Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27, 2016--Sprinting to the finish! Of the first lap...

Class aquarium (special thanks to Jenn)
私の 愛くるしい、ほほえましい、あざやか、佳、うるわしい、しゅうれい、丸っ切り 管状 (まるっきり かんじょう) おかあさま、

(My cute, charming, bright, beautiful, lovely, graceful, totally tubular mother,)

If you ran a 5K around a track, it would take a little over 12 laps. And when we leave to Nihon I will be 1/12th done with my mission, how crazy is that? So basically the first lap is over. Our branch president said that the MTC will be the hardest part of our mission, so the next 11 will be a piece of cake right?

Also, you should get the app "imi wa." Never trust google translate with hiragana haha. Osorubeshi is the closest thing to "awesome" that I could find, although the kanji works for awe or fear or dread, so I guess it's a little closer to "dreadful" connotatively. But yeah just get imi wa and what I'm trying to say will all make sense ;) 

I'm getting much better at バスケ、(basketball) so good that my feet were on fire. Literally. And it burned a hole in the side of my shoe. So it is currently taped up, and I will need new shoes sometime...I can probably buy them in Japan right? If not, would you guys be able to order new ones and bring them and have Taylor give them to me? I'm not super worried, I think they have some life left, just basketball is hard on them. But size 10 saucony's would be lovely if you guys have time in the next couple days. No biggie if it's not possible in this amount of time.
Also, this may be a stretch, but if Taylor could bring in something from Jamba Juice or Roxberry I would be eternally grateful. 

Yeah I got the package! Everything was perfect! Love the jikou shokai book. And the muffins were totally intact. That was an impressive plastic wrapping job! You must have had a lot of practice wrapping things tightly, like putting small children in straight jackets and leaving them in the garage as a random, non-specific example. But there were 4 muffins and our district has 9 so I figured it would be hard to share and I decided to eat them all. Is that selfish? I shared the other candy though haha. Thanks so much for sending it!

Also got a package from Aunt Sara & fam yesterday, that was so nice! It had some lovely treats and a lovely note. They were some chocolate/mint cookie balls that are so amazing! Our whole zone is obsessed with them. Also, Nathan Chōrō got 2 boxes of food from his family yesterday too. So we are loaded for our last weekend. We even have food left that our Senpai gave us when they left to Nihon, haha I'll have to send you a picture of the pyramid on our table.

This week, I drank the orange juice for the first time. Everyone always says never drink the orange juice, but I figured that after being here 8 weeks my stomach could take anything. Big mistake. That stuff is a natural laxative, let me tell ya. I won't get into the deets. But to all current/future missionaries: the warnings about the orange juice should be heeded.

We tried to play volleyball in the rain, but then they made us go inside because of lightning. Bummer. The rain was nice though, it gets so hot.

On Sunday we got to sing with the Nashville tribute band for the devo! For Pioneer Day. It's pretty funny because half of the missionaries didn't know what Pioneer Day was. And then the other half are from Utah. But it was so fun, it was nice just to have something different. They are very talented.

Last week one of the teachers had a talk with me and Nathan Chōrō and basically said we need to plan out our lessons better, which was really good because I think we definitely should have been spending more time planning and prepping. So we have gotten a lot better, this week has been really good. And having the language limitations makes it so that we never get too off track, because we literally don't have the vocabulary to get off topic. Haha but I feel like we've done a good job of having a plan that is suited to each individual investigator, and then sticking to that plan but still answering their questions and making them feel like we care about them individually. Teaching will probably be a little different in the field, but I think it's good practice.

We have been getting up early this week to exercise. Yesterday we did spin bikes for 30 minutes, that was super nice. Even after just a couple days I feel like I'm in so much better shape. I need to weigh myself before I leave and see if I've gained any weight. But yeah I'm feeling a little more ready to be biking everywhere, hopefully by Monday I will be back in marathon running-shape.

2 of our Shimai tachi left this week, both for Medical reasons. That leaves us with 3 of the original 6, which is kind of sad actually. Please pray for them!

Everything is going well overall, just beyond excited to see Taylor and to head out to Japan! We are leaving the MTC 6:20 a.m. on Monday, then our flight leaves SLC at 11:15. We get into Tokyo 3:15 p.m. Tuesday (Japan time) then we have a 3 hour layover and then an hour flight to Sendai. So we're supposed to arrive in Sendai around 7:40 p.m. Tuesday night, which means technically we will arrive in our mission 25 hours and 20 minutes after we leave the MTC. 

Thanks for all you do!

いつも あいしています!
Elder Paskett

Jet Lag

Color coordinating with Black Shimai

52nd Ward represent!

with Elder McCauley

with Elder Baldwin

making music

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016: RE: The home stretch (of the first inning)

私の あいする、うつくし、かんぜん、おそるべし、とんでる、かげき、おどろくべき、おかあさん、

(My dear, beautiful, perfect...then some of the words don't make sense to me...surprising mother)
Yeah we are shipping out a week from Monday! I honestly feel like the most challenging part of the MTC is sitting in a classroom all day and being here for 9 weeks. I'm actually ok with the busy schedule and how much we study. Nathan Chōrō and I take period breaks to go "music-ing" so that probably helps. But yeah we get our  travel plans on Friday and then just one more p-day after this one before I am gonzo! We hear all of these 3 weekers talking about how long they've been in the MTC and how they can't wait to finally get into the field. They literally have no idea. Our district spent an entire lunch one day sharing all of the funny times we've heard people say they've been here for a long time. Nathan Chōrō and I heard it this week from 2 elders who had been here 4 days. FOUR DAYS!! In some ways it's fun to have been here this long, because we recognize all the other 9 weekers who got here with us. It's like we have a little pack of veterans and we all think we're super-experienced missionaries because we've been here longer than anyone else currently in the MTC.

Last Wednesday we had our first Skype TRC, and it was the best! I seriously loved it so much. It gave me a much-needed boost of fiery motivation. It was with Ikeda Shimai who lives in Tokyo. She said our 日本語 (Japanese) was じょうず (skillful) like 20 times, I think it's kind of a cultural courtesy to say that to がいじん (foreigners) but it was nice haha. But we understood everything she said just fine, I was a little surprised but very grateful! We shared a message about prayer and it went really well. She was friends with one of our teachers so they were talking after and she gave us some really good feedback. Teaching her was really good because it helped me to remember why we're here and why we're learning Japanese. Teaching lessons to our teachers as "investigators" is good practice, but teaching an actual Nihonjin member was different, it was so much more "real" and I really felt genuine love for Ikeda Shimai and wanted to help her feel the spirit. So I'm looking forward to that again tonight!

I've seen so many people that I know here! Melissa Brown and Sarah Bruneel both came in last week, and Jenn's cousin Sister Jacobson came in last week too. So it's been fun to see them around, I also see Sister Mortell and Hermana Hansen all the time too. Also, Dallin Kooyman (who also went to Rocky) is going to Tokyo so he is on the same floor as me. I'll keep my eyes out for Elder McCauley this week!

We taught a really good lesson to しまだ-さん about the ちえ の ことば、(Word of Wisdom) she committed to live by it, and we were going to talk about whether or not she felt a difference the next lesson. Then she totally didn't keep her commitment! Taylor しまい (しまだ-さん) は ちんぴら です。 (Sister Taylor's a hoodlum...thank you google translate) She's not making it easy on us, it's probably good though. We are getting a lot better at asking good questions and helping them to understand everything rather than just spouting off gospel doctrine.

So Haderlie しまい is now the less-active マリッサ-さん、(Marissa-san) and we have taught her 2 lessons. The first one we mostly just got to know her and talked a little bit about prayer. It went really well, but our second lesson was rough. We were teaching the plan of salvation and it was going smoothly, and then we were teaching about resurrection. She asked if her grandparents would be resurrected even though they already died and didn't believe in Christ. We told her yes, everyone will be resurrected. Then she asked if she would be able to talk to her grandparents after the resurrection. So we said yes, and she asked where there bodies would be. We said they would be resurrected, and she asked if the graves would be empty. We said yes, but she just kept asking what would be in their graves! And we kept telling her that they would be empty! Then she started busted up laughing. She finally stopped then looked up at us and started laughing again! For like 5 minutes! Haha とても こんらん しました。 (we were very confused.) After the lesson we realized (because she told us) that she actually had asked if her grandparents had already been resurrected, and if so, if she could talk to them. And we told her yes to both of those. And told her that her grandparents' graves were currently empty. Oops. いげん の たまもの は どこ です か?!(Where is the gift of tongues now?)

Another language blunder this week--we taught Hansen Kyoudai as よしだ-さん、 it was a one-time lesson because he was subbing for one of our regular teachers. All we knew was that he used to live in Singapore and he works making Ramen in Tokyo, so when we were getting to know him I asked him how long he had been making ramen. Or, that's what I tried to ask, but I actually asked him how many bowls of ramen he had made. (I used どの ぐらい when I shouldn't have) So he thought about it really hard and just said, "probably tens of thousands." Haha but we played it off like it was on purpose, so えんてんかつだつ。(adaptability)

Papenfuss Shimai from my BYU Ward is going to the Tokyo South mission so she's on the same floor as me, and she arranges tons of piano music. She asked if I would sing a song with her on the piano that she arranged, it was a medley of Danny Boy and Homeward Bound. We decided that Danny Boy wasn't really spiritual so I changed the lyrics (but we kept the music the same), mostly switching it our for the lyrics of Lead Kindly Light. We auditioned it for a musical number last week, so hopefully we will get to perform it before I leave! It sounds super cool, we'll record a video and sent it to you if we can.

I found out for myself that exact obedience brings miracles--my room has been struggling with getting to bed on time, and I feel like 2 of the elders are just complacent about the bedtime rules. So I decided I would just make sure that I'm going to bed right at 10:30 and not worry about the other Chōrō tachi. On Monday night I went to bed on time but our lights were still on, and they woke me up when they got to bed at like 11:30, so I was kind of annoyed. But the next day for lunch we had, for the first time, penne pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce! Literally my go-to favorite staple meal of the whole last year. So that was definitely a きせき。(miracle) I had  actually written in my journal the night before that I was officially sick of the food and I felt sick from all 3 meals that day. Moral of the story--when you are exactly obedient then the Lord will give you blessings, sometimes in the form of good meals when you had lost all hope of eating real food again.

On Sunday, you will never guess who showed up!! Elder Bednar!! For the 2nd time since I've been here. We were watching a video of his "character of Christ" devo with the whole MTC (instead of the live devo) and then he and his wife just decided to show and do a Q&A session! It was super cool, I didn't get to ask him a question but I really enjoyed listening to the other questions and his answers. I really felt the love that they both have for all the missionaries. They are both such great examples of Christ-like love. Obviously a testimony can't be based off of this, but it really strengthens my testimony to see how selfless and caring the leaders of our church are.

Yes I will be praying for Taylor's families! I can't believe how close he is to coming home. I hope his last week is the best!

Sounds like camping was awesome, wish I could've tried the えびやき! Ebi is a popular word among the chōrō tachi. Especially when we're playing volleyball, Ebi is like the substitute swear word we use hahaha. McColm Chōrō (the one who took Nihongo from uncle Matt) always says "えび は じんせい です。"(shrimp is life)

Thanks for sending the debit card, etc. and thanks for being an amazing mother!

いつも あいして います、

(Love always,
Elder Paskett

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016

こんいちわ、私の 愛する お母さん、

かんじ を わかる こと が ありません。 でも、私 と 愛 を わかります。 そして 光 も。

かんじ は 私の ぢストリクト に うちかって いる。 すべて の ほか の 長老たち は かんじ だけ べんきょう したい です。
でも、私 は はなすこと が もっと たいせつ だ と おもいます。レッスン を おしえる とき に、 かんじ を よめる こと は とくべつ じゃない。

(Konichi wa, my dear mother,
I do not know kanji. But I know "I" and "love." And "light." 
My district is being overcome by kanji. All the other elders only want to study kanji. 
But, I think that speaking is more important. When you teach a lesson, it wouldn't be too special to be able to read the kanji.)

Saturday would be perfect! Or  Sunday would work for me, but it sounds like you guys have a busy day. Wish I could be there to hear Tylor speak! He'll be so awesome.

しんでん を きよらか する こと は たのしかった です! (Cleaning the temple was fun!) That was the first time I've been in the girls' locker room in the Provo temple (or any temple for that matter), so that was a new experience. If you ever find yourself in the baptistry changing room in Provo, pay special attention to how clean the lockers are. Also, they have a bathroom stall made of marble. Marble! We just have the regular plastic-y stall material. Talk about discrimination. (Speaking of discrimination, did you know that Elders get $6 every week but Sisters get $8? At the end of our 9 p-days that's like $18 extra dollars. You could buy like 12 book of Mormons (books of Mormon?) with that money. So jealous ;) Also there are two bathrooms on the floor where our classroom is, and they are BOTH girls' bathrooms. Haha one of the girls in our district is a hardcore feminist so we tease her about the bathrooms and the extra $2 all the time). But yeah it was a cool experience. They are redoing all the chairs and upholstery in the endowment rooms so we got to carry loads of the backs of chairs upstairs. Today the temple is back open so we will get to do a session today.

TRC is "teaching recent converts," so the volunteers are members and it's supposed to be practicing for continuing to teach our investigators after baptism. The skype ones actually start today, I thought they were going to be last week but they were just normal. It was good though, we taught a couple and the wife was にほんじん (Japanese) so I guess it was like a warm up. Tonight we will use our new かたかな (katakana) name tags for the first time! I am no longer Elder Paskett, but パスケット長老。 People say that the first Skype TRC is super hard because the audio quality over Skype isn't great and you have everyone in the same room talking combined with them speaking fluent Japanese without an accent. So it will be an adventure haha. They have a "practice listening" program on the computers here so I am actually getting pretty good at being able to tell where one word ends and another begins. I still don't know what half the words mean, but I figure if I can pick them out then we can look them up if we need to.

So today we were singing again, same day, same time, same showers, same songs, but this time a bunch of new 長老たち came in and told us that they loved it so much, they even asked us to do Take On Me again because they liked it so much. I thought they were being sarcastic at first but it was sincere! So I guess we just have to make sure that they stay here and that the old guy doesn't come back. Haha I actually worked in the Boise temple with one of the new elders, it was pretty funny because on my last day he was like, "well I'll never see you
again so goodbye, and I really like your hair." Then lo and behold, we are on the same floor of the same residence hall. Haha he is going to South Carolina (I think) so we didn't expect to see each other in the MTC, pretty funny coincidence.

Also speaking of increasing our repertoire, we started doing Grace Kelly with beatboxing and piano and singing this week. The Chōrōs in our zone love it so much! I would sing that all the time in Jenn's apartment at BYU and I actually made her get a noise complaint once. So it's nice to feel like such a good song is getting its proper appreciation ;)

I hope camping is fun! Did you guys have to reserve pine top or can you just go up there whenever it's not reserved?

Is the new debit card coming this week? I will just need it before my last week, other than that no time constraints. Other than that, will you just send me a bunch of lined paper? It is uncannily hard to find here. I feel like it shouldn't be, maybe I just don't know where to look. But yeah paper and if you have an any extra postage stamps that you are just dying to give away I could use some of those. But I can buy them here too. It's just difficult on my measly $6 per week ;)

A few stories from this week--Akagi Chōrō (our former DL--all the DLs and ZLs were changed this week) had his birthday on Monday! We knew it was in July but we could never figure out the day and he refused to
tell us. But, you have to log in to the computers using your birthdate so the しまいたち (sisters) watched him so closely and they were 90% sure he typed July 11th. Just to make sure, Nathan Chōrō and I looked at his drivers
license while he was in the shower and confirmed that it was indeed the 11th. So the しまいたち decorated his desk in the morning and he was so surprised when we came in. He asked how we found out and we just told
him it was the せいれい。(Holy Ghost)

Like I said, we were released as ZLs and so on Sunday afternoon we were in the awkward period of time where we weren't zone leaders anymore but hadn't had a chance to give the new ZLs the cell phone and
binders and stuff. So the phone rang 8 times and we accidentally missed all of them, but then we answered the 9th. They started to scold us saying that Zone Leaders were supposed to always have the phone on them. So we said that we're not the ZLs, we just answered the phone because it kept ringing and we didn't know where the ZLs were. Technically true. So they had us express their frustration to the ZLs for not being on top of things. I think they had a good first day.

We did teach a really good lesson to Asuka-San, she accepted our invitation to be baptized! We asked her like 3 lessons ago and kept asking her since then but she finally felt like she was ready. So that's cool, her "baptismal date" is set for October, so I'm assuming we will keep preparing her for baptism until we leave.

Our original teacher, Haderlie Shimai, is back from her trip to India! So it's cool to have her back, she had some crazy cool photos from and stories from her trip. She left on our 2nd week so she said our Japanese has come so far, she was shocked. That was nice because we don't really see our progress because it's not that different from one day to the next, but I guess if we take a step back we really have learned so much in such a small amount of time.

I gave my first sacrament meeting talk in Japanese this week! You find out if you're giving a talk when they announce your name over the pulpit, so you're supposed to prepare a talk every week (everyone has the same topic but it's different every week). This week was faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement. It was only 3 minutes, so it wasn't bad. I shared a scripture in the middle and half of our branch didn't realize it was a scripture, so they said they were surprised by my expansive vocabulary. Haha I just told them it the いげん の たまもの。(gift of tongues)  I read most of my talk out of my notebook, but I gave my testimony at the end without the words prepared, but I think it was really good. We have a lot of practice bearing testimony in Japanese in our lessons, but it's just a little different in sacrament meeting. It was cool, our branch presidency said it was all totally understandable so that was really good to hear.

Hope you have a great week! Let me know about all your amazing adventures!

いつも あいしています、
Elder Paskett

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 6, 2016--Downhill slide!

こんにちわ、 私の あい する おどろくべき かわいらしい ははおや、
(hello, my dear amazing lovely mom)

Yeah I guess it is the downhill slide! The downhill slide of the first tiny step of the mission. I'm feeling like a seasoned pro of the MTC, definitely not with the language though. I'm getting a little sick of the food...especially breakfast. dinners usually have more options, but breakfast is basically always the same. The scrambled eggs are so nasty. But they have really good tater tots sometimes. I always talk about how I miss potatoes--me and Frank Shimai tell everyone about how nice it is to pick a steaming, buttery potato right off the tree in the summertime. Elder Dahl and Elder Schow (the centennial alumni in our zone) jumped right on board too, it's pretty funny. But yeah the food actually isn't bad, it's just that it's the same cycle that repeats every week. I never thought I'd say this, but I was even a little tired of the ice cream sandwiches. So I had creamsicles
instead this week.

Language-wise, our lessons are going really well but it's still so hard to understand their questions. We just got a new kyūdosha, しまだ さん、(Shimada san) who is half にほんじん。(Japanese).  Taylor Shimai (shimada) grew up learning Japanese and English, and served her mission in Arizona. So she has the experience of a US mission which is kind of a different perspective than our other teachers. She also has a much bigger vocabulary than our other teachers, and she doesn't have an American accent when she speaks Japanese. So it's definitely a step up, but I made her promise to not speak any slower or simpler to us than she would to any of her Japanese friends. Which has been good, but we have made good use of the phrase もいっかい、おねがいします。 (Moikkai, onegaishimasu--one more time, please.)

This week, I was feeling especially tired of the MTC so I started writing things I'm grateful for every night in my journal. It has been so good! Just a little thing but it really has helped me stay optimistic. I'm still super excited for when we head to Japan, but I'm also feeling good about having another month here.

Sounds like the 4th was way fun! I've never seen those big fireworks up close either, sounds awesome. Glad no houses caught on fire. Jenn said there was a huge fire at table rock though! That was probably Grayson huh? Tell him to be more careful.

For our 4th of July, we had an "international celebration of freedom." We had a cool fireside about how different historical events like the translation of the bible into English and the American Revolution made it possible for the Restoration of the gospel to occur. That was on Saturday, and the stadium of fire was shooting fireworks that night so they let us go outside and watch them from the MTC parking lot. They even let us stay up until 11:30, it was pretty exhilarating.

The next day was fast Sunday and we were all so tired. Except Nathan Chōrō ...I don't know how, but he never seems to be tired in he mornings. He usually even gets up 30 minutes early. Crazy stuff. We had a mission conference/devo in the morning, then normal church meetings and then double devotional that night (one live devo then we watch a video of an old devo). I definitely slept through a good portion of all 3 devotionals. Didn't even feel bad about it. Haha President Weaver let us take a nap during our study time after our temple walk so that was nice. Also, on Sunday I blessed the sacrament for the first time in Japanese! And I understood almost all of the words. Our fast and testimony meeting was super good; we got to hear from almost all of the new elders and sisters, they had such good testimonies.

Yeah I'm glad I have many chances to sing too! Speaking of...Nathan Chōrō and I were jamming in the shower today after exercise time, just running through our normal repertoire of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. He was slaying the beatboxing and I was nailing all those narrator-range E flats when suddenly this old dude starts chewing us out for being so loud! And we're in the corner showers inside the bathroom in the basement floor of a remote residence hall in the corner of the MTC, in the middle of the day! Like, if we can't sing there, where can we sing?! わからない。 (I don't know.) Then right after he chewed out some of the other elders for doing push-ups and pull-ups in the hallway! Weirdest thing. But yeah, he walked away then we started singing Away in a Manger very softly and gently.

Yes, I will need a hard-copy photo book...would you mind assembling the jiko shoukai? It's supposed to have good pictures of family and friends and fun events that show the culture, but without showing "expensive toys or activities." But yeah that would be so great if you could do that for me!

The sweet spot of ignorance huh? Hopefully it doesn't get too stressful. As long as you have good counselors and assistants, you shouldn't be too swamped right? I'm sure you'll be a stellar relief society president, I think it's good to not overthink it, especially at the beginning.

The ZL gig is going well! Nothing too exciting though. Every Sunday, the Branch president wants us to make 3 different quorums, and the districts need to be intermixed with each other, and they have to be different each week, and we have to assign a different companionship to teach the lesson each week, and each of the 3 quorums needs to have one of the 4 DLs in it to conduct the meeting. So it's kind of an unnecessary hassle that repeats every week, but we have a pattern down that's working pretty well. Other than that, we're mostly just trying to make sure the kohai are doing well. One of them went home this week....So pray for him, that he'll be ok back at home. One of the sisters in our district went home this week too....Pretty sad that we had to say goodbye, pray for her as well though!

Girls' camp sounds like it was a huge success! That sounds so cool. I bet the girls loved it!

Sounds like you are staying way busy! Don't be stressed! Thanks for the spiritual thought, I think that's such a cool analogy.

We will probably be leaving first thing in the morning on Monday, August 1st. So Taylor will probably need to stop by in the few days before that...

The Provo temple is closed so we are cleaning it today, I think it will be fun. And then tonight will be our last TRC with RMs here in the MTC, because next week we will have TRC over Skype with にほんじん!(Japanese people)  it will be so cool.

Love you so much!
Elder Paskett

1- we can't view missed calls, so every missed call that phone has
ever gotten is still a missed call. They just keep adding up.
2- The 2 desks accurately represent our different approaches to
lessons. We get along really well, but definitely different people
3- Hermana Hansen!
4- Elder Morrise!
5-- fireworks + international celebration of freedom
6-- The zone.
7, 8- Chōrō-tachi bonding