Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 22: A White Halloween

HALLOWEEN!!!

Here I am, Halloween day, sitting at a table in the church surrounded by the elders in my district. We just got back from the zoo (my second time, woowoo!), ate delicious Sumo Wrestler soup, and there is no candy in sight.... Maybe I'll find some by tonight!!

A White Halloween?! can't wait for the White Christmas around the corner!!

Halloween is not really a thing in Japan.... At least my Map App will celebrate with me!
Thanks, Map App!

But! Our ward did have a super amazing party!! Over 130 people showed up, it was amazing! So many tiny, adorable, chubby-cheeked Japanese children in costumes. And you should have seen how WELL DECORATED it was!! I was shocked, they put so much work into it!

Hopefully I'll get pictures later, but for now I only have the one of us!

The district in their costumes:
The costumes, left to right: I'm wearing a bow tie and I'm American, we are SHEEP, Marshmallow from Ghostbusters aka I am wearing a sheet taped to my body, a grump who put on a not costume only for the picture, and "An American." YEAH!!

IT WAS TRANSFERS WEEK!!

I am finally done with training.

I am no longer an underling.

Well, I'm still a junior companion, but... Okay, so I'm still an underling.

But at least I'm not a training underling!!

I had a photo of me ripping up my training book and being happy, but... I never got it sent to me from my last companion.... And probably never will........ Oh...

Anyway, yes! I got a new companion!

She is on her last transfer!
She's really confident, so that's pretty cool.

And that's really all about this week! Let me tell you about last week!!

***_>|%^]*++[======= //time travel mode: S T A R T
.
..
...

WE WENT TO A PRETTY BLUE LAKE!!!
 IT SNOWED!!
(So of course we had ice cream)

(Look Mom, I'm wearing my gloves!)

Aaaaaand, that's kind of it.
I forgot the stories that I wanted to share from last week, so.... That's all, folk!
OOPS !!


BYE BYE!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 21: A VERY JAPANESE BAPTISMAL SERVICE

So much has happened. I apologize for the gush of photos that will now flow forth, in as fast as I can type because I've already used a lot of my email time!!

Let's start with the good stuff! Mr. Golden Investigator--now Brother Investigator--was baptized and confirmed this week!

But before we cut to the good stuff, let us discuss one of the lesser known obstacles to baptism : finding white underwear.

As Elder Dogfather put it, "We spent 5 minutes with the entire bishopric discussing how to get this man some underpants!"

Yes, you read that right. In our bi-weekly coordination meeting with the bishopric, we derived a game plan on finding this man some underwear.  And it was really, really funny.

Now back to the baptism! IT WAS SO AMAZING, AND SO JAPANESE!

Now, what I mean by that is it was mildly awkward (which is oh so very Japanese,) and when we went to the font, not just the children sat on the floor, but everyone was on their knees to view it. There wasn't even chairs set up in that room. OH, JAPAN!
He doesn't look happy in this picture, but that's just because Japanese people don't smile in pictures!

Also, don't you love the slight blur and finger showing in the bottom corner of this photo? Our Ward Mission Leader takes the worst photos, but he always volunteers as photographer. We love him!
(Side story: apparently, every time you ask him what he does for work, he always says, "I'm a thief." He says jokes all the time, allegedly. I wouldn't really know because he has the fastest and most numbly Japanese in the ward.)

And on Sunday, after Brother Gold was confirmed, he came up to me and my trainer, and said the sweetest, most heartfelt thank you. "If you hadn't visited my house, none of this would have happened. Thank you. I am really happy."

It was a real blessing that I could understand that without my companion translating it for me. It was a really tender moment, ahhhhh!!! I love that man.

AND I ACTUALLY HAVE SOME BAD NEWS!

WE HAVE JUST BEEN INFORMED THAT EMAIL TIME IS ALREADY OVER!!!

So I am going to have to finish this week's email next week!!!!


But to tide you over while you wait, here are some pictures of the food we ate! (IT RHYMES!!)
AND ALSO, IT'S SNOWING !!
BYE!!!



Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 20: DREAMS COMING TRUE EVERYWHERE

First things first, we went to the zoo last P-Day.

All of my penguin-based dreams came true.
Look at this awesome picture I'm not really in! But you can see my eye in the back there, and eyes are the windows to the soul, so...
You wouldn't know it, but that's my name: Stewart. Or rather Su-Chu-Waaaa-To. Oh, Japanese!

(PS, knowledge facts: Stewart Island is a small island on the bottom of New Zealand. One time I did a writing assignment where I lied and said my family came from there just to seem interesting.)

Also, I became a wizard.
One thing you need to know about me: I really like sheep.
Good news, there's KFC in Japan.
And it's still "Finger Lickin' Good!"

So yes, all of my dreams came true.

AND THEN OUR INVESTIGATOR PASSED HIS BAPTISMAL INTERVIEW!!
He's going to be baptized on the 22nd, and he is so happy.
He got fitted for his baptismal jumper yesterday!
And that was the best dream come true of all!!! (But the sheep was a close second.)

This week was Mission Conference!

Elder Bednar came and made the gospel seem so simple. He is such an authoritative speaker!

Everyone got to ask him questions and make comments, it's was a really cool opportunity... But yeah, I was too scared to ask him anything. Oops!

Also, since it was Mission Conference, Elder Too Cool For School District Leader pulled out his pinstripe suit, which apparently he saves only for mission conference.

He looked like a gangster.

We called him "The Dogfather."
So now I will call him Elder Dogfather in all future emails.

I'm so glad my district is funny.
This week we have another train story!
On the train, a young couple comes in and the boy sits down (which was just so insane to me because the girl was standing on the train but the boy was sitting, okay, whatever, Japan has different standards of chivalry I guess) and his girlfriend says, thinking we don't understand, "Wow, they're gorgeous! I would forgive you if you put your arm around them, they're so pretty!"

Haha?

People say weeeeird stuff about us sometimes.
Someday I will be able to understand it without my companion translating for me...

One last story...

This week my companion and I tried to go on a diet, because we are gaining so much weight!

We didn't get past one day.

She started having what can be described as a slight mental breakdown, and I had a terrible headache.

We ate a lot from our peanut butter reserves that night...


BYE BYE!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 19: Peanut Butter, Pride, and Other Things From America

This week we had a visit from the SUPER SWEET, super rich, and SUPER DUPER AMERICAN couple missionaries that work in the mission home! When I say they are super American, I mean they are just that! A little slice of apple pie with ice cream on the side! So sweet!!!

They came to check the state of our apartment, but the thing I actually cared about was when they sold us bootleg peanut butter and oatmeal from the only Costco on the island out of the back of their van. It was great.

Another very American experiment happened this week. We were helping an investigator, who is a really old and funny grandpa in a wheelchair, pack up his house to move when he requested a song from the Americans present. He had us sing The National Anthem. And then he and the Japanese Elder sung Japan's National Anthem.


I don't know, I thought it was really funny. The most random place in Japan doing the most American thing possible. It was a great moment.
This week we had Zone Activity and I got to wear pants. :)
We played a game but all I cared about was wearing pants. :)
It was hard to put my skirt back on afterwards, oh how I miss pants!

But no matter! We press on!

Speaking of pressing on despite difficulty, here is an experience, written from the pen (or rather, iPad keyboard) of my companion...

"Hellooooooooo!
Once upon a time there were two sister missionaries in a land far far away. In this land, whenever the sister missionaries would visit older folk (aka obaachans or grandmas) the older people would insist on giving them something to drink. And so.. Because those sister missionaries were not allowed to drink the most commonly drunken drink in the land (aka tea) the obaachan-tachi would usually give them juice, hot water, tea made from wheat, or carbonated soda. On this particular occasion they were served juice, which they humbly accepted. The sister missionaries then asked if they could sing with the obaachan together a few beautiful ballads (aka hymns) and commenced singing. Unfortunately for one of the sister missionaries, whenever she drinks something before singing, it usually makes air come up in short spurts from her stomach (aka burp) and so, as those sister missionaries were singing a beautiful ballad with the obaachan, one of the sister missionaries burped... And then the other one started uncontrollably laughing. (EDITORS NOTE: me) Fortunately for the two of them, the obaachan didn't seem to notice as they both tried to stifle their laughter. The one who had mistakenly let air out of her stomach somehow managed to continue singing, even though she was also struggling to hold back the laughter. They eventually got it together after singing all four verses... The ballad ended, and they testified of the truthfulness of the lyrics in the song."

I lost it, but somehow my companion kept singing.

I really hope that sweet old lady didn't notice....

Another thing that happened! A short story, but it illustrates a very interesting face about Japanese culture... They will do anything to make you leave without making you feel bad.
We knocked on a lady's door, she came to the door, she said she had already met missionaries like us before and, though she was terribly sorry, she did not listen to their message, and would not listen to ours. Then while apologizing many times, she walks into her house, grabs an onion, hands it to us, and closes the door.

Hey, whatever. Free onion, am I right?

This week, a week later than you lucky Americans, we watched GENERAL CONFERENCE!! As my Noble, Distinguished Zone Leader would say, "Yaaaaaay!"

Side story: my family has a Conference Tradition of making strawberry waffles for every conference so I decided I wanted to continue that tradition. I painstakingly translated the recipe, measured the ingredients, spent an elapsed 4 minutes making each waffle with a little microwaveable mold (Oh, Japan...) and then subsequently toasting them in the toaster, because they were made in a microwave and therefore soggy. And then, when all that was done, and a slathering of strawberry jam was applied, I bit into the fruits of my labors only to realize I had mistaken salt for sugar.

My companion took pity on me and made oatmeal for me.

But anyway, back to Conference! It was really fun!
The American missionaries got their own private screening in English!

Snacks were prepared!

Testimonies shared!

And naps taken... (We couldn't help it...)
Elder Too Cool For School District Leader (He thinks he's a really cool) used his ingenuity to warm up our pizza toast in front of the heater. Thanks!

And here we are, with our Noble and Distinguished Zone Leader counting the seconds down until pressing play!
Thank you for your continued readership!

Sister Stewart, signing off!

BYE-BYE!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 18: THE SOUND OF SLURPING

As I write this my district is sat around a table in the church's kitchen, slurping away at the most delicious soup thing that our Ward Mission Leader made us. You would not believe how loud the slurping is. And we only have two native Japanese at the table!

SLUUUUUUUUUURP!!!

Speaking of food!
I ATE MY FIRST SUSHI!!!

Here's a video!

video
I hope you are as appalled as I am that it has taken this long for my trainer to let us go get sushi.  It's like she's trying to be smart with the church's money or something!  Hahahaha that's a joke because we spend all of our money on bread and peanut butter substitutes.  #ForeignerLyfe

At the sushi restaurant they served hot salt water.
You drink hot salt water when you eat sushi.
Basically, you pretend you're a fish.

It was so good guys, like so good. And we just went to one of those cheap ones where the sushi goes around a conveyor belt! America can never compare. I may never be able to go back home...
But then I remember Mexican food.
Ah, how I miss tortillas.

At our grocery store they sell tortillas.
Sad, little, dry and crumbly tortillas.
In packs of two.
FOR  400 yen = ~$4.00
But hey, at least they have good bike parking here!
Like literally a parking structure just for bikes. Mountains and mountains of bikes.
SO. MANY. BIKES.
This week, we had splits again! We went all the way to Ebetsu, which is near Sapporo, and it's about a 3 hour train ride. Oh, yeah, that's right I said train. I went on my first train ride!

It went a little something like this.

"Ooh, I can't read the sign that tells us where to go."
"Ooh, I can't read the sign that tells us how much our tickets costs."
"Ooh, I can't understand what the conductor is saying so we know when to get off!"

Luckily my trainer suddenly woke up from her nap exactly when we needed to get off. #Blessings

Oh, and I almost forgot. We got paparazzied by this really hyper 70-year-old man. He just came over and started filming us eating bread (our dinner for the day.) :) Japanese people love foreigners.

On splits I was with another bean! (Brand new missionary!) She is a transfer behind me, and we were friends in the MTC! But.... Neither of us know Japanese! :) We had fun pretending to understand people, and if I'm telling the truth, I actually kind of did! But don't tell my trainer. I don't want her to think I can actually speak Japanese yet! ;)

On the train ride home, we had a similar, though less invasive, and yet somehow more unnerving experience....

So we rode home in the morning. Early morning. Which means we woke up at 5 IN THE A.M. to walk to the station and board our train. We were pretty tired. So we passed out, asleep. Apparently (I cannot confirm this story, because I was asleep the whole train ride) my companion heard the word "gaijin" (foreigner,) which stirred her from her slumber and she woke up to a TRAIN FULL OF JAPANESE HIGHSCHOOLERS, ALL STARING AT US. Haha! And apparently I was sleeping with my chin on the windowsill like a dog. Beautiful!

By the way, my District Leader just asked me to choose a Dungeons and Dragons character for the next district activity. (I am so excited.)

This week we Heart Attacked a sister in the ward!
She speaks English FLUENTLY!
Therefore, we are good friends! :)
This week we tried to visit Kinjin Investigator Who Is Getting Baptized, but he wasn't home... We found out on Sunday that he was out buying a suit for church!

He is so wonderful!

We taught him the Word of Wisdom, and as most of Japan, he has a tobacco habit... But when we told him about the Word of Wisdom, he almost immediately said, "Okay, from today, I'll stop!"

He is amazing.

We just cleaned the baptismal font, for him, and hopefully others! This area of the mission hasn't had a baptism in a long, long time. I hope the ward will be excited! :)

Also, these pictures came in from a few weeks ago. The members here print out the pictures they take when you visit, and give them to you at church. This was from when we pulled weeds at this super cute Sister Grandma's house!
She made us dress in Japanese grandma garb: an apron, headscarf, and a face mask.
I know I'm only on my second transfer, but this is already my favorite picture from my whole mission, I know it...
Oh also.

This week my companion got a Halloween package from her family.  We made this video to get into the Halloween spirit! 
video
BYE!!