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