Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Osoroshii vs. Yasashii

As my Japanese gets better (slowly but surely) I have discovered that there are quite a lot of words that sound incredibly similar to each other,  even if they don't look like it.   For example: yasashii and osoroshii.  I am pretty sure an elder meant to tell Clark Shimai that she was kind, instead of terrifying.  But switching a few letters makes a big difference.  The Japanese grammar structure is also incredibly backwards...so I keep telling our investigators that "If you feel the spirit, in order to read the Book of Mormon before next week?"  Instead of:  "In order to feel the spirit, will you read the Book of Mormon before next week?"   I also accidentally told one of our investigators that Christ was a lamb...and then I corrected myself and told her that Christ was both a lamb and a person.  So teaching false doctrine all over the place...but, at least I know what my mistakes are now!  I have also found that my ability to speak in correct English is slowly deteriorating.  As well as my ability to write well...which isn't saying much since I only have twenty minutes or so to write these emails each week...but I'd imagine that my English will continue to get worse and worse, which is both exciting and frustrating all at once. 
Grundvig Shimai's  District

Despite challenges with Japanese, I LOVE the MTC!  I love the language (in all of its oddity), I love my district!  I love my branch (and branch presidency) and half of the time I love the food.

This past Sunday I was called on to give a talk in church!  I hadn't expected it to be that hard, because I can usually come up with the things I want to say in lessons...but coming up with a talk on the fly is a little bit different.  I had written out a partial talk, but that only lasted about a minute, so the last three or so minutes of my talk I had to come up with at the pulpit.  I was speaking on Faith in Christ.   I shared the scripture in Alma 57:21 about the stripling warriors - who were faithful AND obedient, and through their faith and obedience, miracles were wrought.  I related this to us as missionaries and talked about how we can have miracles if we are faithful, continue to strengthen our faith AND are obedient.  The message was very straightforward and simple, and in partially correct Japanese...but I felt so good as I struggled to speak!  Sometimes I have to come up with creative ways to say things, but as I struggle to speak in Nihongo, I can feel the spirit working through me.  After the talk, one of the Elders from my district came up to me and said:  "So, I was way excited when you got called on because I thought I would be able to understand the talk this week...but I still didn't understand it, which means that you did a good job."  The older group of Elders all told me that I did well too, but I'm pretty sure even if I had only spoken jumbled Japanese for five minutes, everyone would have said that anyway.  Regardless, it still boosted my confidence after speaking (because really - it was far more terrifying than I had ever imagined), and now I probably don't have to speak again for the rest of my time at the MTC! I was the first one in my district to speak, which means the next few weeks I am sure the rest of them will be called on.  This will be a lot of fun for me to watch :) 
Coolest Orthodontist office ever!

This week I had the most exciting trip to the orthodontist that I have ever had.  Violette Shimai needed a new retainer...so we all got to take a field trip off of campus.  We took pictures to document the exciting adventure!  The orthodontist gave us some yummy mango slushees (and they were pretty melted...but hey, it wasn't cafeteria food...) and we studied Japanese in a room that had MULTIPLE WINDOWS.  Our first classroom had no windows at all...which makes the day go all crazy on you.  Our new classroom has one.  It has a fantastic view of a brick wall.  But the orthodontist windows had the view of a parking lot! Woo!!

On Monday, Daniels Shimai, Violette Shimai and I spoke in only Nihongo.  This was hard, somewhat frustrating, and turned into a lot of charades.  We know a lot...but we also don't know a lot.  Speaking in only Nihongo helps us to figure out what it is that we need to work on...and I think it prepares us for when we go to Japan and ALL DAYYY EVVERRY day we are speaking only Japanese.  So...a bit frustrating, a lot of fun, and definitely good practice. 

Tuesday we had one of the best devotionals.  I loved it!  Lynn G. Robbins http://www.lds.org/church/leader/lynn-g-robbins, of the Quorum of the 70, came and spoke about opening our mouths, and how the Lord will put people in our paths that we are supposed to teach.  Even if we don't know the language, we have to find them!  And we can find them....with or without the language.  Miracles happen EVERY DAY in the life of a missionary, and so who am I to think that this wouldn't happen to me?  Sometimes, "success is moving from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm."  A mission is supposed to be humbling and hard.  The Savior's life was difficult, salvation is not cheap.  So why would the work of salvation be an easy one?? (Elder Holland).  It wouldn't be.  It shouldn't be, and it is not.  I am working and living on the Lord's time. These 18 months are the Lord’s...and so when I don't focus, it is not my time that I am wasting...it is the Lord's.  After the devotional we had an incredible testimony meeting with our district.  Lake Choro shared a powerful thought: 'Our Nihongo might not be the best, but our feelings should be."  We should always have the spirit with us.  We should always love the people.  That is the part of missionary work that really matters!  I bore my testimony about a quote from the devotional:  "This battle is not mine - it is the Lord's." I am on the Lord's side of the battle, and I know that His side will win - but just as this time is not mine, this battle is not mine either.  Just as I am spending my time for the Lord, He will spend His time for me.  He will help in this battle because it is His! He will strengthen me, and He will help me find those that I need to teach - or He will help them to find me. 
With Taylor Shimai and companions

This week we had a speaker come and talk to us about the work that we will be doing in Japan, and part of the reason why serving in Japan is such an exciting call.  He was understanding about the language, and passionate about the work.  What a wonderful time it is to serve the people of Japan.  Prior to this meeting I had been feeling terrified that I only have 3 1/2 more weeks here...because my Nihongo is not perfect...and I so desperately want it to be.  But this meeting helped me to grab hold of some of that passion, not only for the work, but for JAPAN.  He shared a quote with us from Heber J. Grant from when Japan was dedicated as a mission: "I have an abiding faith that this is to be one of the most successful missions ever established in the church.  It is going to be slow work at first but the harvest is to be something great and will astonish the world in years to come."

There is a reason that so many missionaries are being called to Japan right now - and this is it. This is the time for this gospel message to be brought to the Japanese people. Their hearts are turning to the Lord! And I am lucky enough to be a vessel of this beautiful message.

Kokoro Kara Aishite Imasu!
Grundvig Shimai

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