Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 14 - Kichijoji, Japan

Hello!!! We've had a good past few days as far as talking to people has gone. Sunday evening right before a baptism, we found a high school girl who is interested, we set up an appointment and are hoping that all will go well with that! Pray for her and us, that'll we'll be able to teach her what she needs to hear, she has such a light in her eye!

I figured I would take this time to send pictures and explain them....there are a lot, it's hard to pick and choose, so hopefully they all send. Oh and some spawn back to the MTC.

So this is me at the MTC with the gorgeous fall leaves. I love fall, it's my favorite season, and thankfully we got our temple walks back on one of the perfect days!

This was our last (i think) temple walk...I got to see snow before I left!!!!! Notice how I went through 3 different seasons while in the MTC...haha 3 months there will do that to you! The sisters are my roommates and I, Tehei shimai, Tanaka shimai, Maki shimai, Adams shimai and Lynch shimai

At the MTC they had a christmas tree with different countries nametags and flags, I found Japans!

This is Sister Utsumi and I at the Amemiya family's house. Amemiya shimai is an excellent cook and painter, she studied in France and Germany. I couldn't speak much Japanese to her, but I do know the language of cooking, so it was a lot of fun.

Utsumi Shimai and I! yes I am bending my knees quite a bit...

The Kichijoji and Suginami Missionaries along with an investigator, Joji, who will be baptized on the 15! our areas are so small and we meet in the same building we see each other basically everyday, either on the street or at the church. This was during the Suginami ward christmas party. As sisters we all wore red skirts, black tops, and a red flower in our hair. Gantomur shimai and I both got the same red skirt at the MTC and then I needed a long sleeve black shirt, so I borrowed one of hers, so we were wearing the exact same outfit...haha.

Someone left Christmas decorations outside our door one day, so this is Gantomur shimai and our decorated apartment!

Volunteering at a nursing home! We were making takoyaki, but instead of putting octopus inside we put caramel and chocolate...much better!

Me in front of the church with my bike on Christmas day! Thank you for the scarf, it's nice and warm!!!

You asked about the futons, so I thought I would add a picture :) they're actually quite comfortable! oh mine is the one with the red snowman pillow

Anyway I love you all and hope you have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Love you always and forever!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week 13 - Kichijoji, Japan

Good Morning!

Or I believe some of you might actually get this on yesterday's evening, so in the that case Good Evening! Another week down here in Kichijoji! It's been a really good, but really difficult one as well. I realized, yeah I really don't know this language...I think my first week people were using very easy words around me, haha, well not anymore! When we go tracting it's very difficult to catch what people are saying as they talk so fast! I pick up the words, but before I can figure out how those words fit together in the sentence two more sentences fly by! It's difficult, but I know each day I'm improving ever so slightly, so that's good! Oh and guess what, because I'm new, I do practice lessons with the members all by myself, quite difficult, but I've done a few, and while my japanese might not be perfect, they can understand me, so that's good. Also, through a series of circumstances Gantomur shimai and I had to give a lesson to an investigator on our own (Gantomur shimai has only been out a transfer more than I have). The investigators name is Miyuki san. She has a slight mental disability, which means we have to use very simple words with her, not a problem for Sister Gantomur and I! The lesson ended up going really well! I know that we have God's help on our side, and it's when we get into situations like this that He really backs us up. So while the language may be difficult and at times I get discouraged with it, I do have many circumstances that I can see where I am getting better....eventually we'll get there.

I thought you might want to know what bike I have...I'm not really sure...the name is in Japanese, so to translate over, I have no idea, but it's made by Giant, and is a cross road bike, white, and no it's not a girls bike so the bar is high, with a skirt, at first that was quite interesting, but now, well I'm a pro at dismounting and getting on. We bike almost everywhere, either that or take the train if we're going to the mission home (honbu) or a members house that is farther away. Most of the trains in Kichijoji are just as you see them in books, tv, etc...TONS of people, literally you are on top of each other and when the doors shut, if you're by them, the door is less than an inch from your face! However I will say even with all the people the trains are so clean! They have cushy seats (if you can get one) and they ask you to not use your cell phone while on them, and people actually don't! can you see that happening in America? I can't! The whole city is very clean, they really take pride in it i believe, I haven't seen a single dirty car or trash on the ground anywhere, it's cool!

Also, recycling is huge...not all cities are like this, but Kichijoji, comes everyday for trash (everyday they pick up a different thing)...burnables, unburnables, plastics, cardboard...they have specific green bags that you put them in and if you put something wrong in the bag, they won't take it. Makes for people having to recycle, i suppose! In restaurants too, you have to sort your trash that you throw away, they have different bins. It's just interesting and different.

Today, we have a mission christmas party! I'm so excited!!! However, since it's on our p-day, we still have to do all our p-day things, along with 2 lessons that we have scheduled today, so it makes for a busy day. it should be fun though!

I can't wait to talk to you all on Christmas! If you can call the number I sent last week at 2:30pm on Christmas day (MO time). I'll be awake, That way we can talk at 5:30am the 26th for me, before I get ready for that day! I can talk for an hour! YAY!!!

I love you all so very much!
Love Sister Erin Benne
Oh also guess what! I don't have to eat eel on Christmas after all! Gantomur shimai didn't want to either, so we worked it out that, the two of us would go tracting instead while Utsumi shimai and Togami shimai would go...because they love eel! Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 12- Kichijoj, Japan

What a relief to finally be able to sit down a read emails from you! I have so much to tell and so little time to say it!

So first off I'm in JAPAN...surprise... Haha! (okay bear with me the keyboard is different and so typing is a little on the difficult side! As you may have heard, I got to call home from the airport so that is where I will begin. We landed in Tokyo at 4pm and after being on the tarmac, going through customs, and getting our luggage finally met the President and AP's at 5:30! Then it was a 2 hour drive to Narita where the mission home is! It was good though since all of the sisters were in that van with the mission President we just got to talk to him the whole time and found out a lot of information about the mission. There are currently 160 missionaries in the Tokyo mission + 20 senior couples, making about 200 missionaries in total. Of the 160, there are 32 sisters, and of those 32 sisters 10 of us are foreign (there were only 6 foreign before we came, Sister lynch, adams, and I, along with a sister from NY who\s parents are Japanese so she already knew Japanese so she came in with the Nihonjin in the MTC). That first day I was up for over 24 hours straight traveling (we know this because peoples alarm clocks started going off in their luggage as we were unloading the car :) ) and then were up later eating dinner, having interviews ect. We spent that night at the mission home and the next morning were up and ready for training. Around noon I met my new trainer Sister Utsumi, she's from Kobe Japan! and then a little while later headed to my first area! i'm in Kichijoji!!!

Kichijoji is right on the outskirts of Tokyo, so still crazy busy, but not as much. Utsumi Shimai says it's the place where everyone wants to live in Tokyo and I can see why. It's really nice and most people in the area are pretty well off. I love the members they are crazy nice and try to give us tons of stuff, we have a whole cupboard full of food from them! A lot of them even know English so sometimes it's difficult to force myself to talk Japanese to them. Crazy thing...I can actually understand a lot more than I ever thought I would my first week. I know it's because of all the blessings we've received from apostles and others who are praying for us missionaries. I was at church and people were extremely surprised when they found out i was a "greenbean". On the downside speaking is still a bit difficult, I'm not fast, as a missionary you have to be fast if you don't want people walking away. I know it will come with time though as I'm here longer and continue to work on my japanese.

Also something that's difficult is that Utsumi Shimai and I whitewashed (when two new people both are transferred in and there aren't any of the previous missionaries from before there anymore) the area, and not only whitewashed it but sort of opened it for sisters. It's really confusing and I'm still not sure of how it's all been working out, but basically there were 2 sisters Gantomur and Togami shimai (i'll talkmore about them in a second) who were covering 2 wards/areas and we're taking over one, but because of this we're starting off with no investigators or anything at all. so right now we're just trying to find people. We've already got a few potentials so we'll see where that goes. Utsumi Shimai says President Albrecht must really trust me to be whitewashing as a trainee, I think it just means she's a really good trainer. Utsumi Shimai is fluent in English (she went to the ELC at BYU) so that's been nice and definitely helpful.

So my apt. I live with 2 other sisters (where the only 4-some apt in the mission)! Gantomur shimai and Togami shimai. If the name Gantomur shimai sounds familiar that's because it is! She was one of my senpai/roommates in the MTC!!!!! From Mongolia! What a happy treat it was when I saw her smiling face at the train station to pick Utsumi shimai and I up!!! It's been so good having her, since her Japanese is really good but still slower than the Nihonjin's it's much easier to talk and practice Japanese with her!!! Then there is Togami shimai! She's on her last transfer and is still a ball of fire. She's tiny, doesn't even come up to my shoulder, but has so much energy and spunk that you barely even notice. It's amusing in our apt. I'm about 2 inches from the ceiling of the doorframes and other parts of our apt, and constantly run into the hanging light switches but it's home and I love it! I sleep on a futon on the floor and with four of us we are literally on top of each other. It's like a slumber party every night, well the sleeping bag part of it...

Oh guess what I ate octopus and a lot of other gross things already..... Pray for me it's so difficult to keep it down and keep a YUM i like this food face, but it has to be done. On Christmas a lady is taking us to a $50 a plate famous eel restaurant, I know it's only through Gods help that I'll be able to do it. On the bright side I've found tons of delicious food that I do like, so that is great!!!
Another fun thing, my friend Yuji, from Glenwood, he's from Tokyo and turns out his family is in my ward, his dad is the Bishop so that's fun. He's actually here now for Christmas so I saw him on Sunday. He took a picture and said he was going to put it on Facebook, so possibly look for it.
Anyway this is a way long letter, and I still have tons to say, but I know I should go! I love you all so very much and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas!!!!!!

Love you
Sister Erin Benne

Also I got a bike! It's so much fun!!!! I love it! It's almost like a challenge weaving in and out of people and cars! but don't worry I'm being safe!!! And dad your teaching me how to change a flat tire has already come in handy, Gantomur shimai popped hers the 2nd day I was there!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 10- Provo, MTC

Ah! so I am getting so excited to leave for Japan!!! We received our flight plans last Wednesday and every day since the idea of leaving seems more and more real as we have departure meetings! So here's the schedule:

I leave the Provo MTC at 5am Monday December 6. From Salt Lake I head to Seattle for a layover, that flight is from 8:30-9:30am. We have a 3 hour layover in Seattle at 12:30 we then take a nice 16 hour flight to Tokyo JAPAN!!!!!!! and will arrive there on December 7, 4:35pm their time (yes I will be time traveling, missing a whole day!). What we've been told is that we will be allowed to somehow make contact with you in Tokyo to let you know that we've arrived safely (whether this is by email or phone, I don't know, it depends on the Mission President). So that's my schedule!

This last week is a little different too, we pack all week during the little free time we have (so mostly today) and then we go to different meetings. Last night we had a health and safety meeting, which applied to mostly S. American missionaries, but I still found really interesting. The church takes a lot of precautions and works so hard to keep us as healthy and safe as possible. Do you know they've invented a water bottle specifically for us that can purify ANY kind of water you put in it? not just filter it put purify it!!! and they've made hand sanitizer that lasts 60 hours (that's insane! but so cool!)

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the packages and letters I received. It was funny, I hadn't gotten any mail this past week and then yesterday I not only received quite a few letters but 2, TWO, packages from you all! Thank you so much! You don't realize how much it means to get letters from you!

Thanksgiving here was fantastic!!!!! Elder Holland came in the morning with his whole family and spoke to us. He bore such a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for us. One thing that really stuck out to me was that Christ went through everything for us and through it all everyone of his friends left him. It was Him alone who bore the pain, Him alone who suffered on the cross, and Him alone who took upon the sins of the world. Even Heavenly Father left Him for a time, when he called out "Abba, Abba, why hast thou forsaken me?" So great was His agony, so great was His loneliness. Me I'm not alone, me, I have friends and you who support me so well. I'm not alone, so who am I to complain, who am I to ever feel alone, because nothing, NOTHING, we do in this life can ever compare to what our Savior had to go through. NOTHING we do will ever make up for what He went through for us. However, we can strive to lighten His burden by working to be like Him. One less sin of mine He has to carry, can help lighten His load, albeit slightly, but it will be a little bit less.

I love you all so very much!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Provo, MTC- Week 9

Ohaio Gozaimasu Kazoku!!

So this week has been interesting. The Nihonjin are here!!!!! They are so sweet and so patient and loving. I love them!!! It's been fun, since I'm the coordinating sister, I've gotten to give interviews and do orientation and attempt to speak about things that i don't usually speak on a day to day basis at the MTC. It's been a definite challenge, but it's been really good. I definitely know very little japanese, but I can make my way around things. Yesterday hit our two week left mark, so we should be getting our travel plans this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With Thanksgiving this week though, I don't know when we'll receive them or if we'll receive them later than normal.

Thanksgiving here is going to be good, we don't have classes, but instead the day will be filled with firesides/ devotionals (one by a generall authority, we don't know who), a service project (where we'll be assembling 30,000 backpacks!), and a myriad of other things. However most likely there will be no home made pies, eat some for me! I can't wait to eat non-MTC food...even if it's fish...I can't believe I'm saying that. I'm sure I'll be retracting that very quickly, when I actually have to eat fish, and then I'll be missing the MTC food.

While my Japanese language skills are far from great, Iam so ready to go out to teach the people of Japan. I want to share with them the love I feel from my Heavenly Father and let them know that they can feel it too.

I love you all so much! i know the Lord is watching over you!

Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Week 9- Provo MTC

Well Hello!!!

How's it going??? This week's been good! Yesterday we got a new set of Nihonjin!!!! These are my Nihonjin...so guess what that means? I'm leaving in 3 weeks!!!! It's so exciting and this time, different from last time I feel like I can actually talk and understand them in Japanese, definitely a good thing! A total of 11 came in from Japan and the crazy thing is that 8 of them are Sisters! Yes 8 and only 3 elders!!!! How crazy cool is that! It doubles our numbers as sisters in our zone! Alll of us sisters are just bouncing off the wall because of it! I get to go through the whole orientation thing again this week with them too! It should be fun testing my Japanese (of course we will have a translator there for use if needed too!)

Speaking of time coming close to leaving... YES!!!!! I do get to call home when I'm in the airport! I don't really know the logistics of it yet and won't until I recieve my flight plans, but yes I do know I'm able to call while in the airport and also when I arrive in Japan! My guess is that at least the one in Japan won't be more than 5 minutes and the one in the airport probably not much longer than that, but I really don't know. Oh and the date for my leaving, currently is December 6! So exciting!

So this past week Elder Bednar came and spoke to us!!! Can you imagine our luck?? 4 Apostles in a row??? They say it's apostle season here at the MTC, because it's getting close to the holidays, so they're all coming home! I do know for sure that there is not going to be one tonight though. Elder Bednar talked about really focusing on the doctrine, not the application of the doctrine. Because when we are teaching doctrine, it teaches the members/ investigators to search/ learn/ and find things out for themselves. It's also the fundamentals of our religion, so if we're working to follow the teachings of Christ, the applications of loving, home teaching. etc, should all just fall into place.

This Sunday I gave my first talk in Japanese! It was on prophets! How they do talks here, is everyone is supposed to write a talk on a topic in Japanese throughout the week and then on Sunday they choose who will be giving it. So you don't know if you're talking until they announce it in Sacrament Meeting. The idea is that by the time everyone leaves the MTC, they'll have 10 talks prepared that they can use in the field. Kind of a good idea I think. Anyway it went pretty well! Luckily I was prepared so it wasn't too bad at all!

My classroom is on the 5th floor so we have a nice view of everything, and it faces BYU/ your airport. So every now and then I catch a plane flying into/out of the provo airport and I'm always like, I wonder if that one was just Jon! So maybe, just maybe I've seen you flying over these past weeks!

Also I finally met 2 missionaries going to STL!!!! Spanish speaking, but I was still excited!

Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Week 8- Provo MTC

We're emailing a little earlier today, changing up the good old P-day schedule for a change. Actually it's mainly because Sister Adams and I have a hair cutting apt. when we normally email! YAY for a haircut!

Okay wow let me tell you about this week!
We got our new kohai on Tuesday/ Wednesday (Tuesday for the new international missionaries). These included one solo sister! She's from New Zealand, has a sweet accent and is super nice. Since she's the solo sister and we were a trio...our trio is no more :( . Sister Lynch was assigned to be Sister Tehei's new companion. It's interesting, definitely different only being in a twosome. Thankfully because I absolutely love Sister Lynch, and she has had 6 more weeks of Japanese study than sister Tahei, she's still with us for class and MDT (missionary directed time), so things haven't changed too much...we've just added another sister to our companionship!

With the new kohai coming in, it meant I was doing a lot of new things as the coordinating sister. I, along with the zone leaders and the music coordinator, gave orientation, tour of the campus and a myriad of other things. I had to miss class for it (which even since I was young I've hated missing class...remember the time I gave up going to the McDonald's river boat and Arch with Grandma, just so I could go to school...? yeah I was a weird kid!) so it kind of threw me off, but it was fun and definitely worth it!

Also, guess what I got to do!!!!! Yes I went off campus! Sister Lynch had to go to the doctor (don't worry she's totally fine) and we didn't just go to the BYU health center, we went to an actual doctor's office in Provo, so we got to take a shuttle! I know it's pathetic but when you've been in the same exact places for 7 weeks straight the smallest things are exciting...for example riding in an elevator, dialing a phone, riding in a car, and of course driving right through my beloved old home of the BYU campus. Best thing ever!

Last Tuesday night we also had another apostle come to speak to us...3 apostles right in a row...how lucky! This time is was M. Russell Ballard! I love hearing the apostles speak! There is nothing like hearing the actual voice, being in the same room as an apostle of God!

Interesting experience: The other day I was talking and then all of a sudden I realized, I just carried on a whole conversation in Japanese without really having to think too hard about it. and it hit me...that crazy language with all the unintelligible characters... I can read them. I can actually speak Japanese! Am I fluent? Not even close. Will I be completely lost when I get to Japan? Definitely. But will I be able to speak what I need to to be able to fulfill my purpose as a missionary? For sure!!!

Sorry I'm not always clear when I use Japanese words so if ever I don't define anything let me know. Nihongin is the word for the Japanese people. and Kanji is one of the character sets they have. Kanji is the most complicating about 86,00 characters over time. 1000 of which are in the Book of Mormon. They have it set up so we should learn one a day, but really don't stress it too much because there is hiragana (the main character set which includes only 46 characters and some variations of those 46) next to every kanji character in the Book of Mormon. Kanji was adopted from the chinese years and years ago.

I love you all!!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 6- Provo MTC

I LOVE P-DAY when I get to email to you all!!!
Exciting letter I recieved today, was from my mission president in Tokyo!!!! I'm not sure exactly what it said, because it's easier to just print things off and read them later, but glancing over it I know it talks about some of my first few days and how they'll be in Tokyo!!! AHHH i'm so excited to be going!!! Still a month though so I'm trying not to get to excited!

This week has been really good! It started off amazingly with Elder Scott coming to Devotional last Tuesday! I've never thought of Elder Scott being a powerful speaker, but he was last week! He talked about the Spirit and gave us a whole list of things that he's learned about the Spirit throughout his life. Imagine gaining insight on what an apostle has learned about the Spirit throughout his whole life!!!!! He even printed off the list and made copies for each missionary. Oh how I wish I could send you each one, but they won't let us make copies of it here. I've heard the reason is because he told them that it was something ment specifically for missionaries and we should keep it special! During his talk he also spoke specifaically to the sisters and gave us a couple aposilistic blessings. One of safety, another of learning the language, another of remembering what we've learned as a missionary throughout our lives. He told us that we have to watch our health, made us promise in fact, that we would not look at the elders and try to push ourselves to the extent of doing all that they do, because our bodies take a mission in a completely different way. It was just so amazing and powerful!!! I know that we have apostles on Earth today and only a man filled with so much of the Spirit and ordained of God, can talk in the way Richard G. Scott did that night.

So I taught my first lesson in Japanese last Thursday!!! It went really well! I can't believe I actually know as much Japanese as I do. I still have so much more to learn, but I know the Lord is with me, and the blessing Elder Scott gave us is working inside of me. Somehow I remember things that I don't even really remember learning. We're working so hard as a companionship to keep continuing on in the language and to strive to be the best that we can as missionaries. Giving all we can to the Lord, because now we're on His time, not ours.

Oh so we get new kohai this week!!! YAY! There's only 7 in the incoming group, which is VERY small but I'm excited nonetheless. There will be one sister coming in who's from New Zealand. She'll be a solo sister (not have a companion in her district) so I'll just have to keep a watch on her to make sure she's doing okay. AHHH it will be so much fun to have a new group! And I'll be a senpai...so weird (just means I'm in the older group).

It was so weird being here on Halloween, knowing everyone else was out, and knowing if I wasn't here I would be going to Halloween parties, but I'm sure I have the better end of the deal right now! As a companionship we did have our own little celebration. For MDT (missionary directed time) We each wore Halloween socks and brought candy for our district to share, it was fun and we were still able to be really productive that night, so it didnt' take away from what we were supposed to be doing!

I love you all so much and am constantly praying for you!!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week 5 - Provo, MTC

YAY!!! Email time is absolutely the best thing ever! I'm so excited to get to write you all today!!!

I'll admit this hasn't been the easiest week ever, rather difficult actually, but on the opposite side of things, I've realized that as you go through difficult days, Heavenly Father is willing to buoy you up with even greater tender mercies. I hope I can detail some of them in this letter.

Our senpai left yesterday. It's crazy how much quieter our Japanese wing is, and how much larger my bedroom seems, with three sisters missing. It's gotten me really excited to get going to Japan! I can't wait... but then realize that I still have so much Japanese to learn! Since we've gotten to the 5 week point, we're expected to be "Nihongo dake", Japanese only, which is one reason this week has been difficult. Trying to say everything I want to in Japanese is virtually impossible, so it's been a struggle. We also are teaching our first lesson in Japanese this Thursday, so it's been slightly stressful preparing for that. I've come to realize though that even if I can't get out everything I want to say, it's okay, because the spirit is always going to be a far greater testimony builder than my words will ever be. I'm striving to just get to the point where I can speak enough to bring the Spirit, and then have the Spirit guide me the rest of the way.

We also had to take a language assessment test yesterday, where we speak into a headset and are recorded on our pronunciation and understanding of the language and then in about a week we'll get feedback about what we need to work on. I think everyone had a rough time with it. It wasn't so bad except for the fact that they let you listen to what you recorded afterward and you notice all these mistakes you made and can't re-record it. Haha, oh well! One really nice thing though, was that i had a interview with Bishoff sensai (one of my teachers) and he just told me that he was noticing just how much us sisters were improving and he knew it was because we were working so hard. That's one of the tender mercies i was talking about. The Lord knew that I needed to hear that I was getting better and that someone had noticed.

Other fun things that have happened: Last Tuesday Devotional Russell M. Nelson came to speak!!! It's the first apostle we've had since I've been here, so it was just so exciting!! One of the great realizations was that he told us the exact same things we've heard over and over again. Something about how he said it though, showed the great importance of each of these things (obedience, teaching lessons not people...) and also was just a reminder about how they may say them over and over again, but they are super important. I've come to know that the things we do here, the schedule, the rules, are all inspired by God. Sometimes I just sit and am thinking, 'wow, someone knew gym time/p-day is a necessity" or "companions are really there to keep us out of trouble". Because of this I don't mind the rules.

Also on Sunday, Sister Adams was asked to give the prayer during the MTC Fireside, so we got to sit on the stand and be on "TV"!!! We call the projection screen a TV! It was so much fun and definitely a highlight, as I got to shake the hands of the MTC Presidency, our speaker, Stephen Allen, and have a full view of most of the missionaries (there is an overflow room, so not all) and hear their beautiful voices as they sang straight towards me...so COOL!!!

Speaking of companions, I don't think I've told you much about either Sister Adams or Lynch, so I'll do that! I absolutely love both of them, and I know I'm extremely blessed to have 2 companions I get along with, sure sometimes it's difficult with 3 different opinions, but it always works out. Sister Adams is from a town outside of Philadelphia, but's been going to BYU-I for accounting for the past 3 years. She's hilarious and totally not what you would expect! She has words like ridonculous and surrrrriously that she always says. Is constantly losing stuff and has one hiccup about every hour, just one. She's the hardest working, most studious person I have ever met, and I admire her so much for that! Sister Lynch is from Mountain Green Utah, has been at BYU for the past 3 years as well and is studying math education. She is the most sincere, loving person ever. She knows basically every sister in the mtc and their history. She can bust out raps like none other about anything you want (laundry, hot dogs, popcorn, people to say the least) and loves hugs. All 3 of us have so much fun together!!!! it's great and I know heavenly father specifically blessed me with companions I would get along with!!!

Oh really quick my name in Kanji means: glory, handsome, beautiful, poem, inlet, stream, crimson. Not sure what exactly that means but I found it exciting to have one of the Nihongin translate it for me.

love you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 4 - Provo, MTC

Ah so much has happened! It's crazy!

So this past week our sempai (the group ahead of us) got their flight plans, this includes the Nihongin missionaries as well (yes they do fly all the way out to the USA to go to the MTC here in provo, they used to have an MTc in Tokyo, but what i've heard and don't know if it's true is that they want the japanese missionaries to have experiences being close to where the prophet is). They leave in less than a week! Crazy!!!! That means my group of about 30 (which is huge for a group, the sempai have about 14 in theirs and the kohai coming in, there are only 7) we'll be the new sempai, know the most...weird to think since I still feel like I know so little. But i guess I have been here 1 month now!!! I can't believe it's been a month, I feel like I've been here forever, but than not that long at all!

I've also been called as the new coordinating sister! What that means is that I look after all the sisters in our zone, make sure they're doing okay, do all the introductions for the new sisters coming in, and go to resident hall meetings, district meetings, etc... I'm excited, but it's a lot more to be doing. We actually have a large group of sisters this time around, there are 7 of us in my group that came in and 2 or 3 more will be arriving! It'll be fun getting to know the other sisters, that aren't my companions/roommates better!

Also, I got my final shot this week (Hepatitis A take 2)! Blah! but i got a cool Tazmanian Devil bandaid for it that made it all okay!

What else has happened???? I always think of things I want to tell you throughout the week and then always forget, I need to start writing them down.

Oh least favorite thing about the MTC: 1. Not having pockets...that's a whole mission thing, but you don't realize how much you miss them until you don't have them. Don't take pockets for granted, yes I know, weird thing to say. 2. Making my bed...I've never liked making my bed and enjoy it even less when i have to make it on a top bunk! Still I prefer the top bunk over the bottom though. Favorite things about the MTC: 1. Everyone is so friendly, saying hi, how are you doing and just start chatting it up. 2. Hearing all the languages. 3. Being in a place where you learn so much!

So this is a bummer thing! On Sunday's we were allowed to go to the temple for a walk, just to get out of the MTC and chill, take pictures, cool off, and all. It was one of the highlights of my week, because you get to spend a WHOLE HOUR in the sun! It was fantastic!!!! Anyway, we don't get to do that anymore... :( !!!! My branch president thinks it's only temporary, but there's no guarantee. They canceled it because missionaries would have their family members or girlfriends/boyfriends meet them up there and I guess trash was left on the temple grounds (big uh-oh!). I'll admit I did see some missionaries meeting their families there over the past couple of weeks, but not very many at all. I know it's good, because it will help us be obedient, but it's just still a complete bummer that a few missionaries ruined it for 2,000 missionaries. Oh well, I'm here 2 more months, it's quite possible it will come back before I leave! (oh and we still get to go to the temple for sessions on PDAYS so that's still good)

Anyway writing time is almost up! If you have any specific questions just let me know! I'm try to be good at answering them!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week 3- Provo MTC

Konichiwa Kazoku!!!

Another week in, only what 8/9 more to go! Haha! The weeks go by so weirdly here...slow but so fast! It was crazy to think that if I was an English missionary I would be out in the field now! Japanese is going well, I'm picking up on it now, I think I had to just get how the language worked down before I could really concentrate on everything else. It's also helped having the Nihongin (japanese missionaries) here. They are so cute and so willing to help and be patient with us as we try talking to them in their native language. I'm sure we sound like little 5 year olds to them! One funny thing is that apparently my "accent" has carried over into japanese...The choro (elders) find my pronunciations of some words, especially "Wakarimasen" (I don't know) especially amusing. I honestly have no idea how I'm saying it sounds different from everyone else. I figure though, that I'll work first on getting the actual language down, and speaking it correctly, before i work on getting a Japanese accent.

One fun thing about the MTC is that I'm constantly running into friends from BYU. It's so fun to be walking around and hear "Erin! oh shoot....Sister Benne!" People like Kaplan Sanders and others I haven't seen in a long time and don't know I'm on a mission are especially fun.

Dad, I'm so sad you were out in Provo and I didn't get to see you! It was weird thinking, you were only probably a few blocks away! It sounds like you, Jon, and Kim all had a great time though! Thanks for bringing the camera cord with you and sending it! I tried uploading them and sending some to you, but it's proving difficult because of all the blocks they have on these computers and I didn't want to run out of time to write you, so i'll try again next time!
Other than that things have been pretty calm here! I've finally gotten into a routine which is really nice! One thing that is good about being here for a while is that you really get to know your district/ zone. I LOVE my district. I'm constantly amazed by the testimonies of the elders in my district and the love and kindness they show to us sisters. I'll admit being a sister here has it's perks.

I love being on the Lord's errand. For my scripture study, I've decided to go through and read the Book of Mormon and highlight any time in mentions Christ in any form. I don't think I've gotten to a page yet, where it hasn't in some way mentioned our Savior. It shows just how important and vital Christ is to our beliefs. I'm working to apply Christ's life more into mine.

I love you all so much!!!! Thank you for your letters, it's so good just to be hearing even the smallest things that are happening in your lives!

Erin / Benne Shimai

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 2- Provo MTC

My goodness, where to begin? Wasn't Conference wonderful?!? I think it's the first time I have actually stayed awake during all of the sessions and what an edifying and great experience it was! I especially loved Presidents Uchtdorf's talk Sat morning and during the same session the talk by a member of the Sunday School presidency on teaching! It was amazing to be listening to conference in the MTC, everyone is so excited about it and also it was a welcome relief of not having classes on Saturday! During the time when the Elders had Priesthood, the sisters got to watch the Relief Society broadcast which aired the Saturday before, but they saved for conference center so the elders and sisters could be doing things at the same time! I love President Monson and his talk during the relief society broadcast, how quick are we to judge others, when we ourselves have the same faults.

Well this week, so much has happened! First off I have been blessed with a cold (more like cursed but I'm trying to stay positive here!) I woke up one morning with my voice completely and totally gone, not a good thing when you're trying to learn a new language and speaking it is the best thing to do. Thankfully, Heavenly Father knew what I needed and my voice came back rather quickly. I'm not quite over it, but I feel much better!

Also I had my first TRC this week! My companions and I first had to contact in Japanese and then teach the first lesson to a volunteer investigator! It was hard, but I think it went pretty well! We got our "investigator" to commit to coming to a session of conference, so that was fun!
Japanese is going okay, I struggle with it, especially since I'm used to things coming relatively easy to me. I just have to keep telling myself that I've only been here two weeks and it's amazing all that I've learned already. The main thing I struggle with is getting the sentence structure, I always mix up the subject and object which conveys a completely different message. I know the Lord is with me though and over time and with much study I will get it down. I think maybe He wants me to struggle a bit, to know that blessings come only with effort and work.

Yesterday the Japanese missionaries came to the MTC (the missionaries from Japan who are going to be serving in Japan). They only have to be here 3 weeks since they know the language...same as English speaking missionaries. It's cool to meet them, I realized I REALLY will be tall in Japan and also that I know very little of the language, it was disheartening, but has only strengthened my resolve to study harder!

I love learning more about this gospel and how to teach it, those by far are my favorite times of the classes. I've come to realize how much I just want people to know the happiness knowing Christ and our Father can bring them. Whenever we finish teaching a lesson, I realized I always have a big smile on my face, because I've gotten to share something so precious to me.

Fun things: Saturday night, my companion roommates and I decided we just needed to chill: one thing led to another, and it was fantastic...I'll demonstrate quickly. It started off with sister lynch finding a dime! (yeah I know haha, it's an inside joke, but she really did find a dime), me looking for a screwdriver to fix my alarm clock because the light goes on but it doesn't make a sound (i never found one small enough...) wanting to make a clubhouse out of our bunkbeds (which we didn't do, but did attempt to move the beds, we found out we can :) ) which in turn led us to have an arm wrestling contest that didn't last very long because of a FIRE ALARM!!!!!!! yeah, someone on the third floor burnt popcorn in the microwave..... it was great! and then the attack of a giant green leaf bug, and finishing off with us thinking it was daylight savings time, realizing it wasn't and right after realizing it wasn't the overhead speaker, saying (30 minutes after lights out) attention daylight savings time is not tonight, like he had heard us! creepy... haha! we found out the next day that elders in our zone had paged in right before asking if it was, so it was just complete coincidence!

Thank you for all your letters! I love hearing from you, getting mail/ dear elders is a definite highlight of the day!!!!

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! I've come to realize how much you all mean to me these past couple weeks and pray for you every day!

Love you!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week 1- Provo, UT MTC

Konichiwa kazoku!!!
Watashi wa Nihongo ha manabu desu. Bishoff to Lew sensei desu. Bunpo wa ii dewa arimasen. (Literal translation: Hello Family!!! I Japanese learn is. Bishoff and Lew teacher, teacher is. Grammar good not.)
WOW! So these past few days have been absolutely crazy!!! Let me just go through day by day...
Wednesday after Kim and mom dropped me off, I was taken by a host sister to grab books, my name tag, and multiple other things. I then headed to my room dropped off my stuff (I live on the fourth floor, top floor, of my building) and then to my classroom (my class is on the fifth floor, the top floor of the tallest building at the MTC, so I definitely get my workout going up and down stairs!). Once there I proceeded to watch a welcome video and entrance quiz about the video and met my teachers. We began to learn Japanese immediately.
I also met my companions. Yes, companions! I'm in a tri-companionship with Lynch Shimai and Adams Shimai (sister comes after the name as well with sensei (teacher)). I love them! Lynch Shimai's love for everyone consistently amazes me, she is so sweet and caring and Adams Shimai's determination in learning the language is highly admirable! It's so nice that we all get along, I've heard many tri-companionships have difficulty with leaving one sister out. All of us are headed to Tokyo too, which is rare in a trio too! Oh and I'm the senior companion. I feel completely unprepared to be a senior companion, because I have really no clue what I'm doing, but I know the Lord is helping me to guide me in what our companionship needs. I also have 3 other roommates who are in a tri-companionship as well, they are the coordination sisters, so it's been really helpful to have them there since they've already been here six weeks. Their names are Escalante, Williams, and Gantomur Shimai. Gantomur Shimai is from Mongolia and knows very little English and knew only some Japanese when she came here. I admire her, and two other sisters that came in with me from Mongolia, for being able to learn Japanese while being taught in english, a language they don't really know!
As of today I'm feeling really well, but I'll admit the first Wednesday through Saturday were a field of emotions! Japanese is not an easy language and they have you delve right into it, which is understandable, however, most of the choro (elders) in my district knew some japanese when they came and i felt so behind and didn't feel like I comprehended anything...thankfully the Lord knows best who we need to be with and he chose for me the perfect sisters to be in a companionship together, neither sister lynch or adams has had japanese and we've been helping each other unlike anything else! It's interesting i recieved my call before and around when my coordinating sisters did, yet I came in after them. I know the Lord knew I needed to be here with sister lynch and Adams.
Anyway sorry I keep skipping around, I have so much I want to tell you and 30 minutes isn't long at all I'm realizing!!!!
So Thurs through sat classes I just would get so frustrated to myself that i completely felt like crying...i didn't and instead found the blessed relief of laughing. That is something I'm good at!
I came out of my rut Sunday. Sunday is my favorite day now!!! It is glorious!!! We spent some time sitting out in the grass and just laughing and talking, then was testimony meeting (in japanese of course, but luckily they allowed the new senkyoshi to speak in english, so that's what i did!) and after that we went on a stroll to the temple! So yes Kim, I do get to go to the temple grounds at an allotted time on Sunday, so if you ever up there, do look for me!
Since then things have definitely gone up hill and I'm loving being here! They kept telling me the first week is the hardest and I see why! Japanese is getting better, not neccesarily easier, but definitely better, i actually like the language now! and I'm learning to see the tender mercies that are given to me each day...laughing, grass, the sun, running (gym time is the best and running is a life saver), my doryo (companions), letters exactly when I need them are all the best!
Speaking of letters, thank you for writing!!!! Letters are halleilujah's in a day the best pick me up ever!!!!!
Anyway my time is almost up 1 minute left! I love you all so much, thank you for all your support, i hope this is cohesive...sorry if it's not, I've been thinking all week wahat I've wanted to tell you!
Benne Shimai

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So long!

And the adventure begins tomorrow when I officially report to the Provo, UT Missionary Training Center at 12:45 pm! During the time I am gone I will have limited internet access in which I will be able to email my family. My darling sister Kim has agreed to keep you all updated with the going ons of my missionary life, i.e. the "tokens" I receive during my time serving the people of Tokyo. If you would like to receive notifications as to when this blog is updated please email Kim at kimberlybenne(at)gmail(dot)com. I am so excited to begin this new chapter of my life and cannot wait to see what exactly lies in store!
Sister Erin Benne