Saturday, February 25, 2012

2-24-2012 Email: Missionaries and Internet

Guess what?? I only have two more p-days after today in the MTC! That means you'll receive two more emails from here, and then all of a sudden my emails will become infinitely more entertaining because they will be sent from Japan.

But for now I'm still in the MTC. So here we go:

The biggest news of the week is that the new Japanese missionaries, both Nihonjin and Kohai (people who have been here for less time), are officially here! There are actually more of them than we had originally been expecting. I think there's like 69 of them all together, but I'll get back to you on that. We haven't been able to talk to them very much yet because the first week is an intense enough adjustment that they don't really want all of us who have been here longer freaking them out by asking them tons of questions, but they seem cool! And it's cool to see where everyone is coming from -- I still don't know where most of them are from, but I do know that we have Kohai from Taiwan, Germany, Brazil and Australia! The church really is worldwide.

This week for our Sunday Fireside the Provo MTC Mission President, President Brown, spoke to all of us and he focused mostly on being a hard worker, but he also mentioned a little something that I, as a journalism/new media type person, thought was really cool. Apparently four missionaries were interviewed by Al Jazeera last week for a documentary they are going to show in April, so he started by having the missionaries come up and talk about their experience with being interviewed, and then he talked a little bit about how the ways we can share the gospel has evolved since the church was first organized. He said that we are in the midst of an internet revolution, and that the time the internet will be used on missions is soon at hand -- and that he suspects it will happen during the time we are on our missions! He mentioned that we could eventually use iPads and other glorious things... I would like that.

There are actually missionaries who use the internet a lot already. Here at the MTC we have missionaries who serve in what we call the Referral Center. These missionaries are typically people who because of physical limitations probably wouldn't be able to serve a mission in the field, but thanks to the internet can reach a lot of people! They spend all of their days on Facebook as themselves chatting with people who have questions about the church, or they chat with people on who have questions and I think they use twitter to answer questions too. It's pretty cool because they get to teach entire lessons to people, just online. You should totally pop over to or Facebook and say hi! Sometimes we're jealous of them since they get to be on Facebook when we don't...

Um, I can't think of much else that is different this week. Well, yesterday Northrop Shimai had a chiropractor appointment and while we were waiting to be called in I got to sit in a really fancy back massage chair, so that was fun. But that's pretty much all I can remember! I'll write something exciting next week, I'm sure. Because on Thursday we get our flight plans!!

Love you all lots and lots. Aishte imasu!

Friday, February 17, 2012

2-17-2012 Email: Welcoming Newbies

Hello Minasan!

So I'll start with the most fun part of the week first. On Wednesday all of the Japanese missionaries got to host the new missionaries who were coming in (new missionaries come in every Wednesday)! It's really quite awesome. Basically as soon as the new missionaries step out of their cars we get to take care of them for the next little while. The Elders take all of their luggage out of their car, and then if it was a new Sister they would come take them to us girls so we could take them to their rooms and to get their name badges and pick up tons and tons of books and then drop them off in their classes. It's so fun to meet the missionaries right when they get there because they are so excited but freaking out at the same time.

And it's so cool to see where everyone is going and where they came from! Apparently there were like 115 new Sister missionaries who came in this week, so we all were able to host a lot of people. I hosted three, and they were all awesome. For my first batch I had two really cool international missionaries; one was from England and going to Madrid, and the other was from Australia and going to Temple Square. After that I had one more Sister who is going to Siberia and is from Salt Lake City. It's so amazing how many places people are going to share the gospel. I hope I get to host again before I leave! Sometimes you luck out and are assigned to do it more than once. And next week is when we get our new Japanese missionaries! It's going to be a party.

Another awesome thing about this week: in the past three days I have run into four non-missionary friends at the MTC! The first person I ran into was on Valentine's Day and it was pretty much the most exciting thing ever, because it was Melissa Alder! It was so incredibly unexpected and happy. Apparently she got a job here tutoring Senior Missionaries in German or something. And then the next day when we were hosting I ran into Kira Roerig again because she is still really cool and teaching Spanish here, and then I ran into a guy friend from my Freshman ward who works here too, and yesterday I ran into Angela Breedlove who is teaching Spanish here too! Oh and I found Peter Carroll's sister Lena too because we were hosting at the the same time, so that was cool. Basically, the MTC is the place to be.

This week has had some interesting medical fun too. Sunday was probably the craziest. We were in Relief Society on Sunday, which is a church meeting with all of the Sisters in the MTC, watching an intense Mormon Message illustrating a talk Elder Holland gave about a boy who was struck by lightning, and right when the coach was about to give the boy a priesthood blessing to help him get better Sister Lewis urgently called my name. Sister Northrop was leaning on her shoulder, and I thought she was just leaning on her because she had a headache or something but she she was entirely unconscious and not responsive. Long story short, we got her to wake up a little, laid her on the ground, got some people to call for help and a ambulance came and loaded her onto a stretcher and she was taken to the Emergency Room. I met her there and we were there for a few hours (I totally thought of you while I was there Kim!), but all of the tests came back normal so we went back to the MTC.

She was totally fine from that point until Monday night, when she started throwing up. And after trying to go to class for a little while on Tuesday and having some Valentines Day fun she started throwing up again, so we went back to the health center and they decided to keep her so I spent most of the rest of the day with a pager (to let me know when to pick her up) instead of a companion. I felt very 90's cool. And now after a good amount of rest Northrop Shimai seems to be doing better - I think the passing out and stuff was just a culmination of a lot of stress and other things, and the doctors seem to have said the same thing so hopefully we should be good from here.

And don't worry, we've still been having a lot of fun! The Elders were especially hilarious on Valentines Day. Northrop Shimai's dad sent her the balloons that you use for making balloon animals, and they are like especially hard to blow up yourself  but the Elders wouldn't give up trying to make them inflate. It's probably a you had to be there type of thing, but it was so funny watching them die trying to blow up these balloons and not being able to get any air in. Stilson Choro was the first one to fill it up, and he made a yellow hat/crown that he wore proudly for the rest of the day. And Eckman Choro made a rhino that kept me company until Northrop Shimai came back. No one else succeeded at making anything, haha.

Ok, I'm out of time. But things are going well here! It's crazy that we're getting so close to being able to go to Japan!!

Love you all,
Sister Crofts

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day from the MTC!

My roommate Lewis Shimai was a genius and decided that we needed to do a photoshoot with some mustaches her mom sent her, and then send them out as Valentine's day cards! We had way too much fun with them. In the one with all of us we're signing "Happy V-day!" And then the rest we were just having fun.
 All of the Shimai (sisters) during our last service day before the Nihonjon (native Japanese Sisters) left! We get to wear classy goggles sometimes.
 Northrop Shimai with our Senpai the day before they left! So Sad! Cooper Shimai, left, is going to Sapporo! So we'll see her again soon. O'Rourke Shimai, in the middle, went to Tokyo. She is super cool and from Australia. We miss them lots already.
 The last night before the Nihonjin left! Also so very sad. They were so much fun to have on our floor, even if we didn't always communicate 100% super well. We had a cute candy exchange going on, and sang a song together in church. (All of the Shimai sang Come Thou Fount, because Andersen Shimai always sings it in the shower and they wanted to learn the English lyrics to it.) We've all decided to be Facebook friends in a year and a half. So it will happen. They were so cute and fun.
Apparently this huge hunk of rings of Japanese flashcards has been passed down for six generations of Senpai to Kohai, and our district was selected to inherit it! It is called the oracle, and you have to treat it with respect haha. There are lots of random vocabulary words and Kanji on it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2-10-2012 Email: A Day in the Life

Konnichiwa Minasan!! (that = hello everyone)

Ok, confession. I literally cannot think of one specific especially email worthy thing to say about this past week. So, since I feel like I should still write something I've decided to just give you a little run down of what an average day in the MTC is like. Here we go!

1) Everyday we have to be out of bed by 6:30 a.m. For all of you who know me even only decently well, you should be well aware of the fact that it is clearly a miracle that I have been able to wake up by then everyday so far. Seriously, there is no way I would have been able to pull this off if I was at home. Some people come back from their missions all excited about how they've been waking up early or something and then proceed to wake up at 6:30 a.m. for like everyday for the rest of their lives, including weekends. Let me assure you that this will not happen to me. But, I'll be able to tell stories about how I did it for a year and a half!

2) At 7:10 a.m. we go to breakfast (except for Sundays when the schedule is a bit different). We eat all of our meals in a big cafeteria where they typically have several different lines with different options. The best mornings are when they have pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes. I live for those days.

3) From here it varies a little bit in the order of things, but everyday we have the same few blocks of things that make up the day. The activity that we have the most often during the week is Personal Study, during which we have time to just study the scriptures (Book of Mormon, Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, etc.), Preach My Gospel (which is an awesome book that helps us prepare to teach investigators) and other mission approved books. It's really nice to just have quiet time (assuming it's a day where the Elder's are decent at focusing) to remember what is really important and why we are here. Plus, if we don't know what we are teaching and have a testimony of it we would be pretty terrible at teaching. We typically have about two hours of Personal Study a day, and about 14 hours (assuming I can count right...) a week.

4) Another big block of our schedule is classroom instruction, which we have either once or twice a day for three hours each time. We have two teachers who alternate class periods, Thurber Sensei and Todd Sensei. They're both students at BYU and are really cool.  When we're in class we usually learn about Japanese grammar for an hour, and then we get to teach our progressing investigator (I think I referred to this in one of my first emails... Bascially we get to practice teaching about the gospel to our teachers, who respond how one of their investigators on their mission would have acted. Right now we're teaching Iwane San and Saito San) in Japanese. During the third hour we usually learn about more spiritual things and how to effectively teach them or have coaching missionary study where teachers will come help us with our lesson planning and such.

5) During the day we also will have another hour or two just for studying the language. Once a day we go to TALL in the computer lab. TALL is essentially a Rosetta Stone-like program that helps you learn the language by learning vocab and phrases and listening and that kind of stuff. There's this really fun game called "Whack-a-Ji" that is basically like Whack a Mole except you hit the Kanji characters for the sounds they say. I am a champion.

6) My favorite time of the day is gym!! I LOVE it. It's so wonderful to move around after sitting in the classroom for a billion hours. I run three miles everyday on the track or on one of the ellipticals (depending on how lazy I'm feeling) and then do crunches while watching everyone else play four-square (which may sound lame, but everyone gets so intense into it that I find it really hillarious). I'm going to miss having the gym when I'm out in the field... But I'll be in Japan so I think I'll be ok. And I'll get to ride bikes all of the time there! I love bikes.

7)At night we have an hour to get back to the room and change and all that and then be in bed by 10:30. Which I generally dislike almost as much as waking up at 6:30 a.m. since I'm such a night person. But laying in bed after a busy day is quite nice!

As you can probably tell, every moment of our day is always packed, but I like it that way. It helps keep you focused, and being in your room is really boring anyways! Partially because there aren't any Elders there goofing off to entertain you. There are a few fun changes to the average day -- like on Fridays we have our preperation day where we have time to send emails and write letters and do laundry, and on Thursday mornings we get to do service (aka cleaning another residence hall's toilets, which is surprisingly fun here since it's a change of pace), and on Tuesdays we have devotionals, and Sunday nights we get to watch church morvies... It's a nice way to spice things up!  It's really funny to me to think that I drove past the MTC all of the time when I was at school, usually on the way to the Dollar Theater, and had no idea that I was driving past this entire world. There are like 2,000 people here at any given time learning and living their lives! It's pretty cool.

Ok, I'm way out of time (got to stick to that schedule!), but I think you're all awesome!
The end.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

MTC Pictures #2

We finally got a group photo of all the girls who came in on December 28! 
Me with your package and letter to Annie. 
That's what the mail room looks like. Tada! 
 Sister Abraham and I. 
Look at us both going to Japan! Isn't that fun? Yay!
 My companion and I with a couple extras in front of the temple.
Our Elders love photobombing so much that whenever you take a photo in their vicinity you can play a Where's Waldo type game to find them!
 Our view from our classroom window is really awesome. We're five stories up so we get to see a ridiculously beautiful sunset every night. Love it. It is totally worth the five flights of stairs...not that I have to climb them anymore thanks to Northrap Shimi! Only injured missionaries get to use the elevator. Isn't it kind of weird that I just look at BYU campus all day though? I mean I just graduated from the place and thought I'd be gone for a while...
 Me and the humidifier.
Now you can have a visual of the humidifier that won! I figured it deserved to celebrate its victory with a moment of glory on the blog.
 The roomies.
All of us outside our room. I liked my hair that day so I made them take a picture with me. There you go mom!
 Me and my old roommate Nataly.
I got to see my roommate from Junior year who is going to the Dominican Republic a couple of times. This one was during service, and I ran into her because she lives in the building we clean. It was happy. But she left me already. She was gone quick!
My companion and I waiting for our shuttle to come take is to physical therapy. We're pretty good friends with that bench now since we visit it three times a week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

2-3-2012 Email: 50th Anniversary of Missionary Training!

Hello Everyone!

I feel really lucky to have been able to be here in the MTC this week, because it just happened to be the 50th anniversary celebration of missionary training! (meaning the MTC and the couple of language training places before it) Apparently on December 4, 1961 the first missionaries recieved language training before going to their missions in Argentina and Mexico. There have been missionaries since the beginning of the church, which was way before that of course, but until 50 years ago missionaries would go directly to their missions and have to figure out the language and everything there! That would only be slightly terrifying... I am very grateful for the MTC haha. Oh another cool MTC fact: apparently in 2007 the one millionth missionary entered the Provo MTC. That is a lot.

So the actual celebration was on Tuesday evening, and there was a lot of build up for it and speculation about who would speak. We ended up getting to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson (for the second time since we're been here. Cool, huh?) and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who are both from the Qurom of the 12 Apostles so it was really awesome. Funny note, before they started talking Elder Nelson had them announce the then current results of the presidential primary in Florida. So I'm sure that means that it's ok for us to receive the occasional presidential election update (hint, hint).

There were a lot of extra visitors for the event so it was actually kind of hard to get seats in the gym, but luckily our Branch President had suggested joining the choir a few weeks ago, and if you're in the choir you automatically get seats... so that worked out really nice! It was a lot less stressful. I'm sure being in the overflow would have still been cool, but it's way more awesome to be in the same room as Apostles! Win. Elder Holland only spoke for a few minutes and then Elder Nelsen gave the main talk. They both focused on the legacy of missionary work in the church, and it was really inspiring.

Elder Holland said that we had stepped into history that night, and then said that we are obligated to honor the history of missionary work in the church. He said we are not perfect, but that we should do our best and stand tall and true like the missionaries who have come before us and will come after us. And then Elder Nelson shared some stories about some of the really awesome missionaries who have come before us and how much happiness they were able to spead to others and just the importance of the Book of Mormon and the wonderful influence it can have on other people's lives (another fun fact: The Book of Mormon is now available in 107 languages). After that he asked us to join him in a prayer to rededicate five buildings on the MTC campus that have recently been rennovated, and it was a really neat experience that I am sure I will always remember. I'll definitely remember the whole night, because it was a real treat and a great event to make us even more excited about being able to be missionaries right now. Yay!

The other big news for the week is that our Senpai (we call the Japanese missionaries who have been in the MTC longer Senpai) and the Nihonjin left for Japan! It was so sad and so exciting at the same time. We had a lot of fun taking picures with the Nihonjin the night before and such, but it's so weird not to see them around all of the time now! The classroom area seems so empty. But it was also so exciting because that means that we're even closer to being able to go to Japan ourselves! We've officially reached the halfway mark. And it's also really cool to think that the next time we see some of our Senpai will be when we are both in Japan together... I'm sure they are already doing an awesome job of being missionaries over there because they are really cool.

But it is also weird because usually the new Kohai (Japanese missionaries who have been here less time) would get here next Wednesday, but this time there won't be any new ones until February 22nd! We're going to be so lonely. Plus, being a Senpai sounds like fun because the Kohai think you know everything. Apparently what is happening is that the next group of Japanese missionaries is going to be a pilot group of sorts, to see if it works to learn Japanese in 10 weeks instead of 12. That will be interesting. It'd be cool to get out in the field sooner, but I think I will enjoy having a little extra time to improve my language skills...

Um, not much else has happened. As an update to last week's medically crazy blog entry, physical therapy has been helping Northrop Shimai's knee a lot. There's still a long way to go of course, but it is so wonderful because it is helping a lot! And we get to take nice little field trips off campus three times a week, which helps with my claustrophobia...

Well, I'm out of time but I love you all! And thanks so much again for all of your letters! You rock.

Crofts Shimai


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