Monday, August 4, 2014

July, Akita to Hachinohe

Letters from Elder Earl's last few days in Akita and his first weeks in Hachinohe. 

Week four:

Hello everyone! Sounds like Utah`s been pretty fun recently!

Here in Hachinohe, we`ve had an interesting week. For one thing, on Monday of last week, we went to the Tanabata (sorry, not sure on correct spelling) Festival in downtown Hachinohe. We had heard that it was a fairly small festival, but it ended up being huge! Hopefully you can steal pictures from the other elders, because my camera was dead on that day, unfortunately. Hopefully you`ll be able to see some of these festivals when you come to Japan! BTW, I heard that you can get released by your stake president over the phone, so if you do come pick me up (Sister Smith says it will almost definitely be OK), that might be good to think about.

We taught our single investigator, "S"-san, three times this week. He seems really interested, having already read up to 2nd Nephi 26. He also has been giving us tons of people to visit, though, since this is Japan, they`re usually for English class. We also taught an investigator that the sisters want to pass to us. He`s really solid, and he even came to church yesterday! I think we have a pretty good chance with him!

We had interviews with President Smith this week as well. He`s really an amazing mission president. I was kind of worried when the changeover happened, but the more I get to know our new president, the more I feel that he really is the man meant to lead us here in Sendai. He really has a strong love for the people here in Japan, especially the deaf members of our branch. I feel inspired to really work harder on my sign language.

But yeah, I`m doing pretty good out here! Except that I think I might have caught conjunctivitis, because I woke up on interview day with my left eye looking pretty red. It seems to be getting better, at least. At least it doesn`t hurt at all, but it looks like I`ve been crying for a while!

Anyhow, that`s about it! I`ll be sending a package for mom and dad today, so be excited for that! Bye!

Elder Earl

Week three:

Hello everyone!

Well, as usual, we`ve had a pretty busy week. I finally got to go to Aomori for Zone Training Meeting, which was interesting. It was the first time not going to Morioka, so I enjoyed seeing a new place. It was also interesting seeing people who I hadn`t seen since they had left Morioka Zone. There`s still a lot of people that I don`t know at all, but I`ll get acquainted over time.

Also, we actually have an investigator now! His name is "S"-san and he`s a genki (healthy) old guy. He came about two hours before Eikaiwa interested in pretty much everything that we have at our church in Hachinohe (table tennis, English, gospel, hula, etc.) and we managed to get in two lessons last week! We`ll see how it goes from here! He`s also apparently in charge of parades in the area, so we are going to participate in the biggest festival in Hachinohe soon enough! I`ll be sure to send the pictures of us in our yukata!

My `shuwa` is starting to get better. I can pray and introduce myself and my family fairly easily, at least. We played `gateball` with the deaf members, which was pretty fun! It`s kind of like croquet with a bit more strategy included.

By the way, I bought pants for the first time in Japan last week, and believe it or not, it`s way easier to find cheap pants in my size on this side of the Pacific! I`ve lost two pairs of pants on my mission, so I got two pairs to replace them for about twenty dollars each. Not too bad, right? They fit nicely and they`re very light, which is nice in the hot Japanese summer.

Also, we started playing Risk in the elders apartment last P-Day and didn`t finish until yesterday evening. Basically, we spent nearly seven hours total on that game, which was pretty fun. Being in a four-elder apartment is way better than a two-person one.

Anyhow, that`s about it for this week. Please send any questions, if you have any!


Week two:

Hey everybody! Hope your week has been interesting, wherever you are!

My first week here in Hachinohe has been pretty crazy! If you haven`t looked at a map or anything, let me just tell you; Hachinohe is on the far northern side of Honshu, which means it takes forever to get there from Sendai. Basically, on Wednesday I was on the bus from Akita to Sendai for two and a half hours followed by a nearly four hour journey from Sendai all the way up here.

Hachinohe is a bit smaller than Akita, but it`s certainly bigger than Ichinoseki was. It`s right along the Pacific Ocean, but I haven`t actually seen the ocean yet. The apartment is super nice (Address is 039-1165 青森県八戸市石堂1-11-20サンアルストロメリアA202)
It has, believe it or not, actual beds! It`s the first time I`ve ever slept on a bed in this country, which has been wonderful. I love not having a futon to put away every morning.

The missionaries here are also awesome. My new companion served in Ichinoseki as well, so we talk about that all the time. Fox Choro is great to work with! We don`t have any investigators right now, and apparently we haven`t had any for about nine months in the companionship we`ve inherited, but we`ll find them! The other two elders are also great. Bodily Choro is probably better at cooking than any other missionary I`ve met. We had Thai curry for the first time in a while recently. It`s nice that the other missionaries are OK with spicy food too! I definitely prefer an apartment with four people rather than the small two person ones.

Also, I`ve been learning Japanese Sign Language (shuwa)! I can`t really `speak` too well yet, but I can almost pray properly and I was able to have a super conversation with some deaf members at church. I told them that Zachary loves sign language, and they found that interesting. By the way, the way you say `little brother` in shuwa is by holding up your middle finger around waist level. To be honest, there`s a lot of flipping off in this language, I`ve discovered. It should be interesting to show you all in the future!

Also, I saw a mini-Kanto festival in Akita just before I transferred! My camera cord`s still in my luggage so I`ll have to send it next week! I`ll also show you some more of what Hachinohe is like!


Week one:
Hey everybody! I hope you`re still awake for this e-mail! I`m sorry for sending my transfer info so early, but I figured I`d rather mom find out from me rather than the Facebook group. However, we had a pretty busy week in addition to that.

First of all, we got to meet our new mission president for the first time! He came to Morioka for the Zone Conference, which basically just consisted of us hearing a simple introduction of the new president and his wife followed by personal interviews. He said he wanted to talk to us all before he decided on who was going to transfer. He seems pretty nice, and I feel like he will be a really good mission president. Sister Smith is basically the polar opposite of Sister Rasmussen but very nice! I feel like we`ll enjoy having them in the mission.

The day after we came back from Morioka, we had to spend all day moving to the new apartment. Believe it or not, we were able to take care of almost everything. The only problem is that we still have a lot of trash in the old apartment that we weren`t able to throw away, because it wasn`t the appointed day for that kind of trash (cardboard, PET bottles, and aluminum cans). It can sometimes annoy me how picky the Japanese are with their garbage. However, being five minutes away from the church makes things significantly more convenient. The only weird thing is that there`s a tattoo parlor on the bottom floor of the neighboring building in our complex. 

We celebrated the 4th of July with an American-style barbecue at Hitotsumori-Kouen. We had a few dozen people show up and participate in an authentic American water-balloon volleyball tournament followed by a water-balloon fight, shish-kebabs, singing American patriotic songs, and fireworks! (Don`t worry, they weren`t anything more than sparklers!) A lot of people said it was the funnest 4th of July that they had ever celebrated! Of course, for most people, it was also the first 4th of July that they had ever celebrated, but I think most people really enjoyed it.

And finally, yesterday we went to the house of Pieda Shimai and enjoyed delicious home-made pizza. Canepari Choro and I taught a lesson on obedience, and just a bit after we had challenged them to be obedient this week, we got a telephone call from President Smith! We had all been hoping that we`d get called while we were all together, and sure enough, the members were able to hear the transfer call with us. I`m going to Hachinohe and becoming companions with Elder Fox! It`s interesting how after sharing the same bean area, we`re going to be working together again, but it`s going to be great! One interesting thing about Hachinohe is that there are a lot of deaf members, so I have to learn to `speak` Japanese Sign Language! You should be super jealous, Zachary! All I know so far is `cut`, `thank you`, `like`, and `hello`. I hear you take classes multiple times a week, so hopefully I can move my hands properly by the time I leave Hachinohe. The members tell me that Hachinohe is smaller than Akita, it has very strong wind, and it smells very fishy. In other words, another place that you`ll have to visit when you come out here!

If you have any other questions, please send them. Aishiteimasu!


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