Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow Lanterns and Missionary Work

This week p-day letter came with 16 pictures with a record 3 with Alex and only 1 food picture. We've been have record high temperatures this winter in Utah while it looks like it is just as snowy as ever in Yonezawa, Japan.

Alex sends me a personal email and then also the email that he sends for me to post for everyone on his Facebook page and here. He sends that email to several people who he keeps in touch with. Well, today I was checking to see if he was including someone who had asked to receive the emails when I noticed that he is now sending those emails to 3 "shimai", sister missionaries. He hasn't mentioned them in emails so I don't know if he met them in the MTC or during zone conference since I hadn't heard there were any sister missionaries in Yonezawa. Anyway, just got this momma mind wondering. Hehe

I asked him to tell me more about his companion and the other 2 elders who all live in the same apartment since he never tells me stories about them. This is all he said:

Elder Oslen is a big jokester, Elder Earl is a smart guy who knows a bit of Chinese as well as Japanese and English, and Elder Pierson is always singing and giving us riddles to solve. I think that the riddle solving is probably the funnest thing we've done together so far.
Alex and Elder O.

A lot of people who I talk to are surprised that they don't get a car since it's too snowy for bikes during the winter and very cold to walk in. I told Alex that and this was his response:

I am doing a lot of walking, but I've been using the bus a lot more this week. We don't have cars here because of how hard it is to get a license, and because the roads a lot smaller than roads back in America. We wouldn't have anywhere to park if we tried to drive cars around to peoples' houses.

I was reading a blog and it mentioned a senior sister missionary there who has taken (and failed) the test for a license three times. I guess they're more into perfectionism than we are in America or something. Anyway, here is Alex's letter.

This week has been very busy, and I am so glad for the time I have to be in Japan and working amongst my brethren and sisters in Japan. I am enjoying life and having tons of fun with festivals and teaching, and talking and all that fun stuff.

This week's Japanese "word" is not really a Japanese word, but something that was created for me this week. This is my name in Japanese (same pronunciation as my last name in Spanish): 芽道咲。 A member of the branch here gave me this name, because the three kanji it uses are the characters for sprout, road, and bloom. She said it tells how as I go through my mission, i plan seeds that start to sprout. After I pass the road of my mission, all the seeds that I planted bloom into beautiful flowers. It's pretty cool if you ask me.

And here are this weeks events in a nutshell.

Monday: It was a pretty laid back day. We did email, practised a bit of piano (I am playing the piano for the Hymns in our next Zone conference), and went back to the apartment. We stayed there until we needed to go to an appointment in the evening. We taught in that lesson about the Word of Wisdom that was given to Joseph Smith for the church, and followed up on his reading and praying. After that we walked pretty far south to visit a family and invite them to a Chinese New Year party we'll be having on the 28th.

Tuesday: We did a bit of planning for the Chinese New Year party, and after that went to an investigator who lives on the north side of town. We had a pretty normal lesson with him, but he is in his 60s and has been an alcoholic, so things are going very slow with him understanding what our message is. After that we went back and did a lot of calling and paperwork at the apartment, as well as some planning for our English class the next day.

Wednesday: We took as bus up in the morning to go to a restaurant called Tonpachi with the other two missionaries and one of our investigators. It is a tonkatsu place, a place that specializes in breaded cutlets (usually pork). It is a favorite amongst the missionaries in Yonezawa. After that, we back to the church with our investigator and had a lesson with him. We talked about his reasons for keeping our commitments, so that we could know how to help him the most. He said that he keeps them for the logical reasons, but that he really does want to know whether or not God exists, and wants to get that answer for himself. He's a good guy, and I'm a bit sad that he'll be moving soon.

We also went to visit a less active member, Brother Seino, and get to know him better. We definitely got to accomplish that goal from that visit. On our way to the church, we passed these three boys who were making a snow lantern. We asked them where we could sign up to make one, but they told us that it was too late for this year. They then told us that we could help them make it with them. So, we did. We got the foundational snow down, and then put these four boards of wood up and placed snow in it while someone stomped it and packed it down. We tied rope around the wood, and got about halfway done when we ran out of time. They told us we could help with the rest though, so we told them we would.
After that, we prepared for our english class, and had that. In there, we decided to have our students to a puppet show for the Chinese New Year party (in english), and so in that class we had them create a story with their own characters. It was a bit slow at first, but once they started to get going, they really enjoyed it!

Thursday: We had district meeting that day, and I had to give a training during the meeting. I had been preparing for it for about a week but I had gotten the topic wrong, so I had planned the wrong thing. Luckily, through the grace of God answering my prayers as I prepared my training, the things I had prepared easily switched to the right topic with just a focus on different elements. After that, we had another lesson with Mr. Hasebe (the third in the week). We talked a lot about his questions, and tending to his needs, so we didn't talk about one subject specifically. After that we went to make more English Class posters to post around town, and had a few studies at the apartment as we laminated the posters.
We then wanted to go to the train station to visit a less active member in a different town, and we stopped at two different people's houses on the way, and ran into a boy we met last week and talked to them for a bit of time. When we finally got to the station, we had missed the train by one minute. Oddly enough, the other two missionaries also missed a bus that was leaving from the station, so we got to ride the same bus on the way back to the apartment. We decided to do some work at the apartment since we missed the train, and that was the end of that day.

Friday: After our usual weekly planning, we went to a local hospital to see if there was anything for us to do there. The man we talked to didn't have anything for us to do, but he has our name and number on a file in case they do get something. Also, the man really seemed to love English (he was talking to us in English as best he could), so we gave him a flier for our English class. After that, we went back to the place where the boys were making a snow lantern, and helped out. They were really nice, and let us do a lot of the work of carving out all the snow. It was a really cool experience, and I am so glad that I got that item checked off my bucket list. It was a decent looking lantern too. After that we went to the church and had a lesson with one of the other two's investigators. It was a good lesson, and we got to find out what his favorite scripture was.
Proud lantern builders and new friends

Saturday: We made the recipe we got from Mrs. Momozono last week for lunch, and it was really delicious. After that we went to a member couples house and had a good lesson with them. After that we went back to the church and had a lesson with Mrs. Momozono's friend, because she herself couldn't make it. It was a really good lesson, and I think she might even have more interest than Mrs. Momozono. After that we went to the snow lantern festival over at the shrine (that's why we made a lantern), and it was really awesome. There was some really cool snow sculptures there, as well and some good food (although I didn't have too much because it was all so expensive).

Sunday: It was one of the member's birthdays, so I made some lemon squares for her in the morning to give to her after church. We had a pretty good time in church in primary, and I got to conduct the music this week. I also got the chance to bear my testimony for the first time in Japan during sacrament meeting.
After church we talked with the members for a while, while waiting for someone to take us to the festival again and "guide" us as an English practice. We got to hear some cool acapella groups there, and saw a man dressed up as a samurai.
From there we walked to the opposite end of town and met with a family with a member. We talked for half an hour but they were busy, so we didn't get to do too much with them. We got a ride back to our apartment, and got to finish all of our studies we couldn't do before church.

That was my week. Hope you all got something out of it, and were entertained ;)

I love you all, and pray for you!
Love, Elder ______
Alex's companion Elder O.

Snow Lantern Festival with drums

Apparently this is the box they use to make the snow block that starts their lantern. 

1 comment:

  1. They certainly have gotten lot's of snow. I like that photo of him looking through the window of snow. I am sorry to read that they expect such perfectionism...when driving. Hope she passes soon.


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