Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hey Guys!!!

  I've had a pretty super stressful week here at the MTC, but nothing that I can't handle. The teachers here have really stepped up their teaching. Now we actually have entire classes in Hmong. We would normally plan out about an hour for gospel and an hour for language study, but now they've kind of merged the two together so it's one big block of Hmong/Gospel study. We don't have to respond yet in Hmong, but I've found that if I think carefully enough, I can answer a lot of questions with the very few words I know. There are a couple of staples that I have learned you can use in almost any answer. Really most of the questions come back to God (Vajtswv, vah joo) Jesus Christ (Yexus Khetos, Yaysoo Kaytah) the Holy Ghost (Tus Vaj ntsus plig daub huv, Too Vanjoo Plee Dow Hoo) and prayer (Thov vajtswv, Toh vah joo). I just try to do my best to answer these questions as best I can. I have a little red book that I lovingly titled the "I Don't Know That Word Book". I take it around with me absolutely EVERYWHERE!! I have found that most of our classroom lessons revolve around gospel topics, leaving a gap in my knowlege about things not related to the gospel. These are the kinds of things that I've been writing down in my book. So far, just in the past weeks lessons, I have found out that one of our investigators was NTSHAI (Nch eye, afraid) of what his family would think of him being baptized. We had been struggling with him for weeks to know why he didn't want to be baptized. We learned Dag Xwb (dah soo, just kidding) and I've used that a TON, especially with my companions. This book has really become the key to my learning. I even have the first vision in Hmong in it.

I guess the bisggest surprise of the day is that for the first time since we've been here, we didn't wake up at 4:30 on P-day... I've had some mixed feelings about it so far. It was nice getting the extra two hours of sleep, and I really like that I haven't been tired today yet... But the reason we normally do get up at 4:30 is to do our laundry, which I have yet to do. We looked into the laundry room and it is absolutely PACKED!! There wasn't a washer open... We only have until 4:00 tonight to get it done, or else we won't be able to. (4:00 is kind of the official end of our p-day. Our tuesday night devotional is at 6, dinner at 5, and language study at 4).

Yesterday by the final few minutes of class, everyone including our teacher was stressed out, and exhausted. (all of our teachers have had their finals at BYU this week.) When it came time for us to close with a prayer I volunteered. All of our prayers are in Hmong so I started out like normal. "Au Vajtswv, peb leej txiv saum ntuj ceeb tsheej" (Oh vah joo, pay lang tsee show ndoo gang chang, Oh God, Our father in Heaven), but one of my companions, Elder Cook, dropped everything out of his pocket and whispered Ay oh! Basically just "oops" in Hmong. This got Elder Hardy to chuckle, but I kept going... Throughout the prayer I'd hear Elder Hardy Giggle, but I kept pressing forward... Right as I was about to finish, he started full out laughing, which made me laugh, which started the whole class, teacher included, laughing. All I had to say was "Los Ntawm Yexus Khetos lub npe, amee," but I couldn't get it out!!! It took me a couple tries but I eventually spit it out and we all laughed for a good 2 or 3 minutes after that... Honestly though, I think God knew that everyone in the room needed that at that moment, because it relieved all of the stress and tension in the room.

I love getting mail from everyone!! The other day, on one of the hardest days I've had in the MTC, I got a package and a letter from the sweet Wach family. Their letter said so much I needed to hear at that time, and they also sent a new tie. At that moment I knew that my Heavenly Father really was watching out for me, and He was aware of what my needs were at that time. I enjoy everybody's letters so much, and sometimes, just so I have something to look forward to, I save them until the end of my last class at 8:30 so that I can better savor every single word. There have been multiple times from multiple people when I have read and laughed out loud, or nearly started to cry. The support that I have from everyone is really what's given me the drive to work my behind off. I love every single one of you, and I am so so so sorry that I haven't written so many of you back. I'm going to try harder to send letters back as many times as I can.

Well, my time for this week is up!! I love you guys, be good, and Hasta La Vista!!!

Elder Lis Xeeb!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Don't think I forgot about YOU...."

Alex's first email this morning was short, and he didn't write much! He later sent another email for us that answered our questions FINALLY and we know much more about how he is doing!  Here's his second email this week:


Sorry I didn't write you guys earlier!! I was in the laundry room when I wrote that earlier e-mail, and the line started to pile up behind me... Total guilt trip...

Anyway, I'll try to remember all your questions, because I don't have your last emails with me... I'll start by telling you more about my wonderful companions!! Elder Cook is baaaaaasically uncle Cameron mixed with a demill boy mixed with a Bliss boy... Try to imagine that! He's from 'Merc'n Fork. He's a pretty sweet guy. Elder Mckay (the ones the girls like) is first of all taken. Sorry girls..... He's from Kaysville and he's super spiritual, and I can talk to him pretty easily. We all get along really well, and some nights we have "bro chats" just about stuff... I guess you just have to be there.... We're the only elders in our room so we each have our own desk, closet, drawers, and bed. So yeah, its pretty sweet in comparison to the six elders in a room just down the hall from us. Our District (which is all 8 Hmongs and all 3 Viets) is super strong, so it actually feels like we're in one huge companionship! I was so sad Sunday after a leadership meeting when one of the branch presidency, brother Lindohl, came up to me and said that I was being released. I was just getting the hang of things, and just the very night before I had three people in my district come up to me and say how much they looked up to and respect me! I was glad that I got to pass on this great opportunity to another Elder, Elder Hardy.

I hear you guys got a new van?... Without me?... That'll be broken when I get home?... *sigh*... I'm pretty sure one of the last things that I said to everyone was to not let anything change. I mean, it starts with something simple like a new car... or a new handle for the glass door... And before you know it, when I come home, you will have moved to Yakama washington, had a few more babies and (heavens forbid) started quoting things from movies I haven't seen!! Beware family..... beware....

Like I said, I left all my mail and all the addresses that I actually DID have in the old classroom, so just make sure to remind everyone that I DO love them, I just haven't been able to write them all back yet... Speaking of which, I love when you guys write me, and its the hardest thing not to laugh in the middle of my silent classroom. Why is my family the cute one?!

Elder Lis Xeeb

Bits of this and that

Well... somehow, my companions and I have made it to the halfway point. Honestly? We have no idea how that happened!! We complained the entire first and second week about how much we hated the MTC! It wasn't home, the food rips you apart, and getting up at 6 and not being in bed til 11 we thought would kill us by week 5! But somewhere around the end of week 3 or the beginning of week 5 a flip switched, and we don't want to leave!! My food is cooked for me (and it really isn't all that bad) I'm with a group of 6 of my best friends for 6 hours of the day, I'm immersed in the spirit, and Hmong is absolutely the coolest language on this entire campus... (sorry Spanish RMs). We are now savoring every single experience we have here, because we know that there won't be many left... Not that we aren't excited to get into the field, we are, it's just that we've actually come to believe that this is our home! When we arrived, we referred to our room as the "residency"... then it became the "dorm"... and now, finally it's "home".
Anyway.... I want to apologize for not writing anybody back!!! Our building was old and the A/C broke, so they decided to renovate our entire building!! We had about 15 minutes to collect all of our books and get out. In the rush, I left every single letter I had inside my desk. Every one of the Hmongs has tried to get in, but no luck... Don't think I don't love you guys!! In conjunction with that... Congrats to my new little cousins and their families!! I can't wait to see pictures!!
I always run out of time before the really good stuff... So to finish off my letter today, I'm going to (attempt) bearing my testimony in Hmong... From memory mind you...
Kuv paub tias Vajtswv thiab Yexus hlub peb. Kuv tau pom no. Thiab kuv paub nkawd xav peb los tsev nyob ntawd nkawd. Kuv paub thiab tus yaj saub, Thomas S. Monson, qhia nrog txoj kev tsheeg. Kuv paub thiab Yauxei Xamiv tau nyob thiab nw txhia phau ntaub maumoos. Kuv paub tias yog peb ua zoo, Vajtswv yuav foom koov hmoob rau peb. Kuv paub no qhov muas tsheeg, los ntawm Yexus Khetos Lu umpe, Amee.
I know that God and Jesus love us. I have seen this. And I know they want us to com home to live with them. I know that the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, teaches with truth. I know that Joseph Smith existed and he translated the book of mormon. I know that if we do good, God will bless us. I know these things have truth, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love, Elder Lis Xeeb

Family email-- April 9th

I saved some more time for you guys so I wouldnt have to send a letter and have you guys wait for days to get it!!

Conference weekend came and went FAST!!! We were "encouraged" to watch it in the auditorium, but my zone got special permission to just watch it in our classroom. To illustrate to you exactly why we didn't want to watch it in the auditorium... Imagine 3,000 seats filled with missionaries. Laughy, talky, coughy, stinky missionaries. Also, imagine a chair designed by satan, made for the sole purpose of robbing your bum-tocks of all their feeling. Our class on the other hand was perfect! I got a ton of notes and quotes, and I can't wait to use some of the references in talks and lessons.

I love the packages you guys have been sending!! Especially the last one with all the letters and homemade goodies!! UUUUUUUUnfortunately, the lid to the cinnamon rolls came off at some point, so your letters were a little... sticky. But it wasn't too bad, so don't worry about it!!

I miss everyone a ton, and I wish I could talk to everyone! Annie, thank you so much for watching my baby brother for me! Tell him Alex says PFFbbbtbtbbFFFttbbpppddt... Yeah, just give him a raspberry for me... Megan, try and whip those boys into shape for me. c'mon, I know Taylor and Zach like to drop those passes. Kick their bums. Zach, I'm so excited that you have a fun new show to watch! I'll have to catch up with you when I get back!! GRANITE FLATS BABY!!! Taylor... Make sure that all the BYU games record so I can come home and watch KVN, okay? I want to see all the good plays, can you remember them? Don't forget, Utah smells like stinky diapers!!

And as for Mom and Dad... You guys are awesome!! I feel so supported, and loved... Everything is fine here! Don't even worry about the Elder who didn't get anything... I tattled on his parents to my branch president, and some of the other elders had their parents send him things!! Don't cry for me west jordan! I'm 1/3 of the way done with the MTC!!

With loooooooove,
Elder Lis Xeeb

April 9th-- Of things... more spiritual...

Up until this point, my e-mails have dealt largely with the hardship and trial that I perceive as my mission. In reality this has been no doubt the most spiritual, testimony strengthening experience that I may ever go through. I'll tell you the story of my investigators here at the MTC.
We have "investigators" at the MTC that you actually teach lessons to in your own language. This is the best thing that I've had to do yet at the MTC, as it gets me studying my testimony, prayer, and the principles of the gospel in Hmong. Our first investigator was named Choj Thoj (Keeyaw tah) He was sad that his family had abandoned him, and that since they believed in the "old ways", basically a belief that most Hmong people have in shamanism, he was afraid to be converted. We taught him the very first week we got here, and our lessons were short and involved a lot of mistakes. We told him that God was Jesus' son and in stead of asking "Koj Puas kaw thov vajtswv" Will you pray... we switched out Puas for Paus... which means fart... So the sentence changed to God farted in the middle of the day. We were able to overcome the embarrassment and committed him to baptism, but we didn't feel very successful.
Our next was Voom Xyooj (Vong Shyong) Voom had a strong belief in Christ and in God, so we had a very good place to start. He was most definitely a family man, and so naturally we've taught him that families can be together forever. He accepted everything that we threw at him, committing to read the book of mormon, read the proclamation to the family, and pray every single night with his family. We were so excited when we extended the invitation to be baptized, thinking he would accept willingly... He began his response with "aw" (aoo, yes) but finished with a series of questions we weren't able to translate. We walked out of the room completely frustrated, and in no mood to prepare yet another lesson for our third investigator, Npis Vaj (nbee vah)

Npis was an ua li (ooa lee, former gangster) and he felt very guilty and very ashamed of what he had done. In each of our visits he had a very sullen, depressed demeanor. Our first attempt to connect with him, we talked to him about the plan of salvation... Not very effective. Our next we taught him of the love of our Savior... He perked up a little bit, and we even had him say our closing prayer. But the third time we had prepared what we had expected to be an absolutely killer lesson. We had prepared a lesson about faith, and we were ready to deliver it to him, and have him come to the knowlege of our gospel. 45 minutes before we were going to give our lesson, we were prompted to teach him about repentance and baptism. We had absolutely nothing prepared on this topic, but we did. not. hesitate. We immediately scrapped everything we had worked on for two days in favor of a lesson we had not even an hour to prepare. My two companions and I worked our hardest, put together a lesson dealing with the atonement, repentance, and baptism, and prayed for inspiration and the gift of tongues at his doorstep. We taught him, testified to him, and at one point he even had 2 hmong bibles and 2 hmong PnMs (that stands for Phau ntawd Maumoos, Pow Ndow mowmong, book of mormon) finally the time came to ask him to be baptized, I said a prayer in my heart, and we asked. Immediately he said yes, with a huge smile on his face. That is absolutely the strongest I have felt the spirit here at the MTC!

Wish I could keep writing!! But I've got some duties to attend to! Until next time...

Elder Lis Xeeb

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


We opened up our mailbox today to find a few letters from Alex, one containing his memory card from his camera so we FINALLY got to see some pictures!!! He also sent us an email today so we got to learn a lot about his experiences during the last week! Here's his email from this week:

I just got back from a session at the temple, so I am riding on a total spiritual high right now!!! This morning we got up at 4:30 like we do every Tuesday morning to do our laundry... It's hard for me to believe that so many elders and sisters could be getting up much earlier than we are, but by the time we got there there were those who were already finished!! The cycles alone each take 35 minutes, so you can do the math yourselves... Luckily I had some mail to respond to and the morning flew by! (I even snuck in a quick nap... shhhhhh....) We then prepared ourselves for initiatory work at the temple. For some reason we were the first ones there, but the last ones to start. Afterwards we had a DELICIOUS breakfast which for me included biscuits and gravy which only reminded me of home. Not that they were anywhere near the quality of my mom's cooking!!! The whole morning went mostly without flaw... mostly... I found out halfway through my initiatory work that my left sock was inside out the whole time!! And then one of my names was (I kid you not) Hilarius Jochmans. I couldn't get the image of a Jamaican man telling me how funny sombody's joke just was... I may or may not have let out a few squeaky little giggles.

People still question about our mission call. A temple worker even commented on our name tags... he said "Well, congratulations, those name tags are the longest I've ever seen." I will now demonstrate to you just how long these name tags really are.......

Yexus Khetos Yaysoo kaytah
lub koom txoos loo kong tsong
ntawm tsoom indau jong
haiv neeg ntseeg high nang njeng
hauv hnub nyoog kawg how hnoo nyong gow

Yikes!! Lucky for me, I was able to memorize this without much difficulty... along with prayer (Txoj kev Thov Vajtsw, tsah kay toe vatjoo) and my testimony!!

We had a special Easter devotional this past Sunday where the Bishop of the presiding bishopric of the church, Bishop Causse, came to speak with us. We also had a first for the MTC... They blessed and passed the sacrament to nearly 4,000 missionaries all at once!! It was a truly spiritual experience that I am glad that I was blessed with. I don't think I will ever forget just how quiet a group of rowdy 18-21 year olds can be when the spirit is presiding over a meeting.

It's been raining all morning here, and we just absolutely love it!! This morning my companions, Elder Cook and Elder Mckay, talked about how lucky we are... For one, living in this time period is a huge blessing! I will never have to worry about the Lamanites trying to scalp me or anything.... We live in a great country, we have the best mission call in the MTC, we all love our families, and they love us, and standing in front of the Provo temple looking out over the valley this morning I felt extremely blessed to be a witness to God's handiwork... (Cougar stadium had almost nothing to do with that)

I love hearing from everybody, and I wish I had time to respond to every letter!! I'll do my best to get everybody at sometime or another... But just know how much I love each and every one of you, and how blessed I feel to have such a wonderful support group (cheerleaders as some refer to them as). Pray for me! I pray for you all daily!


Elder Lis Xeeb


Now for my short time writing just my immediate family.....

Thank you all so much for sending all those great things in the packages and letters. In the many times that I've felt discouraged and a little bit lost here, reading over your letters again and again gives me the strength to go on!!

I'll try to answer as many questions in 3 minutes as I can...

Life here is great! we like how close we've gotten

I'm sending the SD card home with instructions and a list of all the pictures on it, I'll buy a new one here, but send back that one so we'll mail it back and forth and I'll always have one to take pictures with.

I'm not sure if any of my comps are cute... we call that a page 33 referring to pg 33 of our missionary guidebook saying no flirting... [This wasn't a question from Megan or me... but rather Dad asking if his companions were cute! HA!!]

That's the best I can do in my short time... But expect my letter in the next few days!!

P.S. Megan... you're cranky and you need a nap, so take a nap!! is on rugrats...... the grand canyon one.

P.P.S. Dad, out of all the things I got in my last package, the BYU box scores were the best... even better than the shorts!!

P.P.P.S Send me some AXE body spray... I stink!!

P.P.P.P.S....... Everyone here keeps singing Les Mis. There. Is. No. Escape...


P.P.P.P.P.S... post my e-mail and my MTC address if you haven't already... I love me some mail!!!

Elder McKay, Elder Cook, Alex
All the steps in saying a Hmong prayer!
 Alex with some other elders in his district
Hmong materials