Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas from Japan!

Merry Christmas from Japan!

Merikirisumasu watashi no kazoku!!

Well, I've made it through (roughly) one week in Japan! The travel last Monday was crazy. We nearly missed our international flight out of LAX to Narita which would have been bad. We really hustled to our planes all that day. But I eventually made it to the mission home after 24+ hours of travel. President Welch and Sister Welch were very happy to see us, and I was very happy to see them! We had dinner in the mission home and were quickly off to bed. Up to that point it did feel like I was in a different place. But the point where it really hit me that I was in Japan was the next morning when we all went running, and here is why.

Since I got my call I've been picturing what it would be like to run through the streets of Japan. And that morning was like running through my dream! It was amazing! The rest of that day we were instructed by Pres. Welch and Sister Welch. We also had interviews with Pres. Welch. The next day consisted of more instruction, meeting our companions, gathering everything and shipping out. We gathered in the chapel where all of the trainers were with a mission map projected on a wall. Pres. Welch called each of us one by one and told us where we were going and who our companion was. I was called up second to last, before Bieber Chōrō I mean Stolworthy Chōrō XD jk [just kidding].  I was given Mostue as my area and Tsuchia Chōrō as my trainer! Tsuchia Chōrō is a Nihongin that can speak English VERY well, albeit not fluent. No, he didn't act like he couldn't speak English (although part of me wishes he had). We quickly gathered our stuff and embarked on the 6 hour journey consisting of train, waiting, and bus. It was 8:30 my time when we got to Motsue.

On the way to Motsue is had snowed a little so I knew it was going to be cold. When we got off the bus it was very cold and raining. It took about 30 minutes to find our apartment in the dark. The apartment is right next to the church building which is very nice. The apartment is older and kind of cluttered. You can tell many, many elders have left stuff here. There are, no exaggeration, 10 pairs of dress and tennis shoes in the geinkan. There is partially used food in the fridge, food out on the counter, crumbs everywhere, and dishes in the sink. Less than a clean and neat welcome, but it's fine. Tsuchia Chōrō and I are planning on overhauling it today. I'm really hoping to get a lot done in the apartment. But we quickly went to bed.

The first real day of field work was awesome! We study up until lunch for the first few days. After lunch we went to a bike shop to get my bike. We walked about 20 min to the shop where we were greeted by a man who recognized is as Mormon missionaries. He was very kind and warm. "We" (more like they XD) talked about bikes and then he gave us some bike catalogues. It was about 10 minutes of me looking and them talking when I heard Tauchia Chōrō say 'Kamisama', which means 'God'. In that instant I froze. They were having a gospel conversation and I was looking at a bike catalogue...what should I do? More like what COULD I do?! For the next five minutes I pretended to look at the catalogue when Tsuchia Chōrō says to me, "Peacock Chōrō, he asked why you believe this." The moment I have been waiting for. I told him that I have received blessing through prayer and reading the scriptures and that I have felt God's love. That's all I said. He seemed to approve. He was impressed at how much Japanese I knew. They continued talking while I kept searching through the catalogue. We eventually chose a bike and ordered it. The man is also taking a chunk of money off the price of the bike for us! How nice is that! They didn't have it in stock because of my American size XD. It should be here next week though. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said if I teach him English he will teach me Japanese. Freaking yes!!! I can't believe that actually happened. Tsuchia Chōrō said that it was definitely a blessing that we met him. I'm so glad we did!

Friday (my time) was a good day too. After study and lunch we headed out to meet with less- actives. We met a sister who said she would come to the ward Christmas party later that day. And she did! It was great to see her there. The party was filled with food and talk. This was the first time I had met anyone from the ward so there were many introductions. The ward is a legit ward, albeit barely I think. We have a member who is a computer programming genius and has his own Mormon Message. He is in the bishopric and is awesome. You can tell he really loves his family. There are lots of goofy brothers who are fun to be with. And a lot of the sisters are very nice. I don't know them that well so I will fill you in on the details as I get to know them.

Saturday was greeted with coughing. Yep, I'm sick. Then it was just a cough but now it's accompanied by a stuffy nose and head cold. I got cough drops so that's been helping. We found a less active member who was so sweet. She lives down-town and when we invited her to come to church she accepted. When we saw her yesterday at church she came up and told us thank you for visiting her last night. I could feel her sincerity and was very happy because of it. That was the highlight of my Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday… about half the day was spent in the church building. We met with the ward mission leader. Don't really know what they said exactly but that's ok. I got to try and introduce myself at the pulpit. I doc an ok job but it was pretty basic. The lessons were good because even though I didn't understand what they were saying I still felt good. The children are so cute in this ward! Love it. After lunch we tried to find some less actives but the maze of Japanese neighborhoods wouldn't allow it so easily. Eventually we found a member. She said we can visit with her next week because she is leaving town tomorrow. I tell you, I cannot wait until I get my bike! Travel will be soooooooo much faster! I retired to bed an hour early to get more rest.

Today has been a good day so far. Still feeling sick but taking care of myself. We studied, cleaned, and are going to attend a Zone Christmas party tomorrow night. We are also going to go shopping with a ward member because he offered to give us a ride. So nice! I'm excited to get some night time cold medicine!

Now I'll tell you about Motsue. Motsue is in the north-west corner of the mission, right on the coast. However, we can't see the ocean because there are mountains in the way. There are lakes on both the east and west sides of us. Apparently there is a "castle" in Motsue so I'll try to find it. Since it is winter it's cold here. Wearing my sweater and scarf isn't enough so I'm going to get a coat and a couple of other sweaters. It's cheaper to buy them here then to have you send them. And if you had sent them before I came I might have paid more baggage fees. So it's ok. But yeah, it's rained a couple of times. I haven't seen it snow yet though. There are no legit sidewalks or painted lines to split the road on the smaller roads. This was sketchy for a day then I got used to it. Cars just do their best to slow down and maneuver around pedestrians. There are lots of hills and mountains here. We haven't gotten to the mountains yet though. Since we are walking right now travel is slow but interesting since I get to notice a lot of little things. Like how small the garages are here because literally 70% of the cars here are miniature boxes on wheels. I swear, every other car I see is a box. And they make them look cool! Like, mega cool!!! Suzuki and Daughtsun are really a thing over here. And I literally see Hondas 60% of the time. From boxes to sleek crossovers they are everywhere! And I have seen three different minivans that Honda and Toyota make that are this year. Which means each of them make three different minivans for the Japanese market. How in the world!!! I don't know how they can do that. But probably the most popular car I have seen is the Honda N-Box. It's a four seater box that I could probably never fit in XD And then I see an American variant of a car and I feel fat just looking at it like, "wow, ew", basically.

The people here are kind in Motsue. We have been able to talk to every teenage/young adult male we have tried to talk to. They have all been receptive and respectful. There is a lot more about Motsue than I have yet learned so I'll fill you in as I learn more.

We cleaned the apartment for an hour and the difference is amazing! All of the closets have doors now, the bathroom is de-cluttered, floors swept, and the cooking space organized. We both feel a lot better now. By the way, I got a slip letting me know I have a package. I'll call them to pick it up later today. I'll wait to open it for Christmas. XD

Speaking of Christmas...FACETIME!!! I just talked with my companion and he said that Nihonjin missionaries Skype on Christmas Day here. And that USA missionaries are encouraged to FaceTime the day-after Christmas here which is your Christmas Day. I'm so excited to see you guys!!!

So the bike is going to be around 600 dollars. Then I need to get some clothing and other items today. I haven't tried buying anything with USD using my card so I'll try that today with something small. I haven't used my mission card either. I'm going to try to pull out money and change it at a post office. We'll see what I can do. And the unused money on my card at the end of each month does carry over to the next month. That's really nice. I'm emailed every week notifying me of my mission card balance. I am going to try not to spend a lot of money here, just what I need to get. I also really don't want to incur any fees because yeah.

I've only been here one week and have already been experiencing difficult things. One of them is being in a completely different world. And I know, more than ever, that I need to rely on God. That is why the mission is hard. So I can turn to Him for everything. And I will always turn to Him.

Pikoku Chōrō
Arrival at apartment in Matsue

Unpacking our luggage in room

Sleeping quarters, bedding.

Study area.

Kitchen left to us in messy condition.


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