First letter to me!

There is some information in this letter that is repeated from my last post, but I'm going to retype it anyways.

You're the first person to write me in the MTC, so you'll be the first person I write to. Although not the first person to receive a letter. I'm so grateful for your letter! My first few days at the MTC have been long, fun, and full of hard work. I have been fighting a cold since I got here but it finally seems to be subsiding. My companions are great, both from Utah. My district only has 6 people in it--2 companionships of 3. The older district of Cantonese learners has 10 people. Everyone is WAY cool too. It's like a little club or something. The MTC is like Utopia with a few stupid rules and not awesome food. Everyone is really friendly and loving. We have a good amount of variety between the 2 districts. All of us are going to Hong Kong except one of the elders in our district who is going to New York City. I am excited for Emily to serve a mission. I have one teacher (girl) who is from Hong Kong and one (boy) who is an American.

The best part of the day is gym. I really like playing foursquare. It reminds me of elementary school at recess, only SO much more intense. The "Cantos," as we are known, dominate at foursquare.

My testimony has been strengthened so much while I've been here--and I've only been here a week. I can't even comprehend the amount of knowledge I will have gained by the time I head out to Hong Kong. My estimated departure date is July 5. It will be nice to be here for the Fourth of July. I bet I won't be able to sleep at all that night. One because we'll be leaving and two because Stadium of Fire is RIGHT next door. Stadium of Fire is a concert/fireworks show held every year in the BYU football stadium.

I am really grateful for all my blessings and for all the prayers being offered in my behalf. I can really feel them working and there is an added measure of the Spirit in my life. Ask Emily for some of the other stuff I wrote about for my blog. Emily, if you feel so inclined, you can add them as a comment.

Oh, and ask on my blog for people to write me. I'd really like more letters. I don't have addresses so I need people to write me to be able to write them. Quick plug for dearelder.com--it's really easy and quick, just like sending an email.


Sister Sara Black


Sara's first letter

Sara sent my parents a letter, which they scanned and sent to me. It didn't copy very well, so I didn't see all of what she wrote. Here is my best effort to tell you all what she said:

The MTC is AWESOME!!! I am in a companionship with 2 other girls, both from Utah. I have a more complete mailing address now, so if Rachel would update it that'd be good. (I did update it.)

Also, as for emailing me, if you use dearelder.com I can read the emails before my 30 minutes of email time. So during the 30 minutes I can just write.

I have a Chinese name now which is Baahk. It is a low tone, and means white which is really funny. One of my teachers is a native of Hong Kong and she's really great.

The Spirit here is really strong. I am now the senior companion but it doesn't really make a difference. I really like my district--there are only 6 of us which is good for learning the language. It's pretty intimidating but I can learn it.

The food is pretty awful but there were a few things not entirely disgusting. I love the MTC. The district above us, leaving in 5 weeks, is really cool. They played a bit of a prank on us the first day, nothing serious just pretending the elders all had one problem or another. I WANT MAIL!!! I'd love a few pairs of simple earrings if you're so inclined.

Love you lots,
The Church is true.

Sister Baahk/Sister Black


Dropping Sara Off at the MTC

Wednesday was a crazy day, but a very nice day as well. We woke up and finished packing up all of Sara's stuff and all of my family's stuff because they were leaving to drive back to Oregon right after dropping Sara off at the MTC. There were things scattered all over the house, but I don't think Sara forgot anything. The only thing I know that my family forgot was my sister Anna's coat, which isn't that big of a deal.

We drove down to a Greek restaurant in Provo to have lunch before Sara went into the MTC. Mom and Sara decided to use the bathroom before we ordered our food, and decided that if the bathroom was that disgusting it wasn't very likely that the kitchen was sanitary, so we left. We went to Tucano's instead, which was where Sara wanted to eat her last pre-mission meal. I don't think anybody was disappointed at the switch. Sara's friend Emily and our cousins Chase & Jenn & two of their kids came and ate with us. It was really nice spending time all together to say goodbye to Sara. We took a couple of pictures outside the restaurant (they'll be posted if I ever get copies) and then drove off to the MTC.

We squished 7 people into my parents' Vibe so we could all be there to say goodbye to Sara. The drop-off area has about 20 different stations to unload your stuff, and they make you drive down to the farthest available one. As we drove by the empty stations, all the elders waiting to help unload stuff were smiling and waving. Sara said she felt like a celebrity because everybody was waving at her. There was a really happy and exciting feeling. When we got to our station, everybody got out and hugged Sara, and then off she went into the MTC, with two elders carrying her luggage for her. (And mom didn't cry.)

As she was leaving and we were pulling away, Anna yelled "Bye Sara!" out the window, so she turned around and waved to us one last time. She looked excited and happy to be there. We'll see if she writes her perspective on that day for the blog, or if she jumps right into MTC life when she sends me her first letter.


Today's the DAY!

I enter the MTC today where I'll spend 3 months learning Cantonese and preparing to teach the gospel in Hong Kong: all 1,104 sq km of it. Last night I was set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! That was an amazing experience, I cried like a baby... but I love this gospel. I love the Lord, my Savior, my family, and I feel so blessed to be able to have this opportunity to serve.

Just for some background on Hong Kong (I am a geography major, I can't help myself)

There are approximately 7 million people in Hong Kong, 20,000 of which are members of this church. This means that there are about 997 people per thousand who know little or nothing about the gospel of Jesus Christ. and I will have the blessing to teach and serve some of them in my own little way. They have a really high life expectancy in Hong Kong, which isn't too surprising considering it is a developed urban area with a low population in comparison to other countries of the world (I haven't quite figured out why HK is always listed as its own entity in stats even though technically it is in China, i mean, i don't know i guess it doesn't matter). The largest minority ethnic groups are Filipinos and Indonesians.

Macau is also in my mission. I would really love to serve there I think, because it used to belong to the Portuguese and there is still some remnants of that on the landscape of the city.

My family has been in town since last Friday and we've done some fun stuff for my last few days here. Rebecca and I started it off right by going to a party a few of my friends planned and the next morning playing tennis with my friend Scott. On Sunday evening after Spencer's farewell my sisters and mom took a walk from her house up to the Draper Temple. It was so beautiful as the sun set over the valley to be walking up around the temple. I've decided I really like Draper. Monday morning we hiked the Y and I went to a study group, mostly to just see a few of my geography friends for the last time. Then Tuesday was where it got crazy- I had a final at 7am, then packed and cleaned, shopped, ate, got a pedicure with mom and sisters, went to see how to train your dragon (which is really good for any of you who want to see it and aren't going on missions today), ate dinner and was set apart by President Todd. I still have a bit of packing to do before we leave, so I think I'll go get that done now. :)

Next time I write.. I'll be in the MTC!! My sister will actually probably be writing for me.. based on my letters etc. I hope to hear from you all! I love letters!! my mission address is listed on the right --------->


Still counting down

I went to my cousin Spencer's farewell today-- he's going into the Missionary Training Center at the same time on the SAME day as I am!! I am so excited right now. Naturally I am having loads of different emotions going on all at once, but right now I am excited. When I got home tonight after having dinner and playing board games with my family all evening, my roommate, her fiance and her brother gave me some missionary advice:

1. I don't have to be perfect, just doing my best.

2. Don't flirt with the elders.

3. Work hard.

4. Have faith, remember that things don't always work out exactly how WE plan them.

Ok so those are the only ones I can think of right now even though we talked for quite a while.

Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a few last-minute items: some workout clothes, 2 shirts, and an external hard drive among others. I should probably grab some new socks too since my washing machine seems to have stolen 1 from every good pair I own.


Testing Testing... 123...

I think I'll steer clear of the whole Lorem Ipsum thing, and just do a real tester post instead. I leave on my mission to Hong Kong in less than one week- five days to be exact! I don't quite know yet how I feel about it. I am excited, nervous, scared, at peace, and uneasy all at the same time. The one thing holding me together right now is the fact that I know what I am doing is the right thing at this point in my life. I have no qualms about leaving behind school for a year and a half and having to pick it up again when I get back because I just know it's right.

My sister will be posting for me to this blog once I'm off, based on letters and emails from me. I'm pretty sure most of the stuff will be directly from me. Who knows though, she may just edit it and clip stuff up to make it sound better. Either way, it should be a decently accurate representation of my life while on a mission.