This week marked the end of my first transfer. This I obviously knew before the week started, but being a greenie neither my companion or I thought that either of us would be transferred as I still have another transfer's worth of training left to do. But alas, we were both mistaken. Elder Free is transferring to become a zone leader and so I will becoming companions with Elder Anderson. Interestingly Elder Free is also going to become companions with an Elder Anderson, but it's the other one in the mission. Anyway, I am now on a four and a half hour bus ride to Sendai to meet up with my new companion. So that's why this email is a little later than normal (I really have no idea how much later than normal it will be) because after I click send it will just sit in my outbox until I have wifi again. So I apologize for any inconvenience it will cause to those who are waiting anxiously to hear from me. I'll try to do better next time.
I would also like to thank everyone that sent me a birthday email. My inbox has been blowing up the last couple days with birthday emails (which is definitely a better problem to have than to get none) so thanks for making me feel loved. :)
Soon after my last email went out (after we colored Easter eggs) the Elders in my district decided it was a good idea to visit the local all-you-can-eat pizza place near our apartment. It definitely was a good idea. The pizza here (in Japan) is super expensive so all-you-can-eat is really the only way you can get a decent value for your money. We were slightly limited by time because we could only spend an hour there and they took a little while to have food ready, but each of the Elders had two regular pizzas and a dessert pizza. It was still pretty spendy (and really was only possible at the very beginning of the month right after we got our funds because we can't budget for longer than about ten minutes into the future :)) but if we had just paid for the pizzas individually rather than doing the all-you-can-eat it would have been between $30 and $40 per person. So we decided the $17 was worth it.
After the pizza Elder Mason and I had splits in Odate. It was a good experience and I learned that Japanese people are more likely to come to the door if you say that you're greeting them as representatives of a nearby church rather than just introducing ourselves. I guess it's sort of a cultural thing. Also, most of you probably don't know, but most of the doorbells here have cameras and speakers on them so that people can see you and talk to you from the inside. So it's generally through those that we introduce ourselves. It's kind of interesting because those super-nice doorbells are all over the place here and I don't think I've ever seen one in the US. They're even on a lot of the poorer neighborhoods and on apartments. But whatever the reason, that might help clarify why we're introducing ourselves to people before they come to the door.
This week we also had the privilege of watching General Conference. In Japan we just have normal Fast Sunday's on the first Sunday of the month and then watch conference the next week so that they can get the Japanese translation for it. Fortunately, the missionaries get to watch it in English because our Japanese is still pretty basic, and a lot of the General Conference language is a little more eloquent. Even the missionaries who have been here longer just watch it in English so they can better enjoy the message. One of the things that I liked was the talk (I believe it was by Elder Bednar) that talked about how all missionaries are called to the same calling, to share their testimony about the gospel, and the area assignment is secondary. It helped remind me that it's the gospel that's important, not the fact that I'm sharing it in Japan.
I hope life is treating you all well and that you'll all have a great week.
The berry tart that we got for my birthday.
Me looking out the window of the bus during my 4 1/2 hour ride.
I have quite a lot to say this week. I actually made a little note on my tablet about all of the things that I wanted to mention, so there's kind of a lot.
I guess I can start first with my birthday since that was yesterday. One of the sisters in the branch I think tried to tell me happy birthday so that was nice. Someone also gave us some potato ball things which were pretty good. For dinner our plan had been to eat a bunch of gyoza but we actually ended up doing a yakiniku thing on the griddle because Elder Free's mom had sent a bunch of meat and he wanted to use more of it before he left. It's kind of rough because she sent a lot of good stuff and there's a decent amount of it that he can't take. So I guess Elder Anderson and I will have to take care of it for him. :) I'm going to try to pay him back for it. We also bought that mixed berry tart thing that I sent a picture of and had that last night.
On the subject of Elder Anderson, Elder Free and I are both getting an Elder Anderson next transfer. There are two in the mission and we both happen to be getting one of them. It's kind of funny.
And a quick note back to the subject of my birthday: I got the package and it had a couple different stickers on it that said it had been opened and inspected by customs when it got to Japan. So I was a little disappointed by that. But I'm going to enjoy it's contents nonetheless. I sent a picture of it earlier.
Well, the only other thing I have on my list for this email is that I dropped a chair on my toe the first or second week I was here and the mark is still there. It's under my toenail so I guess I'll just have to wait for a full toenail cycle or something. On a similar subject is the incident that happened on our way back from the grocery store today. We were just starting to speed up after crossing an intersection (I had five liters of milk and orange juice and a package of gyoza and a bag of granola in my backpack) and my chain just decided to pop off. This wouldn't have been a huge problem, except that I was accelerating with a little more enthusiasm than the average Japanese grandma so it upset my balance slightly. So there was a big snapping noise of the chain being a pathetic piece of junk, and I'm still not sure exactly how, but my knee drove hard into something (as the pedal went straight down with no gear to oppose it). At the time I was only going a couple of miles per hour so I just sort of hopped off still straddling the bike and stopped. But anyway, the important part was my knee being violently assaulted by my bike. I made it back to the apartment, but even by the time we got there it was starting to be swollen. It's definitely going to leave a mark. Hopefully I can walk tomorrow.
I love you all the most and there will be a couple other things you haven't heard yet in the weekly update that might end up being sent tomorrow so it might be worth reading,