maandag 30 juni 2014

The chills & Pres. Welch

Hey there, beautiful peoples!!
This week has been HECTIC!! Tons of stuff going on! Let's get moving, shall we?

So, first off... I've caught the chills, HURRAY! It was pretty bad. I had pounding headaches, nausea, sore muscles, dizziness and tons o' that lovely FATIGUE. I wanted to rub my face on the wall. Mai nichi. Itsumon. Totemo byouki deshita, kedo ima, watashi wa motto genki desu yo! <>
(That's probably as slaughtered as my Nihongou <> gets.)
But let me tell you how blessed I am. The senkyoushitachi in our residence halls (dorms) are truly amazing. They visited me and told me stories to cheer me up, they brought food and water when I needed it... They even gave me this super sweet fuwa-fuwa na blanky <> to keep me warm. They shared their concerns and gave me advice to become better quickly. Aren't they just the swellest? I think they are the swellest.
But it wasn't just the awesome senkyoushitachi, though! The devotionals this week were breathtakingly good! We've had talks about "Inviting the spirit through singing" by Sister Perry (Elder Perry's wife) and about "The worth of souls" by Elder Christofferson. According to Sister Perry, keeping a hymn in your heart will enable you to feel the spirit better and to stay motivated. I definitely think that singing a hymn allows us to tune into the spirit better. A hymn is kind of like a prayer, but instead of talking with God, you're SINGING for Him!! It also helps me to stay focused. Whenever my thoughts would dwell, I would just remind myself of an awesome hymn and be back on track again! The hymn is strong with this one! The talk by Elder Christofferson was actually the highlight of my week, though. Last week I felt like I wasn't progressing at all. My Nihongou was sub-par, my scripture study was all over the place, my lesson-prep for my investigator felt one-sided (I couldn't give any good input)... I felt worthless. At that moment, I felt like I wasn't cut out for missionary work. What could I do, am I right?
So, as we were heading to the devotional, I said a prayer in my heart. A silent, emotional prayer: "Heavenly Father... what am I doing here? Am I really supposed to be a missionary? Am I not worthless?" I prayed for an answer. And immediately when Elder Christofferson started talking, I knew God had heard my prayer. His talk was so amazing and it really addressed all these questions I had. The worth of every single soul on this earth, is unimaginably great in God's eyes. Just because we make mistakes and commit sin, doesn't mean our worth has diminished. Our adversary, Satan, tries to break our will by telling us how sinful and wrong we are and by making us believe that God loves us less because of that.

That is false.
God loves us so much... Just think that every time you experience sorrow, God experiences that same sorrow. He wants us to be happy and to do our best. And through Jesus Christ's atonement, we can do the BEST of our best!! I know this is true. I will do my best. By relying on Christ, we can do anything.
It was an amazing devotional. I was filled with joy and newfound hope. I can be at ease now.
Oh, a few more things I wanted to mention: we met our Mission President!! President Welch and his wife!! He is big, bald and emotional... just like my dad!
(I love you, dad!)
No, he is an amazing mission president and I'm definitely looking forward to working with him! Gosh, so awesome!
Also, we went hosting new missionaries! I got to host someone going to the Netherlands! WHAAAAAAAT???
To my home ward in the Netherlands: Expect an Elder Andrew in the coming two years :P
Lastly: our douryougumi <> is getting better and better! Yes!! This is what I wanted!! We'll be able to be a wonderful team in no time!
I love you all so much and I'm looking forward to writing you all next week!
Stay awesome, lovelies!
~Santosu chourou

donderdag 19 juni 2014

" Wise like a Snake, Harmless as a Dove "



Hey there, beautiful people!!

This week has been kinda tough. First off: our "dai-senpaitachi" left on Monday and Tuesday ("great seniors", meaning the missionaries who have been here longer than us and have been our "seniors"). They are a rowdy bunch and just the best people you could ever imagine. We've said our heartfelt goodbyes. They are now in the Mission Field in Japan. Having them leave caused great peace to reside in our dorms. It's kinda lonely. We're only 2 districts right now. There will be new "kohaitachi" ("juniors") entering in 3 weeks. I'll be a "senpai" in 3 weeks. Isn't that something? Hahaha!

Then there's my companionship's issue... It's been pretty awful. We have been called multiple times to speak with members of the Priesthood in order to solve our problems. And I'm glad to report that it has taken a turn for the better! I'm so grateful for all the support my friends, family and the senkyoushitachi and Priesthood gave me. I have learned a lot this week. I hope I can use that knowledge to improve myself and help those around me.

The devotionals were great this week and have helped me a lot. Last Tuesday, Elder Ballard (of the Twelve Apostles) has spoken encouraging words about our missions. He said that it will be tough and there will be many distractions. But if you focus on Christ's doctrine and the simple message we're spreading, we will be blessed with the Spirit's company and guidance: "Be wise like a snake and harmless as a dove". We must make an effort to avoid potentially dangerous situations by staying alert and avoiding, like a snake. But we must also be meek and harmless to those around us, like a dove. Awesome quote. Daisuki.

Oh, by the by, now that Pesce-chourou, the crazy Pokemon Sticker Dealer, is in the field, I have been granted permission to take on the ways of the Pokemon Sticker Dealer. I have the power now!! GOTTA DEAL 'EM ALL!
But the work of the Lord is important and will always remain my main focus.
I'm grateful that I could endure the trials this week and experience the blessings of faith in Jesus Christ.
I hope that all of you may be well. Have an awesome week, tomodachitachi!

I love you all,
~サントス ちょうろう

maandag 16 juni 2014

Language Skills-Up & Not Getting Along Yet

"Hi there! How are you doing?

So, two weeks have passed here in the land of the free... It's been pretty swell!! My Nihongo no benkyou (Japanese language's study) has continued and I'm happy to report that my skill's gone up!! I now know Hiragana completely (one of the Japanese alphabets, used for traditional words) and a li'l bit o' Katakana (the second alphabet, used for foreign words and names). Allow me to demonstrate:

イエス キリスト の きょうかい
 Iesu     Kirisuto   no    kyoukai.
(Jesus   Christ     's      church.)
   (Katakana)        (Hiragana)

Get it? I might become a Nihongo no sensei, heheh.
Anyway, this week we've taught role playing investigators (investigators are people who want to find out more about our religion). So get this: After the first 2 weeks you switch investogators (so you get new ones. My first investigator, Takuma Tsuchia... oh man. He turned out to be my teacher: Lloyd-sensei. It was so weird hearing my investigator, who claimed he didn't understand English at all, speak the most fluent of I have ever heard. And this time he was teaching me! とても へん。。。(Totemo hen... = Very weird...)
And guuueessss what? Our old teacher (who switched with Lloyd-sensei) became our investigator. My head.

So I have had ups and downs this week. The devotionals on tuesdays and sundays (devotional = a conference with inspiring talks from leaders and presidents) were awesome. The Spirit was so strong. And it motivated me to give it my all to grow and become a better senkyoushi (remember what it means?). Especially the "Character of Christ" talk from Elder Bednar. I wrote down tons o' notes and started studying them. His words were really powerful and they really touched me. Also, a lot of new missionaries going to Japan came in last week. They're all Nihon-jin (Japanese people). They're so funny and awesome! They taught me some stuff about Nihon-go. They're really friendly and polite, even though I slaughtered their language countless times before their eyes... ears? Awesome-jin.
I also met some missionaries going to the Netherlands!! WHOOHOO!! I'M NOT A LONE DUTCHMAN ANYMORE! Well, I still am, kinda, but you know what I mean. Don't ruin this for me.
Elder Bonner and Zuster Bradley are their names. Their Dutch is very good and I hope my friends back at home may meet them one day. They're just the best people and missionaries ever!

Now the less happy stuff... My companionship isn't working out. We just can't seem to get on with each other. Sometimes I really felt like giving up. Can you imagine? It's only been two weeks...
I gotta work hard to regain his trust and friendship. I can't do this alone... and neither can he. I want to help him and serve him as a loyal and loving douryou. I hope the wounds can be healed.
But I know that through Christ everything can be done. しんこう わ ひつよ です。(Shinkou wa histuyo desu: Faith is a need.) We can do this!!

I gotta roll. Hope you've had a swell week and I'll see you next time!

Stay awesome,
~ サントス ちょうろう (Santosu-chourou)

zaterdag 7 juni 2014

First Impressions

"Hi there!

Last week I safely arrived in Provo, in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). Let me tell you: 'MURICA IS AWESOME! They have extremely greasy food, big mountains and lots o' space in here...
But it's been a great first week here in the MTC. I already know some Japanese, but I'm still clunky as heck. Demo daijobu. Just give it time...
So as a missionary, you're assigned to a district and a douryou (companion), right? My district is awesome! They're such good people! The senkyoushitachi (missionaries) in my district are:
My companionship (Anyanwu-chourou and I), the "tripanionship" (Hansen-chourou, Monson-chourou and Allbright-chourou) and two sister companionships (Hood-shimai and Fuller-shimai, Cox-shimai and Magalogo-shimai).

(Chourou = Elder, Shimai = Sister. Elder Santos = Santos-chourou)

Hansen-chourou is the district leader. He has a sincere heart and he's also pretty funny. He likes cats. So much, in fact, that he starts to act like one in our residence halls (or dorms). It's so funny! He also gives good massages, I guess...? Ii chourou desu!
Monson-chourou is super awesome too. He sleeps alot during class, even though he sleeps enough in his own bed. He is a very smart guy, has very sharp senses (especially for the spirit, when reading in the Morumon-shou). He likes a good laugh, though.
Allbright-chourou is bit more silent, but he can make the whole class laugh just like that! He is very sincere and very friendly. I really like this guy.
Oh, these chouroutachi all come from the States (Washington, California, Vegas respectively).

Hood-shimai is super cool. She's from Hawaii and has the 'tude, y' know what I'm sayin'? She's very friendly and she's good at Japanese. Like, really good.
Fuller-shimai is very collected and calm -- very focused. She cares a lot about how her study and really wants to give it her all. Very kind. She's so friendly!! (She's from Recksburg...? I can't spell.)

Cox-shimai is also very focused. When it's break-time, however, she breaks loose in somewhat "loud" conversations with her doryou, Magalogo-shimai. She is very true to the rules. Righteous!
Magalogo-shimai is from New Zealand. She has some Dutch roots, though she can only say "Van harte gefeliciteerd". Very friendly, has a very kind heart, I like her.

And now about my doryou... Anyanwu-chourou. He's from Sweden. Knows four languages: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. He and I, we're the legendary European companionship.
He's very cool and very "liberal", as he calls it. A bit stubborn. And he didn't seem to care about the rules. He still has a lot of difficulty. To be honest, we didn't have a good start. We clashed a bit in our interests and ideas. I was really worried that it would never work out between us: cooperation was so hard. But you know, it's getting better. He actually cares a lot about his friends and family. His heart is in the right place. We're getting there. Don't worry.

The Japanese districts and groups are all huge nerds and I really feel at home here, haha! The language resources are even named after Pokemon and Japanese words and names. Our small lesson guide is called "Ninja", and our useless dictionary is called "Magikarp". Oh, and Pesci-chourou, our zone leader, is crazy awesome. He is super funny and keeps telling us he is the "example you should NOT follow". He has a huge Pokemon sticker book and he "assigns" Pokemon stickers to new senyoushitachi, judging by their appearance, hobbies and characters. I got Smeargol. Those of you who know me and are Pokemon-adepts may know why. For those of you who don't: One time I was making this sick drawing of Super Mario on our classroom's chalkboard, when Pesci-chourou dropped by to say hello to all of us newbies. He had a seizure, caused by the awesomeness of my picture. He asked me to draw him. And then I drew him. He was ecstatic. He then said: "Screw it! You get the painty pokemon!!" And that's how I got Smeargol. Yep. And now there's like six more drawing requests from different senkyoushitachi. Got a busy schedule.

There's still a lot more to cover, but that, my friends... is a story for another time. See you next week. Stay well!