Because of the new year, we had a major schedule change; our class times are completely different as well as our meal times. They moved our Preparation Day from Monday to Wednesday, so that’s why I had to wait until now to email. We also lost our teacher, Brother Sullivan, to the media department.
I forgot to mention in last week’s email that we cleaned the Provo Temple! Since the temple was closed for cleaning, our district was asked to help clean last Monday. They instructed us Elders to clean the sister’s dressing room, so we went through for four hours cleaning and sanitizing every locker, cleaning the walls, and vacuuming the floor. When we were finished, one of the housekeeping workers took us up to the Bride’s Room so we could see what it looked like. She told us it was probably one of the few times we would actually be able to see one. It looks amazing – they have these beautiful paintings in there along with a huge crystal chandelier and lots of gold leaf.
Last Tuesday, we received a new elder in our zone, Elder Shu. He’s from Hong Kong, but spent a semester at BYU studying microbiology before coming to the MTC. He already fluently speaks Cantonese, his English is basically at a fluent level, and his Mandarin Chinese is also almost at a fluent level. He leaves the MTC this upcoming Monday to go to the Canada Toronto Mission.
Elder Song left for the New York City South Mission Monday morning. He was from China, but has lived in California for a while. We enjoyed having him here as well. He helped us out with our Mandarin since he is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese.
Although the MTC doesn’t plan anything special for New Years – we just have a regular schedule that day – we still had a good time. Mom sent a lot of food and Martinelli’s as did one of my companion’s parents as well. We ended up having 3 bottles of Martinelli’s (we gave one bottle with cups to the Sisters), chocolate fondue (plus lots of food to dip in it), Sherri’s Berries, and lots of other assorted candy. One of my companions slept until 12am while Elder Cajilig and I just stayed up until midnight. Elders from other rooms also ended up coming down to our room just before midnight, so we stayed up talking until about 1am.
Each week we have this activity called TRC where we teach people who have volunteered. They’re almost always members, but occasionally they may bring a nonmember friend. We’re also required to teach in our language, so all of our lesson is in Chinese. Up until now, we’ve taught two 20 minute lessons to two different people, but on Monday, everything got switched up since we’ve been at the MTC for a while now. We started Skype TRC, which means we get on the computer to Skype (most likely) a member somewhere in the world. The person we talked to was a 23 year old sister in the US (Wisconsin I think). She was born in Sacramento, CA, and served in the Taiwan Taichung Mission speaking Mandarin Chinese. We carried on a 40 minute conversation with her about various gospel topics before saying goodbye. In her review that she shared with our teacher, she said we did really well, which was great!
Today we’ll be receiving eight new missionaries in our zone – four elders and four sisters! The elders are all going to different places either in the US or in Canada. All four sisters are going to the same mission as me – Taiwan Taipei. We’ll be seeing them in just a few more hours!
– Elder Austin Simonson