Friday, December 20, 2013

E-mail 12/15/2013

My wonderful, wonderful family,

Hello from JAPAN!!! I'm really here! It's wonderful! It is cold and there is snow. I'm in Kamisugi--a big city with teeny tiny roads that are terrifying to bike on and with a big ward with dendo [proselyting] fire!
It's amazing here! It's so beautiful and the culture is incredible and the language rapid fire. I understand...... pretty much nothing. But that's okay! I love it. :)

My last couple of days in the MTC [Missionary Training Center] were crazy, rapid fire, busy busy days if you know what I mean. But I accomplished my goal of finishing the Book of Mormon in the MTC! I learned so much. I love Enos and Alma the Younger and the 3 Nephites. I want to have their faith and emulate their discipleship.

Monday December 9th/Tuesday December 10th we traveled to Japan!!!

We got up at 2am December 9th and got to Sendai at 9pm December 10th. What a trip! It was so wonderful to talk to you at the Salt Lake Airport. I got to dendo a little bit with some people I was sitting next to in the LAX [Los Angeles] airport. (I completely knocked out on that flight; sat down and was head in lap asleep the entire time, haha.) From LAX we got on our flight to Tokyo! I napped for about the first 8 hours in and out due to rubulance [turbulence] and a delicous lunch/dinner/we-had-no-idea-what-time-it-was-meal being served. I did a couple tinkerbell crosswords and entirely enjoyed finding "sugarplums" and "gumdrops" thank you very much. Sudoku also keep me entertained. We crossed the international date line. That was pretty cool. Now we know what it's like to lose a day of our lives and travel into the future. And we're going to undo it when we come back. I did have a moment when I woke up and [thought] that we have only 30 minutes left when we really had 4 hours... but ohter than that the flight really wasn't bad at all. I was comfortable. I even put my fuzzy blue slippers on. It was great. :) The crazy part was getting OFF the airplane. Oh boy. No one told us the Tokyo airport is like a small city. But we made it! Everything went just fine, they even gave me these brown slippers to wear through security when they asked me to take off my boots. I felt very important. (And slightly awk[w]ard because my heels were hanging off the back of them but that's beside the point.) But when we finally found our gate, Smith shimai [Sister Smith], Stice shimai and I went to the posh bathroom and Smithers set her wallet down on the sink and turned her back for like 30 seconds... and 10 seconds later we hear her name being paged over the speakers to come pick up her wallet because someone turned it in. So funny! We got on our flight there to Sendai and all basically knocked out and when we landed President and Sister Rasumussen and the Assistants were waiting for us and they drove us over to teh [the] mission home and served us bread and soup and rolls and we all introduced ourselves and then got our rooms, showered, and collapsed.

Wednesday was crazy! Training, getting our trainers, traveling to Kamisugi, and our apartment, and starting real dendo!

Our apartment has 4 rooms and a bathroom. It's decent sized. We have these hilarious tiny bunk beds all in this one room pushed together and the mattresses are futons. They're great. My head hits the pillow and I'm OUT every time. :) I also got the packages Friday I think... They are wonderful!!!! I love them!! No, I haven't opened them aside from stealing the oatmeal and toothpaste out. I eat it (The oatmeal, not the toothpaste) every day for breakfast and love it! (Except for the one time I put salt on instead of sugar because I couldn't read the package label. That was gross. No, I didn't eat anything after the first bite.) I also got the most lovely heartfelt letter from Brother Peter Lindsay about some of his mission memories and en[c]ouragement. I completely identified 100% with everything.

Each week we have a group of ward members to visit and this week we have a lot of the Grandmothery type. They are so sweet and funny and give us so much strange food to eat (it's rude not to eat all the food they give you so we eat it all even if it's not attractive to the American taste buds).

Kamisugi is beautiful! Our area is a big city--it even has some American stores. It is the "fattest" area for missionaries (aside from teh [the] hombu [mission home] area) because it's a big city with lots of members who LOVE to feed us. It is also the area that was hardest hit by the 2011 tsunami--but you can't even tell. There's no sign of it. (Orgill shimai [Sister Orgill] said "That's Japan for you.") Also, a lot of people are hanti (means opposite, but is used for people who are against religion) in Japan because one time a cult attacked Japan and killed a lot of people and from that everyone here thoguth [thought] that all religion was like that and so religion has an extremely negative view to most Japanese. It makes it difficult at times to find people, especially for sisters; since we mostly only teach women, if they have family that's hanti they usually end up not being able to met with us because they're not the dominate force in their lives. The people are lonely because there're just so busy and don't have time to spend with their families. We have FHE and Eikaiwa (English conversation class) during the week. Lots of people come to Eikaiwa. It's so fun! The people are so wonde[r]ful and kind... and really love to feed you. I'm eating a lot.

Orgill shimai [presumably Katie’s companion—she doesn’t actually say!] is on her 4th transfer. Her Japanese is REALLY good. She's from California. She's stoked because she said she prayed really hard for a companion that was good at singing. I guess she thinks I qualify...

Okay, so, hilarious story. Saturday we took the LONGEST bike ride up the LONGEST hill (part of it was stairs with bike ramps) (and it started snowing like crazy) to visit the Seiza family... but they weren't there. So we went next door (about) to visit Furuuchi shimai [Sister Furuuchi] (grandma with a HUGE house). FUNNIEST. VISIT. EVER. First of all, she said her son was coming to town so she only had 30 minutes to meet with us. So she sat us down at the kitchen table and we tried singing Christmas Carols with her... we couldn't. We died. She loves to sing. Like an opera singer... getting exorcized. And she knows it. And loves it. So we chat for 40-ish minutes and then she goes into the kitchen to make a vinegar plum fermented tea for us... still singing. And then we drink the prune juice (I actually liked it. But I thought Orgill shimai was going to vomit. It's better than mugicha [a caffeine-free, roasted-grain-based tea made from barley that's popular in Japan].) and ask her if we can do any service for her. And she says yes (awesome! Most Nihongin [Japanese people] never let you help) and she gives me the vacuum head and gives Orgill shimai the vacuum base and we walk around her 3 story house vacuuming with her making sure we don't miss any spots. 3 person vacuum job. Aced it! Love it. She's so cute and funny.

We got back from that and did some more dendo and by then we're just soaked through and shivvering, but we still have about 3 more hours before going back. So we knock an apartment of a ward member to drop something off and he was just so nice. (He's in his 20's and here teaching English for a year before going back to the states.) We couldn't go in since he was a kyodai [brother—missionary rules say they would need another woman with them to go inside], but he was so kind and offered to make us hot chocolate and have us come back in 30 minutes for it. Then he asked if he could pray for us and then he said the kindest, most genuine prayer and prayed for our success both so that we could teach adn so that we wouldn't freeze. It was the kind of prayer that warms you down right down to your toes even though you're soaking through with freezing rain and snow and makes everything better. Kindness does that. And although, I hadn't been feeling discouraged, I felt so ready and so enthused afterwards and we were able to have success.

I really understand very little. But I love it here. The Lord truly is mindful of us and his tender mercies are all around us if we only take the time to notice them!

Way to follow the Spirit Candice. Orgill shimai says missionary work feels all sorts of awkward sometimes but it's only because we're all just little kids at it, learning how to walk, so it will be awkward for a little until it becomes easy and natural (although she says the awkward never goes away I feel otherwise :).) I bet the elders will love their basketball hoops. Way to go on the PSAT Zach! Of course you nailed that International Relations final Candice! Beast! And Lauren, I'm so proud of your scientific mind! I'm so proud of you guys!

We probably will get to skype you on your Christmas! (Our 26th--our 25th is going to be crazy busy with dendo!) So excited!

I love you all!!!! Thank you so much for the beautiful letters and emails and uplift and en[c]ourage me! I'm so happy to be here in Japan!

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. Did I tell you I met a friend of Tyler's named Elder Nickols at the MTC who said he was in Tyler's ward at Heritage and in his doki at the MTC?

P.P.S. The keyboards are very strange here so please excuse the errors you find. I'm not quite used to it yet. :)
P.P.P.P.S. 1 Nephi 17:11 A bellows blows the fire with air. I'm totes [totally] an airbender!

More P.S. Pres. Rasmussen is great! My boots and coat are great. We are in a ward. Snail-mail is really fast in Japan. Once it gets here from the US it only takes a couple days to get it to us.

[She didn't send any pictures this week. Sorry!]

E-mail 12/7/2013

Hey family!

We get a mini p-day [preparation day] today to do laundry and pack and such before we head out. Exciting and crazy to think we'll be leaving in a few short days! Just wanted to let you know I got the boots Tanya sent me and they're awesome! I'm wearing them today as the weather has decided to blizzard again and they're way comfy and warm and they have great treads for keeping on my feet. Dai ski [I love]!

I love you all! I hope I get to call you Monday and that all our flights go well!

Love you!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Week 8 Pictures

E-mail 12/3/2013

Hello my Wonderful Family!

This is it! My last week in the MTC [Missionary Training Center]! Can you believe it? Time has flown by. In 5 days I will be boarding a plane to Japan! I can't wait!

This week was wonderful! Last P-day [preparation day], after I wrote you we had a zone game of Thieves on campus (like capture the flag but with 3 flags, a time limit, and 1 team guards while the other team tries to thieve and you can only chase people within a certain distance of the flag). It was so fun! The weather was beautiful and a lot of people came out to play. The 4 of us were Thieves and our team lost but it was a blast. Devotional was by Elder Teh of the Seventy. He talked about how when the age-change was made he spent lots of time trying to figure out what [why] and he came to his personal conclusion that it was because of the youth of the church. Then the Seventy had a meeting with President [Elder] Holland. He said, "Many of you may be wondering what brought about this age change and may have come to the conclusion that it's because of the youth of the church." (At this point, Elder Teh said he was patting himself on the back.) Then Elder Holland said, "If so, you're wrong." (Elder Teh: "Whoops.") Elder Holland: "The change happened because the Lord is hastening his work in these last days." Chills! Elder Teh then talked about Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah and liken us to them; we probably weren't seeking to destroy the church but maybe we weren't really doing much to build it. Then we had something that shook us and softened our hearts. And then we were no longer content to serve only in our wards and stakes and we recieved desires to serve missions. Favorite quotes: We are training as hard as Olympians to be the very best. We want everyone we come in contact with to be astonished and to feel "surely this is more than just a young man or woman. Surely this is a just disciple of the Lord." We are the weak things of the world that the Lord will make strong.

I love those last two things he said. I know when I get to Japan that there is no way my Japanese is going to be good enough to do this work--I am one of the weak things of the world. But somehow the work will be done. And then will have to know that it's because this is the Lord's work and our message is from God.

Wednesday... We got our travel plans!!!!!!!!!!!! Me? Excited? Really? You think so? 

We're going to Japan!!!!!!!!!!!

We originally weren't supposed to get our plans until Friday, so you can imagine our excitement when we come into the cafeteria and see Patterson chorro [Elder Patterson] holding a big stack of them in his hands. We definitely about had a party right there. Or we did. Might bit of excitement in there. Heehee.

We fly from SLC [Salt Lake City] to LA, LA to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Sendai. We have to be at the travel office at 3:30 am. Glup. No sleep! We'll get to Sendai around 8:00 pm Japan time. We have a 2 hour layover in LA so hopefully I'll get to call then! Not a guarantee, but we'll see. I've also been assigned as travel leader--making sure we all stay together and get to Sendai safely. Thankfully our group only has 10 people in it so it looks like things will go pretty smoothly.

We also got to do Skype TRC Wednesday with real Nihongin [Japanese people] in Nihon [Japan] in Nihongo [Japanese]! It was so fun! I was afraid it was going to be really difficult, demo [but] I understood about the same amount I understand normally so it was no bigger deal than it normally is. It was really fun! Definately a highlight of the MTC.

I don't know if y'all heard, but Thursday was Thanksgiving! It was fantastic! Elder Nelson was our morning devotional speaker and he gave us wonderful counsel about how to be good missionaries. After devotional, we all ate a yummy traditional Thanksgiving lunch with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Yum! Then we did a service project--making lentil casserole mixes for Feed the Children. It was so fun! And actually we're in the front page picture of the article Desert News wrote about the service project! I can't access the website here because of the computer filters but I've seen the picture of us all wearing our red hairnets and it's awesome! I'm on the left in my gold sweater. Check it out! :D It was such a cool project--we even had representatives from Church Humanitarian Services come and talk to us about all the service the Church does. It was amazing! I want to go see Welfare Square when I get back. 

After the service project, we took our sack sandwich dinners back to our residence hall and had a feast! It was so funny, we put a blanket on the floor and gathered around the cutest package Stice shimai's [Sister Stice’s] mom send her of salmon and treats and ginger ale and had a proper Thanksgiving feat [feast] of sandwiches and dorritos. We had a grand time--loved it.

Then there was a Thanksgiving Talen[t] show sort-of-a-thing and then we watched Ephraim[’]s Rescue. So good! And the jokes in there--too funny! Ellis shimai and I were dying!

Cool moment from Elder Nelson's devotional: We were singing prelude hymns and we were in the middle of singing "Because I Have Been Given Much" when Elder Nelson walked in. And you know, of course, everyone stood up and we finished the rest of the song standing on our feet. And I was just completely overwhelmed to tears with gratitude for the enormity of the blessings God has given me--filled completely, toe to head with light and happiness that completely bubbled over. It was amazing.

Other cool thing: When we left the movie the Christmas lights on campus were turned on!!!

Friday I got a super cute package of chapstick and candy from Sister Miles! It was so sweet! (haha, punny) Loved it!

That day we also had a really good lesson in Horne-sensai's [Teacher Horne’s] class about setting goals (one of Horne-sensai's talents). We talked about how setting goals is all about taking the hopes and desires God has given us and turning them in to something we can accomplish. 

Saturday was our Sister Training Leader's last day before they got released so they 'tucked us in' to bed as their last act as STLs. It was so funny and cute!

Sunday was Fast Sunday and Mission Conference! Sister Nally talked about Christmas gifts and how this year we have the opportunity to "be as wisemen of old--bearing gifts and traveling from afar" and that we're so lucky [t]o get to have a "missionary Christmas" was [as] we share Jesus' light--a Christmas light (like the one's turned on on campus!)--a Christmas gift.

During our Zone sisters' meeting that day President Mack talked about how it is a positive thing that we recognize our need for divine help; as caregivers we are taught from Heaven things we would not otherwise learn ourselves. 

Then in our pre-departure lesson President Mack said "you should--because of your mission--FOREVER daily have meaningful prayer, read your scriptures, strive to be obedient, serve, and repent so that you can always have the Holy Ghost."

Devotional was about Hastening the Work of Salvation. After we went and watched Elder Bednar's "Becoming a Missionary." He said "Your decision to serve a mission was made in the pre-existence." And, "Become a missionary who is good for the mission." And, "You cannot serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength without being forever changed because of it."

Okay. Most amazing thing yesterday: We were teaching Mai-san and answering her questions and then asking her questions and then we were reading in Alma 7:9-13 and then verses 14-16. And then we opened our mouths to start talking when she turned to us and asked "When can I get baptized?" WHAT???? We even had a sentence written down and translated into Nihongo [Japanese] "you don't have to say yes to being baptized now" because she's rejected the baptism invitation 3 times before. But I realized that when we share all the blessings we recieve through living the commandments (like baptism) the investigators will ask US when they can start living them.

So, after our lesson we came into the classroom all excited and Villalobos-sensai [Teacher Villalobos] (our Zone resource sensai) was there and got all interested and so we talked to him and he told us how a lot of our district has really struggled with teaching Mai-san and he wanted to know everything about how we plan and teach and what we thought allowed us to be able to get through to Mai-san. It was really interesting to really reflect on what worked for us; connecting with the kyudoshas [investigators?], applying the gospel to their lives, ka do ka [mobilization?] and "want you to" bunpos [questions? challenges?], planning lessons in Eigo [English] first and then translating them and sharing meaningful scriptures and experiences. Our chronological scripture study and card-box study.

Yesterday we also wrote our least weekly letter to Mack kaicho [President Mack]. It was so sad! I so glad I got to have him as my Branch President. 

Mom, your Dear Elder--I don't know if you know but I've always loved to liken that scripture to myself! It was so meaningful. Thank you. It definitely inspired me.

In our TRC lesson we were teaching about revelation through scripture and so we were all sharing our favorite scriptures (Ellis shimai [Sister Ellis], me, and our member we were teaching) and I shared mine (currently Enos 1:3-4) and then Ellis shimai shared hers' (currently Alma 32:41-42) and I had a flash of inspiration; Ellis shimai is always talking about how she's a tree (sun, water, nature--her loves). And in that scripture it talks about what a tree needs; to be nourished, diligence, faith, and patience. And it dawned on me that that's what Ellis shimai--and maybe every--companion needs. And when they have those things they will take root and become a tree springing up unto everlasting life. Love, faith, diligence, patience, long-suffering.

This week has been amazing. I've felt as I've tried to be more obedient I've felt my study be more effective and my rate of learning has increased. It's truly been a blessing. I can't wait to get to Japan and to continue learning and growing and improving there. But I will miss the MTC. I have learned so much here.

I think the number one thing I have learned is to rely on the Lord. He is perfect. He knows everything. He has a plan. He can see how to turn my life into a tapestry--but I'm on the other side of his weaving so I can't see the beauty of the design. I just have to trust him. Like the stone cutter who thought he knew how to make his work a thing of beauty, my knowledge is nothing compared to the Lord's. The Master Architect is the true Stone Cutter and He will shape my life and my efforts into something more amazing than I can ever imagine. I am so grateful for Him and for His marvelous design.

I'm sure you can imagine how excited I am. I am certain my mistakes will be many and my understanding will be small, but I want to be an open-the-mouth missionary. And if God can but carry the message to their hearts it will be enough.

It's snowing today--and actually sticking! You'll have to send me pictures of the Christmas tree! If Lauren continues to grow she will be quite the baller on the basketball team! Where are you having the piano recital? The temple trip sounds like it was a great success! Good on Natalie and Chris! Even if it doesn't snow in North Carolina on Christmas, you will still have a perfect white Christmas in the House of the Lord. :)

I love you! Thank you for all the letters and emails and encouragement! They make me smile and celebrate every time! I'm so glad you all had a happy Thanksgiving! Best of luck with all the rest!

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Sister Bellows :)

P.S. Before we leave on Monday, all of us departing are singing in Sacrament Meeting the EFY Medley but with different lyrics. Here they are!

We go forth enlisted with Helaman's army
In numbers much greater than ever before
With power and spirit we faithfully witness
The Heavens have spoken and truth is restored.

We set forth to serve our Heavenly Father
Who loves us and we love Him
Yes, we love Him

Sopranos and Altos:
We go forth enlisted as daughters of God

We have been born, as Nephi of old,
To goodly parents who love the Lord.
We have been taught, and we understand,
That we must do as the Lord commands.

We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we are now the Lord's missionaries
To bring the world His truth.

(Women and Men parts together and then...)

Heraman no yushi no yoni
Kodomo no toki ka--ra
Oshie u kemi koto ba--no
Betsu ta--eru

We go forth enlisted...

A marked generation...

As servants of God.

*Nihongo Army of Helaman

We're excited!!

Week 7 Pictures

E-mail 11/26/2013

Hello my amazing family!

Only 2 weeks till Japan! I can't wait! Thank you for all the wonderful uplifting letters this week! Aunt Rebecca sent me supes cutie [super cute] package! Loved it! Made my day! And I got a letter from Jessa! So fun! Thanks for the cookies Mom! Our district--and our teachers!--loved them!

So, Tuesday we went to our last session at the Provo Temple. So sad! Devotional was really neat. It was all about the Celestial Kingdom and life after death. The speaker said that once you decide our final destination every other decision is easy and that we can't just DO right things we have to internalize them.

Wednesday, I hosted a missionary from South Korea! Her English was amazing. She's going to Seattle. So, the day before, Ellis shimai [Sister Ellis] and I got the assignment to be the missionaries teaching as a part of the new missionary teaching orientation experience. Basically we were recommended by one of our teachers (Horne sensai [Teacher Horne]) and were in charge of demonstrating How to Begin Teaching in front of groups of about 45 missionaries with investigators we literally would meet and teach without any background knowledge right in front of our audience. It was way cool! Demo [But], a little strange to teach in front of a group. The other funny thing was that later in the week we started talking to a random group of Elders and they said to us "You look really familiar... Oh yeah! You were our missionaries in orientation!" Haha, funny.

Thursday we got our Nihongo [Japanese] name tags! So exciting! We're actually going to Japan!

Friday we had Elder Holbrook as a sub for Tsukumoto sensai [Teacher Tsukumoto]--and apparently he served with Tyler! He was SUCH a good teacher. We all did a door approach with him, and then he taught/reviewed bunpo with us, gave us some benkyo [study] coaching and then demonstrated teaching. I learned so much from him. He was very high energy. 

So that night when Ellis shimai [Sister Ellis] and I were teaching Hiyashi-san (Horne-sensai) [Teacher Horne pretending to be Hiyashi] we did a no-notes lesson. It made some of my sentences very interesting. Like: Kamisama no imashime genki--God's commandments well. (I was trying to say God's law of health). And another one: Watashi wa Nihongo mushikashi--I am difficult Japanese. (I was trying to say Japanese is difficult for me). Oops...

Saturday we talked in Horne-sensai's [Teacher Horne’s] class about how we want to be more than just hirelings, we want to be carers of the sheep; to be involved in their lives. It made me think of you[r] talk Dad--it sounded so good!

I was reading that day in Alma 22:15-18 (one of my favorite scriptures). I love the King's real intent; in the previous chapter he was only willing to give up 1/2 his kingdom. This chapter: everything. The next chapter: he actually does when they move to Zerahemla [Zarahemla]. From reading that scripture I wanted to be 1) better at knowing the scriptures like Aaron (verse 12)--to be able to answer any question from them, and 2) To be able to pray like the king (verse 18)--with true desire and real intent; to have meaningful and powerful prayers.

Relief Society was so good on Sunday. We had 3 speakers who had all been mission president's wives and they all told mission stories. Sister Yost talked about a mission miracle they had in Slovakia; for our church to be legally recognized they had to gather 20,000 signatures with slovakian social security numbers--something people never freely give out. They'd tried and failed so many times, gathering barely 100 names before by people who spoken fluent Slovak. But then the church decided to have all the Slovak and Cheque [Czech] Republic called missionaries have a week of only gathering names and they prayed and fasted and because of the power their missionaries had from obedience, in 4 days they gathered 26,000 names. It was a miracle. She said "They knew their exact obedience and they knew they could call down the powers of heaven to help and they did not doubt." She said "Have you come to the edge where miracles occur? This is His work and He will stay with you to the end. Can you expect miracles on your mission? YES." It gave me chills. 

The other talk I loved was by Sister Mortensen. She talked about the Atonement and the symbolism of hands in the scriptures. She said "The Atonement's crowning purpose is to endow us with power to become like Christ." She also said that the root Hebrew word for hand is power or strength. And that touching hands symbolizes the transfer of power or strength.  [His hands?] are infused with his virtues, patience, and charity." I loved it. Made me think of the song with the line "[the Temple] is the place I reach for Heaven and it reaches in return."

Favorite quotes from the other Sunday Meetings: (theme: Faith in Jesus Christ) "I know with certainty her faith overcame her fear and her hope overcame her despair."--Pres. Utchdorf [Uchtdorf], "As we come to know Him better our faith in Him will increase and we will become more like Him."--Brother Robinson, "Strong faith is developed by obedience. It is faith that is the converted and teacher. Learning this language is a miracle of faith. So is a mission."--Sister Robinson.

Devotional was so good. It was by the MTC [Missionary Training Center] director(?) Stephen B. Allen again. He talked about being good companions by 1) Avoiding anger, 2) Watching out for murmuring, 3) Stopping rebellion and disobedience, 4) Watching out for complaining, 5) Love and comfort your companion when they struggle. It was really good. He said "The Adversary will do all he can to find the chinks in your armor to cause you to not be successful." He also said "This mission experience will make you more choosy about your eternal companion [i.e., spouse]--and that's a good thing!"

Ellis shimai [Sister Smith] and I wrote a story together about Brandon-hood, Green-tights, and deaf-Taylor (friends from the last dai senpai [seniors; what they call the oldest district of Japan-bound missionaries]). It was of epic proportions. :D

So Thanksgiving sounds like it's going to be way fun! We'll have a general authority in the morning (we'll sing in the choir), Thanksgiving lunch with leftovers for dinner, a service project, and then we'll watch Ephrims [Ephraim’s] Rescue--I'm excited! We also won't have class--that'll be weird. 

Lauren I loved the pictures of your glasses! You look sooo cute. :) Thanksgiving sounds like it's going to be a blast at the Bellows house! Can you send me Maria's address and email? The rugby sounds so fun! Hope you all are enjoying the crisp weather. The ivory sweater sounds great. The button for my coat is brass and I might need some thread... For boots, I mailed you a package with tracings of my feet but I don't know when it will arrive... Does Lauren wear a 9 1/2 or 10? That's what I usually wear. Maybe she can try stuff on for me. Smith shimai [Sister Smith] has pretty heavy duty snow boots but they still look nice. Maybe Rassmussun shimai [Sister Rassmussun] can give you tips. Basic black is probably a good idea. I trust your access to inspiration! Wintry but not too obnoxious is an excellent idea. My shoes are doing well! I probably need to polish the toes of my gortex ones. In other news, Wigginton shimai [Sister Wigginton] said there's a website where you can turn your blog into a book. Is that for real? It sounds so cool!
Sorry to be so scattered today. I have a cold again. Apparently the MTC is 39% sisters now. A kangaroo saw the ninjas hiding many yaks round the wall n--is the way I remember the hiragana chart order. 

I love you all so much!!! Thank you for all the letters and packages! I can't wait to call you at Christmas--and possibly the airport (we get our travel plans on Friday and we'll know more then!)!! Have a wonderful thanksgiving!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Week 6 Pictures

E-mail 11/19/2013

Hello mine family!

Reporting in on WEEK 6 of the MTC!!!!!! Can you believe I've been here 6 weeks? Craziest thing ever. And in just 3 weeks I'll be *gasp* in Japan! No, I'm not freaking out, are you freaking out? :)

Tuesday was amazing! I loved bumping into you via email Mom! And for Devotional... guess who came... Elder Perry! I loved it! Sister Perry talked all about our pre-mortal familial relationships and Elder Perry talked about being good companions. It was lovely. And so was our devotional review; Brother and Sister Stevensen came (from the branch presidency) and Sister Stevensen mentioned how much she loved the book The Power of Everyday Missionaries! Grandmother and Grandfather have good taste. :)

Wednesday was the most lovely study day ever. Since we have extra time Wednesday mornings because our service is on Sundays/Tuesdays, I used it to study in the residence hall. It was so nice and peaceful. The main light was off, Smith shimai [Sister Smith] was sleeping, everyone was quiet and I got so much out of my scripture study. 

This time around of reading the Book of Mormon I've really come to admire Alma the Younger--he's now one of my scripture heroes (along with Enos and John the Beloved--my all-time favorites). He had just such an incredible devoted life. He was a mighty missionary--a mighty prophet--a mighty minister--who loved God with all his might, mind, and strength and lived it. 

It kind of reminds me of Tyler. (I was bragging on him to my roommates Tuesday.) I just see in him a desire to always do what's right--and I want that! 

I didn't host so that I could study more, so Ellis Shimai [Sister Ellis] and Stice Shimai [Sister Stice] hosted and Smith Shimai and I were doryos [guests? students?]. It was lovely. I love her so much. It was just a peaceful, non-rushed study day. We also got to teach each other during Horne sensai's [Teacher Horne’s] class and I felt really inspired of what to say and share and I felt God's love for her. (We read Mosiah 2:41 together which turned out to be her mission plaque scripture!) It was a really sweet experience. And that's what I want for my kyudoshas [investigators?]; to feel God's love and my love. And it made it much easier to study tango [words] with that perspective of wanting to be able to communicate with them and for them to feel love.

Thursday, I had 1-1 coaching with Tsukumoto Sensai [Teacher Tsukumoto] and it was really helpful. She noticed how I tend to let Ellis do most of the talking during our lessons because I can't always understand what she as our mogi [role play] kyudosha [investigator?] is saying. And she really encouraged me to try and talk more in Japanese in our lessons and SYL as much as possible. 

Also cool experience of Thursday: Ellis shimai and I had felt really off as a companionship all week and I couldn't figure it out. And all of a sudden during TALL when it was just Ellis Shimai and I in the lab, the kotoba [word] for "to apologize" (ayamaru) came up on the screen and as I started writing it down on a flashcard (like I had been doing with all the other tango [words]) I really the impression to do just that. So I slipped the flashcard ayamaru side up onto her scriptures and it opened the way for a beautiful, beautiful conversation and resolution. I was so grateful for that experience! It was truly prompted by the Spirit. 

I also realized something about the difference in our study philosophy as we were talking. (Enlightenment from the Spirit.) For Ellis shimai, studying is fun when she's doing other things simultaneously with studying; like going to a new place and waving/talking to everyone walking by. But for me, studying IS the fun! But we both get our studying done. It just works for both of us completely differently. And that's changed the way I approach our studying.

Our lesson with Mai-san (Tsukumoto Sensai) [Teacher Tsukumoto pretending to be Mai-san] went so well on Wednesday! I finally felt like we were able to help and reach her personally by helping her see how the gospel applies applies to her life! It was a direct result of how I changed as a result of my coaching session. I really felt the Seirei [Spirit] and saw it working in Mai-san--it was so amazing! I know the Spirit can be there, no matter the situation, mogi or not. Like in Horne sensai's class that night; He was doing a demonstrate teaching mogi for the class about prayer with Berkley chorro [Elder Berkley] as the kyudosha (and Hill chorro as Horne sensai's doryo). And they went to Alma 34:17-27 and Horne sensai said "This scripture is from the words of a prophet named Amulek. And he talks in here about flocks and herds because that's what was important to the people of his time but you have other things that are important to you like your job and school and investments." Then Berkley chorro read the scripture and Hill chorro said "Kamisama [God] loves you and wants you to rely on him through everything and whatever is important to you." And when he said that, this quote popped into my head; The way to worry about nothing--pray about everything. And I woke up and went--that's what I need to do! It was amazing.

Oh, and I got a letter from Paige that day. So fun!

Sunday was (as always) amazing. We went to Music and the Spoken word and they sang 2 songs I wasn't familiar with but I loved: "Be Thou My Vision" and "My Song in the Night". It was so inspiring.

Then for the Relief Society musical number there was a piano/cello duet of "O Come O Come Emmanuel"--oh my goodness. Love that song. My heart was filled. And the speaker was so inspired. Sandra Rogers. She said "If you're ever stuck with the language and can only say to God 'please help me,' remember that song. It has the same strength that that plea has."

She talked about being armed with the power of God in great glory and how to receive that; through baptismal and temple covenants, the sacrament, willingness, doing your best, whatever you're doing act as if it will be for years, charity, leaning on the Lord, being bonded to the Lord. Favorite quotes from her talk: When need was paired with willing[ness] the Lord created a miracle. A mission brings our weaknesses to our attention so that we will lean on our Heavenly Father who can make that weakness become a strength. "Thou knowest my inexperience. Please help and guide me." The lord is in charge and wants to bless you in doing this work. She also said "To be God's disciple is my greatest aspiration."

After Relief Society I had an interview with President Mack. I'm so glad I got to talk to him--I love doing that. He had so much encouragement for me and told me that the most important thing I have is love and that investigators will be able to feel the love I have for them and the love I have for the Lord. He also said something after that that was so interesting I had to write it down. He said "You can trust people who love the Lord first." It was an edifying experience.

District Sunday School was also inspiring. Fox chorro and Reynolds chorro taught about recognizing the Spirit. It was amazing. But probably the most amazing parts were the personal experiences that Fox and Reynolds shared. They really brought the Spirit and were beautiful, wonderful teachers. This MTC has grown all of us.

In Sacrament the Dai-Sempai ["seniors"; what they call the oldest district of Japan-bound missionaries] (who left the next day) sang "I Feel My Savior's Love" in both Eigo [English] and Nihongo [Japanese]. It was amazing. Sister Mack talked about missionary work as a visiting teacher. President Mack talked about getting rid of the noise around us that's distracting us from the Spirit. And he said the way to receive the Spirit was to keep all the rules, be on time, and make your bed. :)

Devotional that night was by Mary Ellen Edmunds. Quotes: You have been set apart from things you used to do, say, think. Treat each other with a different kind of respect than you have before. You're doing a holy work that requires holy thoughts. The Holy Ghost is a billion times better than a smartphone. He knows everyone you will meet and what they need to hear. What do you even know about what you can do? You've only been alive 19 years. God's been alive millions. Righteousness never was misery. Love: Your motive one-hundred-percent of the time. Prayer: It's not what you say, it's the feeling. 

It was amazing.

Then we went and watched "Missions are Forever" by President Holland. My favorite part: the poem he read;

Come to the edge he said.
No we'll fall.
Come to the edge he said.
No we'll fall.
Come to the edge.
So we came.
He pushed us.
And we flew.

Trust. God. Extremity--sacrifice, trial, humility--is God's opportunity.

In TRC yesterday I felt how much we've grown in the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. Although I still rely heavily on a lesson outline, I feel the Spirit and power of our calling and felt God's love for the people we taught. We still may have  along way to go, but we've come miles from where we were.

It was really funny though, because after we were walking back to our residence (we meaning the 4 of us roommates) we figured out that we'd all worn our hair in braids that day! So we went back to our room and had to take supes cutie [super cute] pictures. We also realized a long time ago that we're like the start to a bad joke--you know; a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, and an Asian... so we lined up in that order for our pictures! Haha.

Thank you all so much for the sweet letters and emails this week! I love them so much and read them over and over. No matter how long or short, I just love to hear what's going on in your lives and your advice and love. And I'm sure that's exactly how Heavenly Father feels about us. I want to be filled with God's marvelous love because I love Him.

Zach! Send me the code for runes from dragonology! (We like to cover random chalkboards in all crazy different writing systems, haha.) Does our ward have a misisonary plaque? Apparently I do dream about missionary stuff because Smith shimai said that Wednesday night I was talking in Japanese in my sleep really loudly. She said she heard me say "wakaremasen" [“I don’t understand”] and "koto ga dekimasu" [“I can do it”]. LOL. Can you email me the lyrics for Be Thou My Vision, My Song in the Night, O Come O Come Emmanuel and Savior Redeemer of My Soul (the one Grandma Bellows loves)? My farewell talk is on my laptop somewhere.... Congrats to Sister Tucker! And Congrats to Chairwoman Bellows! So excited for you! You'll have to send me pictures of all your gardening projects for your class! Dad you should send me your talk! None of our leaders have gone to sendai, but one of the STL lived there for a few years and says the people there are really nice! Can you ask President Rassmussen if I need to bring boots or buy them? I got the pictures! So cute! Stake Conference sounds like it was amazing! I will miss President Jarvis! So glad he got to set me apart. Sounds like I have some smart siblings! Sweet organizing! My roommates tell me I'm hyper organized... Sweaters: I love the Ivory lurex, emeral isle, and black ones! Volleyball is less fun without the dai sempai but we just have to recruit more people now. :) I haven't talked in Sacrament meeting but I have said the closing prayer. Lauren send me a picture of your glasses! I'm sure they're supes cutie! Tyler, the Elder Holland quote was in the video we watched on Sunday! I loved it so much! Thank you! How many more days until Christmas Lauren? We get new kohai [“freshmen”; what they call the youngest group of Japan-bound missionaries] tomorro wnad [tomorrow and] then we (our district) will be dai sempai and expected to know the most. Not sure I"m ready for that!

I love you all so much! Your letters and emails brighten my day every time I read them! I love you!


Your missionary,

Sister Bellows :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week 5 Pictures

E-mail, 11/12/13

Hello my wonderful family!

It's been another week of benkyo benkyo benkyo [study study study]! My head hurts! I don't know how I'm going to remember it all.

It was super cool when we went to the Temple last Tuesday; I had brought the family names for us again and as I was handing them to the recorder for the 6 of us I said "These are the names my sisters and I are going to do today" and then in my head I was like *gasp* my sisters! But that's really how I feel about the shimaitachi [sister missionaries] in our district--they are wonderful and they are definitely my sisters. :) Also while we were in the temple that day I realized that I received my endowments when I was only 18. That's so young! That's going to be strange to tell my kids someday. But maybe that'll be normal by then. 

Devotional that night was so wonderful. It was all about being safe on our missions. I learned so much and felt the spirit so strong. The speaker was Elder Zwick of the 70. He is a very powerful speaker. He said he brought personal greetings from President Monson and that President Monson had told him "I love our missionaries. We must keep them safe, both physically and spiritually." Elder Zwick said that our safety lies in the Lord and that we should know that the choice is always ours, but we can trust our leaders and we can trust the Lord. He gave us three ways to be safe; 1) Follow inspired priesthood counsel, 2) Listen to the voice of the Spirit, 3) Obey the commandments. He said obedience brings us peace today and eternal life in the world to come. He also said hat is [that it?] may require a change of heart to steadily follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to be always obediently, but God wants us safe. That's why He sent His Only Begotten Son. 

After Devotional, Ellis Shimai [Sister Ellis] and I were watching Mormon Messages and I watched this one ( about a horse riding world champion and how when she's looking for horses for her competitions she looks for ones that are easily guided--quick to respond to the directions she gives them. And she related that to what our Heavenly Father wants from us--that we are willing to be quick to do His will. I really liked that!

Wednesday was hard. If I had to rate it, it probably would've been my worst day in the MTC so far. Basically I just felt like everything I tried to do with Nihongo [Japanese] I failed at and being at week 5 and having only 4 weeks left before we go to Nihon [Japan] .... didn't feel so great. I was hosting a Nihongin [Japanese] who couldn't speak English and I didn't know the vocabulary to help her, we (Ellis shimai and I) taught our sensai [teacher] and I was the weak link and fell apart, I got a bloody nose right at the end of a lesson, and we had a sub-sensai [sub-teacher] come in and reprehend us for not speaking 50% Nihongo [Japanese]. So yeah, that day... didn't go so well. I felt pretty down. But the bright side of that day was that I saw Elder Kakishata's younger brother--the one who served with Tyler! We snapped a picture but only on his camera because mine was in our classroom--you'll have to see if he'll email it to you. 

And I found Rosa--I mean Sister Garcia! She's the only Sister in her District, lol. She said it's teaching her lots of patience with the elders. :D We see each other at lunch all the time--it's so fun!

And guess who else I found! Tsukumoto sensai's [Teacher Tsukumoto's] husband! She told us one day in class that he works the tech for devotionals and that we should look for him. She described him and said he looks like a 14-year-old Japanese kid and he's constantly asked where his companion is--and he always points to his white nametag and says "I work here!" Haha. So since she told us we've been stalking the sound booth to try and find him and during service on Sunday I saw him! It's totally true, at first I thought he was one of the Nihongin chorotachi [Japanese elders] but then I saw his white nametag and I went "Tsukumoto kyodai!" ["Brother Tsukumoto!"] Thankfully he spoke Eigo [English] to me. (When I told Tsukumoto sensai that she said we all need to speak Nihongo [Japanese] to him because he needs to practice, haha. He was born in Japan but his family moved to America right after. But he served in Japan so he speaks Japanese. He and Tsukumoto both served in Fukuoka.)

Big news of the week: Sister Ellis and I switched desks with some chorrotachi [elders] in our district. *gasp* Lol. You know you've been at the MTC for over a month when the biggest news you have to share is that you and your doryo [companion?] switched seats with another doryo-gumi [companionship?] in the classroom... The elders wanted to be closer to the AC and we were cold so it was a good switch. But it's really funny because now we have a segregated classroom!

We've decided as a district that footnotes [in the scriptures] are hastags [hashtags]: "...and endure to the end, behold they shall have eternal life." #eternal life, #blessings, #righteousness. Haha, when we decided that one of our shimaitachi [sisters] said "I finally understand hastags now!"

In other news, the senior companion switched to Ellis Shimai on Sunday--woot woot! I was teasing her all about how I'm going to run all over the place now and she's going to have to chase me. :) Well, actually I told her I was going to Code 30 all over the place but that means the same thing! (We have codes for everything, it's kind of hilarious. Code Rose is if you smell bad. Code 33 is if you're talking to a chorro [an elder] or a chorro is talking to a Sister. All the numbered codes correspond to the page they're addressed on in the White Handbook [the rulebook for missionaries]; page 30 talks about staying with your companion, page 33 talks about chorro/shimai [elder/sister] interactions. We might read that book a lot or something...)

Smith shimai [Sister Smith] and I go running together. It's way fun! We've decided that if she goes to UVU after our missions and lives in BYU housing then we're going to be workout buddies!

Clark Sensai [Teacher Clark] (one of the other Branch's teachers, she's wonderful! She did our Nihongo [Japanese] orientation the first day--she's so nice and always give Ellis shimai and I hugs since most of all our other leaders are boys and therefore can't hug us. She's so sweet! She always comes and talks to us whenever we run into her. Unfortunately most of the time it's in Japanese so I don't understand everything she says.... but eventually I'll fix that problem!) came over to me yesterday and said she's in the same ward as Zina [one of Katie's freshman roommates]! Apparently they were at a ward activity and got to talking and Clark shimai [Sister Clark] mentioned that she teaches Japanese at the MTC and Zina went--My roommate's learning Japanese there! So Clark shimai brought Zina's personal greetings to me--it was so fun! And I also got a Dear Elder from Zina that afternoon! She's the second of my roommates to write me (but the first was Paige and we'd already had a letter chain going before then, so Zina probably gets the first place prize).

Something our sensai's [teachers] have us do a lot is try to explain complicated subjects in 6 sentences (simple enough to translate ourselves into Nihongo [Japanese]) or less. It's a great exercise! Challenging, but so helpful, because sometimes we tend to over complicate things and it forces us to simplify. It's such a good/needed exercise for me.

Well I love you all! I love getting your emails and hearing about all your adventures! Letters uplift so much! The Christmas blub [blurb] sounds great Dad! I hope your talk goes well! Wish I could be there to hear it! Y'all will have to take pictures of Zach doing rugby and send them to me! I love rugby! Do they broadcast the BYU rugby games? I'm so happy Maria and Tyler are going to Grandmother's for thanksgiving! Candice, I am glad you are not dead yet. And I think you would be a great French teacher! Go for it! I know how much you love French. :) You'd be a fun French teacher. I love hearing about all your YW lessons/activities! I'm glad you're such a good missionary with the sisters. Good for Sister Wood! The weather has been beautiful here this week. Hence the sweet pictures! We love the kohai [?]--they are so fun! I hope basketball season goes well! Have fun in Dubuque Dad! Don't die Tyler! Have you been to any Ruby [rugby] games yet?



Your Missionary,

Sister Bellows :)