Mom and Dad,
You know about the typhoon that came and hit practically the whole mission? Well, just a couple of days after that another huge lightning storm came through the northwest part of the mission. There was probably more rain in Kyoto during that storm than during the typhoon! It's way natsukashii (that word's like hisashiburi, but used only when you're reminiscing--hisashiburi is used only when you're experiencing something from your past again) of all the lightning last year in Nishiwaki.
There's this one area in the mission, Fukuchiyama--actually in the same zone as Nishiwaki--that's prone to flooding. It flooded a bit last year when a typhoon came through that area. Since a typhoon came, followed immediately by a lightning storm, it flooded a whole lot more than last year. The elders' apartment was even affected. So, Welch Kaicho called for all the missionaries around Fukushiyama to go there and participate in a cleanup project lead by the city. Kyoto is considered close so we were included. Everyone was waaay excited! We had to be at the park in Fukuchiyam by 8:30am. The park itself is an hour walk from the eki (train station). We got up at around 4:00 in the morning to ride our bikes down to Kyoto Eki--about an hour bike from the apartment--to meet the other missionaries in Kyoto Zone and head to Fukuchiyama. The plan was to be back in the Shimogamo apartment at 8:00pm. Kaicho said we'd have preparation day on Tuesday instead of Monday!
Sadly when we got to the Kyoto Eki and asked which train was headed for Fukuchiyama the answer was none. No trains were allowed to go as far as Fukuchiyama Eki due to the flooding. The closest was thre eki's away which would be a several hour walk from the park--no way we could make it. We waited at the eki for the other missionaries to show up and told them the bad news.
I was wanting to go back to my first zone and do service, but we still had a fun day. All six of us Shimogamo missionaries went to Arashiyama to go to the monkey park. We got to hang around with monkeys for a while. Get it? Haha! There's even a spot where you can feed them apple chunks and peanuts. Some of them are way mean and would take it and just throw it down. We did saw a monkey fight and baby monkey that had it's snacks cruelly taken by an adult, jerk monkey.
After all this there wasn't much time to email. I had prayed the night before to have the energy I needed for the service we'd be doing that day since I hadn't had a lot of sleep the past couple days and was super tired. Well, even though we didn't get to help do service, I still wasn't tired at all! Then, after we finished the day at 9:00pm I was wiped out. Could hardly believe how tired I was. Prayer really works!
There were several birthdays in the ward, so just about everyday we went to a member's house and gave them cake and sang to them. It was way fun and so great to see how happy the members were to be visited by the missionaries on their birthday. One family had three birthdays, two of which were on the same day, so we saw a lot of them last week.
On Thursday we taught the Hikari people. This week we helped them to understand the Holy Ghost and how the Holy Ghost helps us recognize answers to our prayers. We had the man pray at the end of the lesson. We weren't sure but we think he was crying at the end. He's a way old fashioned Japanese man so he won't let anyone see his emotions so we were very touched by it.
Friday night was the anniversary of a couple in the ward. They live kind of far out so they don't get many visits from the members or the missionaries during the week. They were stunned to see us at the door that night. It was just the wife, at first, who saw me and one of the other elders. She was surprised at that, then even more surprised to see two more elders standing at the doorstep when she opened the door further. Then the husband came rolling up on his moped and he, too, was extremely surprised and happy. He's actually from Chile and is fluent in Spanish (and English and Japanese, though he won't admit it). His wife is too and the kids know Spanish and Japanese. They're a way awesome family. They invited us in to show us photos of their wedding and such. Simple things like visiting someone with a small cake and wishing them a happy birthday or anniversary really can touch them deeply. This is what Welch Kaicho is starting to unveil to us. His vision is to establish the church in Japan so it can take on lots of converts and keep them active. First, we have to build up the members we have and strengthen the member-missionary relationship.
On Sunday we talked a lot with Hohaia Kyodai, a member born and raised in New Zealand and served here in the Kobe mission--in Shimogamo even--twenty years ago. He was telling us all about his discoveries with family history, his ancestors, and how he's finding connections between the Polynesians and the Nephites, as well as the Japanese! He has sooooo many awesome stories and I can't possibly tell them so you'll have to wait! Seriously, though, it's awesome what he's found. The Church is true; tell your friends! :)
Speaking of the Jaredites, that's one thing that Hohaia Kyodai found. In this old book of songs passed down generations, for hundreds of years among the Polynesians--he said the songs are actually a lot like stories in the scriptures! There's one song that talks about their ancestors using glowing stones to see in the dark as they crossed the vast seas! Interestingね。
Thanks for sending the bullet points of my setting apart. I'll print them off and keep it with my patriarchal blessing and mission call letter.
Yes, the dendo honbu is making sure all the apartments have functioning fire and CO detectors--plus they'll be doing a checkup the start of every month. It's awful to hear about the missionaries dying in Taiwan, and we didn't even know about the family in Idaho.