Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Week 4, Gotta Hand it to Him

What a week, what a wonder, what a world!

The weeks are starting to FLYYYYYYY by ✈️
(Somebody please remind me to use that joke again when I leave the MTC
for Japan. Please)

Speaking of jokes, I'm really funny.
Instead of studying, I wrote some Japanese-themed jokes. Kind of like
studying Japanese, right...?

Here they are:

So you're talking to your friend:
Your friend: "Meet you in Japan in one week!"
You: "See you YEN!"

What's a martial artist's favorite kind of tea?

I should get paid for this.

So I didn't take many pictures of little ole me this week (too busy taking candid shots of all of the cute girls in my district. Too photogenic to be real, I swear) but I did find this cool glitched
satellite image of Sapporo from google maps! I call it "Sapporo Summer, Sapporo Winter"

I had my first dream in Japanese!  

But it doesn't really count. My whole dream wasn't Japanese, I was just teaching a lesson. You know you're a real missionary when you're doing missionary work in your dreams.

Okay so fact time! This week was the New Mission President's Seminar. What does that mean? All of the new mission presidents come for 3 days to be trained. 

What does that really mean?

THE ENTIRE QUORUM OF THE 12, AND the Presidency AND THE PROPHET were on campus!!!

Not that it's a big deal or anything  Just kidding-- it was so cool!!

Guess what. I saw the back of Elder Oak's head one day.

And then guess what again. THE NEXT DAY I SHOOK HIS HAND.


Here's the story, as I wrote it, 20 minutes after it happened (when we all calmed down enough to type.)


But yeah, Elder Oak's just walked into the class of the district that has been here longer than us while they were doing teaching practice. And he just listened in, and bore his testimony!! That must have been stressful, I'm glad I just got to shake his hand! It was really so cool.

And then the next day we "met" Elder Stevenson!
We were walking across the crosswalk, and we were stopped short to let a normal-looking white car pass by. It slows down in front of my companion and I and this guy says "Hello, Sisters! Where are you guys going?"
"Uhhh.... Japan?"
"That's great! See you on Tuesday!" And then he drove off.
THEN this old couple behind us told us that it was Elder Stevenson in that car and we freaked out.
But we never saw him on Tuesday!

Afterwards, my companion and I said "Two down, ten to go."
We're cool cats.

Also! During Mission President's Conference, we had a mission president and his wife teach us a lesson. His wife, who was a fabulous dresser, by the way, did the interior designs for the Gilbert Temple! It was cool to be able to compliment her on her work.

New Japan facts I've Learned from my Teachers while Distracting them from Teaching Us:

- Apparently, the corn dogs in Japan's 7/11s are to die for.

- During winter in Sapporo, you have to put your liquid products (i.e. Toothpaste, Shampoo, etc.) I'm the fridge so they don't freeze. 
Maybe I should just put myself in the fridge too. I think I'm at least a little more important than toothpaste....

Dumb things I've Done this Week:

- My roommates and I were getting really into singing Sound of Music songs. Harmonizing and everything. During our rendition of the Do Re Mi song, we were full-fledged galloping across the room. It was the performance of a lifetime. And then someone shut our door really loud.  Oops!

Teacher Talk:

- MARRIAGE!!!! Our teacher got married yesterday! The one who was our investigator and then became our teacher and is now our teacher/investigator aka TeachVestigator. We, being the cutest district ever, bought him a card, signed it, and took a Polaroid of ourselves for him to cherish forever (or, more realistically, throw away a month after we leave.) Our other teacher delivered it to him at his reception. She's also going to film us singing Love at Home and send it to him, because apparently, we have singing skills.

(Sensible Elder on the right looks so happy in this picture!! And I'm just in the back like a creep.)

- Haha, remember how Babysitter Sensei always wears the same tie? It's because he cleans his dorm room by shoving everything in the closet, and never opening it again. Of course. Classic Babysitter Sensei. So, being the adorable and fun district that we are, we all put in some cash and bought him a new tie from the MTC store. It matches his leather jacket.  I'm so excited for him to wear it, haha  And the best part is, we aren't even technically his district.

- ALSO, we asked one of our teachers what the teachers say about us behind our backs, and we are OFFICIALLY "The Fun District." Basically, everyone fights over who gets to teach us, no big deal. I'm tellin' ya, we're cool cats.

The Crazy Elder (who I should rename the genius elder. He worked for Microsoft before he came here, got accepted to Stanford, and got a 35 on his ACT) gets sick a lot and stays at the nurse, so Sensible Elder came to class with a new companion one day. We call him Denwa Chōrō (Elder Phone) He is very polite.

And that was this week!

As for today, I'm pretty sick. I've been trying to ignore it for a few days, but it's official, I'm sick. Blarg. 

Also, don't tell anyone, but I accidentally got left alone in the dorms today, without a companion. That's highly illegal! Shhhhhhhhh! Our secret.

("See you later, alligator" in Japanese. We made it up to bug our teachers. Hence, The Fun District TM)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Week 3, No Longer a Green Bean


Sometimes it feels like that's the extent of my Japanese skills, but we're working on that!

Today we are getting new kohai (I don't know the direct translation.... Something like "underlings") and we will be senpai ("overlords," I guess). That just means that we are getting new districts in our zone! So now our district isn't the greenhorns anymore! It feels good to pretend that I know what I'm doing.

But that also means that the Nijonjin (Japanese people) district left, and we are all heart broken! Despite the pretty big language barrier, we had so much fun together!

Here's a montage memory reel. Roll the clip!

(I hope the video works. Sister S taught that game to us and I was the worst at it! The song is about going to the tallest point of the alps and dancing, haha. I love Japanese people)

They drew pictures of all of us and put them on our door. We had a running joke where I would always say "I'm a Nihonjin!" (Japanese person) They always thought it was so funny!!

Our room and S Shimai. Haha I only really have pictures of her, because the other sisters were too shy for photos! The reason it says "Bring it in!" is because my companion taught them to say that before a hug, she was pretty proud of herself haha!

More Nihonjin District memories: 
F Shimai has a collection of bottle caps. Just the plastic ones! She has over 500 at home, and she was super excited to collect American ones. I helped her choose her last cap from the MTC.
A grey Powerade zero cap. 
Blue raspberry flavor.
I think it was a pretty good choice!

We have a joke where I always say "SUUPA SENKYOUSHI" (super missionary) and put my hands over my eyes like a mask. Apparently Japanese people think I'm really funny. Score.

//End clip

But now we are getting a new district of Japanese so it's onward and upward from here! New friends!

What I've learned this week in the MTC:

Apparently Japan thinks all prophets are Nostradamus. Like, the Italian guy from the 1500's that prophecies of the end of the world and was an alchemist. My investigator brought that up when we were going over the plan of salvation and I was just like "No look, the Kanji is different!"  My teacher/investigator better have been impressed with me.

The Japanese word for less active member is "Oyasumi Kaiin," literally translated as "sleeping member." Japanese is so funny.

Funny things that temporarily kept me from falling asleep in class this week:

One of the sisters in my district didn't know where Alaska was. She thought it was by Hawaii, because of the way maps are drawn with the outsets. 

While we were doing some role play lessons, the same sister accidentally said "Oh, am I the investiger?" And then Brother S said "No, you're the SenkyoshER" in a Texas accent. (Senkyuoshi is missionary in Japanese)  He is so sarcastic. 

Brother S (Was-Once-Fuchino-San-Now-Is-Our-Teacher-and-Investigator-Again) is engaged and getting married soon. He was telling us about his proposal story, and we discovered the craziest coincidence! Okay so he was at the temple grounds and there were couples taking pictures at this certain spot, and one couple asked Brother S to take a picture, and said "Don't worry this is fake," and he pretended to get on one knee for the picture with his girlfriend. And then Brother S had that couple take their picture, but his was real. Just a funny story, right? BUT GET THIS! One of the sisters in our district is friends with that other couple, and already knew the story. Haha, so crazy, right??

This is probably so boring for everyone else, but we literally live for these stories.

Another story:
Babysitter Sensei told us the story about a missionary who ran away from his companion in his district.  One morning he woke up and his companion wasn't there, and--because he was kind of dumb--he went to the train station, looked around for him for hours, and then came back to his apartment and called the mission president.  Babysitter Sensei acted out the phone call for us. It went something like this:
"Uh, president... I can't find my companion..."
"Is he in the bathroom?"
"Uh... I'll go check..... No, no he's gone."
"Well is any of his stuff there?"
"All that's left is some Tic-Tacs in his desk..."
"Okay well just stay there and we'll send someone to get you. Don't leave your apartment!"
(I cannot even convey how funny Babysitter Sensei told this story, I hope it comes through)
And then he said the next transfer he moved into a new apartment. And there was a desk with a bunch of Tic-Tacs in the drawer.
So he ate them. 😂 😂  

He is my favorite.
And he still wears the same blue silk tie.

He told us about some Japanese mistakes that MTC missionaries had made. Here are some highlights:

Supposed to say: We sacrifice two years to come on a mission in Japan
Actually said: We sacrificed two thousand Japanese people

Actually said: Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be speaking at sacrament meeting on Sunday.
Supposed to say: honestly, I don't know. 🙈

(This is Sister H. During gym time, we sit on the mats and "stretch." And when I say "stretch," yes, I do mean sleep.)

MTC, more like MTCelebrity look-alike sightings!

This week there was The Know-it-All Kid from Polar Express
A pretty passable Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation (his sour expression and general attitude of being stressed out really sold the look) 
And an AMAZING Elijah Wood. He even has an accent (he's Australian, but still!) And now we're friends. He likes surfing, and skinny ties.

Ben Wyatt is going to my same mission too! I told him that he looks like Ben Wyatt, but he hates Ben Wyatt. We're still friends though, me and Elder Wyatt.  I bet we'll play Cones of Dunshire together someday, after the mission.

This week I biffed it on the infamous dip. It's this section of the sidewalk that curves very steeply to make up for the altitude difference of two sections of sidewalk.  We have a joke where we always warn new missionaries not to fall! And I fell. I have a nasty bruise on my knee now.  It's great.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week 2, MTC Please Set me Free

I feel like I've been here forever.  Our teachers always tell us amazing stories about their missions and how much they miss Japan. I love it, but it makes it so much harder to be in the MTC!! 

Japan, I'm coming for you!

I have an iPad!! So apparently Japanese districts are the pilot district for missionaries to get iPads in the MTC. And we are so lucky! There's an area book APP. AN APP! No paperwork for me!! Also I get to draw pictures in my free time, I love it!

Also I forgot to add this to my last email, but everyone lied. There are no hangers in the MTC, NONE! Our whole room had about 7. But it's okay, we all just shove our clothes into drawers anyway!

I never told you about my living quarters! There are four girls in our room, two bunk beds. I sleep on top! It's like sleeping in the sky!

Also I don't know if it's the food, or how bored I get during the day, but I have the best dreams here. I wake up laughing, that's how good they are!

Here's a view of our classroom on a regular day during study time! (Note my companion taking a selfie on the right-hand side. Definitely a regular day.)

Oh and here's my companion!

(Photo edited to enhance the redness of Sister W's hair)

My teachers are literally so funny and just the best!

Today, our teacher Nora Kyodai (Brother Nora) (his name is actually NoraWong but Wong sounds like how a dog barks in Japanese "wan wan" so he won't let us call him that. It's so funny. He's so funny. If you get a question right, he presses his nose and goes "PING PONG!!" What????? Also, he's Laotian! He's a great teacher.) ANYWAY. Today he made us get up and take a lap around the buildings. We come back and sit down.
Then he makes us get up again, comes with us, and makes us SPEED WALK (and he has long legs, so I was running) around the buildings IN THE RAIN. And he was doing this punching thing while he went and he was like "ICHI NI ICHI NI" and he kept yelling at us to go faster in Japanese. The crazy elder in our district was at the head of the pack, shaking his hips as he went along. We were all dying laughing. It was a great day at the MTC. 

And now we know not to act sleepy in class....

Our investigator became our teacher too. We were just sitting waiting for class, and in comes Fuchino-San. We were all like "uuuuuuuhhhhhh" 
It was so funny hearing him speak English.
He says the funniest stuff under his breath, and always says "desu ne?" ("it is" or he agrees with you) At the end of all of his English sentences. SYL people!

"Fuchino-San" always looked at his shoes during lessons, and we told him that he did that and today during class the crazy asked him a question in English and he said "Wakarimasen" (I don't understand) while looking at his shoes. Looks like we'll see Fuchino-San around!

Turns out he's going to be our next investigator too. Now we call him Katō-san. To quote my companion, "Trust no one at the MTC."
The MTC is so weird, guys.

We have this other "teacher" who literally calls himself our babysitter. Let's call him Babysitter Sensei. He always comes in during the block of time when we all take turns teaching our investigator. All he's taught me is Zootopia quotes, a lot about the Star Wars and Marvel, and about the different islands in Jurassic park. Summation, he's great. Today he was wearing a leather jacket to protect his light blue silk tie (the one he wears every day) from the rain. 

He was the one who had been trying to trick us that our investigator was a real Japanese guy, and after we found out we confronted him in the hall and he just stuck out his tongue and laughed. He is really funny.

Another story about our "babysitter"
One day in class we had two teachers, What-Once-Was-Fuchino-San and Babysitter Sensei.  After arguing about my short-term language goals (which he finally admitted were subarashii--amazing) he said "Brother S. He is gone. I am the captain now."
And then he tried to eat my notebook.

Here's some pictures of my district!

(Guess which one is the one we call the crazy elder) 

From our temple walk! Peace signs for extra Japanyness.  ✌ ✌ ✌

(Me and F Shimai. She's cute. I think I'll keep her around for a while.)

The other day at gym time I was wearing a t-shirt from Give and Take that has a cute little drawing of a girl and a nihonjin from our zone were like "OHHHH!! Sore wa ______-chan!" I don't remember the name of the girl, but they totally recognized what she was from. Some kind of thing to sit on the side of your cup? I don't know. But then later that night, I was singing some song I knew in Japanese while brushing my teeth and one of them was like "Oh, you know that band??" And then we talked about Japanese music. Now we have a joke that I am a nihonjin (native Japanese) 😎. 

One of the Nihonjin wrote my name (Mae) in Kanji.  Like she basically gave me a new name.  It means "Rely on your growing faith," and I literally couldn't thank her enough. I was so touched!!  This is what it looks like! It is so special.

Today, my companion said "The struggle is a peninsula," instead of "the struggle is real." Babysitter Sensei was laughing so hard before he told us her mistake.  How to say "the struggle is real" in Nihongo, thanks to Brother Nora

A picture of me practicing writing kanji, like a good little student.

Here are some memorable quotes from Sensible Elder from this week:
Someone outside was singing. "Someone's really flexing the golden pipes!"
His crazy companion was saying stuff. "Stop saying words."
Crazy companion says something totally random, again. "That's my companion..."

If any of you were wondering how my snack stash was looking, it's looking pretty darn good. Thanks, Dad.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Week 1, Nothin' but Fun

(Titles may or may not be 100% accurate.)

Otherwise known as Missing (free) Time and Couches.

It feels so weird not to have a phone in my pocket. Especially on Pants Day! (P-day, in case that wasn't obvious.)

My district!
We have 7 Sisters (including me) and only 2 Elders! Which is so crazy! That means we all get super duper loud and chatty. (And one of the culprits is an Elder, haha)

Our zone includes two other districts, one of which is our Senpai (higher-status piers) who have been here for three weeks, and the Nihonjin, or native Japanese, who will be in the MTC for three weeks.

All three zones are super funny, and we have the best time together.
And the Nihonjin are seriously the best.

I first knew our district was special when we all sat seiza--on our knees, Japanese-style--as we read through the Missionary Handbook.

The food!
The food is actually pretty do-able. Everyone always talks about how bad it is, but it is on-par with BYUH's Caf, and sometimes even better. And if you don't like any of the entrees, there's a salad and wrap station, which is always a solid choice! And the tomato soup is liquid gold.

The Dendo (missionary work!)
We have already taught our first investigator three times, and it is so awkward!!!! He's this gangly white guy in his mid-20s who "only speaks Japanese," and he is so lovable... but awkward. We always come out of there laughing because of how bad it is. But, we can only go up from here! Broken Japanese with lots of charades is so much fun.

I'm trying to think up some funny stuff that happened this week!
Already we are becoming super Japanese. We bow all the time, say  "hai!" to everyone at the MTC, even if they aren't learning Japanese... oops! Also, all the Japanese people do this thing, where they make an X with there arms when they talk! One of the Nihonjin sisters was introducing herself and when she got to her hobbies, in broken English she said, "I like sports, running..." and made the X with her arms. So now that's what we do in basically every conversation.

I have a native Japanese teacher! She is from Chiba, which is right next to Tokyo Disneyland. So very jealous of that. She is so cute and kind! I could have not asked for a better teacher, because she is the most patient person ever. And trust me, our district is crazy. She is so patient. I think we wore her out a lot this last week, because she just left for vacation to Hawaii... ;)

One of the sisters in my district taught me a basketball trick and now I spend all of play time (ie. "Exercise Time") practicing. Everyone in the gym looks at my funny now, but in nine weeks they will wish they had my dedication. You balance one basketball on top of another, and then quickly grab the top one and switch positions. So I will have a super special talent when I get back home!

Other funny things... Oh mannnnnnn, this one is good!
The second night, when we were all in the residence halls getting ready for bed, we hear just the MOST PANICKED running through the halls, and we hear a poor sister shouting "SISTER PETERSON? SISTER PETERSON!! I can't find my companion!!!!!"
Sister Peterson was in the shower.
My whole district was dying laughing, and one sister just said "Missionaries are so weird."
It's true, but what can you do!
Now anytime any of us get to far away from our companion we just say "Sister Peterson!!"
Always gets a laugh.

First week in the MTC, and we already have an apostle come to devotional! #privileges Elder Bednar and his wife came to speak, and we got seats 5 or so rows back. :)
Also especially privileged because we were the first to be able to hear the song that Elder Bednar wrote! Look out for it in the Ensign, it's called "One by One."

Ja mata, wani! (Japanese for "See you later, aligator!")