Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hello from Chosei!

Greetings loved ones. What a crazy week. Transfer weeks are always nuts of course - there's just never enough time to see everyone you want! I'll take you through the week.

Monday I mostly spent packing, so that wasn't actually too exciting. Once again, marveled at how much junk I'd managed to accumulate during the last four months. In the evening we visited the less-active nocturnal family and found out that they're currently in the process of shifting their sleep schedule! They said they'd be able to go to church the next week.

Tuesday we went out and tried to squeeze as many lessons as possible into the day. The last one of the day was with Kay, at his house. It was the first time we'd been over. In Japan it's kind of a big deal for someone to invite you to their house - a lot of the time when we teach people they only talk to us at the doorstep - and he said he wanted to because he was grateful for all that we were teaching him and helping him understand. It was a really cool experience.

Wednesday was, like all last Wednesdays are, amazing and full of love and really sad. One small miracle that meant a lot to me was that I'd been really bummed about not being able to see Ru and his family before we left, and then they all showed up to Eikaiwa. Ru didn't have too much interest in English and spent most of the time running around and playing games on the iPad but I was so happy to see him and everyone else. Lots of other members came too, including all the ward missionaries, and they had a goodbye party for the four of us missionaries transferring out. I'm sure you saw the video on Facebook, but basically all the students and members secretly wrote out little notes on heart-shaped sticky notes and came and stuck them on us. At first I didn't know what was going on and felt a little freaked out (they had us shut our eyes) but it was so sweet. You never know how much your Eikaiwa students care until it's time to leave. I'm really happy we're using Facebook now because it'll be so much easier to stay in touch with people!

On Thursday we taught in the morning and them came home to eat and study a little before it was time for me to leave. I said goodbye to Yamauchi Shimai and then me and Sister Hall took the train to Honbu [mission headquarters]. Actually on the train I met a nice university student who lives near there, and we have an appointment to meet her again next week after we go to Mission Leadership Council. So that was cool. At Honbu I met Sister Sticht and we went back to Chosei together, and met one of their Investigators Sue at the station. Sue is a surfer from California who came to Japan to get away from America and currently teaches English. She is a very deep thinker, curses like a sailor, and one of the more interesting people I've ever met. But she's reading the Book of Mormon! She's been meeting with the sisters about a transfer now for weekly "Metaphysical Hour." Later in the evening we went to the church for music night, where I got to meet some of the members.

A little about my new area: it's beautiful! Being in Tokyo for so long, I'd forgotten what plants look like. Biking out among the rice paddies and flowers is almost surreal. Definitely very rural - Chosei is technically classified as a village, not even a city. But the church building here is pretty nice and good-sized. About 60 people come every week, I think. My companion Sister Sticht is from Montana and she's awesome! We laugh all the time. There are six missionaries in Chosei - two Elders and four Sisters - so we share an apartment with Sisters Cheney (from my MTC district) and Chandler (fresh outta the MTC). We're so blessed to be working with lots of great people right now. This is the first time I've ever been transferred that wasn't a whitewash, so it's nice not having to start from scratch.

On Friday there was supposed to be some big typhoon but, like all other typhoons I've experienced here, it didn't really hit our area and was way over-hyped. But it DID make it unbearably humid. We met one of our neighbors in a nearby park for a picnic lunch, and she surprised us by showing the plan of salvation pamphlet the sisters had given her earlier. It was completely marked up and covered in questions she had written. Another lady we taught that day, Iza, is also a big studier. She's reading like 15 chapters of the Book of Mormon a day! Super awesome. She also gave us homemade cake to eat, sent us off with carrot salad for the road, and made our next appointment for us when we forgot to ask. I was on cloud nine. I could get used to this country hospitality!

Unfortunately not everyone is so willing to learn. On Saturday both of our appointments cancelled, so we had a full day of biking out to "surprise visit" people who weren't home. At least we met some really cool people on the way - I'm learning to always stop people you pass by! It's a little hard in Tokyo, with so many people everywhere, but here we try to stop everyone if we have time.

Sunday I got to meet all the members, and they're awesome! Very willing to help out. The speakers went a little short, so in order to take up time, the Bishop asked me and Sister Chandler to get up and introduce ourselves and share testimony. There isn't a gospel principles class in this ward, so I went to regular Sunday School for the second time in a row. I've been learning a lot about David! Interesting to study the Bible for a change. After church we went out visiting investigators and ended up unexpectedly getting invited to dinner at a members house - homemade tenpura! Mmmm.

Hopefully I'll get the chance today to take some pictures of all the nature here. Here's one of me and Sister Sticht hanging out in 7-11 to email. I wonder if they ever get annoyed at us for using their free wi-fi all the time?

Love you all!

Sticht shimai and Anna

Elder Kawamura (who baptized Ru in Tokyo) with Kathy and Ben the night before he flew home.

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