I got the pacakge yesterday, thank you for the stuff. I really like the Ru Yi calendar. Also thank you for not sending food. I'm stuffed to the gills as it is. We get our travel plans Feb 1. So excited! Mom, should I buy a scripture case here or are you still working on one there? The pronunciation for shimai is she-my. All a's in Japanese sound like ah, as in father. All e's are ay's as in bait. All i's are ee like in eat. All o's are oh's as in cheeri o's. All u's are oo as in oops. I didn't see Uchtdorf's devotional but I hope to later this week. Tell those elders they need to shape up! I want to go over there and show 'em how it's done, but I don't think I'll be back in time. About the grape juice/wine stuff, I have heard both. I've heard some people say that it was grape juice, some people say that it was actually alcoholic, but never anyone who says that it was hard liquor. If someone were to bring up that subject in my lesson, I would say, "I don't know what it was back then. I wasn't there. But I do know that Christ has asked us to do this today. I know that Christ wouldn't ask us to do something that is without reason. I know that the Lord provides a way for us to keep all his commandments. In keeping this commandment, you are showing your faith, a desire to repent, a desire to come closer to Christ, and your willingness to obey.I know that it has blessed my life. I know that if I (and you Brother/Sister ____) keep this commandment, we will be blessed for our obedience, blessed in body, and blessed to feel the Spirit stronger. Will you do this?" Also tell them that if they don't have anything else to talk about, testify of Joseph Smith because that brings the spirit and it leads to Christ and He will guide you from there. They have a real life investigator, so don't squander this chance!
Devotional prayer. We had to eat dinner really fast so that we would be on time. As we got back stage, a large, bald, rather intimidating security guard came up to us and barks "What do you think you're doing?" I said "Praying." He said, "Well, you do that then," and walked away. The devotional was nice. We could read the teleprompters from behind the speakers. He talked about taking the harder route because the easiest path is what makes men and rivers crooked. Elder Fallabella shook our hands afterward. The prayer went well, but I kept having to remind myself not to say things in Japanese.
New kohai! 5 out of 8 expected sisters showed up. We aren't sure why the other three didn't, but we're glad for the ones who did. Their names are Watanabe shimai, Hansen shimai, Fish shimai, Owens shimai, and Lyles shimai. The last two are 20 years old. They said that they both turned in their papers a week after general conference. The chorotachi are an interesting bunch. There are a group from Brazil, two from Australia, and then the rest of the 20 or so are from the States. At first they were loud and unfocused, but now they are settling in and becoming more dedicated (I think because they have their "investigators" now). I felt a little ill just before bed, but when I woke up it was gone. Thankfully I didn't get the stomach flu like the rest of the MTC.
The new sisters (not the shimai, but the others) on our floor are not observing quiet hour or lights out time. Grr. They also start blow drying their hair at 6 in the morning. Grr. On Thursdays we don't have gym in the gym, but we weren't sure if we could go to the cardio room or not. Abraham Shimai was in a meeting with Mack Kaicho and the kohai, so Miller shimai and I went to the cardio room. The workers there were like "come here only when you have scheduled gym time." We both just nodded and smiled. We won't go back now that we know. It was a little strange going 3 hours without Abraham shimai. It helped me know how much we have grown together. Our friends the Cambodian elders have moved to another building. Now the German missionaries are across the hall from us. It's WWII all over again! Ha ha. King choro was talking about how mythical a popcorn ball was and all of us looked at him a little funny and said, "Popcorn balls exist. Haven't you ever seen one?" He got wide eyed to know that they do exist.
Finshed off all the candy from Christmas! The kohai taught their first ever investigators. Todd sensei and Taylor sensei are both investigators, so we get to see them often. Nishimura Shimai is getting baptized on Saturday! Wohoo! Who is the Mary Russell series written by and what are their titles? Sandberg Shimai likes Sherlock Holmes so I thought she might like these. I can do about 10 min of kneeling as of right now, but I need to get up to about 30 min. My legs are asleep for like 5 minutes after I get up.
In the bathroom, a spontaneous rendition of Moulin Rouge songs occurred. We no longer have workshops, so we're supposed to use that time taking online assessments or watching devotionals online or something like that. What they failed to take into account is that there aren't enough computers for that to be effective. Essentially, it was a flop. I instead spent that time memorizing the 1st Vision in Japanese. Usually on Sat, we teach a member in Japanese. They're usually RM's, sometimes native speakers, and on the rare occasion actuall investigators. Usually it's in a tiny classroom in another building, but we did it over skype using an iPad! I enjoyed using technology like that.
The devotional was given by Brother Hemmingway who is the advisor for all internet proselyting. He talked about how much of the church members in the early days came not from traditional door-to-door missionary work but from social networking. He said to get members to friend investigators and have investigators post on facebook. The weather has been freezing. We walked up to the temple and took pictures. When I got back, my legs were as pink as my cheeks from the cold. I got called to give a talk on the Atonement in sacrament meeting and to lead the music. Thankfully I was prepared for the talk. Abraham shimai accompanied some chorotachi in the musical number. We found out that our Russian and Cambodian friends are leaving in about a week. Sad day. We got to watch Music and the Spoken word. It was beautiful. I hope we can go again next week. Relief Society was a testimony meeting. One sister from Singapore said how when she came to the States, she thought that she could go without rice. After about a week, she decided that she really did need it. She related it to us and the gospel. How often do we say that we can go without prayer or scripture study or whatever? We truly do need the gospel. So you may think, how can I get more famous than people recognizing me from plays? How can I get more famous than people stopping me 3 weeks after Christmas to tell me that I did well in the talent show? How can I get even more famous than giving the prayer in devotional? I'll tell you how. Being in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. A man came into our classroom after the devotional and said, "Your classroom has been chosen by President Brown to show some photographers from National Geographic what a typical classroom is like. So clean up whatever exploded under your desks, get rid of these oragami ninja stars and paper cranes, clean off the chalkboard and look presentable. See you tomorrow." We all sat a bit dumbfounded and then exploded into giggles and jumping around. And then we cleaned.
That morning we would all stare at the door everytime someone passed by, hoping that it would be the photographers. So about 9:30 they showed up, and just kept coming and coming and coming. There were about 10 people in our little room. The tour guide told them a little about what the MTC does and how it works and what we do. Then one of the ladies asked why we decided to go on missions. I said that I prayed about it and talked to RM's and everything said that I should go. I said that I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. Egbert choro shared how seeing his older brothers changed when they went on missions and how he hoped that he would become better too. The photographers asked if we could read or understand yet and King choro pulled out the Japanese Book of Mormon and read a part. One lady asked how it was being paid for and the tour guide said that usually we pay our own way or family & friends help, but if that isn't possible, the church has a fund so that financial status does not bar someone from going. President Brown then spoke up and said that not only is a mission good for the people we will teach, but it is divinely appointed for each individual missionary. The spirit was very strong in that room. I hope that the NatGeo people felt it. They asked if they could take our picture and we said of course. Keep you eyes peeled! I don't know if the article will be published or if it is our picture will be in it, but be on the look out. We have copies of the picture already, so eventually you'll get to see it, unless I lose it.
We did sealings again. A woman came in and was a proxy for her aunt. That was a special experience. Hansen shimai had a wonderful spiritual time. I'm glad I got to share it with her. Keep up the good work!