What a relief to finally be able to sit down a read emails from you! I have so much to tell and so little time to say it!
So first off I'm in JAPAN...surprise... Haha! (okay bear with me the keyboard is different and so typing is a little on the difficult side! As you may have heard, I got to call home from the airport so that is where I will begin. We landed in Tokyo at 4pm and after being on the tarmac, going through customs, and getting our luggage finally met the President and AP's at 5:30! Then it was a 2 hour drive to Narita where the mission home is! It was good though since all of the sisters were in that van with the mission President we just got to talk to him the whole time and found out a lot of information about the mission. There are currently 160 missionaries in the Tokyo mission + 20 senior couples, making about 200 missionaries in total. Of the 160, there are 32 sisters, and of those 32 sisters 10 of us are foreign (there were only 6 foreign before we came, Sister lynch, adams, and I, along with a sister from NY who\s parents are Japanese so she already knew Japanese so she came in with the Nihonjin in the MTC). That first day I was up for over 24 hours straight traveling (we know this because peoples alarm clocks started going off in their luggage as we were unloading the car :) ) and then were up later eating dinner, having interviews ect. We spent that night at the mission home and the next morning were up and ready for training. Around noon I met my new trainer Sister Utsumi, she's from Kobe Japan! and then a little while later headed to my first area! i'm in Kichijoji!!!
Kichijoji is right on the outskirts of Tokyo, so still crazy busy, but not as much. Utsumi Shimai says it's the place where everyone wants to live in Tokyo and I can see why. It's really nice and most people in the area are pretty well off. I love the members they are crazy nice and try to give us tons of stuff, we have a whole cupboard full of food from them! A lot of them even know English so sometimes it's difficult to force myself to talk Japanese to them. Crazy thing...I can actually understand a lot more than I ever thought I would my first week. I know it's because of all the blessings we've received from apostles and others who are praying for us missionaries. I was at church and people were extremely surprised when they found out i was a "greenbean". On the downside speaking is still a bit difficult, I'm not fast, as a missionary you have to be fast if you don't want people walking away. I know it will come with time though as I'm here longer and continue to work on my japanese.
Also something that's difficult is that Utsumi Shimai and I whitewashed (when two new people both are transferred in and there aren't any of the previous missionaries from before there anymore) the area, and not only whitewashed it but sort of opened it for sisters. It's really confusing and I'm still not sure of how it's all been working out, but basically there were 2 sisters Gantomur and Togami shimai (i'll talkmore about them in a second) who were covering 2 wards/areas and we're taking over one, but because of this we're starting off with no investigators or anything at all. so right now we're just trying to find people. We've already got a few potentials so we'll see where that goes. Utsumi Shimai says President Albrecht must really trust me to be whitewashing as a trainee, I think it just means she's a really good trainer. Utsumi Shimai is fluent in English (she went to the ELC at BYU) so that's been nice and definitely helpful.
So my apt. I live with 2 other sisters (where the only 4-some apt in the mission)! Gantomur shimai and Togami shimai. If the name Gantomur shimai sounds familiar that's because it is! She was one of my senpai/roommates in the MTC!!!!! From Mongolia! What a happy treat it was when I saw her smiling face at the train station to pick Utsumi shimai and I up!!! It's been so good having her, since her Japanese is really good but still slower than the Nihonjin's it's much easier to talk and practice Japanese with her!!! Then there is Togami shimai! She's on her last transfer and is still a ball of fire. She's tiny, doesn't even come up to my shoulder, but has so much energy and spunk that you barely even notice. It's amusing in our apt. I'm about 2 inches from the ceiling of the doorframes and other parts of our apt, and constantly run into the hanging light switches but it's home and I love it! I sleep on a futon on the floor and with four of us we are literally on top of each other. It's like a slumber party every night, well the sleeping bag part of it...
Oh guess what I ate octopus and a lot of other gross things already..... Pray for me it's so difficult to keep it down and keep a YUM i like this food face, but it has to be done. On Christmas a lady is taking us to a $50 a plate famous eel restaurant, I know it's only through Gods help that I'll be able to do it. On the bright side I've found tons of delicious food that I do like, so that is great!!!
Another fun thing, my friend Yuji, from Glenwood, he's from Tokyo and turns out his family is in my ward, his dad is the Bishop so that's fun. He's actually here now for Christmas so I saw him on Sunday. He took a picture and said he was going to put it on Facebook, so possibly look for it.
Anyway this is a way long letter, and I still have tons to say, but I know I should go! I love you all so very much and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas!!!!!!
Sister Erin Benne
Also I got a bike! It's so much fun!!!! I love it! It's almost like a challenge weaving in and out of people and cars! but don't worry I'm being safe!!! And dad your teaching me how to change a flat tire has already come in handy, Gantomur shimai popped hers the 2nd day I was there!