Monday, November 19, 2012

Today is the start of a new transfer, and I've once again made it through unscathed. I'll be staying in Yamato again this transfer, along with Elder Nakamura. That means I'll be here for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm excited.
So it's actually been a rather interesting week this last week. To start off, on Monday we went to a train station out on the edge of our area that we've never been to before. As we were out and about, we heard some music playing that sounded really interesting. It was definitely live, but we couldn't figure out exactly what they were playing. We decided to investigate. As we got closer to the sound, we realized it was coming from off the playground of a preschool. Well that was odd. What reallly caught us by suprise was that not only was it coming from the preschool, it was being played by preschoolers. A preschool marching band. And they were really playing, it wasn't some recording. Wow. I definitely wasn't expecting that. I wasn't sure if I should be impressed or depressed. Whatever I was though, it was pretty big.
Since it was the last week of the transfer, we went to the temple again on Tuesday. After the temple, we went to eat lunch with a few other missionaries. We decided to go get shabu shabu at a fairly well known place (among missionaries) over in shibuya. If Shibuya rings a bell for you, or even if it doesn't, Shibuya is home to the world's largest crosswalk. I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I heard that Shibuya is considered the most urban place in the world. I'd believe it. The buildings aren't as tall as you would expect, like in Manhattan or someplace, but there were literally people EVERYWHERE. It was ridiculous. That was really fun.
Later in the week we found a young man by the name of Scott. He called out to us as we rode past on our bikes, so we stopped to talk with him. He's 19, and he's American, but he's never been to America. How is that possible, you ask? Allow me to explain. His dad is navy, and Scott was born in Spain while his dad was stationed there. They went straight from Spain to Japan, and a short time after that his parents divorced. His dad went back to the states, but he and his mom stayed in Japan, where he's been ever since. Yeah. Strange, but true. Anyway, Scott's a pretty cool kid. We're planning on meeting with him again soon, and hopefully that will go somewhere. It was actually really funny when we traded numbers, he told us that he wasn't very smart but if we ever needed any help with anything like moving heavy stuff or something to give him a call. In my head I was just like "Hey, that's our line!" Haha! He's a really nice kid.
Oh, this one's pretty fun. So I don't know if you remember anything about Eduardo, the Brazilian we found a few weeks back, but he's the one who's lived in Japan for 20 years, married a Japanese woman, and he's pretty much fluent in Japanese and English, and he's wicca. So he's a really nice guy though, and we've been trying to meet with him for a while. We actually had an appointment set up, but when we went to visit him, nobody was home. We came to find out that he had thought we would drop by his work, and we misunderstood him and went to his house. So, after we got that straightened out, we set up another appointment. He asked us to come by on Friday when he had some free time, so that's what we did. Well, it wasn't until we showed up at his work that I remembered that he told us he was a tattoo artist. Yeah. So we had a lesson with him inside his tattoo shop. Hopefully next time we can have a lesson somewhere a little more conducive to the spirit...
So, this might be kinda random, but I saw an ad in a train that I though was pretty funny. It's just a picture of a guy wearing a really nice suit, staring off into the distance with this look of deep thought on his face, while he's holding a can of beer. The only other thing on the ad is a caption which says 「ビール好きなあの人に」, which means "To that guy who likes beer..." I'm not sure why I thought it was so funny, but maybe you'll get a laugh out of it too.
Anyways, those are some of the more interesting bits of the week. Other than that, things are going well. Ishihara has her baptismal interview on wednesday, so if everything goes the way we expect she'll be baptized on Sunday. This next week looks like it's going to be pretty busy. Yamato is really taking off right now. I'm glad I get to stay for one more transfer and be a part of it. I'll be sure to let you know all about it! More later!
Elder Blake

Monday, November 12, 2012

Well, the weather is still trying to make up its mind over here. Earlier in the week it was cool enough that wearing a suit was comfortable, and then Saturday was warm enough that I went back to a short sleeved shirt, and now this morning (Monday morning) it's dropped again and is pretty chilly in the apartment when you first wake up. It now makes sense why so many people get sick during the turn of the seasons.
So it's actually been a fairly eventful week. To start with, last Monday, Elder Nakamura and I went to Enoshima Island with Elder Burningham and Apalonio. It was actually the first time Nakamura and Apolonio had been to the island, and they really enjoyed it alot. It was a little different with only the four of us instead of the whole zone, but in some ways it was kinda nice. It was much easier to spend time in the places we wanted to see and skip over the less interesting bits since there were only 4 of us. Also, with the weather cooling off, there were far less people at the Island this time too, so we could go see pretty much anything we wanted to.
Tuesday was an interesting day. One of the people we're teaching, Yohei, is about 17 or so. His parents are actually members of the church, but haven't come in a really long time, but he's never been baptized. Well, his Grandfather passed away last week, and the funeral was on Tuesday. Elder Nakamura and I went to that to pay our respects and show our support. Not only was it my first time to attend a funeral, it was a Buddhist funeral. It was pretty interesting. Considering this is my only experience with attending a funeral, I'm not sure how much is pretty much standard and traditional, and how much was unique to this particular funeral. For the viewing, they brought in the casket while everyone was already there. He was covered with a white sheet, and the only thing showing was his face. There was nothing else inside the casket. They passed around these booklets with different well-wishes and sentiments written in kanji, and people would tear out pages they liked and placed them in the casket with the body. After that, everyone took flowers that were provided, and placed them inside the casket until the casket was pretty much filled with flowers, but the face was still uncovered. When they placed the lid on the casket, everyone stood around the casket and placed a hand on the lid and lowered it together. Some words were said, and then the body and the direct family headed off to the crematory.
Wednesday we had a pretty interesting experience during district meeting. Towards the end of the meeting, this guy walks in and just stands in the doorway. He starts talking about how he came by, saw the church, and decided to go inside and talk to whoever was there. He then pulls this really gnarly looking Book of Mormon from his bag, then bowed and thanked us. We tried talking with him to figure out who he was, where he was from, etc, but he kept dodging our questions. I'm not quite sure if he was all there in his head from the way he was acting. The only thing we were able to figure out for sure is that he's not a member of the church. He wouldn't give us his contact info before he left, but we did trade his really nasty Book of Mormon for a new clean one. I really want to know who that guy was...

Seeing as how Elder Nakamura is the district leader, we've been going on splits a lot this transfer. So on Friday we went on splits again. This time we went on splits with the Hodogaya missionaries, and Elder Gallacher came here to Yamato with me. Elder Gallacher was Elder Crandall's (my MTC room mate, just as a reminder) trainer. He's a really cool guy, and a great missionary. I found out that he's actually from Mesa. And not only that, but I've actually probably seen him before I left on my mission. In fact, If you've been to the Hale Center Theater in Gilbert, you've probably seen him too. He used to work there. And he's done everything there. Ushering, ticket box, backstage, light and sound boards... everything. So yeah. That would explain why he looked so familiar the first time I saw him.
Saturday was a busy day. In the morning we went to help the Yamato Ward clean the church. Pretty much everyone who saw us there was surprised we came. I'm not really sure why. We use the church too, so it only makes sense that we help clean it. This was a little different from the regular weekly cleaning though. I guess in here in Japan they do a really thorough deep cleaning once a year. The whole ward was invited, and we had about 30 people show up. We did everything from vacuuming, to washing the windows, to pulling weeds out front, and there was even a group with a small steam cleaner cleaning stains off the chairs. Elder Nakamura and I ended up washing most of the windows, because as Sister Honda said, “Elder Blake is tall and he can reach the tops more easily.”That was really fun though, and there was even lunch provided. Saturday night we went to Fujisawa for a baptism. Hirokazu, Elder Jone's and Fuller's investigator, was baptized Saturday night. The whole district ended up going, because he's almost like a district investigator. Elder Fuller and Jones taught him 99% of the time, but I've taught him before on splits, and everyone else knows him really well because he comes to sports night every week and participates in other stake activities. It was a really good baptismal service. There was lots of support from the ward that came, about 40 people or so. We were all really excited to see Hirokazu get baptized.
That's about it for now. As you can see, things are going well. I hope things are well for all of you as well! More to come later!

Elder Blake

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hello everyone! It's November! October went by way fast. Oh, and as of Friday, I've been out for 6 months. That's crazy... It's been a pretty good week here in Yamato though. To start with, Halloween was on Wednesday. This year for Halloween I was a missionary! I know, big suprise, right? Bet you didn't see that one coming. Halloween is actually a really interesting holiday in Japan. Everyone knows what it is, and you can buy Halloween decorations, candy, trick-or-treating bags, etc, but nobody actually knows what you do on Halloween, and nobody goes trick-or-treating. It's actually really funny. However, we did end up celebrating Halloween. Since Halloween was on Wednesday this year, and the weekly English Class we teach is on Wednesday, we had a halloween party after class. So I was able to put the box of Hallowen brownie mix that was included in my birthday package to good use. Everyone enjoyed them. I can't remember if I mentioned this to you all already, but since we don't have an oven I ended up improvising and cooking the brownies in the rice cooker. My Mom was slightly suprised by the idea, but the idea wasn't really mine. I'd heard from other missionaries that you can bake cakes in the rice cooker. I figured brownies and cakes are fairly similar, so it should still work, right? turns out it does. You just have to run the rice cooker through 5 or 6 cycles, and it takes a couple hours.
Friday night Jun came to sports night. I usually sit on the side and chat with the members and investigators, since sports night is actually code for basketball night. Jun made a comment that he wanted to see my play, so this time I brought my stuff and actually played a few games. It was pretty fun, but I still don't like basketball all that much more than I did before. What was really good about sports night though, is that one of our investigators who we haven't seen for a while ended up going, so we were able to talk with him a little bit. After sports night we went on splits with the Zone Leaders. I went back to Yamato with Elder Jones, and Elder Nakamura went to Fujisawa with Elder Fuller. We both ended up learning alot, and it was a really good day for the both of us. Elder Jones is a fantastic missionary.
Sunday ended up being fairly interesting. We were temporarily made into a trio for the day. Elder Call, a first transfer missionary, came to Yamato and stayed with us Saturday night through Monday morning while his companion Elder Vandegraff went to Sendai with another Elder Watanabe (a Senior Missionary) for a baptism. I was really curious as to why a missionary would be going all the way to Sendai (a 6 hour bus ride) for a baptism, so I asked about the story behind this guy being baptized. It's actually really cool. Elder Vandegraff found this guy about 6 months ago in Tokyo. He said that he actually lives in Sendai, and was only in Tokyo for the day for business. He was willing to have a lesson on the spot, and said that he'd be coming back for a day the next week and wanted to meet again then. They did this once or twice, and then this guy told them that he would only be coming back to Tokyo one more time, so he wanted them to teach him everything. At the time, Elder Vandegraff and his companion were still pretty young missionaries, and didn't speak Japanese that well, so they needed some help. The gave Elder Watanabe a call, and asked if he could help teach this guy. The next week rolled around, and they spent pretty much all morning and a bit of the afternoon teaching this guy all the lessons. Now here we are, six months later, and this guy is getting baptized. Crazy.
Those are most of the highlights from the week. I've gotta get going. Elder Nakamura and I are going to Enoshima Island today. He's never been there before, so it should be fun!
Elder Blake