Monday, August 26, 2013

Week Thirteen

This week has been pretty exciting. To start, we actually taught a real investigator for the first time! Sasaki San is a small guy who was interested in the church but got sick, so we`re teaching him now. I`ve actually taught him stuff, which has been pretty scary. Even scarier is his apartment, which is in the nastiest apartment complex I`ve ever been to. The spiderwebs are just at my head level. Super creepy. 
Also, we had splits this week, which means that elders from Kitakami, the city north of us, teach with us here in Ichinoseki. That was pretty nice, because I got to go with the other gaijin. While we were out visiting people, we took a shortcut through a Shinto shrine as well as a cemetary. The Japanese are too creeped out by the graveyard and too bored by the shrines to go in them. The shrine was super cool, I`ll try to send a few of my pictures, but it`s hard to capture everything. There`s a place where you tie prayers to, a place to tie bad fortunes to so they don`t come true, as well as a big shrine surrounded by lots of little shrines. Super cool. 
The food`s also been yummy usually, no complaints there. I`ve been more willing to get drinks from the vending machines all around, especially on hotter days. I`ve said it before, but they`re so good! Seriously, go to Da Zhong and get Mitsuya Cider and any other Japanese drinks that you can find. You won`t regret it! Anyhow, that about sums up the week. My companion is annoyed at how often I yawn now, but Japan`s great. The time`s been flying (which right now, I`m perfectly OK with). Bye!
The food here is pretty good, you just need to know how to cook it! Also, the food baskets are very nice to receive from members. We`ve gotten tons of food that way! And yes, it is so hot here, but it`s nicer than when I first got here (either that, or I`m beginning to adapt). The rumor around here is that early next year we`ll all get iPads that we can use in our apartments. 
I think Sendai mission is just about to become more gaijin than Japanese, something the Japanese aren`t necessarily too excited about. In fact, Ichinoseki will go from being mostly Japanese to mostly foreigners once the Hills move in (the senior couple allegedly coming in September or October.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week Eleven

Near the train station here at Ichinoseki.
Hello family! This week has been pretty interesting. As the time goes by, the things that used to seem so unusual and weird about Japan have become less and less strange. I`m pretty sure I`m entering the culture shock phase where I start getting somewhat irritated with things that aren`t like they are in America. Lately, posture has been something I`ve been corrected about constantly. The Japanese can`t stand any deviation from perfect posture, so it`s been somewhat irritating. The food, while delicious, is also kind of unfilling, and I`ve definitely begun to miss the treats you sent me at the MTC. Biking is usually pretty fun, except when it`s extremely hot and humid and I have to go uphill, or when Katayama Choro gets us lost, which happens fairly often. Thankfully, the hot season should be over soon, and then biking will be a lot nicer.

I think it was another festival, but I`m not sure what.
 I think each city around here has it`s own local traditions.
On a better note, we had the firework festival just a few days ago, and since it gets dark much earlier here than in Utah, we actually made it back to our apartment reasonably on time. I have some pictures from the show that I`ll send later, but just know that they were much more spectacular than anything I`ve seen in Utah, even though we`re in backwoods Japan.

I understand more about this city now. One interesting thing about this city is that there`s an unusually high number of mentally ill people! Kind of strange, but usually they`re not dangerous at least. I`m trying to avoid drinking the water; it`s one of those poor areas that people who can leave end up doing. We have a lot of less active members listed, but most of them have moved away to nicer cities where there are jobs. The area is certainly beautiful, though. And the members are very kind, giving us fruit baskets each week as well as drinks when we visit them. The branch mission leader is actually pretty funny. We go every week to have family home evening with him, which means apple curry (not my favorite) and ice cream!

I have to go to many members` houses to do mogis with them, which has been interesting. Hopefully I`ll be able to do real lessons well soon enough. In fact, I`m meeting with a real investigator for the first time tonight, and I`ll be teaching about God and families! Wish me luck!
Also, here`s an ancient house we visited! More than 100 years old.
Japanese culture point (I`ll do one of these a week, I doubt I`ll ever run out of things to say):
In Japan, most people have intercoms on their doorbells, so rather than actually answering the door, they`ll talk to you through it. They can see you, but you can`t see the person inside. I`ll send a picture later. We call it the *not interested* tool.

Anyhow, talk to you later! I`ll be sure to send photos in about four or so hours!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week Ten: Japan!

Decorations for Tanabata Matsuri in Sendai.
Hopefully you`re all doing well! This has been a crazy week so far, but very exciting!

Yummy Japanese meal, yakisoba, rice, pickled cucumber, and miso soup.
When we landed in Tokyo, it was pretty crazy. I thought it looked cool and rainy outside, but it turned out to be very intensely humid and hot. Not fun when you`re wearing a suit. It was fun to wander around Tokyo airport and try some authentic Japanese food and drinks, like Calpis. I can pretty much guarantee that I`ll need weekly trips to the Asian Market to survive after two years here. I`ll talk more about the food later, but anyhow, we flew up to Sendai after not having slept since Saturday night at the MTC, so we were pretty exhausted when we got picked up. After we got there, we went off to the church to fill in some forms for our residence cards and got our luggage ready to be shipped. That night was spent in the mission home apartments, which was pretty crowded considering the 13 additional elders arriving in Sendai. We had a welcome orientation at the church again and I got my new area and companion. I`m now in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, just a bit over an hour by bus away from Sendai, but a world away. My new companion is Elder Katayama, a native Japanese who speaks very little English. Meaning, I`m pretty sure he understands English fairly well, but he speaks almost exclusively in Japanese. After we took our bus to our new area, we met the couple missionaries, the Tanaka`s from Kobe. They are very nice, helping drive us to distant members` homes and other such things.

Here`s a picture of Ichinoseki itself! I`ve taken tons of pictures, but it takes forever to send them. So many interesting things here! Hopefully you weren`t worried about the flooding in Tohoku, but you probably didn`t even hear about it, thank goodness.
Perhaps I should describe Ichinoseki. It`s very small-town Japan. The climate is hot and humid, at least for now, and there are lots of cicadas. It pretty much looks and feels like Missouri, with slightly higher mountains. We also have a few neighbouring cities included in our area, such as Kesennuma which was damaged by the tsunami quite badly. The branch itself is quite small, only around twenty people, but it is fairly successful for Japan, having had a baptism per year for a few years (that`s actually really amazing for this country). I got my bike prepared yesterday, so it`s been fun to use it around this city. It`s very old-country Japan, as you`ll see in the pictures. Apparently, there`re also some World Heritage Site temples just north of here that I`ll hopefully visit sometime.

Anyhow, Japan is great! I`m so happy to be in Tohoku, though I haven`t seen a foreigner for a while now. I`ll be teaching Eikaiwa (English conversation class) on Wednseday, which should be exciting! Anyhow, matta ne!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Dear Parents,

I'm sorry this is impersonal but I wanted to let you know quickly that your missionary arrived late last evening into Sendai.  We met them at the airport and they were all doing great but they were tired after 24 hours of traveling.  They were loaded onto a bus that brought them to the Mission Home where we fed them a light meal and sent them to bed.  Today has been a wonderful day of interviews with President Rasmussen, training and information before they left for their first area of service with their new best friend, their trainer.  Everyone was healthy, happy and excited to finally be in the mission field.  

Preparation Day in the mission is Monday (which is Sunday in America) so you can expect an E-mail from your missionary that day.  I knew you were very anxious to know if they were safe and sound and I hope this E-mail will ease your mind.  

The pictures were taken this afternoon with their trainer before everyone left for their areas.  We had 24 new missionaries arrive so this is a large group.  

We have fallen in love with every one of these new missionaries that have come to us.  They will be a wonderful addition to the Japan Sendai Mission.  Thank you for preparing them so well!

Our love and best wishes, 
Sister Rasmussen
Japan Sendai Mission Mom

Week Nine

So, Seth told me that my emails needed to be longer and with subtitles for the 日本語(Japanese), so here it goes! This week has been somewhat more exciting as we actually prepare to leave this place. Our 先生(teachers) have been preparing us more for actually leaving to Japan, which has been pretty nice. We've learned a bit about Japanese 文化(culture) lately, such as how important it is to have shoes facing towards the door when you take them off, proper words to say when starting a meal( いただきます)and other such things. Yesterday was our in-field orientation, which was fairly nice, just them talking about important things to focus on in the field like how to find investigators and make goals and things like that. It was pretty cheesy most of the time, sometimes overly so. I thought the main speaker was a bit prideful, which made listening to him kind of annoying. It was also weird to see how many English missionaries there were at the MTC, it seems like nearly half of missionaries leaving in the next few days are English speaking, including some going to Provo and St. George. I was so grateful to be going to Japan, especially since almost all the English missionaries seem kind of weird. I hadn't realized that the Japanese missionaries were abnormally interesting people (in general). In the past few weeks, I've been getting to know the other missionaries going to Sendai better, and they all seem pretty cool). It's going to be weird leaving my district behind, since almost all of them are going to Tokyo instead of Sendai. By the way, I'll be buying my phone card today, and it seems that I'll probably be calling you from Dallas around 9:00-10:00 am, so be prepared for that! I'm so excited to head out to Japan, we're all going a bit stir-crazy here. 愛しています!

P.S. We finally got our full Japanese nametags! I'll be sure to send a picture later.

I miss being outside with normal people, though at least I'll be in the real world soon enough.

Well, I won't deny that I'm really excited about having good food (hopefully Cafe Rio at the airport, if it's open (can you figure that out?)), we're going to make Greenburg 長老 try sushi in Narita. I'm also excited to be out of the MTC, it feels like a nice prison sometimes. It seems that it will be pretty warm in Sendai when we get there, which is slightly disappointing, but I don't really care, I'm ready to be gone.

Eating for sure, we'll have sushi, but other than that, probably just look for souvenirs and things.

[Zach: What did people think of the photo album we sent you?]
They said they were surprised. Also, all the shimaitachi thought Hannah was my girlfriend, even though I very clearly said she was my friend. (Though the pictures do admittedly make it look otherwise.) They were like "you're (implied quotation marks) "friend" is pretty cute". And they thought I was a world traveler too.