Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hodson Shimai

Hello all!
First to answer questions:
1. Yes the Ausy missionaries are also going to Japan. All of the Japanese speaking missionaries are going to Japan.
2. I am the only one in my district that is going to Nagoya. There are others in the other districts that are going to Nagoya, but only me in 27 C. The elders in my district are all going to Tokyo and my companions are going to Fukuoka.
3. I don't need the weather report for Nagoya. I do like hearing the weather for home and for here.
4. I am getting along with my district, more on that later.
5. Breck Shimai is now the companion of a Japanese sister (all of the native speakers came in yesterday. I think there's about 5). They both leave on Dec. 31st.
6. I will call from the airport using a phone card. Don't send out a cell phone.
7. Dad, I asked you before I left if it would be ok if I took the MoTab CD's and you said that it was fine if you had them on the computer. You do. Therefore I took them. And your acronymn was hard to figure out. Love you.
8. Good talk, Mom! Wish I could have heard it.
9. I don't have enough time to write multiple letters in 30 min. If you think something should be left out, Claire and the 'rents will have to do it. I won't know the difference.
Now for the week's events here:
I found out why Breck Shimai uses a fork for everything: she has TMJ. So biting into a slab of pizza isn't smart for her. During one of our lessons with an investigator, Miller Shimai made a funny mistake. Seiten (pronounced like we would say Satan) means scriptures. Sahtahn is the word for the devil. So Miller Shimai accidentally said that the scriptures destroy families. We all had a good laugh about that one. Then, the district was cleaning our classroom for the daily inspections. I was trying to reach a high spot when Miller Shimai offered to do that for me (she's definitely taller than me). One of the elders pulls out a chair to use as a stool, but then changes his mind and says "Miller Shimai doesn't need this, she's a giant." Needless to say, Miller Shimai felt a little wounded. The elder tried to extricate his foot from his mouth, with no success. We found out Chiharu Shimai isn't a real investigator. She's a teacher who was playing the part. There actually is a Chiharu Shimai who actually was in that situation, but not her. Her real name is Sandberg Shimai and she is now one of our teachers! When Abraham Shimai found out she threw a fake tantrum, which I thought was hilarious but the chorotachi thought it was real. I am so proud of Abraham Shimai and Miller Shimai. They are answering questions before even I can answer them.
Abraham Shimai drew pictures of the chorotachi as girls and Wyndham Choro drew pictures of the shimaitachi as boys. When our sensei saw it, he laughed a bit and didn't want to erase it. But we had to because we needed the room on the board. The entire zone participated in a "tower challenge." The cereal in the cafeteria is kept in large towers, not unlike the catfood dispenser. The challenge was for our zone and our zone only to eat all of the cereal in one tower. The cereal: Froot Loops. The result: done and done. The sanding part on my foot file started to peel off, so I bought a palm sized pumice stone from the book store for 40 cents. What a price!
Taylor sensei felt the shimaitaichi's hesitance about teaching a lesson on the Atonement, so the three shimai and he did a practice lesson in english. I felt the spirit so much from Miller Shimai and Abraham shimai's comments. I hope that they can continue to express that in Japanese. King choro (the choro from Australia) had never seen snow before, so I cut out paper snowflakes for him. He now keeps them in his white handbook.
Snowed! All of the international missionaries and some from the lower states were elated. One missionary from Hawaii burst into tears because it was his first time seeing snow. We had a workshop on making Church Attendance meaningful. It brought to mind the importance of the sacrament. I wish that I could tell you all that I felt, but it's hard to put into words. I hope that I keep that feeling and knowledge with me so that I will continue to make the Sacrament meaningful. Sandberg Shimai had a good lesson with all of us on focusing not on the language but on making a visit a spiritual experience. She related the story of the brother of Jared this way: " 'Hello, God, I don't have much to give you. I have three rocks. I found them.' These rocks are our talents. We may only have three rocks, but God will touch them. He will take what you can give you." I appreciated that.
Abraham Shimai, Miller Shimai, Breck Shimai, and I had a companionship inventory. It was uplifting in that we could express our innermost thoughts and desires without feeling vulnerable or that they would go unheard. I can see how that will help me and my companions in the future. At breakfast, they only had cereal and most of the cafeteria was dark. I felt like I was getting an illegitimate bedtime snack. At lunch, Sister Mack (the branch president's wife) gave me some of her salad because I have been pining for real vegetables. I felt a little guilty for being whiny enough to get that attention, but grateful at her generosity and for real food. The devotional that night was the BYU Men's chorus. It was quite enjoyable. Afterwards, we watched a recording of Elder Bednar talking to the MTC about 3 years ago. He let his hair down a little which was bizarre. I thought "Who are you and how did you replace Elder Bednar?" He did an impression of the cookie monster and related it to the natural man. I received comfort and answers from that recording. He's awesome.
In PE, I made it to the King spot in four square...for all of one minute. Abraham Shimai and Miller Shimai asked for blessings from the chorotachi. Kramer Choro gave the one to Miller Shimai. It was his first one. I was happy to see how excited and eager the Chorotachi were to give us blessings. We were supposed to meet a new investigator that morning, but the Chorotachi took all the time, so we are meeting him tomorrow. We met with another new investigator, Nishimura Shimai, who is 95 years old (as played by Sandberg Shimai). It went well, but it was mostly me talking. Sandberg Shimai came up afterward and suggested that I not race ahead to answer the question, but pause, repeat, and let the other Shimaitachi have a chance to look up answers and catch up. She said to not be afraid of silence. So, I am going to try my hardest to not be a know-it-all. Miller Shimai and Abraham Shimai have been having trouble sleeping, so we went to the health clinic. The waiting room had a puzzle in it so I was entertained. They were prescribed a week's worth of benadryl and told to come back next Monday. They both got slap happy from it when it was time to go to bed.
I think I have a new cold, although it may be an ear infection. Here's hoping it goes away with sleep. The washing machine in the laundromat didn't spin my clothes out, so they were sopping wet. I had to put them through two dry cycles and even then they weren't completely dry. We went to the temple and I had a quiche for breakfast that had salmon in it. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS! After that we were proxies for children in sealings. I could feel the joy and relief of the people whose work we did. The spirit world was close in that room. I tried out for the Christmas Talent Show. I recited all I could remember of the Night Before Christmas (15 years of Yuletide and I don't have that down pat?). The judges (the wives of the MTC presidency) said that they would print off the rest of the story for me. They asked if I could come back next week with it memorized. They seemed eager to get me in the program. I told them that after a Shakespeare, this would be a piece of cake. I'll let you know how it goes next week. I took a nap and when I woke up my temperature was 100.1. Bleh. If I still feel bad tomorrow I'm going to go to the health clinic, half to get my ear checked and half so I can keep doing the puzzle.

Love you all dearly,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What A WEEK!

Okay, for future reference, my p-day at the MTC is on Tuesdays, so any mail you send me on Wed won't be answered for a full week. And yes, Mom, I got garments. Because I am in the MTC over Christmas, I won't be calling home on Christmas. I can call home from the airport on my departure date, which is approximately February 11. This may change, so don't plan your lives around that date. I only have 30 min of computer time to do everything that I need to on the computer, so I have to be brief. Now for the travelouge:
Before the MTC
The TV's at the Indy airport had Ben 10 playing, which made me laugh. I think G-ma can tell you the story of the airports, so I'll let her do that.  Staying at the Wilson's was nice. They like to finish each other's sentences and stories. 
At the MTC
Everything was GO GO GO! They use the shock method on new missionaries to introduce them to the place. A lot of paperwork and a lot of new terms, confusing building layout. I've run into a friend a couple times here, so I hope that as more of my friends get here I'll run into them. My room is at the top floor of one of the buildings. Carrying a 60 lb suitcase up 4 flights of stairs was slow, so an English sister helped me carry it up. I have 3 companions, who double as roommates. My companion-companion is Breck-Shimai (shimai means sister in Japanese). Our companionship is complicated because she has been here 7 weeks as a solo sister. Out of class, I am her companion. In class, I am in a threesome with Abraham Shimai and Miller Shimai. Breck Shimai is from Pleasant Grove, likes Dr. Who and Bennedict Cumberpatch, and a boy named Bill. Abraham Shimai is from Peyson, Utah, likes sports, and is very quiet. Miller Shimai is from American Fork, likes art, and is part or full Navajo (I haven't asked yet). I'm the only new missionary from IN, and I've only met one other missionary from IN, a sister from Fishers. I did see several who are on their way to IN, including a sister from Alaska. Keep your eyes peeled! There are 4 elders in my district/class. Elder Kramer and Elder Wyndham are one companionship, and Elder Egbert and Elder King are the other. Elder King is from Australia and there is another Australian in one of the other Japanese districts. Now there are 4 total districts, making our entire branch about 30 people. I'm used to classmates who don't make beginner Japanese mistakes, so it was kind of frustrating to listen to them make those mistakes at first, but I'm over that now. I didn't run into Sis Bonner's mom, so you'll have to tell her sorry. The Russian missionaries that we sat next to at lunch were full of tips. The Shimai's got separated from the rest of the group, so we tried to find them again and in doing so ran into the older group of Japanese missionaries (the one that Breck Shimai is a part of). They were helpful and friendly. The first night they threw us into missionary work and had us teach 3 investigators. It was very humbling. I'm glad I got that so early so that I know that feeling later and I don't have so far to fall. I caught a cold, so I didn't get a good night's sleep.
It was hard to focus the next day because I didn't get a good sleep. I'm astonished at my classmates because they are already counting to 100 in Japanese and teaching entire lessons, when the day before they didn't know a lick of it! Abraham Shimai fainted because she had to get two shots for her immunization records. I was just wondering why it was taking so long for her to come out when a nurse came out and said she had fainted. That's something to write home about for her, I'm sure. At the getting to know you meeting for all the new Japanese missionaries, I impressed several people by breaking the norm and introducing myself as "Fatima Barabas, from Morroco, going to Topeka Kansas. I just came in this room to hang out with all of you." The branch president's wife said that that was the first time anyone had done something like that. Breaking records, yeah! I took some sinus medication for my cold that night and was knocked out.
Much better outlook when one has a good night's sleep! We went to the gym and I was suprised at my endurance. I went 20 minutes on the eliptical and I wasn't even puffing. My legs get a real work out on the stairs up to our room. I'm out of breath every time that I go up. The shower curtains in the bathroom don't go all the way across. Thankfully there are two of them, so you can stagger them. We taught our first investigator in Japanese. Her name is Chiharu Shimai. She is an american, but she grew up in Japan, so her English isn't that good. Going in, the Shimai and I were especially nervous because we were going first. We got in there and made a little small talk wherein we found out that her husband is in the hospital because of a problem with his brain. She wanted to know why God would do something like that, why bad things happen to good people. That's a hard question to answer in English, let alone Japanese! The spirit was like thunder in my heart. I started crying and I couldn't get words out because I felt how much God loved her. I tried to tell her that God wasn't the one who caused this to happen. I tried to tell her that the gospel brings joy and happiness and comfort and answers, but I'm not sure how well I got that across. The other sister's had no idea what was going on, but they could feel the spirit too. They weren't sure what to do once I was done talking, so they read the lines they had prepared and asked her if she would pray about our message. She asked us how do we pray. I was so relieved because that was something I could actually say in Japanese! We taught her as best we could and then ended with a prayer. We left and the other elders went in and taught her more. They gave her a Book of Mormon in Japanese and she said that she would read it. We prayed for the elders while they were in their lesson so that they could do their best. One of the missionaries from the other district had an anxiety attack before he taught his investigator, and I felt terrible because I didn't know what to do for him. Once all the elders were done, we weren't sure if Chiharu Shimai knew that we were done, so we had to get help from the older class in explaining that. 
We had our next lesson with Chiharu Shimai that morning, so we had little time to prepare. Our lesson was about faith. Abraham Shimai came up with a great object lesson to explain the James 2:5 verse that says "faith without works is dead." She said to Miller Shimai (as part of the lesson), Miller Shimai I want you to pick up this pen with faith. Obviously she couldn't. In this way, faith is something we have to do, something we have to work at. I was suprised at Chiharu Shimai's understanding. She probably could have taught the lesson for how well she understood. She was very dilligent in her commitments; she read 5 chapters of the BoM and prayed about it with her husband. I know that is one reason that she is progressing so quickly because she is putting effort into it too. The Choro's (choro means elder in Japanese) tried to practice the Japanese alphabet by singing hymns. The trouble was that no one was in tempo, or even using a tempo at all. The result was the musical equivilant of watching pre-schoolers play soccer. Abraham Shimai got a little burned out by the end of the week. 
I was impressed by Abraham Shimai's comment in our meeting with the branch president, Mack Kaicho. She said that if she can say one sentence that she really means and that she thinks Chiharu Shimai needs to hear, that's good enough for her. I learned a great way to teach the BoM by using the pictures in the paperback versions. You start with the picture of Jesus and say the BoM is about the savior. It was translated by Joseph Smith (2nd picture). It begins with Nephi, Lehi, and their family (3rd picture), and so on. The MTC has a FANTASTIC organist! He doesn't even look at the hymnbook, he just plays. We sang Joy to the World and changed keys each verse! Since it was fast Sun, I thought to myself, I shouldn't drink water when I brush my teeth this morning. During the meeting, the MTC president got up and said "my message to you today is on how to fast properly, including not drinking water." I was grateful I was obedient so that I didn't have to feel guilty. I prayed that someone would notice Chiharu Shimai if she went to church on Sunday so that she wouldn't be lost or confused.
Another lesson with Chiharu Shimai. I'm a little worried that my language has been getting to casual. This lesson didn't go as well as the other two. We were flipping through pages and I didn't feel the spirit at all. I think what was missing was our love for her, and our testimonies. Next time we are teaching about the Atonement, so we're going to try only using our testimonies and no quotes. The cafeteria food is adequate, but they don't have good vegetables. I felt really sick after dinner yesterday, but thankfully it was just passing indigestion. 


Miss you and love you,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One week

I write this post exactly one week before I enter the Missionary Training Center. I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my family tomorrow and I hope to eat a disgusting amount of food. I have packed about 1/3 of my stuff. I'm pretty sure that everything will fit... I am filled with optimism and excitement (and a little bit of nervousness, but I'm ignoring that). I feel that I am prepared as best I can be, although I'm sure that there will be some crazy stuff thrown at me in the next 18 months. Wish me luck!