Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 13: What are you thinking about? Naan

This week we had splits and it was so much fun! We split with sisters in the neighboring area, and they were full Japanese so it was a really fun challenge to communicate with them! i.e. It was really fun not knowing what was going on the whole day!

Us in their apartment!
(If you look really close you can see in my left hand I am holding a mostly-eaten Black Thunder, the best chocolate bar-cookie confectionery in all of Japan. Yum.)

I did not want to leave their apartment because their futons (Japanese style floor-beds, yeah, that's right, I sleep on the floor) were like at least 2.5 times comfier than our futons... Oh well.

One day we were in our area, and the next we went to theirs and stayed in their apartment. Their area was less of a city, and much more rural, so I got a LOT more "Gaijin Stares" than I am accustomed to... Oh, I should probably explain! "Gaijin" (pronounced guy-Jean) is the word for foreigner in Japanese, and a so-called "Gaijin Stare" is when people look at you like you're a mythical creature because they've never seen a foreigner in the wild before, only on TV.

It's fun! But a little embarrassing... We passed by like three schools as they were getting out, and kids and teenagers stare the most. I'm surprised some of them didn't get in bike accidents, because they were looking at me instead of where they were going!

Since this place was more rural, it was CRAZY BEAUTIFUL!! This is a picture of when we got lost and started riding into open fields. I love Japan.

This week we finally went to the restaurant that my trainer has been talking about NON STOP. It's called Bistare Bistare, and it's Nepalese food, so that means curry and NAAN, NAAN, NAAN!

If you have not tried naan, I encourage you to take that step, because after that you will want to eat naan NAANSTOP!! Haha, get it.


Look at the cool plate too!  And they served us this weird but delicious yogurt drink. Basically I was in heaven.

Now it's time to learn a little bit about Japan!

In Japan, they have coins up the wazoo. Like coins everywhere. There's a coin that's worth the equivalent of 5USD!

And I do not know how to use them yet...

So I just pay in $10/1000¥ bills........

As a result, my coin purse, when tipped out, looks like this

That mess of change is worth 2591¥ / ~$25.91


You can buy a lot of naan with that dough.


But anyway, more about naan later. When trying to be a master chef and make... I don't even remember what I was cooking, eggs?? Anyway, our pan is a little sketchy, and it started smoking really bad, but I hadn't noticed until my companion comes up to me and asks "Is it a little smoky in here?" I look up. Our whole apartment is hazy. "Oh no, what if the smoke alarm--" BEEP BEEP BEEP! Yeah, I set the smoke alarm off...... Sorry neighbors!

There's a lot of shirtless statues in my area. Don't know why, but it's great.

Here's how doofy I look when riding around Japan!

This is the free bike I got from my trainer's previous companion who had just gone home when I got to Japan. I'm gonna make it last so I don't have to drop 5 hundo on a new bikeroni. Can she do it?!?!!
(Probs not I already broke both of the petals in half with my feet somehow.)

This week we had a cool coincidence--AKA, MIRACLE! We were biking somewhere, and we saw a church member on the street so we stopped to chat. Afterward, my companion looks up at the building right where we had stopped, and says, "Oh my gosh, I think this is it!"
She had been trying to find the house of a not active member who she had visited once, a long time ago, but she hadn't been able to find it for a long time. If it weren't for the member randomly walking on the street at the exact moment we were riding by in the exact place we needed to be, we would have never found it! We would have rode right on by!

We stopped and knocked on the door. No one was home, but we slipped cookies and a note in the mailbox. We'll probably visit again this week! 

Anyway, the fun times are probably coming to a close!
You'll have to wait another week to here more about my adventures in Japan!
Alright, until next week then!

(Haha I've only heard one person say that once as a joke.)


Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 12: Temples, Tomatoes, and Typhoons


The Sapporo Temple is now dedicated! President Russell M Nelson gave a beautiful dedicatory prayer, which thankfully was in English. It was cool, the translator repeated the prayer right after in Japanese, so we got to feel the powerful presence of the Spirit for twice as long.

It was so fun to travel down and see some friends who were there! My MTC companion was there, another person from my MTC district, as well as my MTC Branch President. I was so excited to see them again, I freaked out... there was lots of excited hugging on my part. I think a little too much, perhaps...

We got to ride down there (about two hours away) on a fun bus with the whole ward. It was like a field trip with all of my best friends, who happen to be grandmas!

The bus ride



Everyone feeds you in Japan.  Yesterday, on the bus to the temple, people passed around food to share.  Every time we enter someone's home they bring out snacks and drinks.
We got "gotchi'd" (where someone feeds you a meal at an appointment) three times in one day!

And everyone, EVERYONE, has been giving us tomatoes!
We have bags upon bags of tomatoes!
This morning, the ward mission leader calls us up and says "You guys probably need tomatoes, yeah? I'm leaving some on your door!"

Quote from my trainer concerning this night-shady (lol tomato puns) situation:
"We have enough tomatoes to kill..."
I don't know what she meant by that, but if I you don't hear from me, I have a guess as to why...



Yeah there was a typhoon. It was raining pretty hard all day, and we were like "oh, typhoons aren't that bad," well, at least I was. My companion was pretty soaked and cold, and we had been riding all over to get to appointments all day. We were riding to our last one as it was getting dark, and the rain kept getting worse and worse. And then the winds started.... About then, we realized we were pretty lost! We called the people who we were trying to meet, and they were like "oh, you better hurry! The typhoon is coming!"
The typhoon is coming? As in THIS isn't the typhoon???
We were lost for about another hour until we finally found their house.
We rode the bus home that night.
I now know what a typhoon is.
This is what I wrote after we made it home safely,
"The rains came down, the floods came up, and while the house on the rock stood still, we certainly did not! We got lost.. And almost got hit by a garbage truck. Which, in Japan, are more cute than scary. But really..."

The next day we kept getting "Area Messages" on our phone, but it was all in kanji, so we kind of ignored it until we realized our neighbors were getting them at the same exact time, and even though our phone was on silent, a special ringer still sounded. We decided they were probably important, so we set to working out what they meant.
The first kanji we looked up meant "CALAMITY."
At this point we started freaking out.
Yeah, we called the Zone Leader and asked what was up.
Turns out it was just a flood warning for a different area near us, so we were fine. But for a second we were terrified!

(This was taken the day BEFORE the typhoon.)

(And this was taken the day after)

In other news, last pday a member took us to one of my most favorite kinds of places in the world... Can you guess what it is? Disneyland? Good guess, that IS one of my favorite places in the world, but not the one I'm thinking of... DING DING DING, YOU GOT IT! A museum! Wow, and it only took two guesses!

I don't know why I'm being so weird today.
Guess I didn't have my rice this morning! (My companion ate it all)

This museum was AMAZING!! It was all about the history of the island of Hokkaido, so there was artifacts and things from the ancient Ainu people (the people who lived there before the Japanese took over the island,) an old Japanese replica house, and some cool modern era antiques! They even let you walk around inside the replica homes, but of course, being Japan, you took off your shoes before entering! :)

Here is a little diagram of an Ainu bear sacrifice, which is though was really cool!
They believed that bear hunting was a religious practice, and that the bears they caught were a gift from the gods.

Oh, and here is a picture of our apartment!
Lol just kidding.
It looks really ancient Japanese to me, but the ward member we were with said her grandmother had a house just like it. And she was hardly and grandmother herself! Amazing.

Look at this super sick Japanese painting.
But be careful, don't look at it too long otherwise you'll catch a cold!
Lol, get it. Because it's sick. Hahahaa.....

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 11: Lots of Pictures this Week to Make up for the lack of Written Content, Sorry!

Here we are again! Me typing super speedily because I have no idea how much email time I have left. Classic Sister Stewart, oh boy oh boy!

Man, I can barely remember what to write! The day's blend together, I can't remember anything!

So here are some pictures!

We had Zone a Conference and Fancy Camera Elder (he's an elder in my zone with a fancy camera) was taking unflattering pictures of everyone, including me!
Everyone gave all of the new people heaps upon heaps of snacks, and I got a can of tomatoes. Again, very unflattering pictures...
Okay, so you've heard of rice cheeks, right? Thought they were a myth?  I am here to confirm they are real.

Also count how many cat-based products are in the back of this picture taken at a random Japanese store!  (Good luck)
This was taken at a China town in Japan. Haha.

Okay so I'm really sorry, but I can't remember anything that happened this week...

One of my favorite MTC friends came and stayed the night at our apartment during Zone Conference, so that was really fun! Here we are being children, classic!
We talked to people in Japanese--well, my trainer did, and I just nodded along. Haha, actually it's really bad! I have to be careful how much Japanese I pay attention to, otherwise I get really bad headaches from my brain overworking itself trying to understand every word! Sundays, after trying to figure out all of the lessons and talks and meetings at church, my brain is so fried!!

People think I'm really funny though! Apparently I have an "interesting face" when I try to understand what people are saying to me. That's a quote from this super nice guy we talked to on the bridge yesterday (who we gave a Book or Mormon to and got his number and who is totally ready to hear this gospel. He's also really funny.) Not sure if I should be offended or not. Hm!

But I really can understand quite a bit! Now just got to get back into speaking it...
I promised one of the elders in our district that I would be fluent by next Sunday, so better get working on that!

I ate squid tentacles!

And we eat tofu and cabbage with virtually every meal... We even make cabbage soup... I feel like Charlie Bucket.

Here's a picture of me with a tiger! (Note: Not a real tiger. I wasn't actually in the danger I appear to be in. But it did growl at me!)
Next week I will remember and write more, I swear. Maybe I'll do a "Day I'm the Life" edition of On My Knees With the Japanese. Maybe. If I can remember. (I probably can't.)

But I do remember this solid joke I came up with!

Okay so Konnichiwa is hello and it's pronounced K-OHHHHneecheewa. Got that part?

And in Japanese, the word for corn is K-oohn.

The other day this lady walked by and she was holding a bunch of corn.

I think you can work out the rest. ;)


Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 10: And Then it Hit Me! I'm in Japan

First and foremost, I would like to report that Japan exists. It's all true. It's a real place with real people, real culture, and a lot of telephone poles.

Also, I'm proud to say that I've already checked something off of my Japan bucket list! All my teachers said it would happen, and I didn't really believe it would happen to me, but it's only my first week and it's already happened!

Yeah, so I got hit by a car.

Welcome to Japan!

Like actually, my trainer was trying to kill me and zipping through intersections like a crazy person, and I have to stay near her, so I was a little tunnel vision trying to not get lost IN JAPAN and then this car just started coming...... It was actually super funny! This super nice lady gets out of her car and starts rattling Japanese at me as my trainer zips out of sight. She didn't come back until a good 5 minutes.

Don't worry, I didn't get hurt or anything! My bike is fine, too! Not a scratch on either of us.

But yeah, I got hit by a car. :)

Look at my trainer and I! She's the one that's trying to kill me!

But really though, JOKES aside (her name means joke in Japanese, it's great) she's really nice!!

But do you know whose really, really nice? The ward members in Japan!!! They are all legitimately my best friends. Okay that's a bit of an exaggeration, but they love the missionaries so much.

Last night, we went to visit one of the cute old grandmas in the ward. We just stopped by, she wasn't expecting us. But then she made us dinner, it was so sweet! And then I told her I liked the pickled eggplant, so she got up and picked out the eggplant from the pickled vegetable bag so I could have more. She was so sweet.

She fed us--get this--fish flakes and avocado on rice. :)
It was actually pretty darn good, not gonna lie.
And! She gave me my first mugicha. It's this Japanese barley tea, that all the missionaries hate at first and say it tastes like dirt. I liked it. Yeah, it tasted like dirt, but good dirt, okay. It's good.

There's this thing at church called the "Fruits Basket" and it's a basket where they put food in for the missionaries in the area. That thing was FULL. We got so much junk food, and, because the gas is out in our apartment, now I won't starve!

Yeah, the gas is out in our apartment... All we ate this week was questionable vegetables and candy. Survival food!

This week we taught English classes. We teach them every week. And me and my companion teach the kids classes (SCORE!!) One of the girls is my new best friend. She is so cute and sassy, and she laughed at me when I acted doofy. We played pictionary like nobody's business. She just gets me.

What else happened--OH YEAH. WE WENT TO A FESTIVAL!!! Like an actual Japanese festival. With this really pretty investigator who is also my best friend.

Some random people came up to us and took pictures with us because we are American. Got to admit it, I love the attention.
And this nice old grandma kept giving me stuff.

And some creepy guys flirted with us and showed us their tattoos, because we're American. My trainer was so uncomfortable. I thought it was hilarious. But, to be fair, that was the day I got hit by a car, so I was just happy to be alive.

Here are some pictures of the festival!