Tuesday, December 31, 2013


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.


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.
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."

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"
"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.)
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."
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

Saturday, December 7, 2013


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?
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?
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...
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 :)