Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week 3 Report

Konnichiwa, mina san...

The MTC continues to get easier. Now that I'm getting used to the schedule and don't feel quite so rushed all the time, we've found that we sometimes have a little free time to goof off. Although I'll admit that most of the free time in the girls' dorms goes towards doing our nails, braiding hair, etc. I think the Elders have a lot more play time than we do. They always talk about a bowling set that somebody set up in their hallway, and all kinds of weird things like water guns and whoopie cushions left by past missionaries hidden in their AC vents. I haven't checked any air vents in our rooms, but I doubt that any of them contain nerf guns. The schedules here are definitely catered to men, though - I don't know who in their right mind thinks that 25 minutes after gym is enough time for a girl to shower, dry her hair, do makeup and get dressed. The leaders here always give us "gentle reminders" that wet hair, ponytails, and braids aren't "professional" looking, but also that it's important to adhere to the schedule and be on time to everything. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Wet hair it is.

Our first teacher, Brinley Sensei, left last Saturday to start a new job with an American/Japanese business. He was such an awesome, inspirational teacher. I'll miss him a lot. I'm attaching a picture of my district with him, since I forgot to send the one of my district last week. We got a new teacher yesterday, Hugo Sensei, and he seems cool. Everyone keeps saying he looks like Superman, and I guess it's kind of true. Oh, and I thought I said this in my first email, but you keep asking so I guess I forgot. Everyone in my district is going to Tokyo. It's fun to think we might see each other around.

It was so cool to be part of the broadcast on Sunday! We watched the tape afterwards and I saw a close-up of Tori (by the way, I run into Tori pretty frequently and I've seen Elyse a few times too). You could see me and my companion at one point, but pretty far away. We just looked for the yellow shirt I was wearing. Almost everybody in my district got a close-up shot though. It was so cool to get to listen to the apostles speak. Missionary work is constantly changing and improving. How cool that missionaries will now be stationed at church buildings, ready to give guided tours! And internet will be used more and more. We've been told that email is big in Japan, especially since it's considered a little weird to give your personal phone number to strangers. So we'll most likely be doing a lot of talking with investigators through email.

The more I learn the Japanese language, the more I grow to love its little quirks. There is so much importance put on politeness and humility. For example, if I was to ask someone if I could come inside their house, they wouldn't say "no." Instead, they'd say "it's okay if you don't." Basically, the less direct, the better. Also, all of our textbooks that we use have Japanese nicknames that come from Pokemon or other things like that. We have a Miyagi (old man from Karate Kid?), a Pikachu, a Bulbasoar, Charmander... I guess the Pokemon ones were chosen based off the covers' colors. For the first few times, me and Sister Dunne would be so confused every time someone said, "Oh it's on page 11 of the Charmander." We'd ask which one that was, and get this look like "Oh my gosh, obviously it's the orange one; how could you not be familiar with Pokemon, you ignorant fool?" I'm learning, I'm learning. Every now and then I'll run into someone here who's really into anime and very jealous that I'm going to Japan. I just kinda give them a shrug, like "ehh, sorry I took your dream mission. I'm sure there's a very good reason why I'm going there!" I actually met a (white) guy a few days ago who spoke FLUENT Japanese, and got called to Korea. So interesting.

I've gotten a chance to interact with quite a few French missionaries here. I met a Sister in line yesterday who's from Montreal and got to talk with here, and I've had short conversations with lots of Americans trying to learn French. I even talked to some Elders learning Creole a few days ago, and that was fun to listen to. I could understand almost everything, but wouldn't be able to speak it. They use the same words as French, but differently. I don't know how to explain it, it's weird.

Earlier this week, we went to a meeting for all the girls going to Japan. I think they were talking about toiletries, what was different in Japan, how to make sure your underwear was covered while on a bike, stuff like that. I couldn't understand much because it was ALL in Japanese. Every now and then I'd hear words I recognized, like "taisetsu! Taisetsu, des ne?" (important). Like okay, glad to know that what you're saying is really important. I still can't understand it. The worst was when they'd tell a joke and all the Nihonjin would laugh hysterically and I'd just stand there with a blank face. What I could gather from all that was, like we'd heard before, toothpaste and deodorant is different in Japan and you might want to bring your own. Also I've heard that their makeup usually has skin whitening stuff in it? Yikes. I'm going to come back paler than I've ever been in my life. It was funny watching the Nihohjin walk outside to the temple last week. It's maybe a five minute walk, but the girls were all holding scarves over their heads to block the sun. I guess it's a good think I'm losing my tan - don't want to look like a a peasant.

One experience this week that warmed my heart: we've been eating meals in the gym instead of the cafeteria this week because the main building was being used for all the new Mission Presidents here, and the amount of waste that came from disposable utensils was disgusting. Styrofoam trays for every meal, water bottles, paper and plastic everything - all straight into the trash. Being from Eugene, it is very hard to realize that there are places in the US where recycling isn't considered important. So I usually gather up the bottles and cans from my district and walk around to the back of the building to sort them into recycling bins, and last time I was there I saw all the Nihonjin sorting their cans and bottles too. So the Japanese people recycle! I'm going to my people.

Well, time's up. Love and miss you all!

Goodbye to Brinley Sensei

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