HI FAMILY/ FRIENDS!!!
I'M AT THE MTC RIGHT NOW. My companions are Sister Ting and Sister Tsoi. They are beautiful, bright, and SO SPIRITUAL!
When I came into the MTC, everything happened so quickly! I saw Sister Eve Smith who showed me to my room after I grabbed my MISSIONAR BADGE and keys!!! (WAHOO!) Right after, I was taken to my class and met all the other sisters and elders in our district. I am in the class with all the accelerated missionaries and will probably be leaving around March 20 or 26. They haven't given us a set date yet.
Anyway, three of the sisters in the program are going to New York, English/Spanish speaking, and my two companions and I are going to TAICHUNG, TAIWAN! I LOVE LOVE LOVE being here and was worried about not liking/getting along with my companions. Sister Ting is 26-years old and reminds me so much of Mom and Sister Vicky Chen. I know she sounds older, but she looks SO YOUNG, and we joke around all the time. She is from Malaysia, moved to Australia for college, and then became a nurse! She and her older sister who lives in Provo are the only converts in her family, and she has an amazing conversion story. Her Mandarin is wonderful, and she always is thinking of others. I love singing the "Zou Zou ... women xiao shou lao xiao shou" song with her. She's MY FAVORITE.
Sister Tsoi is 19 and from Hong Kong, although she doesn't speak mandarin as well as Sister Ting and me. She started out in the 9 week program with Sister AMANDA BURR and Sister Graham, but since she understood everything that her teacher said, she was transferred to our class. (PS. The Taichung Taiwan sister missionaries are the most attractive, hands down. HOLLA! hahaha JK. Everyone here is beautiful, ESPECIALLY Taiwan, Taichung missionaries!) Anyway, I helped Sister Tsoi move in with the rest of us sisters. There are SIX SISTERS in our small little room, and I am sleeping in the middle top bunk bed! Although we have only been here 2 days, I feel like we have been here a week because we learn SO MUCH every day!
Yesterday, we met our branch president, President Marion! He is a really funny, but strict man and always "cooks good food for us". When I walked into our meeting room, he asked me to go play the piano right away, so I started sight reading some arrangements they had laying out on the piano stand. It was kind of funny because I was playing really well until the modulation, and then the modulation was really atonal and sounded queer. I'm glad I got used to the key fast so that I ended on a good note. - No one else here knows how to sight read. You can feel it everwhere you go. I was also called as the musical coordinator. The food here is just like the food at the BYU food court, so for anyone leaving for the MTC soon, that's what you can expect. YOU'LL LOVE IT. Everyone here is so friendly, and the spirit is SO STRONG.
I also auditioned to play "I Believe in Christ" on the piano for a devotional yesterday. There was a sister who was auditioning, but she didn't have an accompanist, so I had to sight read her vocal accompaniment, which had a tricky rhythm. We ran through it twice, then auditioned. After I accompanied her, I played my piano solo, and the sisters in charge told me they'd have me play here before I leave!! THANK YOU MOM for telling the sisters about me. They were so kind to call me out and ask me to audition. I sometimes miss practicing, but the Lord has blessed me so that everytime I play, I feel like I have practiced forever! It's really a miracle!
Today, we went to the temple, and MOM, I was able to have our district complete all the family names! Everyone was so excited to do endownments for me. After the session, Sister Tulande brought me the finished name card, and apologized because there was a TEAR STAIN on it. She was like, "Sorry Sister Chen, I started to cry." It was SO ADORABLE and so funny because Sister Tulande is from Spain, has an accent, and is just the sweetest missionary ever. Yesterday when she bore her testimony to the mission president, she started to cry, and all the rest of us sisters started crying, too!! One of the Elders started to cry as well. :)
Sorry I haven't been able to check any of the mail. Our district leader was assigned yesterday and is the only one who has access to our mailboxes. I will probably get the mail sometime later today or tomorrow!! The MTC IS AMAZING! I am seriously the happiest I have EVER been, and can't wait for Jon Jon to experience this feeling! The SPIRIT IS SO IMPORTANT.
Mom, I pray for you everday! I want you to know that I am really really happy and healthy, and I eat my prenatal vitamins everday!! You don' t need to worry about sending me any food! We have SO MUCH FOOD!
Dad, the Chinese food here at the MTC tastes like charcoal compared to your cooking! It can't even compare, so I've been eating other ethnic foods that they have here, mostly American like salad wraps which are soooo delicious and healthy, fruit, and much much more!
Jeffrey and Kara, thank you again so much for coming to see me off last week! I write in the music journal Kara gave me everyday! I LOVE YOU GUYS!
Elder and Sister Chen, WOW this is what you guys experienced?! I am SO GLAD for my decision to go on a mission. IT is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me! I can't wait to get out to Taichung and serve!
Jon Jon!! My favorite little brother! How you doing?! Holding up? :) You're so cool, and I am so happy and grateful for your little notes you snuck into my luggage! Those scriptures are amazing!
One thing that I learned these past two days is the importance of strict obedience. I am glad that Mom and Dad taught me to never settle for less than my best. I'm seriously a TOUGH COOKIE (Doug should appreciate that), and I'm not even homesick!! I have been bearing my testimony in mandarin, and I learn something new everday! OH, and another thing! When you get here, be sure to PARTICIPATE! My companions and I are ON FIRE! We are like best friends with the Holy Ghost and work SO WELL with each other. It's ridiculous. I love the gospel. I love the Lord. I love being here, and I love you all!!
THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!
Sister Verina Chen
PS I am praying and thinking about you all!! Peace and blessings!