It is hard to believe a week has already flown by since I came to Kiryu!! Yet here we are! I still look over at Sister Long on a daily basis and can't believe we're companions again. It's funny, really. We both met in Shinjuku (Tokyo) and rode the train out here together. Both of us coming into this area not knowing a thing. It was like the MTC all over again. :) Except, somehow, we're standing together now on Japanese soil, a year of experience behind us and the 'prime' months of our mission sliding by beneath our shoes. It is the strangest feeling.
So...Kiryu!!! They actually brought sister missionaries here for a few transfers after the big earthquake, but they had some health problems and other issues and eventually a sister went home early and then they moved sisters out entirely. There weren't enough missionaries to keep them here. But! They did keep the apartment. So although it was a bit dusty, we came right to a good place. When we first came there was a miscommunication with the Mission Home and we showed up with no phone or computer or any means of contacting anybody. All I can say is....how did missionaries live without phones?? We did have a sweet member couple pick us up from the train station, take us to dinner, buy us groceries, and give us the apartment key. The members here have been waiting for us. President Budge was apparently here visiting the stake a few weeks ago and promised them sisters, so they've really been looking forward to our coming.
Kiryu is very interesting! The church building is big, but of peculiar shape. It used to be a warehouse and was later converted into a church. I think it looks kind of like a pet shop with a hotel on top. There are about 30 active members. There are no young women, and only 5 in the primary (3 of the 5 are the bishop's kids.) I think the men in the ward actually outnumber the women. We spent this morning at a relief society activity and there was only us and two other women from the ward. It was still way good. :) It didn't take long at all to come to adore these people. They are few, and it seems this little ward has had some tough struggles, but they are powerful. Sister Long and I have been feeling so strongly that God has some big things planned for our little ward. Oh we are just burning inside to love these people to pieces and light Kiryu on fire!
We were so humbled this week by the blessings God has sent to us. Our first day we started off without connection to the real world, and knowing little at best about this area. Within a few days we received 3 referrals, one of which even made it to church on Sunday. What's kind of funny is the ward really wants more sisters in the ward but all 3 of the referrals were men! Haha. Besides those three we were also able to find 3 former/new investigators, and make many new friends. Haha there are so few people just roaming around on the street that we talk to just about anybody we can find! And can I just say it is SUCH A MIRACLE BEING WITH LONG SHIMAI AGAIN! Oh I love her so much! It is SO INTERESTING being companions again after all this time. Remember how she is a crazy talented cartoon artist? Well we have a board with our investigators/potentials/LA/recent converts names posted on it, and she draws a face for each one. Pictures coming soon. :)
The trains out here are worse then Kofu and only come maybe once an hour going in directions we want. Oh! And about 50 minutes by train is the LDS Portuguese/Spanish speaking ward. They are nestled in a little town called Oizumi that is just bursting with people from South America. It is the only ward of its type in Tokyo mission so people come from all over. We had to go down there to meet our Zone Leaders after church yesterday to get our phone charger (that didn't come in the package from the mission home with the phone) haha. We didn't really know where the church was and we had no way to ask them so we got the general location from our giant kitchen map and headed down to 'brazil'. Well we spent a good 20-30 minutes wandering around where we thought it was, with no luck, and decided there was really only one sensible thing to do. We stepped up by a little wall on the side of the road, closed our eyes, and prayed for help. We ended the prayer and sat and stared at each other for a few minutes. Didn't hear any voices so we picked a new road and started trekking down it. Not 5 minutes later a little Bolivian man comes riding past on his bike and we stop him to ask about the church. At first he didn't understand and thought we were trying to preach to him. Haha then finally his eyes got big and he was like, "Oh you're LOOKING for the church?" at which point I found a Spanish pamphlet in my bag and showed him the church's name in Spanish. He immediately turned around and started beckoning us to follow. We scrambled after him and within a few minutes we were standing in front of the rented floor of a business with the church logo on the outside. Prayer works!!
Anyway we are moving forward. We have no idea what the next few months will bring but we have such high hopes and are seeking every day to discover God's vision for our little Kiryu. So turns out even MORE sisters came then they were planning on this transfer! Haha. They surprised 2 sisters last minute and informed them they would be training! And here is the bit that blows us...there are only 4 sisters not training right now. And there are 10 new coming next transfer. Try chewing on that for a few minutes! God has something marvelous in mind although to us it may be overwhelming. These new sisters coming in are part of a group that is so special and so powerful. We are so blessed to have them here with us!