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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday March 28, 2016 Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone! So I didn't actually realize this week was Easter until...Friday or Saturday I think. No chocolate bunny reminders here! But we did still talk a lot about Easter and try to show the new video, I just thought it was a couple weeks away! 

Monday- I think I already told you about the big hike with the Ward. After P-Day ended we went out to dinner with a kid that home stayed with Steere Shimai's family. Did I already explain this? Can't remember, but this is a MIRACLE in the works!
- Nagano High School (here in Japan) and Steere Shimai's high school in Australia have a connection, so for 2 weeks every year, kids switch places. Steere Shimai came here years ago and we're working on finding her home stay family again.
- Last summer while Steere Shimai was here in Japan, a kid from Kawachinagano home stayed with her family in Australia. Her family took him with them to church on Sunday, another day he played basketball at the church with her brother and the Elders, then at the end, the family gave him a Japanese BOM with their testimony written in English. 
- NOW Steere Shimai is in Kawachinagano and her family sent us the kid's information. Turns out he and his family live about 5 minutes away from us! 
Back to Monday: we went out to eat (Okonomiyaki!) with Reita (home stay kid) and the elders. Mostly about building relationship, starting HTBT (How to Begin Teaching). He's read quite a bit of the BOM, though he has a hard time understanding. We invited him to Eikaiwa (remember he was a home stay kid in Australia, so he's learning English and really likes it! Plus he has MAJOR investigator potential! We'll see him tomorrow at our Eikaiwa Easter Party!

Tuesday was a great day! We got to a less active early, so we did a little finding in the area and met a high school girl who was excited to come talk to us in English. She home stayed in...Melbourne, Australia at Steere Shimai's high school! Miracles are still coming!! She didn't have much time then, but wanted to meet again (going ahead- Steere Shimai met her on Friday at a koukon and she is GOLDEN!). We had another less active lesson with Yoshikawa Shimai (bishop's wife) there and it went really well! Later we tried to do a BOM fast hour (give away as many BOMs as you can in an hour...that might've been really obvious, sorry) with the elders at a nearby Eki, though it was a pretty bad time so they got 1 out, we got 2 and I almost got another, but she rejected right at the end, zannen. Then 4 new girls came to Eikaiwa! Random, but really cool! 

Wednesday we went with the Yamamoto's to that really special care center we visited before. One of the men we visited last time had passed away- with his condition it really was a blessing. This time, as we came to share the Easter video and sing together, another very happy grandma wanted to come with us. She has Alzheimer's pretty bad, but she was smiling the entire time, then taught me a old Japanese kids dance at the end (she was a dance teacher when she was younger). In the evening we had Ping Pong Night and we actually had a good number of people show up! 

Thursday was a bunch of finding. We were lucky to meet with a former investigator Chapman Shimai and I dropped last transfer- totsuzen visit, but she was home! It was also apparently her only day off that week! Talked about the BOM and she seemed to accept it better than before, maybe now she'll progress? We'll see! After we did a lot of housing, especially by the universities. I've never been a housing fan- I'll do it, but I don't think it's the greatest thing, but we actually found 2-3 new investigators with 1 that has real potential! So I guess sometimes housing does work. Then in the evening we had the fastest and probably most effective SKK of my mission! So grateful that Steere Shimai is such a good planner! 

Friday after District Meeting, we koukoned with Wakayama sisters! I was with Fonua Shimai again!! She is SO MUCH FUN to dendo with (thank you!). We tried to visit an LA, wasn't home, but we turned around right as her mom was coming up to the gate! She has pretty good English and we talked with her a bit (so the notes in our Area Book about her were that she's hantai:oppossed but she didn't seem fully hantai, just not a member and not really interested). She also corrected our Japanese- almost no one does that! Then dinner with a member couple, plus the elders, a recent convert couple and a less-active! Talked about Easter and the discussion got a little too deep (missionaries didn't understand the Japanese, RC and LA's probably didn't understand the doctrine) BUT the point about Easter was good and it was a good night overall!

Saturday was the monthly community service project at Sayama Lake! This is the most beautiful place and it was so much fun! We talked to a bunch of high schoolers there, then got to eat lunch at the park after (members made us a bento: box lunch) and the Sakura: cherry blossoms were starting to come out and we got Sakura ice cream! After we did a little finding, really trying to work on following the Spirit by following every prompting. Worked out pretty well and met some cool people: 3 Jr. High girls who were waving at us but then really embarrassed when we came over, a grandma who talked about her family, a Christian couple- wife has purple streaks in her hair and the husband used to come to Eikaiwa! Next, we went to a concert that Higashino Shimai invited us to...meet her family (mostly less active and non-member) and some potential finding. It was a Jr High and High School End-of-the-Year Band Concert. At least that's what the program said, because that's not what I saw! BLOWN AWAY. I could probably tell you for hours about how amazing this concert was, but missionary...no time to write it and probs shouldn't focus on it. Point: they were AMAZING, and if Drew wants to get serious about Trombone he should come to Japan for high school :) That solves the "which high school should I go to" problem, right?! Concert ended with Amazing Grace (Christian high school) and that was nice to put my focus back on dendo. 

Sunday- Happy Easter! As we were finishing getting ready in the morning, I remembered that I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting...sorry Mom, someday I'll learn...anyways thankfully it was only 5 minutes about Activities. They just had Youth Camp this last weekend and some youth reported, then I spoke about what I liked about activities, their importance, etc. Then the Bishop ended. So since I got it ready really fast and there aren't very many reminders here, I sat down after speaking and realized I didn't mention Easter! The bishop mentioned it a little bit at the end and we sang the 2 Easter hymns. Though Gospel Principles was about the Sacrament and that went in really nicely, and then we spent the day sharing Easter message why anyone who would listen. No big dinner, I had canned peaches and yogurt. So the most perfect, planned out Easter Sunday? No. But did we see God's love and get to reflect on that special day and all the blessings we receive Because of Him? Yes! So therefore, I had a really good Easter! 

Reflecting on Easter...we were talking to a grandma about Easter and it's real meaning, and she listened longer than most people do, but still didn't have interest. But guess what? After she shit the door, I realized that even though she didn't accept it, I believed my words a little more than before, they meant more to me. We get to see all of our family members again after we die. We get to be eternally happy because of Jesus Christ! It literally is the happiest, most joyful message in the world! One of the blessings of serving in Japan is that we have to carefully simplify everything to help people without a Christian background understand. And through simplified teaching, my testimony of the simple, most important principles of the gospel has been strengthened so much. I learning what are the simplest, most important principles of the gospel. Here's a few simple things I know:
- God is our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and knows how to help all of us individually. Because of Jesus Christ, we can be with our families forever. Family is one of the most important things in this world.

I love you all so much! 
Wagstaff 姉妹

Haha, okay, so with Kawachinagano...we're trying to figure out how to explain that right now...

Kawachi-nagano I guess is how we say it? Slightly more emphasis on "na" Like a mountain with na at the top?

Reading...so there's Hiragana (Japanese alphabet あいうえお-a i u e o) 
Katakana (foreign words- I love Katakana! It means it's probably an English word (アイウエオ-a i u e o)
and kanji, which comes from China and is the pictures. 愛: love 姉妹:sister

Hymns are really easy- written out in Hiragana. That's how a lot of songs are written here. They generally sing with one syllable per note and all syllables have the same emphasis. We could sing from the hymn book for at least the last half of the MTC.

Scriptures: scriptures like every other written material is written with a mix of kanji and hiragana, with some Katakana (for example Nephi, Zarahemla). Thankfully, the scriptures have small Hiragana to the side of every kanji, so yes, I can read the scriptures. Do I understand it? No not most of it, unless I already know the scripture well and can think of the English in my head at the same time. 

Missionaries don't have basic materials- everyone (members and missionaries) have the same church materials. Also a lot of times at church, if I'm asked to read, I'll read in English because it's faster than Japanese- they're used to that. We have a few Phillipinos that read in English too, plus missionaries generally do their first language too since it's a little painful to hear us read. 

We're not supposed to focus our language study on reading/writing because it's not most important. But you can't help but pick up the kanji you see all the time, like the basic church ones, or Okonomiyaki, school, etc. They are really fun, I'm excited to study when I get home. Kanji's individually all have a meaning, and those are pretty interesting, so there's sometimes a little kanji analysis at church. 
For example: 神殿 (temple) but the the meaning is God's house. 

More than you wanted? Anyways, interesting stuff!

New Dance Teacher Friend! (She sent videos but they wouldn't upload :(   She was very cute, and really wants us to come back :)

Spring Break sounds like it'll be fun- Japan's schedule is a little different. The school year ends in March then starts again in April, so their spring break is longer. Their schedule seems to follow a year-long schedule with more breaks in the middle instead of a big summer.

Little time to go on about this concert last Saturday. Started with Classic Band- they were good! Played some American standards. Next was the Marching Band Show. OH MY GOODNESS. This was a full on performance
with amazing color guard, good choreography for everyone and a show choir was also involved sometimes. Color Guard...sad Springville...anyways these were pretty good dancers and really funny for the missionaries because they had English music...Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You). Like I don't think even American Fork or
Lone Peak are on the same level as these kids. Last act was Pops- again really, really good, maybe the best? Everyone liked the Star Wars medley.

Listening to the singers was how I figured out how they are good: practice. Some of the soloists weren't great and technically I've seen better dancers, but they practiced all year for this concert. Clubs are a big deal here (actually a common problem for the young members here) because they essentially devote their life to the club, so there's definitely a price, but dang! Good concert, I was pretty happy. Also the LA family we were supporting was happy we were there

Love you guys!

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