Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What an adventure!

Ok, I'm going to type as fast as I can so if I have spelling errors, oh well. 

First, answers to questions!

Fish Shimai is from Las Vegas.  She's very nice and we're a lot closer personality wise than with the previous companionship so I think we should be just fine.  We're getting to know each other and how we work.  She has trained before and this is only her 4th transfer!  She trained a Nihonjin on her 3rd transfer after she herself had just finished training.  I'm not sure if I'll be ready to train after 3 transfers, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.  It was a definite transition for me to get used to the mission field practice of tracting every day.  In fact I was pretty bummed at first, but I feel a lot better about it now.  

So I am officially that missionary that comes and knocks on your door, the one that you don't really want to listen to.  However, in Kobe, we don't knock on doors.  We ping pong.  Meaning every single person has an intercom and camera.  Despite how safe Kobe is, they are really paranoid.  So we just get hung up on, which isn't as insulting as someone slamming a door in your face.  So thus the Japanese are more polite in being "rude".  Kobe is a mix of Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, except there's no beach :P
But I like it here and I'm getting used to it.  It feels like home. 

I'm in the Kobe ward.  It's a smaller/larger ward (depending on how you look at it) of about 90 members.  There is an English branch that we've been attending, as well, with about less than 20 people.  I play the organ, and so that's been fun.  Granted it's an electric organ with about 10 stops, but I make it work!  

I don't really understand what anybody says.  However it's been getting better.  I can now sort of tell when someone is saying a word and a verb as compared to previously when I couldn't pick out anything from what people were saying.  I know the language will come in time so long as I keep trying.  It was just very frustrating previously. I can definitely teach better than converse, because that's what the MTC taught me to do.  Now I'm just transitioning into a more advanced Japanese, and it's just hard.  I'm working on it though, every day.  I'm saying more and more each week.  However, I still like teaching more than streeting. 

When we first arrived in Kobe we stayed at the Mission President's home for 2 nights.  During that time we were fed well and we were trained.   A lot of my district from the MTC are scattered all over the Kobe mission.  One is even a whole days travel away by train.  I'm not sure where she is now.  Douglas Shimai is in Okayama, she is in a trio with two Nihonjin so I wish her the best of luck!  Ellsworth Shimai is in Osaka, and others are in the neighboring area.  Some are on the island Shikoku (I believe that's what it's called) and so on.  

My new bike is purple, with a basket, bell, and a basket cover.  I'll send pictures later because I didn't get an opportunity to take a photo this week.  

It's been really hot lately.  I got sunburned on Thursday.  But it started raining today, so we'll see what happens. 

Please send mail only to the mission office.  Use US postal service only.  This prevents mail from getting lost and unnecessary stalls.  BTW, I got your "dear elder" 10 days after you had sent it.  But that's the only one I've received so far. 

Food's good.  I like rice.  I'm not very picky.  We went to an authentic restaurant on Friday and it was so good!  I didn't know what half the stuff was in my bowl of noodle soup but it was good. Turns out I've been using my chopsticks all wrong the past 10 years. So I'm trying to retrain myself.   Which has been difficult, my hands don't like change.  `

We don't eat with the members too much.  In fact, it's been nice we've been having meals with members the last two Sundays.  It's been so nice getting to know the members.  The first Sunday I had dinner with the Bishop and his family, and this past Sunday it was with another family in the ward -they were so nice.  We had cake!!!  and Fruit!!! You should've seen our faces when we saw a whole bowl of fruit.   Fruit is crazy expensive here.  As in, it's about $1 per piece of fruit.  So I haven't eaten a lot of fresh fruit lately.  

In Japan, they have amazing house appliances.  When I have my own home I want a Japanese stove, microwave, vacuum, and washing machine. The microwave doubles as an oven.  Our stove automatically turns off whenever something starts to burn (I have no idea how it knows something is burning) and the washing machine measures the weight of the load and then pours in water accordingly.  It's so COOL!  I love Japan :D  

I've been taking cold showers the entire time I've been here and the water still isn't cool enough.  It's the closest thing I've got to swimming.  We have an air con in the bedroom but at night the room gets pretty stuffy.  We sleep on futons on Tatami mats which I think is pretty cool. They are more comfortable than sleeping bags and I sleep just fine.  

Last week was really hot though, I've bought two sweat towels to try and not look so sweaty, but sometimes it's like fighting against a tsunami of sweat and there's just no point :P.  

The Japanese Mormons really like this tea called Mugi tea.  It tastes terrible.  It's a wheat tea and it smells like coffee gone bad.   That's all they drink.  In fact, last night at the dinner with the member family they served mugi tea and the only way I could get something else was if I downed it.... I did it, and the reward was worth it! 

All the toilets here are bidets, I think that was definitely the first thing I noticed.  Whistling in public is not allowed.  It's considered rude to drink/eat while walking, so we have to stop whenever we want to drink from our water bottles. Also, because the Japanese think that white skin is beautiful, the women will wear these pull up sleeves, even if it's boiling hot outside and long pants and hats and gloves and socks.  At least immodesty isn't a problem here :)

Recycling here is so interesting. They recycle everything but paper.  That's in the burnables bag.  There's a burnables bad, non burnables, plastics, bottles, cans, and something else that I'm forgetting.  The bags are clear and during pick up days every one puts their bags in a large mesh bag on fences that the garbage men collect.  So if you don't recycle, the community will frown upon you and that is shameful.  So everyone recycles. 

Adventure time:

So Thursday was definitey a day to remember.  First of all, we had a referral.  We hardly ever get a referral.  They are treated like gold here.  They are precious and to be handled delicately.  Except this referral was at the top of a mountain...  Or it seemed like it... During the entire time I was walking my bike up this hill in the heat I was thinking/praying, "This had better be worth it.  Heavenly Father, if I make it up this hill.  If we find this house.  Please let the family be there, please let them be kind enough to let us in, please let us share a message.  Please let them invite us back, so we can teach them some more and invite them to baptism. Please help them become members, stay in the church and go to the temple... That's it, that's all I ask if I make it up this hill alive. Just give me enough faith to believe that this is worth it!" 

So, we get to the top of the mountain.  Except now there's another hill we've got to get up that's a San Francisco level of slope.  So we park our bikes and head up this GINORMOUS hill.  Step by step.  I'm already dehydrated, probably sunburnt and sweating profusely. We keep looking for the address.  Or I should say, Fish Shimai keeps looking for the address.  We ask mailmen and neighbors.  We turn up another hill and we see a woman who has just come back from grocery shopping.  

She sees us and we approach her and ask her where this address was.  She says that it's her friends home.  We walk over and turns out they're not home... I was about to collapse.  Of course this would happen.  After she calls her friend she says, "She won't be home for another hour."  Fish Shimai and I look at each other, not sure what to do.  Then she says, "you can come over to my house and wait for her there.  She wants to meet with you."  

So we agreed and we go into this woman's home.  She gives us ice cream, puts a fan on us, and angel food cake with whipped cream and fruit.  I was in heaven.  We were so grateful to her.  I think she mostly just felt sorry for us because we looked terrible.  We talk with her for about an hour and find out more about her.  Turns out she's a host family for foreign exchange students, so we talked with her about all the students she's housed.   Then her friend gets home. 

We meet this woman, I'll say her name is Miyagi san.  Now Miyagi san ended up taking us out to dinner because she felt bad for making us wait through our dinner time (somehow she received this information, I don't speak Japanese so I usually just go with the flow).  We talk more about how she came to know about the church and missionaries.  Turns out she hosted a Mormon student who's on a mission now in Tokyo.  His name is McKnight Chourou.  I told her that I believe he was in the MTC with me.  He came to the MTC in June, but I think I knew him.  So that opened new doors. Cool, huh?  

Then she drops us off at our next appointment because dinner took so long and we had an appointment at 6 with an investigator.  We meet with the investigator but then we realized, "what about our bikes?"

So we call Miyagi san again and she offers to pick us up and bring us back to our bikes.  We were so impressed with her kindness, for she had already given us so much.  So she picks us up, we drive up the mountain again back to our bikes.  I unlock mine and mount it when I see that I beat Fish Shimai in getting ready.  I never beat her. But I did.  I turn towards Miyagi san and I think, "how in the world are we going to be able to meet this kind woman again and bring her unto Christ?" Then I thought, "You should give her a Book of Mormon."  Of course my initial reaction was, "nah..."  But then the feeling came with more force and it said, "You SHOULD give her a Book of Mormon."  So I gave in and thought, "Ok, ok... I'll do it. "  So I turn towards Miyagi san and say, "for your kindness" in Japanese.  I bow and hand her a copy of the Book of Mormon.  She looks at it in awe and says, "It's in Japanese?"  I say, "yes, of course!" and she grabs it and says, "I'll read it."  Whoa... Not expecting that.  So hopefully we'll get to see her again.  She wants to take us to Kyoto.  I'm totally willing to do that.. Just saying.  Anyway, back to the story. I look back at Fish Shimai, and she's still having difficulty with her bike. 

It turns out someone had locked the lock on her back wheel.  It's a lock that comes with the bike and when it's unlocked the key remains in the lock.  When you lock it you can remove the key.  Turns out, while we were gone, someone had locked her bike and took both keys.... She never removed the spare key... So Miyagi san and her friend we met earlier once again save us. Her friend takes the locked bike and puts it in her car, but she is unable to fit my bike in... So, what ends up happening is that I ride in Miyagi sans car while Fish Shimai rides my bike back to the church.... yeah.  It was an adventure.  

But we made it all back in one piece and ended having the lock get cut off by the bike shop for free, which was nice.  And all's well that ends well.  I'm hoping for the best this week.  I'm praying that our potential investigators become new investigators and that we can bring people into the light.  

I hope this email makes up for last week.  I love you all. 



Sister Bevan

Kobe Ward building

Traditional Japanese gate or torri at the entrance to a shrine/temple

torii (鳥居?, lit. bird abode, /ˈtɔəri./) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines. They are however a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple's own shrine, called chinjusha (鎮守社?, tutelary god shrine) and are usually very small.
Their first appearance in Japan can be reliably pinpointed to at least the mid-Heian period because they are mentioned in a text written in 922.[1] The oldest existing stone torii was built in the 12th century and belongs to a Hachiman Shrine in Yamagata prefecture. The oldest wooden torii is aryōbu torii (see description below) at Kubō Hachiman Shrine in Yamanashi prefecture built in 1535.[1]
Torii were traditionally made from wood or stone, but today they can be also made of reinforced concrete, copper, stainless steel or other materials. They are usually either unpainted or painted vermilion with a black upper lintelInari shrines typically have many torii because those who have been successful in business often donate in gratitude a torii to Inarikami of fertility and industry. Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto has thousands of such torii, each bearing the donor's name.  (Wikipedia)

A millipede eating a secada or semi's as they are called here.  They are these really loud bugs that are the size of humming birds. yeah, they're gross.  it's a bug eat bug world out there. 

Also, I'm sending a photo of a noodle ramp.  At a ward activity, they had noodles sliding down this slide that you picked up with your chopsticks.  So cool!  Also, the ward has 11 missionaries serving in it.  2 sets of sisters, elders, a trio of office elders, and the AP's.  yeah.  It's a lot of fun, although I feel sorry for the ward.

(I'm thinking this might be fun for Pasadena Ward to try?)
This is the bus used to pick up the 30+ missionaries at the airport
This is the doki or group Sarah travelled with to Japan - 34 missionaries!!

(I believe this picture was taken while she was in the Mission Home when she first arrived.  I have read from previous blog posts that President Zinke takes the new missionaries on a hike to the top of a local hill so that the missionaries can get a great view of Kobe!)

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