(konichi [sic] wa watashi no kanzen mamasama)
Saturday is the official halfway point! Of my MTC stay. And Friday is the official 1/24th mark of my mission! ;)
Yeah I'm so excited to meet with Taylor! So last Sunday, President Mehr, our MTC district president (he's over all the Japanese Branch Presidents, so I guess that makes him the equivalent of a Stake President?) said that President Weaver had sent him my request to meet with my brother. So he asked me, "is your brother a good missionary?" And I said, "he's the best missionary of all time," so President Mehr said he would let us meet. He told me that they discourage family visits as a general rule, but that's because they don't want missionaries to be distracted. But, he said that talking with my brother super fresh off the mish, especially just a few days before I head out to the field, will help me to be excited and motivated to be a great missionary, so that's why he felt like it would be a good thing.
28 new missionaries...the day we welcomed them in, it was basically chaos. We were supposed to work with the STLs to give them orientation and a tour of campus, but one of the STLs is very very very detail-oriented and was kind of having an anxiety attack with so many variables to control at once. It was fine though, we made it through. Nathan Choro and I tried to just be friendly and help them have a good first night. I felt like they were given a huge overload of advice from the STLs and us ZLs, but I guess too much is better than too little. I just feel like we've only been here for 3 weeks more than them, so it's more important for us to be their friends than to attempt to be their MTC "trainers." Nathan Choro and I have gotten to know almost all of them pretty well, so that's good. There is an Elder McColm who is from Highland, I guess he took Japanese from Uncle Matt so he always calls me Pasuketto Sensei in his honor. He said he knows Todd too. And he has a twin (also Elder McColm) who also took Japanese from Matt and is also going to Japan! He's in the other zone though.
Having so many kohai has been way fun! They appreciate our singing. What was super funny is that the second day, some elders were singing in a quartet and some sisters in our district walked in to listen. They all stopped suddenly and looked at them scared, then said "oh, we thought it was the zone leaders." I guess they thought we would be mad at them for singing during study time and they were like, "do you even KNOW our zone leaders?" But now they know that singing is ok. Nathan Chōrō and I actually planned our entire lesson yesterday purely through song.
Sounds like the matsuri was fun!! Even if it was in a parking lot in Ontario. And having 6 Japanese speakers there (counting Uina) was probably way cool! Did you get to talk to any Japanese employees? I remember how shocked that dude at Olive Garden was when Dad started speaking Japanese to him. Someday I'll get to do that too ;)
So all of the new mission presidents and the quorum of the twelve were here this last week, so the main building was on total lockdown. We even had to go the front desk once to get something for Pierre Shimai (the sister who twisted her ankle) so we were walking there and a security guard told us we needed to leave and come back later. So they purposely made sure that none of the apostles got mobbed by fans, but we did end up seeing Elder Rasband. We had lunch at the Morris Center at BYU on Sunday and when we were walking back, a security guard stopped me right before we were going to cross the road (the road inside the MTC campus, to get to our classroom). They stopped us to let Elder Rasband and his wife drive by, so he rolled down the window and said hi to us! First time I've ever seen him wear sunglasses. And I was right on the front row, Man, it's good to be alive.
Also, apparently Elder Oaks came and hopped in to the class right across the hall from us!! They had all the mission presidents come to the classes and teach us, and I guess he decided to just hop in and observe. Barely missed him. But my friend Frank Shimai was in that class! She said one of the Brazilians in their class didn't know who he was and gave him a fist bump when he walked in.
Having the mission presidents come in was way cool. Ours were going to one of the missions in Honduras. You could just feel how passionate they were about the Gospel, and how much they loved the missionaries. It makes me excited to meet President and Sister Smith in Sendai!
On Friday, we had our best lesson yet!! The lesson right after our worst one. It was with Asuka-san again, and it was so cool. She was not easy on us at all--we were going to share the restoration lesson, and we were reviewing what we learned last time about the plan of salvation. But then she stopped us and said that her parents never believed in Christ, so according to what we had taught her, they can't go to heaven because we can only return to God's presence through Christ. The gift of tongues was so real in that moment--I started rattling off some Japanese about ordinances for the dead and agency and how her parents can still choose to follow Christ in the spirit world. If I had to explain that to you right now, I couldn't without looking up some words. But I just said it without even really thinking about it--I was thinking about answering her question and resolving her concern, but not even a little bit about Japanese. Cool right?
So we were sharing the restoration lesson, and it was going well, but when we introduced the Book of Mormon as a testament of Christ when he visited the Americas, she asked if Christ visited Japan. We explained that we read that he visited "other sheep," and that he came to lots of God's children in addition to the ones in America. I said that we don't know where for certain, but I personally believe that he went to Japan. Same thing there, where I didn't even have to think about Japanese. I think that the gift of tongues comes when we 1) stop worrying about speaking the language and 2) focus on loving and helping our investigators.
So we gave Pierre Shimai another blessing on Saturday, and we gave her companion one too. Pierre Shimai is from Brazil, so she is learning both English and Japanese here. I think between twisting her ankle and being in a different country and learning 2 languages combined with the normal stresses of the MTC, she was just feeling so anxious and overwhelmed. So she asked us for a blessing; Nathan Choro gave her a great blessing and I think it helped her so much. We were about to leave when her companion got emotional, so we offered to give her one as well. Her Japanese is super good, but I think she has just been overwhelmed with trying to make sure Pierre Shimai is doing ok. So I got to give her a blessing, it was way cool.
We have to report all blessings we get to our branch presidency, and we found out our phone is even more useless than we thought. Earlier, we went to the front office because the previous zone leaders didn't type us the passcode so we can't view missed calls or listen to messages. But, they told us we're not supposed to know the passcode. I guess they don't want us to be able to see who we missed calls from. Or listen to their messages. They told us we just use it to call the front desk if we need to contact our branch presidency and that's literally it. So, we called the front desk, asking them to forward us to our branch president, and they told us for that we need to come in and use their phone. So the only thing we use the phone for is to call the front desk to let them know that we're coming to use their phone. Waste of tithing money, ですね ?
Saturday night, we interviewed the 4 district leaders. Now that there are so many elders, it actually has a purpose. Generally, everyone is doing fine, it seemed that getting everyone to stay focused throughout the day was a common concern. Most of the districts have 8 elders and 2 sisters, so that might have something to do with it. But yeah everyone is doing awesome in terms of psychological well-being.
Our sacrament meeting was combined with the 4th branch, another Japanese zone. Last week we had 10 people in sacrament meeting, this week there were about 80. Nathan Chōrō and I were assigned to do a musical number, which went really well! We weren't expecting to do it in front of so many people though. But it was fine, I was singing and Nathan Chōrō was on the piano. It was Come Thou Fount, one we checked out from the MTC music library. It was actually written for a girl, so I sang the first 2 verses down an octave but the last one up in the written octave. I thought it went super well, it was a very reverent falsetto. The spirit was way strong. Bro Turpin from our branch presidency was so stoked, he said he was trying to arrange a song for some elders but he was worried about it being too high, and now after hearing that song he doesn't have to worry anymore. Haha.
Sounds like girls' camp was awesome! What was the best part? And Dad came up for one night right?
That's so cool that Dannica is making good friends! I'm glad Tylor and Jake (and apparently Mitch) are taking good care of her. Tell her I loved her little note in the package :)
Love you so much!