Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CHRISTMAS WEEK! THE FIRST AAAAND THE 2nd TO LAST!

alright so my keyboard's shift key is not functioning that well soooo bear with me as i use all non captialized letters (works for punctuation but not for letters...... i know, weird because the title worked....)
christmas eve.... visited mr. yin! his wife and his friend was there! unfortunately we did not share a spiritual message while we were there... we were there mainly to set up a return appointment... on the way out we decided we should have shared something with him.... sooo we turned around and decided to think of something that would be a not so weird reason for us returning such as us accidently leaving car keys in his apartment.... well, we returned and saw they were eating dinner so we decided not to do anything like that because eating is pretty big in the chinese culture... if someone is eating food, you don't disturb them.
we then drove all the way to china with the other missionaries (figuratively) to enjoy our christmas eve dinner with the chuang family! That was a legitimate chinese dinner. It was to die for.
I loved it.
Best part?
they gave us every last scrap of leftovers.
Everything.

YES.
WIN.

He told me some good advice that I appreciate... well it wasn't advice persay, but it was about him when he was a missionary.
he told us the later he down the mission he was, the more and more he dreaded dinner appointments.
WHY?
dinner appointments are generally with members and they happen during prime proselyting time.
This made me appreciate my mission so much more.
The members often give us food on sunday right after church we can take home and eat whenever. That works so much better.
okay so christmas...

christmas was wonderful :) Absolutely wonderful. After doing presents, Elder johnson and I drove to Sister Liu's house!

She is an old lady who's son lives with her and has pretty much taken over the whole apartment room.... Half of the apartment is closed off by these stand up chinese curtain things (think back to the disney movie mulan when she is taking a bath) and he just plays video games all day and lives with his girlfriend inside that area. He comes out to use the kitchen to make food and go to the bathroom, but other then that he just lives in that area where he will not allow his mother to even walk in.

It really is sad.

his mother sleeps on the couch every night.
We had no money to buy her a present so we gave her a box of oranges and some chocolate we received from others.
elder johnson wrapped it in the car while I drove. Her face light up so much when she opened it.
we left a brief christmas message then headed out to brother pendleton's (the ward mission leader) to do some skyping and phone calling with the family!

afterwards, we went to the branch president's house. There, we enjoyed dinner! loved it.
The day after, we had a lesson over in Arlington. that was a long drive. It was amazing though.
it was the first time I had really been in the city for awhile.

It was then I realized that I truly am a city boy and I really do love the city.

we walked around the mall with her to find a place to have our discussion.
man, do I love East coast fashion. so very classy.

The following day we were able to go to the Washington DC temple with some friends of ours! (former investigators)
we are only able to go if we are invited by someone ( can't take our car out of Virginia).
That was the jist of the week.

I feel the weight of not having a senior companion completely now. I've been frustrated a ton recently because I have felt like I have been training my companion. i'll admit, I was just following around my senior when he was around, but now I feel I am being relied heavily on. i end up doing 95% of the talking and 95% of the planning. it is tough.
well, i'll keep on swimming! Will report next week!

take care you fine people you.
 
Hakuna Matata
 
 

Christmas tiiiiime is here

Holy shishkabob.

NOW I feel like a missionary.
Why? Transfers happened on Thursday. Elder Tang, our Trainer chinese companion from Taiwan, left us.

Back to the dynamic MTC duo, me and Elder Johnson. (Meaning... I feel like I am senior companion because I end up doing most of the work involving chinese folks...)

Us against the chinese world.
Holy shishkabob this week has been TOUGH. Our first lesson, which was planned to be a 45 minute lesson, went on to be an hour and a half lesson due to our slow chinese speech. (Fang xiansheng--- same fang as mine! :D)
Our nightly planning sessions have extended from 30 minutes to an hour due to the extra 30 to 45 minutes we (meaning I) spend on the phone communicating with Chinese people trying to set things up (I kid you not, Tang would whip those calls out in 1-3 minutes-- it takes us(me) a fat 10 minutes per call due to our special white circumstances)
This random chinese lady who we don't even know actually gave us a call. We ended up having to give Elder Tang a phone call and do a three way call to figure out what the heck was going on hahaha....
Alright so I have to tell you all about Elder Johnson... Apparently I haven't told you all enough haha.
There are three specific things that happened this week I'd love to share....
1) Elder Johnson is a diabetic. He had to make a phone call to this doctor to get that stuff set up .... here is the conversation:
"Hello how may I help you?"
"Yes um is Dr. odhifoeh still accepting patients?"
"Yes she most certainly is, Ma'am. Does oenfioen sound good for you to come in?"
*Elder Tang and I at this point are dying of laughter*
"Ummm yes that is fine for me."
"Okay wonderful, thank you ma'am we will put you in for that time and date... By the way who will the doctor be seeing?"
".... Spencer Johnson."
".... Right okay sounds good see you then."

HILARIOUS.
2) We were with an investigator... her name is Ni Dan. When Elder Johnson was away, she leaned over to Elder Tang and whispered "Ta shi yige nuhaizi haishi erhaizi"
Translation?
"Is he a little boy or a little girl?"
Elder Tang later told Elder Johnson that and the car was totally quiet for the next 6 minutes (Except for me and Elder Tang's very huge laughter-- so it wasnt very quiet). We tried to ask him what he thought about it--- every time we did, we simply heard snoring in the back seat as if he was asleep ahahahah! Finally out of the blue he announces "I think she is the STUPIDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!!!!"
Bahahahahahahahahahhaha so funny!
3) Well, before I get into this one, you gotta understand what makes all these things so funny. Elder Johnson is the elder who bakes, cleans, and has a super Christmasy corner. (I kid you not, there is a mini christmas tree decorated with ornamants, all of this garner all over his walls, all these homemade little snowflakes hanging from his window, and he has several scented candles at the end of his desk. He claps his hands and gets all giddy whenever the Hallelujiah chorus comes on and absolutely adores old people and little kids. We have decided he would make an excellent addtion to the Relief Society.)
NOW I CAN CONTINUE ( BECAUSE THIS IS THE BEST PART )
So we are walking down an isle at wal mart and we hear "Mmmmm this one smells SOO GOOD." We peer down like "what the heck...?" and we see the sister missionaries oogling over the christmas candles.
Elder Johnson then says (this is why you gotta love Elder Johnson) "Hmm. I think I would make a better sister missionary."
BHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.
Alright, moving on!

You know what I love? Chinese people.
You tell them you are learning chinese and BOOM. They love you. They then have all the patience in the world for you. It's pretty great.
Well, I am looking forward to Christmas! Get to skype home aaaand open some packages! THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU FINE PEOPLE WHO SENT ME CARDS AND PACKAGES! This stuff means SO MUCH MORE to me now! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Happy holidays everyone :) Really! Enjoy it! Take care!

Love, Elder Valentine
方长老(fangzhanglao)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

THE WEEK!

TUESDAY: Went to liu jiemei's to teach a little bit... She is a member but we just discovered she really does not know much at all about the principles of the gospel... this equals a perfect opportunity for me and Elder Johnson (I am going to refer to him as EJ throughout the email for the sake of time... Elder Tang= ET hehehehe... funny.... He isn't from America... haha... get it?)
to practice teaching in Chinese (Especially because if we mess up it isn't a big deal, right?). ANYWAY.
I start giving a lesson... I start talking and then EJ starts reading the verses (while she is rolling out some dough on the table...). I ask her a few questions after the reading, and she just keeps rolling that dough while looking down as if I hadn't said anything! No acknowledgement whatsoever! I asker again, then she gives me the same answer she gave before the lesson ("So what does God whatn us to do with our time on Earth?" Her:"Help people." Me:"Yes, yes, that is right that is right... What do these scriptures say we can ALSO do to please Heavenly father?" Her: "Help people." Me: "Yes yes yes.... (The scripture was not about that at all but I gave up so we continued going) please continue Elder Johnson!")
So EJ keeps going and she keeps rollin her dough. Then, in the middle of the three verses, she gets up and just walks into a completely different room! We stop and look at each other for a couple seconds, then get up and follow her and EJ just keeps reading while she is grabbing some pots and pans! She then pauses and looks at us and chuckles. She grabs her jpig pot, some oil, and salt and walks back to continue pounding that dough. I then ask her another question and she just keeps her head down and works the dough-- no acknowledgement! I then started to have fun with it and stood right across from her and the dough and started trying to make some analogy between the dough and the gospel. My companions were busting up laughing, but she still didn't say anything. I then stopped and waited for her to reply and she lifted her head (YES!), but looked at ET (the Chinese elder) and totally starts talking about bread(NO! D:)!
I don't know if she is going to want us to return once we lose tang zhanglao (ET) next transfer, because she loves talking to him about things (in Chinese) that completely go over me and EJ's heads.

Let's fastforward to Thanksgiving!...
We had two member meals that day! (HOORAH!)
First meal was at the Mao family's house.... So I'm sitting across from a Chinese lady named Vicky, and I decided to practice some Mandarin.
.... She says "WOAH! Your Chinese is really really good!"
To which I respond "Thank you! Many people say that, but I have come to realize that Chinese people are either really good people or liars!"
I then hear some choking at the end of the table coming from the Chinese guys...
She then says "Who is a liar???"
Then I say "Chinese people are liars!"
(Remember, this conversation happened in Chinese....)

I then hear some more choking at the table and one of them says "PiaN zi, not PIAO ZI! Say it right!"
SO what really happened was I switched up the word Pianzi (liar) with the word "Piao zi", which means "slut"....
Anyone want to challenge me on awkward language mixup experiences on the mission??? That deserves a gold medal!
For the second meal, we went to a full on old lady Chinese tea party, pretty much. It was hilarious! They would stand up and say something they were thankful for, or introduce themselves a bit, and then everyone would clap! I legitimately felt like I was at an old lady debeutant thing. Elder Johnson could not get enough of it though-- oh he was clapping and smiling and giggling so big with all the other old ladies.
Oh, did I mention he was called "beautiful" by three old Chinese ladies? They would look at him and say "Oh, beautiful boy!" in English! Hilarious!
(He loved that. He definitely as a huge love for his blue eyes. And everything else about his looks hahahaha.)
Now let us fastfoward to Monday... Monday was zone conference! (This is why my PDay is today instead of yesterday...)
We always have a clean car competition, to which the winners get these restaurant gift cards...
Well, we cleaned out the car and washed it about 30 minutes before the competition...
We get there and they say "alright, park, and open up your hoods."
Well, we completely for got about under the hood...
We pop open the hood and what do we find?
PEANUTS.
There were PEANUTS under the hood! It was HILARIOUS! The missionaries got a good laugh out of that.
needless to say, we did not win that competition by a long shot.
Alright so here is a cool experience...
We are currently teaching a man who is a seriously decorated Paratrooper for the army. Now he acts as an inbetween guy for the Chinese and American Army. Needless to say, he is one tough man.
This is bryan hanson, by the way. He is American, but he knows Chinese so we teach in Chinese! Anyway... at the close of one of our lesson, this tough brawny military guy starts breaking down and has all these tears in his eyes! He then started to thank us for taking time out of our day to visit him and teach him the discussions and help him come closer to Christ. That was when I really started to realize that this stuff I am doing with so many others-- going around and spreading the gospel-- legitimately affects people's lives and helps them be so much happier. That was definitely an experience I will never forget.

I wish you all an amazing week! HAPPY DECEMBURRRRR! (I say burr because it is cold over here in this side of the country. Enjoy California, you spoiled people. Man, I want to live in Irvine so bad.... )


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Works!

Alright ladies and gents, let us touch base a bit on this week.
We have this new member who likes us to come over every Thursday for dinner, right? (Seriously, mana from heaven. THIS IS WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR.) She (Irene) cooks this fat pot of food and we all just chow. Usually it consists of cabbage, carrots, onions, peanuts, and a huge slab of pork (skin and all). This all comes with a side of rice... Now, I went to town on this stuff. Elder Johnson, however, eats a little slower and a lot less thanI do. She asked me if I was full and I said "Ohhhh feichang bao le" (Really full). (She had about a quarter of the fat pot left and wanted us to finish it). I then said "Hmmm ni yinggai gei Zhang zhanglao zhe ge shuwu-- ta HEN XIHUAN Ni de shuwu. Ta bushi chibaole." (Hmm you should give elder johnson the food-- He LOVES your food. He isnt full)
Needless to say, she made him eat...  not one, not two bowls of food that night.... but SEVEN WHOLE BOWLS. Oh did I mention she gave Elder Johnson and I the largest bowls there? hehehehe. My boy is growing up. (He was a little mad at me afterwards, but I thoguht it was hilarious ahahahah.)

 
We had a mission conference this week. From 8 am to 1pm. Wowzers is right.
 
We had a member of the quorum of the seventy (Elder Teh--an asian-- awesome right? Doesn't speak the Chinese language though. Bummers.)
What did I learn? I ton. Is this stuff applicable to those not currently on missions?
Absolutely.
Since there was SO MUCH we talked about, I will hit on my favorite part!
Elder Teh made a comparison between Finding Nemo's EAC (East Australian Current) and us.
Now, there are three zones: Excellence (Being at the top), the large swirling current (Being in the middle) and the question mark zone (at the bottom). I will attempt to draw this using the email...
                  --------------------------
Excellence:________________
                   /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
Current:
(EAC)                  
                   \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
                   ---------------------------
Question     ????????????????
Zone:          ----------------------------

Alright, now that we are done doing the picture, I can get into detail...
People in the top and bottom zones often get swept into the current. (Bottom zone is when one is a red flag on the radar-- "why is he even out here?" "Does he care about his mission at all?" So on and so forth. Most people don't want to be here, so they lay low and get swept into the EAC)
Remember the EAC, with all the turtles? Some of them were new, whereas others had been there for a long time! The EAC gets you to where you want to go-- all you have to do is relax, take it easy, and success will come and go-- get a few baptisms here and there,  some golden investigators, some reactivated converts, no worries! Every mission has an EAC. Isn't stressful. Most of the missionaries are in there. Like the current, you will have highs and lows. Unfortunately, while in the current, our highs and lows get dictated by the current, instead of by us. We follow the standard "on fire, on rest" cycle many missionaries follow.
Why do so many people join the current? Well, It is comfortable! You do the same amount of time on a mission and you still get the honorable full time missionary status, just without all the stress-- awesome, right?
This reminds me of a quote some old geezer told me once (I think it may have been my dad... ;) )
"If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well!" Point? Everything you do should be 100%. What is the point of not giving your all at something? You will never be as good as you could have been, and you will (yes, you WILL) look back and think "What if I worked harder..."
That stinks.

The key word here, in life, in mission, in work, in WHATEVER is ... DILIGENCE.

My mission president's favorite definition for diligence goes like this...
Diligence is doing what you don't want to do when you don't want to do it because you know you should.

For a missionary, this means being more effective, being more on time, and being more obedient.

What about for you? How can you push yourself? How can you strive for excellence? Is what you are doing every moment of the day important? Is it the best thing you could be doing with your time? Everything we do is molding us or developing in SOME way-- whether it be towards a good, worthy end, or to a not so desirable end. What end are your actions leading you to?
 
This is one of my huge goals this week-- DILIGENCE! I invite you all to think about how you can improve yourselves as well through improved diligence :) STRIVE TO BE GREAT PEOPLE!

Well, I have to get off now! I love you all! Take care :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How far away is that plane?

We had transfers and stake conference this week! Transfers was pretty cool! A whole chapel filled to the brim with missionaries. Awesome. I went because we were losing one of the English speaking Chinese Elders to the English program (Elder Chen--called to the English speaking mission but serving in the Chinese program). He got switched back into the English part of the mission. We now have Elder Huang, a Taiwanese Elder who is the first official Chinese Elder called here as a Chinese speaking Elder! He is five foot five! This is so hilarious because all of the Elders in the Chinese program (all three white and two Chinese of us) are short! Well, except for Elder Johnson who is five foot ten. It goes Elder Johnson at 5'10", Elder Tang (My trainer) at 5"8', me at 5'7", Elder Beck at 5'6", then Elder Huang at 5'5". It is so funny because in the mission we are the short bunch haha. (And we are mostly white!)
ANYWAY.
Here is something I learned recently! Being a missionary in a branch is like being the delivery boy/ party planner! Whenever a member doesn't know how to use some electronic device, read bills, have time to get groceries to a poor member, we get a call. If there is an activity going on, we have to get rides for the members-- not just for investigators! There was one afternoon we got stuck at an older lady's house from China working out her bank problems and phone problems (wellll I end up doing that stuff because Elder Tang and Elder Johnson arent super assertive... whenever someone has to be the bad cop, either to other missionaries or to companies over the phone, the companions have me do it. I guess I was destined to be the bad guy).

I remember before going off to my mission I was told that Branch missionaries do everything haha! Boy, were they right!

Now for the spiritual experience of the week.... We found a new investigator. Finally. So stinking happy. This is what happened...

We finished visiting a member and we were planning on going somewhere to tract... We were almost there when suddenly Elder Tang says "I feel we should visit so and so in Fairfax"
Now, you gotta realize we had been driving for a little over ten minutes AWAY from the place that was a couple minutes AWAY from fairfax.
I tell him to go for it, so we swing this fat U in this huge main road and head back down the opposite direction....
When we are close to Fairfax, we get this call from these other elders.
"Hey, we have a guy who is really interested in the church... the only problem is we cannot communicate that well. are you in the area?"

They were in Fairfax.

Hmmm. Coincidence? No way.
They had been stalling for awhile and if we were in the other area, there was no way we would have made it in time...
We end up going there and having an awesome lesson. This guy had all the right questions, motives, you name it.

Miracles from listening to the spirit, I tell ya.

Alright people, I am off! Have a great week!

Take care!
 
Oh yeah... there is a saying in the mission field.
Elder Tang pointed to the sky at an airplane and asked "Elder Valentine, how far away is that plane?"

I answered "I have no idea. Quite a few miles, I am sure."

"21 months."

ahahahaha.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween, Megamind, good food, so on and so forth.

Why, hello there!

Halloween was this week!
 
We watched Megamind and Monsters University! My goodness I love those movies! (Megamind was a little more up my ally though-- gave us Elders some good motivation to hit the iron the following morning.)
Oh yeah, there was this one scene in Megamind where Metroman's Calves gusted wind upon flexing... totally reminded of you, Dad. You are welcome.
Monsters University made me decide that I will be much more involved in College activities when I go back after the mission!

Oh, did I mention I am actually becoming a halfway decent cook now? I have learned the asian art of fried noodles and rice from my master miyagi (Elder Tang). It's some dang good stuff (no worries, I still make sure I use brown rice and noodles).
It's all about the asian sauces... it's the secret ingredient, man.
American sauces just don't do it.
 
Oh here is something I never thought I would say in my life.
This week we did yard work.
I loved it.
 
Now, Dad, don't get any ideas...

We did a whooole slew of branch work! Took us a good chunk of time! Hey, Tsu Jiemei (Sister Tsu) fed us some good Chinese food in return! well worth it.
 
Oh, our companionship found out how straightforward chinese people are this week...
We were at our new member's house, Irene, and we were just about to start our lesson... Her son, Joseph (10 years old), who was also recently baptized, was not present, however!
Me: "Ey, Joseph zai nali?" (Where is Joseph?)
I then hear this huge loud speech eminating from behind the closed bathroom door...
Joseph: "WO XIANZAI ZUO DA BIAN!" (Translation: I am right now making big one)
Funniest thing ever. Elder Johnson and I were dyiiing. Irene chuckled and looked towards us and said "You aren't used to how straightforward Chinese people are, are you?"

Instance 2: We were teaching a lesson to Linlin, our college student investigator...
Elder Johnson starts explaining something to her in Mandarin. She just sits there and stares at him. He then says "Did you understand my Chinese?"
She stares at him for 2 more seconds and looks over at me and says "Your chinese is much better."

We were all laughing so hard (except for her). Needless to say, Elder Johnson has some more motivation for his Chinese now.

Alrighty, I must be going now! I am sorry there is no grand message/ theme this time around-- I am slightly pressed for time D: Have a great week everyone! Take care :)
Food!

My Companion, Elder Tang, eating the abomination...

Virginia:  One of the most beautiful places in the world.  Trees, Trees, EVERYWHERE.

I swear you see so many hilarious license plates here.  All.  The.  Time!

Awesome license plate ;)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Awesomeness!

Alright so here's what we got...
Elder Johnson and I officially had our first member dinner yesterday... EVER. It was at a bai ren's house (white person's house)... Pot roast, potatoes and corn. Man oh man do I miss actual cooking.
Oh yeah get this... drumroll please?
....
....
....
This December coming to a mission south of DC.....
FACEBOOK.
IPOD.
IPADS.
HOLY SHISHKABOB!
We are going to be able to use our personal facebooks to proselyte! Ah so cool!
Oh yeah, ipads mean BYE BYE AREA BOOKS! Woohoo! And we wont have to travel all the way to the library to do our maps for the stalk and knock approach :) How great is THAT?!
Hehe here is something way cool... or sad... take it as you will.
In the branch's gospel doctrine class, we had more investigators than members there ;) Members INCLUDING the five missionaries present was 7... We had 8 investigators there! (it seemed much more like relief society, however, because 5 of the 8 investigators were women who had to be over 75 years old...)
Hey, still counts.
Alright here is the thing I learned this week...
We met with this man named Joe (English speaking, so we ended up turning him over to the English speaking missionaries).
Very nice guy... He told us he has heard of us before. He said he respects us very much because he had former employees and associates were of our faith. This prior experience he had with LDS people made the lesson environment soooooooooo much better! No kidding. He told us he has only had extremely positive experiences with people of our faith.
Moral of the story?
How you act counts.
it really really does.
It may not seem like it immediately, but someday, when a missionary knocks on one of your previous acquaintances doors, your interaction with them could very well make or break their encounter with the missionaries.
It all boils down to example... People will often judge (THEY REALLY REALLY WILL) all of the LDS people off of one person.
Example?
We ran into a man who grew up in Salt Lake City.
He told us he was not interested because when he was growing up with LDS people, and they found out his family was not interested in becoming converted, all of their LDS friends became "disinterested" in them. He ended up leaving the boy scout program because he (14 year old) felt ostracized due to his disinterest in becoming one of the faith.
As a missionary, let me tell you it breaks my heart to hear stories like this. Really, it does.
I guarantee you if this man was more like Joe-- where he only had positive experiences with LDS people-- we would have had a lesson with him that day.
Show love to everyone, please please, please. Even if they spit on your faith, show love. It will influence them in the future, I promise you that.
Take care everyone! Love you all!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Ooof not much time...

WE ARE GOING TO DC TODAY BECAUSE OF THE GOVT GETTING REOPENED! Unfortunately, that means my time is running short :(
Alright soooo here's how my mission works...
I'm in a car. All. the. Time. Since there are only two Chinese speaking companionships altogether, we take the whole mission and split it in half. One of those halves is my area!
We have a lovely little branch of about .... 20 people. I will be with them my whole mission!
Get this-- Elder Johnson will be my companion next transfer... and probably the following transfer as well.
Hahahaha man oh man this is so funny.
My mission president? The greatest guy ever. Really. Holy mackerel, he is so great. Love him to death.
I speak English more than Chinese! Often the doors we knock end up being English people...
Sometimes, they are Chinese people. Oh man, a couple times we find interested Chinese investigators (YES!), but they want to take English discussions or attend an English church so their English can improve(BOOO!).... When that happens, we have to turn them over to the English missionaries as well....
Hey here is something else that is pretty funny-- during my mission, I have only eaten Chinese food once! That was on the 4th day of my mission, when I was so desperate for Chinese food that I dragged my companions to a Chinese restaurant. All of my mission meals have consisted of whatever I have left, chopped up, mixed and cooked in a wok. It looks and smells pretty dang interesting sometimes.... needless to say, I have decided to pick up cooking. I thought I could handle the slop (that really is what it is-- cans of beans, corned beef, cheese, raviolis, milk, eggs, ham, salsa, plus anyone's unwanted leftovers, all mushed together and cooked then wrapped in a tortilla), but I just can't do it anymore.
Oh yes, let me drop some names here...
We have a baptism coming up :) Irene and her son, Joseph! (I don't remember their Chinese names to save my life.... they prefer us to call them those names anyways)
That is extremely exciting :)
Her husband doesn't believe in God, but does not oppose her getting baptized whatsoever!
We met with Jason Zhu.... College student who feels overwhelmed with all the different Christian denominations that say they are right (sound familiar?). Great lesson there :)
We have our awesome Beijing investigator whom I cannot understand to save my life! Jiao Dixiong :) (I'll be surprised if he doesn't end up getting baptized! IT'S GONNA HAPPEN!)
We recently met with a college student named Ling ling-- she actually came to church with us this previous sunday :)
Chou Lin! That is the Chinese lady who is married to the American who cannot speak a lick of Chinese... He is a geologist! I have some great conversations with him. Her (Chou Lin's) older brother just died, so we shared with her the message of the plan of salvation...
Alright everyone, I need to get going now! I will email you more next week!
Oh yeah PS my trainer is awesome. Seriously. AWESOME! Happy go lucky Chinese fellow. Never complains. Always slaps us on the back and says "THAS OKAY!" if something happens. Haha, seriously, love Elder Tang.
Did I mention he is training two greenies? Me and Elder Johnson? Yeah thought I might throw that in there. Stud.

Okay I need to go! OFF TO DC! WOO! I wish you all the very best :)

Love,

Elder Valentine
PS! Dear elders take FOREVER to get, so if ya wanna contact me (Please do :) I love hearing from people at home!) just email me at Kelley.valentine@myldsmail.net! Or write me :)
Take care! LOVE YOU ALL!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hellowwww

ALRIGHT FIRST PDAY IN THE FIELD!
I only have fifteen minutes to type out this email so I will do my best to hit the highlights....
I have come to a conclusion! I like asian people much more than white people. (The real asians--not the white washed American born ones). Why? THEY ARE SO FLIPPIN NICE! If they do not give a care about your message, they will pretend to be interested and take whatever you have to offer and smile about it. I mean, shoot yeah, it stinks being asked for your number and name by someone who seems really truly interested and never receiving a phone call from them. Mmm that is much better than the alternative, however! Oh yeah, get this: the first white person I ever got while tracting yelled at us and cussed at us. I don't like white people anymore haha. Not nice.
I don't mean to be racist or anything, but man oh man, Hispanics are the nicest people around. No kiddin. 2/3 Hispanic people I have tracted accepted the message and invited us back. I swear, "Jesu Cristo" seems to be like the golden ticket or something. You say that word and their eyes light up and they get all excited to talk to you about it. Those people are so great.
Okay so here is a funny experience: we had a teaching appointment with this Chinese lady who is married to an American-- she cannot speak a lick of English and he speaks Chinese even worse! Oh my goodness! (Her name is ChouLin Jiemei-- sister Choulin... Oh did I mention REMEMBERING NAMES IS THE HARDEST THING IN MY LIFE?! Especially Chinese names! Blah! These words-- Po, Fang, Fa, Lin, Xiao, Zhang, so on and so forth-- have no meaning to me so I cannot connect a face to the name... blah.) They had this funky incense thing going on during our lesson.... Smelled like straight up marijuanna. In the elevator down from the room, this guy walked in. He looked around, sniffed a bit, then looked and said "Hahaha niiiice. You guys just roll a big one?" (Meaning, he thought we were huffin some Da Ma (marijuanna)) I told him "Noo, we were just in the midst of some heavy incense." He chuckled a bit. I don't think he bought it.
Man, MY SOCKS SMELT LIKE WEED TOO! It was so bad. Really funny though...
Speaking of bad smelling things....
We were driving down the street after a little bit of tracting aaand I heard Elder Johnson (PS HE IS MY COMPANION AGAIN. We share a trainer-- Chinese Elder from taiwan, name is Elder Tang) say "Awww dang it!" All of a sudden this rank smell just hit me. It smelt like legitimate filth.
"What the...."
"I GOT DOG POOP ON MY SHOE!"
We pulled over... yeah, it wasn't just on the shoe... he got it all over THE WHOLE CAR! Seats, everything.
Man, this reminded me of the time one of the kids went diarreah in Dad's BMW and I had to clean it up... It REEKED.
Okay, sooo Beijing accents.... SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND! Stick a golf ball in your mouth and speak chinese.... that is EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE! Ni hao become Rrr Hrrrr. Ni shi chuanjiaoshi becomes Rrr Shrr Chrrn Jrrr Shrrr. Blah. So difficult! I don't care if it is a manly accent-- GIVE ME THE FEMININE TAIWANESE ACCENT I CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND!
I was at the branch yesterday! It's like a small cute little family :) Apparently I will really bond with these guys because I'll be with them for two years....
Shoot, I have to go!
Here is how we find people: We use a government site to find the chinese people in the area then we knock on their doors.... "Oh hey you are Chinese? Wow what a small world! We speak chinese too! Ni cong nali lai?!" (Where are you from?)
We can tract to english speaking people but we have to give them up to the english elders if they want to meet again...
We met a nice (Brown) guy named estabon.... He wants us to return! We really should give them up to the english elders.... buuut (See we cover half of the areas in the mission- the other pair of zhongwen elders cover the other half) Elder Tang said the English elders of this specific area estabon is in aren't tooo diligent sooooo.... we are going to hold onto him for a bit... hahah, if we get a baptism here, they will probably be mad at us haha...
Alright gotta go! LOVE YOU ALL! TAKE CARE!

Elder Valentine

Monday, October 7, 2013

THE TIME IS AT HAND

Well, this Wednesday is it. The big shabang! AHHH! Wednesday at 2:30 I am officially off! Wappah!

Alright so this week was the SLOWEST WEEK OF MY LIIIIIFE. As soon as I got those travel plans, Old Father Time must have had a stroke or something. No kidding.
There will only be three people here on wednesday in my district... daaang.

Okay so unfortunately, today's email is going to be a little short due to packing and shtuff.... You know how it is!

I really, really hope you all got so much out of conference....

The talk that really stuck out to me was Elder Bednar's.

I know I know, I'm a missionary and I don't have to pay tithing.

The part that struck me about the talk was not about the tithing.... It was the part about answers to our prayers.

Sometimes, we will pray for outside help.... "Heavenly Father, provide me with someone or something who can help me with this problem..." or "Heavenly Father, please give me a solution to this problem." How many of you find yourselves saying prayers like these? I know I do it all the time.
Many times, instead of receiving a direct outside solution to the problem, our Father in Heaven will give us an 'inside' answer to the problem, such as granting us the ability to endure more or giving us the ability to work harder. . . it is often then, when we use those little gifts he gives us, that we are able to discover the solution to our problems. When we finally do, man oh man how sweet does it taste! How WELL do we know it. It becomes a part of the very fibers of our being!
I know, I know, it sounds a little lame, right? Why can't I have the answer now and skip the struggle?
Shoot, I experienced this frustration in the MTC ALL THE TIME.
I would ask my teachers "Hey, help me. I don't know how to connect these messages with my investigator.."
Instead of giving me the answer, they would say things such as "Well, what do you think?"
Or they would say "Hmm. Read your Preach My Gospel and pray about it."
My goodness I felt I was better off without a teacher sometimes! One of my teachers promised me there was an answer-- he was just not prepared to share it with me at that point in time...
I thought that was really interesting.

I was so frustrated. So blinking frustrated.
It literally took me weeks to find the answer to my problem. I finally did, after time. The answer is glued to my very being. It took so much effort and hard work on my part to finally figure out how to truly connect to my investigator that once I did I OWNED it.

Moral of the story?
The man upstairs knows what he is doing.

All we have to do is trust and push on. When we work for our solutions, through the added strength he gives us to push on, we will embody the solution. It will become a part of us. We will develop our faith too!
I know, "push on" is a little cliche.

I assure you, if we trust in the Lord, we will not be the boats borne ceaselessly back into time, as depicted in the Great Gatsby.
Let's be real here-- the Lord's boat is a cruise liner.

Let's get off our little row boats and get on the cruise liner.
You may have to swim through some choppy water to do so-- repentance (which really means CHANGE), gaining or improving our testimony, living the things we know to be true (aka EXERCISING FAITH)-- but man oh man how much more smooth do you think the ride of life will be once we get on the Lord's boat? We will still face choppy water-- big waves are always there in life.
The difference is if we are on the Lord's boat-- that massive cruiseliner-- no matter how big the tempest is we will not be turned over.
The little rowboat, on the other hand? You tell me.
Alright, I wish you all the very very best! Thank you for all the prayers! Fight on! Win the day!
Cheers!!

Elder Valentine





Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ALRIGHT! HERE WE GO!

So let us start with the fun stuff shall we?
I LEAVE IN ... A NUMBER OF DAYS THAT IS BELOW TEN! (Too lazy to do the math... I leave on the 9th at 2:30 AM. Party over here woo woo party over there woo woo!)
After the 8th, if ya wanna contact me, shoot me a letter at:
Elder Kelley Valentine
Washington DC South Mission
5242 Lyngate Ct
Burke, VA 22015
I would really really hate to miss any letters :( If you want to dear elder me, send them before the 8th! Otherwise, they will get stuck at the MTC :( You CAN dear elder me at the dc south mission, but that does cost money so... might as well write me a letter! They really do make my day! Thank you so much for sending me letters, dear elders, etc so on and so forth :) They truly are great!
OKAY! ANOTHER FUN THING!
Elder Johnson (my companion) accompanied Sister Astle (short sister in my district) for the big sister missionary relief society shabang soooo.... I got to go >:) The sisters have it good! They have like a full blown general conference status thing! Priesthood reminds me of single's ward elder's quorum.....
Ahaha. I got to sing As Sisters in Zion with a few hundred sisters.... Needless to say, Elder Johnson and I rocked that alto part (it was no sweat for him-- he has such a high voice he can sing soprano). I got some winks and thumbs up from the Senior sisters...
Go cougs.
Alright so we had a series of amazing devotionals this sunday/tuesday... I'd love to share with you my favorite parts!
....
Let us start with my most recent thing.... The Tuesday Devotional...
So this is the Provo temple president talking....
Back when he was a Bishop at BYU, there was a young man pacing back and forth in front of his desk for a very long time.... Finally....
"Are you Bishop Daines?"
"Yes, yes I am."
"I want you to excommunicate me."
What followed was what the President described as the most horrifying and obscene story filled with a life entangled in sin. He literally had to look up the terms in a dictionary and had to get help from his friend to figure out all of the terms the young man used. He told us if ever he had met a son of perdition, this was it.
Back in that time, in order for someone to be excommunicated (in a Provo ward or something, I don't exactly remember), they had to go through President Kimball or someone else. They were assigned President Kimball....
The then Bishop Daines took this young man to Kimball... The young man repeated his story to the President.
The President looked him in the eye and said: "I want you to answer three questions.
"Do you want to be forgiven?"
"... Yes."
"Do you want to have all the blessings promised to you?"
"More than anything."
"Do you want to be sealed and have a family for time and all eternity?"
At this point the young man broke down and nodded.
"I need you to do one thing. Get up in the morning and ask the Lord for all the strength in the world that one day. In the night, you thank him for that strength. The following morning, you get up and plead with him for the strength you need to get through that day."
"Oh one more thing... On your way out, look both ways before crossing the road. Stay alive."
I thought this was profound advice. Profound.
The President went on to explain what President Kimball meant in his last words to the young man....
Yes we can repent in the next life. This life, however, is the time to change our actual character. What we are now will carry over into the next life.
That young man could not afford to die at this point in time.
Neither can I.
Neither can you.
We need to keep pushing, keep breathing, and keep turning our hearts to the Lord. We can do it one day at a time. All we have to do is keep GOING.
I am out of time to email! I will write more next week!
Suzanne, Dad, Marianne, Scott, Grandma Blake, Aunt Lori, Sophie, Garrett: Thank you for the Dear Elders. They mean a ton to me. I really do appreciate them.
See you all next week! I am glad to hear you are all doing well!
Love you!
 
 

Sooo that right there... that is Nutella. NUTELLA. Maryann, in all her wit and wisdom, thought it would be funny to feed my dark obsession.... ARE YOU HAPPY NOW MARYANN!?
haha she sent me a big package this week :) I was seriously the happiest guy on the block. No joke (that shirt is from her as well-- she sent me a plethora of things... whole wheat bread, stickers, mustaches, Luis-- my new horse teddy bear--, markers, the new strangely Twilight-like mormon.org cards, so on and so forth) Moral of the story? You want to be a good girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband/ so on and so forth... emulate her! She knows what shes doin. I was skippin through the MTC and blue birds were whistling with me. 'Twas a good day indeed :)
 

 

These friends are dear to me :) My old roommate, Spencer Coakwell, and my old fhe buddy, Jessica Bagley.
I really hope those two date after the mission.
That would make some fun times for us indeed.


 





Monday, September 16, 2013

Veteren status. Finally.

As of this Wednesday I will finally be six weeks old. I am finally an MTC vet. Almost done... Just. Keep. Swimming.
I am so looking forward to the field.
Last friday, my whole mission went to the Nationals baseball game.
A BASEBALL GAME.
And you know what is even better?
EACH APARTMENT I STAY IN WILL HAVE A GYM.
Ohhhh someone upstairs loves me and loves me a ton.
On a funny note, I threw up twice in the shower on Tuesday (due eating a bucket load of greasy food and working out really hard right after). Needless to say, there was no line to that shower the following morning so I got a free ticket in! (I made sure to loudly groan and say "Oh that's nasty" while taking my shower so nobody would be suspicious of my activity the prior night).
Also, I am known as the guy who dry heaves in the gym. I literally have to work out with a trash can right next to my bench just in case something decides it wants out.
Sister Shipp was given the Ventura, CA mission for her transfer assignment! I literally jumped up and yelped when she told me! I turned quite a few heads that day.
People say when you get to this point in the MTC, you really want that plane trip to come as fast as it can.
It's a hot and cold relationship for me at this point. I want to get into the field.... buuut I want to stay here because my Chinese does not feel up to par yet...

Alright so let's talk about devotionals for a bit... (This week I promised myself I would incorporate some spiritual things into my email home instead of simply talking about throwing up and stuff)
So here are the stats: every 700 doors knocked yields one conversion. 2 out of every three investigators referred to the missionaries and taught in a member home end up accepting the gospel. Moral of the story? We. Need. You. Yes you, average citizen members. We do not cease to be missionaries simply because we do not have a nametag on.... Xiang yi xia, Xiang yi xia (think for a moment). If you were a non member, would you be more willing to accept the gospel from a stranger knocking on your door, or from a friend who is inviting you to come over to their house and meet someone who has a special message for them? You tell me. Please, break that comfort zone! Comfort zones are no fun anyway! They were made to be broken!
Another good point that was made...
Simply because someone has refused the gospel before does not mean they will never accept it eventually.
Some people require multiple invitations before accepting it.
We need your help. Please.
Alright that is my message for the week! I wish you all the very best and I am so thankful for your prayers! If there is anything I can do for any of you from here, please, write me and ask. I will more than likely have no problem doing it.
Cheers!
Elder Valentine

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Orange Juice

Okay so hmm let us start with the orange juice....
There is a word of wisdom here at the MTC. What is that word of wisdom? DON'T DRINK THE ORANGE JUICE. Apparently it really cleans you out. Both ways.
Elder Caldwell, my current district leader, made a deal with his companion: next person to forget something from home has to pound 9 cups of orange juice. Nine. Cups.
He forgot something and had to pound nine cups....
He gave me the down low on how that went for him...
Turns out, he was in the bathroom more than class. Oh yeah, it's real.
Sooo I walk in to evening class a touch late, and one of the sisters (Sister Dahl-- the tall blonde one) boldly states to me "I bet you couldn't keep quiet for even one night."
"Oh?"
"Yeup. I will bet you five glasses of orange juice."
"Make it six FULL GLASSES and you have a deal."
She hesitated a little bit.
"Oh come on you know I'm going to lose anyway; what do you have to lose? What's the matter? You were so confident a couple seconds ago!"
"Okay but you cannot say ONE WORD. Not ONE WORD or you lose."
"Deal."

.....
two days later at breakfast she found herself pounding 6 glasses of orange juice.

Justice.

Sweet, sweet justice. Hehe, no pun intended.
She was in a sick nasty state for the rest of the day.
Elder Caldwell gave me grief for making her go through with the deal. (Nobody had said anything about it that whole morning-- she was not planning on going through with it so I said something and reminded her of the challenge)
"You are a bad man Elder."
"Oh? Why is that?"
"You are making her go through with it."
"Is it a bad thing to hold people accountable?"
"No, but she is a Sister."
Oh that ticked me off.
"Hmm. That doesn't make sense to me. See, if I said one hint of a word-- which some of you tried so hard to make me do that night-- you would have not let me forget one second about the Orange Juice challenge I had to complete. Not one second."
That shut them up.
Hm what else happened this week...
Oh yeah! Sister Shipp's branch president!
Wooo... that guy is a stickler.
So I go up to him Thursday night at dinner (by the way, this guy was more intimidating than Maryann's father. My goodness) and I say "President Blah blah blah?"
"Yes? Sit down. What is your name?"
I flash my name tag and his wife starts laughing outloud "Oh it's Elder VALENTINE! We know ALLLLL about YOU!"
.... I had mixed feelings on how that comment should be received!
So I start talking : "President, I am aware that you told Sister Shipp to limit any contact with me-- she respects you so much and has made a grand effort to follow your advice. As you are aware, she leaves this Monday. May I say goodbye to her for five minutes at dinner sunday night? I will bring my companion and do it in public."
"Elder, I will give you not ONE SECOND over a minute. And I want someone besides your companion there."
"Okay. That is fine-- would you want to be that person? You can come watch us if you want."
"I'll talk to Sister Shipp about it."
"Alright sounds good see you around!"
"Did Sister Shipp tell you what I told her?:
"Hmm what was that?"
"I told her to make sure to write you every week and then send the letters to you as she is leaving the MTC!"
"Ahh yes thank you so much."
Okay so he didn't turn out to be COMPLETELY against me. Not completely. Mostly though.
oh yeah, I never got that minute by the way. (But I made up for it in other ways and said my goodbyes to her-- she left this morning).
Oh yeah.
I totally cried in front of the District that night.
Man card? GONE.
Dignity? GONE.
Okay not really but yeah. They took pictures of me because they thought it was funny. I thought it was funny too! I was laughing and crying at the same time! Elder Johnson dragged me into another room and I had a good sincere 2 and a half minute cry. Then I got my man on and walked back into the room.
I am officially half way through my MTC experience! 98 WEEKS LEFT IN MY MISSION! Oh my goodness that makes it sound like it is already over!
"Almost over what a bummer!" -Tony Horton
Haha. Well, we got a new teacher this week! He looks like a taller version of Joe! (forgot his last name... Hertz? Hert? Don't feel offended if you are reading this, Joe... I stink at names)
OH NAMES! You think it is hard memorizing peoples names? TRY MEMORIZING THEIR CHINESE NAMES! THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME! ZHUAN, ZHUANG, LI, SUN, WEI, so on and so forth. I swear, there are only like ten surnames and everyone uses them.
Well, there are the stories for the week.
Till next time, my friends.
ZAI JIAN!
 
 
Yeah so my companion is super not sensitive and isn't touchy feely whatsoever.
He literally jumps as if someone shoved a cattle prod up his rear if you touch him or even HUG HIM!
So last night he asked me if there was anything he could do for me...
My request?
Give me a hug.
Oh yes, I used this moment to my advantage.
So here is a picture of me getting a hug from him-- something I would never dream of accomplishing

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

O.K. it is time...Week 4 at the MTC

This will be a relatively short email, unfortunately :( Nothing huge happened!
I am no longer district leader! Wooo! :) Not that I had to do anything strenuous ... I just had those fat extra two hours of meetings each sunday that were not any fun!
Hmmm there is barely anyone left in our zone... As of next week, there will only be three districts, each of us exactly 4.5 weeks old (HOLY SHISHKABOB THAT IS HALF WAY THROUGH).

Time is now speeding by. Holy mackerel is it speeding by....
Planning is awesome. Seriously, plan, plan, plan. There was a study that showed for each minute spent planning, ten minutes are spent in execution...
If you failed to plan for thirty minutes of your day each day, that would result in 22 days of lost time a year.
Crazy. Right?!
Maryann is leaving in a week! She gets her reassignment this... Friday? We are thinking she is going to Georgia. I secretly (not so secretly, actually) want her to go to the San Fernando, California mission.... Or Virginia.... Or DC North... (NOT DC SOUTH. I WOULD DIE. I wouldn't be able to write her then, either! Blah!)
Ehehe there are some funny stories with that. The first counselor of her Branch Presidency almost said "The hymn will be conducted by Sister Valentine" at her Sacrament... eheheheh I thought that was pretty stellar. Lol.
This week I definitely learned about the huge difference there is when the spirit is present at a lesson vs when it is absent. Holy cow what a difference. The Spirit makes such a huge difference...
My companion and I were just messing around the hour before a lesson one time and we bombed it. We bombed it hard. Wickedly hard. No fun. Nooo fun.
On the flipside, we dominated another when we were super prepared :) I love it.
Sorry this email was so short D: I promise you next week will be better!

STAY IN SCHOOL KIDS!
Elder Valentine


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MTC-Week 3

I have a missionary leaving for DC South tomorrow! His madre is all over missionarymoms.com (I think that is the site...). We found out there are currently 6 or 4 mandarin speaking missionaries at DC South and that another Chinese branch is being opened! HOOPAH! I also found out we are in the area for the whole time WITH CARS! Ehehehe NOICE!

Okay, so here is the story of the week.... Shaker bottles.
Scam.
Scam.
Scam.
One day after a fine day at the gym, I filled up my shaker bottle with water when, to my dismay, I discovered I DID NOT HAVE MY WIRE WHISK BALL INSIDE! GASP! EGAD! EUREKA! OH THE HORROR!
I proceeded to shake up the contents (creatine, whey, and breakfast essential)... to my surprise, it came out exactly as it would have if I used the wire ball,.....
GASP! EGAD! EUREKA! OH THE HORROR!
Well, now I know. Speaking of whey protein, I heard that someone did a cover of Wicked's "You're Gonna be Popular".... It is called "You're gonna be muscular". Why, for all that is good in this world, WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF IT?! UGH.
Okay next up on the list.... the handicapped elders. Those elders are so great. Seriously. They serve as full time missionaries at the MTC! The one on crutches asked me if I knew a Gary Valentine.... I flipped. I replied "... YOU KNOW MY DAD?"
"He's a missionary going to Saint George!"
"Oh okay! Never mind haha"

Every time I see them we talk about you Dad!
Okay so I am fallin asleep all over the place. I just can't stay awake during class. It is ridiculous. I really wish they would give us more time to sleep. They talked about how getting enough sleep is essential to stress management. PFFT WELL, GEE, THANKS GUYS. DO YOU WANT US TO SLEEP DURING STUDY SESSION A, OR STUDY SESSION B, C, D, AND F?!
Seriously. Gah.
I don't know if my body is just a lazy piece of meat or something, but I swear if I don't get a solid 8.5 hrs of sleep a night I am shot that day.
So from now on, I am going to sleep during choir (YES DURING CHOIR WHEN PEOPLE ARE SINGING AROUND ME-- I AM THAT GOOD), during personal fitness time on fridays (... it has come to that point...) and on sacred, precious P-days.

Alright, I do not have much else to report....
My companion and I are planning on rocking our investigator's socks off tonight.
It's gonna happen.
Alright boys and gals, grown ups and all, keep rockin the casba.
I will write again next week! PEACE!

TAKE CARE!
Elder Valentine

Pictures from MTC-Week 3

 I found Elder Morales! (childhood friend)
 Sister Marissa Hart! (college buddy)
 ELDER SPENCER!  MY AWESOME ROOMMATE FROM SPRING TERM! (he smiles like Dad does)
 These elders are seriously the best...Ehehe "Hey, look!  It is Gary Valentine's son!" (Yeup, they know yer name, Dad)
Pull open your For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Go to the dating section. I found him-- THE FACE OF MORMON DATING. Elder Sweten. In my zone. Win!
 
 The boys of the hood are always hard.
 Mah seeeesters!
 Did  I mention I found Captain America?  And that he is my gym buddy?  And that he calls me Mr. February?
The sanctuary.  I love it.  So empty. So goooood.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Days feel like Weeks, and Weeks feel like Days-Week 2 at the MTC

Days feel like weeks, and weeks feel like days.

HO. LEE. MACKEREL.
I have never typed a more true statement than the one above. Okay so let's start with my companion, shall we?

Meet Elder Johnson.

He has played piano for 13 years. To the extent of his knowledge, Pokemon is a card collection that kids owned at his elementary school. He has only seen one PG-13 movie, and that was about glaciers. It was rated pg13 because global warming is a "controversial subject."
He thinks kissing (I'm not talking about passionate stuff-- I mean basic, level 1 stuff) is disgusting. Mushy I love you stuff falls in the same nasty category.
Weight lifting is an abomination and long slow cardio is king.
Eating a lot of food is disgusting.
He is very sassy.
Meat should not be consumed that much.
(Did you read that? DID YOU READ THAT!?)
Boy oh boy, we are true opposites.
We get along just swell though. I feel bad sometimes because he is literally okay with almost everything I want to do. I end up controlling the schedule, pretty much. I told him he is free to express his opinion whenever he wants though! He just doesn't have opinions, I guess haha.
The guy is flippin hilarious.
The ladies love him. His sass power level goes OVER 9000 when they are around! Then when they leave, he goes back to his quiet non super sassy mode. He is starting to open up and be more comfortable around me though!
(I would not rather have any other companion, despite our differences)
Okay, moving on.
On the way to the laundry room, something crazy happened.
I saw a guy.
Not just any guy.
A tall guy. A familiar guy.
I stopped in my tracks and stared at him for a second. I was about to walk away, but then I felt I should pop the question... "Hey, do you know a guy named Clayton?"
He stood there dumbfounded.
"Um... That's me." I looked at me for a bit, confused.
"Do you know who I am?"
"....K..Kel?"
I grinned.
His eyes grew huge and his smile stretched from ear to ear. He then pretty much tackled me and squeezed the crap out of me.

Okay time out, lemme tell you the story behind Clayton.
REWIND FOUR YEARS AGO TO MY FIRST TIME AT EFY
My roommate was Clayton-- we were seriously best buds. He did not have a facebook, however, so after we left EFY we lost contact of each other.
I have been searching for this kid for YEARS. Twitter, google plus, facebook, instagram, you name it.
The only guy who kept popping up was that cocky dude from Tarzan (I didn't bother friend requesting him because he is such a tool... those poor gorillas).
Yet, I could never find him.
Here he was! It was seriously such a blessing. His family just moved into my mission area too, so I will be able to see them!
He then turned around to his companion.
"This is--"
"Haha yeah I know who this is."
I was kind of confused. How did Clayton's companion know who I was?
I asked Clayton and he told me he pulled out his bag that he used for EFY to pack for the mission three weeks ago, and he found a card.
REWIND FOUR YEARS AGO MINUS ONE WEEK (so at the end of EFY)
I bought a card for Clayton and wrote inside of it how great of a friend he was and how much I loved the guy. I hid it in his bag right before he left.
Okay, back to the present.
He told his companion all about the letter and everything! So his companion knew all about me!
DO YOU RECALL THAT THIS ALL HAPPENED FOUR YEARS AGO?
Craziness.
Anyway, moving on.
I can't think of much else to report... we were so sad when our new "investigator" moved to China. He taught US a chinese lesson once. Such a great teacher.
Now we have two new investigators.... HAVE AT YE!
Okay so I do not have much else to report...
I will send you all an email next week!
LOVE YOU!
ELDER VALENTINE XOXO HUGS AND KEEESSESS
DEAR ELDER ME PEOPLE.  I love getting those!
Thank you so much to those who have dear eldered me!  You all should be getting a letter soon! :)
 
P.S.  I also ran into Maryann a ton this week! Soooo my companion and I got a little left behind at the temple and we ran into Maryann's district... PHOTO OPPORTUNITY! Apparently, during the five minutes I used to take some photos with Maryann, my branch president was looking all over for me because he didn't want to start his surprise devotional without me.... Oops. I hope he doesn't find out why haha....

I hope my companion doesn't get too bothered by my unusual circumstances hahahahahaha.

He says he doesn't mind, so is all good :)

Take care folks! I will write you all when I can! :)



Kel meets EFY Roommate at MTC

 THAT IS MY ROOMMATE FROM EFY FOUR YEARS AGO! CLAYTON WILLIAMS! I thought I would never see him again! BUT HERE HE IS!

Week 2 at the MTC!

OUR FIRST (not real) INVESTIGATOR!  Jiong DiXiong!  We love him.
This is the district pointing to the map!  39F!  THE BEST DISTRICT EVERRRR!
My companion and I hokeying the hallways for service... Easiest. Job. Ever. So easy, it was painfully boring.
 Ran into Garrett Harding at the temple!
 My companion and I at the temple!
We got bored waiting for the devotional on Tuesday at the Marriott Center so we decided to break out the photo shooting....I don't think that Elder Caldwell got the idea hahahaha.
Elder Johnson and I waiting in line to get to the devotional on Sunday night!  IT WAS SO CROWDED!
 SOOO MANY MISSIONARIES! We were on the way back from the Marriott Center! We flooded the sidewalks!

 
The average breakfast of an average Elder Valentine.  Anyone want to give me a calorie estimate?
I have been dubbed Elder Egg, due to my insane consumption of eggs. I find it an absolute HONOR! One of the sisters in our district (Sister Palmer-- the brunette who wears glasses) is bomb at drawing. I am so jealous.
This is the computer lab! We use this to record us speaking the language and compare it to how it is supposed to sound.

 My parents understand and are looking out for me.
 Kel runs into Maryann at the temple!
 Kel, Maryann, and companions at the MTC map.
Elder Valentine and Elder Johnson at the map.