Monday, June 25, 2012


Wah.  Sounds busy there.  President Wade is getting ready to head out too... moving  is always a hassle.  President Wade is having a series of zone meetings with each zone before he heads out this week and then we'll have a meeting with the new mission president on Friday.  I still have absolutely no idea who President Meredith is or what kinds of things he's done in the past... they said we were all gonna get something that said something about it but we still haven't.  Oh well I'm sure I'll know soon enough.

Yeah I'm steeling myself for really hot and humid weather.  I might die from the shock though just because of how nice the weather is here.  It's been really really nice this week too.  Not too hot, not to cool, nice breeze, pretty clouds.  Man. Can't really get much better than this.

So I'm still here in San Francisco emailing at the apple store.  Elder Liu and I will probably eat lunch here and then head back to Oakland on BART since we didn't feel like driving in today.

Congratulations on your wedding anniversary!  I don't know if it's particular to Chinese people in the bay area but I feel like almost every family here is really scattered and full of all kinds of problems.  Or maybe just the people willing to listen to me.  I feel like complete families are hard to come by or are never ever interested in listening to us for some reason.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I was able to meet with complete families.  We visited this lady the other day who's kind of an investigator but not really that interested.  She was showing me her English notebook which had an example sentence of "marriage is the grave of love".  I was like "wow that's a horrible example sentence"  She was like "What? It's true!" haha.  So horribly wrong and stupid.  It was this really propaganda-esque English notebook printed in China.  Quite an interesting read.

What exactly do they train you on for going to be a DCM?  Just do whatever the ambassador says and give him all the credit for everything good you do.  And also take the blame for anything bad.  Sounds pretty simple to me...

In any case, we had a pretty good week.  Fiona's still being hesitant for some reason.  She just feels she needs more time or something.  Anyways we'll go visit her tomorrow night and hopefully get it sorted out.  She didn't even come to church on Sunday even though he r uncle came.  Her uncle is from GuiYang and really really humble and likes church.  He's preparing to be baptized in July so hopefully he doesn't find a job that requires him to work on Sundays since he usually does restaurant stuff but is out of work atm.  So we called Fiona last night and talked to her for like 30 minutes.  Apparently she was out interviewing for a job yesterday morning and told her uncle she was sick since he was sacrificing his looking for work time to go to church.  So she NOT ONLY didn't keep the sabbath day holy but ALSO lied to her uncle about it.  Aiya.  We told her to repent basically. She was like "oh yeah I didn't think about it like that dang it!"  So ridiculous.

Brother Xing is doing well.  He's getting to know a lot of the other guys his age in the branch and even came to Gao Yuan's birthday party on Saturday since we got him invited.  It started a little after 5 and apparently he didn't go home till like midnight haha.  They all made it to church on time the next day though so... pretty sweet.  He also bought a new car last week so we can probably get more people to church from DVC if we need to.  All we need to do is find more investigators there and we'll be good... 

We have a lot of investigators right now but we just need to be more bold in inviting them to be baptized even though many of them have already expressed reluctance to us.  So we'll hopefully be able to help them resolve their concerns and develop greater faith and what not.

Anyways, I guess that's about it for this week.  I really like this area it's pretty fun.  We're working a lot more in central Oakland lately with the English Class and doing a lot of finding there.  It seems to be going pretty well.  For some reason we're getting a ton of new students lately and a lot of them are pretty promising.

Thanks for all your love and support.  Hope everything goes well for your move!  Love you!


Monday, June 18, 2012


Herrow!  Happy Father's Day!...Yesterday!  Yeah I was gonna call you guys anyway but I don't actually remember your number.  Or my old number I should say.  That sounds like a pretty fun trip Joel's on right now. I want to go!  So unfair!  Can't believe he didn't even invite me...
So I have a pretty bad cold today.  Woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat since we opened the window to sleep (which we do almost every night but it must have been blowing in a particularly vibrant brand of virus that night) and it's just been getting worse.  Last night was pretty longggggggg... kept having to get up to blow my nose and my throat felt like it was on fire.  I said a prayer to ask for some kind of cough medicine and then found some literally 5 seconds later haha. Not sure how much it helped but it had at least a placebo effect.  I don't really know about all these Chinese remedies for curing colds though.  Is it true you can just sweat it out?  Anyways, we ran lake merrit around noon and it did seem to help.  Still.  I' haven't gotten sick in a while and it's really not my cup of tea.  Quite inconvenient expect for if you're like 7 and going to elementary school in which case it's actually kind of nice in a way...
So Fiona came up with some random concerns that we don't really understand too well.  She actually passed her baptismal interview which we told her means that she's ready to be baptized but she said she doesn't feel ready.  Not sure why.  She might just think it's too fast or something.  She was saying ridiculous things like "I want to read the whole Book of Mormon before I get baptized" and "there are still some imperfect things about myself I feel like I need to change first"... anyways, so she wasn't baptized this weekend.  However, Brother Xing's baptism went really well.  He's super funny but shared a really great testimony at his baptismal service.  He's got a pretty solid testimony and he's just a really cool guy.  The baptismal service went really well too.  Unfortunately Fiona left church early for some reason and so she missed it even though she said she wanted to come.  Very lame of her.
We added 11 new investigators this week which was pretty cool.  Two of them are sisters from HaiNan and are preparing to be baptized next month.  The younger sister, Wang Li, is 22 and is a "Christian" although she doesn't know much about Christianity and hasn't been baptized.  The older sister, Wang Yan, is 25 and doesn't really have any set of beliefs but seems really interested in obtaining one.  They've been in the states for 20 something days.  Pretty prepared.  I think they quite enjoyed church yesterday so hopefully they won't get scared off by the inevitable accusation that we're a cult.  Something I've come to realize about that though is that if they know you pretty well and like you as a missionary, other people calling us a cult won't scare them off right away.  They'll at least come for an explanation generally and give you a chance to explain the situation.  I've definitely learned a lot about developing the right kind of relationship with investigators.  I definitely want to stay in contact with all the people I've been able to teach and baptize here in the bay area.  I think a lot of missionaries just kind of cut off all contact or find it hard to get in contact just because of where they served but I'm pretty sure most of my recent converts have facebook... so... it should be pretty easy.
That's great we'll be able to come back for a couple days in August.  That's like right after I'll have left haha.  Leave for a week and then suddenly show up again ha.  It's too bad we wouldn't be able to come on a Sunday so we could go to church in Chinatown but oh well... that's ok.
Yeah I'm not sure how much an xbox would be worth these days but I suspect not a lot.  I don't really expect to play any video games when I get back but maybe I can give it to someone...
Anyways, I'm really enjoying being here in Oakland.  Apart from being sick.  Oakland honestly has absoutely the best weather of any place I have ever been.  And I think that even includes South Africa... mainly cause I can't remember how nice the weather was there.  But seriously.  Oakland.  Too bad the quality of the people here isn't quite up to standards.  Rather rude of them to "occupy" the area and make it not as nice as it should be.  San Francisco is too cold and north, south, and west all get too hot.  Berkeley's not bad... but it's full of liberals so...
In any case, thanks for all your love and support!  I love you!  Have a great week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Transfer Time!

April 16, 2012

In answer to your question to when I'll get transferred, I've been transferred already!  To Oakland again!  I feel like I'm just doing a big circuit of the bay area haha.  It's kind of a bummer to be leaving Chinatown but I'm excited for the new area.  My companion is Elder Liu from Taiwan who's a really great missionary and likes to use a bunch of Chinese idioms when he talks which is a good learning opportunity for me haha.  The work here has been going pretty slow though lately.  We've only got 1 investigator basically who is preparing to be baptized on the 28th.  But I have a lot of faith that we can find and baptize a whole bunch more.  Also, the weather here is wayyyy nicer.  I don't need to wear a jacket and sweaters all the time anymore!!! We're actually in the Oakland North area which is really huge.  We cover Berkeley, Hercules, Richmond, Concord... basically a third of the mission.  It seems like the branch here is pretty weak.  I hope we can help strengthen it here.

We took a picture of my last Sunday in Chinatown.  It was pretty epic.  We had a whole bunch of people come to church.  Pretty cool cause most of them are people that we baptized there and the rest were basically investigators we had found. I'll bring it back with me since I'll likely be too lazy to print it out and mail it over at this point haha.  Elder Brown and I did a lot of finding this week since we didn't have a whole lot of investigators as most of them were baptized last week.  We passed out like a billion English class flyers and had a whole bunch of new people show up to English class on Saturday and then church on Sunday. 

That is a pretty sweet article.  It really does pretty much get the gist of missionary work.  The play is coming to San Francisco in November I think... maybe we can find some time to come back and see it!!!  Although I don't know that we'll be able to get tickets.  Aunt Annette was lobbying to have us come back to the bay area on our way to Taiwan and hang out for a day or two.  Might be a pretty good idea actually.  I'm really excited to go to Taiwan actually!  Elder Liu's from TaiZhong.  I asked him if he knew Joel and showed him a picture.  He didn't... But that's ok.

In any case, that's awesome news about Jordan's mission call.  I just looked at he mission boundary map on and it seems like it's right smack dab in the middle of the state.  That'll be pretty sweet for her. 

Thanks for the package of nuts and stuff mom!  It was and is perfect!  Ever since being companions with Elder Brown, I haven't really eaten too much or possibly any junk food or candy.  It's definitely made a difference.  My pants feel a lot looser than they used to.  I've definitely gotten a ton better at running as well.  I used to run like 2 miles and be beat but now I can run like 4 and still have energy to keep going.  I think it's hard to tell as companions with Elder Brown though since he's so fast and I don't ever seem to be able to close the gap.

Anyhow, I guess that's about it this week.  I'm sure I'll have many exciting adventures about Oakland next week.  We cover west Oakland in the new area which is the most "luan" part... although I'm not sure how many Chinese people there are that would dare live there.  Generally they stay away from places populated with those of african descent.

Love you guys!  Thanks for all your love and support!


Monday, April 2, 2012

No Rain on Our Parade (or BBQ)


Yeah conference was pretty good although we had a ridiculously busy weekend. We decided to host a barbecue on Saturday afternoon between sessions from like 3-5 at the chapel up here in downtown. So we invited a lot of people and it rained that morning. We were like "dang it... Chinese people hate the rain..." However, miraculously, it cleared up about an hour or 2 before our event was to begin and was bright and sunny the whole time and then it started raining again about an hour or 2 after we finished. Pretty SWEET.... MOM.... Aiya. I can't stop using that expression in my writing for some reason. I'm going to go back to college and sprinkle it throughout all my essays haha. Anyhow, we had a very successful BBQ. We expected maybe like 20 or 30 people but we ended up with 40!!! All these high schoolers brought their friends and we met a ton of new potential investigators. Elder Brown and I got this really ghetto grill from the sunset chapel and brought it over in our car. Unfortunately the top grill was missing so we grabbed some oven racks and bbq'd on them. Very successful activity.

Then we had Annie Liang's baptism yesterday between the morning and afternoon sessions and we were running around getting the program done and making sure there was going to be water in the font and so on and so forth so we missed part of the first session and then couldn't really focus too well on the whole thing since we had a ton of stuff going on. Quite crazy. It went really well however. She bore her testimony at the end and talked about how her mom had expressly told her when they got to the States that she could participate in church but could never get baptized so when we gave her the baptismal record to be signed by her mom she was really nervous and prayed a lot that her mom would let her be baptized. So when she finally asked her mom, her mom was like "umm... ok. For you I think it'd be alright". Annie said her mom could see the change that had occurred in her in the past few weeks and therefore agreed to her joining the church. It was a really great testimony.

We have 4 investigators lined up to be baptized on Sunday and hopefully everything will go smoothly. Elder Brown and I will likely have to baptize Alice's mom together since she's half-paralyzed but she's definitely willing and ready to go. We also have Duona, Vincent, and Sister Shen who are lined up and seem pretty ready to go. They all made it to sessions of conference at one point or another (we borrowed a projector from the branch president and broadcasted a session after English class here in Chinatown) and so they seem to still be doing pretty well. It's kind of hard to describe any of these people in intricate detail because of how many people we're teaching at the moment. We found loads of referrals this last week and will hopefully get even more in the coming weeks. President Pearce (the branch president) said success is like mcDonalds french fries. You can eat them when they're hot but you can't let 'em cool down haha. I'd say he's about right.

Anyways, so you finally got your long-coveted macbook pro. Sounds fancy! In fact I'm currently typing on a macbook pro as well. Apple is taking over the world!!! The Dell's not such a dinosaur! Unless you made it one!!! It just looks like one compared to mac, which puts everything in a shiny case and then makes it cost a lot more money. Which seems to work pretty well for them...

That's interesting that missionaries there are counting the number of Book of Mormons they have handed out. We don't really use that to indicate anything. Although the play 'The Book of Mormon" is coming to San Francisco so now there are pictures of a dancing missionary on all the busses... can't remember if I told you about that already. But in any case, it's kind of funny.

Yeah President Wade pretty much gave us a no-go for the whole YMCA thing. Which is a bummer cause I'm sure we could make it work. Oh well... I guess he's the inspired one and stuff so I'm sure he knows what he's doing. Sometimes I think we could do more here even as some kind of youth leaders rather than a missionary though haha.

Yeah I agree about Romney being President. You really can't please very many people as President of this country. I feel like everyone expects everything when there's only so much one person can do. Sounds like Obama's health care gig has been kind of a headache from start to finish... I'd comment more but I don't really understand very much about it. Not sure why that should keep me from voicing a firm opinion since it doesn't seem to hinder the rest of the American population but... I guess I'm not supposed to talk about that kind of stuff anyway.

So.. I guess that's it for this week. Thanks for your emails and support! Love you!


Monday, March 26, 2012



Too bad about the pictures. I was hoping to see some sweet cherry blossom adventure. However, the cherry blossom festival in Japantown is coming up so we'll see if we can't schedule some tracting or something over there during the festival and then happen upon the festivities. I wasn't in SF last year when it was going on.

That's kind of funny about your office burning down dad haha. I think most of the time those ceiling sprinklers end up causing more damage than the actual fire. Kind of like my year at BYU where we had approximately no fires but I think 3 or 4 random sprinkler attacks where entire floors were flooded and all heck broke loose. Including on my floor... fortunately only on the half I wasn't a part of. Those sprinklers are super powerful though.

So things are going pretty well here. We had 2 baptized last week but only 1 confirmed this weekend which was a first for me... Steven Chen failed to show up at his own confirmation. We were thinking about doing a proxy confirmation but then realized you can only do them for the permanently absent. In any case, we still haven't managed to get ahold of him to figure out what happened. Although he really wasn't the only one since we had like 32 people (investigators, members, recent converts and the like) who committed to come to church and then had an actual of 16 who came. It wasn't even raining! Which was probably working against us since one of our investigators had some workers over to her house to fix something who wouldn't have come if it rained she said. Basically kind of a bust. not a total failure mind you but it could have gone better. In any case, we went over to the YMCA this week which is across the street from our English Class here in Chinatown and held a basketball activity for the young ppl in our small group. It went pretty well and we discovered that there are a whole host of other young Chinatown people who go there that we were able to meet. Basically we're thinking of getting a YMCA membership and then playing basketball there everyday instead of street contacting. I think my perception of missionary work has changed a ton in the past little while. We do as little street contacting as possible just because of how much more effectively we can use our time doing other things like setting up lessons with people, participating in random activities in Chinatown and doing stuff like that. I sometimes feel like it would actually be easier to be a good missionary in everyday life as a normal person if that's what I was really focused on all of the time. I can just imagine how many of my classmates I could get to come to church if I went to school at one of these high schools.

We have a bunch of really great investigators right now even though a bunch of them didn't show to church this week for some reason. We have about 4 people scheduled to be baptized on Easter and 1 for April Fool's Day haha between sessions of general conference. We met with Alice's mom yesterday for the first time in a while (the one half paralyzed since December) and convinced her that she needs to be baptized on Easter. So we're gonna be working hard to make that happen. She basically only has to come to church every week till then and she'll be fine. I feel like most people who are ready to be baptized are basically already living most of the commandments and just need to develop faith and commit. Especially these young people. As long as they have desire and a basic understanding, they can join the church and then learn more. At least that's the philosophy we're going with for the time being.

Anyways, thanks for your emails this week. Love you!


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Field is White


I'm writing today on a really massive 27-inch iMac in the apple store. Despite the fact this screen is bigger than big the font is still really really small and hard to read. Kind of ironic.

Had a pretty good week here. Our Sacrament Meeting attendance wasn't as good as last week but still remained pretty high. We had about 22 attendees and 8 investigators which is pretty good and just enough to keep the feeling of excitement and growth so vital to our small group. Everyone stayed after for literally an hour and a half and just chatted and bonded with one another. It was pretty awesome. We had all of our recent converts there except for JianHua who was baptized in October and is going through a rather rebellious stage, but his brother was there and all his friends who he is trying valiantly to convince not to come hahaha. His mom (also our investigator and a regular at church) said he doesn't really know what to do now cause he's like trying to convince everyone not to come to church and say it's bad and everything but it's totally not working and now he just feels left out because he's the only one not coming hahaha. We had 6 high school guys there, 3 of whom are recent converts, 2 of which have a baptismal date, and 1 who we just need to start teaching. Pretty sweet. I don't really get it though... We've taught like 3 girls at their school and they have like no spirituality and no desire but all the guys we teach are like "I want to be baptized now!" And then come to church regularly. It's pretty sweet but way the opposite from what it usually is since i always thought sisters had more spirituality than brothers. Anyways, we're hoping to get a temple trip organized to take all these recent converts to do baptisms but we're already so busy teaching investigators that it's tough to find time to focus on them as well.

We had a pretty cool experience on Saturday afternoon teaching one of our investigators scheduled to be baptized this coming Sunday. She was being all hesitant about her baptism saying she wanted to change to March etc etc and so finally I was like "alright let's kneel and pray and see what Heavenly Father thinks." Now this is generally an "all or nothing" approach to resolving an investigators concern and in my experience only really works like 70% of the time since a lot of the time they can't really recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost or what it's telling them. So anyways, we kneel and set the expectation that we'll wait and listen for about a minute after she finishes. So after she finishes praying she goes "I think He's telling me I'm OK".... I'm like... uh oh what does that mean?... "I feel like I need to get baptized on the 26th and stop worrying about everything else since it'll all work itself out." Elder Brown and I were like "YEP!" Haha. Really a pretty miraculous answer to prayer. I feel like prayer kind of works like that though. Sometimes it really yields great results and other times it just does not get answered like you want it to. Kind of like how I was praying that the Huang sisters would be able to make it to church this Sunday and then they didn't... Argh!!! It was pretty lame too because we went to the Oakland Temple Visitor's Center on Wednesday and had a really great spiritual experience and set a baptismal date with them for March 3rd which they'll not be able to now meet because they can't come to church 3 times. Really frustrating. Sometimes this Chinese sense of intense filial piety is really really annoying. And their mom's not even like that strongly opposed to them coming to church they're just afraid that she'll be mad they can't be with her on her only day off. Which I suppose I can understand but we've stressed the importance of church with them so many times you'd think they'd have strong enough faith by now to make it there regularly or bring their mom and help her to at least come to an understanding that no, we're not a cult and church isn't a place where we just do nothing and sing songs or something.

Anyways, things are going pretty well. I'm really enjoying serving in downtown San Francisco. I guess I've been in this area for about a year now... man. But honestly I feel like my vision for missionary work has been so drastically changed in the time that I have spent here. I could not even imagine baptizing like 2 or 3 people in one month last time I was serving here and now it's pretty lame if we don't. We have Zhang SiShun pretty solid for next weekend and we're gonna be doing our darndest to get Xia Fan on board since she's already gotten her answer from God. Hopefully she'll have the courage to act on it.

In any case, that cracks me up that Seth was living like that. How stingy can you be? And is that 60 american dollars?! If so then that's a huge ripoff! hahaha!

Pretty impressive about the running madness you two are engaged in. Yeah I don't doubt I could probably run about 10 miles without too much difficulty at this point as long as I kept a steady pace. Elder Brown is running me rather ragged and since it hasn't killed me yet, I think I've become rather stronger as a result. Unfortunately, his application to BYU just got denied which is a huge bummer for him... but I think there are some backups in place so it'll probably turn out alright.

In any case, with regards to my release date, it's technically Sept. 5... but I'm sure I'll have to be leaving a little bit early to make it back in time for school and stuff so I'll talk to President Wade maybe and then get back to you. And can't I sign up for classes in March? I thought that's what you said...

Anyways, Love you guys! Have a great week!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

There is Sunshine in my Soul

This week was sooo much better! We had like 33 people come to church 12 of whom were investigators and probably like 4 or 5 were nonmembers from english class or just people we invited on the street. It was pretty sweet. We called a ton of people on Saturday and got commitments out of a lot so we were really excited to have a good attendance this week and it went really well. We also moved Sacrament Meeting to the beginning and had a bit of a shorter gospel principles lesson afterwards making the whole meeting a tiny bit over an hour which worked out perfectly. Then afterwards we had a potluck activity which we have once a month (will probably change it to twice a month if at all possible) which was a huge success cause it basically provided a great opportunity for everyone to get to know eacthother and socialize etc. It was a great experience over all. When you have a church meeting like that, it's really easy to keep people coming because they want to be there because of what a positive experience it is. I really enjoyed it anyway. I think I've finally caught the vision of what potential we have here in this area and what to do to keep it up.

Even the Huang sisters showed up! They said their mom got sick so they could do whatever they wanted that day and Elder Brown was like "finally she's being punished!!!" Hahaha. They laughed really hard at that since they knew he was joking (hopefully...) ha. It's not really their mom's decision though ultimately since they are both over 20 and can totally do whatever they want anyway. However they had a great experience yesterday and so we hope they'll continue coming.

In other news, that's cool that John is coming out to visit you. I vaguely remember what he looks like and stuff so that's good. A tour of the state department?... wat? Why? There's like nothing interesting there. Just ask dad! Haha. Pretty lame.

My back feels alright now. I just kind of had a weird knot in it last week or something. In any case, yeah, Elder Brown likes to exercise so I've been doing more exercise than I think I ever have in my life. It's definitely having an effect although I still really don't like to wake up in the morning so I don't know how effective I'll be at keeping it up once we're seperated. But we'll see. Sometimes I have more self discipline than I give myself credit for.

Anyways, you might be able to find me walking around Chinatown this time dad. We spend more time there than I did last time I was in this area. Also I'm thinking I may not want to take that random bioethics course in the fall so I just changed my schedule a little. Mostly cause I think possibly 15 credits would be enough to keep me busy.

In any case, I guess that's all I have to talk about this week. Thanks for your letters and stuff. And also the magnets... even though I thought it was the ipod shuffle... but that's ok! Magnets are great too! Happy Valentine's Day!

Love you!