Here, quite overdue, is the last letter which we received from Elder Bingham, or as he is now called, Elder Bik, since he has a new Chinese name. He is doing great, as you will see below...
Well week 4 is under way. that means I am 1/4 of the way done with the MTC!
It is great here but I still feel like the day I get in the shuttle going up
to the airport will be amazing.
A lot happened this week. As always, I dont have enough time to write it
all, so I will send you letters with pictures sometime this week.
My Cantonese just keeps getting better and better. I am able to memorize
more vocabulary every day and the grammar is simple. The hardest part of
Cantonese is actually not the tones for me but the fact that in order to
master the language, you pretty much have to learn three languages. There
are Cantonese words, then you have what are called classifiers. They are
basically a whole seperate set of words you have to use instead of the
normal cantonese word in lots of situations. For example, the word for
"that" is "Li-Go". "Go" is just a general classifier for "thing". But if you
were to say "That apple", you would have to say "Li-(classifier for apple)"
followed by the cantonese word for apple.
Before getting here, I heard a lot of people who said my Arabic, Egyptian,
English, and even Spanish would be useful once I get to Hong Kong because of
the amount of people that are from different areas of the world. I was not
expecting to use my languages here at the MTC though. So when I was
"contacted" by Italian elders I was a little suprised. I understood
everything they "taught" me, and they understood all of my responses in
Spanish. Then, we got an elder from Saudi Arabia in our Zone. He speaks
English and is going to an English-speaking mission in the United States,
but I have been able to speak to him all in Arabic (though oddly he speaks
formally using only Modern Standard Arabic, and so I can't use any Egyptian
while talking to him).
I am not the only person who knows multiple languages here though. Elder
Wu's companion (Elder Broderick) is pretty interesting. He is best friends
with an elder in my district. Apparently he went to China for a few months
then decided he wanted to learn Chinese. His best friend says he never saw
him again because he locked himself in his room and all he did was study and
teach himself. He now knows almost fluent Mandarin Chinese and can read
thousands of characters. When he got his mission call to Hong Kong, he
quickly started learning Cantonese. Before he even got to the MTC he pretty
much had the whole language down. So now he has two sided flash cards. One
has the Chinese character of a word and the other... The Japanese word for
it. He has taken it upon himself to also learn Japanese before he even gets
to hong kong. Only his companion and I know though because the rest of his
district already is jealous of the two of them for learning the language
faster than the rest of them. So he does not want to rub it in their face
that he is already on to his next language.
Hopefully my Gwong Dung Wa (cantonese) will be good by the time I leave.
Today we had a contest to who could last the whole day without using any
English at all. One of the teachers will give whoever wins an Incredibles
sticker. So far, I am the only person left. It was pretty easy until I saw
my friend who just got here last week. My companion had to translate. Then I
ran into Dennis at the MTC bookstore and my companion had to translate
again. Then it got really hard when I had to buy stamps. So luckily my
companion came to the rescue again and helped me out. The problem is when I
was asking for eight stamps, He thought I was asking for a pen because eight
and pen are the same word with a different tone. But it all worked out.
So probably the highlight of my week was finding out the meaning of my name.
My name is Bik Mihng Giht (with tones that the computer can't type). The
literal translation is "Emerald Green Light Hero". Or in other words, THE
GREEN LANTERN. Ironic since that is the last movie I saw before I came to
the MTC. I think the mission president must be a comic book fan or something
and got excited because The Green Lantern just came out.
Sunday morning I was in Priesthood Meeting and I don't know exactly what was
being taught, but I remember that for whatever reason, I kept thinking about
how amazing it is that I have the authority to give blessings and perform
other miracles because of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Later that day, I went
to the first floor of our residence with my companion. Elder Levan is a
missionary that was supposed to leave this week, but had an ACL replacement
surgery on one knee and something else done on his other so sometime this
week he is going back home for a couple of months and then resuming his
mission. His companion, Elder Beurs, is ironically going in on Wednesday to
get the same ACL replacement surgery done and he will go home and pause his
mission as well. While we were on the first floor I ran into our Ζone Leader
who said I had come just in time because Elder Beurs had a favor to ask of
me. Saturday I had seen Elder Beurs and told him if he needed anything that
he could just let me know. Apparently when our Zone Leader went to check on
him, Elder Beurs told him he wanted a blessing because he was nervous for
his surgery as well as he was getting pretty sick which made him more
nervous. The part I was not expecting was that he wanted me to give him his
I do not remember what I said during the blessing. I just remember it lasted
a lot longer than I thought it would and that the entire time I would start
worrying about what to say and I would pause, let my mind go blank, then
words would just come out of my mouth.
It must have gone well because when I was done, the elders in the room as
well as Elder Beurs were teary eyed or crying and I was just standing there
There have been many moments like that where I feel the spirit here so
strong that I feel like falling down because my body just becomes weak and I
dont want to stand anymore. I have always grown up and felt the spirit here
and there, but being a out on a mission and putting all my faith and
everything I possess in God's hands leaves me more vulnerable to experiences
that allow me to feel the spirit daily.
Well anyways, last night me and my companion woke up at one in the morning
and went to the front desk of the MTC to get a bag of ice to refill Elder
Levan's ice machine thing that circulates ice water around his leg.
I have found that serving others not only invites the spirit, but it also
seems like it just makes everything better.
One thing that our teacher talked to us about yesterday that I have always
agreed with was that we do not know what people are going through or why
people do the things they do. He showed a talk Elder Eyring gave to the MTC
a while ago. It talked about a young man who was about to be baptized then
that week he came into what was then Bishop Eyring's office and said that he
had messed up. He was out the night before and had crashed through a
building because he was on some substance against the word of wisdom. While
they were arresting him, he told the cops it was okay because he was going
to become LDS and be baptized so that what he did wouldnt matter. Bishop
Eyring said he could feel the anger and disgust filling him up. But then,
just for a second he saw the boy's face change to the face of a child. He
heard a voice say "Now you have seen him as I see him. He has gone through
more than you can imagine. The abuse and different things this young man has
gone through is beyond your comprehension." Bishop Eyring then started
crying and was filled with love for this boy.
As a missionary, I am going to need to try and feel that love for everyone.
even those who may seem unlovable. I have always been pretty good not
judging others (partly because I have my own faults so who am I to judge
them?) I am grateful for that gift now.
Well I think I have typed about all I can right now. So thanks for all your
letters, I will write back by letter. Thanks for everything!!