Monday, August 25, 2014

WEEK SEVEN: I am the Lone Survivor

Hooray for health!
at the Temple
One of the few pictures I have from this week explanation for my subject line....every single sister in my zone has had some kind of sickness this week, from stomachaches to headaches to earaches to nausea to fever and sinus infections and even high white-blood cell count. EVERYONE.  And I am THE LONE SURVIVOR!!!!!!!!!!!!! My companion has slept a minimum of 17 hours every day and we've been to 4 doctors visits this week, and I had to go on splits with every sister companionship, and at one point was assigned to two elders because all of the sisters were ill!

Pretty proud of my body for staying healthy right now. Every sister has had it, all of my roommates currently are sick, and half of the elders have it. Now if only my body could stop putting on weight...

Well we got NEW MISSIONARIES THIS WEEK!! Xin de chuanjiaoshi! I knew Madison Giles and Isaac Wu from BYU. Sister Giles is in my zone and Elder Wu is in the other zone. The two new districts pretty much already know more Chinese than me but wo bu guan. It's whatever. 

Along with the new missionaries, my amazing friend Adrianna Bean came in this week!!!! Also, Holden Bergquist from my home ward! His mom took a picture of me while they were dropping him off! My friends Krista Ek and Cameron Reddish from BYU are also here right now too!! So many friends!

I wasn't supposed to this past week, but I hosted! I was sitting outside studying and there was about 10 of these sisters who didn’t have anyone to host them, so a lady asked if we could help and of course I said yes! I didn't have a companion so I couldn’t teach anyway and my teacher said it was ok!! So, that was so fun!! Except dropping off a sister on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator…

We got a sister from Singapore this week!! Sister Tan is amazing and speaks very good English...along with very good Chinese so she got fast-tracked and taken away from us. But i got to meet her and now she says Hi to me all the time!!

So, the rule is that you can't be alone with elders right? What about when none of the sisters in your zone are well enough to be in class and you have to be in a classroom with 6 elders and a male teacher? Well that's what I had to resort to this week because everyone was sleeping back at the residence or at doctor’s appointments. It was weird, lemme tell ya. Never thought it would be weird to be alone with boys.....the mission changes ya ;)

WE GOT OUR FLIGHT PLANS THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!....and then almost had a full on riot. We got our travel plans and everyone is so pumped. A few hours later, the supervisor comes in and said, "you're here for at least another week, your visas haven't come in" and then everyone and everything WENT NUTS!!!!!! There were elders punching walls and screams of "we NEED to fast tomorrow!" and everyone just running around screaming. So the best and the VERY WORST news you can get at the MTC all in a few hours. Well....a few hours after that, the same supervisor comes back in and says that our visas are here and everything is ok. SHENME DONGXI!? It was like a cruel joke, but it wasn’t a joke because my emotions were toyed with and everything turned into a black abyss, ha ha. But it's ok now. I think. 

Accomplishment of the week: I finished a WHOLE JOURNAL! Never in my life have I been so consistent in writing in a journal and it is basically the coolest thing I've ever done to take up an entire journal. I know, I'm cool. 

We did TRC Skype this week!!!!!! so we talk with a member IN TAIWAN for 40 mins! W were teaching a really nice young man who was patient with us. BUT Sister Sorenson and I taught together, and since we're not companions (ours were sick) it was a little rocky. It still was good though! We get to do it again tonight!!!

Well I have some awful news. I plugged my camera into these old computers so I could send pictures and ALL OF MY PICTURES FROM THE LAST MONTH DISAPPEARED (except the four that are in this post). So I have no pictures from this past week at all. And I'm very sad. If you want to pray for my poor little camera to remember its contents, that would be appreciated. I am grieving for the lost life of my pictures. 

More aweful news: two elders in Taipei died this last week, so please keep their families in your prayers.

On a lighter note, we had an awesome devotional by the General Young Women First Counselor and it really inspired me to make some goals. This week's include expecting miracles and developing charity. I read a scripture after praying about what I need to focus on, and I read 1 Corinthians 13:2. Even if I have all the faith in the world, it doesn't matter if I don't have charity. So I'm working on that. Loving everyone and everything...except this idiotic computer that ate my pictures. 

I want to challenge all of you this week to be extra kind. Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while. Smile at someone who looks like they need it. I could have used that a lot this week as I sacrificed my study time for my sick companion. I used this week as a week of service and not a week of learning and I know that it will improve me if I let it. I also challenge you all to SEND ME DEAR ELDER LETTERS!!!! My address is the same for another 12 days, but then it will be:

Sister McKenna Wright
Taiwan Taipei Mission
4/F, #24, Lane 183
Jin Hua Street 
Taipei 106 

So I love you all - and yep that's it. I'm praying for all of you and think you're awesome!!

Wo ai nimen, 
Ren Jiemei

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


So on my way to the computer lab to write my weekly email, I had a revelation that made me scream.....and yes, I made it my subject line. The Cantonese sisters left this morning so we ARE THE OLDEST MISSIONARIES HERE!!!!!! Shenme dongxi! Wo bu keyi. (What the heck! I can't.)

Ok so funny things for the week:

-I went to the temple on Monday and I'm about to put my clothes in a bin and a little old lady sticks out her arm and yells DON'T DO THAT! It scared the heck out of me and I look at her and she's LAUGHING. She says "sorry I just wanted to make sure you were on your toes.'......a little old lady in the TEMPLE and she plays a trick on me?? Haha, well it was pretty funny. 

-We played Simon Says in class this week! It's actually called Laoshi Shuo, but basically that game. By the time it was my turn, everyone had one hand on their face and the other hand on their companions head, switched shoes with someone else, and switched watches. I wish i would have gotten a picture of it!!!

-You know the game "What are the odds?" Well, we played it and this Elder ended up having to write our Branch President with the letter that Nacho Libre sends to Encarnacion!!!!!! If you don't know what that means 1. you're not as cool as I thought you were and 2. LOOK IT UP. Just kidding I still love you. But still look it up to understand how funny it is that he had to send that to our higher authority.

-For the Singapore elders' last breakfast, we all blew up the brown paper bags and popped them at the same time. If you've never popped’s very, very loud. It was a very nice send off though:)

-I'm awkward, as everyone knows. Some things for me were a little more awkward than usual. We were talking about something at lunch and it had to do with short people so I reached over to high-five Sister Akita. I moved my hand away because it looked like she wasn't going for it...then she reaches towards me for a fist bump so I fist bump her of course. Turns out she was reaching for the napkin tray right next to I fist bumped a person not going for a fist bump. She laughed about it for the rest of the day. Wo meiyou social skills. (I don’t have social skills.)

-So apparently our Elders' room is haunted by a ghost named Bevans. He steals sheets off of beds and takes retainers out of people's mouths and writes on people's study materials. It seems pretty sketchy to me, but all the Elders believe in it. So watch out for Bevans.

-I matched with an old lady yesterday. One of the ushers for a meeting was wearing a blue dress, mint necklace, and the same kind of blazer. Everyone laughed and said that was me in 50 years.

-Last one. Another awkward moment in my life. So we're walking up the stairs to our residence and there's this red stuff on the steps going all the way up. We were like "ew what kind of gross person leaves their blood on the stairs?? At least clean it up" etc etc....well we get back to the room and I take off my shoes. There's a red berry squished into my shoe and the "gross person" was me!!!!!!!!

I must have tracked it up the stairs earlier and then we noticed it on our way back...everyone laughed, I laughed, it was great. I'm constantly the source of laughter so whatevs. Wo bu guan. (I don't care:) )

Shout out to Sister Sierra Brooks for entering the MTC this past week!! And Elder Isaac Wu for entering this coming Wednesday! Oh and Happy Birthday to Tanner McAllister!!! And of course anyone else because I love you. 

I saw Sister AnnaSue Larsen and Elder McKay Demars in the MTC this week!! Oh and Elder Evan Coutu left to Poland this morning...ugh I'm so sad!!! But of course excited for him. Good luck Elder!!!

CRAZY happening this week:

Well the Elders from the older districts were supposed to leave Tuesday right?? The Taichung and English elders left in the morning and the Singapore elders left in the afternoon. Well it's lunch time and the Singapore elders are supposed to leave in 30 minutes. We walk out to say goodbye to them and the TAICHUNG ELDERS are there!!! Their flight got delayed til the next day!!! So they checked in, some checked their luggage (and therefore couldn’t get it back to the MTC), called their families, said all their goodbyes, and then CAME BACK. It was pretty nuts. All at the same time that the Singapore elders were ACTUALLY leaving. Craziness. But they're gone now, so it all worked out...

And we are the oldest AND we have 22 new missionaries coming in this week!!!! We are SO old. Next week is our in-field orientation and then the next week we LEAVE!! 18 more days - woot WOOT!! Yes, I am ready to get to Taiwan if you couldn't tell. 

Great things:

I memorized 57 words in like 45 minutes this week!!! So if I keep that up, imagine how many I could learn in 3 hours of study time!!! Woohoo!

We played Grammar Jeopardy and we got a Daily Double! It actually is super duper helpful because we only have so much time to construct a sentence, not 5 minutes like it normally takes me!! 

Speaking of speaking.....I GAVE A TALK ON SUNDAY. Definitely the scariest thing I did all week. So if I didn't already write about how talking in the MTC words...everyone writes a talk on the same topic and then they ask two missionaries RIGHT THEN to come up and speak. Normally we have an hour between Priesthood meeting and sacrament, so I figured I would write it during the break and it would be awesome. But instead, during that hour, we had a sisters' meeting, so I only had about 15 mins to write a talk that was barely a page long. OF COURSE that's the Sunday I get called to speak!!!!! I was sitting in my chair and I got the overwhelming feeling that I needed to prepare myself to speak....that's the Holy Ghost for ya. I really tried to push it away (that's terrible, don't do that) but then President Teng called my name and my feet moved while my brain stayed in my chair. It seemed like a spoke for 20 seconds, but everyone told me that my talk was awesome. So that was cool. 

I got my Language Study Assessment scores back and I actually did pretty well. Considering that I thought it was awful and that I could do a lot better...that was really confidence boosting. I'm above average of where I would be expected  to be for the MTC so YAY I'M NOT HOPELESS!!!

I realized that I need to trust in the Lord more. Everything, my study time and devotionals and lessons, have all somehow centered around that. Wo de tongban said something I really like....if our trust is something we're holding in our hand, we can't reach out to the Savior. But if we hand our trust to Him and give it over, it leaves our hand outstretched and empty, ready to grab His other hand. I really like that. And it's what I need to do in order to fulfill what He would have me do. Because what I'm really doing is bringing back the souls that already knew this truth. Everyone who came to Earth knew the truth at one point and all I'm doing is reminding them. And I love that. 

Our district has this really hard investigator who grew up in the church and has a testimony, but has decided to drink and party. Her boyfriend is a member and he proposed but will only marry her if she serves a mission. So she wants to be better for her boyfriend, not for herself. Well....we did role play in class and I was chosen to BE this investigator. My fellow missionaries had to teach me, as her, and it was so cool. It was cool because I got into the role and really got to understand how she might feel...misunderstood and unworthy of God's love. I got to feel what would help to teach her and what I would want to hear if I were actually her. It was awesome. Role play is a sacred time. 

OK ATTENTION EVERYONE! Go look up Come Unto Christ Youth 2014 Theme RIGHT NOW because I've watched it everyday for the past two weeks and I just love it so so so so so much and it's my favorite thing right now. The video, the music, the words, just everything. Do it. You won't regret it. 

Maybe look up Jenny Oaks Baker too. She spoke/played in a devotional last night and it was SWEEEEET! Speaking of devotional...apparently we have a REALLY BIG ONE on Tuesday...hopefully an apostle!!!

So, somedays I feel really sad because I don't get any mail. I challenge you all to use and SEND ME LETTERS??! Or handwritten letters are even better but dear elder is so easy and it would make me eternally grateful!!

The one bad thing that happened this week is that I got a stomach ache and had to stay in bed for a few extra hours. I didn't think I would be sad about it, except I was!! Weird huh? But yah SO many sisters are getting sick but I feel pretty good right now! This MTC food is KILLING my insides....I can't wait for healthy fresh food!!!!!

Well this has been a great week, full of ups and downs and insights on how to improve myself. Love it. Love you. Love this gospel. 

-Ren Jiemei 

Our District!
Cute Sisters!
Same Skirts!
Ping Zhanglao...learning by osmosis
Ke Zhanglao - he has the same birthday as I do!
Our Zone Sisters

Monday, August 11, 2014

WEEK FIVE: mike mike mike guess what day it is!

If you don't understand my subject line, I invite you to Google Hump Day. Because it's hilarious. 

And it is prevalent to my week because Tuesday marked one month till we leave, Thursday was our half way day, aka, HUMP DAYYYYY and Saturday marked one month AT the MTC. So yah, lots of events!!!

 Before I go into detail about my hump day celebration, I'll just say a few cool things that happened. Well my teacher Ge Jiemei got engaged WOOHOOO!!! She's so awesome. 
I also heard an awesome joke:
I love rain a lot!
Wet tag

Who was the first prophet to go through the MTC? MOSES.
(Get it?? Empty Sea!!)

It rained this week. I love rain a lot. Oh, and I have been meeting my goal of memorizing 50 Chinese words a day!! It's the hardest thing ever but it will help so much!

New callings were assigned yesterday. I got released from Music Coordinator. The Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and Sacrament Coordinators are ALL from my district. District A REPRESENT!!!!

Some not cool things that happened:
Sorella Decker left me to go to Italy on Tuesday. Who does she think she is? A missionary or something? Also, we blew a fuse in our room on Tuesday and STILL haven't fixed it!!!! So yah blow-drying my hair in the hall is SUPER fun let me tell you.

My BYU Roommate, Nicole! 

Best Friends!

Something hard this week:
We pinky-promised our TEACHER that we would not speak English for the rest of the day. Well we promised that we wouldn't for the rest of the time, but that's literally impossible so now we just SYL as much as possible. (Speak Your Language) So none of us for the rest of that day spoke a word of English! Our teacher gave us whiteboards and told us to write on it if we didn't know the Chinese word. It was INSANE but awesome. So that is gonna be one of my goals, to SYL it up!

Ok so highlights of my week:

     Hosting. 2nd time hosting was a blast!!! I got 6 sisters all sweethearts and so excited! I didn't get any super teary crying families so that wasn't awkward. I was in a few pictures though! Someone's suitcase ripped my skirt so that wasn't a highlight, and neither was the heat, but the rest of it was so fun!! We aren't hosting this next week, which I HOPE means that we host the 20th which is when new Mandarins come in!!! Everyone at the MTC knows that Mandarins are taking over sooooo yah. Shout out to Isaac Wu who comes in on the 20th! 

      Oh and I got to host a sister who was going to Canada and I took her to her room and her roommate was Claire Gammon from BYU 49th ward! So that was cool. 

     HUMP DAY!!! So my parents are pretty much DA BEST and sent me a Halfway Day package with Martinelli's in it!!!! Some other sisters had food and someone got brownies so we just had the most fun time ever collecting all of our terribly unhealthy junk food and pigging out!!!! But yah, we partied pretty hard considering we are in the MTC. J

Devotional last night. It was incredible! At first I was disappointed because it was the same speaker we had had before. He came in saying he really didn't know how he was gonna talk to us. But he had all those who were converts over the age of 17 when converted stand up and called two people down.  Sister Wettington going to Netherlands and Elder Allred going to Mexico. Their stories were amazing about how they came to know God and didn't know Him before they encountered the church. The speaker showed us how there are people that we need to touch and who are prepared to come in contact with us. But we need to be worthy of that guidance. Then we watched a video called "The True Story of Todd Sylvester." watch it. It is amazing.

Happy Birthday if it's anyone's birthday this week. 

15 missionaries are leaving tomorrow. THEN WE WILL BE THE OLDEST DISTRICT WHAT. No, I'm not freaking out. 

Shout out to Sierra Brooks...who is ALMOST A MISSIONARY. Wish I coulda been at your farewell babe.  

Go look up on Youtube "Go the Distance (with LDS quotes)". I cried.
Watch the video "Come Unto Christ." The video is amazing and the song is beautiful. We're going to sing it in church the week before we leave. It's amazing. 

Some of my goals for this week include recognizing where all of my blessings come from...God. And also recognizing the smallest blessings. I am also working on being humble because when I am humble, it's easier for me to be taught and soak up the language like I need to. 

Well, I feel like I coulda shared a lot more today but my thoughts are so chaotic. Even so, I hope that you like this email and get something out of it.

I love you all very, very much!!
 -Ren Jiemei 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WEEK FOUR: well we're the oldest sisters now....

This week has been more than amazing!!! a very hard week to be sure, but very awesome. OH AND THURSDAY IS MY MTC HALF-WAY MARK!!!

Why was it a good week, you ask? Well I got two packages from my family and a box of 8 CUPCAKES from my lovely friend McKay Blazian. Shout out to you my friend!! Pretty much made my week and that's a fact. I also got letters from my parents and my best friend Sierra Brooks! shout out to you too babe!!

Well we had 19 missionaries leave this week...meaning we are the oldest sisters!! which means...we are the example and are supposed to know everything. YIKES!

My Chinese Name
MTC Hogwarts Tshirt my mom made for me

Many funny stories this week too...I was talking to my friend about disco skating in Orem, which a lot of my friends did. I told him I knew someone who went who was my friend from BYU and son of a bishop for a YSA ward. 

About 5 minutes later, he turns to me and says "What did he do to you? 
I'm confused about the son of perdition comment."......He thought i said "son of perdition" not "son of a bishop"!!!!

I also had a stereotypical McKenna-moment this week. Some of the elders in my district were laughing hysterically so I looked over at them. One elder goes "Turn on the disco light and BAM!" and makes a motion that, to me, looked like ripping off a pair of those cool tear-away pants that I definitely own a pair of. So I say "are you talking about ripping off your pants??" thinking it would be cool and what not....the room goes silent and everyone turns and stares at me. I came to the conclusion that that was definitely NOT what they were talking yah.

One last funny my companion took sign language in high school instead of spanish or french or whatever. The sign language for "question" is like using your pointer finger and bending it like a hook. So whenever we would have a question in a lesson, she would do that. Chinese that means DEATH. So she was preaching the gospel while telling our investigators about death. Yah that and the fact that her name is Mo Jiemei....Mo with a fourth tone is her name. Mo with a second tone means devil. So she introduced herself and Devil Sister and talked about death...that was GREAT!

Well, these stories might not be funny to you, but when you're in the same classroom with the same 9 people for 14 hours or something like that everyday, any change of pace is good. Seriously.

It was also awesome because we got to HOST the new missionaries!!! So we get to rip them away from their families and take them on a new adventure of foreign roommates and 25 pounds of language materials. But it was awesome! I hosted a Sister Reyes, Sister Vea, Sister Eddington and Sister Hannah Ferris from by BYU YSA ward!!!  Connor Kreutz also came in the week, going to Germany! Sister Reyes is going to Japan, Vea is going to Australia, Eddington is somewhere in the states and Sister Ferris is going to Frankfurt Germany! So it was awesome to get them all moved in because I know it makes a huge difference on who moves you in and it helps to have a smiling face. No one cried was pretty nice! I get to host next week too!!! And possibly the week after that, but I hope I get to host August 20th to see some friends come in, including Isaac Wu! I'm giving lots of shout-outs today...

 The Tuesday devotional speaker last week was none other that Elder John Groberg from The Other Side of Heaven!!!! AH that movie was so prevalent in my childhood and I got to see him speak!! it was awesome! We sang Hurrah for Israel!! We should have another cool speaker this week, but I don't know who it is this time since we didn't have choir practice on Sunday because it was fast Sunday. Which was awesome by the way....testimonies in Chinese are still spiritually inspiring!!!

Well Sister Nicole Decker is leaving this week...that's awful. But awesome because she's going to ROME ITALY!!! So I'm really happy for her but also like...I happened to room next to my best friend in the MTC and now she's leaving!! UGH! But it's ok...I have more than enough chocolate and snack foods so I can eat away my sadness.

ATTENTION: my departure date was moved to Sep. 05, so you can put that date on my letters instead!! :) 

 A really cool experience this week: I've been really frustrated with the fact that I haven't been getting any cool spiritual promptings with the language yet and everyone has been sharing all the times that they have. But this week, we had TRC again. Last week was awful, but this week was AWESOME! You wanna know why? Not just because we taught Jordan Chapman who plays for BYU basketball, but because: 1. I understood what everyone was saying. Not like every word though, and that was the cool part. I would sit there and listen to their words and pick out what I know, then a summary of what they said would come into my head. It was so awesome. 2. I was able to read Chinese. We are given copies of the Book of Mormon with English, Pinyin, and characters. Because pinyin is an adaptation of chinese, the pronunciations are really weird and the tones make it 12 times harder. But as I was reading, I heard myself saying the words perfectly and really fast. I kinda had to sit there after I read it and say WOW that was cool. 

Something I've been working on this week is acknowledging God's hand in my life. In every little thing. I had a talk with wo de tongban (my companion) this week and expressed my frustrations about feeling like I was alone in learning the language. She reminded me that every thing that makes me happy everyday is from God. When they are serving the soup I like in the cafeteria, when it rains, when I see my friends on campus out of the thousands of missionaries at the MTC,all of these things that make me happy are from God. I know that I am far from perfect and I have made a lot of mistakes here at the MTC. But the more I give thanks for what I am getting, the more blessings I get, and I know that is possible for all of us!!

The choir director, Brother Egget, always tells us the coolest stories every week. One week, he did the math and told us what the chances are that we were chosen to be a member of the Church on this earth...1 in 100,000. To be a "hastening the work" missionary, the chances are 1 in 1,000,000. So that in and of itself tells me that I am here for a reason. I may not know who needs me in Taiwan or what effect I will have, but I do know that God knows who I am and will be with me every step of this journey. Gosh, I love this church and this mission. It's pretty cool. Every day I wake up and have to convince myself I really am living the dream of being a missionary that I've had ever since I can remember. Thank you all for shaping my life in some way. You are important to me and you are important to God. I know it! 

Wo zhidao gen suoyou wo de zin zhege jiaohui shi zhenshi de. (I know this Church is true with all my heart. It doesn't look the same without tone marks sorry!)

Suoyou wo de ai,

Ren Jiemei