Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I have a bunch of funny things to say and then I will end with a spiritual thought.
So we had a skype lesson this week and have another one later tonight but it is with a member in Taiwan and I thought I was good at Mandarin but no. I couldn't understand anything that he was saying hardly. It was pretty bad. The real world Mandarin is a lot faster than the MTC mandarin. That's for sure.
Yesterday, I got assigned district leader which should be interesting. I get to hold the position for the rest of the time we are at the MTC.
Oh there was this buddy of mine who forgot his tennis shoes and so he made his own out of duct tape and wears them to play basketball with us. They look exactly like Sawyer's football cleats with the nike sign and everything. I thought it was hilarious but he wears them relentlessly every day. The traction is so bad though it's ridiculous. I have a picture of them I will send. I really want sawyer to see them.
The MTC is getting kind of old to be honest. Like I am super excited to get out into the field. But on the other hand I know that my Mandarin is really not at all ready to go out into the new world. We don't hardly speak any English the entire day. At first it was hard not to speak any english but now it is getting easier.
So on Wednesday we got to host again and I got to host Austin. I kind of worked the hosting system to be able to do it but I was able to. It is our third week hosting so we kind of had the system down pact. I was also able to sit with him at last night's devotional and afterward was able to play our duets with him in a side chapel. Super awesome to see him.
Funny story about our investigator. So Elder Lundahl-Wolford and I are late to everything which is something that we are working on. Anyways when we went to teach our investigator who is our teacher (10 minutes late) she kicked us out. First rejection ever. Many more to come.
Our teacher got sick this week with a bad sore throat and cold and then every person in our district got sick including me. All sore throats. I gave two of the elders some of Mom's echinea (natural herb) and they said it was the worst thing they had ever tasted. I thought it was hilarious. But they did get better. We are all good now.
So there are a lot of funny language things that happen at the MTC and there were a couple this week. As me and my companion were leaving a particular lesson we were walking away and he yelled Xienzhi which is prophet instead of zaigian which is goodbye. Our investigator who is also our teacher thought it was hilarious. It was.
Another one is we were in class this week and one of our elders was talking about how much he liked the MTC teachers life. And instead of saying Wo xihuan ni de shenghuo, he said Wo xihaun ni de shenti. Instead of saying I like your lifestyle, He said I like your body. Our district just about died laughing.
Also in the cafeteria this week I couldn't find my companion and so I decided to give it a Heeeeeeeh. He does this all the time and when I did everyone looked at me like I was crazy but of course my companion right away found me. The Heeeeeh is really hard to explain without showing you in person but maybe you can imagine a southern farmer Heeeeeeeh.
So instead of getting sisters phone numbers here you get their LDS emails. My companion is to say the least quite good at this.
So I wanted to share one spiritual thing that I learned this week. I finished reading the Book of Mormon last week but I didn't really get my answer until this week. It was when I turned myself towards others that I received my answer. We started teaching our first gold tag (the other two bailed) in English. SO great to teach in English by the way. Anyways she asked a really good question that sent me on a hunt.
She asked well how do I know which church is true if my father felt the spirit in the Buddhist temple? Yet I feel the spirit in lots of different churches? And why do all these churches have such faithful members that know that their church is true? Like they can't all be right?
Well they kind of all are right and wrong. They all have such faithful members because they feel the spirit telling them that a specific part of their religion is true and it is. If we read Moroni 10: 5 it says that by the power of the holy ghost ye may know the truth of all things. The spirit has no choice but to testify of truth. And many many churches have truth. And many many churches do good in this world. And the same goes for our church. The spirit testifies of the truthfulness of this church as it does other churches. So what makes it different? Well, the claims it makes does.
Joseph Smith claims to have seen God the father and the son. He claims to have had many many more visions. He claims to have written the Book of Mormon. He claims to have restored Christ's original church by command from him. If we read Moroni 7 we know that all good things come from God. Also it tells us that only good fruit can come from good roots. Therefore if we look at the Mormon church the fruit is good. But other churches also have good fruit. The difference is the roots are different. No other church claims to have visions like Joseph and his prodecessors did. The fruit is wonderful and thus the roots also cannot be evil but must be good. There is no way that from one of the biggest lies of mankind has a emerged a church that has changed so many millions of lives and brought forth such great fruit. This goes against the principle.
If you want more evidence of this true. Read the Book of Mormon. And pray about it sincerely. This takes humility.
This same principle of the good fruit and good roots can be applied to Jesus Christ. He claimed to be the son of God. He worked mighty miracles. He raised the dead and healed the sick. Either he was the Son of God or something much much worse. There is no way that it could of been a lie. The biggest lie of all mankind. Look at his fruit. Look at how many people he helped and his words continue to help. No man could of claimed he was the Son of God and yet down so much good and many miracles and been one of the worst liars/hypocrites of all time. This again goes against the principle.
I hope some of that made some sense.
I love you all.
-Ping Zhang Lao
"If you haven't chosen the Kingdom of God, it won't matter what you have chosen." - C.S. Lewis
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
This week has been great as usual!
Dad sent me a quote that I loved that exemplifies the missionary mindset:
"No one could tell me where my soul might be, I searched for God, but he eluded me, I sought my brother out and found all three." -Ernest H. Crosby
I love that because as you seek to help others as contrary as it seems you find yourself.
Me and my companion were up to 4 investigators this week. We teach up to 4 lessons a day. And then two of them didn't show up at the times we scheduled so we are back to two. Even though they are all members it is still kind of heartbreaking to lose an investigator around here. They make it seem like the real world pretty well.
We even got kicked out by one of our investigators this week because we were 7 minutes late. She told us to "Take a hike!"-- as my companion would say. He says a lot of funny things like "Have a good nnnnnnn" and "Cooooooooooooool", "Giiiiiiiiiit", "Gooooooo nnnnnnnnn", "I dunnnnn told yeeeeh." Then he'll grab his belt buckle and dance around like he's on a bull. He really is the true cowboy if I have ever seen one.
We have a lot of fun together because the more he talks like that the more I like to mess with him and talk like I'm from the hood. He always thinks this is weird which I find the hilarious. And then we realize that we are missionaries and need to act like it.
P-days are always the most rushed days. There just isn't enough time in the day to get things done.
Oh and I forgot to mention that last week I blessed the Sacrament in Mandarin. That was actually really hard because not only do you have to pronounce everything right, you have to yell it because there is no microphone and also if you don't get every single tone right then you have to do it again. Somehow I got them all mostly right so I didn't have to do it again. No idea how I did that.
That is one of the hardest things about Mandarin is the tones. There are 5 of them and listening to native speakers I swear I am tone deaf. For example, the word "ma" means 5 different things depending on the tone. It's kind of like singing which as some of you know is not one of the strengths to say the least. But it is coming along. Lucky for me I am not speaking Cantonese which has 9 tones even though only 6 are useful.
Another weird thing about Chinese is that they don't teach you how to read or write. Basically it's too hard so they made up a fake letter system to take the place of characters and we read with that but no other Chinese speaker would have any idea what it means. They have told us not to worry about characters until we get out into the mission field.
Oh! So this week I finished the Book of Mormon! I read it cover to cover of a paperback. I wrote a question I had in the front and then marked it up and then at the end went back and wrote down what I learned about my question. It really is a great experience. Everyone should try this with a question that they have. I started when I got here. The Book of Mormon really truly is God's word and I would urge with all of my heart that anyone who is reading this should read the book and decide for themselves through asking God through prayer if the book is true. No 25 year old man could have written it. I witness that.
Also, I don't think I mentioned this but two weeks ago in the temple I got to do sealings which was an awesome new experience.
I would to say one more thing this week that has really hit me. Everything that we give to Lord, time, money, effort, our skills, and talents. It is all just giving back to the Lord what we already have. The only thing that we can truly give to the Lord is our will. That is the only thing that we have to give that he does not have. I encourage you all as I do to align your will with the Father so that you can give him the one true gift back that we can truly give. This is ourselves.
I love you all. Wo ai nimen. Wo zai MTC shi hen kuaile.
-Elder Pierce (Ping Zhang Lao)
P.S. 6 weeks down and 3 weeks to go in here. It's flying by.
P.S.S. We got are all-Mandarin tags this week. I'll try and send a picture. I apologize with struggling with amount of pictures I am sending. I will try and do better.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Wow 5 weeks already. The weeks fly by here. It feels like I was just back in Boston at school. The time flies because I am enjoying the time and learning so much so quickly. There is never a minute break here. Every minute is booked and planned. It's a lot but I like it. Like you all know, I am a fan of the grind. Besides if you aren't trying to go somewhere in life then what are you doing with your time.
Nothing physically spectacular has happened this week like last week did when I performed or anything but I learned a lot.
Me and my companion have struggled a lot with teaching over the past few weeks. It wasn't that we weren't teaching the doctrine well, but it was the fact that we weren't teaching the people. When you don't understand what your investigator is saying you tend to not worry about their needs. But that was our problem. Everytime we taught we wouldn't listen to what the investigator would say. Thus, the spirit was never present. But now, part in fact because we understand the language better and part in fact because we are trying to actually listen to the people we teach the lessons are going much much better. And by that I mean that the spirit is present and the investigators are actually making progress, growing spiritually and keeping their commitments. We had barely had any progress with our investigators before. Listening as a teacher is so important and we learned that lesson the hard way.
Also on Wednesday we were hosts for the new missionaries and so I got to see all the crying parents as they left their kids for two years. Some parents wouldn't let their kids go for like 7 minutes while balling the entire time while other parents would give their kid one hug and would be gone in less than 30 seconds without a tear. It was sweet but honestly pretty interesting.
On Tuesday, Elder Anderson, one of the Twelve apostles came and spoke to us. It is awesome to get to hear from all these general authorities while here. One of my favorite quotes from his talk was a quote he quoted from Joseph Smith which said: "Write things down that seem possibly from God. Then go back a few days later and you will know if it is from God or it just happened." I really like this because if we receive inspiration and don't know if it is from God or not we can just write it down and then come back later and if we still don't know then we can ask God like it says in D&C 50:31.
Another thing that Elder Anderson said in his talk on the Holy Spirit was that "We as missionaries and members are emissaries of things not seen." We really are because we testify of things that are felt. Jesus Christ who will come again some day and Joseph Smith who has passed from this earth.
One thing that we are trying to apply to our teaching and praying is as Elder Anderson said "I'm not afraid of silence." It is often in the quietest moments in life that we are taught truths and inspired through the Spirit. So in our lessons and our prayers me and my companion have been working on letting there be moments of silence when it feels right. It has really made a difference in the lessons.
This Sunday the director of operations here at the MTC spoke. He spoke about charity. I have never really thought about Charity. But I love Moroni 7:48 which tells us that we cannot have the trait without praying for it. We can't have charity just by working at it really hard. This is something that I have always thought if I worked hard enough then I could get anything. But obviously this is wrong although hard work is neccessary.
This quote applies directly to that thought: The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who change their environment. The world would shape human behavior but Christ can shape human nature." -President Benson
Another thing from his comments. Instead of the common question of "What would Jesus Do?" maybe we can ask ourselves.."What would Jesus feel?" This is getting down to our human nature instead of our human behavior.
Last but not least I want to leave you with ten points on the Spirit that Elder Anderson talked about. I don't have time to go into what he said about each but I will let you guys ponder over them and try to apply them as you listen from the promptings of the Holy Ghost in your lives.
1. Both Intellect and Emotion
2. Heart must be believing, anticipating.
3. Direction without explanation with specific words in mind.
4. Helps connect doctrine to personal life.
5. Strengthens as our desires are educated.
6. Extends power of conscience.
7. Is confirmed by priesthood leadership.
8. Cannot be forced: must await in patience.
9. Comes at times "line upon line" leaving some answers until later.
10. Often comes as you speak or write.
Wo ai nimen.
-Ping Zhang Lao
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Wow this week has been amazing. I really love being here. It's not all butter and gravy here but I cannot say enough how much I love this place.
So on Tuesday our devotional was from Elder Lowell who used to be in the seventy. He gave a great talk but my most favorite part was that he said "Become converted unto the Lord; rather than the church." Church helps bring us unto God. That is why God commands us to go to church each week. It is the doctrine of the church that matters. It is the Lord. It is God.
Three of my friends from back at school got into the MTC this week, Zach Hammond and Garrett Houston from BU and Stephen Slater from Harvard. I have a picture with Stephen but it was great to see all of them again. I really miss Bishop Porter and the whole ward back there.
This week I have also realized that the only real way to truth is to ask God. I love the mormon message on YouTube entitled "Origin" that talks about this principle. Highly encourage you all to watch it. We cannot ever fully gain a testimony of something through literary analysis or objective learning, because there will always be evidence to both sides. That is always how science works. Science is a million miles wide and an inch think. We must ask God to know the truth of things and he upraideth not and it shall be given us to know of the truth if we ask sincerely to know of anything's truthfulness (James 1:5-6).
Also, on the 4th of July I played piano for the MTC Devotional. There were 5 people that performed different things and I was lucky enough to get a spot in the program. I played my song "Lights Out!" This is the the very fast song where I sit on the piano at the end. I actually renamed it "Battle of Saratoga" for the program because we felt that it sounded like a battle song and I wanted the name to be patriotic for the show. Anyways it went really well and I actually got a standing ovation from the 3000+ missionaries there. Plus it was broadcast to the west campus MTC since there wasn't room in the little stadium for them to come. It was honestly one of the coolest experiences of my life to watch all the missionaries stand up. Once I sat down I had to get back up and bow two more times before they would sit down. A really humbling and honoring experience. I have never had that happen to me before. From this experience I have actually come to know the MTC president and his wife, President and Sister Nally pretty well. They are awesome people.
That night we were able to watch the fireworks that were shot off at the stadium of fire at BYU where Carrie Underwood was performing. They actually timed it where they started the fireworks as soon as our July 4th devotional program got over. Really awesome 4th of July. I did not think it would be so awesome. As part of the program they showed the movie "17 Miracles" which is really really good. I would recommend it for anyone.
One other thing. As I have been studying Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon this week, I had the thought that either Joseph was pretender or Prophet.. Either he had all the many visions he claimed to have or not..Either he saw the Father and the Son as a 14 year old or he didn't. How can you know? All you have to do is read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.. I have done this and I know that the Book of Mormon is no mere mortals words. It is God's. I cannot deny it.
"Good fruit cannot come from a bad tree." Joseph Smith was either one the greatest men to ever walk the earth or else he was something much much worse. The same goes for Jesus Christ who claimed to be the Son of God. Either he is what he says or else he is something so terrible that it is hard to imagine. They cannot be something in between. Do not let yourself try and come to that compromise. But if they both produced good fruit then it must of come from a good tree. Then Jesus must be our Savior and Joseph must have restored his gospel.
I never thought about this but the atonement of Christ not only helps us overcome sins but can help lift our burdens. He can help lift our loads.
One last thing. This is from Elder Bednar and I love it because it is so true within the church today. There are Doctrines, Principles and Applications. Doctrines are revealed simple truths that answer the "Why" question. Principles are the guideline from Doctrine for the righteous action of moral agency and answer the "What" question. Applications are the behavior and action and answer the "How" question. In Church people often discuss applications. They often have problems with the applications. For example going to church, hometeaching, family home evening, fast offerings, tithing, chastity etc. If you understand the doctrine the "WHY" question, you will do the application. Otherwise you will just find yourself manipulating the application. On the mission you find a lot of investigators with questions about applications. But you should never answer application questions with applications. Always answer application questions with doctrine.
Wo ai nimen. Shen ai Meiyige ren. Shuo dui nimen shage xing qi.
Ping Zhang Lao