Saturday, October 30, 2010


Drop off at the MTC, saying goodbye.

I love this picture. We're the half-jins of the branch (1/4 in Elder Soliai's case). Elder Shiozawa is on the right. These are two of my favorite people here.

My companion and roommates. Elders Ewer, Shumway, and Anstead.

Elder Araki and Elder Kobayashi from Machida.

Nice-uh gaii pose-uh!

Sister Sato saw the three of us taking pictures and ran over saying, "I am Japanese too!" Sister Escalante and Sister Williams jokingly jumped into the picture as well. Escalante and Williams left with the rest of the Sempai yesterday.

Our district, from left to right: Elder Ewer, Elder Shumway, Elder Peterson, Elder Clements, Elder Adams, Elder Anstead, Elder Low, Sister Aruinzaya, Sister Tamir, Sister Ferris, and Sister Holker

These are the Nihonjin and half-jin missionaries.

The sisters of our district. Right before we took the picture, Sister Tamir said, "Wait! Preach My Gospel: Important!!"

Elder Ewer showing Sister Tamir the meaning of "crap" in her dictionary.

The elders of our district looking right at the sun.

October 26, 2010

It's becoming difficult to keep track of what happens in a week. I've said it in probably every email, but they are indeed all bluring together.

We're no longer Kohai (Juniors). The Senpai (Senior) and Nihonjin (Native Japanese) left yesterday at 5:00 AM. We'll have new missionaries a week from tomorrow. That's a weird thought. Not sure that we're ready to be Senpai. I've been here for more than a month. Almost to the halfway point.

Elder Nelson came on last Tuesday for devotional. He was fantastic. Very simple principles, almost all of which we had heard before, but it's always profound hearing it from the mouth of an apostle. We always have district meeting after devotional and we discuss what we learned and bear our testimonies. This week, Tamir Shimai told us that when Elder Nelson came to Mongolia, he stayed at her house and gave her entire family blessings. These girls are pioneers. Anyway, during her testimony, she started to cry and said "I want to express so many things, but I don't know how, it's hard. It's very hard." She said it just like that in perfect English. The thing is, she and her companion bear stronger testimony than any of us. Their lack of words helps them. As we closed the meeting, Elder Clements, also tearfully said, "please stop worrying, you don't need words. We know exactly what you're saying." Language is critical, but not the most important thing here.

Speaking of the language, we taught our last lesson in the TRC on Thursday. We teach in Japanese this coming Thursday. I'm pretty nervous, but these are volunteers, they know what they're signing up for. I can ask questions and respond to many things, explaining doctrine is coming along, but not yet where I want it to be.

One of the Senpai stayed behind and was put in our district. He recently had to have knee surgery and wasn't able to leave on time. He's Elder Cannon from Boise, Idaho. He's very...Idaho-an. And that's not a bad thing. He's definitely ready to get out of here and not happy about staying, but he's being a good sport so far. He's trying to schedule teaching evaluations during class so that he doesn't rip his hair out learning the same thing over and over again.

This week, Davis Shimai had us each give something up for a week in order to get a small taste of what it's like for an investigator to give up an addiction. None of us could do it. I gave up dessert and soda (I never drink soda here anyway), yet I still had a Coke in the dorm that my roommates brought back from the hospital. My companion tried to give up cracking his knuckles and failed miserably. Andrus Sensei, our other teacher, has hinted that he is dating a girl named Jessica (from Elder Cannon's homeward incidentally) and told us that they went "scootering" on a date. Elder Peterson jokingly wrote "Jessica and Scootering" on the board as Andrus Sensei's addiction. Funny enough, yesterday in class he told us they had "ended it." That was hilarious.

I have a favor to ask. Our district leader hands out mail in class twice a day. Of course, it's just like elementary school and everyone is on the edge of their seat crossing their fingers for mail. The Mongolian sisters have never gotten mail. They always jokingly say "Watashi? Watashi?" ("What about me?") and our district leader will thumb through them and pretend to find one for them. They giggle about it because they know they won't be getting any mail. Still, I know there's part of them that is slightly dissappointed. A couple of the Senpai asked for their mailing addresses and Tamir Shimai made them promise to write. Could you possibly send them a small note? It would need to be very short and simple. I think it would probably be best if it was in simple English and translated to Japanese line by line. I think they read Hiragana better than Romaji. Just say something about how you've heard about them, wish them luck (Tamir Shimai is still struggling with migraines), whatever you want. Just keep it short and simple. I know it will make their day, their week, possibly their time at the MTC. Their mailing addresses should be exactly the same as mine, just address them to "Sister Tamir" and "Sister Aruinzaya." Address:

Box 161, JPN-KOB, 12-06
Missionary Training Center
2005 North 900 East

Provo, UT 84604-1793

There was also another Elder here with ties to Machida that left yesterday. Elder Ikeda had a younger brother (I think his name was Kei) who is deaf and in the Machida first ward. He looked so familiar to me and he said the same for me. He typically would visit his brother during the summer and we concluded that we probably met at church five years ago. How weird is that? Five years ago, I attended church with two of the Elders from Japan that passed through here. Crazy.

I'm sorry if there isn't enough info in here. I'm not sure what else to write. I'm almost out of time. I should start keeping more detailed journal entries in order to send better weekly emails.

That should be all for now. Thanks for writing, the packages, and all the support. It's greatly appreciated. Until next week...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letter - October 12, 2010

Thanks for the Dear Elders during the week. It might be a good idea to continue those while I'm in the MTC. We have such limited time to email. By all means, don't stop emailing me, but if you have something you want to Dear Elder me during the week, please go for it.

Grandma's emails made me laugh. You'll forward this to her right? Wendy sent me a Dear Elder too. As did Jacob.

This week has flown by. It's so interesting. During the day, my thought process is "I'm never going to get out of here" but then when I go to bed at night I think to myself "I've been here for three weeks?" The weeks are like days, the days are like weeks. Very strange.

Davis Shimai is one of our teachers. If you remember, she is the Nihonjin who converted at 17 and served her mission in Hawaii. She told us that we are her last district. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was very sacred to her. She's been teaching at the MTC for three years, making her the most senior Japanese teacher at the MTC. She started crying as she told us and said "this is very not Japanese of me, you're not supposed to see me cry, but I love all of you and I'll always remember each of you." We sang "I Believe in Christ" as our closing hymn and there were so many more than 12 voices. Angels were in that room, singing with us.

The Mongolian Sisters in our district: I still can't explain how incredible those two sisters are.

In fact, I could write a whole email about them. We all bear our testimonies after Tuesday night General Authority Devotional. The Mongolian sisters always struggle through, but manage to put everyone in tears every time. They have very few words, but more of the Spirit than they know what to do with. Tamir Shimai held her Book of Mormon with one hand and had her companion rip it from her hands. Then, she gripped it tightly with two, and her companion couldn't rip it from her hands. She then said "I love this work. I am sealed to my family. We had no money to go Hong Kong Temple, but we have faith and we are sealed. I love missionary work. I am a daughter of God. I know this church is true. If need to, I would die for church."

Also, last night, my companion put on some finger-less gloves. He calls them his "bum gloves." The Mongolian sisters asked why he was wearing them and he said "these are my bum gloves." "Bum gloves?" they replied. We laughed, they laughed. Then we tried to explain "homeless" and "hobo" but they looked up "homo" and were really confused and laughing quite hard. All of us were stumbling back to our residence halls laughing so hard. Those sisters never fail to put us in tears, either by the power of their testimonies or by their senses of humor. Our district wouldn't be the same without them. They are a miracle in action. They kick our trash when it comes to Japanese.

I found out one of the Nihonjin missionaries is from the Machida 1st ward! Elder Kobayashi! Please forward this to Grandma Keiko. I'll get a picture of him and print it off. I about screamed when he told me that. Also, one of the missionaries that teaches in the Teaching Evaluation Center, Brother (Elder) Bradley who is short and half-Japanese said he served in both the Machida wards just a year ago and that Ii sounds very familiar.

As far as the language. The learning curve continues to be ridiculous. I only have this week and next and then I'm teaching entirely in Nihongo. I know I need to work harder. Everyone in the branch has to write a talk on a specific topic every Sunday and then speakers are chosen at random. This weeks topic was repentance so everyone was walking around saying "kuiaratamenakerebanarimasen" as fast as they could. Andrus Sensei told me this week in an interview that the language sounds beautiful coming out of my mouth, but it's hilarious to see how hard I have to concentrate to use the write verb conjugations. If you hand me a sentence, He also told our whole class that we have to make solid goals and that the senpai (seniors) are not speaking good enough Japanese. He said if we work hard, we'll catch up to them. Don't follow their example. I can spit it back out with correct pronunciation and decent speed, but I have to stare at it for a minute before I can decipher it. A bit frustrating, but I'll get there. I'm not behind by any means as far as speaking goes.

Since we have 12 weeks together, districts have now bonded with the whole Japanese branch. A little branching out, if you will (sorry). If I were speaking English, I'd be in the field now. There are some amazing missionaries in our branch. Elder Ahn from Korea is 26, a body builder, 5'2, converted only a year and a half ago, and learned English once he got his call by listening to English tapes 8 hours a day. Just thought that might be interesting. There's another half-jin here too named Shiozawa. He's even more stressed out than me because his name AND looks give him away completely.

I'm out of time...I'm going to pick up your package now. Thanks for everything!

Low Choro

To write to Elder Low:
Select "Provo MTC"
Box #: 161
Mission Code: JPN-KOB
Departure Date: 12.06.2010