Today is officially the first day of my third transfer. Which also means I am no longer a Bean. Which also means I don't have a really good excuse for my weak Japanese. But that's ok. Looking back at my first two transfers, both Hammon Shimai and I have come a long way.
My good friend Jenny, who I've mentioned a fair number of times in these emails, said in one of her letters that there have been miracles in my mission. When she said that I was kind of surprised because I didn't know what those miracles were. We haven't had any baptisms, we don't have any of those crazy stories about conversions, or followed a prompting to talk to someone that was searching for answers. Those are the kind of things I saw as miracles, and in my eyes, we hadn't had any. But then I started to think, and I really have experienced miracles in these last two transfers. I'm going to be honest, that first transfer was really rough. Especially those first two weeks. We had no direction, we didn't speak Japanese, and we had basically no one to teach. Hammon Shimai's trainer had really good Japanese, but she wasn't very good at including Hammon Shimai or giving her opportunities to grow. So when Hammon Shimai became a trainer as a third transfer missionary, she hadn't had communication with the ward members, investigators or really anyone. She had to take the lead with a brand new missionary, when she never had the opportunity beforehand. And to top it all off, her Japanese might have been weaker than mine. I was kind of mad that I was put in that situation because I knew I wasn't going to know anything as a Bean, but I had always assumed my trainer would. I even got kind of annoyed with the age change for missionaries, because if that hadn't have happened, I would have still gone on a mission at the same time, but I would have had a seasoned trainer who actually spoke Japanese. I feel kind of bad for thinking that now, because even though my situation wasn't ideal, it must have been so much more stressful for Hammon Shimai.
So when it comes to miracles, I'd say these last two transfers have been one big miracle. We made it through 12 weeks of not knowing anything. We talked to hundreds of people on the streets when we really didn't speak Japanese. We knocked on hundreds of doors when we had no idea what they'd say to us in response. We even found a couple investigators, and when I think about them, the fact that they were willing to hear our message was a miracle. Even though we were completely lost, we somehow managed to be effective missionaries. Maybe the numbers don't show it, but I know we worked hard, and I know the Lord knows that. I've grown these last two transfers, but I'm mostly proud of how Hammon Shimai has grown. She is much more sure of herself now. Her Japanese is really starting to improve and she talks to people. She has become less serious, and lets herself be her real light-hearted self. But I'm pretty sure I'm most proud of the food she ate this transfer with me as her companion;) I'd like to take credit for the fact that she now eats onigiri a few times a week, tried raw egg and rice voluntarily because she saw me eat it once, her favorite food is now inarizushi because I introduced her to it, she eats sushi with raw fish like a boss, and she loves mochi with onko inside because I always bought it on P-days. Yeah, I'll take credit for that. She's very willing to try new things, and I think I'm really going to struggle if I ever get a picky companion.
Speaking of new companions, I'm getting one. Hammon Shimai is transferring out, and Kawaii Shimai is taking her place. Kawaii actually means "cute" in Japanese, so I have high expectations of that sister. Like me, she has a Japanese last name, but she's American and doesn't speak Japanese as her first language. She's also 1/4 Japanese, so she looks completely white. Now I know what my kids will look like if I marry a white guy. Anyway, I'm excited and hopefully it'll be an awesome transfer. She came in the same group as Hammon Shimai, so she's just a 5th transfer missionary as well, but 5th transfer sounds oh so much more comforting than a 3rd transfer companion. Hopefully she's not let down that she gets me as her companion
I already talked a little about food in this email, but it never hurts to talk about food a little more. So far, I've liked basically everything I've tried in Japan. Nothing has been too weird, and I mostly just worry about what I'm going to do in America when I can't get really good ramen or udon on any block. So yeah, I like Japanese food. Except I tried nato for the first time and that was sufficiently nasty. It's infamous for being disgusting to foreigners...and I was no exception. It's like beans covered in really sticky mucus. Then later that night we visited some members in the ward and Iida Shimai served us warm milk. That was probably the second grossest thing I've had in Japan. Surprising, right? People don't even drink milk here, and yet she gave us this mug filled with warm milk. Probably because we're Americans. Too bad I'm an American that loathes milk. I'm fairly certain it's been over 10 years since I've swallowed more than one gulp of milk. And I'm really hoping that it'll be another 10 years till I have to do it again. But I drank it, so please be proud of me. Oh, and a couple of days ago we were visiting a less active sister and she sent us out with these sandwiches. Except they really weren't really sandwiches because they were a piece of bread with halfway melted cheese, bacon, cabbage, probably Japanese mayo, and bananas on top. I'm am so grateful we didn't have to eat them in front of her (or even try them later). The elders wouldn't even take them.
And for pictures. Aren't our investigators adorable? The first picture is with Manami San and our finished products that we made at the pottery place. Gahh, I can't get over the fact of how stinking cute she is. We all agreed that after our missions she's going to visit us in Utah. And hopefully by then she'll be a member ;) The other picture is with Kyoko San and her son Shoma. She's actually the same age as me and married, which is pretty rare in Japan. She's the investigator that's been taking lessons for a long time, but isn't quite willing to get baptized. Yet. And the other picture is of Hammon Shimai laying on our "couch" warming her feat with the space heater. Central heating. Japan really should think about getting it.
Love you and thanks for all the prayers. It really does mean a lot:)