Ai suru okaasan to otoosan...
Your little girl is growing up out here in the valley of grapes and rice fields! I am celebrating turning 8 transfers old today. What a strange concept that is! I remember not so long ago gazing up all wide-eyed at the Shimai who were 8's and older, marvelling at the skill and wisdom I was sure they had. Now I'm sitting on 8 and thinking....well....still don't have all the answers, still am not perfect at Japanese, still haven't overcome my shortcomings, still wondering what exactly they were thinking when they sent a little whimsical Utah girl studying Russian and working at Wal-Mart to an Asian nation as a representative for the Lord. Haha. I guess that's okay though. If anything I'm just 8 transfers more humble, 8 transfers more in love with Japan, 8 transfers better at taking off my shoes and recycling my bottle caps, 8 transfers more reliant on the Savior and his grace, 8 transfers more sure that the only things that really matter in this world are the gospel and the family.
The last week of the transfer started off on a high with a sleep-over at the sister's apartment in Shibuya, along with 6 other far-away-area shimai. The next morning was the temple session for the missionaries. The temple was great. The bus ride home was long, but colored with the beautiful mountains and scenery of Yamanashi ken. Did you know that Japanese people don't believe in going around mountains? They prefer staying on the strait and narrow....even if it means blowing a hole through an entire mountain. I'm not even kidding! There are tunnels we go through getting out here that are miles and miles long. They don't let anything get in their way out here I'll tell you what!
The rest of the week was, honestly, a bit boring. Since Emily and Uyama shimai's baptism and confirmation, about all our teaching stopped, and we were left with many white and quiet days. This got us out knocking and walking and knocking and waiting and calling and knocking just about the entire week. And, until Sunday, absolutely nothing came of it. We had some interesting conversations, but didn't get past a single genkan. I wasn't sure what we would be walking into this transfer with, but then Sunday came. On Sunday we had Junpei in church, as well as our new miracle family. We found the Nakajima family when we were out with a member looking for long-lost inactive members. The mom was baptized a long time ago in Tokyo and eventually, for whatever reason, fell out of contact with the church. She was excited to find us at her door, especially she lives way out in the countryside. Since she became less active after joining the church none of her 4 children have been baptized. On Sunday she came with two of her sons to eikaiwa (which we hold in the morning before church) and they accepted the invitation to come to sacrament meeting afterwards. Her sons are 17 and 26. We adore them!! The 17-year-old's name is Eisuke. He is such a sweetie...has the most pure smile and bright spirit. He has a little speech impediment, where he has a hard time getting out words when he feels nervous, but he is awesome. His hobby is making these incredible intricate little statues of Disney characters. I can't wait to send you pictures. The 26-year-old is Hiroyuki. Throughout sacrament he was genuinely interested and expressed so after the meeting. Sunday was great too because the stake president came. Haha oh and just as they were preparing to start the opening song I found the bishop kneeling by my pew, asking if I would be willing to speak right before the stake president....hahahaha! Go figure.
After church the SA's threw a welcome party for Emily. She didn't know beforehand that she was the center of the activity, haha, it was awesome.
I have to tell you something cute about our little ward here. So I wore a skirt to church on Sunday that had a hole in the back from my bike. Sunday night Sister Hosaka calls us and tells us she is coming to measure our waists in the morning, and her and some of the other relief society sisters were going to have a get-together-to-make-the-shimai-skirts party!! Hahaha. That's the type of ward we have here in Kofu. And for some reason she is also really concerned about our shoes, so on Thursday before she takes us to visit less actives she is determind that we also go to a shoe store....They are so sweet here.
So...turns out that although sometimes nothing comes from knocking on endless doors...heaven is watching, and somehow all that walking and knocking brought about miracles in a different way. The thing that has been boggling my mind since coming to Kofu is the mercy and grace that just pours down from heaven, although I don't deserve a drop of it. Seriously I don't earn a single miracle. This work is the Lord's. These people are also His. I cannot cease to marvel at the blessings I watch him drop down from his throne on high. May I never forget or stop looking towards him!
Time for some fun facts about Japan....
1) Take-out boxes are illegal.
2) They sell bread in baggies of about 5-6 slices and not in loaves.
3) They don't believe in dryers.4) Walking and eating at the same time is rude.
5) Hugging is really really weird. Except it's become a norm among the Mormons. :)
6) Toilets are, almost everywhere, equipped with heated seats.7) When you use a public restroom, as soon as you sit down, this noise of a running stream starts playing. They feel that the sounds of going to the bathroom are unpleasant.
Anyway....I think that is all for now. I sure love you though. :)