I'll start right at a week ago today: four in a row. Four apostles in a row, I heard that ties a record. Elder Bednar came last week and that was without question the most bold I've ever heard an apostle speak. His talk was "the answer is always in the doctrine." He said that sentence about 20 times. He talked about how doctrine is most important, then principles, then applications. He said that "gimmicky applications are why home teaching doesn't work." He also asked if throughout our lives we had focused more on doctrine, principles, or applications. He then said (the senior missionaries all sit at the front) "there are some grey heads looking at the floor right now because they know they've focused on applications." That talk has completely changed how I approach my study.
I turned 20 this week. I haven't really even taken it in at all. I feel exactly the same. I'm just glad I'll be home before I'm 22. On Wednesday, Elder Ewer (argues absolutely everything. Everything, seriously. It's hilarious) and Tamir Shimai were discussing something and all I heard was Ewer Choro say: "Subete Mongorujin was totemo baka desu" then Tamir Shimai, grinning ear to ear says "Oh, honto? Shinitai desu ka?" They get funnier by the day.
My birthday was great. We all go to the classroom at 7 AM for 45 minutes of personal scripture study. My companion said he needed to go to the bathroom at first. We went and when we got back, the lights were out, so of course there was a celebration waiting for me. Everyone in the district had 3x5 cards that spelled out H-A-P-P-Y-B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y on them. The Mongolian sisters had made them. And they weren't just holding the cards, they had sewed handles on the back. Holding the cards, or even stapling rubber bands to them would just be too easy right? On my desk was a box wrapped in that flowery wrapping paper from our house, so of course I knew who had wrapped it. Inside were some mints, some ice cream, and a journal that everyone in the district had written in, including the teachers. Ten pages were scriptures copied in Japanese in English accompanied by scrapbooked pictures of the savior, the prophet, the temple, etc. Tons of time and effort had gone into that. I said "Dare ga kore o kakimasitha ka?" and immediately Tamir Shimai responded: "Dare?! Iesu Kirisuto!" Elder Shumway also had one of his friends send me a twelve pack of Coke that is hiding under my bed.
I'm still realizing how epic these two sisters are. In class, we had to answer a life question using the Book of Mormon in Japanese. Tamir Shimai answered "is there life after death?" and talked about her father, whom she has never told she loved before and has now passed away. She said she knows he'll feel her love most if she can share it in the mission field. All of this of course being in completely perapera Japanese. I also learned that Sister Aruinzaya is somewhat of a legend in Mongolia. She's served three mini missions and went on splits once a week in Mongolia. She was involved in the conversion of two sisters and the reactivation of another sister, all three of whom are at the MTC now.
They didn't have a Mongolian translator in sacrament meeting this week, so they asked my companion and I to translate into Japanese. That was insanely difficult.
The class has also been really amused by how Davis Shimai makes Japanese vocal expressions while she thinks. If you ask her a question she has to think about, she sounds like a bomb falling out of a plane. She'll go (pitch starting high and descending gradually): "AAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaahhhhhhhaaaahhhhh" and if she does it for 10 seconds, the class will make an exploding noise. They're in for a big surprise when they start teaching investigators that are much more strange than her.
Last night, she said she had the second biggest laugh attack she's ever had in the MTC. Her hobby in Japan was always karaoke. She's actually a fantastic singer and whenever the hymn hit the second verse, she takes the soprano part up a half step. Peterson Choro, the rugby player, who hates singing, subconciously tried to follow her last night and his voice cracked comparable to a rooster. They both laughed through the entire hymn and the prayer. It was just hysterical to see her laugh so hard. Her Japanese mannerisms were telling her to stop laughing, so she covered her mouth, but she simply couldn't stop.
Speaking of, the next wave of Nihonjin arrived yesterday. 3 Elders, 8 (we heard 8, we've only seen six so far) sisters. We've only got to see them very briefly. The international office keeps them busy until Wednesday. All four sisters we got last time were constantly being flirted with by every elder in the MTC. ...I don't think we'll have that problem this time. It's a good thing though. If all 8 of them looked like the last four, they wouldn't be able to get anything done.
I'm really excited to have them. I felt like the three weeks we had the last group were the three weeks where I saw the most improvement in myself language wise, so hopefully I can do that again this time. I feel fine as far as teaching in Japanese goes, but I'm far from conversational and I want to be there before I leave. When we do the 15 minute "task" (shopping, obtain a referral, discuss food) the investigator will say "ohhh perapera desho!" or "sugoku hatsuon!" but then when we go into the 30 minutes of teaching, I struggle. I still have three more lessons to teach in the TRC to improve.
It is getting pretty difficult to be patient with this place. I think everyone feels that way. The MTC has nine weekly training meetings, so if you're here for twelve weeks, they start over. Yes, it feels extremely redundant now.