This is me and Toshi from Eikaiwa (English Class):
He comes every week. It was raining on Friday so only he came. He always carries a tour-guide narration book about Himeji-jo (he gives tours of Himeji-jo in English) with him and asks me questions. The English in the book is very eloquent and stylish and I`ve always loved English, reading, and writing, so he loves my explanation of the grammar principles and nuance in the book. Since he was the only student, the two of us sat down and read that thing for an hour. It was a blast. He asked if it was ok for him to say the closing prayer at the end. He`s awesome.
I`m transferring to Nara! I`m going to get another young missionary, I think he will be on his third transfer. There are only 7 World Heritage sites in Japan and Shingu, Himeji, and Nara all have one of those world heritage sites in them. I should count my blessings.
This is a picture from our last district meeting. From left to right: Elder Coburn (zone leader working in Sumoto), Elder Stanford, Elder Nuttall (district leader), Elder Shimizu, Elder Nakamura, me, (front row) Elder Burns (Toyooka zone leader who was on an exchange with Elder Coburn for the day), and Elder Enta.
This has really been a great district. I`ve received a LOT of help from both my district leader and zone leaders this transfer. The last district meeting was great. Everyone bore their testimony on the Atonement and it was so powerful. Writing that and reading it just seemed really cliche but...well, it was. It felt really good.
This week was the first EFY ever held in Japan. I walked into the chapel yesterday and two young men on the front row had pink wristbands on that had EFY written on them so I asked how it was. They were beaming. They couldn`t stop talking. It was like talking to two five year olds who had just spent a week with Santa Claus. When I told them I had been to EFY before, they did the traditional EFY clap and chant. The other great thing is they used the exact same schedule that all other EFY`s use. When I asked if they had pizza night or "how was the variety show?" they lit up like Christmas trees. It was great.
The bishop had all of the youth who went bear their testimonies and it was moving. About six kids bore their testimonies, three of them I had never seen at church before. There are few active youth in Japan. I think starting EFY is a monumental step for the Church in Japan. All six of them gave powerful testimonies and seemed to have really grown from the experience. They talked about how they were able to make lots of friends and all of the various spiritual experiences they had. I was so happy. I`ve met so many families who just think it`s a given that teenagers don`t come to church. EFY is a good experience for us in the U.S. but I feel like it`s necessary here. These kids need to know that they`re not alone in the church and they need to have more opportunities to have spiritual experiences.
The congregation was all in tears as the youth bore their testimonies, especially the parents. Another typical thing in Japan is families sit separate. Kids usually don't want to sit next to their parents. Well, all of those kids walked off the pulpit and sat next to their parents. This was definitely an inspired move for whoever organized it. These youth are the future of the church and they really need to be spiritually nurtured.
This is how we get the TV from the first floor to the third floor of the church.
I got a call last night from a Suezawa Shimai in Takamatsu. She said she knows my parents. She was in the Sakaide branch and said she held Jacob when he was a baby. At first, she thought I was Jacob and said "I held you when you were a baby!" She said she really "kando shimashita" (was moved) when she heard that I was in the Kobe mission and remembered you two. She also said that dad worked at the junior high right next to her house. She said the two of you worked very hard to help the branch and she was very thankful. Basically, she was just so excited to talk about it with me. She says yoroshiku (hello) and thank you for your service all of those years ago. That was really cool.
This is Nagoyama cemetary. It`s really big. We went here last Monday. Apparently, some of THE Buddha`s ashes are inside. They were a gift from India several years ago. It was closed so were weren`t able to go inside and see them. It was cool though, very pretty. There are stray cats all over the place.