Monday, January 4, 2016

明けましておめでとうございます! (Happy New Year)


Well another week is down and it is really kind of strange to describe
last week. I guess I will start at the beginning and see where we end
up and the end.

We began Tuesday with an exchange with the APs here in 野並 (Nonami) and
it went pretty well. I was with Elder 佐藤 (Sato) and we were able to
talk to a lot of people and while housing we found a couple of really
good PIs (potential investigators). We did also have the unique
experience of housing into a drunk guy who was not happy when I
started talking to him when he opened the door, but 佐藤 was able to get
him calmed down to the point where he gave us a hug when we left. It
was a rather strange encounter. The exchange was good, but it's always
kind of hard working with a Japanese elder because the people you try
to talk to don't want to talk to a white guy when they can talk to
another native. You kind of have to work your way into a conversation,
but the Japanese elder dominates the discussion. Oh well, such is life
as a missionary in Japan. Our mission actually only has about 8
Japanese elders (out of 140 total) so this doesn't happen too often.

This week was the big お正月 (O-Shogatsu) holiday. We were actually told
not to actively 伝道 (dendo) for the 31st, 1st, and 2nd. Since it is
super rude to visit people unexpectedly during this time. For 正月
families typically gather and just hang out together as they enjoy the
break and they will go to the 神社 ("jinja"or shrine) to pray to their
ancestors for a successful new year. This is the biggest and most
important holiday for the Japanese people and that's why we're told
not to proselyte. Just imagine if I showed up on your doorstep on
Christmas; would you be happy and want to talk to me about my
religion? No, probably not. So instead of going out and working like
we normally do we were told that we could do a couple of different
things: first, if a member invited us over to their home we could go
and spend time with them. Second we were told to do a deep clean of
our apartments. And lastly we were told to get some good scripture
study if there wasn't anything else to do. Good thing the members here
like us a lot because if not it would have been a long couple of days.

On the 31st we scored two member appointments which was pretty sweet.
We had lunch with the recent convert who was baptized last transfer
and then then in the evening we went to one of my favorite families in
the branch, the 落合s (Ochiai's). We made たこ焼き(tako yaki) which is best
described as a dumpling ball with octopus on the inside. It's way
good! I love that stuff. Brother 落合 brought out some mission pictures
from his mission and we looked through those. He came home from his
mission about 14 years ago and now he has an awesome family (remember
last week's e-mail). It got me thinking a little bit about where I
will be 14 years from now. It'll be cool to have elders over at my
house and show them pics from my mission.

The next day we spent next night at the branch president's apartment
with some other members and played some games and ate more food. To
explain future pictures from this evening we played this game where
you stick these little swords into a barrel and if you hit the trigger
a little pirate pops out and you lose. If you lost someone got to
paint your face with a marker. We all looked rather ridiculous at the
end, but it was way fun.

The last day of our "break" I made traditional Hardcastle jambalaya
for the four of us in 野並 with the ingredients so we could properly
celebrate the new year. It turned out pretty good I thought and we all
ate at the church and did some scripture study together. In the
evening we had one more member appointment that was also fantastically

That's about it for my week here. Surprisingly I have not gained
weight and am still in good shape so there's no worries about that for
a New Year's Resolution. I realized the other day that I have spent
the entirety of 2015 outside of the United States. I'll never know
what happened. On another note, I hope you all a had great week with
family and friends. Kick this new year off with a bang and make it a
good one.




Pic 1- New Year's goals with the Branch Pres.
Pic 2- Love eating! We all look like injuns with war paint
Pic 3- Eating more food!

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