Hello family! This week was a bit slow in the missionary work department because of Chinese New Year’s, but it was still pretty good. I can explain some of the traditions for New Year’s here.
As you already saw, there is a lot of red. Red is lucky, so there are red things everywhere. All the stores have tons of decorations hanging. Everything has a sort of Chinese Empire feel, if that makes sense. Many people, especially the old and the young, will dress up for Chinese New Year’s. There are these super cool or super silly looking Chinese silk vest things that are either super awesome or ridiculous. Usually the very young, old, feeble, and otherwise undefended are given the vest. The babies are super cute. Old people will also bust out moth balled suits and weird homemade clothes which have the appearance of being made of curtains. Fun is had all around.
They have a sort of Chinese equivalent of the Christmas tree, which is called the "Gat jai, or Gam Jai", which is basically a little bush with tiny fruits resembling sour clementines all over it. Everyone has them. Every business puts them up. Literally every one. The people will also buy tons of flowers, and reminiscent of our Christmas tree lots, they have beautiful flower and gat jai markets that get set up in soccer courts, and also include tons of random high school students or other people setting up booths and selling knick knacks.
Before New Year’s, the people will have a deep clean. We have ours on the first day of New Year because there's no real use in trying to proselyte that day. The deep clean was one of the funnest things that I've done in a while. At the very beginning, Elder Walter entered the bathroom to wage war with the mold, and didn't emerge for almost 4 hours. I went at the kitchen, which included cleaning all the cabinets, the stove, the vents above the stove hold (which took gallons of boiling water before the grease finally seeped out) and the ominous darkness under the sink. We got McDonalds for lunch and Pizza for dinner. We didn't finish until 10:55 (for all you other missionaries our mission's time is 30 minutes later, don't freak out), and honestly there's still more that could be done. Despite that, it is impressively clean. It really is true, cleanliness is close to Godliness. You feel the spirit more in a clean apartment.
The main celebration of Chinese New Year’s is getting together with family. People will go and eat with their extended family on both sides. The holiday is actually really righteous, basically family and new beginnings. I said happy New Year at least 1000 times these last couple days, but our street finding was still slow. Still, it was a cool week, and I have nowhere I'd rather be for Chinese New Year than in NTK.
I had a pretty busy church week as well. Spent 30 hours wandering around on the streets talking to people about church. I don't know why but I never feel that busy, even though we are the least available people, in some ways. If you remember, can you send me Eva's full Chinese name? I think that there'll be people who know her, but there are hundreds of Sister Chans.
We visited some family who had a very nice looking house, sort of western on the inside. But even the super expensive houses here are way smaller than ours; usually you could fit the whole thing into you and Dad's bedroom and bathroom. Utah houses are what the Chinese would call yauh leng yauh pehng, is both pretty and cheap.
I can really appreciate now how important what you're doing is, and I can promise you the missionaries in our stake love you. I do too, but I still wish I had more time.
Maybe all the job thing needs is a wall of unyielding faith. I was just talking today with one of the senior missionaries at Wan Chai about how she really wanted to learn Cantonese, and felt that she really had the gift of tongues, but was being required to sacrifice that dream because there were other more important things that the Lord wanted her to do. We also discussed your job, and I literally said that same President Klein quote to her.
I never really know what to say back to you because you just talk about everyone else all the time. I've been junior companion for all but one move so far in my mission, but honestly I don't mind. The only thing that bothers me is that I really want to get a companionship excelling, as in really exercising massive faith, really totally obedient, totally hard working, working smart, etc, but it's not the calling of a junior companion to cause that to happen. I still try to put out that influence, but I've really learned that I have a bad tendency to control things, and I've learned to be led more than lead. But I want to get out and really push into that level of performance, especially since time is short.
You know you want to live with Elder Bennett and me. We'd have the most epic game days.
I like the mayor now. She sees through you. But English Sterling Scholar is essentially charm, right? I mean, what else are they really going to judge on besides the charm of your writing or speaking?
That's good advice. I'm still running at least a mile a morning, though it's not as long as I'd like. Elder Tse, who is a super intense football player, has also commented that my running form is not the fastest. Last time I tried sprints, I hurt myself, though.
Did you ever finish the map of our house? That's the thing that I'd be most excited to mess around on. The actual game is comprised of controlling one unit and coordinating a team of 4 or 5 in a small map, where the individual people's position and accuracy are the largest determining factors. While the rounds may carry over, the game is totally driven off of tactics and individual combat, not strategy. Admitted, there may be an aspect of the game that involves tactics, but that'd be like calling Spore a strategy game, or Civ 5 a tactics game because your unit placement matters in a small scale. Admit it, you lose.
Lifeguarding must run in the family. Not sure why, I recall mom's journals not exactly enjoying swimming. Full AP is probably the smartest choice.
Sounds like dance has become a much bigger part of your life than it was when I left. When I left you were still the mouse in the Nutcracker. Now you're. SOMETHING ELSE...
Improvisation is an essential skill for the future president of the United States. You've heard about the debates, right? You have to be able to come up with stuff on the spot and sound like you know what you're saying, like Joseph in the English thing. Perhaps by the time you're running for president there will be a talent section in the campaign and they'll require people to perform, Napoleon Dynamite style.
The thing that I'm the most proud of is the Young Women part, however. We have an investigator right now who is 14, and the main thing helping her progress is that she's got some awesome friends and examples in Young Womens. Make sure you're ready to do that too.
I know what I geo cache is, just ask Dad. I've gone out finding with him before. You should look it up and find which one it is. Dad's got some GPS thing, you can put the geocache back where it says it goes. Did it get burned at all in the fire 2 years ago? That's a pretty big fort. I'll tell you what you should do. Buy a pool table and put it in, then play pool. That'd be pretty cool.
You'd love the vests here. And there was a ton of random jade stuff being sold under our apartment yesterday. I think that it's a tradition; all the streets just turn into markets. There were some really cool things there.
Love you all, Happy New Year!