I'm off to serve an LDS mission in Kobe, Japan from June 2015 to December 2016. My mom will be keeping this blog updated with my latest letters, photos, adventures, etc.! Also I would LOVE to hear from everyone - katya.wagstaff@myldsmail.net

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Welcome to Japan!

This has probably been the craziest week of my life! MTC was great- I loved the MTC so much it was actually hard to leave, mainly my district! We've already been making plans to get together when we're home!  I was pretty productive on the plane, didn't really sleep over to Tokyo, got off the plane and the first thing I noticed: HUMIDITY. It's real. Very very real.

I also loved staying at the mission home- it's just had such a nice, safe, comfortable feeling. Plus leaving my MTC district was like leaving you guys all over again. I'm hoping to be companions with one of them sometime! In my interview with Welch Kaicho one of the things he asked was if I prefer city/country. I said city, though I'll go
wherever, I got country. Except country is by Japanese standards, so the houses are still pretty close together and is more like Utah county size? It's kind of hard to compare.

Getting back to Imabari was an adventure! It's Obon right now, which is a remember-your-ancestors festival thing and everyone goes home, so transportation was busy. There was a group of us: 4 sisters 2 elders headed for Shikoku (island) together, we walked around the bus area in Kobe for 2 hours- each bus counter would tell us to go somewhere else, then finally one told us the next available bus would be the next day at 6 pm! That wasn't going to work, so the group split up with different plans. Sands Shimai and I took the train to Okoyama (not sure about any of this spelling!) and stayed the night with sisters there, then took a train then a bus on to Imabari, getting there at 2
pm- much better than the first bus from Kobe would've been!

We were picked up by Ochi Shimai, really called Kaori Shimai because apparently there are a ton of Ochi's here. She's wonderful! We did service for her Saturday.  Anyways, so I was feeling really lost and distant here, but it's
gotten better as I've gotten to know some of the members and there's a senior couple here! Elder and Sister Watabe who are Japanese but speak perfect English- hallelujah! I guess one of the main things I need to
learn here is relying on the Lord. I think of D&C 6:36 a lot.

Saturday was normal hot, hot hot! Rode a bike here for the first time! We don't look as out of place riding around as I thought because lots of people ride bikes. But riding in a skirt isn't the easiest thing. But it's all good! Unfortunately not a single person we were supposed to teach was home- Saturday or Sunday! So I still haven't met any of the investigators. They have a few here, but mostly inactive. I guess that's a huge problem all over Japan. But the members that are active are very strong and good!

Saturday night we weeded in Kaori Shimai's garden. She has a huge garden! Also I forgot to mention, it's the countryside here because there are rice fields everywhere. Anyways, so weeded, then went in for a treat and gave her a spiritual message that I was in charge of- we read 1 Ne 1:20 and talked about the Lord's tender mercies: Shu no fukai awaremi. She's so nice and speaks a tiny bit of English, but I loved that evening because I could understand the conversation! Not every word, but I knew what they were talking about and could make
little comments sometimes. She's an older single lady who loves the missionaries!

Sunday was great! The branch made me think of Grandma and Grandpa's branch in Butterworth. They had me introduce myself and give a testimony in seisankai. Because they're so little, they only have 2 hours of church! I really couldn't understand much, but the Spirit is the same.

We had dinner at the Scotts- husband is American, though he's in America right now, so I haven't met him yet. It was Sis Scott, her son, us and the Watabe couple. Sadly our investigator who was supposed to come, bailed. Ah well, I liked getting to know them. She made American hamburgers, but not really. They don't have buns here, so we used rolls, and the patty was a little different, but it was all good!

I've loved the food so far, except for wheat tea. It's something that we can drink, and everyone has it, though I've only had it once, hopefully I acquire a taste for it because seriously it looks and tastes like dirty garbage water, maybe like the stuff in the carpet cleaner when you're done.

I'm learning that any companionship takes work, but for the most part we get along really well and have fun! My goal is to keep up a positive attitude, because there's plenty to complain about, but that won't help anyone.

Also I've got a lot of pictures on my camera- everyone said iPads just don't have the memory to keep a lot of pictures. Sadly haven't figured out how to get from camera to iPad because it doesn't have USB. iPads
are pretty new in the mission and Sands Shimai hasn't figured it out either.

Aishiteimasu minasan!
Wagstaff Shimai

Sent from my iPad

As you can read in the other email, it took a long time to get here! Technically were about 6-8 hours from Kobe by bus/train. I guess more missionaries on Shukoku try to take bus because it's a lot cheaper.

No problems with the keyboard because I can switch language settings and mine is on American English, probably going to stay that way for a while!

Thank you for all the pictures, I loved them! I got to live a little vicariously. Language is still pretty daunting, but I'm really trying, or should be trying to open my mouth- I've been reading a lot about that in D&C for personal study. Currently I just can't even tell what's going on so I don't even have the slightest clue as to what to say. Need to be better about that. The funny thing is all the Japanese, especially members say, "jouzu desu ne!" Which basically
means, you're talented! Basically their expectations for white people are very low.

I like working with Sands Shimai, it's going to be good! I was really disappointed to be sent so far away from Kobe because I really liked it there and being close to the mission home felt safe, but it's getting better, I can't wait to see other missionaries!

I love you, can't believe school is starting again and it's weird that I'm not starting, but so far so good here! An interesting thing I discovered: the schools in Japan is on a different schedule- the big break is around March/April and is 6 weeks, so they're more of a year-round schedule with more holidays.

This is what I look like all over my arms right now, kind of freaky,
but Sands Shimai has some great anti-itch stuff!

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