So this week was my conference weekend. It was really great.
Here are some pictures of me doing what missionaries do every day.
Here's another picture of our branch service activity from last week. It's like I have my own personal photographer.
Here's a video of what it's like to walk into the church.
Note the sign advertising free English lessons and the mini Visitor Information Center in the entrance.
There was killer wind on Tuesday. Apparently all of the major railways had hour long delays because they had to clear debris on the tracks and then some lines shut down for a little while because the wind could potentially derail some of the trains. We just happened to be riding through the mountains, exploring a new place we hadn`t been yet in our area. It took way longer than we anticipated because we kept falling off of our bikes and getting dust and who knows what else in our eyes. It was a fun adventure though.
The wind was insane. This shed is up against a power line that is keeping it from blowing into the road. We were literally blown off of our bikes and had to walk...even chase some of our stuff that flew out of my basket and into the street.
There was some crazy rain this week too. I don`t know if this video captures it.
I don`t know if I wrote about him yet, but a man called the church two weeks ago saying that he wanted to be taught and that he had heard "the lessons" ten years ago. We finally met with him on Thursday this week. He`s a gardener. A really, really nice, normal man with a normal job. I can`t tell you how refreshing that is. Apparently he had read a book by a member of the church that has him convinced that the church is true. This book, however, doesn`t flatly proclaim doctrine or anything...it`s all between the lines clues. I guess the premise of the book is how Christianity relates to ancient Japanese religion and the assumption that it`s all just a break-off from Israel that came across the silk road. I have to admit, the more I hear about it, the more fascinating it is. I`m sure there`s some sort of connection back there somewhere. Anyway, he said himself that he has already planned to be baptized on May 5. He already knows most of what we`ll teach him and seems pretty good. I`m still shocked by this one. In either case, he already has a testimony of Christ and the Book of Mormon. I`m excited to work with him. I`m always so surprised when these situations just come to me. I do NOTHING. Sometimes I even wonder if I should just stop running around looking for people to teach and instead just sit and wait for them to show up.
A view of Ako City.
We had our monthly service activity. This was our first time, of course. Apparently they go pick up garbage with 障害者(the disabled). This month was their 楽しみ会 (Celebration) to celebrate the year's end (I guess in companies and service organizations, etc. their year end is March). They had us sing a hymn with the branch president and teach them some English and then we watched them do karaoke. It was cute.
We planned on watching General Conference here in Ako since apparently they`ve done it before with headsets. Well, the branch president couldn`t figure out how to set up the headsets. We were given permission to go watch it in Kobe (the only other place that shows it in the stake) earlier in the week if we needed to so we ran home, grabbed a change of clothes and headed for Kobe, spur of the moment. The conference started at ten in Ako, but at 12 in Kobe so we rushed in at 12:15, just as President Packer started speaking so we were able to see all of conference. It was great. It was a lot of fun being with all of the other missionaries too. Basically all of the missionaries serving in the Kobe stake were there and spent the night. Elder Osaka, who is from Sagamihara and took a music class from Kathy Bell at LDSBC, was there. I lived with him in Kobe when he was there as an office elder and now he is back as an AP. He`s a blast. He`ll be in Utah in August so I`ll be seeing him a lot when I get home.
Conference was great. I loved Elder Hallstrom`s talk about the difference between the church and the gospel and the importance of being active in both. I think SO many members here need to hear that. I also loved how Elder Holland said we need to stop being "hung up on some note we hit in a childhood piano recital". I have that problem.
The whole room was whispering "David Archuleta" throughout the Saturday afternoon session. Everyone cheered when he appeared right at the end. There were a couple new missionaries in the room and they said the MTC announced that there was a celebrity coming to the MTC and to not become a distraction to anyone`s MTC study by asking for pictures and autographs. I can`t imagine what life is like for him.
I also really, really, really like Elder Andersen`s talk at the end on Sunday. The story he shared was...well...riveting. I think everyone was in tears. Just the mental image of that Haitian dad pacing around a flatened home praying for his children`s lives gives me chills.
Sounds like things are going well at home. The weather is getting good here too. The sakura are out but they`re still a little white. I feel like it`s a little bit colder this year than last year so perhaps they won`t be as spectacular. Either way, we`ll probably go to Himeji-jo (I really didn`t think I`d go back there on my mission) next week to go take pictures.
We had to walk along the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) track to visit a former investigator.
(Editor's note: These trains are over 1/4 mile in length and move at speeds over 200mph.)
A nice picture of the moon from the shinkansen track we were walking next to
This was really long, but please, keep asking questions, I`m usually clueless as to what to write. Have a good week!