Monday, December 17, 2012

Chistmas Season!

Hello again from snowy Hokkaido!

Christmas is getting close, so we have been having lots of fun enjoying the season with members and friends. Showing things with pictures is always better, so without futher ado here are the pictures of the week!

Since it tends to be chilly outside, we found ourselves once again at a delicious, warm ramen shop with our district. They have ramen shops all over Hokkaido! Apparently it is something they are famous for.

We also had a two day exchange this week, and it was a lot of fun! I got to work with Tokeshi Shimai, who is from Okinawa. She has just hit her 6 month mark, and we were able to get out and talk to a lot of people in the snow, as well as have a lesson with a great college student investigator and a couple of members.

When the exchange ended we met up with all of the sisters at the Sapporo train station again, and went out for our traditional lunch.

We also had a fun Christmas lunch at a members house.

On Saturday there was a young adult dinner, and then the ward Christmas party! It was a lot of fun, and we had a good amount of friends come and join us. The missionaries did a skit, and I got to be Rudolph. I'm sure it was a total hit.

The first of the group of pictures features necklaces made for us by Nobuya Chan. She made them from scratch, and they are super stylish with CTR in them! I will have to take a more close up picture soon.

And... Merry Christmas!!!

We have a big missionary party next week on Christmas Eve, which just happens to be p-day, so I probably won't be able to email... but I love you all and am sending lots of holiday wishes from Sapporo!

I hope that you all have the best Christmas ever. It's kind of weird to not be coming home this year for the first time, but it is really awesome to be able to share the spirit of this season and the real meaning of Christmas with others. We seriously have so many presents from our Heavenly Father -- personal guidance for our lives, love comfort and help whenever we need it -- that we need to be sure that we don't forget.

Love you all! Have lots of fun!!

Scripture of the Week:
Isaiah 43:1-2
But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire , thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Japanese Word of the Week:
tonakai = reindeer 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Zone Conference​!

Hello everyone!

This one is probably going to be a short one too... my December emails are shaping up to be super short. But that's probably ok, because everyone is so busy preparing for Christmas and finals that I feel like no one will notice! At least that is my plan.

The highlight of this week -- a special zone conference with Elder Ringwood, who is an area 70. Both the Asahikawa and Hakodate Zones met together at the Atsubetsu church, so it was a lot of fun because tons of missionaries were there. He was a really inspirational speaker, and since I am a compulsive note taker from my journalism days I took like a million pages of notes. It is always such a great opportunity to meet together and remember why we are doing this, and the help that we have.

Yesterday we also were able to watch the Presidency Christmas devotional with one of our investigators. It was his first time to an activity at the church and went super well. He's a college student and way cool, so I'm excited to see how things go! The Christmas message was fabulous as usual, and the music was great so I totally recommend cruising over and watching it.

Ah and that is all I have time for! LOVE YOU!!!!! I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful Christmas atmosphere. It is a great time of the year!

Scripture of the week:
Matthew 18:20 (New Testanent)
For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Word of the Week:
jishin = earthquake. We had little one this week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The snow continues!

Hello wonderful family and friends!

I apologize, because this is another ten minute email week. It happens.

Random thing unrelated to anything important that I was excited to discover today while shopping at the Sapporo Train Station -- they have Eggpress, the letterpress card company from Oregon that I adore (see previous blog posts...), cards in Japan! Way to go cool Portland companies. Ok, moving on.

This week featured our first batch of some blizzards, and it was pretty interesting to see how fast the snow here can pile up! So without further ado, since time is limited, I`ll send some pics.

First up: When we went into our district meeting, all of the snow from the previous day had melted. But when we came out, we discovered this.

We go out to eat after district meeting every week, so this time we went to a favorite Chinese restaurant and ate warm ramen.

We also had warm ups for the missionary service project of the next 5 months... shoveling snow!

Once we get full into winter it snows so much that people have to shovel it at least like three times a day, along with their breakfast, lunch and dinner. A lot of people wake up as early as 4 a.m. every day to get started. It`s crazy because you`ll even see old grandmas and grandpas out shoveling! I have to give the people of Hokkaido props for being hard workers.

And that`s all I have time for this week! Sorry! Just know that I love you, and that the work is going well.

Word of the Week;
yukikaki = snow shoveling

Scripture of the Week:
Psalms 119:105 (Old Testament)
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks

First off for those who are wondering about transfers... nothing changed! No one in our district, and in fact out of our entire zone of like 9 or ten companionships (I can't remember exactly off of the top of my head) only two people changed areas. I think that maybe it's for Christmas?

Speaking of holidays, this week was Thanksgiving! There actually wasn't even any indication that it happened this week though (other than the fact that I ate some pumpkin bread I had left over from a kit my mom sent me. That's kind of Thanksgiving-y, right?), so I am feeling like I need a little Thanksgiving fun outlet. Here goes a quick list of things that I am grateful for!

I'm thankful for: Supportive, loving family and wonderful, constant friends. Being able to grow up in beautiful Portland where both the fun of nature and city life is within a short drive. Being able to have attended a great school with lots of opportunities. Being able to live in Washington, D.C. not just once, but twice (so far). For being able to serve in Japan for this year and a half and meet so many good people and learn a foreign language. For having a God who loves us so much that He gave us this gospel, a clear path of how to return to live with Him that answers absolutely the questions of where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. For the beauty of every day life!

There really are so, so many things to be grateful for, some super simple like a pretty sunset, and remembering them always makes any day so much better!

Ok, so I only have a few more minutes left so pictures!

First up, our last district picture (think evolution of man. I don't know how we ended up at the end...) and one from the transfer spot in Sapporo Eki with Imanishi Shimai.

Also, good news of the week! Durnig this past transfer our non-Japanese sister missionaries grew from 4 people to 5! The newest addition is Peterson Shimai, who is super cute and from Canada. Sisters always have exchanges on the first day of the transfer, and this time it was my privilege to work with Peterson on one of her very first days! We had a lot of fun talking about mission life and visited a non-attending member who speaks some English. Good stuff!

Scripture of the day:
Doctrine & Covenants 78:19
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even a hundred fold, yea, more.

Word of the day:
kansha = thanks, gratitude

Out of time LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

First Snow Falls!

It happened... Hokkaido`s 6 months of winter has begun!

There were predictions of snow like all week (we were getting text updates from one of the wonderful members in the ward, Muroya Shimai) but it never came. So even though there was a prediction for lots of snow on Sunday when we looked out the window in the morning there was blue sky, so we figured we were safe at least until night fell. Not so. I think that Oregon`s allotment of snow for the entire year fell during the three hour block of church. And it was crazy big snow flakes blowing like parallel to the ground. I think the first snow anywhere is pretty fun though; even all of the Hokkaido natives were often found staring out the window. The Elders got all excited and ran outside, only to promptly return like three seconds later covered in ice. Way funny.

I knew that my mom would need a picture, so we took one outside really quick before coming into the internet cafe this morning. Right now the snow is falling a tiny bit, and melting. But everyone says it won`t be long until it builds up! Now that there is snow on the ground we are officially a walking mission.

So I think I mentioned this in last week`s email, but on p-day last week our district went bowling next to the Sapporo Eki and had a great time even though I`m certain it featured one of my worst games ever... I may have got a gutter ball every single frame... but it`s ok because I got a few strikes in the next game. That cancels it out right? At least my first game was consistant! That totally counts for something.

This past week was also a lot of fun because we got to head up North again for another Zone Training Meeting in Asahikawa! It is a lot of fun to be able to meet up with other missionaries who are further away and hear about their recent experiences and learn together.

Some of the missionaries who were there in front of the Asahikawa chruch.

We also had some really good lessons this week, so it was way fun! A highlight of the week was on Friday when we met with one of our newest investigators, a college student. We had taught him the week before about the restoration of the church, and along with that about the Book of Mormon and prayer, and then challenged him to read the intro to the Book of Mormon (if you haven`t read it lately, or at all, I highly suggest it! I think since it`s right at the beginning people sometimes skip over it, but it is really easy to understand and has some great promises) and try praying on his own. And then when we came back he had totally done both, even though he had been so busy with tests that week that he hadn`t slept! So I am way excited to see how things work out with him. I think this might be the first time I have had an investigator pray after we asked them too, so I was way stoked.

Ok, somehow time has already ran up again! Sorry I haven`t been able to do my weekly scripture and Japanese word as much lately! Just know that I still love you.

I hope you all have the best thanksgiving ever!!! Thanksgiving is actually going to be transfers, so that will be fun. OK, gotta go. Really. LOVE YA!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Snow Bugs!

Hello wonderful family and friends!!

One of the biggest pieces of recent news? It`s in the title -- yuki mushi are out in force! Yuki mushi, literally translated, means snow bugs. Apparently every year right before the snow starts in Hokkaido, these little bugs start appearing. I`ll include some pics, but basically they are little bugs that look kind of like tiny black fruit flies or something, but then when it gets closer to having snow they turn white and have cute little fluffy butts.

However, what is not so cute is that they absolutely love launching into people`s eyes when they`re riding bikes, jumping into noses or especially latching onto people`s clothes. And there are seriously so many of them it is crazy -- if you look closely it looks like there are more bugs than air! So it`s impossible to avoid them. We heard from a couple of people that the bugs are so bad this year that in Otaru, which is a city close to the sea, people are having a hard time seeing. But the good news I guess is that once it snows they disappear, and the snow is predicted to come this week... It`s a little late this year because of the long summer, which probably also contributed to the bugs being so terrible. But the bugs are ridiculous. I even got one stuck in between my two front teeth that I had to floss out. But maybe they have some sort of protein, so the ones I have accidentally eaten will help build my strength?

Ok next news, which is probably super old news for everyone else, but we did hear about the results of the presidential election! If I had to wait until I got mail today I probably would have died. The way we found out was kind of funny -- one of the elders called a sister in the ward, who called us. Other than that, I literally have not heard or seen a single thing about it! No signs here that it ever happened, at least not in missionary life. It was weird not to vote, but my mom sent us delicious presidential election Moonstruck chocolates, so that helped make up for it. 

Hokkaido has been super beautiful with multi-colored leaves and gorgeous autumn sunsets, so I thought I would send along a few snapshots! The sunset pics are from the window next to my desk. (in case you`re wondering, the church isn`t our church. We just happen to live right next to another one! Latter-day Saint churches actually don`t display crosses because we like to focus on Christ`s life rather than his death). Enjoy!

Also, a fun little sign of lots of missionary work -- a worn out Book of Mormon and pamphlet folder! I`ve been using the same one since I got to Japan 8 months ago and it is kind of dead, haha. Thought you might enjoy.

And time is up! We`re on our way to the Sapporo Eki and then to go bowling with the elders in our district so it should be fun. LOVE YOU ALL!!

Happy Autumn!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween in Japan!

Ok, 15 minutes... go!

One of my pleasant surprises in Japan was discovering that they celebrate Halloween here! There wasn`t too much of anything Halloween in London when I was there for the fall, so I was excited when as soon as it hit October all of the shops in Ebetsu started putting up jack-o-lanterns in their windows. It was super cute. And apparently one of the main parties of the year at the church is for Halloween. One of the members came up with an awesome program including apple bobbing and a halloween mystery box and it was a total hit. We even had a couple of investigators come. So without further ado, Halloween pictures!

We definitely couldn`t decide what to dress up as until like 5:30 the night before, right before p-day ended. It is hard to think of things to do on a mission because you only have missionary clothes! But Koyama Shimai ended up being Kiki, from the movie Kiki`s delivery service, and I went as a pirate. I may have already been a pirate like three times before in my life... but it is fun and easy!

Here`s a how-to for if you are ever in Japan needing a costume, but have nothing. First, go to the dollar store and buy a shirt. Then attack it with scissors, roll it around in the dirt outside your apartment and splash a little ketchup on it. Make an eye-patch out of paper (Annie, I think you know why I needed that this year...), and then for pirate gold take 1 yen and 50 yen coins and stick them on a string. Tie scarves around yourself in random places, and you`re all set! Haha, I think it turned out ok.

Ok, so that was definitely only one night out of the whole week and there were lots of other awesome things that happened too but time is up, so I will save it for later!!

The actual day of Halloween (the party was Tuesday night) was really fun too though because we had a zone conference, where a lot of missionaries from a big area gather together for training with the mission president. It was in Asahikawa again, so we were gone all day!


Happy November.

And election day. I can`t believe I am not around for that. And have no idea what is going on in the news. Super super super super super super weird. I love elections! Even though they can get crazy sometimes. So enjoy it for me. Someone has to stay up watching the news until a ridiculous hour in my place. Ok, thanks.

[Note from the editor: the following should have been with last week's post, but the photos had to be re-sent]

So there is this magical crepe place here in Ebetsu... that we may go to at least once or twice a week. Since my first transfer here... During the summer they had the most delicious smoothies, and now they have delcious warm beverages called sno-jies! It is entirely impossible to resist when we are near.

Also, a pic of the Ebetsu Eikaiwa (English class). This week we are going to have a big halloween party. Hopefully a lot of people will come! This pic is from Elder Stilson's birthday. He turned 23 in the middle of October. So now three out of the four Ebetsu missionaries are 23! Me, Koyama shimai and Stilson Choro.

Monday, October 29, 2012

the Catch Up email!

I don't know how this happened, but I feel like I haven't had time to write a decent email in ages so all of my pictures are piling up on my SD card! I was flipping through them last night and realized I had a problem. So I think at first I'll just take a brief moment and send a bunch of them with descriptions. Sound ok? I thought so!

First up: this week. Just so that I don't get even more behind. These are the current Ebetsu missionaries!

We went to dinner at a member's house yesterday and it was her daughters birthday, so the day before we took some pics together to make a fabulous birthday card. The birthday dinner was a lot of fun too. It was at the Funamizu's, and they invite over to their house (that is a good thirty minute drive away in the middle of nowhere) a lot. It was my third time there. Before they even gave us a whole watermelon! The highlight of it this time was a Baskin & Robbins ice cream cake.

So one of the reasons I haven't been able to write much lately is because everyone celebrated President Evan's birthday last week! Around 40 or so missionaries all came to the mission home where we ate the traditional cake and ice cream, and then headed over to the close-by Maruyama Koen for some sports. We played a gianourmous game of ultimate frisbee (like 20 vs 20). It was hilarious, and then some people split off for soccer. I got to borrow a mountain bike for the day too, which was a fun change!

After transfers we had a one-day companion exchange. It was a lot of fun, and I got to work with Tsukiji Shimai, who is super smart and was studying to be a judge before coming here. She goes home to resume her studies soon, so I was excited to get to work with her!

So the end of this last transfer was super sad, because my trainer (first companion in the field of Japan) Masuda Shimai went home! So we took some pics before she disappeared back into normal life, including one with all of her companions who were still here. 

Dinner at the Takamatsu's, and hanging out with Taki Kun!

Last lunch of the last district -- sushi!

Ok, and I have thirty or so seconds left so that is it! I need to work on finding a better balance of being able to send emails with both words and pictures... I always forget that everyone doesn't know what I am doing all of the time, even though all of my communication is one email a week! I think my mind is still in instant communication mode, and just forgets that I'm not doing it, haha. I should definitely work on getting some more spiritual stuff in here though.. It's just so hard to do in a tiny time limit! Good practice for newspaper deadlines though. Although, I think those are more generous most times...

And time is up! I love you all so so so incredibly much!

Scripture of the week:
John 21:25 (Bible, New Testament)
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Japanese word of the week:
kinbuntenkan ni = for a change of pace


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