To my most loved and thought about family...and to the many other fabulous people that take a peek at my letters home... :)
So strange things are happening here in Machida. First of all, I am starting to almost like the strange Japanese sweets Obachan gives us. I need to take a picture. They are these big balls of mochi on a stick covered in this brown sauce of soy and sugar and who knows what. They look like eyeballs. I have had to stomach them several times now but could hardly stand them. This last visit though, I realized, wow...this is actually kind of good!....What is happening to me?? Haha. I am also a big fan of mogi-cha (barley tea) which absolutely tasted like ash-tray water to me my first transfer. Now I think I will probably keep drinking it once I return to the states. Yikes!
There is so much in my head I want to share so we will see how fast my fingers can go today! First of all, such a miracle, my dear Sachiko Shimai was baptized on Sunday. Unfortunately I was not able to return to Koiwa to attend. I was so very sad about this, but so grateful and happy at the same time. My two best friends in my first area have both entered the Lord's church. It fills my heart! I hope I am able to visit her in the near future. In the meantime I have a letter and the CD's you sent to give to Tomura Shimai tomorrow at the temple. Sachiko Shimai wrote me the sweetest email last night after her baptism.
"Dear Sister Wylie, Thank you for your kind email, which made me happy. Yes, I am thankful for your setting today as my baptism day, otherwise I would not be baptized for many years to come. I appreciate your thinking to look far ahead and into the future. Thanks to brothers and sisters of Koiwa church, my baptism was carried out so smoothly. I realized I am trying to lead my new life being supported by brothers and sisters of Koiwa church. During baptism gathering, we sang Teach Me To Walk In The Light. Thank you again for your thought about me and my baptism. Please take care in this hot and uncomfortable season. Sachiko."
I started emailing her my first week in Koiwa. She is so special to me. Honestly the first two transfers for me were so challenging, and I often felt like a shadow. Or a kid holding onto a big kite and getting dragged across a field. But, Weight Shimai said something at mission conference that really summed up what I have been learning. She has had a lot of physical challenges on her mission and was telling about a time where she was feeling very physically and spiritually weak. Her brother, who is also on a mission, wrote a letter to her and said, "Feeling weak is a sure sign of being a missionary!" Truly God can use the weak and simple to do his work. If we really think about it...God is all powerful. Of course He will accomplish his work. Of course he can work miracles with whoever will give their lives and hearts to him. Why do we even dwell on our incapacity's? Haha well of course we do because we are human...but really, He can do ANYTHING. We just have to trust him. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with our eyes facing the heavens. He will hold onto us. If He is far away, we are the ones who have let go.
Now for life in Machida. First of all, this week Shoko san took us to REAL sushi...like...serious sushi! The whole place smelled like fish. As we were sitting on the waiting bench near the front I was happily watching the chefs bustle about and particularly enjoying the enormous tanks filled with fish swimming around on the back wall. My smile began to go slightly pinched however as I watched a man in a tall white hat dive a fish-net into the tank after one of the fishies. Though they scampered about wildly for their lives, the man in the white hat was triumphant, and soon pulled an unfortunate fishy out of the tank. My pinched expression they turned to one of horror as he immediate slapped the fish onto a plate and grabbed a knife...our little fishy-friend was on someones plate within minutes. Yeah. Fresh, fresh sushi is the hit here in Tokyo. Shoko san and Takei Shimai thought my reaction was hilarious. Eventually, somehow, though I was sure at times that the fish on my plate was still flopping, I was able to overcome my shock and find my appetite. Needless to say it was very, very oishi.
Experience number two...this actually happened on Saturday. We were out visiting less actives and housing when the Elder's called us to see if we were coming to Eikaiwa. I teach every Wednesday but usually the Elder's teach on Saturdays and Takei Shimai and I just participate and get to know the students. Anyways they asked me if I would be willing to teach. They were still going to be there but since they will probably transfer they thought it would be good for me to teach. It was 30 minutes before the class was supposed to start which meant we would have to haiyai to the church and I would walk in and improvise. Last week I was asked to give the spiritual thought on the spot and translate and it was a train wreck so I had a sour taste of walking into eikaiwa unprepared. Of course though we said yes. I am ashamed to say my attitude was slightly below what it should have been and as we rushed back towards the church there were grumblings in my head. I promise I am not kidding when I say the thought crossed my mind that it would be a convenient time for my bike to break down and then I wouldn't have to teach. I hushed such thoughts and carried on after my punctual companion. Within a few minutes however there was a big clank below my legs and my usually sweet-sounding bicycle began crunching dinosaur bones. My pedaling efforts suddenly yielded no results and I came to a stop. Being in a very big noisy city Takei Shimai didn't hear my calls and was soon out of sight. Honestly at first I definitely laughed out loud at the irony of the situation. Then I took a look at my bike. The wheel was crooked and the chain had come off the runner. After several attempts of getting it back on my bike was rideable and I made it to the church in one piece. I didn't make it in time to teach Eikaiwa. I have now thanked God for his lesson on attitude and am humbly hoping I can be better in the future!
Yesterday after church we finally got to visit the Ghasemi family. They met Sister Derricott around Christmas and are an absolutely fabulous family. However they are SO SO incredibly busy so it has been impossible to meet with them this transfer, except for going to Yasuko san's ballet performance, and one time when Nedar san and Tina chan came to church. Anyway...they picked us up at the train station and took us to their adorable house. Yasuko-san loves ballet and her house is absolutely brimming with pink and the furniture looks like she took it from a ballet dressing room. Nedar san is actually from Persia. (Trevor...teach me some Persian!) but he speaks fluent English and Japanese too. They have been married since '89 and have their 11-year old daughter, Tina chan, who is just a doll. We spent a lot of time with them yesterday to make up for the last few weeks. We invited them to be baptized and they actually wanted a sooner date then the one we originally set. Amazing family. Nedar san's Japanese is actually a lot easier for me to understand...probably because he is also a foreigner! Haha. While Takei Shimai spent some time helping Nedar san with Kanji, I talked with Yasuko san and helped Tina chan on her violin. Turns out Tina chan is slightly autistic. (I actually know that word in Japanese) so we talked about Bree a lot and about school and Yasuko san's worries about her future. I am really grateful I was able to connect with this family. I was worried that being the new missionary, and they having known Sister Derricott for so many months, that it would be difficult to build a relationship. But God answers prayers! It is amazing how he weaves our lives, isn't it?
Yasuko san actually doesn't like to cook so we had a very Persian style dinner. Pasta with hamburger meat and eggplant and potato salad. Yummy!
I also made a special friend this week from Eikaiwa. She invited me and Sister Takei to a tea party at her house. Her name is Suzuki san. We made sure she knew our tea standards, and she ended up giving us her homemade tea. I thought about Kathy Anderson! Suzuki san loves studying health and herbs and was telling us all the benefits of the teas we tried. One was Red Clover and apparently it is really good for your brain. I told her I was going to start drinking it during language study. Her English is very good and she is such a sweetie! Lives right by the church and has been watching the church members for a long time. She is super curious and very open to coming to church or to relief society activities.
Ok well this is a novel now so maybe I will finish. I love you all so so so much. MOMMY and DADDY thank you for your letters!!! I look forward to them eagerly every week. MY LITTLE ELLIOT IS SUCH A STUD! I loved loved loved the picture of him upside down on dad's lap. So so cute. I miss him! Well I miss everyone. So so much. I am so grateful everything was okay this week with the car having issues...what a miracle you were so close to car shop and not going to fast!! Many prayers of gratitude from me to Heavenly Father for protecting my family.
With all the love I can catapult across the pond...your missionary....
Wylie Shimai :) :)