Leih hou!! Leihdeih hou ma?? (Hello! How're you all doing?)
Ahh where do I even start?! I LOVE the MTC! There really is such a spirit unlike any other on this campus. I am learning so much here, and it's only been 5 days!!
First off, thanks to the Adams family for letting me stay with them once I arrived to Utah! Such a blessing to have such a great family take great care of me! And it's been awesome hanging out with Sister Adams! (It's been a struggle trying to call her that and not Mindy. Especially since we're in the same district learning Canto and we see each other ALL. THE. TIME. It's so fun!!!)
Anyways, there are two districts of Canto speakers that arrived and all of the old Canto missionaries going to HK left earlier this morning. They were such a great group though! Kind of rambunctious considering there were about 18 elders and 2 sisters. You could tell they were ready to leave the MTC. Hahahaha!
So my district has 7 sisters and 2 elders (the only elders learning Canto right now I might add. They probably feel like they are drowning in estrogen. Hahaha!) We've got a wide variety of people in our district, but we are all so close! They're so much fun, and I enjoy learning Cantonese with them!
My companion is Sister Shiffert! She's adopted from China and all of her other sibling were adopted from China and Kazahstan, which is so awesome! We have similar personalities, but different interests, so we don't get bored with each other. She's so sweet and I am excited about all the things I've already learned from her and will continue to learn from her. We make a really solid companionship too and we work really well together. We're also directionally challenged, so we get lost at the MTC together all the time. So that's fun. Hahaha!
The first day at the MTC was overwhelming to say the least. Once we got to our classroom, we were given Chinese names and everyone's except for mine was relatively simple. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to finally pronounce it correctly. And then I had to be reminded how to pronounce it again multiple times. My Chinese name is Leiuh Ji Muih (except the tone that's used makes me sound like a man.....). Yeah, I know.
Anyways, I LOVE learning Cantonese! WAY more than I thought I would! The sounds and tones are very hard, but I enjoy learning Cantonese with my district. They also help with my singing voice! I'm thinking my parents shouldn't have invested in voice lessons growing up and should have had me learn Cantonese instead. A two-in-one kind of deal. Hahahaha! Our teacher, Jong Hingdaih, is awesome too!! He is the most experienced Canto teacher in the MTC and he's very patient with me. He only speaks Cantonese with us too, even when he's teaching us. But the gift of tongues is SO real, I've been able to grasp what he's teaching us. Some of the words are similar to Japanese too, so that's helpful!
We taught our first lesson on Friday! All in Cantonese too. Our mouhdouhjeh's (investigator's) name is Joe. He went to Catholic school when he was younger and used to know Christ, but he doesn't really have a relationship with him anymore. His dad died when he was 5, his mom has cancer and Joe works to pay for the medical bills, and his older sister went away. So he has a lot of problems with his family, but he wants a better life. We've taught him two lessons so far and he's progressed SO much with us! We've made a lot of mistakes as we've been teaching him, but we've been able to not only be prepared with a lesson, but we've been able to teach with the spirit and that has seriously made all the difference. During our second lesson, I read Joseph Smith's first vision (if you haven't read it, READ IT!) to him in Cantonese and I totally thought I had butchered the sounds and tones on everything. But when I finished, his eyes were all read and touched his heart and said a sentence with the word seungseun (believe), which I had just learned the night before and basically said that he believed what we were telling him!! He then touched his heart and said he was feeling something (again, gift of tongues is REAL.). When we told him it was the Holy Ghost (Singling), he had a confused look on his face and asked him a question, but we couldn't understand him. So he then drew a picture of a ghost and asked if that was inside him. We laughed and explained to him what it was and he understood our (probably broken) Cantonese. He always has lots of great questions!! We are teaching him again tonight the Plan of Salvation and hope to commit him to baptism!
I just wanted to share a few spiritual thoughts I had over the week before my emailing time comes to a close.
Doubt will always drive the spirit away. Always. When I first started learning Cantonese, all of my Japanese came back and I even found myself having conversations in Japanese with some of the elders in the dining hall during meals. It made me SO jealous of the missionaries called to Japan and I found myself wondering why I couldn't have been called there too. One night while I was praying, I found myself repenting for doubting my language assignment and praying for the spirit to be with me. What the heck?! I didn't even know that was something I needed to repent for! Nonetheless, the words came out of my mouth and I pondered over them for a few days. One day when our teacher, Jong Hingdaih, was ending his class, he bore his testimony (in Cantonese, of course), that he knew that we weren't meant to go to Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, or anywhere else. He knew that our Heavenly Father wants and needs us in Hong Kong because there are people the Lord needs us to bring the gospel to. He loves us and wouldn't have asked us to learn Cantonese and go to HK if he wasn't going to prepare a way for us to do so.
Since I have pushed the doubt I had in my mind away and replaced it with faith, I have been able to retain so much more Gwongdungwah (Cantonese) than I was able to before. I can now pray, bear my testimony, and understand quite a bit of Cantonese, and it has only been 5 DAYS. If that's not God helping me, I don't know who is. I absolutely know that the Lord is blessing me everyday to learn and understand Cantonese. Sitting in class for along periods of time is really hard, but I have been able to learn SO much about what God can do through me, and I can't wait for the other miracles the Lord will perform through me.
Also, during our Sunday Devotional w/ Chad Lewis (former BYU and Phil. Eagles football player), he shared a quote from Elder Bednar that applies to so much to me that I wanted to share real quick:
"God must really love Chinese people because He made so many of them!!"
The field is SO white in China, you guys. I feel so much love and compassion for the people of Hong Kong and I am reassured everyday that I am exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to be doing. I love China, I love the MTC, I love to be obedient to the mission rules (again, miracles happen when you're obedient!!! Whole other topic though.), I love the power and happiness that comes from my missionary name tag, and most of all, I love the Savior, Jesus Christ, and the power that I can receive from on high because of His atoning sacrifice
Ngoi leihdeih!!!! (I love you all!!) Have a fantastic week and remember that Christ loves YOU.
Sister Leonard/ Leiuh Ji Muih)