Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MTC Week 5 -- I AM Sparky Boom Man!

I AM Sparky Sparky Boom Man!  (10 bonus points to anyone who gets the super Babylonian reference.  To those who don't, Book 3: Fire, of Avatar, the Last Airbender).

What does that have anything to do with anything?  Let me tell you.  Lately, members of the district have been choosing themes (nice qualities, spiritual gifts, spirit animals, fortune cookie fortunes, etc.) and choosing something from that theme for each member of the district and leaving it on their desks.  My fortune cookie fortune, for instance (courtesy of the lovely Sister Donnelly) was "It's nice to be nice to the nice, but it's nicer to be nice to the not nice."  (I wasn't sure if that meant I was supposed to be nicer, but apparently it means I'm super nice. Or something. :)  )  

My spirit animal is a cat.  Sister Colter's reasoning for that one was, "Well, Sister Harris doesn't like to be around people all that much..."  Maybe the reasoning for both of those doesn't seem to fit together very well, but they seem to fit, to omoimasu.  Anyways.  Sparky Sparky Boom Man.  Tenney and Jensen Chourou were choosing superheroes for everyone, and knowing that I am an avid Avatar fan and apparently finding some shocking similarities, they dubbed me Sparky Sparky Boom Man from Book 3.  Needless to say, I was delighted.  Also confused.  Their reasoning?  "We just get the impression that you could kill every one of us within a moment's notice.  Also, we can imagine you blowing stuff up with your mind.  And you're just so happy all the time, if you got angry, everything would probably spontaneously com bust."  I am pleased.  Slightly alarmed, but pleased.  It's all probably true. 

Sister Scheffler and I took our turns as well, choosing fitting Disney Characters for the lot. She came up with the characters, and I supplied the wording for the reasoning.  It was fun writing my own.  "Pocahontas:  Your Native American soul is one with nature, and you have an encouraging and energetic spirit that cannot be broken.  A hardy dose of obnoxious optimism and stubborn pigheadedness doesn't hurt either."   Bahaha.  One of our favorites was one we made for Malaska Chourou.  There's a redheaded girl at the MTC whom we have given the codename, Magma.  He's never spoken to her, but always says she's going to be his wife.  His Disney Character:  Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid.  The reasoning:  There's a redhead on the far off horizon.  You've never but, but it's sure to be destiny.  Your hipster charm will make it happen."  My companion, Sister Tenney, was Mulan, because "You're Asian, you can eat like a warrior, and you will bring honor to us all!" Some of them were simpler, like Tenney Chourou's:  "Aladdin...we can just see you with a monkey one day" or Lee Chourou's "Eugene (Flynn Rider).  Your name should probably just be Eugene." Needless to say, we were very pleased with ourselves.

Sore de (anyways, that being said, having been incredibly off topic),
Most of this week was pretty stinkin' wonderful.  Wednesday was the very best of it all!  Mills Kaichou (president), the director of all the international MTC's who served as a missionary and mission president in Japan, gave a devotional to all of the senpai and dai senpai Japanese speaking groups in the MTC.  It was easily my favorite devotional/talk, we've been given so far.

The overall topic was "The Power of Expectations" and how proper expectations change us.  After getting our calls, a lot of us heard "That's a great place to go, but you won't baptize very many people."  A few years ago, an apostle visited the MTC and invited anyone who had said such a thing to REPENT.  And if you have to repent of something, that means you're wrong.  This idea of few baptisms is WRONG.  The harvest is the LORD's, so the expectations should be the Lord's as well.  EVERY MISSION is a baptizing mission.  If we have the faith to let it become so.  He brought up Moroni 7:33:  "If ye shall have faith in me, ye shall have power to do anything which is expedient in me."  That doesn't mean if we have enough faith we can baptize everyone we come across.  It means that we can accomplish the LORD's expectations if we find out what they are.  

He told us that we should ask the Lord for what His expectations are in 4 ways.
1) Just ask.  Pray for recognizable feelings about Japan/*insert your need here*.
2)  Study the scriptures.  The Book of Mormon can be a personal Liahona.  The words don't change, but we do, and WHATEVER we think about while reading, we WILL receive revelation for.
3)  Study about the Savior and His Atonement.  Japanese people often immediately respond to our message with "kankenai" -- unrelated.  But nothing could be more relevant to this people.  In the Premortal Existence, every knee bowed and every tongue confessed and accepted Christ as the Savior of the world.  Christ is their elder brother and loves each and every one of them more dearly and more personally than we can even imagine.  EVERY Japanese man, woman, and child (and everyone at all, for that matter), is a Christian.  They just need to remember it.  Studying about the Savior and His Atonement will increase your knowledge of every doctrine as you grown closer to the Savior and utilize His Atonement more fully in your life.
4)  Seek revelation from those without priesthood keys.  Never go to an interview or a meeting without questions. Ask about specific investigators/needs/problems.  Ask if they can think of something you should focus on, etc.  Give them a chance to use their priesthood keys for you.

While these things about expectations were all wonderful (number 3 was especially powerful), the greatest part was what he said specifically about Japan.  Part of that was bits of President Heber J. Grant's prayer as he opened Japan to missionary work around 1900, which he later told his daughter was the greatest prayer he gave in his whole life. Think about it.  He was the PROPHET, and out of all the prayers he ever gave, the opening of the gospel to Japan was the greatest.  Possibly the best part of this meeting was something Heber J. Grant said:  "I have an abiding faith that [Japan] is to be one of the most successful missions ever established in the church.  It is going to be slow work at first, but the harvest is to be something great and will astonish the world in years to come.:  Wow.  One of the most successful missions EVER?  And this is comparing it to missions in South America and Africa and Utah!  AAAH!  This is the time it starts, I believe.  Except for Spanish, Japanese is the #1 foreign language in the Provo MTC right now. Japan is being flooded with missionaries, and "we offer blessings that are beyond price."  I hope it's now. I hope now is when the people begin to become really receptive.  I hope that I can have a part in the hastening of bringing the Japanese unto Christ.  If not, though, that's okay.  I can be a front runner to prepare the way of the Lord.  (But I can still hope!)  Still, the Lord's timing is his own.

Mills Kaicho also said that the Japanese people are changing.  The men are becoming loving fathers.  Their hearts are being softened.  They are being prepared to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have never been so excited in my LIFE!  I know for a fact that Japan is the place for me, and that the Lord really does need me there.   JAPAN!  COULD THIS BE ANY COOLER???  Probably no.  I'm so grateful for Japan and this gospel and missionary work, and I know that it's true!  I have to work harder, go farther, and be better!

We made it to our halfway point on Friday!  I'm halfway through the MTC--what the heck?!  There's a freaky time paradox going on here.  The days pass SO SLOWLY, but the weeks fly by.  It feels both like I just got here yesterday, and that I've been here forever. I leave for Japan in 4 WEEKS!  OH MY GOODNESS; HOW CAN I EVEN STAND THE EXCITEMENT AND OVERWHELMING NERVOUSNESS?!  Am I ready?  Probably not.  Good thing I have four more weeks.  I was super humbled on Sunday about my Japanese ability.  One of the Dai Senpai got up to give his talk on the Book of Mormon, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I was like, "Yeah.  I understand just about all of this.  I am WELL GOOD at Japanese."  And then one of the Nihonjin, native Japanese missionaries got up and started giving her talk, just speaking like it was no big deal. And then she got out the Book of Mormon and started reading.  SO.  FAST."  The entire congregation gasped and started to nervously whisper.  Let's just say I understood a lot less of that than the first talk.  (Okay, 0.  I understood nothing.  :)  )

Another crowning event of this week was Saturday, because: dundundundundun *drum roll PLEASE*  Honto na kyuudoshatachi!  WE TAUGHT REAL LIFE INVESTIGATORS!  Kyoukaiin ja NAI!  And we TAUGHT THEM!  For REALZ!  It was after TRC, where we teach volunteers in the language we're learning.  The volunteers are usually members, maybe even return missionaries who are sweet enough to help those of us who know absolutely nothing about this teaching thing. :)  Our volunteers, Atsushi Kyoudai and the Suzuki's were no exception.  (On Atsushi Kyoudai's feedback he wrote, "They were trying to say something.  It was great!"  Haha, we were trying.  Hard. Oh well. )  They were wonderful, but our lessons were nothing out of the ordinary.  Later that day, as we went to go study in 4M (the comfiest chairs on campus), we got stopped by a couple of teachers.  "We have too many volunteers today and are looking for more missionaries to teach them.  In English," they added after eying our name badges.  Well, we haven't taught in English in forever, but you really can't say no.  Now, as I've said, most TRC volunteers are members, but a few are people deciding if they want to investigate the church, but what were the chances of getting one of those.  We said a prayer and decided to teach the plan of salvation.

Then we walked in to meet *Julie and Stephen.  (Names have been changed).   Stephen had a big tattoo on his arm, and Julie explained how she is one of 4 nonmembers who got accepted to BYU law, and my brain staRTED GOING CRAZY. hOLY.  cOW. real investigators.    They were volunteering at TRC to decide if they wanted to take the discussions for real.  We could either help change their lives....or ruin them.  They, especially Stephen, asked so many hard questions, complicated, deep doctrinal questions!  We had all the answers, but if felt as if were were jumping all over the place.  We're still not entirely sure if most of the lesson was good or a disaster.  We were feeling unsure, until...we began to bear our testimonies.  When I began to testify about the truth of this Gospel and how it could help them, about the divine role of the Savior, about how families can be together forever, the entire atmosphere changed. The Spirit was thick in the air, and Julie especially seemed very drawn in. I think she felt something.  Tenney Shimai added an equally powerful testimony, and we asked them to get a copy of The Book of Mormon downstairs and read it, and we left.  Hopefully, they will realize that this is worth continuing to investigate.  We will probably never know what will become of them.  We can only continue to pray. :)

What a wake up call.  I AM a real missionary. RIGHT NOW.  And I need to get better at this teaching thing, at Japanese, at following the Spirit really quickly before I get to Japan. There are people desperately seeking for the truth, and I need to be prepared to help them.  These next 17 months? I have to make them count.

The church is true, everyone!  I promise!  I testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the Savior of the world, and He loves and knows us  each individually.  There shall come a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.  Everyone on earth has already done so once, in the pre-existence.  We are not so much teaching people as we are inviting the Spirit to simply remind them.  This is the Lord's church, and His work is hastening!  I love what I am doing here, and I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be!  It's a good life.

The Church is true.  The Book is blue.
Ga dai suki desu!

Love, Sister Whitney

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