Date

April 27, 2016

Area

Provo MTC

Companion

Elder Eisert

Week 1 MTC Letter

I'm actually at the MTC. In nine weeks, I'll leave to Taiwan. Nine weeks sounds so clinical though; it doesn't sound real. Saying I have nine weeks in the MTC is like saying sixty people were killed in Iraq or something. It doesn't sound that bad until you experience it.

Nine weeks is no longer an abstract concept. It seems like an incomprehensibly long time to be here. However, the MTC isn't hard, in fact, it's surprisingly easy for what it is we are doing. And what we are doing is like eleven hours of classroom discussion per day. The Spirit is definitely helping me. I have an ability to think through things and solve problems quickly in a way I've never done before. I'm constantly thinking of new ways to say things in both English and Chinese I never would have thought of before.

Chinese is harder than French. In French, if you don't know how to say something, there's like a 60% chance the word you are looking for is the same as the English word with a french accent. That is not true in Chinese. There are no crossover words except for "okay."
Even the names of books in the Book Of Mormon are different. "Moroni" becomes "Mouloni"--with a bunch of weird intonations.

The intonations are really hard. In Chinese, you cannot use emotion in what you say. You have to get emotion across by volume, intensity, and facial expressions. Many sentences sound like questions, even though they are statements, because of intonation. The intonation is killer. To learn a word, you first have to learn how to say it, and then you have to learn the intonation.

That being said, I'm learning Chinese at a ridiculously fast rate. After just a week, I can carry on a decent conversation in Chinese, understand our teacher who only speaks Chinese, and say my own prayer in full Chinese. Eleven hours a day of practice, plus the Spirit's help really work well together. I think I will be as good at Chinese as I have ever been at French within a couple weeks.Inevitably, I still make a lot of mistakes. Luckily the other members of our zone, and the adjacent Chinese zone are always eager to help.

Even though Chinese is hard, the teachers and curriculum are constantly focused on keeping us comfortable and easing us into situations. We didn't even have to teach our first 30 minute lesson, in Chinese, to an investigator who spoke no English until our second day in the MTC. That was pretty hard. We stumbled through. I may not be a very good missionary because while both of us sat there trying to make sense, my companion was diligently searching through an English to Chinese Dictionary while I kind of just sat there giggling because I thought the whole situation was funny.

My district is fantastic. Since it's such a slow time for the MTC, there are only six of us, which is small. There are two sister companionships, and my companion and me. I was called to be the District Leader, which means I will lead meetings and report to the Branch Presidency for the next four weeks, and then my companion will be the District Leader. The most important thing I do is getting the mail. Everyone is nice to me because they know if they aren't, the chocolate they got shipped from their parents will be my chocolate.

The zone is amazing. There are barely any of us Elders, so every night we get together in the residence and enjoy snacks sent from our parents. Sometimes we talk about the gospel, sometimes we talk about comic books. I hold a lot of extra cards because I've seen the Batman V Superman and the Civil War trailer with Spiderman. My room has six beds, but only four elders, so we usually all meet in my room.

I've learned so much about the Spirit in the last week. I've always though the Spirit is a fleeting occurrence that happens when you hear something good at church or go to the temple. I didn't realize the Spirit can constantly be present, sharpening your mind. I can think faster and better than I ever have, even though I'm running on no sleep. I don't think I've ever really known with the surety I have now that the Church really is true. It's amazing how easy it is to get such blessings as I have this last week.


My mom asked me in an email, "How would other missionaries portray me?"

I like to think they would best portray me with a classical music piece. No brass, just string instruments, percussion, and woodwind. It would start out very slow and deep, with cellos and bass leading the way, followed by a rousing violin movement. The piece would end with a whimsical flute solo followed ending on the IV chord to make people angry.

I love you all,

Elder Westcott

Wei Zhang lao




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