[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 DearElder.com 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!
[* 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.]