Hey! I'm alive! I'm sorry this took Longer than usual. We have to travel to get wifi and that's a huge setback.
Finally FINALLY enough has not happened this week that I can write to you about the sister missionaries I'm living with!
(Side note: On New Year's Eve, we had an all day cleaning party and on New Year's Day we had an all day Book of Mormon Reading party. It was awesome, but I don't have much to say about it)
So first there's Sister H. She's 5'10" tan, and has this thick wavy brown hair. The tips of her hair that stick out of her helmet have been bleached a slightly lighter shade in the sun. She's been here for about six months. She was born in New Zealand but raised in Austrailia with her twelve cousins. So not only she has a cool accent, but she made me a tim tam slam. My universe shattered. Anyways, because she looks the way she does, she gets a lot of questions about where she came from. For example, when I came to this ward, word spread quickly that one of the sister missionaries could speak Spanish. The Bishoppric's first counselor is from Peru, and when he heard this, he was so excited. But who did he approach at the Ward Christmas party and start speaking Spanish to? Sister H. This would have been a funny mistake, except Sister H. has been in this ward for more than a month. She says people approach her speaking all kinds of languages. This has yet to happen to me. Except one lady thought I was Indonesian. She was just guessing.
Sister H's companion is Sister M.. This is Sister M's final transfer (a transfer is a six week period.) When I arrived at the apartment, Sister M. only spoke Japanese to me. If you couldn't tell by her last name, Sister M. is Japanese. But she's originally from Hawaii so her native language is English. She was trying to trick me into thinking she was a "real" Japanese native. So yes, we talked for a little bit in Japanese but once I asked her where she was from she was done for. Sister M. is very particular. A perfectionist I guess. I've been lucky to be graced with a compliment from her. Most of the time, she just suggests ways I could improve rather than thanking me or congratulating me. It's way frustrating, but it encourages me to improve. And I've always got my mom and President Budge and my companion to shower me with compliments every other day of the week so I'll be alright. The other day, I guess she'd had enough of correcting me and having to repeat herself in Japanese, because she stopped talking, got really serious and asked me: "Do you have a learning disability?" I should have just said yes so she could have pity on my poor stupid soul but missionaries don't lie! I don't want you guys to have the wrong impression about Sister M; she's real nice! Just today she offered me some of her button up shirts that she'll leave behind. Too bad she's like 5'1" and ninety pounds. It's the thought that counts.
The third and final sister I live with is my very own companion Sister O. She's twenty five and from Arizona. She attended BYU before she came out here. She tells me she used to be shy but because of the way she talks to people in a completely foreign language, I don't believe her. Her dad served his mission in Japan too, but the Kobe mission. When they skyped on Christmas, they spoke Japanese to each other. One of the first things I noticed about Sister O. was her hair. It's gorgeous. She's not a natural blonde and her highlights have grown out, but to me she's blonde. It's thick and wavy in every direction. It reaches to about her shoulders, but it lays beautifully that way. When we had our mission conference, all the other sisters that knew her before, told her her hair looked so short and she looked so thin. I've seen pictures of her before now and I honestly like this look the best. She just looks so down to earth. The second thing I noticed about Sister O. were her eyes. They're blue, but there's a rim of yellow-I kid you not yellow!-around her pupils. It's super cool. She's the greatest! She's also nearing the end of her mission, she has one final transfer after this one, but I'm the first missionary she has trained! We were meant to be. And not just because we both like The Lower Lights and the Come Thou Fount cd from the Mo Tab. We just mesh. I love her a lot. It's during the most random parts of the day that I fell these swells of love for my companion but I love it. She's the greatest.
So something funny about this week: Just last night a member family had us over for dinner. I've only been here for something like three weeks and I've already been fed twice! That's not even counting the heaps of food the ward members give us in a box outside of the chapel at church. That box has fed me like eight meals. I will never have to buy hot chocolate or peanut butter. ANYWAYS: so we're at this family's house. And there's this little boy, about three-years-old who just absolutely loves to sing. He knows songs in Japanese and English! But in Japanese, there is no such thing as a "v" sound. So everyone replaces it with "b." (I learned this the hard way when talking to the bishop about a "Barurera" family from Peru. Their actual name is Valera.) The whole night, he sang is favorite song for us in English. See if you can catch the meaning. "NEBA NEBA NEBA GIB UP!" Guess what my new favorite song to sing is while we're riding our bikes.
Some days I can't believe I'm in Japan. I thought it would be so foreign and scary. My teacher told me that when he stepped off that plane, he was completely overwhelmed by all the Japanese faces he saw, because EVERYONE had a Japanese face. I was prepared for that feeling. But it never came. I mean maybe if everyone looked exactly the same I would be freaked out but that's not how it is. Everyone has their own look and personality traits and walk and talk and everything. To be completely honest, I thought it was going to be tough to kept everyone straight, to remember names and faces but it's come really natural to me. I'm glad I've had my experience as a Student Body Officer. In high school I learned A TON of names. But anyways I love the Japanese people not because they're Japanese but they already feel like family. Sometimes I'll see a kid running and I'll want to call out to him because he reminds me of my brother Nic. Oh! and get this! In Japanese is sorta rude to just say the word "you." So instead you just use everyone's name every time. BUT on the occasions where you don't know somebody's name, say an older lady on the bus with you, you can call them "mom." If it's someone your age, you can call them "brother" or "sister." HOW PREPARED IS JAPAN TO RECEIVE THIS GOSPEL. It's the best.
I find that it's better to focus just a little into the future. Not all the way to the end of my mission, that's no good but just a little. I can compare it to riding a bike. In Japan, there's a ton of signs and poles and cones and fences one could run into when riding a bike. If I look right at my obstacle, I'll run into it every time. But if I look just beyond it, just between two possible obstacles, I'll never hit them. It's been suggested that this is how one should drive too! Looking ahead. It's so easy to be in the moment and think: This sucks. Like when someone's talking to me in Japanese. In that moment, it's easy to pity myself and feel sorry and think I'm never gonna learn Japanese. But if I'm thinking about the bike ride ahead of me or the next lesson I can make it just fine. Don't get caught up in the tough things of now but look ahead with hope! That's what God taught me this week.
Love all you guys! I'm sorry I won't get to respond to everyone! Next week I'll plan way better! Thanks Cottam family for your Christmas card!! Sent from my iPad