Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zone Conference and Otaru

So I only have six minutes left of email today, make that five, so this is only going to be like a two sentence email. Sorry! I really hate having to do it like this every week.

So this week was fun because we had two special events. One was our zone conference, where all of the missionaries who are close to our area got together for some training. It was really good, and a lot of fun to be with a bunch of missionaries. Plus, Elder Aoyagi, who is a 70, came with his wife and did our workshops. All of the meetings were in Japanese, but one of the Elders is super awesome in both languages so he translated the whole thing. I don`t know how he did it. He translated for like 6 hours! He has skills. During lunch they had what they call a bean shower, where they have all of the missionaries who are new sit in chairs with their trainers behind them, and then all of the missionaries come and put presents in your lap. I have so much cookies and candy now! I don`t know if it is possible to eat it all... but I will try because it looks good. I have a pic, so I will try to email it later.

Ok, I will have to talk about Otaru later. If we have enough time, we are going to try and email again later. Right now we are meeting everyone at some big sports multiplex thing with archery and rodeo and volleyball and the like. Should be fun. But as always, we don`t have any time, so just know that I love you all. Tip: if you write me a paper letter, you are likely to get a more informational response! Well, eventually, haha.

Yay! I'm Back!

We had a ton of fun at sports, and then even made it back in time to be able to do a little more email! Which is great, because I was super sad that I didn`t get to talk about Otaru.

What is Otaru you may wonder? It`s a fabulously cute (from what I could tell from our brief drive into town in the car, haha) city next to the sea, about 30 minutes outside of Sapporo. It`s actually an area where they only have Elders serving right now, so being able to go was super special.

Why did we go, you may ask? Well one of the really fun things about Masuda Shimai is that she is super good at music. And Sister Evans, the Sapporo Mission President`s wife, happens to love music. Every week President and Sister Evans go to a different ward in Hokkaido, and this past week before going to Otaru the Bishop of the ward requested that they have a music program during the sacrament meeting they would be speaking in. So Sister Evans invited Masuda Shimai and I to come along and perform!

It was a lot of fun. Since Masuda Shimai loves music so much we have actually been singing a lot since we`ve been together -- she plays the piano and sings soprano and I just add a little harmony. It`s a really great way to invite the spirit into a lesson. And it`s a lot of fun. Masuda Shimai has an arrangement of I Believe in Christ that her friend wrote that we`ve actually performed (for only like three people at a time before this past week, haha) with Evans Shimai accompanying us on the violin a few times before, so we did that and one other song in between the sacrament talks (one of the Elders in Otaru and then Masuda Shimai spoke, plus Sister and President Evans). It was a lot of fun to go somewhere new and do something different, and the members in Otaru were so incredibly nice.

We came home with three bags of food. And it was especially fun because they had a mission fireside after church followed by lunch, so it was like a whole day of spiritual entertainment. And Otaru is Stilson Choro`s area, who I was with in the MTC. I hadn`t seen him since the first day we arrived in Japan so it was great to be able to talk again!

It`s crazy to think so much time has passed already. We measure time in the mission by transfers, which happen once every six weeks, and I`ve already finished my first one. Weird!

Bean shower pictures attached. It`s only a Sapporo Mission tradition, so I am sure that makes it extra fun!

We had a Zone activity today where we all went to Sports-Cha, which is a place where they basically have minute versions of every sort of game and activity. It was a lot of fun! A great p-day. I got to teach Masuda Shimai how to roller skate/roller blade (she tried both) and play pool for the first time. It was super entertaining. And we both got to try archery for the first time, which I liked a lot. Even though I only got four arrows to hit the circle. I will still count that as a win.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Questions answered!

Ok, email first this time! I'm at the honbu (Japanese for headquarters. We call the mission home the honbu here) so I can print out my emails to read later if need be. It's quite nice. And I'll answer some of the questions I've had from my parents about daily life that other people might want to know too.

1) Is your apartment in a highrise? What kinds of things are nearby?

My apartment is super nice! I would totally live in it if I wasn't on my mission. It's in a type of apartment complex that the Japanese call a mansion. I'm not sure what exactly qualifies a building to be a mansion here, but it has eight floors and our apartment has two rooms (one for sleeping and one for our desks and such) and a kitchen/living room area. Oooh and we have a washer and dryer too, which is super convenient. It's a great place. And it's pretty close to the train station too. Yep.

2) Tell us more about Masuda Shimai! (Ok, that's paraphrased)

Masuda Shimai is awesome. Her first name is Ayako and she is from Chiba-Ken, which is really close to Tokyo. I think she lives near Narita Airport. If anyone knows where that is. I was there for a few hours... but I don't really know where it is in relation to Tokyo still haha. She speaks a good amount of English, but she isn't fluent. Just like I'm definitely not fluent in Japanese. Although her English is way better than my Japanese! We may not always understand each other 100%, but we have the same goals so it works well! She's lots of fun. And she has been on her mission for a year so she knows a lot. She's a pro.

This week has been really great. I'll admit that it started out a little rough, but the past few days were a ton of fun and things just seemed to come together really well. We found new investigators, which is something we have really been struggling with, three days in a row! And we were able to find a lot of potential investigators too. The Atsubetsu missionaries hosted a ward Family Home Evening (we have an activity in our church where families basically hang out with each other on Monday nights so they can have quality time together, since family relationships are so important. Usually families do it in their own homes, but sometimes they"ll do it with other people like we did last week) and we had like five potential investigators come!  And there were so many other wonderful things too. I'm really excited to see what this next week brings.

Ok, now I'm going to send pictures and talk about those. Because I'm getting behind! And it is much easier to talk about photos.

Love you all, and thank you so much for your support! Sorry I never have time to write much! Recently I have only been able to write like one letter a week. But I definitely love hearing from people so I know what is going on with everyone!
 This week we had companion exchanges! So for a day I worked in Ebetsu, which is a different area close to Atsubetsu, with Imanishi Shimai and Koyama Shimai. They are both awesome, so it was a lot of fun. And it was cool because since there were three of us I got to watch how to Nihonjin companions work together -- like how they will trade off who talks when and such. Since I can't speak Japanese fluently yet Masuda Shimai usually has to do most of the speaking for us, haha. Watching them work together was really helpful!
 Easter pictures! I really wanted to send this last week, but now is good too. I mentioned it a little last week, but on Easter before conference we opened up our Easter baskets and it was super entertaining and fun to explain American Easter traditions to Masuda Shimai. When you hear about the Easter bunny for the first time it's probably kind of weird haha. But she loved it! It was funny because none of the Nihonjin knew anything about it, but since when we went to conference that day all of the Gaijin (foreigners) were in the same room to listen to it in conference, and we were all talking about Easter candy and packages. And we'd definitely nibble on the candy between sessions.
 I can't remember if I have sent this one already or not? At the beginning of this transfer it was awesome in Atsubetsu because we had 6 missionaries working in our area. But two weeks ago two of the missionaries, Elder Kawasaki and Elder Migita, finished their two years so we went to the mission home to see them off. I only knew them for a few weeks, but they were wonderful so it was sad to see them go!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Conference and Easter

Sorry this is going to be so short! I had planned on writing a massive email about everything today, but sometimes life happens and so today we literally only have 15 minutes for email... and I probably already used most of it because I was selfish and decided to read my emails first. But know that I love all of you! I will send pictures next week, and try and write as much as I can as fast as I can.

This weekend was really special because of two things -- General Conference and Easter. General Conference, for those of you who may not be as familiar with it, is something that we have twice a year in the church where our current apostles and prophet speak to us and give us guidance. It`s so awesome that I actually have written about it multiple times before my mission, so you should meander over to those old posts in the archive section of the side bar... General Conference was especially awesome as a missionary since we know there is so much information that can really help our investigators, and us. I think every time I watch conference I gain a greater appreciation for how much love Heavenly Father has for us, and how he cares just as much about us today as he did for the people in the times of the Bible. This time conference was also especially fun because I got to watch it in English, haha. I love church, obviously, but sometimes it`s super hard not to fall asleep during sacrament meeting when it`s all Japanese because since I can`t understand most of it I end up just listening to the patterns, which try to lull me to sleep... So watching a church meeting in English was amazing!

Ah only three minutes left! But super quick, Sunday was also super entertaining because I got to share new American Easter traditions with Masuda Shimai. They don`t celebrate Easter at all in Japan, so it was totally entertaining to her I think. We had a lot of fun. And my mom sent both of us an Easter basket (yep I got the package! it was perfect! thanks so much!) and it was the first one she had ever had!

Ok love you. lots. seriously.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three weeks in Japan, Three months since leaving home!

We`ve been really busy this week, which has been kind of crazy at times but good! We don`t have any investigators who are progressing right now, but we`re definitely trying our best to find people. And the language is coming. I think I understand more now? Haha it`s kind of hard to tell sometimes. But we`re having fun!

It is still cold though! Not cool. The weather teased us one day -- it was super windy but kind of warm, so I was convinced it meant the weather was changing to become spring. But then it snowed! I think mom said it snowed in Oregon recently too, which is way more weird...

So much happens in a week now that when it`s finally time to write home it`s so impossible to think of what to say! Maybe I will start with some pictures... Yep.
Us eating lunch compliments of a member at this magical buffet that had everything from meat you can barbecue yourself to a cotton candy machine to sushi to pasta... seriously everything! We ate way to much. And then that night we had another member meal where we had like an all you can eat make your own sushi party!
This week we shared the gospel with a cat, and it was super entertaining. There was no one home in the apartment building to talk to, but this cat was super interested in our message! I think we`ll be seeing him again soon... because we`re hoping to go back and talk to some humans.
This picture is of us and the Koike family, who is a super awesome family who was in our ward but just moved. My arrival actually had kind of funny timing -- Brother Koike was the Bishop of the Atsubetsu ward for all of like the first week I was here when we had stake conference, and then my first Sunday actually at the ward we were serving in he was released. But the last night before they moved we went and met their family so Masuda Shimai could give them her meshi (meshi = business card. They are super big over here in Japan and all of the missionaries have them and then write personal messages on the back of them and give them out to people in the ward and other missionaries when they`re leaving. It`s fun!) and then they invited us to go to dinner with them where Brother Koike told the most hilarious stories about the companions he had on his mission. It was great. Moral of the story: the members here are really cool. And they are all so helpful to us all of the time. We are super spoiled in Atsubestu.
A pic from bowling last week! There were a lot of people there and it was a ton of fun. One of the Elders from Okinawa is super good. He got a ton a of strikes!

I think I am almost out of time and I want to read the emails I have, but things in Japan are going great! Next week I will try to keep a running list of what happens so I can try and write a more interesting email. At least this one has pictures! Let`s be honest, most of you probably just want to see the pictures anyways, right?

Love ya! Thanks for your support!


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