Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 8 - August 20, 2013

This time next week I will be in Japan!!!  I am so excited.  There are so many things I yet to learn though.  Last week I finally started feeling like I was understanding this crazy language.  I am just so frustrated that it took me until I only had two weeks left to finally understand how to do this thing.  Right as I started understanding what was going on, I'm sent packing.  (sigh)  Oh well.  I guess better late than never, right?  I know that once I get there it will be much easier to learn tongo (vocabulary).  Here it can be so hard sometimes to remember and learn new words.  Although I have been doing it, it is just more difficult.  Once I get to Japan I will have to learn and remember them because I will just be hearing them constantly.  

The ironic thing about this language, that has taken me these eight weeks to learn, is that the order makes so much sense.  For the longest time I couldn't understand sentence structure (the hardest thing about Japanese), but I am finally starting to get it.  In English we have the verb in the middle (unless you're Yoda), but in Japanese the verb is always at the end.  So you have to state who is verbing and what they're verbing before you state the verb.  For instance:

I read the Book of Mormon
I the Book of Mormon read. 
watashi wa Morumon-sho o yomimashita

It didn't make sense for the longest time, but now that I am in the thick of it, it makes so much more sense than English.  I find it hilarious that I learned so much about English by studying Japanese (for instance, so many exceptions in English).  
Unfortunately the district I have become so close to in the past 2 months are not all going to Fukuoka.  All of the Shimai (Sisters) are going to Kobe and three of the elders are going to Kobe as well.  So I will not be seeing any of them, but I the other four elders are going with me, so we will be on the same flight together.  

Something that I don't think I have mentioned before.  Everyone is broken into zones/branches and then are broken into districts here at the MTC.  So my district is split almost half and half going to Kobe and Fukuoka, but most of the rest of the zone are going to many various places.  The other Daisenpai (which are the oldest Japanese going missionaries here, all of which came in with me and leave with me) are all going to Kobe.  The new people in our Zone are going to Nagoya, Sendai and I think Tokyo.  So it would seem as if I am one of the only five going to Fukuoka, but no.  There is another zone of Japanese missionaries and most of them are going to Fukuoka.  So the people I am leaving with and heading over to Fukuoka with, most of them I have never even met before.  So we call ourselves the lost sheep, because we're like the only Fukuoka missionaries not in that other zone.  

I have such a great time here.  It feels like I have been in the MTC for like forever.  I have gotten slightly sick twice and have had tons of other experiences that have prepared me to go out into the field.  Going for two years without any breaks or doing things that I used to do at home (watch TV, hang out with friends, etc.) used to seem so hard.  But now I can finally see myself doing it and I am fine with it now.  As hard as it will be (and believe me, I understand now how hard missions are; the language gave me that perspective) I know that it will be so worth it.  

Last week we commited one of our investigators, Suzuki-san,(apparently a very popular name) to baptism.  My companion and I were so excited.  After working so hard to prepare and teach lessons (especially because we had to plan what we say almost word for word beforehand)  it was great to see our efforts finally pay off.  I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had here and would not give them up for anything.  If I ever thought about quiting and going home, those thoughts have been crushed by the Spirit and the great experiences I have had.  

Thanks to everyone who has written me and sent me letters/emails.  Although I usually do not have enough time to write back, I am very grateful to hear from you.  I hope you are all doing well.  Take care,
Lee Choro

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week 7 - August 13, 2013

So we should be getting our travel plans either Thursday or Friday, so I am super excited!  Not that I don't like the MTC, but I can't wait to be in Japan! 
I noticed this week that the MTC has kind of become home now.  I am so used to walking around the campus so often, it's just what I have become accustomed to.  It will be weird leaving this place and the sights I have just grown so familiar with. 
So far we have not been able to go to the Temple at all.  Normally on your P-day you have a set time when you can go to the temple, but the Provo temple has been closed since I got here.  But it re-opened yesterday and I can finally go in!
Another thing we hadn't had the opportunity to do until recently is to greet new missionaries.  New missionaries always come on Wednesdays, so when they come through, they call on the missionaries already here to escort them to get their books and study materials (for instance the japanese to english dictionaries and so on).  We were finally able to do this last Wednesday and spent a good three hours escorting the new missionaries. 
i haven't mentioned this in the past, but when we first came to the MTC we received a TON of books.  We got a Japanese Bible, Book of Mormon (triple comb.) and romaji PMG (the missionary hand book; romaji is japanese put into english letters).  We also got tons of study books which were all given names ages ago (apparently our sensei's had the same names, so a long time).  We have a thin long red book called the miagi (like the sensei in Karate Kid) a thick yellow book of japanese grammar called the pikachu, and so on (I won't give descriptions, but the names are as follows: bulbasaur, squirtle, sumo, samurai, katana/jisho, magikarp, togepi).  Our sensei will say something like 'get out the Pikachu" and we all get out our grammar books.  It's awesome. 
One thing I've noticed as I've been here is that my priorities have changed.  Beforehand I just wanted to be the best japanese speaker leaving the MTC.  But since I've been here, I've found it really doesn't matter.  What matters is touching people's hearts, and if you can do that, your ability in the language doesn't matter.  All you can do is bring the Spirit; He will do the rest. 
Although I don't always have time to respond to your emails or letters, my time is very limited, know that I appreciate your contact.  I love you all and am grateful for the impact you have had in my life.  kono kyokai wa shinjitsu da to akashi shimasu yo (authentic Japanese). 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week 6 - August 6, 2013

We are officially Diasenpai (the oldest japanese speaking missionaries in the MTC).  We can finally get excited for our departure date.  We will probably get our flight plan a week from Friday. 
We had Fast Sunday yesterday.  Like BYU, it is nigh on impossible to bear your testimony for all of the people who want to go up.  The best is to hear the Nihonjin (native japanese speakers).  It is great to listen to a native speaker; super helpful. 
SYL (Speak Your Language) is very hard, but it can be super helpful.  Essentially we try to speak as much Japanese as we can and as little English as possible.  Hearing others speak and practising making sentences myself has made my comprehension and speaking quicker and more accurate (I am still terrible at Nihongo though). 

We started teaching other companionships this week, which has been much less stressful than teaching our sensei's. The companionship we are teaching knows about the same amount of Japanese as we do, so we don't have to worry nearly as much about saying things correctly. It has been very nice. 
While most of my district (at least the elders) are still playing four square, I got bored of it like a week ago.  I decided I need to actually burn calories, especially because I have been eating so unhealthy.  My companion receives approx. two packages a week (at least!) and all of them have tons of cookies and lemon bars and other sugar snacks.  If there is one thing I don't need right now, it's sugar. 
One of the things I really want to do when I get back is teach here at the MTC.  It would be sooo cool.  Not only would I get to speak japanese, but I would also be able to prepare new missionaries for the field.  I don't know if I would be able to do that, just because it is a very rigorous process getting a job here; but if I could, that would be awesome. 
My companion and I had the opportunity to befriend and help out a Nihonjin this week.  His name is Sizilio Choro and he is from Brazil.  I am not sure what his whole story is, but he moved to Japan about five years ago and had to learn Japanese from his native Portegeus (yes I am terrible at spelling).  He then learned Spanish and eight months ago learned English from watching the TV show, House.  He is pretty much fluent in english now.  He also knows some Chinese and can read French.  Needless to say, he has the gift of tongues.  But he had something wrong with his knee, I can't exactly remember what though, and he had to go to physical therapy this week.  But Sizilio Choro's companion had to go to in field training because he was preparing to leave the MTC, so my companion went with him to therapy.  It turned out something was wrong with his cartilage, so he had to have surgery.  Because his companion had to prepare to leave for the field, my companion went with him again.  He now has to stay for another few weeks.  It was a great opportunity to make a new friend and serve another missionary, for both Elder Budge and myself.  Budge Choro was also able to receive help with his Japanese from being around Sizilio Choro.  Because Sizilio Choro has to stay for a few weeks he is now in our district which means we are able to hear a fluent Japanese speaker constantly.  Although I feel bad that he can't leave right away, it is a great blessing for our district.  This is a shorter version just because I don't have a ton of time, but I think you can understand the jist of what happened. 

So I will describe Durin and Malaska Choro now.  There is tall elder who has multiple pairs of glasses he rotates through and they are all pretty cool; his name is Elder Malaska (from Toquerville [probably not right spelling, but pronounced like toker ville]).  The Shimaitachi (sisters) call him the hipster.  He's kind of the class clown and is great at lightening the mood with jokes and stuff.  I was worried he would detract from the Spirit at first, but so far it has not been the case at all.  He has been a great asset to the district. 
His companion, Durin choro is a smart elder, but he is also one of the most interesting people here.  He loves to make weird noises and is never predictable.  He is very good at making comments that come out of nowhere.  He, along with Elder Malaska, are the funniest people I have met in the MTC.  It is great to have them both in our district. 
Thanks for the letters and packages I have received.  I really appreciate the thought. 
I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity I have and I have learned so much and been able to feel the Spirit so strong. 

Powell Sensei (MTC instructor)

Black Sensei (MTC instructor)

Iain's MTC District
All Japanese learners going to different missions in Japan.