Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Butterfly Cocoon Parable

Daniels Shimai, Violette Shimai and I sang in church last week. So that was fairly terrifying. And new. I sang the first line all by myself, which is something that I have never done before. I think that is one thing that is SO great about a mission - I go out of my comfort zone in so many things, that I am just forced to change and learn a lot.

This week I was thinking about everything that I have learned since coming to the MTC, and how much I have changed. I was trying to decide what it is about a mission that makes it so difficult, besides the obvious and I was reminded of the Butterfly cocoon Parable. When a butterfly emerges from it's cocoon it has to squeeze through a tiny, tiny hole.  It is very painful.  However, if it were not to do this, it's wings would not work and it would not be able to fly.  Yes, I leave my family and friends for 18 months. Yes, I can't date for 18 months. Yes, I wake up every single morning by 6:30 or earlier...for 18 months. Yes. I can hardly communicate with the people that I love. Yes, I live very high standards and wear dress clothes for 18 months. Yes, I am learning an entirely new language that I would never have had an interest in learning...all of these things are difficult, and true, and hard. But these things are not what makes a mission hard. These are the surface level aspects of a mission. These are the things that we recite off to our friends back home when they ask what we do as a missionary. These are the things that we wonder if we will be able to handle as we walk into the MTC, lugging our heavy green suitcases and smiling at everyone that shouts: "Welcome to the MTC!" as we walk by. 
What I have come to realize is that giving up most of these things...or even learning a new language/ learning to teach, is all expected. These are the "normal hard things." These are not the things that change us as missionaries. As a missionary, we each recognize that we give these things up for the Lord. These are all things that we say: "I am willing to give this up to get something better in return." We turn to the Lord and gladly put our time, our social abilities (yes, I mean abilities...it would appear that something about sticking this name-tag on my chest made me forget how to talk to anyone of the male specimen - which is probably a blessing, actually), our EVERYTHING to the Lord for 18 months or 2 years. What we do not anticipate is that our very nature will be challenged and changed.

Missionary work - even the MTC - brings out every inadequacy and weakness in me. I see myself through new eyes. I see more of what I am, and more of what I want to be. That is what is hard. It is hard to humble yourself enough to say: "You are right, I am not good at this...and I need to be better." It is hard to recognize that I am not perfect, and that I never will be. And then all at once, this is the beautiful and wonderful part of missionary work. As I came on a mission, I knew that I was giving up everything temporal for this work. (My might and strength). What I have come to recognize is that the Lord also wants us to turn over our heart and mind to Him as well. This is the hardest part. It is easy to go through the motions. It is easy to "do the work." It is easy to live the missionary lifestyle. But to live it in your heart and mind? That is another story. This is something that I will work on for my entire mission, I am sure. But as I have learned this, and begun the process I have discovered something amazing. As my will becomes the will of the Lord, everything about me is strengthened. I can learn a language, I can last through the long days... I can love more, I can do more, I can BE more. The Lord always sees what we can become,("The Butterfly")-and we do not. He sees that one day we can become perfect. We do not. As we turn ourselves over to Him, He makes us more than we can be.

In other news...this week was my last week at the MTC. It was fantastic and sad and wonderful and I cried more than I was expecting. We had our last lessons with all of our investigators. I cried at the end of all of them. Because I loved them SO MUCH. AND THEY AREN'T EVEN REAL INVESTIGATORS. Do you understand how much I am going to cry at the end of each transfer? #sistermissionary #sasaga 

Sisters in our Branch
On Tuesday for our last devotional we had Elder L. Tom Perry come. So we ended that with a bang. We were all pretty stoked. I loved our district devotional afterwards. The Chorotachi are just such STUDS. Every single one of them is going to change SO many lives in Japan. It was incredible to hear the difference of each person's testimony from the first week...until now. Honestly, I am so happy that I was at the MTC for 9 weeks. This place works miracles, but in 9 weeks, it can work more miracles than in 2. Personal opinion. However, it is a true personal opinion :) 

Eversole Choro tried out for a special musical number and was selected to play for all of the new missionaries. He is the most talented person that I have ever met. It is incredible. The first week he was terrified to share his piano talent...and his confidence has grown SO much at the MTC. He talked about that a bit with us this week, but it is so evident in the way he talks, plays, and just interacts with people. He is going to be an incredible missionary. The Lord has so much in store for him in Japan. He already spoke a lot of the language, and he is basically fluent. Not to mention that every Japanese person that hears him play the piano will just fall in love with him. I can't wait to see all the good he does in Japan. 

National Pickle Day!
And some fun things...it was National Pickle Day on Thursday. I didn't get pictures with everyone that wore green...but I basically convinced the whole branch to wear green. No big deal. We loved it. Also, all of the Kohai Sisters decided to match with us on Tuesday. That was a blast! They are SO ADORABLE. And I am going to be so sad to leave them.

It is so hard to leave...I love this place so much. I am excited to stop eating MTC food though, it is fine and all that...but it is not the same food that they have in the cannon center (on BYU dorm campus). And I can't wait to eat the Japanese food!

And teach the Japanese people...that too ;)

Love you all!! My next letter will be from Japan. So get excited for the goofy things I say in this language over the next week. You know it will happen. As so wisely put by Wight Choro last night: "I know how to ask where I am...but I don't know how to understand where I am."
If you hear about a little white girl wandering around Japan speaking an unidentifiable language, you know where I am at.

Aishite Imasu! 

Grundvig Shimai
(my name in katakana is: gurandobigu)

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