This week was filled with Ako history! Last preparation day we went to Oishi Shrine and Ako Castle (my second time to the Jinja, first time to the castle ruins). A bunch of cool things had been set up in preparation for the upcoming Gishi Sai, so it was even cooler than last time. Also getting to see the footings of where the castle used to be was pretty cool. All throughout the week more things were set up as the time for Gishi Sai to begin drew closer.
Tuesday I went to Himeji for a kokan. Even in Himeji there was a lot of hype about Gishi Sai; it's definitely a big deal all throughout the area. Anywho, I feel like Takaku Choro is my second companion because Hayashi Choro kokan's so much with us and half the time I'm in Himeji!
On Wednesday we had a lesson with the guy who was referred to us by the member who had talked to him about the Restoration.We taught him about God and centered the lesson around 2 Nephi 26:24 and related it to him having had a lot of hard experiences in his life. He found it very touching and was even disappointed that the hour ended so quickly. He was happy to set another appointment!
Thursday we met with our investigator who goes to a Methodist church and who has a lot of questions. We had a short, simple plan prepared, but it ended up taking about 75 minutes to teach it because he had so many questions. We challenged him to focus more on reading the Book of Mormon because he really only enjoys reading the Old Testament;that lesson was on 2 Nephi 32:3 and connected it to the preceding 2 Nephi 31. I don't know if it was what we shared or the fact that we spent over an hour talking about one single verse, but he seemed much more interested in the Book of Mormon than before and was happy to commit to focus more on it.
The next day we met with the guy that takes us out to eat and with our shigansha. We pretty much showed the guy who takes us out to eat that he really does want to pray and learn from God that the Book of Mormon and this church are true. It took some effort to help him realize that is what he needed to do. We knew it all along, but he just had a hard time seeing it. Then, we taught our shigansha the Atonement. We relied heavily on the Book of Mormon to teach it in order to not only strengthen his faith in Christ but also his testimony of the Book of Mormon. It ended up to be a really great lesson. Over the last couple weeks he had been too busy to meet. When we followed up about praying and reading he admitted he hadn't been doing those two things a whole lot. It was definitely a very beneficial lesson for him.
Saturday we had another dose of pre-Gishi Sai! We went out with a former investigator who's really good friends with the missionaries and went to Oishi Jinja and Ako Jo again! There was sooo much stuff set up since Gishi Sai was the very next day. Every year on the day before Gishi Sai the staff at the Jinja open all the exhibits for free so you can go in and check out artifacts that the samurai in Ako actually wore. Then we went to the Ako Jo ruins for the yearly presentation. For the past couple of years they've built the frame of a castle tower and then light it up with Christmas lights at night on the couple weeks before Gishi Sai. Then every half hour they have a big presentation projected onto the rock wall that the tower frame is built on. It was a pretty cool thing to check out and I'm still chuckling that I've been lucky enough to be in several towns at the perfect time of year to see a very popular celebration.
Sunday was Gishi Sai! We went to the church at 9 in the morning and most of the missionaries in this zone were there to help out with a huge open house the church puts on every year during the matsuri. 18 missionaries in total! The matsuri started at 10 and there were missionaries standing on the streets inviting people in, some singing hymns and doing hand bells, and some inside doing the open house presentations. We did it all throughout the parade which lasted 'til 3 in the afternoon. At the very end, 47 people dressed up as samurai and march through the street. The person who played the part of the main samurai, Oishi Kuranosuke, is apparently a famous actor in Japan. It was a pretty awesome festival!
You can imagine how happy I was at the Heisman trophy announcement.
Alright, that's it for this week! Enjoy the days as they count down to Christmas! I still need to put up the paper tree...