I've earned the nickname Barbie Shimai here as I am the only tall blonde with blue eyes in all of Shonandai. Someone asked to take a picture with me and people point and stare at me in the train stations. And then you should see their faces when I say O genki desu ka (how are you)? It's so much fun :) My trainer always says that the mission is the only time when you really get to feel like a celebrity every day :)
I think the theme for this week could very well be: Pink Bike. Back story... I hate bikes. Never liked them as a kid, probably haven't seriously ridden one in ten years, have NEVER ridden one in a city. But, they are an efficient way to travel and honestly they save so much time! So here is the adventure of getting my bike and riding it and other bike related things :) We planned a time to get my bike and had to get some of my money from an ATM. I was super stoked, so stoked that I forgot my personal visa. But we decided to still go to the bike shop to pick the bike that would carry me throughout my mission. When we walked into the shop I knew my bike right away. It was honestly love at first sight. Pink. White handlebars. White basket. Light blue lettering. The cutest thing I saw in my entire life. Oh, did I mention it was 200 dollars cheaper than I planned on spending. And it looked pretty hearty? This was the bike. So the next day, I go to the shop and start talking shop with the owner. By talking shop, I mean asking questions and my trainer translating since I have no idea how to speak Japanese. She explains that we move a lot and will have to take apart the bike. He said that the front wheel is too hard to replace and he tried to steer me to more expensive, more ugly bikes. No way. I know that trick. I've worked customer service. Plus, I'm not riding a red bike for the next 18 months. I wanted pink. So I ask him hypathetically, what I would need to do to take apart the bike. He said I would need a special tool and I ask him what it looks like. He pulls out a freaking monkey wrench. Does he think I'm an idiot? I know what a monkey wrench is. So right there, I get down on my knees and I take apart the bike to prove to him and my trainer that it's easier than they think. I also figured out the brakes and put it back together. Let's just say that he didn't try to steer me towards anything else. :)
So I'm riding my pink bike home from the church, it's my first time riding it and I'm terrified. It's like a video game! Try not to hit the other bikers, people, poles, or bushes! And figure out what the gears mean! As I was riding past a 7 eleven I was trying to figure out my gears and I see 3 people completely covering the sidewalk in front of me. My options were benches, people, or car. I chose the benches. My foot's a little bruised, but after apologizing to the benches and the people I went along my merry way.
Saturday was kind of one of the most amazing days of my life. We went to a big mission prep activity for the people in the Tokyo area. Then, we paired up with these single adults and went out and street contacted for a few hours. Both of my companions were Nihonjin and did not speak the Ego. I was so scared!!! Here I am, trying to teach how to be a missionary, and I can't even speak the language! One of them was actually a return missionary so she had a lot of advice for me. The other one is 19 and I think that she is interested in serving a mission now!! The Lord blessed me with the gift of tongues and I was honestly able to understand and communicate what was needed to be said. What a blessing! We talked to more than 15 people while we were out there and actually made a difference. There was one moment when we were walking down a street and it just didn't feel right. So I said, we need to turn around. We turn around and ended up walking down an alley between shops where lots of people were smoking. I wanted to get out of there so I didn't make eye contact with anyone and quickened my pace. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a girl crouched on the ground as I was walking past her. Right away the thought came to me: Talk to her. I turned around really awkwardly with my companions and I asked her if she was alright. We got talking about her life and started sharing with her what makes us truly happy in life. She wanted to know. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she gave us her phone number and we said we'd call her. It's funny, because I won't ever get to work with her because she's in a different area, but my heart is full thinking that maybe I brought a little bit of light into her life. It was a miracle.
On the train ride home, my companion and I were worn out. I literally dozed off while standing in the the train. But my companion started talking to someone about what we do and what church was like. Then I asked her, Do you think you want to come to church? She said yes! I can't really emphasize how random it is for someone to want to come to church when we first meet them. We then really started talking to her about the gospel and the Book of Mormon and she wanted to come! We gave her our number, but she doesn't live in our area either so we won't really know what comes of that talk. It's just amazing because right when you think you've seen enough miracles, God sends you another if your heart is prepared. I've learned that as I expect miracles, I find them.
God loves us. He really is our loving Heavenly Father and He sent us to this Earth as part of His eternal plan. Jesus is our Savior, and it is only through Him that we can return to God's presence. I think it's interesting how compared to God, we really are nothing. We need Him in everything we do. Even when I'm trying to serve Him, I can't do it without His help. Yet, even though we are nothing, He sees our potential to become so much more. And that really is why we are here. To become like Him.
My heart is full. I love the Japanese people, and I appreciate the people who are looking out for me here and at home.
Ai shite imasu!
You can't use your phone on trains.
Everything is takeout, and yet you're not allowed to eat while walking or standing. And there are hardly any benches to sit on (and yet I still find them to hit with my bike)
No trashcans for your takeout.
The Japanese like pumpkin and they put it in tons of foods. We have a lot in common.
Of course the first time I eat at a member's house they make sandwiches with mayonaise on them. of course mayonaise is the only food that I can't choke down.
The Japanese have perfected ice cream texture.