We saw fireworks last Saturday with an investigator. It was cool.
When it comes to fireworks, Japan rules. (Note: if you're reading this in email, click here to watch this video clip.)
I'll start with answering your questions:
Q: How is Brother Taneda? Any better? I hope so.
A: We don't know much about it. He's still in the hospital and can't accept visitors. This last Sunday was Fast Sunday. His wife and mother bore their testimonies and they were both absolutely incredible. I couldn't believe their strength. His wife said that when it happened she thought 「このために生まれて来たんだな。」("Perhaps this is one reason why I was born.") and said 「この人生がどんなに苦しくても私達は主に頼って信仰を示すために生きています。」("No matter how painful life becomes, we are here to follow the Lord and show our faith.") She was completely composed and confident. She said throughout the whole ordeal she's felt peace. She said that because they had such wonderful lives, they were in danger of forgetting where their blessings came from and that she's been so grateful for this trial as a reminder. His mom said that when they were in the hospital, she saw his entire life flash before her eyes, his birth, his mission, his marriage, etc. She said her husband knew that it was a trial from God from the start. She said that when they knelt and prayed in the hospital as a family, she'd never felt closer to God and was so grateful for that opportunity.
Q: Did you spend any time this week working on English Companionship Language Study? Do you think any missionaries have passed tests or are actually studying it? What about the missionaries – do they want to do it?
A: Missionaries that have come into the field within the last 6 months-ish received the text books in the MTC and I believe they're studying it. I just discovered them in the office and see if we can get them distributed to the older missionaries. Studying English isn't hip like it used to be. Some really want to speak it, some refuse to try.
Q: How many elders are in your apartment? Do you drink as much milk as the others?
A:7. I drink maybe one of those liters at the most.
Q: Have you seen a decrease in bugs yet?
A: They had gone away for a while but I got attacked by a huge cockroach in the kitchen last night. It was right next to me and really came by surprise. I ended up on top of the counter.
Q: What kind of car do you drive? Send pictures. Also, we’ve never seen pictures of the layout of the office.
A: I don't drive, just ride. It's a van. Here are some pictures:
Here's the view from where I'm sitting right now. The mission secretary, Sister Dalling usually sits here (it's Saturday so she's home relaxing). On the far right is the front door, the closed door directly in front is the president's office and the door on the left is the Elder's office.
View from the front door of the office. The mission quilt is on the left, baptismal pictures on the right.
Down this hallway is the Assistant's office, Sister Zinke's office and a reception room. If you walk out the far door you walk down a staircase and into the church parking lot. Our apartment is hidden behind the staircase.
Q: How are the unique sandwiches at McDonalds now? What’s that chicken sandwich (Spicy Gold Masara?) like? McDonalds in Japan is just so much better than here.
A: I haven't been lately, but I really, really do want to try the Gold Masala. Before that they had a french-burger on some kind of french bread.
What else happend this week?
We've been really busy in the office this week and haven't been able to get out much. Our investigators have gotten busy in preparation for obon as well and keep canceling appointments.
Last month Japan changed it's foreigner registration system and it's a huge pain. Before when we transferred, we had to just go to the city hall in our new area to check in and change our address. As of July, we have to check out before we transfer and then check in. Yeah...we all transferred without knowing that. We've been getting calls from all over. Most of the city halls are not being very cooperative. It's crazy how they are all completely different. Some city halls just dismiss it and say "you didn't know, it's not your fault, we'll just let it slip" and some are demanding that they return to their former residence...which is impossible. It's been a huge pain. Luckily, I got mine taken care of.
Grady Bowman (My first companion and trainer) came to Kobe on Thursday night and we went out to dinner. H 姉妹 (Bowman 長老 and I got along with her really, really well), one of his converts, and his fiance were there. He really hasn't changed a ton.
He still looks like a missionary, talks like one, has the same motives....just a girl on his arm. That was so bizarre. My instincts were telling me to separate them. He's been in Japan for a couple weeks and will stay until the end of the month. He'll fly straight to China where he'll be teaching volunteer English for four months. He met his fiance at BYU Idaho. She was baptized 8 months ago. Sounds like a very familiar story... We ate at World Buffet. He was sitting next to me the last time I was there. So weird. It was really good to see him though. He had met up with some of the people we worked with here and gave me some information and ideas on how to get them to church. Sounds like I'll have work to do.
Yesterday Elder Bevan spent the day with the zone leaders since he's the district leader and needs to have an exchange with the zone leaders. Shigeta 長老 and I drove to Kyoto to finish up the Shimogamo Sister's new apartment. We took two dressers, a table, light fixtures, curtains, etc. Even though we spend most of the time just sitting in the car traveling, those road trips can be exhausting.
I laughed really hard reading about Jacob and that green car. I think you need to get rid of it before it gets rid of somebody. I also laughed at his blog post you pasted in your letter to me. Why is Jacob so talented? I kind of hate that.
I got a letter from Emma Phelps last week and she said she got to talk to Randy at somebody's mission farewell. She gushed. She thinks the world of him. Also, another friend from BYU wrote me and said that one of my other friends is teaching theater at Clearfield high school. When I was at Davis, we did lots of stuff with Clearfield's theater group. Do they still do that? If so, I know the teacher, really well. I'd send this to Randy but I know he won't read it.
I felt like I had a lot to write about but now I can't remember anything.
We are staying pretty busy. I wish I had retained a lot of my computer skills I had before my mission. We are making and translating the Kobe no Kiseki which is the newsletter for the mission. We do it in Publisher and have to touch up some of the photos in Photoshop. I feel so helpless. Had I done this right at the beginning of my mission I'd be lightning efficient. Translating on paper is also a lot harder for me than translating speeches. It's almost like the adrenaline helps when you do that. In the office I just sit and think about all of the hundreds of way I could translate one sentence.
I can't think of anything else. We're going to Koshien today, where the Hanshin Tigers play. They're holding the high school national championship there now so we're going to go look.
Have a good week.