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 :)

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