Monday, September 24, 2012

Rolling out of September

Ai suru ryoshin... :) :)
 
I learned something interesting at the grocery store today. The baskets actually DO NOT take your money forever! When you get a basket you put a 100 yen in to detach it from the others. I never realized it gave it back to you at the end when you put the cart back!!! Waaa! Hahaha. Apparently Japan isn't after my money as much as I thought...

It is very strange that it is the end of September. Only two more weeks of this transfer. Next transfer is Sister Takei's last one...so hopefully I get to keep her through November. We will see. This week I get to go to Kiryu on splits with Sister O'Rourke from Australia. I haven't figured out who she is yet haha although I'm sure I've met her. I'm super excited though because Kiryu is way out in the more countryside of Tokyo. Pictures next week!

This week Tama area called us with a referral. Sumi san. She was actually an investigator last year but only met the missionaries twice, before her records drop off without reason. She has also been to church once. We gave her a call and she was pleased to have us come visit for 'tea and bread' although she made sure to tell us that she is Lutheran and can't join our church. Turns out she only lives about a 6 minute bike ride from our apartment. We weren't quite sure what to expect. We were surprised to find a 71 year old woman with a huge (well Japanese huge) house who is genki and bouncy and just beaming with happiness and fortitude. She is an adorable little lady! She fed us bread and potatoes and herbal tea and told us we had to eat a lot because we needed power to be out talking to people all day. Her beliefs are super similar to ours...and meeting her has given me a really good image of the Lutheran church. She even had an organ she played for us. Oh and she is also fluent in English. So we spoke Japanglish most of the visit, haha. She already had a book of Mormon and listened with pleasure to our message and promised to read the Morumon Sho more, and even come to church again. (She promised to do these things before we even asked her!) She loves Jesus Christ. It was such a lovely thing teaching someone who already has a testimony of Jesus Christ. We aren't quite sure what her potential is, but she was a ray of sunshine I'll tell you what. One of my favorite moments with her was when we were talking about trials and challenges. She said, with passion and vigor and a sparkle in her eye, "Challenges come to me because I can overcome them. When something difficult happens in my life, I can say, BECAUSE I CAN OVERCOME, THIS HAS COME TO ME." She was so inspiring to me. I was definitely the student in this case. This moment came right out of a movie, I swear.

Funny moment was when she was trying to explain something to me that is down in southern Japan...she was trying to remember what they are called in English, and she was explaining them to me in Japanese. Finally she pulled out some paper and started drawing one. In lieu of what I thought her drawing was a perfect replica of, and forgetting everything she'd already explained to me, I said, "Oh, a Christmas tree!!!!" .........for the record, it was not a Christmas tree! It was an old traditional Japanese style house. A 'gashozukuri'. Takei Shimai was about dying in the chair next to me trying not to explode laughing. Luckily Sumi san has a good sense of humor!

A miracle I want to share from this week. We went with one of our members to visit one of her dear friends. This close friend, Kuehara san,  has family who are members of the church, but isn't a member herself. She is in her 70s. Our member has taken missionaries over before, but Kuehara san has only ever peeked her head out the door for a few moments of brief conversation. Our member asked me to bring my violin because Kuehara san loves music. Our idea was to say hello and then play her a song from the genkan (foyer). She'd left a note for her a few days earlier mentioning we would be coming by with a violin. We came to her door and ping-ponged. After a few moments, Kuehara san opened wide the door and invited us in. Surprise number one. Then she listened to me play 'Nearer My God to Thee' in her living room. Afterwards, she wanted to hear more. Surprise number two. I ended up playing several songs. Then as we began packing up to leave, she insisted we stay for a small dinner. Surprise number three!! After leaving her house, our member was quite emotional and touched by this experience. Such an unexpected miracle. We have hope for Kuehara san becoming an investigator.

So some great things this week!
 
If you are curious about Miyuki Shimai, she is doing well...but I think I mentioned before that she is studying Christianity and Buddhism? Well this week she has been more interested in Buddhism, so we haven't seen her much...but we have hope for this coming week!

Lots of love and prayers coming at you from across the pond...
 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ai shite iru yo!

We just returned from the primary summer festival at the church. On the way back, I heard Takei Shimai (who was ahead of me on her bike) moan and then rush faster towards the apartment. Within a few seconds I also felt the curtain of rain slam down. My reaction was a bit different, however, and I burst out laughing. I'll tell you what though, Takei Shimai generally has a nice pace when we are biking but boy if you want her to move just wait for some rain and she is out of sight! Haha I think she might even beat Tomura Shimai's speed when it's raining. (And that is saying something!!) Apparently there is a typhoon coming tonight. We got to feel the start of it anyways.

Tomorrow we have a 3-zone conference with President Aoyagi of the area presidency. This is a big blessing for the Japanese missionaries I believe, since he is Nihonjin. We are super excited. Takei Shimai is one of the missionaries being interviewed.

Mom you asked about Takei Shimai. She is from Nagano, only about 3 hours out of Tokyo. Her parents were both converted to the church when they were young adults. She has a younger sister who actually lives here in Machida ward haha. She is 24. We were at her apartment last night for a Single Adults activity. Her little brother is on a mission in Sapporo.
 
Here are the SCARRIEST THINGS I've ever seen!! You have to post this on my blog. :) Rice field bird protection.
 

Enjoying the countryside and beautiful sky.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Life by the inch...

Japan is still melting this week...but we are happy and in good spirits! There is a rumor going around that fall will be coming soon. I'll believe it when I feel it! :) Actually it has been cooling down SLIGHTLY the past few weeks. I'm only wet for about 70% of the day instead of 170% of the day. Hehe. Mommy you asked me about the routine and if it is feeling normal yet. That is actually something I've thought about quite a bit. The routine has definitely become habit and a part of who I am. It's kind of fun how no matter what area you are in or where you are, a lot of things don't change. We all live in funny little apartments with random food and tatami mats and futons. We all have these huge grey desks that will survive through the millennium. We all wake up at 6:30 and exercise and comment on the heat every five minutes. We all start study at 8. Bedtime is always at 10:30. The missionary life is actually comforting once it becomes habit. Through ever changing circumstances and companions and the roller coaster of life as a missionary, some things are always the same.

I am really digging having nihonjin companions! Though Japan isn't all that big really, every area has different foods they are famous for and different ways of cooking. I got the wild Osaka taste of things with Tomura Shimai, full of octopus and fried noodles, and now I have entered a more veggie-centered terrain with Takei Shimai and her Nagano dishes. She loves to cook and has made me some great traditional dishes. Prepare yourselves for when I come home!! I can't wait to cook when I come back to America. Hopefully I can find all the ingredients.

So last week we met an obachan on the street with the whitest hair I've ever seen. I really like her because she is so friendly, and speaks slower and clearer then most obachans...haha. She is super genki  and invited us to her book club where they are crazy about Hemingway. We went and made some great new friends and ate at Denny's and shared a bit about the church and gave away a Book of Mormon. Denny's here is way different!! They don't really believe in breakfast foods in Tokyo. Pancakes are a desert food for them. So most of the menu was pasta and soup and things. Seriously even my companions are funny about breakfast! They eat the same things they eat at every other meal. Anyway...one of the members of the book club is Yamada san. He is 86 years old and speaks English because he used it a lot in his work before he retired. He is so great!! SO healthy. I asked him his secret to good health...and he said he just has good ancestors! I wasn't very satisfied with that answer but it's all he would give me. He taught me about Haiku, and I taught him the word of wisdom. (He asked me why I didn't order coffee). Haiku is so awesome! I think Nate and Mikayla have done it before...special kind of poetry. It is so awesome in Japanese. This last week Yamada san came to my Eikaiwa class!! He said he will continue coming when he has time. He lives close to the Elder's apartment so we are hoping he is a kinjin. :) (golden person) I also like Yamada san because his kanji is super easy to remember and I can even write it! SCORE.

Thank you for the pictures mommy!! I put in the one of you and dad on your wedding day. Everyone loves the pictures I have of you two. The main one is one I took of you and dad sitting together in the canyon. They don't really do 'cute' couple pictures here, and they think it's so American that you are leaning your heads towards each other all cutely. Haha. Japanese people are so funny. Could you send me a picture of me on the violin? Maybe the one from my senior pictures.

Whoops I've got to go!! THANK YOU for all your prayers! Miyuki Shimai is progressing. I really love her. She has some tough challenges, but we have so much faith in her and her future. OH! I gave a talk in church yesterday! One of the speakers didn't show up so the bishopric asked Takei Shimai and me to speak for 3-5 minutes each. SURPRISE. I spoke on hope and read 2 Nephi 1:15. Haha my Japanese was probably a joke...but a lot of people came up to me afterwards and thanked me and said "Kibo, ne?" haha. "Hope." So at least they understood I was trying to speak on hope! Lol.

A few people have asked me what a gokiburi is. It is a Japanese cockroach. :D Fun fun!!! I think I'll bring one home for Melia.
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From the melting city of Machida...

My testimony of Joseph Smith has become a lot more apparent as I've testified of the Gospel of Jesus Christ like he did not so long ago. What an incredible man. I can't wait to meet him and Emma Smith someday. They are some of my heroes.

The first week of the transfer went by quickly. Miyuki Shimai is quickly becoming a good friend, and her desire to find the truth is growing stronger. We really love her and want to help her. We had a miracle with her this week when she came to Sacrament meeting on Sunday. Miyuki Shimai has an illness that makes her ridiculously tired, so waking up for church is a challenge. We were expecting her to come at the end like she did the week before, but some ward members rushed in before sacrament started to tell us she had come! Not just on time, but early. She was able to attend all of sacrament meeting. Such a blessing. I have to show you a picture of her hilarious dog, pooh-chan. He is a hoot! I'm convinced he has bear in his ancestry. He has the most massive eyes. When his momma (Miuki san) talks to him he almost always understands, and half the time answers. Once in a while he gets this big confused look on his face and his eyes get all wide and he tilts his head. I got a good laugh from Miyuki Shimai when I told her he looks exactly like me when I can't understand what's going on.

We had zone conference and interviews this week. Also, 5 new sisters are here. 3 are gujin. I've been wanting to talk to all of them but only managed to find where one of them ended up. My dear Kuahara Shimai is a trainer!!!! I sent you pictures I took with her at the MTC. I love that woman! And she is a trainer now! SCARY! Anyway I gave her and her new companion a call the other day. Her companion is Sister Grosland from LINDON. Haha. She graduated a year after me. I'm super curious to find out if I recognize her or not. Is she from our stake?

I thanked President Budge this week for leaving me in Machida another transfer. He replied, 'Why fix something that isn't broken?' Haha. So I guess that is his motto on transfers!
 
This is a bit short this week but I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH. I really really miss you!  The Lord is with me and I am where I need to be. :) My companion is wonderful and we get along just great. Since third transfer I've actually felt more like a real missionary. Speaking of missionaries...does Davin leave this month??? So excited for him!

Mail has been a bit slow the past few weeks. In fact I think Larry (the lizard) might be eating our mail. So if I am slow to reply, forgive me!