Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week 19 - Kichijoji, Japan

Whew!! Let me just start off by saying this has been a week of miracles!!!! It`s been amazing! As you know, we are now in two areas, so we knew things were bound to get a little bit more crazy, but what we didn`t realize was how much we would be blessed this week for our hard work this past transfer. I`ve talked about how we`ve been struggling to have progressing investigators in the Kichijoji area, how we spent most of our time finding, visiting members, and having mogi (practice) lessons with them. Well this past week, in Kichijoji alone, we tripled the number of lessons we`ve been teaching and now have 4 investigators who are really taking a hold of the gospel, it`s been amazing to see! One of them who has become one of my favorite people here in Japan, is Megumi san. She started taking the lessons in 2009, had 2 baptismal dates, both of which were cancelled and then stopped taking the lessons, but still would come to church every now and then. Missionaries continued to talk to her at church, but she would always say she was too busy to have lessons. When we arrived in Kichijoji, it was the same. We met her two weeks in when she came to church, and while we tried to set up a lesson, she again said no, but from that week on came to church every week, while I couldn`t say much to her in Japanese, I still tried my best to get to know her. She`s great! This past Sunday, she stayed for all 3 hours of church (she usually left after Sunday School) which was the first miracle we saw in her. And then Wednesday she came to our Eikaiwa class (english class). One thing about Eikaiwa is that it`s free, but you have to take a 30 minute introduction lesson (usually we show a 10 minute video about the church and then ask them what they like about it). So since Megumi san came to Eikaiwa, we got to set up an appointment to teach her! (Megumi san Miracle #2). Then Thursday she called us and asked if I could help her write a thank you letter in English. (Miracle #3) Keep in mind, for the past year, the only contact people had with Megumi san was on Sundays, so at this point seeing her twice during the week was huge! But that`s not all! On Saturday, we had our lesson with her (Miracle #4), and it went so well! Since she`s been coming to church, she knows a lot, so we just worked on filling in the gaps. During this time, we were also able to set up a second appointment! (Miracle #5) Then on Sunday night, after having been at church, Megumi san gave us another call! This time just to tell us some good news that she wanted to share with someone! (Miracle #6) It`s been amazing to see all that has happened wiht Megumi san in just one week! Last Tuesday, we had little hope of even talking to Megumi san outside of church, and now so much has changed! I love her so much and know that the growth she`s made this past week can only come through feeling the love of God.

Many other miracles have taken place this past week, we`ve found people to teach while streeting, from eikaiwa classes, from the area many different ways it`s mindblowing to me! I know the Lord is blessing us for the hard work we put in last transfer, however, I never expected Him to bless us so much! I`ve learned patience on the Lord, is key, in His time all things will come to pass, how He wants them to come to pass. Just wait and rely on Him to guide you! Not just missionaries see miracles, they`re available to all of God`s children, you just need to look for them in your own lives. Pray to have them, pray to see them and believe me, miracles you will see.

Hope you are coping with all the snow well in Missouri!! Luckily, while the temperature is freezing here, we`ve been able to avoid snow (although there was sleet last night)! And while I love snow, LOVE snow, I don`t have too much interest in having to bike ride through it, for now the cold is enough for me!

Thanks for all the updates!
Love you all very much!
Sister Erin Benne

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week 17 - Kichijoji, Japan

Kichijoji! Haha! Did I fool you, probably not... Yeah so my first transfers was exciting...and still is. There`s a lot of changes that have taken place, so let me see if I can explain. As known Togami shimai went home and as expected Gantomur shimai was transfered. This means that Utsumi shimai are now over two areas, Kichijoji and Suginami! Because of this we've spent the past few days packing, cleaning, meeting Suginami investigators, finding out important information about Suginami ward, and so on. It`s been a crazy past few days, but really good. With this it means there are only now 2 of us in our apartment, which I`ll admit is really nice. The apartment we`re in definitely was not meant for 4 people, there`s actually room to move around now. It is a lot quieter though, which is kind of sad, I`ll definitely miss Gantomur shimai and Togami shimai!

So how transfers work. Friday night we get a call saying if any of us are leaving, they don`t tell us who, or where they`ll be going, just if somebody will be leaving. Then Saturday morning the AP's or President Albrecht will call and let you know who's getting transferred, where they're going, and new companions. It's kind of a suspenseful game I think they play on us! Haha, then on Monday, all the transferring sisters in the Tokyo Mission meet in one city and the elders meet in another. The area the sisters meet in just so happens to be Kichijoji! So I got to go to see all the transfering sisters (we have the church keys) Anyway we all eat lunch together and then go on our way and continue in the work. It`s an exciting, but sad time!

Utsumi shimai and I have a lot to still do because of the transfers, with the areas going from 4 sisters to 2, there are a lot of changes to be made to our apartment, the Suginami and Kichijoji folders, meeting people. It`s fun though and because I love organizing things, I'm having a blast! In the mean time we've still been keeping up with teaching lessons and finding. The feeling I have at the end of each day is so rewarding! I love it!

So I think someone asked where we email from. So amazingly, we email from the church! Yeah nice huh! The church here is big, 3 stories (only two wards meet here though) and in it they have a whole room of computers that we're allowed to use. If the church didnt have computers, I don`t know how we would be able to email, we`re not allowed to use internet cafes, and I don`t know of anyplace yeah we`re really lucky!
So I thought I would send some pictures today!

1. New Years Day, the sunrise from the top of the church building

2. Me on top of the Church building, overlooking Kichijoji, I ran to church that morning for my morning excercise...hence the get-up. Seiyu is the Japanese Walmart, like literally owned by Walmart. It`s where we do all of our grocery shopping.

3. The Tokyo Temple!

4. I saw Sister Lynch at the temple!!!!! Best thing ever!

5. Eating the mochi we made at the ward activity. Yeah I`m basically a pro at chopsticks!

6. Making mochi!

7. My district: Kunitachi!

8. At a members families house for dinner! The Seito family, along with a few other members, including Miki shimai, who reminds me a lot of Beth! I love this family!!! They are so good to us missionaries, and always help us in so many ways!!!!

Anyway bye for now!
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week 16 - Kichijoji, Japan


Another week down, and can you believe it, transfers are this week! My first transfers.... oooohhh :) haha we know something will be changing here with the sisters in Kichijoji, this is Togami shimai`s last week in the Tokyo mission, so something has to happen... You never know but what we`re thinking is that they`ll take the sisters in this area back down to two (no new sisters are coming to Tokyo from the MTC this transfer and 2 are leaving, so since this is the only area with 4 sisters, it seems the most likely). My guess then is Sister Utsumi and I will be staying and Gantomur shimai will be transferred, but you never know where the Lord wants you to be, so we will see come Saturday morning.

Life`s been good here, we`re still struggling to find investigators (we teach a few lessons, but as for progressing investigators, we`re struggling with), but we`ve been working harder than ever so we know we just need to be patient upon the Lord, the time will come, when we will find people who want to listen and will progress. Utsumi shimai and I know we`ve been sent here for a reason.

In other news guess where I went this past week, none other than Jonathan`s! I`d totally forgotten about the place, but we pulled up there with a less active family, and I was like `whoa` I know this place... how? of course it hit me, from the gravy mug from Uncle Rich...hahaha it was fun! So Jon, I saw the restaurant that was `named` after you!

Anyway not much time to write today, we have 2 lessons in 30 minutes!
Love you all so much!

Sister Erin Benne

Oh and I made mochi this week...mochi is mashed up rice that Nihonjin love and I don`t know why...basically you take a giant (size of an ax) mallet and pound hot rice until it:s all sticky and not rice like...however it doesn`t taste like rice at all. I have discovered though that fresh mochi is better than not fresh :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Week 15 - Kichijoji, Japan

Well Hello There!

Officially, Happy New Year (or Oshogatsu)!!! New Year`s is huge here, it lasts about a whole week, and during that time we`re not allowed to proselyte so it`s been a different type of week. To help out with that President Albrecht asked the wards to provide both lunch and dinner for us so that we could get to know members better during the week and not waste time. This being said I ate quite a few traditional Japanese meals. I`d say the most interesting would be a sack of fish eggs...yup, different than I thought, crunchy, fishy... Of course I did eat some really good things too, fried chicken, sweet potato mixture thing! Mmm!

Since, as a missionary, you can`t stay up to midnight to ring in the New Year, we (the Kichijoji and Suginami missionaries) celebrated it in our way by getting up extra early, going to the church and climbing up to the roof (the church is 3 stories) and watching the sun rise. It was absolutely beautiful! The sun came up over Tokyo so that was really cool! We then made our new goals for the year! It was great! With the new year I hope you all have made some good new goals that you`re going to stick to this year also! Maybe, share the gospel with a non-member friend, would be a good one to add to the list. Cool Story! So Kim, I asked you to send the address of Ai`s family, Kaitlyn Neurohr`s friend, who joined the church in Missouri, but family is nonmembers in Tokyo, well guess what! We found them!!!! Turns out they`re in the Suginami area (Gantomur shimai and Togami shimai`s area), so Utsumi shimai and I got permission to go visit them even though they`re not in our area. They invited us back to talk, not necessarily about the gospel, but it`s an in, so we`ll do our best.

Today for p-day we went to the Tokyo Temple!!! It was so good! I love going to the temple! It`s absolutely gorgeous! Also I saw Sister Lynch there so it was definitely a happy reunion! We also had a mini zone conference this past week! It was good, had training and an interview with President Albrecht! Fun! I sang during it too, first time I`ve sung in public for a long time, it felt really good. Of course then I got accused by President Albrecht for not telling him that I could sing, haha vicious cycle!

We also got a chance to bake the chocolate chip cookies you sent for Christmas! I just about died! Chocolate chips are nearly impossible to get here, and even so the flour and sugar taste different so to have them actually American was heaven! It was funny, Utsumi shimai and I put them all together and then of course I started eating the dough, and Utsumi shimai did too and she looked at me and asked, "is it this salty because we used margarine and butter?". I must have given her a funny look and then was like "I don`t taste any salt at all!!" And she couldn`t believe it. Just the difference in tastes here from America is one hundred percent different! Don`t worry she still loves them, I think she`s eaten just as many cookies, if not more than me!

Anyway, sending you my love!
Sister Erin Benne