Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Well everyone, it's been another interesting week here at the MTC. More of the usual schedule of class, studying, teaching, and more studying (which of course means sitting down all day). There have been a few highlights here and there though that are worth sharing about. First of all, the world is getting smaller every day. I found out that Brother Wadsworth, one of the branch presidency, is related to Sister Mosley who I know from the Mesa Temple Baptistry. Turns out that they're siblings. One of the new missionaries who came in two weeks ago is also from Gilbert, and she knows alot of the people from ward because she was friends with quite a few of them, so we have alot of mutual friends, but we've never met before. I've also seen three friends from home here at the MTC this last week. I saw Alex Annand last thursday, and I've bumped into him a few times since then. Sunday morning during breakfast I saw Cameron Smith and Ricky Van Neck, who both just arrived last week. That was completely unexpected. I had thought that they were both reporting after I left for Japan. Guess not.
This week all the new mission presidents are at the MTC for training before they all report to their missions Thursday morning. All the missionaries going to missions getting a new mission president got to meet their new mission presidents saturday night, which meant that I got to meet my new mission president, President Budge, saturday night as well. He seems like a really neat guy, and I'm excited to be able to work with him in just a few weeks. He served his mission in Japan, and since then he's lived in japan for 17 years. It's safe to say he's thoroughly familiar with the culture and the language. We all spent some time getting to know each other a little bit, and he shared with us some of his goals and plans for the mission. Our mission theme is going to me "idaina taigini ichi", which means "united in so great a cause". I'm excited. Only a few weeks left.
All the native Japanese missionaries arrived last night, and I got to meet a few of them for a little bit. I was a little sad when I found out that none of the native Japanese missionaries in this group are going to the Tokyo mission though. There are a few going to all the Japanese missions except Tokyo. It'll still be fun to talk with all of them and get to know them anyway. Last night I talked with Elder Honda, who actually came from Tokyo. He seems like a really neat guy, and we talked for almost 40 minutes. He actually has a brother that came with him to the MTC, so I'm looking forward to meeting his brother too. Elder Honda (the one I met) is going to the Kobe Mission, and his younger brother is going to the Nagoya Mission. It would have been really cool if they were going to the same mission, but being at the MTC together at the same time is pretty cool too.
That's about it for this week! I'd love to hear from all of you and see how you're doing! I have limited time for emails, but if you send a letter through the mail or dearelder.com I have enough time to respond to all those. More to come next week everyone! Later!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Well, it's happened. There are now less weeks left at the mtc than there are weeks that I've already been here. It's been a great experience, but I'm still super excited to head off to Japan in a few weeks. This last week has been quite an interesting week for sure. Last wednesday all the new missionaries going to Japan arrived, and that's been fun. Alot of them have studied japanese a little bit before they came to the MTC, which makes it really fun to watch them as they try to teach each other different pieces of the language that they know. Watching them has made it really clear to me that just because you know something doesn't mean you can teach it. Some of the explanations I've overheard have been rather entertaining to say the least.
A few nights ago, one of the new missionaries came and told us about a note he found left behind by some of the older missionaries, talking about a box of candy that they put in the ceiling above the bathroom. He said he had found the vent they opened to stash the box, and when we went to take a look at it, sure enough we could see a box up in the ceiling when we looked closely enough. After we found a screwdriver, we were able to open up the vent and get the box down, but it was barely filled enough to cover the bottom of the box, and most of it was all opened or half eaten... So much for finding the hidden treasure, right?
Despite all the craziness and shenanigans that everyone manages to get into, there's still alot to be learned, and alot of work to do. My companion Elder Howell and I get a little better at teaching every day, and his Japanese has now reached the point where he no longer feels the need to take written phrases or sentences with him to the lessons. He still doesn't say alot yet, but it's all out of his head and on the spot when he does talk, which is really impressive to me. It's amazing how fast people are able to learn the language with the Lord's help.
So it would appear that my nephew Spencer is being trained in the devious arts of "The Game" while I'm gone. For those of you unfamiliar with The Game, it's really quite simple. There are only three rules: 1) everyone is always playing the game. 2) if you think about the game, you lose the game 3) when you lose, you have to state out loud that you have lost. So I recieved a package from my family with some things in it that I had asked for, including some pictures from just before I left. Included with those pictures, at the very back, was a picture of my nephew Spencer with a little note that said "I lost the game". Well played Spencer. Well played. My mom, sister, and friend Kelsey also thought it would be hilarious to hide sticky notes about the game inside almost everything included in the package. Unfortunately, I think I emerged victorious from that encounter. I'm fairly certain that I found them all, and I won't be finding any surprises in the next upcoming weeks. My options for retaliaion are limited due to circumstances, but this battle will continue. And of course I'll be sure to keep you all posted about it.
That's about it for this week everyone! More to come later!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Well, one more week down, and only a few more to go before I'm off to Japan. It's been a rather interesting week just because it's been rather uneventful, but at the same time it's had its fair share of adventure. On Wednesday my companion picked up a nice war wound during gym time. He took a shot to score a goal in soccer, but it was blocked by someone on the other team, and the ball rocketed up into his face, sending his glassess flying a good 20 feet in the air, and splitting his eybrow in the process. It was long enough that they thought he would need stiches, but when we got to the health clinic they decided to just close it up with steri-strips to see how those worked. They took them off yesterday, and Elder Howell still has a pretty nice scab, but it's closed up really well and it shouldn't scar too badly. On Sunday I ended up singing during sacrament meeting with 5 other elders from my district. That probably blew your mind, huh? I don't expect it to happen again anytime soon though. This last sunday was also the first Sunday without the Senpai, so everyone was really nervous about being selected as one of the two missionaries to speak in sacrament meeting (in japanese). I realized as we were waiting for sacrament meeting to start that I had forgotten to prepare a talk, but I wasn't worried about it since I had already spoken the first week we were here and I figured I wouldn't be called on to speak again. I'm sure you can all guess what happened. I was asked to speak. Again. So that was fun.
    Other than that there hasn't really been a whole lot happening out of the ordinary for life at the MTC. Just long days with lots of studying, and the occasional adventure here and there. Oh, and here's a little piece of wisdom that I'd like to share with you all for the week: "You can't grow a garden without a garden". Have fun trying to figure that one out. That was from one of our lessons with Clark Sensei, and it actually has a significant and deep meaning, along with being mildly amusing. Well, I hope you're all doing well! More to come next week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

   Well, this week was a fairly normal week, but today has been anything but normal, and it's only 11 in the morning! It's just been another week of studying and learning, and we're all getting better every day. It's really wierd to think that I've been here for a month already, but at the same time it feels like it's been so much longer. I just hope the next 6 weeks are as quick as these last 5 have been, and just as productive as well.
   This last week has had some rather interesting events though. The group of missionaries just ahead of us left yesterday morning, so they were busy all week with last minute preperations to head out to Japan. There were between 40 and 50 missionaries in their group that left, including Jacob Knighton from the ward. Our group has 22 missionaries, and 20 japanese missionaries that will be coming soon and leaving with us, and the group after us that comes next week has 32 missionaries. They're definitely either getting ready to split a mission, or Japan is about to take off in a serious way. Either way, I'm excited. The remainder of our stay at the MTC should be relatively quick though. Only one more week until the kohai (the next group of missionaries) arrive, two weeks after that the Nihonjin (Japanese) missionaries arrive, and three weeks after that we fly out to Japan with the Nihonjin missionaries. It's going to be a rather quiet week without the Senpai (the older group of missionaries) around. It feels like our residency hall is empty with all of them gone. It'll be fun though! I'm looking forward to it!
    So, for today's adventure that I mentioned earlier, it all started when my companion, our two roomates and I went to the temple this morning. We went at our normally assigned time for p-day, had breakfast, and then did a session of sealings. Besides the four of us, there ended up being two sister missionaries in our branch there, and four other individuals, two of which were a married elderly couple. As it turns out, the elderly married sister is related to me. After hearing that my last name is Blake, she shared with me that her maiden name is Blake. I asked if she had any relations to the Ellicock family, because if she's a Blake that's also related to the Ellicock family, she's definitely related to me. If you want to know the story behind that, as my parents about it sometime. Anyways, afterwards we talked for a little bit, and came to find out that she's actually cousins with my Grandpa Blake. Her name is Helene, but growing up all her cousins would just call her Hellen. She shared a couple stories with us about growing up, one of which was when she was about 10 or so, and there were a bunch of haystacks at the farm that were about 20 feet tall. She was always trying to prove to her cousins that girls were just as good as guys, and they all bet her that she was too chicken to jump off this haystack. She climbed all the way up to the top, and after a little bit of mental preperation, she did it. When she landed, her head went between her knees, and she still doesn't know how she walked away without injury, but she was the only one who jumped. As to whether or not it was stupidity or bravery, I think we call all figure that one out.
   So yeah, that's about it for now. Just another week at the MTC. I'll keep you all posted about what's been going on! I'd love to hear from you all as well! Since I only get a half hour to email every week, it would be preferred if you send me a letter through dearelder.com, or a physical letter to me at:

Elder Aaron Joseph Blake
MTC Mailbox #243
JPN-TOK 0717
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604
More to come later!