Well, I've been in Senzokuike for five days now. And I love it! From the moment I got here I noticed it had this certain vibe, as cheesy as it sounds, and it's just awesome. Plus Yamauchi Shimai is the world's best companion. She pushes me to be better, even in the small things like SYL-ing (Speak Your Language). We're encouraged to speak Japanese as much as possible with our companions but let's just say that before this transfer my SYL skills were a zero on a scale of one to ten. It's really hard to get into it if your companion isn't, because then you just feel dumb. So this is awesome. We speak Japanese more than English and hopefully it'll help me learn more. This transfer all the Sister Training Leaders are together in companionships, like Zone Leaders are, so it's nice to be able to have a partner in everything and not feel like I have no clue what I'm doing.
After transfer calls, we rushed to call up all our investigators to try to get last lessons in before I left. Unfortunately not everyone could meet, but we kept really busy. The original plan was to leave Thursday morning but then it got switched to Wednesday afternoon, which was a bummer because then I couldn't go to my last Eikaiwa (where I'd planned on saying goodbye to half the people we were teaching). So that meant even more rearranging, which was stressful, but everything eventually worked out. I really, really love Niigata and was sad to say goodbye.
So Wednesday I mostly spent on the bus, with 8 other missionaries headed back to Tokyo. There was a big group of companions/members/investigators waiting to see us off, and there was much hugging and picture taking and giving gifts (it seems in Japan you can't say goodbye without presents). We got off the bus around 8 PM and struggled to find our way to the Shibuya sisters' apartment to stay the night there. That place is nuts. So busy.
Then, Thursday morning, I met Yamauchi Shimai and we went off to Senzokuike! Neither of us really knew where we were going, and we took a couple wrong trains, but the good thing about trains in Tokyo is that they come every five minutes so it's not like in Oyama where if you missed one, you were stranded for an hour. We eventually found our apartment and were in by Sister Hall and Sister Day, our roommates who work in the Tokyo 2nd (English speaking) ward. Both our wards meet in the same building, but at different times in the day. I love my new apartment - it's very clean and cute and everyone actually has their own desk! First time that's happened. Unfortunately the futon selection isn't quite as big as in Niigata and we essentially sleep on hardwood floors cushioned by one comforter. Eh, I'm used to it by now.
We got to meet with our Bishop on Thursday night, which was really good. He has big dreams for the Senzokuike ward and so do we! We're whitewashing, and don't have many investigators now, but I'm very hopeful about this place. We had a mogi lesson with a member on Friday and before we even asked, she told us about her family's mission plan, including four different people she wanted to invite to church. Awesome! We really, really want to build good relationships with the members and find people to teach through them.
And I think we're off to a pretty good start. Church here was awesome - so much bigger than any other ward I've ever been to in Japan! Usually 120-130 people come every week. Everyone was so kind and welcoming and made a huge fuss over me and Yamauchi Shimai. Upon hearing our names they asked the same questions that we've now come to expect - "Are you related to General MacArthur?" (me) and "Wait, are you Japanese?" (Yamauchi Shimai). She's a quarter Japanese but doesn't look it at all so people are always confused when they hear her Japanese name. She's almost as tall as me too, so they loved that.
Oh! And cool story: I was talking to one of the men in our ward and he told me he used to live in Pasadena, so I asked if he knew the Bradfords. And he did! Brother Ikeda. He liked hearing what all the kids were up to, and I met his wife too. Small world. There's also a lady in my ward who's son is serving in Eugene right now - have you ever met an Elder Nakamura? I think right now he's in Coos Bay.
Also, everyone here speaks English. It's crazy.
Cool miracle story of the week: we were on our way to the train station Saturday evening when we ran into a mom and her 2-year-old daughter and started talking to them. She told us she had some friends in our church and had been before! Then, before we even asked, she wrote down all her contact info and asked us to come visit her. That was literally the first time that had ever happened to me on my mission - people are usually much more guarded. So we visited the next day, with the whole family (another miracle that the husband was welcoming, too) and while we were talking we realized that we'd heard of them before - it was one of the families the lady in our ward was planning on inviting to us! She'd told us their names, we just hadn't realized at the time that it was the same people. And we randomly met them in the street. Crazy!! I don't believe in coincidences. Not at all.
We've met so many great people already and I can't wait for all the stories we'll get to share next week. Love you all! Take care.
|Goodbye to Niigata with friends and most of our district|
|Anna & Yamauchi Shimai iPad selfie|