Thanks for the letters and advice. I don't need to see the BYU clip because I saw it online and we watched it together. The mission office sends us snail mail through the post. The reason the mission home advises USPS is because then it doesn't get stopped at customs, it can come straight to our apt. If it is from a commercial company and not the government it has to stop and be inspected. My bike does have gears, 3 in front and 8 in back. I usually just leave it in one gear unless I'm going up a hill. Could I have Karen's address? I'd like to write her a letter and ask her about the opposite end of a mission. Since cabbage and potatoes are both cheap here in Japan, I'd like the recipe for Bubble and Squeak.
We went bowling with the elders from our district as well as the sisters and elders from the next district over (as approved by the ZL because he was one of the people bowling). I lost. Because we played, we got a voucher to try one of the crane claw arcade games. I tried and failed. That night we had a dinner with a less active couple. We had yakiniku, which is basically steak strips grilled on a hot plate. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS. Unfortunately, Sister Rogers couldn't take all the fatty oils and felt sick the next day. Here's an experience from the week before that I forgot to send. At one of our investigator's houses, the house next door has a dog on a chain that always barks and snarls at us as we pass. He often stretches out to the farthest point of his chain to bark at us. When we were finished with our appointment, we come out and go to our bikes when we hear paws behind us. The dog had broken his chain and was coming toward us. We said to each other, just don't look at it and it won't bother us. We casually put on our coats and helmets, mounted our bikes, and bolted out of there as fast as we could. Thankfully the dog didn't chase us down the street.
A member of the ward and his wife drove us to an English teaching appointment in the mountains. Itakura Kyodai (kyodai means brother) is such a wonderful missionary. He is the perfect example of sharing the gospel with your friends. At the English class, we had octopus pizza. It was tasty. Afterward, we taught one of the English class students one of the lessons at Itakura Kyodai's house. He has beautiful flowers all over his house. I made eggplant modeled after the Ru Yi eggplant. I think I got pretty close.
We had time, so we tried to find a less active that we hadn't met before. She was outside taking pictures of flowers when we stopped by. She was kind and let us in and gave us juice. We invited her and her husband to the ward talent show the 23rd. I dunno if she'll come, but the visit felt good as we were leaving. That night during English class, the topic of the day was holidays. We talked about the difference between how Japan celebrates Christmas (you give strawberry cake to family or friends and then just spend the day at home) vs how the US celebrates Christmas (everyone is excited and loud and bright with lights and Christmas trees and pageants and presents). It made me wonder how much of Christmas is tradition and how much is actually about why we celebrate the birth of Christ.
We nad another phone appointment in a strange place again. We stopped at a park and sat on a bench and talked about the metaphor of Christ is a rock. We went to an appointment, but they weren't home, so we went to a convenience store and ate lunch and then sat in the parking lot and studied Japanese. By that time, the appointment got home and called us saying that it was ok to come over. We talked about the Word of Wisdom. Usually that's a problem with the Japanese because many people like coffee, tea, and alcohol. I suppose people all over the world like those things too, so it's not specifically a problem just for Japan. Anyway, she had no problem with it! She found a drink called Nomi or Noni that is supposed to be super healthy for you and when she did research on it, she found all these bad things about tea, coffee, and alcohol and so she stopped drinking them! The Lord prepares people in interesting ways, even through health drinks. After that we rode an hour to our next appointment. We rode up a hill and I almost cried. I admit that when I turned the corner and saw that the hill kept going up, my heart sank and I stopped. I pushed on a bit more and stopped again. This happened a couple more times until I got to the crest. It went down for a bit and then back up again. By the time we got to the appointment, I was so dehydrated and worn out that I felt like bursting into tears, but I couldn't waste the liquids. But the person we met with became an investigator. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven... We went to an investigator's house. She teaches English to elementary and junior high school students after school, so we went and listened to the kids read Dr. Seuss and little speeches they had prepared. It was fun to interact with them. By the end of the day, we rode 3 hours total, about half to two thirds of which was up hill. No seriously, no joke, it was uphill. Our apartment is the lowest point in the whole area, so going to an appointment is uphill and coming back is downhill. Between our morning appointments and our afternoon apointments, the elevation went up again, so we basically rode in a big uphill triangle.
We had zone training meeting in the next district over. They talked about how to become a consecrated missionary. We had an appointment with the old lady that we found in the woods, but when we got there, she didn't seem to be home, so we went to a part member family nearby. Again, a giant hill. This one was so steep that I just walked my bike up it instead of pedaling up. We went back to the old lady's house and as we rang the doorbell, a neighbor pulled up. We asked if she knew the lady and she said "wait a moment" and just walked inside. Apparently the old lady had been cooking and didn't hear us at the door. I think she's hard of hearing or perhaps not all there, but I hope that she feels the spirit. When we were going home, we ran into another American. He said "here I was thinking that no one on this street would understand me when two English speakers show up!" He teaches English in Japan and he met the missionaries once before when he was teaching in Taiwan. He invited us to go eat with him but it was 8:50 so we had to get to our apartment. I was a little behind Sister Rogers when I saw a man start following her on his bicycle. She said that she thought it was me right behind her, but when she looked back it was him. She sped up, he sped up, so she made a hard left turn and he shot past her. I caught up and at that point he turned around and came back towards us. He was about 40ish and had "I am a man of the world" written all over his face. He said "Asobi ni kite kurenai?" Which means "won't you come out and play with me?" We said, no, we're missionaries and we can't do that. We are representatives of Christ. He said, oh, well, good luck and went on his way. Afterwards, we laughed and laughed and laughed about him trying to pick us up. I also checked the scales in our apartment and I have lost about 15 lbs.
Ito choro is going home, so we were traveling with the elders to a member's house for a goodbye lesson. We stopped at a park to take pictures. When we got back on our bikes, my chain popped off. Thankfully I hadn't built up any speed, so I didn't crash. I was trying to figure out how to get it back on without stretching it, but Seipel Choro took over and fixed it for me. Hopefully it won't happen again. We had home-made sushi that was almost too pretty to eat. We had dinner with the bishop at a meat restaurant. I picked up a piece of what I thought was meat only to find that it was a whole clove of garlic. It was actually really tasty. We went to a less active's home. She has a dog, and as I petted it, I think it started purring. As we were coming home, a car passed by so close to me that I thought I was going to get clipped. But I didn't.
Two of our investigators came to church. We talked about how faith is like a seed and you nourish it by praying, reading the scriptures and coming to church. I hope that by doing these things he'll feel the spirit and have a change of heart. His wife is gungho about the gospel and wants to be baptized and so I hope that her example also helps him. Lots of in active members came to church. My heart was happy, but my head was like "now how do we get them back next week?"
Keeping busy and lots of love,