Thursday, October 14, 2010
Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:22:16 PM
Subject: More Chinese
Reading the letter from the Taylors I realize how little I am enjoying the culture here. As a group, missionaries here seem to try to search out as much American culture as they can. It's really a shame. Of course we all miss home, so we look for things that remind us of home, like food, activities, stores, but we are missing all the wonderful stuff around us! So my companion and I are trying to become more Chinese while we are here. It's easier for him, he looks like the rest of them.
Part of that for me is a renewed emphasis on studying the language. And part of that is doing my first ever week long English fast. And that is a pain. Tomorrow is the last day and I am terribly excited. One of the problems is that the other missionaries don't speak this language. So I cannot communicate with them. But it helps me find words I do not know.
Another part is trying to learn to make Chinese food. Usually I just make whatever, often American, but lately I'm trying to master the use of ginger and soy sauce so that my Chinese food tastes authentic. I usually add too much and it's just a blast of salt and ginger and garlic. It's hard to get the subtlety right. But what better place to learn that in China where I can test it against the real stuff whenever I want?
Recently the Brethren have asked us as missionaries to teach at least twenty lessons a week, if not to investigators then to recent converts, less active or part member families. I think they want us to focus on teaching and improving our teaching skills, and encourage the members to do more of the finding. So far we have not been able to do it, but we are working hard, and teaching more than ever before. It's really nice. I much prefer teaching.
Yesterday we met with a former investigator from Taiwan. He loves drawing and painting and art. It was fun to talk to him, but it became obvious that the most important thing in his life is art. He said that. First art, and then church on Sunday. Everything we tell him he accepts, but doesn't seem to understand why it's important. He wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon, because he said he wouldn't read it. "When I have time I read those book, self help books, books about what to eat and how to live." "Who wrote those ones?" I asked. "Well, people did." "And what about this one?" "Well, God did, so it's different. I can't accept it." It's really hard not to get frustrated with that kind of response. Luckily we had a recent convert with us who is very optimistic. Afterword he said, "Well, that went well! I was the same at first. Don't worry, it'll come." I guess that's true. Getting frustrated and mad never helps. Loving and serving and teaching the simple principles does help. Sometimes after a long time, it just suddenly clicks, and they understand why the gospel is important. The same thing happens to me with gospel principles all the time. I learn them, I believe them, and understand and can answer any question about them, but then one day while reading the scriptures I suddenly just get it. Understand so much more the things I've known since Primary. So i just have to keep giving people that opportunity. And remember it isn't from me. It has to be between the person and God. Like a less active member said on Tuesday, "No, I won't commit to you to do anything. That's what I've always done, committed to the missionaries. But as soon as they leave it becomes so easy to just give up. This has to be between me and God." Oh yeah, that's right.
I love you. The Church is true.