Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012

Another good week comes to an end! Last friday was our halfway point for our MTC stay! Can you believe it? Already halfway done that is just crazy.
This week was pretty similiar to last seeing as though we have the same schedule every week, but i will try and think of some new and exciting things that happened.
First off i will talk about TRC this week. If you forgot TRC is a night where we go to a building here at the MTC and volunteers come and meet with us! We have two 20 minute visits and we have a different subject every week. This week we talked about recieving answers to your prayers at church. I was having trouble thinking of a way to express my feelings on this subject in chinese and right up to the minute before we walked in i was super nervous! I usually am not nervous for TRC but this time i was because i was having a huge brain fart and couldn't think of what i wanted to say! I tried to prepare but couldn't decide on anything so i went in with hardly a plan at all. Before we went in i was praying praying praying for help with the language to say what the people we were going to teach needed to hear. The first people we talked to were two young men who are currently attending BYU provo, one was from singapore and one was from colorado. I had a friend at BYU hawaii from singapore so out of curiosity i asked if he happened to know Bryce Wang. He did! And what is even crazier is the one from colorado was companions with bryce on his mission! They both served in taichung together! I was so surprised! After introductions and everything we had a prayer and then my companion looked expectantly at me. ( I was under the impression he was going to talk first since he already knew what he wanted to say) I looked at him, raised my eyebrows in kind of a quizical look, and then turned to the people we were teaching and just started talking. I told them what i love about sacrament meeting. How it is a time we can sit and think about our savior Jesus Christ and all that he did for us, and renew our covenants with God. Then i talked about how God can answer our questions through the Book of Mormon and during sacrament is a good time to read it and i shared a scripture i like with them (Ether 12:27) After i was done i was so surprised at where that all came from! The Lord definitely answered my prayer throught the Holy Ghost to help me get across what i wanted to say in chinese. After meeting with the two young men we met with Sister Day and Monika! We had met with both of them in previous weeks so we knew them prettty well already. Sister Day is about 45 and served her mission in taibei and Monika is studying at utah state university and served her mission in vancouver canada! The lesson with them went just as well as the last one and the spirit was there. Afterwards i stopped by the two young mens room again and told them if they talk to bryce wang anytime soon tell him that i say hello, and one of them pulled out his phone right there and called bryce and told him i say hi! Hahaha it was so awesome.
So here is a funny story. This whole week my companion has been searching and searching for a friend of his that is here at the MTC but he could not find her! Then the other day as we are walking to lunch we run into her and her companion is Demaree Brown! I don't know if you recognize the name but i know Celeste probably will. I haven't seen her in so long! She is going to be serving in washington spanish speaking. How cool! Also, phylip curtis got his misson call! He is going to Colombia spanish speaking! Make sure and congratulate him if you see him.
Dad, your package was pretty much the best ever and is really popular among the people living nearby me. Whenever they get hungry they just come over to my dorm and grab a snack :D Also, i love the picture i have it up by the window in our room! Thanks abunch! Love you Dad. Sorry if my english starts to get hard to understand, there is a point in learning a new language when you can speak english or the language you are learning because it is all meshed in your head and i think i am hitting that point. Love you all so much and thanks for all the support!
Love-   Elder Ripley

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 21, 2012

Today is a time of sadness in the MTC! Our older generation in our zone left today. We are going to miss them all aton they were awesome examples for us young ones and helped us with anything we needed. On the brighter side we will hit our 5 week mark tomorrow! How crazy is that! I can not believe i have already been here for 5 weeks that is just weird.
So it is interesting that you would mention ipads and missionaries! This past sunday our fireside speaker was Gordon B. Brown who is the president of the MTC. He talked alot about being what he calls a "100 watt missionary". A 100 watt missionary is obedient, worthy, has a desire to serve and many other important things that he gave some very good tips on. He also talked about how missionary work is transforming! He said he would not be surprised if while we were in the field we would see missionaries getting ipods and ipads! It totally made me think of you! Then you mentioned that ipad app you find and i thought of how convenient that would be for missionaries to have. So you are not being crazy in thinking the church should make those things accessable by missionaries.
This week was a pretty good week! Our investigators (Who are actually our teachers) are both committed to baptism and are progressing and keeping there commitments! I have gained a pretty strong testimony of role plays and how much they help me! Even though it is a "fake" lesson the doctrine is true and is still the same so no matter who we are teaching the spirit is there helping us and testifying with us. It is amazing to me how quickly we can learn a language and teach a 30-40 minute lesson in that language along with being able to understand and resolve our investigators needs or problems. This is only possible through the spirit.
We had TRC again this saturday (we have it every saturday) and it was just as good as ever! This time the first person we taught was a young man who just got home two months ago from his mission. He served in taichung taiwan! He has such a strong testimony of missionary work. Our subject was receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon so we had our friends we taught share a scripture with us that was an answer to one of their questions or prayers. It was such a great experience. After teaching him we taught Lucy Lu again! Except this time she had a little girl with her (her "xiao peng you" as she says haha it means little friend). She was such a sweet girl and had an awesome testimony. She shared with us an experience where she was taking a really hard math test so she said a prayer to Heavenly Father to help her and she got an A! She goes to an elementary school in provo and she learns chinese there! How crazy is that! Her chinese is fantastic especially for her age and already knowing english.
Other than that not too much happened this week just lots and lots of studying! Make sure and tell Celeste that i saw Thomas Brower! He just left today and i told him i would tell Celeste hi for him. 
P.S. Yes taking Chinese before hand did help a whole bunch! Even though i didn't know alot of the vocab i need to teach the gospel i knew sentence structure, pronunciation and those types of things. I also got much better and listening and understanding from being around so many chinese speakers at BYU hawaii. That experience is blessing me huge here on my mission. Also please tell dad i am impressed with his chinese skills, he is definitely improving :D

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

4th letter

Date: February 14, 2012
Companion: Wang Zhong Lao (Elder James)

Coming up on week 5 already time is flying. So this week was extremely similiar to last week seeing as though we have the same schedule every week but i still have some great things to talk about. First i want to talk about TRC. If you remember last week i told you about it and this week was just as good as last if not better! The first message we shared was with the same lady as last week (Sister Day, the lady in her 40s or so) but she had another young lady with her who was attending BYU Provo. She is from singapore and she knew my friend Bryce Wang from BYU Hawaii. He is from singapore and also served in taichung! How crazy is that! Our message that day was about how to receive answers to your prayers. We probably learned just as much from them as they learned from us. The spirit was strong. Next we spoke with another young girl who attends BYU Provo. Her name is Lucy Lu and she is from Texas but her family is originally from southern China. She is probably one of the most animated talkers i have ever seen and she speaks so quickly but i did pretty good understanding for the most part. She had a few really good experiences she shared with us about recieving answers to her prayers. We didn't get to finish our lesson because we ran out of time, partially because she really liked talking :D I love TRC every time we go we have such great experiences. Both lessons the people really liked us though, especially because we challenged them all to bear their testimony to someone who is not a member. They were so surprised when we asked them to, but they appreciated it alot and were pretty impressed! They said they had never had someone leave them with a commitment like that!
On sunday night we usually have movie time after our fireside, but this time we watched a talk by Elder Bednar. It was the talk he gave when he came to the MTC on christmas of 2011. That talk had to be one of the most inspiring i have ever heard. For real! If there is any way you can find that talk you MUST watch it. And if you find it online please print it out and send me a copy :D He talked about so many things so i will mention just a few. One thing that really stuck out to me was when he talked about Christ. He quoted Mosiah 3:19 "The natural man is an enemy to God" And then talked about how when we are down in life or want something, we turn in towards ourselves. He then shared a few stories of Christ's ministry and some very good examples of people who were in times of need for themselves and instead of helping themselves reached out to other people. He said "GET OVER YOURSELVES" quite a few times! He also talked about how having a testimony of the gospel is not enough. We need to be converted. Having a testimony is knowing what is true by the power of the holy ghost. Being converted is consistantly being true to what we know. What an awesome statement.
One last experience i will share, since i am running low on time, is the lesson we had with our investigator yesterday. We had the opportunity of having a "member" present for our lesson (Dai Jie Mei who is a zone resource for our zone came with us!) We went in and checked up and he had been keeping all of his commitments! Like reading and praying, which he usually doesn't. After that we explained the relationship between the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the plan of salvation. Sister Dai helped so much. He understood and said he would be baptized as long as we help him prepare! I was so excited that it didn't hit me that he was already a member (and my teacher) until we walked out of the room hahaha i can't wait until that happens for real! It is such an awesome feeling!
Somethings i thought i would share not pertaining to the gospel so much-This week we tried the tower challenge. The tower challenge is where we try to eat a whole tower of cereal in one meal. They keep the cereal in these big plastic towers, hence the name tower challenge. We got so close! We went for the fruit loop tower and got oh so close to eating all of it but we just couldn't! Nik Huff was my inspiration to do this. He did it with his zone! I see him pretty much every day it is so great! We averaged around 10 bowls each, but next time we are going to get it. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3rd letter

Date: February 7, 2012
Companion: Wang Zhong Lao (Elder James)
I go to the temple every week. Speaking of which i just got back. After we go through the temple, we all go to the cafeteria as a zone and eat temple breakfast. It is a nice break from all that MTC food. I mean the food isn't bad but after a while you get a little sick of it. Just to let you know i have been writing in my journal every day so don't you worry about that!
Lately the MTC has been just as great as ever! The spirit is still strong every day and i have experiences that bring me closer to Christ every single day. Learning the language gets tough at times but we just keep pushing through. It is hard to remember so much vocab and grammar and everything it can get overwhelming. Every night at the end of the day my head feels like it is going to explode! One thing that helps keep us sane is laughing so our teachers try and have a little humor at time. We have two teachers and both are our two investigators and we teach them every day before class starts. A funny story they told us this week was about a greenie missionary who was scared to go up and talk to people and his trainer just kept pushing him and pushing him so finally he rides up to a man on a vespa at a stoplight and says..."Ye su ji du.....shi ni de fumu! Which means Jesus Christ is your parents..Hahaha i just know i am going to do something like that when i get in the field! The words are so easy to mix up sometimes like at the end of the first vision Heavenly Father says "This is my beloved son, Hear him." To say beloved son in chinese you say ai zi. If you say ai with a falling tone it means beloved. If you say it with a rising tone it means short, and in chinese when you say short son it means midget! So if you recite the first vision wrong you might say this is my midget, hear him! You have to be careful and accurate with tones!
This week we got to do TRC for the first time. TRC is training resource...something i forget what it stands for haha but it was where we go teach people who volunteer to come to the MTC! They could be a member or a non member you never know! It was probably one of the coolest things we have done since we got here.We got to sit down and just talk with people about the gospel in chinese! The first lady we talked to was going to school at Utah state University and she was super sweet. She was a member and served a mission in Vancouver, Canada chinese speaking! For the first time going we are just supposed to get to know the person we meet with and maybe share a quick message, so we talked with her for awhile about interests and what not and then shared a message with her about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. We read john 3:16 and talked about how because God loves us he sent his son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and die for us that we may be able to live with Him again. The spirit was strong! After talking with her we had the chance of talking with another lady. She was around 45 years old and had served a mission in Taipei Taiwan! For it being so long since she served she had great chinese! She was the nicest lady and i could tell she was excited for us to serve and loved us for making that decision even though she didn't know us that well. She reminded me of an awesome mother which made me miss you even more, Mom!
My schedule is different every day but goes somewhat like this- Wake up and shower, go to breakfast, go to class for 3 hours, have personal study for an hour, go to lunch, go to TALL (a computer program with all sorts of tools that help us to learn chinese), have language study and/or district study, go to gym, go to dinner, go back to class for 3 hours, have our daily planning session, and go back to our dorms and get ready for bed and have a tooth brushing party! Ha even though it is usually all business around here, at night around 10 we have abunch of us in our zone that all brush our teeth at the same time so there is a ton of us in the bathroom it is pretty funny. We make things fun. That is our day more or less. On sundays and P-days it is a bit different though. On sundays we get to watch movies! This sunday we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. Boy i love that movie! Every time i watch it, it strenghthens my testimony of Joseph Smith so much! It is so great you need to go watch it and if you already have, then watch it again!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2nd letter

Date: January 31, 2012
Companion: Wang Zhong Lao (Elder James)
Momma i am so happy He put me in your house too, I think we are supposed to straighten each other out! I miss you and the family very much! Send my love! So about those questions you had about our investigators. They are fake investigators but the way it is set up it seems like they are real! After teaching our first investigator for a week or so he became our teacher! So we now have two teachers mu lao shi and fan lao shi. They are some of the best teachers ever i love them a whole bunch! They have helped us learn chinese as well as learn to teach so well and it has only been two weeks. I feel like i should have just been doing what i do here at home and i would be so far ahead! And to answer your question we only teach in chinese. Pretty much everything is in chinese! Lessons, sacrament, classes etc. My chinese name right now is Liu. (pronounced Leo with a rising tone) It is just a surname though, when i leave the MTC they will give me a first name as well. Yes i have been getting your dear elder letters and i love them, i love to hear what is going on at home and how you are doing! Please tell Payton thank you for me, i got quite a crack up from the message she sent me. So did my BUFF companion hahaha. Also thank Julie, Paul, Blake and Blythe for me for the messages and pictures i will write back soon! So today you will not believe what happened! It was the 50th annivesary for the MTC and tuesday night is devotional night so guess who our guest speakers were...Elder Holland and Elder Nelson! Boy were we in for a surprise! The spirit they emenate is amazing and their counsel and advice on missionary work...well there is nothing quite like it. So what is going on at home? Let me know what's new and exciting! I got your story about falling down when taking the trash out and dad talking to the city of gilbert about it haha that made me laugh so hard! Tonight afterwards we had a little meeting with just our district (which is only 3 companionships of elders and 1 companionship of sisters) and we just talked about what we learned. The spirit was so strong and our district is starting to grow extremely close, we all love each other! I am so grateful to be put with such a fantastic district. I see Nik Huff almost every day and i love it! Man he is such a stud and it makes me so happy to know he is here serving the Lord with me. Thanks for sending me all the stuff i asked for you are the best mom! Sorry my email is kind of late today i had kind of a weird schedule. So pretty much every day in gym we play four square and it gets super intense so don't you worry about me gaining weight. I get all the exercise i need. Oh and Paul would be proud of me, an elder in my district and I kick butt at basketball.  Well i am so glad to be in the MTC. Every morning i wake up and i just say to myself....wow i am acutally on my mission! I have dreamed about this for a long time. I am sure the shock will increase when i get into the field though ohhh man. I am so grateful for this Gospel and my chance to have 2 years dedicated solely to bringing others unto Christ. What an awesome opportunity and it is all thanks to you Mom and Dad! I love you guys thanks for being the best parents i have ever had!...Well only parents i have ever had but you get the point...You were and are such amazing examples to me and i think about you every day! For my mission scripture tell them to put D&C 35:13-16. But if they are writing it on the plaque just put verse 13 i guess. Thanks Mother you are the best! I love you bunches! As well as the rest of the family. Please tell Julie thank you for setting up a blog for me that is awesome she is so great! Love you all and talk to you in a week! I would write more but i only get 30 minutes so i have to go!   
                    Love ---Caleb  Errrrr Elder Ripley