I'm in the home stretch of MTC! I leave for the field in just 3 weeks and one day. That is longer than most missionaries spend in the MTC but because I've been here so long it feels like no time at all. Before I know it I will be in Taiwan, making all kinds of halarious language faux pas, preaching the gospel... It's going to be great.
Things are going well. My companionship is working better than ever and slowly but surely the language comes. A few words at a time, a small miracle here and there...
I had to give my first talk in Chinese yesterday during Sacrament Meeting! Branch President Liu, in an effort to keep our blood pressure high, assigns a topic that everyone has to write a talk in in Zhongwen. Then after the Sacrament he will announce who will stand up and speak, and this week I was the lucky winner. I was actually glad because I can't take the anxiety of never knowing. The talk went well except I read it instead of said it. It was an amalgamation of phrases from the Book of Mormon, Preach my Gospel and a missionary vocabulary book we have.
Oh, can I just say one thing that I am really and truly grateful for on my mission? Our translated 3-column Book of Mormon study tool. It has three columns - the first is in Characters, the second in Pinyin (Romanized chinese - so you can sound out words if you can't read characters) and English. It is amazing. They don't have any of the other standard works in this format yet. My teachers didn't have it during their missions; it came out less than a year ago. Lai laoshi (my teacher Brother Lattin) said that he got through about 8 chapters of the Book of Mormon on his whole mission, reading every day for 2 years. This is because if you don't have Pinyin, you have to look up each individual character, find the Pinyin sound it makes, then look up the pinyin in the dictionary for meaning. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds. Unfortunately the 3-column Book of Mormon is a "language learning tool" and not technically scripture so we can only take our English or Character scriptures to lessons. This means I either have to memorize scriptures or have my investigator read everything aloud during lessons. I have a goal of memorizing one scripture a week. I will be a better scriptorian in Chinese than in English, haha. We will see how it goes.