May 18, 2016


Provo MTC


Elder Eisert

Week 4 MTC Letter

Week 4. The music withdrawals are getting worse. The cold sweats have stopped, but my fingers still twitch. Sometimes I find myself fondling the soft wood and strings of a guitar, only to wake up in tears when I find out it's dream.

Music is illegal in the MTC. I have an iPod with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and stuff, but I can't listen to it until I get to Taiwan. We have a language learning program called TALL, and every time it turns on, an electronic voice sings a little tune. I'm so deprived, that a small burst of joy shoots through me each time I hear it.

Despite my longing for music getting worse, the MTC is getting easier. Not only am I used to twelve hours a day in the classroom, I'm starting to find comfort in the familiarity. The first thing I used to think of when I woke up was how excited I was to go to bed that night. Now it's the second thing I think of, after how excited I am to learn fifty new words in Chinese.

Chinese is coming along. It is an amazing language. I'm starting to appreciate it for its almost unbelievable simplicity. There are just over fifty different one syllable sounds, and each word is made up of these. The tones and order of the sounds give the word meaning. As difficult as Chinese is, as my mind has started to compartmentalize these sounds, I have found it easier to learn and understand new words.

When I came to the MTC, I expected everyone to be hugging and singing kumbaya. I wasn't that wrong; we hug everyone (except sisters), but instead of kumbaya, we sing "Called to Serve."

I'm actually quite sick of singing "Called to Serve."

Anyway, what I mean is, I thought that everyone would be good friends and there would be no petty feuds and arguments. I was wrong about that. Us Mandarin speakers share a building with the Cantonese speakers.

Because Cantonese is an extremely difficult, bizarre, and largely a useless post-mission language, we feel obligated to give them a hard time. Yesterday, someone who hates me very much sent me a package of Hostess cupcakes and stuff in the mail. Two Mandarin Elders and I were eating these in the stairwell, because we aren't allowed to eat in the classroom, when we had the brilliant idea to leave our wrappers on the desks of the Cantonese missionaries.

It was a light hearted joke we thought would bring us closer together as missionaries. They would see the cupcakes, and get excited, only to find out the wrappers were empty. While sitting in the regular Tuesday devotional, our hearts sank with a realization:

The Branch Presidency comes on Tuesday night because of the devotional. The Cantonese Branch President would likely see the wrappers, think that his missionaries were eating in the class, and eventually, through a long train of chastisement, would get back to us as the culprits. I had visions of kissing my Zone Leadership position goodbye, and then my creativity took over and I saw myself being sent home for such a childish prank.

I'm happy to inform you that after the meeting we were able to rush back and throw away the wrappers with no ill repercussions. The moral of the story is, if you are going to be stupid, make sure you can cover it up.

My Uncle Greg made it clear to me that many mission letters can be kind of boring, because they are full of stories about people from South America with whom we have no personal connection. I'm going to ignore his advice and tell you a story about someone from South America with whom none of you have any personal connection.

My companion and I have been lucky enough to teach a real investigator in English. One of the cafeteria workers is a Catholic who has interest in the Church. He comes from a difficult family situation in Chile, and is here because BYU is helping him learn English. Last Saturday we gave him the first discussion. The Spirit was strong.

In class, they tell us to ask for Baptism in the first or second lesson, which I thought was ridiculous. We actually asked him though, and he said that if he received a personal witness of the Book of Mormon, he was willing to accept baptism.

It was amazing, and I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to do this before I even really start my mission. It has been amazing to help him.

The MTC is still hard and often boring and usually frustrating. But I love this weird little place. My uncle calls it the Holy Prison. I think that's a pretty good name for it.

Elder Westcott


(that means stay sick, it's my new chinese catch phrase)


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