I don’t know what the outside world is anymore

Well another Wednesday means another email from your favorite elder at the MTC! Just kidding… ya’ll are probably tired of reading these things by now…But this week was actually pretty cool! As far as MTC weeks go this one definitely had some awesome experiences!

So definitely the biggest thing this week was that we got to hear Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles come and speak to us last night, and that was truly awesome. Elder Horton and I managed to get front row and center seats due to my “disability“, so we were literally 5 feet away from an Apostle while he gave us a talk on the importance of missionary work. So cool. He even made eye contact with me more than a few times, kinda scary but at the same time super cool. The Spirit in the entire room was so strong and the lessons he taught were so pertinent and important to those of us about to teach and serve in the field. My favorite part of the whole devotional was when Elder Oaks was reading off of Preach My Gospel, and he read of a quote in the book and said “Do you know whose quote that was? Mine!” and then he started laughing. But really he is one of the most down to earth people I have ever heard speak, and it was such a blessing to be able to learn from him.

The other cool that happened this week by chance was that I got to teach a couple of gold tag investigators. So at the MTC people can sign up to be “gold tag” investigators, and they wear these gold tags that just say “guest” on them, and wander around the MTC looking to be taught by missionaries. They can be church members, and sometimes they aren’t, but they always act the part of a true investigator. Well on Monday Elder Horton was in an interview, so I was temporarily assigned Elder Hintze (the other one in the boot) to be my companion for like a few hours. He had to go to the doctor, so we went to the clinic and they said that they had forgotten to make his appointment, so we were left high and dry. It was time for gym at this point, and for obvious reasons neither of us could participate, so we decided to go back to the room and chill out for an hour. During the walk back we bumped into Jose, who was wearing a gold tag. Jose is from Guatemala and speaks pretty limited English. Thankfully I took Spanish for two years in elementary school, and Elder Hintze speaks a little bit of Spanish, even though he is going to Hong Kong speaking Cantonese, so we could just barely understand him. Jose said that he met with some missionaries about a week ago and they planned to teach him again at the time when we ran into him. He said that he had been waiting for 15 minutes and nobody had showed up yet. At this point his wife, Hely (Yep that’s how it’s spelled) showed up and asked if these were the missionaries they were waiting on. I looked at Elder Hintze and was like “Dude let’s just teach them instead of chilling in the room.” He was like “Dude FORSURE” So we told them we could teach. We ended up teaching one of the craziest lessons of my life! With The Spirit, and with me and Elder Hintze’s VERY limited Spanish and their very limited English, we managed to teach an incredible 1.5 hour lesson on The Restoration. Just crazy. At the very end of the lesson, we asked if we could pray in Chinese, just because that’s what were used to, and gladly they said yes. As I speak Mandarin and Elder Hintze speaks Cantonese, we asked which one they preferred, and Hely chose Cantonese. At the end of the prayer, we looked up and Hely was just completely bawling… like lost all control. We asked her what was wrong and she said that her father moved from Guangdong to Guatemala before she was born, and his native language was Cantonese. She said she would have never thought that the missionaries would say a prayer in Cantonese in her life. Needless to say, we definitely touched her heart with the Spirit. We proceeded to set up another lesson for next Monday.

As for the more lighthearted things of the week… The MTC had Subway catering on Monday, and two of the elders going to Taibei in another district in my zone had a competition to see how much they could eat. One of them managed to put down SIX six inch subs, and the other managed to put down SIX SUBS AND DESSERT. So they both ate 3 feet of subway in about 30 minutes. Our floor bathroom definitely got wrecked that night…

So update on my foot: I have what’s called a Dancer’s Fracture, basically its where a ligament or tendon pulls off a piece of bone from the 5th metatarsal. The doctor has allowed me to start putting weight on it now, SO NO MORE SCOOTER! But I’ll still be in a boot until next Friday when I can take it off. After that I’ll be in an ankle brace for about 3 months is what he said. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but I am playing it safe because he said if I don’t it could heal improperly and I would have much bigger problems… so yeah. But he did say that it is healing faster than normal, so that’s good!

Week 7 podiatrist

Field trip to the podiatrist last Friday

Also I just went to the Barbershop AGAIN and got my hair wrecked AGAIN. But its ok, I’ve accepted it, I’m a missionary now and the name that’s on my tag is more important than my hair looking good.

IMG_0080

About to enter my favorite place at the MTC! Just kidding I hate it!

As always, thank you so much for the letters and the packages, they are always awesome!

I hope y’all have a great week and stay focused on what’s most important! I love you all!

Love,

Elder Stroud

 

Week 6: Praise It Edition

Another week down in the MTC! The weeks are all starting to blend together here, and not much new happens anymore… Some elders in the other zone who came in three weeks before us left to go to Taipei on Tuesday, making us the “oldest” Mandarin speaking missionaries in the MTC. It’s pretty crazy… there are about 20 Mandarin speaking elders total, split between the two zones here out of about 1000 missionaries, so it’s pretty rare to see other people who speak your language.

This week I got named District Leader, so that’s fun!

Also Elder Horton got food poisoning this week, so that was slightly less fun.

We had our first Skype TRC here, which basically is you get to talk to a church member who volunteers and speaks your mission language and you teach them a quick 30 minute lesson over Skype in Chinese. It was sooooo sick and easily the highlight of my MTC experience thus far. We taught an older Taiwanese lady named Wu Jie Mei and she lives in Taichung within our mission boundaries. At the beginning of the call we were doing basic introductions and I told her I was from Florida and she was super confused, then I said it’s where Disney World is and she immediately knew. When I told her I used to work there she just went completely crazy and was so excited. From then on I knew that it was going to be a good lesson. We continued to teach her about the power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement and we read Doctrine and Covenants 18:11-13 with her. At the end of the call both Elder Horton and I testified of how we can feel His love for us and the pure power of the Atonement, and she just started bawling. It is pretty amazing to see the Spirit as a universal language. Even though our Chinese isn’t the greatest yet, we can still teach with the Spirit combined with our Chinese and have the same effect. After the lesson was over so was pleading us to teach her next week as well, so that was way cool.

Last night before going to bed one of the elders in our room, Elder Robinson, offered us some of his peppermint essential oil that he uses every night to help him sleep. He just said don’t get it too close to your eyes, because you’ll cry. Another one of the Elders, Elder Provard, took him up on his offer and decided to try some. So Elder Provard is a big dude… like 6’2″ and about 270, and he’s the type of kid who brushes things off like they are nothing. So he says “Oh I’ve used this stuff before and I didn’t even cry, this shouldn’t even affect me. He then continues to apply a TON of oil to his hands and underneath his eyes. Not five seconds later he yells “OH THIS STUFF IS WAY WORSE THAN THE OTHER STUFF” as tears began to stream down his face. Lol

One of the elders in my zone who is going to Hong Kong was standing on a chair and fell off and badly bruised his foot bone this week, enough to warrant a doctor’s office visit and apparently a boot. So now there are two members of the Boot Gang in our zone. Also another one of the elders in our zone who is going to Taibei brought like 30 of the fattest ugliest ties from the 70’s I have ever seen and we decided to start Fat Tie Fridays where our whole zone wears his ugly ties. Both pictures are below.

Once again, I’m sorry my life isn’t that cool right now, but I promise it definitely will be in 19 days once we FINALLY get to Taiwan! I don’t even know what the real world is anymore… seriously.

Also… please stop sending food! We GREATLY appreciate all of the food we’ve been sent, but we have so much at this point that we could probably feed the missionaries who come in after us until Christmas…

As always thank you for the letters and packages! They are always great! I hope you all have an amazing week and I challenge you all to look for the little miracles in your lives every day!

Love,

Elder Stroud

Lessons are Being Learned

April 13, 2016

Week 5

We got our mission shirts! They are like $15 in the store here, and its tradition to get them before you leave!

Nimen Hao!!

Well it’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another weekly update from the MTC! The weeks really are flying by here. It’s really strange! It feels like we’ve been here forever, but at the same time it feels like we just got here last week. When people said that the days at the MTC feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days, they aren’t lying! The weeks have kind of all started to blend together… We do the same thing pretty much every single day here, and once you get into the routine, the time starts to fly! We are studying scriptures, and doctrine, and Chinese basically all day long and we really don’t have time to do anything else.

So when I came into the MTC to learn Chinese, I never thought I would hit a language barrier in English, but I was wrong! Two days ago we were learning the grammar phrase “zai” in class and basically it’s a word you use to describe where things are in relation to other things. So if you were to say “My pen is underneath your book” the Chinese translation would be:

“Wǒ de bǐ zài nǐ de shū xiàmian”

Basically Wo means I, de makes the pronoun before it possessive, making it my, bi means pen, zai basically means to be at, ni is you, and the de makes it your, shu is book, and xiamian is underneath. So directly translated to English, the sentence reads ” My pen is at your book underneath”. It’s hard because the sentence order is obviously different from English, so you have to stop and think before you say things in order to say them right. But when we were learning these words one of the new ones I had never used before was xieduimian, or “kitty-corner”. So when we were practicing the new word aloud as a class, and our teacher told the class it meant kitty-corner, I just started busting out laughing and soon realized that none of the class was laughing with me… awkward. I thought to myself 1. Why are we using the word “kitty-corner” to relate direction to objects, and 2. Why is no one else laughing that our teacher just said that “That car is kitty-corner from the house”. So as I had asked the teacher why the heck we just said that, he told me that kitty-corner means to be diagonally across from something. I had literally never hear that word before in my life… Our teacher asked the class if they had heard of it before, and every person raised their hand except me and one of the sisters who is from Sweden and will be going to Singapore. She speaks like 7 languages fluently, but that’s another story. So apparently they use “kitty-corner” to describe location to things in Utah, and not in Florida. Utahns are weird.

Second story of the week- So at the MTC, the most coveted object is a mini fridge that goes in your closet. The only way to obtain one of these fridges for your room is to be diagnosed with diabetes. Once you leave the MTC, they are supposed to take the fridge from your room, so the next missionaries who live there don’t have it. Well sometimes the fridges don’t get picked back up, and they end up being passed down to the next generation of missionaries. Well this week, some of the Tongan missionaries came up to our room to get some ramen, and because we have a massive surplus, and because they are massive dudes, we gladly obliged! They asked if we wanted anything in return, and I jokingly answered “If you have a fridge you could give us that” and to my utter shock they responded “We actually do have one, and were leaving next week, so yall can have it” I’m pretty sure my jaw touched the floor. I had literally just traded two packs of ramen for a freaking fridge. That’s basically like trading a knee scooter for a Ferrari. So yeah we’re pumped.

Week 5 mini fridge

Here’s our food supply(Thank you for sending everything)! AND OUR BEAUTIFUL FRIDGE(which we have to hide when they do room inspections)

Third story of the week- So yesterday we were lucky enough to be selected as pilot testers for a new English language teaching program. Once were in Taiwan, we do service for the people there by teaching English classes at the church about once a week. It’s a great way to meet new investigators and to serve others. Well yesterday they pulled Elder Horton and I out of class and asked us to teach a class of ESL missionaries English. It was quite the experience as none of them knew Chinese, so we couldn’t teach them that way, and we had to do our best with the very minimal Spanish we knew. One of the words we taught them was “frustrated” and listening to them try to pronounce it made me realize that we probably sound exactly the same trying to say things in Chinese, so it was pretty humbling. Over all a cool experience, and I can’t wait to teach more once we get to Taiwan!

Sorry this email was so long!! If you didn’t read it all I don’t blame you! My life really isn’t that interesting right now haha. But it will be once I get to Taiwan, I promise! But know I love you all, and that your Heavenly Father loves you too!

As always thank you for the letters and packages! They make my days here!

Lots of Love,

Elder Stroud

Week 5

Here’s our whole zone in front of the temple! Its split about 50/50 with Mandarin and Cantonese speakers. Everyone is either going to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and one elder is going to Australia.

Time for an April Fool’s Joke

So, as we are deprived of all forms of media here except email on Wednesdays, my district and I have begun to talk about movies and music from our pre-mission lives in order to stay sane. This week I thought of my probably second favorite movie behind Miracle of course, The Dark Knight Rises. During the film, the main antagonist, Bane, is fighting Batman in the sewer system of Gotham City. Bane has the total upper hand on Batman, and is just destroying him in this fight. At the apex of this fight, Bane lifts Batman over his head and says “I’m wondering which would break first, your spirit, or your body?” as he then proceeds to snap Batman’s back over his knee, breaking his body.

I’d like to think of myself as Batman and the MTC as Bane. Not only does the MTC have the total upper hand here, and is destroying me every day, but Banes quote has proven to be true! As I broke my foot the third day here, the MTC ended up breaking my body before my spirit! I can proudly say, even though my spirit has been diminished since I got here, it has yet to be broken!

As far as weeks go, this one was pretty much like every other one here!

This week’s antics: As the old Mandarin districts from last week reached their 9 week mark, and they departed off to their respective missions, we got a whole new batch of Mandarin speaking Elders and Sisters in our zone. My district is no longer the babies here!! These elders and sisters are all going to the Taipei Mission, and one of them is going to Australia Sydney, Chinese speaking, so that’s cool! But anyways, they came in Wednesday night, and were just fresh faced little missionaries, unfazed by the 16 hour day grind of the MTC. On Friday, Elder Horton and I had to go to the podiatrist during everyone else’s gym time, and we ended up being the only ones in the residence hall for about 10 minutes. Well our fresh little batch of missionaries were so excited to go to their first gym time, that they forgot to close their automatically locking door. Amateurs. Elder Horton and I looked at each other, realized it was April Fool’s Day, and knew what had to be done. We stealthily went in their room, and saw not one, not two, but THREE alarm clocks, all sitting out in the open. So naturally we did what any companionship would do, and set the clocks to go off at 1:30AM, 2:30AM, and 3:30AM. Our plan worked perfectly, and the next morning these new elders were complaining about how they started getting ready at 1:30am because they thought it was it was 6:30am, and how as soon as they fell back asleep the second alarm went off at 2:30am, and then it happened again at 3:30am. Mission accomplished. They have no idea who did it hahahahahaha!

 

Week4

We ❤ Mandarin. Also apparently in Taiwan everyone when taking pictures does either the peace sign, or the “handsome” sign like this. That’s what one of the legit fast track kids told us. Maybe hes just messing with us to make us look stupid… idk

Week4 two more weeks of scooter

The scooter isnt quite like biking, but it’s pretty dang close.

week 4 character nametag

We got our full character tags this week! Usually you get them like week 6, but we got ours last Thursday, so that was weird!

Foot update: The podiatrist said the break has gotten bigger, but my foot is healing as normal. So I have to have the scooter for another two weeks until I can get off of it, and then ill most likely be in a boot pretty much until I leave for Taiwan. Good news is I don’t have to go home to let it heal. Unfortunately for an elder in the other Mandarin zone, he wrecked the cartilage in his shoulder when he tripped playing FOUR SQUARE at gym time, so he left this morning to go home and have surgery and a two month recovery time before he gets to go to Taipei. I count my broken foot as a blessing knowing it happened when it did, and I don’t have to go home. Oh also my milk intake has increased like 300%

Chinese update: The language is coming along nicely as always. We are pretty proficient in speaking at this point, and I can understand maybe 90% of what our teachers say to us. But there is always room for improvement, and we work super hard every day to be ready for Taiwan! My friends who left last week for my mission said that its super hard to understand what people say over there because of accents and how quickly they speak, so I know I need to do whatever it take to minimize that!

GENERAL CONFERENCE!! General conference was sick and I hope you all watched it!! If not go check it out on lds.org and pick out a talk to watch! My favorite was definitely Elder Holland’s just because it related to my life right now so much. I was also cool to see Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy speak because he literally came and spoke to us at a devotional like 2 weeks ago and I shook his hand and talked to him in Chinese! He served his mission in Taiwan like 40 years ago so that is sick, and he really knows his stuff since he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, so he’s pretty much a genius. Go watch his talk as well, it was good.

As always, thank you all so much for the letters and packages! They rock, keep them coming!

I love every single one of you so much, and I would love to hear from you all! We’re in the dark here, so emails once a week are pretty much all the news we get from the outside world! Keep me updated on your lives!

Hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stroud