New Year's is HUGE here, so meeting with people was a little hard, but we had a pretty good week!
Last Monday we tried to go to a shrine by our apartment, but we got there and it was deserted and they were preparing for New Year, duh, forgot! But it was pretty!
That big thing is the tori: gate, or something like that.
In the evening, we went to go find and teach a less-active. We were following our map and got to the area but couldn't figure out which house it was. Then this guy came by, walking his dog and we asked for help. He came over and checked our map and the address was his! Wrong person though, so he took his dog inside, the insisted on walking around the block with us checking all the names (everybody's name in on their house, but usually in kanji so we can't read it). Couldn't find it and so we thanked him, Salsibury Shimai gave him a Mormon.org card and explained who we were a little bit and we left. We were several blocks away when he came up in his car and said that he found who we were looking for! We walked back and his wife had come out and had a map of the area with all the names listed as well- turns out it was their next door neighbor and we somehow missed that house! Thanked them a ton, then went to the less-active sister and taught a lesson. Wasn't the greatest lesson, but we got to meet her! (Story doesn't end here, there's more later in the week!)
Tuesday we had Korean food for lunch with an Eikaiwa student/former investigator. She doesn't like all of our "rules" because she wants freedom. Testified and taught all we could, but she needs to find out for herself. After that we rode out to Mikunigaoka with the elders (40 minute bike ride, next area over). We visited a member there who we want to doseki (member who join-teaches at a lesson) with us. She is SUPER! She's a recent convert and had tons of problems before that she thought she couldn't overcome, but did mainly through reading the BOM. She was baptized last year and told us since then she's read the BOM 3 times. After the meeting, we handed out mochi party flyers with the elders for a little bit, then the long ride back to the other side of Sakai to teach Miki Chan, an investigator with a TON OF POTENTIAL! We teach 30 minutes English, 30 gospel and Usui Shimai, one of the YW leaders who also speaks English was our doseki. She is so good! She's an RM and really good at relating and helping them understand.
Wednesday morning the ward had a Mochi Party! Mochi is smashed rice that gets kind of gooey and stretchy and they make desserts, but it basically has no flavor and I'm not really a fan. But to make it they put steamed rice in a stone bowl and smash it with a giant hammer! Sorry should've got a better picture. We got to talk to lots of members, especially some less-actives that came! So they smash it with the giant hammer then you make it into little balls and roll it fast while it's hot before it hardens a little. Sometimes you put anko in it, which is red bean paste...it's a dessert. Not a huge fan, unless there's also a strawberry in it or something! They gave us a ton to give away and take home. We found out it's edible with Nutella :)
You can see the giant hammer in the back!
After the bishop met with the missionaries and Ward mission leader to talk about next year's Ward mission plan. They've really stepped it up and he is so ready to work hard and set some high goals- Bishop Yoshida is pretty young and has TONS of energy, he's really cool! Also, half Brazilian and served his mission in Brazil. Random side note: lots of Brazilians in our ward, okay like 3-4 families, but it seems like a lot.
On Thursday we had interviews with Welch Kaicho and since they were in Sakai, we did set up and take down and that took most of the day. We got to spend lots of time with Welch Shimai and that's always so much fun! No doubt that he is called of God and they are really here to help all of us individually!
We had dinner with members that night and were STUFFED. Yakiniku, COSTCO ROLLS!!! hot pot, crab, dessert, so good. Izumi Shimai- grandma in the grey sweater in the mochi picture and her family fed us. They are so kind!
Friday, New Year's Day! We had District Meeting, then Komatsu Kyodai (member, former mission president) brought us pizza because we were going to have lunch with them but his wife was sick. We then went as a district to Otori Shrine, same one as Monday because we heard the food was good and even though we can't proselyte we figured we could flyer for Eikaiwa. TONS of people, like Disneyland at Christmas and you can't move kind of busy. So basically once you are in the crowd you can't leave and it was pretty hard to flyer. Met a member there! So for Japanese Buddhists it's like Christians in America who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. They go to the shrine on New Year's and throw in some money and pray.
Can't really tell in this picture, but there's a billion people or so!
Saturday our district went over for lunch to a member's. It was a mom and her daughter here from Tokyo- RM who went to Hawaii and speaks fluent English. They fed us pizza. That was kind of funny, I was sort of expecting all the traditional New Year's food, but still haven't eaten it. They usually assume we can't/don't want to eat their food, so Salisbury Shimai and I try to make it a point to tell everyone we love Japanese food! We can have pizza anytime when we're home.
Sunday- something I love here is that as a mission we send in investigators/LA's that are struggling and we all fast for them. So we were in Gospel Principles class and in walks Kaoru San!! She's the Eikaiwa/former investigator who doesn't like rules. We didn't invite her, but she decided to come and the lesson was seriously on exaltation and we were talking a lot about why we keep the commandments in order to return to a God's presence and receive eternal life. !! Wow. She didn't stay for RS, she came to that class, then said she had to go. We don't know why she decided to come, but obviously we can't give up on her! Then after church, a former member of this ward was home from Tokyo for the holidays and gave us a whole list of different LA's and some former investigators from before that she wanted us to visit, who in the ward is their friend, so helpful! She's an RM, speaks English and doseki-ed with the sisters all the time here before she moved. She's a superstar!
In the evening, we had dinner with the Usui's (YW leader, speaks English). They are a young couple and so funny! Once again tons of food- new experience for us! We hardly ever get fed, New Year's really is a big thing!
This week my testimony that God is a God of miracles was strengthened. He loves all of his children and He's making sure we find them and help them. This is HIS work!
Love you all!
I thought Sakai would be more big-city-ish, I mean it is, but it's not downtown, it's in between downtown and suburbs? Hard to explain because comparing Japan and the US is hard. Imabari was a huge area, but that was just because of the mountains- the town wasn't actually that big, so I do way more biking here. Though we also take trains. Trains everywhere. Unique? Honestly still not quite sure.
Salisbury Shimai was a dancer, but not super intense about it. She went to UVU for a year. LOVES K-pop (Korean) and J-pop and coming to Japan was her dream, loves Asia took Japanese for 3 years.
When I had my interview with Welch Kaicho he was really supportive that this is hard, he knows and we can
do it. He said he hopes we run into walls because then we learn.
Also Izumi Shimai (grandma who fed us) told us yesterday she wants us to come over today...why?
SHE WANTS TO GIVE US KIMONOS. At New Year's people wear kimonos and all the little girls and even
some of the YW and Isumi Shimai wore kimonos to church yesterday! So that's a good pick-me-up!