Original article posted by Greg:

Well, friend, it’s been quite a week for me. This weekend our teachers stressed the importance of continuing work and focus during the last week at the MTC. My ability to remain focused was pretty much shot for 2.5 days, however, due to unprecedented happenings. Buckle in.

The upside is that my new companion is a pretty cool guy named Elder Greene, who occasionally reminds me of my cousin, Gus.

On Monday morning, perhaps 15 minutes into the day, the classroom intercom buzzed and Elder Esmiol was told to go to a certain room. I sat in a waiting room while President Fitzgerald spoke with my companion.

After an hour or so, President Fitzgerald asked to speak with me. He said, “I’m going to ask you some questions and your answers will determine your future as a missionary.” He asked, “what happened on Saturday?” I told him that I wasn’t aware of anything out of the ordinary. He didn’t seem to believe me for a few minutes. He asked if I was always with my companion, and I said, “no, I can’t run, so he goes running with another elder; and he likes to shower in the mornings, but I usually shower at night.” I then told President Fitzgerald that when he’s not with me, Elder Esmiol is usually with Elder Richter.

Well, President Fitzgerald went on a long search for witnesses to an event I was still unaware of. I went back to my waiting room in the mean time.

Three hours later I saw my companion again. Pres. Fitzgerald took us to the MTC President’s office. Elder Esmiol went in, and President Fitzgerald took me aside. “Your companion is going home.” He said. You will need to help him pack and have him on the bus at 1:00pm”

I asked him what had happened and he said that during the course of his investigations he discovered Elder Esmiol had been misbehaving and that whatever problems I saw in his behavior were only the tip of the iceberg.

Elder Esmiol and I made it back to the room just in time to see the whole branch getting ready for Gym time. They were pretty confused when we pulled down Esmiol’s suitcases. They thought he was joking at first – just getting ready for the flight to Taiwan early. But it got real serious real fast.

Needless to say, everybody was pretty shocked.

They said he can come back in a couple months if he changes his behavior. I think he will. Despite his immature exterior, he has a heart of gold and a strong desire to serve.

Our afternoon teacher came in and said, “Why am I having a really weird feeling?” We pointed to the empty chair in the room and told him that our district leader got sent home. We were pretty beat up about it. To some extent it felt like our family lost a brother.

In a small miracle, our 3 teachers all planned on coming in at the same time that afternoon and discussing the future with us. The topic ended up being slightly different, but we had a good experience with it anyway. Our district/class soon recovered and felt at peace – confident in our knowledge of Whose decision it was to give Elder Esmiol this trial. And confident in Elder Esmiol’s ability to overcome.

The other 3 districts, however, were in a near uproar. They let themselves get so offended and speculate so much that every time the intercom beeped in the MTC we all jumped, thinking, “It’s me this time for sure!”

Needless to say, my Monday was pretty well shot.

Monday night our branch president visited. He had heard some disturbing things, not all of which were true. But he spoke with us, and told us that the MTC presidency will be visiting us on Sunday. That’s pretty serious. He then made me district leader for my remaining week here and assigned Elder Greene as my companion.

On Tuesday I was able to focus a bit more. Then in the afternoon, Brother Mitchell, who is over about ¼ of the teachers tat the MTC, arrived and asked how we were doing. He took notes. Elder Richter was pretty expressive with how angry he was. I told him how we were all worried that at any moment we could get sent home – which made it hard to be happy and focus. Which was true. We were still as nervous as a cat in a room full of occupied rocking chairs, which cat had also been hypnotized to be as jumpy as a very nervous thing.

Well, after that I was pretty well useless. But that was okay because we had a devotional in the evening.

Yesterday, just before gym time, the intercom beeped. “Elder Hamblin, please call the front desk”

They asked me, and Elders Richter, Killen, and Valentine to go to the front desk. This is a Wednesday, which is when new missionaries arrive. So we got yelled at about 5 times for walking through areas that only new missionaries are supposed to be in. Elder Richter said: “They’re trying to get us to break the rules so we can be kicked out!”

It turned out to be Brother Mitchell again. He told us he had discussed his concerns with President Fitzgerald (and seemed to indicate there was a bit of disagreement) and thought it would be prudent to have us all discuss our feelings and concerns together. So he had set up a meeting for the 6 of us.

I was terrified. Elders Richter and Valentine had expressed their intense anger so frequently that I was worried they would start a shouting match with President Fitzgerald and get us all kicked out. When I think of these Elders, I rarely consider the word “tact.”

Well, I decided to go along with it and just take matters into my own hands. So after President Fitzgerald finished his opening comments (which weren’t very nice), I spoke before anybody could get their anger to a boil. I listed our feelings and concerns, and told him that we accept the decisions and respect his authority. It seemed to do the trick, He was respectful and the elders kept mostly calm.

But that took up about 3 hours of my Wednesday.

So there’s where I stand. I’m in the front car of a roller coaster as it hangs over that first big drop. I’m trying to imagine what else can happen before the ride really started.

What else can I say? I’m excited to get over and get my chubby-rice-cheeks. Our teachers are very excited for us. I’ve got my first mission story, and it’s the story of a guy who had to go home a week before he was supposed to start the real work.

Chinese improves slowly. I can tell because of movies. About a week ago I realized that something Jackie Chan says in one of his movies is, “Deng yi xia” and just Sunday, I realized a line from The Shadow is “zenme ban.” How random for me to suddenly understand Chinese I haven’t heard for months or a year. But I guess it’s also typical. Girls are about as cryptic as Chinese, and I often discover a girl liked me a year after the fact. Like, “hey… maybe when she said that she was trying to get me to ask her out… Oh well.”

I’ve combined Skittles and Reese’s Pieces in one bag. Elder Richter says, “you think you’re getting a handful of rainbow, but you’re not.” It’s humor I like.

My dutiful mother will probably include my mission address on here,
Elder Greg Hamblin
Taiwan Taipei Mission
4F, 24, Lane 183, Chin Hua Street
Taipei Taiwan, R.O.C.
so please send correspondence. I shall correspond in response. They’ll never know what hit them, then.

My thanks to those who have mailed me during this final week of the MTC. I will not have time to reply right away as I have 6 boxes of Elder Esmiol’s excess things to mail him today. Yipe! I will write, however.

In the meantime, messages:

Rodney: I understand you’ve sparked some controversy in the site. Good on yer mate! I don’t know what I mean by that – but the motivating feeling is positive. Let us never forget how to go out monstering against evil. And the forces of stupid.

Blaine: come (oa) = lai get in = jin lai bout = chuan lady/girl = nusheng add “men” – pronounced muhn to pluralize nouns relating to people – i.e. “jeimeimen” is sisters.

Abe: what no pictures?

Jodie: Bwa ha ha ha ha. Guess what? I’m learning Chinese. Wootski. Watch some DBZ for me.

Stephanie: still miss you! *pout face*

Tom: You should check out this site and read this note for you. Like now.

Spencer: Why didn’t you warn me the MTC gets so long? Oh, wait, you did. Jerk.

Kayeleen: 1:3. it’s true, you know. I’m so proud of you – you’re doing amazing things. Thank you.

Jared: I can’t help but notice you haven’t written. Ask Blaine about the chokitude equation.

Well, I’ve caused enough tired fingers with this letter. I bid you good day, sir.
– Han Zhang lao.

Orginal comments:

Nickname: Thurfir_Hawat
Re: Weekly report OF HORROR!
Carolyn, please send this to greg. the chokitude has become too great.

Hey Greg,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write. It has something to do with the amount of stuff going on in my life and the lazitude factor.

Life is going well. The main thing i’m doing right now is preparing my senior recital. I’m having trouble with it because what normaly takes a year to prepare i’m doing in about two months. I got the music after new york and then had the opera that took my time and vocal stamina.

I am also preparing to take the LSAT. Blaine has made the comment that in order to complete the spectrum of “the worlds most hated professions” I should become a carsalesman this coming year as i wait to be admitted into law school. Then i would have lawyer, insurance, and carsales.

So, i applied at the St. George Saturn dealership.

We found out Spatula is a girl. So, because of this gender difficulty, we are taking erin’s five year old brother’s advice and changing the name to Happy Sherlock. Happy is due in august.

We had an elder leave us in the mtc too. But he just packed up and left, wasn’t sent home.

Hope you are doing well. I’ve enjoyed reading your letters in sixmile. Have you seen Luke? Good luck

Jared Richards

Nickname: chamblin
Re: Weekly report OF HORROR!
Done! Thanks,