Monday, July 15, 2013

Hey Everyone!

   How's it going for all of you? Are you having a good time? I Hope so. Things have really started to heat up over here in the last week or so. This (exactly) the same time of year that I came to Japan last year, and I remember it being super hot and humid. I was starting to wonder if my memory was exaggerated, or if the hot weather just hadn't come yet. Turns out that it just hadn't come yet. It's not even that hot really (compared to Phoenix), but it's so humid that there's nothing you can do to stop yourself from sweating. Yay!
   So there was actually some pretty cool stuff that happened last week. We've been planning a game night with the ward so that we could have a fun activity to invite investigators and less active members to, and that finally happened this last week. Elder Hoshino and I went all out to make sure this would be a really fun activity that everyone would enjoy. Invited the whole ward, all of our investigators, and all of the people in the neighborhood around the church. We arranged snacks, we made sure there were card games and board games, we planned some fun group games, and we even bought a rubber ball and set up a four square court in the corner. We were really excited. 7 o'clock rolls around (the time it was supposed to start), and the bishop, the ward mission leader, one other member, and one investigator were the only people there. We waited a little bit, hoping that everyone was just running late. By the time it was all said and done, only 1 other person ending up coming late. Well that was slightly underwhelming. It ended up being good though. Even though we didn't get to do all of the activities we had planned, or use all of the games we had prepared, our investigator that came still had a chance to meet some of the ward members and become friends with them. I even ended up teaching them all Egyptian Rat Screw. They loved it.
   That was a bit of a bummer. Now it's time for a story with a happy ending! Yay! On Sunday, we were having the DCS before church as usual (...I can't remember what that's called in English... Ward mission coordination meeting or something like that? DCS is the acronym for its name in Japanese. Anyways...). One of the ward missionaries tells us about a friend of hers that she invited to come to church, and he was planning on going that day. His name is James, so we knew he wasn't Japanese, but she wasn't sure where he was from. After DCS we went to go meet him at the train station and walk him to the church. Turns out James is from Ghana. It also turns out that this ward missionary and James were really more just acquaintances. They met at the Chuo Rinkan train station two weeks ago, and a conversation somehow started up. She asked if he was Christian, and he said he was but he was looking for a new church because the one he had been attending moved locations and it's now too far away. She told him about our church, and invited him to come. And he did! Now he's an investigator. Cool stuff, huh? How's that for member missionary work? Haha! I'll admit, I was really surprised when I found out how that all happened. Member referrals are rare enough (sadly), but she literally just met this guy on the street and invited him to church. Way to go!
   Funny story! Elder Hoshino and I tried visiting this less active family last week. They weren't home, so Elder Hoshino pulls out his wallet to get a little note card to write a message on. A fly starts buzzing around him, and he swats at it with his wallet. Several of his debit cards, his ID card, and a few other things fly out of his wallet, and hit the neighboring apartment's front door. It was pretty loud. That was embarrassing. And we know the neighbors were home too, because we could hear people walking around inside.
   That's about it for now. This week is a new transfer already. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but to help the MTC deal with the increased numbers of missionaries, they've staggered the Japan missions' transfer cycles, so half of them are 3 weeks off of the other half. To match this schedule, the Tokyo South mission had a 3 week transfer this last transfer. However, I won't be able to let you know until next week if I have a new companion or if I go to a new area. President Wada changed transfers up a little bit, so now transfer calls are on Tuesday (tomorrow), and transfer day (if you're transferred) is Thursday. I guess it was something that President Budge was already planning to implement anyway. Something about making it easier to coordinate picking up new missionaries and dropping of returning ones at the airport. So yeah. Anyways, next week I'll let you know what happens!

Take care!
Elder Blake

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hey everyone!
   How have you all been this week? Anything fun and exciting happen? Things are starting to heat up for real now over here in Japan. Brother Kitajima told us on Sunday that the "rainy season" is now officially over. What's funny is that I've been dreading this season, especially when I think back to my first few weeks in Japan last July. The heat and humidity combined were ridiculous. But so far, it's much more tolerable than I remember it being last year. So either it's not as hot this year, or I'm adjusted to the humidity (a little). Either way, I'll take it.
So I got to meet the new mission president, President Wada, on Tuesday. President Wada seems like a really interesting guy. In a lot of ways, he's more of an American than a Japanese person in terms of personality. He's very direct, jokes a lot, and has a wonderful sharp wit. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that he lived and worked in America with his family for quite some time. 20+ years if I remember correctly. I'm definitely excited to get to work with him. He's a really neat guy.
   So Thursday was the Fourth of July, right? Well, seeing as how I'm a missionary in Japan, and have a Japanese companion, and the 4th is an American Holiday, I didn't expect to get much of a celebration in. I did tell Elder Hoshino that we at least had to go somewhere and get burgers for lunch. After all, what makes you feel like more of an American than a hamburger, right? Well, Wednesday night we got an email from the District Leader, telling us that the splits we had planned for later in the week needed to be moved to Thursday because of something they had going on the day we originally had planned for splits. So, I ended up being with another American on the 4th after all! So, for lunch we went to the only nearby place that sells burgers for a decent price: McDonalds. Yup, eating like an American. Haha! Afterwards we grabbed some ice cream and some donuts and dropped them off at the apartment to eat later that night. After a good full day of work, we went back to the apartment, planned real fast, then had donuts and ice cream. Happy 4th! haha!
   So, funny story. Back when I was companions with Elder Mangum, he explained to me why even though he could understand Portuguese, he couldn't speak it that well. His Mom is Brazilian, but after marrying his Dad she moved to the states. By the time he was born, she could speak English pretty much perfectly, but because she was still more comfortable in Portuguese she would talk to her kids in Portuguese. But because his Mom understands English, he would just answer in English, so his brain became conditioned to reply to Portuguese in English. He says that even though he understands perfectly what people are saying in Portuguese, when he tries to respond it wants to come out in English. When I told me that, I thought that it kinda made sense, but still thought it was kinda weird. I mean, if you can understand it, why can't you speak it, right? That's what I thought. I now understand though. A new student came to the English class we teach for community service every week, and she's actually from Peru. She speaks way good English, but came to class because she wants her two little kids to learn English as well. She said that she can also speak Portuguese. I of course picked up a few phrases from Elder Mangum and and Elder Miranda, so I used one of them; "I don't speak Portuguese". She didn't believe me, so after talking for another minute or two, she said in Portuguese, pointing to her kids, that her family is Brazilian. Well, there are only 4 words in the phrase "My family is Brazilan", and I happen to know all four of those words, so I understood what she said. However, even though we were talking in English up to that point, as soon as she said something in Portuguese, my brain immediately tripped into Japanese and I responded in Japanese. I guess in my head, if it's not English but I can still understand it, it must be Japanese, right? So, I now know what Elder Mangum meant.

That's about it for now! I hope you all have a great week! Talk to you later!

Elder Blake 

Picture! This is the Fujisawa Zone with President and Sister Wada when we got to meet him Tuesday. President Wada is the big Japanese guy right in the center, and his wife is the Japanese woman in front of him to his left on the end of the row of Sister Missionaries.