Friday, November 20, 2015

Home Again

I played a lot of video games growing up.  Some of those games had a world map, with a little dot that showed where your character was in the world.  In a way, the distance between your little dot and your home town was a measure of how far ahead you were in the game, how much you'd grown, the challenges and monsters that you now had the power to overcome.

One day last summer, sitting at the kitchen table in the mission-office apartment, I happened to open Google Maps on my iPad.  I zoomed all the way out to look at the world.  I saw the Great Salt Lake, and the cities and valleys next to it that had been my home for almost a decade.  And then, all the way on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, I saw that dot.

In that mind-blowing moment, I realized I could go anywhere in the world.

I've been home for two weeks now.  (Two weeks exactly, now that I think about it...)  I wanted to write this post a few days after I got back, but it took me a little longer than I expected to get things together.  It wasn't until I started pulling boxes out and unpacking them that I realized how much stuff I left at home.  I wiped my computer and I've been using a new email address, and I got a new phone a couple days ago, so it's been a fresh start in a number of ways.  

But, home is home.  Most of everything is right where I left it.  The biggest change is inside myself.  Even though I'm basically going back to doing the same thing as before my mission (college and work), I feel like I can do it better now.  Like my capacity has grown.  A lot.

It seems like there was a bit of an eruption of noise and controversy right when I got back, with some uproar about an updated Church policy, and terrorist attacks in France, and maybe something else.  (Something's telling me there was a third thing, but I can't remember what it was.)  I feel peace, though.  Direct experience from my mission tells me that God is still firmly in charge, and thus everything will work out fine in the end (however much it hurts in the meantime).

Right now I'm planning on setting up a new blog, though I'm not quite sure when exactly I'll be doing that.  I may also keep this blog up as a place for Gospel-related thoughts directed towards members of the Church.  We'll see.


Monday, November 2, 2015

The Ghost of Halloween Past

Well, it's my last week.  I fly home on Friday.

I'm not sure what I feel.  It's sad, to some degree, to leave Japan, but through Facebook I'm already connected to so many people here, so it'll be easy to keep up relationships.  It's almost like when I moved from Pleasant Grove to Hooper, except this time I'm going back to a place I've been.  I'm looking forward to seeing my family again, and being with them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The gospel will stay with me, and so will all the growth I've had on my mission.  I guess it mostly just feels like moving on to the next chapter.

It just occurred to me that one thing that might feel really weird about being home is not having an iPad anymore.  The missionary iPads were intended to replace the paper-and ink Missionary Daily Planners, and so while some other missionaries have been desperately hanging on to paper planners (they're kind of a rare commodity now), I quit using them altogether as soon as the iPads came out last year in January.  I've been relying on this iPad to keep track of things for the past two years.  My family has a cheap smartphone waiting for me when I get back, so we'll see if that can replace it.  :P

We got permission this year to wear costumes at ward Halloween events if the members asked us to.  I ended up just wearing a cardboard sign that said「好きな仮装を想像して下さい。」(Please imagine a costume of your choice.)  We had a talent show and a trick-or-treat (using the church classrooms) and a costume contest and piñatas.  Halloween isn't normally celebrated in neighborhoods in Japan like it is in America, but there's Halloween decorations up in all the shops and some people put together Halloween-type events.  And then yesterday, our investigator was showing us pictures from Shibuya on Halloween night.  (Shibuya is a major downtown area of Tokyo that's outside of our mission boundaries.)  Apparently there were a lot of people in costume there.  

Two years ago, Halloween was my second day in the MTC.  I remember that night back in the dorms so well; the decreasing disorientation, the anticipation of our first lesson in Japanese the next day, the older missionaries running around crazy and throwing candy at everyone and hiding acorns in our closets.  A year later I was in Atsugi, surprised at the huge crowd ofkids that were running around wild at the ward Halloween party.  Somehow we had ten times as many kids at that party as there were in the whole ward.  We had piñatas there, too.  Piñatas are fun.

I feel like I've had a strange mission... but looking back at it now, I don't think I'd have it any other way.