Remember when I first got here and as soon as we got out of the car there was a sister there waiting for me? She was my host sister and she dragged my suitcases with me all around campus and took me everywhere I needed to go. Well the student has become the master. This last Wednesday and the Wednesday before that I've had the opportunity to be a host sister for five new sister missionaries. It is the best. I think it's inspired. Maybe not as inspired as who your companions are, but still inspired. Last week I met a sister who I'd played against in high school basketball and she promised me a game. My twenty nine year old companion hosted a sister who was twenty seven years old. Every sister needs something different when they arrive at the MTC. There was one sister, Sister B. who got out the car just bawling. But once I got her talking about herself, she felt a lot better and stopped crying. Yesterday the first sister I hosted was not very strong at all and needed me to carry all of her bags. Good thing I conditioned ahead of time! I can't imagine my companion carrying all of the bags, and I am glad I was her host because I know I had the strength. After that sister, I met another one who was pretty distraught. But she calmed herself down when she looped her arm through mine and leaned her head on my shoulder. I patted her hand awkwardly, but it really seemed to help. Hosting is so much fun. I wrote all the sisters' names down so I won't forget them.
Two Sundays ago, I was talking to a particularly angry elder. He was the music coordinator for our branch which essentially meant he played all the hymns for Sacrament meeting. He was complaining because he just discovered that two elders in his own district play the piano. They tried to hide it from him, and even when he asked them about it, they refused to play. I shuffled my feet because I remembered this same elder charging into our classroom, demanding to know who played the piano. I am 100% sure I told him I do, but at this moment I knew he had forgotten. Well, I had two choices: Say nothing because I had already done my part, or offer to play. It took me hours later that day to finally announce that I could play the piano and was willing to play. That was Sunday. Come Monday, and some elders had already approached me to accompany them as they sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth." By Saturday, the first elder had been released as the music coordinator and do you want to guess who replaced him and his companion? My companions and me. Turns out, you can't hide your talents from God. I had assumed that I had effectively hidden my talent (if you can call my skill at the piano a talent) thinking that I had fooled the Father of my spirit. I'll be playing a lot of piano from now on. Sidenote: the musical number went well, even with a key change arranged by these elders. And afterwards the elders were surprised to learn that I'm only nineteen! They thought I was twenty! They couldn't believe I graduated high school the same year as them. So apparently my clunky piano playing sounded like the work of twenty-year-old fingers. I think that's a good sign.
At the MTC, there's this saying that's just as well rehearsed as "War is peace. Knowledge is Power . . ." and it goes SYL. Speak Your Language. They want us to practice our mission language as much as possible. So very often (but not often enough) an elder will open a door for us and my companion will say "arigato" and he will respond in some other foreign language. It's just how it goes. I know how to say hello in four more languages. Earlier today, there were three sisters blocking a staircase. This staircase led to the health clinic and my companion had an appointment to follow up on a previous ailment. We were two minutes behind. You see the urgency of the situation. I could see these three sisters had English nametags. I briefly noticed that one of them was Asian, but I'm not going to pretend I could tell her origin. I had talked to my companions before about how anxious it made me to speak Japanese phrases to an Asian looking person. I didn't want some Asian missionary thinking that I was racist and assuming that they were Japanese. But I knew that if I stayed true to SYL, I would receive blessings. In as nice a way as possible, I said "Sumimasen. (Japanese for excuse me) Excuse us, we need to go up." The sisters stepped aside, but one of them, sneered. "She's Korean." Great. Exactly what I expected. I stopped, turned around to see one of my companions already giving these sisters a raised eyebrow and simply said: "Excuse me. I'm going to Japan in a month and I'm practicing my Japanese. Butonangashimnika!" (Korean for hello how are you) and I waved at the Korean sister. She responded and waved back, and her companions sneered on. All I can say about that situation is: Thank you Papa for teaching me a word in Korean!
Japanese is so hard. Two words could sound nearly alike but have totally different meanings. For example, Elder Erickson, the one that reminds me of Billy, was trying to say: Baptism is a covenant. The word for covenant is seiyaku. But instead he said sayaku which means "the worst." He told his investigator baptism is the worst. I do stuff like that all the time, but so far, that's the funniest circumstance.
I'm trucking on! We find time to laugh and relax. Us missionaries find the funniest ways to amuse ourselves. There is a district in our branch that is all boys, so you can imagine their shenanigans. Recently, they let us in on a secret. They have a nickname for cute sister missionaries at the MTC. They call them san ichi shi which translates to three one four. That's pi. They use this phrase when they see a cutie pie. . . . I heard that a week ago and I'm still laughing.
Don't worry about not writing me. I just wish I didn't have your imagination because I was thinking all the worst had happened and more, but I'm glad everything's okay. I'd rather you be busy.
Everyone loved the pao de quejio except for Elder M! Hahahahah! Thanks for sending them. Clever packaging too!