Hello again. It's been a busy week, let's see if I can cover everything.
Ok, I need to pick up from a week ago today because that day was nuts. We had a good p-day, got our stuff done (the office elders do shopping for the entire apartment so we don't go grocery shopping), went to Luminarie as a district and then to family home evening where we planned on meeting two investigators. Neither showed up, so we were on our way our when one of the sister missionaries said we really needed to go upstairs to the kitchen because something was happening up there. I was worried. We went up there to find Shota-kun, a convert of six months and probably the most active member of the ward here. He's from Shikoku but is in Kobe going to college. Whenever I'm at the church, whether it be for an activity or for church, he's always there. He was in the kitchen sobbing uncontrollably. Probably the hardest I've ever seen a grown man cry. We just sat there and watched him for a solid five minutes, trying to comfort him but mostly just awkwardly watching him. I didn't know him well but knew he was a recent convert so I thought maybe he'd relapsed on an addiction or something. Finally, he said "Aruma yon-ju sho. Shinjitte imasuka?" (do you believe Alma 40?). We immediately turned to it and saw that it was about the resurrection and said of course we believed in it. Both of us were thinking "crap, someone died." He cried for a little while longer and then said we needed to go to his apartment. Then it got really scary. My companion said when we walked in, he was looking for a body. His apartment was one of the tiny-sort. The three of us barely fit in it.
When we got to the end of the hallway, there was a yellow dead bird lying on the floor. We read Alma 40 together in both Japanese in English (he wanted to make sure that I understood, he's a nice guy) and prayed together and then went back to the church where all of the other six missionaries and President McIntyre were waiting to comfort him. He really was torn up over it. I think he's just really pure. He has the heart of a child. This experience is probably hilarious to read, but I think it was really important that we were at FHE. If we hadn't had investigators, we wouldn't have planned on coming. He honestly looked like he could've been suicidal that night, but he's all happy now. The next morning, we had a funeral service....no I'm not kidding. It was short ten minute deal. We buried the bird, sang a hymn and said a prayer. Definitely a wild experience. Everyone kept saying that I'm definitely having the most bizarre first transfer of anyone else in the mission.
The next day was Eikaiwa. I finally felt sufficient for once. The language has been really frustrating up to this point. I'm not sure if I'm improving either. One thing I've realized is that I don't have Gaijin power. Japanese people are more willing to listen when a blond-haired, blue-eyed caucasian tries to talk to them than me. So, I need to make up for it with tact and cleverness. The problem is, I know how to say hardly anything, so people are baffled when they see me struggling to speak Japanese. To be honest it's humiliating. Even after I explain that my mother is Japanese, they ask me why I don't know how to speak and I have no answer. I'm doing everything I can to improve right now....and letting my companion do a lot of the talking.
We have met sooo many internationals. We met Minu from Nepal this week in McDonalds. She was sitting there all alone and looked rather lonely. We said hello to her (she speaks English) and she said she was here studying Japanese in order to enter college (just like our other investigator O-san from China). She said it's a specific program for people from Nepal so she planned on doing it with her friends but all of her friends got sent to Tokyo and she got sent here to Kobe. She told us that she's just really lonely, has spent all of this money on the program so she can't go home, but she has no friends and is always sad. I can't even explain how sad the look in her eyes was. We're going to have dinner with her and all of the other Kobe missionaries on Christmas Eve. We've invited a few other investigators too.
I wish I could tell you about all of the interesting people I've met, but there's just no time. 90% of the people we talk to just say Kekko-desu or just pretend they can't hear us, but the few that do listen are always very fascinating individuals.
I also went on a split with one of the zone leaders this week in Amagasaki. We taught a lesson there. The kid (18 years old) really wasn't interested and will probably drop contact, but it was good practice. Cool going outside of my area. I realized that I really am in one of the most Tokai areas of the mission. This is a huge city. So bizarre that I'm spending my first transfer at the mission headquarters.
We had a ward party on Saturday. Our investigators bailed so Elder Bowman only let us stay for the last 20 minutes. It's hard getting to know the members when we're running around on Sunday with investigators and can never go to activities. We finally met with the bishop yesterday so hopefully that will improve.
Yesterday at church, O-san came again. He also came to all other church activities this week. He looks promising, but we pushed his baptism back. He says he needs to do more studying and it's getting hard to teach him because of the language barrier. I have no doubt that he will be baptized though. He accepted the word of wisdom yesterday with no problems and said he is reading and praying every night and loves coming to church. He is ridiculously prepared.
The AP's serve in the Kansai branch (English speaking, covers all of the Kansai region) and had an investigator there who speaks English but is from China. I went on a split with one of them, because my companion and the other AP had to go to the Eki to pick up investigators. We taught this guy (Harrison, the investigator from China) lesson one with Ricky, President McIntyre's son who's home for Christmas. This guy was very science oriented, but also very nice and loves the missionaries. It was a fight to get him to pray, but eventually he agreed to do it by repeating the AP's words. He didn't want to pray to something he didn't believe. I also made a funny observation during that lesson. I've taught lesson one three times in Japan, watched the restoration video twice: both times in Chinese. Chinese people are everywhere and are very open to listening to us.
And like I said, we met with the bishop last night. Great guy. He speaks fluent English too so have of it was in English. This ward does have a long way to go in terms of missionary work though. They now have four pairs of missionaries working in it, so we really need their help.
Then after that, we threw a surprise birthday party for Karekara Shimai who serves in Akashi, lives in Kobe. Yes, the McIntyre's were there, face cookie and all. It's too bad I just missed my birthday. You only get a face cookie if you're in Kobe so it's a rare occasion. That was so much fun though. We really got to see the McIntyre's as just a family. They are so young! I think every mission president should be as young as he is. Seeing him interact with his sons and joke around with the missionaries really just made them feel like family. He makes us work, but he also loves to have fun and I think that's so important. Sister McIntyre was also talking smack, because sports taikai is this week and she says she is really good at dodgeball....I can't even imagine. President McIntyre also formally invited us (The AP's, Office Elders, Kobe Sisters, Me and my companion, and the Akashi sisters) to Christmas dinner at his house. He said we will be watching Toy Story 3. Yeah, he's ridiculous. I can't believe how lucky I am to have this as my first area. This Christmas will be great, I'm sure. I love their family, they're just great people, all of them.
I guess that's all I have time for.
Just know that I'm well. Thanks for everything and have a good week!