Monday, December 9, 2013

Transfer call results...

Hello everyone! Transfer calls were this morning, and I learned two things:
1) I am going to train a new missionary fresh outta the MTC. I don't know who she is yet, but I expected this (President Budge basically told me during my last interview).
2) I'm getting transferred, to Niigata! I did not see this coming at all. Niigata is the farthest North zone of our mission and actually used to be in Sendai boundaries. I enjoyed hearing about all the snow in Eugene this week, and it'll be like that where I'm going too! Literally a white Christmas.

I'm very, very nervous to be training in an area where I've never been before. When I got the transfer call, he kept saying "We've prayed a lot about this! We feel confident you can do it!" I think they say that to all the missionaries who get an assignment that's a little more than they think they can handle. I'll have to juggle teaching and learning, as I don't know anyone there or how to get anywhere or even where our apartment is. I'm also kind of sad to be leaving Oyama right before Miro's baptism, and Christmas. This place has become my home, and the people here my family. I've heard nothing but good things about Niigata though (other than the fact that it's freezing and covered in snow. Yikes). My image of it was a frozen wasteland in the middle of nowhere, but the area I'm going to is actually a pretty big city. Lots bigger than Oyama. So I'm excited for that!

Anyway, this week was crazy busy! Monday night we took an evening train to Shibuya to spend the night before temple day. It was fun seeing more of the city, and Sister Kubota's new place! Even though the Shibuya Sister's apartment is currently the most expensive missionary apartment in the world, it's pretty old, and I hear they're looking for a new one. I didn't see any cockroaches, but apparently there are lots.

Tuesday morning we went to the temple, which is always good. All the missionaries get to go every transfer (except Niigata zone, because it's too far away. I'll definitely miss the temple get-togethers while I'm there). Afterwards we ate lunch with a bunch of friends, including Sisters Dunn and Willden from my MTC district, and even got ice cream afterwards! It's much warmer in Tokyo than Oyama, so ice cream didn't seem that weird. If anyone has the opportunity to try French Toast flavor from Baskin Robbins anytime soon, I highly recommend it. While in Tokyo I noticed a troubling trend - it seems that many American missionaries have adopted the weird white medical masks that Japanese people wear when they're sick. It's super common, but I still refuse. Never ever. One of the girls was wearing one at the temple, and Brother Harrison, one of the senior couple missionaries, told her in his funny, blunt way, "you look like a bank robber!" I laughed.

When we came back on Tuesday, we had a really good lesson with Miro and his wife. We printed out "Away in a Manger" in Spanish beforehand and had Sister Cortes coach us on pronunciation on the train ride there so that we could sing it to them. I think they really liked it! I love Christmas music. Sister Cortes bought a MoTab CD at the temple bookstore (featuring David Archuletta!) so we've been listening to that recently.

Wednesday we ate pumpkin soup for lunch, visited various people, and got to have a last lesson with Sri before she goes back to Thailand. Then, in the evening, we had a special Christmas-themed Eikaiwa where we taught about the meaning of lots of Christmas symbols (holly, wreaths, candy canes, etc.) Luckily one of the women in our ward had info about it because I sure didn't know any of that stuff beforehand. We also sang carols in English, drank cocoa and made ornaments to decorate the big Christmas tree in the church building. It was really fun, and Aki got to come with some of her friends!

Thursday marked the 6-month mark of my mission. Completely blows my mind. We took a train to Maebashi (about an hour and a half) to go to a training for 2nd-transfer missionaries (Sister Cortes) and their trainers (Sister Taneda). Upon arriving there I was put with two other "extras" who didn't need to go the the training and we were given a bunch of "I'm a Mormon" flyers and told, "be back here in three hours!" It was actually really fun, getting to explore Maebashi and meet people. Lately I've felt like talking to people on the street is getting kind of hard in Oyama, but easy every time I go somewhere else. Maybe I've started to get stuck in a rut... and that's why I'm transferring! After training was over we had lunch with the Utsunomiya sisters before going on companion exchanges with Sister Ikeguchi, the Sister Training Leader. She came to Oyama with us and helped us meet people near the local university. We met two really nice girls who want to meet again, and gave a Book of Mormon to one of them!

Friday morning we had our last district meeting of the transfer, then went home to do weekly planning. In the evening we played ping-pong with some investigators before sharing a quick message with the seminary class. They usually meet in the morning, but Friday is from 7:30 to 8:30. Glad we didn't have to do that!

Saturday all three of us got sick - Sister Taneda blames the cold in Maebashi. I'm not sure what it was, but my throat's pretty scratchy. We walked around by the train station and a nearby outdoor mall, talking to whatever young girls we met. On the bus ride from the mall back to the station I talked to a really nice high schooler who's taking a class trip to Montreal in a few months! I told her that I took a class trip to Montreal too, when I was younger, and it was fun to talk about that. Saturday evening was Stake Conference, so we drove over with the bishop's wife (an hour an a half both ways). I understood a lot more than I thought I would, and it was all about member-missionary work.

Sunday morning was part two of stake conference, and it was wayyy far away. Like two and a half hours by car. It was in a huge community center, not a church building, with ushers and people holding signs in the parking lot and everything. It was pretty cool seeing so many people from the stake, and I recognized a lot of them! I've met people from other wards at random church events like the 40-year anniversary party, wedding reception, etc. After conference we went to a family in our ward's house and ate crab for dinner!

Today, after transfer calls, we met as a zone to play volleyball and ate Indian curry afterwards. It was way fun and way exciting to see where everyone's going. Lots of nervous people, excited people, everything. I have to rush home and pack and figure out how to take my bike apart now... crazy crazy crazy!

Well, out of time now but I hope everyone is going well! I'd appreciate it if people could pray for whatever poor soul gets me as a trainer. "Welcome to Japan, where we get lost in the snow all day!"

Love, Anna

Eating Baskin Robbins ice cream in Tokyo

Decorating the Christmas Tree in Oyama Ward building after Eikaiwa

Thanksgiving dinner with the Oyama District at a member couple's home

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