When I came into the MTC, I was told that my district would become my family. We were put in a room with a bunch of 18 year old guys...and I was not entirely sure that I would ever feel like these people were my family. This week, they really did.
|Grundvig Shimai, Daniels Shimai, and Violette Shimai|
Sunday was incredible. A spiritually uplifting day - we saw a video of a talk given by Elder Bednar (Elder David A. Bednar: A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ...see this link http://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/what-are-prophets?lang=eng ) in the MTC one Christmas, called Character of Christ. It was incredible. My perspective on life, and particularly missionary work has changed. Elder Bednar testified to us in very bold terms that what we are doing is NOT about us. I needed that message Sunday night, because I knew that my wonderful companion needed my support -- just as much as I needed hers. My companion left the MTC early Tuesday morning. After a lot of thought and prayer, she decided that a mission was not the right thing for her at this point in her life. But I am so grateful for the week that we were companions. We joked that I was both her best and worst companion of her mission, but truly, I am so grateful for her! I learned so much from her and I think that she will look back at her time in the MTC as a time of true conversion and growth. I am now in a trio with Daniels Shimai and Violette Shimai and they are both such incredible examples to me! Violette Shimai studied abroad in Jerusalem this past summer and her experiences were incredible. Listening to her talk is uplifting! Both of them have incredible testimonies and we all work together to become stronger in the gospel and in learning Japanese.
But the rest of the week -- on Monday night our district pulled together and made some district goals. On Sunday we were told that our classroom always seems to have "celestial districts." And that the BEST missionaries come from room 208 in building 7M. We all sat and listened to our branch presidency member (Brother Willes) tell us this...feeling somewhat awkward and inadequate. I was thinking of the times that we had lost focus instead of studying the language or the gospel. We all had A LOT of work to do. After our branch president member left we had sat in silence for a while and then discussed how...almost chastised? we were feeling. We felt like we had so much work to do! But that is why we are here! To learn and grow and change (Seicho!! In Japanese) to become the best that we can. On Monday evening we made a long list of district goals, and then condensed them into five main points:
1. Look Outward and Serve Others -- Strive to have a Character of Christ.
2. Use our time effectively and be EXACTLY obedient. Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles.
3. District Prayer in Japanese - "Nihongo Inori."
4. Uplift and Edify - Have district unity, speak kindly, eat our meals together and be one in Christ.
5. Speak Japanese often. SYL (Speak Your Language). Learn at LEAST five new words/ characters a day. (This has easily been surpassed every day -- at this point, I have learned far more in Japanese than I did probably in my first 3 years of German...and maybe more than that).
|Grundvig Shimai and Daniels Shimai near Provo Temple|
These goals have made ALL the difference. Our district studies together and we carry such a strong spirit. We have become soo close. We have SOO much fun. We laugh together, we pray together, we eat together, we joke together. We memorized our missionary purpose together in Japanese in two days (but really -- only in two hours). A quick story behind that -- this week we taught two lessons, and then our investigator -- Takanaka Kyodai -- became our new teacher! We now have two teachers who are both wonderful. Takanaka (Wilkes) Kyodai just returned home from Kobe, Japan a few months ago. On Wednesday night this week we were all feeling a bit discouraged in the language and we were trying to set study goals. One person mentioned that learning our missionary purpose would take us the whole two months in the MTC. Wilkes Kyodai stopped speaking Japanese -- he was frustrated with our lack of faith -- and said "Stop. You can only do this if you have faith. The gift of tongues is REAL. I have seen kids in the MTC teach more powerfully than missionaries who have been in the field for a year, but you have to have FAITH. Kamisama (God) expects much of you. I will not lower my expectations of you, I will expect what Ten no Otosama (Heavenly Father) expects of you. Because you can do it. But you must have faith (Shinko). Two months to learn your purpose? No. You can do that in two days. And so, yesterday morning we stood and recited it to him. The power we had together at that moment was so real and so fantastic.
I can do things here that I could not have done before. I can sit through six hours of Japanese class and simply LOVE it. I can memorize forty (or more) new words in a day! I can hold a conversation in Japanese (sort of). I can say long prayers in Japanese and bear my testimony of the gospel -- and I know that I can only do this because of the gift of tongues (igen no tamono). I can read the Japanese hymns! These things I can do because of the strength that my Heavenly Father has given me!
|Daniels Shimai, Violette Shimai and Grundvig Shimai!|
My whole district is going to Kobe, I believe that we are the only Japanese district here right now that is all going to the same place -- and this is inspired. All of the missionaries in our district are incredible. We have different life stories, but somehow are similar in many ways that make us perfect to teach the people of Japan. We strengthen each other. We edify each other. I have learned so much from all of the Chorotachi (elders). Last night we had a little party during our planning period and we brought down a ton of food from our room and one of our Choro brought some food too. We all ate food together, showed pictures of our families and talked about our lives. I know a lot about them, yet at the same time so little...yet I love them so much!! AISHITE IMASU!!!
I love the mail that I have been getting -- keep sending it! And I will respond when I get a chance!
P.S. I joined the MTC Choir! What a marvelous experience to sing at devotionals!!