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.