Hello! Dim a! (That means 'what's up?')
First off, happy birthday to Dearest Quinn and Emmy and Kennedy! And Uncle Chris too, I guess... :) I guess I probably missed out on some delicious seven-layered cakes. But I miss you all even more!
Life in the MTC goes on, as per usual. Sister Law has decided to leave with the older Cantonese district in a couple of weeks, so once she leaves I'll be a 'solo sister.' That means that the elders will have to escort me everywhere, and in class one of them will be assigned to be my 'class and teaching companion.' I'll miss Sister Law, but I don't blame her one bit for wanting to get out of here and start serving! She's going to be great.
One thing that I love about the MTC (as I've mentioned before) is the musical atmosphere. Nowhere else could you expect to be serenaded while showering by about four or five different singers singing four or five different songs. There is one companionship whom I have never seen, but who have the most beautiful singing voices. They sing duets together every night, and it's always great. This week I've had songs from Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella stuck in my head. "In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whoever I want to be." "Do I love you because you're beautiful? Or are you beautiful because I love you?"
Can I even convey to you how awesome it is to sing 'We'll Bring the World His Truth' here? They change the words at the end: "And we are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world his truth." The first time we sang those lines, I felt the reality of them hit me like a ton of spiritual bricks.
Speaking of music, I finally caved and bought a French hymnbook from the bookstore. I know it's probably not conducive to learning Cantonese, but I can't help but open it every couple of days (hours) and sing a couple lines (ten hymns) to myself (as loud as I can). I miss French! But if necessary, I would give it up in a heartbeat to learn Cantonese. I'm just hoping that won't be required!
There aren't that many things in the MTC cafeteria that I'll rave about. The pasta is okay, the cereal is always good... Regardless of what our elders say, NOTHING will make me eat the Malibu chicken sandwich or the chicken cordon bleu. That ain't happenin'. But when they put out the chocolate crinkle cookies (with powdered sugar, just like we make for Christmas), my days of healthy eating were over. My goal to not gain weight in the MTC was doomed. But you know what? I don't care! Bump that! I'm going to eat as many chocolate crinkle cookies as I can! I will smuggle out a whole pan of them if necessary.
One of my favorite Cantonese expressions is 'Cheng choh' (pronounced 'chang chaw'). It means 'please sit,' and you never say it just once. Whenever Gu Hingdaih or Fu Hingdaih tell us to 'cheng choh,' I always repeat it to myself over and over again. It's just the most archetypal Chinese phrase ever.
So last night we had an awesome fireside by Brother Allen, one of the MTC directors (or something like that). He talked about the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints" and compared our missions to the pioneer treks. As I read the words to the hymn again, it really struck me how powerful that hymn is. "No toil nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way. Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day. Tis better far for us to strive, our useless cares from us to drive." He asked us what useless cares we've have since coming on our mission. I could think of about a million or so. And he told us to just let them go. Drive them away with hard work and a positive attitude. "Why should we mourn and think our lot is hard? Tis not so, all is right. Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight. Gird up your loins, fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake." I just love that! Sometimes I feel entitled to have it easier than I do. But seriously? Be real! This isn't supposed to be easy! But God won't forsake us. I just love that.
I've been thinking a lot about the scripture in Matthew where the Lord says, "Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." And then when you go to Isaiah 53 where it says, "He is despised and rejected of men. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." How could a man who endured such terrible treatment as Christ did still say, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light"? It amazes me. It's because when you live like Christ, with a love for all men, you can feel peace and happiness regardless of your situation. You can say--even when you're rejected by your own countrymen or betrayed by one who professes to love you, to call you 'Master'--with joy, "All is well." I want to be like that.
Sister Law: Dang it! I messed up! Does anyone have white-out?
Elder Morton: I have Tide to Go...
In other news, I've seen about a million people that I know here: Jordan Brassell and J.J. Gibbons from Poquoson Ward; Jimmy Davidson from intramural basketball; and then Spencer, Anita, Jennifer, and Chelsea from Sparks. It's so fun to run into those people! And it keeps reminding me that there's a world outside the MTC. It's weird.
Thank you so much for your letters! I LOVE them! I miss you all so much, but wouldn't be anywhere else in the whole world! Talk to you next week! :)