Saturday, December 31, 2011

12-31-11 Email


I'm alive and writing an email! But no pictures. I tried to attach it but it's totally and completely impossible! They only let you type, and you can't put pictures on the computer because there is no desktop. So I'll just have to mail them old school style.

Um, I don't know where to start! So much has been happened even though it's only been like three days. I guess I'll start from the beginning. That's generally a good place, right? First, let me introduce you to my companion, which is the person I get to spend all of my time with. Her name is Northrop Shimai (shimai means sister in Japanese), and she's from Vancouver, Washington! Small world, right? She's really cool, and actually knows a lot of Japanese because she did immersion school growing up so I feel like we will be a great partnership. She definitely knows a lot more than me, but that just means she can help me get better faster. And I've been remembering a lot of what I learned in school, but we'll get to that in a sec. I have two other roommates who are also really awesome. My friend Stephanie, Abraham Shimai, is one of them! She lived across the hall from me last year at Hampstead and is just a wonderful person.  We don't have classes with each other even though she's learning Japanese too (she's going to Kobe), but we still see each other all of the time. And her companion is really cool too. Her name is Lewis Shimai and she's from Montana. I sleep on a top bunk, which is kind of cool because then I get to use to top of the closet as a shelf. 

Next, I'm sure you want to know how the Japanese is going! It's kind of crazy. But good and fun. Right after dad dropped me off I just got to drop off my bags in my room (the schedule here is so packed that they never actually gave us time to unpack, we just had to use the time we had to get ready for bed to do it), pick up my name badge and then report directly to the classroom where they only spoke Japanese. Luckily I could generally understand what they were saying and follow instructions as they told us what to do with computers and such since I took classes before, but I have no idea how the people who had never heard the language before did it! That would be stressful. It was kind of stressful anyways! After that they sent us to a bunch of classes about how to be a missionary where they would do things like have an investigator come in for the class to ask questions and it was kind of overwhelming because I had no idea what should be said. But I'm feeling more confident. We actually taught our first "investigator" yesterday (they don't tell us if the people who come in are actual investigators or just volunteers, but I'm kind of feeling this guy isn't real.) Wouldn't it be a bad idea to send investigators to people who have only two days worth of language? I think it went pretty well even though neither me or my companion really knows any religious words so we read pretty much straight out of the book. But I think the conversational bit in the beginning went really well and I did understand everything he said except a couple of words. When most of the Elders (guys) came back from teaching him they were just laughing about how they had no idea what just happened. We have to teach him again today though, and I'm running out of questions we could ask to make the lesson last longer before we just read out of the book... I have to admit I would be perfectly happy if he just talked about himself the whole time and we didn't have to say a single word. But I guess that probably wouldn't help us learn the language as much. Darn it. 

Well, I guess I should share the computer with the other missionaries. Just know that things are going well and that even though the days can be long I'm surviving! We get an 50 minutes of gym time every day though and it's pretty much the best thing ever. I just run around the track and it helps me clear my mind and wake up some more. I hope you have an awesome New Year's Eve for me tonight. I'll probably be asleep since we're supposed to go to bed at 10:30.

Love you all so much! aishte iru.
Natalie getting dropped off at the MTC.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Year in Review 2011

I know it’s not quite the end of the year yet, but since I’m about to disappear for 18 months I think I deserve some leeway. I just loved doing my year in review so much last year that I wanted to do it again! Plus so many fun and important things happened this year there was no way I could skip this.



Locations: Provo

Included: January was a long time ago so I have to admit that I don’t remember exactly what I did with myself. But, I know that I was at school having fun doing things like going to basketball games and Sam’s swim meets. I also made a wonderful repeat trip to the Sundance Film Festival with Rebecca.



Locations: Provo

Included: What I’m gathering from my photos is that to survive school and the winter my roommates and I decorated our apartment with lots of fun Valentines stuff (most of which we never took down). And I made a lasagna.



Locations: Provo, Orderville

Included: March is always an automatic win because it contains my birthday. However, this time there was a sad note when I had to say goodbye to my grandmother, but it at least came with a nice side effect in that I got to see my family and stop by Zion’s National Park for the first time.



Locations: Provo, Houston

Included: So much happened this month it’s crazy! First and foremost, I graduated from BYU. And there were a lot of fun parties and such that went along with it. A couple of days after graduation Amber and I flew down to Houston for my roommate Sam’s wedding to Erick! It was so beautiful.



Locations: Honolulu, Portland, Washington D.C.

Included: My family and I were able to make it back to Hawaii! It was the just what I needed right after finishing school. I got to relax at home for a little bit, and then moved back to Washington, D.C. for another internship. This time I interned for my Senator, Ron Wyden, and it was an fabulous experience. Annie even came to visit me for Memorial Day.



Locations: Washington D.C., New York City

Included: I continued my internship, and Amber came and visited me! We spent some time in the district before meeting up with Annie in New York City for a weekend of adventure.



Locations: Washington D.C.

Included: July in D.C. is always just a magical thing for obvious reasons. Plus, Annie came down and visited me again for the 4th of July weekend. Some other friends came a stopped by too!



Locations: Washington D.C.

Included: My internship ended in the middle of August, and then I got to have a fantastic time doing things like sleep in and survive Hurricanes. Kaitlin came up from Richmond to visit me too, so we got to play in the district together and check out the new MLK Memorial.



Locations: Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Honesdale

Included: I decided to stick around the D.C. area while I figured out a more long-term plan for my life. I think I visited every single museum in the district. Best of all I was able to take a road trip up to Honesdale, PA to visit Annie at her place for once!



Locations: Washington D.C., Portland

Included: I played around in D.C. a little bit more and hung out with some lovely friends before moving back home to Portland to put in my mission papers. I got called to Sapporo, Japan!



Locations: Portland

Included: I got to enjoy being home in the fall for the first time since high school, and because they are awesome friends both Melissa and Annie came to visit me. Amber even came home for an extra long Thanksgiving break.



Locations: Portland

Included: Leaving for my mission to Japan! Well, in a few days. But it will be in this month.

I love you all and hope you’ll continue to stalk my blog while I’m on my adventures in Japan! It’s crazy that I report to the MTC this Wednesday, but I think I am ready to be busy again and am really excited to serve. This next year and a half will definitely hold a lot of changes, and I hope you stick around for the ride!

If you’re in the market for a new hobby, might I suggest writing letters to me? Amber will be keeping my address updated in the sidebar, and I would love to get anything from you, even if it’s just a doodle on a sticky note! I’m not picky.

Miss you already! But don’t worry; I’ll be back before you know it.

*song = Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing performed by Sufjan Stevens

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry Christmas to All

Happy Holidays from the Crofts home!


We stopped downtown for some Christmas Eve happiness.




And yesterday I went with my sister and dad and enjoyed the beauty of Mount Hood!

I wish you the best for your holidays, and hope they include as much family warmth.

*song = I’ll Be Home for Christmas, performed by She & Him.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sister Missionary Photos

Since I officially have less than a week before I report to my mission, the past little while has been filled with doing an assortment of tasks that still need to be done before I leave.

One of the fun things I still needed to do was have some missionary pictures taken of me. My mom always loves any excuse for pictures, but I think part of the reason she wanted me to have one taken was because she has always had such a fabulous one of her mom.


Doesn’t she look classy? My grandma served in the Central States Mission in the early 1930’s.

I can’t guarantee that mine will be quite as timeless, but Amber and I definitely had a great time taking pictures! We thought it would be fun to have Amber take mine with my camera, so I got all dressed yesterday up in one of my new mission outfits and we headed to the Rose Garden downtown. I even had some fun mission-related Japanese books on loan from a friend in the ward that I used for a cool touch. Naturally, I took a bunch of photos of Amber too.

Here are a few for you to enjoy!











Amber did such a wonderful job it was impossible to narrow these down! So if you want to see the rest because you have a lot of free time to kill, just click on the album right here.

Also, in case any of you were wondering, when I’m gone on my mission Amber will be posting all of my letters home on this blog because she’s awesome. So be sure to keep checking back here! I’m sure I have a few more posts left in me before I leave too.

*Christmas song of the day = Coldplay’s Christmas Lights. Bonus: the video includes London.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Drink the Wild Air

Amber requested I make this quote into something she could have printed on a canvas for her apartment, so tada!

Live in the Sunshine Print small

I always love me a good excuse to design.

*song = Harry Connick Jr.’s (Must’ve Been ‘ol) Santa Claus

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Own A Mini Cooper… For Three Hours

The moment I’ve waited for for ages finally arrived last month – I got to have full control of a Mini Cooper! Sure, it only for a few hours, but it was glorious. That mini and I were the very best of friends.

When I was still considering staying in D.C. there was an awesome Living Social deal for a Zip Car membership and I took them up on it almost solely because I knew it would let me rent a Mini. I reserved one to help me move while I was still in D.C., but the world conspired against me and I ended up having to drive a much less cool car, so I had to wait until I got home to Portland to make it happen. But when we were finally united it was a beautiful occurrence! I picked up a mini convertible downtown after having lunch with my dad and then took it on a long, scenic drive around the gorge.




It was magic. Now I just need to own one permanently…

*song = Winter Wonderland performed by Jason Mraz

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

City Safari


-------------Old draft from September I’m finally publishing-------------------

Today I went into the district and I saw:


An orangutan



A playful tiger that wanted to be my friend… or maybe to have me as a snack


Stripy zebras




Sneaky cheetahs



And playful lion cubs!! So adorable!!! I could watch them all day. They made me want to watch The Lion King so so so bad.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I went to the National Zoo. It’s a zoo that’s free! It’s like magic. I’ve been there twice in the past two weeks, and I’m fairly certain I should have gone more. (update: I totally did go more)


I topped it off with some pumpkin fro*zen*yo. What a perfect fall day!

*Christmas song of the day = Slow Club’s Christmas TV


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