Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Letter from the MTC - June 12, 2013

O-genki deska?  I can hardly believe an entire week has gone by. I have absolutely no sense of time here. I feel like I've been a missionary forever, yet I feel like I just saw you yesterday.
The MTC is like drinking from a fire hydrant. It's coming at me so fast and it's hard to take a good drink. But, the water just keeps coming, so I take as much in as possible.
On our first day at the MTC, we had a teaching experience with several different investigators and a room full of missionaries. Each one had questions and concerns about different topics. The first, Heli, didn't understand why God allowed bad things to happen to people, especially the youth. The second, Carlos, didn't understand how you, yourself, know the gospel is true. The third, Chochi, was Catholic, and had a feeling of guilt because he thought he was responsible for is three-day-old child dying before baptism. Many missionaries shoved doctrine at these investigators, but I recognized the importance of listening with an open heart and spiritual ears. When you first get to know someone, you are simply skimming the surface, but it takes so much for than that. You've got to go swimming. You've got to truly understand them and seek for a deeper meaning in their words. But, going swimming isn't enough...I want to go scuba diving!! More than that, I don't want want to go scuba diving alone...I want someone to go with me. I don't want to have to pull them in, I want them to pull me in because they trust me and want to learn about "The Happy Plan." I want the investigators to know that truly care about them.  I felt a power in those three rooms unlike any other. Focus on the fundamentals. It is important to be a good mouthpiece for the Lord, but it is ever so crucial to be a hearer of the word.
I have the best mission, best zone, best Branch Presidency, best zone leaders, best sister training leaders, best district, best roommates, and best companion. Attitude is everything!! Each of you has the best everything too!  As you recognize
Okay, drumroll please...the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding a Wolrdwide Missionary Broadcast at BYU in the Marriot Center towards the end of this month. The First Presidency, and most if not all of the Quorm of the Twelve will be present. This is a training for all the new Mission Presidents. I am in the missionary choir and will be singing two of the songs during this broadcast!!
The language...I don't even know where to start. Everyone in my district has some sort of background in Japanese because they took it in high school or college. I have learned to be very cautious in comparing myself to others. It is human nature to do so, but in the strength of the Lord, we can overcome all things! I know that language is not the most important thing I will learn while at the MTC. Language is meant to be a tool, not a barrier. Every Sunday, our entire zone has been asked to prepare a talk on a given topic in Japanese. This last Sunday, our topic was the Book of Mormon. We don't know who will give the two talks each week among us until it is announced in sacrament. This is a very effective way to learn! On our third day at the MTC, we taught our first discussion to Shuma-san. He doesn't know that he believes in a religion, but wants to become better. The first discussion, we taught him about prayer (inori). Let's just say it was quite the learning experience with such a limited vocabulary. Thank heaven he was patient with me and Smith Shimai. We scripted our first lesson, but then realized the best way to learn and grow was to take the words we know, and say them from the heart (kokoro). Since our first dicussion, we have challenged him how to pray to feel of God's love, read the Restoration and Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlets, read the Book of Mormon, and on the third discussion, he accepted our challenge to be baptized!! This week, my goal is to learn the Hiragana alphabet. I can recognize most of the alphabert if I go slowly, but I want to be able to sing the Hymns on Sunday's better. Our teacher, Brother Brinley, served his mission in Japan. The first couple days, he only spoke in Japanese. When we asked him questions in English, he would respond in Japanese too! I am getting better every day at tuning my ear to the Japanese language. I know that listening to and understanding the language will come before I can speak it well. Leaning a language is quite the challenge. My motto for the week is, "Two steps forward, one step back."
I get to go to the temple in another three hours. Wahoo!!
I'm really, REALLY sorry, but I didn't bring my camera with me, so I'll have to send you lots next time. 
I pray for each of you often (in Japanese)! I love being a missionary and look forward to another week on the job!
Lots of loves and hugs!
Ganbatta nei,
Yamauchi Shimai

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