Sunday, April 16, 2017

Shark in my fridge

Date: 4/9/2017
Place: Ise
Companion: Elder Buchanan

Well it was another grand week here on the Pacific. 

On Tuesday we tried out a new service activity that we picked up from an NPO fair we went to a couple weeks ago. There's this family that is restoring a forest and is running this NPO that cleans up trash, cuts out dead bamboo trees and is turning the place into a park/campground of some kind. The lady who runs it is really nice and she LOVES us! I call her Tree Lady. So we went there on Tuesday and helped pick up rocks and stuff. We made friends with the guys who work there and invited some of them to eikaiwa. Tree Lady loves us so much that she took us out for lunch afterwards and we got to have some very legit Japanese food. 

Then on Wednesday one of the workers that we invite actually came to Eikaiwa!! This is going to be a great service activity! It was so fun! Other then that we just did a lot of branch president stuff in the office. (And by Branch President stuff I mean I spent a ton of time trying to decipher the emails that the stake presidency keeps sending out. WHAT THE HECK DO THESE SYMBOLS MEAN?!) We had a koukan with Tsu. I got to teach their Eikaiwa, which was actually really fun!! 

Then on Friday we had our Hanami party! ONLY WOMEN SHOWED UP. This is our biggest problem in Ise. WE HAVE NO MALES. All of our dudes bailed on us last minute so we just had moms and grandmas. Also it rained so we couldn't really do a proper Hanami. The flowers were breathtaking though. The members spoiled us with tons of food from the street vendors so that made it worth it. 

Then the next day we had Conference. For the first session we had 7 people. By the second session we had a solid 4 people. By priesthood it was just us and Brother Higashimoto so we played ping pong for a bit and then watched priesthood. General Conference was the best! But as Imura Shimai says, "The same people who always come, come. And the same people who don't come, just don't come." 

We had a better turnout for Sunday conference but by the end of the second session our numbers had still waned just a bit. After Sunday conference we had planned to go to see the Dejis with Jone Shimai and Takayuki Kyodai but he said that he had worked night shift the night before and felt it wouldn't be safe to attempt such a long drive through the mountains. I can't blame the guy. So they went home and we decided to go teach the dejis on our own. We got lucky with timing and caught a high speed train dreaded south. It took us to the end of the line in Kashikojima. The Dejis still live clear out on the Wagu peninsula, which has no public transportation. So we waited at the boat dock until a boat came and caught the last boat of the day out to the peninsula. For those of you not familiar with the Shima region of Japan, let me explain what Shima is like. Shima is home to Mikimoto pearl, the worlds first and largest cultured pearl company in the world (or some I'm told). Shima is a tangled collection of crazy, puzzle piece shaped islands, guarded from the open pacific by the Wagu Peninsula. So we got on the boat and headed off for Wagu. We were the only ones on the boat so the driver let us go sit up top! The we got to watch the sun set over the mountains and the ocean as our boat dodged pearl rafts and wound its way between the little islands, some of which I think were not much bigger than my high school campus, as we made our way out to Wagu. Seriously the best ¥610 (about $6) I've ever spent. The Dejis picked us up at the little dock and took us home and fed us a luxurious, home style Japanese meal. It mostly consisted of various forms of seaweed, rice, bamboo shoots and fish. Some friends of theirs had gifted them a fresh Katsuo fish that morning so they gave us some incredible sashimi, and also treated us to a local Wagu delicacy; boiled cat shark. It was really good! 

The conversation naturally drifted to religion and we shared the message of the Restoration with them. They listened very carefully and accepted everything we said. That's incredibly rare among older Japanese people. They're so prepared! It's going to take a while to teach them but I believe they will change! The Spirit was present and the lesson felt very natural and comfortable. They gave us the leftover shark to take home. We gave them a Book of Mormon before we left. Deji san took us back to Kashikojima station (a good 20 minute drive) and we barely caught a train as it was leaving. 

Since we were the only ones in the station, the attendant opened for us a special gate and rushed us aboard just as the train left. We were told to purchase our tickets aboard. So we wandered the entire train to see what there was to see. This was easily the nicest train I've ever been on. We sat in first class deluxe seats until the train attendant came to sell our tickets. He then asked us to sit one car back (we were literally the only ones on the entire train!) so we went one car back which happened to be the "saloon seats." I thought they were nicer than our original deluxe seats. Haha so we traveled home in style. What an incredible day. God truly knows how to give good gifts. 

Love you guys ;) 
If you didn't watch Conference, don't be a shmeag! Watch it! It will help you in ways that nothing else can right now. 

Have a great week. 

Elder Johnson 

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