Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 3 Pictures

Katie with President Daniels, our brother Tyler's first mission president

E-mail, 10/29/2013

Hello family!

I can't believe I've been here at the MTC 3 weeks already! The days are long but the weeks sure are fast! Thank you so much for the packages Mom! I probably don't have to tell you how much I love pens and pencils... but let's just say that was one of the highlights of my week! Another highlight was a package I got from Aunt Rebecca! She sent me my favorite candy and pictures and letters from all her kids! It was sooooo cute!! I had lots of fun writing them back. :) Oh, and I got a letter from Paige (aka Sister Winegar)! She's training two 20-year-old sisters right now so it sounds like she's got her hands full. She says she's learning lots of 'patients'. Teehee, I guess the Southern is getting to her spelling. The weather is starting to get chillier here and we're finally starting to get some good color in the leaves--although I bet NC's [North Carolina's] color is so much better! 

So, last Tuesday's devotional was amazing. The speaker talked about how finding is an act of faith that begins with prayer and opening your mouth. Without the Spirit we cannot find people. He encouraged us to pray for miracles and the spiritual sensitivity to recognize opportunities. He renamed "first contacts" as "first connections." He told us that we should have more than just a "to do" list; that we should have a "to be" list of virtues of Christ. He asked us to teach investigators to pray about the Book of Mormon before reading it. He quoted--Winston Churchill I think--"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" and he said to celebrate our discouraging days as sacrifices from Christ and a part of our Endurance 505 course, and that the sacrament allows us to get back up after we fall.

So, yeah, it was an incredible devotional. The other cool part was that afterwards Brother Stevenson (part of the branch presidency) came to our devotional review (where we talk about the devotional as a district) and we got to know him a little bit better. He's a man of many talents; gardening, hiking, singing, cello, remodeling, chess, etc. Shows me it's never too late to pick up a new hobby.

Wednesday, we worked on memorizing the first vision in Nihongo [Japanese]. It's so hard! I'm so excited you're trying to learn some Nihongo Mom! Since our dai sempai (means "seniors"; what we call the oldest district of Nihon [Japan]-bound missionaries) left on Sunday, they put a lot of MTC text books from the free bin. I picked up a few that I'm sending your way! Hope they help a little bit and aren't too confusing. :) Here's a few words for you that I'm trying to learn:

shiawase = happy
ima = now
tsukau = use
renshiyu = practice
wakaru = to know
tanoshimi = excited
keiji = revelation

And a couple phrases:

watashi wa nihango o wakarimasen = I don't understand Japanese
eigo o hanshita mo ii desu ka? = Can I use English?

In gym, volleyball is the big thing. It's so fun! I'm improving so much. (Haha, I may not be improving that much at Nihongo [Japanese] but I'm sure improving at volleyball!) We had a kohai (means freshmen; what we call the youngest group of Nihon [Japan]-bound missionaries) vs. sempai (means junior; what we call the middle groups of Nihon-bound missionaries) game. Kohai won! The sempai are actually way better at volleyball at [than] us so we just got really lucky I guess, haha. 

Funny moment of the week: Ellis shimai [Sister Ellis, Katie's companion] and I were outside studying when Emily Teamus from my freshman ward [congregation] came over to me and called "Sara?" Haha, she actually thought I was Sara Herald (one of my freshman roommates) at first! It was pretty funny.

There's a tradition here that when missionaries are leaving they pass around a journal called a "bye-bye book" for people to write notes in that they'll read later (kind of like a yearbook but some of them won't read the notes until after their mission). We were signing lots of those since our dai sempai [senior] district left yesterday morning!

So, I've been thinking about and wondering what traits I'm going to pick up from my companions. Haha, that's going to be funny when I get home!

This past Sunday's devotional was also amazing. Brother Roger Collins came to speak to us (apparently he used to be a branch president in the MTC [Missionary Training Center] and he's a NY Times best-selling author. I've never heard of him. What has he written?) And he told amazing stories about conversion. He was so happy and excited about the gospel--I love it! He said that God will answer our prayers and so to seek all that we need from him and plead with him and then he promised that God would give us what we need. He said when he was growing up and he started learning about the church he went to his mom to tell her he was going to be baptized and received some strong opposition. And he didn't want to hurt her feelings and as he was thinking about it, that night he read 3 Nephi 13:33 and found his answer and was baptized.

Oh, and before the devotional the prelude solo was "The Painter's Hand"--have you heard it before? I would love to get the music for it!

Choir is always one of the highlights in my week because of the director's clear understanding and way of explaining doctrine. He was talking to us about the pre-earth life (about how Heavenly Father and Heavenly [Mother] raised us--they had all eternity to raise their billions of kids--and that's why they know each of us by name) and our life after death (Mormon missionaries never give up! They're even knocking doors in the next realm!) and it was just so amazing that I leaned over to Sister Ellis and said "See, this is why we come to choir; I'm even getting excited to die!" Since death is the #2 thing people fear the most (public speaking being #1, but I've never had a problem with that) I feel like that's a good thing. Haha, Candice there's a lot of material for your quote journal here at the MTC. Yesterday morning during district devotional, Sister Ellis was reading a scripture and said "'And I Nephi said unto my father'--why don't I have this underlined?!" Hahaha. We're pretty awesome. Oh, and people are always calling Ellis and I "Bellis" and "Ellows"--we're just meant to be companions. And we even have a secret companion high-five that baffles people. :D Plus she loves Harry Potter and Avatar and Once Upon a Time and Percy Jackson so she's got a lot of sterling qualities. :D

So a couple people have asked to know a little more about my zone/district. Our branch (which is also our zone) had 5 districts (until Monday when 1 American and 1 Nihongin [they have the Nihongin [Japanese] come to this MTC now so those of us learning Nihongo can get a little experience talking to them] district left). They all have around 12-14 people in them and they're pretty even elders/sisters-wise. We've got a good mix of ages too. There's also at least 1 other Japanese branch here that we know of, but there could be more. Our branch presidency has 3 counselors because apparently their branch was HUGE over the summer.

Dad, I've been thinking about the Shepherding topic. I'll have to snail-mail you my thoughts on it. A lot of it has to do with music--like "The King of Love my Shepherd is" and the other shepherd song our family loves to sing. I'll try and send that to you this week.

Thanks to everyone for the emails and letters and packages!! It makes my day to read and open them all. So, Zach, Math Olympains and Rugby Club? Should be fun! Candice, your news is so exciting! I'm so happy for you. :) About Paula, don't worry, but don't give up either. The Lord knows his children and how to help them and if you pray to be able to follow the Spirit you'll be guided in what to do. 

As far as Christmas letter goes... I'll be in Japan by then! And I'll have a nametag in Katakana! So... that could be fun to write about... Don't quote me though, I'll have to think about it and get back to you in a couple days with a snail-mail or something, haha. :D 

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your support and love. I feel so grateful to be here at the MTC. Kamisama ni chikazuku youni tasuke tai desu. I want to help people come close to God. I love this work! I grow in my testimony every day. God loves and knows his children! God bless you in all that you are doing!

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


Your Missionary,

Sister Bellows :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

E-mail, 10/22/2013

Hello My Wonderful Family!!!

Bellows Shimai here, reporting in on Week 2 of MTC awesomeness. :) The MTC is fantastic! I love it here! And P-days are seriously the best. We get up and ready at 6:30 and then head over to toss in our laundry and then walk over to the gym/devotional building where we print off our emails to read while eating breakfast. From there we go over and get sack lunch (you toss some food in a bag and then you can eat wherever in P-day clothes or pajamas) and go back to the laundromat to switch our clothes. We eat breakfast and read our emails while our laundry finishes and then we take it back and put it away in our residence halls and then do some tidying up there. Then we get dressed in Sunday best and go study for an hour or so and then come to the computer labs for an hour of email before lunch and then a session at the temple around 1:15. After that it's more studying until devotional where church leaders come to speak to us (last week Elder and Sister Oaks came!!!) after which we--as our Zone's bi-weekly service (we have devotional on Tuesday and Sunday nights) clean up the gym and take down all the chairs and bleachers. It's so fun! Although it does feel kind of busy it's a much needed break from all the studying we do all week. :) And I didn't realize until we went to the temple last Tuesday that in the Provo Temple you don't move from room to room--and that they have a ton of ordinance rooms (since they have to accommodate all those people coming all the time!). So that was pretty cool. I love going to lots of different temples. I can't wait to see what the Provo City Center Temple is like.

So this past Sunday was amazing. I was struggling on Saturday because I was having a really hard time learning in class because our district was being so chatty and I was feeling well and truly worn out and frustrated. So that night I prayed that I would learn a lot from our Sunday meetings and that I would feel the Spirit and be inspired and uplifting [uplifted]. And my prayer was fully and completely answered from EVERYTHING that day. But let's start at the beginning. :)

I was filling up my water bottle while Ellis Shimai [Sister Ellis, her companion] was in the bathroom when I looked down the hall and saw this really familiar gentleman talking to some senkyoshi (missionaries). But I couldn't figure out who he was or how I knew him since I couldn't see his name-tag. He looked and sounded familiar for some reason. But I couldn't figure it out and he left and walked down another hallway. But then he came around the other corner and walked over to me, while putting some stuff back in his briefcase. So, like you say to anyone you see here if you're going to Japan, I said "Ohiyo gozimasu". He said "Konnichiwa" and asked me if I was well and I said yes. And we just started making small talk and he asked me where I was going on my mission and I said Sendai and he said, "Oh, Sendai, I was in Sapporro during the 2011 tsunami and earthquake and all the Sendai missionaries got sent up to us." And I kind of gasped and went "Are you President Daniels?" [Tyler's first mission president!] And then we both got really excited and he figured out who each other were and Ellis Shimai snapped a picture of us on his phone and he said "I just saw Tyler and Kelsey over conference" and it was really exciting and awesome. It was so fun and cool and awesome! 

So, continuing on with our day, Ellis Shimai and I met with President Nielsen (one of the 3 counselors in our branch Presidency because they've had so many Japanese missionaries recently because they're upping the size of the missions) who actually served with his wife in Palmyra on their mission. And he told me about how valuable ASL speakers were in his mission and how they were always calling them to come translate for the tours of the sacred grove. He told me that I should keep up with ASL after my mission because it will be a great asset for me. That was pretty awesome! 

After our morning study and interviews, we went over to Music and the Spoken Word and Relief Society in the gym/devotional building (there's probably about 500 people in that meeting). The speaker for Relief Society was Elizabeth Rose from the Relief Society General Board. It was so wonderful. She served in Japan on her mission and told us her experience of climbing Mt. Fugi [Fuji] in a terrible storm while she was serving and how there were lights on the path to beckon her onward and upward. She said some days are dark and others are full of light. But do not be afraid. Press forward with steadfastness, hope, love, feasting on the word of Christ, and enduring to the end and then we shall have eternal life (<--That's been my missionary goal!). She also said that we can only get home to our Father in Heaven through the redeeming sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. And that make me think; Coming on a mission has made that desire to return home SO real to me--both to my Earthly and Heavenly homes. Mom and Dad, if you guys love and miss me SO much, how much more must my Father in Heaven LOVE and MISS me--and I've been away from his home for 19 years! And there's no skype! But there is prayer. And that realization has helped me so much better understand my Father in Heaven and made this 18 month mission seem like such a small moment. And I will work diligently to return with honor to both my homes--Heavenly and Earthly. 

Only through the Atonement can we be brought back to the presence of the Father. Christ layeth down his life for the world because he loveth the world. Come unto Christ and be perfected in him and deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God will all your might mind and strength that we may become perfect in Christ and return to the presence of the Father! We've made promises to God that do not change with the ebb and flow of our lives. We truly NEED HIM EVERY HOUR whether they be hours of sun or days of rain. The atonement allows us to change and grow and accomplish things we would never be able to do on our own. 

Remember how I said I think Sister Ellis and I teach really well together? Well, every Sunday a companionship teaches a lesson on that week's theme to their district (kind of like Sunday school just with our district; We don't have traditional block meetings; there are 2-3 hours of study or other activities in-between each.) and Sister Ellis and I taught this past Sunday on Baptism. It was all the Holy Ghost. I felt the Spirit so strongly and LEARNED so much---even though Sister Ellis and I were supposidly [supposedly] supposed to be the ones teaching. Nope! The Spirit was the real teacher there. To sum up, I learned that Baptism is SO important--that is it only throught [through] it we can experience the fullness of God's blessings for us--the Priesthood, the saving ordinances of the temple, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost--it is so NEEDED and AMAZING and IMPORTANT. 

After our lesson Sister Nielsen told us about how we will also be sent to activate less-actives on our missions and while doing that to remember that there are no black sheep; there are only lost sheep. I loved that.

Then we had choir and devotional with Steven B. Allen (managing director of the missionary department) and he talked all about shepherding focusing around the words of the song "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd" that a group of Young Men sang at General Conference (I'm not sure when). He said "there is no child on Earth God does not want to be able to come back home to him." And the favorite part of the song that he talked about to us was the part that says; 

Will you not seek for my lost ones out from my shelter astray? [...]
Yes, blessed master we will! Make us thy true under-shepherds! 
Give us the love that is deep. [...] Out to the desert we'll hasten, 
Bringing them back to the fold.

After devotional there's about 2 hours where we can study or go see one of the Church movies they show. Ellis shimai and I went to see "The Character of Christ" address given by Elder Bednar on Christmas Day in the MTC 2 years ago. It was amazing and so uplifting!

So, yes that Sunday was amazing and gave me such encouragement.

It's funny, at one point while I was taking notes on Sunday, Sister Ellis leaned over to me and said "It's funny how I know when you're going to pull out your notebook and write something down." Lol! And it's only been 12 days?

So, yes, it's wonderful here and I'm learning so much. 

It's funny, sometimes when we have a break in our studying, our district sits down together for "District Bonding" where we all ask one person to tell us stories and all about themselves. It's like kindergarten story time. It's so funny! Last bonding time we told "companion meeting stories." It was so funny.

Oh! And guess who else I saw! Since devotionals are broadcast to the West MTC campus, when we're in choir we sometimes get shown on the screens. So while we were practicing for Sunday's musical number, I apparently was zoomed in on while the camera men were practicing and so when Sister Ellis and I were leaving to get our scriptures before the devotional started, an Elder came up to me and said "I know you, but how? Where are you from?" and he was from NC but from somewhere completely different so we couldn't figure it out. But then he came up to me at lunch the next day and said "I remember now! I'm Elder Huld, I met you in the Raleigh Temple and we figured out we were both going into the MTC in October. Remember? I'm the one going to Tiowana [Tijuana] Mexico!" So that was super cool!

One last thing before I signed [sign] off; President Mack does interviews every week so I got to meet with him today for the first time and he was so kind and wonderful and but the thing he said that really stuck out to me was when he said "You are unusually aware of what's going on around you. That's a gift. Pay attention to it." Interesting. He is such a good mission President.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all the emails and dear elders--they truly uplift and help me. We're learning the first vision in Japanese. The Nihongin [Japanese people] we have are sooooo funny! We haven't had any Japanese-only days yet--thank goodness. It would be a very silent day. Did you know there are new words to "As Sisters in Zion"? The food here is great. I know this gospel is true and that God loves his missionaries! I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much! Hope you have a wonderful week!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

E-mail, 10/15/2013

Ohiyo gozaimasu!

I can't believe I'm emailing you here at the MTC! I am doing SO well--the Lord truly loves and blesses his missionaries. So don't you dare worry about me! :) I've been so grateful for all your emails. It is wonderful to hear from you and know that all is well at home. 

My doryo (companion) is Ellis shimai! She is from Prescot, Arizona and has red hair and is 21. She is studying to be a teacher at her community college. She studied 2 years of Japanese with a very good teacher in high school so she understands a lot of Japanese--which is really helpful for me when we teach our Japanese investigators! (Yes, we have Japanese investigators already!) She loves to talk and is very outgoing and loves to laugh which helps us always have a good time. But it can make it difficult when we're trying to focus during the 12 hours of studying we do everyday... :) We live in a dorm-like building named after Harriet Nye--do any of you know who she is? I haven't heard of her before. We're on the 4th floor (seems to run in the family, doesn't it? :D). My mailing address is:

Katelynn Bellows
2007 N 900 E Unit 8
Provo, UT 84604

My estimated departure date is December 9th (I think Dad said Dear Elder asks for that--thanks for all those letters too!). 

Our district has 6 shimaitachi (sisters) and 6 chorotachi (elders). They are all so wonderful. We have a great time together and have really been wonderful friends. Of course, this also can make it hard to focus on studying... but we're working on that! Ellis shimai and I share a room with Stice shimai (from Provo, adopted from China, fluent in Chinese and French) and Smith shimai (from Salt Lake, went to UVU, has her CNA and EMT but isn't sure what she's going to study yet). They are so fun, I love them. We actually have three bunk beds in our room, which is kind of funny since there's only four of us but since there's only 4 tiny closets we probably won't get any more people in our rooms. We have a community bathroom with lots of showers, so it's a great setup. We're on the actual MTC campus so we don't do a whole lot of walking--we probably use the same 5 buildings every day. Fox choro from High Point is in my district. And his companion Reynolds choro is district leader. 

But I'm probably getting ahead of myself so I'll start from the beginning of this week. :)

My first day was super crazy with being run around to different stations and getting tons of books (they weren't kidding about them being 12 pounds!), names, ID cards, orientation etc. It kind of felt like an information overload conveyor belt. :) 631 missionaries arrived on October 9th! After lots of that, orientation, etc. we had a "fireside" type thing where we (a big group of 70 new missionaries) taught as a group "investigators" (kind of a role-play practice thing). It was intense! My second day I wrote in my journal "Holy cow the MTC is hard! But with God's help I can do it." And, actually our second day we were told we were teaching a Japanese investigator the next day. Ummmmm slightly scary! But it actually went very well. I just went in expecting to understand nothing and that's pretty close to how it went. Thankfully Ellis shimai understands more than I do, and translates sometimes for me, so I just focus on being able to find the words for her to say in Japanese when Ishikido-san (our investigator) asks a question. We've actually taught him four times now and will teach him again tomorrow. I'm slowly beginning to understand more and am getting close to knowing all the hiragana [one of the Japanese writing systems]. The Lord blesses his missionaries! Horne sensai (our teacher) is absolutely wonderful. And tell Tyler Powel sensai actually did part of our Japanese orientation the first day! He got really excited when he figured [out] I was Tyler's sister.

Our Japanese teachers speak almost strictly Japanese. It was very hard at first, but I'm beginning to hear the sounds of Nihon more instead of it just sounding like gibberish. There are only 3 shimai [sisters] in our district that didn't study Japanese before coming to the MTC--I'm glad I'm not the only one! Everyone helps each other though, so I'm learning lots. The MTC really utilizes technology to teach. I know God could teach much better than I can, but he's asked me to serve and is using me so I know there's something he wants me to learn and a reason I'm to teach. He will help me!

We study A LOT. From 7:30 in the morning to 10 o'clock at night. Sometimes I sit at my desk wanting to study but I feel too exhausted to be able to do anything. But then I pray and I find the strength to be able to do it. I'm so grateful for the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit. I am so in need of them. Forming friendships with the people in our district also helps. 

5 days at the MTC has TRANSFORMED my scripture study. I LOVE having all this time to study the scriptures without feeling rushed or pushed. They fill me up with light. Ellis shimai figured out that if she read 9 pages a day in the BOM that she would finish it before she leave for Japan--so we're doing it together! It's really fun. I'm in 2 Nephi now and just read the Psalm of Nephi--I love that. I've been highlighting different things and color coordinating them. (Green is for the Spirit/power of God/revelation, Purple is for prayer, yellow is for family, red is for Jesus Christ, blue is for how to be a good missionary, and orange is for key words.) I've learned so much from doing that.

One thing our Branch President said to us during orientation was that missionaries are in Mom school and Dad school. He would much rather have us practice on our investigators than on our children. I thought that was so interesting. He also said  "you will be effective in teaching if you truly understand the principles you are teaching for yourself."

Funny story: We were reading 2 Nephi 33:1 in class and Powell sensai asked Stice shimai to read it but substitute "senkyshi" (missionaries) for "man." And when she read it she substituted it for "man" and "men." Go read it. We died laughing. (While you're looking that up also go look up 1 Nephi 14:14, D&C 100:1, D&C 42:6, and the Mormon Message called "Lifting Burdens". I've been loving these scriptures!).

Sunday was the best. We sang in Japanese, the talks were in Japanese (everyone has to write one every week and then they'll call on 2 people to give it), the Sacrament was in Japanese, I was afraid EVERYTHING was going to be in Japanese, but thankfully the first counselor and his wife spoke in English. Favorite quote from that: "But what if people don't believe me? What is that to thee? Thou art called to teach. Do as thou art bid." And then in choir practice we were singing Praise to the Man, the line "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven" and the director said "do missionaries know what this statement means? YES!" And we got to hear from Bonnie Oscarson in Relief Society and the MTC Administrative Director for devotional--it was wonderful.

Bonnie Oscarson's talk about the Olive Tree Parable: And the Lord of the vineyard called in more servants and labored with them in the work of redeeming. God's promise is that he will labor with us. Our covenants allow us to call on God. We've committed all our willingness to this work; God will help. We will have hard days, but we will also have glorious, never-to-be forgotten days. We are serving the king of kings. It is something we will never, ever forget.

So, YES I am doing well. And I'm sending you lots of pictures. Thank you so much for all the emails and letters! They really help and lift and inspire me. I loved meeting Kelsey and going to the Salt Lake Temple and Temple with Grandma! I've been so blessed my the preparation my leaders gave me. Oh and I'm senior companion. O.o Anyway I'm so grateful for your emails--Dad your first one made me cry! I love you!--and all your support. I know this gospel is true and I'm so happy to be here at the MTC! I pray for the you guys and the gift of tounges [tongues] in every prayer. I'm so grateful for my temple covenants and my savior and the blessings of eternal families and I can't wait to share that message with the people in Japan! I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOO much!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Going to Conference!

I have always enjoyed watching conference at home on BYUtv but I'm so excited to see it in person.

Welcome to my Mission blog!

Hello all!

I am so glad you stopped by to check out my mission blog! This is where you'll be able to read my letters direct from Japan. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't email or write me directly. As a matter of fact, please do! :) To find out how, check out the 'Contact Me' tab at the top of this page. You can subscribe to this blog via email in the box to the right of this post if you'd like to keep up with my updates. Check out the tabs above for other helpful information. I look forward to filling this blog with all my fun stories from Japan. Hope you enjoy!

Say┼Źnara for now!