We had a pretty busy but fun week here in Japan.
First of all, we finally got to leave Yonezawa and have our zone conference in Yamagata. It was, as may be expected, really good. President Smith always has great things to say, with a focus this time on the importance of the gift of tongues and overcoming addictions. One good line from our president: `I`ve been studying this language for more than eight years, and even now I only understand about 50% of the words spoken in Sacrament Meeting. There`s no way that you can understand every vocabulary word. Even you, Elder Earl.` I can certainly understand the language much better than when I first got here, but Japanese is definitely a difficult language. Most of the time, you have to judge by context what the meaning probably is.
We also watched `Meet the Mormons`, quite the surprise! It was nice to watch a `real` movie for once, and it was interesting to see the lives of Mormons in different parts of the world. It was strange watching the missionary head off, for sure! Especially the pizza party they had. All the Americans here miss that sort of thing! I was extremely impressed by what a well-made movie it ended up being. I`d recommend watching it!
Finally, we had our Chinese New Year event, and it went really well! I was surprised by how many people came, more than Sacrament Meeting attendance by a fair amount, with nearly half of the people non-members. For a rural area in Japan, it`s pretty exceptional. Our Eikaiwa students did an English puppet play, which was really goofy, but it helped them actually come to our activity, and I think they enjoyed it. Yamaguchi Shimai, our Chinese recent convert, made tons of dumplings, which were extremely delicious. It was great to see the developing relationship between members and nonmembers, and we also had an Eikaiwa student say that he wanted to come to church!
One interesting thing that happened was that on Monday we went to teach "H"-san before she headed off to Tokyo for vacation. Our joint cancelled on us just after we got to Taira Shimai`s apartment, so Taira Shimai asked one of her neighbors to joint so that we could go in the apartment and teach the lesson. This neighbor was "K"-kun`s mom. It turns out, she is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and she said that we could do lessons with the family if the dad`s not home (he doesn`t like foreigners). Things are picking up here!
Thanks for all your prayers for us missionaries here in Asia. It`s a great place!
Random other stuff: Pierson Choro and I head off to Fukushima on Sunday to teach a lesson in Chinese. Wish me luck! And we are officially getting the iPads this month! Elder Evans is coming in to Sendai on the 21st and we have our mission-wide conference, the first I`ll have ever experienced.