Thursday, June 18, 2015

Email Number One: Tears and Triumphs

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hello everyone!

I love all of you, first and foremost, and I miss you all very much. 

Once at the MTC, after Mom, Thomas, Lucas, and Bre dropped me off (in the MTC lobby, no less), I was shown around the main building, then ate dinner with temporary companions till I found my companion in a new missionary training seminar. She said right off the bat, "I saw you and hoped you were my companion because you looked so cute!" Her name is Sister Wallace and she is from St. George. We get along very well. 

At first we were in Building 5 M and had a room on the top floor. Now, as of today, we are in Building 17 M and not on the highest floor. Mom, I hate to tell you this, but they have cake and ice cream in the vending machines and they no longer have fruit. :( Sister Wallace and I share a room with two others, Sisters James (from WA) and Brady (ID). Sister James is very stream of consciousness in the way she speaks, while her companion, Sister Brady, is very thoughtful & tactful. She is a bit older and taught at a middle school for a year before her mission. 

Class is difficult; it was 3 hours a day; now it is 6 hours. For the last five days (Sunday not included) we have taught a Japanese "investigator" named Mai Inufuku. The lessons are in Japanese. They are half an hour long and it takes about two hours to plan for them and even then Sister Wallace (Shimai = Sister in Japanese) and I are tongue tied each time she asks a question!

However, though it's hard for my companion, the feeling is not so foreign to me. Therefore, I try to be very positive and point out to Wallace Shimai that we ARE progressing and that we ARE understanding, at least a few things--which is GREAT! 

Days are spent doing almost everything. We get up at 6:30, have PE (Wallace Shimai & I mainly walk around an indoor track or get on the stationary bicycles), get ready for the day, breakfast @ 8:30, study, class, study, lunch, study, class, eat, study, sleep. Basically there is lots of studying every day. And I'm learning SO much.

I didn't know that while Jesus Christ was on the earth teaching, the Holy Ghost's powers were diminished. (Source: Bible Dictionary, Holy Ghost). Random, but I am learning stuff :)

This week's research question for me has been: what does it mean to say "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" at the ending of a prayer? What are your thoughts? 

There are ten people in my little district, which is my class. Two young men and eight young women. All of them are so smart; one wants to go into biology, another into chemical engineering. In Japanese, all of us are forming sentences, badgering our teacher (Brother Wilcox, who is Brad Wilcox' son) about dates he goes on, teasing each other, laughing at the things we say. It's fun and I already feel like they're family, which is a good thing because we have nine weeks together. Hmm, nine weeks.

Every day has been an adventure. The second day was simply EVERYTHING. After a rough night's sleep, the alarm clock sounded like a military morning bell and I frightened my companion by remaining silent as we got ready. For the first 30/40 min of each morning after I get up, I have trouble speaking.  

I saw Brother Tanner and then we had a fire drill in the middle of his class (Brother Tanner is the bishop in my home ward). 

On Friday, horror of horror, my companion's dress malfunctioned. Right in the middle of class. First the zipper ate a few teeth. Then the dress simply ... popped off one side. I have never seen anything like it. And I have never seen anyone blush as deeply as our teacher did. So, once it was determined that the dress was broken, I ran around trying to find the two other sisters in our room (Brady and James). They then ran to get a dress for Wallace, who, the poor thing, had to sit in the classroom alone while everyone waited in the hall.

Saturday was relaxing. My companion and I chatted, didn't study much, had a great lesson with Mai, the investigator. Who next week will become our teacher. Plot twist! She is actually a "pretend" investigator.  

Sunday there were so MANY MEETINGS. Church is cut up and spread out between meals and smaller meetings. We studied for our lesson on Monday. Sunday evening, we watched the movie "The Characteristics of Christ" (it is Elder Bednar talking about Christ). He gave the talk several years ago in a Christmas devotional at the MTC and the talk was recorded. It was awesome and I learned a lot. And you all need to read it!

On Monday, we taught Mai, and had an amazing lesson and understood so much. :) 

I still don't have any sense of direction. That's fun to work with. It's good that Wallace knows where we should be going. She doesn't mind listening to my feminist rants (which I have been trying to keep to a minimum), she doesn't mind leading the way to places we go to every day, and on Wednesday, she even let me take a secret nap. Shh, don't tell anyone (good news: blood test showed my very low iron levels are inching up a bit). 

Tuesday was normal till the evening. That evening was a devotional. It was very instructive. The message was on obedience. 

After the devotional, my district/zone had to clean up because devotionals are on the gym floor and it's our job to clean up the chairs/mat after it is over. That took a long time and it was late when we got back to our rooms, finished for the day, and got to sleep.

I am having trouble sleeping, but I hope that this new bed will be better. 

On Tuesday, the doctor here gave me a prescription for iron pills that are more digestible than the ones I have. After the blood test, I was exhausted and it was REALLY hard not to fall asleep but somehow I stayed awake, likely because angels were bearing me up :)  

On Sunday we walked up and around the temple in the afternoon. 

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Wednesday was really hard. I slept badly, and by the time I woke up, I felt dizzy. Teaching Mai (for the last time) was really hard because my companion wanted to just read out of the manual and a little Japanese phrasebook we have. I was too tired to object and to tell her that's probably not the best way to teach a lesson. 

Needless to say, Mai took away the phrasebook AND the manual. We then felt terrible when everyone else was gushing about their lessons, "Oh my gosh, our lesson was amazing." It was a relief to have my suspicion confirmed that Mai was not a real investigator. I will wear a disguise next week when Mai becomes our new morning teacher. She will teach in the mornings and Brother Wilcox will teach in the evenings. 

Thursday is Pday (preparation day)! We don't get to sleep in, but the day is not as busy, so we do get to take naps if we want; we do laundry, go to the temple, rest; we moved into our new room, and I had a following-up dr. appointment. 

I love you all! Tell me news of you!! And news of the world!

Cottle Shimai (Sister)