Dear family,
So far I love Utsunomiya. Its way colder here but we have so many people to teach and our ward is wonderful.  They asked me to give a small talk in sacrament yesterday and I didn't feel too nervous which surprised me. Everyone helped me feel at home right away.  A sweet girl who is 24 named Yuie chan sat next to me and kept giving me hugs.  I gave her a sticker of Jesus and she wrapped it around her pen and kept kissing it.  She is my age but her mind is like a child.  She had more love in her heart then everyone in the entire room put together and helped me feel so welcome.  The ward is pretty small but there are plenty of little people to play with. I taught the kids ring around the rosy yesterday after church and gave them all stickers too.  It always amazes me how quick children are to accept you.  Later on in the day we were getting something in the church library and all of a sudden I felt a little hand in mine and I looked down to see one of the little 3 year old girls standing by me ready to show me something else.  I love Japanese kids.  They seem like miniature adults or something, always having an agenda of their own.

This week we played a game called Indiyaka with some friends.  I know it sounds like it originated in India but I think its German.  Its like a mix between badminton and volleyball.  Apparently I have played before because one of the players, our Relief Society President's friend thought I was a pro. Her name was Crownchan and I felt like she was my coach.  It didn't help that she looks alot like Richard Simmons- the short hair and the spunky attitude to go with it.  She kept making comments the entire time like "Vail chan- we have to put the best player in the middle" and "your a quick learner, are you sure this is your first time? If you practice everyday you will be great!" She kept calling out to me the entire game "Vail chan!"  They were diving for the ball and wearing knee pads I loved my life.  It made me feel so good just to laugh with these wonderful women.
This week I was kind of missing everyone at home for some reason.  Maybe because I had been in the same spot for 6 months and it grew to be home.  I felt like I knew everyone and now being in a new place you feel like a stranger. The thought of someone somewhere knowing YOU is comforting.  I started to think about why God would make it a rule for us missionaries to not be able to talk to our families really for 2 years or 18 months, and I think its because if we could maybe we wouldn't come to him as often, or it we filled our hearts and our time with our families during our missions, maybe we wouldn't fully love the people here with our whole hearts and let them become like family to us.   I heard this once that "where there is cracks, that's how the light gets in".    Anyway just a thought.
I love my new companion Dolan Shimai she is so cute and I love how bold she is.  This week we are going to commit 7 people to be baptized.  I am way excited to work with her. This week after our free English class one of the students came up to me to shake my hand.  He was a Korean man in his 50ies probably.  He asked me if God had helped me in my life before.  I told him 'yes of course' and then he told me a story of when he fell down on his bike when he was little in the snow and a car was coming but how God had helped him out.  He said "that was my destiny" and that he believed in God ever since.  Then he shook my hand and he said "Thank you for teaching me.  It was my destiny to meet you, Vail. I'm glad to meet you".  I didn't know quite how he meant but I think it is good.   He said yes to studying the Book of Mormon with us, so it should be exciting to see what happens. 
This week I felt like I had so much to learn like I was a brand new missionary all over again, so many people's names to remember and just living in a new city.  I was feeling stressed a little bit so I took a bath before bed one night and when I came out I noticed this picture hanging on our bathroom wall of a beautiful cherry blossom tree that I never really looked at too closely at before.  It seemed at that moment to be Heavenly Father's saying to me," it's going to be okay.  You will know this place in no time!  Good things are just around the corner!" Everyone has been talking about the beautiful cherry blossom season that is just around the corner in March.  I know that good things are in store.  Heavenly Father loves us so much.  I am so excited for springtime!  
love you!

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