Saturday, February 2, 2013

Guest Post: A5 Is Going to Japan!

We welcome this Guest post from my son, A3. A little explaining upfront may help. All our children's names begin with the letter 'A.' The first two were by coincidence. By the time we got to A3, we thought we'd try another 'A' name. After that, the kids demanded it down through A6. Their mother began referring to them numerically A1-A6, especially when they were in trouble.

As another bit of explanation, A5 did go to "special school." A wonderful pre-school in Santa Fe where he practiced speaking skills. He understood everything and there were no other developmental difficulties. He was just a reluctant talker until he was four years old. I understand this can be a sign of a strong intellect as in Albert Einstein. While probably no Einstein, A5 is on academic scholarship at the Y and already has a declared major in Physics with an Acoustics emphasis - just hired by the Physics Department to do some student work in this area (as a Freshman!).

Anyway, here's goes this wonderful Guest Post by his many-talented big brother, A3:

With my brother (A5) getting his mission call to Nagoya, Japan [yesterday], I have been thinking a lot about him and reflecting on who he is and the relationship that we have together. Some people I know seem to believe that he and I may be at odds, especially considering he attends BYU and I attend the University of Utah, but they couldn't be more wrong. While he and I may not have as close of a relationship as me and my other brothers (A2 and A6), we are still very close and enjoy a lot of similar interests-mainly within music. And watching MST3K.

For those of you who don't know, A5 almost didn't speak at all until he was about 4 years old. I remember he even went to a special pre-school to help him develop his speech. Even after that, throughout most of his life, he was generally a more quiet, reserved person and kept mostly to himself. He isn't like that anymore, but anyone who knows him would definitely say he is more of a quiet person, keeps to himself quite a bit, and is also very focused and organized (mostly).

When he told me and my wife that he was going to Japan (well, once we 'guessed' by process of elimination) I was very excited for him. The more I thought about it though, I wasn't any less excited but kind of concerned-because as I have heard and is a common belief-Japanese is no easy language to learn. When you think about it, A5 not speaking until he was 4, and now he is going to learn Japanese? Really? It almost seems like it is the most unlikely thing to happen. But, having learned a language for my mission (I served in São Paulo, Brazil, and learned Portuguese-not Spanish) I know that the Lord has a strong presence in the learning process for missionary work. And as many times as I have heard it, its not just a sudden thing where one day you can't speak another language and the next you can. There is so much trial and error involved with learning a language it almost seems disheartening to encourage anyone to learn a language. The hardest part is admitting to yourself that you're not going to be perfect on the first, second, third, fourth try etc. In fact, it took nearly 6 months to feel comfortable speaking in a different language before I realized I was doing it without having to think about it-which is the point when you realize that you've learned a language. And even after that, it took another few months to really feel like I was fluent. It may seem when that moment happens it was sudden, but reflecting back on my mission I know it was a long period of trial and error, including moments of accidentally switching words around and saying something you didn't mean to say; for example, saying that Joseph Smith passed gas (which, out of context, probably happened at some point, but when you're talking about the first vision, not exactly what was meant to be said). At least those moments can be looked back on as funny moments of learning and growing.

A5 seems to have quite the task ahead of him to learn Japanese. I did do a Google search on how hard it was to learn Japanese, and most of the results came up with articles talking about how its 'actually easier conceptually than English', yet, 'learning 3 brand new alphabets is where the difficulties lie'. Well, that doesn't seem....that hard. I mean, there can only be like, 26 letters (or characters) per alphabet, right? that's only 81 new characters if I'm doing my math right...or...

"Japanese is written in a combination of three scripts: hiragana, katakana and kanji, originated from Chinese characters. They were introduced to Japan nearly 2,000 years ago. Several centuries later, hiragana and katakana developed from kanji to express Japanese syllables phonetically.
If you wish to become proficient in reading and writing Japanese, you need to learn kanji. However if you are a beginner, I recommend you learn hiragana and katakana first, then kanji. Japanese schoolchildren also learn hiragana and katakana first. It is possible to write entire Japanese sentences in hiragana. Even after mastering kanji, when you forget or don't know the kanji characters for a word, you can write it in hiragana phonetically.
It is said that some 50,000 kanji exist. However, many kanji are not necessarily used in daily life. The Japanese Ministry of Education designated 1,945 characters as Jooyoo Kanji, which are the most frequently used characters. It would be very helpful to learn all Jooyoo Kanji, but the basic 1,000 characters are sufficient to read about 90% of the kanji used in a newspaper (about 60% with 500 characters). Since children's books use less kanji, they would be a good resource to practice your reading."
Well, forget what I said. Go get some kids books in Kanji, A5...
I'm only kidding. But there is quite a bit of learning ahead for him. I honestly couldn't imagine myself learning Japanese---Portuguese was hard enough at times. But if anyone can do it, I know A5 will be able to. He is majoring in Physics, or just science because he only believes in science (a joke between us A's in the family), and that just fits him. The more I think about him going to Japan, the more it seems to make sense and fit him as well.

I'm very excited to see my little brother get ready for his mission. It is going to be a fantastic experience for him and I know he is going to be awesome when he gets out there. I know the Lord will provide a way for him to learn Japanese and to be an effective missionary. I loved my mission and it was worth the two years I spent teaching the gospel, and I am more than sure that it will be worth it for A5. I couldn't be more proud to know that he is doing everything he needs to be worthy and ready to serve a mission for the Lord. He is going to be an amazing missionary.


中部 - 名古屋

1 comment:

  1. From my experience with Japanese people, being on the less boisterous, more methodical and thoughtful end of the American spectrum, should be right about the "acceptably outgoing" end of their social spectrum. The Japanese members I know, who joined the church in Japan, often recount that there was one missionary in the companionship who was respectful and energized by the gospel, and one who was obnoxiously loud but tolerated for the sake of the more modest companion.

    After hearing the description of A5, I suspect that who he is will be even more important than thinking or dreaming in Japanese, when it comes to connecting with members and investigators.


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