Monday, April 21, 2014


Another week rolls on by... We're now on week two of the new transfer already. No major changes I guess except for the new elder in our ward and the new sister in the English ward (our roommate). Her name is Sister Gates. I'm glad transfers are all over with. It's always the duty of zone leaders and sister training leaders to figure out where everyone will go to meet up and switch companions, trying to keep traveling distances to a minimum and making sure no one is ever alone. It's a nightmare. We made a conference call with all the other sister training leaders and tried to figure everything out and make our plans mesh. I didn't really have to worry about this in Niigata because the plans are really simple: everyone leaving gets on the bus.

We stayed pretty busy this week teaching lessons and contacting people in our area book. Met another eternal investigator - she'd been taking lessons and coming to church off-and-on for years. She knew all the hymns, had met everyone in the ward, and even had a picture of the Salt Lake temple in her house! Still claims to be Buddhist. Boggles my mind. We meet so many people who have never been to a Buddhist worship service and don't even know what they believe, but can't stop self-identifying as one.

Funniest thing that happened this week: discovering the Senzokuike Park cat society. There are ten feral cats that live in the park, and a group of who knows how many older ladies have a rotating schedule that dictates whose turn it is to feed them every day. Someone comes every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to give each cat its meal of dry food. The cats all have names and "territories" where they usually are, which makes it easier to find them I guess. I really shouldn't say "feral" cats because they have grown extremely comfortable with humans and expect their meals now at the same times every day. Pretty chubby kitties too. We've met two members of this club now, each of whom has multiple cats of their own at home. And now, I at last know what I want to do with my life. These ladies are hilarious.

We taught three of our Chinese investigators this week, which was fun. I continue to adore every Chinese person I meet here. They've all been so kind and willing to listen to our message. Sometimes language barriers are an issue, but I know that the most important thing is for them to be able to read the Book of Mormon in their own language and know that it's true. Everything else will follow.

We sort of had a glimpse of the importance of the Spirit to help investigators learn at Zone training this week. The Zone Leaders planned a cool simulation where they asked us if we wanted a kit-kat, and if we did to follow them into another room. When we got there we all sat down, a little confused, and listen to them tell the story of Joseph Smith and bear their testimonies on the Restoration. The room was very quiet, and I was just watching sort of in awe at these two missionaries simply but powerfully explaining what they believe, and I felt the Spirit just enough to know it was there. Afterwards they explained that this is what many of our lessons are like - the people we teach want something from us, which is why they meet us. At first they're probably a little confused that what we're teaching isn't quite what they expected, but they feel the Spirit there and want to know more. I think Yamauchi Shimai and I were actually supposed to be "in on it" but their email instructions weren't very clear so we got to experience everything and learn along with all the other missionaries. It was one of the highlights of the week.

I felt like what I learned at training was especially important for River, who we taught again this week. She is very sweet but scared she doesn't understand enough. We invited her to be baptized this month but she feels like she has to "study" a lot more, and will be ready maybe in September. If a perfect understanding of the gospel was a prerequisite for baptism, then we'd all be doomed. The beauty of the gospel is that it can never be 100% understood while we're alive on this Earth, which gives us a lifetime to continue to learn and progress. We're never "done" and we never flat line.

Easter was yesterday, which was nice but not much different than any other Sunday. Even some of the members didn't know it was Easter. Probably the most exciting thing that happened was when a fire extinguisher exploded, leaving the upstairs looking like a winter wonderland. At least the talks in church were on Easter topics, one of which was given by me - scary! Ten straight minutes of speaking in Japanese at the podium in front of all those people. Actually it wasn't too bad, although I didn't like that I had to read most of it. Whenever I gave a talk at home I'd just write out bullet points and then kind of make it up as I went on Sunday. But I didn't feel quite comfortable enough to do that in Japanese.

I had a little bit of help with my talk when I went to Japanese class on Saturday and did a practice run with one of the senseis there. After I finished we talked about resurrection and how we'll be able to see loved ones again after we die. At one point she started crying a little, told us her son had died 20 years ago and it would be nice if she could believe something like that. She says she's not looking for religion right now, but I think our message came at a needed time and hopefully her heart was softened. She even came to church to watch me speak! It was really sweet. She said she had a good time. One of our Eikaiwa students (the one who gave us Tom and Jerry toilet paper) also came, dressed up in a sports coat he said he hadn't worn in a long time.

Not much planned for today - after our busy P-day last week we're taking some time to relax. I bought a scrapbook so maybe I'll start working on that - I've become a sentimental old fool. Definitely starting to feel old. I'm on transfer 7 now! I remember thinking I'd be a first-transfer missionary forever.

Sorry no pictures... I'm just too focused on the work to have time this week.

Love, Anna

Anna bids farewell to Niigata.  This is not recent but we just received it this week from Anna's friend Sister O. who took such good care of her there.

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