Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015

Kids say the funniest things.  This past Sunday, we walked into church, and one of the 5 year old kids of our investigators runs up to us, gives us a hug, and says "today I will go to the class and I will not cry!"  I was like, "GREAT!"  He was talking about primary, kid’s classes during church.  

One of our investigators getting baptized next Saturday moved to Irvine last week suddenly.  That was a bummer, but she will still be baptized here so it's all good. It was a long process getting that approved and everything with the mission president in Irvine.  

While talking with some of our investigators at English class, I found out how I could become a communist village official in China and get paid six million dollars a year.  I just have to pay someone 10 million dollars and I'm in! (or maybe it's RMB).  Seems pretty easy!

One of our members had us pick up a check for her and go cash it at some really shady bank.  I'm not sure how legit it all was, but I felt like I was in the mob going to this small bank with a thousand dollars.  The things you do as a missionary.

Elder Murray mentioned something really funny about all the pregnant women we see – that they all waddle, they just can't walk normally.  I don't envy all the women who have to give birth!

The investigator that was going to get baptized before but lost interest after her having to have a second interview said something really interesting.  Her son was in town and took them all to Universal Studios.  She suddenly got on a rant about how it's a waste of money (the tickets are "too expensive") and that's Satan's place because it's so expensive and taking her money.  Her Chinese is heavily accented so at first I thought she was saying Transformers are of Satan, but she was saying the place where the transformers are, is "of Satan." 

We had tons and tons of food for Chinese New Year at member's houses.  Lots of Chinese food, I ate way too much.

Chinese new year celebration food layout - before (so exciting)

Chinese new year food layout - after (I ate too much) 

Group of church members and investigators celebrating Chinese New Year

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 16, 2015

Long week.  Tiring week.  One of our baptisms got stopped until she had a second interview with our mission president.  That didn't go through and now she is not really feeling baptism.  Her husband and son are against it.  Very sad... We'll still work with her and see what happens.  

Our other baptism we were 100% having this week, just upped and moved to Irvine, out of our area, but still wants to be baptized in Eastvale, we have to get permission from our mission president for that, so we'll see how that goes.  We taught her tithing with oranges.  We gave her 10 oranges as a gift, then Elder Murray said, "I'm actually kind of hungry, could I have one?".  She got all concerned that he wasn't eating the most important meal of the day (breakfast) and started talking about that, until we told her it was part of the lesson.  That was fun.

We went to give a presentation to a bunch of exchange students that would be in the US for about a month.  I guess the guide hadn't filled them in about our Chinese because the minute we opened our mouths they were just oo-ing and ah-ing all over the place.  It was a nice opportunity to fill them in on Jesus, some guy they hadn't heard of most of their lives.  The guide had given us the address where we would be presenting and we assumed it was a church.  It did turn out to be a church, not one of ours though.  I don't know how comfortable the reception people were with a couple of Mormon missionaries walking into their church, but it turned out okay.  

This past Sunday was Elder Murray's birthday, so for breakfast, I made a bunch of food. We have to prep for Chinese New Year in Eastvale, and start fasting now so we won't gain 100 pounds from eating all the Chinese food!

Am in in Utah?


Friday, February 13, 2015

February 9, 2015

Lot's of stuff happened this week.  Not all of it pretty.  We have to translate a lot for Chinese people here and they struggle to be able to do normal things when they can't read, write, or speak English very well.  I had to "ma" (scold) the owner of a sofa company because he was not living up to his end of an agreement.  Then we had to secure our English class facility at the local community center after they gave us a hard time about it the past couple weeks.  It helps when members of the church are on the city council.  We called him, and an hour later, it was fixed.

Whenever I see a plane fly above, I get really nostalgic.  This is going to be the longest time in my life that I don't ride a plane!  Crazy how I literally miss just sitting on a plane with the loud ambient noise in the background.  

We were up in Chino Hills the other day to visit an investigator, and it's crazy how every luxury vehicle seems to be owned by a Chinese person.  Now that place is ripe with Asians!  We drove by Pomona in Chino Hills, so close to Uncle Glen! 

The people that we teach really just come to the US to make a better life for their kids.  One of our investigators is this huge Chinese guy, a kick boxer.  He took a job as a driver for a "pregnancy center" (the Chinese kind to get a passport), to come to the US.  At church, he broke down and talked about how hard of a time he was having here.  He sold everything in China to come so his son could have the luxury of growing up in the US.  They take low paying jobs here in the US just to give their kids opportunity.  That's sacrifice.  

One of the perks of this week was seeing David get baptized.  Such a long process, he had to move out and convince his family, but he's baptized now!

and guys... I saw a shooting star... Year made!

Baptism - first time we could get him to smile

Baptism group


Loving our car

Soccer's back

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 2, 2015

Jam packed week.  Lots and lots of stuff happened.  First of all, public service announcement, there are still more horses than people in Eastvale / Mira Loma.  It's annoying (as I’m allergic to horses).  But another thing is there are more Chinese people than Americans here (or so it seems), so that's good.  We walk around neighborhoods and just see tons of Chinese people walking around - a lot of them pregnant.  Lots of Chinese people come here where there are services for pregnant women.  They take care of them for a couple months until their baby is born (getting US citizenship) and then they return to China.

At the start of this week, I was really sad to leave all the work I did in Riverside behind and start it in a different area.  It's hard to leave when so many people have just gotten baptized and are about to get baptized.  But the second night, we dropped by this potential investigator from China and they were so warm and welcoming, inviting us into their house and giving us bao zi (steamed buns)! 

As we were sitting there talking about why bad things happen to good people, I just really realized how much I love these people I'm working with.  It doesn't matter where I'm serving, gotta love the people.  Sometimes it's hard to love them when they hide from you! :) we were walking back to our car in a neighborhood and saw an elderly couple who definitely saw us too.  They literally tried to hid behind and tree thinking we couldn't see them.  Too bad the tree trunk was two inches thick.  When we drove away, they started walking again.  I was laughing so hard. 

I love meeting with old Chinese people - there's just something about their (seemingly always) heavily accented Chinese that's just so fun to work with.  One of the couple's we're meeting with who are in their 70's are hilarious.  The wife is Christian and believes in God (hopefully getting baptized on the 15th) and the husband wants proof.  He says "if God's real, he'll come show himself to me!"  The wife tells us they argue everyday about this. 

One time as the husband was going on a rant, she comes in and says, "do you like this?! do you like hearing what's coming from his mouth? He's Satan! that man is Satan! He's got Satan hiding inside of him! When he dies, he's going to become a goat or a cow!" I couldn't hold back my laughter.  All of this conversation was in Chinese of course.  

One thing I love about this area is that I can use a gym, so watch out Simon, I'm coming for you.  Because we have a car, we cover three missions.  Our mission, Riverside, the Rancho Cucamonga mission, and the Redlands missions.  We were up in Chino Hills last week visiting an investigator and it felt weird leaving mission boundaries.  The landscape kind of changed too.

Visiting a family in Ontario (north of Riverside), we were teaching the 8 year old daughter of recent converts.  She is struggling a bit because she's in school in America and her English isn't perfect.  But something I was just captivated by was the way that the parents came to the US and enrolled her in school in the US because they want her to get that opportunity.  They're not hoping that they themselves become very educated or wealthy. All their hope is in their child and her success. Being a parent has got to be hard!

English class in this area is harder because our people aren't college students, they're just families in the area.  Their English is not very good.  I felt like the English teacher in the movie Pink Panther, trying to teach the word Hamburger.  I was trying to get this Chinese huge body builder/kick boxer to say "I am very good" and he just couldn't get that "v" down.  It was hilarious seeing this huge intimidating guy trying so hard to pronounce a sound that to us English speakers would be easy, but for him, is just so foreign.

I had to fix a toilet on Friday which was... interesting.  I didn't know there was so much grease inside a toilet tank... hopefully that was grease...

On Saturday we went with all four Chinese Elders to downtown Riverside to contact Chinese people at the "Lunar Fest."  Little did I know that there would be tons of crazy religious people getting all up in our face about everything.  We got into tons of "bashes" where people would just come up to us and argue about our doctrine and the Bible...  Really annoying and I don't know why they thought such a young guy could be so knowledgeable about the Bible. 

Anyways, one guy had this sign about everyone going to hell and was walking around with it and talking out of a little microphone thing.  We walked by him and he was like “Mormons are the whores of the earth” or something like that, and “they're all going to hell”.  So I turned around and said very boldly, maybe a little loud, "hey bro, come here and say that to my face" so he walked over and started talking to us, telling us that we're teaching evil and lies.

The best part, was that people started to come closer and two 7th Day Adventists, an Atheist, a Muslim, and a Unitarian (that's what he said he was) all came up to us and pretty much told this guy he can't talk to us like that and we're really nice people.  So a bunch of people from different religions/beliefs came together and pretty much got on this guy because he wasn't preaching Jesus Christ's beliefs.  The guy said we're not Christian and the Muslim guy was like "... of course they are... they believe in Jesus Christ you idiot."  Very interesting, very cool.

Some festival official drove by us and stopped later and was like “oh man you guys are the Mormons who speak Chinese! you're famous! everyone's talking about you.  That's really cool you guys speak Chinese!” It was interesting. So check the news! Wonder if we made it to You Tube, Mormons at the Riverside annual Lunar festival. 

Kids are the funniest people in the world.  One kid saw my homemade box for my Chinese scriptures, saw that Jesus was on it and was like, hey this is your "ye su he" or "Jesus box" and I was like, yeah dude, this is my Jesus box!  Another guy at testimony meeting where everyone can share their testimonies at church said, wow this church must be true.  I'm like why do you think that? He said, well eight people have all gotten up there and said it. so it has to be.  I was laughing so hard.  I had to translate that sacrament meeting which was difficult! but kind of fun!

We were teaching the word of wisdom and this Taiwanese member we got to help said (after we explained the law) “well for me I just think it's if you don't get addicted so a glass of red wine every once in a while is okay because it's healthy.”  and we're just like.... “um the law says no, so you have to follow the law”, to the investigator.  It was awkward...

My new church unit is a Chinese group in the Eastvale 1st ward.  There're about 30 members here. 20 active ones.  About half and half from China and Taiwan

We have a very nice apartment (the most "expensive apartment in the mission" as the housing coordinators always remind us). So we have a gym, tennis court, basketball court.  We go to the gym every morning so I'm getting more fit! I'll eat more fruit.  I'm working on the Tuttle [Chinese character] flash cards, I'm asking people about how to say things.  I'm trying to get biao zhun (standard) Chinese, not Taiwan accented Chinese :)

It's funny because there are so many "zuo ye zi" zhong xin's (centers for caring for women for the month after they give birth after the Chinese tradition) here, so many pregnant Chinese women are getting their children U.S. citizenship.  

We have 4 Chinese Speaking missionaries right now.  Me, Murray (my current comp), Schoonmaker, and Merriman (came in with me but is a transfer ahead because he was at the MTC longer).  There's a mainland Chinese missionary coming in in March, from Sichuan.  

As a district leader I push my district to hit "standard" every week.  I have the ZL's and the STL's in my district - it's the same district I started my mission in with Johansen, so I already know a lot of their investigators even though the missionaries have changed.  What's embarrassing was our baptism total for Januray - 39 for the mission.  Schoonmaker and me got 4 of those. When I came in the mission it was at 81... Our District meetings are always spiritually oriented - they have to be..that's what we're teaching!

Miracle though – my investigator from my previous area shi pin'd (Skyped) with his parents and they said okay he could get baptized.  He texted me yesterday with the good news and I was so excited.  I saw him at a baptism for for another investigator, that I went back to yesterday.  I used my pants this time and they worked out fine. 

I had to baptize twice because I forgot to say amen.  The investigator said sui bian (its up to me) if I use English or Chinese for the prayer, and I don't know it in English (not that it's hard) so I did it in Chinese – still haven't used English.  We're leading the stake and mission (well not me anymore :( in baptisms this year).  I've got to spark this area to get that many.  We have 4 on date for this month, we'll see if they turn out.

We cover the Redlands mission, Rancho Cucamonga mission, including ours.  So we were up in Chino Hills - we have an investigator up there, last week.

It is a miracle to be able to baptize all these people.  I've been blessed to find these people and have the pleasure of working with them.  What you said about the sacrament is 100% true.  Elder Johansen taught me to treat taking the sacrament as the celestial room and sanctify myself to receive revelation during that short time.  It's quite an amazing thing.  

We visited a convert of 2 years the other day (from Shanghai - so many people from shanghai here) and he was teaching us "tactics" on getting people.  It was funny because the Holy Ghost does the "getting" but he said when Chinese people get aggressive - turn on them and ask them really penetrating questions using "cheng yu's (Chinese aphorisms)" like xin cheng ze ling (Things work out if only one believes) - and asking, “well where does your conscience come from” - confusing but I had fun.

Love you guys,



Post baptism group photo 

Another baptism

Another post-baptism photo

Riverside Lunar Festibal

Riverside Lunar Festival

It's so cold in the morning!