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.
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....