I'm sorry it's been so long! I have barely had a P day lately since we seem to always be traveling on that day. Leaving the MTC was great, sad but so exciting. In fact, the whole 12 hour flight I couldn't sleep I was so excited. So, Japan is awesome! It is harder then I anticipated, but greater then I anticipated.
My area is Kichijoji, it's about 30 minutes from the Mission home and is awesome!!! People say they come here often for shopping and to eat, so we are close to everything which is great! Biking in Tokyo is WILD! Every time I get on my bike I think I'm going to get hit! The streets are so narrow and always filled with lots of people and bikes, but it is wonderful. I have never seen so many businessmen on bicycles. And everything here is so cute, babies, donuts, everything.
I purchased my bicycle who I named "Shiroy son" which means "white" and I felt as if I I was purchasing a car. They had me sit down and fill out some paperwork, and then afterwards they pulled Shiroy son aside and were tuning her up, checking every gear, as if I was getting ready for a race.
My trainer is Sister Kai. She is from Ooita, which is in the very south of Japan. She reminds me a lot of Momi and my mom combined. Maybe because she feels like she is always taking care of me. She is Japanese which helps me out a lot. Yesterday we were walking around this park in the pouring rain and she randomly says, "I want to barbecue here". I love her so much. She has been collecting seeds this week, and asking our investigators to guess which fruit they come from. She says it's her new hobby.
My first day here I did some laundry, and my bags had not yet arrived, (I just had my carry on) and here you hang dry everything! So we needed to leave but I had put the entire contents of my carry-on in the washer, and so, of course, they were not dry yet. So Sister Kai suggested I iron my outfit dry. So there I was ironing my underwear my first day in Japan, and after that we went out and biked to someone's house and got very lost, and it's the rainy season now, and I hadn't bought a rainjacket yet, so I got soaking wet and the whole time I was thinking, "Great, I just got dry and now I have to go home and iron my underwear again". I was laughing to myself and ironing about the whole situation.
Here, when you're new, the Japanese members always say "oh Bean Chan" when they first meet me, like "greenie" or newbee. I am definitly a bean chan from all the things I feel that happen. Like for example, I always pray that we can have strong healthy bodies, and everytimeI accidently always ask for us to be "kekkon" which means "to get married", instead of "kenko" which means health.
My first night here we taught an English class. Every Wednesday the missionaries teach a free English as a public service, and lots of people end up joining the church through that. It's actually so fun! I love teaching! I teach the intermediate class, and they are so happy just to practice English with you. I always ask for everyone to go around the circle and say one new thing they did this week, they share the funniest things. One man said, "I ran out of toilet paper at work, and waited 10 minutes for help". I think people here are so funny. It can be easy to get overwhelmed, like the first few days I had a bit of a headache because I was trying so hard to understand everything, but then I had the thought that maybe it's easier if "I just be like a child", because children often have many things to learn, but they don't get nervous because they don't know it all. So that's the best method, I think.
One adorable thing that Japanese people do is they wave to you until you are out of sight. My mom does that from the front porch as we drive away, and now I feel I understand so much more about you, mommy! The first lesson we taught, my second day here we taught this Obachan, Grandmother, she fed us corn on the cob, and had a warm toilet. I was shocked when I used it, it was plugged in and the seat was very warm! Anyway, she was saying bye to us, and here they don't only walk you to the door, they come out to the street and wave to you and keep waving. This happened to be a very long street, so we kept turning around and waving and walking and waving for about 5 minutes, I felt, until she was a tiny speck waving to us. So cute.
One of our investigators we started teaching these past two weeks is named Sophia, she is from Taiwan but speaks like perfect Japanese, she is an art student and she is wonderful. I can already tell the difference in her since we started teaching her. She even dresses differently. Its kind of sweet/cute because she doesn't have to dress like us, but she has been showing up to our lessons dressed like a sister missionary, long dress and all, so precious. You can just see the light and joy in her eyes and I always feel she is just hungry for more knowledge. It was kind of funny during our last lesson. I told her "I'm going to try to answer questions like, where we were before this life, and where we are going." Her eyes got very wide and she then thought I was going to tell her fortune. She started asking me if I was a fortune teller! But really I was going to just teach her about the plan of salvation. She is wonderful and we set a date with her to be baptized in the beginning of July. I hope it all goes well!!
There are such wonderful ward members here in Kichijoji, people are always taking care of us. This one wonderful couple, the Enagakis, took us to Costco, and then they were extremely kind and the husband is a veterinarian. They were so generous and bought all our groceries. I feel so blessed and watched over and so safe here.
In Japan when things get lost it is much different then in America. In fact, yesterday I lost my pen at church, and I didn't think anything of it. Then all of a sudden an announcement is being made over the pulpit, and a counselor is holding up my pen that I never thought twice about saying "this is a lost pen," and stating the exact location where it was found. INCREDIBLE. And it's not just church members. Often we will see on the street gloves tied up to telephone poles or a scarf, and I asked Sister Kai, "why are people tying clothes up to the telephone poles?" and she told me, when people lose something here, they will come back looking for it, and they can almost always find it. Wallets too! I was so shocked, and Sister Kai simply said, "we don't like steal". She is so cute. She is wonderful. From the minute she wakes up until the minute she goes to bed she is thinking of someone else.
Many people here are extremely kind. Another Obachan, Namazuta Shima, came over one morning and I was in my bathrobe so I hid at first.... And I thought what is going on out there...so when sister Kai said, it was fine to come out, there this kind woman was cooking us breakfast. It was so kind.
One of my favorite people I have met is this lady named Sachi son. She is wonderful, but her husband passed away, and her sons are grown so she only has a dog, who is named Audrey after Audrey Hepburn. We had lunch with her this week, and just as I thought, "okay Japanese isn't so hard", suddenly she starts telling us about her open heart surgery, and I couldn't understand hardly at all! Anyway she showed us many pictures of Audrey, her dog, and I think people naturally have like this whole bottle of love to give in their hearts, and when there are no people to give it to, sometimes it is all channeled to something/someone like her dog. I want to help her!! We shared a message about the gospel with her, that we do have a loving Heavenly Father and that we do go through hard things in this life, but all things are to teach us something.
At the end of our meeting, she hugged Sister Kai and I and said, "I had a hole in my heart, and now it feels like it closed". Of course I started crying there in the restaurant foyer, because she was so sweet and genuine. I know it's not necessary to be proficient in the language. We can still show love and it really will be felt.
I am so grateful to be here. Everyday it gets a little easier, and everyday I learn something new. I LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for being such a strength to me! I really feel sometimes that I know you are praying for me!
love marni chon