Well, I’ve been here for one month and only have one more to go!! I can’t believe that time has gone by so fast, I’m sure in no time I’ll be on a plane to Hong Kong!
This past week we got our Chinese names assigned to us by our teacher! My full name is Gok (last name) Seung Lahm (first names) which translates to pure flowing river and beautiful jade. I’m not really quite sure how my teacher came up with it, but it’s still cool nonetheless! I feel so official now that I have my full Chinese name. When I remember I’ll attach a picture of it in characters so you can see what it looks like 🙂
On Monday my district and a couple others got assigned to host the incoming senior missionaries and it was such a fun experience! It was so great to see them all coming in so excited and ready to serve; it helped to remind me again not only why I am here, but to keep the excitement that I first felt upon starting my mission service.
I started a new diet this week. It’s called eating with chopsticks. It turns out that when you have to exert a certain amount of energy into picking up your food and it takes you three times as long as it normally would, you end up eating a lot less of it. One of my teachers challenged us to eat with chopsticks as many meals as we could throughout the day and it is proving to be rather difficult. Also, I’m not sure if I’m holding my chopsticks the right way because it kind of hurts after a while. Or it’s just really difficult to use them and I have to work out my hand muscles. Or both. But I’m determined that one day I will master them and become the chopstick warrior master I was born to be!
Funny language story for the week: My companion and I were teaching one of our investigators about prayer and the blessings that we can receive from it. At one point I was telling him how when we pray God can give us revelation when suddenly he started laughing at me. I was confused and started to nervously laugh with him for a minute, but having no idea what I actually said I decided to move on. After the lesson I told my teacher what I was trying to say and what I actually said and it turns out that if you say revelation with the wrong tone you’re saying racism. Yeah, I’ll probably have to go back and correct that misunderstanding…
This past Sunday was also the Provo City Center temple dedication and it was so amazing! It was such a neat experience to be sitting there with the thousand other missionaries watching this sacred event take place. Even with all of us in the same room, there was a reverence and awe that quieted everyone in attendance. How lucky we are to have temples where we can learn more and feel closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior. I know that there are blessings promised to those who worthily go to the temple and we are able to have clarity and see things from a different perspective. We should make it a habit to go the the temple as often as we can.
I’ve been thinking this week about desire and what it is that I desire most in life. Not only that, but what it is that I’m doing to achieve it so that instead of merely staying a dream it becomes reality. I know that the Lord will help us achieve our righteous desires, but only if we are also putting in the work. I encourage you to think about what you desire most and what it is that you are doing about it. There is no standing still; we are either progressing or we are falling backwards.
I love you all and hope you have a great week!
-Gok Ji Muih
Things are starting to pick up here at the MTC! Three weeks in and I am slowly but surely learning more and more Cantonese. Though it’s all pretty much gospel related, so I’m in for a hard time if anyone ever tries to make small talk with me, haha! I’m getting more into the swing of things and time is really starting to fly–it feels like just yesterday that I was writing e-mails!
I’ve had a great experience at the MTC thus far, but I think that the food is really starting to get to me. You can only have cafeteria cheeseburgers and pasta so many times before you start packing on a few pounds… but I’ll lose it once I get to Hong Kong, right? 😉
This past week has been pretty much the same thing I did the week prior: wake up, study, eat, class, study, eat, more class, teach, study, and so on and so forth. I have really great teachers though so that makes the six hours of language class each day better! We have two different teachers throughout the day and they both are not only great at teaching us the language and how to be an effective missionary, but they also throw some humor into the class. One of our teachers makes a tear drop on the side of her face with her fingers when she’s stressed, like in anime when they have those big tear thingies. Yeah, I’m not really explaining this that well, but I’ll attach a picture so you don’t think that I’m completely crazy….
We each have been given a Chinese last name (mine is “Gok”) that we will use when we are in Hong Kong, but I just found out that we will also be given a first name as well which they will use for all of our documents. One of our teachers, Lau Ji Muih, who is from Hong Kong will be assigning us our first names within the next couple of weeks. She chooses our Chinese name based on what our real first name means in English. One day in class she had as all go around and say our first names and what they meant so that she could start coming up with our Chinese names. When she got to me I told her that my name meant something like “weary”, but I wasn’t quite sure and also I didn’t want to be stuck with that as the meaning of my name for 18 months so I had her look up the meaning of my name on her phone. She listed off a few things that google said my name meant and then got to a word she didn’t know how to say so she wrote it on the board (keep in mind that English isn’t her first language)–and the word that she wrote on the board was “mistress”, and as soon as we saw it we all started laughing! But she had no idea what it meant so we had to try to explain it to her in polite terms and when she realized what it was she said, “Oh!” and quickly erased it and joined in the laughter. I guess that I just don’t have very good luck with the meaning of my name, haha maybe I’ll just stick with “weary” for my Chinese name after all…
This past Saturday we taught TRC for the first time which is where members of the church who speak Cantonese come in to the MTC to be taught a 20 minute lesson by us. I was initially really nervous because I had only ever taught investigators before and wasn’t really sure what to expect with teaching a member, but it turned out to be a really great experience. We taught an older gentleman about prayer and the role of the Holy Ghost in answering and guiding us. We did a pretty good job with the lesson and got him involved in sharing personal experiences and giving his insight into what we were teaching and I surprisingly was pretty calm and collected throughout the lesson. At end of the lesson when I was bearing my testimony in my broken and simple Cantonese, I had such a feeling come over me that I couldn’t help but to cry. I felt so much love from my Heavenly Father and I wanted more than anything else to share what I knew and was feeling with this man but the only Cantonese words that could escape my mouth were “I know we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and will help us.” It was all I could muster up to say with my limited vocabulary, but I think that I realized more than ever just how much I meant what I was saying and how badly I wanted others to share in my pure joy and gratitude at this simple yet infinitely true statement. I left the lesson with both my eyes full of tears and my heart full of love as I again remembered why I was here on this mission. I am here for the people. Not for any place or experience, but for the love and knowledge that I hope to share with others who may be struggling or feeling alone. I mean it more than ever when I say that I can’t wait to get to Hong Kong.
Thank you all so much for the letters you write, you have no idea how much it brightens my day to hear from all of you! I wish you all the best this week and encourage you to find ways to serve and uplift others, you may never know how much a simple act of kindness can help someone else out.
(Gok Ji Muih)
2) Pointing to Hong Kong–it’s so tiny
What a week! I didn’t think that it was possible for the second week to get any crazier than the first week, but somehow it managed to! There have been almost nonstop classes, studying and teaching interspersed with meal times where we have just enough time to stop and collect ourselves before we get back to work. But I love it! Admittedly it is definitely tiring, but it’s the good kind of tired where you know that you have just finished a long day and can look back at all of the things that you have done and learned. Tiring but worth it!
It’s weird sometimes when I remember that I’m still in Provo because in the MTC you kind of get caught up in your own little world and time. I always look up at the mountains and envy those who are still free to go hike them, someday I will again when I get back 😉 Time is also weird because I feel like I’ve been here for months but also like I just got here yesterday!
Cantonese is still hard and I assure you that I’m still making plenty of mistakes to go around. During one of the lessons that I was teaching with my companion, I was trying to say that God gave us the plan of salvation so that we could become like Him, but I said “him” with the wrong tone and accidentally said poop. And that was one of my better lessons! But there is always something to learn and that is one mistake that I can promise you I won’t make again. Teaching is kind of intimidating because I only know a very small amount of Cantonese. So during the lessons I’m trying to use my 10 or so words in different combinations so it doesn’t sound like I’m saying the same things over and over. But looking at how far I’ve come in just two weeks of speaking this language, I know that I have definitely been helped and can’t wait to be looking back in two more weeks to see how much further I’ve come.
I don’t know if you have ever seen a picture of the Hong Kong flag, but it’s just basically a big red flag with a white flower in the middle of it. When you look at it though, it looks like dolphins with the stars as eyes and the lines as a mouth. Since coming into the MTC I have managed to get everyone in my district to see the flower as five dolphins circling around the middle. In class yesterday, for some reason or another, my teacher was talking about the flag (we have one hanging on the wall in our class) and how it has the rare Hong Kong flower on it when I asked if he saw the dolphins. He stopped and stared for a second, looked at me and then at the flag, then started laughing harder than I’ve ever heard him laugh. And for five minutes the whole class was just laughing about the flag and the dolphins. Like I’ve said before, I love my district!
While the sisters in my district were talking one night, one sister was saying something along the lines of how we must have a lot of talent and capabilities because out of all the missionaries in the MTC we were chosen to learn Cantonese, one of the hardest languages. As I got thinking about this, I realized that the perspective that she had wasn’t entirely correct. We were chosen by the Lord to learn this language not because of any extravagant talent on our part, but simply because He has called us to do so. The Lord qualifies those whom He calls, not the other way around. I know that the only reason why I am able to learn this language is because of my calling and the strength that I have received from it. Otherwise I can assure you I would be having a lot more difficulty. Just know that you can do all things that our Heavenly Father asks of you because He trusts you! How marvelous that we have the opportunity to become something so much greater than we could ever become on our own! Never forget that you are where you are for a reason.
Well, I did it! I made it through one week in the MTC, and what an experience it has been. The campus is so big and there are so many buildings that my ability to get lost is almost crippling. I’m sure that if it weren’t for my companion, I would have been an hour late to every class and meeting! But so far I’m still alive, but I think that my brain already may be over saturated with all of the Cantonese that has been thrust upon me. Funny story this week, we have investigators that we teach here and during one of the elders’ lessons they used the wrong tone and accidentally talked about the plan of fat cheeks instead of the plan of happiness. Haha it is definitely a hard language with all of the different tones and I’m not even going to tell you all of the mistakes that I’ve made so far! Maybe another time…
2005 N 900 E Unit 3
Provo UT 84602