The food here is fantastic. I forgot to mention in my last email: My first two days I tried pig's blood and fish eyeball. The blood was decent, but the eyeball threw me for a loop. I expected something blubbery and squishy, but instead, if you can imagine, it's like a really tough nut coated in fat, with a thin clear shell that had the consistency and taste of plastic. I drank plenty of orange juice after that one. Street food is really good here. I discovered a new favorite, something called "turkey rice". It's, you guessed it, turkey and rice. Just put it in a bowl with some of the turkey juice, and plop a nice fried egg on top. Gooooood stuff. And I'm getting pretty skilled at the chopsticks; I'm not getting any more hand cramps.
Elder Cox has been pushing me hard, but we get along very well. He's sensitive to how I'm feeling about the culture shock, and he's done a good job helping me adapt and yet throw me in the middle of the work. Contacting people is getting easier, and while I still can't understand anything, the Spirit is helping me discern what they are saying. Elder Cox has been practicing with me quite a bit on talking with people. One cool thing about him is that he loves to sing, and he's a really good tenor. We sing every day before Companionship study. And to answer your question mom, he has been hit by a couple vehicles. One of them was a close call, a bus had him pinned up to a sidewalk curb, and his handlebars were catching on the side of the bus. Luckily the bus passed by right before he lost control of the bike.
The sisters in our zone had two baptisms this week, a mother and a daughter in this very sweet family. Brother Oba, the ward mission leader, asked me right before the meeting to give the opening prayer. We had an investigator with us and my companion was making calls, so I found myself frantically asking our investigator if he knew the last name of the family. I eventually thought I heard Brother Oba mention they were the Wu family at the beginning of the meeting, so I said the prayer and mentioned them in it. When I sat back down, I realized that they were not the Wu family, but the Pan family. Ugh. Brother Oba was cool about it; he understood that there is a definite learning curve when it comes to the language. But one thing is for sure, I am learning a lot about humility.
We contacted an awesome family the other day in a direct answer to our prayers. The father and mother were 20, and they had an adorable newborn with them. We talked some about the blessing of eternal families, and they arranged to meet with us on Tuesday. I'm very excited!
One night we came home to a bunch of cockroaches in our kitchen. We had a pretty good cockroach smashing fest; my favorite tool is a hefty water bottle. :)
Our ward (Lingya ward) held a primary program, and had fun little activities about preparing to serve a mission. Elder Cox and I got to come and teach them about what they needed to do to prepare. They are such sweet little kids!
I got a letter that had a fantastic question: "I understand you are an elder now. How do you become an elder?" For the sake of the reader, I will also address the question, "What is an elder?" To get a clear answer, you must take a step back and understand that an "elder" is an office of the priesthood.
The priesthood is simply the power of God. He used the priesthood to create the earth, and uses it now to accomplish His work and glory, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Christ worked his many miracles through the priesthood.
We as mortals can have this priesthood too. We need it because it is through the priesthood that saving ordinances like baptism and the sacrament are performed. Only worthy men can hold the priesthood (I will explain later). When a man receives the priesthood, they are given God's power and authority to carry out His will on the earth. In other words, they can only use this power when they are bringing about the salvation of mankind.
If someone holds the priesthood, they cannot use it unless someone in authority directs him to exercise it. For instance, I cannot baptize somebody unless my mission president authorizes me to do so. This is important to understand because we believe that this authority was lost when Christ's apostles were killed long ago, and that this authority was restored when these apostles, now resurrected beings, bestowed it upon the prophet Joseph Smith.
To become an elder, a person in authority officially set me apart for this office. Elders are called to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the Church. That person gave me the authority to exercise the priesthood in this capacity.
Now why can't women hold the priesthood? I'm afraid I do not have an official answer, as many people even within the Church don't really know why. I can tell you my limited understanding. Men are called to provide and protect, to carry out the work of God. Women are called to rear and raise children. In today's world where such a large effort has been made to prevent the oppression of women, this may seem remarkably discriminatory. But I firmly believe that these duties are equal in importance. In reality, the power of the priesthood benefits everyone, regardless of gender. And the power to have children benefits everyone as well. This is why family units are so important in the Church: the husband provides the priesthood to the family, and the wife provides the nurturing of children.
Happy moon festival everyone! And remember, don't point at the moon, or it will fall down and smash you! (I'm completely serious here, by the way. If you point at the moon here, people freak out.)
Elder Jorgensen Elder Jorgensen with his MTC companion Elder Christiansen—his first and very awesome companion.
Elder Cox—Elder Jorgensen’s first (and equally awesome) companion in the field.
“Doesn't that exit sign remind you absurdly of the game "Portal"? Just like exit signs in America, they are everywhere here.”