The saddest thing in the world, I`ve discovered, is walking away from the beginning of the fireworks show.
There we were, seated at Onmaku festival Sunday night with K**** Kaicho (our branch president), K**** Shimai, and the Elders, small bottles of grape Fanta in hand, looking eagerly at the big dark sky ahead of us. The time was slowly ticking down to 8 o`clock, the time the show was set to begin, and there was a tenseness in the air, the breath of thousands slowly waiting for the event the city has been planning since last year. There were more people seated around us than I`ve seen in total during the last few transfers, all gathered for one cause: the viewing of the 花火, hanabi. The kanji, or the picture characters that make up Japanese, mean `fire flower,` or in layman`s terms, FIREWORKS.
But there was a problem with this. You see, we Shimai live quite far away from the Shotengai (covered shopping center) where Onmaku was occuring, (Heck, we live quite far away from most anything here, but that`s another story.) about a half hour comfortable bike ride from our apartment. And the missionary curfew on Sundays is 8:30. We had a dilemma. Stay tuned to find out!
We wrote letters and had our final lesson with D******** before passing him over to the Elders!
In contrast, Tuesday was quite busy!
We taught Y*** Shimai (a less active) one of the best lessons we`ve taught to her, about who God is and how He sees her. She enjoyed it so much that she wanted to write down all of the scriptures we shared and said that she felt like God would help her come to church. (This poor sweet lady knows it`s all true, but just lacks the self confidence to be able to act accordingly.) She didn`t end up coming on Sunday, but she`s moving. Slowly, but surely.
After that we went to go visit a PI who lives with her 98 year-old mother. She didn`t quite have time to meet, but her mother insisted on giving us lace doilies and kitchen scrubbers she made! She so proudly said about 15 times, メガネをかけずに作りました！Megane o kakezu ni tsukurimashita! I made them without even using glasses! She was so proud, and quite possibly the most adorable older lady I`ve seen in Japan.
And then we taught Eikaiwa.
We taught Y**** Shimai about prayer, and she loved it! She`s one of the bright ones who gets it right off the bat and can begin right away to feel the Spirit when she prays. I like those sorts. She`s doing well. That morning, we also went to go visit some less actives who lived rather far away, and coincidentally by a Baskin Robbins (which they call Sati Wan (the Japanese attempt at Thirty One), and is just coincidentally happened to be the 31st, on which day ice cream at Baskin Robbins just coincidentally happened to be 31% off! Or maybe it was slightly arranged. Anyways, we got to talk to the less actives and then took lunch eating yummy ice cream! (Just so you know, Popping Shower and White Chocolate Macademia nut is probably the most scrumptious ice cream combo on the face of the planet.) And I saw that it was good.
We taught O*** Shimai a lesson about enduring trials, reading from Ether 6: 5-12. It was good, and she understood incredibly well, even though she usually has a really hard time understanding the Book of Mormon.
We went to go visit a referral from a man in our branch, a nice lady named K***** san who lived crazy far away on the farthest island out in our area. Let`s just say it was a nice bus ride and a $21 round trip. But it was fun, and she brought her friends. They took us to a cafe, and we were able to share a little bit about what we`re doing as missionaries and about God. And then about the Word of Wisdom when they tried to buy us tea. Mostly they just want to be friends with がいじん (gaijin, foreigners), but they said they`d be willing to let us teach them real lessons when we come back! They`re so far away that we can`t do it often, but we`re going back later this month.
And then as soon as we got back, we headed for Onmaku. Onmaku is the celebration of the year in the area around the city. The word itself means something like `Outrageous,` `Full,` or `Fabulous` or some sort of combination of the three. AND THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE. It almost blew my mind. And there are areas in the mission that are like that every day!
We got there, sticking out like sore thumbs as always because we`re gaijin, and a guy came up to us and asked if we like meat. Eddy Shimai promptly responded that she didn`t (which is just crazy if you ask me), and then he insisted we come meet his English speaking friends. They were two other members of the event staff who actually were pretty good at English, so we invited them to Eikaiwa, and they said they wanted to come. Then the guy who brought us over in the first place insisted we eat some Onigiri rice balls, and then brought us cups that looked mysteriously like beer. It`s only mugi-cha, they insisted (the herb barley tea Japanese people drink), but we were suspicious. They had to bring over a real cup of beer to compare how different they looked, and then I sniffed it, and then deciding it was actually mugi cha tried to gulp it down as fast as humanly possible to not look like super bad missionaries who were standing around holding beer cups! And then the Elders came over and we had to explain ourselves. Then C** san came too! C** san spent the night handing out Eikaiwa Chirashi (fliers) with us. We handed out SOOO many, up and down, up and down the alleys. We knew by the end of the night that we had done good work when people kept saying `moratta` (I got one!) and saw some chirashi littering the ground. Good times. Good times. And we`re going to bike the bridge with him and the Elders today, so I have to go in just a second.
Church, some finding, returning to Onmaku, and then leaving the fireworks show just as it started, sadly listening to all of the booms and pops and biking away in the opposite direction. But we got home in time and were able to talk to our next door neighbor about English and missionary work while we stood outside our apartment watching the fireworks together as we planned.
I learned some other lessons this week as well, but they`ll just have to wait for next time.
The church is true!
The book is blue!
Love, Sister Whitney
And happy birthday to Grandpa on the 31st!