|Nanjo Shimai and Sugihara Shimai|
Hello my favorite family and friends!
First off, thank you so much Harpers for your wonderful package, the art book is beautiful! Jonathan, thanks for finally telling me about your mission call yourself ;) I squealed when I read your call [to Thailand]. My companion just laughed but I was freaking out, in a very missionary way of course.
I can't believe another week has gone by. And yet, I totally can. I feel like I'm in a time warp. Time goes by so fast, and yet so long at the same time. I've officially been on my mission a month now, so that's exciting! My Japanese is getting better, but there are still times when I get frustrated and just say never mind or revert to English. My companion's English is pretty good. I told Nanjo Shimai to correct my Japanese and one of the first things she told me was that I say' arigato gozaimasu' [thank you very much] like a shop girl. So I'm working on my intonation to not sound like that haha. Explaining church doctrine in Japanese is hard, but its getting better. It's slow but its progressing.
Everyone loves our family pictures! When we were visiting a family, there were some hilarious comments. They're an investigator/partmember family and when the mom looked at our pictures, she said Mom was a bijin [beauty], Sho an ikemen [handsome boy], and then her 5 yr old son said Dad was a 'futsuu no ojisan' [regular-looking man] haha. I'm pretty sure she said Jonathan was kakkoii [cool]too. So funny, I love that family. I'm slowly getting to know the ward but with general conference, not much progress there. So remember how I said the church is huge? Well its a stake center, that's why haha. There were a bunch of wards here for general conference on Sunday. ALSO. The Japanese brother who was called as the area seventy during conference? Otahara Katsuyuki is in the Atsubetsu ward! And his wife is the Relief Society President of course. Everyone was and still is, really excited.
Wasn't general conference incredible? I've never looked forward to it as much I did this time. Luckily, they had an English gaijin [foreigner] room so all of the American missionaries were in there. I've never wanted conference to last longer, either, but I did this time. I felt like the speakers were all speaking to me, it was great. I loved the talks about missionary work! For the first time, I felt like I really understood what they meant by the true importance of it. From not just full time missionaries, but from members too. My favorite talk though was probably Elder Holland's. I love that he draws from the Bible and from Jesus' ministry. Lately I've felt like my faith has been a little lacking and I haven't been sure how to deal with it. Don't get the wrong idea, I have faith and know that serving a mission was the right thing, but I've had so many gospel questions lately. His talk made me feel so much more at peace with myself. If I have the desire to believe, then I will.
I think I talked about this last time too, but missionary work is really really fun. The first time I really had fun, I wondered if it was okay haha. I think I braced myself before coming that missionary work is hard hard hard and that a mission is backbreaking. I think that's what I took from everyone's advice. Yes, its hard. It can be cold and rainy and there are times when people don't want to hear what you have to say. But it's still fun. It's hard to describe. Also, getting to know the ward and other missionaries is a blast. I think it all depends on your attitude. If you go into a mission thinking it's going to be hard and terrible, well it probably will be. But if you go into it thinking you'll work hard and make it fun, well then it will be! Remember the talk, the 4th missionary? Well I studied it again and loved it even more. Jonathan, or anyone else considering a mission, I seriously recommend reading it and studying it. Its long, but so worth it.
I'm happy and loving being here. I had my first thought last night of not wanting to go home and back to BYU haha. The faith of the people here is strong and growing still. I'm so grateful to be able to be a missionary here. The gospel is true and through it, we can experience true happiness. I love this church and love how it changes lives. Love you all!!