Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lots of pictures!

I probably won’t always be able to send this many photos, but it was Christmas so it’s special.

I think I told you about a heavenly crepe and smoothie haven in Ebetsu before.  We went so often that we became good friends with the owners!  They moved in December so we took a picture with them before they left.

On Christmas Eve all of the missionaries in Sapporo met together for games and celebration before going out caroling.  One of the games we played was with balls.

We also did a gift exchange – when I opened my first gift (in a highly suspicious MacDonalds bag, but it piqued my curiosity)… I was surprised to find a head!  One of the Elders had bought it at a second hand store.  Just when I was wondering what I would do with it, it got stolen by an Elder who wants to become a hair stylist.  It was perfect, haha.  I ended up with a cute keychain backpack filled with candy.

Christmas picture with President Evans and Northrup Shimai.

For Christmas from the Elders all the Sisters got scarves.  (Elders got ties).  We had fun.

On the subway to go caroling.  All the missionaries kind of took over…

The German Christmas town in the city with lights.

On Christmas day we had District meeting.  It was the last day with everybody, so our transfer picture turned Christmassy.

White Christmas!

We got a huge box of presents (mostly food) from the ward.

Christmas just happened to be an English class day, so we ate Christmas cake and spoke English and took a group pic for the end of the year.

On New Year’s we had dinner at a fabulous family’s house, the Fujita’s.  One of our investigators came too!

At the Messiah concert I was able to meet one of my favorite Atsubetsu English class families!  Love them.

At the “transfer spot” in Sapporo Eki.

The famous Asahikawa penguins!  They are so close.  One posed for Nishime Choro.

The Asahikawa Elders and Sisters plus Memu Chan, a member, at the zoo.

We always talked about Ruby (our dog) being like a polar bear…  So I had to send this for Dad!  The polar bears were super active here and playing around with balls and running and then sliding down an icy hill.

You can get super close to the animals here.  It’s cool.  All of the missionaries have a year pass, (it’s like $2 more than the regular one…) so we’ll probably be back there soon!

That's it for now.  Love you all!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The end of January (I`m out of title ideas today)

Hello family and friends!

I have a little less than ten minutes, so I will type up some super basic highlights from each day of the week!

Monday: P-day. We went window shopping, and then had dinner with a member. At night we had a lesson with an awesome 23 year-old who is working towards a spring baptism.

Tuesday: We had our weekly district training meeting with other missionaries, and a couple of lessons, one of the phone and one about prophets in our day.

Wednesday: We had a deep cleaning day. They do it once a year -- we literally cleaned the apartment from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. It looks better... but I think we could use a deep cleaning week!

Thursday: We had a lesson with a member and her daughter, where we acted out the story of Samuel the Lamanite with cut out figures. We also taught a nearby investigator about the word of wisdom.

Friday: We did some housing, visited a member, and had English class in the night.

Saturday: Visited some members who are currently not attending church with another member, and had a lesson.

Sunday: Church, of course. And some housing and streeting, with a visit to a non-attending member.

Monday: After this, going to a sports activity with the Elders and a couple of members.

Time up!

Love you all!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick Mail

This 30 minute mail thing is like a mental challenge to see how effectively I can use my time! 4 minutes left.

This week was also a lot of fun! It featured lots of appointments,English class (I`m helping teach the kids class here), a ward activity and lots of other good stuff.

My mom asked lots of questions about life in Asahikawa in her email,so here are a couple of basic stats: there are currently 2 elders and 2 sisters here. There are two wards in Asahikawa, and the ward we are working in is about the same size as Ebetsu was, with 60 or so people coming every week. There are lots of cute little kids. And the members are really awesome at teaming up with us for lessons. It is also cold enough in Asahikawa that your breath can freeze to your hair. I didn`t know that was possible! Tsuchida Shiamai`s hair is black so it is really easy to see -- the hair closest to her mouth looks like it is slowly turning white when we`re outside on cold days.

Scripture of the Week:
Romans 13:11-12 (Bible, New Testament)
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Word of the Week:
hikari = light

And time is up! Love you all!! Have a fantastic week!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet the Penguins

Hello everyone!!

So... it turns out that we didn`t get to the library until like ten minutes before they close. But I am alive! And today was a lot of fun -- we went with the Elders and a member to the zoo and it was awesome.

Everyone was right -- the best part is the penguins! They draw a little street on the snow that you can stand on both sides of and then they come walking right down it just inches from you. The polar bears were super active too.

Editor: here are the Asahikawa zoo penguins courtesy youtube!

Things in Asahikawa are still going great! We have appointments like every day and it is cool. Ok, the people are shutting things down so I should stop... but I love you!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hello from Asahikawa!​!

Hello friends and family!

Just in case you were worried after I said I was moving up further north in the frozen tundra, I am still alive. It was kind of an adventure to get here though... it took two days! We were supposed to come up here on the third at the begining of the transfer, but it turned out to be the first day of a big blizzard up near Asahikawa that took out all of the trains and buses heading up here.

We loaded our luggage into the car (carrying everything up and down three flights of stairs each time) and headed to the train station three times before successfully making it here. It was crazy! But we were able to have fun visiting some members and such in Ebetsu (Ebetsu was actually Tsuchida Shimai`s bean area) so it turned out to be ok. And the weather hasn`t been too bad here yet since then!

So far things here seem really busy and fun here. I`ve only been here for around a day and a half so far so I`m still learning the ropes, but so far it seem super fun!

I do have some unfortunate news though... the place that we use for e-mail in Asahikawa is this cool international library type place, but it`s only for 30 minutes and you can`t attach any pictures to the emails! So... we`ll be going back to the old school picture sharing style. If you think about it in a positive way though, we were super lucky for the past 10 months with lots of picture sending every week!

So we`ll be ok.

I only have a few minutes left, but first one more fun thing we had three days after Christmas -- a huge Messiah Concert! It`s the second time they`ve done it here. Basically Evans Shimai is super into music, so she helped organize a production of Handel`s Messiah at the Atsubetsu church. It had an orchestra and the choir, and they have been practicing since the summer so it was really excellent quality. Her daughters, who are all pretty much professional at the violin and singing, participated too. It was also a really great experience because I got to meet one of my favorite families who came to English classes in Atsubetsu for the first time in 6 months!

Ok, anyway I am out of time, but know that I love you !!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My First White Christmas, The Year Mark and Other Awesome Stuff!

Hello wonderful family and friends!!

There are so many things I need to get caught up on that I`m afraid I won`t be able to get it all on here! But I will do my best.

First up: Surprise! Because of the New Year`s Holiday we got our transfer calls early this time... and this week I will be moving to Asahikawa!

I think I`ve mentioned going there a couple of times (just to the church) for zone meetings, but I`ll do a little review, in case you forgot what I`ve said. It is the second largest city in Hokkaido, two hours north of Sapporo. It is also the furthest north city that sisters are currently working in, and they have tons and tons of snow and it is supposed to be super cold (right now the average temperature is around -20 degrees Celsius). It will be a fun adventure!

All of the Ebetsu members and other friends have been pretty excited for me. Although sometimes they would slip in fun things like `Asahikawa is so cold that the inside of your nose freezes!` Haha.

Oooh one things that I am super stoked for is that Asahikawa is apparently home to the most famous zoo in Japan. If you mention Asahikawa pretty much everyone eventually starts talking about penguins. I intend to meet those penguins very soon. Maybe they will have interest in the gospel... My companion is going to be Tsuchida Shimai, who is from Japan and is super fun. But anyways, I`m not even in Asahikawa yet, so I am sure I will have more to say next week!

So, as you all probably know, this past week was Christmas! We had an awesome activity on Christmas Eve with all of the missionaries close to the Sapporo area, And I have a million pictures, that hopefully I will be able to get a fraction sent your way in emails. But since it is the holiday season I thought that first you might enjoy a little explanation of how the culture for it is in Japan, because the roles of Christmas and New Year`s are kind of the opposite of western tradition so I think it is super interesting.

Christmas in Japan consists of three things: Christmas cake, fried chicken, and couples. We`ll tackle the food items first. Christmas cake is huge here! And so is the fried chicken, In particular, KFC chicken. There is a KFC on the main road in Ebetsu with a statue Colonel Sanders out front, and he has been donning a santa suit since October. And they have giant posters for Christmas cake orders everywhere. If you tell a Japanese person that we don`t have Christmas cake in America and that we don`t usually eat KFC for the season, they get super surprised and it is way entertaining because they think that`s what we do.

Christmas is also a day of romance. Apparently people will try to find a boyfriend or girlfriend close to the holiday just so that they can spend it together. They`ll spend the night going out to dinner and then looking at lights or something else like that. We were in downtown Sapporo on Christmas Eve to go caroling (more on that is a sec), and seriously everyone we saw was a young couple! Usually you don`t see very many couples walking around, so it was way funny. And that is how most Japanese spend Christmas.

New Year`s, on the other hand, is the opposite. In America I feel like that`s that night that most people will go out and celebrate with friends, but in Japan it is all about family, and it spans like three days. We can`t really do any missionary work during the holiday, so the mission planned some activities to keep us busy, and then we`re spending the rest of the time in members' houses. Tonight is the Fujita`s, and tomorrow is the Hattanda`s! Both times we have a friend coming with us too, so that will be fun.

Yesterday we actually had a special day where from when we woke up in the morning and got dressed we stayed in the apartment all day and read the Book of Mormon from start to finish. Not everyone made it all of the way through, but I started a little after 7 AM and ended around 8:30. It was really interesting to read it all so fast, because the patterns of the Book of Mormon become really clear, especially how God always fulfills his promises. If you ever have a day available, I recommend trying it!

Christmas Eve was a lot of fun! Here`s a brief outline: all of the missionaries met at a Sapporo church, where we got to play lots of fun games, have a white elephant gift exchange, do a little nativity music production, and ate a ham dinner (The Evans family`s daughters are in town, so they made it for us). Then we headed down to Odori park, which is this huge park in the middle of the city, for caroling! They had a large display of Christmas lights, and even a German Christmas village, so it was the perfect Christmas atmosphere!

On Christmas day it was technically a normal day of missionary work, but a lot of fun! We had our district meeting and all went out for a Japanese Christmas lunch... at Toppi, a delicious sushi restaurant! Then we went caroling with a member to her mother`s house before heading to our English class (everyone still does just normal life on Christmas here -- work, school, etc.) where we had a fun Christmas dinner where we practiced English.

Ahh I am so out of time it is ridiculous! Pictures... will probably be coming next week. But I think this is probably the most I have ever written, so that is good right?

And I will send like two pics, just so my mom doesn`t die.

LOVE YOU ALL!! Have a happy new year!!

I can`t believe that I spent this past entire year doing missionary work. Or that I have officially surpassed my one year mark! Someone had better be working on my life plan for me, because I am going to need it in 6 months....


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