Monday, January 16, 2012
So we are here in Japan and I finally able to post a blog. Sorry to any of you wondering if we were still alive. We have had a few weeks of internet problems. First, our internet in Utah was turned off a week early so I was not able to tell you about our experiences at the MTC (mission training center) Jan. 2-6. I can tell you we had a great time learning about what we are going to be doing.
For those of you not so familiar with our church terms I thought I'd explain a bit. We will be on our mission for 18 months. Our mission area is the Japan Sendai Mission which takes in the northern part of Honshu and is basically where the earthquake and tsunami were. The mission is headed by a mission president (President and Sister Rasmussen shown above). There are about 76 missionaries in our mission. We did learn that some of the areas near the nuclear plant that was affected by the earthquake still do not have missionaries. Our specific calling as missionaries is with a small congregation (branch) of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). We help them in any way we can including helping them find more members. We also do service in the area and are anxious to help especially in the tsunami relief effort.
We left Salt Lake City for Japan on January 9. After a long flight and two layovers, we arrived in Sendai and were met by the mission president, his wife and some other office staff. We spent the night at their home (mission home) and on Wednesday had some orientation and were off to Ishinomaki where we will be. It is about an hour away from Sendai. Luckily, we were taken to our apartment and did not have to drive ourselves.
We have spent most of the past week getting our apartment organized, getting to know the area (mostly the stores, post office, and city hall) and figuring out what we are doing! We went to Church on Sunday and met our members (about 35) and it was really nice. Speaking Japanese is a definite problem for me but Calvin's Japanese is coming back nicely. When all else fails, I simply say, "I am an American. I don't speak Japanese."
I thought I'd tell you what Japan has that the US doesn't have much of:
--Daily earthquakes! It's true, I had heard that before but we have felt five earthquakes so far. Only one was noteworthy. We were at a cell phone shop and it lasted for about 10 seconds. One of the cell phones fell from it's display, the clerk looked a little worried, and afterwards asked if we were okay.
--Heated toilet seats. This is particularly nice when you know that there is no central heating and our bathroom is generally about 50 degrees!
--Face masks. About half of the people wear masks on their faces. I am not really sure but there seems to be more than one reason(?): not to catch something, because they are sick, to protect them from the cold weather (?) Let me know if you have any more ideas.
--Dryers that don't dry. Seriously. I washed clothes yesterday with a nice washer and dryer we have but the dryers don't dry. I actually put some things in the dryer for HOURS and a nylon slip I have still wasn't dry. Finally we hung everything up on hangers like everyone else and hung them on our balcony.
--Mushrooms. There are tons of mushrooms at the grocery store. All kinds. And they are fairly inexpensive. I love mushrooms so this has been great!
--Liquor store with American food. Our mission president's wife first told me to go to the liquor store because they had some great food items you couldn't find anywhere else! Yesterday we were walking past the liquor store and went in. Sure enough, we found all kinds of goodies: cereal, Mexican food, popcorn, peanut butter, Pringles, macaroni, etc. etc. that we haven't seen anywhere else.
--Driving on the left side of the road. Probably enough said. It can be pretty unnerving! We do have a car and GPS thank goodness!
Well, I think I'll quit this blog for this week. It may be after the 25th of Janauary before I can get back to a computer since we don't get internet until then and today we just so happened to have a meeting at a church where there was internet. We tried the library in Ishinomaki and McDonalds but couldn't get on either place. Thanks for tuning in! Until next time!