Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The value of a week!

I think that this week was the fastest week of my entire life...and I am really struggling to remember everything that happened.  We are so busy, and we work hard...but there is also a lot more that I can do to be more productive!  I finally figured out a better "language study plan," which is incredibly helpful.  I feel less like a tiny fish in a sea of Japanese.  Now I am a shark in a sea of Japanese. I love the language A LOT. I don't know why, but in my brain it makes a lot more sense than English does to me.  I think that the Japanese words sound a lot more like their meanings than the English words do. It is very difficult to explain this...but, for example, the Japanese word for "hot" is "atsui."  Does this word not sound more like the thing of being hot than the word hot does? I think so.  Is this the Gift of tongues at work in my brain?  Probably yes.  One thing that has helped me with the language a lot is to not compare English and Japanese...they are too different.  If I think of them separately, than I am much more prone to understand what is going on and to use the correct sentence structures. 

Watching General Conference over the weekend http://www.lds.org/generalconference/sessions/2013/10?cid=HPFR100413113&lang=eng at the MTC was a wonderful experience.  I absolutely loved it.  We had a lot of time, which was weird.  We never have a lot of time.  But we used it up to study and write letters...so it was more that we had a lot of time, where we weren't speaking Japanese.  On Monday, we all felt like our Japanese had flown out the window, but it came back quickly.  On Saturday night, after we watched the Relief Society Session https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/relief-society-meetings?lang=eng - our district had a fantastic testimony meeting. It was the most powerful thing of my life! Everyone opened up their heart and soul in a way that I have not experienced.  I had a really powerful impression during the second Saturday session of conference that I had not been planning on sharing during our testimony meeting -- and then Black Choro asked me to open up the meeting.  I said a quick prayer in my head and I had an unmistakable impression that I needed to share what I had experienced during Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng#watch=video. So I did. This opened up the testimony meeting in a way that allowed everyone to delve into the deepest part of their souls and talk about things that needed to be shared, and testified of.  Our district grew closer than we were before, and I think it was the hardest thing of my life not to hug all of the Chorotachi. Sometimes I just want to hug them so badly! On Saturday night Morin Choro (our fantastic French Canadian Elder) stood up in the middle of the testimony meeting and said: "Elders. Don't be afraid to cry. I see all of you sitting there trying to hold back your tears. Just do it.  It feels very good!" or something along those lines...plus it was in a French accent, so that was just awesome.  At that moment I wanted to laugh and cry and hug this elder all at the same time.  But exact obedience, so I don't do that. :) 

Another fun thing this week!! We have four new sisters in our branch!  Our branch is very small - I have heard that they are trying to slowly turn the building we are staying in into an all Elders building. It is currently two floors of Elders, an empty floor (that used to have some sisters in our branch on it) and a floor of Sisters. The sisters in our branch are just wonderful!  Each of them is excited for a mission and is eager to learn as much Japanese as possible.  As Sister Training Leaders, we welcomed them to the MTC and did a little training for them, and we also gave them a tour around campus. This was hard because I am directionally challenged and I can hardly find my way around campus.  All of the buildings look exactly the same, so this is really a flaw in the architecture and not a flaw in my brain J.  It was interesting to see how much the new sisters look up to us...and expect us to know what is going on.  It was also interesting for me to realize that I actually do know a lot of what is going on, and compared to where I was three weeks ago....I know a ton of Japanese!  I can actually understand almost everything my teachers say in class, and I can communicate in lessons.  Although, what I say is often not correct grammatically...I just throw a lot of nouns together and then the investigators piece it together...but I am working on that.  Because somehow, I don't think this approach to speaking will work out as well in Japan.  The new sisters are adjusting well, all four of them are going to Tokyo.  Actually, their whole district is going to Tokyo and they seem awesome. 

This week we also had an INCREDIBLE lesson from Clark Kyodai.  Our Sensei was gone on Thursday evening, so Clark Kyodai substituted for him.  He is such a funny teacher...but sooo good!  He teaches us how we are taught to teach investigators.  He finds out what we want to learn, what our needs are, and then rolls forward with the spirit.  We read the Book of Mormon together (in Eigo) and then we learned grammar for like two hours.  Best two hours of my life. Why? I don't really know....but it was so good.  He was incredibly clear, and I understand Japanese a lot better now!  We hadn't really learned any grammar (more complex sentence structure at least) up until this point, so it helped our whole class a lot.  He also threw chalk at some of our Chorotachi, which was really enjoyable to watch.  He was able to pull in all the members of our district, even the ones that struggle with focusing on a regular basis.  I was so impressed.  I sort of wish that we could have a third teacher, and it could be him.  (But I wouldn't want to lose either of our other two teachers....because they are just so wonderful too).  We asked him if he would come teach us sometimes/ if he could just be a third teacher and he got really serious and said, "I wish...I love this district."  And it was a really sweet moment.  Actually, there was a strong spiritual witness at that moment, for me at least, that my district is special, and together for a reason. We help each other, we push each other, we build each other up...and sometimes we distract each other...but mostly we all work hard, although, there is always room for improvement. 

Last night we had a district meeting led by Black Choro (who won't be our district leader for much longer) and we went through our district goals.  We re-evaluated them based on our progress, and we changed some of our language goals to make them more advanced, as we have all pretty much mastered praying in Japanese and we have memorized our purpose in Japanese (plus we say it together twice a day). We are now focusing more on grammar and memorizing our "bunpo card" which means "grammar card."  It is this little green card that we carry around with us.  This may not sound very difficult...but it really is, so it is a great goal.  Our whole district is excited about it.  I think Wight Choro said,  "This is so sick" about 50 times after we made the goal. 

This week has been uplifting, wonderful and spiritual, and sped by unbelievably fast!  I learn so much in a week....that sometimes I can't believe it has only been a week.  But at the same time, I feel like I have not been in the MTC long at all.  Time is a very strange concept inside my mind at this point in my life. 

I love you all!! Aishite Imasu!!

Grundvig Shimai

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