Saturday, December 28, 2013

Biyouki Desu Ne - something about being sick!

Christmas week at the MTC was totally subarashii! 


We've taught two new investigators (both just two different characters of our teachers) but they're a bit more difficult, which is challenging but rewarding so far. The language is coming along more and more, and we're saying and understanding things I didn't expect to until I was out on the field to be honest, it's amazing.


I woke up sick on Christmas Eve but my loving companions were generous enough to stay in our room with me to sleep it off ;) I woke up at midday feeling much better, ready for the Christmas Eve devotional by Dave Evans of the Seventy, who had Sister Payne from the District come up and speak for 15 mins which was very uplifting. 


Christmas day was great, we had a nice hot breakfast and a hilarious talent show. Okay so you'd hear talent show at the MTC and think lots of lame solo performances of gospel songs right? Well luckily for me (hehe) it was the opposite - an hour and a half filled with funny songs, gags, and every performance was unique and fun. 


We had a delicious Christmas lunch and then a devotional by David A. Bednar! He's my favourite speaker so I was giddy when he walked out (because they don't tell you beforehand who the speaker is) and he based his talk on a live Q&A we had where they gave out hundreds of phones to the congregation to text anonymous questions. They were all really good and I took at least 2,000,000 notes. My companion and zone leader had been talking about a question to do with him all week, so they asked straight away and Bednar actually kept that question till last and bore his testimony on it! It was such a testimony builder and we were all so uplifted. My companion couldn't get over it haha. We had a musical program by Ray Smith which was fun (and quite a welcome break from the Christmas and gospel songs we've heard recently), and they did quite a lot of what the oldies call "jamming," and "freestyling."  All you youngens will have to look that one up ;) We watched the 2012 tabernacle choir video that night which was sugoi, but we had the most fun in our residence afterwards because we had a lot more time than usual so it was super fun.


Our Dai Senpai (elders who have been here longer, basically the ones we look up to) are leaving on Monday which is really sad because they're so awesome and are great examples to us!


Well that's all for this week, I'm going to send this to everyone on my contact list so if you're a missionary with as little time for emails as me I'm sorry if you read all of this and it took up all your time haha, and I'm also sorry to all those who I haven't replied to but an hour goes a lot quicker than you'd think! If you're back at home and would like to write to me, check out, it's the best thing ever. Ask my Mum about it too. Like seriously. 


Love you all! From Elder Wheeler.


Swag Out


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas from the MTC

Merry Christmas to all my friends, banditos, chourou tachi and loved ones! I hope you all enjoy the Christmas season, even if you get this letter on boxing day, or any other holiday which the Americans miss out on (seriously, they have never heard of it before! unlucky for them, right?)

I love you all and I hope you enjoy the company of those you're around, whether it be family, your brothers and sisters out on the mission field with you, or just with your swag.


Merry Christmas


Love from Elder Wheeler

Saturday, December 21, 2013

MTC Life Week 2

MTC life is great, getting really close with everyone, it's going to be sad when we all leave but that's a while away so don't need to worry about that now.

I'm so grateful to Mum's friends who sent me the bag, which I was way too excited to get to save till Christmas and it's absolutely awesome, and the box of cookies which was super nice. Getting mail is just so exciting! Haha, especially when it's these acts of kindness from people that want to help out :).

I enjoy my schedule, typically we have breakfast & personal study, class with the coolest dude ever (Brother Fowers, RM from Utah who served in Tokyo) who is super energetic and crazy fun, there's never a dull moment with him which is crucial as the class goes from 8 in the morning till 11, when we get lunch. Then we have 50 mins of gym (where I play four square and get bagged out by everyone for wearing jean shots, flippin' americans and their wannabe-kobe-bryant basketball shorts) an hour of PMG study, and TALL which is an hour on the computer for Japanese study. They are all mixed around in different orders for every day so it's not the same. We also get a bit of free time during that time, then dinner and another class. That goes till 8pm, then we have language study, planning, then back to our residence where we just talk with everyone and do fun things till bed time. Every day is different though so it hasn't got boring yet. Tuesday's devotional was by Robert Rasband and it was pretty good, but I wasn't as engaged as I was with the previous one, but it's great that they have members of the seventy and the twelve come in to the MTC to speak.

For our second class since our second day, we've been either preparing for or teaching an investigator, who we've known all along is an RM who served in Japan, but he's from Utah and speaks ONLY japanese, so we can't say a word in English otherwise we won't get it. But we've taught him four times and they were really challenging, but super rewarding, and our planning was really good I felt, but then he came in to class one day that we weren't sure whether or not we were meant to be preparing for the next lesson, and it was the first time we heard him speak in English, because he dropped his character he had been roleplaying (Shibatasan) and is now Brother Anderson, RM living about 20 mins away who served in Fukuoka. He is our teacher for our evening/afternoon class! It's awesome cause I feel like I know him really well now, he's really patient and very considerate. He's a good contrast to Brother Fowers, but they're both awesome.

We have three different teachers (we've had two others also, one was a sub, one is the teacher for the teachers - and his class was amazing and we all felt the spirit so strongly and it made everyone 20x more motivated after) brother fowers in the morning, brother anderson at night, and sister clarke at random times, who all served in Japan, and they all know Cade! If I remember correctly, Brother fowers was at the MTC the same time as Cade, sister clarke served for a year while he was out, and brother anderson said they lived in the same flat for some time on the mission I think? They all love him and say he's awesome, and they each got excited when I said I was from Tasmania and they all said "oh you know cade?" but in Japanese of course.

Everyone's Japanese has improved so much, it's crazy. We can now all say our prayers in Japanese, sing hymns without reading english characters (I could before), there are so many gospel related statements and questions we can say, and it's not just memorising things (actually it's the opposite) but we've all learnt how to understand and create sentences, with all the different tenses, bases, forms, and all this stuff that I knew about before but didn't expect to have a proper grasp on until a long way away. It's awesome. There are a few Elders in my class who came knowing 'konnichiwa' and 'sayonara' and that's it. Now they offer prayers, not speaking a word of english, etc. I'm really grateful for how much we have all learnt.

The sleep is the hardest thing for me though, I fall asleep in 4/5 of the things we do which sucks but I'm getting better! In priesthood on sunday I got called out by the branch president! I was sitting their and I was asleep, and what woke me up was President Butler saying "Wheeler Choro, you're not going to fall asleep on us are you?" in front of our whole branch who were all looking at me grinning. In my raspy zombie voice I was like "nahhh" and he's like "maybe if you sat up right it might help you stay awake for this" and gave me a big smile and so I did and I stayed awake the rest of priesthood, as hard as it was. But I fell asleep during the next thing. I love my branch and my presidency, they are so awesome. They know what it's like being a young man, so they love having a bit of fun. They're the opposite of what I was expecting, I don't want to say goodbye to them haha. But again, that's not for some time. Sometimes I fall asleep in weird positions and when I wake up I can't feel like leg or arm for like 6-7 minutes. Yesterday I fell asleep during study while we were in class and I was woken up by two of my Dai Senpai (my two zone leaders) poking my face and I honestly looked like two-face because half of my face was just super red from me laying on my arm for some reason. But! I only ever fall asleep for a few minutes before I'm good to go. Last night was the first night I made it to bed on time (seriously it's so hard) but every night I try my hardest to be in bed, ready to sleep at 10:30 because usually I get ready but then pray and read scriptures which takes me a few minutes over time. I've been improving every day!

It's a lot more relaxed here than I thought, I mean I was expecting 1940s Russia to be honest, and though the fence is a little intimidating, every one who teaches us is totally awesome and they truly love us. All our male teachers, leaders all give us hugs at the end of everything. Meetings, classes, before bed. Everyone gives each other hugs and says 'aishitte imasu' which means I love you, but you wouldn't say it in Japan unless, say a husband were saying it to his wife, but everyone's laid back enough to not care about that haha. I love it here, I don't want to leave.. let's see what I say in 8 weeks, but when Brother Anderson was talking about Fukuoka I was getting so excited for it! So I'll be sad to leave some of my friends who aren't going to Fukuoka like Elder Barr, Moua, Lewis, and so on. And the funniest thing of it all, is they all love Lizzie! I have photos of my friends and family on my study desk and they love looking through them. It's pretty hilarious. But I love all the Elders, we're all best friends and we are definitely all making the most of our time together.


We get to e-mail on Christmas day, so expect one from me then! I also hope to send a photo or two then.


Love you all,
Elder Wheeler


Saturday, December 14, 2013

My First week in the MTC

It's day five at the MTC, and I am now in my companionship. I have two companions (as there's an uneven amount of missionaries learning Japanese), Elder Inagaki (from Utah, his family is Japanese but he doesn't know much) and Elder Garrad (who looks like Mr. Bean, from Idaho who knows way more Japanese than both of us) and they're both hilarious, especially Elder Garrad who is basically William Mullock as an American. It's hilarious we laugh so much (at the right times), but we've become best friends already.

In fact, everyone in our branch (two districts, which means two classes, who are all learning Japanese and have the same schedule) are all super close, aside from the five sisters, two of them I've never heard speak or even know their names and three others -- one hardly knows English so never speaks, one's just naturally shy so doesn't talk much either and, Sister Brown from NZ, but she is totally awesome. But they're all in the other class, ours is just Elders, which is great because no one has to worry about not being rude or silly haha! Nah, I make our class sound bad, it's great. Elder Barr from Brisbane and I are the only Aussies in our branch, but it's awesome because we all look for each other and sit together in workshops, presentations, at meal times and so on. It's great how close we all are.

 It's going to be sad when we have to say goodbye to two thirds of them (going to other Japanese missions) which is funny to say because we've only known each other for like three days but are all already best friends. Everyone jokes around and everyone, I mean everyone, loooves mine and Elder Barr's accents, I think he's loving the attention more than me but hey everyone's cool so it's all good. Elder Barr is pretty much Jake Reeve and Jackson Corona combined, he reminds me so much of both of them. I get along with him the best, but basically if our branch aren't studying Japanese or the Gospel, then we're all laughing and joking which is awesome. This is better than any school I've been too, that's for sure.

Our teacher Fowers Kyodai, is so funny! And on our first lesson he spoke pat least 95% in Japanese, their idea is to just speak almost all Japanese (slowly and on a lower level of course) and that we have to use Japanese in our general life as much as we can and oh my goodness I can not actually believe how much we have all learnt. We've done Japanese for two days now, and we can all already pray in Japanese, carry a basic conversation, and last night we taught a message to a role-playing investigator in Japanese. Our message was about prayer and it went for about 6-7 minutes and we messed up quite a bit but it was more than okay because we hadn't even role played with someone yet, let alone in Japanese. But he was an RM from Utah so he was nice and he talked slow for us.

The other day though we had these 'investigators' in which we had to observe other people teaching, and everyone says they aren't members, even themselves after the activity was over and we were just casually talking to them and I'd be convinced but a few Elders have theories and stuff, whether they're actors or not, but that's beside the point as we're meant to be observing a lesson under the impression that they're investigators. Spiritually I've already grown so much, and my testimony of missionaries has increased and I'm so uplifted by everything I see and do here.

I just wanted to let everyone back home that I'm having the time of my life, most people here are awesome and the Elders in our district are all super cool, and hilarious. We all clicked the first time we all met and it's great because everyone just loves each other. I have to go now but I love you all and I hope everything's going well for everyone.

Sayonara minasan, aishite masu!

(You don't say that in Japan, but in the MTC, the Elders all say it to each other)
Elder Barr is the only other Australian Elder in his group (district). He is from Brisbane and one of his closest newly made pals

His 2 American companions, Elder Inagaki and Elder Garrad. They found a stash of Lollies behind a vent from 2004

Elder Barr, Elder Moua and I outside the Provo Temple which is closed for another month for renovations

Most of his district

Provo Temple

View from his window, most rooms dont have windows

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Very First Email

As today is our first *official* day they are taking us around and giving us a tour of the MTC, even though I've been here for two nights and have seem almost all of the campus, and they're giving us 5-10 minutes to send an e-mail to our immediate family* before we continue on. It's freezing here, I've never felt weather this cold but it's dry so it's not bad, I'm staying in a temporary room with Elder Hladky from Austria and have for the last two days, until I get a permanent room and companion today. 

The food is disgustingly unhealthy but the first thing I tried was the chocolate milk. 20+ kg before departure confirmed.

Every tuesday we have a devotional with a general authority or member of the seventy, and last night we had Quentin L. Cook give a talk! It was awesome, and all the new missionaries got to sit up the front so I was only 9 rows away from him. Pretty big deal for someone who's never seen someone like that in the flesh before (aside from a glance at President Hinckley when I was like negative 20 years old).

I've made heaps of new friends already and everyone here is suuuper nice. It feels like I've been here a lot longer than just a day and a half. Once I slept in the bed, I didn't have any jet lag, but I'm still generally tired because I'm not used to the early hours.

I forgot to change my watch from LA time to Salt Lake City time, so we set my alarm to my time, and woke up at 5:30 and were ready by 6:00 thinking it was 7:00 which is when breakfast is, and we woke up the guys in the room next to us and they all got ready and stuff.. and we didn't realise till about 6:20 that we had another forty minutes before the cafeteria opened! Haha.

So this is my first e-mail, and our P-Days are on saturday, so on your sunday I'll send a better e-mail and some photos (I've taken heaps). I've also taken a bunch of videos I'll send to jen on an sd card. But yeah they're really hurrying us up so I can't actually read the e-mails everyone has sent me, but another thing is it's pretty strange for people to be calling me Elder and not Jayme flat out, but I'm slowly getting used to it.