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