Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week.... I don't even know anymore

Hello everybody!

Thank you for all your letters! It was great to hear from so many people. I've run into Ali Bradford a few times, I can't remember if I said that already, and Katherine Weigl. It's so funny that she's in the other MacArthur's ward and that I met her when I was little! She was actually in my BYU ward, and I knew she was going to Kobe. She just got here a week or so ago; she's in my zone. Small world.

This week was pretty exciting. July 4th was a lot of fun! We got out of evening classes early for a special devotional with a short speaker, music, and singing patriotic songs. Then we watched 17 Miracles, the pioneer movie. Wow. Talk about a tearjerker. We left the gym in kind of a somber mood afterwards, which was quickly taken away when we were given ice cream bars and told we could stay outside past our bedtime (woo hoo!! I felt like a giddy 5-year-old) to watch the fireworks. The MTC is surrounded by trees so we didn't have the best view, but it was still pretty spectacular. I dressed pretty patriotically that day, and Sister Dunn and I took some pictures next to all the world flags. I thiiiink you can see both American and Japan in this one. Also, a lot of people in our district got 4th of July care packages so they all brought those to share and I think I ate 40 cookies that day. Good thing I made up a new rule: calories don't count on holidays.

We've gone from teaching one or two lessons a week to 5 or 6. Both of our Senseis take turns being "investigators" for us to practice with, plus an extra helper teacher who we've been teaching as well. They all assume the identities of real people that they taught in Japan while on their missions, so that's cool. Plus now we take turns teaching each other 4 nights a week (which is much less stressful because we're allowed to use some English). We also went back to the TRC this week. Many of the same people were there, but also some new ones. We see TONS of couples where the guy went on a mission in Japan and came back and started dating a Japanese girl. It's funny to hear them talk and joke and argue in Japanese. Japanese fail of the week: During one of my lessons, my Sensei asked me what baptism was and I said "a silver thread."

I'm not sure if I really want to leave yet or not. The days definitely seem longer, and I'm so excited to finally get to Japan, but I don't quite feel ready yet. Much of that has to do with the fact that whenever I try to have a conversation with the Nihonjin there are serious communication problems. They are all so sweet though. If everyone is like that in Japan, I'll never want to leave! Although I'll be a lot busier from now on than I used to be because Sister Dunn and I got called as Sister Training Leaders on Sunday. STLs are pretty much the female equivalent of Zone Leaders, so we'll be responsible for the 50ish girls in our zone. It's a big responsibility - we have to interview all of the girls on a weekly basis, and counsel them if there are any problems between companionships. The interviews are mostly short and easy but there are some girls who I've been told will need to be talked with for at least half an hour per interview because they've been having a hard time. I don't really have any idea what I'm doing, and I hope I'll be able to help the other sisters. We'll also give MTC tours and teach Residence Hall rules to the new Kohai who will arrive in about a week, plus act as guides for the next batch of Nihonjin. Each Nihonjin district comes for about two weeks, and they all fly back out to Japan with the current Daisempai (weeks 6-9). So, the next Nihonjin districts will be "our" Nihonjin, going to Tokyo with us on the plane. I really, really, reallllly hope I'll be able to communicate with them and help them understand what to do. The MTC schedule is confusing at first, and I can't imagine trying to figure it out in another language. Some of the Nihonjin speak pretty good English but others are very limited.

Hmm... for some reason I'm struggling to think of things to say. I think the days are starting to all blur together in my mind. I've played 3 on 3 basketball a few times at gym, and I've actually been dominating the court. Just kidding! I'm about as talented as I was when I quit the YMCA league in 4th grade. It's fun though. I actually tweaked my ankle a little last time we played and it got really fat afterwards, but it's fine now. They have so many rules to keep it noncompetitive - no more than 3 on 3, you can only keep score up to like 15 or something, you can only play half-court, etc. But we find ways to still get into it. Let's be honest, the only reason sports are fun is because of the competition. The MTC has a bunch of records posted in the gym, like highest vertical jump and fastest mile time, for both guys and girls. I think it'd be awesome to beat one of those records, but I don't see how any of them would be physically possible for me. The longest wall sit is 41 minutes. 41 minutes!!!! Are you kidding me? I can barely stand 41 seconds. I want to meet that girl. Her thighs are probably made of iron.

A bunch of girls who lived next door to me left this morning, all Russian speaking. They've been here the whole time I was here and it's weird to have them gone. We would always bond by complaining about how hard our languages are. Although, they left some awesome stuff in the free bin. Have I mentioned the free bin before? It's easily the best thing about the residence halls. There are 3 giant bins - one for clothes, one for books, and one for miscellaneous things and hair/body care. A lot of the Russian sisters were beauty queens with tons of really nice hair supplies and things that are now mine. I also scored some silly string and two squirt guns. Not really sure what I'm going to do with those, but our district's having a picnic later today and we might surprise the chorotachi.

Another funny example of how polite Japanese is as indirect as possible: to tell someone they "must" do something, you have to tell them "if you don't do this, this won't happen." Therefore, you must. It doesn't really make any sense, just makes everything harder to say. But giving a direct command is much too bold. There are so, so many little etiquette rules, plus whole other sets of honorific and humble language to be used at different times. I sincerely hope I don't offend anybody when I get to Japan by accidentally mixing some of these up. It's too much for my little American brain to remember.

Ai shite imasu, mina san! (I love you all)

Makasa Shimai (that's what my name will probably be changed to)

Anna & Dunn Shimai on Independence Day

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