Friday, October 31, 2014

Mountain Climb

Last Saturday we hiked Mount Tonodake as a ward English class
activity.  It was a long, beautiful hike.  My legs are still sore.  At
the top of that mountain there's a lodge where hikers can stay
overnight and watch the sunrise the next day.  They also sell
delicious udon noodle soup.  We played some games on top of the
mountain and ate udon and took pictures of Mount Fuji.

It was good time spent with our English class students, too.  One of
the Atsugi ward members invited one of her calligraphy class students
to come to the hike, too, and Elder Parks and I made really good
friends with him.  It's really helpful when people have time like
this to warm up to us.  We now have someone who we're going to start
teaching soon, thanks to that hike.  ^^

Yesterday, we felt like it would be a good idea to call every phone
number we could find in our area book, even though the missionaries
who were here before us said they did that every week without success.
We actually got to talk to a few people and invite them to the ward's
Halloween party this week, and we found out which numbers were bad.
Then, that night, we got a call from Elder Soto, my MTC companion who
just got transferred to Yamato.  One of the people we talked to on the
phone earlier that day is a Spanish person (also speaks Japanese) who
was referred to our area by missionaries in Yamato.  We only talked
for a minute, but later that day he called the Yamato elders to tell
them that he got a call from missionaries in Atsugi and that he felt
bad because he was busy and couldn't talk much.  Elder Soto (who
speaks native Spanish) was the one who talked to him, and he felt like
he should talk to him about the Light of Christ.  From that
conversation the Spanish person decided he wants to take the
missionary lessons.  :D

[I attached a couple pictures from the top of Mount Tonodake.  You can
see Mount Fuji in the distance.  ^^]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Typhoon Stole My Helmet

There was a typhoon last weekend, from Sunday night to Monday morning.
The most intense part was while we were asleep, but on Sunday night
the rain and wind was still strong enough that all the books in my
waterproof bag got wet. >_< On Monday, after it cleared up, all of
the bikes had fallen over, and we couldn't find my helmet. The only
thing we could think of was that it probably blew away in the typhoon
during the night. o.0 We had to rearrange our plans for the day so
that I could buy a new helmet, and then that night after we'd done all
our shopping and emails the other pair of elders found my helmet.
Apparently I accidentally left it sitting on the umbrella rack at the
church. 0.o Fortunately I hadn't bought a new helmet yet. ^__^

I loved General Conference. :3 I was a little anxious last week
because it had happened and I hadn't seen it yet. Japan doesn't get
the broadcast until a week later.

There's another typhoon coming tonight, and I've got my helmet inside
the apartment this time. ^_^

Friday, October 3, 2014

Emergency Transfer

Well. On Thursday morning around 7:30-ish, I got a transfer call from President Wada. Around noon on Friday, I was in Atsugi with all my luggage. On Saturday, I was harvesting rice.

President Wada did hint at the Wednesday morning staff meeting that he might need another elder in Atsugi and that the new elder would probably come from the mission office, and somewhere in the back of my head I knew that I was the most likely pick. It was still a little bit of a surprise when it actually happened. I spent Thursday packing and saying bye to my district, ward members, and investigators, and then on Friday the assistants to the president drove me and my luggage down to Atsugi.

From having been in Atsugi for two days, it seems to be a fairly normal "countryside" city. There is a river that runs through it, with some awesome bridges. I'll have to see if I can get some pictures sometime.

On Saturday, we went out to another area to help harvest rice as a service project. About ten or so missionaries put on rubber boots, picked up little scythes, and tromped out in the muddy rice paddies. There were places where we'd sink down six or eight inches in the mud just by stepping on it. There were also so many spiders, beetles, little green frogs, praying mantises, crabs, crawdads.... Someone told me that there are fish that live there in the mud, too.  o.0   We didn't get bit by anything, though. One elder did the whole thing barefoot because there weren't boots big enough for him.

Rice grows on a plant looks kind of like wheat, but a bit shorter. We bent down and cut the stalks down at their base, bundled them up, and hung them from racks that were made of bamboo poles lashed together.  We might go back in a couple weeks to help with the next phase, where we actually remove the grains of rice from the plant.

Elder Parks is my new companion. He likes ninjas and samurai. A lot. He's also really good at reading & writing Japanese. I feel like we're going to get along very well.

For all I know, I might stay in Atsugi for a few transfers, or I might get called back to the mission office in three weeks when they have the normal transfer, or I might get transferred somewhere else. o.0 Elder Gammon is handling the tech staff work on his own right now (he's companions with the other office elders). In the meantime, I have this feeling that I want to work with the youth and YSA in Atsugi Ward.

Golden rice fields, all ready to be harvested

Rice stalks hanging in the sun to dry

Elder Bennion (barefoot with baseball cap) & Elder Parks (my new companion)

It's very muddy work.