Monday, March 31, 2014


Well, it's the start of a new transfer, and I'm with Elder Medlyn now.   He's an introverted computer programmer, kind of like me.  He's also really good at reading Japanese.  o.0

All the plants are turning green, and the flowers are starting to bloom!  The sakura (cherry blossom) trees are coming forth in their legendary pink glory.  The weather's warming up nicely.  The parks in this city are the most beautiful I've ever seen.  It's pretty awesome.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Muffin Defenestration

This is transfer week.  Yesterday it seemed like nobody (not even mission headquarters) knew whether transfer calls would be today or tomorrow, but they happened today.  Elder Peters is transferring out, and I'm staying in Tama.  My new companion (whom I will meet on Thursday) is Elder Medlyn.  I hear he was on the mission tech staff at one point.

I turned 20 years old last Thursday.  That means I'm legally an adult in Japan now.  Elder Peters turns 20 this Wednesday, and one of the sister missionaries in our area turns 21 on the 30th, so last Saturday we had a big birthday party with investigators and ward members and Costco pizza.  That was fun.

The youth in our ward have been working on a filming project this past weekend for their youth conference.  After church yesterday we were in the parking lot outside the Young Women's room, and they were all dressed up as Studio Ghibli characters and were having a filming party in that room.  They opened their window and started defenestrating their extra muffins to us (because people just like to give food to missionaries, I guess).

I love teaching the word "defenestrate" to Japanese people who are learning English.  Which reminds me, last week I learned the Japanese phrase 「ちゃぶ台返し」(chabudai gaeshi), which literally means "flipping a table".  x3

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vacuum-Packed Train

Today's Japanese word of the day is "tsukareta".  It means worn out and tired.  There's something about shopping, particularly at Costco, that makes me want to take a nap afterwards.  xP  I'm not even sure why we went to Costco today.  The four of us elders went there with one of the YSA (young single adults) from our ward.  We got there, ate at the food court, and then we put a big bag of dinner rolls in the cart, wandered around for a little bit, and then our district leader looked at the shopping list and was like, oh, we can get all the rest of this at a different grocery store.  And then our YSA friend decided to get a punching bag while we were there.  He's going to give his couch to his girlfriend in order to make room for it in his tiny little apartment.  So we stuffed the dinner rolls into a backpack and then carried this 2'x3'x5' box all the way to the train station and took it onto the train with us.

Speaking of trains... On certain routes, at certain times of the day, trains get REALLY crowded.  For some reason we usually end up dealing with the absurdly crowded trains on our way to the temple.  Everybody
gets squished up against each other, and it seems like there really isn't any more room, and then even more people shove their way in and everyone gets squished even tighter.  Personal bubbles disappear.  And everybody is completely silent.

There weren't a lot of people on the train when we were carrying that big box.  I didn't even help carry the box and I was tired afterwards.  (I offered to help, pointing out that I was the only one out of us four who hadn't carried it yet, and then Elder Peters pointed out that I was also the only one who wasn't trying to become buff.)

So I guess the time difference between Tokyo and Utah is only fifteen hours now, since Daylight Savings happened.  They don't do Daylight Savings in Japan.  It feels kinda weird to think about for some reason.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Unbirthday Pancakes

I was emailed a question about how often I have trainings with my district and zone, so, here's how that goes, plus a bit about how the mission is organized.

 - A "transfer" is a six-week period.
 - My district right now consists of the six missionaries in Tama (four elders and two sisters).  In Hodogaya, my district was the four missionaries there in Hodogaya (two elders and two sisters) and the two elders from Kamakura.  One of the elders in the district is assigned to be the district leader.
 - Every week (except for when there's a zone meeting or conference), we have a district meeting.  Most of the 90 minutes of district meeting are spent talking about our investigators; the remaining time is training.  Our zone leaders usually come to our district meetings.
 - Each zone right now consists of three or four areas, with 2-8 missionaries in each area.  There are currently eight zones in the mission--it used to be four, but all four of them were split over the past few transfers because the mission is growing fast.  Each zone has a companionship assigned to be zone leaders.
 - Every transfer, there is a zone meeting, which is conducted by the zone leaders.  It lasts a few hours and consists of announcements and training activities.
 - Two elders are assigned as assistants to the president.  There are also a few other elders assigned to the mission office~the commissarian, the recorder, the tech staff, etc.  
 - Every other transfer, the mission president and his assistants conduct a zone conference with each zone.  Zone conferences are all-day events.  Since the zones are still small, last transfer they had two zones at each zone conference (except for the one zone that hadn't split yet).
 - Every other transfer, when zone conferences aren't going on, President Wada interviews each missionary.  Elder Peters and I have our interviews with him this Thursday.
 - Training activities during district and zone meetings and conferences are usually 30-60 minutes long, and the leaders lead some of them and assign other missionaries to lead others.  Lately in district meetings, we've been doing the assigned follow-up trainings from when we received our iPads.  Usually the trainings cover skills and material from Preach My Gospel.


Elder Peters made pancakes for himself and me for lunch today.  He made them big and thick, and he added grape and apricot jam to them while they were cooking.  They were all the way cooked in some places, not quite all the way cooked in others, and made of jam in the rest, and it tasted like a peculiar mix of pancake and birthday cake and fruit.  I felt like I was in Wonderland right along with Alice while I was eating it--until I added honey, and suddenly I was in the 100-Acre-Wood.  I've dubbed them Kingdom Hearts pancakes, after the video game series where you get to visit all the different Disney worlds.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Life is Good

Elder Peters came up with a fantastic analogy yesterday during church.   Imagine a nineteen-year-old-or-so kid who wants a better job.  In order to get that job, he has leave home and go to school.  He has to get supplies, like a backpack and school clothes and whatnot.   And then the kind of job he gets depends on how well he does on the tests at school: the better he does with the tests, the better the job.  Elder Peters likened this to the Plan of Salvation.  We left home and came here, and we got physical bodies (like students get school supplies), and the better we do on the tests in this life, the better things are after this life.

I saw a poster for The Hobbit on my way to get my hair cut today.  I didn't get to look at it very closely, though.  The guy who cut my hair had a Sephiroth haircut.  I found that amusing.  The digital piano in the Young Women's room in the church plays jazz music.  In Japan, you drive on the left-hand side of the road.  Elder Peters and I met someone the other week who complained about how Japanese people study English all through high school yet hardly ever seem to learn it.  (I studied Japanese for a bit in school and I hardly learned any of it, so I guess it goes both ways?)  I felt like these thoughts were all too short to get their own paragraphs, so I just lumped them all together.

I love Japanese people.