My name was called FIRST. 33 of us sat in the right wing of the chapel ,hearts beating and thundering as we wondered who would be our first field companion and our first area. I sat there for a second, blinking...what?!? I popped up out of my spot on the pew by the wall and proceeded to speedily and awkwardly trip over people in my usual manner and proceeded up to the front.
President Zinke continued reading. *You will be going to KYOTO,* the ancient, beautiful city at the northeast boundary of our mission, *Otsu zone, joining the Omihachiman sisters.* None of the rest of that meant anything to me. *And your new companion is...Sister WALKER!*
She was clearly as surprised as I was to have been called first, and after another delayed reaction, she ran up to the front and hugged me. I took a picture in front of the mission flags which say our mission theme: *Makoto no deshi - hitori to mina*. True disciples - one and all. Then we took one together and sat down as we watched the rest of the 32 called up to the front (which took a while).
After a bunch of stuff I won't trouble you about, we said goodbye and got on a bus for 20 minutes and then a train for an hour and a halfish. We went for a good 45 minutes farther than any other senkyoushi who rode the train with us. We`ve been banished to the outlands. And then we took a look at our map to our new apartment and realized we were in trouble. After asking a lot of people and a lot of phone calls to the elders, a few stories and stuff, and an hour and a half of dragging our bags through the streets, we found it: our own little coern of Japanese paradise in Sun Palance. We probably only found it because we prayed. But really though.
That`s right. We know exactly how many. It`s a long story, though. That`s probably going to have to come in the next letter. But trust me, it will.
We;ve already seen miracles! First of all, the BISHOP of our WARD (not branch) is giving us a referral, and referrals are BIG DEALS in Japan. And all of the members of our ward are awesome! We had a dinner appointment with the first counselor (American) and his family this Sunday and already have one set up for next Sunday as well. But mostly, we found a new investigator.
I`m not supposed to give her name over email, so I`ll call her Tanaka-san.
Our second night (we got back to late the first night), we went houseing (or tracting) to find new investigators. This is hard, because in Japan they have these horrrible boxes outside their doors that they can just speak out of. We ring the bell (pin po), try to share a message, but they usually just say *Kekko des* or *Ii desu* No thank you or we:re good. I already do not like this box. So housing is usually not very successful. However, our third house, this ancient little lady answered. We talked to her about her family a little bit and about God, and she invited us in for a lesson! Apparently, the number of times Walker Shimai has been invited in right away on her whole mission (she`s been out almost a year), she can count on two hands. So this is a MIRACLE! She is Bhuddist, but is so interested in God and receptive to our message! We told her that we lived in the apartment complex next door, and she went *Heeeeee!* (Kind of like, Whaaaaat?!) *Kamisama kara!* That:s from God! Why yes, Tanaka-san. Yes it is. I:m so excited to be in Japan in the Omihachiman area! This is where I need to be, doing the Lord`s work!
The church is true, the book is blue!
I couldn`t be happier!
Love, Sister Whitney
Tenney Shamai and Sister Harris with their branch presidency at the MTC.
This picture with Black Sensei is one of the coolest ever!
Pictures of our district.
With Powell Sensei
Our district and Kosaka Sensei and someone else.
This is all of the dai senpai, plus the Nihonjin district that were leaving for Japan with me, in just my branch. There are three Japan branches at the MTC.
Look at all of the pillows this room has! It`s pretty darn cool.
Our matching PJ:s which we totally loved! (Sister Harris's parents sent the sister's matching pajamas since they enjoyed being matchy matchy. Whitney said they were both thrilled and horrified to receive them!)
Pictures From Japan! Me and Tenney Shimai on the bus to the Honbu (mission home).
View out the bus window on the way to the mission home in Kobe.
All of the trainees, after a run up a mountain in Kobe, Japan (which is ridiculous by the way. It's like trying to breathe underwater!)
We finally found our apartment in Kyoto. Sister Walker is so happy!