Mom and Dad,
A lot of good stuff started on Friday. We had interviews with Zinke Kaicho. I love any time that we get to gather and meet with Zinke Kaicho. He seriously is without a doubt the greatest mission president there's ever been. I'm kind of disappointed he'll be released in the summer, but I'll do all I can to follow the next Kaicho's leadership--while still doing a lot of what Zinke Kaicho's told us, of course.
Before interviews started, the zone leaders gave everyone matching sock ties to wear since Kaicho once mentioned how he loved sock ties when he was on his mission. Have I already mentioned that one of the zone leaders was in my travel group and is the kid I had Writing 150H with at BYU. He was in Miki so we got to go on a couple exchanges together? Well, he is, and it's awesome to work with him again! The morning part of interviews was Kaicho's training. He always says exactly what everyone needs to hear and delivers it perfectly. Apparently he prepares individual training for each different zone. That's 11 different trainings! The AP's even said it's cool to see how different each training is from each other as they travel around to each zone.
I was the second person to have my interview with Kaicho. He mainly just asked questions about dendo. He asked me at one point if I had yet gotten over the idea that Kitarokko is a "hard area". I told him it's the best area even if it has been difficult. Fortunately the success has picked up slowly over the last while.
The afternoon part of interviews was training from the AP's. Most of what they talked about was really specific, great ways to plan and prepare awesome, powerful lessons. We even had a practical where we put together part of a lesson that we'd be teaching soon. Pace Choro and I worked on a lesson plan for the GC investigator, hoping that it be an opportunity to help him feel the Spirit .
Saturday was a pretty crazy day. We had a lesson at 6am. Yes am, not pm. It was with the GC investigator. He said he was busy that afternoon and evening last Sunday when we scheduled the appointment, so we decided on 6am. It was kind of funny. Then at 11 we had a lesson with the woman who's interested in eternal families along with her two kids. It was a pretty good lesson. I think the three of them really like us because they offered to take us to Osaka someday just to go and check out the city. The mom also asked if her daughter could do a homestay with us after I get back from Japan. The daughter is really interested in learning English, and is actually planning to do a homestay in Los Angeles right now. Something that can be discussed at a later time.
Later that day, the ward had a tennis activity going on that we hadn't planned on going to since no investigators were attending; however, during the weekly ping pong in the morning, the GC dude said he could go. We ended up changing our day's plans around and went to that. I found out that I'm terrible at tennis. I've gotten pretty good at ping pong, though! Then later that night the ward had an "Outreach" activity. This time around it was a big FHE lesson followed by an arts & crafts activity where everyone made cards for people to invite them to ward and stake conference. They also served takoyaki. Mr. GC dude also came for that, but only the last little bit.
Sunday, we talked with the bishop for about an hour and a half while waiting for a reply from a less active to see if we could visit or not. We never got a reply but we had a way great discussion with the bishop. We talked a lot about how dendo's been so far and about current investigators. He also mentioned at some point how it's crazy that this is the biggest ward in the Kobe zone but only had one baptism last year and a couple the year before. He truly does have such a great, inspiring dendo fire. Everyone in the ward does!
Transfers are coming up. One: who would want to transfer from the best ward in the mission? A crazy person, that's who. Then there's the Filipino, who's current baptismal date is a few days after transfer day. Then there's the tired guy who wants to be baptized and I really want to see him through to it. Then there's an investigator that the elders in Kobe are teaching right now. He actually lives in this area, but is way closer to the Kobe church. Recently, with money and work, going to the Kobe church has been hard for him, so they were wondering if there were members that live by him that could take him to church every week. It's been tough, but the bishop, dendo shunin, and I have finally found a solution to it--the man will become our investigator. Best part: he also really wants to be baptized, so he'll likely be baptized very soon after he starts coming to this church. Oh, also: it's my birthday next week and the ward is giving me a presents--isn't that awesome of them?!?
I've learned that transfers are the hardest part of missions really are hard: it's not hard physically. It's mostly the challenges you face mentally and spiritually that make transfers difficult. Especially having to leave an area you came to love along with the people you come to love, after spending a couple months in it. Hopefully I'll be staying at least one more transfer in this area. Before coming to Japan, I said I would like to serve in Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto, and maybe even Okayama. Obviously, I'd have to transfer around a lot to serve in all those places. Now I just want to spend several transfers here in this one area, in the countryside. But if I transfer, I transfer.
It's been pretty cold here, as well. Just last night we were out housing in the snow! It wasn't piled up on the ground, though. Apparently some of the more northern areas have 2-3 feet stacked up right now! Lucky!
Mochi is not really the kind of rice cake you're picturing. It's special rice that's been steamed, softened, and pounded quite aggressively into a thin dough-like substance. You'll have to look it up somewhere else on the internet.
I guess that's all for this week. This next week and half should be full of excitement. My birthday is also the same day--and year!--as the daughter of one family in the ward. She's currently serving in Tokyo, so the dad said he'll have us over for a birthday celebration.