Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013 - Faith Hope & Charity & the myriad flower beds of the MTC

Hello Dad,

I've had a pretty good last couple weeks. I just finished reading through the Book of Mormon again, which I started a few weeks into MTC. It was very cool, much more effective than any read through I've done up till now. I attribute that to the constant MTC atmosphere, the much longer study time I've had (we have an hour, first thing almost every morning, to read.) and my acquisition of some scripture markers. I wouldn't have thought that it would make any difference, but the conscious marking of important verses makes me pay more attention to them. My scriptures, which previously were mostly barren or disgustingly marked with pen from an unfortunate burst of EFY related zeal, are now as bright and colorful as the myriad flower beds of the MTC, especially Alma, Ether, and Moroni. I've taken to reserving the green marker for verses that are interesting but not doctrinal, or, more often, humorous.

As I read through Ether and Moroni I had a lot of cool thoughts about Faith Hope and Charity. I remember you mentioning those several times during Family Home Evening, and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what they mean this week. That has been very interesting, very rewarding, but also frustrating. It always bugs me that the gospel principles we try to define often simply don't have a strict definition, an absolute method of working. I wish that the gospel was like math, and everything could be understood fully. Maybe it will be. Anyway, I think you'll sympathize most we me.


Your letters always make me laugh mostly because you never put in any punctuation and I can imagine you saying it all really fast at me so I really really really reallllllly hope when I get back you still do that or I'll be sOOOOOOOOOOO MAD I might never talk to you again!!!!!!!! Do you see what I mean? I'm glad your talk went well. Do you know how they do talks at the MTC? They don't tell you if you're speaking or not until during sacrament meeting, so you have to be ready before hand and then just pray they don't call you. One of the guys in my district is a convert, so he always doesn't prepare anything. His plan is basically, 1. Thank them profusely and repeatedly for giving him the chance to speak, 2. Share a scripture about the topic, 3. Tell his conversion story and at the end slightly relate it to the topic, and 4. Bear testimony. If he gets called we might all bust up laughing and disrupt the meeting. And if you want chocolate you should send me something first! Except I can't really think of anything I want, so no chocolate for you. Oh, you guys (whole family) should get in better shape. I've been working out quite a bit during gym, so I'll probably look huge when I get back.


I can only imagine what it must be like to not get to sleep in ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. THAT MUST BE TERRIBLE! Oh wait, that's what I do EVERY DAY, for 2 YEARS. So don't try to make me chew on anything, or else.

I'm very glad you got your part in Nutcracker. You work so hard at it that it really wouldn't be fair for them to give you a bad part. Though, you really should be doing a martial art anyway. That's kind of like dancing, except you can use it to kill people. So really, what makes more sense.  You could jump around randomly for a couple hours, or break people. Just saying. Glad to hear my friends haven't all forgotten me. It's kind of weird in the MTC. Hard to imagine things going on in the outside world. I hope school is going well for you, because I haven't showed up to a single class since I got to BYU. They'll probably kick me out in a few weeks, at this rate. I just keep hanging out with this weird group of guys living on campus. I'm pretty irresponsible.


Don't feel too bad. I rarely actually say anything that is going on over here. We're super busy every week, but don't actually do much worth writing about somehow. Did Coach Ryan leave? I'd be sad if he did. I don't know for sure, but you should probably work harder at swimming. Just a thought.

I hate statistics in physics more than anything else, and there's some annoying stuff in physics. Just do like I said and never miss a lab. You will regret it. Falling objects are kind of boring, some of the other labs are better. I just want you to know, typing is extremely difficult right now for some reason. So be grateful. I do so hope you send me your book. I would be delighted to read it. If you can, if it's not too ridiculously long, dear elder it. I can't print out emails. That just reminded me of a movie we saw, one of the few that we can. Look it up on, it's called the Mailbox. About a sad old lady, probably the most depressing movie you will ever watch. Also watch the Phone Call. Same place. It is hilarious, we try to watch it once a week, so I can quote it pretty well by now., they're BYU production things. Watch them today. For family home evening.


Few words merit few words. I can imagine Dad's glee at buying the lock cutter. I can also imagine Mom's upsetness at you. If you don't figure out how to stay completely on top of school work, your life's going to be tough, David. I know you don't want to hear this but, there it is. Conflagration. Extrusive. Gratuitous. Loquaciousness. first letters spell CEGL. And you know what that means....

CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGL! The holiday we've alllllllllllllllllllllllll been waiting fooooooooooor! Get your piƱatas and scimitars and release the rat-hogs! Let the Celging begin!


Guess what. We're not moving to West. There was a conflict with our teachers’ schedules, so we're moving into another zone while the rest of ours leaves on Tuesday. We have to be with the silly Thai kids. We all look down on those random, rarely used Chinese derivative languages. So I will be directing traffic when Matthew comes in! Please Dear Elder me the time when he'll be showing up so I can look for him. I saw Evan at a devotional thing, but yeah, I won't be able to see him a ton. Ah well.

I did get a letter from Xander and Elizabeth Day, and I have written responses, I just haven't got around to sending them. If they ask, I will try really hard to send them today. At the same time I'll probably be sending back the tape recorder, some insurance stuff to pay for immunizations (the charge for which should be on my credit card) and maybe some drawings. Things are going pretty well here. I feel like I should write a ton more about what's going on, but honestly most weeks are like the one before.

Cantonese is weird. The grammar is really simple, but tough because it's very context based. And the rules are really weird. They are simple but totally different from English. For example, the word for before, ji chihn, is the same as the word for before, bihn chihn, with just a different first word. Ji hauh is after, bihn hauh is behind. So in Cantonese we move backwards into the future. up one is the same as last time, down is next. So we're walking backwards down a staircase, to be more exact. The verbal aspect markers are similar enough to tenses to really confuse my comps, but totally different. No past tense, but jo means completed, gwo means have experienced at least once before, so it seems sometimes like they're tenses.

Things are still good here. We're having a good time, but we all want to go to Hong Kong. Oh, they sell call cards at the bookstore, and we'll probably have about a 5 hour layover in LAX, so we should be able to talk. Send me some dear elders, it brightens my week.

I feel really guilty about not sending more photos, for some reason. I was a pretty great 7 year old, but I think a better baby.

See you in two years, if the Triads don't get me,

John Morrell

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sorry so few photos, but I'm bad at taking pictures. Oh, got a haircut today.

John's District of 5 I believe. I think his companion is kneeling in front. 

I believe these are the flags from Hong Kong. 

Beautiful shot of the hallway in the MTC. 

Another priceless shot of the MTC bathroom.

September 16, 2013 - My Eventual Knowledge of Chinese Characters

Your letters today made me chuckle more than usual.

I can only imagine what it must be like to have to work on stuff from 3 pm to 10 pm on the weekend. Oh what, I do know what that's like, because I do that every day. And I can't stay up late playing Rome Total War. I've been having much better time recently at the MTC. I felt pretty good before, but in the last week our lessons have gotten much better. Elder Ah Mu and I had a very good companionship planning that led into a very good lesson. I feel like we're working together better, though things are still hard. I'm at the point now where my Cantonese is almost never an insurmountable barrier in our lessons. I obviously can't say much and don't understand everything, but I get enough that it's mostly stopped bothering me. My companion has also improved a lot in the last week, though he throws in a lot of things from English grammar that are incorrect in Cantonese, like 'that' or 'who' or 'are'. Cantonese is weird, not at all like English, so I try to think of them as totally separate and bring in none of the English connotations to words.

Sounds like you've had a trying week. I can sympathize. Every day they make us make our beds, just on the off chance that room inspection is that day. We spend the whole time dressed up in these bizarre, expensive, fragile clothes. Really weird.
Preach My Gospel lesson by the Sisters sounds good. I would say, before coming I read through it for my scripture study, but honestly for non-missionaries only chapter 3, and some parts of other chapters are super useful. I think it would be a good activity for the Young Women and Young Men to practice teaching lessons from it. You have to understand stuff on a much deeper level in order to teach it. I emailed Megan Barrett just a little bit ago that since arriving here I've learned nothing new but understand everything much more deeply.
We have really cool teachers here. One of our teachers, Sister Yu, is new, so sometimes she's not sure what is best to teach, but when we're teaching she's great. Every time we see her my whole district shouts YU JI MUIH which freaks her out. Brother Foong (pronounced Fong for some reason) is a linguistics master, knows 7 languages. I think he was born in Malaysia, but his English is better than mine. He's really great to do study with. Sister Cook, or Gou in her Cantonese name, is also kind of new, but she's great. Her investigators are always a bit tricky.
I hope I can be there when Matthew shows up, but we found out yesterday we're moving to West Campus on the 23rd. I hope I see him, but I don't know. I also haven't seen Evan yet, not sure if he's at West or not. If you find out, tell me where he's at. Also, if you somehow can, tell him I have Pday Monday, temple walk at 4 pm, 14 M residence, 10M class. I know Matthew's ready. What I would say to him is that time travels freakishly quickly while you're teaching, so you only have time for the most essential stuff. Tell him to economize his knowledge.

I resent your allegations. I'm just attempting to communicate with my distant kin. And your threats of nonsensical language are empty in the face of my eventual knowledge of Chinese Characters. How will you fare when you're trying to look up a character on google that HAS NO ALPHABET TO BE ORGANIZED BY? So take that. And keep coding. Flummox.

Economic troubles mean nothing to the brave at heart. I have been living for 6 weeks now on $6 a week, and you don't hear me complaining.
You would not believe how annoying it is to have only $6 a week.
Swimming is an unsurpassably good workout, so think carefully before you consider stopping. Also, I hated swimming my junior year, loved it my senior. Lastly, if you found another hobby, you'd have to be willing to put the same energy and time into it as you do into swimming, and that's hard. Self discipline is tough, but it's doable. It's just easier if Coach Ryan is doing it for you.
If you want to send your outline, send it by Dear Elder. I'll have more time to read it. I look forward anxiously.
I personally hated physics labs. I feel like the teachers are trying to prove to you that they aren't actually lying to you. Do them all immediately, the same day if possible. They're almost impossible to make yourself make them up. And when you start to work on group 4, let no noble notion of scientific ingenuity sway you. Do the dumbest and most easily carried out experiment possible. Believe me. You will never look back at group 4 and wish you tried harder.

Your letter sounds kind of depressing, and I really don't need that right now. Becca, as Dad always says, you're a hard worker. You enjoy doing things much more than I do, so I know that you'll be fine where ever you go. Just don't let disappointments get you down. I don't know what will happen with Nutcracker, or the Symphony, but even if nothing seems to be going well, you're a great girl. Besides, your real destiny is to be a Karate master, like the girl in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Follow Joseph to Krav Maga class.
I know what you mean about Abby. Believe me, I slept in the same room as Joseph and David for more than a decade. It can be rough. I also know what you mean about David. Once he moves downstairs, he won't really go upstairs at all, so you can run away much more effectively. If you forget your contacts, you will die violently, so don't do it. I always love your John John Billy Bong thing, Rebecca. Oh, you should swim instead of dance. Just by the way.

Your letter was funny. I do know what P.S. means, I think everyone does. I ALWAYS look forward to showering, so you should repent. Now. School can be boring for genius' like us, just stick with it. But don't do IB. My Companion has 5 younger sisters, and they send him really funny cards. Why don't you? Do you not love me? If you don't cry it means you don't love me, by the way. Goldfish are gross. Just saying.

I finally added some pictures.

Elder Morrell, you son/brother

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013 - Hours of Study Time

Dear Family,

Must be tough not being on vacation and having to work on a schedule all the time again. I can only imagine what that must be like. There's no guitar music at the MTC. We do sing a lot though. At the start of every class we sing in Cantonese, which is really tough sometimes. Any time we do a song that we don't all know really well we suffer, which is especially evident when Gou Jimouh is teaching us, because she is an amazing singer. Every devotional we sing some prelude hymns as well, which is usually nice, except that about a third of the time this one woman who always conducts each song as monotonously and slowly as possible leads. Those are rough days. My only other major music related complaint is that we hear a small handful of songs ALL THE TIME. Be Still my Soul, Come thou Fount, and Called to Serve are played almost constantly. Half of the special musical numbers are one of those songs. I used to like them, too. We did have some guys sing about 2 weeks ago who both were amazing. One sounded like an actual opera singer, which I was impressed by if not appreciative of. The other guy was also really good, sang some song called O Savior Redeemer of my Soul, or something like that, but not the hymnal version. Some arrangement done for 17 Miracles. He was excellent.

We're leaving on Oct. 7, or maybe really early Oct. 8. Judging by some other people who left to Hong Kong recently and the Phillipino missionaries, we should be in the air for about 17 hours with at least 5 hours of layover. We've seen two groups of missionaries leave from our zone so far. It's been weird both times. All the missionaries head over to nearby the mail room, usually at 3 in the morning or 12:30 PM, and load into vans, to head to a train, to go to SLCAirport, to go to LAX, to wait for 5 hours, and then finally leave for whatever small Pacific island they're going to.
I haven't used the tape player at all, nor do I expect to any time soon. I won't leave it, I'll try to send it along with an SD card within a week. None of the computers in our classroom building can recognize USB drives, and I keep forgetting to bring my camera to 1M when we write emails, so this is probably the best bet. Honestly, I've barely taken any pictures, so you'll probably be mad at me when I send it. It is funny what some people leave, though.
I don't think we'll need rain boots or anything, at least not for a while. No one else in my district brought any. I think if I need them it would be easiest just to buy them in Hong Kong, so don't worry about them. If you send the Khaki pants I'll wear them. I haven't needed any more slacks, but I could use them if I have them. I know you probably don't want this answer, but do what you think is best. Just follow the spirit.
We aren't able to see anything online except for this email client, and, so I haven't been able to look up the blog. I feel too lazy to write a separate email just to put on the blog or send to extended family. I think anything I say is basically fine to send to everyone. Unless there's something you don't want on it, I'm fine with whatever. I wish I could see it, but oh well.
The Sunday dinner you described makes me a bit hungry, but I honestly like the food here. It's all pretty good, and the variety is decent. I will say though, it's very heavy and greasy. Lots of fried stuff, lots of cream, etc. Most meals I don't care, but we have dinner only 5 hours after a really big lunch, so I sometimes just want something fresher. Oh, and the vegetables are absolutely disgusting. They have barely any flavor, always under cooked or over cooked. I haven't been eating a lot of them, unfortunately. Just can't stomach them. I do have burgers often, because they have them almost every day, and I started putting tons of ranch dressing on them every time I eat them for whatever reason. Sunday meals and Tuesday dinners are horrible, because they both are super busy. On Sundays, the meal times are less spread out because of meeting schedule, and Tuesday dinner everyone eats early to make it to choir, so they are all just horribly packed.
I feel bad for the Sister Missionaries in your ward. It would be really rough working in such a small area. One thing I have learned, though, is that missionaries' purpose is not to convert new members, but to help everyone come closer to Christ, so even if they're only teaching members they're doing important work. I like what you said about the Sabbath Day. Our teacher gave us a great lesson about why inviting people to church is important, and we've been learning a lot about how keeping any commandment is vital to increasing people's faith. On this more spiritual note, this last week I've had a couple great moments reading the Book of Mormon. One time, our teacher had us just read together as a class, and pick out a specific question to look for revelation for. I asked what to teach our investigators next (of course), and realized right as we finished that I'd been making tons of comments about how the stuff we'd been reading (alma 36-37) was all about the basic overview of the Gospel of Christ, which is of course lesson three of Preach My Gospel. So that was cool. Then, just today, we were reading during personal study, and I was asking about how to explain the atonement to our investigator today, and I ran into the story of Aaron teaching the King about the atonement. Same deal.
TRC this last Saturday was also really good. Our old teacher, Sister Chang, was there as always, and we were talking about how the Book of Mormon helps us receive revelation (unfortunate this was right before all these great experiences). She is taking 5 physics classes, a Stats class, and Japanese all at once at BYU and is feeling overwhelmed. She said that she had been praying, but hadn't received a clear answer yet as to what to do about her schedule. She's obviously a very spiritually mature person, so it was weird giving her advice, but I recommended that in 2 Nephi 2 it talks about how our purpose is to be happy, so God would give her an answer that would most help her. Don't know if it did anything, but I hope it did.
"Sand" volleyball is often more than a diversion. When you have 8 hours of class time or study time with only 30 min meals in between, it becomes essential. I haven't seen Evan yet, I looked for him that day but didn't see him. I think I'll be able to be an escort when Matthew's coming in, so maybe we'll get lucky.

P.S. We did initiatories at the temple instead of endowments today, which was fun. It's too easy to forget that there are anything but sealings and endowments at the temple. Plus initiatories give us time for laundry :) I really regret the emoticon, but it has to be there to make the sentence less irreverent.

I can always tell it's you writing from the first sentence that like runs on with no punctuation or anything and talks idealistically and then ends all excited! Guess what, that also helps me tell it's you. I'm glad you're doing the youth symphony thing. Take my advice as from someone who did an instrument I hated for a long time and then stopped. It takes a long time to really appreciate good music (and by good I mean instrumental, e.g. not Taylor Swift) and if you give up practicing or don't learn how by then you'll feel stupid and sad forever no matter what. SO, unless you want that, don't stop playing violin. Learn how to play more fiddling or Lindsey Sterling ish stuff if you're bored. I hate to say it, but Christmas is not for about 4 months. I'm looking forward to it a bit, because I'll get to phone home. Eventually I'll be hoping my mission won't end, but at this stage I'd still be glad if I could suddenly be only a month away from coming home. Love you Abby.

Becca Boo,
I can sympathize, I've been sick to some extent for most of my time here so far, and it is really annoying. Don't miss putting contacts in, because soon your eyes will get worse and you won't be able to see at all without contacts, and if you're in the habit of forgetting them you will crash a car and die, or fall down some stairs and die, or walk into a pole and die, or accidentally buy a jelly filled donut when you wanted a glazed donut, or touch an electrical socket and die, or get lost in the desert and starve and die, or mistake someone's face, offend them, and lose your best friend and die. So don't forget them. If you think you're bored you're probably right. I've got no time to be bored. But lest you think I've got it all great, all my friends here get letters from their friends, whereas I have just my silly family. So chew on that.

This is two weeks in a row you have failed to be my most loving sibling. And school doesn't JUST continue, it goes on. Honestly I don't have much else to say to you, probably because you've given me nothing to go on. I would very much enjoy to get your story outline, but you probably are being way optimistic. I shall take it upon myself to crush you. I would send you my story outline, but I actually haven't written it because I've got no time because I'm more busy serving the Lord, so feel guilty about that.

If you've hit a roadblock, do what you'd do in Need for Speed and drive around it or through it or get arrested. "I don't know what your malfunction is, but you can think about it in "DEBUG MODE". If you cease coding, I will be forced to come home from my mission early to force you to continue, and then hundreds of Hong Kong ese people will not hear the gospel, and you will probably burn. And you won't know how to code. If you do learn any sweet computer hacking skillz, put some secret message to me on the homepage (because that is the only website I can view).


Hours of Study Time,
While Outside Autumn (!) Sun Sets,
Let's Play Hacky Sack.

To us, politics,
Run by like water on glass,
Storms (!) outside raging.

Time flows like the clouds,
Sometimes in a raging storm,
Sometimes slow as fog.

A world of Hellos,
Sound, like the stars in the sky,
All so far away.

So much greasy food,
Brings to mind forgotten verse,
Think Honey Bucket.

Good to hear from you family.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 2, 2013

(Glen and Barbara were on vacation this week)

Hello Parents.
I guess you are probably on the plane ride home by now. Time passes very oddly here in the MTC. I find it hard to believe that you've already been in Hawaii for 2 weeks. Each day seems to take forever, especially Thursdays and Saturdays. On those days we have personal study, breakfast, additional study, classroom instruction (which usually includes teaching our progressing investigators), lunch, more additional study or language study, classroom study again, dinner, volleyball, more additional study, and then an hour of personal time at night. By the time you go to bed you feel like you've been up for 2 days. But then the week somehow flies by.
I am very sad you didn't get to see any actual lava. If we ever go as a family, I will make sure that we see some. That would be my main goal for the trip. Is the big island much different from the smaller ones? Are there things you liked about the big island that you couldn't do elsewhere, or vice versa? I'm writing much earlier than normal today, because the temple is closed for Labor Day. Our P-Day today is going to be 3 hours longer as a result, so my district and I are doing laundry 6 hours early right now.
It's weird to think of being late to class, honestly. The way things go here, I don't know how we would be late or what would happen. I think our teachers would be a bit more than annoyed. Our version of celestial duties is service project every Friday. All the elders and sisters have 90 minutes a week (for us on Friday) where they get assigned to work under one of the residence or classroom building custodians. They give us jobs, so we basically keep all the buildings clean. Vacuuming, window cleaning, trash collection, bathroom cleaning, etc. It's not fun exactly, but it's also not too hard and I enjoy it.
Our teacher situation has been very weird lately. Sister Chang, who was from Taiwan and served in Hong Kong and was awesome, left 2 weeks ago because she's taking too many physics classes at BYU right now to maintain teaching at the MTC, so we only see her at TRC on Saturday (tell me if you know what that it). Sister Cook is still with us. She served in Hong Kong and is a really good singer and a great teacher. Gwok hingdei (brother Gwok) was our first investigator, and became a teacher for us after about a week and a half, but he got switched to the other Cantonese district on Saturday, which we were all upset about. He was a really cool guy, born in Hong Kong, back about a year from his mission, very funny. We had still been teaching his investigator persona, A-Sum, so when he left he said A-Sum died tragically. Our new teacher is going to be Fong Hingdei, who speaks 7 languages. He's not as funny, but he's a very good teacher.
Elder Goates left this morning, just so you know. Don't really have anything to add.
The kids haven't emailed me yet, which leads me to believe that they all hate me.
We've had really cool skies at the MTC, basically every day since I got here. It hasn't been really sunny recently, lots of clouds and cool sunsets. Every time we go to the exercise field I see awesome skies of red and orange clouds, without fail. Our district plays Beach Volleyball every gym time we get, and we're actually improving a bit. I'm not very good at it still, but it's very fun. We play against the other Cantonese district, who we are pretty close with.
I liked the Bear Grylls thing. "At night, the temperature can drop to a frigid 63 degrees Fahrenheit, so I don't really need shelter. Lava flows here can roast a man in his skin, but to be honest I have no chance of being hit by one. The lack of deadly animals or environmental pressure can lull you into a false sense of security, so I always take time each night to look at a picture of my family and remind myself why I actually need to leave. If I can find one of the resorts or hotels scattered across the island, I just might be able to find a way out of this hellish island paradise."
I'll try to send pictures next week, but you know me. I don't like taking pictures and I don't really care for sending them back. I haven't really needed anything yet. Every week when people leave a pile of stuff, food, candy, shirts, medical stuff, lint rollers, pants, detergent, baking soda, ramen noodles, etc, gets left on the ironing board outside our room. I feel like I'll be leaving a lot of stuff here. Speaking of ironing boards, I haven't even had to iron a shirt yet. The wrinkle free ones are working too well. Also, my companion,s a little OCD and fairly independent. I have been thinking of how I could serve him, but beyond bugging him by SYLing to him all the time (his Cantonese is mediocre) I don't know how. Still, we're doing better. We had a couple good lessons recently. Oh, we've had two apostles come speak to us already. Elder Scott and Elder Anderson.
Miss you, not too homesick but I do wish I could relax sometimes. I finished Jesus the Christ, so I don't have as much to read for relaxation anymore. See you in 2 years.
I had to go switch laundry into dryers. I was actually kind of nervous about the laundry when I came here. The first P-Day I wasn't sure exactly how to do any of it, and none of the guys in my district knew, so I had a bad feeling we'd look like idiots in front of everyone in the laundry room. It is a pretty weird place. It's really hot in the day (which is one reason why it's nice to do it now), it gets really busy, and it's chaotic. That first day, none of the other guys wanted to put the liquid soap on the clothes, because they weren't sure if it would ruin them. I ended up having to do it for them, even though I didn't know for sure. I figured, it's just soap, worst case scenario our clothes get soapy. Also every washer has a little sticker reminding the Elders to put the soap on top of the clothes, which I find kind of pathetic and funny.
We found out this Sunday that our district will be moved to the West Campus at Rain Tree for the last week or two. I'm not sure exactly when, but I'll tell you when I know. So you'll get the scoop on how both parts of the MTC are.

Matthew sent me a Dear Elder 2 weeks ago, and I forgot to respond, so could you send this to him?
I think that you actually don't need to prepare at all. That's what I've learned from the MTC. Don't prepare at all, because they'll do it for you. Stop reading your scriptures, and maybe skip church once or twice, so that you'll have a more dramatic transition and will gain a good story once you're here.
Actually, the main thing you can do to prepare is just read Book of Mormon, go to the Temple, etc. Nothing unusual. Honestly, I don't think I could have prepared for the language or the teaching skills, so don't worry too much about it. It really does take an actual teacher to help you learn it.
Sorry, had to leave again. Continuing.
Reading PMG Preach My Gospel) is helpful, but not really the chapters about planning and scheduling. They're good, but I remember reading them before leaving and getting nothing out of them. They focus a lot on the needs of the investigator, how can the gospel help them. Read Chapter 3 repeatedly and think about that. If you had to identify the most basic reason why they need the gospel and how it could help them, what would it be. Do that for every lesson. If the answer seems obvious, it probably is, and your teacher will just ask you why or how, so get more basic. Also practice thinking of things in the most basic sense. Only what will help them, how to say something meaningful in the shortest time possible. Don't stress about it, though.

August 26, 2013


Pretty good week. We had our first TRC, which is something they do every Saturday here. You and your companion teach a lesson to members who are not acting. It was kind of tough, because we didn't know what to say. We can barely talk about basic doctrine, so trying to help edify people who already know the basics is tough. Hawaii sounds pretty cool. Sacrament meetings here include talks from random Elders and Sisters, and this week an Elder from American Samoa spoke, and he did the whole aloha thing. It is pretty fun.

It's almost been three weeks. I feel like it's gone by really fast, and also taken for ever. 6 weeks left to go feels really long, especially because today at least a third of our zone is going to the Phillipeans, Sibwano speaking. Our hall is going to be empty tonight. Elder Wong, and two of his friends Elders Ly and Chueng, who all were in an advanced class but had to move into our district because of a weird scheduling thing, have been with the Cantonese districts since Friday or Saturday. Wong and Ly left for Hong Kong early this morning, and Chueng is leaving to Oakland California Tuesday night. They've been really fun, but Chueng, who's sleeping in our room, keeps rubbing in how he's leaving before us. I really do wish I could get out and work. I like the MTC, though. I feel that I'm a bit backwards from most of the guys here. I like the classes and devotionals, and gym is fun (we do beach volleyball everyday), but I feel like my district isn't as intense about learning stuff as they could be, and I don't get along great with my companion. He's a great guy, but we're not very similar. It makes things tough sometimes. But overall, it has been very good.

I sent a pretty long letter to the kids, so make sure you collaborate with them. Honestly, not a ton has gone on different from last week, so I don't have much else to say. I keep hearing from everyone who's been to Hong Kong that the food there is amazing. I like the MTC food, but we've already repeated one or two meals.

I'm still slowly getting over my cold. There's not a lot of time to sleep in the MTC, so recovery takes a while. It's been really stormy up here these last few days, couple of rain storms, and a lot of really beautiful skies. Wish you could see it, but I never have my camera with me. Just so you know, I will try to send my pictures back sometime, but as I said, it's fairly inconvenient. Did you have cards to swipe to get into buildings when you guys were here? We have to bring them everywhere, to get into the classroom building or the residence, to eat meals, and buy stuff at the book store.

I don't miss you too much. I wish some things were easier sometimes, (though the language is going very well. The grammar is so much easier than German that it's been really easy. Just the vocab is hard, and since we can't read the characters at all, we have to laboriously pre-mark any scriptures we share during lessons. Literally, we have to find the beginning of the Book of Mormon, which is in the back, then count forward book by book, judging by when the chapter count resets or by landmarks like chapter 60 of Alma, then find the verse. Luckily the verses have roman numbers, though I don't know why.) But I haven't really wanted to quit at all. I really am looking forward to getting into the field, though.

Enjoy the volcanoes. Have you seen the new temple movie? It has a clip from the Hawaiian volcano in it, so I'll pretend I'm with you there next P Day on temple trip.

Love your son or be cursed,

Elder Morrell


The thought of high-probability tree combustion intrigues me. Is there any way to make a map in which survival for long periods of time is almost impossible? Random exploding sand, exploding trees, exploding cows and pigs, etc. Or is it possible to make the zombies actually deadly? Maybe apply the door breaking mechanic to every block... Remember when you persecute the girls on Minecraft to do it subtly, like it's a form of art. Wanton destruction is only fun in the right context. Go psychological, think like the Joker. Or Bane.


Next email tell me exactly how much hair you lost. I hope you got a bob. I do remember Mrs. Alexander a little, but she wasn't my teacher so I don't know too much about her. School is fun, if you hate it it's your fault and you should go sit in the closet under the stairs for a while. Some advice (and this is for Rebecca too) about the Minecraft server. Do not hold back against David. Attack him with all your strength, steal his diamonds, kill his horses, and burn his fortresses to the ground. No subtlety, just wanton destruction.


I understand what you mean about off days, though at the MTC you always have stuff to do, so there's not a lot of time to waste. My eyesight is so bad that it's not hard to tell if I have contacts in or not, though I have fallen asleep with them before. I don't recommend that, your eyes get all sticky and irritated, and it can take a while to wear off. I feel like you are fragile, because out of all the kids you're the only one who has, multiple times, almost passed out or passed out. Eat more red meat. Ask Joseph to explain that order. Maybe if something happens and you tell me about it, I'll talk to you more. Miss you.


I can see that you love me the most, because your letter was longest. You may take any of my stuff that David has away from him. One of the things that has been tough about the MTC is that the only websites we can go on are,, and this mail program. It bugs me to not be able to look anything up, like the history of Cantonese, or science things, etc. Tell Frau Adams Hallo from me. Regrettably, the more Cantonese I learn, the more German I forget.

Miss you all. Hope you wear sackcloth and ashes for me. Enjoy school.