Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Week 4 - August 31, 2016 : Half way through the MTC

Hey Mom (and Everyone Else),

It's crazy to think that I have been here for four weeks already! To answer your questions, I have had my hair cut, and I will be going again before I leave. My companion's name is Elder Nukaya,  and he is from Idaho Falls, Idaho. We get along pretty well, as does everyone in our district, and I am very impressed that no one has had a bad fight yet. I think that we have all been blessed to put aside our differences, and focus on the important job we have to serve the Lord. I have seen Cami around on occasion, but normally just in passing. It looks like she's also enjoying her time here, but I guess I don't have any concrete evidence to support that. As a funny story, she also knows Elder Smith from my district, because he is from her aunts ward in California. Its crazy how small of a world we really live in. We never get to leave the MTC, not even on P-day, unless we are going to the temple, which is right across the street. So I haven't left yet, but similar to how everyone is getting along, I'm perfectly fine staying on campus. We really don't have enough free time to get bored. Lastly, I don't know exactly when I will be leaving for Japan, or when I arrive. Flight plans are normally given to the missionaries about a week before we leave, so I might figure it out the end of September, but Elder Brown's family works in the Church, and we might get them sent indirectly earlier. If I were to guess, I would think we leave here on the 4th or 5th of October, right after conference, and get to Japan the 5th, 6th or 7th. 

Last week we got our new Kohai, which was fun for all of us 'experienced' missionaries. The highlight for me was seeing that one of them was from North Carolina, because the closest person to home that I had known was from Kansas, and its just a little different. Sadly, as it turns out, this missionary is from Raleigh, and is a Tar Heel Fan, so ties were quickly severed. The Kohai also lived in a different building for the last week, so we really couldn't talk to them to begin with, but we have now moved in with them, so I expect that we'll become friends. Another problem that might pop up is that most of the new missionaries have already taken Japanese, so instead of us teaching them, its the other way around. But everything is great! We have new members of our branch, new faces, and a whole lot of fun left in Provo. 

A cool experience from last week actually happened right after I emailed. We get to go to the temple every P-day, and normally we just do some of the names that they have there. However, last week, as we were going in, a lady stopped us and asked if we could do some of her families male names for her. Of course we said we would go through for them, and she gave us the names. The cool part was that when I looked at them, the first ordinances had been done in the D.C. Temple! I forget the sisters name, but as it turns out she has a sister-in-law in NoVA, and for one reason or another the names got sent out west to be finished. It was great for me, because as I said earlier, I haven't found many connections back home, or even to the east coast, and so I was just really touched when I saw that. It also helped me to find a lock screen for my Ipad, which I have attached. Sadly, I wasn't able to watch the temple dedication in Sapporo, but the temple looks beautiful. If it was any closer, I would hope that we could go sometime on our mission, but I know that the people of Northern Japan have been waiting and will be very pleased with the temple they have. 

I guess the last thing for this week will just be a quick introduction of my district, because I don't think that I have told you about them yet. We had 12 people, but our two sisters, Sister Martin and Sister Reyes, were transferred out yesterday so that Sister Reyes, who is from Mexico, could have a companion that spoke Spanish to help her learn Japanese. So now we have 10 elders left. In one sentence each, they go as follows. Me. Elder Nukaya, engineer-to-be from Idaho. Elder Walter, who reminds me a lot of Sam Childs, from Oregon. Elder Pierce, the soft-spoken yet large muscled Texan. Elder Jo, one of the smartest in the district, but one of the hardest to figure out, from Utah. Elder Chesnut, Sheppard Sontaggs friend who runs, from Utah. Elder Smith from California, who is on of the best story tellers I know. Elder Brown, who looks like, acts like, and is a wrestler, from Utah. Elder Coleman, smart, flirtatious, and witty soccer player from Utah. And Elder Jackel, the small soon to be business man from Washington. To help you, we drew a picture one day which I am sending. Good luck identifying who's who. 

If you have any more questions, just send them to me. I love emailing home, and sharing whats going on. Its crazy how much happens, and how little I can send home. Love you all!

Elder Woodhouse

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Week 3: August 24, 2016 - Mitch turned 19 in the MTC

Thanks for everything that you guys sent for my birthday. It was really nice to get more food, but even better to get the letters that you all packed into the box. The only downside was that our room is getting to the point where we can't eat all of our food, even though we still have six weeks left. The camera will also be really nice, and I will try to keep it on me to get some pictures of the temple or other crazy things that happen. Thanks a lot!

In class everyone is really starting to get pounded by Japanese, which is funny, because our two teachers have actually been speaking more in English to help us understand. We're starting to work on more complex sentences, such as "I am thankful for being able to receive the gift of tongues," rather than just "I am thankful for the gift of tongues" or "Through reading the Book of Mormon you can endeavor to feel peace." They may not seem like much, but I never realized how complex, for lack of a better term, my English sentences were until I had to break them up into multiple Japanese ones, just because I don't know how to translate it. It's a fun job that we have, but its getting to the point that its also one that we need all nine hours for, and more. 

Personnel-wise, half of our Branch left for Japan Monday morning. We lost about 30 people, and we currently only have 3 districts left in our new-to-Japanese Branch. I didn't expect missing them horribly, as we only knew them for three weeks, but their presence is dearly missed, be it in how to get around the MTC, simple conversations, or Japanese facts. As of today, when we get 1 new Japanese district, we are going to be the experienced students, and I know for a fact that we don't know near enough Japanese for that responsibility. But, on the bright side, they don't know that we don't know, and that will give us just enough time to stay ahead of them.

One thing I think I mentioned last week that was coming up was TRC, where we taught lessons to Japanese members as another way of practicing our Japanese. We teach two lessons every Wednesday night, so it happened last week after I emailed home. Being fully honest, I loved the experience. We didn't know much Japanese, but it was great for me to be able to go into a lesson where the person knew roughly about the gospel, and maybe only had a few questions or just wanted to talk. One of the things I've found, which has frusturated a couple of lessons Elder Nukaya and I have taught, is that in Japanese I have absolutely no idea how to get to know people, or transition, or generally start a lesson. But when we get to talk to someone who knows our message, I get to skip that part! It will be a double edged sword, because that is definitely something I'll need to learn in Japan, but I get to practice that with our actual 'invesitgators', so for now, I'm not complaing. 

The rest of the stuff we've been doing here has been pretty uneventful, at least for the MTC. Last night we had a member of the 70 come, Elder Juan Ucera, and he gave a great devotional on his personal conversion and the testimony that it has brought him. We're still spoiled, because after Elder Anderson the first week we really want another apostle, but it was a good talk, and testified of the importance of bearing testimony. Sundays devotional was a bit odd, as it was the Nashville Tribute Band, and they led the devotional through Mormon Country Song. It was something I've never heard before, and while I don't know if I would do it again, it was great to hear the strength of their testimony through song. 

That's really pretty much it for this week, just Japanese lessons, Investigator lessons, and personal study. If you have any questions, just send them and I'll work on answering them for next week. Thanks again for all the birthday gifts!

Elder Woodhouse 

Mitch's First Japanese Branch in MTC before the senpai (senior group) left for Japan

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Week 2 - Aug. 17, 2016: Absolutely Fantastic!

Scripture for the week:  D&C 6:33-36

33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
 34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
 35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sinno more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
 36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week 1 : August 10, 2016 - Things are going well

Hey guys!

Its great to hear how everyone is doing back home. Tell Becca good job on cleaning the Beige, even if she was slightly excessive with how many chlorox wipes she used. It sounds like Garrett and Brad had fun at Grandmas. Garrett really stood out with his yellow shorts, but its exactly what I would expect from him. 

Things are going pretty well here. Today was our first P-day, as the first day didn't count as one, so for the next 8 weeks Ill be able to email on Wednesdays. However, Japan seems to be an Ipad mission, so I can technically read emails any day of the week. Japanese class is really consuming, but at the same time extremely fun. Most days we just have a solid 3 hour block of full immersion in the mornings, and then we get to teach a Japanese investigator in the afternoon. Its weird to say, but we have already taught four 15-20 minute lessons in practically full Japanese. It just goes to show that as we are obedient, the Lord will bless us with skills we didn't even know we had. I know for me, this is the most comfortable I have ever felt speaking the language, even though I should have been pretty good after 3 years of class.

Another amazing thing that happened while we were here was the chance to hear Elder Neil L. Anderson speak last night. It was a fun address, and he aimed to show everyone that the Lord will prepare investigators wherever he sends you. It really echoed what we have been told since we came into the MTC, which is that Japan is no longer just a 'seed planting' mission, but is now a 'harvesting mission'. I find it funny how much they aim to change our mindset, but at the same time, I fully agree that you can only find what you are looking for, so you need to believe you can find them. I guess I'm kinda torn on the idea.

My district is pretty good, and I am attaching a picture of us in our classroom. There is only one other Elder who went to school first, and it was BYU, but he's a really nice guy, so it doesn't really matter. What is funny is just how some people react to being away from home. It's funny that I am not the Elder that is most upset by all the regulations here. To be fully honest, they don't really bother me, because I do or want to do at least half the things anyways. I know that I feel really relaxed and capable of living out here, as I have already been away for a year, and I think that some people don't quite feel the same way. I am personally really glad to have had the chance to go to school first. Also, on the topic of school, my friend from TJ, Elder Bastian, is actually going to be transferring to VT when we get back home. Sadly for me, he plans on getting married shortly thereafter, so we wont be in the same ward, but it will still be nice to have another person I know I can trust at the school. 

I love you all, and am glad to have the chance to be out here serving. It has been a great experience so far, and I'm sure that it can only go up.

With Love,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

August 3, 2016: The Adventure Begins