Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Life in the MTC

Adam has settled in nicely at the MTC.  He is getting used to the routine (up at 6:30 am and in bed by 10:30 pm, exercise, personal study, and attending classes).  He spends 6 hours a day in class learning how to teach the gospel and speak Mandarin.  His goal is to learn 45 Chinese characters a day (which means that he'll have a vocabulary of >2,500 words after 9 weeks).  As the District Leader of his group (7 missionaries all heading to Taichung), he leads district council meetings where they set goals and work towards them as a group.
Adam joined the MTC choir (which has "more than a thousand voices", according to him) and he got to sing with the Nashville Tribute Band ( last Sunday when they visited the MTC as part of the Pioneer Day celebration (a Utah holiday celebrating the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847).  He loves it.
Adam also auditioned and was selected to play "Consider the Lilies" on the cello, accompanied by a talented sister missionary who is going to Cambodia.  They happened to be signing up at the same time and decided to collaborate.  After just practicing together twice, they impressed the judges during the audition and were asked to perform at one of the upcoming devotionals.
Adam shared the following spiritual thought based on a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Apostles:
"Paul describes the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6, in which everything is for defense except for the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God".  Most people stop there but Paul did not finish his discourse.  He continued to say, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel". As missionaries, one must open his/her mouth boldly because faith works by words spoken (e.g., God said, let there be light; Jesus said, rise, take up thy bed, and walk; etc.)."
As part of his Sundays, he got to teach some Mandarin speaking volunteers as though they were in real teaching situations.  He practices "opening his mouth" and is making really good progress.
In room on Pday

With companions at the Provo Temple

Saturday, July 23, 2016

First Pday at the MTC

Adam had his first "preparation day" (Pday in missionary language) on Wednesday and he wrote an open letter to all his friends and family who wanted to get his group letters.  It is appended below.  He also sent home a voice message.  In it, he spoke a little bit in Mandarin.  It was pretty good.  He had trouble uploading photos so we'll have to wait for photo updates.
July 23, 2016

Dear Everyone,

Today is my first Pday at the MTC. Because we have a big block of personal time, I'm probably going to be using email for about 20 min at a time with a total of an hour, so I'll be emailing throughout the morning.

Wow, the MTC and mission are totally different from anything else I've ever done. It sure is exhausting at times, but it's the best kind of exhausting because of the Spirit that I feel, the knowledge that I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do, and the good people around me!

The first day was super exciting! A really nice host brought me to my room, and I got everything I needed, including my name tag, which says "Elder Kwok" in English and the "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in Mandarin. Everything in class is in Mandarin, and we have a really nice and encouraging teacher, who's a returned sister missionary from Taipei. I met my companion soon after, Elder Wilde, who's an 18-year-old mountain biker and bike mechanic. He is really nice, thoughtful, and funny with a really good sense of humor!

The next couple days, the Chinese kept on coming and coming, and my brain felt like it was flooded! But we got some really good advice to get a journal just for Chinese words and meanings. With continual effort, I'm starting to grow my vocabulary, especially incorporating the tones. 

We have to write talks in Chinese for every Sunday because we don't know whether we'll be speaking until after the sacrament is over. They're supposed to accumulate to a stockpile of talks we'll have ready when we'll be called to speak in Taiwan. Also, on Sunday, we learned that this month for devotionals will be for emeritus seventies and the next will be general authorities, but rarely an apostle. During the devotional that night, we watched Elder Bednar's talk titled "Character of Christ" He taught about the Character of Christ, which is turning outward toward others instead of turning inward to the natural man (which is self-centered and selfish--he referenced the cookie monster who "want cookie now!"). I felt the Spirit so many times answer many of my questions and struggles. When he closed his talk and the lights turned on, everyone suddenly stood, and guess what? Elder Bednar and his wife walked onto the stand!!!!!!.

 I felt many of my questions answered by him when he answered other questions. I felt the Spirit and the love of my Savior and Heavenly Father. I'll share one of my answers. I sometimes worry that I'm not doing things correct or perfect or worthy enough for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, but that's because I forgot a simple truth that he told us that Sunday night. He said just be a good boy or girl. As long as we try our best we can have the Holy Ghost. You don't have to be perfect, but good. Also, worrying about how well you're doing is not selfish, but it's self-centered, which is what he talked about with the natural man. Turn outward instead, because the only way you can find who you are is if you forget and lose yourself in your service. Wow, I can't even describe the force that came to me with that, and I definitely know it's true. I dare you to test it out and see if it's not :).

All right, signing off!

Monday, July 18, 2016

First letter from the MTC

Adam sent home a letter describing his first day at the MTC.

His first activity after settling into his room, "... I soon was in class with my lao shi (teacher), who only spoke Mandarin to us.  I was pretty good, but I still need practice and wish I had done a little more Pimsleur. Oh well!"

Adam has two companions, Elder Wilde and Elder Chang (see photo in the earlier post).

After meeting with his Branch President, Adam wrote, "President Deng gave me just the advice I needed: Focus first on coming unto Christ and growing my testimony, and then on the language."

As the new missionaries are organized into groups, Adam is made a "district leader", responsible for a group of missionaries going to Taiwan.

He is off to a good start.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

First photos at the MTC

Thanks to Aunt Carole, we got some photos of Adam during his first days at the MTC.

With companions
With Aunt Carole's friends
Outdoor meeting
Mandarin speaking missionaries

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


After spending just 5 weeks at home, Adam entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) today. He was lucky to have Aunt Ruth and Grandpa Li take him down to Provo, UT. He will spend the next 9 weeks learning how to preach the gospel and speak Mandarin. While he will miss his family and friends, he is excited to embark on this 2-year journey and to share the gospel with the people in Taiwan.  Adam thanks everyone for the amazing support he has received, especially his relatives, his great friends at UCLA, and his Church friends both in SoCal and in San Francisco.

With Grandpa Li

Same Blog, New Missionary

The last missionary from the Kwok household is entering the Missionary Training Center at BYU in Provo, UT, today.
This blog, originally created for Ben and then Thomas, is now "repurposed" to chronicle the activities of Adam Kwok, who will serve in the Taiwan Taichung Mission.
If you are interested, browse through the archived posts for Thomas when he was in Malaysia and Singapore from 2010-2012.