So glad to hear from you dad! :DDDD So Mom asked me a bunch of questions so hold on to your seats because I now have lots to say:
The majority of the service is in Japanese. They hymns are in Japanense and sometimes the announcements are in Japanese (depending on who's conducting). Then two missionaries are chosen out of the congregation to give a talk. Nobody knows who's going to give it until a member of the bishopric announces it in sacrament meeting. Crook Chourou gave it last week. Being the funny guy that he was, he made everyone laugh despite the fact that his talk was in Japanese. I'm starting to understand Japanese a whole lot better than I did before which is fantastic. I get the general gist of what people are saying. Granted I understand what they are talking about when it comes to the gospel. We meet for sacrament meeting in the main administrative building. Then after the two missionaries give their 3-5 min talks in Nihongo, one of the Bishopric and their wife will speak in Eiggo (english). So at least those who are not so great at Nihongo will be spiritually uplifted.
All the sisters of the MTC meet for Relief Society in the "Auditorium". There is an invited speaker who comes and talks to us, so it's pretty similar to a devotional, except the speaker is a woman :P They are always good and so inspiring. Usually there is a musical number in the beginning which is always so inspiring and beautiful.
We have sunday school per individual district. And one companionship will prepare a lesson and then switches. So a different companionship teaches each week. Sometimes a member of the Bishopric will be present, sometimes not. But it's always good. It's usually my favority part of sunday because we get to share spiritual insights together as a district.
Our devotional speaker this past sunday was Richard I. Heaton who was a director at the MTC. His talk was about the importance of connecting with the investigator and understanding their needs. Which was SO helpful. I love Sundays, they make staying at the MTC so worth it and are a definite part of the MTC experience.
I love our Branch Presidency. Our Branch President's name is President Mack and then his counselors are Br. Bradford and Br. Stevenson (or Stephanson.. not really sure...)They are so great and caring and truly want to make sure we're doing ok. We have interviews at least once a week and they have definitely gotten more in depth as our time at the MTC passes. Gotta love stress :P
Ok.. So highlights of the week:
Some catch phrases are: daijobs (pronounced dye jobs!) (instead of daijobu which means "it's ok") and konich (I think you can figure this one out). Also we like to say at the end of any joke, "ees Amerikan Jodan" (jodan=joke).
Some oops moments (gotta love these):
I accidently gave my testimony in a prayer. Instead of asking for blessings I said "Holy ghost so that feel I know..." Yeah, that's Japanese Grammar for you ;)
Also, Mason Shimai this week was trying to set up an appointment at the end of a lesson and he asked when are you available she says, "Ohiayo" which means good morning. She thought it meant morning but when he started cracking up that just confirmed it was not. But it definitely makes for a good laugh.
Speaking of Sister Mason, we've decided as roommates that we have a seven or eighth roomate because Mason Shimai has received 14 packages. And these aren't any normal packages. These are the big boxes you get from Costco and they are full of FOOD... Yeah.. 14 of them. Her mother seems to think we're starving because she's heard so many terrible things about the cafeteria. However, the cafeteria isn't that bad. So.. yeah.
Her mom even sent her a snickers cake last week. It was awesome! We ate it as a district and shared it with the Daisampai (the native Japanese).
Another funny thing. So we had TRC this past Saturday. This is where we get to talk to volunteers and members in Japanese and just share a message with them and usually we can ask them any questions that we have. These sessions are fun and they always make me feel so much better about my Japanese. At the end of one of these meetings I felt inspired to say, "I want to challenge you to read the Book of Mormon in Japanese" but then it came out (because I stuttered) as "Please stop reading the Book of Mormon." Oops. At least it's clear in my mind about what NOT to mix up now!
Oh, and as a side note. Turns out one of the volunteers at TRC is related to a Bevan. But it's the Bevans in Tooele. So I said that I was distantly related to them, at least to my knowledge. So that was pretty cool.
We had Kohi come in this week (or newbies). Most of them are going to the more northern missions like Tokyo and Sendai and Sapporo. It's so funny to watch them, they're all bright eyed and mostly look very lost, but they're cute because they still have no idea what's going on. And then I quickly remember that I was just like that too. :P But now my district are called "Sempai" because we are halfway through the MTC. The next in line to go to Japan are called Dai-Sempai.
I've been going to an exercise class. Not sure if I've told you about this. But it meets every morning at 6 AM so I get up at 5:40 and go. This past Saturday we were doing toning and push ups were involved. I was the only one in the class who was off their knees, even the teacher was on her knees. :DDDDD Yeah, Thank you Sensei :D (Sarah loved attending a karate class 2-3 times a week at BYU for the last year and a half! Her sensai was a national champion in South America who somehow moved to Provo and started teaching karate classes for FREE on campus-those classes were the highlight of her week) The classes here are not as intense as Kyokushin but I still love to get moving in the morning and I don't feel as gross during the day. So it's worth it to me.
So this past week, the shimaitachi and the chorotachi had a bet going. The bet was that whoever won the volleyball game doesn't have to take their trays to the kitchen for three days. Needless to say, the girls lost... but the guys wouldn't let us take their trays so I didn't mind so much :).
So this past week we had a ton of people report to the MTC. About 940 missionaries came... yeah... that's a lot. And the numbers are going to continue to be that high this summer. We're even going to have our devotional tonight in the Marriott Center. My district is going to be in the choir as the musical number. So excited! There's about 1,300 missionaries in this choir. Holy Cow. We nearly took up the entire auditorium just for choir practice on Sunday.
I finally saw Miss Maddie Grant this past Sunday! (Maddie was Sarah's roommate her freshman year at Helaman Halls. She is from Sherwood, OR. She studied French at BYU and spent last fall living in France on a study abroad, and of course, received her mission call to the Novosidirsk Russia mission! ) It made me so happy. Freshmen year, she always talked about how much she wanted to go on a mission and it helped inspire me to go on one as well. So it was such a sweet moment to see her. She lives on the same floor as me, just on the opposite side. We live on the fourth floor, so gotta love it. My legs practically have no fat on them.
So, the icing on the cake of this entire week was our lesson with our investigator Hironori. In our previous class, Willard Sensei talked to us about teaching with the spirit in our lessons. So I was studying this and reading scriptures and trying to figure out how my doryo and I could have that. I discovered that I need to pray, study, and to be worthy. So I thought I was doing all those things. Then my doryo and I decide to do something different. We both felt inspired to find out what our investigator's needs were. We felt a disconnect with Hironori and so we decided to just ask him as many questions as we could to understand him better and to ensure we were on the same playing field.
This time we were selected to go first to teach. I nearly left my Seiten (English-Japanese dictionary) (pronounced like Satan. Yes, everyone finds that to be ironic) and my Eiggo seiten but I went back and grabbed them. Douglas Shimai and I prayed and then went in to teach Hironori. We ask him questions and we find out he hasn't had a great day but he says it will be all right. So we leave it at that. Then we ask him if he has read the Book of Mormon. He says he's read only a little bit. We ask what he's read. Then he talks about Nephi and then wonders what the difference was between God and the Holy Spirit. I felt the Spirit swell into my heart and I was so excited to teach him.
The words flowed from my mouth. I knew what I wanted to say in English and Japanese. I was able to help him understand. Then while Douglas Shimai was talking I felt inspired to look up a scripture to help us explain a little bit better where we failed in Japanese. So I flipped to 2 Nephi 32:5. I give it to Hironori to read. I didn't think it was the best scripture but it felt right and it explained what we need to explain.
He finishes reading and he looks up. His eyes are red, his eyes are moist and we talk about the scripture for a little bit. Then the thought enters into my head, "D&C 8" I flip to it and I have him read D&C 8:2. Everything just flowed. We felt the spirit so strongly. After all these weeks of hard work and not so great lessons, it finally happened. Our message entered into his heart and you could tell he felt the Spirit. It was so awesome!
The lesson ends, Hironori prays, we leave. He closes the door. We walk. Then in the stair well we do our happy dance :DDDD Both of us were estatic. This is why we're on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is why we are representatives of Christ. So we can invite others, member or not, closer to Christ. So that they can feel his love and improve their lives. They can partake of this gospel and be edified. I love this gospel. I love it so much that I want to share it with as many people as I can. Despite the challenges, despite my shortcomings, I want to do this with all my heart. I love being a missionary.
Matene to ai shimasu,
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