Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Birthday Fun

Hello everyone!! 

This week in the Sapporo mission was quite fantastic and special! This past Thursday we were able to head down to Sapporo, because we had a special zone conference on Friday. It proved to be great timing, because I got to stay in Ebetsu the night before and even go out to dinner with the Ebetsu Shimai and a really fun 23 year old that I met on the street with Imanishi Shimai.

The reason we had a special zone conference is because Elder Yamashita, a member of the Quorum of the 70 who is from Fukuoka Japan, came to work with all of the missionaries here. It was a really great experience, because we don`t have the opportunity to hear from a member of the 70 too often -- for those of you who aren`t too familiar with our church`s structure, we believe in the same structure that Christ established for His church when he was on the earth. We are led by a living prophet who has two counselors, and then have 12 apostles, and then the 70 (Luke 10:1) and so on.

This is getting kind of off track... but with the selection of the new Pope (which I`ve honestly only heard minor details about, so I`m no expert), we`ve had a lot of opportunities lately to talk about the structure of the church. A lot of the Japanese people we meet on the street think that all Christian churches are the same and have the same beliefs, so they are super surprised when we say there are tons of varieties and are even more surprised to hear that we have no connection to the Pope.

Our church is probably a lot different from some other churches in that we don`t have any paid clergy -- everyone is working as a volunteer. For the worldwide leadership positions of the church the majority of people are probably still American, but there are people from all different countries, like Elder Yamashita, and for the most part they`ve retired from their regular jobs and are now serving in church positions. Local church leaders, like the Bishop of the churches people attend every week are just normal people who have normal day jobs in addition to volunteering at the church. The church is really a service organization designed for everyone to participate and share their talents so everyone can learn and be strengthened together. It`s way cool.

But anyways, back to this week... Tshuchida Shimai and I actually lucked out because not only did we get to hear Elder Yamashita and his wife speak on Friday at zone conference, we got to hear him at a member fireside in Asahikawa on Saturday and then they came to our church in Asahikawa yesterday. Then we met him on the street on the way to come here to mail! In church he talked a lot about the fatherly love that God has for us, and it was great. It was also fun because since Tsuchida Shimai is also from Fukuoka, their families know each other! Fun stuff.

My birthday was a lot of fun! I felt a lot of love. I got to go out to dinner with a friend from our English class, and then we went to hear Elder Yamashita speak together.

I am going way over on time though... so I better get off before someone says something! 

You`re all fantastic! Hope you have a great day!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Wintery March E-Mail

I might be running out of ideas for email titles, haha.

This week was another super fast one! One highlight of the week was Tsuchida Shimai`s 22nd birthday on the 15th. It is fun because we both have birthdays close together! We are going to go out for sushi next week to celebrate them. On Friday it was our English class, so everyone sang to her and it was fun. I made her a simple picture storybook in like ten minute increments while she was making meals and not looking my way.

I think I mentioned this before, but I`ve been teaching a children`s English class again here in Asahikawa. Recently it has been a lot of fun teaching them simple words and then playing bingo (thank you so much for the idea Kerri!) There are five kids right now, and they are all cute!

Another highlight of the week was when we met a really nice mother who let us into the entrance of her house when we knocked on her door for the first time. She even offered us a hot beverage and delicious cookies! It is really amazing how much of a difference just a little bit of kindness can make in brightening up a day.

I hope all of you are doing well, and that some spring sunshine is coming your way! We`re still waiting for it to arrive here, but the weeks are way fast so I am sure it will come soon!

Plus bonus snail-mail photos!

Recently we've been all stopping by Baskins and Robbins after our District meetings!  3/1 was 30% off.  Good stuff.

There is still a bit of snow by the side of the street.

(Front and back of a photo from Natalie's companion!)

This is a picture from when we went to visit a fabulous member's house, the Yasuda's.  They actually were senior missionaries in another mission in Japan.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One Year in Japan

I only have like five minutes left to make this email happen, but the biggest event of this week is probably the fact that it will mark one year since I landed in Japan!

It`s so crazy that it has already come. When I was studying Japanese at the MTC a lot of people kept saying that it generally takes about a year to really start understanding Japanese conversations and participate in them functionally. Hopefully I`ve reached that point! I do know that I definitely feel a lot more confident in the language
now than when I got off the plane!

Ah and time is up! But things continue to go well here, and I am learning new things everyday!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And into March!

Hello everyone!

I don`t have much time left to write (my focusing power might not be at 100% lately... oops!), but things in Japan are still going well!

Yesterday was the Hina Matsuri, or festival of dolls, in Japan. I don`t know many of the details about it, but it is a festival for girls where they get together and chat and eat in front of traditional dolls (they are actually in one of the pictures I sent last week with the cute Fujita family). Tsuchida Shimai made a traditional meal for us; it is fun to experience these little bits of Japanese culture!
I will definitely have to do a lot more research when I get home.

I can`t believe it is March already... partly because the weather doesn`t reflect it! But we are still having a lot of fun and meeting with a good amount of people, both being able to share our message and learn from them as well. It is a great experience.

Sending you all lots of warm wishes!

Hina Matsuri


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