This is from the end of June, but I (Lily, Kristen's younger, social media-managing sister) figured the first email is a good place to start. For those wondering what the heck Kristen is doing for 18 months and aren't on her email list, this is for you!
Dear family and friends, (but mostly Mom)
How exciting. My first email home. I have this timer on the right hand corner of the computer moniter that's counting down my remaining alloted minutes and it's stressing me out. I have plenty of time, but stress away I will. Anyway, today is my P-day, so you can look forward to these emails every Saturday. Our preparation "day" isn't really a day because it really ends at. Before then we're supposed to do our laundry, exercise, shower, eat, and write all our emails and letters. One thing I've learned here is that the day is SUPER long, and you can fit a ton of stuff in that time. We also get to go the temple today, but they're doing the cleaning or repairs or something starting next week, so this might be the only chance we get to go. I'm bummed about that, but at least we can go this week.
My first day here was a whirlwind, and I don't remember much of it. Once I was dropped off I stopped feeling like I was going to throw up, and just relaxed. I was totally fine once I got here. In those first few hours I saw two kids from the class I student-observed at Lone Peak and it was weird. Instead of calling me Miss Oda, I guess they'll just call me Sister Oda. But it was still weird. Anyway, I had a host that guided me everywhere because we're all clueless lost puppies, and then she dropped me off at my classroom with my new district. Except that wasn't my district and I had to awkwardly get out of my seat and follow the teacher to my real classroom. Awkward situations make life fun...after the fact. So once I was in the right classroom I got to meet my new teacher, Reading-Sensei. He's totally white and a really cool dude. We both kind of recognized each other, so we assume it's because we both took Japanese in the same building at BYU. My companion (doryo) was the last to arrive, and when she came in I kind of felt disappointed. I know that sounds bad, and I didn't understand why I felt that way. And then I realized that she wasn't my companion, but her host. When I saw Sister Walsh for the first time I immediately felt a love for her which took me by surprise. I knew that I would learn to love her, but not the first second I saw her. I guess it was love at first sight. Ha, but I think I'm going to like her. And if not, I'm going to have to anyway. But I really do think she's great, and she only brought ugly t-shirts with wolves and horses like I did, so I knew we'd get along just fine. Walsh-Shimai didn't know any Japanese before she came here so I get lots of opportunities to help teach her.
Our district has 14 missionaries in it, with 4 compansionships and 2 threesomes. That's a pretty huge district, and we're very aware of it when we're cramped in our teeny little classroom all. day. long. We have three elders that are fresh out of high school and I think the rest are 19. We have a couple sisters who are 19, more that are 20, and then I'm the only 21 year old. Just call me grandma. Kristi Aoki (the girl who lived next door to me this year) is actually in my district, so I'm not the only one who just finished my third year in college. Even though we have some youngins, they're all great and I can tell they want to be here and have prepared.
The days are really long and Thursday may have been the longest day of my life. It wasn't bad, just super long. Looooonnnnng. I think I stressed that enough. Yesterday we gave our first lesson to a fake investigator in JAPANESE. I might have had three semesters of Japanese under my belt, but the majority of us haven't, and we taught someone with about one day's training. We have this awesome book we call Ninja that has everything we need to know for the discussions in Japanese and we basically read from it. I love that book with all the fiber of my being. Or is it bean? It makes sense either way...anyway it went alright, and I was very grateful that I could make small talk in my very broken Japanese. We have also learned how to pray and bare our testimonies in Japanese, and even though we are speaking at the level of a preschooler, the simplicity is refreshing. The MTC is a very happy place and that's because we feel the spirit continually and are just trying to prepare ourselves to bring this knowledge to others.
Gahhh running out of time. This is super long, isn't it. Well, on a more worldly note, I am chronically hungry, but once I get to the cafeteria I don't want to eat anything. Probably because I've spent thousands of hours on the other side of the serving line and I know what that food is really made of. I'm eating lots of wraps and smuggling fruit out so I have something to eat during the day. You already know this, but I cannot eat just three times a day. So if you were to send me a package by chance, I'd love nuts or granola bars and stuff like that...just a thought :)
Thanks for all the letters, it's like Christmas every day. Tell people about dearelder.com because we get those daily, when we can only check our email once a week on P-days. Shout out to the awesome person who sent me a package in an Otterpops box. Expect a letter soon :)
I want to attach pictures, but I don't know if I can on this computer, and the restrictions and stuff make it really hard. If I can't today, I'll try the next time...and the next.
Love you all!