Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Riley #9 in Gardena, CA - My Companion and Finding the Chinese

I'm in the middle. These are the missionaries who all flew out from the MTC with me to LA.

                              March 11, 2013

Dear Family,

      This first week has been great. My companion and trainer, Elder Hsiao (she ow), is from South Jordan. He has been out here for over a year. He is a great missionary and much of what we do has been organized by him.

My new companion -  Elder Hsiao (she ow) from South Jordan, Utah
      From my understanding, the Chinese missionary program here is fairly new. To put it in perspective, apparently, the day I arrived here at the LA mission was the very day the first missionary called to the LA mission Mandarin-speaking, finished his mission.

     Currently, there are six missionaries here, including me, who were called to speak Mandarin. Two of them are currently assigned with the English missionaries, so there are currently four missionaries in the Chinese program. Three of the six are going to finish their missions in the next couple transfers. So, with one more coming next transfer, there will probably be about four of us here in a couple of months.

Sister and President Baker
      There is one Chinese area which covers the whole mission; therefore, we drive everywhere we go. That is to say, my companion drives me everywhere. According to him, I probably won't drive unless they really need me to drive.

      For now, we are living in an apartment in Gardena, though we should be moving soon. There is one Chinese branch (~small congregation) in the mission in Palos Verdes, which we attended Sunday. We also went to a single's ward in Sawtelle in Culver City to attend church with someone we met.

     The branch is really great. The people are really nice and very helpful. We have been to a couple of their houses for dinner, and it is always great. I think I will enjoy it even more once I start to understanding more of what they are saying.
    It is difficult to find Chinese people to teach. Luckily, the missionaries before me have been working hard at finding people, so I get see the benefit of their hard work.

     One way they have found people is through English classes. They ask the people who come if they are interested in learning about the church, and sometimes get a positive response. It is still a work in progress and getting people to come to English class has been difficult. There usually is only a couple people who come. However, they have been putting out advertisements, and we are getting progressively larger classes.
     We have also received a few referrals from the Visitor's Center at the LA temple and through church members. I am really impressed at everything that is being done to find people. The Chinese missionaries have become really creative in how they can meet more people.

      The most difficult obstacle for me right now is Chinese. My Chinese is still quite terrible, so when it comes to understanding what people are saying, it usually is hit and miss. I can teach lessons, but if they ask questions I don't know how to answer them well. Also, with perhaps church as the sole exception, I am not ever immersed in the language. Still, I am trying hard to learn it and my companion is a great help.

It was great talking to everyone on the phone.
                                                                                          Elder Bowman