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!