Thursday, February 20, 2014

The great and spacious world of the inaka (countryside) and you know you're a good Japanese missionary when you come back smelling like sake and tobacco!

So Akou... 

A different world than from kyoto.. that's for sure.  Slower pace, nobody is on the sidewalk, people hate you if you knock on their door past 6 and it's really quiet here... I don't think I've been anywhere so quiet... I keep expecting to hear an ambulence or a siren or something... but I don't.  Just cars quietly zipping by.  I was almost half tempted to try and stop a car just so that I could talk to someone because there is nobody on the street.  Housing it is... sometimes I get jealous of American missionaries - they have technology, the opportunity to teach people with Christian backgrounds, huge supportive wards, they can communicate in English, I could go on and on . . . but, I'm not in America, I'm in Japan, and I know I am meant to be in Japan!  When I first left on my mission I wondered why would my Heavenly Father send me here?  But now, I realize, that this mission is perfect for me.  God sends missionaries to Japan to be humbled.  And I have been humbled, many times, and I will continue to be over and over again.  I never realized how much pride I had before I came on my mission.  Here I have to rely totally on the Lord, He has given me so much strength and humility.  I love being a missionary, I love having this opportunity to serve and work in Japan.

So one of the last things that Pettit shimai and I discovered together was how to take the smell of cigarettes out of our clothes!  We taught a woman before we were transferred who smoked a cigarette while we were teaching her!  It seems like America is the only place where it is frowned upon to smoke - here it is futisu (normal).  Oh well, you know you're a good Japanese missionary when you come back smelling like sake and tobacco!

So when Archbold shimai and I arrive from the eiki (train station) we stop by the church, and then walk home... to our house!  Someone in the branch owns it and lets the sisters use it.  It used to belong to an old man who died. So all of his stuff is upstairs and there's even a butsudon in the back room (Buddhist shrine). Damron shimai used to keep her peanut butter there.  The house is pretty spacious, however, we mostly hang out in one room with the air con in it for heat.  It's warmer here than in kyoto, but still chilly. That and electricity is SUPER cheap here.  Our bill is like a quarter of what it was back in kyoto.  My mouth continues to drop!  

My new companion is Archbold shimai.  She comes from a family that moves around a lot from place to place, she says she doesn't really have a 'home' persay.  She's home when she's with her family.  Her family moves about once every 1-2 years.  I don't know how they do it.  She is 21.  Went to BYU-H and BYU-provo.  Then came on a mission.  She is the most chill, awesome, obedient, nice, and funny companion (besides Tojo Shimai.  No one tops her).  She and I have gotten along really well.  We're going to have a fun transfer together.  

Archbold shimai has also been in inaka (the country) her entire mission and she likes it that way.  She is definitely one of the few people in the mission who like the country.  I am still adjusting. I believe, however, that we will see miracles in akou.  I will pray for them and please pray for them as well.. baptisms too would be nice ;))

Sunday- Branches are definitely different than from wards.  There is a different feeling to it and people have multiple callings. The branch members are really nice.  However, most of them live an hour away in a town called Aioe, which makes it difficult for them to meet for lessons with the missionaries. The branch president is a micro manager.. I will say nothing more. The branch needs a little help in the right direction. . . . It's not the best branch, but we'll work with what we have. I look forward to working with them.  I am hoping and praying for the best. 

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu

Bevan Shimai

Remains of Ako Castle. This castle was built in 1648 and then dismantled in 1873 as part of a national Castle Abolishment law.  Restoration of the castle started again after WWII and is slowly being completed today along with the beautiful gardens and grounds. This castle was built close to the shoreline so that boats could sail from the harbor to the castle along the Chikusa River which still surrounds the castle today.  The original lord of this Castle instigated a large feud involving the death of a local clan's samurai leader resulting in the famous story of the 47 Ronin celebrated here in Ako every December.

Sarah's mom is assuming that this photo is somewhere near where Sarah is living in Ako?

Following Sister Archbold on her bike through Ako

Chikusa River that flows through Ako out to the ocean and provides the water for the moat around Ako Castle

Bruce found this picture through of the branch building in Ako - the branch entrance is the glass door in the middle of the building.