It has been two weeks since I last sent a letter, CRAZY. So much has happened, but don't worry, I'll try to share some of it with you. I think the easiest thing will be chronological order, so here goes nothing!!!
The MTC was such an incredible experience!! It's a little embarrasing, but I definitely cried like all the time. I hate saying good bye, and I really had an emotional attachment to everyone and everything. I had to say sayonara to the volleyball courts and friends which was honto ni muzakashii (very difficult). Our last lessons in the MTC were incredible!! Sousa San and Ishikido San were baptized on Friday and I started crying in our last lessons with them. It was just so hard to say goodbye!!
Let me just say that I loved General Conference. It helped me so much and I feel so spiritually rejuvanated. I actually got to watch it twice since it comes out a week later in Japan so I'm doubly blessed! I loved what Christofferson said about femininity. It really is a blessing to know that our attributes are divinely given to us from God. He loves us, and there is no such thing as better. Just different. And I like that because like Uchtdorff says, we need different! http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us? lang=enghttp://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng It seems to me that femininity is looked down upon sometimes. But honestly, I love it! Love is why we are here on earth and it is what drives me to become better. As Elle Woods says on Legally Blonde the Musical: "Love, I'm doing this for Love!" That's why I'm serving a mission! I love this gospel and the joy and peace it brings to my life. I am grateful for it's influence and I love my Heavenly Father. I am serving because I want others to know of this love! To know the peace that the atonement brings to our lives. I just love love.
At the Sunday night devotional I gave the prayer. I was so nervous!! But I did get to shake hands with all of the members of BYU's Vocal Point afterwards... That was pretty cool :)
Monday, I left for Japan!!! We left the MTC at 3:30 in the morning. It took us a while to get our tickets and get through customs so I got on the plane right at the boarding time. Let me be honest in saying that I hate flying. It is taihen (a big problem). In fact, I'm not going to say anything else about it because it's the worst. It sufficeth me to say that after an 11 hour flight from LAX to NRT (Narita Japan) we were in Japan at 4:30 Tuesday!! I lost a day because of time zone blah blah blah.
President Wada and Sister Wada are pretty much the best ever!! I love them so much, like they are honestly so amazing. President Wada kills me with his jokes and then BAM spiritual powerhouse. He is amazing! I didn't get to see much of Japan but we did drive past Tokyo and it is so beautiful! Downtown Tokyo isn't in my mission so I don't get to see it but it seems nice?
On wednesday we trained and then we hit the streets and talked to people! What an experience! Sister Clark and I went together and we seriously were dying, we knew no Japanese! But people are so polite, that even if they don't want to talk to you, they will still listen! So I got to talk to a lot of people :) We were at Sunroad in Kichijoji. Apparently it's kind of famous? I don't know, but there were a lot of tourists from Taiwan there. Lots of people speak English and lots of people like practicing it with Gaijin (foreigners). What a coincidence! I am a gaijin who speaks English! I love talking to people!
We then taught Eikaiwa (English class) and one of the Japanese missionaries was telling me that he wished he was Gaijin like me. He said that people are so much more interested in me because I really do look out of place. I've gotten that a lot here and my usual response is, "Wait, didn't you know I'm Japanese?... Jodan!!! (Just Kidding)."
Now for the exciting part! :) On THursday we were assigned companions and areas!! Drum roll please!!!! I am serving in Fujisawa with Sister Grosland! Fujisawa is at the southermost part of the mission and is honestly so great. It's the smallest city but it probably has more people than the state of Idaho. Haha people love hearing that I grew up on a farm and that I am from the place that grows potatoes. Never gets old :)
Sister Grosland is so good to me!! I have lots of cultural and language questions that she is always ready to answer. She is patient, and it's funny because a lot of the time she doesn't remember English translation for things!! She has become Nihonjin! I really want to be like her when I get to the end of my mission. Slash right now. She reads all the Kanji and is so kind. This is her last transfer so I really hope that I make it a good one for her!
Fujisawa is something else. Since it's pretty far from Tokyo, the missionaries really are the only Gaijin here. Which leads to a lot of people simply staring a me on the streets. Like, when I talk with people and understand what they're saying, they get so excited!! I've also met a lot of people who are learning English and who love practicing with native speakers. I have had two people stop me on the street and ask for MY number! It's usually the other way around for missionaries right? But the 5'10" blonde is just killing it! :) People like me kind of, and I hope that I can start to better understand what's going on.
The past few days have been amazing!! We have 4 progressing investigators and we are hoping to commit some to baptism. I've had several incredible experiences with them while reading the Book of Mormon. It really does testify of Christ, and when people read it who sincerely want to improve their lives, things happen! The Spirit testifies of the truth of the restoration and we are able to help them come closer to their Savior Jesus Christ! It is such an incredibly satisfying work and I know that this is where God needs me right now.
The ward members are great! There is one lady who loves taking care of the missionaries. She feeds us, tries to shop for us, and gives us rides home from church!! She is also from Brazil, and so her Japanese has a Spanish accent and is impossible for me to understand. It's a good thing she gestures so much so I can laugh at the cued moments :)
The Lord has blessed me with the gift of understanding. I understand a lot of the gist of what is going on. I don't exactly know the specifics, but I do know generally what is happening, and it helps so much! I can't say much, and I don't really know exactly what people are saying to me, but I do know enough to say a simple statement every once in a while.
I was able to go to the temple today and it was honestly such a blessing. I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to have eternal families.
Some things that are way different in Japan than America:
The bathroom appliances. I could not understand how to use the toilet or the shower when I first got here.
There are vending machines quite literally on every corner.
No trashcans. So that plastic bottle you have from the vending machine? Keep it with you until you get home so you can organize it using the complicated trash system.
The Japanese love baths. Today, we started a bath from the kitchen. There's a button in here so that we can start a bath while also making dinner?
Our apartment is sick!! We have 3 rooms and there are only two of us here! Plus, it's a new area for sister missionaries so all of our appliances are new! Lots of pink chopsticks! :)
The humidity is honestly so crazy. My hair is unmanageble... But in a fun way that gets lots of attention :)
The food is good. They put soy sauce on pretty much everything so everything tastes pretty distinctly Japanese. I love the bakery bread here. There is this thing called a Melon pastry and it was decorated like a pumpkin so I thought the cream inside would be pumpkin flavored. Nope. Cantolope!! So weird right?
We sleep on futons. I'm kind of dying. But luckily this apt is meant for 4 so I get two futons. 2 is better than 1!! :)
I get to see my MTC district a lot because there are only four zones and we had a concert in Kichijoji yesterday! It was so much fun! We took our friend Momoko (it means peach) and watched Jett Edwards and Bless 4 perform. The concert was sponsored by the mission, which is why I got to go :)
I saw Elder Rollins there which was fun! He's doing well and it was nice to see a familiar face :)
I just realized that I use smiley faces a lot, but it's because I'm just so happy!!! I love it here in Japan. I work all the time, but it's in a fun way! I love you all and love hearing from you!
Ai shite imasu!