Monday, July 1, 2013
July 1, 2013
On July 1, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
I am so sorry that is it so late! I wanted to email earlier in the day but we had a nightmare trying to figure out our SUPER high-tech washing/drying machine! Yes, it does both. It`s way cool.
Anyways! I HAVE A TON TO TELL YOU! Haha. Yes, Monday is P-Day! So, you will be hearing from me sometime late Sunday night, Denver time. I`m sorry no one notified you that we arrived safely in Japan; that makes me sad. The flight was crazy long! 34 hours of travel time! AH! We got lost in the Narita airport when we landed in Tokyo, so we almost missed our flight to Sendai, but we made it with about ten minutes to spare. So, I had to use the restroom really bad in Tokyo, so Tui Shimai and I went to the bathroom and, OF COURSE, I picked the ONLY stall with a squatter toilet! Haha, it was hilarious. I walked out feeling super uncomfortable, laughing, and said, ``Well, that was an interesting experience...`` Haha. Luckily, every toilet I've used sense then has been a super fancy one, either with a bide (be-day), or with a heated seat. Those ones are super weird, haha.
Mom, you would not believe how humid it is here. Seriously, 100 percent humidity. I am having great hair. I wake up every morning with an afro, but as soon as I get it tamed, it looks awesome. I am serving in Izumi, which is a ``suburb`` of Sendai! It's about 15 minutes on the subway away from the main church building in Sendai. The Izumi ward is absolutely FANTASTIC! There's me and my two companions (I'll tell you about them in a minute), and two sets of elders, all in the same ward!! It's so much fun to have seven of us! My trainer is Kubota Shimai. She is 23, and is from Nagoya, Japan. She has been serving for 13 months, so she is very experienced in this whole mission thing. She is a pianist, and is very full of love. She speaks very good english, which is a little bit frustrating when you're trying to learn nihongo! But I love her. My other companion is Takata Shimai, from Osaka and Hokkaido, and she is brand new, just like me! In fact, we flew here together. It is crazy having two native companions! I have been immersed in the language. Every Nihonjin that I meet and talk to tells me that my Japanese is really, really good. I don't know if I believe them... haha, I still have so much to learn. The people here are so kind, it:s really incredible. We talk to everyone on the street and they all bow to me, and always ask me why I'm in Nihon. Most of the time, I can reply a little bit, but sometimes people look at me like I have four heads because what I say makes absolutely no sense. But, it's been good. All of the little kids stare at me as we bike by, and I made a baby cry at Church yesterday because my hair is so scary. Haha. My ward is amazing. We have a fantastic bishop who reminds me a lot of Dad and probably the best ward mission leader I've ever met, besides Dad. He is SO involved with the work, and his dendo fire (mission fire, as we all call it), is absolutely amazing. His name is Kajihara Kyodai, and he is so kind. My main goal these next couple of Sundays is to learn all of the member's names. Japanese names are so hard to remember! But, I am asking for divine assistance. The three of us Shimai had to speak in Sacrament meeting yesterday. That was interesting, but I just bore my testimony of the Savior, and the Spirit was definitely there, and I am grateful. The elders we are serving with are fantastic. Two are native, Ito and Nishida Choro, and they are great. So kind and humble. Nishida Choro is our district leader and he is so funny. This is his last transfer! :( The other two Chorotachi are gaijin like me. Dowdy Choro is from Australia and was actually in the MTC the same time as me, but this is his second transfer now. He's funny; all the ward members tell me that my Nihongo is better than his, but that is not true at all. The other Choro is Merkley Choro, and he is so awesome. He's from Mesa! And he plays the cello also! And he's only ten days older than me! The sad part is that this is also his last transfer and so he goes home in August. He's really a great missionary, and he helps me out a lot.
Sorry this email is so scatter-brained! I have a lot to tell you!
Surprisingly, I haven't had any real Japanese food yet! Well kind of. I had a bento box the first day we were here, but the rest has just been food in our apartment, which mainly consists of pasta (so american) and white bread and toast and LOTS of onions. We eat onions with every meal, even breakfast. They're good though, we cook them with soy sauce. The other night at FHE (it was on Saturday with the whole ward. FUN!) we had curry, and it was marvelous. I love curry, and Japanese curry is good. I haven't had to eat any seafood yet. It really isn't as prevalent as I had thought it would be, so I guess that's good. Nori is more prevalent, which is gross, but it's okay.
My mission president is so great, I love him and Sister Rasmussen so much. Rasmussen Kaicho is very funny and genki, and has a great vision for the mission. He loves the Japanese people and is very trusting in his missionaries. In my first interview with him, he asked me to pray in Nihongo, and afterwards, he was like ``Sister Johnson, where did you study Nihongo before you came on your mission?`` when I told him just the MTC, he was like, ``it's not good to lie to your mission president in the very first interview, Sister Johnson!`` haha, and I just laughed and assured him I wasn't lying, and he said ``well, you are definitely being blessed with the gift of tongues then!`` I was so, SO grateful to hear that! It's definitely true, the Lord has blessed me so, SO much with the language, and I am so grateful. Then, President Rasmussen said ``Sister Johnson, you have a beautiful smile. You are so full of light, and I am so grateful to have you here in this mission. Your presence will bless the work here. I am so grateful.`` It was a wonderful interview, and I am so excited to be working with him and Sister Rasmussen. She is such a sweet woman, and she reminds me so much of Gramma O. I already love her.
I am not having as much culture shock as I thought I would have. The only thing is that you bow to everyone you see, it's extremely important to address someone by their correct title, and every person in Japan is so, SO humble. My companions never let me do anything. They never let me cook or carry anything, or clean, it's kind of annoying. I have to be insistent if I want to do anything to help. But, I love them so much, and I am looking for ways to better serve both of them. Another thing that's weird about Japan are the traffic laws. I have never been so scared to ride a bike in my life, haha! It's insane how skinny the streets are here, and they drive on the wrong side of the road, and we're supposed to ride against traffic on the very narrow shoulder. I love being on a bike though, it's seriously the best! I am riding a Renault girl bike, with six gears. It's weird being on a gear shifty again, but it's definitely nice for the hills. We ride our bikes everywhere, and it is so fun. The landscape here is gorgeous. I have never been somewhere so green in my life! It's because it's so wet here. Seriously, my books are curling because it:s so humid. But, it isn't hot! In fact, it's quite the opposite! The rainy season here is cold because the sun is nonexistent. There's only been one day so far with (just a little bit) of sunshine. I am so grateful to have my sunlamp. Please tell Brian thank you so much and that he is my life saver. That's the only thing I would change about Japan, is the lack of sunshine. But other than that, it's beautiful. Oh yeah, my apartment. I sleep on the floor on a futon, and futons are much thinner here than in America. That's exciting.
The work here is...interesting, to say the least. There haven't been sisters in Izumi, ever I think, and so we came in to this ward completely empty handed. With that being the case, we tried a lot of door knocking and street contacting last week, but all to no avail. Since then, we as a district have decided that our focus is going to be completely on the members and how we can better strengthen our ward. There are about 70 people in the ward, and we want to work with the members to really gain their trust so that we can ask them for referrals eventually. So the next while is going to be less finding I think, and more teaching members and less-actives, which I am very excited about. The ward members are so great, and I'm excited to work with them. This is also my commission from President Rasmussen. He wants me to learn all the members names and use them and work with them all the time. I am excited to do that. My success will be measured by the relationships I can build in the ward. I am so excited to be here, finally. Yeah, it's really hard, but I love it so much. I hope that I will continue to grow to love it here, and that my Nihongo skills will grow.
That hour went by fast! I love you!