me later! I feel like companions don't come any better than Sister Larsen! So it was so good to hear that it is in MY control to enjoy companionships. I made a goal this week to never have a bad companion. I know that is easier said than done but I'm serious. I am going to love every single one whatever that takes. It doesn't matter if they are disobedient, harsh, lazy, or worse, likes bananas. I'm going to love them.

So Elder Allen's talk was really amazing! But then he through me for a loop when he turned to where Sister Rohlfing and I were sitting and said, "Sisters, you sang that so beautifully that I'm going to ask you to sing it again before the closing prayer. But this time, Sister Nally (The MTC President's wife) is going to just accompany you by ear and we will all sing with you. I was so shocked! I'd never seen a speaker do anything like this before! So we went back up and Sister Nally came down and just started making up a beautiful arrangement of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" right on the spot. We started singing and the whole MTC sang with us. It was SO POWERFUL. Many people had tears in their eyes and couldn't even sing. Me being one of them! When we all sang the lines, "Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood." I felt the Spirit so strong because I knew it was true! He DID interpose His precious blood for every single person in the MTC and every single person that has ever lived. And He did it because He loves us more than we can comprehend. And I'm eternally grateful for His sacrifice! And singing about it was a small way I could show Him how grateful I am. So long story short, it was a powerful and sacred experience that I will remember my whole life. 

Afterwards a LOT of people came up to us and gave us hugs, pats, thank yous, high fives, fist bumps, etc. Everyone was so so kind. The reason I tell you this is that one of the people that came up to talk to me was an Elder Martin. And he asked me if I knew any Bements in Colorado and I said yes, I sure did! And I guess He knows Uncle Greg and Aunt Kristie really well and even sang at Greg's funeral. For some reason it is just so nice to meet someone that knows your family. It was really cool to meet him. 

Another wonderful thing that happened this week was my district got our travel plans!!! I don't think I can explain what an exciting thing that is. I seriously had a panic attack. After being in the MTC for 8 weeks it kind of starts feeling like you are never leaving and this is your entire mission so it was so awesome to be able to hole in my hands proof that I DO GET TO GO TO ENGLAND! I leave the MTC on November 3rd at 4:30am. I fly from SLC to the Netherlands and then to Manchester. And I have the honor of being the travel leader of my group which Ah! I'm actually kind of surprised about haw scared I am of traveling alone. It's going to be weird to not have a companion and be alone for so the whole international flight by myself thing just kind of freaks me out. But oh well, I can just pray and pray the whole time! And hopefully I can have some missionary experiences while traveling which would also be nice. :) So no worries!

Travel plans!!! I was SO EXCITED!!!!

The next morning with our travel plans...STILL SO EXCITED!!!! That's sister Burton (Bao Jiemei in the back haha)

Oh! I'm so happy that the Christmas season is here. It feels different as a missionary but I still love it. Maybe even more than usual. We starting singing Christmas hymns two weeks ago actually. The poor elders hate it because they say the season hasn't started yet, but I think you can guess how the decision making process goes when it is 8 sisters against 2 elders. Needless to say, we sing Christmas songs. Poor Elders. But they still love us. :)

Mom sent me a beautiful dress! I wore it on Sunday to sing at the devotional. :)

Well, I love you all so much! Mission life is wonderful! I'm sort of losing my steam here at the MTC so I'm very excited to get into the field and experience all that that means. I know it's going to be hard, REALLY hard, but I'm so excited to dig in and get started. Next week will be my last email from the MTC. Crazy! 

Sister Bement

Sometimes when Sister Larsen and I get really tired we just lean our heads against each other and take like a 30 second nap. We thought this was picture worthy so we tired to take a picture but of course I could NOT stop laughing. So this is what we got.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shawn Casey, STL and Chinese language mishap

This is Bao Jiemei. This girl is funny. And helped me with my ingrown toenail fiasco this week! Those things hurt! But she is an expert and stuffed cotton in it. Thank goodness! 
It has been another great week at the MTC. Lot's of ups and downs as usual. One cool thing that happened was John Kerry's (Secretary of State) special assistant Shawn Casey came to the MTC on Thursday and for some reason they picked our district to get to meet him. He was really nice and surprisingly spiritual. We showed him some of our language learning resources and he was really impressed. He told us all we could come work for him when we get back haha ;) He also gave us some really great advice. He said to always be open to who God puts into our paths and to just open our mouths and talk to as many people as we can. He isn't Mormon btw but he has the OYM (open your mouth) idea down!

Something kind of sad that happened this week is that two people from our zone went home. I'm praying for both of them though and I really wish them peace and happiness! Even if it is an inspired decision, it still makes me rather sad. 

Oh! I also got called as the Zone Sister Trainging Leader yesterday. I have been the STL for less than 24 hours and boy has it taught me a lot. I'm really excited because mostly it just gives me the opportunity to know all the sisters in our zone better. Every night I get to visit them and check in on them. The sisters who just came last Wednesday are especially sweet because they actually need me and have so many questions. It feels good to get to serve!

Me on my Sunday Walk
So a lot of you have been asking how learning Chinese is coming along. I think that I'm probaably about where I'm supposed to be after being in the MTC for 7 weeks. Teaching is getting easier and I learn new things every single day. BUT. I still am not even close to being fluent! And I've had to accept that that is ok, that everything is going to happen in the Lord's timing, and that need+faith=miracles. I've heard a couple different people say that in the England Manchester Mission, the Mission President sometimes gives Chinese speaking sisters English speaking trainers/companions. And that has been stressing me out lately! Because I want to use Chinese and use it a lot! But I've come to the conclusion recently that if that is the Lord's plan for me that I will just pray to be able to find a way to use Chinese at least once a day. But I will find out all about that in just 2 weeks! Yippie! I'm so so excited to get into the field. We will get our specific travel plans sometime this week. Can't wait! We also got our character name tags. I will attach a picture. We aren't allowed to wear them at the MTC so the staff can know our names but I'm so excited to wear it in the field! :)

My new name tag! Woot! I'm so excited to wear it!!!
I thought I would share a funny Chinese experience I had a couple weeks ago. Just to preface, the word for "injure" (physically or emotionally) and "kill" are really similar in Chinese. So Sister Larsen and I were teaching our investigator Xiao Ming about the Atonement. It was going really well and I was really feeling the Spirit! I was trying to explain to him that the Atonement isn't just for our sins, it is also for when things happen in our lives that are completely out of our control. So I said, "Sometimes we hurt others and others will hurt us. God understands this and that is why He gave us the Atonement." But instead I said, "Sometimes we kill others and others kill us. God understands. That's why we have the Atonement!" Needless to say, Xiao Ming was really surprised about this little known Mormon doctrine! ;) He started laughing and then I finally realized what I had said because earlier Sister Larsen and I had been reading the story of Ammon in the Book of Mormon in Chinese and had read the work "kill" a lot. So I started laughing too and then was able to clarify and apologize! The Spirit was still there and actually it felt like a bonding moment with Xiao Ming. 

While this was really funny, and has been brought up by others many times since then (I probably will never live that one down), I learned something really valuable about speaking a new language. I need to never be scared to talk! Because I know that I will say many things wrong, but because this is the Lord's work, He can take my bad Chinese and still allow other people to hear the message. Whether that means making it funny to an investigator or literally an occurrence of the Gift of Tongues, He will make it okay. So I really need to fear about learning Chinese. God called me and the "laborer is worthy of his hire." As long as I'm working hard, everything will happen according to God's plan! 

So apparently the PBS show will be airing the second week of December. We were told our mission president's might let us watch it! I think that would be cool.

Sister Larsen and I "foot popping"
My beautiful companions!
My companion and her twin sister who is leaving tomorrow for California 
Sister Miller. She is leaving for Taiwan tomorrow! Ah! I will miss her.
This is the wonderful Han Jiemei. She is amazing!

1-Sister Larsen and I "foot popping".
2-my beautiful companions!
4-This is Bao Jiemei. This girl is funny. And helped me with my ingrown toenail fiasco this week! Those things hurt! But she is an expert and stuffed cotton in it. Thank goodness! 
5-My companion and her twin sister who is leaving tomorrow for California
6-Me on the Sunday walk
7-This is the wonderful Han Jiemei. She is amazing!

Monday, November 11, 2013

PBS Interview, Music, and Chinese

So before anything else I need to explain something kinda exciting that happened. Last Thursday this man came into our class room and asked to talk to me and another sister, Mong Jiemei (dad, you know her dad), and a different companionship. I was so freaked out because he told me not to bring my companion! He took us into a different room and I was seriously so scared that we were having a companion change or something was wrong with my travel plans. But luckily, no such bad news. He told us that the PBS show Religion and Ethics was coming to the MTC and they want to film a mandarin class and interview some mandarin speaking missionaries. So they were putting together a "pretend" district to show them and that we were asked to be a part of it. On Friday, missionaries from our zone had to go to an hour and a half long training on how to be interviewed publicly for the church. It was pretty stressful at first because some of the questions were really hard. But we all prayed all weekend that we would be calm and be able to represent missionaries and the church the way God wants us to. So today, the PBS people came! It kind of made me laugh because it seriously only took about 5 minutes to film and all weekend I had been practicing answering these really hard questions in my head. I didn't even answer any questions! haha They filmed us all learning a Chinese grammar principle, singing a hymn in mandarin, and asked a few people why they were serving missions. The interviewer's name was Lucky. Can't remember his last name. We don't know when it will air but apparently they will let us know and then I can let you know and you can watch it. :)  It was a really humbling and fun experience. 

This was the fake classroom we set up for the filming. I thought it looked pretty cool with all the flags. There were more flags but I didn't get pictures of all of them for some reason. Grandma would have loved all of them. Taiwan, England, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore were all represented! Chinese speakers are really everywhere. 

Me with the England flag!
The group that was filmed

Something else fun that happened is that Sister Rolphing and I sang together in Sacrament meeting yesterday (She is the girl in this Mormon message. We sang, "A Child's Prayer" from the children's song book. It was really fun and everyone was very complementary afterwards. This week Sister Larsen and I are going to audition for a musical number at the MTC. We are doing "Savior Redeemer of my Soul" and I'm singing and she is playing the piano. It's hard because it has to be memorized and practice time is very sparse! We usually have some time to practice on Sunday afternoons and sometimes during lunch. But singing and music brings me so much joy here that it makes the stress of it SO worth it.

The tripanionship is going better I think. Sister Young is getting more used to the MTC. Her district moved classrooms so they are now in the same building as my district. That makes things SO much easier. I pray everyday for help with patience towards her. I have to keep telling myself, "This is harder for her than it is for me." She is such a sweet and talented girl and God has a great work for her!

This is my name tag
Chinese is coming along slowly but surely. I know that God is blessing all of His missionaries to be able to learn WAY faster than we would have otherwise. It's truly a miracle how much we have learned in the past month. I'm really grateful to be learning Chinese. I honestly love it and will work and pray hard for the Gift of Tongues my whole mission and hopefully even afterwards.

I'm getting more and more excited to go to England! I only have 3 weeks left here! How did that happen? I think I will leave the MTC on the 4th or 5th of December. We will get our official travel plans in a couple weeks. I don't necessarily feel ready to speak mandarin to people for REALS but I do feel ready to do whatever it is God asks me to in the field. Ah, I can't even let myself think about it too long because I still have 3 weeks of of hard work left here at the MTC! I love the MTC and am really happy to be here. :)

Reading all of your lovely emails today! Thank you so much for every single one of them!!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tri-companionship, Answered Prayers and Friends

This week has been really great!...and also really hard. But so goes life on a mission. There have been a lot of changes which is why it was so hard. 

Change number 1! I'm now in a tripanionship. A new Chinese district entered the MTC on Wednesday and there is a solo sister there. She is now companions with Lin Jiemei (Sister Larsen) and I. Her name is Sister Young (or Yang Jiemei) and she is very sweet.


 It is just hard to have to work with 2 companions instead of one. It is hard to have to re-figure everything out in a companionship. Last week before she came, two of my teachers were so complimentary of the companionship unity Sister Larsen and I have. And everyone in our district was always telling us how great our companionship looks and how we seem to get along so well and la dee da dee da. And really, it is true Sister Larsen and I get along so well. We love each other so much! But it took a lot of prayer and hard work to make that happen. Honestly, I'm not usually friends with the personality type of Sister Larsen, and yet I seriously just LOVE HER TO DEATH. It's hard for me to share her. And now I feel like we are starting from square one again with a new companion. There are also different rules with a tripanionship that are sometimes confusing and hard to make work. My patience is SERIOUSLY being tested. Yesterday I had a break down to my Heavenly Father. Pretty much, I KNOW that this experience is going to mold me into the missionary that God wants me to be. And I can see that at the end of this next month of being in a tripanionship that I will have learned A LOT. But keeping that perspective is hard. Today Heavenly Father has helped me a lot already though and I know He never leaves my side. The funny thing is, I did this to myself! Last Monday was one of the best days of the mission yet. It was just a great night because we had our last lesson with Ge Laoshi and it was super spiritual and encouraging etc. I also was able to have a one on one talk with her which was SO nice. She told me that nobody can give me advice about how to the best missionary except for God. So that night I told God that He could mold me into whatever He wanted me to be, that I would do anything He asked and remain cheerful, and to give me the trials that would make me stronger. Two days later, I'm put in a tripanionship. God really does hear our prayers! Anyways, this is definitely a trial right now but I have faith that is is going to turn into a blessing and I will be grateful for it later. 

So last week I mentioned my favorite teacher got moved to a different district. Our new teacher is really wonderful! She was one of the coaches in our district so we all knew her and loved her already. I know that she has something to add to our district that nobody else could and I'm so grateful. Her name is Dai Laoshi and she served her mission in Taiwan. She is AWESOME! So Sister Larsen and my coach got moved to the new district with Ge Laoshi which meant we got a new coach too. SHE IS AWESOME. Her name is Jiang Laoshi. I definitely know that this was an inspired change. She served in Taiwan about 2 years ago and is majoring in Chinese at BYU. She helps Lin Jiemei and I SO much and comes in more often than our other coach could. So I know that is a blessing from Heavenly Father.

Chinese is coming along. It's hard for me to tell sometimes if I'm doing well which is why it's so helpful to get feedback from teachers. I really have faith in my language study plan. I can see God helping me with every word,  grammar principle, and lesson. It's quite amazing how real the gift of tongues is. I really and truly love the Chinese language and am very happy to be learning it. :)

Something I wanted to mention in this week's email is that I've realized I'm experiencing a whole new level of joy here in the MTC. Even though some days are quite a challenge (especially last week!) I'm still always consistently happier than I've ever been. I wake up every morning and go to bed every evening with the same purpose, which is to invite others to come unto Christ! Nothing can beat that! I can't wait to get to England in just one month and start applying everything I've learned (although I am certain that those first few months there are gonna be a big challenge!). Anyways, I just wanted to make it clear how happy I am because the first part of my email might have sounded a little whiny. :)

This is Ruan Jiemei. She is pretty much my best friend here besides my companion. I love her so much! And yes, she is that Mormon message girl (I hear people ask her that at least 5 times a day. It is especially important to the elders for some reason...;) )

 The girls of Disctrict 39C! Love them SO MUCH! It's gonna kill me to leave them next month! Ah! Can't think about it.

     This was Halloween night. I celebrated by allowing myself some candy. Got a blue tongue. For some reason felt the need to document it. Excuse my appearance! It was right after gym and we only had half an hour of studying before bed so I didn't want to shower yet. hehe
  Some sisters on our temple walk yesterday. It snowed a little! So fun!

Sister Larsen and I :)

Some of the elders in our zone. They are very VERY goofy sometimes. But what can you expect they are pretty much all 18. ;)

Tempe Walk!

Most of the sisters in our zone