Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm in Japan!! Thank Heavens the Sun Sets Too...

Wow.... So much to say! I think today I will go chronologically from the phone call Monday morning! So as soon as I hung up I got right on the plane to Portland. That was a good flight.... We all slept.... Not super exciting... We waited there at the airport for 2 hours, I got my last American burger (delicious), and then embarked on a journey to the
Land of the Rising Sun. I didn't sleep at all on the plane which I think was super helpful. I have not been very jet lagged at all! On the plane I did my best to study Nihongo and the scriptures. I couldn't get much done, so I just played the dot game with the Elder sitting next to me--haha! I won every single time! Remember we always used to play that on long flights to Japan?!? 

I'm just going to skip to when we landed. That is when it gets good! On the approach we could see buildings and buildings and buildings.... The sheer number of buildings is amazing! Tokyo is so big--I had forgotten! When we got off the plane we were greeted by a sweltering wall of humidity. Imagine Texas but worse. Way worse. You step outside of the air conditioned buildings and a few minutes later you're sweating buckets. Especially wearing a suit! It's rough! So we got off the plane and got into the air-conditioned airport (which was a relief), and went through customs. Picked up our bags and went out to meet the Wadas and the APs! They were all so nice. We changed some money and then got on a two hour bus ride to the hombu (mission home). During the ride we got the low down on what was going on. I'm sure we must have looked like a bunch of exhausted, bleary-eyed gaijin because we were!. They told us all about the mission and the individual areas and a short introduction to the Wada family. It was really nice.... I think... I fell asleep about half way through. At least once:) By that point we had gone over 24 hours with no sleep! 
With President and Sister Wada
When we arrived at the hombu we got some dinner and then went straight to bed! We all slept on futons in the church building next door. The second my head hit my buckwheat pillow I was out! That was probably the most restful night sleep that I have had since leaving home! It was so nice! We woke up at 6, got our running shoes on and went for a jog with President Wada down to a beautiful park around a lake about 5 minutes away from the hombu, right in the middle of Kichijoji. After that we all met up in a clearing and did radio taiso (a stretching dance/exercise) with about a hundred ancient Ninhon-jin. One of them started talking to me and told me that she was 88 years old. She guessed that I was 25. That made me happy. It is no wonder that Japanese people live so long! They are so fit even in their late 80s! That entire experience was so strange to me. It really brought into sharp clarity the stark contrast between our culture and theirs. I love things like that! 

All of the newly arrived missionaries with their trainers

Other differences are how polite they are. In the week that I have been here I have seen this multiple times. Two men meet each other on a train and they talk and then one has to get off. They will bow to each other a few times getting progressively lower and lower and then the guy that has to get off will back off the train and the two will continue to bow to each other, through the glass, until the train leaves. It's incredible. That would never happen in the U.S.... Super strange but sooo cool!

Anyways, back to where I was. We spent that entire day and half of the next day at the hombu. We learned more about the mission: mission rules, bikes, iPads, Facebook, Japanese laws, how to teach, how to contact...... The best part was on Wednesday, we went out and did our first street contacting. I was paired up with a missionary that was
just about to leave and one of my buddies from the MTC. We went out to talk to people and invite them to Eikaiwa (English class) later that night. We got a few contacts in before we were told to come back inside. None of them showed up later that night but hey, planting seeds right? The hope is that even if they don't turn into
investigators, they will have positive, good experiences with the church and somewhere down the road be willing to take further steps towards the church. 

Ok I have to move on because I am almost out of time (I'm writing this all on an iPad without a keyboard so it is taking forever!)
Sterling with Elder Sawyer
The next day we got our iPads and our trainers. My new companion is Elder Sawyer. He is from Washington state and has been out here for 7 transfers (10 months approx.). He's a really good guy! I think we will have a lot of fun
together, spreading the joy of the gospel. We were sent to the Machida area. It is actually a pretty small area relative to the other areas in the mission....which is a really small mission... But it is amazing! There are tons of people here and I love it! A lot of them Speak English too which is awesome. We went to find me some new wheels and this was the only one in the entire shop big enough for me!

New wheels--with the seat raised as high as it will go!
Within the next week I will be cleared for Facebook. I will get to create a new missionary profile so I can communicate with members and investigators here in Japan, but I will not be allowed to talk to you over Facebook. Just email--got it?! :)

So Machida has been an area for a really long time so we aren't white washing (starting from nothing) but we are a new, additional companionship in this area, so we didn't inherit any investigators or anything. So I guess we kind of are white washing. love it here! It's super hot and humid so I'm always wet but that's ok! We don't have any investigators, but we have made a lot of good contacts and have invited a bunch of people to Eikaiwa and hopefully somebody will turn into someone we can teach:) Please pray for us as we seek to find junbi sareta hito (people that are ready to listen).
Machida Stake Center
I was reading the other day in Alma the other day and found a great verse that says:
O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. (Alma 37:46)

That scripture really struck me. Easiness of the way? How can it be easy? But as I thought about it I began to see that it really is easy. Repentance is hard to do and it takes a long time, but once you get on to the straight and narrow it really is easy. The atonement relieves us of the guilt and chains of sin that bind us down. We are freed and
allowed to progress and become better. For me it is easy to see how hard it is. Especially as a missionary. I have to learn a language and I have to talk to people in that language and I have to talk about Jesus Christ with them, something that is so close and personal to me. There are a lot of really hard things that we go through in our lives. It gets way harder if we maintain the short-sighted perspective that tells us life is hard and "the way" is hard. It is so easy to have that perspective. But I promise if you really try to see the good in your life, your family, your job, the gospel, etc, we can gain a perspective of the joy of the gospel, the enabling power of the atonement, and the eternal, glorious hope that comes from the plan of salvation. If we try to see all that, I think we will be amazed by how easy all of the little things in life can be. 

I love you all and I pray for you all! Please be safe and have a wonderful week!

Siebach 長老


P.S. The rule here in the mission is that I can read emails from people whenever I want. I just have to wait until P-day (Mondays) to write back. So if you are just itching to write or there is something you want to tell me, feel free to send an email anytime you like and I should see it within a day or so (depends on when I get wifi (which is at least always at the church). You can also send me pictures and stuff whenever you want!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I will gladly forward on any comments you'd like to leave for Sterling.