Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

Well hello.

Elder Low at Sakaide Station. His parents lived in this city years ago when his father taught English. Elder Low's older brother was born here. This city is in his new area.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Mine was great. It's been fun seeing all of the things you've been up to lately.

So last Monday I packed up and was out of Nara early Tuesday morning. No time to take Monday to Thursday, packing, wrapping things up, and saying goodbye. I was just gone. It was kind of sad, I really grew to love that branch and the people there but I think it was time to move forward. I'm so excited to be where I am.

I got to Marugame Tuesday afternoon and we were immediately off to work. We had Eikaiwa (English Class) and taught an investigator right before and he had a really strong desire to be free from his past and to enter heaven at the end of his life. He committed to come to church on Sunday.

Marugame, Japan

On Wednesday I went to meet the branch president, President Jackson, from Utah. He is so awesome. His wife and kids are in America now for the holidays and he's actually packing right now and leaving to join them tomorrow. I think his personality is pretty similar to mine. We could've been really good friends before my mission. He and his wife teach English for a living and seem to be doing well. There is actually a really large concentration of English teachers here in Kagawa-ken, thus the branch is full of English speakers.

I met Suezawa Shimai. (One of the family's dearest friends from 23 years ago when they lived in the branch) She was stunned and so happy.

Sister Suezawa and Elder Low

We went to Sakaide English Enjoyment Club held at the Sakaide Hall and run by two members, one of which met the elders there and converted in February. She's a fireball. I love her. She's been to both the Tokyo and Fukuoka temples multiple times. The other member said he remembers being in a faculty meeting with a Low-san (Elder Low's father) many years ago. He himself was an English teacher and a member but went less-active at the time due to his hantai (opposed) mother. He remembers people gossiping saying that Low-san was Mormon. When I showed him the picture of dad, he recognized the face instantly. This member is very active now.
That evening we were supposed to have Family Home Evening for single member and new converts, but not many showed up.
On Friday, we had a Christmas activity. The activity was amazing. This branch is unbelievably musically talented. It was spectacular, to be honest. I haven't seen anything that musically impressive since before my mission.We had a lesson with Investigator Y Shimai and her husband and she seems really sincere.
It seems like the biggest obstacles to the work for me on my mission have been social problems. That honestly NEVER crossed my mind before serving. Patience is really an important attribute to carry I feel. We can't do too much mediator work, most of it has to come from example.
Did I say that it's freezing cold? The wind is killer here.
I talked to Akiyama Shimai and Yamanishi Shimai (Two members of the branch that Elder Low's parents were friends with years ago when they lived there) for about half an hour before church. They had to make a little effort to remember you from the picture, but when I explained your situation a little further, their faces lit up and they knew who you were. They are darling, really elderly ladies. I'm really impressed with their determination to come to church. Fujimoto Kyodai drives then to church. He remembers you as well.
This building is one of the coolest I've ever been in ever, let alone Japan. It's brand new and has, by far, the biggest parking lot of any meetinghouse in Japan. Yes, it extends all the way to that house in the last picture.

That night President Jackson took us out to The Ellis' house for dinner. It was fantastic. Everyone was speaking English and eating fried chicken. It was like being in America again. I love the Americans here too. They're all really adventurous; you have to be to move your family half-way across the world. I think I'm going to love it here. This Christmas was just as good as last year and I really didn't think that was possible.
We had a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner of KFC and cake at Brother Ellis' house in Takamatsu. President Jackson drove us there. Yeah, you're reading those names right. There are TONS of English teachers in our branch. So many that they have to provide translation service. They also come from all of Kagawa ken, so they can be together and all receive translation service from the same place. It"s really cool.


Well, I should get going. It was great talking to you today. Hope you have a great week!

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