Monday, August 17, 2015

Week Three at the Missionary Training Center

Friends and Family,

Konnichiwa! Hello again from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Time here is starting to feel like the last two years of school for me: the days are long but the weeks fly by. I've somehow already been here for three weeks! If my timing is correct, all you West Pointers are currently in the midst of Re-Organization week. Good luck with the upcoming school year. To all my 2017ers, good luck leading the school! To all the 2018ers, try your best to avoid yuk cynicism...it'll be hard, but you can do it.

Update on the week:
  • Japanese: Well, I'm still not fluent. I'm still more comfortable speaking Chinese than Japanese (I took Chinese for a few years in high school and a year in college), but my Japanese is slowly progressing. I now naturally use Japanese in my everyday speech, such as saying, "hai" for "yes." I often get weird looks when I say that to people who don't speak Japanese.
  • The Aussie: Well, my companion is still the man. He's also an excellent wingman...which doesn't help me out too much on the mission, but if I'm ever in my 30s and still not married, I'm going to fly him in from Australia and have him help me out some. 
  • Crew: Coach K (West Point crew people, make sure Coach K sees this por favor), I've been erging some! By some, I mean I've been on the erg twice. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. Maybe erging isn't so bad after all. 
  • Leadership: One of the members of my branch presidency (for those who don't know what that means, he's one of the adults in charge of us), served in the Army for 30 years! I've learned a lot about leadership through working with him. Not that I know too many, but he is the most kind, caring, and loving retired Sergeant Major that I know. He's helped me adapt my leadership style to the new missionary life. On that note, I got rotated out of serving as the district leader and am now one of the "Joes." I'm enjoying focusing on increasing my testimony and learning Japanese. My new district leader is straight out of high school, but is doing an incredible job.
  • Friends heading off to Japan: This past Monday, a bunch of the friends I've made here headed off to Japan. They had only been here for 5 more weeks that I have. It made me realize how little time I actually have until I head to Japan. Only five weeks until I'll be thrown into a country where I don't understand the culture and I will barely be able to speak the language. That being said, I'm more excited than nervous. I have to work as hard as I can over the next few weeks, but I know that the message I'm trying to share is one that can bring happiness and peace across any culture and in any language.
  • TRC experience: Once a week, we get to teach local Japanese speakers a lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Japanese. Each companionship is given 20 minutes to teach a volunteer. We attempt Japanese the whole time, but we often get strange looks from the volunteers when we try to say things...such as saying, "I know I was perfect," rather than, "I know I'm not perfect." This past week though, we had a super cool experience while trying to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Although a member of our church for her entire life, our volunteer actually wanted to know more about how Christ carried out the Atonement. While we were constantly flipping through the English-Japanese dictionary and the "Ninja" (pretty much how to speak Mormon Japanese 101), we were actually able to get our message across and I think she learned something. I know that God is helping us carry this message of joy and hope. Although we aren't even close to fluent in Japanese yet, we can still make a difference in the lives of those looking for something more in life.
Video for the week: Just a cool story of a 13 year-old boy trying to do some good in the work. My challenge for all of you, and myself, is to set a goal this week to go out of your way to help someone else. https://www.lds.org/youth/video/daytons-legs?lang=eng. We all struggle at times in life, but helping others is one of the best ways to find that joy we all want in this life.

Well that's about all I got for now. Thanks again to all those who have been writing me. I promise my emails will get more exciting once I'm in Japan!

Love,

Elder Kevin Colton
Fukuoka Japan Mission

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