Well hi diddly ho there neighboroonie! (reference to Ned Flanders from The Simpsons)
So I found out this week that my spirit animal is not actually a rhino (insert big nose joke here) like my MTC district predicted, it's Ralph Wiggums. Why? Because I ended up doing a lot of stuff which made me look really goofy this week, but I choo choo chose to make the best of it. If you're keeping up with all the Simpsons references, nice. I might make a bunch of weird references to things most of you won't understand in my email today, so just humor me with this one.
This week was, simply put, "flippin' sweet". It seems like everyone is happy because Sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms) is in full bloom and Japanese people STRAIGHT UP LOVE their Sakura. There's this thing called 花見 (hanami) which basically means watching cherry blossoms (not noses, different hana unfortunately). It's also very quickly heating up, and I have no idea how to deal with warm weather, so we'll see how it goes.
So onto the gnarly things that happened this week. We have our weekly missionary meeting up in Kitakami, which is about a half hour away by train. This week's train ride was eventful as always. Last week (I forgot, cut me some slack homes) we were delayed for a solid hour coming back to Ichinoseki because there was some suuuper gnarly wind, so they just stopped the train until it calmed down a little bit. Except they stopped it on a slanted part of the track. So the train was already over at an angle, and was then buffeted relentlessly by the wind. This week was no less exciting because I saw SIX WHITE PEOPLE! With Sakura in full Blume, there's a bunch of people visiting Tohoku, including the "bustling metropolis" of Ichinoseki. Just kidding they were all on the train. But nonetheless, I don't know how to act around not-Japanese people or how to talk to them, so it was a thrilling experience. I also sat next to an old guy who was a bit on the intoxicated side, and we actually had a lovely conversation which started with him telling me and Elder De Leon "すわりなさい" (That's "sit" in command form). Also, while getting on the train to come back, I was deep in thought and started to walk towards the escalator, when I noticed "hey, it's gonna be pretty awkward when I have to pass those guys riding the escalator up two abreast". Then I thought for a second, and realized that I was about to walk down the up escalator. Elder De Leon is still laughing about that one.
We went with a member to teach a less active this week and he's a total bro. His probably 90 year old mother was there too, and she crawled into the room to get to her seat at the kotatsu. Just crawled. Then, she offered me green tea no less than 17 times, I had to be on my guard the whole time. The whole lesson went super well and we were able to build a good relationship with him, and right at the end, everybody is saying thank you and bowing and stuff, and I give a nice deep seated bow and "THUDDD" I hit the top of my head very loudly on the edge of the kotatsu (Japanese table where you sit on the floor around it with a heater inside and blankets around the edges). And everyone busted up laughing. Grandma was ON THE FLOOR laughing. Granted, she was already on the floor to begin with, but you get the picture. I mumbled something about how I'm still learning Japanese culture and I thought it was customary to hit your head on the kotatsu before leaving. My head didn't even hurt, but just for you, mom, (and my remaining brain cells) I will be wearing my lovely bike helmet at all times from now onward ;)
It doesn't help that following that, I asked Elder De Leon "What's that rock and hand kanji right there?" And he gave me a dumb look and said "Iwate". Which is the prefecture we're in. Which is a kanji I have read a lot before. Which I probably should have been able to guess by the fact it was right next to the kanji for "prefecture". So needless to say, "the mocking is getting worse". But don't worry, I'm just giving him easy ones before I throw heat back, his pastrami and bagel jokes can't hold a candle to my fresh roasts.
Speaking of roasts, we've gotten into tangents on food and barbeque with our English class a lot recently, so we've decided to have a barbeque party. One of the students works at a pig farm and she's going to get us the hookup on some quality pork, and we're gonna ghetto cook that in the rice cooker and make pulled pork. My cooking skills just keep increasing, I have no reason to go out and eat when I can make whatever I want at the apartment for a fraction of the price. Made gyouza (pot sticker/dumplings), butadon (pork over rice but waaaaaaay good), tortillas, aburasoba (literally means oil noodles), hippari udon (山形 (Yamagata) specialty represent fam), Thai green curry fried rice, and a bunch of other stuff. We're quite possibly the best-eating apartment without a Japanese elder in it.
For my "thing I wish I knew before my mission" this week - I want to talk about something pretty simple. It's the simple statement - "God is in the details". I have faith, faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ, faith in the truthfulness of our message, faith that God hears my prayers, but sometimes those big things don't translate all that well to the little things. Sometimes it seems hard to believe the person living behind that next door might be someone God has prepared for you when you've just experienced hours of nothing but rejection. Sometimes I find myself believing the lie that there is NOBODY in this city who is ready to hear our message. That's straight wrong. God has his hand in EVERYTHING, he has a perfect plan for all of us, he knows our gifts, strengths, and weaknesses, and places us and guides us perfectly. God doesn't just care about and control the big things in life and the world, He hears and answers the prayers of EVERYONE, from the most dignified and important-seeming person all the way down to the most humble and insignificant-seeming child, He loves us and cares about us and blesses us and puts trials and blessings in our path to shape us into the kind of people He wants us to be. If we have faith in the big things, we can have faith in the little things too and know that through His help all things are possible.
Love you all lots and hope you all recognize some of the little blessings this week!
オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)