Monday, October 27, 2014



I think Dad may have asked about transfer calls... Those are coming next week, so in my next email I'll know where I'll spend the remainder of my days in Japan. Time flies!

We had a very cold week - actually used our heater for the first time, which took a while to figure out because all the buttons are in Japanese. Having technical difficulties in a country that doesn't use the alphabet is extremely mentally taxing. Anyway, we figured it out, and our apartment is nice and toasty. A perk of not having a Japanese roomate is that there's no one there to pester you about being more energy-efficient. I remember Kubota Shimai refusing to turn the AC any stronger than what she believed to be practical, no matter how much I complained that I was dying. On Wednesday it poured, and poured, and I was grateful for my crocs and rain pants and other clothing that I wouldn't be caught dead in in America.

Eikaiwa was fun, even though the lesson was on my least favorite topic - work. It's depressing sometimes to hear people talk about their jobs, and how little time they have off, and how boring they are. There's a family that comes to the Chosei Eikaiwa that's really similar to a family at the Senzokuike Eikaiwa, and they're both really funny. One angelic daughter, and two boys that fight and hit each other the whole time. Talking to kids is fun because they teach you childish slang Japanese.

Another funny event on Wednesday - there are persimmon trees everywhere here, seemingly belonging to no one, full of fruit that goes unharvested. Sister Jones and I were curious, so while we were jogging one morning we picked up a just-fallen persimmon that looked pretty good. Went home, cut it up, took a bite and almost vomited. It was like biting into an apple soaked in astringent. We asked one of our Jaykaiwa senseis about those trees, and I guess he was really concerned we were going to do something stupid because he brought us a ton of persimmons the next week.

We visited Suzy this week, a very kind lady who accepted a Book of Mormon from the missionaries a while ago despite not having much interest in religion. She was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, and has been undergoing treatment, but seems so very content and at peace with her fate. I half admire her courage, and half want to help her realize that she doesn't have to settle for believing she'll soon become nothing. It's hard to get someone to hope for an afterlife, when they have chosen to be content without one!

About a month ago we met a lady while housing, then returned a while later and gave her a Book of Mormon. This week we went back again to follow-up on if she'd read any, and turns out she'd finished almost a third of it! We were way excited until she insisted on giving it back to us, saying she just couldn't accept that Nephi was commanded to kill Laban in chapter 3. I'd been told in the MTC that a lot of people had problems with this, but I never really believed that it would be such a big deal. Japanese people love Disney more than anyone, and in practically every Disney movie, the bad guy dies at the end. It's just how it has to be, in order for everyone else to be happy, and no one ever seems to object. Laban is quite obviously the bad guy in this story, with Nephi being the hero, and it always made perfect sense to me as a child that Nephi would have to kill him. Actually, I remember being confused why Nephi was so hesitant to do it. But I have met many people here who start to read the Book of Mormon and get very disturbed at that part. Maybe it's put near the beginning of the book to root out weaklings, I don't know.

The Halloween party was awesome! Tons of our investigators and Eikaiwa students came, and other people who we didn't know too. I'm looking forward to seeing them again when we hand-deliver all the photos we took with party-goers in the costume photo booth. The church was completely decorated on both floors, and looked great. I'm kind of sad all the spooky things are gone, and it's not even Halloween yet.

Unrelated note - I noticed mom continues to wear my clothes in pictures. Does Luke still sleep in my bed?

Our friend Na came to the Halloween party with a friend, and brought that same friend to church with her the next day! We only have two young women in the Chosei ward, but they're awesome and did a great job being friends to Na and Mani. The four of them talked a lot about school uniforms, and manga, and all kinds of other stuff that we knew nothing about. After church they stayed to make takoyaki (deep-fried octopus in batter) and had fun at that too. Na had been kind of nervous to come to the church before that, so I'm really glad that she could see it as a fun place with normal people. Lots of people here have only ever seen church on TV - big cathedral, fancy wedding ceremony - and think that they can't come in if they aren't Christian. I always laugh when people ask, "is it really okay if I come to church?" Yes, it's okay. I left home and family and friends and school for a year and a half in order to BEG you to come to church. It's okay if you do.

Love you! Have an awesome week!

Anna & Jones shimai running the photo booth for the Chosei Ward Haloween party

Jones shimai and children at the Chosei Ward Haloween party

Anna and the young women of the Chosei Ward cooking and eating takoyaki (deep fried, breaded octopus) after church on Sunday

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Dear everybody,

Great week. We just got back from the Tokyo temple, and since it will be closed for cleaning next transfer this was officially my last time in it (... for a while, anyway). It is a beautiful place and I'll always remember my time there. Afterwards Sister Jones and I went shopping with Sisters Snow and Amituanai, then went for some sushi afterwards!

Before I talk about my week I want to share some amazing news that made me happier than anything else could. Ru, in Senzokuike, has been doing great and going to church every week. We were a little concerned before about if he'd be able to still keep going with no parental support, but it turns out that his dad has decided to come back to church after being less-active for over at least 20 years. Seeing the change in Ru has really softened his heart, and they've been going to church as a family every week. AND Ru's dad has also since married his girlfriend, who's been coming to church as well (and bringing her two little sons) and she is getting baptized in two weeks! Someday soon they can be sealed as a family. It's all such a beautiful miracle I can barely believe it's happening. This is why I came to Japan - to see things like this.

We're seeing miracles in Chosei, too. Remember the man who let us in when we knocked on his door, and gave us kiwi juice? We'd been unable to contact him since, but he showed up at church on Sunday, Book of Mormon in hand. He also met with the Elders today. Yay! I spoke in church that day actually, about the restoration, and it went okay despite me having almost no preparation time. Giving talks on the fly like I usually like to do just doesn't quite work in Japanese. Also on Sunday we got to pass out flyers at the train station for our Halloween party, and members came with us. It was way fun watching them chase people down like we usually do.

I also got to go on splits in Togane with Sister Willden from my MTC district, so that was fun. She's great and I actually knew a lot of the people who we saw that day! One of them was someone I'd met on the train a few weeks earlier, and others I'd met at activities. Chosei and Togane are so close together that there's a fair bit of intermingling. There is a huge international university in Togane, so we always get to spend time with students from around the world. I made two new friends from Poland, both named Anna. It was really hard not to say "that's my name too!" Nope, still Sister MacArthur. I don't know how the missionaries in America do it - I feel so dorky and awkward introducing myself in English.

We had a fun adventure on Friday when I made friends with a girl on the train ride back to Chosei, then discovered that she'd forgotten her bento box on a bench. Since we knew where she worked we decided to go on a rescue mission and bring it back to her before her lunch break! She was really happy to see it and us, and hopefully we can meet up during her lunch break sometime soon. We also were approached by a funny lady there, who wanted to ask us questions but refused to give out any contact information. But then she actually called us today!

Last miracle: we finally got to teach Na, a really sweet 14-year-old girl who we've been talking to on Facebook for a while after the Elders met her housing. She'd been worrying about what happens after we die, especially judgement, and we got to teach her the Plan of Salvation. I love to see the look on people's faces when we explain God's merciful plan that allows families to be reunited after death, and I especially loved that she was asking questions and just really cared. You have no idea how many people we'll meet here, and ask about their beliefs about an afterlife, who respond "I dunno, never really thought about it." Really? You've NEVER wondered what's going to happen to you after you die? I thought it was supposed to be one of the great questions of the human soul or something.

Pictures: sushi and enjoying Tokyo (I'm a giant!)

Love you all!! 愛しているよう ["As Love"]

Sisters Jones and Amituanai and Anna enjoying Tokyo and shopping after the temple visit.

Sister Jones, Anna, Sisters Snow and Amituanai out for sushi in Tokyo
Sister Missionaries at the Tokyo Temple in October 2014.  Anna and Sister Jones are on the far right.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Hello everyone,

Another good week in Chosei. Of course I knew it would be, because of General Conference! I loved every second of the 9.5 hours of talks, even the women's session that I use to make fun of. I wonder if this adoration will continue even when I'm not a missionary anymore, or if this is a once-in-a-lifetime ability to focus and not fall asleep. I only sort of nodded off once, when someone turned the AC off and it got super warm in the room.

For conference everyone met in the Chiba stake center (about an hour away by train) and they had special rooms set up for English, Portuguese and maybe one other language. All the missionaries in our stake, plus a few foreign members and investigators, watched together. Every conference seems to have different "themes" and this time I especially noticed people talking about prophets, the sacrament, charity/tolerance, and the importance of strengthening our own testimonies. Even as a missionary, when my faith is higher than its ever been, I felt an urge to not get satisfied and stop seeking to constantly learn and understand and believe more.

Going back and forth from Chiba gave us the chance to talk to lots of people on the train, and we ran into a lady who Sister Jones had met and talked to a week earlier with her daughter! We also saw her daughter at 7-11, where she works... So in total three encounters within a week. Missionaries don't believe in coincidences, so we found out more about her beliefs and asked if she had any interest in learning about the church. Turns out she used to study the Bible with Jehovah's Witness missionaries (we run into them a lot here, actually) and wants to get closer to God! So that was way cool and hopefully we'll meet her again soon. I believe her desire is sincere.

We met another lady this week who acted all excited to come to church and learn, but then never showed up to her appointment or answered our calls. But for some reason I sort of knew she'd do that before it even happened - I remember making backup plans in my head while biking over to the church to meet her.

Funny random things that happened:
  • When we taught Su the word of wisdom, she asked "but didn't Jesus drink wine?" I was shocked a Japanese lady who claims to know nothing about Christianity would even know that. She's also the first person here to ever comment on how church seems to be "run by men." I guess these are the kinds of questions missionaries in other countries deal with a lot.
  • During zone meeting, we had a silly "unity-building" relay race of sorts, and one of the Elders' investigators showed up early to a lesson just in time to watch us pass a ping-pong ball in between spoons. Probably wondering what he's gotten himself into.
  • Three separate members bringing lunch for us to conference, even though we were fasting. Sorry! They seemed shocked we would do such a thing.
Heart-warming moment of the week:  We had dinner at a member's house, and Ami Shimai came too. She said she was so grateful she'd come back to church, and it just made me so happy. Witnessing her re-conversation has been a huge privilege and a blessing.

Useful Japanese words I learned this week:
  • matsurikomu = to place an obnoxious person in an out-of-the-way post to be rid of him
  • benjomeshi = having lunch in a toilet cubicle to avoid others
  • tsujigiri = killing a passerby in order to test a new sword
Our friends took us to a local art museum today, and it was pretty cool. A lot of the local pottery artists were there and explained their pieces to us, and we also saw an exhibit on the progression of the rice cooker throughout the last 100 years! You'll notice the model in the very middle is the exact same kind mom uses at home. Maybe it's time for an upgrade.

Love you all!

At the art museum in Chosei

Chosei art museum exhibit on the history of the rice cooker

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hope this gets to everyone this time

We had an awesome, crazy week. By some blessed miracle a lot of our formerly MIA investigators were able to meet this week, so that was nice. I much prefer showing up to someone's house welcome, with an appointment, instead of bothering them when they're busy. Our teaching pool was also increased when the other sisters' contracts became ours, so we've been slowly meeting some of them. Most of them we already knew from Eikaiwa or other activities, so it was a fairly easy transition.

There was a big typhoon today with winds going at crazy speeds - luckily it was over by the time we were done studying and cleaning, so no bicycle accidents, but we got very soaked last night and my bike helmet somehow bent it like Beckham and flew around the other side of our apartment building. Honbu sent out an email saying "please don't go outside to take pictures" which was weirdly specific so I wonder if anyone had been doing that.

Because it was the other sisters last week, we got lots of food gifts and did lots of last-hurrah eating. I went up one kilo this week, which puts me two ahead of what I was in Oyama but 3 under what I was in Niigata. Slow but steady progress. Anyway, it was pretty sad to say goodbye to them but I know they'll have fun in their new areas! Sister Chandler is going to Oyama, so I gave her a note to give to Aki (still taking the lessons and working towards baptism!)

We met a new friend Shi last week - after talking to us on the street for a few minutes, she told us that she used to live in Texas for a few years and knew about the church! She then said we were welcome to come over anytime and she'd make us Mexican food. I knew she was golden from the very start. We actually did go over on Saturday, met her husband and friend from work, and had the most delicious feast I could imagine. Sister Jones and I were in charge of making the tortillas, so unfortunately those turned out kind of weird but besides that a complete success.

We also, as a mission, kicked off the Christmas season early. This year we are focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, and helping everyone come closer to Christ. For every baptism, returned less-active, new convert who goes to the temple, and other things pertaining to the work of salvation each companionship will make a paper crane. I'm going to get really good at making them soon.

Other highlights:
  • Meeting a girl on the train who's a very strong Baptist. Definitely the first time I'd ever met a Japanese Baptist. She was super cool, let us teach her the Restoration, and showed us to how to count in Japanese sign language.
  • Getting told by the members that we'd be in charge of a photo booth for the Halloween party, taking pictures with people that come. We were instructed to make sure we look our most beautiful - I wonder if they told the Elders that?
  • Meeting the new Elder straight out of the MTC, Elder Bennet. Sister Jones and I have been calling him E. Bennet in reference to Pride and Prejudice and cracking up like the dorky Mormon girls we are.
  • Finding out that there is a group here similar to the Senzokuike park wild cat society, who feed a bunch of ferals who live by the train station. I guess this is a Japanese thing.
  • Being confused out of my mind as we discussed Isaiah in Gospel Doctrine. Sometimes the teacher asks missionaries questions about what the English text says, or random theories about America, and I try not to look like an idiot. Put "read the Old Testament" on my to-do list.
Pictures - Me helping with dinner the last night before sisters Cheney and Chandler left, last district picture, and our fiesta.


Anna "helping" with dinner before Sisters Cheney and Chandler leave for their new areas.

Chosei District before transfers

Anna, Jones Shimai, Shi's husband, and Shi and work friend making and eating Mexican food.