Friday, September 18, 2015

Week Eight (Final Week) at the Missionary Training Center

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi,

This is the last email I will be sending from the United States for the next two years! I fly out to Japan on Monday, will have a day of "training" in the mission home (where the Fukuoka mission president lives), and then will start missionary work the next day. I'm not even close to fluent, but am still incredibly excited.

This past week, as well as the seven before that, has flown by. We are in our own little bubble here at the MTC where we are protected from anything bad going on in the world. It's been pretty nice to be in such a safe, loving environment, but after two years at West Point and two months of being trapped in the gates of the MTC, I'm pretty pumped to be on my own in JAPAN!!!

Anyways, notes on the week:
  1. HOSTING MY COUSIN: Every Wednesday, 500 or so new missionaries come into the MTC. Every missionary has a "host" that welcomes them to the MTC. Here's the basic gist: 1) A car with a missionary and family pulls up to the curb, 2) The missionary and family get out, 3) Everyone starts crying, 4) The host takes the missionaries bags, 5) Goodbyes are said, 6) The host takes the missionary to a few places around the MTC, 7) The host drops the missionary off at the classroom.  The hosts are all missionaries that have been here for a few weeks already. Anyways, this past week, I had the opportunity to host my cousin, Max Clark! I might have worked the system a little to make sure I hosted him, but it was definitely worth it. I got to be a part of his family saying goodbye to him and to welcome him to the MTC. Such a memorable experience to be able to welcome him to the MTC and to be able to serve with him.
  2. The Bad Lesson: As a part of our training, we teach a few lessons each week to our teachers who role play as investigators. Well, I had my worst one this past week. The topic wasn't too complicated, but my mind went blank the entire time. I understand none of what our investigator said and couldn't speak any Japanese. It was like I was back to week one. I have a lot of ideas of why it happened, but overall it was a learning experience from me. During it, I just felt frustration and anger, but looking back, I'm glad it happened. It's in those challenging moments of our lives that I think define us. I told my district my first week that for most people, about 90% of our lives aren't all that bad. Life seems to make sense and we are relatively happy. Then the 10% happens (The number varies for each person) and our lives get rocked by some challenge we don't expect. Whether that challenge is something as small as us suddenly forgetting Japanese, or something as big as a family member passing away or losing a job, I think it is that 10% that truly defines who we truly are. It isn't too hard to be kind, loving, and grateful when life is going well. During that 10% however, it suddenly becomes much more difficult. In my life, I've found that if I push through that 10%, I learned to appreciate not only the 90%, but even the 10%. I hope that made sense...it's a theory I'm still trying to figure out. 
  3. Prayer is real: I try not to be too preach on these because I know many of y'all that read his are not of my faith, but this story was pretty incredible. If you know me well, you know that I tend to lose things at times (Ellett family, you can confirm this). Well, two weeks ago, I somehow lost my scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.). Well, just about everything we do here involves using our scriptures, so I felt rather stupid for losing them. My companion and I searched everywhere but just couldn't find them. Over the course of a week or so, I prayed every night for help finding my scriptures. I was just at the point where I felt that God wanted me to learn a lesson about responsibility, when I decided to pray one more time. I prayed on a Tuesday night and got the distinct impression that if I prayed the next morning, I'd find them that day. Because the impression was so strong, I wrote down in my journal, "If you pray, you will find them tomorrow." Sure enough, around noon on Wednesday, these two sister missionaries  wanted into my classroom with my scriptures in their hands. Their teacher had picked them up the week prior in a computer lab, and had kept them in her classroom.
    • Call it a coincidence or superstitions if you want, but I know that it was a simple answer to my prayer. God knows all of us and wants us to succeed. Often all we have to do is humbly ask in prayer and God will help us out.
  4. Another performance: I had the opportunity to accompany a missionary this past Monday who sang, "Cast Your Burdens on the Lord" for the Senior Missionary Welcome Devotional. In additional to 80,000 or so missionaries my age, my church has thousands of more "senior missionaries" that serve in various capacities, ranging from missionary presidents responsible for 250 missionaries to church family history missionaries who dive into family history (If into family history/geneology, check out https://familysearch.org).
  5. GOING TO JAPAN: In case you didn't know by now, I'll be in Japan in FOUR DAYS.
Pictures from the week

1. Elder Porter had his Mom send my companion (an Australian) the most American tie I have ever seen. Elder Bauer rocked the tie and I think actually felt some American pride while wearing it.

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2. This past Sunday, all of the West Pointers at the MTC got together to take the annual "West Pointers at the MTC" picture. They are all my classmates from the past two years. Sadly, Elder Nielson left a few days before the picture, but he is one of us as well.

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3. Me and my cousin Max when I hosted him on his first day.

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Video for the week:
The video for this week is about families. In case you haven't noticed by now, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are pretty big into families. Call me ignorant, but I think about 90% of the problems in our society could be solved by stable, loving families. This one is pretty short. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/mormon-messages-video-playlists?lang=eng

Love you all,

Elder Colton

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