I finally talked with another American that wasn't a missionary this week!! I was on splits with the zone leader, Hirono Chourou is the elder's name. He needed to buy something in a nearby store and while I was waiting for him to finish an Gaijin (foreigner) walked by. I gave him a big "hello!!" and he stopped and looked at me just as suprised as I was to see another American in Japan. We talked for a little bit, I asked where he was from and why he was in Japan. He said that he is from Mississippi and is in Japan teaching English at a nearby high school! Then he asked where I was from and I told him that I was from Utah and I am a missionary...that is why I am in Japan. He goes on and talks about Utah and Mormons saying, "You mormons got the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! If you are going to listen to the haleluya chorus, all you have to do is listen to the MoTab." haha He goes on to say that he is a Southern Baptist and I has a Book of Mormon. However, he hasn't read it in a while. I wanted to give him a Japanese one but he said I had better give that to someone else because he can't read japanese at all. He seemed really interested in the church. In the end I told him about the "Meet the Mormons" movie and if he had time and wanted to learn more about Mormons to please watch the movie. Really a cool encounter with the guy, I believe he really wants to learn about other religions and that's always a good thing.
On the 31st and 1st we as missionaries where told not to do any type of dendou on that day. When shougatsu rolls around in Japan (basically New Years party that's like the Super Bowl on steroids), all everyone is doing is going to jinjas and being buddist for a day or two. Then returning to their normal lifestyles.
All we did on the 31st was clean the apartment and go to set appointments with members. That day we went to the Bishop's house and at indo curry with them, played games and then shared a quick message with them. Bishop Takada is the best bishop any missonary could ask for. He drove us around Izumi showing us all the different and cool things to be seen that we hadn't seen yet. I finally figured out what the big dome building near our apartment is a giant sports arena. It's pretty sweet - not going to lie. haha. Then we did some more cleaning and then went over to a member's house again. The mother of the family makes the best gyouza in the world and we kept complimenting her on it and she would always say`I know right!!` The ward members here in izumi are some of the best people in the world.
The 1st was awesome. Shougatsu!! We woke up early to see the sun rise at the Mitsushima Harbor. In Japan, it is tradition for people to go to the shore to see the sun rise on the first day of the year. We went to the shore with an investigator early in the morning and if I can get my ipad to work I will send you the pictures from the day. Seriously some of the best pictures I have ever taken. We went to the back of the boat and took a ton of pictures of the islands and little towns tucked into the side of the islands. That day I came to understand why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun. When it rose on the morning of the 1st, the sun was burning fire red and orange. Again, I will probably say it till I die, Japan is a sacred place with sacred people. You know what they say, "If Heavenly Father didn't love his Asain people so much, he wouldn't have made so many of them." It is a truth, Heavenly Father loves every single one of his children. Japan is the most beautiful place ever, it is a sacred place. Anyway, the investigator drove us there, bought us food, a boat tour ticket, and then bought us some ice cream during the snow storm. haha. The day was a huge "relax" day, we saw the sights that Japan has to offer, even though it was really cold outside.
The last day we again went to a member's house and ate gyouza again. While we were there, my comp and I were the only ones that didn't have Japanese names. So basically the entire time they made kanji names for both my comp and me. The funniest one was the one made for my companion. It basically was the kanji for the devil, pain, riddince, and some other bad meaning kanji. It is spelled out MAKUNABU which is his name on his nametag. Anyway it was a good laugh.
Sorry I don't really have a spiritual experience from this week other than the rising of the sun and realizing the beauty of the world. But, this week we couldn't meet with any of our investigators because of shougatsu and people were too busy being Buddhist.
But I love you all and hope that New Year is a fun one. Probably not as cool as mine...just kidding. Anyway, love you all and remember that the church is true!!
Love you all!!
Although Elder Halverson didn't mention it in his email, his companion was transferred. He gets to stay in the area for another 4 weeks at least. He couldn't email long because he and is comp were headed out for one last day of exploring before Elder Macnab transfers.