Today was my last Sunday of these short three weeks in Machida. I can't express how strange it has been to go to church here. For the last two years I would stop people dead in their tracks and start teaching them about Jesus Christ; take off the name-tag and make me one of everyone else and suddenly socializing is like trying to join a horse tour riding a kangaroo.
As a missionary I felt MOST confident at church. Everyone is there to help you and everyone has lots of respect for you because they know the sacrifice you're making to serve. Therefore, they're kind and really easy to make relationships with. At least that's how it was for me. As a missionary I could walk right up to someone at church and ask them all kinds of questions and have all sorts of things to discuss. I had none of that confidence attending this ward for the last three weeks. I even got told to sit closer to everyone else this morning in opening exercises.
A typical recent conversation at church:
Other person: はじめまして！（Nice to meet you!)
What I want to say: はじめまして、ロウ長老です！（Nice to meet you, I'm Elder Low!)
What I actually say: はじめまして..... (Nice to meet you...)
Other person: 。。。お名前は？(Your name?)
Me: ロウと申し。。。ロウと言います。(My name is [studder trying to decide whether to use respective or standard form] Low)
Other person: 今日はどうされましたか？ (What brings you here today?)
What I want to say: 来る予定をしている求道者はとくにいないですけど来週来るはずですのでフェローシップよろしくお願いします！(We're not planning on having any investigators here today but I'm sure someone will come next week so be sure to say hello to them when they do!)
What I actually say: あの。。。遊びに来ました。（I...came to hang out)
Other person:あーそうですか。(Oh really?)
Me: 先月神戸伝道部から期間してきました。(I just returned from the Kobe Mission last month)
Chaos ensues as I try to explain why I'm here and not in the U.S.
Other person: 面白いところ見に行きましたか？(Have you gone to see anything interesting here?)
What I want to say: 昨日渋谷をずっと回ってました。人はいっぱいいるね！福音を聞くように備えられている人はきっといますね。(Yeah I walked around Shibuya yesterday. There are so many people there! I'm sure there's plenty of them prepared to hear the gospel.)
What I actually say: そうですね。色んな所に。(Yeah, I've gone to lots of places.)
And then like I wrote in my last post they try to invite me to something or propose that I do something and I have some super lame, but unfortunately real excuse. I've become the kind of person I just didn't understand on my mission. Sigh. I can't wait for this to be over. I guess I should say I'll just try and put myself out there even more. がんばろう！
By the way, today was the Machida 2nd ward's primary program. I saw a couple primary programs in Japan on my mission but they never had more than 8 kids. This one had 20 and it was so precious. Three nursery girls sang I Am a Child of God and attempted sign language. One of them for some reason was really determined to sing while sitting down on the floor. One of the kids went up to the pulpit and all I could see was the top of his head shaking. We watched the primary president kneeling next to the pulpit whispering in his ear for about 10 seconds until she finally stood up and said: 今緊張しているので後で言います(he's nervous now so he'll say it later). There were plenty of other precious moments as with any primary program. It's so comforting to see Japanese members in large numbers.