Mom, 18th May 2013
Konnichiwa. I may not be able to fathom your pride and joy, but I think I can fathom your apprehension. I feel the same about being away for so long and not having continuous available contact with you or any family and friends. It's a very eerie feeling, especially that it'll be that way for two whole years. I know that I hardly ever contacted you while at BYU, but now that I'm back in Provo without the opportunity to contact people whenever I please, I have a greater desire to do just that. Ironic, isn't it?
I certainly hope to have the chance to experience miracles. All the stories I've heard about others having those opportunities sounds awesome to me and I want to have the same chances. I'm certainly glad that I've been blessed with the gift of tongues. I will do my best to bear the priesthood I hold and to use it to help others. I'll try my best to share those outstanding experiences that I have.
I've committed myself to doing everything I can to serve over the next two years. I promised myself that I won't let anything keep me from giving everything I have. I know I can accomplish anything.
Time for the discombobulated paragraph, where I throw in random stories. So the cafeteria is like a Cannon Center on steroids. When I discovered that I wasn't too thrilled. My shampoo leaked in the bag: the squirt nozzle also punctured the bag so some of it did end up leaking out. Luckily, the majority of what was in there are washables. One of the things the elders that have been here for some time have told us is to look for "Narnia holes". These are just little spaces and crevices that past missionaries have put stuff like candy or notes or such for future missionaries to find. There's one right over my desk--behind a square, metal plate screwed to the wall. I noticed three of the screws were gone, so I rotated it about the one still there and discovered dum-dums as well as stale fruit loops in there! My companion found a couple dollar bills inside the light covering. Also, when I was rotating the plate back into place I managed to cut my finger on the inside edge. How's that for a first day? We already had our first investigator role-play, and it wasn't in English. Needless to say it could've gone better. I guess that's what the MTC and senior companions are for! My first gym time was yesterday and I chose to play volleyball, as did Bryon Alger, while my companion did basketball.
As you've probably gathered, this is my first p-day. I'm very grateful for it, too. We don't have to wear dress clothes all day and there's a lot of extra time to study and write letters. Speaking of which, I neglected to bring your letters with me to the computer lab, so I'll probably respond to them next week. Thanks for sending me the package, though.
I have less than a minute remaining, so I'm going to close this email. Tell everyone I love them and will miss them, and that I'll see them in two years!
The way the Japanese missions go, I'll be here all 9 weeks. Every three weeks they switch off transfers for the Sapporo, Tokyo, and Sendai missions with the Kobe, Fukuoka, and Nagoya missions. When I got here, the Kobe groups had three weeks left, which would not ready me in time. Then the Tokyo groups had six weeks, which could work but the issue is I probably won't be allowed to leave with them. Then there's the next Kobe leaving in nine weeks which is the normal time
My companion is Elder Jacob Bentley from Alpine, Utah. They never pair you up with someone going to a different mission, so yes, he's going to Kobe, as well. My entire district, in fact, is going to Kobe. We had a couple more Japanese role-plays with the same person, and they all went A LOT better. We're done teaching him, so now we'll be role-playing with our two teachers: Brother Powell and Sister Mortensen. I have been carrying that inspiration book around and I have about five entries so far, I believe.
I'm pretty sure I mentioned in my last email that I saw Bryon Alger. He's actually in my zone/branch, as well, and he lives one room over so I see him a lot every day. I also saw Michael and Mackenzie on my first day and a couple more times--they flew out Wednesday morning.
I haven't seen Jordan Henstrom yet, or Jared Poff. My laundry bag and all other things have, indeed, come and I've received them.
Everything's going really well. I heard from a lot of people that the first few days are the worst because they tell you so much and there's a lot to get used to. I can say that is very true, but now everything's great. One of my ZL's also said you have this much time to do this much stuff--except he showed it with his hands. That is also very true. I can hardly find time to do all the reading/studying we're supposed to do on our own rather than have it scheduled. Showering is also a thing you have to find time for. Also, I barely managed to find time to clip my fingernails here!
They have devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday night and while both of the ones I've had so far weren't given by GA's, they were great. The speakers are allowed to be a lot more assertive and personable. After Sunday devotionals, there are a couple movies or past devotionals that the MTC plays for us in various rooms, and last Sunday and went to the room playing back a MTC devotional Elder Bednar gave last Christmas. It was awesome.
Mom, 1st June, 2013
Bentley Choro and I are certainly getting along great. Our whole district, in fact, is getting along great. Our Branch Presidency has told us that there's something special about our district that other one's don't necessarily have. Also, our Zone Leaders--or ex-Zone Leaders as I should say, since they were released and are heading to Japan on Monday--told us that we're their favorite district. Also, my companion and I are their favorite districtees. The two of them come into our room every night before quiet time and we talk and joke around. They're pretty much the coolest.
Our role-plays with Powell and Mortensen Sensei have also been going well. Mortensen Sensei, though, plays a tough investigator. She (the investigator) is distracted somewhat easily and is sort of closed-off socially. So our goal is to get her to open up to us more. As for Powell Sensei's persona, we had an incredible lesson with him. We could sort of feel the Spirit the entire time, and we taught him about the Plan of Salvation, which isn't super easy in English and ridiculously hard in broken Japanese. I wrapped up with the Kingdoms of Glory, which are very hard to explain to a non-member--especially one who's Buddhist--and in a foreign language. I managed to get the point across and he made a remark that he doesn't feel like he'd be able to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I couldn't really reply so I let Bentley Choro end with his testimony and a prayer. Before he asked if we could close, I had a sudden urge to interrupt, so I did. I started preaching about the Atonement and its effects in near-perfect Japanese. I told him how I've committed sins before, how I'll inevitably commit sins later, how I'm not perfect, how my companion's not perfect, how he nor anybody except for Jesus is perfect. Then I said that through the Atonement, that's alright. Through it, we can all become perfect, can all become like Christ, can all make it to the Celestial Kingdom. You could feel the Spirit get stronger and stronger, and we could see that what I said hit him hard, and that he really liked that mini-lesson. Along with that, it helped me feel more confident about serving in Japan.
That same night, though, we had our three hour class time with Mortensen Sensei. There are five companionships in our district, though, so Bentley Choro and I got to teach Mortensen Sensei, but not in her aloof persona. Again we had to teach the Plan of Salvation, and it went great. She even said that she was remarkably impressed that we seemed so prepared and to know the material so well and to know exactly what we wanted for such an unscheduled lesson. She added that she'd never expect that from two-and-a-half week missionaries
We actually read that part of Nephi's story during our district BoM reading we have every now and then during class.
It'd be cool to get a goodie package, though I'm not in need of one. I do, however, need you to send me my black tie. Apparently the Japanese missionaries--in the MTC and in the field--have "murasaki Mokuyobi" or purple Thursday and "kuroi Kinyobi" or black Friday. At least I've been able to keep murasaki Mokuyobi.
Love, Elder Wilson
Mom, 8th June 2013
Everything has been going well since the last email. I forgot to mention last week that Brother Zwinck gave a devotional. If you're not familiar with him, before being called to the Seventy, he owned a contracting company and was the lead contractor for the Portland Temple. Naturally, he alluded to the temple many times during his talk, such as how they had to entirely redesign the foundation because they had record-breaking rain--nine inches in one day! This week the Sunday devotional was by a man whose name I can't recall, but his devotional was remarkable. The front stage, rather than having a podium and a bunch of seats for the MTC Presidency and such, was completely empty except for one desk. His entire devotional was a monologue through the perspective of Willard Richards--the man who was with Hyrum, Joseph and John Taylor in Carthage, but didn't receive a single scratch--starting from the point when he (Brother Richards) heard about the Mormon movement from Brigham Young, his cousin, all the way to events at Carthage. To make that Sunday evening even better, one of the options for videos to watch after the devotional was an old devotional given by Elder Holland about year ago. Needless to say, it was a really spiritual night.
Sandberg Sensei, who actually just finished her last week teaching at the MTC with us, her investigator persona was a 95 year old woman named Nishimura. She was SO fun to teach and was so receptive to the Gospel. She even committed to being baptized after two lessons. On her last day with us she gave us the story of the real Nishimura San. She actually did commit to be baptized after our teacher had a handful of lessons with her, except she had also been an investigator for five years. At first, she was scared at the thought of baptism because the doctors told her that she'd die if she got in water because her body wouldn't be able to handle it. Well, at some point she told them that she wanted to be baptized, completely out of the blue, and that she wanted to be baptized the following week. Apparently it took two elders to get her all the way under water safely, as well as a nurse to hold her head while she was under. After the baptism, our sensei went to the chapel and found the nurse who held Nishimura San's head, who was a member, praying. She asked what was up, and apparently the nurse checked Nishimura San's vitals before the baptism. Her blood pressure was very high and her oxygen very low. She told Nishimura that as a nurse she can't condone her to follow through. Nishimura San replied that it's alright, Jesus would help her. While holding her head, the nurse replied that she looked much younger and that her face was full of trust and submission. After the baptism she checked her vitals again. High oxygen and normal BP were the readings. She had the health of a 30 year old. It's amazing what results we see when we obey with complete faith.
That's just about all I have for this week. Give everyone my best!
Mom, 15th June 2013
Elder Bentley and I managed to finally get through to the really tough investigator that I may or may not have mentioned in a previous email. Now the only thing we have to do is keep her that way so we can teach her effectively. All the Tuesday devotionals are now held in the Marriott Center through the summer because the gym isn't nearly big enough to hold everyone. Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy spoke last Tuesday, the first ever devotional in the Marriott, and he spoke about the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit. The talks given by members of the Seventy have been great.
I'll be leaving the MTC on either the 15th or 16th of July; it's still a bit unclear as to exactly when I'll be leaving. There will be probably 70 missionaries headed for Japan, but not all of them will be in the same group. The last group that left had some people leave Tuesday morning, and some on Wednesday morning (at 4:00).
I actually brought the Dear Elders and my inspiration journal this time, so here we go. This'll probably be lots of bits and pieces:
This first inspiration is from the first counselor in my branch presidency, Brother Willes, nephew of Gordon B. Hinckley. Yes, he looks and talks and motivates much like him. A few years ago, while serving as a mission president in Hawaii, he was called to a children's hospital to give a healing blessing to a little girl. He went and blessed the little girl fervently. A couple days later he was called in again because the girl wasn't getting better. So he went again and pronounced another blessing. This happened a couple more times over the next week or so, but the little girl never made any progress. Finally, he phoned President Monson and explained the situation and asked if he'd come to give the girl a blessing. Brother Willes said to us that he felt like he wasn't able to tap into the Spirit and give the correct blessing, so who of all people would be able to do it right? The prophet, of course! President Monson came. The blessing he gave to the child was almost word for word exactly like Brother Willes’ blessing. He realized that he had, in fact, blessed according to the Spirit. Well, the little girl eventually passed. Brother Willes said that upset him for a while. Then he thought of the scripture in Isaiah 55: 8-9--"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." God had his own plan for that little child. We can't possibly know what it is, but we can know that it's a greater plan than any of us could've had for her. We need to strive not just to be obedient, but also to follow God's plan for us. We won't get as far if we go out on our own because his ways are higher than ours.
This next one kind of correlates to the last one, I just realized. You pointed out to me a while back that I'm already on a mission and that I'm called to edify and uplift people now, even here in the MTC. Thus, instead of questioning why I'm still here, I should look for opportunities to help others. I'm sure you'll be able to articulate my point better than I can and connect it to the last one since you said it, so I'll leave that to you.
D&C 130: 20-21--"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." I remember thinking about this scripture for scripture mastery in seminary. I guess I didn't do a very good job because I never thought about the following before. Like all scripture, this is a rule. If we're obedient, blessings are promised to us; if we're disobedient, we can't be blessed. God is arguably the most obedient person in existence, especially to His own rules. If we break the rule, he can't hold up his end, and thus cannot bless us. If we want blessings, we must be obedient in all that we do. Elder Nelson said in the Tuesday devotional the night before I got here: "Obedience brings blessings; perfect obedience brings miracles."
"If [the journey] gets too hard to stand, get on your knees.
Hope you enjoyed these. I'll talk to you next week. Keep being obedient and following life's guide.
Mom, 22nd June 2013
Everything here is going fine. Our original teacher, Powell Sensei, the one we had while teaching the PI at the beginning of our MTC stay--who also has only ever stayed with one district throughout their entire MTC because everyone keeps getting moved around--is leaving us. Part of the issue is he's also going back to school, so he can't take the time slot for our district. His PI is the one I told you about when I added the Atonement at the end of the lesson. We've had several more great lessons with him, a few that rode entirely on the Spirit. If we had just one more lesson with him, I can almost guarantee he would've committed to baptism! Our other teacher, Mortensen Sensei, is still sticking with us, though. Bentley Choro and I finally had a breakthrough with her PI, and I'm pretty sure she'll be open for baptism after a handful of lessons (we've already had two handfuls or so with her). Out last coaching with Powell Sensei was doing a live companionship study in front of him so he could evaluate, and he told us that we did everything practically perfect. A few weeks ago I told you about a really awesome broadcast happening tomorrow, and I still urge you to watch it if you can. I'll give you two tips about it: 1) There will be several General Authorities; 2) I'll be singing in the 2,200 person choir, half of which will be missionaries from the MTC. It's kind of a big deal.
Henstrom already left for Virginia--probably two weeks ago, almost. I've seen KJ once because he hunted me down during a choir rehearsal. He'll be leaving just in time to catch the broadcast.
That's all for this week! Love everyone!
Mom, 29th June 2013
I'm pretty sure we'll be using tablets or smartphones on our missions, since Japan is a high tech place. For missions in the jungles of the Amazon and the deserts of Africa, that probably won't be the case. They did say that this will be integrated into every mission over the course of the next couple months, though. I didn't get to shake any of the GA's hands except for Ronald A. Rasband, President of the Seventy, and the man whose talk I referenced in my farewell. Every GA and new mission president were practically on lockdown in the main building: they were only allowed to leave to go home, and missionaries were rarely let in. Bentley and I were let in to welcome an Australian missionary and his temp companion to the MTC because he was in our zone. By the way, I got called as zone leader. Anywho, while we were picking him up we saw Elder Bednar and were standing maybe 30 feet away from him. When we got called to the front desk we were super excited because Elder Holland is Bentley's dad's cousin, and his dad texts quite a bit with Elder Holland, and Holland was saying that he hoped to see Bentley while there. So we legitimately thought that Elder Holland paged us to come to the front desk.
I'll just say that my departure date is July 15th, because if it does end up being July 16th, I'll probably be too busy to buy anything on the 15th, anyway. We do get our flight plans sometime this coming week, though.
Mom and Dad, 6th July 2013
As Zone Leader, I lead the zone. Every week my companion and I create agendas for Sacrament and Priesthood Meeting, as well as Branch Counsel. Every night we go to the various rooms that our districts live in--just the Elders--and ask how they're doing, chat for a bit, offer any help we can give, and say good night. We and the Sister Training Leaders had training meetings with the newcomers, including giving them a tour of campus. We essential act as caretakers for the zone and report everything to the Branch president. Two Wednesdays ago I did some hosting for the new missionaries. For that, a bunch of veterans wait for new missionaries to get dropped off, we help them separate from their families--sometimes it's pretty tough--take them to get checked in, take them to their residence, then take them to their classroom to get acquainted with their teacher and district. As cool as it was, it was probably a good thing that you guys weren't here to drop me off. This one guy I hosted, he got out of the car, as did his parents, and none of them were really crying. But then his younger siblings got out and they were bawling to death. That caused the rest of them to start crying--a lot. It was awkward, funny, sad, and touching all at the same time.
Your scriptural reference reminded me a bit about the district lesson Bentley and I gave last Sunday. The topic was on the Atonement. The Atonement's tough to teach. We know Christ suffered and why he suffered, as well as the events of the Atonement. Other than that: how it works; why it happened the way it did; why it absolutely had to be Christ; etc...we really can’t comprehend it; it's simply beyond our understanding. But we did our best to dive deeper into it rather than staying in the shallow water that everyone knows so well since that's practically all we can teach. Everyone said we did a great job. There's a video we showed, a Mormon Message video paired up with a talk that Elder Holland gave once upon a time. It's entitled "None Were With Him". It's a great video, very well done. And, of course, with Elder Holland speaking in the background, it's all the better.
Mom, 13th July 2013
Well, I am pretty excited to go, as well as a little nervous. Yesterday we had "In-Field Orientation" that taught us exactly how we'll go about our missions. It was a 9 hour 30 minute meeting, but it went by really quick and was pretty enjoyable.
I was going to buy a calling card at the bookstore since I have some money left on my MTC card. If you Dear Elder the code for a calling card, I won't get it until I'm in Japan. The mailroom doesn't handle Dear Elders over the weekend. I've always received three from you on Monday, the other two being Saturday's and Sunday's--so it won't serve much good to me. I'm going to go there after emailing to find out what the deal with the calling card is. I'll be calling from Seattle, so I'm pretty sure my call will come at 7am-ish. I'll double check and send another email if it turns out to be a different time. I'll also ask them what the deal is with sending letters overseas.
Tell Sister Cook that I appreciated the Dear Elder and that she's thinking of me. Also tell her I enjoyed the description of Oklahoma and Michael's thought on being in a country song.
Boy, this is the last email I'll send from the MTC. In fact, aside from the package they I may or may not get off, this could be the last thing you receive from me while I'm still in the states. Crazy!
I'll keep this short and end here since I have quite a bit to do today, as I'm sure you do. Thanks for everything!
PS: We got our Japanese name tags
That's pretty much what it looks like--font change and all. Our MTC tags have our name and title in English rather than Japanese, but everything else is the same.