Hello again. Saigo no MTC kara email!
I can't believe I'm to this point...but at the same time, I can. It's definitely time.
Thank you so much for the homemade jam and rolls! It was still warm and it dissappeared very quickly. Everyone loved it. Direct quote from Elder Peterson: "I don't like jam but this....wow."
We got our travel plans on Wednesday! Without question, that was the most exciting moment here in the MTC. We were all in the cafeteria cheering, screaming and high fiving everyone in sight. Our teachers came to eat with us and celebrate. I fly Delta to LA, flight leaving around 9:00 AM.
Thanksgiving was wonderful. I woke up, desperately wanting to be having Thanksgiving at grandma's house, but I got over it pretty quickly. We had a morning devotional at 10:00 AM. We had no idea who was coming. We were STUNNED when Jeffrey R. Holland and all of his family walked in. It was overwhelming. Apparently he came to the MTC the week before we got here so we weren't expecting to see him here, it was the perfect surprise. His devotional was very unconventional. He opened the meeting by saying "this isn't a devotional, this is a celebration. All you need to know right now is that the Holland's are your family right now since you can't be with yours." He chose five of what he thought to be outstanding missionaries from the MTC and had them bear their testimonies. One of them was Duarte Choro from Brazil (I think I've told you about him, nicest human being I've ever met) who will serve in Nagoya. One was an elder from mainland China who talked about whispering hymns in dark rooms for sacrament. One was another sister from Brazil who's parents told her never to return when she left. Another was a referral center missionary who has only a few months left to live. He then had all of his grandchildren sing to us and his wife speak to us. She couldn't stop sobbing the entire time. She said she just desperately wanted all of us to come over to her house to eat and that she feels very motherly toward us. Elder Holland closed the meeting and bore such powerful testimony. He talked about Christ and real gratitude. He said that we are hypocritical when we ask God for help with trivial things but then are blind to the poor in this world. It was incredible.
That afternoon we ate a decent Thanksgiving dinner. Much better than the typical MTC meal....but still MTC cafeteria food. I can't complain though.
We did a humantarian project that afternoon. The MTC made around 30,000 backpacks for children around the world.
The managing director of church humanitarian services also spoke to us about things he's done in south east asia and in Congo. He told us an incredible story about this town in Congo where the church has boomed because of one irrigation pipe the church put there.
We had a "thankful" fireside later in the evening where anyone could go up and say what they are thankful for. Tamir Shimai was one of them. She had written down what she was thankful for and the room was eerily silent. It doesn't matter what language she speaks, everyone completely shuts up when she opens her mouth. Now, everyone in the MTC walks up to her and says "thank you so much for your testimony."
This group of nihonjin have been a blast. They're hilarious. There's actually a brother and sister among them, Elder and Sister Kishi. How cool is that? The two of them are like walking cabbage patch kids dolls, you just want to pinch their cheeks. Elder Kishi loves giving hugs too. A lot of them are really proficient in English and have been learning lots of English phrases and pick up lines. Elder Kishi came to my room last night and asked me "did it hurt?" I said "did what hurt?" Kishi Choro: "when you fell from heaven"
Another sister during gym will say "I'm gonna clean your clock" or "sorry, I'm just so beautiful." Japanese people are nuts, LDS Japanese people are insane.
Am I ready to the feel. As ready as I can be. I know I will struggle to say what I want to say but that is to be expected. My comprehension is pretty good I think. There's a couple of the Nihonjin here that have crazy accents but other than those two, I can understand almost anything the others say to me...can't always respond though. I'm not too concerned about anything else. Everyone else is in a panic to learn about cultural etiquette, I'm glad I have that edge. I think a lot of the missionaries here see the Nihonjin missionaries and take them to be your typical Japanese when in reality, they're loudest, friendliest, most outgoing, and American-ish Japanese people you'll ever meet.
That's all I have time for. Have a good week! The next time you get an email from me, I'll be in the field!