Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012

This month is already over.
Answers to your questions:
Q: Have you ever given a blessing? In Japanese?
A: Yes, many times. My first time was really scary, but it`s normal now.
Q:Have you eaten Katsu lately? I miss a good katsu place.
A: Actually, no. In fact, I can`t remember ever having just Ton Katsu on my mission. I`ve eaten more of it in America than Japan, ironically enough. Sure, I`ve had Katsu Curry, and Katsu-don, etc. But still haven`t had a really good katsu yet.
Q: Were those noodles last week good? (Elder Low's current area is very famous for good noodles.)
A: They really were. In fact, I did an udon noodle test this week. I`ve been kind of bewildered by the whole sanuki udon thing. I was in Takamatsu this week and I met three tourists on the street who came JUST to eat udon! I`ve been to a few places, and sure it`s good, but I certainly wouldn`t travel across the country to eat it. I did a test. I bought some local sanuki udon and generic brand udon at the grocery store and ate both for lunch. Then I understood. It wasn`t that the Sanuki udon was so good, it`s that the generic brand was disgusting! The texture is the biggest thing. The generic udon was like rubber. You can see the difference.
You might remember this udon noodle place in Sakaide. We passed it on a Saturday morning and it looked like this. They only feed the udon from 11:30 to 12:30 and this pictures was taken at 11:00. Hopefully we`ll get to eat there someday.
Q: Can you get a picture of you with Yamanishi Shimai?
A: I think so. You see, I tried once. She`s usually just sitting in the foyer with Akiyama 姉妹. I tried with the two of them and it didn`t go too well. I don`t think 山西姉妹 would mind though. I talked to her a little bit yesterday too.
Now, some news:
Is it a cultural thing not to put dogs to sleep? Actually, I take that back, I know it isn`t. There`s a member who lives right next to the church who can`t come recently because she spends 24 hours taking care of her 18 year old dog that can`t see, hear, or stand. She feeds him by hand. There`s something kind of sweet and tender about it, but at the same time I kind of felt like going and grabbing some weed killer and pouring it in the food. She asked us to come feed him every now and then. She refuses to put him to sleep, even though he`s obviously suffering. She can`t sleep because he wails 24/7.
I had an exchange in Takamatsu with Elder 小部長老 and it was really great. He`s on his last transfer and is companions with one of his best friends before his mission, Elder 南川長老, the district leader. He told me that missionary work is a waste of time if you`re not having fun. I remember trying so hard to teach that to one of my former companions, but realize now that I`ve forgotten it. We met with the Takamatsu 伝道主任 (ward mission leader) that evening and the Suezawa`s were in the church. They were happy to see me as always and were telling me all about the meal they had in store 2 days later at zone conference.
We had Sakaide English Enjoyment club this week in Sakaide and afterwards the Tanaka`s took us out to yakiniku.
Sakaide English Enjoyment club is still one of my favorite things to do here and the Tanaka`s took us out to yakiniku afterwards. I love yakiniku.
They are incredible. 田中姉妹 has been baptized for just over a year this week. Her husband hits his year mark in June. It`s killing her having to wait to get her endowment. The two of them have been to the temple 5 times for baptisms for the dead. They`re incredible, and also some of the funniest, most loving people I`ve ever met. They`re also separated 24 years in age. They met when she was 24. She said she got "DABURU SUKOAA!" They`re really great people though, she`s dying to come to Utah and I`ve offerend our home many times, just so you`re aware.
Zone conference was really great. I felt really good walking out of it. The biggest topic discussed was the difference between our role and the members role in missionary work. With so much emphasis on the 20 lessons per week goal, lots of missionaries are only teaching members or less-actives. Why do numbers have to be such a big deal? We can`t be motivated by them, or else they get distorted and we lose integrity; but we also can`t live without them. I was translating again so I think I lost a lot of it because it just goes in my ears, out my mouth and out of my mind. President Zinke also taught a lot about the doctrine of families and it looks like the mission is going to start shifting focus to finding families rather than young singles. Anyway, President Zinke really set the record straight and I felt really confident about the training I received after zone conference this week.
Takamatsu is famous across the whole mission for having the best zone conference meals on earth. It totally lived up to the expectations. Heck, that was the first thing that Suezawa Shimai told me when she called me when I was in Himeji. It looks like she organizes the whole thing. (Click on photo to enlarge.) 

Like really. Notice the takoyaki (barbeque octopus) stand in the back. Zoom in on each of the individual dishes and look at how elaborately presented they are. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Oh and that is home made root beer AND ice cream. I don`t know how they do it. 四国人`s really take food seriously.
As always, I was so shocked by all of the returning missionaries testimonies. Sister Myagmarjav gave her final testimony! She`s going home in two weeks! You would`ve been so proud of her (I guess you haven`t met her yet). Just hearing her speak is a reminder that God exists and performs miracles to execute his will. She had total command of the room, speaking a language she heard for the first time less than 18 months ago. She said that even though she couldn`t speak English, she never thought that learning Japanese in the MTC was difficult. She said she had never sat down alone and simply "studied" Japanese for more than an hour. It all just entered her mind and stuck, and she said she learned very early that she can do nothing on her own. I`m still shocked that the four sisters from my MTC district are going home. Anyway, Meg 姉妹 said she`s most likely going to school in Virginia with her younger sister.
A really pretty view of Marugame port. We went to research ferry fares to the islands that are technically part of Marugame city. They`re really expensive...hopefully we can go sometime. The harbor is really pretty though and the old Marugame church (it`s a warehouse...I think I sent a picture of it a couple weeks ago) is right by it.

We also ended up in Kotohira this week. Total tourist trap. I was shocked I didn`t think there was anything like it on Shikoku but there is. We couldn`t even ride our bikes through the streets there were so many people. It has just as many omiyage stores as any famous shrine in Kyoto.

Three investigators came to church yesterday, including Y san (well, she`s there everyweek anyway). The members are saying they`re impressed by all of the "ugoki" (movement) happening in the branch right now. I hope it turns into progress soon rather than just movement. I have been sooo tried with patience on my mission. The church building is perhaps our biggest finding tool. It`s so beautiful, people just walk in.
A funny store we pass every now and then.

Specialty doughnuts at Mister Donuts. Goma (sesame)

 .......and anzuki (sweet bean paste).
I hope the Hansen family will be ok.
Anyway, I guess that`s all I`ve got this week. Have a good one!

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