Monday, June 30, 2014

Mandarin Group at MTC

Week #3

So this week has been another great one. We learn so much everyday here. It's awesome. 

So on Tuesday due to the huge mission president conference going on, we had 6 apostles at our Tuesday night devotional. It was really really cool. You don't really see that many all together at once unless for conference. Anyways there was Elder Oaks, Elder Christopherson, Elder Ballard, Elder Nelson, Elder Anderson, and Elder Bednar. It was quite an awesome experience. I was in the choir and we sung to them "Praise to the man." It was awesome to sing for 6 apostles. Probably a once in a lifetime experience. Elder Christopherson was the speaker. He talked about the worth of souls. It was great. 

Some quick things that I garnered from his talk. "We must pray earnestly for the charity of Jesus Christ with all the energy of heart." I really like this because sometimes we think we can do it on our own. Sometimes we think that if we just work harder and do more that we will get where we want to go and be the person we want to be. But doing it that way might drive you crazy. You need to work hard and then also be able to bring our Savior's grace into the picture. Through his grace and power we can overcome things that we wouldn't be able to otherwise through hard work and harder work. We need him. And that's why we are here. To learn to rely on him when it becomes too much for us to take on, on our own. 

On the mission one thing I have learned is that it is easy to slack. It is easy to just kind of go through the motions. But I learned to think about it in different terms. We are on the Lord's time and so we should be working as hard as we can for him. We need to do everything we can to become a great tool in his hand to work great blessings in others lives. 

One of the hardest things on a mission is always being with your companion. Even though I love my companion and he really is awesome. There are still little things that rub us both the wrong way. It really has helped me understand that you better be sure you like someone before you marry them because you are gonna have to deal with some things that you just don't like. People will always have differences. 

This Sunday was great. I played the piano for the musical number for the departing district to Taiwan. They sang "God Be With You Till' We Meet Again" and I accompanied. It was great. I have been trying to implement my piano more here. I have tried out for a couple things but we will see how it works out. 

On Sunday night my companion was asked to give the opening prayer at the devotional. He was pretty scared because it is broadcast to all the MTC's and he has only been in the church for 9 months so he hasn't really prayed much. He was baptized at age 8 but then he stopped coming to church until about 9 months ago. He read the scriptures prayed about it and got an answer that it was true and so here he is, my companion, Elder Lundahl-Wolford. Great guy. Anyways he gave a great prayer and so me and him got to sit on the stand which was pretty cool. The speaker that night was Stephen Allen. He is the managing director of the missionary department. My favorite thing from his talk was "Everyday we choose to have either a bad, OK, good or great day."
I really believe that is true. Everyday we wake up we can choose to bless someone else's life or hurt someone else. It is all in the mind. Like Dad always says. 

The language is coming along slowly but surely. We are starting our third practice investigator tomorrow. My companion is struggling with the language but he is coming along. He just isn't used to the classroom studying setting. He is used to the farm and the tractor and his horse.

To whoever reads this, I want you to know that I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior and I believe that this gospel has been restored on the earth today. And I know that Jesus Christ's gospel will bless you if you humble yourself and draw closer to God's ever out-stretched hand. I love you all.

-Elder Pierce

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Elders Ping & Lu

Week #2

Hi all! This week has been great! Finally starting to get into the groove here and the Mandarin is starting to come slowly but surely. But much much better than when we started last week. I am so glad to hear how the kids are doing please keep me updated with them and tell them all hi for me and that I love em. 

So on Tuesday, Elder M Russell Ballard came and talked to us in a devotional. It was great. He gave a great talk and one of his statements really hit me. He said that "Public Opinion is not God; God is God." I really like that because so many people think all their different opinions are right when really the only one that matters is God's.

Also last Sunday I forgot to mention that we got to hear a past MTC devotional from Elder Bednar. It was entitled "The Character of Christ." He had many good points but I would love to mention a few. First is that he pointed out that one of the defining points of Christ's character was to turn outward to others when everyone else would turn inward. For example when he healed the guards ear after he had been betrayed, and on the cross telling John to look after his mother. There are many more but I don't have time to go into detail. Elder Bednar also gave me the wonderful idea of reading a paperback Book Of Mormon and studying it with a specific question in mind and marking it up according to that question and then at the end writing a half page summary about what we had learned on the question. Then doing that over and over until you have bookcase full of 300-400 Book of Mormons all answering different questions. I am doing that now to gain a greater testimony about Joseph Smith and his role as the prophet of God that restored Jesus Christ's gospel from the Bible in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Elder Bednar also stressed us to study the basics of the gospel doctrine because that is what is most important and also that is what we will be teaching. It was really an amazing talk. I am not sure if it is online but if it is, it is well worth watching.

We have two teachers for Mandarin: An Lao Shi (Brother Anderson) and Luo Lao Shi (Sister Luo). Both are amazing and I look up to both but especially Brother Anderson. He is one the most Christ-like people I have ever met and really is an amazing guy. And he is only about 23. Really amazing guy. All the teachers here are amazing people. The MTC is a wonderful place and I love it here. The amount of learning both secularly and spiritually is absolutely unbelievable. Mandarin is coming so fast and we try to speak only Mandarin during the day. As little English as possible. It is even a little weird to write this email in English because I haven't been speaking much of it lately. Only in the dining halls a little. 

My companion is awesome. We are both still working out like crazy. He is convinced that he is gonna get huge ASAP. But he is working his tail off. Dad you really got him going from that note you sent me. I think you lit his tail on fire because he has been going pretty hard lately. 

Oh quick funny story. So me and my companion as well as we have bonded have a problem with losing each other. One of us will walk off somewhere without telling the other one where we are going and then all of the sudden neither of us have any idea where the other one is. So our District Leader who is one of our four roommates decided to have us walk around tied up for one whole day. Like ten hours of being tied up even to go to the bathroom. I thought he was joking but he was dead serious and so we did it. It turned out to kind of be fun because it brought us a lot of attention from everyone because everyone thought it was hilarious, so it kind of made up for how embarrassing it was. I have a picture of us tied up. I'll send it to you guys.

Another thing was that this week during personal study my companion decided to do pullups on a tree and then decided what the heck and decided to climb to the top. And that was like 85 feet in the air. I could not believe how high he got. I have a picture of that as well. You can barely see him but he's there alright. 

One connection I have made here relates to the book "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. If any of you haven't read it before, I would highly recommend you do. It is written by an atheist who became Christian and he really does an amazing job at describing the importance of Christianity. One of the points that I loved that he made that I struggled with for a long time was how religion was so complicated and how that it seems like if God really wanted to establish a gospel on the earth how it was be simple because God would like simple things and religion now seems far too complicated. And for a long time I have always had the same doubt in my mind. BUT he makes the really good point that reality is complicated and God created reality. For example if you look at a plain dinner table it may seem simple but really there is so much going on with Gravity and with all the atoms and subatomic particles and so much that science does not yet understand. Is not reality complicated if we think about it? And so if God created a complicated reality for us why then would God's religion or gospel be not complicated if we looked closely. God created both.

Also, yesterday on Sunday we had Janice Kapp Perry who wrote numerous hymns and primary songs in the songbook speak to us for a devotional. She was awesome. And the songs she wrote we all sung and it was great, the spirit was stronger than ever. Yes Mom this place is like EFY but much better. It's awesome. Super glad to hear that Sawyer got into EFY, he will absolutely love it. So much fun. 

One last thing, so this week is all the New Mission presidents week come to and be instructed by the 12 apostles and the prophet before they start their service and the MTC is hosting it and so every single general authority is on the MTC campus right now. It is a cool feeling. There are like lots of security guards around now and many people have seen the prophet and other general authorities around. I haven't been so lucky but the rumor is that the prophet is speaking to us on Tuesday (tomorrow) and for choir we are singing "Praise to the Man" so I think there is a good chance. 

I love you all. 

-Ping Zhang Lao
(Elder Pierce)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lu Zhang Lao & Ping Zhaung Lao


Wow! The first week was really hard and quite up and down to say the least. I haven't quite gotten into the rythm of the MTC yet but I have been working hard. When Mom and Savannah dropped me off they immediately took me to get a bunch of language learning books, like 15 lbs of language books what they call the brick of learning and then stuck me in a classroom with An Lao Shi or Teacher Anderson who is the most amazing teacher ever. He is always so positive but I have never heard him speak english. I know he does though. I spend most of my time in this little classroom studying the language.  It is a strange and difficult language for sure but I am slowly picking it up. The tones are the hardest thing by far for me. I am good with remembering vocab but not with the tones. There are 5 tones and I mix them up a lot. The language sounds kind of like singing almost. It's strange. Anyways so there are like 7 guys in the classroom which is our district. 4 of them are going to the Singapore mission. Those are the only 4 in the entire MTC who are going to Singapore. The other 3 are going to England and one is actually going to Riverside California. Most people who speak Mandarin go to Taiwan. I am in the same building as Jason Gardiner and Kristina Olson. So I've seen them a lot. Also I met this guy named Tim Nixon who actually it was pretty crazy was telling me all about our house and how he played basketball on our bball court. It was pretty crazy. He is Lea Daly's cousin (Sawyer will know who that is) and he is good friends with Derek Ludlow. 

 So I think you want to know about my companion. His name is Elder Lundahl -Wolford or Lu Zhang Lao. He is super hilarious and a hardworking true cowboy. He is a redneck cowboy farmer from Logan Utah who has a huge redneck accent and isn't afraid to say anything to anyone. So we often find ourselves talking to people. We get along great. Probably too great to be honest. We mess around a lot just cause we get along so well. Sometimes we need to focus more. But he is super into working out and so that was huge. He even works out in the morning. He works out in the mornings wakes up and early and at night and during gym time. So he has been pushing me which is good. We have been killing the protein shakes and so Dad we will probably need you to send me some more soon. I don't think we can get it here. Also I got a package from someone, assuming its you guys, but I haven't been able to get it yet since yesterday was sunday but I'll get it today. Oh and I forgot to mention but things haven't changed much from home, me and Lu are always late to everything. We need work on that big time.

So I thought you guys might like to know about how my daily schedule works here. 

6:30 wake up (or at least we try)
7:00 breakfast (the food is pretty good, not as good as MIT though)
7:25-8:25 Gym time ( the gym is good they have weights and stuff although the basketball players are terrible)
9:00-11:30 Classroom Study ( we have already taught two lessons to an investigator in Mandarin, Don't ask how we did it, because I have no idea, they weren't the greatest lessons but I think she got the gist, we have to be very creative since we don't know a lot of Mandarin yet but we know enough)
11:30 lunch
12:15-4:30 more classroom study
4:30 dinner
5:15 Personal Study
6:15 Companionship Study
7:15 Language Study
8:15 Additional Study
9:00 Daily Planning Session 
9:30-10:30 Personal Time ( me and Lu (my companion) always work out we are trying to get huge)

Thats about a regular day. As you can see lots of study study study but there is a lot of fun too. Also Sunday's are a little different. There are lots of church meetings and then we have a devotional from someone legit at night. Yesterday it was Sherry Du who was in the Young Women's presidency is the CEO of Deseret Books and is awesome. It often is one of the apostles so that is super awesome. Also on Sunday we have a Zone sacrament meeting all  in Zhong Wen (Chinese) and they don't give you any notice if you are going to be giving a talk or a prayer that day or anything. They just announce it on the program on the spot and then you have to do it. So you have to prepare a talk each and every single week. So anyways, I get there not thinking they would call on any of the 3 day new elders to do anything but of course Elder Pierce is giving the opening prayer and so I did it all in Chinese without any help. I was pretty proud of myself for only three days but that is how fast learning goes on here. It's unbelievable. But I am still very bad at Chinese don't worry, I have a long way to go. 
Ai (love)

-Ping Zhaung Lao

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1st Day at MTC!!

Hey everyone! 

Wo Shi Ping Zhang lao!!!! 

I am Elder Pierce!

They threw us into the language full on! We don't even speak english at all hardly. It's crazy I have no idea what is going on.

Anyways my companions name is Elder Lundalh-Wolford and he is awesome.

Only have 5 minutes tonight I'll email you later..

Love you all,

-Ping Zhang Lao