Monday, September 5, 2016

Getting treated like Celebrities!

August 8, 2016: Week 93
Area: Izumi
Companion: Bruce Choro

Hey everyone! How are you all doing? I I hope you are all doing swell today!

Festival and Obon season is just starting up in Japan. It's basically the time of year where Japan explodes with parties and stuff. Basically, Obon is when everyone gathers together and they believe the spirits of their ancestors come down and dwell with them for a period. They party, and then the ancestor goes back. Everyone is just having a good time with their dead ancestors right now! 

My week was pretty good. We saw some good stuff, some disappointing stuff, and some straight up unexpected weird stuff. It was a full week, so I will just dive into it!

So for like the first 3 days of the week, we had straight finding all day. It's usually a rough realization when you turn to see your plans for the coming day and see that you have no appointments or anything and that you have like 10 straight hours of finding time, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. On Tuesday, we rode our bikes way out into the boonies and went finding and exploring, trying to find places that no missionary has been before. It helps keep me sane because I've been in Izumi forever and it feels like I know the area inside and out, so it's fun to go to new places. We did that for the day and didn't find anyone who was interested or wanted to listen to us, but we had a good time anyway. 

Wednesday was pretty awesome. Last week I talked about a potential investigator that we had found who lives in perhaps the biggest house I've ever seen in Japan. It looks like a straight up castle. Anyway, we decided to pay the castle another visit. Abe San was stoked to see us and we were able to talk to her a bit. I was also able to see a bit inside her house from the door and man it does look really nice. But she sure does like to talk; she talked our ears off. She is super nice though and seemed pretty willing to listen to us. We were able to talk more about our message and leave a Book of Mormon. She said her son really wants to meet with us as well. After meeting with her, we were super stoked. I thought I had finally found the reason why I was sent back to Izumi. We were pretty excited that we finally found someone.

That kind of got shot down on Friday though. During weekly planning, I called her up to set up an appointment with her and her son. She said she had read some of the Book of Mormon, so I was pretty excited about that. She then started telling us how awesome she thought we were and how much she respected us because we were young kids leaving our countries and trying to teach the Japanese people in a difficult language. She even said that she felt different when she talked to us and saw a light. BUT..... she said the Book of Mormon was too hard and that she and her son had absolutely zero intention or interest in joining the church or anything like that so she said we should use our valuable time elsewhere. She said she would call if she decided she wants to hear from us. I was really disappointed and down after that phone call. 

It felt like yet another one of those times after you work so hard and finally think you found someone that will be good and who will listen to us, but then that hope gets shot down. It shot down all of my missionary work fire and motivation. It was a pretty tough pill to swallow. But we finished weekly and went out to work, trying to forget about it. We went out housing for like 3 hours. Nothing too crazy happened, but we housed into a girl who took a Book of Mormon and said that missionaries could come follow up. I don't know how that will turn out, but it helped us to forget about what had happened a little bit, so that was cool.

Also, I have one more experience to share. On Saturday night, we were out housing again. Nothing too special was happening, just a normal night of housing. We heard some music coming from the distance, so we headed towards the music, wondering if there was a festival going on. As we went, we kept housing apartments along the way. At one point, I knocked on a door and was talking to a young mom when a bunch of other moms and kids came up to the apartment building, having just come back from the festival down the street.  It was getting a little awkward because they were all looking at us, so to get out of it, I pulled out some Eikaiwa flyers and said we teach free English. When I said that, we were surrounded by like 5 moms asking us about Eikaiwa. They seemed really interested in it and blown away at the fact that their were 2 white dudes in their small neighborhood. 

Then one of them said, "Since you guys are working so hard, have some pineapple!" and she gave us two sticks with big slices of fresh pineapple! So that was awesome, got some free pineapple! But it didn't stop there. We headed over to the festival to see what was going on. It was just some small neighborhood get together/festival with food and cultural dances, as well as some dudes playing music. As we were walking away, we heard someone yell out "WAIT" and we turned around to see a guy running towards us. He caught up and told me to come eat and enjoy the matsuri. I was pretty surprised and caught off guard, but i just rolled with it and said sure. So this guy buys us grilled corn on the cob, sausage on a stick, yakisoba, and a soda. Then he told us to come sit down with everyone and eat and get to know everyone in the neighborhood! I was like "is this actually happening?!". It was soo weird; we stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone was just looking at us and saying basically, "Why are there two white guys here? Who are they?" and stuff like that. So, we sit down and all of these people are coming up to talk to us. Half of them were pretty drunk too, but they were all super nice, treating us like celebrities. It was nuts. Even some high up people were there for some reason, like the postmaster of Japan. I have no idea why he was there, but yeah, it was nuts. 

I've never had anything like that happen to me before. Even some old grandma came up and gave us some yakitori that she bought for us. It was crazy. We were able to talk to the guy for like 2 hours though, as well as meet a ton of people. The guy was way cool. His name is Chiba Akihiro. He was telling us that during Obon season, Japanese people suddenly open up their hearts and are just super nice and party. He told me that he saw us and wanted to help us out and show us some of the friendship and happiness that is shared in Japan this time of year and that when I'm back in Utah and if I see some Japanese guy wondering around having a hard time, I would remember this experience and help him out. We talked about a ton of stuff. We were able to share the gospel with several people because they kept offering us alcohol and when we said no, we were able to teach about the church and what we are doing. It was a really funny, strange experience that I thought I would never have. It made me love the Japanese people even more. They all were so nice to us. We felt like guests of honor at this little neighborhood celebration. 

Well those are just couple of the highlights from this week, kind of crazy. This coming week should be good too. We have another basketball activity as well as a BBQ so it should be fun! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you! 

Elder Nathan Didericksen

The nice dude who bought us a bunch of food and the Postmaster of Japan
(No idea why he was there.)

Pineapple on a stick

Rice fields and sunset...beautiful!!


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