September 8, 2010
Slow week. We’ve only had like three teaching appointments so far, and we’ve been contacting every day for about four hours. Tuesday we were out for even longer than that.
It has been raining for about three hours, not just little showers but huge storms.
Here are a few things I forgot to tell you in the last e-mail. The first day I got to our house I had to go really bad. But I also had to clean and unpack first. So that took an hour, and by that time I was about ready to explode. So close. Once I finally got into our bathroom, I realized we had no toilet paper, nor did we have it anywhere in the house. I was — well, concerned — so I went and asked our District Leader, Elder Harvey. He just stared at me for a bit, then started to laugh. He said, and I quote, “Your shower has a hose, right?” I was floored. Long story short, I used toilet paper for the first time in a week yesterday at the church. But when you think about it, washing is probably more clean than wiping, right? I’ve been converted.
Communication with Elder Teng is challenging to say the least. He continues to tell me that his English is “supeerb” and will not accept correction. I’m in the process of writing a dictionary for things he says. Who knows, maybe he’s doing the same thing for funny things I say. Here are a few examples of funny things he says:
- “I just feel like, so terrible.” (A phrase used to express moderate disapproval or sadness; can also mean he’s tired.)
- “Oh man!” (Used to indicate surprise, anger, or joy.)
The list goes on and on. Very funny. Elder Teng is also extremely competitive. He refuses to lose anything. From chess to Monopoly. He’ll cheat if he needs to. I had to stop playing games with him for a while, so things are good.
Oh, I got pooped on by a bird this week! First time ever. Ruined a shirt. Good fun. It was right before I went to a baptism service for another companionship’s investigator. It was very cool seeing this girl be baptized. She and her mother are from Indonesia, in a place where they don’t have the Church. Her mom has been reading and praying since she moved there, and she started teaching her daughter when she adopted her. So this woman saved for about five years to come here for three days and baptize her daughter. The entire service was in Chinese, so that made it even better. Oh this is funny. The little girl is clearly Indian; the mother is Chinese, but the little girl didn’t know until last year. She’s 10 now, I think. I thought that was funny.
Oh, Mom! What do you want me to send for your birthday? They have everything here. Anything from a traditional Chinese dress to a Singapore shirt to whatever. I’ll send Sam and Dad sarangs at the same time. They are the Indian equivalent of lava lavas. They’re sweet. I’ll send Emilee whatever she wants.
Emilee, I’m sorry about your name in my last e-mail. The computer had an auto-correct on it, and I must have missed it. This one doesn’t so it’s probably riddled with mistakes.
I’m sending some photos. One was taken about two hours ago in front on the famous Singapore Merlion in the pouring rain.
The next is at a Hindu temple on P-day last week. (We can’t look like missionaries in other temples because it’s offensive.)
The third is in front of a Buddhist temple. Below it is a cool underpass.
Someone tell Kyal and Colleen that my back pack is amazing. I’ve already used the rain cover like three times. So cool.
Other than that, my Chinese is progressing slowly. I can understand more and more but actually speaking it is moving slowly. It’s difficult to know whether I’m progressing much because I really don’t have anyone else to compare myself to other than the zone leaders who have been out much longer.
When we contact people now, three out of five times the person will say they’ve seen me before, like a week ago getting off the MRT (the subway system we use everyday). That’s always fun to hear.
The food is so good. They have what they call “economy rice.” It’s more rice than I can eat and includes curry chicken or pork (or whatever) and a bunch of vegetables, $3.30 SGD.
I live in a nice place. It’s a little three bedroom apartment on 19 Balmoral Road, Apartment 02 04 (that’s the floor and number). Look it up on Google Earth. I have my own bathroom. The missionaries we share the place with are cool.
Chewing gum is legal, but you need a permit. It’s like getting a prescription.
People call me “ang” (red) “mo” (hair). Hóng máo is Hokkien for “red-hair”. A slight variation, “ang mo kui” means red-hair devil. It was probably coined during the British ruling but the “kui” has been dropped. The term “ang mo” now just refers to a white person, a non derogatory phrase. I just laugh and then try and share a message.
We don’t have bikes. We take the bus and MRT everywhere. The MRT is a subway system that goes all over Singapore. We contact mostly in Bugis, you can probably find it on Google Earth as well.
I had a legit durian last night. Almost made me throw up. Tasted like jet fuel and rotten onions. The smell of a durian didn’t bother me at first but now that I’ve tasted it, the smell alone gives me a headache.
I’m very happy. I probably won’t send many letters because they’re very expensive and the closest post office is a ways away.
I love you all!