Monday, July 29, 2013

Bye Bye MTC

Ni hao!

Well, the time has come! I am finally leaving for England tomorrow to serve the Mandarin Chinese in Manchester England! I am nervous but excited as well.

This weekend was quite the roller coaster. My companion, as you all know, was called to serve in Australia but her VISA never came and she was getting re-assigned. She got her re-assignment on Friday to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and it said she was going to be leaving last night at like 10pm. However, she noticed a problem with her left eye and we went to the health clinic here at the MTC to get it checked out on Friday as well. She had noticed a part of her vision was blank in her left eye and that eye already has a history of having an issue back when she was six and she had to get surgery on it then. So the doctor her at the MTC said that there was something unusual going on and scheduled an eye appointment later with an optimologist. We go to the optimologist later in the afternoon and after an hour of eye tests and examination, he says that it looks like her eye was so inflamed that fluid had built up in her eye causing her retina to detach from the wall of the eye. He could not tell if there was just fluid causing it to detach, which would have been easily to treat, or if there was a hole in her retina as well, which would need surgery. He set up an appointment with a retina specialist that was in Provo to give the better diagnosis. Off we went to the next appointment right around 4:30pm. After getting in to see this specialist, within 5 minutes of looking at her eye he knew that this retinal detachment needed to be repaired by surgery and the sooner the better.  To make a long story short, she went in for surgery that night around 9pm and she is doing great. They put a gas bubble in her eye to lay down her retina and she cannot fly for two weeks and they want her to stay her for three weeks to observe her recovery. So much for Pittsburgh! But this may work out for her benefit because her VISA will most likely come in the extra three weeks she is here. Other wise, she would have had to stay in her re-assigned area for a full transfer.

The Provo temple is closed for 6 or so weeks for maintenance and the missionaries get to help clean on their P-days if they are assigned. My district went last Monday and it was an experience I will never forget. The Sisters helped clean the chandeliers/ the crystal of the light fixtures and it took us the full 3 hours we were there to clean them and they were the smaller ones of the temple. It was cool because they had the curtains down and we got to see the temple lit up inside from outside light. Despite the construction going on inside, it was so peaceful to be there. After we were all done cleaning, they let us all go back into the bridal room. It is so beautiful! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for  the Elders since they only get a locker and a mirror for their wedding day. The lady that was supervising us and giving us the tour said that the bridal room let's us know how much our Heavenly Father loves his daughters. I could definitely feel that love as I stood in that room.

We had in-field orientation on Thursday where they have all of the departing missionaries in like the same room for basically the whole day. I was afraid it was going to be boring and put me to sleep but I actually ended up loving it. It got me really excited for the field. This may not sound like it makes sense to you but any fellow future or past missionaries reading this blog should understand: one of the Elders from the series "The District 2", Elder Christensen (don't know how to spell it), now works at the MTC and he helps to run the in-field orientation. He is a funny guy.

Once again, I am excited for the field. 9 weeks at the MTC has been great but I am ready to teach those who have been prepared to hear the gospel. I know that this gospel is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Time to serve my Heavenly Father and represent Christ in England.
Wo ai ni men!

Sister Jordan

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Strength Not My Own

Ni men hao!
My time here at the MTC is drawing to a close. Like I thought I would, I am starting to get sad about leaving all of these amazing people that I now call friends in my district and branch. However, I am so excited that I will be in England next week and I do not think I will be sad for long. When we got our flight plans this past Friday it was so hard to focus. And then but three of us, including me unfortunately, got our all Mandarin Chinese name tags and then it was even harder to focus. (I did not get my tags because they put the wrong character on what I am guessing would have been my tags).
This past week probably takes the cake on being the hardest week at the MTC because how much energy was required. Let me give you a quick overview: last Monday we had our first Skype TRC then right after that Sister Goldrup had a progressing investigator to teach. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday we taught more investigators. We were also asked to teach this past Sunday for our District Meeting so I also tried preparing for that all week. And then I was also called on to give a talk yesterday in Sacrament meeting. Busy, busy! Being so busy wasn't easy. Reflecting on how mentally and spiritually draining this week was I know that I did not make it through on my own strength. There was definitely divine assistance helping me push forward every second and minute of the week.
Going back to last Monday, we had our first skype TRC and boy, was that an experience. It was super stressful because when ever you do something new here at the MTC you do not know what to expect. We were supposed to have one 40 minute lesson with a volunteer over Skype and they ended not having enough volunteers so we were only allowed one 20 minute lesson. Sister Goldrup got all set up to Skype and then we weren't able to hear the person over Skype. Ahh! After 10 minutes of not being able to get the sound to work, we waited for another 10 minutes to get another Skype to be set up for us. Round 2: we are Skyping this young man and he seems to be Skyping off of his iPhone and he was standing in this stairwell and the connection was horrible. In the middle of us saying a prayer, we were disconnected. Awkward. We kept calling him back, having the connection weaken, the call being dropped for maybe 5 cycles. Super frustrating. Although we only got to talk for 2 minutes at a time between interruptions, we still managed to ask questions, share a scripture, share testimony, promise blessings, and extend a commitment-- I'll take it. 
There wasn't too much time to recover from that experience before we went to teach our investigator. Our lesson went well but it was definitely hard to stay awake and focused the whole time.
Tuesday was a nice day to re-cooperate since we did not have an appointment with an investigator scheduled and we also had devotional. Love Tuesdays. Last Tuesday's devotional was being broadcasted to all 14 international MTC's, maybe a first. We also had a picture taken of all of us at the MTC right now. We were told that this was only the 3rd time they have ever done this. It is pretty cool to be able to be a part of this history.
Nothing too noteworthy happened on Wednesday. There has been a ton of construction happening on that road in front of the MTC and Wednesday the construction looked like it was completely blocking off the way for cars to enter the MTC so I still wonder how all of the new missionaries got in that day.
We hit a rough patch with one of our investigators because we asked him to look up a talk by a General Authority on our site and he ended up running into some anti-Mormon sites.. I guess we have to be more careful in the future with investigators going on the internet. It took us another lesson until we were able to sufficiently resolve his concerns but I think what he found wasn't too destructive, thank goodness.
As I said ealier, we were asked to teach the lesson in our District meeting and all week leading up to it was trying to think of what we could focus our lesson on. The topic we were asked to speak about was recognizing the spirit and literally every devotional the week before was about recognizing the Spirit so we tried to think of a unique angle we could take. What was really cool though was that Sister Goldrup and I did not discuss too much before what we wanted to talk about until the day before and we both ended up having the prompting on what to teach about. We wanted to take the direction of Spiritual discernment and we had a really cool discussion between the two of us as we prepared our lesson. Our actual lesson ended up having a somewhat different focus but I think that was because that is what our District needed more.
Let me tell you about my talk! Remember when I first told you that we were all to prepare a talk each week and they only picked 2 missionaries to give them each week and that with my luck I would probably give one before my time was up here at the MTC? Well I guess you can call yesterday a self-fullfilling prophecy because I totally got called on. Our district knew it would be our turn to give talks because none of us had yet. The topic was Enduring to the End and I made it more specific by saying how faith in Christ is a part of enduring to the end. I used the story in Matt 14:22-33 and related Peter joining Christ on the water to how we all can "walk through the storms" and challenges of this life if we have faith. We are also like Peter when he starts to sink because "as he saw the wind boisterous" he took his focus,his faith, off of Christ and allowed his worries about his surroundings and circumstance to waver his faith. There is a good message in this scriputre that we can gain strenth from because as soon as Peter cries for Christ to save him from sinking, Christ immediately stretches out his hand to save him. If we can remember to rely on Christ in this life, and retain our faith in him, he will help us endure the mighty storms of life. It was a great talk but I would not have been able to come up with it on my own. Once again, divine help. I encourage you all to read that story this week.
I hope all is well back in the Midwest. I will be over in that area soon enough.
Wo ai ni men!
Sister Jordan

So close,yet so far away....!

Ni hao!
The generation above my generation is leaving this week. So jealous! I love the MTC but I know I am going to love England more. Like they say, at the MTC the campus is your world. A very small world. haha. Only two more weeks.
This week hasn't been too eventful. A few days ago my companion and I ran into some native Chinese speakers and one Elder was like "do you want to teach me?" So very abruptly we tried giving him a short little lesson like he was an investigator. He talked so fast and he had a Beijing accent so yep, didn't understand most of what he said. Accents make all of the difference when you are trying to understand others. He stopped us maybe five minutes in and was like "Ok.. first, you need to look me in the eyes. Second, if what you are saying is not interesting to me, then I will forget you. Try and share your message in 2 sentences." All good advice, and I later thought of what I would have done differently. The next time I have to do a street contact (in England I hope) I will be so much better prepared. And let's hope I can understand them too haha. The next day we ran into some native Chinese sisters and we spoke to them for a little and they complimented us on our accents. Yes!
So one of my teachers loves to ask a very hard question to answer and then always calls on me to answer. Each time I know it's coming but I always have a hope that he will just call on someone else. Everytime he calls on me I just like "Of course!" and we all laugh because it's true, I always get the hardest question. No worries though. I am usually able to answer with out too much of a struggle now.
The other day in class we were practicing a grammar principle while one of us was the missionary and the other person in our district would act like an investigator. It was my turn to be the missionary and I asked the Elder who was acting as the investigator if he had ever read the bible before. The way it works in Mandarin, the word for "read" can also be used to say "see/ look" and so this Elder was being difficult and was like "Yeah, I've seen my friend read the bible before." -_- Not the answer I was looking for. So after re asking the question three times hoping he would catch on to what I was asking, I meant to say to him "you don't understand my question!" but instead I ended up saying "you don't understand my body!" Haha. The word for body and question sound very similar and in my frustration I used the wrong one. We had a good laugh about that one.
We taught again that investigator who gave us a hard time. This second time around was a lot better. We taught the first lesson in Preach My Gospel on the Restoration and it went pretty well. Afterwards, the teacher that was acting as that investigator came back and complimented the companionships that taught him. He thought we all did a good job on our lesson on the Restoration.
This last weekend at TRC, Sister Goldrup and I had a real investigator! He goes to BYU and has a little bit of understanding of the church since you nonmembers are encouraged to go to church while they attend BYU. He was super nice and I hope we helped him understand our beliefs. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and how we all have great potential.  I invited him to visit the temple grounds when he had the time. There is so much peace to be found even on the temple grounds.
I have a very busy week ahead! I have two lessons to teach today and then we teach just about every day this week too. On top of missionary discussions, my companion and I were asked to give the lesson in our district meeting this Sunday. It's kind of overwhelming but I know I can handle it.
Hope you are all having a wonderful week!
Sister Jordan

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hello everyone!

Let me start off with a couple of thank yous. Thanks for the cinnamon rolls! They were delicious. Thanks for sending me some more skirts.  As always, thanks for the DearElders.

The devotional last Tuesday was by Elder Richardson and he based his talk off of that stone from Scotland that says "what ev'r thou art, act well thy part." Do you remember this stone? You should look up a picture of it because he explained something about it that I have never thought of before. If you will pull up a picture of it, you will notice that on top is the quote but on the bottom is a bunch of symbols that don't make much sense/ seem like they have no relevance. As a result, most people, or at least I, ignore the bottom portion. However, Elder Richardson pointed out that each shape represents a number ( a square= 4, pentagon= 5, hexagon=6, etc..) and that each row and every column adds up to 18. This is something called a Mathematical Magic Square.  He made the point that some times we wish we were an 8 instead of a 5 but if we "act well our part" and be the best 5 we can be, we are being the best missionary the Lord wants us to be and we still make a difference. I took his point even further by realizing even the biggest number possible on the stone (10) cannot even make it to 18 without help. Even those we think are the very best cannot do it on their own. We all have a contribution to make, whether it be big or small. Regardless of what stage we are at in our lives, we all need to act well our part or the big picture won't work out.

 On Wednesday, my district challenged ourselves to do an English fast. Yep. The goal was what it sounds like, speak absolutely no English all day. It was super hard and I didn't actually refrain from speaking any English ( I don't think anyone of us did) but it was super helpful. After a whole day of trying to only speak Chinese my brain was permanently on Mandarin mode, and instead of English being the first thing to come to mind, it was Chinese. We are going to do another English fast this week. I think the hardest part about the fast is when non Chinese speakers start talking to you. This happened to me last time but I didn't feel too bad about speaking to them in English. It was a good excuse to use English (hehe). While we are on the topic of the language, yes, it is still hard but it comforts me to think of how far I have come since I have entered the MTC. I also get so excited when I can understand what is said in our lessons with our investigators and when I understand what a Hymn in Chinese is saying. I know I have a long way to go still and I hope I can work harder than ever these last three weeks I have at the MTC so I can be as prepared as I can for England.

I am so grateful I got to be at the MTC to celebrate a July 4th! We got to watch 17 miracles (super good. I highly recommend) and we got to watch the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire. First time, and probably last time, I will be going to bed way past 10:30 pm on a mission. It was a fun night not so much so in the morning.. haha.

Sister Goldrup and I are always matching. Most of the time on accident, but the rest of the time we plan it. Yesterday we thought it would be fun to match and the similarity in our dress is uncanny! You'll understand once you get the pictures. The other sisters in our district decided to join us and they matched as a companionship as well. How bout that for some companionship unity?

Yesterday for Sunday devotional we had Brother George Durrant and Sister Susan Easton Black come and speak to us. They are going to be over the mission in Nauvoo, Illinois! Brother Durrant taught us about how we need to be bold as missionaries. He had us say bold all together and we all shouted as loud and as mighty as we could. Brother Durrant, however, taught us that bold is not loud. Bold is quiet and sincere. I hope I can be a bold missionary. Sister Susan Black, who just finished her career as a religion professor at BYU, taught us quite a lot as well. She told us of a time during her freshman year at BYU back in the 60s where her and her friend went to Salt Lake for a "wild weekend" and to finally get out of Provo. She ended up meeting President David O McKay, the prophet at the time, in the hotel she stayed at that weekend. I wish I could tell you the whole story but it's pretty long. She told us that before meeting the prophet, she was quiet the wild child and was not exactly converted to the gospel. After shaking hands and meeting with the prophet, however, she changed. She knew when she saw him for the first time in person that he was a prophet of God and that this gospel is true. The parting words of David O McKay to her were "Be happy." She went back to Provo after that weekend and she no longer was as wild as she was before. She wanted to be happy and not be dishonest and she wanted to feel worthy the next time if she was ever to shake hands with a prophet again. She mentioned how the end of the song "I Am a Child of God" used to be "teach me all that I must KNOW" but then was changed to "teach me all that I must DO". Her finally change to this song is that we should say "teach me all that I must BE". It is who we are, not what we know, not what we do, that really matters. Don't just know what is honest, don't just do what is honest, BE honest. Don't just KNOW what it means to be Christ like, don't just DO what is Christlike, BE Christlike.

We also had the chance to watch Elder David A. Bednar's MTC Christmas Devotional from a while ago yesterday called Character of Christ. So good. Christ's whole life here on earth was always focused on those around him, never himself. Even after suffering for the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was worried about the one solider who came to take him to ultimately to his death, and healed his ear when it was cut pretty badly. If there was one thing we can learn from this one instance it is to seek to heal others even though those around you may hurt you. Never stop serving.

I encourage all of you to read, no STUDY, the Book of Mormon. It is so important that we do our best to study the Book of Mormon each day. I hope all of my letters home are inspiring you all to do good and try every day to be a little better. I learn so much each week here at the MTC and I hope you are learning with me.

I would also like to tell you all individually how much I love you.

Mom, I love you!
Dad, I love you!
Ash (Jazpy), I love you!
Austin, I love you!
Grandma, I love you!
Cynthia, I love you!
Joe, I love you!
Joseph, I love you!

You all mean the world to me.  Thanks for being my family.

Also, anyone else reading this, I love you too!

Until next time,

Sister Jordan

As you can see it took a couple of times before we got the right jumping picture:)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Halfway There

Hello everyone!
Saturday was the half way mark at the MTC for my generation of Mandarin Chinese speakers. One more month and I'll be out of here!
Last Tuesday, Sister Janice Kapp Perry and her husband came and talked to us. If you are like me, this name might not sound familiar but Janice Kapp Perry is the best. Why you ask? Well, she basically has written the greatest children's hymn book songs of all time ( i.e. A child's prayer)  and she also wrote the EFY medley and As Sisters in Zion. Musical genius. I can't remember if she was talking about going on a Senior couple mission or not, but Sister Perry mentioned that while she was debating on whether or not follow this impression to serve in some capacity, then thought came to her head that the work would go on without her. It would go slower, but it would go on. This really stuck out to me because it put things into perspective for me. She also went on to say that another thought that came to her mind was "but what are we going to do about your sanctification? What will we do to purify your heart?" When we accept the call to serve, especially missions, we allow the Spirit to sanctify our whole being if we will allow it. I have definitely witnessed this happened to me and like the thought that came to Sister Perry, I have no idea how I would have reached this point without a mission. Sister Perry also told us how she meet her husband while she was at BYU. She said she was in one of the music classes they had together and Sister Perry was about to go play a clarinet solo for class and he tapped her on the shoulder and the very first thing Brother Perry ever said to her was "I think those lips  were made fore something much better than playing the clarinet.." Right after she told us this, Brother Perry got up from his seat and gave her a big kiss. So adorable, and greatest story ever haha.
So I feel a little ill this past week :( Nothing too severe but I was not easy staying focused and I don't know how I had the energy to power through but I did. When I got sick I realized I had no medicine so the first night was quite miserable. I also wasn't able to enjoy the cashews i got in my package right away because I was too sick.  Friday morning all of the Sisters in my building woke up to a fire alarm. It went off at exactly 6:30 am (pretty ironic) and we all were like wait.. Is that someones alarm clock..? Nope. Just a fire alarm at 6:30 am. No big deal. For maybe 5 minutes we contemplated whether or not we needed to evacuate the building because it didn't seem like there was a fire but we got up and out of our room anyway. Everyone else was in the same boat. We were all so confused and half asleep as we were all ushered out of the building. Most of us were still in pjs but I also saw some Sisters already dressed (what? what time did they get up?!). After about 10 minutes of waiting outside on the grass and seeing security come and check everything out we were let back inside. Turns out the janitors were stacking trash bags and one of them fell and hit the fire alarm. Weirdest freak accident of my life.
My companion and I had a really interesting teaching experience this past weekend.. My companion and I were prepared to teach one of our investigators (one of our teachers of course) and then it turned out that we were teaching a totally different investigator (one of our other teachers) than planned. It was super frustrating because this was a investigator we had never taugth or told anything about. So we had 10-15 minutes to think of what to do and we just headed over to teach. When we got to the door of the investigator we knocked and he came to the door and peeked through a crack of the door like "who are you?" Yeah.. from then we knew he as not going to be easy on us. Needless to say, it was a very authentic experience and he took control of the lesson by taking the conversation in a very different direction than we had planned. Of course I only understood maybe 20% of what he said so it was very hard to pipe in and my companion understands and can speak better than I can so that was that. After I said the prayer he was like "oh, Sister Jordan. You speak Chinese? i didn't know. You speak very well." I only heard the compliment at the end so I was like thanks and then my companion explained what he said and then I couldn't tell if he was insulting me or giving me a compliment haha. This investigator also asked us if we would help him cook and he said he had many religions and that in one of them he worships his ancestors. What? This guy was having too much fun messing with us. We were only supposed to be in there for 15 minutes and didn't get to our planned discussion of the Book of Mormon until 12 minutes in pretty much. It did not go well but it was a great learning opportunity.
Thanks again for all of your love and support! I really love getting dear elders. talk to you all soon!
Sister Jordan