Sunday, December 29, 2013


So.  Christmas was pretty awesome.  We started the day with breakfast and email, and then we had a Christmas celebration, which was basically a talent show by the missionaries.  My favorites were the Yiddish Bottle Dance (one of the elders did a slow-motion dance with a mostly-full plastic bottle on his head whilst singing nothing in particular) and a show by The Great Manchik Enkhjargal and The Enchanting Roman Curiel.  The Roman Curiel played the piano while The Great Manchik Enkhjargal turned handkerchiefs into batons and umbrellas, pulled cards in and out of thin air, threw glitter everywhere, and did all sorts of other magic tricks.  

After the celebration was lunch, which was pretty much the same as Thanksgiving lunch, and then we made sack dinners (which was pretty much the same as Thanksgiving dinner).  And then we had our Christmas devotional.  Elder Bednar and his wife came to the devotional.  ^__^  Elder Bednar talked a bit about inspired questions, and then he announced that the rest of the devotional would be a question-and-answer session.  He explained that he had an Ipad, and there was a number to which we could text anonymous questions, and those questions would show up on his Ipad.  Then he explained that the media department had 200 cell phones which they were going to pass around so that we could text questions to him.  (The international MTCs who were also watching the devotional had an email address to which they could send questions to Elder Bednar.)  This way Elder Bednar ended up talking about a lot of different things at the devotional, according to the missionaries' interest.  There were a few questions which he figured his wife could answer better than he could, so he invited her up a few times.  I thought that was cool.  ^__^

I'm not able to explain why the MTC had all those cell phones and yet wasn't able to let us all call home on Christmas.  My guess that there were other logistical issues besides the quantity of hardware.  <shrug>

After the devotional we had some time with our districts, and then we went to the Christmas program.  Ray Smith, a music instructor at BYU, came with his jazz band and played for us.  I'm not usually a fan of jazz music, but I liked this show.  After that was dinner, and then the Christmas special, where we watched a recording of a Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert.  They had a bag of kettle corn for every missionary there!

So, to sum up, we had four meetings: a Christmas celebration, a Christmas devotional, a Christmas program, and a Christmas special.  xP

Yesterday was our in-field orientation.  They taught us about finding investigators, working with members, and goal-setting and planning in the mission field.  And we were really tired at the end of the day.

Today is our last P-day in the MTC.  Tomorrow is our last Sunday in the MTC.  Monday is the day we leave the MTC.  AndTuesday is the day we arrive in Japan.  And Wednesday is New Year's Day, and I get New Year's Day before all of you because Japan is sixteen hours ahead of Utah.  Mwah hah hah.  xP

The MTC has been a good experience.  Not easy, but lots of fun.  And I've learned a lot.  And now it's just about over.

Love you all!
~Elder Taylor (テイラー長老)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's Almost Christmas~!

It's business as usual at the MTC this next week except for on Christmas Day itself.  For my district, though, it's our last week at the MTC, so it feels rather different.  We got our travel plans yesterday.  In class, they've taught us all of the doctrine, teaching skills, etc. already, so it's just been more and more practice.  We have our "in-field orientation" on Friday, our last MTC P-day on Saturday, and our departure devotional on Sunday, and then we report to the travel office4:30 Monday morning.... 

Several weeks ago I gave up on trying to figure out how fast time was going.  I think I've also given up on figuring out whether or not I feel ready for this.

This past week we taught one of our investigators the Word of Wisdom, and subsequently discovered that up until then he'd been drinking five cups of coffee every day and didn't know how he was going to stop.  This is our investigator who's 60 years old and in poor health.  I'd forgotten up until then that coffee was addictive.  o_0  He's got enough faith, though, that he's gradually cutting back on his coffee intake in the hope that he'll be able to stop altogether in the near future.  He was constantly depressed when we first met him, but now that he has the gospel he's brightened up a lot.  :3

Some weeks ago they had each of us missionaries come up with an investigator character to roleplay.  My investigator's name is Akira.  He's a college student in Tokyo who moved there from Sapporo, and Elder Soto's investigator was his randomly assigned roommate.  Akira wasn't expecting to see the missionaries; his roommate invited them over, and Akira sat at the edge of the room and listened because he's interested in the things people believe.  You learn a lot from seeing the missionary lessons from an investigator's point of view.  It's clear that the missionaries who've been teaching us don't understand Akira's perspective at all, and so they haven't taught him very well.  I can't really blame them; Akira's roommate is the one who asks all the questions, and it's kind of hard to take the scenario seriously anyway because we made up these investigators.  But even though Akira doesn't understand the Spirit, and even though his interest in the Church is just academic, the Spirit is working on him.  It's amazing to watch and feel.

Have an excellent Christmas!

~Elder Taylor (テイラー長老)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


So, we were sitting in class on Wednesday evening, studying some Japanese grammar, and someone came and told us that we going to do TRC over Skype in an hour.  (TRC is usually on Saturdays and in-person.)  So, an hour later, we were talking to a Church member in Japan.  o.0  It was 6pm Wednesday evening where we were and 10am Thursday morning where he was.  We understood maybe half of all the things he said, but it was fun.  ^___^

We got twenty-two new Japanese-speaking missionaries in our branch this week.  Two of them are from Australia, one from New Zealand, and one from Mexico.  (They don't teach Japanese at the Mexico MTC, apparently.)  It's been fun to talk with them about their first lesson and offer encouragement and advice and snacks and whatnot.  ^___^

Elder Quentin L. Cook came and spoke to us on Tuesday!  He's the third Apostle who's come to speak to us since I got here, and we almost got Elder Holland last week, too.  We've been blessed here.  ^__^

Hopefully today we'll get our schedule for Christmas day.  I'm excited.  ^___^  

~Elder Taylor (テイラー長老)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lots More Snow

So, this past week the MTC staff gave me new nametags which said テイラー姉妹, which translates to "Sister Taylor".  XD  I informed them of the mistake and now I have the correct one: テイラー長老 (Elder Taylor).  We're not allowed to wear the Japanese nametags until after we leave the MTC, though.  The ones they gave me when I got here have my name and title in English and the name of the Church in Japanese.

Elder Holland was scheduled to come speak at our devotional on Tuesday, but he couldn't make it because of the snow, so Bruce C. Hafen got a call at 4:30pm asking him to speak at the MTC at 7:00pm.  He's a former member of the Seventy, and this year he just finished serving as president of the St. George Temple.  He talked about the temple and how it affects us on our missions. It was a good devotional.  ^__^

At TRC last week, Elder Soto and I taught a sister who had served a mission in Japan and then married a man who had also served in Japan.  She said that when her kids were old enough for her family to read the scriptures together, they would read them in Japanese.  I think that's awesome!  I want to teach my kids to read and speak Japanese like that too.  ^___^  After we taught her, we taught another returned missionary from Japan, and it wasn't until we got the feedback slips back that we made the connection that those two we taught were married to each other.  xD

I've only got about three weeks left here in the MTC.  The senpai are leaving on Monday, so soon we'll be the oldest ones here.  Going to Japan is starting to feel more and more real now.  o.0

~Elder Taylor (テイラー長老)

Sister Taylor

Elder Taylor

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Thanksgiving was awesome.

Elder Russel M. Nelson and his wife came to speak to us for the morning devotional.  The day was so full that I can hardly remember what they talked about, but it was awesome.  ^__^  We did get turkey and mashed potatoes for lunch, and after lunch we made sack dinners to eat later.  

After lunch, there was a presentation by the Church humanitarian department, during which we learned about the Church welfare system and service projects, and then all the missionaries were divided into two groups.  The first group (the one I was in) stayed in the auditorium for the Thanksgiving program while the other group went to do a service project.  The Thanksgiving program was different.  Normally, we don't applause at devotionals or anything else that we do in the auditorium, but applause was encouraged here!  The program went like this:
  • Piano solo: Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter (Look up the version of Hedwig's Theme that the Piano Guys have on their YouTube channel.  THAT's the version this elder played.)
  • Everyone sings: Over the River and Through the Woods
  • A skit about the 1st Thanksgiving
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic music video, with pictures and video of missionaries and locations around the world
  • Fiddle number: Boil the Cabbage Down (that was some intense fiddling!)
  • Hark, All Ye Nations music video, in which all of the missions (except for the brand-new ones, like mine) were listed in alphabetical order
At this point, we switched gears from applause to more serious.  They had some missionaries share what they were grateful for and hymns that go with that, and we sang a verse from each of those hymns.   They then had one of the elders share his story; he had dropped out of high school, enlisted in the Army, and fallen away from the Church, and then he was deployed to Iraq and his commanding officer was LDS.  That man taught him the gospel again and now he's in the MTC.  After that awesome story we finished with a "This Is the Christ" music video.

After the program, we went and ate our sack dinners, and then the groups switched.  The other group went to watch the program while my group went to finish the service project.  I understand this project was on the news: over 350,000 dry soup bags for hungry kids in Utah.  I spent an hour or so wearing an itchy hair net and a pink tie while scooping pink salt into a yellow funnel.  It was awesome.  X3

After the service project, everyone in the MTC went back to the auditorium and ended up singing Primary songs while the media guys repaired their equipment.  Once that was fixed we watched the movie Ephraim's Rescue.  That was a cool movie.  ^__^

And once it got dark, they turned on the Christmas lights.  :D  

Love you all!
~Elder Taylor

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The Japanese-speaking elders who left the week we came in left us a note on a whiteboard that read, "You merely moved into the MTC, we were born in it."  

Missionaries who are assigned to serve in their native language only get two weeks in the MTC.  Us Asian-language-speaking missionaries get to stay here for nine weeks.  It's really a blessing, but it's also long enough to get settled in enough to start feeling like there's nothing new happening.  xP

Last week on Saturday night was our first experience with "TRC", where member volunteers who speak our language will come and visit with the missionaries.  They don't roleplay investigators, so it's more like home teaching in Japanese.  Most of the volunteers here speak English, too, so it's not quite as hard as teaching our investigators, though in the future weeks we might TRC via Skype with people who are actually living in Japan.  o.0

Our daisenpai are now out in the field, but our branch didn't get any new kohai this week (something to do with the holiday season, apparently), so it's been a lot quieter in the residence halls.  They're closing the Provo Temple next week until the end of the year for renovations, so today was our last visit to the temple for the rest of our stay here.  It's really been a blessing to visit the temple every week up to now, and now we'll have more time on P-days.  

I'm happy.  ^____^

Love you all!
~Elder Taylor

Saturday, November 16, 2013

First Snow

It's snowing outside!

Elder Soto and I have taught eight lessons so far.  The investigators are characters that the teachers roleplay, but we treat them like real investigators.  Our first investigator is Oyama-san, who's married with two kids (ages 16 and 11).  She moved to Utah from Japan and met the missionaries at their English language class.  The teacher who roleplays her started teaching us for half of the time this past week.  She's a really fun teacher.  Our other investigator, who we started teaching this week, is Iida-san.  He's been divorced for six or eight years, and he lives in Tokyo all by himself with no family and no friends.  He's sixty years old and in poor health.  He had read the Bible a little bit and felt good about it, and he's been to a few different Christian churches.  He met the missionaries at the train station and they gave him a Book of Mormon.  The teacher who roleplays him is the one who met us in our classroom the first day.  The teachers here are BYU students who served missions in Japan.

My Japanese is coming along rather well for only having studied it for three weeks.  They told us that if we focus on learning the language, we won't learn much at all, but if we focus on our purpose (helping people come to Christ), everything else will come--the language, the teaching skills, everything.  It's true.  ^__^

Elder L. Tom Perry came and his wife came and spoke at our Tuesday night devotional this week.  Elder Perry talked mostly about missionary companionships, but he also mentioned something that I want to talk about.  A couple weeks ago I was reading the Book of Mormon with the intent of studying Christ's character, and in in the beginning of 1 Nephi 2 I noticed this: When the Lord comes to Lehi in a dream, the first thing he says is, "Blessed art thou, Lehi."  Even though, in this verse, the Lord came to bring what would seem to be bad news (namely, the people of Jerusalem want to kill Lehi and he therefore needs to leave the city), He started his message by talking about Lehi's success and the resulting blessings.  Christ is very optimistic.  Elder Perry told the story of Alma and Amulek and the city of Ammonihah, and he pointed out that same pattern.  After the people of Ammonihah rejected Alma's message and kicked him out of the city, he started on his way to the next town, and he was probably somewhat depressed.  An angel came to him and used that same pattern in his message: he started by talking about Alma's success in keeping the commandments and the blessings that came from that.  The angel then told Alma to go back to Ammonihah and try again.  Both of those messages were uplifting and optimistic--and that's the way Christ is.

So, new missionaries come to the MTC every Wednesday, but we get new Japanese-speaking missionaries every thirdWednesday.  Except, apparently the Church closed down the Tokyo MTC for whatever reason, so they've started flying the native Japanese-speaking missionaries out here to Provo.  Those missionaries only stay here for two weeks, just like the stateside missionaries do, and they arrive here earlier in the week.

Love you all!
~Elder Taylor

P.S. There's this website called where (as I understand it) you can type a letter to a missionary and it'll be printed out at the MTC or their mission office for free.  It's convenient.  ^.^

Saturday, November 9, 2013

MTC Pictures

Devon & companion, Elder Soto

The other Elders in the District, a companionship of 3

The Sisters in the District

Week 1


So, on Wednesday, after my family dropped me off, I was guided through some lines in which I received my nametags (in Japanese!) and other stuff, and then we dropped my luggage off at my room, and then I was taken to the classroom for my first period of instruction.  Somewhere during that time my host and I walked past a pair of Japanese-speaking elders and one of them noticed my Japanese nametag and was like, "Wait, are you my new kohai?  Yes, you ARE my new kohai!" and then he proceeded to give me a hug.  All the missionaries who were already there would say "Welcome to the MTC!" whenever they saw me.  (I learned pretty quick that all the brand-new missionaries were distinguished by a red sticker on their newly-issued nametags.)

In the classroom (and I had not been here for more than an hour, mind you), the teacher started speaking almost exclusively Japanese, and kept at it for most of the lesson.  I understood maybe two-thirds to three-quarters of what he was saying.  After that was a meeting with the 600+ new missionaries that had come in that day and the MTC presidency, and then dinner.  They have a huge cafeteria with as much food as we want.  They feed us well here.  :3  

Once we got back to our rooms, all the senpai and daisenpai (elders who had been here for three or six weeks already) came around to give hugs and snacks to all the new kohai.  There's a lot of love here at the MTC.  It's amazing.

My companion's name is Elder Soto, and he's been called as district leader for these first three weeks.  

On Thursday we learned that the next day (Friday) we would be teaching our first lesson to an investigator IN JAPANESE.  I had so many mixed feelings about that; I mean, there has to be a good reason for it, right?  But it hardly seems fair!  We've only had three days to learn the language!  XD

Well... on Friday morning, Elder Soto and I went in to teach Oyama-san.  We'd been given lots of books to help us learn the language (most of which have nickames: the missionary-specific books are Ninja and Miyagi-san, the Japanese-English dictionaries are Katana and Squirtle, our grammar book is Pikachu because it's yellow, etc.), and we had to take some of them in with us.  She was patient with us and helped us find words in the dictionary if we didn't know them.  We taught her that God is our Heavenly Father and that He loves all of us, that families are central to His plans and that His gospel blesses families (she was especially happy to hear that), and we taught her to pray.  She felt the Spirit there and she was happy!

As we were walking back to our classroom, I squeed.  I was so happy.


I've only got a couple minutes left.  My P-day is on Saturday, and I only have an hour at most for email.  (We get to go to the temple every Saturday!  The Provo temple is beautiful :3)  If I haven't answered your email at the time of this posting, it might've got caught by a filter; have one of my parents get your address to me and I'll write to you if I can.  Also, if you get your mailing address to me I'll try best I can to send you a physical letter (I should have more time for that).  

I love you all!  And the Savior loves you too!

~Elder Taylor