Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Week 4 Report

Hello all!

It's been another good week here at the MTC, although I will admit that the days are starting to seem a little longer. We graduated from Cohai (0-3 weeks) to Sempai (3-6 weeks). All of the Daisempai (6-9 weeks) have major cabin fever, and I know that'll be me soon. Also, I'm not sure if Cohai, Sempai and Daisempai are actual Japanese terms or if they were just made up here.

I'm trying really hard to remember all your questions. Dad asked about what we do in class, I think. I have six hours of structured classroom time each day, 3 hours each with a different teacher. The 3-hour block is usually broken up into 3 1-hour parts, one for language instruction, one for practicing teaching the "investigator" played by our teacher, and one for learning different teaching methods or gospel topics. It varies though, and sometimes we'll have discussions or watch videos or something else. Besides structured class time, we also have about an hour each every day for personal study, language study, and TALL (technology-assisted language learning) on the computer.

My favorite parts of the day are definitely mealtimes and gym time, because it's time when we can just have fun as a district and take a break from Japanese. We also have an hour every night after classes are done for "additional study and planning," during which we sometimes go out and do something fun. At one point, when we were all in choir, we went and found a piano to practice our songs. Now that we mostly all dropped out of choir, we just sing for fun. We also had two parties this week, one for Sister Willden's birthday and one for Canada Day yesterday. We found some picnic tables on the edge of campus and the Elders brought tons of food. Apparently they all get care packages full of junk food like every day and their rooms are overflowing with it.

For the Birthday party, we learned how to sing Happy Birthday in Japanese and there was even a cake! I guess Sister Willden had a relative in the area who knew someone who worked here, and they delivered it to her room! It was really fun. She turned 21. Sister Dunn is turning 21 in about a month too - most of the girls in my district are around 20 it seems. I'm the youngest, but I'm older than all of the boys by a few months. On Canada Day, we tried all kinds of Canadian packaged foods (ketchup-flavored Lays, maple cookies, candy bars that aren't in the states, and other things) that Elder Keith's family sent him from home in Ottawa. He loves his Canadian heritage, and encouraged us all to wear red that day. We ate on Canadian flag plates and napkins, and tried to follow along as he belted out Canada's national anthem. Funny kid. I'll try to attach a picture. It made me really excited for the 4th (I've heard we get to watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks!), and we've decided as a district to try to throw as many themed parties as possible. If anyone wants to send me a French-themed package for Bastille Day (isn't it the 14th?), I wouldn't object.

Besides our picnics, gym time is definitely the most fun part of the day. The Shimaitachi have continued to play soccer pretty regularly, which always leaves me winded and dripping with sweat. It is soooo hot here. And since we usually only play 4 on 4, a lot of running is required. It's always nice when other girls join in. We played basketball yesterday too, which was way fun even though it involves lots of getting hit in the face. We can only play half-court, so it feels like you're constantly switching directions and running around in circles. Oh yeah, plus I'm really bad at basketball and have no idea what I'm doing. I almost won a game of Bump yesterday though! If I'm not one of the first three out, it's a good game for me. So getting second felt like winning an Olympic medal. Foursquare is also a really good time. It reminds me of fifth grade.

Sundays are definitely the best days of the week. No class! And because Relief Society is combined with all of the girls in the MTC, we always get really cool speakers. I'm usually not a fan of female speakers in general conference and the overly sweet tones of voice they all seem to have, but we've gotten to hear from such pretty amazing women. Last Sunday we heard from Sheri Dew! For those of you who don't know, she's a big deal to Mormon women. What an incredible lady. And our devotional speaker last week was Janice Kapp Perry, who writes a lot of music for the church. Her talk involved lots of singing and funny stories. Her husband was there with her, and she talked about how they first met. They were in the same music class a long time ago in college, and right before she was about to give her final performance on the clarinet, he leaned over and spoke the very first words he ever said to her: "those lips look like they were meant for better things than clarinet." Obviously, his line worked. When she told the story, her husband walked over and gave her a huge, loud kiss that got a standing ovation and lots of whooping. It was great. She also played a really funny song that she'd written for her whole extended family. It sounds like there's a lot of talent in that bloodline.

Another fun thing about Sundays is that you don't know who's speaking until our Branch President announces it 2 minutes beforehand. There are about 80-ish missionaries in our branch, I think. So, we all have to prepare short talks on an assigned subject beforehand. It's always fun watching people's reactions, except of course when that person is you. When I heard him say my name I'm pretty sure my eyes grew 10x bigger. Usually though, giving a talk really isn't a big deal at all. All of the speakers in the past have used lots of English, made tons of mistakes and laughed it off, and only went for like 2 or 3 minutes. But the dude who went before me is one of the ones who actually studied Japanese in high school and takes it very seriously. His talk was honestly like 10 minutes long, much of it unscripted, and flawless. Not a single English word. So I made sure to compensate for all of his perfection by messing up my conjugation and only speaking for about 90 seconds. Silver lining: I know I won't get called on twice so now I don't have to write any more talks.

Speaking of music, I miss it so much. Leaving behind Facebook and TV and all that was pretty easy, but not having my ipod is really hard sometimes. We get to sing here a lot, but Japanese hymns that I barely understand just aren't the same. Like, someone is currently playing Yankee Doodle on the piano in the room next door to me and I'm enjoying it so much because it's something different. I have to refrain from dancing. I've started to compensate for my lack of music by writing stupid songs about our district to the tunes of Disney songs or Christmas carols or whatever I can think of. A few days ago, I wrote a 12 Days of Christmas- inspired song about our district because there's 12 of us, and each day was something unique about one of us. For example, it started off with 12 pairs of shoes, which is how many Sister Dunn currently has. 12! And Dad thought I was being frivolous with 5 or 6. I wish I could shop here. Actually, there's a small store above the bookstore from which I bought a skirt. But that's all, no more clothes. Even though I might need some new underwear because I accidentally dyed some of mine pink in the laundry today. I thought that only happened in sitcoms! Anyways, my songs are totally dumb and silly but people seem to enjoy them. I think some performances have actually been recorded and hopefully never resurface.

We went to the TRC for the first time this week, and I'm not actually sure what that stands for. Training... something... center? Anyways, it's where volunteers come and let us teach them short lessons to practice. It's mostly returned missionaries from Japan who live in Provo or go to BYU, but there was this one really old Japanese couple who I guess were really funny and a little confused about the fact that we are supposed to be teaching them, and not the other way around. I was a little nervous beforehand, but everyone was really nice. Although sometimes they speak a little fast and I just sit there, smiling and nodding, hoping that whatever they just said wasn't a question.

We're getting two more districts of Nihonjin next week! I'm so excited. There are 20 of them, about half-girls, half-boys.

Overheard at the MTC this week:
"Recycling is actually really bad for the environment"
"Having a catheter would be so fun!"

Love, Anna

Anna's MTC district celebrates Canada Day

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