Thursday, September 11, 2014

So the MTC ...

Kelson's dad here, (Shawn Eliot), here is a copy of Elder Eliot's first letter. He seems to be loving the MTC for sure. For those that don't get the whole missionary thing, the MTC is the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT. He will be there until November 4th and then off to Sapporo, Japan. A district in the MTC is a group of Elders and Sisters that do just about everything together including study. Now for his first letter.

Hi all.
So the MTC ... that place though. It’s AWESOME. Everyone here is so kind and helpful. Our zone is just the coolest. The second we got here they were in making friends and giving us advice. My district is just the best though. For all future or current missionaries, sorry, your district will be cool, but not as cool as mine. There are 8 of us, and used to be 9. There are 3 shimai (sisters) in our district, Carr Shimai, Collyer Shimai, and Shurz Shimai. Then there are 5 choro (elders), Reed Choro (the district leader), Sedgwick Choro, and Everett Choro. They are the triple companionship. There there’s me and Thompson Choro. I’ll send pics next week. The other choro was Mickelson Choro. He had to go home for medical reasons. He was a great choro though and had a very strong testimony. If you could all keep him in your prayers, we are hoping he’ll return soon. If he returns very soon, he can even still be part of our district. But aside from that, my companion is pretty dang awesome. He is from HurriCANE (not in) and he is a band “geek”. He did marching band, and jazz band, and pep band. He is also way into cars. Before coming out here, he and his brother finished a 2 year long project. The restored a way old Volkswagen bug. He showed me the before and after pics. They were pretty cool. It seemed like he was very good and that is was hard work.
I’ve gotten to see lots of other people I know here. I see Elder Chase Dietz almost every day. We have gym at the same time and we usually play volleyball together. Also Elder Mac Johnson is in my branch/zone and is my neighbor in the dorms. Elder Hunter McKee is in the first floor of our residence building. I see Elder Riley Carter fairly often, too. I got to see Mr. Bradley (3rd grade teacher from Mt. Loafer) today at the temple. In talking with him, I found out that he got to go to Sapporo and a short time into his mission he got transferred to be one of the first missionaries to start the Sendai mission.
So our second day here there was a special devotional for all missionaries going to Japan. Brother Irie gave his conversion story. When he was a young man in high school, he was Buddhist. One day he was walking away from school with his friends when he heard someone say “(Japanese characters Kelson’s mom can’t decipher)” which is weird to hear in Japan. Puzzled he turned around. H saw 2 (more Japanese characters). They asked him if he would be willing to listen to their message. They started talking about Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. Eventually they asked him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He said “I can’t. I only pray to Buddha.” They asked him if just for 2 weeks he could make an exception. So he said “I’m sorry Buddha, I’m going to pray to God for just 2 weeks.” He did and so received a witness that it was true. He took the rest of the discussions. They asked him to be baptized. He told them that he would ask his parents. When he asked them, they got very angry. His dad got a knife and said, “If you get baptized I will cut open your stomach.” Brother Irie was scared and told the missionaries he couldn’t because of this. His family called the rest of the relatives over and they all decided to take him to a Buddhist temple and have him speak to a Buddhist priest. He didn’t want to go but did to please his family. While he was there the priest told him everything about Mormons: we don’t drink coffee or tea, etc. But because Brother Irie seemed so “at peace” that he told his parents to let him get baptized. The agreed on one condition. He wasn’t allowed to go on a mission. Because he assumed that only Americans could go on missions, he agreed. He then found out he could go and really wanted to. So for 3 years he prayed that his parents hearts would be softened. Finally, they agreed to let him go. He went to Fukuoka Japan. When he got back he came over to America to go to BYU. Naturally he got to teach over at the MTC. Well, after awhile his brother called him, and said he was coming to America and wanted to come visit. Well, he smoked a lot, so Brother Irie slyly said, “Ok, but you can’t smoke in Utah.” So his brother agreed not to smoke. His brother decided to stay for a few weeks, and it got to the point that Brother Irie’s class was going to Japan. The Saturday before they left, Brother Irie asked his brother to come in and talk to his missionaries so that they could have practice speaking to an actual nihonjin (Kelson’s mom hopes that is right). To Brother Irie’s surprise his brother said sure. So his missionaries spent a few days preparing and when the day came they were able to flawlessly teach him. Brother Irie said “I wondered who had replaced my missionaries.” They were able to get him to take a Morumon Sho, and got him to Pray with a big card that listed the steps of prayer. In the very end they asked him, “Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?” Well, not wanting to disaapoint them, but also not ready to make that commitment, he said, “Chourou to Shimai, I’ll make you a deal, I will read this Morumon Sho and when I get back to Japan I will find the missionaries and finish the discussions, and get baptized.” So he was converted and was able to quit smoking right here in this MTC, not too long ago. It was a real cool story. I felt the spirit several times that day. It bore witness to me that it really is possible to learn Japanese and that the MTC is a place of miracles.
I hope you are all doing well. I’d love to hear from you all. If you want you could use this program called Dear to send me stuff. The info you’ll need for that is my departure date: Nov 04, my unit #: 12, my mission: Japan Sapporo (JPN-SAP), and my name: Elder Kelson Eliot. I love you all so much. Till next week
(Japanese characters)
Elder Kelson Eliot