Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The first week at the MTC

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all of your "dear elder" letters last week, I loved getting them.  They make my day SO much better.  Speaking of my day:  Monday and Wednesday to Saturday I essentially study ALL day. I look forward to meal times because I don't have to worry about trying to understand what my teacher (sensai) is saying to me for at least one hour!   Either I'm studying the scriptures, or Preach My Gospel (my sensai calls it "PMG"), or studying Japanese.  The Japanese is difficult, but luckily all the missionaries have this book nicknamed the "Ninja." Essentially it's this book of phrases that missionaries use in discussions, getting to know someone, or just trying to make their way around Japan.  It's awesome!  But it kills discussions so it's best to also throw in a few words of your own.
My preparation day AKA P-Day (day off) will be on Tuesday here in the MTC.

The food here is an exact copy of the Cannon Center.  Gotta love BYU dining ;). I have an excercise hour every day so I always look forward to that because I'm NOT sitting!  The shimaitachi (sister missionaries) and I have a bet going as to see which one of the churrotachi (yes churros but it's pronounced choodo and tachi means plural elders) will gain the most weight in the next 8-9 weeks!!  

I have been seeing a couple of friends here at the MTC.  One friend of mine from BYU, Sara Greenfield is preparing to serve a mission in Brazil and another friend of mine from Chem E works in the cafeteria.  He was the TA for my Chem E class last semester - it helps to see some friendly faces here.

By Sunday everybody was definitely looking forward to P-day.  I think each of us has at least cried once in the last week because everyone feels stupid with the language.  I hope we learn grammar soon.  So far I can pray, testify and sort of refer to a scripture in Japanese. Japanese is a beautiful language, I just wish I knew more, but I know it will come with time and practice and shinko (faith).  

Yesterday we had another discussion with our "investigator" Hirakawa san.  Douglass Shimai (my companion) and I decided to prepare two different discussions to see which one we felt inclined to talk about. However, Hirakawa san threw a curve ball and wanted to know more about baptism, so Douglass Shimai and I pull out our ninja's and start to have a discussion. I tried to talk to him without the ninja and he understood me!!! Hallejuah! While most of the companionships took 20-30 min to teach their discussions, my companion and I finished in 10 min!  It was kind of embarrassing.  Most of the time I had no idea what Hirakawa san was saying :))  The spirit wasn't overpowering during the discussion but it was still felt, which is important.  The first discussion my Doryo (companion) and I forgot to bear our testimonies, so the next time we taught our investigator we made it a point to do so.  And it's just great. At first, the discussions were very intimidating because I didn't know an ounce of Japanese. But it's getting better :)

Douglass Shimai tends to get really stressed about not knowing the language and likes to know what's going to happen in disscusions beforehand.  I was really proud of her yesterday, she stayed calm when our investigator asked more questions than what we were prepared to answer.  I try my best to support her and to make her feel better.  She's been missing her family a lot, and I'm just trying to be there for her. She's 19 years old and only went to fall semester at the University of Utah before going on a mission. She's the youngest of 5, I think.  All her siblings are married with children and everyone lives near each other so she's used to seeing them all the time.

Douglass Shimai is from South Jordan, Utah.  In fact, 4 of 6 girls in my district are from Utah.  Ellsworth Shimai and I are the only ones from out of state and she's from Wisconsin.  I will send pictures soon. But Douglass Shimai is very petite and is only 5'4" with olive skin, brown hair and I think hazel eyes. Ellsworth Shimai is 6'1", blonde and she is the oldest at 22!  The two remaining sisters in my district are: Domar Shimai and Mason Shimai and Womack Shimai and they are also fantastic.  The six of us share a room meant for four - so, we are a little cozy. Mason Shimai has studied both Spanish and Russian and still ended up being called to a mission in Japan!

 I've had so many eye-opening experiences while at the MTC :)  At the orientations, I've realized that people have been through so much more than I have.  I feel have been so ungrateful to my parents and family, thank you for your kindness, love and support.  You guys are fantastic! And I love you all.  I have been so blessed throughout my life and I never even knew it.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve.  It will give me a chance to give back for all that I have been given.

I'm starting to run out of time (yes, they have timers on these computers) and so I'm going to start wrapping up.  I highly recommend looking up "Characteristics of Christ" by Elder David Bednar.  It is amazing, it is eye opening, it is revelatory, it has changed my view of my entire mission.  I know that I just need to get over myself and focus on others.  That's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to forget about my short comings and focus on other's needs.

I am so glad to be here at the MTC.  Of course it's an adjustment coming here, I've never had so many rules in my life! Life here seems to be a bubble within a bubble!  But my district has become my family and it's only been 6 days!  The elders are so funny and kind of like little brothers to me.  They never seem to run out of stories and jokes to share!  I will send a photo of them soon.  Our district has definitely bonded this last week.  We all try to build each other up and help each other to become better missionaries.  I'm going to keep doing my best and I'm keeping you in my prayers. 

Also, try to have people send me letters via Dear Elder.  I've barely had enough time to email you.  I will write back to anyone who writes me.  

lots of love and prayers,

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