Archive for May, 2012
2012 05 15
The world says hello!
So reporting on another week. First of all I’d like apologize to all for my delayed responses last week. I was sick last P-day and spend most of my would-be letter writing time in bed. Even the few letters I was able to write were delayed, since I couldn’t get them mailed right on P-day. If you have not yet received a response, it is not because you were forgotten and doesn’t mean that I don’t love you.
Second of all, I need to update the prank count. Last Tuesday as I was walking past my good friend Belnap – Shimai at lunch, I noticed that her salad just looked a little bland. Luckily, she was sitting next to the salt shaker. Desiring to provide what the missionary handbook refers to as “an unplanned act of service”, I promptly and thoroughly provided my friend’s salad with the missing ingredient, in abundance. Aren’t I a wonderful friend?
At the devotional last Tuesday, my Dorjo really wanted to sing Press Forward Saints, but it didn’t happen. So I promised him that we would sing it together in Japanese when we returned to the classroom. Much to my dismay, however, I discovered that Press Forward Saints is not in the Japanese hymnal. Desiring, however, to keep my promise to Da Silva choro, I composed my own translation of this beautiful hymn. It took several trips to the copy center, and my Dorjo was becoming annoyed that I wouldn’t tell him why I kept dragging him there after every meal. But at last I was able to provide him with a laminated copy of Press Forward Saints in Japanese. Here is what it looks like:
I’m actually very proud of my translation! the title is pronounced “Kirisuto a ShinJiru Shinko” “Faith in Christ” or Faith to believe in Christ”. Here is a literal translation:
1. Saints who press forward though faith in Christ Love God and mankind! Alleluia! Alleluia!
2. Press forward so that ye taste (feast on) the words of Christ. Receive (his) name and light! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
3. Proclaim and endure in the ways of Christ Behold! Eternal life! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
In other news, we lost another teacher. Baldwin – Sansei decided very suddenly to move back to Boise to start a marketing research consulting business. His model sounded two parts genius and three parts fun. It made me miss my business classes at school. We were sad to see him go, but we learned a lot about miracles and missionary work, and even some Japanese from him before we lost him.
I’m almost to the point now in Japanese where I can spontaneously give a lesson. This is the point I’ve been yearning for since I got here, because the Spirit can’t be there when you script a lesson. Being able to alter a lesson plan on the fly allows us to better teach to the needs of our investigators. It also allows us to spend more of our preparation time reviewing the doctrine, as opposed to preparing a detailed plan, deciding who says what and reviewing vocab.
Here are some other highlights of the time since my last update:
Remember how I asked ya’ll to quit sending treats? Yeah. This is why.
Always need to update you on the latest district 27 phrases.
My Doryo reading Book of Mormon Stories in Japanese. If you zoom in real close can see the the characters look like. The written characters, I mean – not the Nephites with the ugly ’80’s haircuts. Although that too.
I inherited some pairs of chopsticks from our departing Senpai. Belnap-Shimai was eyeing them so I snuck a pair onto her tray while she was praying. Now we both can use them for almost every meal.
Romero -Choro and his banana Luger. He’s actually a pretty good shot with it.
Ludlow – choro, sometimes called “Super Senkyoshi”
Got my Japanese scripture engraved at the bookstore. Suteki desu ne?
This one is just cool.
Blue tie day in Branch 27. Suteki nekutai chorotachi!
Also pirate Sunday.
Other than these shenanigans, I’ve been doing my duty in a fairly routine fashion. I pray. I study. I teach. But I can sense that these routine practices are part of something bigger. Yesterday I copied the baptism and confirmation prayers into my study journal in Japanese, complete with the phonetic pronunciations. I am humbled to think that I will take part in the healing and salvation of souls who desperately need to experience the pure love of Christ. The Japanese are a wonderful people, with a unique and loving spirit about them. But they are a people desperately searching for purpose. They have a spiritual need for meaning in their lives, and it is a need that nothing other than the restored gospel of Christ can completely satisfy. That is why I am doing what I’m doing. It’s not because my parents want me to; it’s not because I’ll make new friends or have meaningful experiences or have an adventure, though all these things are true. It’s because I know something that saves lived and heals hearts, and the world doesn’t have it. But give me two years.
I love you all! You are always in my heart and in my thoughts and in my prayers. You’re in the Lord’s hands
2012 05 8
Well, I’m still here!
We finally got our Kohai districts this week. They’re awesome! It’s fun being a sempai. I’m trying not to be quite as annoying as our sempai were. My friend from first grade came in with the new districts. Belnap- Shimai. It’s fun to see a familiar face around here.
Although, the MTC is kind of funny. Especially in the first day, everyone here looked really familiar. I’d ask an Elder, “Hey, where are you from Elder?” and he’d respond “Australia.” “Hawaii.” “Brazil.” It took me weeks to realize that everyone at the MTC has something in common: we were all foreordained to the this ministry in the pre-mortal world. Obviously we have seen each other before. We probably had a sort of MTC & mission pre-union. With the spirit here so strong as it is, the veil does feel a bit thin. It’s really not so hard to believe.
So I knocked three items off my MTC bucket list this week. #1 – The Kobe mission won the SYL challenge, so the Tokyo mission had to bring me dessert. #2 – I pranked to Korean missionaries. In addition to own pictures, three chogno’s will be going to Korea with printed photos of me making faces. And last but not least, #3 – I got all the elders in the showers singing “I’ll make a man out of you” from Mulan. A thousand celestial points if you start singing that song when you read this.
This magic MTC allowance money will be the death of me. Books are my #1 vice, and missionaries get some serious discounts in the bookstore. I bought a Morumon-sho Momgatri book, which is the picture book of the Book of Mormon stories with all the 80’s haircuts. Best of all, it’s written in like first-grade Japanese! I can read first-grade Japanese! Not quite so much of the Kanji Gomi to deal with. That gomi is the most Okii Jodan that I ever did Mimashita. (As you can clearly see, my Japenglish is improving. So is my Engrish. Herro prease.)
On a slightly more serious note, I redid my language study plan this week. I specified my goas such that I know what I’m going to be able to do before I the MTC, and what I’ll be studying every day from now ’til then so that I’ll be able to accomplish those goals in all four categories (namely reading, writing, speaking, and listening). By the time I get to Japan, I’ll be able to comfortably explain Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I’ll be able to teach the first three lessons in Preach My Gospel, understand peoples’ beliefs about God, understand all the words in Ether chapter 12, and be able to write all the Kanji used in Ether 12 Boojah! I mean, Banzai!
I’m over the hump now. The time is going faster and faster. If only the Kohai knew how fast the time goes! Soon I’m going to have to leave these beloved mountains, and then the real work begins. But I’m excited! And terrified. And excited. I love you and I miss you all. You are in my prayers always. Ganbette Kudasia!
2012 5 1
Dear Family and Friends:
Konnichiwa! Ogenki desu ka?
A lot has happened since we last spoke! I’ll try to give you an overview of it.
Last Tuesday Elder Nelson came and spoke to us about the doctrine of Christ. In a single meeting I doubled the notes I have in my spiritual journal! We go a new progressing investigator / Sensei. We are starting to develop the language skills to actually teach by the spirit, allowing our lessons to feel more discussion and less like a lecture. It’s very exciting!
The missionary field (west of the temple) opened, so I’ve been playing a lot of sand volleyball. It’s nice to get some sun and fresh air. 🙂
One sad thing that happened is that our senpai (missionaries who have been here longer), including all of our NihonJin (native Japanese) missionaries all departed for Japan last week. Our branch is desolate now. Our residence hall is so quiet! This contrasts heavily with their farewell festivities.
And then on Sunday I watched a recording of Elder Bednar’s Christmas MTC devotional about the character of Christ. …Wow!…Just …wow! I don’t think I have ever felt more motivated to be better. The spirit is strong on this place. I’m feeling very excited to go to Japan and preach these tidings. God bless you all!
2012 04 20
Dear Friends and Family:
Thank you for all the wonderful letters! I’ll try to get the all of them but I know of get short-changed on the P-days here.
Well the language is coming along. It feels like slow progress but when I look back at it, I’ve really been learning a lot in not very much time. It would seem that the gift of tongues is alive and well in this dispensation.
I have to apologize to any of you David Achuletta fans. It appears that I have deceived you. Elder Achuletta is going to Chile, not Argentina. I misunderstood. It was his companion the was going to Argentina. I assumed they were going to the same country because everyone in my district is going to Japan. But districts and branches are divided up by language, not country. So Chili, no Argentina. But then, any of you that care probably already know that.
Which reminds me: He sang at Elder Ballard’s devotional. He’s actually way good! Poor kid got emotional toward the end. He almost couldn’t finish the performance. Hot that I can really blame him. He was leaving the MTC the next day.
After the devotional our district got together and watched The Testaments in Japanese. I forgot how much I love that movie! And it was really powerful to hear it in my mission language!
Have any of you ever thought that Samuel the Lamanite was kind of a random story? As in, the Nephites were righteous, then they got wicked, then randomly a Lamanite prophet show up and he’s like, “Hey, don’t be wicked. That’s dumb!” and they shoot arrows at him and he’s like, “Hey whoa! Not Cool!” The he leaves. Like, where did that guy come from? Have you ever thought that we must have some kind of story we don’t know about?
Well maybe you all already know this but it was news to me. Helaman Chapter 5 begins with some from Helaman to his sons Nephi and Lehi before their mission and contains some of the most incredible verses in all of scripture! After that, Mormon goes on to describe their mission experiences that would blow the mind of the Apostle Paul himself! Mormon records that part of the ministry, the greater part of the Lamanites became believers. Is this Samuel’s origin story? Hmmm…
This week I was tempted to become overwhelmed by the task ahead of me. But I was reminded of the story of the Battle of Thermopollyon – history’s greatest underdog story. The largest army ever assembled marched against a weak federation of Greek city states. A sing dispatch was sent from each city to halt the Persian advance at a slot pass at Thermopollyon. According to one historian, a Persian messenger warned the Greeks that the Persian archers’ arrows would blot out the sun. Undaunted, the captain of the Greek infantry defiantly responded, “Then we will fight in the shade.”
One must wonder, when Samuel was called to preach the gospel to the Nephites, did he say, “But they have arrows!” or did he say, “Then we will preach in the shade.”
I hope and pray that I can be remembered as the kind of missionary that has the faith to say, “We will preach in the shade.”
I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve my God! I know He will protect and sustain me even though I am imperfect. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. What greater calling could there be?! Please remember me in your prayers. You are always in mine.