I thought that would be an appropriate first word to be sent. It kind of sums up the entire experience so far.
Anyway, it's been a while! Sorry I wasn't able to get much out on Saturday. We were kind of pressed for time packing and everything, but now that I'm out here I should be able to give a bit more of an update on the travel and stuff.
Elder Stowell and I were scheduled to leave at 3:30 in the morning, which is always a fun time. It was a bit sad saying goodbye to the district that I've come to love so much (seriously, you guys are all the best!) but we got our goodbyes in, and we're all heading off to do the Lord's work, so I wish you all the best of luck in you missions! I'll see you guys in 2 years at our reunion!
Anyway, back to the super early traveling stuff. After I drunkenly staggered my way through a bus ride and a train ride, I think I finally woke up. The airport was a bit of a hassle, but luckily we got some entertainment from watching all the other 3:30 departure missionaries that still hadn't quite woken up or had never been to the airport before, and were panicking as if "luggage fees" and "apocalypse" meant the same thing.
Then at the airport, I had the best meal I'd had in 9 weeks. After eating MTC food for two months, airport food tastes awesome. Also, random shout out to President Lyman, who I met at the airport! That Chick-fil-a you bought us was the best darn Chick-fil-a I've ever tasted! Best meal I'd had in 9 weeks.
The flight was pretty quick, probably because I was sleeping, and before I knew it, I was in the massive city of Toronto! Let me just say, after living most of my life in a town that is basically lacking any building over 3 stories, it's a bit odd getting teaching appointments on the 40th story of apartment buildings. Awesome, but kind of crazy.
My first day here wasn't actually too crazy. The assistant-to-the-president's (I have no idea how to make that plural) picked us up, and we got another good meal, which topped the Chick-fil-a (Sorry President Lyman) so then that was the best meal I'd had in 9 weeks.
Luckily, both the assistant's-to-the-president were English speakers, so my Chinese didn't have to be used the first day. Basically we drove around to a few church meetings, met a few church members (all English speakers) and went back home. Pretty uneventful first day.
I can't say the same about the second day. Elder Stowell and I started off the day with our first interview with our mission president. His name is President Clayton, and he has a very deep, Morgan Freeman-esque voice. Pretty awesome. When you're talking to him, sometimes he closes his eyes and looks up for a second, and then slowly begins speaking. He usually begins with "Brethren" or "Alright then" and he says it very slowly, and very soothingly. We're not really sure what he's doing when he looks up and does that, but we think it might be that he's talking with the Heavens and receiving revelation. Just a guess.
Anyway, the first day they ran us through a lot of technical and informational stuff, and then pretty soon we were assigned to our companions. Turns out, I have two companions, Elder Mak and Elder Kendall. Elder Mak is from Hong Kong, and he is a really hard worker. Elder Kendall is from Alpine (Utah) and he is super funny. We may have played lacrosse against each other and not known it. Still not sure.
Basically the rest the week was crazy. I don't have time to write down everything that happened, but I'll get some highlights in.
First off, I didn't expect that we would be offered this many meals! Seriously, I've never eaten such an amazing variety of Chinese food. Nothing super gross has shown up on a table yet, so I'm happy about that, but I'm going to be honest. Chopsticks are annoying.
Most the time the hosts provide forks, but sometimes I think they just forget that I'm a white kid from Utah, and my fingers don't bend in such a fashion as to use two sticks to pick up rice. I mean, think about eating rice, and then think of the worst possible utensil for eating it, and you have chopsticks. I know Chinese people are supposed to be smart, but I guess no one's perfect.
Anyway, other than the abominable chopsticks, meals have been awesome.
Here's how most our meals go.
-Invited in at the door, often by a very small, very wonderful Asian woman, often with enormous glasses
-Greetings are exchanged, Host says a lot of things that I don't understand and I say "Thank you".
-Invariably a comment is made on my height and stature by the host.
-We sit down at a table filled with enough food to feed Africa. I pray that western eating utensils will be available for use.
-We sit down, and offer a prayer on the food, and then dig in.
-The Host starts telling us what everything is in Chinese, and I smile and nod as if I'm ever going to remember what she tells me.
-We eat, and there's some dinner conversation. If a fork is available, then I am able to eat like a normal human being. If not, then I debate in my mind whether eating with just my face would be bad manners. If I conclude that it would be, then I try and magically twist my fingers into something that can pick up liquid objects with two sticks. Prayer is heavily involved.
-I eat until I'm full, and then we start to sit back in our chairs. Immediately some motherly sixth sense kicks into the Host's mind, and she starts telling us to eat more.
-In many cases, the Host will physically take our plates and dump more food on them.
-I eat more. The Host tells me to eat more. Repeat x infinity
Then, after the meals, we'll sit down and share a message, and it's usually super awesome. Sometimes the Three Nephites show up. No big deal.
Seriously though, it's been an amazing couple of days. Meeting the Chinese members has been awesome, and as much as I make fun of my Chinese, I can at least communicate, and I'm getting better.
The lessons so far have been awesome, and we've already invited several people to be baptized, one of which said yes, which was really great. My companions are fantastic, and it's been great getting to know all the members and missionaries in the area.
Also, Toronto has a crazy diverse population. Our apartment is in an area called Brampton, which is full of Sikhs. You walk outside, and there's like 12 dudes walking around with massive beards and turbans. Conversing with them usually go like this.
Missionary - Hi, how are you?
Sikh - I am bery gudd
M - Where are you from?
S - I am brum Brampton!
M - No, I mean where are you from?
S - I am brum Brampton!
M - (Slower) No, like, where were you born?
S - I was born in India!
M - Oh, so you're from India?
S - I am brum Brampton!
Anyway, It's been an amazing week full of spiritual lessons and stuff. The Chinese is getting better, and I'm super excited to continue working here in Toronto.
I'm glad to hear the whole family back home is doing well. Send Emi my love, and I guess I love the rest of you as well ;)
Hayden - No, my companion isn't a greenie, He's been out about a year now, although that would be hilarious to watch. Two missionaries with no experience trying to figure out what the crap these people are speaking, and how to communicate. As good of a reality TV as that would be, I don't know if that would be the best for furthering the work of the Lord. I didn't get to see the eclipse unfortunately, because there are too many building's here in the way, and our apartment is on the first story, but I heard it was awesome. It's kind of a big deal for Asian people, because it lined up with their Mid-Autumn festival or something like that. Basically a lot of people talked about it. Also, Ashleigh won the Emogi battle. Sorry :)
Hadley - I love you so much too! I am loving Canada, and it's kind of warm right now. It's not that hot temperature-wise, but it's really humid, which makes it feel hot. Also, you're always going to like Lunch best. That part of school will never change :) A lot of people give us dinners, but sometimes we have to make our own which can be... dangerous.
Ellie - You would love the food here. My companions full names are Spencer Kurtis Kendall and Elder Mak is Chi Kit Sam Mak. I have no idea what a bandapat is, but I trust that you'll be able to find it out. I'm glad to hear you and Hadley are singing a duet in church! I think that will be awesome.
Ashleigh - Thank's for the quotes! And for the emojis I guess. Not sure what to say about that.... Anyway, I'm glad to hear you had a great time this week. President Uchtdorf is awesome, and always give's good talks. Also, you won the emoji battle, so congratulations!
Mom and Dad - Sorry, I'm running out of time! I love you so so much, and I was so glad to have the chance to talk to you guys at the airport. You're both amazing, and I'm glad you finally got those pictures. I forgot my camera here, so I can't try it out on this computer, but I have some photos that were emailed to me, so I can forward those.
I love you all!
I love you all!