I hope everyone is doing well. This week was hot - reminded me of when I first got here. Everyone keeps talking about how miserably cold winter is in Japan but honestly I'm so ready to be done with this heat. I'm sure I'll regret saying that in a few months, but oh well. Halloween is approaching and even though it's relatively new in Japan a lot of people's houses are decorated - it makes me feel like I'm trick-or-treating when we go knocking on doors! However, since I'm currently a representative of Jesus Christ, it might be distasteful to go back and T.P. the people who shut their doors in our faces.
I told Sister Kubota it was her turn to decide what to do for P-day today so we cleaned the apartment for an hour an a half... yay! Haha actually it wasn't that bad... cleaning has become incredibly satisfying for me. Yikes I'm turning into such a good little Mormon homemaker, it's scary. OK I shouldn't say that mockingly, I just listened to the conference talk yesterday about the importance of women in the home and how noble their work is. Kuiaratameru [repent?]!
Conference was awesome, by the way. I got to listen to it in English! I think this was the first time I've ever gotten through all 8 hours without falling asleep. Being a missionary will do that to ya. I actually listened to one talk in Japanese, and while I still barely understood anything, I was able to pick out a lot more that I thought I'd be able to. So I guess that's progress? Aki came to watch some, and K. too, and they both seemed to really like it.
Now for the miracle of the week... we set a baptismal date with Aki!! She still has trouble believing she'll be able to make the necessary changes in time, but I think having a concrete goal will help motivate her and give her self-confidence. She works so hard, and has to take care of so many people in her very complicated and confusing family situation, that I want more than anything for her to be able to experience the peace and happiness the gospel brings. She deserves it. I've never met anyone with more desire - or more obstacles in their way - to get baptized.
We had a special 2-zone conference on Thursday, where we got training from the Budges, the APs, zone leaders, and mission doctors. They put a lot of emphasis on being ready - we talked about emergency preparedness, staying healthy, and preparing ourselves to teach. There were a lot of football analogies and we all now have a PDF file made by President Budge called the "playbook" where we can store all of our favorite scriptures, stories, and teaching aids to have on hand at all times. We also got a chance at the end to hear from all of the missionaries leaving next transfer - I knew them all, and they were amazing examples to me of faith and dedication. It's hard to imagine our mission without them.
One good consequence of the zone conference was that after all they said about the importance of cardiovascular exercise, Sister Kubota said she'd set a goal to run every morning this week! So now I can too!! I'd been missing it. I always feel bad asking to go running since neither of the other two ever wanted to. We had a few times before though, whenever Sister Kubota could tell that I needed it. Haha like one time when I was pounding down potato chips saying "make me stop! I'm stress eating!" and she suggested that we run the next morning. There's a small park next to our apartment with a round dirt path surrounding a grassy hill where we like to go. P.S. I'm in awful shape and get out of breath way too fast. Biking builds muscle but doesn't work your lungs so much.
We finally got around to buying Sister Cortes' bike this week, and she picked a really cute red one. For the first time I noticed how dirty and beat-up mine already looked after two months. We all named our bikes too - Sister Kubota's is The White Avenger, mine's the Black Cat, and Sister Cortes' Sakura chan (Japanese cherry blossoms). As you can see, we're super creative and didn't just pick names to go along with the bikes' colors.
Sister Kubota's been encouraging me to lead whenever we go anywhere on bikes, to help me practice remembering directions, and I've been struggling. My inability to navigate is even worse here (no street signs! How is anyone supposed to find anything?) and the thought of being senior companion terrifies me. Our phone has a GPS but it's all in Japanese characters, so not super helpful. I really have no idea what's going to happen next transfer - me leaving, Sister Kubota leaving, or all three of us staying. I'm trying not to think about it.
Also I'm still a freak here - people stare at me everywhere we go. Today was a good morning because BOTH people I said konnichiwa to while biking past said it back! Usually I get blank stares. And it's not because people are rude - Sister Kubota always gets konnichiwas back when she says it - it's because they're shocked to hear it from me. It'll be nice when I go back to school to get lost in a sea of tall white people.
Kyotsukette, ne! (take care)