Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week 8: September 28, 2016 - Last Email from the MTC

Hey guys!

Just a heads up, this is going to be a shorter email than usual. We
haven't had that much new news, and mostly have spent the last week
working on getting ready to leave. For class, this has meant a lot
more teaching, and more full Japanese lessons. It also has meant that
we get to learn about the culture, so in theory we will hit the ground
and be able to start off fine. In practice, I think it will help, but
we have so much new information coming in I think we might be slightly

The most exciting thing from last week was getting flight plans on
Friday! When we pulled them out of the mailbox, it sent the entire
zone into chaos, not really because we didn't expect them, but because
it made the trip get real really fast. In total, I think we have about
70 missionaries leaving for Japan on Monday, so it's going to be
really fun. It's also going to be about 20 hours of flying, so more
fun there.

Last thing from last week is an update on our song. As of now, we
didn't get asked to perform for anything, so most likely we aren't
going to perform for the entire MTC. But, we might sing for our
Branch, and I'll try to send a recording one of the other guys got. It
was fun to learn, even though I don't sign great, but it felt like a
great use of time.

It sounds like everything is going great at home. I'll think of you
guys as we watch all 10 hours of conference. Hopefully I get to email
next week, and the next time you hear from me I should be in Japan!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Week 7: September 21, 2016 - Getting Closer to Leaving the MTC

Hey Mom and Dad!

It sounds like things are really picking up with school and driving back home! Its crazy to think that Becca will be driving the Beige around in only a week, but I'm sure it will be a big help to have another driver again. I'm sure she would love to pick up Garrett when he is really sweaty right after soccer some weeks. Things here at the MTC have cooled down after last weeks three apostles in a row, but its starting to get crazy again with us leaving in less than 2 weeks.

Before I get into all of that though, I have a Sienfield story from last week (and a bit before). The MTC serves food like any standard cafeteria, and like you might guess, on occasion, maybe once or twice a week, we get hamburgers. This week, as we were eating, I looked over at one of the other elders in my district, and he wasn't picking the burger up, but instead was sitting there, cutting it into nice bite sized pieces, separating the meat from the bun, and eating the entire thing in that manner. It made me think of the Sienfield where they start eating the Snickers with a fork, and the memory made me crack up. I think that it was a great gift for Dad, and I'll have to catch up on them when I get home. 

In other news of the MTC ramping things up, the picked a choir to go to conference last week.To select who would go, because you can't take the 1000+ person MTC choir, they passed out forms to 'collect data' on the choir for history. What really happened is that they took people that circled 5 (out of 5) for singing ability and sight reading ability. I both didn't realize and felt like I wasn't the best, so I'm not going to conference, but, I know people and I will actually be able to pick people out during the Saturday Afternoon session, besides Larry and Sally and whoever else dad knows. 

Even though I didn't make the Conference Choir, I will be auditioning to perform at devotionals tomorrow. A lot of our Kohai sing, and they were getting together a group of people to an 8 person Acappella arrangement of Abide with Me. Because our classroom is right next to theirs, they asked us first, and now I am part of the group. I think I might be in a bit over my head, but thus far it sounds fine, and so I will tell you next week how the audition goes. 

Last thing for this week is that our Branch Presidency got rearranged, and our second counselor, Brother Turpin, has been transferred to a different Japanese Branch. But, what is both really cool and sad about this is that he actually will be out of town until we leave, giving the Aaronic Priesthood to his oldest grandson. When he was telling us this it made me realize how thankful I was to have Grandpa come out and do that for me, and how great it is that I can still remember it. 

I think that's all the news I have for this week. We have two devotionals left, and then a weekend of General Conference until we get to Japan! Sending a phone sounds like a great idea, but I don't think there is anything else I need. Maybe a new yellow or green tie to go with my blue suit, as one of mine got spilled on, but I can easily dry clean my tie with money from my MTC card or just get some cheap ones when I get to Japan. For sure don't send any food, because for once in my away from home life we have way too much of it. 

Thanks for the email! 

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 6: Sept 14, 2016 - Guess What?

Hey Guys!

I think I'll start out with the big news from last week, which is that we got to hear from not just one, but two more apostles! M. Russel Ballard came to the MTC on Sunday in a surprise visit, and Quentin L. Cook came last night. Cook was almost more unexpected though, because Dallin H. Oaks talked at BYU that morning, so everyone thought he would just come over here afterwards. But, everything worked out great, and we got to hear two great talks, as well as sing in the choir, so it was pretty fun. Both of them talked a lot about our calling as missionaries, and the important work we carry on our back. This is the one time in life that we are able to spend 24/7 working for the Lord, and its up to us to make the most of it. I know its going to be difficult, but this is one of the times that you need faith before you will see any results. Between their talks and some of the other messages I have heard, that is one thing that I can testify of for sure. 

On a less spiritual note, the MTC is still holding up to par. I've mentioned before how much I love it here, but I think I'm now at the point I can say I'll miss it a little. Not much, because I'll be replacing it with Japan, and Japanese food, but a little. I think everyone I knew outside of my district has left now (Sister Goold was the last, yesterday morning), so it will be easier to leave, but we will be leaving our kouhai, and the new kouhai that are coming in today. We'll also be leaving a pure learning environment. As odd as it sounds, I have loved learning Japanese all day long. It can get difficult, but even after 6 weeks I can already see dividends paying off. Once we get in country, we lose that little safety bubble. I look forward to being in Japan, but popping that bubble will be an entry to a whole new world, and its going to hurt.  

As a district nothing really crazy happened last week. Lessons have been crazy and nonstop, but everyone is picking Japanese up. I guess the worst thing that we've got ourselves up to is speaking 90% in Japanese for lunches. Its a great idea in principle, but in practice, we all know so little that it can be both quite and hectic, as we try to figure out what was said. We also figured out that I seem to have a bone to pick with my pillow, because the last few nights I've woken up in the morning and its on the floor. Supposedly I've also started talking after throwing it over, because Elder Nukaya says that he heard me ask for another one. I don't remember any of this, but I can completely see this happening, just like senior year where I could wake up, turn off my alarm, and get back to bed without ever waking up or remembering it. But if that's the worst that's happening, I think things are going pretty good. 

Sleepwalking & Poor Sleeping Habits

As a last note, I'm sorry that I don't have a good picture for this week. I've been trying to figure out how to connect my camera, but I think I might need the usb cord for the first time using it. Really I just left everything but the camera in my room, so I'll look into it and sent more next week. Thanks for all the pictures and notes though! It sounds like Becca is set up for a really good season!

Love you all,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Week 5: September 7, 2016 - Kickball Champions

Hey Mom and Dad,

First off, I think that Mom can take the fall for Dad not receiving emails. I thought this entire time that you guys were sharing responses, and that it was a one email per household type of thing. I have been getting all of dads emails, and I am glad that you both have taken the time to email me. I also really enjoyed the JST version of John 13:34, and I'll keep it in mind as I go around.

With that out of the way, it sounds like everyone is having a great time! I can see that I've already been replaced by Jackson, as you have a nice family picture of 4 people at Harpers Ferry, but at least its someone that I know. Things here have been going really swell, and there are just a couple big items from the last week that stand out. 

First, last Friday they called all the Japanese missionaries to a special devotional. We were in a room with one other zone, and the last zone was in a different room. When we got in, we learned that the speaker was named NoguokiIrie, and he was a returned missionary, mission president, BYU grad currently on vacation from his home in Japan, and that he wanted to share his conversion story with some of the missionaries about to leave. The amazing thing was that the meeting was about an hour long, and he talked the first half-hour in 95% straight Japanese. You could tell that he had tailored his experience to MTC level Japanese, but it was still amazing to understand his testimony and conversion in a language that I have only been studying for 5 weeks. I know that part of the was the gift of tongues, and I look forward to when I will be able to understand fluent full native speakers. His conversion also showed all of us that miracles occur in Japan, and that as we search, we will find people that want to talk to us. 

Second, our district is just a touch athletic and bored, so we challenged on of the other districts that came in with us a a kickball game last Friday. The final score was 20-4, with us winning. It was fun to play, and it was also fun to see how athletic everyone at the MTC is as a general rule. I guess that as you prepare to bike for 10k per day, you have to think that you are in good shape. We might be challenging another district to volleyball or kickball, and it has made all of exercise time really fun.   

Last thing for this week was our devotional last night. We were luck enough to hear Elder D. Todd Christofferson give the address, which meant that the room was absolutely packed. It made me glad that we have been singing in the choir, because we get both the spirit of the choir director, and the seats are guaranteed! The address was about our purpose as missionaries, which has now been summed up into 5 words. "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts". With this motto in mind, we are working to shift our approach to teaching, and to really focus on what repentance is in personal study. It was a good address, but it is something that we have heard a lot already in theMTC, so I'll see what other aspects I can pull from the talk. One that stuck out was his quote "As missionaries, we carry eternal salvation in our hands as we knock doors" I really look forward to having this chance, because I know that I have enjoyed my time learning here, and other people can enjoy the gospel for eternity.

Thats really all I have for the last week. 5 down, 4 more until Japan,

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse