Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cremations and barbecues: just a normal Memorial Day....

May 25, 2015: Week 31
Area: Furukawa

Companion:  Hill Choro

What's up everybody!! Sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday; some unexpected stuff went down and we didn't have time during pday so today is pday sort of. I'll get to it a little later, but yesterday may have been one of the most interesting days of my life. I love Japan, but things here are just so different. 

This week was good; some interesting things happened. We lost an investigator unfortunately. Miyamoto Atsuko actually wants to get baptized and she was doing well. But we went to visit her last week and she said she had been talking to a friend who just happened to be an old investigator. Her friend told her that she thinks that our investigator's 40 year old daughter won't be able to get married because if our investigator has religious ties, it would scare off the men for some reason. So she told us that she is done taking lessons and she's gonna wait till her daughter gets married....So that was a big bummer.

On Wednesday, we went to Sendai again for Zone 大会 and we were able to receive a training from President and Sister Smith. It was really good. President is really looking to pick this mission up because it's not seeing a ton of success. He said our focus is to try to teach as many lessons as we can to whoever, members, LAs, investigators, etc, and throughout my mission, he will slowly raise the standard as the mission starts to see more success. Sister Smith talked about believing that we can baptize. And to be honest, our mission kind of struggles with that because we aren't seeing a ton of success and it's sorta frustrating so it's easy to lose that faith sometimes. But we all recommitted and are trying our best to reach our goals and to pick up this mission and find some success in bringing others unto Christ.

Thursday, I went on splits with Elder Olsen. It was a good time; he's a way good missionary and a cool guy. I'm sad he's going home in two weeks. We visited some less actives that day and we were able to get a lesson with all of them. Elder Olsen's technique was telling the LA that I'm a new missionary and that I need to practice teaching a principle. So I ended up teaching prayer like 4 times in 2 hours. It was a good time though; the people we visited were way nice.

On Saturday, we had a good lesson with Uno San. We taught him the restoration and it went great. He was asking all sorts of good questions. And every time he asked one, it would always lead into what we were going to talk about next, so it worked out great. He always apologizes to us, because he's pretty old so his pace is sort of slow, but he really wants to learn. At the end of the lesson, he asked Heavenly Father to help him so that he can believe in the message. It was pretty cool. I love being able to teach the restoration, it's my favorite lesson to teach, to help them realize that there is a God that exists and loves them, and that is something that a lot of Japanese people have no idea about or never even thought of.

Now to the interesting part of the week. A less active that I only met like once died on Friday, which is really sad. He's had hepatitis for a while and was given like a year to live, so it was a little expected. Anyway, we were starting personal study yesterday and we got a call from the branch president saying they needed help to move his casket into the van. We ended having to go to his cremation too. It's a law in Japan to be cremated; you have to be when you die. So we had to lift the casket onto a gurney type thing and slide it into a big body burner after which they had a little Buddhist ceremony. We sat in this "funeral home" for like two hours waiting for the body to cremate. In the meantime, we strolled through the Japanese cemetery across the street. Now here is where it got kind of gross and weird to me. I didn't know this was Japanese tradition, but when the body is done being cremated, everyone gathers around the gurney where this guys body use to be, except all that remains are his bones and stuff. After you gather round, everyone is given some long chopsticks and you then proceed to pick up this freshly burned man's bones with chopsticks and put them in a container along with his ashes!!! So I had the opportunity to participate in that little practice. Let me tell ya, it one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I went from meeting this man for the first time a week ago, to picking up his burnt skeleton with chopsticks! On top of that, with my not so awesome chopstick skills, I was afraid I'd drop this guy's bones and someone would get mad at me or something. It was quite the experience I'd say.

After that, that really nice family with the rice fields invited us over for a yanki niku barbecue. Hill Choro and I weren't going to go, but only a woman came to pick the others up and since two elders can't ride in a car with one female, we had to go too. It was way fun though. We had all sorts of different meats and traditional Japanese food. We also had this stuff called takoyaki, which is little balls with octopus in them, which was way good too. They again treated us like celebrities and that we were the coolest people ever. It was really  fun! What are the odds that my first Memorial Day away from America, I still end up attending a cremation, strolling through a cemetery, and having a barbecue with a way cool family! It's like I never left. Just a normal Memorial Day!

Well, that was my week. Some good things and not so good things happened missionary work wise, and had a first hand experience with some Japanese culture that probably no missionary has ever done on his mission. It was pretty interesting. Well I hope you guys have an awesome week! I love you guys! I hope you enjoy the beginning of summer! Talk to you next week!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Memorial Day Barbecue

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