Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Week 36 - Kichijoji, Japan

Haha! Well I bet youll never guess where I am at now... We had transfers this past week and you might have been able to tell from my last email that I wasn't too worried about them, Saiki shimai and I had both just gotten to Kanagawa and Kohoku, so we were both pretty sure we were staying. I should have learned by now that you never know what the Lord has in store for you! So yes, I transferred and well I am back in Kichijoji! My new companion is Shibata Shimai; Saiki Shimai became a trainer .

Anyway, all the other missionaries have now returned to Tokyo and Sendai!!! [I've heard this is the first time in the history of the church that they evacuated a mission and then sent missionaries back relatively after] Of course not all of the previous areas are still open, but for the most part our mission is back to normal, however more improved with all that we've learned. Anyway, with all the missionaries coming back they were able to reopen the Musashino Zone [Kichijoji's zone]. When the AP called he said, they had prayed really hard and felt like I needed to be there to help reopen it, so here I am! I was excited to come back, but also a little sad to have only been in Kanagawa and Kohoku for such a short time, who knows, maybe I'll get to go back there again too! It's been really fun though, coming back. I know everyone and the area already, so it makes transferring and coming in really easy! The members have been amazing too, they deep-cleaned the apartment [which is huge because I'll admit a part of me didn't want to go back to Kichijoji because of the apartment...it's the oldest in the mission, so its definitely seen better days, but now its SO much better!!!], decorated it with welcome signs, and filled it with food. And it`s been so fun just seeing everyone again, I didn't ever get to say goodbye to them, so this is nice! Plus all of my beloved investigators!!!! I don`t have time really to talk about how all are doing, we'll save that for next week!

Anyway quickly: this weekend was Stake Conference and a member of the 70, Elder Ringwood, who was recently called to supervise over our area, and his wife came. Anyway long story short, the wife of one of the members of the area Presidency and Sister Ringwood, were set to spend the day together while their husbands were in meetings, but the translator was late, so I ended up getting to translate for about 2 hours for Sister Ringwood and Sister Oishi! It was fun. It's nice, I think I've finally gotten to the point that I'm okay with Japanese, obviously I still have so much to learn and I still sometimes get really frustrated when I want to say things and I don't know how, but well I understand so much more than I did when I first came to Kichijoji, and I think I'm just now realizing that.

Also during Stake Conference, I got to sing a solo! Crazy...Shibata Shimai and I were out visiting a less active and I got a call from a member asking us to sing in the choir and to be at church as soon as we could get there, what I didn't realize I was getting myself into was to sing a solo in the middle of that song! It was fun though... and Elder Ringwood told me I needed to tell you about it in my email home, that I sang a solo at stake conference in Japanese, so I figured I should follow a member of the 70, when they tell you to do things!

The time for going up to Sendai changed-hence me writing on my usual day...we're now headed up Thursday night, and will be there on Friday. We're not allowed to take pictures while we're doing service, but the PBO has official photographers who will be there so you can look for those at some point.

Anyway that's a lot of news for now!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week 35 - Kanagawa Japan

Well Hello!
So some big news...found out last night! I'm going to Sendai! Well, not just me, our whole mission is! Next Tuesday (so my P-day will be on that Monday, but that's not what's important)! I'm not exactly sure what we will be doing, but something service related I presume. Since we just found out about it the details are still sort of blurry, but I`m excited to be able to go and help the people of Sendai for a day (We'll head up there Monday night, drive through the night and then come home after a day, I believe). And the cool thing is it really will be our whole mission, because the last half of the Tokyo missionaries will be headed back up here this week at transfers! YAY! All together again! The amazing thing that's occured though is that even with only half of the missionaries back here in Tokyo, we've still been able to have the same amount of baptisms as we usually had when all the missionaries are here. This Sunday 20 baptisms are scheduled, how amazing is that! Really the miracles we've been seeing as people have been wanting to come unto Christ are indescribable. In Kobe we reached record numbers and here, with many of us having to start completely from scratch, we've been blessed to find so many new people to teach. When I started my mission, I had no idea what kind of experiences I would have here in Japan, and I still don't know what is to come, but I do know that I was supposed to be here when all of these things occured. If not to just spread hope and love to the people of Japan.

As promised here are some pictures-
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Coming back to the Honbu (Mission Home) in Tokyo, there were signs and posters up everywhere ("Welcome Home", "We love you", "Japan Tokyo Missionaries"....)

Saiki Shimai overlooking our area on a rainy day.

Our zone: meeting on Mothers Day on top of the churchs roof

Me in my cuppa after a days hard work in the rain :)

Helping Hands: doing some volunteer work during a stake activity.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Week 34 - Kanagawa Japan

Whew! I feel like it`s been way longer than just one week, since I last wrote, but oh how time is funny!

Things have been good here, the weather has been absolutely crazy! It started off relatively hot, walking/ riding around all day, you`re just dripping in sweat, and then it rained and it rained and it rained, and you come back all wet (don`t worry I have a cuppa that keeps me relatively dry for a couple of hours :) I meant to bring my camera cord to show you a lovely picture of me in my happy rain get-up, but sorry, I forgot it! next week!). The rain finally stopped, but I can`t figure out which I prefer best: winter, coming home frozen, summer, dripping in sweat, or rainy season, completely soaked! Haha, it`s fun to have things mixed up a bit though!

I have my first sunburn of the season though, don`t worry, it doesn't really hurt, but for a while I was quite the little red tomato! Haha, luckily it will quickly turn to a tan, and from here on out I shouldn't burn really at all! In Japan though, really different from America, they don`t like tan skin at all. In fact they avoid it at all costs basically. Even to the extent that they wear long sleeve shirts, or arm length gloves, giant hats and use pretty sun-protecting umbrellas. Amazing how different cultures can be! Probably a lot healthier though, not so many people getting skin cancer.

I need you to teach me a few Spanish phrases! We have an investigator who is from Peru, and she can speak Japanese and English, but her parents can`t speak either- well the dad speaks a little Japanese, but they came to church and didn't understand very much at all, we're looking to find a translator to teach them, but can you help me- I know "ola, como estas, moi bien" yeah about that much. Just simple things, obviously I won't be able to teach them full lessons, but at least help them feel a little more comfortable in Japan. Thanks!

Oh and this is interesting, I'm learning Shyuwa right now- Japanese sign language! Yeah crazy huh, I'm still trying to get Japanese down! But we have a few deaf people in our ward, including 2 ward missionaries (a couple) so all the missionaries who work in the Kanagawa ward get to learn sign language to communicate with them and others. It's fun and pretty simple- a lot more than spoken Japanese!

Anyway so that is basically my life right now! Transfers would be this week, but their pushing them back until next week, however I'm pretty sure Saiki Shimai and I will stay, we whitewashed (neither of us have been in this area before) so for them to move us is highly unlikely. Also that's when the rest of the Tokyo Missionaries will be coming back! YAY! We'll also be getting the first American sisters to come in since Sister Adams, Lynch, and I, so that's excting! It seems like they have it on an every four transfers pattern for American sisters coming to Tokyo. But who knows!

Anyway Love you all lots!!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 33 - Tokyo, Japan


So I don`t have too much to say I don`t think, most I said on the phone, so this is going to be short I think, others are waiting for the computer today.

Being back in Tokyo, for our first P-day all, we all wanted to go to the temple! What a wonderful opportunity to serve in an area with a temple! What we didn't know is that after the earthquake the temple schedule changed so we have about 2 1/2 hours to wait before the 1st session.That's okay, we found 2 computers in the PBO building close by so that we could all email for at least a little bit! YAY!

My wards had Stake Conference this past weekend, Claudio Costas (Presidency of the 70) and the recently called to the 70 Japanese Elder (this past conference) came to speak to us! It was amazing. Elder Costas said that right now Brasil is the leading country in the church with 40,000 baptisms a year, but that Japan could be greater and it will be. I don't say that very eloquently, but the power of his words you could tell it was a prophecy coming from a man of God. So powerful and so strong!

Anyway I wanted to say I love you all! Hope you have a good week!

Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 32 - Tokyo, Japan!

Well hello again from Tokyo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's right I'm back and so happy to be here! In Japan right now, there is a week long holiday called 'Golden Week' where everyone is off work and school, basically everyone is on holiday except for those who work at restaurants or hotels. Anyway it's called Golden Week because it's always a good week, and let me tell you, I don't think this past week could have been anything but golden!I got the call Friday morning from President McIntyre telling me to pack my bags and send them off because on Monday I would be headed back to Tokyo! You wouldn't believe how happy I was. That day was a great day too, we had two huge activities going on in the stake that as Akashi missionaries we were asked to go to both, one on the island of Sumoto and one up at the Stake Center in Kobe, so by the end of that night though exhausted I was bouncing off the walls!
Anyway, Saturday I spent most of the day packing and getting things in order for leaving- because Megu shimai had only been in the area for a week and a half, there was a lot of information to organize and compile before I went. Sunday was absolutely amazing though, we had quite a few investigators come to church to say goodbye, and the members were the absolutely amazing. I think the best thing of all though was from Ami san, who we met my first week in Akashi. Teaching Ami san has been difficult, she has a lot of her own strong ideas and really doesn't like to be told things, but likes to put them together for herself. It was great because she really thought about the gospel, but then when we would teach she tended not to listen too much. I couldn't really tell if things were sinking in with her or not, how she felt. But Sunday we were talking to her and she told us that she wanted to be baptized, said she'd been thinking a lot about the Word of Wisdom, how much she loved tea and coffee, and that she didn't feel like she could give it up all at once, but she wanted to and she was going to try to little by little! How I loved hearing those words! We went to her house later that night and I've never seen her so happy, she was buzzing around, smiling and laughing, it was a perfect ending to my stay in Akashi.

It's an interesting feeling coming back, leaving an area. I wanted to come back so badly, but I'd grown to love the people I'd been working with. Funny how you can come to love and get to know people so quickly. It's amazing what can happen when you spend your whole life just serving people.
Anyway when I first heard they were going to start sending missionaries back in sets, I was sure I was going to be closer to the end, but as last week wore on I knew it was my time to go. Wednesday and Thursday I just felt that so strongly. Followed by Sunday, I knew the work that I had come to Akashi for was done. I feel like a completely different missionary than I did when I left 6 weeks ago, I've grown and I've learned so much and am so thankful for the opportunity that God gave. me.
So yesterday, Monday we traveled home by bus once more to a waiting, loving pair of parents here in Tokyo. People you might be interested in who came back are: Sisters Adams, Lynch, and Utsumi among others. What a glorious reunion it was! I think that's how heavens going to be, everybody just running into each others arms, well sisters to sisters and elders to elders :).
We stayed at the honbu last night and then had a meeting this morning and then traveled to our new areas! I'm now in Kanagawa and Kohoku (covering 2 once more!), in the Yokohama Zone! It's Sister Lynch's old area, and I already love it! It's absolutely gorgeous and it's famous in the mission for how many hills it has! Yes, I'm going to be one tough mountain biker when I come back I think. They haven't reopened Kichijoji or Suginami yet, but those will definitely come soon I think!

Hope it's a good one!!!
Love you all so much!!!!!
Sister Erin Benne