Monday, July 30, 2012

Life in the MTC

Ni men hao!

Okay, so I figured that many of you are probably wondering what goes on in the MTC. All you future Elders and Sisters, this one's for you. Listen closely!

I want to explain the language education, but it's hard to describe. The motto here is "SYL", or, "Speak Your Language". This means that we have to say as many words as we can in our new mission language in our everyday talk. So pretty much it's common to hear what we call Chinglesh in the classroom: "Jin Zai wo need to go use the ci cuo." We devote 7 hours a day to learning the language. 4 of those hours are class time, 2 hours are independent and companion study, and 1 hour is for teaching lessons to investigators. The Lord's designated way of teaching is for us to teach ourselves. Currently we have two investigators that we are working with. One is Sister J. and her case is interesting because she is Buddhist and has no concept of a single all powerful God, and her family would disown her if she accepted the LDS gospel. The other one is Brother C. who has no religious affiliation, and has no familiarity with any Christian religions either. It's really difficult trying to figure out their concerns and address them when you are speaking in a language that you've only really learned in two or three weeks. But we are getting better. I can hold a pretty good conversation, I just have to take advantage of sign language and a lot of "I don't understand" phrases. It truly is a humbling, yet edifying, experience.

On Sundays and Tuesdays we have devotionals, where Church leaders and other folk come and give spectacular lessons to all the missionaries at the MTC. I've made it a point to bring an extra-large notebook to these meetings, because they are almost always so rich in doctrine and inspiring messages that I fill a couple pages completely up. Also, we have the chance to audition for special musical numbers in devotionals, and I've been extremely humbled by the immense talent that is present here at the MTC. The piano and violin players here are phenomenal. Oh, if you play an instrument, even though you are not allowed to bring them on your mission, there is flutes, violins, and cellos here that you can use.

Gym is pretty cool. Four-square is the game of choice. And I'm not joking. Jeff, I want to see you beat the MTC mile record here. I'll try to look it up for you and post it next week.

Living areas are cool, but sometimes crazy. We have one Elder here that is just insane, and will be yelling stuff that's just obnoxious. Apparently a lot of people have been complaining about him. I wanted to, but I bit my tongue because I seriously felt that love would not be in the criticism. But other than that, it's really just a bunch of people all excited to carry out the work. Usually they will dorm 4 people to a room, but they recently upped it to 6 since they want all the Chinese speakers in the same building.

The stress and pressure is playing on people's minds. In the first few days, I was having dreams of being attacked by bears and getting hit by cars. One elder had particularly unpleasant dreams; I truly have a testimony of the power of prayer, because as soon as I prayed for him to not have those nightmares anymore, he's said he's been sleeping peacefully.

I'm sorry I brought up the letter stuff last week. I realize that while time passes extremely slowly here, everything moves at a faster pace for everyone else. Despite my selfish attitude, I guess the Lord was really looking out for me, because I got a letter and a few packages from my aunt and uncle, and my family. Words can't express how grateful I am for them. I'm going to do better from now on in focusing on the work, and my purpose as a missionary.

That's all for this week. And I want to ask a question, and those that want to answer, just throw a response here. I just want to see what you think. Question: Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, an event the LDS church calls the Atonement. In your opinion, what is the Atonement? Or more specifically, what does it do for us, and why is it important? (Something that helped me was looking up what Atonement meant. Check out for definitions or a head start.) Any little thought would be awesome.

Pictures are forthcoming!


Elder Jorgensen

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David and his companion, Elder Christiansen

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Laundry in the MTC

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Class time

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David’s MTC District

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A typical meal at the MTC

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Elder Jorgensen in his dorm room

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A funny coincidence- David’s companion is Elder Christiansen.  They randomly encountered another companionship- Elder Christiansen and Elder Jorgen Davidson!  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

7/17/12 Singing, Spirit, and Specimens

Ni hao!

Another week has flown by, and this one was much more trying than the last. First of all, while the weeks pass by fast, the days seem to pass by slow. Very slow. What's becoming my big trial is trying to stay on task. I'll be doing language study and all the words start to mesh together and there's this sort of buzz deep in my ears and I start drifting off to Neverland... And then I remember I'm teaching a lesson in the afternoon and I get all panicked and hunker back down to work. Every morning we are all progressively feeling more tired. Thank goodness for Sunday and P-Day (Preperation Day), they are awesome days to take it easy and ease up on stress.

Sunday we had a big devotional where a world famous violinist named Jenny Oaks Baker and her family came and played. Hans, Leif, Freja, I really miss playing in our quartet. When her kids lined up with their instruments, all I could think about were our many wonderful performances together. Keep practicing! I can't wait to play with you when I get back.

So, wouldn't you know it, I've already been asked to play piano for church. I guess I should have seen that coming. But I am happy to serve. Since I've been here, my love for music and the spirit it brings has grown so much. Our district recently discovered its singing talent. When we sing after our classes, people will walk by and call us "the next Mo-Tab" (Mormon Tabernacle Choir). We are planning to sing a special musical number for a devotional or something, and I'm excited because we sound so good!

I'm afraid I must admit to a big fault of mine. Here in the MTC, all Elders basically judge their self-worth by the quantity of letters they receive. I kind of knew this in advance, and swore I would never fall for such a vain and foolish belief. However, I suddenly found myself buying into this horrible practice when letter after letter was delivered to my district and none were addressed to me, except for one, which was from my Mission president requesting my mission email, so that one doesn't really count. I was becoming so disheartened... I wasn't getting letters and I was angry at myself for caring. I wasn't angry or sad about not getting letters from my friends; I understood that they love me and supported me, and that was enough. So ultimately, I was just putting my cares in worldly things. My companion has really helped me feel better, helping me focus on the work. After all, that's why I'm here, right? Not to assert my self-worth on letters. This has just been a big window for me to my many imperfections, and how much I have to learn.

And mom and dad, thank you so much for your heartfelt messages. They mean a lot to me. I keep looking at my family portraits hanging above my desk and I am just floored at how lucky I've got it. Whenever I feel down, I just think of my family, and I have the strength to put my next foot orward, because all of this is worth it. As my teacher here said, "This may not be the best two years of your life, but this will be the best two years for your life."

Yesterday my companion and I taught a lesson to a new investigator, Sister Jiang. We came in with everything prepared, but she threw us a curveball and told us she only had a few minutes before she had to leave for work. So we had to shift to plan B: listen to the Spirit and talk. In our broken Chinese, we asked her what she expected from our meeting, and she replied that she was interested in leaning about Jesus Christ, that she had been Buudhist all her life, but wanted to check out other religions. But I guess I was too nervous, and I didn't really focus on the key point of her response. Instead of talking about how Christ is the center focus of the gospel, I started talking about the Book of Mormon and how it is the word of God. Good stuff, but not the right time. My poor companion was trying to shift the focus of the lesson towards Christ, but I just didn't get it. The worst bit was that Sister Jiang didn't seem all that receptive to the message at all. I walked out of that feeling really depressed, wishing I had paid attention to my companion, who I'm learning has so many good insights that I just need to try harder to listen to him. I try to listen for promptings of the Spirit, but I guess I don't realize that the Spirit could be prompting me through the words of my companion.

So, this week we had to do some last few tests for my Visa to Taiwan, and I'm sorry to say that the next paragraph might gross some people out. The first test was an X-ray. Totally cool, easy-peasy. However, after that we got a white bag. The nurse informed us that she needed a, um, stool sample, and that we were to collect the specimen and mix it in a preservative for them. It was the most awkward, gross thing I ever did in my life. Imagine walking into your living quarters and seeing a bunch of guys stirring their collected specimens in the hallway. Ugh. That's how I learned I could never be a doctor. How would I ever be able to ask someone for a stool sample while maintaining a straight face?

Love you all, I'll write again next week! Zai Jian!

[Editor’s note: This blog entry is extracted from David’s letter home. David doesn’t actually post to this blog. If you leave any comments, however, we will forward them on to Elder Jorgensen]

Saturday, July 14, 2012

7/14/2012: Arrival at the MTC

[Editor’s note: This blog entry is extracted from David’s letter home.  David doesn’t actually post to this blog.   If you leave any comments, however, we will forward them on to Elder Jorgensen]

It was a little hard waving goodbye to the family as I pushed through airport security. It was really touching to look back and see smiles and waves. Still, I was spurred on with the sense of adventure. That, and the anxiety that I was cutting it a little close to catching my flight.   After a few stairways and an underground train, I made it to the boarding-gate with two minutes to spare. Phew! When I sat down on the plane, I found there were four other missionaries on the flight, and they were all sitting fairly close together. I mostly talked with Elder Loren, who had the Salt Lake City, Utah mission, and he seemed like he was happy with his assignment. He's a really nice guy, and it's been fun seeing him around in the MTC.

Sister Chord, a friend of someone in my home Young Single Adult ward, was also on my flight, and she has a lighthearted, quirky personality which just makes everyone super happy. She loves Studio Ghibli films, YES! She's going to the same area as me (Taichung), and we are in the same MTC district*, so we study Chinese a lot together. She's very nervous about the language, but then again, we all are. 

My aunt picked me up from the airport, along with Craig and Lindsey (my cousins), and it was really wonderful to see them again. They gave me fantastic counsel and advice, which I plan to hearken to for the whole of my mission. I love you guys!

The first day at the MTC is seamless, yet confusing. Tons of stuff is thrown at you in the first few minutes, like your room, your schedule, mission rules, your companion, Zone**, Branch**, even our first three hour class of Mandarin Chinese. To those who plan to go on missions: Bring. A. Notebook. Take notes like your life depends on it. And definitely use your daily planner. AND FOLLOW THE RULES! Otherwise, you'll do something dumb like lock yourself out of your room, like we did, because we forgot about the rule of bringing our keys with us wherever we went. That was fun.

My companion is totally awesome! His name is Elder Christianson, he's from Provo, Utah, and he loves "Adventure Time". He thrives at the weight machines (man, I'm such a weakling!), and has an enormous appetite, both for food and the word of God. He has a real strong testimony, and I admire his valiance in serving the Lord. I'm so lucky to be his companion! I'll send some pictures of us back soon.

Language study has been insane. I took three years of Chinese in high school, and I believe all of it was covered on the first day. We have 7-8 hours every day to study the language, and we are constantly asked to apply what we've learned into certain activities. For instance, on the second day I said my first prayer in Chinese. On the third day, my companion and I taught an investigator of the church in Chinese. Sunday I prepared a sacrament meeting talk in Chinese. The amazing thing is, I'm remembering what I'm learning. I see people that have been around for about 6 weeks, and they are speaking fluently; that doesn't seem so impossible to me anymore. I know the only reason I am learning so quickly is because of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I can testify that it is only through the assistance of the Spirit that this miracle is possible. And it is truly a miracle.
I only get half an hour on the computer a week, so I've gotta wrap this up. One last thing: my district leader was told to inform us Elders that is a great service to send Elders at the MTC letters in the same day you write them (and it's free! It seems like it costs money, but it's just asking for donations. You have to pay if I am no longer at the MTC.). All you need to know is my name (David Jorgensen), mission (Taichung, Taiwan), and mailbox number (#96). Possibly my departure date too which has been moved to Sept 18th.

This church is true, and I am so happy to be able to share this knowledge with God's children. I love the Lord, and I love this work! Write you next week, you are all in my prayers!


Elder Jorgensen

[* A District is a group of 6-10 missionaries who study together while at the MTC.]
[** A zone is a group of districts.  A branch is a congregation that meets together for worship.  In the MTC, a branch and a zone are the same group of people.]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Some information before I depart:

Here’s the agenda. I leave July 5th and arrive at the Missionary Training Center (MTC), located in Provo, Utah. I’ll be there until September 1st, which then I will take a plane to Taichung, Taiwan. I will be in Taiwan until July 25th, 2014.

If you wish to contact me directly, I can receive letters and packages to the following address:

Elder David Hendrick Jorgensen
MTC Mailbox #96
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Please note: This address is only for when I am in the MTC. I will be posting a new address for when I go to Taiwan. If you send letters or packages, the MTC asks that you send them using ordinary Postal Service.

I also ask that the content of letters that you send are only content that would be a help, not a hindrance, for the work that I do: to build up the Lord’s kingdom by encouraging others to follow the path that Jesus Christ laid that leads to eternal life. I understand the desire to tell me the about the crazy weather or funny video, and it’s OK; I just need your help in keeping distractions to a minimum.

If letter writing is not really your thing (Ex: “Ahhh! Hand cramp!!!”), there are other ways to reach me. Just leave a comment on the blog or send me a message via Facebook. I personally cannot access these sites, so my parents will be forwarding messages to me. I cannot receive emails, as the email account I have been given is strictly for family contact only.

And please, please, please feel free to give me suggestions or questions to address in this blog! I love guidance, just like I love driving when I have directions.

Lastly, my mission president (the head honcho) has asked us as missionaries to be clear to blog readers that I personally am not updating this blog. As a missionary, I am only allowed to access church sites and church email. Therefore, I am not allowed to directly access this blog. Thankfully, I’ve got some fantastic parents that are willing to upload my letters home so y’all got something to read. Thanks mom and dad!

Thank you for your immense help and support! I appreciate all the love and counsel I’ve received from friends and family over the years, and I hope that I can express that gratitude through faithful blogging, so that you can feel the joy that I feel in serving the Lord and His children.

See you in two years! Stay cool! I love you!