Monday, September 28, 2015

"This week in the MTC" (Week 6)

Hello all,
   This week in the MTC went very well. Last Monday evening Elder McGowan and I taught our teacher again. He was playing the investigator A-chern. It went amazingly well. So that was a  massive improvement in our teaching skills and body language.

   This Tuesday we were sad to hear that Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles passed away. Today we were able to watch his funeral live. It was interesting to hear about his life. If anyone is wondering what an LDS funeral is like I recommend watching it. It should be on 

   Then this Wednesday my district and I were able to be host missionaries for those who arrived here. It was an interesting experience seeing it from this side of the action. For those of you who don't know what it is like. A car pulls up to the curb and a host (me) comes up to the door and welcomes the family to the MTC. I help them get their bags out of the car. Then they have about two minuets to say their last goodbyes. It almost felt like I was intruding on a really personal family moment. Then I take the missionary to go get checked in and get their language materials. I got to host about four elders. That was a lot of fun and a good way to break up the day. 

   This week at night we have been teaching Elder Huang (From Taiwan) about English slang. I also have been teaching him a little bit of German. That is always a fun way to end the day.

   The other district of Cantonese missionaries had the last one of their Sisters fast tracked. She left for Hong Kong at 6 this morning. That means that the other district now has no sisters. That is exciting for her but sad for her district. 

   We also realized that the only padded thing that we have is our mattress. Other than that it is hard plastic or ceramic. That further reinforced our realization that the MTC is very much like a prison. A very nice happy and fun prison. But still a prison. Insert eye rolls from mom and dad!

   I'll talk about the lessons that we learned from TRC this week. We taught an old white man who served in Hong Kong in the 60's. He spoke really good Cantonese, however he spoke the old version and it was difficult to understand. He also spent the whole time talking about Confusions so we didn't get to talk very much. Then our other lesson we got in trouble on our report sheet because apparently in Chinese culture it is rude to cross you legs if some one invites you in. We didn't know that though so we didn't feel that bad. Also For TRC we are going to Skype Hong Kong and talk to actual members there. Hopefully that goes well.

   The Hem on the right leg of my suit came out so I am going to have to do some more sewing tonight. It is getting to be really annoying. But I guess I'm getting good at sewing. I'm actually sending him a new sewing kit.  I can't remember him ever having so many clothing rips and tears! But then again, he's never worn dress pants and shirts every day before now.

   Today I also said good bye to Elder (Tate) Masse. He was my last connection to home so now I have three weeks here left alone. Oh well, The three musketeers will just have to meet up in two years and share our stories.

Love you all and hope everything is going well on the outside world!

-Elder Walker

Monday, September 21, 2015

Half Way Through the MTC! (week 5)

  This last week we were blessed to have a massive thunder storm for two days. We liked that very much. We hadn't seen weather here for a long time so that was nice. It also made us really look forward to China because it will do that the whole time. Also it is starting to get really cold here in the mornings. We are hoping that it will snow before we leave just to add more variety to the days. Though I don't think that will happen. 

   We learned in class this week that we should never Identify as Mormon missionaries. For two reasons the first is that its unprofessional and not the name of the church we represent. The second is that when the church first came to China the name "Momuhn" which the early church used to identify by, means "The gates of hell" so lots of people don't like us. The translation was eventually changed but it kind of stuck. So we are not supposed to do that. We also finally learned about past tense in Cantonese. Before then our belief was as expressed by Elder Munsey "Chinese has no past tense that way they can't talk about Tiananmen Square". But apparently it exists.  

   Our district leader is from Taiwan and does not get mail or packages from home so we all wrote him letters and got some candy from the store and sent it to him. That made him really happy. That was fun.

   One of our teachers who is a Hong Kong native (I've referred to her a Lau Jimuih before). Anyway she was telling us a story about her Mission in D.C. and said that she and her companion went into someone's yard they were teaching and the dog had become untied from a tree to which it was originally anchored. So she said that she and her companion chased it and finally caught it and (her English sliced and said that she "Hung it in the tree". Naturally we all laughed and she freaked out because she meant to say that she tied it back in the tree. I can't do the story justice but it was Hilarious.

   Wednesday is the day that new missionaries arrive so Elder McGowan and I were watching by the front gate remembering when we were dropped off. It was fun to see their nervous faces. We will get to be host missionaries next Wednesday. This means that we will take people from their cars and away from their families and take them to their classes. We are looking forward to making it full circle like that. 

    Time for some unfortunate news. A sister from District 30B (the other Canto. District) went home this week. Apparently it was for medical reasons. Some thing about her needing Knee surgery. That was unfortunate. I was really surprised that we made it this far without someone going home. Most places have people go home within 2 weeks because that is the point when you realize that this is not going to be fun 24/7. Since we are on this note I will talk about TRC this week. There were not very many canto. volunteers so we had to teach our teachers. So my companion and I thought that our lesson went well. That was until we got our evaluation cards. It was brutal. He stopped just short of calling us the worst missionaries he has ever seen. The only thing he did not criticize was our language. He said that our body language was awful and it felt like we just didn't care. Which was not the way that we felt at all. So we were very very discouraged. He brought up stuff though that we hadn't thought about. So I guess it turned out to be a good thing because now we know what things we need to work on. Still sucked to hear though.

   On a Happier note my companion and I were called to be Sacrament coordinators for Branch 30 so that should help to move time along now that we have some responsibilities. 

   Last night after our devotional by the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir which was amazing! I was glad we were in the choir for that one. Any way we finished that and after the Sunday night devotional they show movies. These are however most of the time just talks from apostles. However this week they were showing Meet The Mormons. That was really good. It was the closest thing to a movie that we had seen in a month. I defiantly recommend it. The last part was about a missionary mom and an Elder getting his call and going to the MTC. it was very emotional, almost everyone was crying and home sick. 

   I also met an Elder Gordon going to the Salem Oregon Mission (the mission in which I and most of you live) I told him that if he ever served in Newberg 1st ward to find my family. I said that they would be easy to find because they are the ones that ride motorcycles to church.

   Also we crossed the half way point of our MTC stay so that is what some of these pictures are from. In addition I'm using a lot of Mormon Lingo so if you want me to explain something let me know.

    Thank you all for your letters that help a lot. Love you all!


Elder Walker
Half way through the MTC party

Elder McGowan (Gordon's companion)

Provo, UT temple

Ran into Elder Tate Masse again

Gordon's district   Not quite sure what Gordon is looking at in this one!

We told Gordon we wanted to see basic things like where he does his laundry

Gordon's favorite painting in the MTC at the moment

Monday, September 14, 2015

"I've lost count of what week it is" (week 4 from the MTC!

Hello all,
   This weeks adventures include the fact that I decided that Tuesdays are my favorite. This is because there is an awesome devotional every time and there is less time in the classroom or as we have taken to calling it "The Box". Our speaker this week was Gerald Causse. He is the first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. He gave an awesome talk. In which he shared a story about when he was speaking in front of a lot of mission presidents. He asked them if they would rather have tithing go to 11% and the extra one percent is used for employing a professional force of missionaries who are experts both of scripture and of thAe language, or they keep using the current pattern of young missionaries. They all responded with the young missionaries because they said that they were the only ones who are humble enough to be constantly seeking the Lords guidance and help. So that was really cool.
   The other adventure was what we call "The STD at the MTC" (Secret Tie Draft). Every Saturday night we play this game where we put our name tags in an army hat. Everyone then puts the tie that they are entering over one of the side bars and when your name is called then you get to choose a tie. The catch is that you must wear it to Sacrament meeting and for the rest of the day Sunday. This week there was a tie that an elder made from an old sweater we called it the prison made tie. I ended up with a tie that was good quality but very, very brown. Fun times. I'll include more pictures next week.
   I asked the choir director if there was a way that I could get in to the choir that is signing at general conference. Unfortunately he said that the MTC is not preforming. Oh well. Also fun statistic there were on Sunday 1,076 members of the choir so that was crazy the kind of sound that can be generated.
   Also I forgot to mention this last letter that when elder Oaks spoke he hinted that more than likely by the end of our missions we were going to get a new PMG. So that would be crazy. This Sunday on our temple walk I saw Elder Masse and we got to have a good chat. 
   At the end of one of our class times the instructor called on me to pray and said that I could do it in whatever language that I wanted. Thinking that I would do either Cantonese or English. So he and everyone else was very surprised when I prayed in German! Good times.
   One of the pockets on my shirts tore which meant that I had to do some sewing. I mended it very well and I don't think that will be happening again. So that was good to put my old theater backstage skills to use. I also got a haircut today. It was really fun because they vacuum your head while they do that so that they don't get your clothes all hairy.
  Thanks everyone who sent letters they help a lot. I print them all out and read them many times through ought the week. They really help on the hard days. I'm going to close with a scripture that I found in my Personal study: D&C 90:11

Love you all,
Elder walker  
A note from mom... I've decided not to change anything about Gordon's emails except for spelling here and there.  He writes like he talks and I like that!


Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 3 from the MTC!

Hello all,
   This week, our Tuesday night devotional speaker was Elder Oaks of the quorum of the 12 apostles. It was amazing how the spirit filled the room as soon as he walked in. My district and I were at choir practice and noticed that there was a teleprompter so we knew that someone special was coming. He talked about the Plan of Salvation and how critical it is because it can answer so many peoples questions about life. 
   This Friday we got to go and do TRC (Teaching resource center). That was really cool we got to sit in rooms with natives or returned missionaries so they spoke really good Canto. The other cool part about it was they were not playing investigators so we got to just share a message (In canto.) like we would to a member family so that was awesome. 
   By the way I am well now. Thanks to prayers and medicine. Today is Labor day which sucks because the Temple is closed so we can't go today and we look forward to that all week. So we just sleep in for a few hours so we could be OK for the rest of the week. That also means that the store is closed so that is lame because we need pens and things. I guess we can just go it tomorrow. Also they don't give us our mail on Saturday or Sunday. So usually we get it on Monday night but we wont tonight. So that is sad. 
   Last Sunday was fast Sunday which means that they don't serve breakfast or lunch. It was fun though because it was the first time Elder Hill had fasted so that was fun to watch him squirm a little bit.
  Just a little update on my Cantonese. I can almost read Pingyahm now which is helpful. I can have a conversation about religion now which is crazy. It's incredible how well and fast that we are speaking for most of us only hearing the language for the first time less that three weeks ago. Last Saturday Lou Jimuih (Sister Lou) instead of doing a long Canto. lesson gave a lesson on table manors and the proper use of chop sticks. To practice on she brought us dried seaweed and shredded squid. Both of which were very good. The squid was like really salty chicken/corn. (Pictures attached)
  There is also a rumor floating around that since we are the largest group of Cantonese missionaries the MTC has ever seen and there are also a lot of Mandarin elders going to Taiwan and the way that China is behaving that China will open and some of us will be transferred in to southern China which would be awesome. However we don't actually think that will happen just a fun thought haha.
   Also the other guy in the picture is very sick and chose to sleep during personal study. OK love to here from all of you. You have no idea how helpful letters are to us. I'll write next week!    

Elder Walker