This one is quite moving. Sorry it took so long to get up. –Lisette
Friday, our District went to the TRC for the first time. We were all incredibly stressed about it because we’d actually be teaching “real” people. Native speakers, non-missionaries, non-teachers, etc. Real in every sense of the word! However, we got there and found ourselves mildly disappointed when there were no volunteers. Just a minute of confusion occured before we realized that it was that awkward break between semesters when Provo empties of all its BYU students. Kind of a weird reality check. But, no worries! We split up and taught another district. At first it was frustrating because the other district was not taking it seriously at all. After the first two rounds, we met back together as a District with Pan Laoshi. I definitely complained and was annoyed. Pan Laoshi quieted us and reminded me that even though were at the MTC, we don’t know what’s in another missionary’s heart… and it’s quite possible he needs the message you have to give. The next two rounds improved. Our last companionship was Elder Gong and Elder MacArthur. Their Chinese is on par with Sister Kang’s and I’s and it was so incredibly fun to chat with them! The first few minutes were getting to know you time, then we did bring it around and shared a simple message about God’s love and how we can access it when we need it, even at the MTC. The conversation shifted back to chatter, but the feel of it was different. It was an uplifting experience for all of us — just seeing in other missionaries in our generation our strengths and weaknesses and that we are not alone.
Even better, though, as we all left the TRC that night, not a single English word was spoken. We were loud as ever (there’s lots of love in our District — we’re one big happy companionship, really!), but it was all Chinese! We nearly moved Pan Laoshi to tears he was so proud of our SYLing. When we got back to the classroom, he taught us a “4 Character Phrase”: Tian zhu zi zhu” or “Heaven helps those who help themselves.” It’s right up there with You Ban Fa on our list of District Mottos. We are all so much more commited to SYL now, and a lot of that has to do with the morale boost from the TRC. Sorry, that was really circular. But you get it. 😀
On Sunday, Sister Eubank from the Relief Society General Board spoke to us during Relief Society. If anyone knows her and can convince her to get me a copy of her talk, I’ll love them forever. 😀 She is a powerful woman! Even if I didn’t speak English, I would’ve understood exactly her testimony. She walks into a room and instantly energizes it — you all know someone like this. And I wish I could be more like her! She spoke about coming to know things for yourself and boiling your testimony down to one line. Eve was her example — perhaps the most influencial woman throughout history and so much of what she had to say has been edited and removed from scripture that we have. But she did leave us one line that’s survived all time. Sister Eubank challenged us to mull over ours this week and write it down. It’s not complete yet, but for right now here’s my testimony: “I know God knows unconditionally loves me as His daughter.”
This week’s focus, strangely, has been on strengthening each other. Not gonna lie, there’ve been problems in our companionship (welcome to the world of the Tripanionship, aka, the real reason Comp Inventory is mandatory). The bulk of it stems from Sister Kang and I’s previous language experience, and Bu JieMei having none. As part of the new immersion curriculum, we have to SYL every day, all the time. If you know how to say it in Chinese, your teachers will NOT listen to English. It’s intense but it’s really the only way to thoroughly learn Chinese. Sister Kang and I are up for the challenge, but Bu JieMei just hasn’t been keeping up and feelings of issolation and anger surfaced. Pretty sure if I counted them, we’ve had more Comp Inventories than P-days. Apparently, each companion (including and espeically myself) expressed their frustrations in our weekly letter to the Branch President. He interviewed us this Sunday to discuss it… I felt it went incredibly well! He directed most of his comments towards BuJieMei. Not criticisms and not lectures, but encouraging and motivational thins about how difficult Chinese really is and what an opportunity exists with two fairly comfortably companions, etc. There were definitely a few items in his comments that pertained to me — how to help and motivate gently instead of pulling from the front. It coupled nicely with my personal studies of Charity and Love (from the Christlike Attributes inventory). The rest of Sunday was a bit shaky with Bu JieMei, but the days since have been wonderful. She’s really taking more initiative to butt into converastions Sister Kang and I are having in Chinese, to learn what new words are, write them down, and to use them immediately. Basically, there’s hope, still! 😀
I did see the Meehan’s from Houston on Sunday. They came to our Mandarin Branch for Sacrament meeting… and Brother Meehan had an iPad! We drank that in and loved chatting with them about idioms and primary songs and their upcoming humanitarian work in Hong Kong.
Words cannot describe how much I love my District and our Teachers. This week was pretty rough for everyone but we found strength in each other — even when we didn’t know exactly what the others’ problems were. We always sit by each other and it’s not even something we have to discuss. Just an unwritten law. 18C sits together. We go to the Temple together, we run together, we play volleyball together. We pray together, teach together, and read together. There is strength in that and I can testify that God works through others to answer prayers. At night when we Sisters return to the sushe (affectionately called the “sushi” by Ruan), the other Sisters always comment on how “tight” our District is already. The Elders watch out for us and we watch out for them (heaven knows they need it!) Already, I tear up at the thought of losing them to Hong Kong and Australia. But then I remember….. still 10 weeks to go.
I love you all and wish someone would start a petition to get legit food into the MTC. But there must needs be opposition in all things, right?!
Wo ai nimen!!
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