Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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 :)

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