Mina san! kyou wa dou desu ka(Everyone! How is today?)
It's interesting: this week has been very defining. Well, first off, our zone/branch went from at least 50 people to have just ten--our district--this week. All the Dai-senpai(upper classmen) left on Monday, and what I'm not sure I mentioned was that there were 19 Nihonjin (japanese) here for two weeks. It was so fun to talk to them, and become friends with them. It was sad when they left. Sacrament Meeting was super emotional, because we'd become good friends with the Nihonjin, and with our senpai. There were two musical numbers, one by some of the senpai and then another by the Nihonjin. They sang "I'll find you, my friend" in Nihongo. ^.^ I turned pages for the pianist.
Well, everyone in my district has a calling now. The other sisters are the sister training leaders, and my companion and I are in charge of the music, and also: we are in charge of Online orientation for new missionaries in our zone. :D Guess you know what that means: When we get kohai (underclassmen), we get to teach them how to email their families and also how to email the branch president.
Something that we're all really excited about: ANOTHER group of Nihonjin are coming this Monday! 22 of them! they'll be here for two weeks and then leave, just like the others, but it will be so great to have them here.
Japanese is becoming more and more complex, but I'm keeping up well enough. There are so many moments where I'm speaking, listening, or whatever, and I'll stop and think: "This isn't my native language... why do I understand it?"
Interesting story: Another branch received 5 new elders (going to Japan) ... Our sensei (teachers) have asked us to only speak to them in Nihongo: Nihongo dake! (only Japanese). I haven't met them yet, so I haven't had the chance, but some of the members in my district have.
It's really amazing to see how many people (teachers, mostly) know "Bureiku Choro" (Elder Blake--I.e. Aaron). I'll meet a teacher, ask where they went, and if they say Tokyo, I ask if they know Elder Blake. "Yeah!" they answer. One actually told me that Elder Blake showed him a picture of me opening my mission call. So, he recognized me. That was interesting.
hmmm... what else this week?
I can tell you about some amazing experiences we've had with our "investigators". First, Hasegawa-kyodai(Brother Hasegawa). I was having a hard time. It felt like it was hard to connect with him as a person, so talking with him was especially hard. He didn't seem to really be listening to what we were saying, or when we left, he'd forget what we'd taught. This time, my companion and I wanted to challenge him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Our lessons are really short, though, so with our broken and slow Nihongo, it can be difficult to do all you plan to do. So it was with this time.. We got off on a bit of a tangent, and continued on it for a while. Today was going a little better than the last time. Also, my companion had asked a really important question. She asked him if he would want direction from God in his life. So, the discussion was about really great stuff. I just looked at my watch, though, and realized we were almost out of time. I began to say something, but the words wouldn't come. I kept wanting to say something, but silence was all I had. Hasegawa kyodai and Sister Hurlbut just sat there, waiting for me to say what I was trying to say. It felt like forever.. Though in reality it was between 30 seconds and a minute. Then, holding the Book of Mormon, the right question came, "Hasegawa-Kyodai, will you read God's word?" He thought, and then agreed. We left the Book of Mormon with him, and invited him to pray about it. He said he would pray. We'll see later this week, though, when we meet with him next.
I hadn't thought much about the lesson. I felt that it wasn't all that great, but our teacher came up to us later, and talked to us about the lesson. He told us how amazing that was, and what a wonderful and powerful thing it was. Now, when I can't think of anything to say in a lesson, be it a minute or five minutes, I will stop and consider whether that's God's way of telling me that I need to give the person time to ponder what we're really saying.
More than ever, I know that this church is the true church on Earth, and that the Book of Mormon is so important when you want to draw nearer to God. Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5 is still very real:
3. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time e shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
I add my own testimony to Moroni. The Book of Mormon is true, and if you will read it, and think of these things, and really ask God--in your own words, and sincerely pray to know, believing that God will answer you, He will. And He will tell you that it is true. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Love, Sister Blake
I say, "another" but every week is particularly unique in its own way. Ha! And I've only been here for two. It's funny, actually. You really don't understand how much time you really have, or how much you can really accomplish in one day until you have day after day where you really plan every moment of your day, from when you wake up until the moment you turn out the lights at night. Wow. Long days, and yet not boring or tiring.
Ok. I have to say that base te and base ta for yodan verbs are really a challenge. well.. if I can memorize them, it won't be.
Everyone is so interesting in our district. After Pday yesterweek, I found out that a lot of them gave a one-sentence description of each person in our district. good idea, I thought, so here goes:
First, the Shimai-tachi (sisters):
-Hurlbut Shimai, my companion. She is from Hawaii, really spiritual, and likes to have fun and joke around. It's interesting that we're a companionship, because I have never seen the ocean, and she saw it every day. Also, she had never seen snow before, so when it snowed, even though she was cold it was super fun for her.
-Christensen Shimai, from Utah. She went to Snow College and got her associates degree. Now she's on a mission, and has a wonderful attitude. Likes to laugh, and share what she believes.
-Bryson Shimai, also from Utah, but different area from Christensen shimai. She is gluten intolerant, but she also laughs a lot, and used to be a dancer. (or rather, she took dance)
It's great to room with them. We get along well.
Ok, now the Chorotachi ( the elders):
-Hohl Choro used to be an actor, and likes to play video games... Correction: he liked to play video games. Very insightful person, and knows a lot of Nihongo (Japanese). His dad served in Japan on his mission.
-Parberry choro is a very dedicated, hard worker. Seems to stress over learning the language, but in his amazingness, has already read one of the resources we've been given to learn Japanese grammar (ie-the "great wall of Pikachu" as he calls it. a lot of our learning materials have nicknames: bulbasaur, pikachu, sumo, ninja, Miyagi, etc.).
Viana Choro is from Brazil, and knows Portugese, English, and already a lot of Nihongo. It's really crazy. He's strong in his testimony, and has been a great strength to others around him.
Taupaki Choro is also knows a lot of Nihongo. He also knows English well, and Tongan is probably his first language. Strong testimony, and quick to compliment others.
Hartvigson Choro is our district leader right now. His father also served in Japan. He's very enthusiastic, and works hard.
Simons Choro has a solid testimony. He loves to joke around, and add levity to the group.
Viana, Taupaki, and Hartvigson are not going to Tokyo South mission, but are going to the Kobe mission.
So, done with the introductions to our district.
We got a new sensei, to teach us also, taking turns with Todd Kyodai (Brother Todd). He's great. And forces us to only speak Nihongo, if we can. (SYL-Speak you language. 1-use what you know. 2-try 3-ask permission to say it in English. 4-learn how to say it. .... I don't remember the next step,...)
Also, it's so crazy when I finish having a conversation with a Nihonjin (japanese person) and realize, "HEY! I understood what we were just talking about, AND I was able to say what I wanted to say."
Ii kanji desu. It's a good feeling. :)
Learned something this week: I discovered that unless you invite people to act on what you tell them, there isn't much point to it. It's like saying, hey, this is how you can keep your teeth healthy forever, (having something that actually worked) and then not inviting anyone to try it. Who would try it?
Well, it's been a good up and down week. I have learned a lot. Thanks for everything!
I forgot to do a few things the last time I was on. Luckily, I have a few minutes.. Fifteen minutes left. ONE: Really neat: Janice Kapp Perry rewrote the words to her song "As Sisters in Zion" for sister missionaries:
The sisters of Zion
Are called to God's labor.
We willingly serve Him
With Spirit and might.
We got to the nations
with truth everlasting,
We teach of the Savior,
Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
We thank thee, O God,
for a prophet to guide us.
We trust in His words
And our purpose is clear.
The angels of heaven
Are walking beside us.
We'll share our glad message
with all who will hear.
We go forth enlisted
With Helaman's army,
In numbers much greater
Than ever before.
with power and spirit,
We'll faithfully witness
The Heavens have spoken
and truth is restored.
... That, and I broke my bag. If there is something you can find that is cloth (not leather, that's why it broke.. he leather ripped around the straps because of the weight), and not too small, at a thriftstore, will you send it to me? If not, let me know, and i'll buy one from the bookstore here.
Time here is like time in Idaho--it flows at a very different pace than what I'm used to. SYL is going well, I think. Things really are looking up with our investigator, Hotta-san, but I think that yesterday was our last time to meet with him. My companion is from Oahu, Hawaii, and went to BYU-Hawaii for three semesters. We also room with two other shimai-- Sister Christensen and Sister Bryson. We enjoy each others' company. Class is going super fast. Haha! It's funny, actually. We spend 11 hours in our classroom, but only 10 (maybe) hours in our residence hall each day. On a more serious note, I would really like to share some experiences that I've had this week, one day at a time. I'll just take some excerpts from my journal, if that's ok.
Wednesday: I really didn't write a journal for this day... I should have, but when you have an absolute lights out time, you run out of time really fast, and that day, I really ran out of time. But, I'll tell you what happened. 12:30 dropped off by Alexis, and got everything, materials, books, suitcases, and everything what and where I needed, and there was a welcome devotional, and all sorts of stuff that day. It was really crazy. but just in that one day, I learned so much.
Thursday:"Words cannot describe my feelings. Nor tongue express my love for the MTC... We have such a great spirit with us. I have not felt too overwhelmed..."...My vocabulary is expanding fast. I love it." When talking about vocabulary, I mean Japanese, or Nihongo. Wow--that's how I describe how quickly we're learning Nihongo--just, wow.
Friday:"Todd-sensei... sugoi desu (amazing). Today, for coaching, he had us, as a district, teach him a lesson, not with him playing the role of an investigator, but as himself--Todd-sensei..." I won't tell you exactly what happened, but will tell you that what happened has carved itself into my heart, and it will be something I remember very clearly for a long time."Also, this morning, Hurlbut Shimai (Sister Hurlbut, my companion) and I met Hotta-san, our investigator. He was nice, and only spoke Nihongo (japanese). We were trying so hard to communicate, demo (but) our bad Nihongo got in the way. It became a barrier...
"...Todd-sensei asked us later, "How was it?".. Then he told us an important thing--Nihongo is a tool we need to use, it is not a wall... our district is amazing. Aishiteimasu (I love them)."
"I have been given an amazing district. Aishiteimasu. Totemo Aishiteimasu...".. God has been so good to me. Even.. when I don't deserve it."
Sunday:"Guess today was a little not on par with what I should/want to be. But, I can honestly say that somethings I learned today... make sense just a bit more."
Monday:"How do I describe a day that began as another day at the MTC, but by the end, I was given such an amazing and totally overwhelming experience that has rendered me speechless?"That's what happened when we taught Hotta-san tonight." Again, forgive me, but because of how special this experience was, I would really like it to be something I talk about in person, not in a mass email. :) I'm sure you understand.
Tuesday: "Long day desu. Wow.So, quick story: I'd been stressing all day about teaching again..."I'm going to word this a bit different than in my journal, so it makes sense. There are 10 of us in our district. Four shimai (sisters) and six choro (elders). I had a lot of stress about it, because after such an amazing experience yesterday, I worried about what was going to happen when we taught him today sort of thing. It must have been very apparent that I was totally stressed out about it, because one of the choro in my district came over, and said, "Blake-shimai, Let me show you something." He opened his scriptures to Matthew 10:19-20. I will forever be grateful for the chorotachi in our district. This was exactly what I needed to hear. The lesson was amazing, and went very well with Hotta-san, just as the day before had been.
Wednesday:"Mo ganbatte! I need to try harder. Today was our last day teaching Hotta-san, I think. Which makes me so sad... 2 Nephi 31--Mokuteki--purpose."Seriously, the missionary purpose is in that chapter all over the place. It was so powerful when we read it in class together.
(By the way, when I say district and class, just know that they are the exact same thing, as far as the MTC goes.)
Today, we started out the day in the best way possible, by going to the temple. We get to do that on P-day (preparation day), which is so great. Right now, I'm doing email while waiting for my laundry to go.
Mina-san, Aishiteimasu!--Sister Blake
I am having SO MUCH fun here. It's so exciting to see the great connections of the Language. There's something we do here, and it's so fun: SYL speak your language.
My Companion is Hurlbut Shimai (sister) and she is from Hawaii. SHE IS A SPIRITUAL GIANT and a convert to the church. Pretty much : amazing
We have an amazing district. We're already super close and not contentious. It's enjoyable. They are all really trying to SYL too, and I am so excited. We only have 15 minutes today to email, but on Thursday, I'll have an hour.
Today, we taught our investigator for the first time. Hotta Minoru. He only speaks Japanese, not much Eigo (english). SO difficult. There was a wall between my doryo and I and the kyudosha (investigator). Nihongo desu.
Our teacher, Todd sensei told us that Japanese shouldn't be a wall, it should be a tool.
I know that my doryo and I failed our first lesson (it's an opinion, because it wasn't too bad, it was just really hard to connect with Hotta san). Demo, I know that we tried so much harder today to learn Nihongo grammer because of it. If we had succeeded, we wouldn't be trying so hard.
Haha. If you heard me, you could understand how much more nihongo I know know than I knew two days ago! WOW! Each day feels like a very long time. I love it. I should have known one of my favorite hobbies was speaking Japanese. I have yet to learn a concept and not understand it. Shikashi, I know that one will come that I need to work really hard at sometime soon. I'll be ok.
I can never say that I can't do it, because isn't that like saying that God can't d it? Hai. I will never say that, because God is the best Nihongo speaker there is.
Love you muchAISHITEMASU! (I LOVE YOU)DEKIMASU! (I, YOU, WE, THEY, Can DO IT)
^^ some of the first and most important words we learned
Again, love you, hope to hear from you. I know that you are all in God's hands and am not the least bit worried about you. I know that He loves us.
Sincerely,TIffany Blake Shimai
PS-- Don't forget that if you use Dear Elder, I will get your letter the same day you send it in online. :) Our DL (District Leader) gets it for us at lunch and dinner.
Well, tomorrow I get set apart as a full-time missionary by my Stake President. After that, I have to live by all missionary standards, as listed out in the missionary handbook. I'll be spending a lot of time packing, reading the scriptures, and praying that everything works out. Also, after I'm set apart, I cannot be alone, since I need a companion. Everything is coming down the wire. After today, I'll be giving up a lot that I care for. Movies, internet, love songs, constant access to my family, and so much. It reminds me of a story given in General Conference by President Uchtdorf in his talk, "Come, Join With Us:"
Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”
“We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”
The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.
“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.
“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”
“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”
“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.
“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”
“Three hours, every Sunday!”
“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”
“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”
The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”
The couple smiled and said, “We thought you would never ask.”
The rest of the talk is here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng
The same question is: Why would I want to go on a mission? I'm giving up so much. There's a lot that I've been promised by Heavenly Father for going on a mission that I just don't want to give up. That's why, for the last 4 years, I've been preparing for this moment that stands before me now. There's so much that each missionary comes back with, that the sacrifice they made to be there suddenly seems so small compared to the blessings.
Why would I do this? Why do I know that I'm doing the right thing? There's one answer: it's because I know that it's true. I know that it's true, because the Spirit of God has answered my prayers and has told me that it's true. I want all others to come closer to God and be happy. Life will never be without challenges or trials, but with the Gospel, I know what's coming and who I can turn to to get through it all.
"You are hereby called to serve in the Japan Tokyo South Mission."