Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Well, one more week down at the mtc, and it's been an interesting one for sure. Just another couple days, and we'll have been here longer than a majority of missionaries ever will be. The MTC is infamous for giving missionaries and extra 10 pounds or more during their stay here, and I can proudly say that if I was only here for 4 weeks I would have escaped without gaining any weight. but, seeing as how I'm not even half way through my stay here, we'll have to see if that's still true by the end of 11 weeks.
It's really hard to decide what to say. Everything is just kinda blurring together, and I can't remember if things happened in this last week or if it was a couple weeks ago. I can say that things are going well though, and I can't believe I've already been gone for nearly a month. It really seems like I just got here last week. But then I think that I have to be here for another month and a half and I wish I was already in Japan. It'll happen soon enough though. if the next few weeks are anything like the last couple, I'll be in Japan before I know it's hit me.
We're all starting to show signs of insanity though. I'm not entirely sure if it's from being in the MTC, or because we were all crazy before we came here anyway. The other night we had some extra free time in our rooms after gym, so there were about 8 elders in our room, and we spent almost an hour singing disney songs and quoting movies. Elder Metsatati, one of the elders in my district, is from finland, and quite the artist. He drew me a funny little cartoon musasabi, which is Japanese for flying squirrel. Our district has pretty much adopted flying squirrels as our mascot, simply because we find it hilarious that flying squirrel would be included in a japanese to english dictionary written specifially for missionaries, and we have yet to come up with a valid reason that a missionary would need to know how to say "flying squirrel". I also ended up getting to practice massage a little bit this week. One of the elders was complaining about his back being stiff and sore, and asked if I could work it out for him after he found out that I know a little bit of massage. I guess he was really happy with the results, because he ended up telling everyone about it, and I've had a few missionaries ask if they can get one. Hopefully it stays to just a couple people though, because I don't have time to be giving out massages all day. Oh! and speaking of crazy missionaries, Mellisa Nyuyen (sorry, I probably butchered your last name. can you forgive me?), if you're somewhere out there reading this, I want you to know that I've gotten several elders in my district to start saying "Pika" before they sneeze. If any of you guys know Mellissa, could you make sure to pass that peice of information along just to make sure she hears about it? thanks!
On the days that we have gym in the afternoon and we can go to the field, my companion and I usually go play soccer since he played soccer in highschool The group of missionaries going on spanish speaking missionaries that we share gym time with got a new batch of missionaries this last week, and there were about 6 of the new missionaries that play soccer, so our games of soccer ended up going from mildly competetive to fairly intense since they're all pretty good a the game. It's actually been really fun. Considering I haven't played since I was about 10, I'm actually holding my own fairly well. Then again, using jujitsu during a game might be a slightly unfair advantage... but there's no rule against using your hip to bump someone and steal the ball, right? Right. haha! So yeah. I'm finding small ways to keep up on my training. What's always really funny is when I'll be learning japanese, and stumble across a phrase that I can understand that nobody else does because of a word I learned in jujitsu, like imon, which is a breastplate. Everyone asks how I know such random words, and all I can do is just laugh a little bit, and shake my head.
Other than that, things have been going fairly normal. Well, as normal as they can be at the MTC anyway. I've been learning alot, and really had to stretch. It's been good though. I'm really excited to see what crazy things we end up doing this week. At this point, nothing would really surprise me

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Note: This is the letter that Aaron wrote for the family. He ended up not having time to write another one just for the blog.
Well, things have been quite interesting the last few weeks. Every day here at the MTC, we all get just a little more strange than the day before.... Then again, that probably has something to do with the fact that we're all a bunch of 19 year old guys stuck in a classroom for 12+ hours a day. It's totally worth it though. Lots of fun stuff happens to balance it all out. Sorry I wasn't able to write last week. I'm assuming you got my letter explaining that I was locked out of my email because somebody had left the computer in Spanish, so my password kept getting screwed up. I didn't realize until after I had been locked out why it kept rejecting my password. So now I know, I need to double check what language my computer is set to before I try to do anything.
My teachers here at the MTC are totally awesome. Clark Sensei, our main teacher, is a total fireball, and super goofy. Just the other day, he was sharing with us a story about how he came home late one night and saw a couple of girls on the curb just a few houses down the street who were totally wasted. He thought it was sad, and wanted to see if there was anything he could do to help them. He had a bag of gummy bears in his car, so he went to go get them. While he's telling this story, a couple of native Japanese missionaries who are here at the MTC walked by our open classroom door just in time to hear him shout, "Hey, want some gummy bears?!" Haha! That was great. The Japanese elders gave him some pretty funny looks, Clark Sensei about died of embarrassment, and we all about died laughing.
Every Sunday our branch of missionaries going to japan has our own separate sacrament meeting. They always randomly select two missionaries to give 5 minute talks in Japanese, but they never announce who it is, so everyone is supposed to prepare talks. We were told that since we were new we could pretty much count on not being called on, and not to worry about it. I decided to prepare a talk anyway, because I figured it wouldn't hurt, and they know that I've studied Japanese before. It's a good thing I did, because wouldn't you know it, I was asked to speak during my first sacrament meeting at the MTC (since the first Sunday was fast Sunday). So that was exciting.
Last night, just for fun, some of us went through our textbook "Learning to Read the Book of Mormon in Japanese", and used the kanji dictionary in the back to find kanji we could use to write our names. So, with the choices available to me based on which kanji are used in The Book of Mormon, the combination I ended up deciding on means "An enduring example of men." I hope I can live up to that so that it actually has some significance. Speaking of which, I'm really enjoying working on reading The Book of Mormon in Japanese. I don't get a whole lot of time to do it since speaking is a much higher priority, but it's coming along, and my comprehension is around 80-90%. I still have to look up a couple of words now and then obviously, but it's fun.
There's so much stuff going on, and It's hard to decide what to share, mostly because a lot of it doesn't make sense without lengthy prologues, and I can't remember what I've already shared and haven't shared. Regardless though, it's been a great experience so far, and I'm looking forward to what else is in store. I miss you guys, and hope everything is going well for you all.
     Elder Blake

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

   Well everyone, I've arrived safe and sound at the MTC and successfully survived my first week! only about 10 more to go before I head out for Japan! It's been quite the adventure. Sitting in class all day, tutoring the other missionaries in Japanese, living on cafeteria food... but seriously though, it's been good! My companion is Elder Howell from the salt lake valley area, and we're rooming with Elders Crandell and Rollins. All four of us get along great, and have alot of similar interests. Elder Rollins took japanese for about 2 years in highschool, and is trying to dig that all back up since he forgot most of it, but Elders Howell and Crandell have no previous experience with Japanese at all. I've ended up turning into a tutor of sorts for our district, because between the four of us and the other four Elders in our district I'm the only one who can comfortably and successfully carry a conversation in Japanese, but everyone else is catching on quickly.
    I can tell that it's going to be an interesting stay here at the MTC though. I've never been one to sit around, so being in classes/ studying from 8 in the morning to nearly 9 at night is going to be fun to adjust to. We still manage to have fun though, otherwise we would all be insane. Then again, I don't think there's much hope for us anyways. Anyone who's stuck with me for 11 weeks is guaranteed to go insane. It's contagious after all.
    If any of you guys know Elder Mason Wall, then you should be happy to hear that he's doing great, and is safely on his way to Milwakee as of this (tuesday) morning! I managed to bump into him only twice, and that took quite some effort because as it turns out his meal times end about 5 minutes before mine begin, which effectively eliminated our best chance to meet up here at the MTC.
     I don't have a way to send digital copies of my pictures home here at the MTC, so you'll all have to wait until I get to Japan for anything to get put up. I love you all, and I hope you're all doing well! More adventures to (hopefully) come in the upcoming weeks!