Friday, February 5, 2016

MTC Email #2

Everything is going great! I love my district, and they are all super awesome! We are learning insanely fast, and to give you some perspective, my companion learned both hiragana and katakana, the two Japanese alphabets, in less than a week. A total of more than a hundred characters memorized. That took me HALF A YEAR. IT'S INSANE.

I suppose I should probably describe my district a bit. First, there's my companion, Graham-chorou (Chorou means Elder. It's a suffix though). He is incredibly smart, and learns quickly. I often have to help him think of a particular sentence structure or help him spell a word, but he picks it up fast and I rarely have to do it more than once for the same word. He also took Chinese and knows a lot of Kanji, the Chinese/Japanese alphabet, although he doesn't know the Japanese readings for most of them yet. He's very active and loves sports, but somehow still sits perfectly still, more than I do and I am a programmer. We get paid to sit still! :P I love him a lot. He's always super supportive and is very flexible, although somehow manages to frequently slap me in the middle of the night with his blanket by accident, despite the fact I am sleeping on the bunk below him. I dunno why or how that happens, my best guess is that Physics is sleeping too. Oh, and we both complain about a clock in our room. It's hidden somewhere and it goes off at 5:15 AM every day. No one knows where it is or who put it there, but it's a little infuriating. :P

Next up is Hess-chorou. He's like a marshmallow of sheer awesome. He describes himself as fluffy, and tells a lot of fat jokes. He's super easy going, and has the most Japanese experience excluding me. We've had several conversations in nothing but Japanese, and he is way fun to hang with. He's really friendly and out going, and never stops trying to help.

Then you've got Conover-chorou. He got assigned to be the district leader. He can be a bit of a killjoy at times, but he is very driven and is just trying to keep us on track, which I appreciate. Otherwise, nothing would ever get done. He's got a great sense of humor, and has no previous experience with Japanese. When he messes up he always does it in the funniest ways. My personal favorite so far was when he said "Pirates are important to God's Plan" (Family and pirates sound similar in Japanese.)

Hawker-chorou could be compared to Gru from Despicable Me. He's funny, often unintentionally, and he'll talk for 5 minutes sounding like he disagrees with you only to finish by saying "So yeah, I agree." He could be a great storyteller, much like Spencer Young. <RH: Awesome friend in our ward>.

Shumway-chorou is an enigma. He's like that one mysterious cook from Ratatouille("I killed a man. With this thumb.") No one really knows much about him, but he's fun to hang with. Kinda quiet, but he warms up to you quickly.

Dance-chorou is new. He showed up later than the rest of us, specifically on Monday, but he's way fun. Super helpful, knows some Japanese, and could pass for a gangster missionary, if such a thing exists. He's got a quick wit, and is quite funny.

Then all the shimai(Sisters) are awesome. There's Pearsson-shimai. Super enthusiastic, and about as non-sequitur as you can get. Way funny, and good at Japanese. Burke-shimai has been nicknamed neko-shimai. Neko means cat, and she acts like one. She's more or less the district's pet cat. Parker-shimai is quiet, but is super sweet and kind and knows much more than she lets on. For those of you who've seen the anime Wagnaria, she's like Soma-san.

<RH: I flooded Thomas with a bunch of questions, the following where his answers>
I'm doing great! My district is awesome. So far, I haven't even gotten irritated with any of them for anything. The most frustrating thing is that Graham-chorou has a tendency to wander off, but that's just because he isn't used to having a companion yet. I.E., it's fine. As far as my stomach goes, flawlessly. The food is pretty good, and as long as you have some salad from time to time, it can handle it all smoothly, much like butter on a bald monkey's head. I don't think I got the cold, although my nose was running since I got off the airplane until recently, so my assumption is that it was probably the drastic drop in humidity. As for studying, the language is easy, since I know much of what we are learning already, so I just have to get the vocabulary surrounding the scriptures memorized. Studying the scriptures has been a bit harder, since I rarely studied more than 30 minutes at home, but while I occasionally zone out in personal study, companion study is great because I can talk about what I'm learning which helps me stay on topic.

Sunday was interesting. Basically, our schedule we were given said "Breakfast, Interviews, Priesthood, Interviews, Lunch, Interviews, Sacrament, Interviews, Dinner, Interviews, Daily Planning." My companion and I weren't part of any of the presidencies or anything though, so it was easy enough, since that just meant we'd study during that time. The only real differences between church here and church back home is that priesthood comes a couple hours earlier than sacrament meeting, both are super small since our zone is about 20-30 people, smaller than primary, and that Sunday School is what the rest of the week is. :P

For exercise... Mostly I've been running. I'm much more interested in endurance than raw strength, since walking and biking take more endurance to do for long periods than lifting an incredibly heavy weight once does. I did try the weights on Monday, and my arms still hurt. Me: 0 Stupidity: 1. :P On the bright side, doing 200 sit-ups every time I did Tae-kwondo helped, since I max out at 30 pounds between both arms while curling, but I can manage a shocking 140 lbs when doing the core-based exercises.

I have spoken more Japanese here during this week than I spoke throughout my entire time at Bellevue College. SYL <RH: MTC speak for "Speak Your Language" - the dictate that you always speak the language that you're learning> is incredibly helpful, and I learn way better and faster through that than I ever did with flashcards. As for teaching, I have totally been doing so. We taught an 'investigator' named Ina who only spoke Japanese. Our lessons with him went smoothly for the most part, since I could mostly understand what he said. He made it harder for us though since I knew more of the language. :P I've also been helping the others learn Japanese. If they have questions or don't remember a word, they tend to ask me first. I've been more or less playing the part of teacher's assistant, but I don't mind. It's fun, helps me learn faster, and allows me to provide service to others, so all is good. :) About half of them have prior experience with Japanese, but no one has more than a single semester, hence why they ask me first. Like I said though, it's nice being able to help them.
Anyway, I gotta go get lunch. Bye!


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