Friday, December 25, 2015

I'm in Japan!

Christmas party at the Saijo Branch

Elder Sherrill, President Egan and Sister Egan

Hiroshima Zone

Elder Sherrill and his trainer Elder Harrell 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

I have made it to Japan! It is so amazing here! So first off the mission president changed my p-day to today (Friday, Christmas) so that is why it has been so long since I have been able to email haha sorry about that. My next P-day will be Friday too because that is New Years here and it is a pretty big holiday for Japan. But then after that it will go back to being Monday so thats just a little heads up.

Anyways! I am in Japan! I can hardly believe it! There has been so much that has happened since my last P-day. I don't have much time to email but I will try and fit it all in and talk about as much of it as I can. So, our last few days in the MTC were crazy busy. We were all saying bye to our teachers which was actually a lot harder than I thought it would have been. We all grew so class as a District together and it was definitely hard to leave all of them. We took some fun pictures together though and those will follow shortly haha. Our last night in the MTC we said goodbye to everyone and then woke up really early to get on buses to go up to SLC to catch our flight. As we go up to SLC it starts to snow! It was snowing pretty good and when we got to the airport all the elders had to unload the bags and we were in the middle of a snowstorm so after we finished (it took about 30 minutes) all of our heads were white because the snow stuck to it and we were all drenched from either the snow or sweat, one of the two haha.

After all that we head to LA on our flight and it still didn't seem real being away from the MTC. But, it got real pretty fast after we arrived in LA and got on our plane to Tokyo. We get on the plane and people start speaking Japanese to us and there were tons of Japanese people and I was surprised to see a bunch of Nihonjin then I kind of think to myself no duh there are lots of them on the plane, I am going to Japan afterall haha. So that is when it felt pretty real for me. After we get to Tokyo it was just crazy because all these new missionaries are in one of the biggest airports in the world and we can't even read to figure out where to go. Luckily, there is some lady who can kind of speak english and she helped us to where we should go. We then get on our flight to Fukuoka and finally get to see our mission president! We were all excited to see them. After we meet them at the airport we head back to the mission home and kind of meet all the staff and get to know each other. Then we all go to bed because the very next day we were told we were going to get to do some missionary work!

That next day we take pictures in front of the Temple and then we go out around the streets of Fukuoka and have to opportunity to dendo for the first time! It was pretty terrifying but also way awesome! We talked to quite a few people and even handed out a Book of Mormon! After that we go back to the mission home and have interviews and it was so nice to be able to get to know my mission president a little better. His name is President Egan and he is amazing, he is a very determined and motivated mission president. I know our mission will be very successful as he helps us. His wife Sister Egan is so nice and just made us all feel loved the second we got off the plane. I am really excited to be serving with them for the next two years. 

After interviews we all finally got to figure out where we are going!!!! I was almost more nervous for this part than when I opened my mission call haha. We all gathered in his office and he went one by one and told us the area where we would serve and who our trainer would be. When it finally came around to me I got called to serve in Saijo! I had never heard of it before but I was just so ready to go and to see everything it had to offer. It is up near Hiroshima and just about a 40 minute bus ride from it. After that I got to see who my trainer would be and his name is Elder Harrell! I was so excited to just get to my area and see my trainer and get to know my area. We all headed to bed because the next day some of us where getting on flights and I was getting on a bus for 4 hours to go up to Hiroshima to meet my trainer.

After I meet my trainer we get to know each other and he is a way cool guy. He is really focused and I can tell one of the hardest workers in the mission. President Egan told me he is one of the hardest working missionaries he has so I knew I would get a great trainer. So we get on a train to Saijo and arrive at our apartment. Before I unpack or anything we go straight into planning and then go out that night to dendo! That first day was pretty rough, it finally kind of hit me that I am going to be in Japan for the next two years and I don't know Japanese and it is pretty cold up here (in Saijo) and there are going to be a lot of people that won't accept our message. Finally, after I settled in for a second though I really got excited to go out and dendo and now I really love it! Especially at night because that is when people are actually home. There are a lot of people that don't want anything to do with our message but we have found about 4 people this week and made return appointments with them! It is always so exciting finding someone who is interested and we get a chance to talk to them a little bit.

In the MTC I thought my Japanese wasn't to bad but boy did the Lord humble me when I got to Japan. I feel like I barely even know this language! I have learned a lot this first week but I still feel like I know nothing. During our dendo I usually just introduce us and our message and then my companion takes it from there and sometimes I will pitch in. That is kind of the same for lessons. I just bare my testimony at parts and explain some real simple doctrine but thats about the extent of what I can do right now haha. So fastforward to first day in church I had to introduce my self and bear my testimony and it was pretty scary but I think it didn't go to bad. I seriously love this branch and all the members. I can barely talk with them but I can just feel their love and their sincerity and I am really looking forward to working with them for the next little bit of time we have together. 

There was lot that happened this week but I don't really have anytime to explain much of it. I will try to explain more in next weeks email but I love Japan! It is so awesome here and the people are great. I am excited to be here for the next two years and I am really excited for my Japanese to improve haha. I love this work that I am doing and I am so happy I can serve in this area of the Lord's vineyard. I love you all and wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Love, Elder Sherrill

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Four more days till 日本!

Konnichiwa minasan! So first off, we all got our flight plans last week! Here is what my schedule looks like for Monday morning.

SLC > LAX 8:35 am - 9:36 am.  Delta Airlines Flight #1414
1 hour layover in LAX
LAX > Tokyo 10:50 am (Dec 14th) - 3:45 pm (Dec 15th) Delta Airlines Flight #283
2 hour layover in Tokyo
Tokyo > Fukuoka 5:55 pm - 8:10 pm.  All Nippon Flight #2145

I am so excited to finally go to Japan! I am also terribly nervous though. I feel like I am going to step off the plane and not understand a single word anyone is saying. Even though that will most likely happen I heard the learning curve you have when you first get to the field is crazy. Everyone says you learn so much the first couple transfers so I am excited to see how fast I improve. Also I can't wait to meet my mission president and his wife! In every mission there is a mission home where the mission president and his wife live at. It is usually where a couple office workers are too and is kind of like the "headquarters" for the mission for lack of a better term. Anyways most mission homes are just a building inside the mission boundaries but the Fukuoka mission home is actually beneath the Fukuoka Temple! How cool is that?! I am excited we get to stay there for a couple days when we first get to Japan. That is also when I will find out who my trainer will be and what area I will be serving in!

This week there wasn't to much that happened outside the ordinary. We are finishing up teaching all of our "investigators" and Nozomi San is actually set to get baptized today! It has been a way cool experience
to get to teach our teachers everyday to prepare for when we do it for real in Japan. We had our very last Skype TRC last night and it went amazing! We really connected with the volunteer and talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ. As I was studying for our lesson I was searching for some scriptures that talked about the atonement and I found a couple I really liked and I want to share them with you guys. The first is Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Then the next is, 
1 Corinthians 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive". I love both of these! The atonement of Jesus Christ is so beautiful and it truly shows how much love our Savior has
for each one of us.

I'm sorry my email isn't very long but is is my last P-day here in the MTC so I have to start packing as much I can to prepare for Monday. I love this opportunity I get to serve the wonderful people of Japan. Thank you again for all the love and support! The next email you all get from me will be from Japan! 愛してます!

Love, Sherrill 長老

Thursday, December 3, 2015

So close to Japan!

Black and White picture of the Provo Temple

New name tag!

The whole zone after a walk to the temple

Provo Temple

Laundry with the zone on P-Day

Christmas Lights at the MTC

Hey everyone! My time here at the MTC is almost over! We get our flight plans tomorrow and our whole district is so excited. We have about 10 days left! So moving on to this week.. Not going to lie, this past week has been pretty rough. There was a lot of ups and downs.

To start off positive though, last week for Thanksgiving we got to hear from an Apostle! Dallin H Oaks came and talked to us. He gave us a little mini history lesson on thanksgiving but the main part I really liked about his visit was his family that did a few special musical numbers for us and they were all so amazing. His daughter, Jenny Oaks Baker performed for us and so did a few of his grandchildren. Later that day we got to participate in the service project I mentioned in last weeks email and it was so much fun! After we had all finished, we had made a total of over 357,000 meals!

On Sunday I was assigned to teach a lesson for our district, the topic was The Book of Mormon. I was a little hesitant on giving the lesson because I'm always so nervous before teaching a lesson especially to a big group. However, right after the lesson starts I end up loving it and always run out of time and wish I had more time to teach haha. I was able to share some personal experiences with the Book of Mormon and I think the lesson went really well. I also shared a short video of Elder Hollands talk titled, "Joseph and Hyrum's testimony of the Book of Mormon". It is such a powerful video that testifies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I would like to invite all of you to see it!

On Monday we taught Akiho San as usual and the lesson went fantastic! It was only our second lesson with her but as we were trying to commit her to read the Book of Mormon she talked about how she didn't understand the importance of it. I relayed my experience about feeling the same way as a convert when I first heard about the Book of Mormon. I then told her that as I began to read with faith I felt peace and guidance enter my life. I bore testimony to her that the Book of Mormon could help her and shared the scripture Ether 12:6 that she will "receive no witness until after the trial of her faith". I believe my teachings really struck home with her because after I had
finished talking she had agreed to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon and pray to know whether or not what she was reading was true! I love to teach and see our investigators progress. It was probably the best lesson I have taught so far in the MTC!

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful and much didn't change from our regular schedule of studying. Although on Wednesday night we did have Skype TRC again and this was probably the worst lesson we have
taught so far in the MTC, which was definitely an abrupt switch from Monday. It was pretty rough and definitely didn't go as well as previous TRC lessons. Which was really surprising because we usually always have a positive experience when we teach TRC. We taught our lesson to an older lady who is currently living in Tokyo. Her name was Kyoko San and throughout the lesson I think the reason why we struggled so much was because we didn't build a strong relationship with her in the beginning. That made it hard to let the spirit help and guide us throughout the course of the lesson. Also she spoke really fast and a lot in "old" Japanese so there were quite a few words we didn't quite understand or were slightly changed so that didn't help either haha. Overall though I did feel like I learned a lot from the lesson. In order to properly teach someone you must first build a solid relationship with them and then the spirit can guide you as you teach them.

Last thing I will end with is the importance of relying on Heavenly Father. Throughout this week I have been having a hard time with putting the language together in the correct grammatical format so that it makes sense. Right now I am speaking like caveman Japanese my teachers like to call it because I know all the vocabulary but I just jumble it up in the sentence and use the wrong particles so sometimes it won't make to much sense. Yesterday, Babcock Shimai was coaching me and told me I think about it to hard and wouldn't let the Nihongo just flow through me like I should be doing. She picked up my Japanese Book of Mormon set it on my desk in front of me and told me to testify to her without thinking so much and focusing on the language. Trying as hard as I could I didn't stress about the language and just tried saying all I could say. To my surprise I started using a grammar structure I had never even used before and the Nihongo flowed smoothly as I testified of the Book of Mormon to her for a few minutes.
Afterwards she looked at me with a smirk and said she knew I could do it. Then she told me that I need to have that same confidence and implement that kind of power in my lessons and not worry so much about the language, which is definitely something I need to work on.

Sorry the email came so much later than usual today! I had a pretty busy day but it was amazing. I was able to go to the temple and do an endowment session for a family name for the first time! It was a great experience. I am learning so much here in the MTC and it truly is great to feel the spirit constantly. I love this church and am so
grateful for the many blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. I love you all and hope everyone has a good week!

Sherrill 長老