Konichiwa wonderful family!
I'm getting so excited for Christmas! Japan celebrates Christmas too, just a little differently --- by eating chicken and cake. Supposedly, KFC has lines out the door that day, but other than that, no one really knows why they celebrate or that Christmas is really about a man named Jesus Christ. I love that this Christmas season we get to tell everyone about him.
Hearing about Nola-chan last week was hard. It made me really sad since she was my little companion in life for so long. But I know she is with me now serving here in Tokyo and that makes it okay. People here in Tokyo are always dressed to the 9ies, especially dogs. I've included a shot of what I mean. This little Santa-san, was adorable. Dogs have been a great way to start chatting and make friends.
By the way, my companion is a walking dictionary. I tried to describe this pug as "pugnacious" and she quickly corrected me letting me know "someone who ispugnacious means someone who is looking for a fight." She is hilarious. We have been doing a lot of holiday delivering and singing Christmas carols. It's been so cold here lately they say it will snow soon!
We met the nicest couple this week --- the Kubos. We stopped for a drink at a vending machine and the nicest lady came out of her store to water her plants. She had a pleasant face and I just said "It's cold isn't it?! "samuie desu ne?" and she then started chatting with us. We gave her an English class flyer and she went back into her store. When we were walking away we noticed a small bald man in his 70ies looking at us from behind the store window and the lady I could tell was telling him about us. So we went in and introduced ourselves, the man was Kubo-san's husband.. We had the best time! We talked to them and sang to them, and at the end they told us to "please come back everyday". They are a couple from Hiroshima and they have owned their little store for 44 years. The older man knew some English so he was so happy to talk with us. They had no children and so just seemed so happy to have us.
They live above their store, so we went back a second time this week to visit them and Japanese people are so darling. Their initial thought on anything is always "what can I give?" The moment we knocked on their door yesterday and these sweet people before they can even say hello they are searching for a gift to give us. They never let you go home empty-handed. In this visit they gave us clear plastic organizers. Very sweet. Another thing I love about Japanese people is they always come down to see you off. When we were walking back down the stairs to our bikes, out came our sweet friend Kazuyoshi one more time to wave us goodbye and inspect our bikes.
We made a lot of deliveries this week to less active families in our ward. It kind of made me sad. We would get up to the porch and their lights were all on and their electric box was moving but they would never come to the door. It made me sad thinking about these people who had once had testimonies and once been fully active in the church and then for whatever reason stopped feeling like they could show their face.
Anyway, while making deliveries this week we were walking down the street and we thought there was a sudden gust of wind because all the light poles and telephone wires were shaking and then the Elders came running outside of the church. Little did we know there was a big earthquake. In some parts of the mission it was a magnitude of 7 which is pretty strong. So we had a small training this week on what to do in case of a bigger earthquake.
Elder Hamada, one of the Assistants to the President, told us that when he went up to Sendai last year to help clean up after the Tsunami the only things left were Elementary Schools and Hospitals. So in case of an earthquake, we should find the nearest elementary school or hospital because they won't crumble. It made me think about why these buildings are the strongest. Probably because the very young and the elderly are the most vulnerable, so knowing this, builders build with extra care.
This made me think of that which is most vulnerable or precious in my life --- my testimony and my family. What do I do to protect it/them? Instead of actual concrete walls or strong beams, I know the best protection comes from the little things --- daily prayer, keeping Heavenly Father's commandments, and listening to the spirit and always living worthy of it. I know if we do these things nothing can touch us or bring us permanently down.
I know that I'm supposed to be here. Sometimes, like when no one answers their doors and we bike for a long time and no one really listens, I think --- am I really making that big of a difference here in Tokyo? Would it matter if I wasn't here? And I doubt myself from time to time. But I know I shouldn't doubt because God believes in me enough to call me here. And when we have doubt that's when we start to sink. In times when I doubt myself and my abilities I know I have to just keep looking straight at the Savior for support. He has not let me down so far and I know he never will.
This mission is the best thing I ever decided to do with my life. It's the hardest thing in a lot of ways, but it is the time of my life. Heavenly Father is real and he can help us with anything. He has helped me every single day, and will always be there for us no matter what.
I love you each and am so excited to see you soon!