Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BLAAAAH! Not much time left :(

So we had mission conference this past Saturday!

Guess who came?

Exclamation point guy.

You know, the one who spoke at conference.

Well, his real name is "Elder Nielson," but I prefer to call him Exclamation Point Guy.

Boy, did he live up to that name.

It was a really really good series of talks, presented by my mission president (Wow, talk about a guy who makes you fee loved. He was so sincere during our interview, I started crying! Holy mackerel, I am turning into quite the softy.), the mission mom, and Mr. Exclamation Point.

Boy, did he use those exclamation points. Killed them, in fact.

It was pretty good, otherwise! (President's section was better!)

This week Elder Johnson and I scored a couple new investigators... We met with the Ward Mission Leader. All four of us Chinese missionaries were there last night.

I found out what was required to turn our branch into a stake.... Well, heres what we have currently....

Right now we have about 45 members, give or take.
We have about 6 active Melchezidek Priesthood holders....

Ready for this?
In order to even be CONSIDERED to become a ward we need...

Dang, that was discouraging. I went and presented these numbers to the WML and I said "Alright. Let's figure this out and hit this. I want this."

Our meeting was a touch disappointing, because he didn't really have becoming a ward as one of our focuses. We did agree on one thing and that was how we do need to increase our numbers due to transportation issues.
His focus was maintaining our branch as a nice community for people to come from china and hear the gospel and have it be a good opportunity for Chinese people to receive callings. He was hesitant to set number goals for baptisms and referrals.

Oh well. I think the branch president has a more assertive view on things. Maybe he and I will see more eye to eye.

What can I say? I am a numbers guy. Numbers= more people coming unto Christ.
It was still a productive meeting, and I am really, really glad it happened. I definitely learned that I need to be more concerned about our current members. I have been so focused on expansion that I have not been very attentive to our current members! (besides liu jiemei-- I got the reinstatement for medicare approved! YES! Now I have to file one more claim after she receives her document in the mail and then we are GOLD!)

Okay well, that's most of today's stuff! I hope you all have a great rest of the week :)

It's really cold here. The humidity really makes the air bite. It's weird because it will say it is only 20 or something degrees, but it feels waay colder. Elder Johnson says it matches the negatives in Utah.

Alright! I am off! I wish you all the best! :)

Much love,

Elder Valentine!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Title, A Title, We've got no Title

I still think that is the funniest verse in the Moermenjing (BOM).
"A bible, a bible, we've got a bible."
Cracks me up everytime.

Okay so this week was kind of a drag....

Me and Elder Johnson's fault. This is where it started...

We walked into the District Meeting feeling like stud mcmuffins because we pulled about 15 lessons, accounting for about a fourth of the zone's 62 lessons.

People come up to us and say stuff like "WOW! Great week guys!"

AAAnd we are feeling pretty chipper.

We then find out (WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS ALL ALONG BUT WE DIDN'T BECAUSE WE ARE STINKERS) that a little under HALF OF THEM COUNTED because there was no specific return appointment on a good majority! BLAH.

So we go home feeling like crap. Well, I do.

So my motivation was shot and that week I tried to let Elder Johnson take the reins because I was kind of tired of initiating every street contact and holding up every conversation.

Well, I discovered that didn't work very well. By the time I felt like getting back into "take the lead mode", it was already Friday and our numbers were trash. I can't say I am going to like the district meeting tomorrow, putting up the numbers we have... BLAH!
Transfers are happing in about three weeks.

My guess? Elder Johnson will go with the other quiet companion. Elder Beck (the other loud and gung ho companion) and I talked a bit about what he said in his interview with the President and what I will say in the interview, and it sounds like that is what the President is planning on happening, too.

I know Elder Johnson hates me giving him speeches, so I gave him a quick 30 second speal about how his next companion will not push him to talk to everyone as I do, nor how he will force him to talk during lessons as I do. He didn't say much in response, but I hope he got the point.

One time this week, I locked him out of the car and forced him to do practice street contacts with me in the grocery store parking lot. I was pretty frustrated at that point.
Haha, he refused to get out of the car at first because he knew what was going to happen (I was going to make him do street contacts), so I turned on the car alarm and waited a good 20 feet away until he got out.
hahaha. hahaha. haha.
(Many thanks to Sister Shipp's dad for inspiration on that one. You are a gentleman and a scholar, my fine sir.)

Elder Johnson is getting better now. I know there certainly are things i can learn from him as well, such as cleanliness and being on time and not backing out unless there is a missionary to back me up hahaha.
Okay so moving on.... I had to do a fat 90 minute phone call to Humanacare health insurance for an old lady in our ward! ( Liu Jiemie). That was fun-- and the best part is next week WE GET TO DO IT AGAIN! hahahahaha.
She got her program pulled because she paid too late, so now we get to file a reinstating claim to medicare for her next week.

Man, I should go work at a retirement home or something like that after the mission because I am learning how to do all this old people care stuff!

Hey, at church this little girl completely knocked her brother out of her seat! It reminded me of the football video game scott and I used to play!

That was pretty exciting!

Alright well there is nothing else really I can think of... Hrm ... I kissed a fried fish at a restaraunt! Is that email worthy? Got a picture, too ;)

I hope you are all doing well! Love you all. Take care, folks!


Elder Valentine

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Polar Vortex...what?

Welp. January 7th was my five month anniversary. Man, I am one young missionary.
The day before I get a couple phone calls. #1 is my district leader.
He wants to do splits with us the following day. Cool, no big deal. He tells me he wants to go with Elder Johnson and wants me to go over there. I tell him that the district leader came over with Elder Johnson last time, and that Elder Johnson cannot drive due to some file his doctor forgot to put in (so the district leader would end up having to drive).

We thought about it a bit and discussed it a touch and we came to the conclusion that him doing splits with Elder Johnson would be best... SO I would go with the District leader's companion on a bike. cool, no big deal.

Next call. My ward mission leader.
We do our weekly report and stuff-- you know, regular protocol. At the end of the phone call he says...
"Oh yeah by the way make sure you bundle up a TON tomorrow. It's supposed to be freakishly cold."
"Yeah it's called the polar vortex or something. It is the coldest day of the year. All the schools in all of Fairfax county are closed tomorrow."
".... Nice."
"Yeah so try and be outside as little as possible tomorrow. Man, I'm happy for your sake that you have a car."
"I know the wind shield is supposed to be crazy. That's the coldest part. It will be around 0."
"Awesome. Guess who is going on a bike tomorrow for splits?"
"....You've got to be kidding me."
"I'd call in and ask what protocal is, I mean, I understand what working hard is, I did the rounds in Taiwan, but that is just dangerous. You should call in and ask."
"Alright thanks for the warning Pong Dixiong."
"Be safe Elder."

I call the zone leaders and the official global missionary protocal is -30 degrees... so no dice.
The following morning arrives before the split.
It's our branch president. He never calls us unless it is about a meeting.
"Hey guys I just wanted to call you and warn you about the weather today. It's 5 degrees right now and is only going to get colder. Make sure you wear your warmest gear out there. I'm so glad you guys aren't on bikes. I'd be so worried."
"..... Yeaaaaah I would be too. Thank you so much for the advice president."
"I mean, seriously, none of my kids even have school today. Everyone is staying home."
"Alright president we understand thank you! We will be sure to bundle up."
"Tomorrow will be 13 degrees so that is nice at least. Just keep warm tonight. Get back to the car asap and don't plan to be outside that long."
"Yes. ... thank you. We will do our best."

All I have to say is that night was freezing. Zone leaders brought me an extra overcoat at the zone meeting that day, thank goodness. Holy shishkabob.

I am so greatful for a car now.

I do feel for biking missionaries now-- especially those guys. They live outside of their ward boundaries. Their whole day consists of a few hours of biking.

If someone ends up not being there, boom, there's a fat 3 hours wasted trying to get to there house.

We biked all day that day and the people we were supposed to contact ended up not being home.

Not productive at all. I am so thankful for a car.

Well, on a happier note, Elder Johnson and I tore it up this week with numbers. We have more than doubled our lessons of the week and referrals.

It's only going up from here!

Last night we had a tiny miracle, I guess. It was 8:55 and I was ready to pack up and head back (we had not much success last night. 4 lessons planned, only one came through), but we decided to hit one random house. (Have I mentioned how much I HATE town home parking? I swear you have to drive forever just to find a parking place that isn't plastered with tow signs.)

We go in and knock..

It's an old man.

He invites us in.

We talk a ton.

New investigator. One extra lesson.

That was a nice way to end the week :)
I hope you all have a great week! :) That's all for now!


Elder Valentine


Cool experience...

I hit the sack one night just TIRED. There are three beds in the room, right? One next to the far left wall (used to be Tang's, but now I occupy it), one in the middle (Elder Johnson's) and one in the far right (my old bed, which is littered with clean laundry I haven't folded yet).
I crash on Tang's bed (I always sleep there)
I wake up in the morning and I end up being on my bed.... My clothes are folded at the foot of my bed and stacked....

I grab Elder Johnson.
"N-n-n-noo I swear! You were on Tang's bed when I came in!"
"No I would never touch your clothes!"
"Yes I swear! I didn't touch you or your clothes!"

So we came to the conclusion I sleep walked over to my bed and folded my clothes and went to sleep.


Now I just have to train my subconcious to clean everything else too....

Elder Johnson shined my shoes for me today! I didn't even notice until he told me to look at my shoes.

D'awww :)

Take care everyone!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The worst and best week of my mission

Hello all!

Well. The title is really about one day-- that day was... the third. so.... ermmm.... Friday. Yes, Friday.


Story starts on Thursday. We send in our weekly report to the branch council aaaand if you rotated it, it would have looked like a bunch of snowmen stacked on top of each other.

No, I do not mean all 8s! I mean all zeroes (well not completely zeroes, but the numbers still stunk pretty badly)!

I had to send this one in aaand I was kind of disgusted with these numbers.

We decided we were going to crush those numbers from then on.

We started by going to Lam Jiemei's house... a 77 year old lady who is inactive. It was way different from the last times we visited her! She was so bright and happy to see us! She asked us what kept us from coming earlier and why we havent visited her sooner! It was interesting. We told her we visited her last week and that she was visiting her family so we talked with her husband!

She told us that she has been sick in bed and that "他的头脑是不好的“(His brain is no good).

It was kind of funny how she put it haha...

Anyway, she gave us some beanies she made from hand and some new year's / christmas presents! :DD
The rest of the night was going to be gooood :)
We then had a refferal from another missionary we were planning on visiting.... It was one of those "Well, the person waved to us and they looked kind of asian sooo... here ya go" kind of things.

Well, we went determined to make a lesson out of it.

They were chinese (YES) but not interested whatsoever (NO :( ). Well, I didn't care! I WANTED THAT LESSON!

So we did one of those doorway lessons.... first discussion, prayer, baptism invite. We then asked for another chinese person they knew.

They said the person next door was.

We went next door, the lady opened it  up, invited us to step in because it was FRIJO! (Or 冷, whatever floats your boat). She wasnt interested whatsoever BUT I DID NOT CARE; WE WERE GETTING THAT LESSON.

First discussion, prayer, baptism invite, BOOM lesson number 2.
We ask her who she knows that is Chinese....
She tells us HER next door neighbor is Chinese. (SCORE!)

We walk on over to the next house and tried to talk to them... they wouldn't open the door. Just did one of those open the curtain "We no want  talk to yoo" sort of things.


Well, we were still feeling pretty chipper because we hit two referrels in one sitting (and two lessons).

We move on to the next area... The first door wasnt home, but the next one was. Met a girl named Kathy-- asian, but Korean.
That happens pretty often.
Oh well, she spoke english!

Did a lesson! Got the prayer, got the baptism invite and we are OFF!

We had.. oh 20 minutes left. We were determined to grab two more lessons for the night.

We trot back to our car (by the way, this is a small coldesac-- I have NO idea how to spell that word-- with a ton of town homes. The houses we were visiting were literally within 70 yards of our car), ready to take on the next few houses.

Car. Gone.

We call the APs and tell them the car is gone. They tell us to look for a towing sign to call because chances are it got towed....

We were thinking it got stolen because there was no way it got towed while we were right there without us recognizing it!

We could not find a sign TO SAVE OUR LIVES. We ended up knocking on doors until someone would open up and give us a number to the police.... this was from 9 to 10 pm. Someone finally opened up and we called the police.

Did I mention it was about 25 degrees? I was so cold..

Glad I took that croteched beanie... and that I was wearing Grandma's wool socks.
Turns out we got toed. Super surprised. 150$ for parking without a guest pass and for being "too far from the curb" (Pehh, it was NOT THAT FAR FROM THE CURB. MERRY CHRISTMAS I HOPE YOU BUY YOURSELF A NICE PRESENT WITH THAT MONEY)

Alright, so we end up calling the towing company.

Right after that happens.... our phone dies. What.

We go back to knocking on doors, trying to get someone to let us use their phone. It ends up being about 11:00. No one lets us use their phone (by the way, all our contacts were in our phone that just died. oops.)

We go to a gas station and get two phone calls...

I only have the ward mission leaders number sooo....
we call him.
He gives us the other chinese elders number and we call them.
They don't answer so I left them instructions in a voicemail for them to call the annandale zone leaders and give them the address I gave them. I felt like I was in the movie Taken, giving the daughter a phone call with instructions.

There was a taxi right outside of the gas station. We talked to him and he gave us the taxi company number.
That was a blessing....

We went to mcdonalds and asked to use their phone.

After repeated tries of turning on our phone WE FINALLY SECURED THE ZONE LEADERS NUMBERS.
We called them a TON of times. No answer.
It was then about 10:50ish, so we gave up and called a taxi

We got home a little before 12, called the AP's and told them what happened.

The following day at 6:45 am, we got a call from the zone leaders and we told them what happened. They then came over, picked us up, and took us over to the towing company to grab our car.

I am out of time, but man, that following day was really rough. SO TIRED.

Alright, will talk to you all more next week!