Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Last p-day!

Mina san, it's my last P-day! So crazy to think that this time next week I'll be on a plane to Japan! Crazy.

This week has been full of awesome experiences. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Nihonjin missionaries arrived. This time there were only five of them - four Elders, one Sister - instead of the usual 20 or so. At first I was a little disappointed but it's been great because we really get to know them all individually and remember their names. As STLs we were co-in charge of giving them the MTC orientation and I think it would have been really overwhelming if there had been any more. Anyways, they're all so great. The one girl, Sister Nagamine, is the cutest, sweetest girl I've ever met. Her first name is Ai - the Japanese word for love. It's perfect. She is so sweet and so forgiving of our horrible Japanese. I'm sending a picture of me and her and Sister Dunn on the night she arrived. On the other hand, the four Elders are such little rascals - always joking around and playing pranks on each other. It's hilarious. They love to dump salt and pepper on each others' food when one person isn't looking, and when they joke around they gesticulate and dance around a lot. It's very entertaining to watch. One of the Elders is originally from Brazil but moved to Japan, so he speaks fluent Portugese and Japanese and has excellent English as well. He says he only ever studied it on his own, and only started about 8 months ago! It's incredible how fast he learned, especially considering he was doing it by himself, in a country where English isn't the first language. He says "I just learned it from watching Doctor House" (all the foreigners I've ever met who watch House call it that).

On Wednesday we gave all the Nihonjin a tour of the MTC, with the longest stop being at a bunch of vending machines in the laundry room. They each got a different kind of treat, sharing with each other and saying "ahh.... oishii!" (delicious) after each bite. Sometimes they decided a few minutes later that they didn't like it after all, but the first try always seemed good. The Elders are loving the food here - they eat tons of donuts every breakfast and try everything they can. Not to mention they drink Coke or root beer with every single meal, including breakfast. Yikes. I hope that isn't their greatest memory of the USA. The only thing they really haven't liked so far was some V8 that they tried yesterday morning. It was hilarious to watch their reactions to it. No argument here - V8 is probably one of the grossest drinks ever invented. It was the kind that comes out of those little cans and tastes like the metal lining of the can somehow seeped into the juice. Nagamine Shimai has found a few foods that she likes, but for the most part she doesn't really like it. We keep apologizing for the cafeteria and promising that most American food isn't like this. (Fun fact - they DO have peanut butter in Japan! Most of the Nihonjin don't really like it but Elder Sato does, and says he eats it all the time. It's probably really expensive in the grocery stores but I don't care. IT EXISTS!!!)

Unfortunately, we didn't get to do anything fun for Pioneer Day. They had been leading up to it all week, with all of our speakers talking about them, but then nothing. Oh well. We did have a special speaker for all Japanese missionaries on that day though - his name was brother Mills, and I think he was a director of some international MTC program? He used to be a mission president in Fukuoka also. Anyway, he was way inspiring. He talked a lot about the power of expectations and what we can do to set ourselves up for success. We hear a lot of "Oh, no one in Japan is going to want to talk to you" and "you'll probably never baptize anyone" but he told us to disregard all of that. If you think you won't be successful, you won't work hard or try to be successful. But if you believe anything is possible, miracles can happen. Missionary work in Japan has grown so rapidly in the last few years, everything constantly changing, and it really is the dawn of a new era. I know that sounds cheesy, but I'm so excited to be a part of all these changes. There are people out there ready to change their lives, and it's my job to find them. It reminded me of a quote I heard this week that I really loved: "What wouldst thou have from life? Pay the price, and take it" - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Isn't that sweet? I think I'll have that painted on a plaque in my first home.

Speaking of inspiring speakers, Aunt Jane asked if we'd heard from brother Carmack last week. We did! And he even invited his son (grandson? I forget) to say a few words about what he learned on his mission - I thought it was an awesome coincidence that he'd just happened to have returned from Tokyo! He gave some good advice.

I don't know if I've ever said anything about our branch presidency members, but they're awesome. President Mack is so nice, and he happens to be Spencer W. Kimball's grandson. Kinda cool. I guess that means we're distantly related somehow, through the Heber C. Kimball side. And his first counselor, brother Bradford, speaks fluent Arabic. Isn't that crazy? He teaches it at BYU. I know he also speaks German (he served his mission in Germany, and that's where his wife is from) but I don't know how many other languages. He used to work for the government, so his family has lived all over the world. All of the counselors have traveled around the world and had all these cool experiences, and they all have like 50 million grandchildren too. I love seeing baby pictures. I miss babies here!

We've had a lot of fun showing the Nihonjin our family pictures this week, as well. They love to see them and ask who everyone is. We've also played basketball with two of the Elders a few times, and they're surprisingly really good! One of them especially looks like he might have played in high school or something. I wonder if they have any kind of basketball league in Japan? I'll have to ask.

One not so fun thing that happened this week was getting sick. It was short-lived, but painful. Just after lunch I was on my way back to my room to change for gym when I got these really bad abdominal cramps that didn't go away for a few hours. I'm not sure what caused them, but I have a suspicion it might have been the sketchy chicken that was dumped onto my salad with an ice-cream scoop. Anyways, I only had to miss a few hours of class and felt a lot better afterwards. But even that wasn't the low point of the week - the low point of the week was on Sunday night when I crumbled cookie pieces into my cereal, which I ate with chocolate milk, in the same bowl that had held the ice cream I'd finished minutes earlier. I need help.

Overheard at the MTC this week:
"...yeah, that was the only time I ever shot a cah-yote"
"Ah sweet, what kinda gun'd you use?"
Reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite. I thought Dad would like that.

Well, this is it! I'm not sure when I'll get to email next. The MTC's been fun, but it's time to move the party to Tokyo!!

Ai shite imasu, mina san.

- Anna

Anna and Sister Dunn with new Sister Nagamine

Anna's description:  Some of my district when we decided to wear our rain coats for no reason. After 8 weeks here, you find weird ways to entertain yourself.

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