Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 25, 2013 Letter
Dear Family,
It has been another awesome week in the MTC!!! Last week we were so blessed to take all of the Japanese sisters to the temple. There were 12 of them and we did an endowment session. FOr a lot of them, that was their first time going back since they had gone through to receive their endowment. REALLY take advantage of the temple, we all take it for granite. The sisters were so cute!! THey were all crying in the temple. It was so overwhelming to keep track of them, but it was such an incredible/uplifting experience. I love the temple. We grew so close to those Japanese sisters as STLs and they left on Monday, so we were super disappointed that they left. We had so much fun together! We would always act stuff out to figure out what they were saying. We were talking about dancing and they asked how American's dance. So we taught them the chicken dance. Hahahaha so one night we came over to them and they were like "ahhh american dance!"and started doing the chicken dance. SoOoooo funny. Man, do I love those sisters. They are so childlike and love us so much. STL is exhausting, but there is nothing more gratifying than the relationships we are building with these sisters. I'm telling you dad- SIGN LANGUAGE WAS THE BEST THING I COULD HAVE DONE TO PREPARE TO BE A JAPANESE MISSIONARY. With similar grammar (being backwards) and being the BOMB at acting stuff out? Despite your Spanish desires, there was a reason I took that class. Although we do have a sister from Peru coming in today.....
Our lessons have been going AWESOME!!!! Yesterday we taught one of our "investigators" and we have really been wokring on trying to show our faith in our pursuit for the gift of tongues. so rather than writing out/reading sentences while we are in there, we form the sentences on the spot and just have vocab we might need on the paper. It gives the spirit more flexibility to work in our hearts and the hearts of the investigator. As we were teacvhing yesterday, the spirit was sooooo strong. Mai-san (our sensai) started crying and we were like... "Whoa... WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!" when we lift. Literally incredible.
WE MET THE YAMASHITAS ON SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He talked in ALL English (loved it, because that never happens). The mission presidents are only speaking in english now in order to get the native speakers to learn english. Crazy huh?!?! He said "I am fluent in Japanese and fluent in broken English." Hahaha. He was super charismatic and totally understands how hard it is to learn a language. He told us how hard it was for him to learn english, so he knows exactly what we are going through. He never served a mission because he was a convert, but all of his family has served missions (including his wife). They LOVE missionaries. President Packer said to him: "president Yamashita, it's your time." I loved that! It's so cool how much his life has been blessed by the missionaries. His favorite scriptures was Ezekiel 34:1-3- he said "am I a good shepherd? am I being selfish with what I know?" That scripture never stood out to me before, but the things he said about it were super impressive. AHHH I just love them. His wife was the cutest thing ever. Japanese women are so delicate, poised, and they have these sweet high pitched voices. She said "I am your new mom!!!!" We bumped into them and she was like "MY MISSIONARIES!!!!" THey love us so much and are so committed to our success. President Yamashita had an incredible testimony and his love of the gospel is without a doubt. I can't wait to serve with them. YOu would have loved them!
It has been so crazy with all of the new mission presidents here! We have been booted out fo the cafeteria and eat in the gym for every meal. It's awesome, but our options have gone down to one or cereal. It makes me think of when you'd say "well, fi you don't like it, have some cereal." Hahahaha WATASHI NO JINSEI (my life). Some of the elders in our district got to give the sacrament to the FIRST PRESIDENCY AND THE 12 APOSTLES on Sunday. Is that not incredible? One of the elders blessed the sacrament and he said jsut being in their presence alone was so humbling. He was so observant with how they took the sacrament and it was just amazing. SOOOOO jealous. Our sacrament was the largest thing I have ever been apart of. There were so many people in this massive room. There were like 5 sacraments tables and they blessed them from one. It was super fast. There are apostles all over the place here! We aren't even allowed to go in the building where they are at. 
In order to be in the choir was a complete and utter BLOOD BATH!!!! We had been to all of the rehearsals adn what not and wayyyy more people did the choir than they were expecting. (if you tell a bunch of missionaries they might be on tv and they are singing for the quorum of the 12 what do you expect?!!?) I think there were like 200 extra people who wanted to be in the choir. we skipped lunch and got some chips out fo the vending machines. We then waited right by the fence in order to get a seat but there was already such a huge line. I was with Cox shimai and micky shimai since we were altos. As soon as they opened up the fence eople were RUNNING as fast as they could to get to the Marriot center. IT WAS INSANE. We were walking fast, but we decided we would rather have our honor and dignity than act like a bunch of crazy people. We BARELY made it. I can't believe we were so far up because we were like an hour early. It just shows how crazy it was. In the choir during "hark all ye nations," if you look at the very top row, I am like 3 women over from the Elders. THe camera was RIGHT BELOW ME. So when it is zoomed out a little bit it gets a little closer and you can kind of see where I am. Let me know if you can find me! It's something right? My debut on television will jsut have to start absurdly small... ;) I am super excited to see how technology will play a roll in the mission field. I noticed they talked a lot about faith and miracles. I loved Neil L. Anderson's talk! "As we act in faith we find that the blessings of the Lord are different from what we expected, but much greater than we imagined." I know that in His own time and in His own way, he will bring about his mighty miracles. Another quote I loved was 'wishing doesn't make it so. Action does." As I am working so hard to learn Japanese I am realizing how miracles come only through faith. As I show my faith in God, he blessed me and gives me the strength to hae more faith adn to try harder. Being a missionary right now is a miracle. I love it. I love it. I love it.
Last week, I received a package from Alicia and Liz! Make sure you let them kjnow how grateful I am for it. I also got the makeup. (thank you thank you!) I have the best support system in the world. Now would probably be a good time tos end the yen to make sure I get it. That would be awesmoe! I might need mom to send me a few of my shirts. SOme of mine are not as durable as I thought and so I will have to think of what ones to send. There is an light orange one that's like 3/4 sleeve that might be awesome. I am so nervous about clothes for teh summer. It is going to be soooo hot.
Well, I lvoe you family. Ganbate kudasai!!!
Crofts Shimai

                                   Sister Crofts and her friend Sister Boman going to Baltimore

                                                   Sister Crofts, her district, and their Sister Training Leaders.

These sisters are HILARIOUS. The definition of genki. 

Sister Murray, Biddle and Baker. 

The awkard photo. Adore them.  

Douglas Shimai. 

The sisters in our branch! This other district goes to Kobe. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18, 2013

I loved the package/postcard/letters!!! Thanks for everything, it means the world to me! To say I was jealous and completely mocked by the postcard is an understatement. As I was sitting in this white brick room I couldn't help but think... Boy am I so completely jealous.... But then I realized, I AM GOING TO BE IN JAPAN IN LESS THAN A MONTH!!! And I was okay again. :)

Time is flying by! i cannot believe I have been here so long, but at the same time I feel like I've been here forever. I only have 4 weeks left to really kick butt on the language so I can feel comfortable speaking to the Japanese people. Last Wednesday I was a host for the incoming sisters. I was lucky enough to be able to host one of the Japanese sisters! Of course, mine was the only one who didn't speak any form of English. So I definitely struggled big time to say anything to her. I wasn't going to say "konnichiwa! Genki desu ka?" adn then start bearing my testimony..... That's just about all that I can do. So as I scrambled through my notebook of vocab for any word that would be able to help me, she didn't understand anything I said. THat's basically the moral of the story. Hahahaha I just gave her a million hugs, said a millions sorrys, and let's gos and that was the extent of our conversation. It was sooooo aggravating!!!!!!!!!! I just wanted to get to know her and help her, but I didn't know how to say anything. Whatevs, she loves me and gets super excited whenever she sees me so I guess I did something right? It definitely pushed me to work even harder because I realized I will be in Japan and understand nothing that anyone says and it's going to be so crazy hard.

We teach two "investigators" every day. One of them we committed to baptism! Everyone was kind of jealous because we were the first to do so.... But that's not the priority. We work so hard to bring them to Christ! And if they do: WONDERFUL. If not, we've done all that we can. I know it sounds silly since they're not real investigators, but it feels so real.

Last Tuesday we went the the Marriot Center for the first devotional EVER in MTC hsitory. So it was pretty humbling to be apart of that. I was in the choir and it was a choir of about 1,300 missionaries. SO POWERFUL. Sunday the devotional was broadcasted from the west campus MTC for the first time. So that was also a monumental thing in MTC history. Obviously it wasn't my favorite to have to watch it from somewhere else, but it's only fair. The lines in the cafeteria are out of control! This place is soooooo packed. I mean it's cool because there are so many missionaries going out to change the world, but at the same time.... Why must I wait 10 minutes to get cereal!?!?!?! THe bathrooms here are also hilarious because they were made for men. Two stalls plus a urinal (which we don't really have much use for) and then let's have an entire building of sisters use this bathroom. With 3 girls who are always on different schedules? I swear we go to the bathroom 30,000 times a day.

I was called as a Sister Training Leader! So you're probably thinking "good for you sweetie, what does that even mean?" Well, I'll tell you! It's basically like the girl virsion of zone leader. We have meetings all day sunday, interview all of the girls in our branch (apprx 35 girls) once a week, go to their rooms every single time to make sure that they are all doing okay, guide the japanese sisters and help them with everything becasue they don't understand english (we're taking them to the temple for pday today. I'm super stoked, but it will be interesting to see how we do it!), be examples to the sisters, and then we relay everything back to our branch president. So I know that that doesn't sound like that much, but it is! Everyone was like "please don't call me as a sister training leader" - because it's so time consuming and learning Japanese is bad enough as is. However, I'm actually super humbled by the call. I am so lucky to be able to help these sisters out! I totally understand how hard everything is in MTC life, and I want to be there for these special sisters. The Japanese sisters are seriously the most loving and funny people in the world. Every time they see me they just scream and run to me with hugs and "i love yous." I love these people so much. They are sooooo unique and special. I don't know what I did to deserve this, I just love them from the bottom of my heart.

After the Tuesday devotionals we always have a district testimony meeting. We were so lucky to have 3 of the CUTEST Japanese sisters with us. So we went around and were talking about what an awesome devotional it was and were bearing testimony in English (of course). So as I was bearing mine  I look over and one of the sisters was crying.... (They are all so different that you just never know.) But then she bore her testimony (in Nihongo) and said that she didn't understand anything we said, but she could feel it, and it was pwoerful. She was saying what awesome missionaries we would be! I was super happy to hear that.:) Always being humbled here.
It's so funny how frequently Japanese is mentioned in devotionals and talks here. At this point I have lost count of how many times they say "learning Japanese isn't easy" or "if any of you are having a hard time, we'll sen dyou over to the Japanese branch and see how you feel", things of that essence, you get the point! I think I have this absurd expectation of myself in learning Japanese... I just want to learn it yesterday. However, I am being blessed so much in learning this language. Although I feel like I can barely say anything, it's progress. I just have to look at how much I have learned from the time I got here.

This gospel is so true! I am so stoked to be able to have Jesus Christ's name over my heart every day. I am so dorky... But every morning I have a "moment" where I put my name tag on and I swear there is a conchord of angels singing "hallelujah!" I love being a missionary!!! Although I am freak out level 15 about being in Japan so soon and not knowing anything. Yikes.... Deep breathing... Trying not to think about it... I don't think you realize how little Japanese I know! Despite how hard I am working, I seriously have to throw my mind out the door and start from square one to learn it. Hahahaha it's a blesing though, if I was anywhere else I don't think I would cleave to God as much as I do. Always receiving tender mercies. I love you!!!!!

Crofts SHimai

June 11, 2013
Dear Kazoku,
This week has been another awesome week in the MTC! Time is FLYING BY. I cannot believe I have been here for about a month and this Saturday I reach my halfway point. It is kind of scaring me. I am wondering how muhc Japanese I really do know. I had the most INCREDIBLE experience the other day. You know how we teach our investigators every day? So it's hard and stressfulk, but it's awesome because it helps me to better prepare for reality: THE FIELD. Usually in our lessons I know the words and can get a few broken sentences out. The investigator can usually understand what I am saying, but sometimes not. So the Spirit was already so strong (which is interesting because it is not even a real investigator- so it's crazy that the Spirit works so powerfully in the lessons), we were having a difficult time explaining about the importance of following Christ. (She said I am happy now, why do I need Jesus Christ). There was this beautiful moment where my heart was literally on fire. I was speaking and I had NO IDEA what I said. I knew the words that were coming out of my mouth were true and that she needed to know what I said, but it was NOT ME TALKING. I finished what I said and she was kind of speechless. I FORMED PERFECTLY WORDED SENTENCES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a miracle. Japanese bumpo (grammar) is so muzakashi (hard/difficult) (Sorry I am trying to be better at "speaking my language") She committed to reading the BOM and following what we had to say. THe rest of the day my whole chest was just going to explode. I had been an instrument to the Lord! I know people say stories like that all the time, but I never really believed or understood the reality of the gift of tongues. IT'S REAL. Although I was only able to spout out a couple sentences, it was so powerful. I still can't wrap my mind around how amazing it felt. Obviously I needed that way more than my investigator did. God will give me the strength that I need. He will help me say what HE wants me to say. If I work hard and really devote my all to this, I can learn it. I don't know how, I just know that in the strength of the Lord I can. I dream of fluency in Nihongo, but my priority is fluency in the Spirit. Nothing is mroe precious than my relationship with Heavenly Father. I am constantly recevingin tender mercies to keep me going. Ahhh.. I am just so humbled that He would allow me to experience what being a direct instrument in His hands feels like. I've only been out for a month, and I know that I have many muzukashi (hard/difficult) times to come, but God will help me.
I have the coolest opportunity at the end of June, the 23rd! At the mission president conference, Pres Monson and Boyd K Packer and some of the twelve will be here. They are forming a MASSIVE choir to sing missionary songs to videos I guess? So it will be on and I want to say it's on tv and I'm pretty sure it's open to the public.They will have videos filmed from all over the world of misisonary work and then what we sing will be the background music. So record it.... I doubt you'll be able to see me because I'll be in the choir, but it would still be awesome! I'll give you more details when I have them. Anyway there are like 1,400 missionaries and then a bunch of members. It is going to be incredible.
The MTC is PACKED. There are record breaking numbers and everything is so crowded. I see Elder Tafunai all the time, we'll have to get a pic. This Tuesday our devotional will be held at the MARRIOT CENTER because there is no way for us to fit everyone in the standard devotional place. It's the first time EVER and it's absolutely incredible. I honestly feel like I am part of the Army of Helaman. "I am now the Lord's missionary to bring the world His truth." Love it.
We have another income of Nihonjin that came in today! There are 12 sisters and only 4 Elders. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?! Our branch is the original Japanese branch so we are the lucky ones who get to have them with us all the time. I am going to SYL it UP. Last transfer I was terrified to talk to them because they talk sooooooooooo fast and I don't speak Japanese and it's always super kimazui (awkward) to just say "HAI" and nodd after everything they say... Hahahahaha. But I now realize.... This is my TIME to get comfortable with not knowing what anybody is saying, because here in a little over a month I am not going to have any idea what ANYONE is saying... Might as well get used to it right? THis one Elder in my district always just smiles, nodds and says "wakarimasen" (I don't understand) to everything in his lessons while his comp does all the talking. Hahahahaa it's so funny. He always says "shinpai shinai desu" (don't worry). I wasn't feeling to hot on Sunday night and one of the ELders gave me a blessing. It was crazy because he actually said something from my patriarchal blessing and I felt immediately better. It was sooooo cool. Gosh I love the priesthood.
Well, i'm loving the MTC. Keep me posted on the outside world. I have NO idea what is going on. I get little glimmers here and there, but that's about it. I am so stoked for all of the people with their mission calls! Krist, when do your friends start coming in? I'll have to keep my eye out for them.
I love you family! Have so much fun for me in Florida and send me tons of pictures. Get me some cool souvenieres too!!!!! Kristy, please don't have a heart attack at Harry Potter world, I really want to see you alive when I get back. ;) You are in my prayers. Aishitte imasu!
Devotional at the Marriot Center! 
The army of Helaman. 

Crofts Shimai

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Konnichiwa Kazoku!!!!

Words cannot express how much I love the packages/cookies/lettters! Thank you so much for everything! I am trying to keep on top of responding to everyone I just don't have very much time. Krist I LOVED your graduation pics. You look beautiful. As always, all of my roommates think that Bobbby is the hottest thing they have ever seen. Hahahahaha. Bobby why are you so good looking? You make the rest of us look bad. It is absolutely unreal how fast my district eats everything! The cookies were gone in 15 minutes and same with the hi-chews. YOu'd think we were starving college students.. We eat SO MUCH at the cafeteria. The food... Oh wow.. I never thought I'd say it, but I am longing for the cannon center! ahahaha.  Thanks again for the packages, they are always the best surprise:

Okay... Generic missionary post time. It is crazy how much love is in my heart. I am just so happy all of the time. I thought I was a pretty happy person before, but it's to a whole new level. Every day, I am strengthened through Christ. It just blows my mind how much God is answering my prayers and blessing me. Being a missionary is one of the most wonderful things in the world. I cannot believe how much the time has flown. How am I coming up on my 4th week?!?!?! As I have tried to become mroe Christlike, I have been blessed with a positive attitude and just flat out love in my heart. Learning Japanese is SO hard/stressful, but it doesn't seem to matter because I am on the Lord's errand and He wants me to succeeed.
I can now pray, bear my testimony, understand somewhat what people say, and somewhat communicate. Sometimes it takes me a few times to understand, but I can understand and that's progress. With one of our investigators we were teaching about Jesus Christ and the spirit was honestly so strong. We were able to understand what she was asking and we would share a scripture and testify back. It was crazy how the Lord facillitated our minds and our tongues to speak and understand. After that lesson, I thought: "This is why I'm serving, to be a messenger for the Lord. I am not doing this alone." Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean all of our progressing investigators go so smoothly. Some are TERRIBLE and we just have to laugh it off. In the letter I sent you I included one of those terrible stories that I think you would enjoy. Hahahaha I want you to think about how you would explain mercy, baptism, and the holy ghost in Japanese... Just let that sink in for a few days until you get the letter.
One of my friends talked about the law of chastity in his lesson. Hahahahaha okay this kills me. So he was trying to say "you can't have premarital relations before marriage" & instead he said "you must have premarital relations before marriage before you can join our church. He tried to say "You can't have premarital relations outside fo marriage" & instead he said "you must have sexual relations outside." Then he tried to say "I have not had premarital relations and ahve stayed clean" & he said "I have sexual relations." Hahahaha isn't that hilarious? He was like. I am never teaching the law of chastity again. Fortunately for me, I am at the point where I am only talking about Christ and Joseph Smith and such. I dread the day where I have to teach that. Hahaha
The pictures I take are from our temple walks on Sunday! We go to the temple on pday, but we aren't allowed to bring our cameras. I am on the MTC campus, thankfully for me!!! Learning Japanese is rough... And it is sooooo slow. I have gotten tot eh point where I realize Japanese isn't something I should worry about. IT's something I can work on. I just need to be patient in myself and patient in the Lord. I know absolutely NO conversational terms. This is a challenge because I need to be able to build relationships with the investigator/members... So basically I don't know how to go about that. Hahaha. I was so stoked! One of the Nihongin who is going to Nagoya told me that she lvoes me and that she hopes we are companions in Nagoya! I was like YES PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So stoked, winning the hearts of the Japanese already;) NO just kidding, I am just really stoked because I want to be her comp in Japan. But of course, you never know.
Dad!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahhahaha I am not trying to impersonate Richard Nixon! If you look of japanese peace signs they always do that. I am becoming Japanese!!!! Just fulfilling my missionary duty. I don't know how I can stop closing my eyes and smile without squinting. Maybe I should spend my pday practicing smiling. Hahaha SERIOUSLY! Peace signs are a Japanese characteristic thing to do.
I love being a missionary! THis Nihongo is absolutely ridiculous, but I know it will be worth it and I know that God will help me learn it. I love you all!!!
Crofts Shimai

Sister Crofts and Sister Grant
Companionship unity: matching without even trying. 
Sunday temple trip day. 
This is our sensai (Middle) WE LOVE HIM. He is so funny. We are so sad he is leaving us for 3 weeks.
Rainy day letter writing! 
Studying WHILE working out. Ultimate efficiency. 
FINALLY SAW JEREMY. It made me kind of homesick. 
Silly Sister Cox. 
Yummy cookies. 
Bri Barnes headed to California spanish speaking!