Friday, December 20, 2013

E-mail 12/15/2013

My wonderful, wonderful family,

Hello from JAPAN!!! I'm really here! It's wonderful! It is cold and there is snow. I'm in Kamisugi--a big city with teeny tiny roads that are terrifying to bike on and with a big ward with dendo [proselyting] fire!
It's amazing here! It's so beautiful and the culture is incredible and the language rapid fire. I understand...... pretty much nothing. But that's okay! I love it. :)

My last couple of days in the MTC [Missionary Training Center] were crazy, rapid fire, busy busy days if you know what I mean. But I accomplished my goal of finishing the Book of Mormon in the MTC! I learned so much. I love Enos and Alma the Younger and the 3 Nephites. I want to have their faith and emulate their discipleship.

Monday December 9th/Tuesday December 10th we traveled to Japan!!!

We got up at 2am December 9th and got to Sendai at 9pm December 10th. What a trip! It was so wonderful to talk to you at the Salt Lake Airport. I got to dendo a little bit with some people I was sitting next to in the LAX [Los Angeles] airport. (I completely knocked out on that flight; sat down and was head in lap asleep the entire time, haha.) From LAX we got on our flight to Tokyo! I napped for about the first 8 hours in and out due to rubulance [turbulence] and a delicous lunch/dinner/we-had-no-idea-what-time-it-was-meal being served. I did a couple tinkerbell crosswords and entirely enjoyed finding "sugarplums" and "gumdrops" thank you very much. Sudoku also keep me entertained. We crossed the international date line. That was pretty cool. Now we know what it's like to lose a day of our lives and travel into the future. And we're going to undo it when we come back. I did have a moment when I woke up and [thought] that we have only 30 minutes left when we really had 4 hours... but ohter than that the flight really wasn't bad at all. I was comfortable. I even put my fuzzy blue slippers on. It was great. :) The crazy part was getting OFF the airplane. Oh boy. No one told us the Tokyo airport is like a small city. But we made it! Everything went just fine, they even gave me these brown slippers to wear through security when they asked me to take off my boots. I felt very important. (And slightly awk[w]ard because my heels were hanging off the back of them but that's beside the point.) But when we finally found our gate, Smith shimai [Sister Smith], Stice shimai and I went to the posh bathroom and Smithers set her wallet down on the sink and turned her back for like 30 seconds... and 10 seconds later we hear her name being paged over the speakers to come pick up her wallet because someone turned it in. So funny! We got on our flight there to Sendai and all basically knocked out and when we landed President and Sister Rasumussen and the Assistants were waiting for us and they drove us over to teh [the] mission home and served us bread and soup and rolls and we all introduced ourselves and then got our rooms, showered, and collapsed.

Wednesday was crazy! Training, getting our trainers, traveling to Kamisugi, and our apartment, and starting real dendo!

Our apartment has 4 rooms and a bathroom. It's decent sized. We have these hilarious tiny bunk beds all in this one room pushed together and the mattresses are futons. They're great. My head hits the pillow and I'm OUT every time. :) I also got the packages Friday I think... They are wonderful!!!! I love them!! No, I haven't opened them aside from stealing the oatmeal and toothpaste out. I eat it (The oatmeal, not the toothpaste) every day for breakfast and love it! (Except for the one time I put salt on instead of sugar because I couldn't read the package label. That was gross. No, I didn't eat anything after the first bite.) I also got the most lovely heartfelt letter from Brother Peter Lindsay about some of his mission memories and en[c]ouragement. I completely identified 100% with everything.

Each week we have a group of ward members to visit and this week we have a lot of the Grandmothery type. They are so sweet and funny and give us so much strange food to eat (it's rude not to eat all the food they give you so we eat it all even if it's not attractive to the American taste buds).

Kamisugi is beautiful! Our area is a big city--it even has some American stores. It is the "fattest" area for missionaries (aside from teh [the] hombu [mission home] area) because it's a big city with lots of members who LOVE to feed us. It is also the area that was hardest hit by the 2011 tsunami--but you can't even tell. There's no sign of it. (Orgill shimai [Sister Orgill] said "That's Japan for you.") Also, a lot of people are hanti (means opposite, but is used for people who are against religion) in Japan because one time a cult attacked Japan and killed a lot of people and from that everyone here thoguth [thought] that all religion was like that and so religion has an extremely negative view to most Japanese. It makes it difficult at times to find people, especially for sisters; since we mostly only teach women, if they have family that's hanti they usually end up not being able to met with us because they're not the dominate force in their lives. The people are lonely because there're just so busy and don't have time to spend with their families. We have FHE and Eikaiwa (English conversation class) during the week. Lots of people come to Eikaiwa. It's so fun! The people are so wonde[r]ful and kind... and really love to feed you. I'm eating a lot.

Orgill shimai [presumably Katie’s companion—she doesn’t actually say!] is on her 4th transfer. Her Japanese is REALLY good. She's from California. She's stoked because she said she prayed really hard for a companion that was good at singing. I guess she thinks I qualify...

Okay, so, hilarious story. Saturday we took the LONGEST bike ride up the LONGEST hill (part of it was stairs with bike ramps) (and it started snowing like crazy) to visit the Seiza family... but they weren't there. So we went next door (about) to visit Furuuchi shimai [Sister Furuuchi] (grandma with a HUGE house). FUNNIEST. VISIT. EVER. First of all, she said her son was coming to town so she only had 30 minutes to meet with us. So she sat us down at the kitchen table and we tried singing Christmas Carols with her... we couldn't. We died. She loves to sing. Like an opera singer... getting exorcized. And she knows it. And loves it. So we chat for 40-ish minutes and then she goes into the kitchen to make a vinegar plum fermented tea for us... still singing. And then we drink the prune juice (I actually liked it. But I thought Orgill shimai was going to vomit. It's better than mugicha [a caffeine-free, roasted-grain-based tea made from barley that's popular in Japan].) and ask her if we can do any service for her. And she says yes (awesome! Most Nihongin [Japanese people] never let you help) and she gives me the vacuum head and gives Orgill shimai the vacuum base and we walk around her 3 story house vacuuming with her making sure we don't miss any spots. 3 person vacuum job. Aced it! Love it. She's so cute and funny.

We got back from that and did some more dendo and by then we're just soaked through and shivvering, but we still have about 3 more hours before going back. So we knock an apartment of a ward member to drop something off and he was just so nice. (He's in his 20's and here teaching English for a year before going back to the states.) We couldn't go in since he was a kyodai [brother—missionary rules say they would need another woman with them to go inside], but he was so kind and offered to make us hot chocolate and have us come back in 30 minutes for it. Then he asked if he could pray for us and then he said the kindest, most genuine prayer and prayed for our success both so that we could teach adn so that we wouldn't freeze. It was the kind of prayer that warms you down right down to your toes even though you're soaking through with freezing rain and snow and makes everything better. Kindness does that. And although, I hadn't been feeling discouraged, I felt so ready and so enthused afterwards and we were able to have success.

I really understand very little. But I love it here. The Lord truly is mindful of us and his tender mercies are all around us if we only take the time to notice them!

Way to follow the Spirit Candice. Orgill shimai says missionary work feels all sorts of awkward sometimes but it's only because we're all just little kids at it, learning how to walk, so it will be awkward for a little until it becomes easy and natural (although she says the awkward never goes away I feel otherwise :).) I bet the elders will love their basketball hoops. Way to go on the PSAT Zach! Of course you nailed that International Relations final Candice! Beast! And Lauren, I'm so proud of your scientific mind! I'm so proud of you guys!

We probably will get to skype you on your Christmas! (Our 26th--our 25th is going to be crazy busy with dendo!) So excited!

I love you all!!!! Thank you so much for the beautiful letters and emails and uplift and en[c]ourage me! I'm so happy to be here in Japan!

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. Did I tell you I met a friend of Tyler's named Elder Nickols at the MTC who said he was in Tyler's ward at Heritage and in his doki at the MTC?

P.P.S. The keyboards are very strange here so please excuse the errors you find. I'm not quite used to it yet. :)
P.P.P.P.S. 1 Nephi 17:11 A bellows blows the fire with air. I'm totes [totally] an airbender!

More P.S. Pres. Rasmussen is great! My boots and coat are great. We are in a ward. Snail-mail is really fast in Japan. Once it gets here from the US it only takes a couple days to get it to us.

[She didn't send any pictures this week. Sorry!]

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