Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It didn't really feel like Christmas here in Riverside, especially because of the 85 degree weather! But it was great because I got to Skype family!  To prep for Skyping, Elder Schoonmaker cut my hair.  It felt really weird getting my hair cut in a kitchen!  I don't think I've had that done since I was a kid and had an aversion to barbershops!

Skyping with the family on Christmas Day

It was a pretty slow week because of the holidays.  Most of our investigators and members were out of town.  A lot of them were in Vegas! Great place to spend Christmas thinking about Jesus! One of the funny parts was, the week before, at English class, we taught them how to play blackjack.  [One investigator] lost so many pennies that it scared him into not gambling.  His friend lost $300 though!

A lot of the people that come to English class have only been in America for a couple of weeks or so.  Some of them ask for names.  We write a number of them on the board and they decide.  One of them decided to choose “Nephi”!  I was laughing so hard, but that's his name now – Dr. Nephi! (Nephi is the name of a Book of Mormon prophet).

Love you,


Christmas morning breakfast

So cold we had to break out the coats

Very Zen

Even more Zen

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Christmas on a mission is a little different.  It hasn't really hit me that Santa's coming in 3 more days.  That might have something to do with the lack of snow in Southern California though!

Elder Heaton had really really good Chinese.  Teaching without him was a larger challenge for me this past week.  It's funny, I've adopted a lot of his teaching styles though, and my Chinese is improving a lot.  

Two of our best investigators returned to China this past week, J. and E.  I told them to stay strong, keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying.  E. said she'll be baptized in two years after my mission and J. will too, I'm pretty sure.  He said we planted a really good seed!

On Sunday, there was a special program at church for Christmas.  One of our investigators started filming the program which apparently you're not allowed to do at church.  It's just interesting to see their reactions to many of the normal stuff we do at church, like singing.  It's fun how they join in and sing hymns with us!

Asides from that, [it has been a] pretty regular week.  My new companion is Elder Schoonmaker from Portland, Oregon.  He's been out for 18 months, so I'm still really “young” compared to him! 

Merry Christmas to everyone! Just remember the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

New companion (who has already adopted the Asian way of posing for photos)

Transferring to University of California Riverside?

What a coincidence!

With investigator friends before they left to return to China

Yay California!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 15, 2014

My second companion from the mission left today.  That's the second missionary I've "killed" in almost 5 months.  People say it's hard but I guess it’s good that I'm doing it, because I don't really get homesick that easily (sorry mommy).  Sad to see him go, but two years is a long time!

You teach and teach and teach, and hope people understand, then they don't get baptized.  Frustrating, but still a thing we have to deal with.  We can just hope they make decisions that are good for them.

It's interesting, one of these guys, after Heaton went really hard on him about baptism, said we planted a seed.  He said the seed hadn't yet blossomed and his belief in everything we were teaching was about 60%. I don't know about other people, but 60% to me, sounds like a lot. We still have a week left to work on him though! 

One of our investigators is a last year undergraduate.  He's really stressed right now with exams and everything.  During a lesson, he said he would think about a topic we were discussing for a minute.  He fell asleep for ten.  Some things about being a student, you don't miss.  In a later meeting, on the topic of prayer, he said he was going to try an experiment. Try praying to God in the name of Jesus Christ like we teach, then try again just closing his eyes and talking to himself.  He was going to see if he felt a difference.  That was a very interesting idea, and I encourage everyone to try that.  I know you'll feel a difference.

We try to contact all the Chinese/Chinese looking people on the street.  Inevitably we run into people who are not actually Chinese/from China.  Most are not phased by us, but one guy a couple days ago took offense to Elder Heaton asking if he was from China (he was an American born Chinese).  He got really angry and really sassy with us.  Sorry your parents are from China bro...

For a goodbye party for Heaton, we had a big hot pot party at the institute.  It was delicious!  A very good taste of home.  The Spanish elders that were with us were interested at the hua jiao, peppercorn pieces in the hot pot, how it numbs your tongue! 

Hot pot!

Handing off the Chinese children's teaching Book of Mormon

 Bye Elder Heaton!

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 8, 2014

When it rains in Riverside, it pours! Not really, but for Riverside, it's like we're in a typhoon. The roads get really slick and people can't drive properly.  It's pretty funny!  At least I got to break out my rain boots and rain jacket for the first time on my mission!  

We really have great solid investigators.  It's lovely hearing their prayers.  When they say things like, "Dear God, how are you?" it just amazes you how genuine people can be. They're so nice. I have invites to places all over China, Chongqing, Harbin, and Changchun, to stay with families.  We get invited to eat with them all the time too! So I'm not in any shortage of Chinese food.

One thing that is somewhat annoying is when people shout things back at you.  We were at an intersection and we offered some guy a card about the Christmas video.  He said no but in the middle of the crosswalk just shouted not very nice stuff back at us. It's like, just say it to our face... His friend apologized for him though.

When we were on the way to a Christmas party with one of our investigators she suddenly got super sad that she didn't bring any gifts for the party.  We told her she had to bring gifts for baby Jesus! She was very worried until we laughed and told her we were joking!

A huge downside to being a missionary is not having Google to answer questions or to resolve arguments.  If only!

Every lesson is a very spiritual experience.  The Holy Ghost comes to confirm truth! We are having lots of success explaining Christmas with the “He is the Gift” video - have you seen it yet? 

It's just amazing to hear genuine prayers from investigators - something I think we can learn a lot from - one said, "Dear God, how are you? I am doing okay. In fact, I'm pretty stressed. I have my Graduate school applications to worry about."

Some of the kids of the investigators are hilarious.  We took a bunch of investigators to a church Christmas party.  And this one "Di di" [little brother] (he calls me "shu shu" [uncle]), answered my offer to find him a friend with, "zhi yao zhong guo ren" [only if it’s Chinese people].

I'm like what?... and so I introduced him to a little Chinese girl, and he's like "bu yao nu peng you, zhi yao nan peng you" [I don’t want girl friends, only guy friends];

And I'm like why??? he's like "yin wei wo zhi yao zui piao lang de nu peng you, bu xi huan bu piao liang de nu peng you"[Because I only want really pretty girl friends, not girl friends who aren’t pretty].

And I'm like she's pretty though! and he said "ta zhi shi yi ban piao liang" [she’s only average pretty]. I was laughing so hard!

Love you guys!


Terrible rain!

Elder Dyer, investigator friends, and Elder Heaton

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving on a mission is pretty trunky.  It's just P-Day without emailing.  I really missed being in New York.  We ate a ton of food at a Samoan family's party, naturally...

This past week was incredibly slow as a missionary.  We underestimated how affected we would be, because we're the Chinese Elders.  There must have been a huge Thanksgiving party in San Diego with a bunch of Chinese people, because that's where all our investigators went! The UCR campus was pretty empty too.

The great thing about being with a lot of Chinese people is eating their food! We went to two Chinese dinners this past week.  Great time!  We obviously brought Martinelli's sparkling cider, because that's Mormon champagne!  

I gave a small talk in church and it was funny because I gave half in English and the second half in Chinese.  So for about 5 minutes, no one could understand me except maybe 6 or 7 people in the room! I told them in Chinese how I could be saying anything and no one would understand but them (in Chinese of course).

We were contacting someone about Jesus Christ, and asked him if he believed in God.  He said no and we asked why.  His reply was, "because I'm a physicist."  I thought there were a lot of Mormon physicists! 

Riverside this time of year is famous for the Christmas lights at Mission Inn.  We went there in a group of missionaries to contact people about the church's new Christmas Initiative called "He is the Gift."  It is a three minute video about the real meaning of Jesus Christ.  EVERYONE needs to watch it: christmas.mormon.org.  The church is really serious about it.  They're buying all of YouTube's advertising on December 7th, and are advertising heavily around the world, including in Time's Square.  So check it out and keep the Christ in Christmas!

One of our Thanksgiving dinners

Festival of Lights with Elder Heaton

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 23, 2014

"Dear God, I'm Victor"  It's interesting listening to a prayer of someone who has never prayed before - very basic and simple, but so genuine.  Very spiritual experiences.  Times like these are when I realize how much of a "fit" I have with Riverside.  My experiences are great for these Chinese people who have never experienced religion before.  It's like I was meant to be here.

One of those difficult experiences was working with an investigator whose parents would have nothing to do with religion.  She started crying during one of our meetings at the thought of her parents' reactions to her being baptized.  How do you ask someone to do something their family would disown them for.  You can't... you can just invite people and hope they commit to something that can bless their life.  

Unfortunately some of our investigators have a very unstable arrangement in America.  We were going into a restaurant the other day and ran into an investigator.  He told us he was returning to China that night at 10 pm.  He said they gave him a day or two notice - there was something about his visa.  Luckily he lives in Guangdong, so if he wants to get baptized, Hong Kong is only a stone's throw away.  It was sad to see him leave! 

It's great working with Chinese people, but I'm still in America!  The other day some guy just walked up to us and started a little story about how his car broke down and he needs a couple dollars to go to the "liquor sto-gas station" I couldn't stop laughing.  He was so forthright I almost wanted to give it to him! I didn't though...  At least he was nice.  Nicer than some of the people shouting stuff at us.  But I'm still trying to figure out if "F*** YEAH MORMON MAFIA!" is a good thing or a bad thing. 

I'm still loving how many young people are around here.  It's invigorating to see all these students learning.  Our dinner appointments are often with young married couples.  I didn't really see a lot of that in Shanghai, so that new perspective is pretty enjoyable.

One of our finding techniques is the free lunch our Institute has every Thursday.  This past Thursday, they had us missionaries on the grills, grilling some incredibly healthy hot dogs and hamburgers.  It's amazing how hot a grill can get... I didn't realize that before.  We must have smelled like smokers for the rest of the day too! 

One of the interesting phenomenon on the mission is how approachable we become when we're wearing sweaters on the outside - when our typical white shirt and tie is covered.  People suddenly want to talk to us when we say hi! It's great for missionary work! Plus it's getting so cold here, it's necessary [to wear a sweater]! I don't care what Brown is like this kind of year, I'm freezing outside at night.

This week will be my first Thanksgiving on the mission! I’m excited for that! 
When I was teaching the lesson, I was trying to talk about temple ORDINANCES so I said jiao yi, but apparently I said the wrong tone and it meant drug deals or some sort of drug transactions.  Everyone was laughing and I didn't know why.

It's crazy how expensive California is, or maybe that's just me coming from China.  My contact lens solution was 20 dollars the other day.  

Being on a mission is hard sometimes but it's fun! I get to talk to so many Chinese people! This area has been blessed by the Lord, there have got to be 30 to 40% of the people walking to UCR every day who are Chinese, it's crazy.  

It's funny, every time I talk to investigators I show them the pictures I have in my planner.  It's Ash me and Kari behind the front cover and our family (minus Ash) on the Bund [in Shanghai] last Christmas on the back cover.  People love seeing pictures of family, especially my cute Chinese mom!

In the kitchen

At the grill

Elder Dyer's planner covers (with family photos)

With investigator

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17, 2014

The perks of working with Chinese people are the potential for some good Chinese food.  One of our investigators, David, invited us and he made Zha Jiang Mian [noodles with ground pork and soybean paste sauce].  It reminded me of Taiwan – SO delicious.  He gave us the sauce so we could make our own for lunches in the week.  

One of our investigators is pretty much ready for baptism he just doesn't want to live the commandments.  He lives them now but doesn't want to be "restricted" in the future.  He asked us why we had to tell him about the commandments because then he could just live in ignorance - happy.  We told him he gets blessings for obeying each commandment! 

English class is really fun.  The people love talking to us.  On Friday, one guy walked 2 hours to get here because he didn't have a ride.  A part of that is I'm editing a LOT of graduate school application essays.  It’s fun. I will edit while Elder Heaton reads scriptures with them.  Mutually beneficial!

Whenever we walk on the streets and try to hand out English class cards, everyone says they already have one or have seen our flyers.  We need to find a new way to access the people! We've saturated this method of advertising.  It's like we're selling stuff... for free... So if anyone has ideas, let me know!

Sometimes it's nice to not have to do midterms this time of year.  Everyone we're working with is stressing like crazy about them - one of the perks of being a missionary is NO MIDTERMS.  But we have to work with that when everyone cancels because they have midterms.  

Everything's pretty good.  I'm freezing at night sometimes because it drops below 60 degrees! The other day some guy showed a sign of a C and I thought hey California. Apparently “C” means “Crips” down here! Fun stuff! Not very many "Hail Satans” this week! More "HEY IT'S THE MISSIONARIES!!!" which is a lot nicer!


Chef Dyer 

So gourmet

Zone conference

Friday, November 14, 2014

November 10, 2014

Saying goodbyes is no fun at all! I had to say goodbye to Johansen and everyone in my old area last Monday – all the families in my last ward, my investigators, and the missionaries serving around me.  Moving isn't much fun either.  We packed up the red Corolla and drove to University of California Riverside.  I'm living right next to UCR.  It's more "California-y" than my last area.  Tons more palm trees and just a lot of young people. 

We have to walk everywhere here, because my new companion, Elder Heaton, can't be on bike for health reasons.  We walk a little over a mile to the Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at UCR (the "Institute") to teach lessons.  It's funny because on the walk, we run into a ridiculous amount of Chinese people. 

Seriously, there are more Chinese people than other nationalities.  We just kind of assume most of them are Chinese when we start to talk to them and for the most part, they are.  We go up to them and say, "Hey do you speak Chinese?" Most of the time they respond. Sometimes the Chinese people pretend to be Japanese because they've gotten so many of our English class cards.  We teach 2 English classes for an hour and a half every week at the Institute. The classes are really related to religion (aside from a spiritual thought at the end).  So as we walk, we pass out of ton of our cards.  

At the English class, the first time, we started with conversation, just having conversation topics, and then moved to slang words.  It was funny hearing middle aged Chinese men shouting "DUDE" and "BRO" and "STOKED."  Last time we talked about food and they all got into an argument about how much and when to tip in America.  It's all very fun. 

The funny thing is that we get a lot of students from UCR (Chinese) who are applying to grad school.  They want us to read/edit their essays, which is very fun! But we do a lot of them! My head starts to hurt after a while.  Service is service though!  I feel a little inadequate to help them with grad school personal statements though.  Most of them are electrical engineering.  Lots of technical words! 

Teaching Chinese people about the gospel is different.  They ask a lot of more specific, directed questions than Americans.  It's fun, but difficult sometimes when they just keep peppering me with questions!  One of our recent converts, when we were going over new member lessons we have to teach, we reviewed the commandments.  He got all serious and said, I broke the law... last week my friends and I went to the beach and I didn't know you couldn't park at the space I parked in.  I got a ticket for 53 dollars.  I am sorry, who do I talk to.  

We laughed and told him it was okay, not intentional.  He was surprised.  In his prayer at the end, he said it was nice to meet Elder Dyer (Dai Zhang Lao).  He thanked my family for allowing me to be here and said (wo zhi dao ta men dou shi hao ren) [“I know they are all good people”]. Very nice man.

It's weird because it's so cold at nights compared to the day when it's only 50 something or 60 degrees.  I'm started to acclimate to the freezing weather though! (just kidding).

Last night, I was walking around and saw a tank top of a guy that said Koh Samui 2014.  He was from SAS Puxi! It was funny seeing someone from SAS (Shanghai American School) all the way in the US!

Other than that, things have been fun.  We get the occasional "Hail Satan" from passing cars, but people are generally very nice - especially Chinese people - especially when we give them free water!

New apartment:
Elder Jacob Dyer
2700 Iowa Ave Apt. 28

Riverside, CA 92509 (I think that's the right zip code, not sure)

Our free water stand - a lot of people took it!

Elder Heaton, Elder Dyer, and three investigators, and a small member on the left who really wants to go to Taiwan on a mission

Last picture with Johansen (at the Webb's house)

Elder Dyer, Tom, and Elder Johansen

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 3, 2014

Mission goodbyes are no fun.  I got transferred this week to go to University of California Riverside and be in the University Heights Ward.  I'm Chinese speaking now, so I need to brush up!  I'm really going to miss everyone though.  Not only the missionaries in this area, but the members of the ward too.  It's like I'm leaving my family again! We had to say our last goodbyes last night with some members in the ward.

This past week we did a lot of errands preparing Johansen for tomorrow (when he goes home), sending his bike and books home, and packing up.  I had to pack up too because I'm being transferred! – my first transfer.  I'll be in the University Heights congregation of our church so my new address is:

Elder Jacob Dyer
2700 Iowa Ave. Apt 28
Riverside, CA 92507

I'm excited because now I'm Chinese speaking so I'm going to be talking to a lot of Chinese people! (and maybe eating more Chinese food).

Saying goodbye to the people we've talked to for the past three months was hard to.  Tom, our friend who owns the Pho restaurant was nice.  He's a member of the church.  Today, his son called the Elders in the ward he lives in and thanked them (us - me and Johansen) for going over all the time and becoming such good friends with him - apparently it helped him a lot.  We love him. I'm going to have to stop by sometime in the near future!

For Halloween night, we had to get off the streets by 6 o'clock.  Johansen and I went as soccer players (Arsenal for me, Real Madrid for him).  We got to watch the movie, "The Best Two Years."  It's surprising how accurate it is about missionary life!  We obviously kicked a ball around in the gym or a little bit too.  It's going to be sad leaving this stake, because apparently it's the only Stake that plays soccer on p-days! I do not like basketball... but sometimes we have to do hard things... :)

Johansen turned 21 on Saturday so on the mission that entailed eating lots and lots of sushi, which was really fun.  When I turn 21 I'll be back at Brown! – weird thoughts.

Elders Dyer and Johansen at the "Riverside" (what the city is named after)

Elder Dyer and Easley, investigator and bowling expert

Elders Johansen and Dyer in Halloween garb as grocery store workers

Elders make cookies

Last Pho (for now) with Tom

Last Taco Tuesday

Halloween soccer customers 1

Halloween soccer customers 2 (what is different in this photo from the previous one?)

Elder Dyer sews pants for companion

We go to go to a wedding!

Elder Dyer with the Bishop and his family

With the Hafer family

With the Hunsaker family

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 27, 2014

I'm most likely getting transferred next week on Monday, so my address will be:

Elder Dyer
5900 Grand Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504
Until I know my new address

This was probably the slowest week on my mission.  We had a record low lessons taught - partly because we weren't getting into people's houses, they either weren't home or not answering the door and partly because Johansen and I were sick for part of the week.  It was not fun - not teaching people.

One of the fun parts, was one of our investigators, K. is feeling a lot better health wise.  When we visited her last, after we gave her a blessing last week, she said, "That stuff you put on my head really worked, because I've been feeling great this past week."  Miracles happening with her.  And she's really excited about learning more about the church.

One of the reasons we got sick was probably because we ate tons of spam for lunch (sorry mom).  I used to get spam and rice at Raph's house so I wanted to make it here. I felt like a chef wearing an apron the aunties sent.  It tasted delicious, but afterwards we felt really really sick.  So probably not a good idea.

Other than that, very slow week, not much happened.  It's Johansen's last week in the mission, so that is bittersweet for him.  

I finally got my Chinese nametags!

Johansen and me on his second to last P-day with his Real Madrid birthday present from me.

My Halloween costume for next week! 

Ready to make some spam!

Still happy with my spam! (for the time being)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 20, 2014

Just a heads up, I might be transferred at the end of this transfer (November 3rd) so my address after that will change.  So if anyone is sending anything that won't get to me before then, send it to:

Elder Jacob C. Dyer
5900 Grand Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504

We got a visit this past week from a General Authority of our church, Elder Evans.  He talked about a lot of stuff, but my favorite was his discussion on forgiveness.  His main idea was, "just let it go."  Sometimes in our lives we hold grudges, we have bad feelings about our peers because of something they said, something they did.  But those feelings don't help us at all. In fact, they hurt us.  It's like we're intentionally inflicting pain on ourselves for something someone else did.  We can't control other people's actions, but we can control our own.  It can be so hard sometimes to "just let it go" but when we eventually have the capacity to do that, it's a huge burden lifted off our shoulders!  One of the other things he said was that we no longer have to get OYM's  - our requisite 10 people we talk to (per person) each day.  Instead, we have to "talk with everyone," not "badgering" people, but just being friendly with everyone.

One of the low points of our week was our investigator K., falling off baptism date.  Her dad told her to check out some other churches before getting baptized.  I totally understand waiting and making sure this is the right decision.  But she has told us this is the right decision for her, she's felt the healing power of the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ's Atonement, so it was a little frustrating.  She's doing a lot better health wise, so that's a plus!  We gave her a priesthood blessing and she's been feeling way better, so that's another testament to her.

We went to this huge Halloween party our Bishop has every year.  There were about 250 people there – lots of Mormons but lots of non-members too.  Everyone kept asking us if we were real Elders, real missionaries.  It was fun! I lost count of how many of the little girls were dressed up as Elsa from Frozen.  

The other day, we had to leave early to go to Elder Evans.  It was still dark outside, and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.  I was absolutely freezing inside my car. I must have already adjusted to California weather because in Rhode Island, that's quite pleasant. I'm going to be bundled up tight if it drops below 50...  At least walking around during the day in this weather is perfect!

When we were over at the home of E., our 81 year old investigator, I asked him if he liked baseball, and he was like, “oh yeah there was that one guy on the dodgers.”  I was like “Sandy Koufax?” and he was like “no it was like, Jackie Robinson.” I was like ”OH MAN you're old...” 
One guy at church, whenever he says hi to me, he's like “ni hao” and bows to me, so funny.

Love you!


Elder Dyer eating "Frutas Frescas" in Mira Loma (mini Mexico).  Pretty much fruit with chili, lime, and salt.

Elder Dyer and Johansen preparing for P-day soccer