It's been one long week that has been full of listening to people I don't understand. The first day was super annoying almost because everyone is so friendly it hurts. Everyone can tell you're new and the all yell, "Welcome to the MTC!" They stick you in a classroom with a sensei who jabbering off in Nihongo (Japanese for all you who don't know) and you are trying to translate what the heck he's saying. By the end of the day I was wondering why I ever thought that Nihongo wouldn't be a problem to learn.
On Day 2 I was made District Leader. Every classroom is a district and in my district I have 12 missionaries. I have eight elders and four sisters. All of the elders are going to Nagoya and all the sisters are going to Kobe. I think they purposefully put the Nagoya sisters in another district so that we don't develop any pri-mission field relationships. I love my district. It's been such a good experience to get to lead these missionaries. We have a New Zealander, two elders from Brazil, and a sister from Tahiti. One of the Brazilians and the Tehitian sister don't speak English so it's really hard for them to learn the language. Out of the 12 of us 8 of us have some life experience past high school (3 sisters & 5 elders). The kids out of high school are doing ok but they are really young. My companion is a young kid from Mesa, AZ and is like another little brother. I am mentoring him to become a good leader at some point. I am hoping he'll be a district leader before we leave. I will be district leader for another two weeks and I will be so sad to not have the opportunity to lead these great people.
I saw Tommy literally 10 minutes after I got dropped off and I see him everyday because we have class in the same building and he lives two floors below me. He leaves in 10 days. Sometimes I see Tanner and I will practice some Deutsch with him. He leaves in 14 days. Life he is a lot like USAFA except both USAFA prison you can listen to music, watch movies, use the gym for more than 50 minutes, and get phone calls. It bothers some people that we are in a gated community with key cards to get into buildings, but it's just like being back at the Hill.
Nihongo is going to be a struggle. Jinsei wa muzukashii desu. They want us to use a program called SYL (speak your language) where we use Nihongo words in our English sentences to develop our vocab. We can make very, very basic sentences and from what I can gather that is good for now. We started teaching an "investigator" on Day 3 and we pretty much just read out of our language book. We have taught a lesson everyday and we have gotten better. Preparation is key. We do better when we can write down our own sentences and read them instead of using the book. It helps us learn how to create sentences. We still have so much to learn it's stressful. I thought I was leaving stress behind by going on a mission... I was wrong. The first couple days my German was all starting to come back when I would hear a foreign language, but I have got that under better control. After about a week I can understand our sensei so-so (he has only ever spoken to us in Nihongo). I can pick out words I know and I guess what he's saying. That's how it is for everyone though and sometimes will be guessing for about 2 minutes to figure out what he is saying. We have class for three hours a day (yesterday we had 6) and we are getting better. Last night we had a district testimony meeting with our sensei and I can almost understand everything he saying when he is bearing testimony and the Spirit is super strong. I can pray all in Nihongo and somewhat introduce myself and can say some basic everyday tasks. Just being able to pray on my own has been a super huge accomplishment for me and the district. My companion and I are really diligent in our extra hour of language study every night. We all can read Hiragana and sing out of the hymn book everyday. This week's challenge is going to be Katakana.
I love you all so much and I know that this Gospel is true. It's so great to spend so much time in the scriptures everyday and to get to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ better. I wish the best for all of you. Ai shite imasu!
I can receive letters (snail mail or DearElder.com) any day of the week, but I can't write back until Thursdays.
Supiido to Tenshi-tachi,
Pic 1- The choro-tachi of my district
Pic 2- The name tag
Pic 3- my companion and I