Friday, January 31, 2014

It's a Winter Wonderland! And mice.

Temple Club

Temple Club Again!


  I have heard from many of you about the snow storm down south and many have said "You're probably tired of snow there". Quite the contrary, it hasn't snowed here in three weeks and the temperature not much different from how I remember home this time of year. But then, today on the morning we get up early to hike to the Shinden (Temple) It snowed big time. Now its all snowy again and folks are pulling out the salt. That's how they do it here, it dissolves the snow or something. It's always lovely when it snows.

    We got our Katakana name tags this week. Mine Says Watokinzu Choro or rather ワトキンズ長老. It's pretty cool looking. I might send one of my Eigo de name tags home to yall.

    Our new Kohai are pretty cool. They have Shimai! We were so worried because when the last Dai Sempai left they took all the sisters we had left. We were an all Chorotachi zone or a couple of days. Also one of the Kohai is from the other side of South Carolina! And he knows what Zaxbys is! It's pretty awesome. We also got the new Nihonjin Senkyoushi (Japanese-people missionaries) in, these are the ones that we will be leaving with to Japan. The interesting thing is that all 4 of them are Shimai this time around. As always it's really fun to talk to them in Nihongo.

     I appreciate all of the encouraging and spiritual words I've been getting. I want to be clear though, I'm not depressed. I just mess up sometimes and I have to learn from my mistakes. I've gotten to listen to a lot from Elders Bednar and Holland lately by way of old recorded MTC talks, Bednar 長老 said that "If you don't feel inadequate, you need to repent of some pride." I know that I can do what I need to with help from Heavenly Father. I have felt His guidance often recently and He has led me by the spirit to do things I didn't even think about.

     I encourage you all to read "The 20 Mark Note" by President Packer. It is about how a young Elder Bednar serving in Germany helped the young Apostle Elder Packer cross the German border without even knowing he was lead by the spirit.

Come Unto Christ

   I wish to leave you with this music video for the Youth theme this year. Brown 長老 and I used it in our Sunday School lesson a few weeks ago. It is really inspiring.

   One more thing, there was a mouse in our bed room this week. I saw it and ran up top the bunk bed. ole Smith Choro, of corse, didn't believe me. Tanner Choro and Brown Choro checked under the bed and the mouse jumped and squeaked! Smith Choro yelled "BOB SAGET!" He was upset that he was wrong and jumped up on a chair. After that the whole district came over to our room to try to catch it and take pictures. It went straight ninja on us after that, and we've been paranoid ever since. So funny.

    Well I'll see you all next week in what I think will be my last email from the MTC. Please send me more letters, I love getting them. I have been trying to write everyone as well, you never know when you might hear from me.

Love you all/ai shite imasu/あいしています,

     Katakana name tags

     Katakana name tags

Missionaries heading to Korea

The mountains of Provo in their awesomeness

Some of the fam: Grandma Parker, Uncle David, Jazzy, Aunt Ashley, & Me

Monday, January 27, 2014

We are the Champions, We are the Dai Sempai

Zone 27 all Choro Tachi version 2!

Aaaaahhhhhhhh! What happened? I'm a Dai Sempai? I don't feel like one. I just got here... a few centuries ago.

   This week more Dai Sempai left and new Kohai came in, and now we are the ones who've been here the longest. I love these Dai Sempai who left, some of them became really good friends of mine. I miss them, but I'm so excited for them to go and finally share the gospel in Japan.

     We do this thing with them were we sign each other's "bye-bye" books. Many of them wrote encouraging thoughts to me. Some of them said that I was able to cheer them up a time or two. One of them, a fellow Doctor Who fan, shared the following quote: "Don't blink. Whatever you do, no matter how hard, don't blink." Or something close to that from the Doctor who episode Blink. They are all just so cool.

    It was interesting on Friday when random people said nice things to me. I was just standing in the hallway when practically out of nowhere, Dopp Shimai walked over to me and began telling me why she is on a mission, speaking half in Japanese. I told her a few things that lead to me serving and I realized something; I might not be exactly where I am at this time with these people if it weren't for the Conway Ward Missionaries. They, by example, made me want to serve more. I needed the missionaries just as much as the investigators did.

    Later on I received two Dear Elders. "Let's see what the family says" I thought excitedly. I was surprised, these letters had come from Elder Josh Maurer and Elder Chris Brimhall who I had taught with in Conway! They encouraged me to be a great missionary and "let the mission change you". So awesome, I just love all of the Conway missionaries.

   Lastly Barton Choro, one of the Kohai, said that he loves my positive attitude. I found this interesting since this Choro is particularly positive and enthusiastic. So I told him this and this began a conversation about the Scout Law. Why? Well I realized something else; this mission is just extreme scouting. The Scout Law is important enough to me that without knowing it I have kept it as a sort of motto for life, and this Choro agreed with me.

     So what I learned this week, amongst other things that would take too long to talk about, is that we are effected by the people and things in our lives and they all become important parts of our personality. I have the missionaries, the Dai Sempai who left, scouting, and many other things and people as part of who I am. And everyone has a different background. And everyone can positively effect everyone in the most unexpected ways.

      Now we're in the last three weeks of "pre-mortal life". Please pray for District 27A as we strive to become humble, loving, and enthusiastic missionaries.

Love you all/ai shite imasu,
Watkins Choro

'Gaijin', I belive, means foreigner or regular person. I guess I'll always be a Gaijin then! :)

Jensen Choro

Thanks for the M&Ms Grandma!

Lammantaus Choro from Finland! Manliest Missionary I know!

Morton Choro (the Australian), with Schuh and Maki Choro photo bombing!

Fellow Whovian Scott Choro!

Me, Kitagaki Choro, and Maki Choro

District C Leaving Dai Sempai

District C Leaving Dai Sempai

Me, Kitagaki Choro, and Maki Choro

Me and my bffs Hayashi Choro, Molinari Shimai, and Dopp Shimai

Everyone wanted a picture with Molinari and Dopp Shimai!

Me and my bffs Hayashi Choro, Molinari Shimai, and Dopp Shimai
My boys, out to preach again.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Apostle RETURNS!

MTC Flags

Hello from Hogwarts!

   Went to the Temple again this morning and afterwards we ate in the cafeteria. It was really bizarre to see sweets, soda, waffles, and general breakfast being served inside the Temple. But it was so great. That was the best food I've had in a while. It's really great to be there with all of my mission friends.

    So this week was a "cut you down to grow you up" kind of week.

     Monday I was feeling really discouraged and inadequate. "I can't do this. I can't teach these people in this language. I can barely get by" I just didn't feel like I had the confidence to do anything. Then at the end of the day, for whatever reason, two of the Shimai (sisters) in our District, Dopp and Molnari Shimai, were in our classroom just talking. They have become good friends to us. They are part of the group of Dai Sempai leaving next week. Anyway, Molnari Shimai started telling the story of why she chose to serve a mission. It was so spiritual. It reminded me of why I chose to serve. Afterward I told her thanks, it was what I needed. Then she asked if I would share my story. I told her and Dopp Shimai of the week I got my call, the time I didn't have papers at Scout camp for those boys and I was the one who needed the faith to except the consequences. I learned that week what it means to rely on the Lord. It was a great reminder to me of what I can do with the Lord's help.

     On Tuesday guess who came back? Bednar Choro! He had kept the questions from last time and came back to answer as many as he could. He and his wife said so many inspired things. My favorite part was his testimony of the Book of Mormon, it wasn't anything new, but it was so powerful. He spoke of the Book of Mormon as the second nail that holds the board of truth in place. "No one could have written one page of a Book of Mormon unless they were lead by God."

      He also showed his sense of humor as he pointed out to some new missionaries who still had an orange dot on their name tags; "That's called a dork dot." I thought that was just a little MTC joke, but here was an Apostle talking about the dork dot, the most hilarious thing I've seen at a devotional.

      Well I'll leave you all with a challenge; when next you write me, include a spiritual thought, experience, scripture, or testimony. I would love to read that along with the happenings.

     Gotta go, Doryo is bugging me to go to gym. I just want to sleep! lol. Next week we'll be DaiSempai, the district that's been here the longest. So weird.

     Love you all, and yes people still call me "Watdawg" sometimes.
Cullen Watdawg Watkins Choro!
Plan of Salvation in Japanese

Smith Choro wearing his Samurai Yukatta.

Elder Watkins going to the Knoxville Tennessee Mission!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! (Happy New Year)

Bringing in the New Year!
Haven't seen yall all year!

      We were all a little upset when we found out about the new schedule and Pday was moved to Thursdays. We've had to re-wear the same clothes these past couple of days! This morning we woke up 30 minutes early so that we could walk through the dark, fog, and snow to go to the Temple for the first time since we've been here. And My first time in English! It was great going there with all the missionaries in my Zone. The Provo Temple looks small, but it is way bigger on the inside.

         So It's been a while and I've got 3 kaken (experiences) to share with you all!

     Last Wednesday newly arriving missionaries were marching on the campus. Leaving everything for two years. Zone 27 volunteered to put on those special stickers and become... Host Missionaries! We had a blast. I hosted one Elder and one Sister. I showed them the campus, helped them get books, and helped welcome them to the MTC. I didn't have a host when I arrived so it felt nice to help these missionaries. It is so much fun, can't wait til next week.

     On Sunday we had fast and testimony day. We had mission conference in the morning and sacrament later on. Remember, sacrament meeting for my Branch is all in Nihongo (Japanese). And this week Brown Choro and I blessed the sacrament, we did this just like back home, but in Nihongo. After that I shared my testimony in Nihongo. It was a great Sunday which ended in the usual Temple walk and devotional.

     Lastly, on Monday nights we do this thing called Teaching Resource Center (TRC, the church loves acronyms) in which real church members who either are or speak Japanese come and volunteer to hear a short message from us. This Monday, Brown Choro and I met this young Japanese woman who is expecting her first child. We shared Matthew 5:14 "Ye are the light of the world" in Japanese and talked about how spreading happiness makes us happy. She told us of how her family has not excepted the gospel as she has, how happy she was to meet the missionaries, and the excitement of raising her young family in the church. She hopes that through her example her family might see the light. I was trying not to get all teary eyed as we told her that as she continues to be that light, her family will be blessed, even if they don't get baptized, their lives will be blessed by her example in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'd never up to that point felt the Seirei (spirit) so strong in a lesson. Brown choro, who struggles a bit with the language, spoke and testified of this as well. But then best part was seeing how happy this sister was to know that she can be a light to everyone around her. I think we all can. If we aren't having a good day, let us be a light and brighten up someone else's day.

Well there is a lot that happens here, but I think that will do for today.
I'm at the MTC, were I speak Japanese everyday,
I pray in Japanese everyday,
I sing hymns in Japanese everyday,
and I teach God's children in Japanese everyday.

Love you all あいしています(ai shite imasu),
コレン ワトキンス著路
Cullen Watkins Choro
New Kohai

Dop Shimai looking off into the sunset.

Scott Choro (who is awesome) photo bombing Dop Shimai.

Statue with snow on its head.