Boot Camp

Elder Simonson, Elder Cajilig, Elder Nicol, Elder Vanaiku, Elder Lee

Elder Simonson, Elder Cajilig, Elder Nicol, Elder Vanaiku, Elder Lee

It’s been going well. I started out having three other people in the room, but one of them transferred to the Chinese fast track class (he’s here only 4 weeks), so now there’s only two others in the room. We’re in a three person companionship now​ because of that. We are the only three Elders in our District and classroom now. The Elder that left also had a sister in our class, so in addition, there’s only three sisters. Our teacher is nice; his name is An Laoshi (Teacher An aka Brother Andersen). He’s only spoken Chinese to us since the very first day we arrived. He’ll occasionally use some English if we’re not understanding or if it would be much easier for us if he did.

We started out with only one three hour block of classroom time, but now we have two three hour blocks per day. In addition, we started teaching an “investigator” on Friday. He’s actually a member but acts like an investigator since he is a convert. We can only teach in Chinese and Lian Gan Ding (the “investigator”) really only speaks Chinese to us. We’re told that we are supposed to SYL (Speak Your Language) as much as possible. All of us in the district and zone use Chinese to converse as much as possible. We only learn the Pinyin in class so we actually haven’t learned any of the characters yet, but I suppose we’ll mainly be speaking anyways. It’s actually not too difficult. Ever since Elder Toronto and Sister Toronto transferred out of our class, I seem to be one of the best ones in there now. They both lived in China for a while so their Chinese was pretty good.

The hallowed halls...

The hallowed halls…

My original companion’s name is Elder Cajilig (ka-heel-ig)…he’s from Lehi, Utah. He’s taken a couple years of Chinese in high school. Our new, third companion has lived in China as well for a while, but he took Spanish so his Chinese is not amazing but it’s okay. They moved back to Michigan within the last year I think. One of the Sisters has taken Chinese before, but the other two have no background. The girl who gave my mom and I two tickets for Conference is in my class. We also saw her friend that she introduced us to at Conference who reported here to the MTC a couple weeks ago to go to Poland. Almost all of our days are spent either in the six hours of class, studying from the book, or studying on the computers using their software called TALL (Technology Assisted Language Learning).

Looking out of our room...

Looking out of our room…

The food here is pretty good, in general. Supposedly the Thanksgiving meal is going to be really good. On Thanksgiving, we’re also participating in a service project to bag tens of thousands of meals that will be distributed somewhere (I forget where they said). Yesterday we had Priesthood meeting before lunch (with only the prayer in Chinese) and then Sacrament meeting after lunch. In Sacrament meeting, the entire program is in Chinese other than the adult talks and the announcements. Each week we’ll know what the topic is for the meeting and then during it, two missionaries are chosen to give the talk on the spot; so basically everyone prepares a talk just in case, since we’re not good enough to give a 3-5 minute talk in Chinese without preparation. We have Chinese hymnbooks as well, so whenever we sing, we sing in Chinese. There are only two districts in our zone, so there are less than 20 people total in our branch including the presidency. Elder Cajilig and I were asked to be the Sacrament Coordinators starting next week, so we’ll have to get the bread and then make sure we have two people to bless the Sacrament and one person to pass it. In class we’ve already learned how to say a somewhat basic prayer and testimony.

...looking in.

…looking in.

This morning my two companions, two missionaries from the other district in our zone, and I went to the temple to do initiatories. Elder Cajilig is going to Calgary, Canada, and Elder Nicol is going to Los Angeles. Our schedule doesn’t leave us with much free time. We usually wake up around 6:30am to go to the gym before coming back to get ready for class in the morning. The rest of the day is just packed with constant studying or the occasional devotional on Sundays and Tuesdays.

I love and miss you all!
Elder Simonson

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