Friday, June 27, 2014

Halfway through my time at the MTC! / Week #4

Hello minasan!

So I am halfway through my time at the MTC. Can you believe it? On Monday I will have four weeks left since we leave either Monday or Tuesday morning from the MTC. It's so crazy. I feel like I've been here forever and yet I feel like I just barely got here. 

We had our first birthday here in the MTC. Orellano Choro turned 19 (ha what a baby) on Sunday so we celebrated with cookies and the Shimai-tachi made him a card. He said he had never received a card like this for his birthday before. It's a simple celebration but in the MTC the simplest of things make you happy or make you laugh. It's great. For example Chun Shimai was sent this counter thing from a friend. It's supposed to be for happy thoughts. So every time you have a happy thought you click it. But we end up doing stupid things like seeing how many clicks you can get in a minute or clicking as high as it will go and seeing how long it takes. Yeah we are very easily entertained here.

We also played some fun verb conjugation games with Clark Kyodai yesterday. So we stand in a line outside and Clark Kyodai stands like 15 feet away. He says a verb and then the base it needs to be conjugated into and whoever answers the fastest gets to take a step forward. The first time Ketch Shimai won and the second time I won. Shimai-tachi for the win. Although technically I only won because other people would answer wrong, and I wouldn't answer unless everyone else got it wrong or Clark Kyodai called on me because he wanted me to answer one. Yeah, I'm not the best at playing games, but it was still kind of fun actually. Then we had a huge discussion about the Plan of Salvation. Mainly it was just Clark Kyodai telling us what's doctrine and what's not. Then we read about it in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 2, Alma 13 (I think) and a little bit in Helaman 14. Then Clark Kyodai went off and gave us the history of the Book of Mormon and the line of prophets in like 3 minutes flat. It was great. Then we started talking about Shiz and Coriantumr and Clark Kyodai demonstrated for us what Shiz probably did when he got his head chopped off. Yeah sometimes we go off on random topics. But it's still gospel related I promise.

So this week was super exciting since I was in the choir for the Mission Presidents Seminar. I have never seen so many apostles in my life. It's weird to just see them sitting there and then they smile at you like it's a normal thing. Which it is, for them. Not that we got to just sit and look at them. They are actually really strict about filing us into the room, we sing, and then we file out. So it's really quick. But from what we heard everyone has loved it. They love seeing sister and elders and the spirit we bring. One of the songs we sang is a version of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" It's so beautiful. At the end almost everyone was crying when we sang that. So we sang Sunday through Wednesday and on our last day Elder Nelson came in told us we had done such a good job. It was pretty cool. I'm so glad I got to be a part of the choir. Although I am a little relieved that my schedule can go back to normal now. It was hard to negotiate leaving my companion with someone and then making sure I was with someone when I went to choir. But I did make a few friends out of it. Two other altos that I sang with were also going to Japan so we would always walk together and stand next to each other in the choir. Their names are Sister Magalogo from New Zealand and Sister Eyring (yes she is related, like directly). It was super fun.

So I haven't had any more embarrassing experiences lately, which is really good since I was in front of so many apostles and mission presidents. Although during one practice in choir, we were not holding out the notes as long as Brother Eggett wanted. In other words, we weren't following him. So all the sudden he calls me up in the middle of the circle. And I was really nervous that he was going to say "Here is example A of how not to do it" and then point to me, or something like it. But no he just had me sing the line with him and then he told me to hold it to count 3 while he cut out early which is what everyone had been doing. So he just demonstrated what everyone was doing wrong and I demonstrated what we were supposed to be doing. It worked really well. Nobody messed up after that. But I was really relieved that he wanted me to help him, and not point me out as what not to do.

So for devotional on Sunday we heard from Janice Kapp Perry and her husband. Can I just say they are the cutest old couple I have ever seen? They spoke about family and they even told us how they met at BYU. So they met in a clarinet class and they were having their final test where they perform. She was about to go in and he nudged her. She was like "What I'm about to go in?" And then he leaned over and said something like "I was just thinking those lips could be used for something more than playing clarinet." Everyone started laughing when she said that, and then her husband stood up and kissed her! Everyone was cheering, we couldn't believe it. They also have their own family song. It's so darling. They also told us some of the things they've been through and you can just tell they love each other so much. So basically I want a husband like Sister Perry has.

For Tuesday devotional we heard from Elder Christofferson. That is one smart man. Everything that comes out of his mouth just sounds smart. Also, everyone tells us that it has never been like this before. The fact that we get to hear from an apostle almost every week has never happened before. Elder Christofferson spoke about the divine worth of souls. And how knowing that should change our perspective about missionary work and how we treat every person we meet. Our work is the same as God's work. We are saving souls. And our faith in Christ can only be out matched by His faith in us. We should honor the faith that He has in us. There was a lot more, but I won't write it all.

Also, yesterday we hosted for the first time. It was so fun! Hosting is where you help all the newly arrived missionaries get settled in. It's so interesting to see all the different looks on their faces when they arrive. It's also sweet to see them say goodbye to their families. Some people cry a lot. Maybe I should have cried more... But we always encourage them and tell them it will be great. Because it will. There really is nothing to worry about at the MTC. The hardest part is just dragging their luggage around. I thought my arms were going to fall off a couple times, but I made it. I also finally got to see 17M which is where most of the sisters at the MTC live, but not us. It's really nice. I may have coveted for a moment, but then I realized it doesn't matter where I live, I just like the people I live with.

So even though I said that there is nothing to worry about at the MTC, that doesn't mean everything is always hunky dory here. I just meant that you are completely taken care of and provided for. But something I have learned this week is that you can still get discouraged or your heart just isn't in it for a couple days. And I think that happens because that's the only way Satan can get at people in here. But luckily the feeling passes, and you keep going, and there are so many people around you who are there to help you. And they want to help you. And of course Heavenly Father is always there to help you. He knows what you are capable of and that's why Satan tries to get you down. Anyways, sorry about the spiel. And don't worry I am still doing good. I just had a few days that were a little off. It happens.

I just want to thank everyone for writing me! Keep doing it. Really. It means a lot to me. Love you guys!!! Ai shitemasu!! Arigato gozaimasu!

Malone Shimai

P.S. Sorry this is the longest email of my life. A lot happened this week, okay?

                                                                        MTC Choir

                                                           Our Classroom is freezing!

                                                               Sunday Temple Walk

                                                                 Sunday Temple Walk

Thursday, June 19, 2014

MTC - Week #3

Konnichiwa! Actually it's still morning so I'll say Ohayo gozaimasu!

Ok I'm going to try and be better this week about writing what happened because I feel like last week I forgot everything that happened to me and didn't have a lot to say. 

So my biggest news for the week is that I'm in the special choir that is singing for the new mission president's seminar this coming week. Basically all of the First Presidency and the Twelve will all be here this coming week. So I didn't tell you last week because I wasn't sure if I would get in. And even now apparently we have too many people but hopefully they won't cut any of us at this point. There's about 36 of us. We had to fill out a survey saying if we had ever done choir or voice lessons, and how good at reading and memorizing music we were. I guess all those of years of choir and voice lessons came in handy after all:) I wasn't sure if I should do it at first because that's adding more time to my busy schedule and taking away from some of my class time. But I really wanted to do it and luckily I was selected so a group of us altos had to sing and the choir conductor listened to us and then told us he would let us know. And a couple days later I got a letter saying I had made it in! The practices are really intense, but super fun. Basically, we need to sound super good because we will be singing for all of the new mission presidents and the twelve apostles and the First Presidency. No pressure right?

For devotional this week we got to hear from Sheri Dew on Sunday and Elder Ballard on Tuesday. Both of those devotionals were awesome. Sheri Dew spoke about grace and the power of God. She is really an amazing woman. Probably one of my new role models. Then Elder Ballard spoke about missionaries focusing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and learning it, loving it, and living it. Then we will want to share that love with others. And when the times come where we have to defend our faith we can stand strong and say I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (quoting Paul). You really learn so much in the MTC every day. 

Mom, thanks so much for the candy!! My district loved it. I think they all love you now. I can't remember who asked me but it's true that your district does become your family. We really rely on each other and want to help each other with anything. I love it. It's going to be so hard to leave them in six weeks. I would also include some of our teachers in that group. They're like family and it's going to be hard to leave them too. Our favorite teacher Clark Kyodai we found out he is leaving to go to Rome three weeks before we leave the MTC and he won't be back in time. So that made us all really sad that we will be without him for the last three weeks. I may cry.... Anyways, our dai senpai left on Monday which was sad. So senpai means the group above you and dai senpai is the group above that. Basically, you would call them our grandparents. They all left and now our residence hall feels empty since they were right next to us. They were such a great group and really fun. Some of the pictures I send will include them. But at least we still have our senpai. Now we really want to get some kohai. In other words, new missionaries! We didn't get any this week, at least not in our zone, but maybe in two weeks we'll get some!

As far as language goes, Japanese is hard but I really love learning it. I pick up the words pretty fast, it's just a matter of sentence structure/grammar, so putting all of the words in their correct order. In Japanese it goes subject object verb instead of subject verb object. Plus a whole bunch of other things to consider. I'm also learning Hiragana right now because the hymns and the Book of Mormon are in Hiragana. That's the one where each symbol stands for a syllable like ma, te, or ko or 43 other ones. It's coming along. I know all of them. Now it's just a matter of working on speed or recognition. I haven't really studied Katakana symbols yet. Those are the ones used for English or foreign words. But I want to. I don't think I'll pick up any Kanji in the MTC. It's just way too complicated and there's like 2000 of them. We're teaching our new investigator Taira-san. She's super nice and sweet. It's just a matter of figuring out how to make our lessons apply to her needs specifically and extending commitments to her that will help her find out for herself that our message is true. It's harder to do than you think, but we are learning.

This is random but I've realized over the past 3 weeks that I'm cursed. Whenever I'm in the cafeteria and I voice out loud something that I want to eat, they run out of it. Or I have to wait for a while to get it. I'm not making this up. Chun Shimai agrees that I'm cursed. It happens at least once a day. Whether it's the flavor of ice cream, or some other dessert, or the ice machine, or the extra side dish, or the soup, or whatever it is. I am not allowed to voice out loud what I want to eat or they will run out of it. It's funny. I let Chun Shimai decide now so that we can get our food in a reasonable amount of time.

Another curse I have is to do embarrassing things in front of the MTC presidency or their wives. I never thought I would meet them personally. But Chun Shimai was accompanying this girl for a music audition one day and it was P-day. So I'm not dressed because it's P-day and I'm not the one auditioning. Anyways we walk into the room where it's held and all of the MTC president's wives are the ones who listen and decide who gets to perform. Needless to say I wanted to disappear into a hole because I knew I wasn't dressed right. If I knew it would be in front of them I would have changed. Then one of them walks up to me and says "Are you new here?" I say "Not exactly" because I've been there for two weeks now. Then she politely informs me that I'm not allowed to be dressed like that in the main building 1M because they have ambassadors and other important people who come there and they want everyone to look nice. I knew we had to be dressed to go in the cafeteria but I didn't know we had to be dressed no matter where we are in 1M. Anyways, I made a great first impression I'm sure. The sister who doesn't dress up for auditions. Anyways about a week later I come to choir rehearsal and realize I forgot my name tag which I've never done before. And who should walk in but the MTC president and his wife? And then she talks to the sisters about dressing appropriately for the performances and wearing our name tags up high and moving our hair from that side. And she's looking at all of us as she says this. I'm like 99% sure she noticed I didn't have my name tag on. But luckily nobody said anything and after rehearsal I hurried away to get my name tag. So I've learned that if I do anything embarrassing the MTC president or his wife will show up. Great.

Well I'm so happy to hear from everyone! It sounds like things are going good. Dad has his chickens so all must be well with the world. I hope you guys have a fun weekend with Dev! 

And my spiritual message for the week: Study the Doctrine of Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and learn to love it and live it. Iesu Kirisuto no Fukuin wa hontoni taisetsu da toshittemasu! (I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really important).
Ai shitemasu minasan!

Malone Shimai

Sister Malone and Sister Porter
All of the Shimai in our zone

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Week #2 in the MTC!

Hello minasan! That means everyone for those of you who don't speak Japanese. Which is like all of you, and me. I don't really speak Japanese either.

Thanks for the emails everyone! I swear I don't even know where to start with what has happened this week. I learn so much each day that its hard to remember what I've learned. I don't know if that makes sense. And I just write as things come into my head so it's going to be really random. The coolest thing this week was having Elder Cook come and speak to us. His message was very specific to missionaries and I think it's exactly what we needed to hear. He told us that we should never feel like we aren't capable. We need to remember that we have been set apart as representatives of Jesus Christ and that He will help us accomplish the work we were sent to do. He also told us that we ARE the message. It's not just what we say or teach but the people we are that will touch people's hearts. Anyways, it was a really great talk. 

Also, yes dad I talked to Elder Orellano and he totally knows Elder Bird! It was so cool! He said Elder Bird helped convert his grandma. He said he's timid but a great missionary. Also speaking of Churros dad I found out this week I spelled Churo wrong in my email. It should actually be Choro with lines over the o's making the sounds a little longer. And in Japanese you kind of flip the r so it sounds more like a d. You're not trilling it like in Spanish. It's more like one trill. So you just flip it up really fast.

As far as people I've seen at the MTC I've seen several people from my singles ward. I'm most likely to know people who work at the MTC rather than missionaries who are coming into the MTC. It's funny. Also, I'm pretty sure I saw the Tengs at one of the devotionals. I don't know what their calling is or why they were there but I'm pretty sure it was them. I can see really well because I sing in the choir for devotionals and we get to look out at everyone. Also apparently me and my roommate were on camera because it was a broadcast since it was Elder Cook who came. Hopefully it wasn't a close up shot. Yikes.

So in the MTC they really focus on the Missionary purpose. But it's not just the thing you recite about bringing people unto Christ. Your missionary purpose also informs the way you plan, study, and teach so they've been teaching us a lot about that this week. We've also been focusing on teaching by the Spirit. It's actually really hard. Not that we don't have the Spirit with us. But sometimes you have to stop and really think about what you are supposed to say rather than just jumping in and saying what you think is right. But I feel like I'm slowly getting better. All of it is really good information that will help me and Chun Shimai plan our lessons better and know what to study for our investigator. Speaking of investigators, we learned we were getting a new one last week and we've been preparing to teach him this whole week and then yesterday we found out we're getting switched with the other Shimai. So we have a new investigator now that we're going to teach tomorrow. But it's all good! The first lesson is where you mostly get to know your investigator better and then share kind of an overview of what you'll teach. So we just have to ask her lots of questions so we can know how to help her.

My district continues to be great and I know by the time we leave I'm going to be really sad because all of the elders are going to Nagoya so I probably won't see them again. At least I know I can probably see the Shimai tachi again in my mission. But who knows maybe we'll get together again when we get back from our missions.

Tell Dawson I love his drawings! The one he sent this last week had lots of people so we decided it was a drawing of our district. He's getting really good:)

I love all of you! I can't tell you how much your letters and emails mean to me so keep on sending them! 

Sister Malone
The Companion
The District

The Shimai-tachi

Thursday, June 5, 2014

One Week in the MTC!

Ohayo Gozaimus!
(It's the morning so you say that instead of Konnichiwa)

It's P-day!!!! Thanks for all the emails! It makes me so happy! I know missionaries always say they love mail but now that I'm a missionary I truly understand. I just want everyone to write me. I don't care who it is! It could be someone's grandma or uncle or cousin or cat....jk. Also, I've been here for one week! Only 8 weeks left! So I'm going to try and answer everyone's questions in this email so I don't have to email you all separately because I don't have that much time. But keep asking questions when you write! It helps me remember what happened and what I should say. See, time is really weird in the MTC. The days are really long but then when you look back you're like "Wait a whole week passed by? When did that happen?!" 

So I'll start off by describing my schedule a little. So I get up and we have gym at 6:40 in the morning so we go work out, then we pick up breakfast at like 7:30 (we usually get the sack breakfast because its outside which means you don't have to be all dressed and ready), then we shower and get ready for class by 8:30. Basically I have like 40 minutes to get ready and I'm slowly getting used to showering super fast and just hurrying to get ready as fast as I can. We have class for about 3 hours but most of the time is spent studying and preparing a message for our investigator. We started teaching on my second full day here (so Friday). It was crazy. We barely knew any Japanese and we're supposed to teach already. But somehow it works out and slowly we are improving. We actually extended the baptismal invitation to our investigator Imura Kyodai (Brother Imura) yesterday and to my utter surprise he said yes. Even though it's just someone pretending to be an investigator everything still works the same way. The Spirit is definitely helping me and my companion because if you could hear us talk in our broken Japanese you would be amazed that anyone would accept our message. But it's not about us! We just work to teach our investigator what he needs and then the Spirit does the rest! Isn't that great? So now we just have to work on teaching him all the things he doesn't know yet, which is a lot ha. So then we have lunch and all the Japanese missionaries in our branch sit together. It's really fun. Then we go back to class for another 3 hours and that's when our teacher Clark Kyodai teaches us. He is the best teacher ever. He makes learning Japanese fun but he still challenges us to look things up on our own and to speak as much Japanese as we can when we talk to him and to each other. He's kind of a dork but everybody loves him. 

So that brings me to my district. So I have ten people, including me, in my district. There's me and Chun Shimai. She's from Camarillo in Ventura County. She's Asian and short. Her mom is Japanese and her dad is Chinese, I think. Her mom spoke Japanese to her when she was younger so she knows a little bit more Japanese than the rest of the class. She helps me so much during our lessons. I feel like I understand really well when people speak Japanese to me, but when I open my mouth to say things they don't come out right. Their word order is different than ours. Anyways, then there are Petersen Shimai, from Logan, and Ketch Shimai, from Washington. They are so nice and kind of quiet at first, but once you get to know them they are really great sisters. All of us have commented on how emotional we are since we've been in the MTC. It's ridiculous. If you commanded me to cry right now I probably could. Darn that Spirit. Ok then there's Ricks Churo, from Salem, and Hall Churo from Las Vegas. Ricks Churo is hilarious. He just talks all the time and I can't believe some of the things that come out of his mouth sometimes. Hall Churo is kind of quiet but he's actually funny too when he slips comments in. Then there's Esplin Churo from St. George, and Korrea Churo from Brazil, although he's also lived in the United States so his English is pretty good. Esplin Churo is pretty quiet but he's super hard working and dedicated. Korrea Churo's our district leader and he's hilarious. He likes to tease everyone, and sometimes he says things that don't quite make sense but that makes it funnier. Last of all, we have Orellano Churo from Chile, and Laumatia Churo from Hawaii, although I think his family lives in Provo now. They were both quiet at first but I can tell they're going to end up being fun. Orellano Churo only speaks a little English so I am always amazed by how much he understands and picks up. Korrea Churo tries to help him since he speaks Portuguese which is kind of similar. When Orellano Churo finally gets something its so great and we all laugh. My district is pretty awesome.

Ok then we have dinner and after that we come back to class and have Personal Study, Companionship Study, and Language Study each for an hour. It's our time to study what we want to and figure out what we're going to teach the next day. I've been working on studying Hiragana because the hymn books and the Book of Mormon are in Hiragana. The BofM has kanji too but they put the Hiragana next to it to make it simpler. Then we go back to our rooms and have a little time to ourselves and then we go to bed. And that's my day. Besides P-days and Sundays. My favorite thing on Sundays is our temple walks. Our entire branch goes up to the temple and takes pictures and we kind of get to be normal 18-22+ yr. olds for a little bit. Just so you know mom I have taken some pictures. And don't worry I know there is a computer lab here where you can send pictures but I have to buy a SD card reader first so I probably won't send pictures until next week.  So for devotional on Tuesday me and Chun Shimai sang in the choir and our speaker was someone from the Seventy so we broke the streak of having an apostle. Figures once I get here that would happen. So I'm pretty used to the routine now and things are starting to seem normal, like I've been doing this forever. I'm learning so much here and there are so many people here who just want to help you and encourage you. It's great. 

Mom thanks for the fortune cookies and nail polish. Although my favorite part was definitely the notes and Dawson's picture he drew. Thanks Dawson! Also, I have the cutest nephews ever! Brian and Devin get married so I can have more nephews and nieces! Just kidding I kind of want to be there so you can't get married yet. 

Ok well I can't think of much more to say. Sorry if I didn't answer your questions. Just ask them again. Also feel free to do Dear Elder too because then I get to read it during the week instead of just on Thursdays.
I love you all! Ai shitemas! (That means I love you.) And no you don't say it the way I know you are all saying it. It's I shtay moss. You say the "i" part so fast is just sounds like shtay. 
Last of all I want you all to know that the Gospel is true! Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer! God loves us all  and knows us individually. He knows our struggles and pains and doubts and he can help you with anything! Families can be together forever because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! I could probably say all of that in Japanese but it would take me a while to get it out so I'll stick with eigo (English) I'm so thankful for all of you and I love you all!

Sister Malone