Monday, May 26, 2014

元気ですか?(How Are You?)

Hello again,

This week was awesome. I think I forgot to mention this in previous letters, but Elder Cook came to Tokyo for various meetings this weekend, and I got the chance to hear him speak twice!! We had a two-mission conference with all the missionaries in Tokyo and Tokyo South missions on Saturday, where he and also Elder Maynes spoke. Then, because I'm in the Tokyo Stake, I also got to go to a special stake conference where Elder Cook and his wife spoke. Everything was translated line-by-line. Definitely an amazing experience. He talked to the church members about how to strengthen their own testimonies, and to the missionaries about a lot of things, but I especially remember his emphasis on teaching the plan of salvation. It's my favorite lesson to teach - getting to answer the questions of the soul.

I think one of my favorite moments was right after stake conference, when Elder and Sister Cook were shaking peoples' hands as they left, and the 11-year-old girl next to me saw her dad shake Elder Cook's hand. She immediately started tapping her mom, excitedly saying "look, look, did you see that? Did you see Dad?" So when Elder Cook came near where we were I nudged her forward and she got to shake his hand too - the look on her face was priceless. Pure awe.

It was funny - a lot of church members assume that we've all met the prophet before, and live right next to a temple, and belong to really big wards. Sometimes I have to explain that not all of America is like Salt Lake.

We saw lots of miracles that weekend after the conference, and I'm convinced it's partly because of the blessing Elder Cook left on all of us. Shi agreed to be baptized next month if she comes to know the church is true, and so did Misa, a new investigator who's 14 and super cute. One of our main purposes as missionaries is to help people change their lives through baptism and I have to admit, sometimes it's hard feeling like I'm not doing my job right if no one is progressing towards baptism. Like I'm failing them. We always need to work to recognize what things are in are control and what things aren't. We control how many people we talk to each day, and what we say to them, but we can't control whether or not they accept our message.

I went on splits with Ikeguchi Shimai this week, who's going home in a week, so it was good to get one last chance to work with her. She's so sweet, and I'll miss her a lot. We had a fun day with a lot of weird things too, including visiting a less-active who showed us this magic hydrogen-water machine thing she swears by. Apparently drinking the hydrogen-infused water gets rid of all the free radicals in your body and reduces cancer risk and makes everything better... No idea if it's true or not but it'd probably sell well in America along with ten-dollar bottles of acai juice and all of Doctor Oz's recommended products.

Anyway, we also met a couple at Denny's who we'd found in the area book and turned out to be super enthusiastic members of some Buddhist group and loved to argue about everything. According to them, a supreme creator (God) can't exist because something had to have created Him first. I asked them what they thought the very first thing was, from which everything else was made, and they said there was no start - it just is. Um, okay. Probably not calling them back.

The humid season is starting, and sometimes I feel like I'm walking through a rainforest. Even when the sun isn't out, it's just so muggy and hot out. There have also been some crazy downpours and thunderstorms, which means nobody is outside to talk to. I know I shouldn't be complaining because soon it'll be a lot worse, but still not super fun. My hair looks crazy all the time and soon it'll be too hot to wear makeup, so yikes. At least Tokyo seems to have better air conditioning than Oyama did.

We were busy teaching last week and hopefully will stay busy next week as well. I definitely prefer teaching to finding, although it's been fun meeting new people at the Senzokuike park this week. There's one man who walks his monkey around on a leash sometimes - haven't gotten a picture of that yet but I did get one with a semi-famous pig last week. His name is Tonjiro and he has his own twitter. Not the best picture but Tonjiro was too busy sniffing out food to look at the camera, so oh well.

There was also a cool piano/flute concert with traditional Japanese music that apparently happens every year at Senzokuike park, with a bridge crossing the lake as a stage. We met an investigator after the concert and got to see the last ten minutes of it as we looked for her - there were singers wearing kimonos in canoes, and everything was lit up. Way cool.

Next week are transfer calls, and like usual I have no idea what's happening. Our district usually takes bets beforehand but I honestly don't even know what to guess. Stay tuned!

Love, Anna

Tonjiro the Tweeting Pig

Senzokuike Park

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