Sink or swim… Week 1 at the MTC

Here's my official name tag. My name in Chinese sounds like "how" but with an "r", like "rao". I think it means "wind" or something!

Here’s my official name tag. My name in Chinese sounds like “how” but with an “r”, like “rao”. I think it means “wind” or something!

Here’s my official name tag. My name in Chinese sounds like “how” but with an “r”, like “rao”. I think it means “wind” or something!
Zach and Aleks

Here I am with Aleks, my cousin, and former BYU roomate. He’ll be leaving in June to go to Peru on his mission, after he finishes this semester at school.

This group is my district and we are standing in front of the Provo temple on Sunday. All of us are Chinese speaking missionaries and are either going to Taiwan or Singapore.

This group is my district and we are standing in front of the Provo temple on Sunday. All of us are Chinese speaking missionaries and are either going to Taiwan or Singapore. Elder Horton, my companion is next to me wearing the sunglasses.

Hi all, it’s Zach’s mom, keeper of the blog.  Here’s his first post from Week 1 at the MTC…

Well week one of the MTC is in the books! Only 8 more to go here before they send me off to Taiwan! To say it was the hardest week of my life would be a huge understatement. Basically the whole point of the MTC is to prepare us missionaries for our respective missions, and for us missionaries who are going to Taiwan, that means rigorously studying and learning Chinese in order to preach in the language. Our days are super structured here, and its exhausting to say the least. We wake up at 6:30 every day and go to Chinese class for 6 hours, and afterwards have 6 hours of mandatory study time in the classroom. So basically we are in the same classroom with the same 10 people ( My district) for 12 hours a day. It’s incredible how much we learn here though. I don’t want to offend my former Chinese teachers, because they are getting this email too, but I would say I’ve learned more Chinese in the last week than I did the last 5 years in school. It’s incredible really. The Gift of Tongues is a very real thing, and The Spirit helps so much in the learning process. The first day of class was an awakening for sure. We showed up and our teacher spoke only in Chinese to us for 3 hours. Not a single word of English. Have you ever tried to learn something when you don’t even understand the language the teacher is speaking? Its dang hard. But you learn extremely fast because your options are to sink and fail, or swim and succeed. So, its hard but good.

On Friday my companion (basically my partner in learning and teaching here) , Elder Horton, and I had to teach an “investigator” (she’s a BYU student who is from Taiwan and volunteers to help us practice our teaching skills) a gospel lesson in straight Chinese. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and we got wrecked. Our Chinese was not even good enough to even carry on a conversation, lol. But we teach her every day, and it gets better every time. On Monday, Elder Horton and I taught a 45 minute lesson about the gospel in straight Chinese to her. It was incredible, and like I said… the Gift of Tongues is very real, and our progress over just the weekend was unimaginable. Seriously our Chinese has improved SO much that we can teach a 45 minute lesson in only Chinese with no English at all. I can’t wait to see where my progress is after my next 8 weeks here.

The best part of every day here is the one hour of exercise time we get!  So on my first day of exercise time, I broke my foot playing basketball. Yep, you read that right. I played high level competitive lacrosse for 6 years without a broken bone, and my first day as a missionary, I break my foot playing pickup basketball. I feel like the Lord needed to humble me and, this was his way of doing it. So in the pictures attached, you can check out my sweet knee scooter that I get to ride on every day. So that was the first humbling experience, the second was having the scooter break my second day of having it and having to use crutches until the new one comes in. I’m in a boot for 6 weeks and I can start to put weight on my foot in 4 weeks. So that’s a bummer, but just another challenge to overcome.

Elder Horton and I get along super well, and I feel like our Chinese skills compliment each other. He’s from Utah, and played lacrosse like I did in high school, and is just an all around stud. The Lord definitely blessed me with him, because after he graduated he went into a surgeons tech program, and became a surgeon tech. So to have practically a doctor as my companion as I broke my foot is just a straight blessing.

The highlights of this past week were leaving the MTC campus to visit various doctors to get my foot checked out, and getting Chick-fil-A catered for dinner Monday night (the normal food here is the worst I’ve ever had), and having it snow a little after the devotional last night. Our days are all the same here, so even a little change of pace is exhilarating.


So while we were at the hospital waiting to get my foot x-rayed, we saw a service dog and Elder Horton and I started making jokes to each other in Chinese about how were going to eat dogs when we get to Taiwan. Well there was this random guy sitting in the waiting room with us smirking the whole time we were talking to each other in Chinese. As he got called into the nurses office, he passed us and just said “Jiaoyou” which means good luck in Chinese, so he knew what we were saying the whole time, and we started dying laughing, hahaha!

 I LOVE YOU ALL!!  And would seriously love if any of you sent letters or whatever to me here. Letters are the best part of every day, and they are like gold. There is a service called that will deliver any letter you type up to the MTC for free the same day, and getting those are so awesome. If you want to send something, my address for the next 8 weeks before I get to Taiwan is:
 Elder Zachary Kearsley Stroud

2005 N 900 E Unit  61
Provo UT 84602

I hope you all had incredible weeks, and I would seriously love to hear about them all! Shoot me an email or letter and keep me updated on your lives! I can only access emails on my prep days, which are Wednesdays, btw, but regular mail and the letters are delivered every day.

The Church is true and I know that this is where the Lord needs me to be for the next part of my life! Talk to y’all next week!
 Rao Zhang Lao
Elder Zachary Stroud

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