Ok, so it's really Tuesday by the time this posts, but as I write it is still Monday evening, and I am sitting here so overwhelmed with love for missionaries. For my own missionary who made it safely to Taiwan and is now paired up with a new "trainer" companion:
(not sure what the story is behind that drawing but I love it, and Max loves his trainer!) To my nephew who is working his heart out in NYC speaking Spanish, to so many of Max's close friends who are all over the world learning and growing in ways only a mission could provide (weren't they the boys planning senior pranks last year and trying to figure out what to do with their lives after high school??), to my in-laws who are on a service mission in Africa right now (more about that soon...they are rocking it over there in Ghana), and to all the other missionaries out there learning and growing and working their guts out to teach people about Christ and serve and love as He did.
Yes, our family is fully immersed in the beauty of missionary work these days. It has become such a huge part of life around here.
Monday is P-Day (preparation day) in most missions all over the world so on Mondays my inbox fills up with tales of the adventures of the week from places like Nicaragua, New York, Idaho, Honduras, Africa, and I LOVE it. Every letter is so different. Every personality is so different expanding on so many great life-lessons.
So let's back up to the MTC for a minute.
Max loved every bit of his nine weeks there studying the gospel and learning the basics of Mandarin Chinese. He met some pretty awesome kids, 21 of whom were heading to the same mission with him so he gets to still learn and be influenced by them for two whole years. He had some pretty outstanding teachers as well. It was fun to hear his excitement about the whole experience when we talked to him on the phone as he was leaving for Taiwan (back HERE).
Here are some pictures I haven't added to the blog yet from the MTC:
I loved Max's excitement when he got his "all-Chinese" name tag:
I love this little interchange between Max and Lucy:
And here's part of a letter from Max while he was there:
Things the MTC has helped me LOVE:
The SCRIPTURES!!! The Book of Mormon is the best book ever! When you read, pay close attention to every single word! It's revelation from Heavenly Father!
HYMNS!! I think one of the best ways to feel the Spirit is singing. I think my new fav is "Hope of Israel"
Oh another funny story. This week Elder Spendlove went up to the 7'6 guy [apparently there was a guy that tall in the MTC with them] and said "I know you probably get this a lot, but what's your zodiac?" I don't think I've ever seen another person so confused. Haha yaaaaaa probably had to be there.
Thank you guys so much for the packages! They made my life!
Love you guys so much! Girls, I know you are all better at this than I was but this week try to be as nice as you possibly can! It's easier than you think! If you see a kid who looks sad, cheer them up! If you see a person you kinda know but not really, don't pretend to be doing something on your phone, say hi and get to know them! It will make your life 100 time happier and probably 1000 times for them.
Love you all!
I love that we are "internet friends" with his companion's mom and a few other missionary families. It's been so fun to get all their letters and hear all of their different reactions to Taiwan...all so great and wonderful in their own ways.
So finally after all that studying and learning that large district headed on to Taiwan.
Here they are upon arrival, all safe and sound:
I think he looks pretty happy to be there...either that or super jet-lagged :)
I got this picture from one of our missionary friends...looks like quite a snazzy bus to get them to and from the airport!
I love that his mission president's wife is so awesome at documenting. These are some of the pictures we got from her:
(first meal at mission home) Let's just pause and look at Max's smile. Makes my mamma's heart so happy.
Dinner out to try the Taiwanese food:
They do a lot of training before heading out:
I love how enthralled Max is with the instruction up there.
And how it looks like the jet-lag is getting the better of him below:
And then they headed out into the real world of missionary work.
...In this great place that Max is already in love with:
The other day I got an out-of-the-blue email from a blog reader who's husband served a mission in Taiwan. He stays in touch with some of the people he loves there through Facebook and the other day I guess this picture came up:
Apparently Max and his companion are working in the same area with her.
My eyes welled up with gratitude to get that picture of that smiling boy right in the middle of something or other I was doing here at home. Thank you Tara!!
I love technology.
And here's a picture Max sent this week:
...and an excerpt from his last letter where he answered a whole slew of our questions:
1. Tell us about your companion?
My comp is Elder Porter and he is the coolest kid ever.
2. What city are you in? How big is the city? Four elders in your apartment or two, and who are they? Will you mostly use your new bike or walk?
I am in one of the most rural cities in Taiwan its super far south which means it is going to get HOT but the fruit is amazing. I live in a four man with three other elders. They are all super awesome. I ride my bike everywhere.
3. What is your favorite food so far?
McDonalds. HAHA JUST KIDDING I am not going to go there. Probably Dumplings or beef noodles.
4. How is your mission president?
They are awesome!! I love them although I will probably not be having a whole lot of contact with them because I am a 4 hour train ride away hahah.
5. How does Taiwan compare to China? (Elle)
Imagine China with less pushy crowds and traditional Chinese characters. That is Taiwan. I would never know a difference I love it.
6. Have you taught any discussion yet? Contacted anyone?(Claire) (Lucy)
Contacted a bunch of people! Taught one lesson to an investigator named Liu Di Xiong he is the coolest guy. It's so weird teaching someone who is actually looking for help in his life, he was more nervous than I was going into the lesson which really struck me. (My comp is awesome, eases the nerves a lot). We have met with a bunch of people from the ward because we are both pretty new to the area and we want to build a relationship with them to work together better.
7. Did you have to give a speech in the night market? How much (Chinese) can you understand, percentage? (Elle)
I did, it was awesome! I can probably understand like 60 percent of everything but I can't respond super fast. The language is going to take a LOT of work.
8. How big is your ward/branch?
About 50 people
9. Do you cook meals or do you eat out? do you cook together with comp? Are grocery stores like the ones in China?(mom)
I am going to the grocery store today so I'll see and report. Probably a lot like China. We eat out every meal because its like a dollar for a whole meal.14.
10. Most interesting thing you have seen so far? (Lucy)
Probably all the grandmas that pimp out their motorized wheelchairs and drive them on the street.
11. Is the jet lag pretty bad? Sleeping ok? (mom)
Jet lag is awesome I have literally had zero.
12. What are you wearing? Is it cold? (mom)
I am wearing short sleeves and pants its definitely not cold haha I sweat so much.
LOVE YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT WEEK LIFE IS GREAT
And, just to end on a pretty funny note, here's the latest correspondence with Max and Lu:
Not sure why she thinks he's eating a bunch of candy?? I think she's still stuck on the no-sugar deal we were doing when he left. Oh man that girl...
Love that missionary of ours and all the things he's learning and sharing and doing clear over on the other side of the world.
**post edit extremely sad note: We have recently heard word that there was a missionary killed in a biking accident in Max's mission today. There are not words to express how our hearts have sorrowed for his family, for the mission, for the sadness of it all in the last few hours. We are not certain, we have little information at this time, but we think Max probably knew this missionary because we think they probably overlapped at the MTC. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak in the mission not to mention the family who lost their son. Please send mighty prayers their way.