Tuesday, June 25, 2013

MTC Week 3

Konnichiwa! Well, week three has officially begun, and I'm now Senpai! All of our Dai-Senpai, including my host, left yesterday for Tokyo, and my District is now officially MTC Hardened. Haha, this week has been pretty amazing! I just want to start off saying thanks to everyone for sending me the packages, they seriously helped so much this week. :) Especially Mom's! It was so amazing, and totally brightened my day. Thank you so much for the shoes!!! It feels good to be wearing vans right now, and I really appreciate how fast you got them to me! Okay, so how about that Training Broadcast right? It was so incredible to be so close to all of those wonderful servants of God, and to hear their counsel. Missionary work really is changing, and I feel so blessed to be apart of this great era of missionary work.

I hope everything's going great at home! Okay! Also, in the broadcast, which is now on LDS.org, if you go to 3:06, they do a big wideshot of the missionaries, and you can see me in the top right corner, and a couple rows down! After the meeting, my whole district went back and we all found ourselves at least once. it was so cool!

The Japanese is coming along pretty well, I did have kind of a rough patch this week though. There was this HORRIBLE virus going around the MTC, and I straight up got it twice. That's one downside of the MTC, when someone on your floor gets sick... Everyone gets sick. So I was out of class all day yesterday, but I used that time to review a lot of past material! Oh! Another quick sidenote about the broadcast.  So when the Apostles all came in and everyone stood up, Elder L. Tom Perry literally jumped up the steps to get to the stand! It was the coolest thing ever, and it made so happy to see how caring and happy those men are.

This Gospel message is truly such an amazing message of happiness.  It brings so much comfort and joy, and I feel so honored to be out here devoting my life to share it.  Although I was pretty homesick yesterday when I was laying in bed sick as a dog, I know this is where the Lord wants me right now.  It's so much fun to start seeing little things that happen everyday that just strengthen your testimony so much. Kono Kyokai wa shinjitsu da to shitte masu! Inori ni yotte heian o kanjumasu koto ga deki masu. Senkyoshi toshite Iesu Kirisuto ni tsuite o-oshieshimasu. Boom. Japanesed. ;) Nah, but seriously this place is truly amazing, and the Spirit is so strong here.  I'm way glad also that you all got to see the photo Kate and I took together! I hate to say this... But you may have to wait just one more week for photos.  Since the missionary presidents have taken over our main building, we have to use our classroom computers, and they block cameras for whatever reason... I'm way sorry! I've got some great photos though, and I can't wait for you all to see them. 

We had a really incredible Spiritual moment in class this week when someone in our district asked why bad things seemed to only happen to good people, and we all came up with some answers.  For me personally, I feel that Heavenly Father gives us all difficult challenges to keep us focused on Him.  Sometimes in our everyday life we just lose that vision that Heavenly Father is so personally involved in all that we do, and difficult trials help us to turn our hearts back to Him. I'm sure that Brother Whitman can feel of Heavenly Father's love for him and his family. Honestly... Those first few days here at the MTC were so hard, and as a district there was a lot of discouragement. But through Heavenly Father's love and help for us, we've begun to exceed our own expectations, and really feel of the Spirit on such a deeper level. That's what I have loved the most about being a missionary. It helps you stay so focused on Gospel principles, and things that are eternal. At first it was hard being away from all of my old comforts, but I have found so much joy in pursuing the things that are more important. I know that I couldn't be here without the love and support you all have shown me though. Please know I appreciate so much all the kind words, packages, and little notes of encouragement, I love them all so much. :)

So, a little bit of sad news actually. So about a week ago my Doryo (Companion) hurt his knee pretty bad, and he was convinced something was wrong. So, we had to go get an MRI, and we found out today that his miniscus is torn. He's going to have to get surgery... And he's planning on going home to do it. He's going to call his parents today and settle everything out, but he's pretty confident he's going home for a time period. Pretty sad! He's been a pretty great comp, and I'll be sad to see him go. I just pray that he will hurry back and not focus too much on staying home.  So, I'll get to be in a companionship of three with some Chorotachi in my district!

Well anyways, I better get going and study, just know that I love you all so much, and appreciate all that you do.  This Gospel is true. Yesterday while I was sick, I decided I wanted to set some goals to get done throughout the day, one of which was reading Alma 26 in Japanese. And I did it! It was pretty dang hard, but I could feel the Spirit so strongly as I read over those words, in a language I don't fully understand.  It's incredible how the Gospel works that way. All my love you guys! have an awesome week!!!

Love, Justesen Choro

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MTC Week 2

Konnichiwa Kazoku! 

Well, another week down at the MTC, and I'm feeling pretty great! Just want to say first of all thank you so much for all of the care packages and letters I received this week, they seriously meant so much to me, I loved them! Delicious treats and all that jazz really help on tough days. So! Still loving the MTC, dealing with the challenges head on. The language is coming along pretty great actually! I've now learned how to bear my testimony, say prayers, and even teach a short lesson. So really cool experience, remember how I said that we have these "investigators" that we have to teach almost everyday in our mission langauge? Well! Turley Choro and I had to teach this one lesson with him (Hirata-san) and it was going pretty rough. He kept saying "wakarimasen" which means he wasn't understanding what we were saying. I was so bummed!! But, suddenly the Spirit kind of just took over and I could remember the words I needed to say to get my point across.  I ended up bearing my testimony on the truthfulness of the Gospel, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for us, and the truthfulness of the Atonement and how it has blessed me.  Honestly... I have no idea how the words started just coming to my memory, but I'm so thankful that it did. Hirata-san ended up being our new Sensei (teacher) and his name is Brother Ekins! Guess what, Elder Turley and I got a shout out from him, and he said if we would have committed him to baptism, he would have said yes. Heck yes. It was seriously such a huge confidence booster for me, as it let me know that you don't need to be a master at the language for your investigator to feel the Spirit. 

Honestly, I cannot express enough how strong the Spirit is here at this great place.  Our recent Sunday devotional was so awesome, as it was broadcast from the Wyview Campus, which was the first time in history! The speaker was Elder Allen, who is the creator of all of the "family, isn't it about time" ads. He was amazing! He gave all these awesome inspirational quotes that helped us all feel the Spirit really strong and continue to press on. Another awesome thing that happened this week was we had a whole group of Nihon-jin come to the MTC and be in our branch! Nihon-jin is Japansese, so yeah, we had all of these amazing missionaries from all over Japan (i.e. Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, etc.) and they're all in our branch! I honestly feel such a strong a strong love for these wonderful people. Kudo Choro who's from... Shoot, I forgot, near Tokyo I believe, has become my good buddy! He really likes that I say, "sweet, sweet" and he says it to me everytime, haha. It was so cool, so on Sunday they had a special screening of "Testaments" in Japanese, so our whole branch went to go watch it! It was so incredible to feel the Spirit so strongly with all of the wonderful Japansese people, and as well to realize that The Spirit really speaks in a language of it's own.  You don't need to understand every word to feel the Spirit. 

I hope you all are having tons of fun in Park City!! I miss you all, but yeah... I still think I'd rather be at the MTC, haha. ;) By the way Dad! Guess who's my Branch President? His name is President Mack, and he's Spencer W. Kimball's grandson, imagine that. It's been really cool to hear some stories about his grandpa, and I now somewhat understand why he's your favorite Prophet.  He was truly an incredible Prophet. 

Tyler, thank you so much for keeping me updated!!! Honestly, we all feel so cut off from the world and our sensei's keep teasing us about events... Bleh. Go Heat!! And that's all I'll say about the matter. ;) I'm way sorry by the way if it takes me a while to handwrite letters back! We are only allowed one day to write letters, so sometimes it can be pretty tough squeezing in each moment of time correctly, but I love and appreciate all of the letters and care packages I have received! 

Okay, so I am so sorry I haven't sent any pictures yet... But you may have to wait one more week.  One of the Shimai in my district found out how to do it, and she was gonna show me today, but she is nowhere to be found, and I still can't really figure it out.  So very frustrating, but I just tried on my own and the computer froze, so... yeah. Haha, but when I figure it out I'll have some great pictures to show you all! 

I love and miss you all so much, but I know this is where I am supposed to be. The Gospel really is so true.  If you ever want to test your worth and determination to live the Gospel, go serve a mission.  It may break you down and make feel so stressed and tired, but it will be so worth it.  Throughout my life, I don't think I've ever felt this close to the Spirit so consistently.  It's amazing, and to be surrounded by all of these amazing poeple so willing to serve has been such an awesome gift. Especially the Nihon-jin. I honestly love them. It's so amazing to see these young people, many of which are new converts, jumping into the fray, ready to serve their God. They have such a kind Spirit about them, and I feel so lucky to be here at the MTC with them. 

So! The other day we were all at lunch, and I just have mention, since the age change... There are quite a few attractive Sisters. So all of us Choros are sitting around the table, and this very attractive Sister walks by. Not even kidding, first word out of all of our mouths was, "What a beautiful daughter of our Heavenly Father." We all looked at each other and started busting up laughing. All the stereotypes are true!! It was hilarious. Don't worry Dad, I'm still mixing in lots of fun with work, at the MTC fun kind becomes different and much more... Childesh. For instance, putting plastic spoons in random Elder's coat pockets without them noticing, tallying up how many spoons you have at the end of the day. Also, filling plastic easter eggs with shampoo and throwing them at each other in the shower exclaiming, "Happy to help you wash Elder!" Yeah... When you put 20 plus 18-19 years olds together and remove TV, Music, etc... Pranks are an everyday occurance. It's all in good fun though, and we all really love each other.The Dai-Senpai all leave on Sundayand then I become Senpai that following Wednesday! It feels so strange, but I'm so excited to be more like Dwight Schrute. ;) 

Okay, but in closing, I just to let you all know that this Gospel is true.  Commiting all of my time and energy to it has been the greatest gift ever, and I feel so much more ready to go forward to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the amazing Japanese people. I hope they like me. :) 

Love you all so much, Hurrah for Israel!

- Justesen Choro (Aka, Devin) 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

MTC Week 1

Konniciwa Kazoku!!! Meaning, hello family! 

It seems so strange that already a week has gone by since I've physically talked to you all, but I'm so happy to write to you! I miss you all so much, but i just gotta say... The MTC is AMAZING. My district is totally awesome, and my comp is pretty great! His name is Elder Turley, and he's from Mesa, AZ. ;) To answer Mom's question, yes June 5th was the most amount of missionary arrivals in history! I'm apart of history! Haha, but seriously, it was packed. One really awesome thing was that when we met with the MTC presidency for the arrival speech type thing, take a guess what the opening song was? No... Not Nearer my God to Thee. ;) If You Could Hie to Kolob! It was honestly such a comforter to me, and gave me a feeling that I was where I was supposed to be. One thing that they do here which I'm not too sure if they did this for Dad or Tyler, is that it is COMPLETE language immersion. (Spellcheck?) My teacher is hilarious, but seriously he didn't speak English for two and a half days! He just got back from the Sapporo mission, so it gave me some hope for what I want to do after my mission.  Nihongo, or Japenese, is pretty dang tough! Haha, but I can honestly say I have a strong testimony in Igen No Tamamono, or gift of tongues. When you feel the Spirit as you learn a new language, it just begins to flow. The MTC has picked up on this too, as day 2 you teach a lesson entirely in Japanese... Which was pretty intense!

We taught this Actor Investigator named Hirata-San, and the lesson went pretty well although I could barely speak! It was so cool though, after we had finished our lesson I had this strong impression to bear my testimony as best as I could without looking at the Japanese guide book, and the Spirit was SO STRONG! My heart was burning.  It's incredible how when you seperate yourself from all of the worldy things, tv, music, video games etc, you begin to feel the Spirit so strong.  In the past six days, I have felt the love of our Heavenly Father so much, especially his compassion upon 18-19 year old boys trying to learn a language where basically the translation makes you sound like Yoda, haha.

But yeah! My District is seriously amazing, and my overall zone is super nice.  I feel like Dwight Schrute, we're all referred to as Kohai, the Choro's (Elders) that have been here for three weeks or so are called Senpai, and the Choro's about to leave are all called Dai-Senpai. Seriously... Dwight Schrute status. My host is in my branch, and one of the Dai-Senpai! He's been super helpful with all of us Kohai, helping with the language, memorizing Hiragana and all of that.  Last night while we were doing language study the Dai-Senpai came in to give us a little encouragement, as they could tell we had a long day.  Basically 9 hours of studying Nihongo. But they explained to us that apparently the suicide rate in Japan is staggeringly high.  Many of the people there have lost the will to live due to the fact they don't have a belief in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and many live monotonous lives of work, getting drunk, and working more. It nearly brought us all to tears, and we all went home determined to master the language and spread the gospel to the people of Japan. I just want to say really quick, this Gospel is amazing. The last few days I've felt like Heavenly Father has been chipping at my rough edges and molding me into the Senkyoshi he wants me to be. This Gospel has the incredible ability to just bring people together. Ahh, I'm just loving it. I know there will be challenges ahead, but I know that with the help of the Savior, I can overcome them. 

Nihongo is really such a hilarious language at times, and people are all super understanding.  So many little things can totally change your sentence! for instancem, so far two Elders have told their investigator that God is sick all the time, another group said two CARROTS descended to Joseph, and yesterday one group of Shimai (sisters) told their investigator that he was in fact Jesus Christ! It's all in good fun, and everybody messes with everybody. My nickname in my district is Smiley Choro! Go figure, haha. 
To answer Whit's question, YES! We found secret compartments in our room! Apparently, the old Dai-Senpai who just left were in our room, and they left all kinds of awesome treats. Including a little wrapped present that contained some candy, and as well these awesome little easter eggs that had all these encouraging scriptures to help us in times of need. It was way cool. :) I'm a senior Comp by the way! I don't think that really means much in the MTC, but yeah, haha.  

There are very few experiences that we have in this life that teach us to ENTIRELY rely on the Spirit, and have the faith that Heavenly Father will bless you, and that He truly loves you.  I miss you all so much, but I know where this is where the Lord wants me to be. So excited for the future ahead! Thank you all so much for the emails by the way, I really appreciated each one! Love and miss you all!

Justesen Choro.