Sunday, March 27, 2016

First Week in Sekime

2016.3.20 [Sorry this was delayed due to David's family being on Spring Break vacation.]

こんにちはかぞく! (Kon'nichiwa kazoku)

How are my peeps? XD I now have one week under my belt of my new area. I've been all over
the place but I still can't seem to find my way around anywhere except to the church. There is so much big city in the Sekime area! I have really been enjoying it though. There is no shortage of shops, people, or sight-seeing attractions. I'm really looking forward to my time here in Sekime.

Well, after emailing last Monday we didn't do a whole lot. We got groceries, got our bikes tuned up, made a post office run, watched videos from, then wiped down our bikes (which was way nice). Once we started dendo at 6:00 we tried to visit a few people. Only one of them was home, but he was sick and you could tell it was really affecting him so we weren't able to teach a lesson. So, after all of those visits we went to the big park across the street and talked with a couple of people. It was pretty cold so not many people were out. After that we stopped at this food stand on the way home to get takoyaki. Takoyaki is a ball of dough with octopus that isn't really cooked all the way because that's how Japanese people like it. And because it isn't cooked all the way the dough is super hot. So, if you’re not careful, you could end up putting a lava ball in your mouth. That's kind of like what I did XD It was good though.

Tuesday greeted us with blue sky and puffy, white clouds. It was still chilly, but much better than the previous day. We started our day by going to the Osaka Castle park to try and find people to talk to. Unfortunately we forgot to take into account that is was White Day. White Day is basically another Valentine’s Day. So there were tons of people there, but many of them were not from Osaka. But, something very interesting happened. We had been there for about 20 minutes and were walking down a wide path when we saw two women smiling very big at us. It kind of startled me to be honest XD There was an awkward moment of us both thinking, "are they going to stop us, are we going to stop them, who's going to..." But we ended up stopping them. They were there to talk about their religion, which was Buddhism. They were very forward and tried to get us to go to their temple, but we didn't have time to. We wouldn't have been able to anyways because they were women and we can't ride in cars with only women. So, we didn't right then, but we set up an appointment for Wednesday afternoon to visit them and to teach each other. We talked with them about how all religions have some truth and how many religions teach great things. They really like this because they felt the same way. We also talked about how many Japanese people do not want religion, especially Jesus Christ. Anyways, it should be interesting. Hopefully they won't attack us or do anything weird XD After the park we went to another park where we tried to talk to some skaters because Racker Chōrō usually tried to talk to skaters. It was a pretty park with lots of cool stuff. They have a dinosaur and a pirate ship on the playground. They have a skate park and dirt bike track. And lots of room for fishing. And, for some reason, lots of cats *shrug*. We were able to talk to an older man who landscapes the park and apparently he has met with the missionaries before and would be willing to meet with them again sometime, but not right now. After that we made our way home for dinner. At this point Racker Chōrō's stomach was acting up a bit so we were taking it slow. After dinner he started feeling better. I was worried he would have to stay home. But, that was not the case, so we were able to head back out. We travelled to Jeikaiwa at a school in town. Since it was my first time I had to fill out paperwork and introduce myself. I got to the part where I say my favorite foods and I started listing off Japanese foods and they all start oohing and it's funny and stuff. After Jeikaiwa we headed home to end our day.

So, we were very excited to wake up Wednesday morning knowing we were going to visit a Buddhist church later that day XD It was the first thing on our list of things to do that day, so after lunch we headed out. They greeted us outside their church building very kindly. They were very kind throughout the whole visit. We started by going to the top of their building to their Chapel of sorts. And on the way up we passed a woman coming down and add I passed her she stopped me and put 1000 yen bill in my hand and told me something but I couldn't understand her. So I don't know if I was supposed to do something with it, or if she was trying to bribe me to convert, or something. I have no idea. Like, what the heck just happened? They had about ten pews in the room. At the front was a very ornate set of tables and chandelier things that were leafed in gold. It was all very pretty. We didn't have to pray to anything which was good...but we did end up doing some chants XD I was totally freaking out in my head like, "what the heck is going on". And every time we passed a door they both bowed to it. It felt a little strange XD We then went to a private room where a purist came in to talk to us about why we were there. We told him we wanted to learn more about the Buddhist religion because every time we meet someone who claims to be Buddhist we ask them what they believe and they never really know. They just use it as a scapegoat most of the time. Usually because their family is Buddhist they will claim to be Buddhist. So, he began to explain where Buddhism came from and what they believe. I didn't get most of it though because he was using a lot of old Japanese. They were really friendly the whole time. They weren't aggressive at all. Even when they asked us about how we are spreading Christianity as missionaries. After we headed out Racker Chōrō explained everything that was spoken to me. Apparently there are many Buddhas. However, the first Buddha, the original Buddha, is a Father figure who watches over all of humanity. Then there is another Buddha that protects us. They believe that we are supposed to continually gain knowledge throughout life. And as we do this we can reach enlightenment. When we reach enlightenment we have the opportunity to live with the original Buddha forever, which is the greatest desire of this life. Then, as we reach enlightenment we can become Buddhas as well, like the original Buddha...the similarities are crazy!! We believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that he watches over us continually. We believe that the Holy Ghost protects and guides us. We want to live with God again. We believe in continually gaining knowledge in this life to benefit us in the next. We believe that we can become gods like our Heavenly Father. So, yeah, or religions are super similar! Isn't it amazing how connected everything is!? It was way cool. We are planning on visiting one more time in a week or two. After that visit we tried to visit The Man but he wasn't home. After that we went to the park to try to talk to people and do some finding. Then we headed back to our apartment for dinner. Then we had Eikaiwa for the rest of the night. I got to meet more members and friends which was nice. I was struggling to teach because many of them are not good at English. It was fun though. Trying to explain English things in Japanese is a struggle XD

Thursday was taken up mostly by our Weekly Planning Session. After planning we headed to a big dome thing to do finding and just to find out what it was because we had passed it many times and it really made us curious. Turns out the dome is part of a sport complex and the done itself is an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Yeah, it's away cool structure. After that we tried to visit a progressing investigator named Honbo. Unfortunately she wasn't home so we ended up putting in lessons because we aren't very good about doing it every day XD Then  we went to the park because we had about 30 minutes left. We rode around for about five minutes when I felt super prompted to park our bikes, so we did. Looked around and saw a middle-aged man smoking on a bench. I knew we needed to talk to him. We walked over and introduced ourselves and he asked if we were Christians. We said we were and he said he was too! He went on to tell us that he attended a Christian church as a kid. Then he got involved in not good stuff, but he had always wanted to go back. He has kept the good feeling from church in his heart all these years. He said he has been feeling like he's needed to go back to church recently and then we came. He seemed to think it was more than coincidence. I know it wasn't. We invited him to church and I think he will come. He was open to meeting again. So, hopefully he will come to church. After that we headed back to our apartment and ended our day.

Friday morning we woke up at 4:30 for, you guessed it, early morning seminary! Good stuff. Most of that class period was for memorization. After that we rode our bikes to district meeting. We had doughnuts for breakfast which was great! We talked about how our Atonement study is
going. Then we talked about working with members and getting people to church. Afterwards we had sushi for lunch. Then we began companion exchanges. I was with the district leader while Racker Chōrō was with the other companion. We did a lot of biking that day. We biked an hour south to meet with an investigator to whom we extended a baptismal invitation, and he accepted it! It will be later in April so that is way awesome! After that visit we were on our way to another investigator when my bike decided to freak out. I was riding on even pavement, I didn't bump against our run over anything when it happened. At first it felt like my rear tire popped. But upon closer inspection we discovered that one of the wheel spokes had snapped. And because the spoke snapped the wheel became all wonky therefore unridable. We had to walk about 30 minutes to the closest bike shop to get it fixed. It only took 10 minutes and less than 20 dollars before we were able to ride back out. We decided to do some finding by a nearby eki. We did that for about 45 minutes before we had to make the now hour+ ride back to their apartment. After we got back we dried off from the rain that started while we were at the eki. Then we made burritos!

After breakfast, study, and lunch we headed back to our area and apartment. During Friday and all of Saturday we were experiencing rain, but it was still super warm. It was very interesting, but
apparently the summer is like 10X worse XD after we got back to our apartment we unpacked and headed out to Umeda to meet a referral that we had met the previous week. The mother was there and we had only talked a few minutes when she invited us in to talk to her son on Skype. The son is in Arizona so it was like 12:30 at night for him. His English is literally perfect, accent and everything. It kind of messed with me a lot XD We invited him to attend church and he accepted. We will meet with them again next week. After that we traveled back for dinner. After dinner we headed to the park to talk to people. We met four older men playing aboard game called Shogi, which is kind of like a mix of checkers and chess. So, basically, it's kind of like Shogi XD Then, on our way out, we ran into a member so I got to meet her. After the park we ended our day.

Sunday was pretty normal. We had someone walk in off the street again though so that was cool. He said he had been to our church a few times over the years. We taught a recent-convert lesson during second hour. After church we were supposed to have a meeting but it got moved so we went home for lunch. One member have us a ton of American chips like Lay's, Ruffles, and Doritos! We studied then headed out to visit less-active members and invite them to Useman Kyōdai's FHE. Every Sunday Brother Useman had a giant meal and FHE at his home. He always brings lots of friends and members. After that we headed home to end our day.

Today we cleaned after study. Then we headed out to do some shopping. It's sunny and mild right now. We are at the church cleaning our bikes and shining our shoes while we email. We are planning on having a meal with a member around 5:00. It had been a very good preparation day so far.

As we near Easter I think about the great opportunity we have to listen to our prophets and apostles twice a year. I wait with anticipation for their guidance. I know they are chosen men of God who have great faith in Christ. We must cherish their council because their words are the words of God. I love you all! Fight the good fight and never give up!

Pikoku Chōrō

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