Friday, February 28, 2014

"It's humility aint, it? That's the key to inspiration. Can I write that down?"

Nihao everyone! I feel like I say this every single week, but this week has been a great one! I have learned and grown a ton. 

Last week, I started feeling comfortable as a missionary...a little too comfortable- and that's a sign to me that I'm not pushing myself enough and trusting in the Lord enough and that my relationship with Him is getting a little lax. So, I asked Him to humble me and help me get back to where I needed to be. He showed me all of the things that I needed to improve, which sounds like a terrible thing, but it was actually quite wonderful! I made a list of the things I need to work on- my weaknesses. I decided I needed to have more frequent and sincere prayers, to be more humble, to listen more to the Holy Ghost, to improve my planning, to push myself with the language, and to use every single minute I have to serve the Lord- really, just to be a more intentional missionary. As I've striven this week to improve those things, I have seen miracles- it's been amazing!

It's been a while since she's seen the sun!
We got to see J and H (a couple that comes to the MTC to eat with the missionaries) at lunch 3 times this week!! I love them so so so much- they are the most amazing, sweet, loving, truth-seeking people I have ever met in my entire life. I usually talk with J- he has the most thoughtful questions about the gospel, and we have really deep discussions about our beliefs and God, and he is so open to everything. He also comes up with AWESOME analogies based on the things we talk about. The missionaries who are officially teaching them taught them about the word of wisdom this week. H loves tea, but the missionaries told her that keeping the word of wisdom would help her have the Holy Ghost more and feel his guidance. She said that she wasn't sure if that was true, but she wanted to believe because if it were, that would be the greatest blessing to feel the Spirit more. Even though she had just purchased a big jug of expensive tea, she decided to not drink it. She started crying as she told us how much it has blessed her and that she feels like it is true. When we saw J on Monday, we could tell he was really excited about something. He had this grin on his face, and he said, "guess what? I went to church yesterday." We were so excited! We asked him what he thought, and he told us that he and H thought it was beautiful. He told us all about the two people who spoke- both were converts, and told about how they gained a testimony of the gospel (not a coincidence at all, right?). He just said that the speakers and the classes touched his heart and how he agreed with everything. We talked to them again yesterday, and they told us that they love music, so of course we told them about Music and the Spoken word and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. J told us the sweetest story about how he met H and how much he is thankful for her because he knows that she is a gift from God for him. When he took her home to meet his family, he was a little embarrassed because his family was very poor and had literally nothing. She told him that she didn't care what he had, she just cared about him. He said, "this is why I love your church- because I want to be with her forever and ever". So so sweet! They are going to be the most amazing church members- I have no doubt in my mind that they will be baptized. We bought them a Tabernacle Choir CD yesterday at the bookstore as well as a Spanish Book of Mormon that we are all writing our testimonies in to give them tomorrow. They are actually leaving on Mon to go to Guatemala for a month, so we won't see them again until we get back from our missions, which is really sad. But we told them how to find a meetinghouse in Guatemala and we gave them our contact info, so hopefully we can stay in touch with them and they will keep progressing in the gospel. They just make me want to talk to EVERYONE I see, because you just never know who will be like J and H and just be super prepared and ready for the gospel.

Good thing Samuel Smith didn't have to carry his laundry too
This is for you Zoe

 Please go to and search for "Hastening the work in Europe" and watch the video that comes up when you click on the first result. Also, to and watch the video "I'll go where you want me to go". I watched them this week, and I just caught the vision, so to speak, of how amazing this work is. It is NOT just something missionaries do- we can't do it alone. We are here to assist members- YOU are crucial! You could even write me a dear elder about what you thought about it... :D (sorry people, gotta solicit for mail somehow! but really, it's an awesome video!).  I love what Elder Oaks says: "when you are involved in the work of the Lord, the power behind you is always greater than the obstacles before you".

This morning was a little different than a normal p-day, because we had to go to class! For some reason, our district was chosen out of all the classes at the MTC for executives from GM to come to! The church gets missionary cars from GM, so they like to let the executives come and see what missionary work is all about! We introduced ourselves and told about what we were doing and our schedule and how we (are trying to) learn Chinese. It was actually super strange to introduce myself as "Nicole Murri". They asked us to speak for them, so Elder Stewart recited the purpose in Zhongwen, and I gave the first 2 minutes of the first lesson. It was pretty neat to get to tell them all about missionary work! The 9 of us in our class represent the church's entire force of 84,663 missionaries to them, which was pretty cool!

Three more weeks until she is in Taiwan!
 Thank you to everyone who sent me letters and dear elders and packages this week! If I didn't email you back, I'll be sending you a handwritten letter today!
I love being a missionary so much. It is hard work, but it is so worth it. Sometimes it can be discouraging but the Lord really does bless his missionaries and all those who desire to follow Him.

Love you all! Thank you for the support and prayers. 

Mu Jiemei

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Hey, what you listening to?" "Tab Choir" "Yeah, right!" *cue music that isn't the Tabernacle Choir*

Happy Wednesday, everyone!! This week was a great week! I cannot even believe that I have been at the MTC for an entire month....where has the time gone?!

The subject for this week's email comes from something that happened during'll have to keep reading to find out, because I'm not going to tell you yet!

I am LOVING Chinese! Yes, loving it! It is tricky, but it is an amazing language. When I was taking French in HS, I always said that one day, I was going to create a language in which you didn't have to conjugate verbs. Well, guess what?!?! It's already been's Chinese! I cannot even describe how much I love being able to learn a verb and not having to learn 12 different conjugations of it. It's amazingly wonderful. Even though the tones are tricky, Chinese grammar is really quite simple. There aren't exceptions to the rules, like in English. Once you learn a grammar principle, you've got it. Also, I am convinced that the Chinese people have had the gospel already...they just don't know it yet! The word for 'week' is libai, which literally translates to 'worship'. The Chinese call the days of the week by saying the word for week and then the number of the day (Monday is 1, Tuesday is 2, etc). But Sunday is different- it doesn't have a number, you just say libai tian, which means worship day. Amazing! No one even worships on Sunday- they have certain days of the month according to their calendar that are worship days, and they use Sunday as the best day for business. My teacher Xiao Laoshi said that once you start studying characters, the relation to the gospel is even more apparent. The character for the word garden looks like two people with a tree full of fruit (Garden of Eden, anyone?). Who knows, Chinese could be the Adamic language. Another thing I love about Chinese is that it is very literal. Most words are two syllables long, and each syllable corresponds to a character. The word for 'distort' is niuqu (3rd tone, 1st tone). Niu means to turn around, and qu means to bend and make crooked. The way Chinese works is that each character has a few different pronunciations and several meanings and they are combined to make words. The pinyin tells us how to pronounce them. 

The name of the church literally translates to "Jesus Christ latter-day holy follower church"

This week, I have really seen my Chinese improve. When we first got here and started teaching, we had to write out a script of everything we wanted to say and then just read from it, but now we are able to write down words we want to use and speak mostly from our brains and our hearts. It's no longer weird for me to hear Chinese coming from my mouth or the mouths of others. We are by no means perfect, and there is still SO SO SO much to learn, but looking back, I can see the progress I've made, and it makes me feel encouraged.

Time to talk about TRC! I was not looking forward to it this week, because last week's just didn't go as well as I had hoped. But both of our TRC appointments went really well! We got to teach a girl who we also taught last week. She is actually from China, and was baptized 2 or 3 months ago. All of her family is still in China and she only gets to see them occasionally. She told us that our Chinese was much better than last week, so that was good! She has so much faith- she reminds me of Hannah Barnes, actually! I hope we get to see her again tomorrow, because she comes every week.

Here’s the part that related to my title for this week. After we came out of our TRC lesson, Elder Hughes and Elder Dethloff were still teaching a couple from China whose son is a member of our church. Suddenly, we hear the Elders start beatboxing. Yes, beatboxing. Apparently, the sisters had sung for them, so they asked if the Elders would sing for them too. They said no, but said they had another talent to share. So they beatboxed for this Chinese couple who knows zero English. They LOVED it, though! Afterward, our teacher told them that as a teacher, he needed to say that that probably wasn't the best way to bring the Spirit, but that as a former missionary, sometimes you have to do unconventional things to build a relationship.

Nicole's favorite cafeteria worker-the wonderful Paige, her roommate from last semester

I love you all! Thank you for the letters and emails and dear elders. They really do make my day!! If you want to send me an email about something this week but don't know what to write, tell me about your testimony of Jesus Christ and how it has blessed your life. I have loved hearing about all of your favorite scriptures and how you've seen the hand of the Lord.

Mu Jiemei/ Sis Murri

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Hello body! It's time to party! Chin up, shoulders back, knees straight, buns tight..."

Hello everybody!! This week was FANTASTIC on the mail and package front! I think I got a letter or package or dear elder every day this week! Thank you thank you thank you! It means so much to me to get little notes from everyone- they definitely make my day and are so encouraging and uplifting! Lauren, Zoe, Jaelynn, Hannah Barnes, Heritage Ward YM/YW, McKee family, and Jared, and my immediate family- I will be writing you all letters today and putting them in the mail tomorrow!

This week's quote comes because we've been getting up early to do the sisters' aerobics classes at 6 AM. They have different things every day- yoga, pilates, cardio, kickboxing, step...pretty fun. 

This week we had our first experience in the TRC (teaching resource center). Basically they tell you what door to go in, and you teach whoever is in the room. The people that come in aren't role playing- they're just themselves. Usually they are members of the church, but they can also be less-active members or those investigating the church. Regardless, they usually come because they have a specific challenge in their life and are looking for some spiritual upliftment. We teach them in Chinese. TRC was frustrating though, because I wanted so badly to help them and teach them something that would bless them and uplift them, but I had no idea what they were saying and I couldn't figure out what their needs were. I think that is what makes the MTC so hard- we come here with strong testimonies and an incredible desire to bless and help people, and it's hard to feel helpless. What I do know, though, is that I don't need to be able to speak Zhongwen to help people feel the Spirit, so that's what I try to focus on.

Xiao Laoshi
This week I've also realized how well God knows me! He knows my weaknesses, and what experiences I need to help me become stronger. He also knows my strengths and how to use them. He knows what things to bless me with and how to make me happy. One of those tender mercies is my teacher, Xiao Laoshi. She is amazing! Besides being a fantastic language teacher, she is SO spiritual and kind and able to know how to help us and encourage us. She served in Taipei a few years ago and she is just the cutest, most adorable person I've ever met. When she's teaching, she does these cute sound effects and facial expressions that just make us all crack up!

On Sunday we also got to watch the Testaments (a movie about Christ's visit to those on the American continent after his resurrection)…in Mandarin. I could not understand 98% of what was being said (good thing I know the movie pretty well!), but I could feel the spirit and Christ's love so strongly. It was amazing. I love that movie so much. Even though I'm going to be a little white girl missionary who can't speak Chinese, I can still try to help Taiwanese people feel God's love- watching the Testaments in Mandarin proved that to me. Side note- I didn't realize how much flirting there is in that movie until I watched it here.....

My companion and I were trying to teach a man Mosiah 24, where the people pray to God to get them out of bondage, but to answer their prayer, the Lord eases their burdens and helps them bear them. So, I turned there and started to try to give some background info, but I have no idea how to say bondage, or really any word that relates to the background of the story. So, I jumped up and started drawing on the board and pantomiming until he understood. I thought it was hilarious! We do so much pantomiming and drawing in our lessons- it's really quite awesome! I'm going to be SO good at charades when I get back.

Okay, another funny story about the MTC. All the walkways and sidewalks here are covered- this is great when it rains or snows, but it also means that we NEVER see the sky. Well, except for our walk to the temple on P-day (preparation day- her day off) and our temple walk on Sunday. Also, we are outside for a total of 6 minutes everyday, give or take, and even for the three minutes of that that is during daylight hours, we are under the covered walkways. Jared, if you thought I was pale before, just wait until I'm about to leave the MTC. I'm going to be a ghost! Hahaha! :D

Confusing Chinese words of the week:
jihua- plan
jihui- opportunity
jiaohui- church

zhidao- to know (1st tone, 4th tone)
zhidao-guidance (3rd tone, 3rd tone)

CAN YOU SEE WHY THIS LANGUAGE IS MAKING ME CRAZY, PEOPLE?! They all sound the same! Hahaha! Actually, I love learning Chinese so much. So so much. It's hard and tiring and annoying, but I really do love this language!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The food. Oh man the MTC food. It is getting pretty bad. I think I probably have 1 serving of veggies every week, and maybe 2 servings of fruit! I am craving vegetables! And fruits that aren't pineapple and grapes! And good meat! Hahaha! I think we are going to talk to the dietitian this week and see if we can eat from the special dietary needs room...
I can't believe I haven't always wanted to be a missionary. It's my favorite thing ever. Seriously. It's worth the roller coaster of emotions and the being tired all the time and the really bad food because I love it so so so so so much.

I love you all!! Thank you SO MUCH for all of the emails, letters, packages, prayers, and love. You are the best. If you need something to write to me about this week....tell me how you've seen the hand of the Lord in your life lately!

Mu Jiemei/ Sis Murri

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"It's humility, ain't it- that's what you're trying to tell me. Humility is the key to inspiration!! Can I write that down?!"

 Hello from the MTC! It's been another awesome week!! THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who sent me letters and packages and “dear elders” with your favorite scriptures. You guys are the best. Mail time is seriously the most exciting part of the day! It's so fun to hear from all of you!  To those of you who wrote me letters and emails, if I don't send you a reply email, I will be writing you a handwritten letter today! Keep 'em coming! I feel the love so much from everyone in mail and prayers-Thank you! Happy almost birthdays to my cousins Emma and Lauren! If you could, it would be great if you could send a dear elder to one of the sisters in my district. Her family is from New Zealand, so she hardly ever gets mail, which is a sad, sad thing in the life of a missionary. Her address is the same as mine- just put "Sister Ora Keung" in place of my name. It doesn't have to be long, just tell her she's awesome. 

This week's “Best Two Years” quote comes from what I learned this week! This week I discovered why Heavenly Father wanted me to go Chinese speaking. I am a perfectionist (surprise, surprise, right?). I am here at the MTC not to learn how to be a perfect missionary, but to learn how to be okay with being an imperfect missionary and person, and how to really rely on the Lord. Generally speaking, I don't like to speak unless I know exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. But you can't learn a language that way. You have to be okay with making a ton of mistakes. This week I came across Jacob 4:7. (Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.)
God is going to show me his arm and his grace BECAUSE I can't speak Chinese, not in spite of it. Another reason I think I've been called to a Chinese-speaking mission is because it forces me to teach simply. If I were teaching in English, I would make things way too complicated. Since I have to look up about 70% of the words we want to use in a lesson, and since our investigators have no knowledge of God, we have to teach very simply.

Okay, so lots of people have been asking about my Chinese name, Mu Jiemei. My surname is Mu. The coordinator of the Mandarin speaking missionaries picks out everyone's surnames by looking at their English last names and finding a Chinese surname that is similar. So, Murri becomes Mu. Mu means "trees", I think. Jiemei is the way to say "Sister" (often abbreviated JM). Mu Jiemei= Sis Murri. We will get Chinese first and middle names from our teachers right before we leave the MTC and go to Taiwan.

I have come up with two mottos for my mission this week. The first is "quiet dignity". I think that phrase is from the Missionary Handbook. I want people to know who I represent before I even speak. My other motto is "Wo shi kuaile" (I am happiness). Normally in Chinese when you say a noun shi (is) an adjective, you must put "de" at the end, or else you are saying that the noun literally embodies the adjective. But that's exactly what I want! I am a missionary! I have the greatest message in the world! I am happiness!

The language is coming along pretty well. I am trying really hard to learn and memorize. I still have a lot to learn, but there are some things that are starting to become automatic. It's like snow- at first it doesn't seem like it's sticking, but you look back and notice that it really is accumulating.

I would give up pretty much everything to keep doing this work forever. It is the greatest work, because it is the work of God. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!! I (mostly) LOVE CHINESE!

Mu Jiemei/ Sis Murri