Friday, February 24, 2017

Week 8

Friends and family,

My time at the MTC is coming to a close. It doesn't feel like I've been here for that long, but I am starting to get tired of the MTC life. We spend almost all of our time in classrooms or in the cafeteria, and there's not a whole lot that you can see from the MTC grounds (other than the Y depending on where you are, and the building that I used to live in at BYU if you look at the right spot on the way to the gym from exercise time). But even those get old pretty quick when they're the only interesting things you can see.

I would like to apologize to all of the people who have sent me emails and have not received a response yet. I promise I do still love you all, but there are only so many heartfelt emails that I can send in my limited emailing time here at the MTC (which is actually longer than I'm going to have when I get to Japan). But I do still really enjoy hearing about things going on in the outside world, so please keep sending them, and I'll just reply as soon as I can.

The weather has been really interesting lately. Yesterday it was in the 50s all day, even in the morning, and this morning we woke up and there were probably three inches of snow on the ground. And it has continued to snow all day. So that's fun.

I have only gained about five pounds while I've been at the MTC (I'm a little bit proud of that. Having all-you-can-eat meals three times a day does test your self-control sometimes :P). The only problem is that in between the time when college got out and I reported to the MTC, I gained ten other pounds. So that's unfortunate. I've netted 15 extra pounds since I left school.

I'd like to share a scripture this week that we used in one of our lessons with an investigator (we're still in the MTC so our investigators are just our teachers pretending to be Japanese people. It's kind of funny because all of our teachers are white guys that go to BYU but served their missions in Japan so they're not Japanese at all). It's Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-9. I don't want to ruin it for you all with my interpretation, but it talks about trials and how we can find hope in the midst of our trials. I really liked it, and it's one that I'll probably come back to often as I start doing real missionary work next week.

I love you all and hope you have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

P.S. I may or may not get a Pday next week because once in the field it's supposed to be Monday's, but that's the day that I'm flying to Japan. So don't be alarmed if you don't hear from me for the next week and a half. :)

 Elder Turk and Elder Mitchell
 The official zone picture.
 One of the Distric Album covers. .

The other Distric Album cover.
Elder Mitchell's MTC companion, Elder Turk.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Week 7

Hello world,

The highlight of this week was pretty easily the devotional that we had last night. Elder M. Russell Ballard was the speaker and I had a third row seat because I was sitting next to the Japanese sisters from our zone in the interpretation section (as a zone leader making sure that they knew what to do and where to go. Just figured I should clarify that in case any of my younger sisters got any ideas. They tend to be pretty quick to come to conclusions :P). He talked about attitude, setting goals, and hard work. Because of his talk I now have a goal to 'jump out of bed with enthusiasm'. Those of you who know me very well will know that that's not the sort of thing that I've done in the past...

The next best thing was Valentines day. I got a couple packages from my mom and my grandma, both of which had cookies and other assorted goodies in them. So I've had quite a bit of sugar between yesterday and today. :)

This week it also occurred to me that I'm in the last third of my MTC time, which is a little scary. I've been here for nearly two months, but the time has gone so fast. The first three weeks felt like a year, but since then it has just flown by. I don't feel nearly prepared enough to go teach the Gospel in Japanese. But, I guess there probably haven't been very many people in the past feel like they were ready right after the MTC.

I love you all and apologize for the short email this week,
Elder Mitchell

The picture is of Elder Schaeffer from my zone. We both realized that we hadn't taken any pictures this week so we took pictures of each other to send for our weekly updates.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Week 6

Hello world,

I'm a little short on time so this might not be the longest email I've ever sent. I'm more or less happy and healthy, and I'm still learning Japanese. Unfortunately, even with these last six weeks of training I'm still only capable of very simple conversation. Admittedly it's more complex than any of the other weeks that I've been here, but still not great.

This week Elder Gong of the Seventy came and since he knows my companion, we got to have dinner with him and the MTC presidency. The food was ridiculously good, but I was definitely a little uncomfortable with the whole situation. It was easily the most formal meal I've ever had in my life and it was in front of a general authority and the MTC presidency. So that happened.

We're currently at 20 something with the icebreaker challenge, but I might be done with that. We've slowed down quite a bit. They're so gross at this point that it's not worth it. There is still a picture attached for those who are interested.

Okay, I guess it is also worth mentioning that I am now the zone leader. I may not have mentioned it earlier but I am also the district leader due to the lack of elders in my district. So I'm currently trying to serve in both capacities. It's hard because my companion and I don't necessarily see eye to eye on a lot of things, but I think we'll manage.

Finally, I would like to give some advice for those individuals preparing to serve a mission, as this email will hopefully be read by most of my BYU FHE group. I had obviously read the Book of Mormon, and had a testimony that it's true before I came on my mission; but I really wish that I was more comfortable in it, and that I could better use it in my teaching. I guess by comfortable I mean that I wish I knew where more stories are, and that I was better at coming up with scriptures that apply to the problems of my investigators (all of my investigators at the MTC are just my teachers role-playing but still). I'm sure I'm not the only person who has ever felt that way, and I know that everyone could be better at knowing their way around the Book of Mormon up until they have the whole thing memorized verse by verse (haha that would be pretty cool), but it's definitely worth all of the time that you could spend studying in it.

Lots of love!
Elder Mitchell

1 - empty icebreaker containers
2 - me sitting on my bed
3 - picture two flipped upside down (there's not a whole lot to entertain yourselves with at the MTC)
4 - the ZL rock which is now in front of my room

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week 5

Friends and Family,

This week was probably the most normal week that I've had at the MTC so far. I finished up my hard-core drugs from the doctor and I'm pretty much healthy again. I've thought about the mile record a couple of times, but I have not yet made another attempt to break it. I may or may not try for it later this week. I'll see how I feel this week.

Something else worth mentioning is that I am now the District Leader. It's not due to anything that I've done well, it's just that there are only two Elders in the district so we each get half the time in the MTC. And it's highly likely that we'll also be zone leaders after our せんぱい leave because our district will have the most seniority and we're the only two Elders in the district. It's fun stuff.

A hobby that my companion and I have picked up lately is sucking on icebreakers. The MTC puts money on our MTC cards every week and we don't have anything to spend it on or save for, so we've just been going through icebreakers. I think we're currently at seven containers, and we started about five days ago. It's pretty interesting. On the same subject, they have cinammon flavored icebreakers here. I set the first record at ten, but then one of the sisters did 14. I'm not sure that I'll contest her for the record, because ten was plenty. My tongue wasn't quite the same for a little while after that.

Also, I thought I might share the most frequently quoted scripture at the MTC. The scripture is 2 Nephi 34 which discusses what happens to liars. The most frequently cited missionary rule is page 33 of the missionary handbook. It describes what interactions between male and female missionaries should be like, and it doesn't take much for the missionaries here to decide that another Elder or Sister is violating the rule. And they'll be sure to let the violators know. :) It's all in good fun though. I haven't seen anything yet that has been too questionable. Except that one Sister in our zone keeps having random Elders come up to her and ask for her email. That's a little weird.

My favorite scripture this week was Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-8. It's the one that says that the Lord will give you the words that you should say when you share the Gospel. That's pretty comforting even though I don't have any real investigators yet. I'm can't even speak in English, so I'm definitely going to need all the help I can get in Japanese. :)

I attached some pictures. The first one is of Elder Kurita and me. He's from Japan. The second one is a picture that's on the wall on the bottom floor of my classroom building. It's pretty good. The last one is the icebreaker container that my companion and I are working on right now.

I love you all,
Elder Mitchell
 Elder Kurita and me