Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12, 2014 2 weeks down and going strong!

Dearest family,

I actually see Thomas Ashworth quite a bit! He has a similar schedule as me so I usually see him several times a day, which is always fun! He seems like he's doing well, and I hope the next couple weeks are great experiences for him! I actually saw him the day that he came in too! 
I'm sure that I'm going to be the next missionary with "really white hair", and in Japan, I'm really going to stand out. I'm not too worried though because that means that it will be pretty easy to start conversations and spark people's interest. 
Congrats to Blaine and Tausha on their new baby! I'm sure that was a really fun (and probably stressful) event in their lives!
As Aaron so astutely pointed out, I am probably a Magby at this point in my mission, but usually, we evolve around three weeks so I'll be a Magmar soon! 
If you can, you should post more pictures of Bennett's performance! I bet he nailed his part, and I wish I could have been there to see it!
I actually had a really cool experience when we watched The Testaments this last Sunday. I've always loved that movie, but it was especially touching when the Savior appeared to the people and began talking to everyone individually. When he came to Helam and spoke his name, I felt as though Christ was speaking to me, and it felt like he was saying my name too! I felt so close to the Savior, and I hope that I can have many more experiences like that in the time to come.

The last week has been a one of the most intense and stressful weeks of my life and probably even more than finals week! Every day, it seems like there's a wave of new information that we have to learn! We go to class for almost 6 hours straight, and then, we have additional language and personal study throughout the day. So overall, we probably have around 10 hours of Japanese each day, and it's really a difficult language to grasp! I'm so grateful for our wonderful teacher's, and without them, I'm pretty sure I would have lost it by now. Every time that things start to feel too overwhelming, they always know how to refocus and calm our fears, and here's a fun side note! Our teachers are also the one's who act as our investigators during the week! Basically, every day, for about 35 minutes, we have to talk to and teach completely in Japanese, and it's one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do! Even though they are our teachers, they speak really quickly and ask difficult questions, and sometimes, I feel like I don't know what's even happening. Incredibly, I'm actually able to communicate with them most of the time, and it's very helpful having my companion to take the lead sometimes. Since they don't talk to us in English, I know that I'm missing a good portion of what they're actually saying, and that's pretty frustrating for me. Just the other day though, our first investigator, Koyama-san, left us a video, in English, thanking us for teaching and doing our best, and I was amazed that in the first week of learning Japanese, I was able to have a conversation with a fluent Japanese speaker and have him know what I'm saying! The MTC is really a special place, and I don't think it would be possible to learn another language this fast anywhere else. National Public Radio actually wrote a someone eport on the MTC, and I heard that it gave some interesting insight into the incredibly rigorous studying that goes on here! 
This week a group of missionaries from Japan (native Japanese) arrived at the MTC, and they are so much fun to talk to and learn about! It's also pretty intimidating to speak to them in Japanese, but they're very helpful and always very polite. We actually celebrated one of their birthdays on Wednesday, and it was nice to give them an American birthday experience!
They even have a choir here at the MTC, so my companion and I have been going to the practices, and I might be able to be in a smaller choir that gets to perform in front of the entire MTC and several of our church leaders later this month! Singing is definitely a good way for me to relieve all the stress that builds up during the days and weeks, and it's nice to feel competent at something after struggling with Japanese.

1. Gauthier Kyodai (One of our sensei)
2. The Shimaitachi (Gazdik Shimai, Eyring Shimai, Wilson Shimai, Robertson Shimai)

3. Temple Walk
4. The Shimai and our Daisenpai (older missionaries)

And since the World Cup is starting today, USA! USA! USA! USA! I'm trusting all of you to cheer extra loud for me so don't let me down!

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