Ganke Desu Ka?! I miss you all.
I'll start off talking about Japanese. So the first week it was really good, I learned so much and I was really surprised at the things I knew how to say. This past week was still really good, I learned so much, but I also realized how much I don't know. Or understand. A LOT of the words in Japanese are very similar but they have completely different meaning. For example, this was so funny. We were teaching our Kyudosha (investigator) who is also our Sensei (teacher) and he came in afterward to tell us some of the funny things we had said and one of the sisters in our district had instead of saying Jesus Christ atoned for our sins (tsumi) said Jesus Christ atoned for my wife (tsuma). I love it! I have been having a little bit of a hard time with the language though. A lot of the senkyoshi in my district have some connection to Japan, they either lived in Japan when they were young, or had taken a couple years of Japanese in high school and college. Especially my companion. Her mom also served in Fukuoka and she grew up with a lot of the Japanese culture and she is AMAZING at speaking the language, she understands almost 99% of what our teachers are saying. There was one time when she didn't understand a phrase in a lesson and she was feeling really down about it and I couldn't help but laugh a little because I understand maybe 5% of what is happening. But I'm so glad I have her as a companion to help me learn. Haha the first week in the MTC I distinctly remember thinking "this language sounds like jibberish." At least it doesn't sound like it anymore :) I feel so blessed that I get to learn such an amazing language. It will be so amazing when I get to Japan.
The mission presidents are here! My doryo (companion) got to sing for a lot of the General Authorities today. I haven't been able to see any of them yet, but hopefully sometime during the next few days I'll see some of them! They've completely closed off our main building to all missionaries (that means our cafeteria has been moved to the gym which has been interesting haha) But that's okay :) We hopefully get to meet our mission president either today or! My companion said that she saw him while she was singing and he was whispering to his wife and pointing at her and the rest of our district who was also singing. He has our pictures so he knows what we look like :)
Okay also, we sang Precious Savior Dear Redeemer for night Devotional as an MTC choir and it was BRILLIANT. The arrangement is by Brett Stewart, if you can find it online or something you should. It was powerful.
One of my favorite chapters that I read this week was Alma 22. We were talking about prayer the other day and what praying with real intent really means. I found Alma 22 while I was studying and I read verse 18 which was King Lamoni's father praying to God wanting to know if God existed and what He wanted him to do. The most powerful part of that verse and is a great example of praying with real intent is "I will give away all my sins to know thee." God will answer our prayers, but He has to know that you will act on the answer He gives us. It is so hard to do, and I am still practicing this concept. Telling the Lord that the answers He gives you will lead you to act. Every time we get an answer to a prayer we have to do something with that answer. The more we act on our answers, the more answers God will give us. And because King Lamoni's father acted on his answer, "his whole household was converted unto the Lord" and then He went on allowing missionary work to be done everywhere in his land. He was able to protect Aaron, and be a huge tool in the progression of missionary work. Anyway, I hope everyone will read that chapter and really ponder on what praying with real intent is.
Love you all!!!
I have officially finished my first week in the MTC! It has gone by so fast. Each day is so long, but I can not believe that it's already been a week. I can't begin to tell you how much I love it here. I am so happy and I love everyone in this place. It's weird to think that I'm still in Provo because I feel like I am so disconnected from the world. I've been able to see a couple of my friends who work here and when I do it weirds me out a little, but whenever I see them I get so happy! I love my friends. Oh! Sam and Chris! Guess who I saw here! The Reddings!! Sister Redding gave me like 20 family names to do in the temple, so I'm handing them to my district to do today. I talked to Brother Redding a lot about how both of your missions, and it was so cool. Sam, Brother Redding is in the Branch Presidency over the Adriatic missions! Including Slovenia, so that's super cool! They have EIGHT different languages in their one branch. We have 3 branches of JUST Japanese senkyoshi (Missionaries). It's crazy. My district is SO amazing. We are so close and I love them all. My companion is McCuen Shimai (sister) and I love her. My roommates are Carey Shimai and Willson Shimai (Willson Shimai is from Australia!!) I will send pictures in another e-mail later today. I wrote so much in my journal about what I wanted to write today, I doubt I'll get even half of the amazing things that have happened since I've been here.
Japanese. Is HARD. Oh my goodness. I feel so inadequate sometimes, but at the same time I look back at how many words I knew in Japanese a week ago (Konichiwa and Arigato haha) and now I am praying in Japanese, I'm forming complete sentences (although sometimes they might not make a ton of sense.) and I know so many vocab words. And it's only been a week! Sometimes I don't know how I can jam anymore information in my head, and i just do! And it's sticking! We have a "investigator" (he's a teacher here that pretends to be an investigator) and its been so amazing to listen to him speak. The first lesson we taught with him I was so frustrated because I didn't understand a single word. Yesterday we taught him our fifth lesson, and I understood almost EVERYTHING. It was amazing.
Oh my goodness. I can't believe this is real, but at the end of the month all of the new mission presidents come to the MTC for training and guess who will be here. NOT ONLY all 12 Apostles (well I guess 11... not Perry..) BUT ALL of the first presidency!! We will have the Prophet and all of the apostles under the same roof as us in just a couple of weeks! and that's not even the best part. There is a special choir that is being put together to sing for them and only 40 missionaries out of the 1800 or so that are here get to sing for them, and 4!!! of them are from our district (we only have 10 people from our district) My companion being one of them. My district is so musically talented it's kind of ridiculous, but I love it because we are always singing together. I am so excited, I might get to see them!! and my companion will definitely get to see all of them. It's so crazy. Being a missionary is the best thing I've ever been able to do.
So many amazing experiences have happened to me over the week and I just want to share one. I was reading in Ether 12 yesterday and I chose Ether as the scripture to put on my plaque, but I didn't realize how much that scripture meant to me until I got here. I have felt so inadequate in the language, and so frustrated because I have wanted to bear my testimony so many times to my investigator (au-yagi san) but I can't because I don't know how to translate it into Nihango. (Japanese) but I was reading Ether 12 and it made me feel so much better. I would challenge everyone to read that chapter. I think if everyone read it, they would see how much the Lord really loves them and wants them to succeed. At least that's how I felt. Some of the highlights I want to point out are:
Verse 6, it says that we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. There have been times where I will be so frustrated and so annoyed that I can't get a phrase memorized but I will just pray that I can do it and the next day I will have it perfectly memorized. I know it sounds so simple and small, but it's such a big thing for me. It's AFTER the trial of our faith that we will see the blessings. I know I'll have so many more experiences like that and it's just a huge blessing to know that I have to endure the trials, and I will definitely see the blessings that come from it. Verse 9 where it says we can have hope and be partakers of the gift (of Christ) only if we have faith in Him. Subarashii!! Okay, my favorite part of this chapter are verses 23-29. Here is a prophet (Moroni) who is so amazing and has done so many wonderful things but he expresses to us his weakness. He is a man and imperfect like the rest of us, but God basically says "Who cares about those who mock you! They will receive their judgement, but my grace is sufficient for the meek (those who will listen to what the Prophet has to say) and they won't take advantage of his weaknesses. And then verse 27 says God will make our weaknesses strengths. Look around and see your weaknesses, and see those things you want to be stronger and better in , and then have FAITH. God will help! All we need to do is have faith in him and that can be enough. God will work with whatever you can give Him. He loves us so much.
I will send another e-mail later today with pictures!!
I love you all! OH! and write me dear elders! We get them throughout the week, so its like an email but we get to read them whenever we get them. It's printed off the same day you send them, so if you send them in the morning my district leader goes and grabs them for us right away :) So send me letters!! I only get to check my e-mail on Thursdays, so dear elders are the best thing a missionary can get.. besides packages ;)