Week 5

First off, I’d like to say that today I finally got a haircut at the MTC.  Its a monumental moment for me.  Funny story about it though.  On Saturday my companion and I went to sign up for slots to get haircuts today.  I signed up for 1:15 and he took 1:30.  All was well.  THEN on Monday night Elder Bird comes up to me, put his hand on my shoulder all serious like and said, “Elder Councill, I need to tell you something.  You’re getting a haircut at 4:00.  I crossed out your name and took your slot.  I’m sorry but it had to be done.” Anyways apparently Elder Kimmell (yes his first name is Jimmy) told Elder Bird he should just take my slot, as a joke, because Elder Bird wanted to get a haircut at the same time as Elder Kimmell.  So he did just that.  The funniest part was that Elder Kimmell couldn’t believe that Elder Bird actually did it.  (Fun fact, Elder Bird has an album on iTunes, called Josh Bird)

Anyways, as always life is good.  Now that we have passed our halfway point we all are getting pretty excited for Taiwan.  Pretty soon we will start having culture lessons and that sort of thing.  We’ll learn to say, “where should I put my shoes?” since you take off your shoes when you enter people’s houses over there, and stuff like that.  A lot of the Elders and Sisters in my zone have even gotten their parents to send them chopsticks and a some people have been eating everything with them.  I’ve even seen a few people eating cereal with chopsticks, which is a bit excessive if you ask me.
Let’s discuss cardboard.  My next endeavor will be making a Christmas tree.  Weishenme? (why?)  Inwei wo keyi. (because I can)  Actually its because there’s about 30 of us that want to celebrate Christmas on the 25th, since it’s the last 25th we have in the MTC and America for 2 years.  I haven’t started making it yet, but believe me, its going to be pretty legit.  I might even try to get my hands on some green construction paper or something to make the whole thing more realistic.  We shall see.  We shall see.
Nothing crazy awesome has happened this last week, at least not off the top of my head.  Thursday was normal, we taught Zhou Dixiong and we finally got him to pray with us!!!  After like 6 lessons that is the only progress we’ve seen him have.  Unfortunately we only have one more lesson with Zhou.  Our teacher, Sun Lao Shi (Brother Erekson) won’t be working at the MTC any longer because Fall Semester is starting at BYU.  That was literally the worst news we heard all week.  He is the best teacher we’ve had here at the MTC.  So because he’s leaving we can’t teach Zhou anymore.  We don’t know who will be our new teacher.  Lately we’ve had a lot of substitutes because our other teacher is on vacation in London.  It has been kind of nice having different teachers because they all have slightly different vocabulary and pronunciation and its helpful to listen to different Mandarin speakers though.
Saturday we through a party because that was our official half way point.  Elder Menea’s parents sent us little plastic glasses, some apple juice, and some blueberry bread.  One of us, I can’t remember who, gave a very nice little toast.
As always, Sunday was a great day!  Brother Judd, a BYU religion professor came and spoke to the MTC for our weekly Sunday Devotional.  He talked about a lot, but what I liked most were some of the stories he told.  One story he gave was back when he was a Mission President in Western Africa.  (a Mission President presides over all the missionaries in their particular area of the world)  There were two missionaries who were teaching this one very uneducated Sister who spoke Twi and little English, and who could read even less English.  She had a hard time learning and gaining a testimony on her own because she couldn’t understand The Book of Mormon in English.  This language  problem came to the attention of the Mission President, Brother Judd.  He asked this Sister what the Twi word for God was.  I think her answer was something like Nayami, but I don’t exactly remember.  Since she knew God and knew God was good, he took her Book of Mormon and wrote at the top of the first page, Nayami=God=Lord.  He then asked her to circle every time those two words appeared in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon to help her better understand what the book was about.  As it turns out, within a week or so she had gone through the entire Book of Mormon and circled every time those words appeared.  He showed us pictures of her copy of the Book of Mormon and every single page had circles up and down.  He then taught us how the Spirit of God can overcome any language or education barrier.  The Holy Ghost, which testifies of the truthfulness of all things, can very easily give a testimony of the truthfulness of a single word.  That story was so applicable not only to me, but to all the missionaries there who are learning a second language.  If the Holy Ghost is present, no matter how flawed our Mandarin is, if we teach truth the Spirit of God will testify of it.  That is what builds testimony.  Not the words I say, nor how eloquent I say them, but what the Spirit of God tells the hearts of men.
Yesterday my companion and I had a cool experience teaching a new investigator.  We were discussing prayer and we taught her how to pray and afterward we started talking about how we can receive answers to our prayers.  We taught that if we want answers to our prayers we must first have faith. We had her read the scripture that reads, “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; wherefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”  Since we knew she already believed that God existed, we asked her if she had faith in Him.  Her response was really enlightening.  She told us yes, but only sometimes.  When  asked why, she told us that she doesn’t understand why her family has so many problems.  Since she was young her parents have had a bad relationship and the same with her older brothers. She believed in God but because of the struggles of her family, she didn’t always have faith in him.  While this was incredibly sad to hear, I couldn’t help but being excited because we now knew how to better teach her!  The biggest problem with teaching Zhou was that we had no idea how to relate to his life specifically the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But with Han Jie Mei we know exactly how to relate its importance to her, through family.  For that I am extremely grateful.
I think I’m running out of things to talk about for now.  Well, actually, last night at the residency I organized a reenactment of the battle of Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings.  🙂  That was really entertaining.  So yeah.
Love you all!  Have a wonderful day/week/life and I will talk to you next week.
-Elder Councill