Happy New Year from Japan! (Also Merry Christmas to everyone because I forgot to say that in my last email XD)
Well, I still don't know what people are saying most of the time. To better answer the question if I speak better or listen better I think I speak better right now. I definitely still have the American accent when speaking Japanese, but I can say more than I can understand. When we do door approaches I've been saying things like, "We are church volunteers. It's Christmas season right? We have a Christmas message we would like to share." Then my companion does the rest XD Once he takes over I do my best to listen. Now that we are headed into the new year I need to make a new approach for tracking and street contacting. It's a goal of mine to come up with two new approaches a week. It's pretty frustrating when you really want to do more than your language skills permit you to do. But I know that through the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and with God's help, I can learn Japanese!
This week was filled with big ups and big downs. Starting with the big up, Christmas was this week. The big down was...Christmas this week. Yep, one and the same. So on Monday we cleaned the apartment (which helped me feel better) and traveled to Okayama for our zone Christmas Taikai (party). We enjoyed talking, eating, games, a talent show, and a slideshow of the year. It was sooooooooo good to see several members of my zone from the MTC there. Once we got to the bus station though there was unfortunate news. As I walked up to buy tickets the woman at the counter said that the bus was full. And there were no more buses going to Motsue that night. So instead we spent the night at the local elder’s apartment. And guess who's apartment it was...Welch Chōrō, my MTC companion! It took us about 30 min to find it but we did. We then did dendo (missionary work) for an hour. Just street contacting. We then had dinner and hit the sack. We then got to the bust station at 7:45 to head back to Motsue. I slept the whole ride home XD When we got back we were picked up by a member and taken to his house for lunch. We met with him and his family but we didn't share a message which I thought was odd. We then were taken home. The Taiaki also made me miss my family like crazy.
Christmas Eve was a good day. We also did our weekly planning session after lunch. After planning we went to the bike shop to pick up my bike. Finally!!! On the way to the bike shop we met a Brazilian man who spoke English well. We told him that we teach English and he was interested. The thing is that he lives in Izumo, a town about 30 min to the west. So we told him about the elders in Izumo who also teach English. And one of them is Brazilian so they could speak in Portuguese! After that we picked up my bike and taught the bike shop owner (Yamasaki-San) a lesson on the Plan of Salvation. We gave him the pamphlet and asked him to read it and he said he would. Then, as we were walking out the door they stopped us to give us some pant leg reflective straps. They help make sure your pant legs don't get caught in the gears. They were so nice! We then went to go get a rain coat and rain pants. By the time were done it was time to head home.
Christmas Day was great! We started the day with district meeting. Tsuchia Chōrō and I decorated the room with a Christmas tree, bows, It went from 9:30 to about 1:00. Miller Shimai from my zone in the MTC is in my district here so I got to see her. The meeting was uplifting and strengthening. After the meeting, Tsuchia Chōrō and I went to the mall with the other elders from our district and had lunch. We all got this rice bowl with meet on top that was really good! We talked and ate for about 45 minutes. After lunch we said goodbye and headed out to see less actives and wish them a Merry Christmas. Unfortunately none of them were home. But the bike ride was beautiful! At one point we rode out west along the north side of the big lake. So pretty! After we had tried to visit one member, we were walking back to our bikes when a woman saw us. She was walking toward the mailbox with letters in her hands. She recognized us as Mormon missionaries and began chatting with us. I don't know what she said but she seemed happy to see us. Pretty soon she invited us into her home. We walked a few blocks to her house. Her voice was raspy because she was sick and her hands were shaking the whole time. I think the shaking hands are from a medical condition but I'm not sure. We met her father, mother, and daughter. All of them were so nice and hospitable. The mother kept bringing us snacks and drinks! How nice is that! We talked with her in her geinkan (entryway) for about 30 minutes. We then shared a message and a video. She really liked being with us. Then we told them if they needed any service done we would love to help. As we headed out the woman and her daughter came with us all the way down and past where we met her so as to show us where to go. She was soooo sweet! I don't know her name but we are planning on visiting them again soon. I think she has met with the missionaries before, but I'm not quite sure.
After that amazing visit (which was obviously a Christmas miracle because it just fell into our lap) we rode out to have Christmas dinner with a member. His name is Kou Kyodai (Brother Kou). On the way there we picked up KFC. And yes, it's weird, but KFC is a legit Christmas thing here. There were so many people there! But when we got to Kou Kyodai's house and showed him that we got KFC he looked at us apologetically and said, "I'm sorry guys, I can't eat that. I'm on a diet." Of course he said it in Japanese but that's what he told us. Our hearts dropped as he told us we could eat it. So the two of us ate a three-man meal. So much fried chicken was eaten that night. As we are we talked with him about how his Christmas had been and how he was doing in general. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement. I told him how I have felt peace and joy because of Christ's Atonement in my life.
After our visit we headed home. When we got home, and after daily planning, I gave Tsuchia Chōrō his Christmas present. I got him two bags of his favorite sweets. He liked them. Then I opened your package. And boy was that awesome! I loved everything! The Mormon Guitar cd is great by the way, we have listened to it twice already. The candy is greatly appreciated! MARABOU!!!! The copies of the Book of Mormon will come in handy, along with the testimonies. The manga cookbook made me laugh. I'll try to use it as much as I can. I shared the candy in the stocking with Tsuchia Chōrō which he really liked. Thank you so much for the package!
There is a special note I would like to share. I said Merry Christmas so many times on Christmas Day. That morning and night, when we were in the apartment, we played Christmas music. And I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful source for creating Christmas Magic and Joy, besides music, is two simple words: Merry Christmas. Either shouted from rooftops or whispered to loved ones, these two words create the Christmas Magic we crave. Therefore, we should always say it during the season and love the magic it brings!
Now, the day after Christmas was the most difficult day of this past week. After study I was so anxious and excited to FaceTime you guys. And once it began I will filled with such a great happiness!!! I was so, so, so happy to see your faces and hear your voices. For me it didn't matter what we talked about because I just wanted to hear and see you. I honestly thought I was going to cry during the video chat. Once my companion told me it was time to end my heart felt like it broke, it burned. Then we had a few more minutes. You guys...when the time came to hang up I felt like I was killing something. It was terrible. The moment after I pressed that button I was paralyzed. It took only seconds for me to start sobbing. I shook and shed many tears. I was given about five minutes by my companion to clear up. He told me to get up. He told me that if I focused on the people here it would help me. I agreed with him, but all I wanted to do was cry. It felt terrible to hang up on you guys. It was soooooooooo good to see you. Sooooooo good! But the after effect was awful. After the call we went to sushi for lunch. It was good, but I began picturing Mom and Dad serving with me. I pictured them in their 20s, helping me and talking with me. Even now I'm tearing up. After lunch we returned to the apartment. We read from the Preach My Gospel the section "The Gospel Blesses Families". The moment I began reading I was crying. But as soon as we when out to dendo I was ok.
Sunday was good. I'm becoming more comfortable there. I led the music for sacrament and said the closing prayer. I got lots of comments on my conducting skills. I'm glad I could have helped. After church we had lunch and went out to find less actives and tract. Then we went home and retired for bed.
This morning we cleaned the apartment some more. I got the emails from Mom and Brooklynn which was great. I loved them! Thank you. Keep sending emails, letters and packages because they really cheer me up.
I want to testify of the help of God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Especially since I didn't have time to when we called. Even though the mission is hard, and I mean super hard, I have been strengthened by God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I have been called by a prophet of God to share what I know. I know I'm not perfect, I'm nowhere near perfect. But through the Atonement of Christ I am able to take on this great task. I know I will do good things here in Japan. And I know I will do great things through Christ. Even though it's hard, even though part of me wants to come home, even though I can't speak Japanese very well, I know God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost love me. And I know that my family and friends love me. I have succeeded. I succeeded when I got my mission call. I succeeded when I entered the MTC. And I succeeded when I got to Japan. I have already succeeded. The person I am becoming is because of God and Jesus Christ. I have never felt this kind of happiness before in my life. And the thing is it's not from me. It's a gift from God. So no matter what I'm going to stay out here until I have served a full, valiant, true mission to God. I know that you guys want me out here. There is no place you would rather have me be. I feel the same way. I'm in for the long haul! These next two years are going to go by so fast. When I'm coming home I'm going to be wishing I had more time. Even if it looks super long now. If I trust in God I can do this. I love you guys so much. It hurts how much I love you. I also sorely miss you. When I look at the screen shot I took at the end of our call it gives me strength while also making me tear up XD Thank you so much for loving me and supporting me on the long road it took to get here. I'm here now, and I'm giving it my all, even if my all is weak right now. I know I'll become strong through Christ.
I love you guys so much! Keep writing me and keep praying for me. I am praying for you. Every day, every prayer.
Congratulations Sierra on getting accepted to BYU-Idaho. Spending time there before your mission will help strengthen you. You will learn and grow. Keep dancing, teaching, and doing well in school! Enjoy your senior year. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! :-D
I tried Natou for the first time last night Sierra. It was super nasty, but I tried it. And I didn't throw up. Yay! XD
P.S.S. Below is a video of David's first trip to the post office in Japan. Enjoy! :)
|In Okayama for our zone Christmas Taikai (party)|
|That soup was some kind of meat, mushrooms (which is the stuff that looks like noodles), noodles, and cabbage. It's pretty good.|
|Screenshot of family during Face-Time Christmas Day! :)|
|Selfie in bike helmet.|
|Sushi for lunch|
|Riding bikes out west along the north side of the big lake Shinji-ko.|
|The masked (scarved) missionary.|
|Elder Peacock with companion, Tsuchia Chōrō|
|"Kentucky Christmas" at KFC!|
|Happy Elders :)|