Tuesday, February 21, 2012

21 February 2012

Wahhh!

Hey, everyone!

This week has been so good and I have so many things to write about and I will for sure run out of time. We are going to Taipei today to go to the temple, which I am super excited about.

This week, all the members (okay, 2 members) have been telling me how "You'd better be careful, because with your body type, it will be very easy for you to gain weight, especially after you get married. And especially after you have kids!" Another member told me, "Cen Jiemei, I think you will gain weight on your mission!" I responded by telling her that I have honestly prayed, thanking Heavenly Father for sending me somewhere with such delicious food. And then the members I was with started cracking up and said, "Join the club!" (Because they've been complaining about their weight lately. Ha, so funny.) Then the other day, we went in to a restaurant to meet a potential investigator referral the elders gave us, and when she saw me, she said, "Oh! You're pregnant! Congratulations!" I was like, "Are you seriously kidding me right now?!" Oh, also another member told Wang Jiemei she has been gaining weight, and I was cracking up, saying how in the States we never tell people that. And Wang Jiemei asked if I were gaining weight, if I wanted her to tell me. I was like, "No way!"

English class was awesome this week. I actually had like 6 people come, which is a lot for our class. We played a game, where I would have one of them come up and write a person on the board, and then everyone in the class would give clues and the person would have to guess who they were. Ha, so many good quotes came out of it - too bad I can't remember a lot of them. But one was Lady Gaga, and the class said things like, "She dresses errotically!" And then when he guessed who it was, he looked at me with a confused face and said, "Kaka?" Haha, it reminded me of when Aunt Jeni said, "Mahi Mahi?" instead of "Hobby Lobby." When I did Kobe Bryant, they said, "He is a very, very black man." And when I did James Bond, one said, "He really likes a lot of women." And the next person said, "The women really like him!" Ha, they were so cute and so funny.

We had an awesome zone conference this week (I LOVE President Grimley, my mission president), all about finding, and developing the faith to find. I learned so many good things, and it has definitely helped me be a better missionary. We talked about how finding is an act of faith and how our faith needs to be in Jesus Christ, and not in ourselves. Lately, I think I don't rely on God, and so I realized that my faith shouldn't be in my Chinese (duh), my looks, my area, etc. It's all about Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven and where they have prepared people. It was awesome, and I have tried a lot harder to have more faith.

So on Sunday night, we went to eat dinner with the Fan family, and they invited some other families from the ward, so it was just a big, fun, delicious party. One of the couples who came are Brother and Sister Jiu - they are like 40ish? Anyway, I love asking the members when they joined the church and why they joined the church (often they are first-generation members), and so I asked her, and then I asked about her husband. She joined the church like 20 years ago, and her husband joined about 8 years ago. I didn't understand the whole story, but basically her husband used to not like the church and had not interest, but eventually he joined the church, and it was kind of a miracle that he did and now he is so stalwart and such an awesome member. So, then we didn't have a spiritual thought with them because there were so many of them, so instead we all sang, "Because I have been given much" and Brother Jiu sang the whole song with his eyes closed, and head slightly tilted up, like he was praying. It was so precious, it almost brought me to tears. I was so overcome by the Spirit and with love for these good pioneer-members who warn me that I'll get fat easily, and have strong testimonies, and always befriend our investigators at church. And it made me want to go out and share the gospel, so that people can feel peace and be able to be friends with these good members.

So, right after that, we went out knocking doors. We had a goal to have a new investigator, which means you have a lesson with them and a set up return appointment. So we went with Yu Jia Rong (our recent convert who got baptized a few weeks ago), and we planned on going to this one place, but then we thought maybe we wouldn't go there because it was kind of far away, but we decided to stick to our plans. We started knocking, and this was like Buddhist central. Everyone was kind of older, and all had their altars, incense, and statues in their house, so all had absolutely no interest in hearing out message. And funny, because I get creeped easily, and this one guy got all mad at us for knocking in his neighborhood and Yu Jia Rong kept clutching my arm, and getting all freaked out because it was dark and quiet. Ha, so funny. Anyway, but I was trying really hard to have faith, and since we had set a goal for a new investigator, and prayed to accomplish it, I knew Heavenly Father could help us find a prepared person. So, then, blah blah blah, it was time to leave, and there was a girl getting off her scooter on the side of the road, and I didn't even notice her and Wang Jiemei was on the phone, and pointed her out. So Yu Jia Rong and I went to talk to her and she was totally interested, and we even had a lesson with her - which means we had to pray outside on the side of the street, and it was cold and windy, etc. Anyway, awesome because we totally accomplish her goal, and she is our new investigator. And President Grimley just told us, "It'll be the last door on the last floor that you find the person who will accept the gospel message." It was awesome for me to see, because I was trying so hard to have more faith. I love that everything in the gospel rests on faith. Wah, so cool. And I know, that through our faith, Heavenly Father can do anything. He helps us accomplish our goals and our desires. He really is at the helm of missionary work, and our lives.

Okay, no time to write anything else!! I'll write more on Monday!

Love love love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Allison Sligting Mays, if there are any ugly photos tagged of me on facebook, untag them immediately! Ahhh! So stressed about that. You still have my password, right? Also, got your letters!! Haven't read them yet, because I can't read them until Pday. I will read them today. Thanks for your long, awesome email.

Caitlin: thank you for the chocolate!! I can't wait to read your letter today!

Analyn: Can't wait to read your letter today! Thank you!!

Nicole: Got your letter, can't wait to read it! Thank you!!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 12, 2012


Me with a huge bowl of soup with shrimp with their eyeballs

Hey!

Okay, so a big trendy thing here is fake glasses, without any lenses. (Ah, people after my own heart!) There is this one guy here (one of the elder's investigators - his name is Colt) who always wears freaky fake contacts - like yellow ones and red ones. One of the elders was like, "When I look into Colt's eyes, I feel like I am going to burn up." Ha, so funny.

My advanced English class is awkward lately. Well, mostly just last week it was. Only one guy came and his English is perfect, so it was just me and him, so the elders sent Colt in to be the third person. So Colt just sat there on his phone, and then the second someone else came in, Colt got up and walked out.

Oh, also, everyone here wears SARS masks. If they are sick, they wear them. And if they are trying to prevent getting sick, they wear them. It is pretty much impossible for me to tell what they are saying when they are wearing them. Muffled Chinese = even more impossible than regular Chinese.

On Saturday, there was an awesome ward activity! I guess every year, they do this big thing where they get together with the government and have this huge charity bazaar (like, a sale thing .) Anyway, so they had tons of delicious food, clothes (after it was over, they gave us some of the left over clothes that they were going to donate - Oh, man I got the coolested sweater ever! Turquoise, with a big duck on the front, with like patches of white fur. And ginomrous shoulder pads, which I removed because I looked like a football player. Anyway, such a cool/cute sweater, I'll send a pic sometime.) And they had performances - the young women did this dance (back street boy style) that they have been practicing forever. This other guy did some beat-boxing. (Shout-out to Trevor - made me miss you!)

This week, we have been trying to figure out how we can help the members do more missionary work and encourage them to let us meet with their friends and family who are interested in the gospel. One of the young women, Lu De, is a rockstar! She had four people she wanted to share the gospel with, including two teachers, but felt really scared about it. So we (meaning, Wang Jie mei) talked to her about what she could say to them. And so Lu De talked to them and two weren't interested but two were and one is really willing to meet with us! And Lu De told us she was so scared, but when she saw how happy her teacher was about getting to hear the gospel, she knew that the gospel can make people happy. So Sister Wang and I shared a little message about missionary work in Relief Society. We shared testimony of how Heavenly Father has prepared people, and we don't know who they are, but we are supposed to share the gospel with everyone - to give everyone a chance. And we shared Lu De's experience. It was good. And after that, one of the members came up to us and has some relatives who she has started to share the gospel yet but she doesn't know what to do next. So we are going to meet with her and talk to her more. We also went to the Bishop's house, ate with him and his cute family, and shared a gospel message, also encouraging them to introduce the gospel to their friends. It was good, and hopefully we'll be able to work with the members more. Wang Jie mei is really awesome at working with members, and getting them involved with lessons. We are also meeting with another family this week, to share a gospel message and see if we can help them do missionary work.

Okay, so a few weeks ago, I talked with this adorable girl (like 20's), outside our apartment. We were throwing away trash and I remember she was wearing really cute shoes and scarf, so I told her I liked them. And I felt like I should talk to her about gospel (obviously) but I didn't! Ah! So, I felt really bad and I prayed that I might be able to see her again. Yesterday, when we were coming home from church, she was outside washing her car and so we talked to her and she is willing to meet with us! Yeah! It was a testimony to me, that Heavenly Father is in charge and that when we fail, Heavenly Father and the Atonement give us a chance to make it up.

Xin Zhun (I sent pictures of her) finally has a baptismal date - did I tell you that already? This is big news. She has been meeting for a while with missionaries (can't remember how long) and she is sooo stellar (always comes to church - all three hours, socializes with all the members, reads and prays, keeps all the commandments and all her commitments, etc.), but hasn't wanted to set a baptismal date. We meet with her all the time, and she finally sent a baptismal date... for next week! Ha, actually Wang Jie mei helped her set that date. So soon. Anyway, she is still scared but she has decided to just do it because she knows it is true and knows it's what she is supposed to do. The members here are pioneers and have such great faith. I take it for granted that my wards at home are big and have tons of active members. Anyway, love them. I'm really excited for Xin Zhun to get baptized.

We met with another adorable girl this week (like 15 years or 16), and she commited to be baptized in the first lesson. So awesome.

One of the elders here - get this. His mom had a baby while he was gone and she's having another baby in a couple weeks! Wah! Two new babies while he's on his mission. Crazy.

Also, Niels turned in his mission papers! Wah, so cool!!

Love you all so much and thank you for your letters and support. Wah, you're all so great, I could die.

Love love love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Allison! Thank you for your letters - I haven't gotten them yet, but I'm sure I will soon! I have a cute hair thing to explain sometime to you.

Ariel! Thank you for your long emails! Loved them. Detroit will be great! For realsies. Except, STEVE, the shopping will always be better in NY. Ha. Also, new job sounds awesome. Does Sara Vranes work there? She was my roommate this summer. She's great! Tell her hi for me!

Zoe! Thanks for your emails and cute photos. Slumdog millionarie dance sounds awesome. Tutus = almost as awesome.

Courtney Petersen! Do you read this?? I neeeed your address - I have a letter all ready to send and no address!

Emily Larson - could you maybe send me Courtney Petersen's address again?? (Sorry, I'm the worst. Lost it.) Love you.

ANother shout-out: Celia!! Just got your email! Sorry my letter didn't come for a long time. No worries about the dress! If you move to Boston or Chicago, I will be so jealous and so excited for you and def want to come visit. And also want to live there. Also, jealous that you're going to LA. Tell Annie and Kahlil hello! I miss Annie. Love you, Cel Jane, and thanks for the letter. Oh, and crap, I need your address again. Sorry. Email it to me.

This place we went (shi shan) up in the country/mountains, sort of. It was pretty and cool. Lots of little temples and stuff. And


Monday, February 6, 2012

First baptism, Yu Jia Rong

January 29, 2012

My district in the MTC, Sister Fan on the far left

Because this week was Chinese New Year, we didn't have a lot of lessons, and we ate lunch and dinner with members everyday. And loud fireworks and firecrackers went off everywhere, all the time. Including middle of the night. I ate some more weird things this week: some type of blood, duck feet, pig ears. And tons of delicious food. And this week, before eating dinner with a member, I said (in Chinese), "My dad went to Hong Kong to food his mission." (I said food instead of serve.) And so then everyone was giving me a hard time and saying things like, "Oh, somebody's hungry."

So, we do this thing to promote our English class called "English Boarding," where we hold up big signs advertising English class by a busy intersection and then whenever the light turns red, we go up to cars to talk to the people in them and give them English fliers. Wahh, so embarrassing. Light turns red, run into the road, approach cars (I would never do that in my real life/I probably wouldn't talk to anyone who tried to come up to my car), and then book it back to the sidewalk before the light turns green again. I'm sure I looked like a total dorkward. The things I do to be a missionary.

The other day I had to get off my bike and WALK UP THE HILL. You guys, whenever I bike, I never let myself stop on a hill. Especially if I'm with the Faj Mahal/brothers, because gotta prove to them that I'm not a whimp. But this hill was huge and steep. And I was wearing nylons. Wah, I felt like a loser.

On Saturday night, one of our investigators (super golden one), Yu Jia Rong, got baptized. Yeah! It was really good and everything went well. She was super happy and totally ready. The next day, she got the gift of the Holy Ghost. Her blessing said some cool things, and I'm just really happy for her. I know she's going to keep progressing in the gospel.

We have a couple other investigators that have been progressing a lot.

We had a zone training this week. It was all about using time wisely and setting goals. It was really good and inspiring, even though now I'm scared I'm going to go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Wah. President Grimley is awesome and so kind. And, yes, he did give a Lord of the Rings quote, and commented on how he thinks Gandalf should have been a prophet.

All right, love and miss you all tons!

Favorite noodle restaurant in Zhubei; tons of retro, weird little dolls and action figures everywhere.

Me and Sister Wang

Creepy cat in the bathroom at church

Shout-outs:

Emily Brown!! Do you even read this?? Wah, so excited to get an email from you and I want to write you so bad! Send me your address, stat!! Also, I would LOVE to get music from you. I don't know how to get it off the computer, but I will try to figure out a way. PS, do you know a Jonathon Honeycutt serving here? He says he knows you! He is in my district.

Bonnie! Thanks for your sweet gift before I left the MTC!

Celia! Gah, sorry I haven't written you back yet, but THANK YOU for all the stickers and treats and cutie stuff. Love you and miss you. I will write soooon.

January 22, 2012



Hey! This will just be a random list of all the stuff that happened this week.

So, we contact all the time, right? And contacting is like the dang most awkward thing on the planet. Especially because sometimes peoples cannot even tell what I am saying and I usually definitely can't tell what they are saying. I always get so scared to contact people, and always just have to make myself do it. I want to die every time someone rejects me (awkward), that's probably why the Lord sent me somewhere where the people are so nice and polite. But sometimes really cool things happen when we contact. I normally don't like to contact middle-age to old men because they usually reject me (which is honestly bad of me, because we're supposed to talk to everyone and I don't know who is prepared to receive the gospel), and the other day, this middle aged guy was just standing on the street corner, and I kept not talking to him, but then I decided to, and it was cool, because he patiently listened to my super broken Chinese and then had a lot of questions about what latter-day saint means and why our church was different and whether our church is the same as when Christ was on the earth, etc, and so I ended up giving him basically the whole first lesson and he wants to meet with the missionaries. We turned him over to the elders, and I hope he keeps learning about the gospel.

This week, I taught English class for the first time (we have it every week). I taught the advanced class because they know more English and it was so much fun! I loved it so much. I taught this precious middle-aged investigator couple. And then 2 other Chinese guys came in. We talked about Chinese New Year's and Christmas and Thanksgiving. So fun.

Where I live has a lot of hills, I heard, and actually got to experience it this week. We biked up a ginormous hill, practically like a mountain. Actually, jk, not that big, but still huge. There are a bunch of people from Philippines who live and work here, and they all live at this place at the top of this ginormous hill. So now, when we contact Philippinos, I'm happy if they want to learn more and so bummed to have to big up that hugeness to have lessons with them.

Biking in skirts here is the pits! I basically have 2 skirts that work okay with biking. They fly around everywhere! (It is super windy here.) I have tried everything - tights, slips, tucking my skirts into the top of my knee-high nylons, and clipping the middle of my skirts together. Ahhh, it is so stressful every time I ride. I'm still trying to find a solution, so if you have any good ideas, let me know. I think I'm going to go shopping with one of the members and try to find some longer skirts.

This week, we also went to sing at an old folks' home. Super fun and kind of hilarious. While we were singing songs like All Creatures of Our God and King and Nearer My God to Thee, the people started clapping along. Precious, though.

Other missionaries teach my native companion the funniest slang. The other day when the district leaders called us, she answered the phone by saying, "suck it up." Haha, it was so funny, I was cracking up.

Oh, also the other day, we went into the church bathroom and my companion walked into her stall and said, "Huh?!... Cat!" So, I went to look, and sure enough, there was a cat, hanging out in the bathroom stall. So funny.

Because of Chinese New Year, basically no one will meet with us, so it'll probably be contacting, all day every day. My favorite. All the members have been super nice and are feeding us all week. Last night I ate a fish eyeball. It was hard. Woof. The joys of being the new companion and eating with my native companion and elders. They make sure I try all the grossest stuff. One super delicious thing I tried this week - I don't know the name of it - but it was like this hot ginger soup with transparent broth and boba/tapioca pearls in it with big, soft pillows of tofu and beans in it. Ah, so good.

One of our investigators, Yu Jia Rong, is getting baptized on Saturday. She is so, so, so golden. She just met missionaries on the street and decided to take lessons and before has never believed in a god or anything, but now she believes the gospel and God so readily. She accepts every doctrine and commandment with 100% faith, no questions ask. And she is even experiencing some opposition in joining the church, but she is still getting baptized. Wah, the members here are so good.

All right, love you all, for reals. I'll try to write and send individual letters really soon!

Love, Natalie

Delicious!



I'm in Taiwan! (Jan. 15, 2012)

Hello, everyone!

Wah! So excited to be writing to all of you! I have so much to say! I am in love with Taiwan! I am at an internet cafe right now and it's like 6:30 am, and a bunch of guys are here gaming - with their volumes up full blast. Also, each computer has a big nice comfy armchair. Awesome.

Okay, so I arrived in Taiwan at like 1 in the morning and we got to the mission home at like two or something. This was on Tuesday night. My mission is referred to as a "running mission", so we're basically required to run for our exercise time. I think part of the reason is so that we are on the streets and can talk to people when we are stopped at red lights. Our mission president's big thing is talk to EVERYONE. More on that in a moment. So the next morning, we woke up at 6:30 am and went running with our mission president and the assistants. We went to this beautiful square/mausoleum in downtown Taipei. Then that day we had tons of boring orientation and then we went on a temple tour that the temple square sisters gave us (if you are serving in downtown Taipei area, then you will take turns doing temple tours.)

That night I proselyted for the first time, and my companion was totally my MTC teacher Sister Fan's favorite investigator/convert from her mission! So fun to hang out with her. We tried to just talk to everyone we saw and we taught this one guy how to pray on the street and it was funny because I was telling him how to do it and you know how sometimes I like sway my body around and kind of rock my hips? Well, I was doing that and he totally started to imitate me, thinking that was a part of prayer. Ha, I was like, uh, you don't have to do that! Also, people in Taiwan are sooo nice and when they reject you (often), they are usually so nice about it. But, one lady we approached that night, she was dressed kind of nice and she totally started booking it away from us when we approached her - like literally running from us.

Okay, so then the next day I got my assignment and trainer! (PS, Sister Winters, my MTC comp, totally got called to go to Hua Lian, which is like beautiful, paradise, beach resort, everyone wants to go there. My mission president is always like "You'll be so lucky if you get sent to paradise!" PS, I love my mission president - he's super sweet and kind. Bad news: He doesn't look as much like Skinner (from the X-Files) as he did in his picture.) So, my trainer is Wang Yi Hui - Sister Wang. She is actually from the Taipei mission area - from a city called Taidong. She is so great and cute! She doesn't speak a lot of English, I speak even less Chinese, so sometimes we just have no clue what each other is saying. I am really happy that I have a native speaker and she is so patient and kind and encouraging and helps me so much. She is also such a great missionary - she talks to everyone and everyone loooves her! Like, everyone in the ward, especially the women and especially teenage girls just cling to her. Also, she's sooo good at having members present at lessons - I feel like we have a member present at most lessons we teach. Anyway, she's really great and I am so happy she is training me. The other night, when I got in bed (I was almost instantly asleep because I was exhausted), she was like, "I need your ears." I was like, "Huh?.. I'm 23 years old." No, I need your ears!" So I was like, "Ohhh, yeah, what 's up?" And then she said, "I love you!" Hah, so cute and sweet. Love her.

So, my area is called Zhubei, and it is about a 2 hour train ride west of Taipei. It is on the coast, but apparently the coast is really gross and dirty here. Not the beautiful, dreamy coast that Sister Winters got sent to. Our area is pretty large and we are the only two sisters here. I think there are just 4 elders in our district. I was surprised that I got sent here, just because most of the areas in my mission are in the Taipei area.

So, like I mentioned before, we are supposed to talk to EVERYONE. So, everytime we are stopped at a red light, my companion tries to talk to whoever is on a scooter next to her. (There are not very many bikes here, but a ton of scooters. Also, Taiwan seems to be a sort of richie country - I've seen tons of audis and lexus cars.) Anyway, so I try to talk to people as well when we are stopped at red lights and is seriously so awkward and usually embarrassing. I'm still going to keep trying to do it, obviously, but seriously, people can hardly tell what I am saying and I can never tell what they are saying. The other day, this guy on a scooter kept cracking up whenever I tried to talk to him. Wah! So, with that being said, I pretty much don't understand anything, but that's okay. My trainer is awesome and helping me a ton. The church has started doing this 12 week training program. So, that means I will be with Sister Wang for at least 2 transfers, and each week, we have a list of companion study and language study things we have to get done. This includes a bunch of lesson memorization things, vocab words, etc. So, each time I finish a lesson and memorize the vocab, I pass it off to the district leaders. There are like 3 phases, so as soon as I finish this first 12 week program, there are 2 more phases to pass off, I think. Sorry if this is all boring stuff, but Faj, I know you wanted to know. And, Faj, I do have that grammar book you talked about. I haven't really read it yet because I still feel overwhelmed by all the language stuff I need to do, but I have also heard good things about it and I will start trying to read it.

Sorry, this email is going to be super rambly as I try to tell you everything I am thinking about...

So, we are in charge of 2 wards, and I spoke in both on Sunday. Scary.The wards have been so nice and so welcoming. Like I said, my comp connects so well with all the members and investigators and so I was really nervous that people wouldn't like me very much since I can't say anything, but everyone has been so nice and welcoming to me and the girls in the ward always hug me when they see me and are super forgiving of me that they have to remind me of their names every time I see them. (Chinese names are the hardest ever to remember! I have started writing peoples' names in my planner with a description of who that person is so that I will be able to remember.) One ward's ward mission leader is awesome - he's like this hipster dad who spent a bunch of time in LA and he owns the cutest little bread/pastry shops here. His name is Brother Li. Last night, we were at his bread shop to have our missionary/member meeting thing, and another guy from the states who is here working is a ward mission leader and he was asking the bread guy, "Do you know how to make bear claws? I have been craving bear claws so much lately!" Brother Li: "Oh, those danishes? With almond fillings? Yes, I know how to make those." He gives us bread and treats and they are delicious.

I realized that basically all the clothing I brought are impossible to bike with. I brought some flowy skirts that fly everywhere when I bike, so one solution I came up with is to tuck my skirts into my knee high nylons. Not very attractive, but better than the alternative. And Sister Wang thinks it's funny. So glad this is a biking mission! I love biking so much.

This place is a mecca of cuteness - seriously there are just so many cute things here: cute clothes, shoes, stationary, people, little cell phone charms, food - you name it! Everything is cute. Also, the girls here are so chic and cute, with sleek black clothing and straight across bangs. Gah, promise you don't have to dress like me if you join my church.

I'm still trying to get my bearings here and meet people and figure out who all the investigators are. We (meaning, Sister Wang) have a ton of investigators - like 20! Yeah, she is a rock star.

Oh! I've eaten a ton of sick things already. Chicken feet (look like shriveled human witch hands, with fingers nails, knuckles, palms, and everything), pig meat - meaning big huge chunks of blubbery fat with a little bit of meat attached. One of the elders told me that his had some hair in it. Sick. Oh, I had hot pot the other night and I ate blood, I think, but I didn't know that's what it was. I usually let Sister Wang order for me at restaurants because I don't know what anything is. The food here is really delicious for the most part. But, Chinese new year is next week and everything shuts down for a week, so members are feeding us like every meal, so I'm sure I"ll have some good food stories to share after that.

Today we are planning on going to a traditional temple here. I am way excited. Oh, also, my apartment is totally swanky. Actually, not really, but it has three bedrooms, and we each have our own bathroom. Faj, Taiwan is a lot more civilized (gah, can't think of a better word) than China is - overall.

Also, I cannot figure out how to get pictures off my camera onto the computer. It says there are no images. I'm going to try and read my manual and see if I can figure out what the deal is because I really want to send pictures to you guys.

All right, love and miss you all lots. Thanks for everything!

Love, Natalie

MTC Letter #12, Jan. 3, 2012

Hey everyone!

Leaving so soon! I am leaving on Tuesday morning to fly from Salt Lake to LA. Then I fly from LA to Taipei. I'll get to Taipei on Wednesday night, their time. I think we stay in Taipei with the mission president for a couple of days to do a little orientation thing and then start working. I'm totally freaking out. I am so excited to leave here, and I can't even wait to never have to eat MTC food again in my life. I'm excited to be gone from Provo, because it feels weird to be living here, but not be involved in anything that is going on with my friends, family, and home. I'm so excited to get to Taiwan and see what it is like. I'm not scared about being there, or the food, or the people or anything, but I am a little terrified about the language. So scared I won't be able to say anything! And scared to have this sacred responsibility of sharing the gospel, when I can hardly speak the language. But, I know everything will work out fine and I am truly so excited to go.

Also, I know I've already talked about how much I love mormon.org videos - seriously love them so, so much - but we watched some of Chinese people and people who live in Taiwan and I just already love Taiwan people! Cutest people ever and I can't wait to meet them and get to work with them. So excited. Also, getting there right before new year's eve is starting! Stoked! Can I get a what-what that most of my skirts have elastic waists! Also, does anyone know what the weather will be like in Taiwan next week? I'm anxious to know.

Our fireside this Sunday night was particularly awesome/interesting. The people who spoke were definitely on my team! So they announce the speakers (it's a guy who works at the MTC and has been a mission president and his wife), and so his wife is supposed to get up to speak first, but they both got up and went to the pulpit. They said, "Elder Holland said there should be good music in the church, and more of it, and good speaking in the church, and less of it!" And then their 3 teenage children came up to the pulpit and the whole family did a musical number. Then the wife spoke and then they all came up to the pulpit again and did two musical numbers. And then after the guy spoke, they all came up and did one more musical number. Haha, oh, man, what gems. They were like mormon pop stars, and I loved it.

This week hasn't been extremely eventful - we've just been busy trying to get ready to leave. Everyone is always reminding us to stay really focused and diligent. Our teacher, Brother Mix, has been pep talking us and interviewing us to make sure we're on task and help us with anything we need help with. He helped me better figure out how to focus better and focus on what my purpose is as a missionary. For some reason, I sort of didn't realize that as soon as you meet with an investigator, you are supposed to tell them that your purpose is to bring them closer to Christ and help them accept his gospel and baptism.

Elder Cranney has been sick (has a really bad cough) and Elder Timothy told us the other night that Elder Cranney (who is on the bunk above Elder Timothy) was coughing really loud and hard and Elder Timothy said, "I was just hoping he would shut up because it was so loud and I was so tired and it was making the bed shake, and then Elder Cranney let out this long, soft breath. And I thought about my biology class and how our teacher told us that sometimes right before people die, they let out a breath like that, so I thought he for sure had died. And so I was softly calling out Elder Cranney's name and he wasn't answering. So I was like, gosh, I think he died... Well, there's nothing I can do about it now. I guess we'll just wait until the morning." We were like, what the? You didn't even do anything about it? So funny, and so typical of the way Elder Timothy thinks and talks.

We have a new elder in our district for a couple weeks. He's originally from Taiwan and going to Hong Kong Mandarin speaking. He is just so cute and we've loved having someone else in our district this week.

Oh, I forgot to tell you all that a couple weeks ago, I gave my first talk in Chinese. Awesome. Scary.

Our hermana roommates leave tomorrow. We're going to miss them so dang much!

This week, when we were outside the temple on Sunday, we saw a family that only spoke Mandarin and they had a friend with them who spoke English. He said they wre investigating the church and they were so cute and funny and chatted with us and of course wanted to get pictures with all of us. So cute.

Okay, can't think of anything else to say. Good luck starting the new semester! Also, what's up with this non-Winter weather? Weird. Love you all! Write me before I go! (You have a week!) Oh, crap, I just realized that I forgot to bring my Taiwan address with me, but hopefully the Faj Mahal will post it to my blog. My email is natalie.christensen@myldsmail.net. So if writing to Taiwan is too stressful, email me because I would obvs. still love to hear from you!!

Love,

Natalie

MTC Letter #11, Photos







MTC Letter #10, Dec. 27, 2011

Hey guys!

It feels weird to be emailing again so soon since I just got to email you guys on Sunday. I hope everyone had such a good Christmas. I really had such a good Christmas. My family and friends are the best and it was so nice and fun to get pictures, letters, gifts, and delicious treats from all of you. Love you all so much. Seriously, I have the best people in my life and I always feels so grateful for that.

So, on Sunday I wrote home a little bit about Christmas eve and getting to have a huge sacrament meeting with Elder Bednar on Sunday, which was awesome. On Christmas morning, my hermana roommates who I love and my compy who I also love got up and opened all our gifts together and it was really fun to hang out with them. On Christmas day, after Elder Bednar's talk, we had the usual (but a teeny bit nicer than normal) MTC fare - turkey and mashed potatoes, as predicted. The line for Christmas lunch was hugely long. I was cracking up because I was talking to my roommates, Hermanas Chase and Warnock and Sister Chase is this super petite little thing, and she was telling us how on Christmas day, she made Sister Warnock butt a ton of people in huge line to get towards the front of the line and Sister Warnock was timidly like, "Uh, Sister Chase? Don't you think we should wait at the end of the line?" And Sister Chase was all snappy and like, "Hermana, we are not going to get to eat any food if we don't get ahead of this line." Later, when they were telling me and Sister Winters about it, Sister Chase was like, "I was seriously being a vampire." And they way she was acting totally reminded me of that old Chris Farely SNL, where he's the gap girl - you know the one.

Anyway, on Sunday we also watched a really long broadcast of a past MoTab concert. I have also already confessed my secret but growing love for MoTab. Mission - changing me, tell you what! After that, we ate a sack dinner, complete with a hogi ham sandwich with more deli sliced ham than I could ever hope for.

Christmas night, we had a fireside. Oh, and we had to sing this dork-wad missionary version of the 12 days of Christmas, and I wanted to die from the dorkiness, and Sister Winters was extra-acting it out to make me feel even more uncomfortable. And it worked. Then we watched Mr. Krugar's Christmas. I used to watch that movie all the time when I was little (it was one of the 5 church movies that we were allowed to watch on Sundays, including "The Golden Rule" featuring puppets, and Book of Mormon story movies - but we only had the singalongs), but I haven't seen it in forever. And I forgot how much I actually love that movie. It's kind of weird with all those day dreams he has, and really sad at the beginning because he doesn't have any friends. But it ends up totally precious and I actually really love it. Also, I love the way he talks to baby Jesus in that movie. It's just so precious and it's a good little portrayal of how you should feel towards Christ.

Anyway, that's basically all I did on Christmas.

Oh, I do have a really slightly funny story. Uncle Jed and Aunt Nat were total dreams and sent me a package with bread and nutella. And we are not supposed to eat in our classrooms, but of course, whenever our teacher leaves, we rush the treat corner and start eating food. (Also, the elders in my district always point out how motivated I am by food. Rude.) Anyway, so this day was no exception and when our teacher left, we started eating bread and nutella, but I was kind of paranoid because it was an extra messy thing to be eating. So I said, "Okay, who would have the best reaction if a teacher walked in right now?" And they all said I would, and then start making jokes about how I would like accidentally chuck my bread across the room or something. So then, right as we were talking about that, someone knocked on the door, which obviously really startled me, plus no one knocks on the door, so I frantically chucked my bread off to the side. It was just another missionary, so no big deal, and when I looked where I had put my bread, I realized i had chucked it nutella side down on the desk. Anyway, it was just sort of funny about how freaked out I got about it.

Wellll, I don't really have anything else to write about. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is doing well. You guys, I'm leaving in like 2 weeks! It is bizzare. I'm so scared but also cannot even wait to leave the MTC.

Love you all so much! Thanks for all you do for me!

Love,

Natalie

MTC Letter #9, Dec. 25, 2011

This morning for Christmas morning, we woke up and I love love my hermana roommates (so it's just me, my comp, and the two of them in our room) and we are all good friends so this morning we woke up and opened gifts together and hung out and had a lazy morning and it was just so great and so fun.

Then we all went to our morning meetings. First we saw MoTab music and the spoken word - oh, man, I secretly kind of love the motab. They're way better at their concert things than they are at general conference. And, I told my comp about the your team, my team game, and so now she always turns to me and says, "you know which one is on your team." And, of course, I always know which one she is talking about. Then we had sacrament meeting. They passed the sacrament to allll the missionaries and Elder Bednar came to speak to us. You guys! It was awesome. I'm sometimes a little tiny bit scared of Elder Bednar because he is stern and strict, you know? But it was so awesome having him speak to us because he was so personable and wonderful. So he talked about how having a testimony is not good enough, we have to have a testimony AND be converted unto Christ. And talked about examples in the scriptures when people were verted unto Christ in addition to having a testimony. He was very bold and talked about how like statistics show that a significant portion of us, good strong missionaries, will be inactive in a few years. And the only way to avoid that its by being truly converted unto Chirist. I feel like you, Mom and Dad are such a good example of that, because they have been through a lot of hard things, but you can tell that they are converted unto Christ because they always believe in Him and His gospel and His Atonement. He talked about how if for some crazy reason a general authority were to apostasize from the church, it shouldn't have any power to shake our testimonies because we are converted unto Christ, and not unto anyone or anything else. He talked a lot about how the natural man is an enemy to God, and over and over again as we learn OF Christ (not just about him), we see that He consistently turns out, while we (the natural man), turns in. He was very bold and said, "This mission is NOT about you. Get over yourself." But it was so awesome to hear, because I'm always thinking about how I want to change and how I want to be, instead of focusing on what the Lord wants me to be and what He wants me to do. He said on your mission, you will be your biggest convert, but if you try to convert yourself, it won't work. You must turn outward and away from yourself, and then you will be converted. When you lose yourself, you will find yourself. He talked about how when you are converted unto Christ, you are being consistently true to what you know. (He defined character as having moral qualities which are consistently lived, strikingly displayed and strongly developed - thus being consistently true to what you know.) Oh, also! Since he talked a lot about the natural man being an enemy to God and that the natural man turns inward instead of outward, he said, "I don't mean to be light-hearted, but when I think of the natural man, I just think of the Cookie Monster." And then he did like 2 cookie monster impersonations throughout his talk - so funny, because I could never imagine a general authority doing that. He was just so great, and firm and bold, but still loving. I know that he is called of God to be His apostle, and a special witness of Him. Right before he closed, he said, "By desire and diligence, you will increase in understanding of the true character of Christ and every spiritual gift and blessing you need now and in the future will be yours." So awesome. Oh! He also testified that we were each called by the Spirit, and by an apostle to go where we are called on our missions. He assured us that we are not just part of a stack, but that each mission call is divine inspiration and that the power of revelation is never more apparent to him than when he is helping to issue missionary calls. Awesome. His talk made me realize and want to be one million times better than I am now. And let's all try harder to be truly converted unto Christ.

Family, you should study these scriptures in conjunction with his talk: Matt 4:2-11 (read JST - Christ sends angels to John, not to Himself even though He was in need - example of Christ always turning outward instead of inward)

Natural man, mosiah 3:19, I think

Alma 23:5-6 (knowlege of Lord = testimony, converted unto the Lord = obviously is what it means and what we should be striving to do)

I can't even wait for all you cute brothers to go on missions. You're all going to do so, so great and learn so much and you will love it. And you really will love learning more about Christ and you will love working hard and trying hard to be more like Him and literally do His work and help Him in His work by preaching the gospel. Niels, I am so especially excited for you right now. What is the status of your mission papers?? I can't wait to see where you go. And I can't wait for you to also have these missionary experiences that I am having.

You guys, YOU GUYS! I love you so much I can hardly even stand it. Thanks again for EVERYTHING you do for you - you are all some of the best humans EVER. You are such good examples to me and you are all total besties. Thanks for the sweet gifts and sweet notes. Thanks for the life updates. Seriously, just love you all so dang much. I hope you've all had such a merry, happy Christmas. I'll get to call you (pretty sure) IN A COUPLE WEEKS (CRAZY) when I leave the MTC, and I'll write again on Tuesday, since it's my p-day. Love love love all of you so much. And miss you all a ton, but I'm happy that I'm doing this and I appreciate all your support.

Love you and miss you!!

Natalie

Kayla, I love you!

MTC Letter #8, Dec. 20, 2011

Hey family and friends!

This week hasn't been too eventful, but I'll try to think of exciting things to write about. It's still just one big, spiritual party here, as Niels says about my MTC experience. Also, apparently Niels bought a megaphone "for recording purposes" and so far has just been using it as he walks around the house saying things like "naked" into it. Wish I were home to witness that, just a little bit.

As usual, Chinese is still hard but awesome and still makes us, and our Taiwanese teacher, crack up a lot. This week she said things like:

She was laughing at something Elder Cranney was saying and he was like, "What?" And she was like, "No, nothing, it's just your accent is very cute."

Another time, she was cracking up when she was watching us teach, and we were like, "What is so funny?" and she was like, "When you said that you liveIt just sounded like you said you died and then came back to life." And then still laughing, she said, "Okay, I have to go or I will die." (I loved when she said that because my district always makes fun of me for saying things like, "Oh, that's so cute, I'm going to die." or "I love it so much I want to die.")

For some reason, we crack up so easily here. Elder Stallings and I have a new goal of trying to be more reverent, because we both crack up over nothing. Although, the other day, I had been laughing, and then Elder Stallings called on me to pray, and I totally made it through the whole prayer without laughing at all. Total score. also, I am proud to say that I consistently make Elder Stallings laugh so hard he gets tears in his eyes. I'm not even funny, it's cause he laughs when I impersonate District videos, or say that things are so dang cute I wanna die.

So, this week, my companion, who I love dearly, wrote a nice little tribute to me in her journal. I think you'll appreciate it, so I'll copy an excerpt below:

"My companion really likes clothes. Love shopping, loves clothes, and as she always says, she goes with 'quanity over quality', because she easily tires of her outfits. It's been fun to see her on a mission as she's already gotten sick of her clothes, so now she puts together more... unusual... outfits. She nows that she looks a little unorthodox, so she's made some hilarious descriptions/personalities associated with some of her more original ones. here are some of my favorite:

- Middle part with two small braids going back/ruffly blouse: "Jiemei [sister], I look like a medieval princess right now."

- Bright yellow cardigan/bright red skirt: "Anyone need condiments with that? Ketchup and mustard, right here!"

- Pink blouse, pencil skirt, and read scarf with white polka dots, "Jiemei, be honest with me - do I look too much like a stewardess right now?" and "Well, I feel like a Disneyland museum tour guide right now."

- Blue/denim blouse with an Indian wrap skirt with crazy fish patterns on it: "I feel like a forty-year-old woman who is obsessed with Southwestern art." "

I would also like to mention that sometimes when I try something on, Sister Winters totally tries not to laugh and then geos throughout the rest of the day saying, "You know, that otufit is actually really growing on me." Thank you, Sister Winters! But, really, she's so great.

Niels asked me if I already feel like I am changing a lot. And I've been thinking about that, and I don't feel like any huge changes have come over me, and I don't feel like my personality has changed, but I have definitely come to a lot of realizations. Like, I'm just realizing how vital the gospel really is and that God is/should be the most important. I'm realizing how important missionary work is. I already want to continue to be involved in missionary work when I get home and I want missionary work to always be a part of my life. I wish that I had been better at doing my callings well and fellowshipping new members. I think about how every person and every calling is so important to God, and in the future, I'm going to be better at really doing my callings.

What is everyone's plans for Christmas? Miss all of you and love all of you so, so much! And hope you all have such a good Christmas while I wake up at 6:30 am, and eat MTC ham. Just kidding - seriously so, so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to be a missionary and that I decided to do this. Everyone take pictures of your Christmas activities, esp, Allison, Kimi, Ariel, parents, etc when you get together! Want to see all of your cute little faces!!

Love you alllll!!

Natalie

Shout-outs:

- Allison M. - yes! Got the package! Thank you, you are so great!

- Analyn - Also got your package - thank you!! Love you.

- Celia - Finallllly! Thanks for your letter!! If you *want* to send that one Argentina dress you wore on your mission, I would looove that, but no pressure!

- Addison - I'm in building 18 M, room 344, I think. Come stalk me!! I eat lunch at 11:50 and 4:50. Please hope no creepers read this. (Dad, make sure Addison gets this info because I want to see him!)

- Ariel! Still dying for your deets. Hope you're doing well and made it to California for Christmas.

- Thanks everyone for all your great letters and I'll try to write back soon.

MTC Letter #7, Dec. 13, 2011

Hi, family and friendies!!

Miss you all so much and hope you're all doing well! Good luck everyone who is in the midst of finals.

So, we always get awesome speakers here at the MTC. This week, Sister Ann Dibb of general young women presidency came to speak to us. She is also President Monson's wife. She gave a really good talk, and then talked about her dad for like 40 minutes and it was awesome to hear some cute, little things about President Monson. (I love when speakers come to the mtc, because they are always so personable.) So here are some fun things I learned about President Monson:

- He loves yellow and he will always say hi to someone wearing yellow and a red-head, because he thinks red-heads get picked on. (Thought of you, Coryn Cope.)

- He doesn't dye his hair. (I guess someone asked her that question once.)

- She said he always reached out to others and recognizes what needs to be done and does it. I think that's impressive.

- He said that he once said that being a secretary in the deacon's quorum was the job that helped him prepare most for his calling as a prophet.

- He loves a turkey dinner, apple pie, mincemeat pie, and hagan daas bars

- She said he's always very complimentary, and everytime she goes over to her parents house to visit, no matter what she is wearing or what she looks like, he will say to his wife, "Doesn't Ann look lovely today? Aren't we so grateful to have Ann in our life!" She said that because of his example she has a testimony of the power that comes when we genuinely recognize others and genuinely compliment them.

- The one that stuck out the most to me was that she said that he always honors others' expectations of him. I love that a lot.

Oh, this week, we also had BYU Men's Chorus come and sing to us and that was so awesome. They sang a spiritual that I loved and some Christmas songs. It was so, so great.

So, this week the new generation of Mandarin speakers came. We were all super nervous waiting for them to come, imagining that we would never be able to impress them with out Chinese. TRUE. Most of them have a Chinese background, and of course, the first day they were there, I was sitting by some of the new elders and chatting with them and one of them said something in Chinese - no clue what he said. Worst fears confirmed. Sister Winters definitely did not take one for the team, as she turned her head and left me to try and act like I knew what he was saying. And basically any encounter we have with him, he says something we don't know. Stressful. We always make jokes about avoiding him, but we don't really. But, seriously! But they are great and they are all nice and it's fun to have more missionaries in our zone to hang out with.

So, my teacher who is Taiwanese, Sister Fan, knows the Faj Mahal, and the other day I was talking to her while we were walking and I didn't know the word "forget" so instead I said, "I don't remember my coat." (instead of "I forgot my coat.") And she looked at me like, seriously? And then she said, "I'm going to tell your dad you said that." I was like, "Nooo! Only tell him my Chinese is awesome!" Another funny thing about her that I have probably said before, is that sometimes we'll think Chinese words or culture things are really funny and she totally doesn't get why we think it's so funny. For example, the other day, we were talking about how in Chinese you can double the same word, to add emphasis. So, the word for weird is "qi guai" but if something is really weird you can say "qi qi guai guai". So then we asked her if we could say extremely in front of that and she was like, "uh, no, that's over-doing it." So, we were like, "What if something super weird happens?" And Sister Winters said, "like ... if someone had an alien for a baby, then could you say extremely weird weird?" And Sister Fan was like, "no, you would just say, 'you had an alien baby!'" We were like, "No, you'd be like, 'that's soooo weird!'" Anyway, it was funny and sometimes she seems kind of perplexed about why we want to know things like that.

Also, I LOVE the mormon.org videos. Favorite. There is this one about this blind Frenchman, named Pierre, ohmygosh, cutest vid ever. You guys should all watch it.

Celia, could you send me a letter with a return address? Slash also your parents' address? I've given Niels a couple of letters to give to you - I hope he's gotten them to you.

Love you all so, so, so much! Good luck with school and finals. I'll remember you in my prayers. Missionary prayers are supposed to be extra good.

Loooove,

Natalie

MTC Letter #6, Dec. 6, 2011

Okay, so a couple of slightly funny things happened this week.

There is this elder that I love in a perfectly platonically way left this week. His name is Elder Soule - I don't think I've written about him? Anyway, he's kind of a mix of my friend JJ Frioux and Kramer from Seinfeld and is really into drama and the arts, etc. I don't know how to describe him, but I can do a really good impersonation, which I will do when I get home. Annnyway, this is what happened between him and Elder Cranney (who Niels knows and describes as being "brilliant and oh-so-sophisticated".) So I was sitting a couple people down from E. Soule at dinner, Sis Winters was next to me and Elder Cranney was next to her. And I had a big, fat cold sore, which Elder Cranney was kind of concerned about. Okay, sorry so much set up. So, we're all sitting there eating and Elder Soule calls down the table:

Soule: "Elder Cranney! What kind of drink do you have??"

Cranney: "Orange juice mixed with cranberry juice."

S: (still yelling) "Orange juice mixed with blue juice?!"

C: repeats himself.

S: "Oh! Can I try a sip??"

C: "Sorry, but I'm not really comfortable with sharing drinks."

At this point in the conversation, Sister Winters told me that Elder STallings (Cranney's comp) was like, "Are you a germophobe?" And Elder Cranney said, "Yeah, sort of. I mean, especially with Sister Christensen having a cold sore. You just never know. She said it's contagious and like a virus."

S: (I don't think he heard Elder Cranney and calls out again) "Can I try a sip of your drink? I don't want to get a whole cup of it, in case I don't like it!" (I know where he's comin' from - love just trying bites and sips - something the Faj Mahal and brothers never understand.)

C: reluntantly passes his drink down to Elder Soule.

Elder Soule proceeds to drink it in the weirdest way ever. For some reason, he pucked his lips out really far, and like sort of put the glass underneath his bottom lip and tilted his head back to drink it. It was awesome and weird. He took two sips, smacking his lips after each one, and then passed the drink back to Elder Cranney.

So then, Sister Winters went to get something and came back and was like, "sis. Christensen, I saw an elder with a cold sore. You guys should be friends." (Good one, Sister Winters.) And then Elder Soule's companion starts pointing at Elder Soule and says something like, "Oh, Elder Soule has a cold sore!" and Elder Soule starts making this kind of sad, really self-conscious face and he starts touching his top lip and he's like, "What are you saying about my cold sore?" And at this point, Sister Winters realized that Elder Soule had a cold sore and that Elder Cranney had continued drinking his drink so she told E. Cranney that Soule has a cold sore and Cranney was like, "What?" And then he started rationalizing is and was like "Okay, well, he didn't touch is mouth to the glass" and "Are there different types of cold sores?"

So, my fear of cold sores is still alive and well in the MTC, and everyone's probably going to start breaking out in them, but it won't be my fault, because I don't share things when I have cold sores. I was cracking up though. Poor Elder Cranney.

Speaking of the lunchroom, another slightly funny story - we were talking about how we were before our missions and how people here have different perceptions of us than we think we really are, so I'm like, "yeah, I think people here think I'm weirder than I am in real life" and right as I'm saying that, my hair dips into my bowl of ice cream and gets stuck in it for a second, and so then everyone was cracking up, and I'm like, great, I just furthered their belief that I am weird. And then Elder Stallings - total gem - got water in my glass and stood to the side of me to block me from the gaze of all the cafeteria missionaries while he encouraged me to dip the end of my hair into my water cup to get the ice cream out of it. Sick. Totes disheveled.

Okay, one more quick funny story to illustrate the dynamic of my zone. We had just finished practicing teaching, and we're evaluating.

Cranney: Is it safe to say we learn from our failures?

Elder Timothy: I mean, you can speak for yourself, but I thought it went great.

me: Elder Timothy is perfect. (I said it in a nice, jokey way.)

Timothy: No, no, I'm not saying I'm perfect, I'm just saying *I* didn't have any big problems... Okay, yeah, so I could also learn how to teach someone to prayer. Okay, so I had to look at the book. But, I mean, other than that it went good.

Sister Fan (our teacher): Little teaching skills need to improve... like, love your companions.

The elders say something a little bit defensive.

Sister Fan: I mean, you just have ... silent fights.

Haha, so funny. Sister Winters and I were trying so hard not to laugh.

Okay, now a spiritual note. The other day we were practicing teaching, using the Holy Ghost in conversion and Brother Mix (our teacher) encouraged us to take the role play seriously, even though it was a "fake" situation. (Because normally, we like to be pagan investigators, and Sister Winters likes to have her Southern Baptist I-love-the-Bible-and-rock-and-roll-at-church accent come out.) So, we were all very serious about it and it was sooo cool, because I felt way nervous and intimidated to teach while being led by the spirit, but I just tried really hard to focus and be calm and it was awesome because I really felt like I was led to certain scriptures as I was being the missionary and then as I was the investigator, Sister Winters really helped me gain some more insight into a long-standing question I have. It was so cool. The church is true. Totally out of time. Love you all sooo dang much and thanks a mil for all the letters. Love them so, so much!!

Natalie

MTC Post #5 November 29, 2011

Dear everyone,

Well, Thanksgiving here was super eventful. The MTC kept us really busy, in hopes of warding off any homesickness, I think. We had 3 devotional/program things scheduled for the day. For the morning devotional, they tried to psyche us out into thinking that the morning devotional wasn't going to be that big of a deal, but 2 of our roommates tipped us off and told us the rumor that a general authority was going to be at the morning devotional instead of the evening one. (Have I talked about how much I LOVE our hermana roommates? They are going to St. George - Spanish speaking. One is from Southern California - she says dude and freaking all the time and loves working out - and the other is from Georgia and has the cutest Southern drawl, and says things like, "Are y'all fixin' to go to supper?" and "That guy gives me the cringies!" And when talking about how big the cracks are in between the stall doors in the dorm bathrooms, she said, "I have made eye contact before while someone was going to the bathroom and it was awwwkward." Anyway, love them. I'll try to send pictures of everyone I talk about sometime soon.) So, since they told us that, we hurried to the devotional and got good seats, which was lucky because Elder Russell M. Nelson came to speak. I think the speakers at the MTC are always so awesome, but it's always cool to hear an apostle speak and you can feel the power they bear. Sister Nelson talked about the importance of doing things the Lord's way and not in the way of men and she talked about how Elder Nelson left his career during it's height in order to accept the call to be an apostle. She showed a picture of him as a surgeon in all his doctor clothes. And then she commented on how attractive she thinks he is. I've never heard a general authority talk about the attractiveness of their spouse, or talking about how attractive a general authority is. Except for Elder Uchtdorf. People always talk about his attractiveness. Also, his grandson taught our Chinese class the other day. Supes exciting. Are you loving this name dropping as much as I am? Anyways, that's the awesome thing about having general authorities come is that they are way more personable and interactive when they speak to us and their personalities show a lot more. Anyway, Elder Nelson talked about how they got the church in Russia.

After that devotional, we all herded into the MTC cafeteria to have our Thanksgiving dinner. Not the most delicious thanksgiving dinner I have had, but totally fine. Actually, it was better than a lot of the food I've had here. Sister Winters and I sat by the Elder we think is the funniest one ever. He doesn't know how much we non-romantically love him, but we always try to have encounters with him.

A little while after dinner, we went to a Thanksgiving program, where the organ played a rousing rendition of "Over the River and Through the Woods", for the opening song. (Try singing that song as a congregation - weird.) Someone sang a stirring Mormon pop song, and then under the direction of the MTC presidency wives, the missionaries performed a little totes non-politically correct skit of the first Thanksgiving.

Then we ate sack dinners in our room, and and THEN we went to do this service project making first aid kits for Somalia. Which was totally cool, except that while putting the kits together, they BLARED super loud rock-style PRIMARY songs. So jarring. And tons of people around us were like dancing and just loving it. Sister Winters was like, "I feel like we're stuck in a bad movie" and "I feel like we accidentally attended a nursery camp" and other funny things. Still just love Sister Winters. We crack each other up super easily, over things that aren't really funny at all so I won't list them off. But she's seriously like the best compy I could hope for.

Anyway, after that, we watched 17 Miracles, that pioneer movie. I think it's a new one? Anyway, the movie talked about Bodil Mortensen, who is totally my ancestor! So that was kind of fun.

This week, all the older generation (the people who got here a few weeks before us) of Mandarin missionaries left. That means we are now the older generation. Totes scary. I'm close to my halfway mark for when I leave the MTC - I think next week it'll be half way. The next generation comes in on December 7th. I think just even within the last few days, my Chinese has gotten a bit better and I am able to speak a little bit more. I really love the language and am really happy that I'm learning it, even though it's hard and lots of the words still sound the same to me. I always think it's funny when we say a word with the wrong tones, our Taiwanese teacher is like, "huh?!" and has nooo clue what we are trying to say and then once we get the tones right, she is like, "ohhh." So funny.

Anyway, love you all immensely and thanks so much everyone who has written me and emailed me. I'll write back asap. Family, I'm writing you letters today, so you'll get them shortly.

Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Love,

Natalie