Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012

Sounds like things are going well at home. I wish I could be there for the summer season. I`m sure everyone is having fun. It sounds really strange that Randy is out of high school and being a grown up now.
I`m really surprised that you got that shirt already (Editor's note: a thoughtful Father's Day present). EMS is really fast and not too expensive I guess. That was the biggest they had. I suppose it can be a collector`s item or you can wear it with a jacket on top or something. I thought it was a really classic design. Uniqlo has such great merchandise.
So I guess that means the Wirthlin`s are moving? That`s too bad. I like them. I love New York too. I saw a concert yesterday that our branch president was in and it made me really homesick for the theater. I also love Mr. Oram.
I`m excited to go shopping at Sage Market. That might be the only place that I`m able to shop when I get home.
These cleanliness signs are everywhere in all kinds of variety. They`re funny. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Well, we spent the first week here just getting Elder Singleton ready to transfer. He`s in Ibaraki, my old area. On Monday we went to the takoyaki stand that we`ve been pulling weeds at. The husband was yelling at the wife, profusely. He`d turn to us and be really nice and friendly, even asked us about the church, and then would turn back to her and yell at her like she was an animal while she, dead-silent, ground her fingers to dust wiping every surface in that tiny stand looking like she was on the verge of tears. Apparently she`d made some kind of mistake with some of the karage meat and he was extremely upset about it. He kept saying なんで言わなきゃあかんの?!男性が言うたし!上や!(Why do I have to tell you? The man has spoken!) There are some times that Japanese culture makes me really really upset. There are still lots and lots of married men here that believe they`ve acquired a slave.
We went to the post office to send a couple things home on Tuesday (those shirts). Elder Singleton had a big heavy package of stuff that couldn`t fit in his luggage, plus a really long sword umbrella he wanted to send home but we weren`t sure exactly how. We usually go to the big main city post office but there`s a really, really mean guy there that always interrogates us anytime we send something so we walked out to a smaller, local one. There, we met an angel who redeemed any fault I saw with Japanese culture the day before. She was as kind as could possibly be. It was difficult for her to handle the heavy package, plus Elder Singleton had never sent a package so she had me "translate" (he mostly understood, just didn`t know what he wanted to do) and said she was so embarrassed that she couldn`t speak English. It took a while for her to figure out his package, she had to go ask her manager some questions, etc. She came running back when she was finished with these two packets of tissues, took a big bow and apologized for taking so much time. Really, I thought it was totally normal time, no problems at all.
Anyway, as you can see, everything in Japan has a mascot. Even the postal service.
Then it got really funny. Elder Singleton took the big long sword umbrella (has a sword handle, looks like a sword when closed) and smacked it on the counter. She picked it up by the handle and asked us what it was. She giggled, ran to the back, got out measuring tape, made sure it wasn`t too long, which it wasn`t, and then ran back again with a box. She and another employee took a paper cuter and cut certain edges of it so that it would be long enough to wrap around the umbrella. It was pretty smart...amazing actually. Then the trick was getting both the cardboard and the umbrella on the little scale to weigh it for the price. It took about six tries, we were all laughing the whole time. She finally got it weighed, Elder Singleton paid the fee and then she said she`d take care of it and wrap it up. We didn`t have to pay for the box or tape it ourselves or anything. You could never expect service like that anywhere in the west.
Time hasn`t moved too fast. Elder Schramm and I aren`t in any sort of leadership positions. We`re just here. He`s on his last transfer but still has work left in him.
This is downtown Aioi. This is the exact same spot where I took the video of fireworks and the pictures of the massive crowds of people. As you can see, there`s usually nothing at all. That matsuri was crazy.

The branch president called us Friday morning and wanted to take us to two people`s homes. Both are older people that are acquaintances of members. They`re very kind people. They don`t seem terribly interested in the gospel. They were both Japanese, but I found it very interesting how completely different they were. The first family had a gorgeous, huge traditional Japanese house. The branch president just opened the door and called out. The daughter seemed excited to see him and ran to get her mom. I was standing behind him so all I could see was the 70 year old mother`s legs coming down a big staircase going straight up from the genkan in a big hurry. She hit the mat in front of the genkan in instant seiza and bowed with her hands on the floor while we stood there. That still is magic to me when people do it. They talked for a while about this and that, very friendly.
The next person we went to was a widow of 30 years and she was completely different. The first family spoke in very polite Japanese saying things like お久しぶりでございます ("It's been such a long time since you last visited us") and  五人兄弟?それはよろしいですね. ("Five sons? That's wonderful.") This other lady said (when we told her it had just started to rain) 雨ふりおんの?ほんま?!はやくはいとき!("It's rainin? Really? You better get outta here.") She sat us down and didn`t stop feeding us until we left. Mostly she just ran to the kitchen and back. When there was left over she said きみがお腹すいとんちゃう?(no way to translate)
It is very much 梅雨 (Monsoon Season) again. Friday it rained morning until we went to bed and it was hot and humid the whole time. It`s funny, I was with Elder Schramm for this time last year. It`s been exactly a year. I remember writing about an experience I had in the rain in Shingu thinking "what`s the point?" I remembered that riding through the rain in front of Elder Schramm again on Friday. It felt really different. I`m not sure exactly what I`m doing. I`m not always sure why I`m here or what the Lord wants me to do, but faces and experiences from my past flashed through my mind. I saw some old companions that have returned home, I saw the MTC, I saw the Suezawas, I saw converts and investigators I`ve taught, I saw friends from before my mission. Christ has always told me he loves me through other people. I guess the rain in a very strange way reminded me of that.
I love Japanese sunsets.
Yesterday the branch president couldn`t come to church because he had a concert he`s been preparing for for about a year. We went to see it. He wanted us to buy tickets but his wife gave us tickets on our way out of the church so we had to go straight there. He made a big deal about how he`d put a big ad for the church in the program so I guess it was polite to show up and repay the favor. He was grateful. The concert featured an orchestra from Kobe. They played and the choir sang some requiem that was a bunch of movements and 45 minutes long. It was a concert for the 20th anniversary of the hall it was held in. It was a good experience. I haven`t just sat and been entertained in a long long time.
As always, please never be afraid to ask questions. I hope everything is going well at home. I hope those guppies start living. Ask an expert or something ;). Talk to you next week!

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