Friday, December 20, 2013

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!!

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