Sunday, March 23, 2014

Time's flyin

Hello again!

Man time flies out here. We had a really busy week, with Zone Training and 2 splits. And teaching the gospel. But it was a great week and lots of miracles happened!

The biggest one being Mary. We've been keeping in frequent contact with her and her mom, teaching short lessons and involving the Young Women her age. On Thursday we had a fun crepe/pancake night at the church (not knowing that there were like five other activities going on at the same time... Who knew Thursday evening would be so busy?) with Mary and two other 13-year-old girls from the ward. They helped us teach about the Restoration and Joseph Smith, and we set a baptismal date for April 13th! She's really excited about it. Our one worry was getting her dad's permission, since I guess his family is pretty high up in some Buddhist church.

But then Mary surprised us. She's pretty shy, and we were thinking about how to prepare her to talk to her dad. But then without us even knowing she went and asked him! At first he said no, but then she started crying and told him she really really wanted to. Eventually he sort of gave in and said to do what she wants, but he still isn't too happy about it. Hopefully his heart will soften as he sees her going to church and making friends and being happy.

Other big news is that we're using Facebook now. Not everyone has it yet - it's sort of in a testing period with ZLs and STLs - but soon it will be a mission-wide thing. So far we've mostly been using it to communicate with people we meet and add to our friends, and also adding the members in our ward to stay connected with them. To be honest it took me a while to be okay with getting on Facebook again - I was sort of scared to open a Pandora's box of all these things I thought would be safely shut away for a year and a half. We still are only to use it for missionary purposes - so no chatting with people at home - and we had to edit our pages before using them as missionaries. For example, deleting any pictures that could be embarrassing or that show us alone with a boy/girl even if it's our sibling. So that was kind of funny. Sorry Ben!

The first split we did this week was with the Sisters in Nakano, where the mission home is. Yamauchi Shimai went there and I came back to Senzokuike with Sister McCallister. Both her parents served in Japan... It's so crazy how many people have these strong connections to Japan. Maybe I'll be the start for my family! It'll be interesting to see if Ben or Luke come here. Sister McCallister and I had a good day teaching and talking to people on the street, including a group of old ladies who meet in the park every morning to exercise. They were super friendly and gave us a bunch of weird snacks.

We also had a cool miracle on Tuesday night when the Niigata sisters called saying they'd met a girl from France currently on a working holiday in Japan who lives in Tokyo and would be interested in meeting! So we gave her a call and agreed to meet the next day. Her name is Laure and she's super cute. I love getting the opportunity to teach people who already have faith in Christ - it makes it so much easier to connect to what they believe! She told us she had strong faith but didn't like church because it was created by men instead of God. She also didn't like how the Bible had been edited by men to suit their purposes, and wasn't the same as in Jesus' time. I couldn't imagine a better setting to introduce the Book of Mormon and the restored Gospel. She's going back to France in a week or two so hopefully we'll be able to refer her to missionaries there so she can learn more.

Also, this experience was another sign to me that God helps us when we need it. When I was talking to Laure on the phone I could barely get two words out without stumbling - French has become so foreign to me - and I was really nervous about being able to communicate the next day. I even tried to practice on Yamauchi Shimai and it was the same thing. I couldn't remember even the most basic vocabulary. But once we saw Laure, it was okay. I never felt like I couldn't understand or communicate. Help comes when it's needed!

The second split we did this week was with the Shibuya sisters, where I went to work with Ikeguchi Shimai. I hadn't seen her since I was in Oyama and it was so great to be together again! She's so sweet. The last time we went on splits she was MY sister training leader, so it was kind of weird being in opposite roles. I felt like I came to learn from her. But it was really good and hopefully I was able to help boost her confidence. She's a great missionary. Shibuya is nuts - it's the very heart of Tokyo, and everyone is SO busy. There're also foreigners everywhere, which always weirds me out. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only American who has any right to be in Japan.

Ikeguchi Shimai and I taught a lesson over Skype, which was the first time I'd done that, and it was interesting. Their investigator (I'll call her Coco) speaks decent English but not great, but insists on speaking English and only English. She also insists on calling us by our first names. She's very sweet though, and it was probably one of the most entertaining lessons I'd ever taught. We read some of the story of Nephi and the brass plates together out of the children's Book of Mormon story book, and she had very interesting commentary. Coco likes Nephi but she thought his idea to try to buy the plates from Laban was pretty dumb. She thought he should have just taught Laban about Jesus Christ instead. She also didn't understand why Laman and Lemuel got angry and beat up both Sam AND Nephi when Sam didn't do anything - "it was NEPHI'S bad idea, not Sam's!"

Other miscellaneous fun/funny things that happened this week:
- the primary kids had an Easter egg hunt and I realized I don't even know when Easter is. Nor did I realize when it was St Patrick's day.
- one of our Eikaiwa students, who brings us treats every week, gave us a special present of tom-and-jerry print toilet paper that smells like candy. Funny guy
- going to Mr. Donuts for the first time in four months. It was a sweet reunion (literally)
- going out to lunch after zone meeting for one of the sisters' birthday and sitting next to an Italian man who kept getting WAY too close to Sister Hall and watching her try to discretely scoot away. I wondered if Marilyn has to deal with this on a regular basis
- learning how to do peek-a-boo in Japanese
- visiting a shrine! Mom, I AM having Japanese cultural experiences

Well that might be about it for now. Love you all so much!

Shrine in Tokyo area that Anna and Yamauchi Shimai visited

Anna and Yamauchi Shimai at the shrine

Sisters in Anna's zone celebrate a birthday with lunch

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