This week has been a blend of confusion. I can’t keep track of the time, the days of the week, or where I am! Things get confusing when I’m so busy.
The new district (39B) has four Elders, three Sisters, and another Sister who was fast tracked. All of them are going to Taiwan speaking Mandarin. I haven’t memorized their Chinese names yet, so I’ll save them for later. The Elders are great, they study hard and are always on task. They live in the room next to mine, and are very polite and fun to be around. On of the Sisters is from Sidney, Australia. She grew up with Cantonese, and can understand most of the Mandarin in her class. The other Sisters have taken Chinese classes in high school and college. All four Elders have no experience, but they are eager to learn.
As far as study habits, I wake up at 6:00 a.m. with my tongban (companion). We study until 6:30, and resume through breakfast at 6:40. I will sometimes bring some vocabulary to gym for an hour, a vocabulary book to breakfast, study wenfa (grammar) in my study time, study while eating lunch, study in class, study after class, and study before going to sleep. Studying is so essential to learning and retaining what we learn in class. It sometimes is overwhelming with the amount of work we do, but it feels great to accomplish what we do here.
This week’s “spiritual lesson” for me was listening to the Spirit. The newest Elder in my district (Elder Ostler) shared an interestingly humorous alarming eye-opening story with us this week. He began the story by saying, “whatever the Spirit tells you to do, do it. If the Spirit tells you to punch your investigator, do it”. We all (the district members) couldn’t take the story seriously until he told us what happened to his friend. One of his friends was serving in Russia and teaching a progressing investigator. While he and his companion were teaching the investigator to pray, he had an impression to punch the investigator in the face. He at first thought, “No! I’m not going to do that!”. He became uneasy, but ignored the prompting. While the investigator was praying, the prompting came again. He once again ignored the prompting. As soon as the investigator finished the prayer, his companion punched the investigator in the face. POW! *sound effect* The investigator fell backward into a bookshelf, and the bookshelf fell forward. Behind the bookshelf was a secret door. Inside the secret door was a man tied up. The investigator the missionaries had been teaching was a member of the Russian mafia, and the man had been there for days. This is a modern story of Nephi, following the Spirit even though we don’t understand why we must act. Hopefully I don’t encounter the “Malaysian Mafia”, but I learned that obeying the Spirit immediately and precisely is important.
Another story was shared by Sun Laoshi (Sister Anderson) about her mission. She served in Taiwan, and had just planned out her day with her companion. Although they had spent much time planning their day, they didn’t feel right about what they should do. They had decided to grab lunch at a local restaurant, and Sun Laoshi de tongban (Sister Anderson’s companion) decided to check the recent converts list on her phone. As Sun Laoshi was watching, she had an impression to call one of the recent converts. She did so without hesitation, and was guided by the Spirit as she conversed with the convert. The first she said was, “Uhhhh, what’s wrong”. There was a long silence on the phone. She then said, “Did you pray for us to call you?”. The convert replied, “yes, can you come see me?”. Sun Laoshi later found out that the convert was arguing with her parents because she wanted to serve a mission, but her parents were against the church. She prayed that the missionaries would call her. One minute later, Sun Laoshi had called her. I love this story because it shows that our ways are not the Lord’s ways. We can plan our day, but we can counsel with the Lord to know what He wants us to do.
In one of our teaching appointments, we were given five minutes to teach. Out of the 30-40 teaching appointments we have had, which ranged from 30-50 minutes, this was our best lesson yet. We were teaching Zhong Jieme, who works at a restaurant with her boyfriend. We learned to invite the Spirit, then leave quickly. This contrast between a strong Spirit of peace and comfort, then the normal feeling without the Holy Ghost, helps the investigator feel the power and authority that God gives missionaries. It also creates the desire for the investigator to seek the Spirit. We were able to identify a need, teach according to that need, and challenge the investigator to pray in those five minutes. The Spirit was very strong in that time, and we felt that we had done our job in that discussion. I have learned to love teaching and helping others, even though I still don’t know what I’m saying.
This week, we are hosting the new missionaries again! We were also informed that we will receive a fourth district to our Mandarin Branch! The newest district (3rd) is happy they won’t be the newest missionaries, but they still haven’t hit the day where they can understand Mandarin. I’m excited to be able to help more people! Sacrament meeting will be better with more missionaries. Speaking of which, I helped administer the Sacrament this week! The Sacrament prayer takes about two minutes to read, I’m pretty sure I messed up on the tones somewhat. But President Teng said it was ok, so I’m pretty happy!
Anyway, still having a good time here! We have some Christmas lights set up around campus, so it’s starting to get really cold. We had some snow, but frying our brains with Mandarin Study heats us up really fast!\