Sunday, February 2, 2014

new beginnings


This week was full of new investigators, fresh starts, and motivation to be better. We are still having kind of a problem with phone calls being ignored and texts going unanswered, so we spent lots of finding new people to teach by knocking on doors, talking to strangers on the streets, and calling up names written in our area book. Our efforts paid off and we found five new investigators! Looking forward to telling you how those lessons go in next week's email.

Last P-day, after emailing, Sister Wigginton and I biked out to a recycle shop, which is what they call the second-hand stores here. They're EVERYWHERE, and way awesome! Makes me kind of mad I ever shopped anywhere else. Think Goodwill prices, but everything is set up all nice, like a boutique. I got a coat that's a little less scary than the long black raincoat I always wear, and it was only four dollars! We also got to meet Ku, a mother with the world's cutest four-year-old daughter, that the Elders met "housing" and referred to us. She's super sweet and wants to come to church!

Tuesday, while biking home from the train station, a girl recognized me when we were both stopped at a crosswalk. She was riding on the back of her friend's bike - people do that all the time here. It's funniest when it's two college-age boys. Anyway, she was like "remember me?" and she asked about the other sisters, and seemed to know where we lived, but I could not for the life of me remember who she was. I talk to so many people every day, and I'm always scared of something like that happening. Anyway, we rode our bikes side-by-side the whole way home, talking, and she mentioned her and her friend were going to go eat ramen at the nearby mall. After we split ways we ran into the other sisters outside our apartment, and asked them "how do you feel about... ramen?" So, like the creepy, desperate-for-friends missionaries we are, we biked to the mall to surprise them. And they were surprised! Probably thought we were stalkers. Didn't plan that one out in my head super well. But hopefully they'll call us?

Wednesday we met a new investigator for lunch, who told us right after we sat down that she has no interest in religion, just in knowing how other people think. Ugh. Unfortunately we meet a lot of those people - but actually I have some hope for her. We asked her if she'd every prayed, and she said no, so we told her she could never know if God really existed or not without trying it out. I think it got to her, at least a little. That night for Eikaiwa we taught the advanced class, which was just three people who all have really good English. They were really funny and went off on random tangents all the time, including Justin Bieber, global warming (Japanese people LOVE talking about global warming) and the difference between vegans and vegetarians. I love Eikaiwa.

Every Thursday is weekly planning day, which I always sort of dread and look forward to at the same time. It takes forever but really does motivate us to finish the week strong and make goals for the next one. We didn't have much "dendo" time, but were able to meet some new people and teach Ku a little bit. The Sado sisters came and slept at our apartment that night in preparation for the next day's conference.

On Friday, Elder Scott Whiting came to speak to both Niigata zones. It was amazing! It was his last day on his tour of our mission, and he said really great things that we needed to hear. Both Elder Whiting and his wife served in the Tokyo mission, so it was fun hearing their stories. One of my favorite things that he said was when he challenged us to be bolder and to start testifying right away about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I think one of the worst things as a missionary is when I'll stop someone and chat with them forever about shopping, or their hobbies, or the weather, and then they'll have to go and I'm all "wait, that's not actually why I wanted to talk to you!" but it's too late. I always have to remember why I came here - not as a student, or a tourist, or an adventurer, but as a representative of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I forget.

After the conference I went upstairs for a special "mission leadership council" with the Budges, the Whitings, the Assistants and the Zone leaders. It was sort of intimidating to talk in such a small room with the Whitings and the Budges there and I'm pretty sure my face turned scarlet when it was my turn. I'm still struggling a little to find all this STL stuff out - I've yet to be added to the email list, so I have to rely on forwards from other people, which resulted in my missing the first weekly conference call because it got switched to a Monday and no one told me. Most weeks, on Tuesday mornings, all the ZLs and STLs go on a big conference call with President Budge and talk about the baptisms that week and other announcements. Luckily I made it this week, but it still took me forever to find out how to mute and un-mute the phone so I could answer when they did role call. Embarrassing. I continue to be the world's least technologically competent person ever. I think I broke the DVD player in our apartment but I'm waiting to call tech staff about it because I've had to call way too many times recently for other things.

Hopefully I have better luck with the iPad minis, which are coming next week. It's official. Our mission still doesn't use Facebook though, and I'm kind of relieved. That would be super weird to have all my Facebook stuff available to distract me.

Saturday was really nice out, so we took the train to a huge park a while away and talked to all the people there playing with their kids or walking their dogs. No huge success there, but we met a nice lady on the train ride back. I asked her what the hardest part about life was, and she answered "not knowing who I am or why I'm here." What a coincidence! That's sort of why we came to Japan - to teach about that! We're meeting with her on Friday.

Sunday was gorgeous outside - easily the warmest it's been since I came to Niigata. It made it so much more enjoyable to be outside all day after church, knocking on doors. Church was pretty entertaining as well - one of the members got up to bear his testimony, first in English and then in Japanese, about the "most important issue in the Church right now," global warming. I wasn't lying before.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. Pictures -  a glimpse of the park (probably prettier in the spring, I guess), and us in our Eskimo coats.

Much love,

Park in Niigata - probably prettier in Spring

Niigata Sisters in Eskimo coats

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