Friday, September 28, 2012

24 September 2012 - First days in Taiwan

I LOVE TAIWAN!!! It is so incredible here. I have no idea how I can possibly describe it all, so I guess I'll just have to start at the beginning.

On the day we left, we all got into a bus and took off to the airport, and in our group there were about 45-50 Mandarin speakers going. Everyone was excited and slightly nervous; especially when we left the walls of the MTC (we hadn't been outside the campus for 3 months). The flight to LAX was good, no problems. I sat down next to a couple on their way to Hawaii, but it was clear they were very uninterested in talking with me; perhaps it was the obvious Mormon missionary appearance. So I only said a little hello and how they were doing, and pretty much remained quiet for the duration of the trip.

We had a three hour layover at LAX, so we went phone hunting to see if we could call home for a little while. It was great to hear familiar voices of those I love so much. But I had to go pretty soon after because the gate was calling for us, and for some reason they had to take my carry-on because it was too heavy, so I had to sign for the luggage and board the plane.

And then commenced the longest plane ride ever . . . it was 14 hours, and I had no movies or games to distract me from the limited leg room. All the people in my row were missionaries, so I couldn't do any proselyting. I was sitting next to Sister McKay (also going to Taichung), so I talked with her for a lot of the trip. Turns out she's related to the prophet David O. McKay. I felt kind of dumb for not making that connection.  Sister Newman sat in front of me, but she slept the whole way there. As for me, I couldn't sleep at all. And when we landed, it was the worst landing I've ever experienced. Since the plane is so big, the pilots use cameras mounted on the bottom of the plane to see the runway, and for the passengers' enjoyment they put the video feed on the TV screens. So I watch as the camera, knocked askew in mid-flight, captures the plane hitting the runway at the wrong angle, and the plane starts swerving back and forth to stay on the runway. That was pretty fun, to say the least.

All of us going to Taichung got on a bus and went to the mission home located in the heart of the city. At night in Taiwan, most trucks and buildings are decorated with flashing green, red, and blue LED lights. It felt like I entered some form of "arcade land". Half the people on our bus were native Taiwanese missionaries, and we got to talk with them a little bit. We all introduced ourselves, and learned a little bit from our mission president (who is super awesome, by the way) about what Taiwan is like. That night five others and I stayed at our mission financial secretary's home.

For the next day, we had orientation and tried out the native food. Imagine the humidity of western Washington, multiply it by two and crank up the temperature to 95 Fahrenheit. And the streets are crazy. The majority of traffic is scooters and motorcycles, and then some cars. You really have to keep on your toes, there's a lot of frantic driving. One thing I love about the streetlights here is that a lot of them have countdowns next to red lights. This is especially helpful when you are contacting people on scooters, so you know how much time you have left to talk with them before the light turns green. Also, if you are a pedestrian waiting to cross the street, they have this little animated picture of a man walking when it's time to cross: when there are only a few seconds left, the man starts walking faster and faster until it's in a full-on sprint. Very funny, and gets the message across.

That night we got up on a soap box in the night market and preached, just to get the heebie-jeebies out of us, and then we went contacting. I believe the mission office published a video, it may be online . . . a very fun and yet insane experience.

I met my new companion a few days ago, his name is Elder Cox. He'll be training me for the next twelve weeks. He reminds me a lot of my dad in his mannerisms. He likes to use a lot of witty humor. He's very experienced, and speaks really good Chinese and Taiwanese. We are stationed in downtown Gaoxiong, a large city towards the south of the island. Our area is strictly city, no rural areas. I've had to get used to biking in the road amongst all the scooters. It hasn't been that hard, but apparently I haven't experienced a real rush hour yet... we'll see how that goes.

We have a nice apartment, and our neighbors are pretty quiet too. We've had a few cockroaches but they haven't been very big, and not very many. And the air-conditioner is heavenly.

We had stake conference on Sunday, which was held in a High School auditorium outside our area, so we had to take the subway. The meeting was two hours long, and I didn't understand a single word. My brain pretty much imploded: I had to fight off sleep by stabbing my hand with my pen. After the meeting I got to meet the bishop and a lot of members and recent converts, which was a lot of fun. They were all really nice, and it was fun to see them struggle with pronouncing my name. But they were laughing as well when I struggled to hold a conversation. The other day I contacted a guy on a bike at a stoplight, and at one point he said something I didn't understand, so I said, "Sorry, I don't understand, my Chinese isn't too good," to which he laughed and responded, "I know!" and drove off.

Right now we have a few investigators working towards baptism, and one of them is scheduled for it in four weeks. We taught him about prayer and how it's a commandment, and he responded well. He seems to really get this, and I can see the Spirit working in him. Today we are giving our first lesson to a guy named Zeng, and I'm leading the lesson. Wish me luck!

I've already made another friend as well. He goes by Tyler, and he's this crazy, funny early 20's Taiwanese guy who works in the Navy. He wants to serve a mission in a year, and he loves hanging out with the other missionaries. In fact, he's determined to have me as his "little brother", and really wants to be a part of our family. So watch out mom, you might be getting some Facebook messages soon.

I love these people, It's truly a wonderful place. I hope someday I can come back with my parents after my mission.

And I love all of you too! Hope you are all doing well, and I wish you a fantastic week!

Love, Elder Jorgensen P9190359


20 September 2012 - Elder Jorgensen has landed!

September 2012 032David made it safely to Taiwan. What a great looking group of missionaries!

17 September 2012 - We are all enlisted

I'm going to Taiwan TOMORROW! Ahhh! clip_image001

I forgot to tell all of you that I've gotten to perform a few times at the MTC. I was part of a boy’s choral group singing "Come Thou Fount" for a fireside, and I accompanied Sister Chord in Sacrament and Relief Society meetings. They went really well, it was a lot of fun.

This week I got a real wake-up call as far as the seriousness of my calling to serve as a missionary. Yesterday, we had the Director of Proselyting, W. Tracy Watson, speak to us yesterday about the importance of The Book of Mormon. He then did something I wouldn't have expected in a million years in the MTC: he showed us a video of the opening number of the Broadway Musical "The Book of Mormon". It was weird hearing it. Before I came on a mission I probably would have laughed at the jokes. But now, when I am actually a missionary, I just felt uncomfortable and sick. We are supposed to be viewed as representatives of Jesus Christ, not as overzealous, earnest young men with badges.

We are at war. Satan is using every tool in his arsenal to confuse the children of God to keep them from ever discovering their true divine identity and potential; he desires that "all might be miserable like unto himself." How do we combat the degrading images of Mormons that the adversary is displaying? My opinion is that we should love. It really is that simple. We love. Only then will people see us for who we really are as disciples of Christ. We, all of us members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have been given a charge to share the gospel. Every member a missionary! It is time we shared this message, to step out of our comfort zone and show the world who we really are. I believe very strongly that our timidity and shyness to share the gospel, our fear of rejection, is what has caused Anti-Mormon literature like the musical "The Book of Mormon" to have so much prevalence and critical acclaim in our world today.

Did you know that in 1999 (I think), President Hinckley said that we were having on average 300,000 convert baptisms each year. That's great! That means 300,000 people are taking part in the necessary covenants to start on the path to salvation. But he said we could double that number. 600,000. That was the benchmark he set. And as of last year, we had about 280,000. The fact is, in order for us to be able to meet this goal, everyone must be missionaries. Not officially, but just sharing the gospel with your community, with your friends. It really is that simple.

Now if you are reading this, and you are not Mormon, I challenge you to read The Book of Mormon. Read it. Study it. Ponder it. And then pray about it. For if it is false, then Joseph Smith was not a prophet, and therefore the doctrines of the church crumble. But if it is true, then this gospel truly is from God. Read the book! Only through The Book of Mormon can you know if this church is true, that our claims are correct. Yes, I concede, Google can tell you a lot of answers. But Google cannot give you the divine witness from the Holy Ghost that this church is true. The Book of Mormon can do that. You may have many questions about the validity of the church, some of which may not have any answer. But in the end, if you know the book is true, you have no more questions. If you know it is true, then so is everything that goes with it.

I promise you that if you have a sincere desire to know if it is true, you will receive an answer that it is true. I have done this myself, many times. As a missionary, I stand as a witness of the divinity of The Book of Mormon, that it indeed contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as we claim, and that "a man can get closer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Joseph Smith, Introduction). I know it is true, beyond a doubt. I add my testimony to millions of others, that Jesus is the Christ, and that he is the head of this church.

I love you all! God be with you 'till we meet again,
-Elder Jorgensen

Elder Jorgensen and Elder Bastian, a friend from our Stake who will also be serving in Taiwan.

11 September 2012 - A teacher who cared

Hello all,

It's the last week!!! Man, it's weird to think I've been here for 10 whole weeks. The best way I can put it is that the days are super long, but the time flies by very, very fast.

I've been keeping a running list of nicknames/accidental names that I've been called since I've been here at the MTC:

-Elder Jacobson

-Sister Jorgensen

-Elder Yourgensen


-Ammon (due to my "Team Ammon" T-shirt)

-Elder Hendrickson

-The Mailman

-The Music Man

-Elder Chang Ge ("Ge" is my Chinese name, but "Chang Ge" means "sing a song")

-Dr. Seuss (I have a tie that reminds Elder Deal of The Cat in the Hat)

It seems to get longer every day... Most of them are purely accidental, but the "Jorgie-bear" one is just plain weird. But the guy who calls me that calls everyone that.

Yesterday I was sitting in the corner of the classroom studying, when I just glanced up for a moment and saw my teacher Sister Weinheimer watching me. I just treated it as a funny, awkward moment and went back to studying. It was clear to me, however, that she was getting some sort of prompting from the Spirit, because she pulled up a chair and asked me how I was doing. She then asked me what I was most worried about for when I left to Taiwan, and the thing that I told her that has been worrying me for a while is that I don't want to be a burden to my companion. I told her that I've been learning the language at a slower pace than most (I've had to have Zone Resource, or private tutors, help me), and that I don't want my companion to feel compelled to do all the work and me just sit there like a big dead-weight. She then said that she wanted to talk with me because "people with [my] personality type tend to be unnecessarily hard on themselves." She asked me why I was so concerned about my ability as a missionary, and my mind was immediately flooded with all the people I know and love in my life. I told her that I came on this mission expecting that somehow my work here would help those I love back home, and that I was very worried that I wasn't doing enough. She told me that someone she loved very much was inactive in the church and jobless before she left on her own mission, and that while she was gone he got a job and became active. However, when she returned, he was inactive again. She said that everyone has their agency, and that I do not have any power to make someone do the right choice. She then told me that it is too easy to set our standards higher than the Lord's standards. He doesn't expect us to be perfect. In fact, he expects us to make mistakes. That's part of the purpose of life. We learn through our mistakes. She told me not to measure my success by how many people I help. I need to measure my success by who I become through this mission. There's only one convert that the Lord expects us to make, and that is ourselves.

I saw a fantastic video this week on "Mormon Messages", and I wanted to share it. The man who's speaking is Apostle David A. Bednar. It explains really well what a conscience is, and the process in which we all receive revelation.

And one other video, that I think all would enjoy, illustrates just what kind of world I will be immersed in, in the very near future:

Translation of the first segment: "I live in Taiwan. I know Taiwan personally. I know Taiwan has given me many blessings. Therefore, I love Taiwan."

And so I go so soon... I'm very excited! I love you all, you are in my prayers.

-Elder Jorgensen

P9090169 P9110210

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

4 September 2012

Hey! (And that's Chinese for Hello, by the way!)
So I've gotta fill you in on that meeting, now, don't I? I suppose I could just not say anything, but that would be a little rude, since I know a number of you were waiting impatiently on the edge of your seats. So I proceed:
Dad, you were close on your guess, but not quite. The guy who came was one of the Seventy, who was an area authority in China for the last 5(?) years. It started out mainly as a pep talk about how the Chinese people are very nice, and that they are very interested in what the gospel has to offer, particularly around having eternal families. And then he opened it up to questions, and people began hammering him with questions about if China is opening soon and little details around that.

Moving on to other stuff... Our teacher pulled my companionship aside a few days ago and said, "I take back what I said before. You have a lot of love toward your investigator. You have a great amount of faith. But your Mandarin is, uh..." I jumped in, "--terrible?" "--Terrible!" He quickly pulled back saying, "Just kidding, just kidding!" When we replied that we really wanted to know what he thought, and that we wouldn't be offended, he said, "Yeah, it's terrible." He continued to say that we have some wonderful things to say that would truly help the needs of the investigators, but we just lack the language to communicate them. That, and our grammar is totally atrocious. Which I take more of the blame for: usually in lessons it's me asking Elder Christianson what the investigator was saying, and me asking him for vocabulary when I'm trying to speak. I feel like I have this annoying problem of forgetting everything. But I'm not letting this get me down. The fact is, I was called to do this by the Lord, and he qualifies whom he calls. "And I will do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that he giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7). As I try to improve myself each day through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can accomplish all trials. As I exercise my faith, I can become the missionary the Lord has foreordained me to be.

Some news on Isaac Hales: I sat by him in a Sunday night devotional, and I learned he was going to Mosambique (sp?), Africa, Portuguese speaking. Crazy. We reminisced on the good times we had when we were younger, such as me throwing giant rocks at his head because he made me angry at a campout. Good thing he doesn't remember that episode. It was so crazy running into him, talk about slim chances.

Congrats to Adam Price to going to Taipei, Taiwan. You're gonna speak more Chinese!!! :D

And I just got the news about my best friend Dillon. 糟糕!不好意思。Man, that's a huge bummer. Get all the way through the mission paperwork process, only to have to start over because it accidentally got deleted. For those of you who don't know, it takes a long time to get through all that paperwork. Because you could get sent pretty much anywhere in the world, you have a lot of medical information to fill out. My mom said this, and I agree: Clearly the Lord is preparing a special mission for him, but it's just not quite ready to have him there yet. Good job staying positive through all this Dillon; you're gonna have a great story to tell during dinners at the MTC. I'm rooting for ya!

How about a Chinese lesson, eh? Let's do a simple phrase:

nǐ hǎo! wǒ shì ____. Nǐ shì shéi?

(Hello! I am _____. You are who?)

See those little markings above the vowels? Those are called tones. They are extremely important to get exactly right. If you want to know how they sound, just match the line to your pitch. For example, if it is a rising line, just make your pitch go low to high as you speak the word. If it's a dip, make your voice dip as you speak it.

"nǐ hǎo" literally translated means "You good", but is commonly understood as "Hello". Keep in mind that this is a very formal greeting. Normally, people in China just say "Hey" or "Hi", or my favorite (translated), "Oh, your doing ____ right now."

"wǒ" means "I". "shì" means "am", or "is", in the literal sense. If you were saying that someone is dead, you cannot say "Tā shì sǐwáng" ("He/she is death"), because they are not literally "death" itself. So you have to add "de" after the word for death ("de" is a descriptive word, meaning "type"), in order to say "He/she is death type person." See how the meaning changed to something that makes more sense? (Oh, and don't go around saying "sǐ", it's bad luck. And all the Chinese hate the number four, because it sounds very close to "sǐ".)

"shéi" is a question word, meaning "who?" Because Mandarin is a tonal language, you cannot use a rising tone like English to indicate you are asking a question. You have to use some word or sentence particle to indicate that you are asking a question. If "shéi" is used, people know you are asking them for some person as an answer. In this case, if someone asked me "Nǐ shì shéi?", I would respond with "wǒ shì David". In this case, it's implied that you are asking for a name, but in reality I could answer with a variety of things, such as "wǒ shì chǔanjiàoshì" ("I am a missionary").

And that's about it for now. You may want to take everything I say with a grain of salt, because apparently, my Chinese is terrible.

Love you all, and write you again next week! Oh, and before I forget, I will be going to Taiwan in two weeks, so if you want to send letters, I'd start sending them to this address, because it takes about 2 weeks for letters to reach me from the US:

Elder David Hendrick Jorgensen

Taiwan Taichung Mission

#498-11, Wu Chuan Road

Taichung 404-46


And international flat rate is a heaping 3 stamps (I think, don't quote me on that one).

See ya later,

-Elder Jorgensen


28 August 2012

Another week has flown by, and this time I have 很多的 cool stuff to report.

First of all, last Tuesday night we had a fireside, and Apostle Neil L. Anderson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to speak. That day was Prophet Thomas S. Monson's birthday, so he talked about what President Monson would say to us had he been there. How important it is that we have a smile on our faces! This is a gospel of happiness, so by golly, let's be happy! I was thoroughly reminded of the importance of becoming Christ like. As a missionary, I am a representative of Christ, and I must act how he would act. Through the enabling power of Christ's sacrifice for us, I can become like him.

A little tidbit I learned this week: Christ's sacrifice, or the Atonement, has two parts, mercy and grace. Mercy is an event. We apologize and make restitution, and then we are forgiven. Grace, on the other hand, is a process. Grace is the power Christ gives us to become like Him. As Elder Fronk put it: "Mercy is when God gives us what we don't deserve. Grace is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve." Stew on that one for a while.

That night, the head of operations at the MTC came to our district meeting. He told us about how the church works with major airline companies (like American Airlines and other foreign companies) in getting discounts on flying missionaries to their assigned fields. They've discovered that the negotiation process goes much better when the executives of these companies can meet missionaries in person. This happens once every year. And then he told us that for some reason or another our class was picked to be the MTC missionary representatives and that they would be coming to see us the next morning at 9 am. He then told us that there would be about 5 people, and he prepped us on the kinds of questions they would be asking, such as, "Why did you decide to serve a mission?", "Why are you willing to do this on your own funding?", and, "How do you feel about the current presidential candidate Mitt Romney?". We were pretty stressed, to say the least.

The next morning, 12 people shuffled into the room, and they asked a few questions about the language. These people were not Mormon, so they were new to everything we did as missionaries. We ran through a language exercise for them. We were lucky they didn't understand Chinese: Elder Raley said a sentence that didn't make any sense whatsoever. It was everything we could do to keep from laughing. Luckily, they didn't say anything else besides how long we've been here, so no Mitt Romney questions. One lady with Delta airlines (I think) was especially ecstatic about our accents, saying they were "spot on". Afterwards, we went outside and took a picture together, and that was it. Crazy, but it went well. If you look at the big picture, this little meeting saves the church hundreds of thousands of dollars. I feel really blessed to be of help to the church that way.

I saw Issac Hales today! He was my friend that moved away when I was 12, and I just happened to see him in the cafeteria. His voice is mega low. He's going to a Spanish speaking mission I believe, but I forgot where (curse my brain!). He just came in last week. I'll make sure to get a picture before I leave.

Last but not least, I must leave you all in anticipation. President Brown, President of the MTC, came around to all the Chinese speaking missionaries and told us that we were going to have a special meeting on Tuesday only for us, and that a General Authority (Apostle or one of the Seventy)would be speaking to us. This led to immediate speculation. Currently, mainland China is not open to missionaries, only Hong Kong and Taiwan. The church has felt for quite some time now that China was close to opening, but there has been little if any word on the church's progress. There are two likely possibilities: Either mainland China has opened and they will be reassigning us, or it's just a pep talk about how we can learn the language. Of course, there is a whole slew of things that they could talk about, so I'm just not going to get too excited and just see what happens. What is extremely interesting though is that nobody, not even President Brown, knows what the meeting is about.

Quick shout out to Elder Davis, going to Paris, France! WOOHOO! You are going to have a blast!

I love you all, God bless you.


-Elder Jorgensen (葛长老)