A large white envelope arrived in the mail today. Inside were letters addressed to each family member. As Paul explained to Becca, "Each of the family gets different bits and pieces of my life here, so ask them if you want to find out more and get a bigger picture." [Note: since Paul shares different parts of his experience with various family members, I have just pulled out a highlight from each - except Claire's. Her letter was written in Japanese...]
My companion's full name is Andre Jun Wesemann. He was born in Japan but grew up in Highland, Utah. He is half-Japanese; his mom is Japanese. His speaking, reading, and writing level is the best in our district.
When we teach lessons, it's good to be able to rely on him to explain things in depth - he doesn't really get "explain simply", so he always give me ample time to prepare myself.
So here's our district people's names
district=people I get to spend all my studying, eating, and sleeping time with
Elder Nielson = Doreo
Elder Handly = Handlebars
Elder Ballard = Barbie
Elder Kamae = Diglett
Elder Wegemann = Wheeeeeeezeman
Elder Cardon = Cordon Bleu
So literally the best way to learn Japanese is to devote yourself to it. Study it, speak it, read, write, eat, sleep, drink it. Love it!
MTC initial reaction: everyone is so nice and welcoming. ... It's all super fun, and I'll get to learn a ton from my teachers! (Actually, it's mostly self-study. Guided, in some ways, but mostly what I've always been doing.) ... Good food! And all you can eat! (It's a trap!)
The schedule: study, eat, study, sleep. Very monotonous. I thrive in it though.
The best part: I get to speak Japanese, all the time, and nobody can hold me back. You thought I was good before? I've made leaps and bounds since then. You would hardly recognize me.
Any struggles? Find out we're staying for nine weeks. Absorbing all the information. Trying to always feel, keep and share the Spirit. I feel so drained.
I got the biggest surprise of my life out here. You know how we teach "investigators", right? Well, straight up, our sensei told us that the first lesson would have to be entirely in Japanese, we'd only been here three days. We teach this investigator from China who speaks Japanese for a week 1/2. I felt good about it; the spirit was there, the lessons made sense, our language was acceptable. She committed to baptism by the end of it.
Next day comes, and our Chinese investigator is on our classroom waiting for us! She's not even actually Chinese!
She's our other sensei. She's already Mormon; even went on a mission. And now she gets to teach us how to really teach.
I can't believe I've already been in the MTC for two weeks! Although I'm staying here for nine, for some reason. ... We even took a second language evaluation and it was determined that all of our language skills were good enough to enter the field in 3 weeks. I mean, we're not as good as the native Japanese district, obviously, but we're still conversational. Everyone is a little bitter about our situation. Probably because they first promised everyone three weeks, then extended it to nine, despite our skills.
Well, I'm out working hard learning Japanese. I have to wear my Sunday clothes every single day. Sometimes I wish I could take a break and go swimming; but I am not allowed to go swimming.
I really wish I could cook my own food. The food that they give me here is delicious, but it is not very good for my body. You are very lucky to have mom and dad cook good food for you. By the way, what kind of food did Grace make? Which one was your favorite?
You sneaky you. I saw that note in my luggage! And that letter you wrote a while back. Thanks.
Guess what? Going without your own first name for a while reaps blessings. A guy asked about my name, and I said Paul, and I had the most sudden huge love for my own name that I'd never felt before because I'd taken it for granted. Like, it just resonated within me. It just sounded cool.
I'm taking diligent notes of most everything that I do here. In a while, when I send my notebook home, you'll see just what I do here.
Have you ever just looked at someone and just loved them? A while back, when observing my District buddies, I did exactly that. I thought to myself, "man. That guy is going to be an awesome missionary." out of the blue even though I'd never even consider such a thing before. weird.
(Emma) I loved the Wobbuffet you drew me! It looks just like him! I will put it with all my other favorite drawings. I love you! Keep sending me pictures.
The Elders here are poor deprived souls who can only sing according to their memories. The result? A LOT of out-of-tune, repetitive, bad chorus singing. All the time.
As missionaries we also can't use slang. So we can't say things like "dude, guys, boyz." That's actually incredibly difficult to get over, because it's a natural part of our vocabulary.
We also go to the temple all the time. every Tuesday and Sunday. We also have to wear Sunday suits on those days.
So the MTC is actually like another school. It actually used to be called the Language Training Center, I think. Can you imagine if your school started at 7:00 AM, and ended at 9:00 PM? In between that time, you have nine hours of hard core study/learning time The PE class lasts for one hour, but you get to choose any sport to play that you like.
You know what's hard about the MTC? The change. The growth. Growth can be uncomfortable. I have to wake up at 6:30, go to bed at 10:30. I have goals to memorize every scripture mastery in Japanese, memorize all the kanji in the Book of Mormon, read my scriptures every day, and to write to everyone who writes back.
Note from Linnea: I haven't read David's letter yet. It was folded as an origami crane.