This is my first email from Japan! How exciting! It's been a little bit since I sent my last letter, so I guess I need to write a long one today.
First, the small stuff. The flight was not too bad. I slept a solid 7 hours out of the 15, so that was good. When we first landed in Japan the humidity hit my like a 電車. There was quite literally a waterfall coming off my face, and I feared for my own safety and the safety of those around me. Luckily, my body has adjusted a little, and I am no longer sweating so profusely all of the time. The bathrooms here in Japan are kinda incredible, and the toilet seats are heated. That's pretty cool. We spent the first couple of days in the mission home getting trained, so I had a couple of days here with Eddington 長老 as my companion. President and Sister Smoot are amazing, and Sister Smoot's cooking was fabulous! After the couple of days in the mission home our trainers arived, we were assigned to our areas, and we departed to said areas. That's pretty much it for the quick stuff.
So, when I arrived at the mission home I talked to President Smoot and discovered that he had not yet assigned us our areas. At that time I began to pray fervently to be assigned to a rural area. I don't really like big cities, and I wanted to go some place that wasn't super busy. I can say with 100% certainty that God answered my prayer. His answer was "yeah, no." My area is called Sekime. My companion and I are the only missionaries assigned here, and it covers most of Osaka city.
A couple of funny things, I got stuck in a little restaurant. The door to leave looked like it was automatic, so I stood there for a few moments until I realized it wasn't automatic. I then began to frantically search for the handle, but there was none. After a few more moments of looking around in confusion, I turned to the greeter that had been watching me the entire time and asked "どうやって" which literally just means "how?". She giggled and pointed me towards a little button on the side that opens the door for you. It was a great time!
Another thing, we were going housing a couple days ago. Dechamps 長老 (he's my trainer) rings the ping pong box and immediately the door opens. This is already a little weird because nobody answers their door first. They always talk through the ping pong box. Anyway, the door opens and this little old lady with stringy hair and zero teeth sticks her head out and asks what we want. At least I think that's what she said. I couldn't understand her at all, because, as my companion put it, "she was throwing around all kinds of Kansai-ben". She very quickly shut the door in our face once we explained who we are. However, the interaction stood out to me, because I'm pretty sure we just met the Japanese version of the witch from Into the Woods.
On Sunday I went to church and there were like thirty people there. All of the members are great. There's one little old man who is almost half my height and can't weigh more than 95 pounds. He's hilarious. The bishop called me up at the beginning of sacrament meeting and had me introduce myself to the ward and bare my testimony. That was pretty cool. Oh, and in the middle of priesthood the bishop came over to me with his phone out (I was by myself for this hour, because Dechamps 長老 was over in young men's). He showed me the weather app and scrolled through today's forecast in English. It progressed from rain to heavy rain to heavy rain and windy to heavy rain and dangerously windy all within a few hours after church was going to end. He the switched over to Google translate and showed me a phrase he translated that said "Storm warning". After that he said "go home" in English. After priesthood we went home and waited out the storm.
After a few hours, Dechamps 長老 and I thought to ourselves, "It doesn't sound that bad. Maybe we can still go out." So, I walked out to the balcony to see how bad it was. Now, our apartment building is in between a few very tall and sturdy buildings, so we couldn't feel the wind, but when I looked down the ally past the wind shield of the big buildings, the rain I saw was legitimately horizontal. Also, I saw a little old lady who was trying to make it into her apartment building literally get taken off her feet. She probably flew a solid 4 feet. She's okay though. After seeing that, we decided it'd be best if we followed the bishop's advice and stayed inside the rest of the night.
That's pretty much it for interesting stuff this week. I'd like to end by sharing a Spencer W Kimball quote I read during the Typhoon yesterday. It reads:
"Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. … When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves!
Not only do we ‘find’ ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. … We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”
I know that this statement is so true. In the service given on this mission so far, I have found so much happiness and Joy in my life. I know that I will experience so much more Joy in the years to come as I continue to serve. I challenge all of you reading this email to go out and serve someone. It doesn't need to be big, just do something. As you do that you will be able to find more of yourself. Love you all