Monday, August 26, 2013

week 3

It's P-day already! Not too much has changed here - I still barely understand what people are saying, but they're so kind and understanding about it. And they continue to shower us with food. Everything here is so good. The only thing I've tried and not liked is some mochi covered in what looked like caramel, but turned out to be soy-sauce-like. Blech. Also some steak that I was served at a member's house - I didn't throw up, so that's good, but I still can't stand red meat. I don't think I can ever go back.

Today was pretty eventful. We went to a Japanese class taught at a community center in the morning, where I learned a lot and remembered maybe 5% of it. I met a man from Connecticut teaching English here, and we met up with one of our friends from Thailand, Sermsi. She's kind of an investigator, but mostly just likes talking with us. We got lunch together at a curry restaurant that was really good. After lunch, I finally caved and spent $30 on a comfier bike seat. Almost everyone here has really wide granny seats on their bike - I think it's because they're all so skinny and don't have as much padding as we do.

I rode home on my new bike seat with a basket full of groceries, and my skirt held up with a clothespin tied to my bike. We biked for probably around four hours yesterday, and I suffered my first bike casualty - my skirt got caught in the brake and the bottom was shredded. I'll attach a picture. It happened to Sister Kubota too, and hers was even worse than mine. It's rough out here.

The best thing that happened today was we got our AC fixed! It's been broken for about five days, and I felt like I was slowly dying. Sleeping was especially bad - I didn't even use a sheet because it was so hot. Usually I can't fall asleep without at least two quilts! One perk to missionary life is you're so tired by the end of the day that sleep comes very easily. No more insomnia for me.

One of the cons to missionary life is you meet new people all the time who have foreign names that are hard to remember. Sometimes I'll forget someone's name five seconds after they tell me. Usually it's okay, but it's led to some awkward moments when you're asked to pray aloud for their family and you can't for the life of you remember their name. Sometimes I hope that I'll get some divine revelation and remember it just as I need to say it, but I don't think it works that way - so instead I find ways around it, like blessing "the family" or "our friend" or just not using a pronoun at all. You can get away with a lot when people know your Japanese is bad.

On Tuesday I experienced my first Japan downpour. It came out of nowhere, so we didn't have our raincoats, and by the time we got home at night we were completely soaked. I literally looked like I'd just jumped in a pool - I would send a picture, but I don't look so cute in it so you'll just have to take my word for it. Think drowned cat.

On Wednesday we had our first district meeting - there are six of us, plus the two Zone Leaders came. We had a little training, plus a pep talk-ish lesson, and discussed the people we were teaching and asked each other advice. I really liked it. Then in the evening we taught Eikaiwa, and it was really fun. We split into beginner and advanced groups, so I got to teach the advanced group with the other bean-chan (what greenies are called here, along with "greenbean").

Thursday was a little rough. We got our first actual door slammed in our face (accompanied with a "forgive me"... Japanese people are so polite). It was also the day our AC broke, just in time for weekly planning, which takes a few hours. I kept drinking water to keep myself from passing out.

Friday we spent lots of time in members' houses, visiting them and doing mogi (practice) lessons. We were fed very well. On the way home I saw a man riding a bicycle while holding and umbrella and smoking a cigarette. How do people here do it? I can barely handle a bike with two hands.

Saturday we did more visits and practice lessons. We also handed out fliers for Eikaiwa for a bit at the train station. I like being outside in the evening - it's the perfect temperature, and everything looks cool all lit up.

On Sunday there was more food - the ward had a potluck lunch after church, and we went to the Stake President's house for a pizza party with all the youth, which was really fun. One of the families in the ward is hosting an exchange student from Australia, so it was nice for me to get to talk to someone in English. We visited a few people between the potluck and pizza party who lived really far away, plus we got lost, so we spent almost all afternoon on our bikes. Hence the skirt ripping.

Lots of other stuff happened, but I can't remember everything. I started a list of funny things about Japan, so I guess I'll share what I have so far:

• All the big trucks here play ice-cream-truck-like music to warn little kids to stay away
• Japanese people like to salt their watermelon, apparently to bring out the taste. I tried it and thought it tasted like salty watermelon.
• They also peel the skins off of grapes before eating them
• Everything is open much later - like little shops that usually close at 5 or 7 at home are open till 8 or 9 here.
• It's custom to bow and wave continually until you can't see someone anymore when they're driving away
• They use mayonnaise as salad dressing. I might have said this before but I've never been so shocked because of food before
• Napkins aren't really a thing, paper or cloth - sometimes there's a box of tissues in the middle of the table, but you need like 50 of them to do the job of a regular napkin
• Even though it's a million degrees out, lots of women wear loose sleeve things that look like arm warmers to protect their skin from the sun
• Everyone wears crocs. Literally everyone. I guess it makes sense in this climate... still, I refuse out of pride.
• Most people's crocs are worn with socks, kind of defeating the purpose of having an airy shoe

That's all for now, hope I didn't forget anything too big!
Love, Anna

Anna and her new wheels!

Skirt shredded in bike brake - oops

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