Companion: Elder Brown
On Monday after we did our mailing, 大田兄弟 (Bro. Ota) took us out to Azuchi Momoyama Castle! We got there and the place was pretty empty. Turns out there's a ninja theme park that the castle is part of and Brother Ota took us in. The park was an old fashioned Japanese town with various attractions in each of the buildings. We had fun going through the various activities, getting lost in a maze, going into the castle (this one's a replica) and eating Ise Udon. But what really made the park awesome were the performers. There was a swordplay/dance group called Kenshin in town and they put on a very impressive show. We got to hang out with the crew just a little bit after the show and they we're really cool.
Then we went to the ninja show. It was honestly the coolest thing I've every seen! The show house didn't have any seats but you took your shoes off and sat on the floor. At the front of the room there was a low stage, half of which protruded clear out into the audience. And since you're sitting on the floor, you can sit really close. The ninja show was an amazing, two-man performance complete with plenty of comedy, backflips, intense swordplay, people dropping in from the ceiling (right above our heads!), disappearing stunts and pretty much everything you could ever want or hope to expect from a ninja fight. I almost wet my pants and then vowed to become a ninja when I grow up.
After the ninja battle (it was really long, maybe 30 minutes or more of straight fighting) they had a great comedy routine which involved a blow dart gun and they actually let me up onto the stage to shoot it! Of course it was just a toy but it was way fun.
Anyway it was actually a very good, uplifting experience and it really did a lot to pick me up after a really stressful few weeks. Also I became a huge sucker for any ninja/samurai/old Japan merchandise.
This week was Elder Brown's Senpai week, which means that I got to play Junior Companion ;). It was fun and he did really well! He made phone calls, taught at appointments and such.
On Tuesday we went and saw Tetsuya. He's still feeling sick and is still smoking. He's going to need some time and a lot of prayers but he'll be ok.
Wednesday we had a koukan (exchange) with the guys from Tsu and they went with us to our Toba Hotel Eikawa. (English class) It was really fun and the students loved it! Afterwards we had lunch with John (he's Japanese but asks us to call him John). John is an interesting character. He's very broad minded and open to a lot of things. He is studying Spanish and wants to travel the world. We were going to introduce the Gospel in our first time eating with him but the conversation took a wild turn and we weren't able to bring it back in track :/. My bad. I'll get him next time.
Then me and Elder Meyers went to the apartment and made some quick no bake cookies to take to a member. I had a lot on my mind and ended up just venting everything to him. Being Branch President isn't too hard, it's just dendo (missionary wrok) in Ise that's kicking my butt. He listened very well and then gave me good, down to earth advice. Actually things are going well. I perhaps get stressed too easily about things that aren't too important. He said, "just take whatever God gives you and run with it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just work with what you have." It actually eased my mind a lot. God doesn't demand the impossible. He doesn't demand 110% of you or anybody else. Just 100%. He doesn't give us imperfect abilities, imperfect tools, imperfect circumstances and expect us to achieve perfection. He just asks us to do what we can. To take what we have and run. I had a good exchange with Elder Meyers. We rode out really far, delivered the stuff, then booked it back for Eikaiwa. (English class) Miraculously, a ton of new people came! Three business people in suits came, along with a mom wanting us to teach her two kids. It was awesome!
The next day we went out in the morning with our new friend Shizuya. He's 17 and he already believes in God! He really has a desire to follow God and to do what it takes to become happy. He's really innocent and believes everything we say. We just met at a park and hung out for a bit. We prayed together and he said he felt something. He's going to be a great investigator and a fun one to teach I think :). We had some good OYMs home and then stopped at the drug store across from the church to get some allergy medicine for Elder Brown. We ended up becoming great friends with the grandpa who owns the shop. We got to talking and then I looked behind him and saw that he had a pile of Shakuhachi Japanese flutes! Those are super expensive and rare so I asked him about them. Turns out he has been playing for quite a while and is actually really good and now he makes his own flutes for fun! He offered to let us borrow one of his flutes and told us he would teach us how to play it! So now we have a super legit bamboo flute just chilling at the church. I can barely get it to make sounds haha!
We had a good weekly planning session and got everything lined out and organized for missionary and branch presidency work in Ise.
The next day, transfer mails came. Elder Brown will be bouncing out and going to Takabata with Elder Pope. I will stay here and IM TRAINING AGAIN!
So after that transfer packing and stuff began but compared to other transfers, this on has been a very quiet one. It's kinda nice. We just went to see Tetsuya one last time and then ate out at Elder Brown's favorite restaurant (Champion Curry).
Also we went to the city hall for a NPO gathering of sorts and we made a ton of friends and got a ton of phone numbers! It was actually a huge miracle is undoubtedly going to lead us to a ton of good opportunities.
Today we had a great Sacrament meeting and then afterwards an awesome shokijikai (potluck). The members spoiled us way hard and brought tons of good food! We had to peel out a little early and hop on a train up to Yokkaichi for a stake bishop's meeting. On the way up, I was exhausted from Sacrament meeting and was dozing in and out of consciousness. After head bobbing for a bit, I suddenly woke up and smacked my head against the window. As Elder Brown and I were laughing about that, a kid sitting not too far from us who was also falling asleep, suddenly jerked awake and smacked his head against the window too! The lady sitting across from us got to see the whole thing and we all had a good laugh together.
The bishopric meeting was good. I learned a ton and was blasted with a ton of high level Japanese. It was amazing to feel the love and the trust these guys held for me, even though I was just a kid in the room. They went out of their way to make sure that my voice was heard. I got a much better sense of exactly what it is I need to do in Ise and felt a lot of guidance. Also I ate their sandwiches and drank their peach water. THAT was awesome.
Today we went to Spain mura, a Spanish themed amusement park, for district activity. It was pretty fun! We went with one of our Eikawa friends and had a good time. They had a circus, that was kinda over hyped, and a new rollercoaster which was cool but also overhyped. But they did have one actually big rollercoaster there that was awesome! We had a good time.
Tomorrow is transfer day. Elder Brown will be making a quick transfer to Nagoya. Then I'll go be homeless for a couple days until my bean chan (brand new missionary) comes to Japan!
Ps: sorry I can't respond to any iMessages right now. I tried factory resetting my iPad (its been pretty messed up for about a year now so I thought I'd finally do something about it) and it might have fixed it but it also messed up a bunch of other stuff. Hopefully I'll have it back to normal by next week :)