Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week 4

Hello world,
As desperately as I might have hoped to have a normal week this week, it didn't happen. I thought I might be healthy and be able to go to all of my classes, but a couple days after last Pday I started to get worse. So I decided it would probably be good for me to suck it up and go to the doctor. So I went and he gave me some antibiotics and told me to get some extra sleep. By today I'm feeling quite a bit better (Now that I've been sick for nearly two weeks). I actually got up at 6:30 and I've gone to everything that was scheduled today. It's kind of nice being a fully participating member of society. However, the mile record has not yet been broken, nor have I made another attempt at breaking it since the fiasco with the first attempt. I might think about trying again next week. We'll see. 

I'm learning Japanese slowly but surely. I can understand quite a bit more than I can speak, but I guess that probably happens no matter what language you're trying to learn. I don't really have anything more to say about the language besides the fact that the phrase that my Uncle Neldon taught me has proved to be very useful even in my limited experience with Japanese. It was "long time no see" and my teachers say it all the time.

The only other thing I can think of to mention right now is the weather. For those that don't live in Utah, we've been getting quite a bit of snow lately. It's not quite cold enough for all of it to stay though, so it all melts pretty quick after it's done snowing.

I attached some pictures this week. The first two are what happened when I asked my companion to take a picture of me in the fantastic sweater that my mom sent me. The last one is me with one of my roommates from BYU. He's also going to Japan but he's in a different zone in the MTC so we've seen each other a couple of times. I had forgotten how tall he is in the four weeks since I last saw him at BYU.

I hope you're all doing well.

Elder Mitchell

Mom: I did mention that you look really good in that sweater. Right?
 Also, they must have given you a haircut since you got there, 
because it's as short as it was when you left. 
Ben: I don't think you did mention the good lookingness. You just have 
really good taste in fashion I guess. :) And I did get a haircut last week.  
They would only do a 2 and 5 though. I guess a 1 and 4 was too short for them.
Mom: You are probably the only Elder who is complaining about not going short enough.  
All the other Elders complain that they cut it shorter than they wanted it. 
Ben: Thanks Mom. You're the best. And yeah I do generally have unique complaints, 
so it's a fairly reasonable possibility

Elder Turk
Elder Larson and Elder Mitchell

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Week 3

 Elder Mitchell and his companion, Elder Turk.

Hello Everyone,
Week 3 is now history and I have a funny story to start with. Two days after my last email proclaiming to the world that my immune system is perfect, I got sick and ended up spending most of the next day in bed. That would have been Friday. The day after that I was on the fence about whether or not to go to class, but decided it would be better not to miss too much so I went. Later that day at exercise time my companion told me I should try to break the mile record time because it reset on New Years and someone had only run a 5:34 (or so we thought. That was the time written on the wall). I was still feeling a little bit sick, but ultimately gave in to peer pressure and ran a 5:33 to break the time on the wall (Which was not actually the record, they just hadn't posted the new one yet). After that little adventure I realized that I was more than a little bit sick (partly evidenced by my time and partly by the fact that I felt like I was going to die afterwards). My time wasn't helped by the fact that the track that they have is a square with 40m sides on the top floor of the gym building, so you have to do ten laps and go around 40 corners, all of which you have to slow down for because they're 90 degrees. I would guess that the track adds between 10 and 20 seconds to the final time. All things considered, it was a really bad idea, and I do not currently have the record. I guess I'll have to try again sometime within the next six weeks that I'm here when I'm less sick. End of the funny story.

Today our zone is getting three new districts which means that exercise time will be twice as crowded from now on, and that I will have some seniority. Both of those things are a little bit scary. Unfortunately Derek Larsen (one of my Family Home Evening brothers from BYU) is going to one of the two other Japanese speaking zones. He should be arriving within the next hour.

At this point I feel like making it through the MTC and serving a successful mission is possible, at least in terms of the language. Up until this week I felt like I wouldn't ever be fluent in Japanese. I'm still very very far from fluent, but I'm starting to understand quite a bit more, and my speaking has been improving too. I'm not sure that I'll ever have a Japanese accent though.

I'd also like to share a scripture that I happened upon this week that really helped my morale. I was looking for a different scripture (in Doctrine and Covenants 82) but then I had an impression that the scripture I really needed was in the section right before that one. Sure enough, section 81 is pretty much the best section ever. It basically says that if you do the things that you know you're supposed to then you'll be rewarded for it.

Some people have also asked about my schedule. It varies a little bit from day to day, but it's generally something like this:
6:30 alarm goes off
7:15 breakfast
7:45 exercise
9:30 study time
11:30 lunch
12:30 class
4:30 dinner
5:30 class again
9:00 daily planning
9:30 back at flat
10:15 quiet time
10:30 lights out
repeat for 9 weeks

In closing I would like to thank all of the people that have sent me emails. I really appreciate all the love that I've gotten since I've been at the MTC. I hope that you're all doing well.

I love you all,
Elder Mitchell

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Week 2

Looking for Smurfette. . .There's got to be a story to that, 
but we didn't get it.  We only got the picture.

Hello world,
Pday has come again. I'm now about 2% of the way through my mission. This week was pretty interesting. I'm not sure if I've had a really normal day at the MTC so far. The first week, the most traumatic thing was one of my companions going home. Every night we would have to go see the counselor because he was homesick. This week my other companion was sick the whole time. A couple of the days he pretty much just stayed in bed the whole day and I was either with him or I had to go on a split with one of the guys in the other district and his companion would stay with mine. Fortunately, we have some guys in our district whose mothers are ER nurses or who are in medical school themselves, so there was no shortage of drugs for him to take. He probably took five or six different things to help him feel better. One of the drugs was my companion's own advil, which he put in his altoids container so that he wouldn't have to carry two different things all the time. It really added new meaning to the altoid slogan "curiously strong mints". Our whole district thought that was pretty funny. He's doing better today, and he even went to the optional workout time with me. 
The sisters in my district got pretty sick this week too. One of them had Influenza A and was supposed to be quarantined for like three days. They let her out early though because she got better so fast. The other sister was pretty sick for a while too. As you may recall from my last email, there are only four people in my district, so that left everyone sick except me. We had to cancel class one of the days because I was the only one that could have gone. Now I'm locally famous for staying healthy when my whole district was dying. It occurred to me that I could be a doctor or something, if I'm this resistant to illness. That's the sort of thing that you can't learn in school. Too bad I'm not really interested in working in the medical field.
The Japanese is coming okay. I feel not I'm not learning very fast, but our teachers say that our district is learning it pretty quickly, so I guess that's good. I've also seen a few people that I know at the MTC. I've seen my cousin, Levi, from Georgia, a friend from my stake in Washington, and a sister that was in my mission prep class at BYU.
It's been pretty nice to be right next to the temple too. We've gotten to go both Wednesdays that I've been here. It's a really nice break from all of the language studying. I hope you're all doing well.

Elder Mitchell

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week 1 at the MTC

Hello Everyone,
I have a few words of business to start with:
If those individuals in my BYU FHE group receiving this email could kindly remind everyone else in my FHE group that they will not be receiving any emails from me unless they send me one first, that would be great. Also if someone could tell Trevor that he's a bum that would be much appreciated. Finally, if my family could talk to Ben, Luis, Heze, Nathan, Nathan, Kjellden, Isaac, Josh, Cody and Brandon to see if they want to get emails from me that would be great. :)

General email:
Some of you were probably starting to think that I had forgotten you, or that I didn't love you anymore because it's been so long since I was able to send an email. My Pday ended up being a full week after I got to the MTC, so I couldn't send any emails until now. I apologize for all of the grief this may have caused you. :)
This first week has been pretty good. I started the week with two companions, Elder Turk and Elder Kendall. Unfortunately Elder Kendall had some problems with homesickness and went home Sunday afternoon. Now Elder Turk and I have a room of three bunkbeds to ourselves. Elder Turk is from Santa Barbara California, and Elder Kendall was from like 20 minutes away from here, so his parents just came and got him. Interestingly, Elder Turk and I are now the only two Elders in our district, and there are only two sisters, so we're easily the smallest district that our teachers have ever seen. 
All the Elders here seem to be pretty cool. I'm not sure what goes on in the sisters residence hall, but in ours there was a Mexican style wrestling event on the first night. Nobody is ever quiet at 10:15 when quiet time starts, and only somtimes at 10:30 for lights out. There is also a lot of singing that goes on in the shower. The clear favorite is the "somebody once told me" song, and they generally get stuck on a loop of "and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming" for between 14 and 47 seconds. I don't remember what the song is actually called, but I can't look it up because I'm not allowed to surf the internet. It might be called Allstar or something. Also, anonymous writer asked me if there were any raging New Years parties. There were not.
The food here is pretty good. A lot of people complain about it, but I don't have to do any grocery shopping or cooking, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. It's all you can eat too, so I'm probably like 40 lbs heavier than the last time any of you have seen me. You should all try to imagine what that would look like. Actually I think I've only gained like 4 lbs if any, but 40 sounds more exciting.
The Japanese is starting to come back. Everyone in my district except Elder Turk has taken some Japanese, but he's a genius, so we're all progressing pretty quickly. We're focusing on different things, but I think that I've already surpassed my Japanese level from the end of taking the class for two years.
I hope that you're all doing well. 
Elder Mitchell
 The first P-day (Preparation Day) at the MTC.  This is the day that the Elders are allowed to email friends and family at home and to do laundry and have a bit more relaxed schedule.  
Elder Mitchell in the new shirt that Amy gave him for Christmas.  Missionaries wear shirts and ties every day of the week, except on P-day.  They get to dress more casually while doing laundry, etc.
 A little goofing around before heading up to Provo Temple in the afternoon on P-day.

My companion, Elder Turk, is the guy in the blue tie in the center of the photo.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reporting to the Provo, UT, Missionary Training Center on December 28, 2016

Elder Mitchell and Family at Grandpa and Grandma Kenison's
house before reporting to the MTC.
 Grandpa Kenison, Elder Mitchell and Grandma Kenison
 Sharing last minute advice and time together.

 More hugs from the sisters.
 Aunt Bethany, Elder Mitchell, Uncle Colton and Aunt Malea
Elder Mitchell walks into the MTC with another Elder as the family
drives away.  He is ready for missionary service!

Ben Opening His Mission Call September 11, 2016

The call is finally in his hands!
A little bit of set up. . .
A little bit of supervision during set up. . .

Wow! Japan!?!
I should have paid more attention in Japanese.

Showing the call to the family at home.

The roommates came to support Ben opening his call.
Jesus, Derek, Ben and Trevor.

College students LOVE free food!

Thanks to Katie, Grandma Kenison and Aunt Brenda for putting on a terrific spread!

Cousin Hayden.
Is it my turn yet?
The Mellor boys love to eat too.
And to top it off, there's homemade ice cream for dessert!

The little kids had to get some time in on the swings and the slide.

The college kids stayed close to the food.


Uncle Neldon and Grandpa supervising the dessert table.
Gabe and Uncle Neldon.

Aunt Brenda talking to Grandpa Kenison and Aunt Katie.
Aunt Katie getting the last lick of yummy goodness off of her ice cream spoon.
What a great day!