Saturday, January 28, 2012

1-27-2012 Email: MTC Medical Maladies

Before anyone freaks out, it´s not me who is having the medical problems. I just have a cold, which is a constant here so it doesn't really count. OK, now I will proceed.

We'll start with the biggest news. Although it's kind of hard to choose the biggest thing from this week, i think this may be it: we got a new roommate! it was totally unexpected. I will illustrate how it went down for you.

We had just gotten back from gym in the morning when we heard that Sister Abraham had been paged and needed to call the front desk. She called them back, and they said that she needed to come up to the front desk to pick up her companion. But her companion, Sister Lewis, was of course right next to her so she was like I think you have the wrong person. But the front desk insisted so they decided they should go check it out. They had said the girl's name was Stephanie Collins, which we of course didn't recognize, but while they were gone and I was (unsuccessfully because of the distractions trying to take a shower we discovered that there was a Sister Collins who had been in an older group who had gone home on medical leave. And it was totally her! So now there companionship turned into a threesome. But it was so crazy since no one had mentioned anything to them. And even though we have six beds in our room because we have three bunks we only have four desks and four closets (that were already full) and she had three huge suitcases of stuff that we needed to fit in all of a sudden... And we didn't even have any sheets for her or anything. So we're still adjusting, but she seems pretty nice so far. It's cool that she was able to come back, and she'll be leaving when we do for Sendai, Japan. Apparently she was two weeks from leaving for Japan when she found out she had diabetes (MTC medical weirdness #1).

One thing you should know is that by the time we had a unexpected new roommate it had already been a weird week. After gym on Saturday (now that I'm thinking of it, most of the craziness of the week went down after gym) said that she was feeling weird, and by the time we had returned to our room her face had swelled up super super bad. Such as that she had to take three Benedyls. But then it still didn't get any better, so after some midnight fun in the hall she went to the Emergency Room with her companion where she had to be injected with all sorts of stuff before it got better, and they didn't get back to the room until like 3:30. And even though she is fine now, they still have no idea what triggered it. (MTC medical weirdness #2)

And the other main medical weirdness that had been going on here is with my companion. She's been having problems with her knee almost since she first got here; it has been swollen all of the time and twitching and causing lots of pain and such. She's had problems with it before, but never this bad and it seems to be getting worse every day. We told Sister Collins when she moved in that she had moved into the room of mysterious swelling (because of the Northrop shimai and Abraham shimai). We just really don't know what is wrong. We did get to take a field trip off campus to an orthopedic specialist, which was pretty exciting. But we had kind of been building up that we just needed to survive that long to find out what was wrong and then everything would be better, but that wasn't what happened. The doctor (who was really nice) said that it could be one of two things (nothing showed up on the x-ray), and that they have to start with the more conservative theory which is just treated by physical therapy, so we have to try that for two weeks first before she would have her knee scoped.

But that didn't really help with the pain now, and it is still continuing to get worse. Yesterday after gym and service (Northrop Shimai didn't work out, don't worry), while I was in the shower apparently Northrop shimai collapsed in the hall with pain so bad that the other girls had to call for a wheelchair and one of them, Soderborg Shimai, took her straight over to the health center. I went and waited for her with Walbeck shimai, Soderborg's companion, and the doctor sent her out on crutches and super drugged up. We tried to go to classes for a little while last night, but it was just way to hard for her. if you think teaching in another language is hard, try doing it with a companion who is on muscle relaxant and lortab. Ya, it's not really possible so we went back to the room for the rest of the night and our roommates brought us dinner. My companion slept for five hours, which is pretty impressive!
Today has been pretty good so far and we did make it to the temple with the help of a shuttle, which was really awesome to be able to just go serve the Lord. And we have a follow up doctors appointment for yesterday's craziness in less than an hour, and then an off campus physical therapy trip this afternoon so hopefully we'll be able to figure something better out for Northrop Shimai. I hate seeing her in pain so incredibly much! But I'm sure we're both learning a lot from this. My favorite scripture of the week is Mosiah 4:9. (I think that's it. i don't have my scriptures with me! It's about believing that God knows everything.)

And don't worry, this week has had fun stuff too. For example, pretty much all of the Elders in my class decided to write my sister awkward romantic letters and they were so funny they just made me die. Amber will have to pull a couple of good one liners for you.  Plus, no week can really be all bad when you're on a mission! i wouldn't describe the week as bad, just ridiculously crazy. Thank you to everyone who wrote me!

Aisshte Imasu (love you)

P.S. I apologize for typos and typing weirdness. I'm pretty sure this is the worst key board in the world.

*Okay, this is Amber now. The letters I got from those Elders are hysterical. They were sprayed with perfume and had many wonderful drawings. They also all wrote what kind of animal they were. I could definitely tell they were having way too much fun with this. And as Natalie asked I will put quote a few lines for your enjoyment too. I mean, I could never hide such precious treasures for myself so here you go.
-"I'mma stealthy panda bear, and I'mma gonna sneak my way right into your heart. Seriously, that's how I roll. These other guys got nothing on me, guaranteed."
-"Out of all the Elders in the district I am the best looking."
-"My friends call me an eagle because I swoop up all the ladies."
-"The letters are sprayed with my cologne so now you know what I smell like."
-"I'm sorry I know basically nothing about you except you are awesome (so I've been told, and Crofts Shimai never lies)."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

1-20-2012 Email: The Battle of the Humidifier

Hello all of my favorite people!

First, can I just express how weird it is how fast time passed this last week? It was really weird. All of us Sisters were talking the other night and we all feel like we just had P-day yesterday! So if I can't think of much to say in my letter today, it's because time passed so quickly that I'm not even sure what happened. All of the missionaries who have been here longer say that it gets even faster at week 6, which will just be insane. And then it's supposed to feel even faster than that in the field... So I'll probably be home to talk to all of you in person in about seven seconds. Don't be surprised.

Let's see, what did happen this week? Oh, we started out Saturday with something really cool! We had our first ever visit to the TRC (which I think stands for Training Resource Center) and I have to admit that I was totally nervous for it, but it turned out to be wonderful! What happens is they have volunteers, just students from BYU or other members, come and be themselves and then we teach them a simple lesson. Can I just say how nice it is to teach members? It was so nice to have them understand that we were learning a language and such. They were super helpful, instead of just giving us blank stares like we sometimes get from our teachers when they're pretending to be Japanese investigators... We got to teach a Sister who served her mission in Finland and is really good at Japanese and she was really nice, and it was fun just to be able to have a friendly conversation in Japanese. I think we all went in pretty scared but came out really excited. I'm glad I get to go back tomorrow!

Here's a happy note I keep meaning to write about -- I've been able to see two of my old roommates since coming here! One was total luck. I ran into Kira Roerig, one of my roommates from Sophomore year just by chance in the dressing room of the temple and it was so happy! Especially since I hadn't actually seen her since before she went on her mission to Spain like three years ago. And then last week one of my roommates from Junior year, Nataly Arce, entered the MTC because she's going to the Dominican Republic for her mission! She already knows Spanish though so she'll only be here for three weeks, but it was so wonderful to see her. Yay friends!

Now for the story that goes along with the title of this post. I know you've all been waiting for it!
Once upon a time, my companion really needed a humidifier because the dry Utah air was being mean to her body. So we trekked to the MTC health clinic only to discover that if you want a humidifier you have to be placed on a waiting list. So we waited for days and days and days until finally, one cold day, we recieved a notice slip in our mailbox saying that the time for my companion to suffer no longer had finally arrived! Or so we had thought... We went and picked up to humidifier, and great was our joy. At least until that night, when it tried to kill us at two in the morning with noise. But we unplugged it and thought all was well, until the next night when it got even worse! And so it continued until any time it made one little sound I wanted to smash it. Wanting to kill things is probably not a trait missionaries should have. Just saying. So we took it back to the health center, where they said they would throw it away so it could never torment missionaries again and we were given a gentle giant humidifier to take it's place. And ever since, there had been peace in the bedroom and everyone could sleep so they lived happily ever after.

Ok, so that may seem like a silly story but sleep is a big deal. We get so little of it that if you're constantly waking up through the night there is pretty much no way you are going to survive. So being able to make the humidifier function right seemed like a huge victory! Every time I see the functional humidifer I feel a deep joy in my heart. Because we totally won. Take that noisy humidifier!

Before I close I feel like I should share a spiritual quote or two since we do spiritual things all day, and I've been learning a lot so I figure you might like to learn too! This week our Tuesday devotional speaker was Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the 70, and he had a great talk about missionary work and the like. Here are a couple of gems that I liked: "Perhaps his (God's) plan might not involve removing that hardship, but he will surely help you if you earnestly ask him" Successful missionaries (and anybody, really) refuse to let circumstances get them down... They choose to be positive... They think of how they will act, not react."

And ok, maybe you can have one funny quote too. Todd Sensei on not speaking in a monotone voice: "The Japanese may like robots, but they don't like missionary robots" Good advice to remember.

Sidenote, I apologize for if my English and storytelling is becoming worse. Sometimes by the time we reach p-day our brains have started to turn to mush from all the information that's been crammed in it the rest of the week... Plus it's stressful to try and type so much so fast!

I love you all, and thanks so so so much to everyone who has sent me mail! It makes me so happy! I'll reply as soon as I can. Hopefully I'll have time to get a batch of letters out today! Yay snail mail!
Me in my coat practicing for Sapporo. 
 Our new years eve celebration in our room!  At…10pm.  There were some girls who counted down to ten with horns and it was pretty funny.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been asleep for midnight that I can remember.  Northrop Shimai had the cool glasses and some mango martinelli’s that I’ve never had before.
My district except Northrop Shimai and I who were on the hill goofing off.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pictures from the MTC

Here are the first pictures we have gotten from Natalie! The captions are written from her too. 

The group. We spend every moment together except for sleeping pretty much so I can already recognize them by voices. 
 A picture of us in front of the temple. We get to go on walks around the temple on Sunday afternoons and it is definitely one of the highlights of the week. Yet another reason why Sundays win. We get to leave the MTC grounds and remember that there is a sun and we get to watch church movies. Yes. Walking. Yes. Therefore, win. 
(Me and Brianna Northop)
They put up Christmas lights on the trees and branches next to the main building in the area we walk through a lot and they were super cool! They took them down the other day and it was really sad. But the roomies and I got a picture with them before they were gone! 
(Me, Brianna Northop, Stephanie Abraham, Kailey Lewis)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

1-13-2012 Email: Native Speakers

Hello everyone!

Lots of things happened this week. You probably could have guessed that without me telling you though, so I´ll fill you in on the more specific details. I even tried keeping a list of some things as they happened during the week so I could remember to put them in this email. Aren´t you proud?

But first, a pet peeve. For some reason the Spanish speaking missionaries like to do something on the computer that deletes English from the list of possible languages to operate the computer in. So I had to use some of my precious 30 minutes to change it back to English so I could type. Ok, now we can move on.

This biggest thing that happened this week was probably the arrival of the Nihonjin (nihonjin = Japanese person). They closed the MTC in Tokyo a little while ago, so now they send the native Japanese missionaries who are going to serve in Japan here to get trained, but since they already know the language they only stay here for 3 weeks (compared to our 12). It's really cool to have them here! There are four Japanese sisters and then eight Japanese elders. The four sisters are living a room right next to ours so we get to attempt to talk to them a lot. Notice the word "attempt." Even though I can understand most of what my teacher says in class and what our investigators say, apparently I am totally incapable of having a remotely functional conversation with an actual Japanese person! Like one sister tried to start up a friendly conversation about it being really cold and where I came from (or at least I think that was what was going on?) and I couldn't think of a single thing to say! But they are so cool that I still love them anyways. And hopefully I'll know more soon! We'll get another batch of Japanese missionaries three weeks before we leave for Japan, so hopefully by then I'll be able to say more.

Speaking of speaking in another language, I gave my first sacrament talk in Japanese this week. I can't remember if I ever mentioned it before, but every week our entire church meeting is held in all Japanese. And every week every single missionary is supposed to prepare a talk on the same subject, and then two seconds before people speak, as in after the sacrament, they announce who out of all of us will be giving the talk. And of course I got to be the very first one to do it out of the newbies (last week was fast sunday, so we didn't have talks). Usually that would totally freak me out, but luckily I had written out a talk the day before and was feeling pretty good about so I literally just went up to the stand and read it and then sat back down. I think it sounded decent. I've decided I'm going to keep it though so I can read it at the end of my mission and laugh at how terrible it is.

The other really cool thing that happened this week is that for our Tuesday devotional Elder Russell M. Nelson, one of the apostles of the Quorum of the 12, came and spoke to us. He talked about the gathering of Israel and it was super deep, but still really cool since the gathering of the 12 tribes of Israel is what we're participating in right now. One of my favorite things that he said was that all of the prophets have been looking forward to this day, so isn't cool that we get to be a part of it? I took lots of notes because I do that compulsively after being a journalism major.

Um, what else. In case any of you are wondering how I'm doing without tv and movies we occasionally get to watch fun videos in class and on Sundays like "What is Stress" (which actually just ended up stressing all of us out by reminding us how stressed we were) and "The District" (which is like a church made documentary that follows missionaries in San Diego to show us what life will be like) and they help fulfill my TV watching needs. Plus, on Sundays we can watch things like the Joseph Smith video or old talks and I love it. Sundays win.

Oh also, I just heard about The Daily Universe becoming a weekly and some of the craziness surrounding it from Amber, who saw it while performing her sisterly facebook duties. And it hurts my heart so much. So if any of you are still in the know (being in the MTC is like as far out of the know as you can be) and have more information about what is going on you should totally pass it on to me. Because I like knowing things. Especially about the DU, where I spent the last few years of my life.

Ok, I'm out of time. Love you all so much!

Crofts Shimai

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A How to Guide

*I, Amber, am writing this post as Natalie requested in the last Email.

So, you like Natalie a lot. And you miss Natalie. And you want to make her day a little bit more bright. But, you can't find the time to pull out the pen and paper to write a letter. That's alright, it happens to the best of us. But wait, I have a solution to your problem! Drum roll please.... Use!

This is a website that allows you to write letters to missionaries as if it was an email. No pen or paper required! Writing letters to the MTC is free too! All you need to do is go to the website and sign-up for a free account. You then can click on the tab that says "write a letter". For Natalie, you pick "Provo MTC" in the drop box and then "write a missionary". The next step is to fill out your information and Natalie's.

Natalie's address:
Sister Natalie Crofts
MTC Box: 169
Mission Code: JPN-SAP
Estimated Departure date: 313

And that's all you need. Then you get to type away to your hearts content.
What happens is they will get your letter, print it out and bring it the the MTC. FOR FREE! It is an awesome website. Natalie won't be able to write you back in the same way but she'll get your letters a lot faster and then she can write you back a hand written one when she has time.
So try it out!

Once Natalie is out of the MTC and into Japan you can still use but it will cost a dollar or so. Still totally worth it though.

So go now. Write away. Natalie loves mail. And you.

1-6-2012 Email: Surprise!

Surprise! My P-day is actually on Fridays!

Last week they just gave us the Saturday as a P-day so we could get our lives in order and such, but from now on I'll be writing today. At least while I'm in the MTC. Fridays must just be fantastic everywhere! And just so you know, it's typically the only day I have to write paper letters too, so if you don't hear from me for a week just know that I still love you. Thank you so much to everyone who has written me through Dear Elder! It makes me so happy to hear from people! Amber, maybe you should do a bloggy thing letting people know how to use it since it's free? Both the awesome Annie and wonderful Melissa seem to like using it a lot. I like it too because it means I get things fast! It's almost like texting or facebook. Almost. 

Yesterday we got a little surprise -- Harukawa San (San is like Mr. in Japanese), the investigator we had been teaching since our second or third day here (I already can't tell the days apart at all...), is actually our second Japanese teacher! He was going to come knock on the door of our classroom and surprise us (we finished teaching him the day before), but a few of us actually ran into him in the hall because we needed to use the room he was in and ruined the surprise (I want to see how many times I can use the word surprise in this paragraph. Also, parenthesis). It was pretty funny, because at first we were like "Harukawa San! We love you! We never thought we'd see you again!" And then we totally saw his teacher badge. It turns out that his name is actually Todd Sensei (sensei = teacher), and he's from Utah (dad you might like this, he's from Roosevelt), not Sapporo. But he did serve his mission in Sapporo, as did our other teacher, Thurber Sensei. Brianna Northrop Shimai and I totally lucked out to have both of our teachers be returned missionaries from Sapporo, because in our class there are missionaries going to Nagoya and Fukoka too! There are twelve people in our class (there are three twelve person classes of missionaries going to Japan who reported the same day I did, just fyi), and only four of us are going to Sapporo -- Northrop Shimai and I, plus Stilson Choro (choro = elder in Japanese) and Galeria Choro. I think their companionship is kind of funny because it's the oldest guy missionary in our group, Stilson Choro who is 22, with the youngest missionary, Galeria Choro who will turn 19 in the MTC. But that is entirely beside the point. And I already feel like we're a really great group, but I'm probably biased.

But anyways, back to the investigator (which if you didn't know, by the way, is a person who is interested in learning about the Church) who turned out to actually be our teacher. Apparently Todd Sensei had been responding to our questions and lessons as an investigator he had during his mission who was named Harukawa. And even though it wasn't necessarily "real," it was still a great experience, and it felt pretty real. It gave a glimpse of how awesome it will be when we have investigators in the field who respond the same way-- on our last visit we committed Harukawa to be baptized next month and it was just so happy because we know how much joy that can bring to a person's life. We also learned a lot of what we can do better, i.e. for me things like being able to speak Japanese functionally. But I somehow doubt they expected us to be fluent the first week... I hope. And from now on our teachers will be taking turns acting as one of their investigators did, so we should be able to learn a lot more.

Overall, things are still going really well! We made it through our first week, which everyone says is the hardest in the MTC so that's good. It's an adventure! I hope all of you are having lots of awesome adventures too. If you ever get bored you should write me! I promise to write something awesome back. I might even draw you a cool picture too.

 Love you all, Sister Crofts


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