Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Riley #3 - Beginning of MTC Birthday, TRC, and an Exciting Time

Dear Family,
    Thanks for the packages and letters. I haven't received the one for my birthday yet, but it probably is already here. My district leader usually gets the mail once a day so if it doesn't come before he checks it, I get it the next day. I did get a present from Mollie though. Also, the MTC gave me a letter for my birthday.

     Tuesday is our PDay, so that was a great present as well. I received a present from Bowman and Poppop. Could you thank them for me? It was great to receive their note, and the backpack looks like it will work well.

     Also, I loved the pictures that were sent, particularly the one with Madeleine and the dinosaur! 

As for new and interesting things going on here, there really isn't that much. We have the same schedule every week, so there isn't that much new. 

    We had work at the TRC (Teacher Resource Center) for the first time last weekend, which was fun. 

   For TRC, volunteers come, and we practice teaching them. It is a lot more laid back than our normal lessons, because when we don't know a word in Chinese we can say it in English and have them help us. 

   Everyone is excited here about the upcoming wave of missionaries and how the MTC will accommodate them.

    As Elder Holland said when he spoke here, I feel like it is a particularly exciting time to be a missionary.

 Summer is apparently when the MTC is busiest, so I think around May is when everyone will start coming.
      Our teachers here are fantastic. They instruct us both in the language and in better understanding the gospel and our calling. They put in a lot of time and effort, and many of them have school on top of work. 

      By the way, I forgot to bring my patriarchal blessing. Could you mail it? It should be around my dresser or in the top drawer of my dresser, I think in an envelope. 

    Also, I would like addresses of people, so I can write them. Aside from the missionaries in the ward, I would also like Brian's and Joseph's addresses.

    We are only supposed to write letters on PDay, electronic or otherwise, so I probably won't write everyone, but I would like to make sure I manage to write a few. 

                                                 Love to you all,

                                                 Elder Riley Bowman 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mollie #11 - Victoria's Secret, To Family, and Father Video

   (My companion, Hermana Ferral, and my roommates
 with Elder Woodbury and Elder Slavens - the boys that sang.
  I wrote about them in my last letter.)

                                                                                        Feb 12, 2013

Hey all,

          So, after the pictures, which were equally beautiful and funny (that I love to death!), my favorite gift was... the Victoria Secret bag you put everything in!

      Michele, you should have seen the looks people were giving me for carrying that giant thing around all day! It kept me smiling!
     One Elder did a classic double take - it was fantastic! Still, no one said anything, which was kind of unexpected. 
       The flowers are lovely -  Long term enjoyment! There is not a lot of color here. I have them in the classroom, and I can stare at them for at least an hour or two a day. 
     And yes, Michele,  I shaved my legs - though why you want to see a picture of my glowing, white legs is beyond me. I sent you a photo anyways ;p.

      (Mollie's comic from last week explains why! ) 

          I have to tell you, Mich, that the baby wouldn't be yours if she didn't growl. Mad Madeleine, somehow I am not surprised! Does she have a nickname yet? What are you up to this semester? Escribe, por favor.

         Jake - you said you have nothing to write me about. But, hello! you have or have a job planned out! Mother told me that you have a job, but I have no idea what it is. 
          About your PE class...maybe you should buy some Icy Hot. Yes, you are strange to be laughing as you fall toward the ground in your class. Nevertheless, I would ask that guy what the main thing you should work on is. Escribe, tambien.
       My companion says a late thank you for the cupcake.

       Mother, I have a request - could you get me soft pencils that I can use to mark up scriptures and sticky notes (cute ones)?  Evidently, sticky notes are the most useful missionary tool. You can use them to leave notes for people on the doors and tables, etc.
      Thanks for the letters. I enjoyed reading the one from Statler, as well. People I have seen here include: Avonlea, Sam Rainsdon, Jade Jolley, and Isaac. The staff here at the MTC is well represented from Alpine.

      Missionary practice is going well! I feel that our lessons our definitely getting better - though sometimes I'd rather hide my face in my hands, while mangling through this language. I have finally convinced my companion, Hermana Ferral,  to sing during our "investigator's" lessons with me.

  In our, last lesson we sang "I am a Child of God" to our "investigator." It was a lot of fun!

(Me and Hermana Ferral - Blue dresses with boots)

 (Hermana Peck with her Fruitloop PBJ sandwich on PDay)

For a Spiritual Thought, go on or youtube they have this video on fathers. It is titled "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father."

 I loved watching it! It made me so grateful for my father (yes, I mean you.) and for my Heavenly Father. Go watch it. I mean it. It is really good.

                             Lots of Love,

                                                  Hermana Mollie Bowman

 (My companion, Hermana Ferral, my roommates, 
and sister missionaries at the Provo Temple with me)

P.S. The scripture I want on my plaque is the one from John 21:16-17

    He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
     He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mollie's #10 - Comics, Tackled, and Faith

                                                         February 5, 2013

 Starting off with a couple of comics...

    (Note: Outside the MTC, a "Tool" is slang for "One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used" or "A fool.")

Hey All,

  Today, I was tackled by a man. Don't worry, not really, I'm fine. Who knew that waiting in the sack lunch line was so dangerous?
   While reaching for some of the delicious vanilla soy milk they have here, I felt this heavy weight fall against my side. I thought someone had tackled me.

   What really happened was that the man in the line opposite of me had passed out! (He probably weighed 230 lbs.)
    I fell in a mess, as I dropped my tray and stumbled half into the refrigerator. He ended up passed out, going into seizures with his head on my feet! His whole body was quivering with shakes! Everyone just stood there for a second before the register lady called in for medical services.
    I asked if anyone would be willing to give him a priesthood blessing. A couple of elders who knew him offered. Immediately after the blessing, he stopped shaking! One minute later, he woke up feeling fine.

   From this I learned:
1) If you don't feel well, do something about it
2) I need to update my knowledge of emergency response
3) Priesthood blessings work

   On other news, we are getting new people this week, and I am fairly excited! Our branch (~ small congregation) is going to have four new sisters.
   Since the start of my time here, the members of Relief Society sisters has doubled! There are currently around 600 sisters.
    Anyway, when I first arrived, everyone was really open and kind. I felt comfortable here in about three days. I really want to do the same for this new group of sisters.
    All of the rooms downstairs have been renovated into missionary rooms. I know it's going to start feeling a little bit crowded here.
   Still, the positive influence of good people makes every challenge - if not fun and humorous - manageable.

(Here is a drawing of our "Freezer")

 Now for a spiritual thought - I've been thinking about Faith. I think that true faith starts with a desire. Most people understand - at least subconsciously - that there is more to the world than the things we can touch, hear, taste, smell, and see.
   For example, many people recognize that there is more to a person than a body. They believe in souls even if they haven't defined it as such. People also go through experiences and feel things like love, loyalty, and friendship. These are things that can't be defined by the world.
   If a picture is worth a thousand words, a feeling - a serious feeling - is worth millions! We recognize these things in our own souls. They ring true to us. When we have a desire to seek out and find other truths - this is faith.

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Alma 32:21 "...Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore, if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

Faith must be centered around Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. Just as there are beautiful and wonderful feelings and truths in this world, there are also evils, such as Temptation and Failure that leads to guilt, anger, and helplessness. Still, we are children of God and within us is the ability to choose. We must pray to recognize good and evil, and then choose which we want to be.

2 Ne 2:27 "...and they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

Galations 1:5 "Standfast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Lots of Love,
       Hermana Bowman
P. S. I saw Isaac Healey and Samantha Rainsdon here!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Riley #2 - Finishing Up the 2nd Week, Some Jeans, and Studying

Dear Family,

      Thanks for the package and the letter. I have now finished my first full week at the MTC and will soon finish my second week. It feels odd to think I am already a fourth the way through my time here, as it doesn't feel like I have been here that long.

(My companions - Elder Smith from Mapleton, Utah and
         Elder George from Fort Wayne, Indiana)

Every Tuesday, we have a Fireside in the evening in which we get to hear from a general authority. Last week, we got the opportunity to hear from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland! He talked about teaching with the power and authority we hold. Also, he talked about what it means to have a successful mission and how we can have one.

    (Elder Holland at the MTC last Tuesday)

Missionaries have been leaving to their missions since Sunday, as their  time to leave came. When they leave, everything they can't pack they leave out in the hall for the remaining missionaries to use.

The majority of it is candy and other treats, but there is also a wide variety of other things from Halloween masks to Christmas trees. One of my companions found a suit that fit him, as well as a sweatshirt. I managed to find a pair of jeans that fit me, which was good because I hadn't brought any.

Every day has been really long, but because we do basically the same things everyday, it seems like in no time a week has gone by.

     Every day, we wake up at 6:30am and go to bed at 10:30pm. The time in between is completely planned out. Everyday, we typically have a half hour to 45 minutes for each meal, 50 minutes at the gym, 6 hours of classroom instruction, 1 hour in the computer lab using the language resources, and 2 hours of personal study in the classroom. The extra time in our schedule is labeled "Additional Study Time" and usually has to take place in our classroom. There are a few other activities we do, but unless it is Pday (~Personal Day) or Sunday, that is typically the day.

              (Here we are studying while waiting for laundry on PDay)

We are always practicing Chinese. We try to speak as much as we can in our everyday conversations with each other, and constantly quiz each other on vocab, as we walk between activities, exercise in the morning, and eat our meals.


Elder Bowman


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Elder Jeffrey Holland (Videoclip)


Mollie #9 - New Friendships & Goodbyes, A Smashed Finger, and Forgiveness

 (Click to Enlarge Photos)
                                     January 29, 2013

Dear Family,

     So, the fire alarm didn't go off this morning, but it went off in the cafeteria this week. Maybe they are beginning to figure it out.

     Bowman & Pops thanks so much for the Fig Newtons and the sewing kit. I used the sewing kit to make a headband. I made it out of scraps from the give away box.  I included a picture of it in here.

 Some of the elders left this week. We miss them. I think a mark of a good missionary is "to be missed."  My companion, Hermana Ferrel, and I had invested in them. We have had a good relationship with them. Elders Woodbury and Slavens crack me up. It's hard saying goodbye so soon.

     One way we helped each other was through all of us working on a musical piece together. I really didn't do much.

 Hermana Ferrel played the piano, and the two elders sang "Savior Redeemer of my Soul". I helped them through critiquing them - such as with timing issues, hitting shaky notes, harmony issues, dynamics, etc... They had never sang to anything but their "shower head." The competition was fierce (I mean there are about 3,000 mission worthy Mormons here), and we didn't make it the first week. (It still needed some work - they had forgot some of the lyrics). But, we made it the second week, and they got to sing at a farewell devotional to about 350 people.
  It was really fantastic. The new president here at the MTC really liked it. He invited us to sit at the very front during the Sunday afternoon devotional. That was pretty neat. I mean the stadium seats thousands of people, and I could not have been closer to the speakers. I sat next to an elder that had just turned up at the MTC that day. He was supposed to have come on Wednesday, but he had broken both of his knees playing rugby! He had a temporary cane and a hospital wristband still on.

   I will try to do better with focusing the pictures, but it is kind of difficult for me. I'm sending one of my area in my room.

     Speaking of pictures, I have sent you more than you have sent me! I would like pictures from the cousins visiting and of my Madeleine.
     (Random fact: I have been humming/singing Adele songs here when I think of her...)

 Another good thing to send me would be bread. I have been longing for good bread but, well, that is up to you.

     I don't know what to send Riley for his birthday. Maybe you could send him a cake in a box.

     Random thing that happened this week is that I smashed my finger black- I was vacuuming. Anyways, the vacuum cord got caught in the door, and by some happenstance I smashed my finger. I went to the doctor and he drilled it to relieve the pressure. (I really didn't want to lose another nail again so soon.)

It was very exciting this week - Elder Holland came to speak to us!  When he gets up there on the podium and shakes his finger at you staring you down... you listen. He told us that we need to be obedient. And, to have the gospel in our soul so strong that you astonish people. He said more, but I don't have time.

One spiritual thought I was told this week was what to do when you have a difficult time forgiving someone. Imagine Christ holding your hand and asking you "was my sacrifice not good enough...was my life and death not enough for you to forgive."

Another thought I had was a thought about what a gift it is to come to earth. I mean before earth we lived with God as spirits. We were simply spirits not understanding - knowing nothing but God, knowing nothing but good. But here on earth we have an opportunity to act, to become more than something that is acted upon. In this way, we progress. We have the ability to influence, act, and change things, becoming more like God. We get to choose good and God for ourselves. What a great gift!

Lots of love to everyone,

  Hermana Mollie Bowman


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mollie Comics

This is what happens when you leave your Razor at home.....
And are too lazy to get another.     (Click to Enlarge)

An Object Lesson from Devotional


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mollie #8 - The Flu and Overly Dramatic Girls

                            January 22, 2013

Dear Family,

    So, a lot has happened since last week. So after I got sick, everyone got sick, and they were not sick with a cold. It was some sort of virus. (~norovirus)   I would say that 40% of the people at the MTC caught it. In our district of 8 - three caught the bug.

   People were sick and throwing up all over the place. At night there always seemed to be someone sick in the bathroom. It was more prevalent among the boys.  One elder shared with me the following story about when he started feeling sick.

   Evidently, as his roomies were praying for him to feel better, he felt sick and ended up vomiting in the middle of the prayer. The other boys told me it was the fastest they've ever got off their knees.

    The virus only lasted about 5 days. I think it might have been something related to the food. My companion and I never caught it; And, we never eat the main dish at meals. (Honestly, they're not very good.) We are soup, salad, cereal, wrap sandwich people.

   Anyways, there was a certain time when it was really bad at the beginning. People were dropping left and right, like moths near a lightbulb.

    The other two sisters in my district watched everyone dropping and became afraid and kind of....(okay, really!) DrAmAtIc!  Some of the girl were honestly scared.  I was almost sympathetic towards their drama...almost. I tried honestly.

   My description of the situation is pretty much exactly what happened. Our district leader defaults to Moroni 10 or 1 Nephi. Strangely enough, we swap between crazy all-over-the-place to serious  scripture study in about  five minutes.
(Click to Enlarge)

   Anyway, that was most of The Sick MTC Story. People being ill. People being quarantined. People being taken to the hospital. People being overly-dramatic, etc.
Lots of Love,



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mollie #7 - Comics of Early AM Fire Alarm

                                           January 15, 2013

Dear Family,

Half of the fire alarms in our building look like this.

But, you should be glad to know that they work!

   Last night, these alarms went off at 4:00am. Evidently, a pipe had burst in the basement. It took us about 3 minutes to get outside. I was the first one up in our room. I told everyone to grab their shoes and coats and get outside!
   The alarms are as loud as police sirens. The flashing bright lights made me feel like I was walking on uneven ground - (meaning I was half-awake).

 We all gathered at the gym in a large pile. Can I just say, that next time, I'm going to add blanket and pillow to the things I need to grab!

   One of my roommates said that she thought it was a very loud alarm clock. The other said that she just froze trying to remember what it was that was most important to grab.

    We stayed in the gym for an hour and a half.

    In the end, we were all dog-piled on top of a bunch of yoga mats half-asleep.

    Let's just say the next day seemed very long. All of us were drifting off in class and devotional. We talked nonsense.



Riley's 1st Letter - Companions, Mandarin, and Mollie

Elder John Riley Bowman
MTC Mailbox # 133
CA-LA 0313
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

The MTC has been great, but busy. I was assigned two companions, Elder George and Elder Smith. Elder Smith is from Mapleton, and Elder George from Fort Wayne, Indiana. They are both great companions and balance each other out well. They are both going to the California Arcadia Mission speaking Mandarin.

My branch (~ small congregation) president is actually the brother of my mission president (~ oversees all MTC missionaries). He told me that there isn't anyone in the branch with the same mission and language as me, but it is possible that there might be someone in another branch who already knows Chinese.

Most of the day we spend learning Chinese. We are the first group that is here for 9 weeks, so they push us to learn rather quickly. Just as with the other missionaries, we taught our first investigator Friday. We didn't understand most of what he said, but we were still able to communicate to some extent. We teach him almost every day, and each time we understand more.

I also found out that I am going to be leaving on March 6, a week earlier than the others in my district because my mission has its transfers early.

I've seen Mollie a few times during lunch, but today was the first time that I had a chance to really talk to her and show her the video (~ of Baby Madeleine). She made sure we took a picture together, so now the grand total of pictures of I've taken is 1 (although technically Mollie took it).

The food is alright here, though nothing that great. We always are very busy, and if we ever have time for ourselves, we usually spend it studying Chinese. There is so much we need to learn that the studying is always engaging, and we are making decent progress.

Elder Bowman


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mollie #6 - MTC Mayhem Continues

                                                                         January 15, 2013

Hey all,

So, time here at the MTC has been fun .

You would never guess what happened again today. The fire alarm went off for a second time. We all piled outside to the gym. And, this time I remembered to bring a pillow and blanket.

I still don't know exactly what happened, but evidently it is a legitimate concern.

We have been banned from the elevators, on threat of having to talk to the mission president if we disobey.

And for some more fun, we have been partying it up here at the MTC. It was Hermana Porter's birthday yesterday. Her mom sent her a party in three boxes including a homemade angel food cake. She says that is the only thing her mom knows how to make which I think is fantastic, because it is, of course, the one thing I always always fail at making.

One of these pictures is of our district- the one with eight of us.

My companion - Hermana Ferrel - is the white blonde standing next to me. The blonde is Hermana Porter, and the brunettte is Hermana Peck.

The guys are (left to right) Elder Mitchell, Clark, Flitton, and Bench.
Elder Mitchell is the one that smirks in the corner, and then says something that blows your mind.
Elder Clark is the responsible leadership type.
Elder Flitton says stuff occasionaly like "how in the world did you connect those thoughts- that was fanastic!" 

Elder Bench is just solid - a really great person - really he is a sweetheart. He lost his mom last year and doesn't get very many letters. But he wants to share the gospel with others because of how much his family, the gospel, and the plan of salvation mean to him.

These are the people I spend 10- 12 hours a day with my district!

Other things that happened this week, I fell in love with my new teachers!

It is funny how much you can grow to love someone when you spend 4 hours a day with them. Hermana Doxey knows the scriptures backwards and forwards. It is amazing how she pulls things from the scriptures, like you pull recipes from a box.

Elder Byrd, my other teacher, is really good at connecting and offering up parts of himself for others. I really like him, and how he finds a way to tie the gospel to others lives.

Thanks for the flowers and the letters from the others! I just love them!

Lots of love,



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Before Riley's Dropoff at the MTC

After a busy week with lots of family and friends, Riley received a blessing from the Stake President and went through the temple on the night before he left. He was grateful to have his friend, Nathan, come and sleepover, and had friends, like Russell, see him off just before he left. Jake had to say his goodbye early, since he had to attend school.

We fed him at the BYU area Kneaders, where Michele and Baby Madeleine joined us. We found there were many other missionary family and friends there. One girl had returned from his very mission a year ago, but said she knew of no Mandarin-speaking missionaries when she served there. She told him a little about his mission president and his wife and said she was convinced it was the very best place to go. Riley was very happy and excited to go. With hugs and tears, we went through the MTC line and said our goodbyes turning him over to a young missionary that was his guide. Here are some photos of our morning with him.

If you want to see what it's like at the MTC, click the link on the right ~ "5 Videoclips: Inside the MTC"


Mollie #5 - MTC Construction

(Click to Enlarge)
                                                                            January 8, 2012

Hey all,

I have a lot to talk about and not much time, so I will be sending a letter in the mail; look for it. Speaking of the mail, did you guys get my new drivers license?

Since you guys are coming tomorrow send Riley with some socks for me. I only have three pair, and we can't buy any here. Riley- Vasha says that you will almost definitely be one of her underlings. I see her all the time, so expect me to hunt you down during meal times. I am unable to send pictures even with the USB adapter. Evidently, there is a different type of adapter you need to use at the MTC.

 Anyway, there may be a picture of me in the paper, a camera man was here at the MTC taking pictures for an article. Probably because of all the changes going on. It is P-day for us, and we were resting between laundry- needlessly to say we looked a mess. And, I am not even with my companion (in the picture). We were on splits because of piano practice.

(Here is a link to the story she mentioned. She was not included in the photos.)

So, evidently there will be 4,500 missionaries housed here soon. My non-companion and I were casually eavesdropping between laundry. They have taken organization to a new high. For example, the cafeteria can only house 1,000 people. So, each missionary will need to cycle in and out of the cafeteria in 26 minutes in order to adapt.

They are also making other accommodations, like sack meals, opening new food areas, etc... Laundry, classrooms, and many other changes have to be made. It is kind of exciting to be here during all of the changes. Construction is going on all of the time. The last two floors of our building used to be all classrooms, but currently it is in looks like storage unit. All of the rooms are being changed into bedrooms. Showers and beds and cabinetry litter the ground and are being installed left and right at all hours of the day. Last night, the fire alarm went off at 4:00 in the morning. I'll write more about that later.

We have switched teachers recently due to the new semester starting at BYU.  They are great teachers, but they are just not the fantastic teachers I had before. Still, I think I will learn a lot from them.  I wanted to give a gift to Hermano Rodriguez before he left us. Isn't it funny how when someone teaches and serves you so well, you want to somehow give them something in return? I applied this to God and Christ, and I found a new reason to serve a mission. God has given us his son, his teachings, this earth to walk upon, our families, and many other blessings. My mission is only one way of giving back. A way to return something to someone who has served me so well.

Thank you soooo much for the cupcakes, and the letters. And, thank my cousins for the letters- if they aren't already gone. Yeah, my rooms a mess. Please send me pictures of everyone. Especially those that we had taken right before I left. I need a family picture to explain who you lot are to the others.

The other day we were teaching members in Spanish. It was fun. I got to talk to an old military veteran who had served several missions. He had some great stories.

Sorry out of time,

                                                     Lots of love (especially to my Madeline),