Monday, May 10, 2010

Elder Letters

Email from Elder Carter dated April 26th 2010

Hey everyone!!
So good to finally be back on the computer. It feels like last week took forever, but here I am! Yes, last week was definitely one of the hardest weeks I've had on my mission so far, so I can't wait to see what the rest of my mission has in store... yikes! lol, jk
Yes, there were times when I wanted so bad for someone I knew to talk to. Last night's fireside with Brother and Sister Seamons from a branch presidency here at the MTC, had a lot of good points. They mentioned that a missionary is in a place he/she doesn't know, a companion he's never met, a language he doesn't understand and has never spoken, a whole new ward full of people you don't know and probably won't see again, a people that you have no experience with and no understanding of, and a purpose that you've never equaled the responsibility, dedication, work, and knowledge it requires. It's true, I have to open up to complete strangers for this to work properly. I'm not as trusting as I thought I was, but I find that I, for the first time, have actually dug down to the core of the matter, and know exactly what I need to improve on and what to do about it.
The last week hit me from every side with trial after trial after trial. Add on to that that I had to speak Chinese for an hour straight Saturday morning with the vocabulary of a Chinese adult, after only 5 and a half weeks of learning it. But here I am, still at the MTC on Monday morning, typing away to my far away family (yes, you are far away), and I continue to push forward with the work. After sweating, grumbling, breaking down, sighs, frustrated noises coming out of my mouth that I've never heard before, and after 100% nonstop study, I made it. Past another week. I understand why missionaries put down the MTC a lot. Like I said before, the field is 100% better, because after working on you for 3 to 12 weeks, you finally get to help other people. And for me I get to help them know who Christ is. 'Cause they don't even know.
I am starting to feel the anxiety of wanting to get out in the field. It rips at me every time we talk about Taiwan in any case of the word. Especially when we talk about the food. Every returned missionary and every teacher I have sighs, their mouths water, and their eyes roll back towards heaven in daydreams about the food. Not exaggerating. Ugh. The food looks SO good, too! And after eating MTC food (worse than Cannon Center, if I haven't made that clear) for 6 weeks, I'm getting trunkie- for Taiwan.
The week started with initiatories at the Temple and a long P-day where I didn't have enough time to write all the letters I wanted to write. All week I studied 8 principles out of PMG and translated questions, statements, scriptures, and other things into Chinese. I can find scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon now! It's easy! I can recognize several different characters now, even though we haven't been studying them. My favorite words are still Zai Jian! (see ya later), Ni Hao (hello), shenme (what?), ting bu dong (hear no understand), and weishenme? (why?) Lol. Love it!
Our teachers now speak to us 100% Chinese, and we get the gist of all of it. 24 new missionaries come in on Wednesday. 3 Sisters and 21 Elders. That's 4 new districts, and it's going to be very hard not to show off. :P
At our mealtimes, we sit together as a branch and it's interesting to see. All of the Chinese Elders and Sisters sit together and we are surrounded by the Japanese. SO many natives, and I never thought it would be so easy to tell the difference in Asians whether they are from Hong Kong, Mainland, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mongolia... etc. I can recognize all of those! Plus, Cantonese and Chinese are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I do not like how Cantonese sounds, but Mandarin has a certain flow to it, that can't be explained unless you are learning it. Korean and Japanese are similar, but thanks to Dad, I can tell the difference! :D
Not much to say, except that on Saturday, our TA went all right. We were successful, and felt good about it, but we weren't anywhere near where we had wanted to be. I was able to get to the First Vision, and FINALLY I felt like I wasn't focusing on speaking, but on teaching with the Spirit. We taught a real investigator again this week, and found out that he comes here a lot. Howard knows the church is true, but he just won't take the leap of faith and get baptized. It's a family problem. He's not sure what his parents will do. It was super interesting to hear him speak Chinese with us (he's a native Taiwanese). I can totally hear the accent now, and am excited to take it on. I think it's funny :P Even though the mainland speakers think it sounds feminine. Whatever. I think it sounds cool, (but I can see where they're coming from... :P)
Thanks Dad for the Dear Elder this week. You have no idea how much I needed that. It hit me so hard, and turned me right back onto the right path. It was powerful, what you told me. God is with me, and I can feel your prayers. Mom, thanks for yours too, as they both helped me realize that if there is a peaceful Spirit in my home, then I must be doing something right. Even Raquel commented on it.
Sorry to those people that I couldn't get on the letters last week! I tried, I really did! But I needed to write my family first and make sure I figured the things out I needed to this week.
James Harris wants me to give you his email, but I forgot his letter, so I will write it to you. Make sure he gets on the email list. Also, I need Guads, Cathryn and Dave's, Tersta, and Grandpa Carter's addresses so I can write them. And I would love to hear from any and all of them! Especially Mike and CJ and the fam in Cali. I'm missin' them a bunch, and working so hard for the Lord out here just makes me think of them.
I found out that we are most likely going to be flying through LAX in June, and then on a straight 14 hour flight to Taipei with a 2 to 3 hour drive to Taizhong. So, if Mike and Nise and them want to come say hey (if possible) that would be fun!
My branch president has told us that we can call as many people as we want at the airport, as long as we make the flight. He also told us not to study, and just to relax until we get there. I can't wait!!
The church is true. I've never been pushed so hard in my life, and I'm sure it's harder than it was in the Pre-mortal one, too. I even wrote in my journal last night after a companionship problem, that it's IMPOSSIBLE!!! It's hard to be working so hard, and also having a hard time seeing the blessings. I know they're there, I just am not recognizing them as well as I'd like.
I have a lot more respect for people who get married and stay married now. After learning to deal with a companion for just six weeks? I had no idea I am and was so unprepared for that kind of commitment. So I'm just glad that I can serve the Lord and learn how to do it right. :D
I love you all!! And look forward to my letter. It's a little crazy 'cause I wrote like three different ones all week and they all say different things according to my Spiritual progress last week. Shelby, your name is coming in the mail, and I will send the characters soon. Kong Yu Lan, is your name. Love you all! And I loved the Peter Pan picture-- Keep 'em comin'!!! 
-Elder Carter

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