Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Has Arrived

Helloooo everybody!

Another busy week. And a COLD one. I was reminded of my Niigata days of putting hot hands inside our wool socks inside our insulated boots. For some reason the drug stores here think it's too early to start selling heat packs, and we had a very freezing weekend full of numb feet.

It must be election season or something in Japan, because everywhere we go there are these big vans with posters on the sides and loudspeakers on the top, proclaiming how great a certain politician is. One of the vans parked right outside our window at like 7:45 on Sunday morning and was LOUD. Seems like a good way to get people to not want to vote for you. For such a reserved people, the Japanese have some very in-your-face advertising methods.

I've actually been doing some reflecting lately on what lessons I've learned from being in Japan. Things I've learned from being a missionary are endless, but there are a few that come uniquely from the funny, beautiful culture here. I'll list a few:

1) A little compliment goes a long way. The Japanese adore giving and receiving compliments, something that I'm not very good at. You'd be surprised how happy you can make someone just by telling them how well they do something.

2) It is good to have reverence for things. Japanese people are much more careful with their possessions than we are, and I hope to be better at not carelessly tossing my coat or phone on the ground when I get home. They're also much more mindful of garbage.

3) It's a REALLY good idea to take off your shoes before entering a house. Everyone hates vacuuming.

4) We could all do a little better at dressing more nicely. Maybe it's just because I'm used to west coast grunge, but I feel like everyone here looks more professional than at home. Very rare to see someone walking around in pajamas, or trashy outfits.

5) The more you know about something, the more you can love it. The longer I'm here, the more tiny pieces are added to my puzzle of understanding and I'm slowly able to more fully accept the culture and customs. Things that used to seem weird start to make sense and even be beautiful. Japan will forever have a special place in my heart, and I hope to continue to learn about it even after I go home. Guess Dad assured that would happen by signing me up for a kanji class.

Number five goes for anything, really. We're told in the scriptures that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3) because we cannot love them until we know them. People tell me all the time it's hard to pray, because they don't know who God is. We have to come to know Him, by reading His words in the scriptures, and keeping His commandments, and then love will grow in our heart. We'll slowly come to understand and appreciate His ways, just as children learn to appreciate their parents after they move out of the house and grow up a little.

That's really the only thing we do as missionaries - help people come to know God and Jesus Christ. We can't have spiritual experiences for someone else, or control their actions. Any person on the street is just as capable as I am of strengthening their own faith. The only thing I have that they don't yet is knowledge of the Restored Gospel, and it is my job to help them know. After they know, they can believe, and love.

I love all of YOU! Merry early Christmas

PS Na is having doubts about baptism, and we're not really sure what's up. Please pray that she'll be able to overcome her fears.

Sister Reeder attempts to fillet fish from the grocery store

Sisters Chandler, Jones, Reeder & Anna in the center of Tokyo

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