Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Well, the thirteen-hour flight from LAX to the Tokyo Narita Airport wasn't that bad.  The food was pleasant, the cabin was really dark for some reason, and I didn't have trouble sleeping.  ^_^  We (myself and the thirteen other missionaries coming to Tokyo South) had to go through a bit of beauracracy once we landed, but it was really efficient, and soon enough we got through customs and then we were welcomed to Japan on New Year's Eve by a battalion of screaming fangirls....
...most of which, I'm sure, didn't notice us at all, as their attention was fixed on a celebrity who apparently was on our flight.  They had big signs and their phones out and they were taking pictures and video of this person as she was doing her celebrity thing.  The airport security people directed us through an opening in the densly-packed crowd and then we were met by our mission president and his wife and assistants.  President Wada said he was hoping that we'd come out before the celebrity did so that the crowd would take pictures of us all.  xP  We probably ended up in a lot of pictures as it was.
I've been downtown in Utah and I've done the Google Maps street view in Tokyo, but neither of those really come close to the feel of actually being in Tokyo.  It's all so densely packed; it feels like there's a store or a resturaunt or a house packed into every nook and cranny (and there are a lot of nooks and crannys), and the buildings are so tall and the roads are much narrower than in American cities... it's different.  And it's awesome.  On New Year's Day we went to a park in Kichijoji and watched the first sunrise.  Even in the packed city, there are places like these parks that are beautiful and peaceful. 
New Year's Day was mostly training, and the next day we met our trainers, who would be our companions for the next two transfers at least (a transfer is six weeks).  My trainer is Elder Otsuka, from the northern part of Japan.  He speaks really good English for only ever having been outside of Japan for three weeks.  We were assigned to the Hodogaya area.  I think this area is in the southeast part of the mission.  There's a lot of housing and steep hills here. 
On Friday we (myself, Elder Otsuka, and the two sister missionaries in our area) had dinner with the ward mission leader's family, and I understood very little of the conversation that night.  I was able to understand my MTC teachers' Japanese quite well, but they were returned missionaries, not native speakers.  It was a bit easer on Sunday when we went to church.  It's been a lot to adjust to: living in a Japanese apartment, listening to native speakers, eating Japanese food, etc.  Already I've eaten seaweed and squid and other weird things that came out of the ocean. 
The Church members in Japan are awesome.  I feel like they really appreciate the value of the restored gospel, and they're excited to share it.  RIght now I'm still trying to adjust and learn my way around, but I expect that this is going to be a lot of fun after a few weeks!
My zone went to the Tokyo Temple today.  We get to go there once a transfer.  It kind of looks small when you see pictures of it (especially in Google Maps), but when you're standing close enough to see it in the city, you have to look UP to see it all, and then it doesn't feel so small.  It's really beautiful on the inside.  :3
After we got back from the temple, Elder Otsuka and I were handing out fliers for English class, and then Elder Otsuka came up to me and handed me the cell phone. I could not get a straight explanation from either Elder Otsuka or from the guy on the phone as to why this guy on the phone wanted to talk to me.  o.0  He was Japanese, but he spoke mostly English to me.  I guess he just wanted to practice his English.  He talked about his job at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), and he mentioned the elders who were assigned to Hodogaya before us, and he listed some of the churches he'd been to, and he he talked about how Angels We Have Heard on High was his favorite Christmas carol, and then more about KFC, and he recited to me the Dutch and then the German alphabets, and then he talked about how he fries chicken at KFC... I do believe this phone conversation was the most bizzare thing I've experienced so far in Japan.  Afterwards Elder Otsuka explained that missionaries have been working with this person for a couple of years already; therefore he's what we call an "eternal investigator".  :P
Tomorrow I get to teach a free English class.  ^___^  I'm looking forward to it!
Elder Taylor

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