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