Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Made it to Taiwan!

Greeted by President and Sister Bishop at the Taipei Airport
Hello family and friends,
Holy cow! I've had a crazy week.  So I'll start with waking up last Tuesday for my flight.  Woke up at 3 am to finish getting everything ready and then boarded the bus to come to salt lake.  It was so refreshing to leave the MTC and see familiar things.  I felt so free! Boarded the plane and headed to Detroit.  Cool story, there was a little baby who was freaking out on the plane: screaming, crying, being loud and everything.  It was bugging a lot of people so I decided to say a pray to calm here down.  The moment I said "Dear Heavenly Father" she immediately stopped from here screaming.  Pretty cool story how the Lord answers prayers. Sorry we had so much trouble with the phone cards.  In Detroit, the only people I could get a hold of were the kids and mom.  Everyone else didn't answer.  But I finally tried Aunt Paulina and Uncle Mike and was talking with Benjamin for like 20 seconds and then my money ran out so it disconnected me.  Sorry!  Then boarded the plane for Tokyo.  Longest plane flight ever!  Took a few pictures for you mom and dad, but it wasn't much.  Got back on a plane for Taiwan.  Finally got through and picked up our luggage and met President and Sister Bishop, along with the APs.  Walked outside and this big rush of humidity hit me.   It is so hot here!!! Even at midnight!! We then took about a 2 1/2 hour bus ride down to Taichung. I forgot to bring my cable to upload pictures so I'll send them next week.  They have the sickest buses.  That night we stayed at the zone leaders home for our orientation the next few days. 
Thursday morning we woke up went on a nice, extremely hot, humid run.  It felt so good though.  I am so out of shape but with the Taichung exercise schedule I'll be in shape in no time.  Running every other morning, lifting weights every other morning, and then biking everyday.  Had our orientation about everything and then headed to lunch.  Right before we left Brother Nield walked in the mission home door.  So weird to see an old member from our ward in a random house in Taiwan.  We had a nice chat haha.  We then went out and had a hot pot lunch.  Pretty much what you do is you pick a broth type stuff, then you grab everything else you want: clam, beef, pork, squid, pig intestine, noodles, and tons of other stuff and you cook it in this broth.  SO GOOD!! And yes, it was my first time trying squid, clam, and pig intestine.  They weren't that bad.  Went back and continued the orientation and later went back out to dinner.  They never stop feeding you here.  At dinner we had some more amazing food.  First time having herbal tea and Beijing Pecking Duck.  Right after I had to use the bathroom, sorry this may be gross, but I had to go #2.  Walked in the stall and saw a squatter toilet.  I didn't know how to use it so I just held it until we got back to the mission home haha.  After dinner we went and headed out into the night market and did the "Dan Jones."  So scary! Didn't know what I was saying or anything, but I did it.  Then they took us around and had me start talking to people.  Even scarier!  I talked to a bunch of people and got contact info from 13 people.  So not bad for not knowing the language.  I was so tired that when we got back home I just dropped on the bed and fell asleep. 
Friday was the day we found out who our trainer was, but not without eating another filling breakfast.  They never stop feeding you here.  Finally we walked in the mission home and all the trainers met us there, but we didn't know who we had.  There was some more orientation and then I finally found out who my trainer was.  Elder Blake Johnson, who is from Mapleton, Utah.  We were assigned to the Fengjia area, near the mission home. All the missionaries then went to T.G.I. Fridays and had our last hamburger for a while.  We left and finally got to our apartment, dropoped my stuff off, and went straight to work.  Met and taught a man at McDonalds.  The spirit can truly teach anywhere, well mostly anywhere.  We stopped back off at the apartment and picked up my new bike.  Lookin’ so sweet, I don't wanna paint it.  Went right back out to work.  We headed to a park and went contacting.  I met my first Yi guan dao person.  They pretty much believe that any road leads back to God, something like that.  I'm sure Uncle Mike would know so ask him for a better answer.  He was the craziest, weirdest guy ever.
Saturday was my first full day in the mission field.  After studies, my companion called the APR list while I contacted.  Pretty much I just road from each side of the road to the other and talked to people.  SCARY!  Oh I gotta tell you about the traffic here.  Their laws are weird to me.  Pretty much everyone here in Taiwan owns at least 5 motorcycles/vespa.  They are everywhere!  They are the ones who own the street.  Anyway, they are the ones I contacted. Stopped to eat lunch and a young man sat down next to us and asked if he could talk.  He said he had seen us riding around, talking with people and wanted to know what we were all about.  So we told him.  He has definitely been prepared by the Lord.  We left and went and contacted some more.  We had a lesson with a man who is a hair cutter, and we met at his salon.  Couldn't hear anything in the lesson cause of the music playing, and the baseball game that was going on.  Afterwards went and contacted some more and then headed to a baptismal service.  Even though I didn't understand a single word, the Spirit was still present and I definitely felt it. 
First Sunday in the field, and first entire church meeting in Chinese.  After sacrament meeting I got up and introduced myself.  Very intimidating thing when there are like 30 Asians staring at you and you have no clue what to say in a native language you hardly know.  It went well though.  We then went out and tried to get a few less actives back to church.  We met with this old man who is originally from Hong Kong and has a terrible accent.  He served a mission, served as a branch president, and now doesn't believe there is a god.  It's sad to see how a testimony can be shattered like that.  We searched and searched for less actives, but none were home.  We were thinking they were all with family because nearly every family was out in the street with food on a table, burning paper money for their ancestors.  Don't know exactly what it is called.  Then we went to the singles FHE.  It is a fun activity and we had a bbq.  Bbq'd meat, green peppers, mushrooms, bacon!  YUM.  
Crazy first week.  Well, I'm doing well!  Hope you all are as well.  Its rough serving a mission, being expected to bring others unto Christ even though I don't know the language.  But, I do know that through the Lord all things are possible, even learning Chinese.  In Preach My Gospel it says that in order to have the gift of tongues one must work their hardest and struggle with it.  Something along those lines.  Look it up.  I know it'll be rough, tough, and I'll hate it, but I'll love being a missionary.  I love you all and just know I am in the best hands I can possibly be in.  With all my love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 25, 2011

MTC: Week #11

Why Hello Everyone,
So guess who is heading for Taiwan in the morning?? This guy!!! I am so excited.  I'm ready to get outta here, even though my Chinese isn't the best.  I cannot wait to leave.  So family, there was a slight change in my flight plans.  I mentioned it in my package home, but you won't get that for a couple days.  So we still head over to Detroit, but from Detroit we are heading to Tokyo Japan :) I think we are just refueling there but I will be able to say I've been to Japan now!  From there we are going to Taiwan.  So thank you for everything you sent me.  I love it all!  Packing these past couple days has been crazy because I have so many toiletries that were sent that they fill up one of my suitcases.  Hopefully I fit it all in.  I sent a package home with Julia's present. Julia--hope your birthday was fantastic!!! Enjoy your gift. Aunt Paulina and Uncle Mike, thank you so much for the package.  The peanut butter bars were AMAZING!!!
So quickly about this week.  We have just done our usual teaching, studying, and everything.  Few things... Last Tuesday Brother Hammond came and talked to us.  I forget what he said and my notebook is packed up but I remember it was good.  Wednesday and Thursday Elder Larson wrote the best poem ever! Maybe someday I'll have the privilege to share it.  Friday was Infield Success Day.  They talked about many things that will be happening in the next couple days and to better prepare us.  Things such as faith, planning, working with members, etc... Saturday was our last TRC teaching.  We just read scriptures with our person and shared insights.  He told us he will be in Taiwan in December and he wants to invite us over for dinner if we are in the area.  He gave me his phone number and email address.  I cannot wait.  Sunday was amazing.  In sacrament meeting me (piano), Sister Post(violin), and another Elder(cello) did a musical number "Our Savior’s Love."  We tried for a musical spot at one of the devotionals last week.  The lady who chooses said she really loved us but she wanted a few things fixed on the violin so she told us to come back.  We decided we would just do it in sacrament meeting and so we did.  Then all the people leaving did another musical number "Army of Helaman" with "Hark All Ye Nations".
Well thank you for everything.  Sorry this is all over the place.  I'm trying to type as fast as I can.  Wish me luck!!!  I'll be calling in the morning at the airport and when I land each time.  So yeah!!! Love you allElder Smith

p.s. Just now I gave a blessing to Elder Clawson.  He had some ingrown toenails and really wanted a blessing. It was on the spot but it was awesome—My first time giving a blessing to the sick.  Thanks dad for giving me the opportunity to do the anointing to Grandpa Kohkonen. I just got a letter from Elder Green.  His Chinese is pretty good and I cannot wait to improve my own Chinese.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MTC: Week #10

Host for Elder Preston Anderson
Hello everybody,
How's everything going for ya’ll wherever you are?  Hope all is well!  Dad, thanks for the letter.  I'll touch up on it later.  Mom, I don't know what you did this week but keep up with the exercising.  Spencer, have fun working at Subway.  Have a fun summer and don't hurt the van.  Julia, I hope girl’s camp was fun for you.  Tell me about it if you can.  Landon, keep on working on scouts and keep reading those Narnia books of yours.  Thanks everyone for your letters.  Grandma and Grandpa, thanks for the package of items.  I was almost out of stuff right when I received it so that's good.  Almost forgot, hope Harry Potter was good.  When I was getting my haircut today, some girl was talking about it.  I tried not to listen.  That'll be the first movie I see when I get back. 
Well this past week has been pretty awesome, but looking back it seems like not much happened.  Last Tuesday I started reading "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven".  I know it’s not in the missionary library but I had to read it.  It made me set some goals for now as a missionary, as well as in the future.  On Wednesday I hosted again.  I waited and waited for Elder Anderson to come in, and started to get worried I had missed him.  I then saw a car that looked like it could be theirs so I got way excited and anticipated where they would be dropped off.  Luckily it was him.  I see you got the pictures of us together!  It was way sweet and we had some nice conversations about everything.  (Also, one of the missionaries' friends' threw Beto's burritos over the fence and so I got one :) haha)  Thursday, was the day I had been looking forward to for a while.  I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS!! I sent a copy home, and yeah it is weird that I am traveling through Detroit.  I don't know why. . . Ever since I have got them, it has been really hard to focus.  Friday was our last normal Friday in the MTC because this coming Friday we have orientation.  We had the normal studies and classes.  However, during district study, we watched Johnny Lingo.  They put it up on so we watched it.  Saturday, we taught our TRC person, who is actually a native from Taiwan.  He brought he's friend or relative from Taiwan and she had a Tawainese accent.  It was hard to understand because she had the accent, plus she talked super super fast.  We taught him about the law of the fast and he asked us why we fast.  I have never ever thought about why we do—I've done it just because we are commanded to do it.  I found an article entitled "Struggle for the Soul" which is really good and talks about it.  I now know why we fast and the effect it has on us, not just on Fast Sundays.  Sunday, without going into too much detail, I realized the effects of the Atonement and the reason why we partake of the sacrament.  The sacrament really does help us to become clean again, and that is because of the Atonement.  This morning, Tuesday, my district and another mandarin district had the opportunity to clean the Provo Temple.  It is kind of weird being in the Lord's house without wearing the actual temple clothing.  We wore scrubs which are so nice and comfy.  By the way, I look good in scrubs :) We cleaned the floor that had the celestial room.  We vaccuumed, cleaned windows, and the ordinance rooms.  It was pretty amazing to think that we were cleaning God's home.  Not very many people get that opportunity.  Anyway, I'm just enduring to the end here at the MTC, and next Tuesday I'll be on a plan to Taiwan!
So here are a few random things.  I found out Kim Hintze is going to Hong Kong, Cantonese speaking.  That is way awesome.  I also found out that her older sister, the one that just returned from Taipei, was my current MTC teacher's companion.  Hope that makes sense.  Her name is Sister Weinhiemer? ( I don't know how to spell it)  I bought new scriptures, hope that is fine with you.  I'm still waiting for something to come in for Julia.  Hope it comes in one of these days.  If not I'm sorry, but I'll still send something for her.  So I'll need a few items for my carry on case on the plane.  I'll need a few 3 oz bottles for my contact solution.  When we get to Taiwan, we won't have access to our main luggage for 2 days, and so I'll need enough for my contacts.  I'll need a few of the smallest things of toothpaste, for the same reason.  I would buy a travel kit here but I don't wanna waste like 10 bucks for like 2 things I would use.  If you can send some of that whitening gel and some more contact solution, in the bigger bottles for later.  Also some dryer sheets for Taiwan.
Dad, all those albums, talks, sound amazing.  I cannot wait to listen to all of them.  Thanks for all the hard work you put into that.  Also thanks for the chinese books you'll be sending.  Those will help out so much I can already tell.  Thanks so much!
If you want to send some calling cards that would be awesome.  I'll call before I leave SLC and in Detroit. 
Anthony, if you didn't hear, I will be traveling from SLC to Detroit, Michigan, and I have (I think) a 3 hour layover.  Then from there I fly straight to Taipei, Taiwan, which is about 17 hours.  Then it is a 3 hour bus/train ride to Taichung.  So there ya go.  Keep working hard in Costa Rica. Love you all and next time I'll be writing from the Orient!!!!! Elder Smith

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MTC: Week #9

Lucky . . . saw some familiar Californians at the temple!
Hello everyone,
The days just keep flying by.  How is everything going for you?  Dad how's the hip coming along? You still doing therapy?  It sounds like you guys had a fun time hiking the Y this past week.  When I would walk outside I would look up the mountain to see if I could see you guys.  Who knows, maybe I did?  I never climbed it while I was at the Y, which I wish I would have.  Sounds like all is well with the fam though.  Keep working hard at that exercise place Mom, Spencer, and Julia.  Landon, keep working hard in your scouting.  Also, keep reading those books of yours.  Anthony, sounds like you had a super crazy week, but it sounds fun at the same time.  Hope you are doing well and keep pushing forward these last few months you have.  Thanks for all the pics from my friends!  Looks like Braden is having a wonderful time.  Chicken feet and heads=nasty.  But those pics from him and the bushman people look AWESOME!!!  It reminded me of my Anthropology class at BYU cause the Bushman are like all we focused on.  It made me want to go down there just to get a pic with them.
Sorry this letter will be short, nothing out of the ordinary happened this week. So each day has been filled with its different study times: personal, language, companionship, and guided study.  Each one is used to prepare for my next teaching lesson, so it varies day to day.  So that is probably the only thing that changes day to day, and its not by much.  On Sunday I had the opportunity to give the sacrament prayer in chinese.  It's a little scary doing it in a different language your first time, I'm just glad I did before I went to Taiwan.  I found out that this Wednesday, tomorrow, I will be hosting again.  It just so happens that Preston Anderson is coming in tomorrow, so I'll just be hanging out until I see him, and then I'll host him in here.  If you by chance see him before he leaves, send me a  Well two more weeks left and I'll be flappin' on outta here.  This Thursday I get my travel plans so I'll tell you every detail about my flight plans next week. 
Sorry this letter is so short compared to the others.  Hope all is well with you and I love you all, yes, even you Julia!  Don't miss me too much!  Anthony, endure to the end and work your hardest! 
Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MTC: Week #8

The American Flag outside the Provo Temple
Hello family and friends,
Wow time is flying by so fast right now.  Three weeks exactly from today, I'll be sitting on a plane to Taiwan.  Can't wait!  Hope everything is going well for all you wherever you are.  It was sad to hear about Sister Christensen.  A death in the family is always hard for the family, but it sounds like all is well!  Those were some wonderful quotes you gave me from the funeral mom.  Elder Holland is such a good man, and has such a strong testimony.  Dad, thanks for the letter.  I'll answer those questions in a bit.  Mom, continue working hard with your exercise and work.  Your hard work will pay off.  Anthony, it was good to get your email.  Keep working hard these next few months.  Spencer, have as much fun as you can this summer.  You'll always think back to the memories you had. (Convince mom and dad to let you go to cali one of these summers:)  )  Julia, keep up the hard work. I don't know what your plans are . . . soccer/volleyball, but whatever it is, play your best in each game like it were your last.  Landon, keep up the scouting.  Work your hardest and keep smiling
So this past week was pretty exciting.  Last Tuesday, William R. Walker came and spoke to us at the devotional on the 10 things to do in order to become a successful missionary.  It truely gave me the desire to work a lot harder.  Wednesday, not much happened besides the missionaries coming in.  Thursday, we found out that both of our teachers were ditching us.  One of them, Brother Barton, has been working here for 3 years and so he can no longer work here.  He is honestly the coolest guy ever.  We already have a ping-pong game, basketball game, and golf tee time set up for when I get back.  So I'm pretty excited! If you got my memory card, there should be a picture of us with him by the big map of the world.  Our other teacher, Brother Prier, thinks that getting married is more important than teaching us (ha ha), and so he is running off with his fiance this weekend to get married in the Idaho temple.  So we now have two new teachers, one we haven't met yet.  Saturday was probably the longest day.  It was our final lesson with Brother Barton, and I didn't want him to leave.  We asked him a ton of questions about Taiwan and his life.  Pretty fun!  After that, we had a Fourth of July celebration.  Some guy, I forgot his name, came and talked to us.  He has worked with a few of the Presidents of the USA and so he's pretty legit.  After he spoke, each of the different countries flags were marched up to the front of the meeting while some bag-pipe players played.  It was awesome!  After that, they let us go outside (inside the MTC boundaries of course) and watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks.  There are some pics of that too.  (OH, DON'T DELETE ANY OF THOSE PICS. I need to print some out for some people).  Sunday was the 2nd fast Sunday at the MTC.  It was a rough day for me.  I was honestly starving by 9 in the morning, but that is part of fasting.  We had a nice mission conference, which is pretty much a stake conference, with all the missionaries.  It was seriously the longest meeting I've ever been to, or at least it seemed that way.  Right before we had sacrament meeting, the power went out.  Our entire sacrament meeting was held with 2 little lights, which was a little different.  After sacrament meeting, I went on my usual temple walk.  It was so weird, I go up right next to the temple and I see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  It was good to see all them!  The devotional that night was probably the best devotional ever.  Julia is gonna be jealous... Jenny Oaks Baker came and played for us.  She is so good at the violin.  She played and talked and played and talked and I loved it.  At the end she had her young children play a song for us.  One played the piano, one played the cello, and another one played the violin.  They were amazing!  And that brings us to now.  Just gonna have a relaxing day!
So to answer your questions dad...I don't really care what music and talks you give me.  At this point, I have come to love any music that I can listen to.  So as much as you can put on there.  Also, ENYA :) I already have a copy of my sacrament talk so I won't need that.  Right now I don't have a device to record audio (talks and other things right now)  I don't know how much those things cost, but I think they may have some at the bookstore here.  So I'll check. I still need to write Grandpa Smith.  Mom, don't send me new shoes right now.  I'm fine with what I have.  The memory card...if you need me to explain any pictures I can. I received my bag from Missionary Mall and it works perfectly. So thanks.  Um, if you have to send one final package, make sure there is a bag of peanut M&M's. Well I love you all, Elder Smith