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 :)

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