Week 6

Hello folks!

So I’m now 2/3rd of the way through the MTC.  It’s weird to think that 2 sets of English speaking missionaries have arrived and left while I’ve been here.  But hey, I’m still having a blast, I just really want to just go to Taiwan xianzai (right now).  Yesterday morning we had 21 Elders and Sisters from our zone leave the MTC to head out to Taiwan, Texas, Australia, and Canada.  It’s been really quiet and kind of sad.  I am now one of the “old” people here.  But today we have 7 new missionaries arriving and boy are they in for a surprise!  Today is Christmas Eve!!!!  (and of course they don’t know that)  The entire zone (about 45ish people) are all participating in a secret Santa gift exchange.  We all drew names and got gifts for each other, and tomorrow Santa Claus will be showing up and distributing the gifts.  I won’t tell you how, you’ll just have to wait until next week when I send you all the pictures!!
I’ve gotten to the point where most days seem like a blur here at the MTC.  We stick to practically the exact same schedule every week so It’s hard to remember what’s been going on here.  I typically try to use my nightly journal entries as a way of remembering, but since tomorrow is Christmas I’ve been using all my free time in constructing a Christmas Tree.  You’ll also see pictures of that next week.  Let me tell ya, it’s pretty dang awesome.
Anyways, thanks to everyone who has been sending me emails and updates and such!  I really appreciate them even if I don’t always respond.  Y’all are wonderful!
This last week we had our last in person TRC, started skyping actually Taiwanese members to teach, our teacher left us, and we had an absolutely amazing devotional on Tuesday.
On Saturday our last TRC was good, but it wasn’t great.  Our Chinese was a struggle.  At one point we asked a question and the member had this incredibly confused look on his face.  We later found out we had used some grammar principle wrong, but whatever.  We were able to extend some good invitations and he told us we had some really good insight so that made me happy.   Actually my favorite part of the lesson was when he took out his phone and wrote down some of the things we were saying.  That was the first time anyone we’ve taught has taken notes!  I thought it was pretty cool because I felt like I was helping make a difference in his life.
Monday was pretty eventful.  That evening was our very last lesson with Sun Lao Shi (Brother Erekson) and it was our very first Skype TRC.  My whole district agrees he’s the best teacher we’ve had here at the MTC and he has taught us SOOO much.  We decided to give him a few parting gifts as a thank you for everything he has done for us.  But first, the backstory.  So there’s this other teacher named Feng Lao Shi (Sister Finlayson) who teaches one of the other classes on our hallway.  She and Brother Erekson served together a while back in Taichung, Taiwan!  A few weeks ago we decided to try to set them up.  At first we were subtle, we would casually mention her name in class, ask if he knew her and that sort of thing.  But eventually we were pretty obvious about it.  And the best part is, we got her class to do the same thing to her.  Whenever they would make new sentences with a new grammar principle they would relate it to our teacher.  Elder Boud from her class actually asked her, how would I say “I really like Brother Erekson, he’s a great guy” in Chinese and got her to repeat it back to him and stuff like that.  So anyways, there were about 10 of us playing matchmaker.  Long story short, whenever we bring that sort of thing up, Brother Erekson would say “zhuan xin!”  which means concentrate/focus in Chinese.  You know like focus on the task at hand.  So one of the gifts we got him on Monday was a picture of his face on top of the Uncle Sam I want you Poster but we replaced the words with “zhuan xin!”  His reaction was priceless.  That night we also sang, God be With You Till We Meet Again in Chinese and it was pretty emotional.
Our first Skype TRC didn’t go as bad as everyone would say it would, which was pretty hopeful.  Everyone warned us that we would get on the computer and not understand a thing the person was saying, them being a native Chinese speaker and all so they aren’t slowing down to help us understand or anything.  We didn’t understand a lot, but we understood enough to teach a lesson on gratitude and showing our gratitude to God through our prayer and our actions.   I shared to her that sometimes I try to make my prayer at night a “gratitude prayer” meaning in that prayer I only thank God for the blessings he’s given me, even the small ones.  I try to go throughout my day and think of all the little things or big things I was grateful for and thank my God in heaven for them.  Then I go and I think of all the people in my life who have helped me get to the point where I am today, through school, church, sports, the YMCA, whatever it may be.  It takes a really long time when you think about all the people who have helped you.  And  to be honest it’s one of the greatest things because its soo humbling.  You often don’t realize the insane amount of help you’ve received from God throughout your life.  He’s the one that put every person in your path, every opportunity ahead, He gave us all of our talents, all of our everything.  Every accomplishment, success, piece of luck, and gift you have is because of God.  I often have a hard time remembering that.  I like to think that I’ve gotten to my point in life through a lot of my own efforts and skills, but I’m trying to recognize that I’ts all because of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I know that the more I recognize his influence in my life, the better I will be able to help the people of Taiwan recognize that as well.  I know I can’t convert them to the gospel of Jesus Christ if they don’t obtain a personal testimony of the love that God has for all his children.
Thank you all who read my emails!!  You’ll hear from me three more times before I fly on out to Taiwan!  I cannot wait.  It’s going to be the best 2 years of my life.  In fact it already is.
I love you all!
Elder Councill
P.S.  As a side note, Brother Erekson told us he would ask out Sister Finlayson.  😉  So that’s pretty cool.