4:29 PM

September 11, 2012

Hi guys,
Well, week one has come and gone! I have learned many things so far in the MTC.
1. I do not speak Japanese.
2. I speak very good French, and I remember a lot more Tahitian than I thought I would.
3. Neither of those things really help me with Japanese.
I keep seeking out any missionaries that are going to France or other French speaking missions because I just want that chance to feel good about myself. I don't know that my district nor my companion appreciate it very much, but I really enjoy speaking in French because the Japanese is so hard. I even have Tahitian coming quicker to me than whatever Japanese word I'm searching for.
That being said, I feel that my Japanese has improve remarkably over the past 6 days. I have no doubt that the Lord is responsible. I am working very hard, of course, but I feel like I know nothing. Then i go to teach our investigator and I somehow manage to say a few sentences. So far, that has been the most discouraging part. We have one investigator that we teach almost every day. I have so many things I want to tell him, but right now I can't. Good thing he's not an actual investigator, but still. I can say a pretty solid prayer and testimony, though!
My companion is Sister Clingo, from Springville, UT. We have to do the whole "where-are-you-from" thing a lot, and whenever we both say that we're from Springville, they always respond with, "Oh my gosh, DID YOU MEET BEFORE?"
Yes. We did. Ironically enough, we met a few months ago through a very random mutual friend. Though we are both from Springville, we never knew each other in high school. She took two years of Japanese at BYU, so her Japanese is quite a bit better than mine. But we both have things to improve and we are working pretty well together. We found common ground on our love for movies and Star Wars. We often speak like Yoda when trying to master Japanese Grammar. ('The Book of Mormon true, is.")
I have two other roommates who are both serving in Japan but going to different missions. Sister Peterson is going to Sapporo and she's from Canada. She says "aboot" "bayg" "rayg" "hash-tayg" (we have both been lamenting the loss of our Twitter accounts and how we keep thinking of witty tweets from our experience. "Waiting in line again #mtcproblems.") She is awesome, though. Sister Sylva is from Brazil and is serving in the Nagoya mission. She speaks in broken English, but she is hilarious. She exaggerates a ton, and seems to hate everything about the food. ("Did you eat those beans? They don't know what they are doing! In Brazil..." But she's wonderful.
Speaking of which, everything here is remarkably similar to my freshman year at Helaman Halls. We need to swipe our cards to get into the buildings, the food is the same as in the Cannon Center (and not very good), and the vending machines are the same. I won't lie, I'm pretty sick of the food already. But, whatever. it's food.
My District is wonderful. It's us four sisters with four other Elders (Shimbashi from Canada, Norawong from Washington, Miranda from England, and Hanson from California). We have bonded a lot in the last few days and I feel that we are becoming very good friends. We love to practice Japanese together and help each other learn how to write the different characters (we all have various experience with Japanese - mine being one of the lowest levels, but I'm catching up!) However, our district is split into two classes, so we get a lot of attention from our Sensei, Sensei Evans. She is from Tokyo, and she is very nice.
I do feel like the MTC is under some sort of spirituality cloud. It's like church all the time. Everyone is extremely kind and helpful, and for that I am grateful. The first day was the hardest. At about 10:00 am, I looked at my watch and I may or may not have thrown my pen at the chalkboard because I SWORE it was 3:00 pm. When I went to bed that night, I literally felt like I had been awake for three days.
It's gotten much better!
So far, my favorite days are today (P-day), and Sunday. Sunday was awesome. We had a great fireside from Richard Heaton and got to watch an old talk of Elder Holland's. It felt so good to have some spiritual nourishment without worrying about the Japanese. Except for Sacrament Meeting, that is. The hymn books are written in hiragana (one of the Japanese alphabets) and we sang some very fast songs so it was hard for me to read.
P-day is the best, though. It's just good to get a break. We got to go to the temple this morning and eat at the cafeteria, and THAT was a treat. It was nice to relax in the temple and get a break from all of the Japanese. The rest of my P-day will be spent hanging out with my district, doing laundry (maybe), writing letters, and napping for my companion (she has been counting down to naptime ever since we got here, haha).
The most surprising thing is how little we are instructed. We only have a teacher 3 hours out of the day. The rest of the time, we are pretty responsible for how much studying we get done. Luckily, the Lord has blessed me to remain awake during all of my studies, so I have felt good about how much I am accomplishing in a day. My district all tries to work hard and do their best, so it's good to have a support team. Sadly, though, none of my district is going to Fukuoka except my companion.
Waking up at 6:30 has been okay. The first day I slept through my alarm, but I still woke up (remarkably) at 6:26. Ever since then, though, I've been able to wake up on my own.
My other favorite thing is gym-time. I usually run on the track, but yesterday I got to play basketball. Our schedule is nice because two days out of the week we have gym time at 8:00, so when we're done we just get to go back to our residence and shower.
Thanks to all who have written me and for the awesome package my friends sent. My District was very jealous, but they enjoyed looking through the photo album and seeing all of the fun things that my friendz do. Thanks, SarKar, I wuv you.
Take care, I love you all!
Sumisu Shimai

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