Thursday, May 31, 2012

Month 5!


I have like negative time because we did lots of fun things today! So I'm attaching a few pictures and then I will write as much as I can as fast as I possibly can. I think that these p-day emails are probably good practice for writing stories on a deadline!

All of the pictures are of us with Tanaka San, who is a lot of fun! The first one is of us having lunch with her, and then the next day we met up with her at Odori park to see the Lilac Festival before going to a big FHE at the mission president's house together. It was my first time going to Odori park, which is at the heart of Sapporo, so it was a lot of fun! I LOVE parks.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about miracles, and when we recognize that they are happening around us. I have two stories I want to share, but I don't have time... so you will just have to wait until next week! I am sure you will all be waiting on the edges of your seats, like you would for a two part season finale of a favorite show. Even though this isn't the end, it is just the beginning! So that makes it even better.

Also, we took a ton of pictures today (Although not with my bike. Sorry mom!), so you can look forward to that too. Today we started out our p-day by going and visiting an awesome ward member for lunch at her apartment next to Odori park (yep, I got to go there twice this week!). And then afterwards we wanted to go to the Zoo, but it had closed 5 minutes before we got there so we ended up taking fun pictures in Maruyama Coen (Coen  is park in Japanese. Maruyama Coen is huge and foresty, so kind of a central park like feeling.) instead.

Aah people are arriving to our activity right now and it starts in less than 10 minutes... so I have to go. But I love you all! And next week will be an awesome email to make up for this one, I am sure.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another Week of a Missionary in Japan!

Hello again from Japan!

It still seems kind of crazy that I am here actually serving a mission in Japan, even though I have been here for two months. It is so cool. I wish I could adequately share it with you through my emails and pictures, but it isn`t quite possible to capture everything. Especially because every time I get to the computer I forget what I wanted to write about... but hopefully what I do share is still fun! If you have any more questions definitely send me a letter. Or two. Or three.

This past week was filled with a lot of what we do every week, but it occurs to me that maybe some of you don`t know what a normal week for us is. Because before I got here I didn`t know either! I heard about missions a lot because people love to talk about them, but before I got here I definitely didn`t know all of the specifics, other than the fact that missionaries wake up at 6:30 every single morning since mornings are not something I have ever been a huge fan of. But don`t worry, I have been totally fine doing it! Yay blessings. I don`t think I will be one of those people who keep waking up early after the mission though...

After we wake up, everyday except for Sunday, we have half an hour to exercise, and then after eating breakfast and getting dressed we have an hour of personal study, an hour of companion study, and then an hour of language study. During our study time we prepare for the lessons that we have that day by reading the scriptures and practicing teaching and other fun stuff. Before the mission I would have thought studying the scriptures for that long would have been super long, but now that I am here it always seems way too short! I always want to learn and read so much more. Even if I wake up and feel really tired after reading the scriptures and Preach My Gospel and just study the gospel I always feel refreshed. It is great.

Language study is definitely way too short too... We don`t get to have it everyday because of various other meetings and such, so when we have it I always have like a million different things I want to study. It is great having Japanese companions for language study because they can help explain things and practice with me. We practice English too, which is always super entertaining. I`ve also started carrying around a little notebook to write down all of the random words I learn during the day and it is a lot of fun. With the weather warming up most of my words are fun things like `tanpopo,` which is Japanese for dandelion, and `ari,` which is Japanese for `ant.` Another favorite word I have learned recently is `honki de,` which means `seriously.` I just think it sounds funny, haha. I intend to use it more often.

So that is our morning schedule, which really helps us prepare for the rest of the day when we go out and meet and teach people. I will talk more about that part next week! Things here are going well with the new companionship. Having three people can be really convenient and fun. Kito Shimai always has super entertaining stories. Oh, and she is from Tochiki (I am fairly confident that is how you spell it now. Haha, I am terrible.)

We did have one special event this past week, which was a zone training meeting where all of the missionaries from nearby got together and... had training. It is pretty much what it sounds like, haha. But it is always so much fun to see everyone and learn together!

Two pictures this week!

The first is the three of us next to some of the Tulips that are along the road to the church. The flowers have been so pretty! I will be so sad when they go away. Also, my bike is in the background. So that kind of counts as a bike picture, right?

And then the second is of us with a super cute family in our ward, the Nishijima family. We went to their house for FHE and it was a lot of fun! They are all really awesome.

That`s it for now! Thank you everyone so much for your support! I hope the weather is getting nicer wherever you are, and that you are enjoying it! Before the mission whenever there was good weather all I ever wanted was to be outside all day, and now I get to do it! Of course, we get to be outside all day in the bad weather too, but it is totally worth it.

Bonus! Picture of everyone from our zone training meeting last week!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Week of New Companionship!

Hello everyone!

First, I shall send some pictures. Because I know you all like pictures. Or at least my mom likes them enough for everybody. And since I just talked to my family on the phone yesterday, I don`t know what else to say! It was so great to be able to hear everyone`s voices yesterday. Amber joined in on the call using conference call and it was so great! I was totally surprised. Since she is in Utah for school and my parents are in Oregon I didn`t think I would be able to talk to her. So it was so fun to have everyone on the phone! I can`t believe it has already been practically five months! Time is so crazy. Even though the weather here is getting nice in my imagination since I don`t get to talk to people from home very often everyone is still stuck at the end of December doing the same thing. I even still get Christmas songs stuck in my head, haha.

So the biggest thing that happened this past week is that we picked up a new companion, Kito Shimai, last Monday. I talked about it in my last email, but since then it has been a lot of fun! Of course it has been a little hard to adjust too, and moving her in has been an adventure (we only have two desks, so for the first few days she used a desk she made for herself out of a cabinet door and milk cartons. Now she has been upgraded to a filling cabinet), but she always has all sorts of entertaining stories and is great. I can`t remember how to spell her hometown... so I will attempt that later. But she lived in the Tokyo mission before coming here, and was working in a juice factory, Which sounds delicious. She has been on her mission for almost a year.
Ok, pictures! The first one is the view of the sunset from our apartment. It was super pretty and this picture doesn`t do it justice, but I thought I would share anyways.

And then the next one is of Masuda Shimai and I in front of my desk, just before we went to pick Kito Shimai up.
We decided to go on a short boat ride.
I think I have mentioned this briefly before, but every week on Thursdays we teach a free English conversation class. We met Nakandakari San and her kids, who might be the cutest kids in the world, last transfer and they have been coming to class the past few weeks and it has been a ton of fun! They have a lot of interest in English, and American movies, and it is super entertaining. During one of our visits they just wanted me to say things like `Angelina Jolie` and `vampire` with an American accent, and then when I did they`d say `kakkoi!` (cool in Japanese) and get all excited and it was really entertaining. Basically, they are a lot of fun.
Next is a picture of me and Masuda Shimai outside of the church! We go to the church a lot for activities and meetings, so it feels like a second home here.
Last night we went and had dinner at the Ono family`s house with all of the missionaries and the Bishop`s family too and it was just a ton of fun. There was a lot of delicious food and kids everywhere doing all sorts of funny things. The second picture is my favorite, haha. Love the kids in it. (In case you are curious, Yamada Bishop is the one in the blue. Both of the Bishops here have been really young! And super entertaining)

Things is Atsubetsu are going well! I always feel so privileged to be able to do this work and help other people be happy. Sharing the gospel is really the best kind of service there is! I hope all of you at home are having an awesome time too. I miss you all, but a year and a half is really quite short so let`s keep in touch and I will see you soon!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two Becomes Three

So the big news of the week is that as of right now... Our companionship is becoming a threesome! We were completely surprised when we got the call, out of the blue, on Saturday. It's actually super sad, because the reason our companionship is changing now is because Krok Shimai is really sick and had to go home to Australia today because of health reasons. It is super, super sad. She was only here for three months longer than me. I miss her already! I didn't even get to say good bye... We weren't in the same area so I didn't get to see her a lot while she was here, but she stayed at our apartment twice, and the first time was actually my first day in the country so she helped me a lot with things like getting Japanese money and buying ticket to get home on the subway. Very important things that I definitely did not understand at all. Her returning also means that now there are only three non-native Sister Missionaries in the mission, and it doesn't look like any new gaijin (Japanese for foreigner) are coming until October. Kind of crazy. But really cool at the same time.
The changes in companionships and areas because of Krok Shimai going home are super interesting though. I will try to portray a little bit of it. Bascially after the last transfer, which was just a little over a week ago, Krok Shimai was in Obihiro with Kise Shimai. There were two companionships in Odori, which was Cooper Shimai with Nishimura Shimai and Kito Shimai with Koyama Shimai. And then me and Masuda Shimai in Atsubetsu. But now seriously everyone's companioship has changed. Cooper Shimai went to Obihiro, and then this is super interesting -- usually Odori is a three-person companionship, but instead of Nishimura Shimai just joining Kito Shimai and Koyama shimai's companionship, she is staying in Odori with Koyama Shimai, and then Kito Shimai is coming and joining us. It's super, super interesting (side note: I think I have used the email super in this email more than I ever have before in my life...). Also, that means there are now seven missionaries in Atsubetsu, three sisters and four elders, making it the largest area in the mission. No one thinks that has ever happened here before. We don't even have a desk for a third person yet, haha. And just to put it in context: it would be like there were seven missionaries in the Five Oaks ward every week, except there are probably even less members in the ward here. Crazy!
There is obviously a really important work that needs to be done here right now. I think I mentioned this before, but sisters just opened (meaning they were in the area for the first time in a really long time) six months ago. I can't help but think that all of the focus that is coming on this area right now is in preparation for the temple. The temple is in our area. And if we find people now they can be able to enter the temple when it opens in just under two years!! I really feel like there are so many people here who can receive the indescribable blessings of the temple who just don't know about the church yet. Having a temple so incredibly close is such a blessing. In the temple you can receive the blessings of eternity -- individually, but even more beautifully as a family, because in the temple we perform the ordinances that can make your family be able to stay together forever, even after death, in a state of perfect happiness. So beautiful. And since it is so close there will be people here who will be able to volunteer in the temple and go as often as they like. Ahh blessings! If you don't much about temples, you should look them up on because they are so awesome. I wish I was going to be here for when the Sapporo temple opens and has their open house and such, but I am so glad to be able to help prepare people the area!
So exciting things are happening. Sorry I don't know anything to tell you about Kito Shimai to tell you yet, other than that she was just in a threesome with Cooper Shimai and her trainer, and that her first area was Atsubetsu ( I think she was actually one of the people to open it. Also super interesting), but I will tell you more next week! Love you all so much!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Transfer #2 begins!

So... I think I will just start by sending pics in batches and describing them. Does that sound ok? Fantastic.

This week was the end of the our first transfer and beginning of our second transfer, which was super interesting since it was my first time being here for one (I think I mentioned last time that we have them every six weeks?). Masuda Shimai and I are still together in Atsubetsu, but pretty much everything else in our district changed. We had our last district meeting together on Tuesday (group pics included with this email), and then when we went to lunch together afterwards the transfer calls starting coming in. It was super entertaining. Kimball Choro, who was only in Atsubetsu for one transfer got called to Hakodate, and then his companion Fukuyama Choro, who is a native, was called to be a trainer of a new native Elder. And then Atsubetsu got two new Elders, who are both Americans. So it should be a lot of fun because now our area has six missionaries again! Last transfer we only had four Elders for two weeks, and I think that was the first time Atsubetsu had six missionaries. There were lots of other changes too, but those are the ones closest to me since they are in my area so we will interact with them all of the time. It will be interesting having a missionary here who is even newer than I am!

Also included: Thursdays are the day where we have the actual transfers and everyone goes to their new areas. Since everyone comes to the honbu (mission home) for transfers it is the time where we have the most people in one area, so the Sister missionaries all have exchanges (I mentioned this with the pic I forwarded).  This time I went to Odori, which is at the heart of the Sapporo, and worked with Arashiyama Shimai, who was actually Cooper Shimai, my senpai at the MTC, trainer. So that was really cool, and Cooper Shimai and I even got to hang out that night at the apartment! Fun stuff. It is always so interesting to see the other areas. Also, fun fact: this transfer was the first time Arashiyama was called to go to a different area -- her first area in Japan was Odori and she stayed there for almost a year! Crazy.

One of the highlights of this week is that I got to wear a kimono for the first time! One of the people we have been visiting is a member`s friend who is a Kimono Sensei, so when we came to her house the first thing she did was dress us up. It was awesome. She is a lot of fun! She even made us a delicious strawberry cake. Hopefully we will be able to meet with her more soon.
Here is a fun example of how wonderful everyone in the ward is: this past week after Eikaiwa they told Masuda Shimai to write what her favorite food is on the request board about the fruits basket (in Japan they have fruit baskets at the church buildings where members put food to give to the missionaries. It is super awesome). So she wrote that she likes grapefruits. And then the next Sunday the basket was filled with 18! Our apartment smells really good.
This is a picture of almost all of the sister missionaries in the Sapporo Mission. Every time we have transfers we have a sisters conference, where we all get together and have lunch, sing songs and have some training together at the mission home before going on exchanges.

Lastly, here are the rest of the sports pictures from our zone activity last week. It was a ton of fun! The most fun p-day so far, I think. Today was pretty nice too. All of the missionaries from our zone came to Atsubetsu and went out to lunch and then played ping pong and such at the church. Nice and relaxing.
The work is going well! We are excited for the start of the new transfer, and are looking forward to the possibilities. We really want to be able to find people we can help come closer to Christ, because we know that by doing that they can receive so incredibly much happiness in their lives. Missionary work can be hard and exhausting, but since I know without a doubt that we are doing the Lord`s work being tired really seems like a small inconvenience. I hope that everything is going well at home and in everyone`s lives! You all rock.


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