Monday, November 18, 2013

hello from iceland

Mina san, konnichiwa! It is FREEZING here. I know this is only the beginning of winter, but it's still pretty tough sometimes. Especially in skirts. Leaving the house without tights now is unthinkable, so I had to buy a lot more, and my size is a little hard to find. I don't know if you were aware of this, but I'm a little taller than the average Japanese person. We also bought some "heat-tech" long sleeve shirts that are awesome. Yikes, I need to stop spending money. This place is like a shopper's paradise, with cute stuff everywhere that I convince myself I need and can afford. If Luke comes here you best keep him on a short leash.

Tuesday this week was awesome. In the morning we visited one of our investigators, then a less-active member (and her FOUR cats. Awesome). Later, we visited a lady in our ward's mother, who was in the hospital after being hit by a car. She's currently in rehabilitation and pretty lonely during the day, because her family members all work and can only come see her in the evenings. She also doesn't speak much Japanese, so it made her really happy to get to talk to Sister Cortes in Spanish for a while (and occasionally a few things to me and Sister Taneda). While leaving the hospital I saw sumo wrestling on TV - I think it was the first time I've actually seen real people do it, not just cartoons or Veggie Tales. Super weird. In the evening we had "family home evening" at the church with the Elders, ward members, and two of our investigators, finishing it with a ping-pong tournament. I was out pretty early.

Wednesday we taught a mogi (role play) lesson to a lady in our ward, then had lunch with her afterwards. I don't think practice lessons are a thing in America, but here we do them maybe once or twice a week to practice Japanese (and ask for referrals). It was way yummy, and she gave us a ton of food afterwards too. We had three heads of lettuce in our fridge, all gifts from members, so Sister Taneda kept saying "lettuce party!", without even knowing that it sounded like "let us party." We laughed about that one for a while - we pretty much think everything is funny these days, whether it actually is or not. Sister Taneda's laugh is infectious and sometimes I have to remind myself to not look like a middle school girl! Before teaching Eikaiwa we had a short lesson with one of our investigators, and it was really great because it was the first time she said a sincere prayer, using her own words. We'd taught her about prayer before but she was always more concerned with how to say it than what it meant, and just read the steps aloud from the pamphlet. This time it came from her heart.

Thursday and Friday we spent mostly with members; visiting less-actives, eating dinner, mogi lessons. I've really been feeling closer to the ward lately, and it's awesome. I've grown to love them so much. Friday we also had zone training, where we had little lessons given by older missionaries on various topics.

Saturday we got a break from all the cold, and spent the beautiful sunny day getting lost in the Japanese countryside. We went to visit an investigator who works at a flower nursery that's about a 25-minute bike ride from our apartment. But we thought we'd take a shortcut (literally every story that starts that way ends badly) and the journey ended up taking over an hour. But it was fun! Trekking through the mud and rice paddies, grateful that Sister Taneda could read the GPS because it's all in Japanese and I don't understand it at all. Anyway, by the time we finally got to the greenhouse our investigator wasn't there - zan nen! It was sort of funny, in a way. We consoled ourselves by eating takoyaki and talking to all the young mothers with cute Japanese babies at a nearby mall.

Church was way fun this Sunday - it was the primary program! There were about 8 kids between 3 and 12 who spoke and sang. In some ways it was exactly like the primary program at home - varying levels of memorization, cute and extremely enthusiastic off-key singing, and every single kid trying to fiddle with the microphone. In the middle of it all I remembered the infamous primary program when Ben forgot his lines and said "crap" into the microphone, which sounded across the whole chapel. Good times.

Sunday evening we also saw a miracle. We went out looking for a kinjin ("golden person" in Japanese, what we call people who actually want to take lessons from us after first meeting) and were just about to head home when we saw a bunch of people leaving a university building. We decided to go check it out, and stopped a girl around our age heading out to ask her what was going on. She said she'd spent all day there, listening to a seminar on truth and how to find it. What a coincidence! We told her WE were really interested in finding truth too, and spent all our time teaching about it! Then her sister and friend came over, and we all talked for a while. They were super nice and wanted to exchange phone numbers so we could meet again. Yosh!

P-day today was pretty calm. We went to the Japanese class in the morning and had lunch with our friends there afterwards, then visited a nice old lady to sing a hymn to her. After getting some things at the dollar shop we went to Mr. Donuts... again. It's embarrassing how much we go there. They recently discontinued their point cards, much to my dismay - probably because missionaries were abusing them too much. They're doing a Peanuts promotion right now, and if you look closely you can see that our donuts are shaped like Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Peanuts is really big here, but no one knows it's name - they just call everything "Snoopy."

Hope everything's well at home!

Anna and Sisters Taneda and Cortes at Mr Donut.

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