Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013

So today was super busy.  I have found that P-days can be the busiest days of the week.  They are not relaxing at all; ever!  One of the finding activities we have in Japan (and I think other countries too) is Eikaiwa (english teaching class; pronounced eh (like a Canadian) kai (like kite without the t) wa (like wombat)).  There are actually lots of people in Japan who like to learn English, so it`s kind of a big deal.  Of course on Amami we only have five people who come (on average).  But it is still fun.  There is a man named Tanaka-san who comes to eikaiwa and has heard that every six weeks missionaries are transferred.  He was worried that we would all leave so he called us up Saturday night and asked if he could hang out with us on our P-day.  We said sure and he said to meet him at the church at ten o'clock.  He has an RV (obviously smaller since it`s Japan and called a campingu caru (literally how they say it).  He drove us to the other side of the island and back (which in total ended up taking about five hours).  We got to see some great sights and a side of the island that we would never get to see (it is at least three hours by bike, one way!).  It was fun, but we have had little or no time to shop, clean the apartment, email or do anything else today.  As I said, stressful.

The other side of the island with two nearby islands.

My companion and the RV owner who drove the four of us around the island.

The Japanese write on the beach in kana.  The message says Kana I love. 

The campingu caru.

We have been able to continue meeting Kumamoto-san who at this point is our star investigator.  He is the only one we meet on a regular basis (all the others we show up and try to see, but they usually are not home; plus they all say they are busy and don`t make solid appointments, just ``yeah, come back sometime next week``).  He reads the Book of Mormon everyday and each week comes with tons of questions.  It`s way fun to answer the questions.  We haven`t really had to teach anything, just answer his questions.  So far he has been following our ideal lesson plan, so we are super happy.  He says he started off not believing in Christ at all, but now he is at thirty percent and if he gets above fifty percent he will probably do something about it (like be baptized).  He started learning about the gospel about a year ago.  It`s amazing.  We have high hopes for him.  I just don`t know what to do if my companion gets transferred in a couple weeks (changes areas).  Without a Nihonjin, I don`t know if we will be able to answer his questions (he asks super deep and complicated questions that I don`t know if any gaijin missionary will be able to understand).  But I know things will work out.  

In order to solve the dilemma of not having any solid investigators, both of the companionships on the Island have started to do a lot of door to door tracting and it has actually worked quite well.  We have a few potential investigators (people who might want to be taught about the church) and we are really hoping one or two of them turns out.  

I love it here.  The island is beautiful.  The past week it has been raining which is kind of a pain, but we have been able to teach some good lessons and I think we will be able to teach some more this week.  We aren`t here without a reason.  There are definitely some people who have been prepared to hear our message; we just have to find them.  

Thanks for all of your support.  I hope you are all doing well.  Best of wishes,
Elder Lee

At the aquarium last P-day

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 16, 2013

Week three on Amami.  

Amami, I have decided, is one of the most beautiful places ever.  Seriously.  This place is amazing.  It hasn`t rained very much since I have been here either, so the weather has been gorgeous.  The one complaint I would have is that it is hot.  Always.  Because I have been to the east coast, I thought I had an idea of what humid was.  I was right.  Essentially since I arrived here I have not been dry.  The humidity cakes your skin.  Besides which, I am constantly sweating.  Which is hilarious because even though I am sweating a ton (and drinking a ton too) the natives are largely unaffected.  I guess you just get used to it over time.  Every day for the past week I have gotten home and found that my clothes are completely soaked.  Not dry whatsoever.  Ever.  

Since I have been here we have had a ritual of going out for lunch every P-day.  Last week we went to this fantastic ramen restaurant and had real Japanese ramen.  I had a fried chicken ramen which was fantastic. 


Today we are going to an aquarium on the island that is supposed to be really cool.  We are supposed to be eating Chinese food for lunch, which is supposed to be different from American Chinese food and China Chinese food (so Japanese Chinese food; which I think is hilarious).  I am very excited.  

We are teaching an investigator every Sunday who has read to Book of Mormon and has tons of questions.  And all of his questions are super duper deep.  He`s asking questions that some members might not know how to answer.  It`s way fun.  

Everything about this place is awesome.  I can`t understand the people most of the time, but my companion is translating and I think that I am getting better (fingers crossed).  

Thanks for all of your support.  I love you all.  Yoroshigu o-neigaishimasu!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 9, 2013 - First week in Naze

Well, I can`t believe it`s been a whole week already.  Time goes by soo fast here.  I am still loving Japan.  There`s always something new to see (at least for another week or two).  I love shopping here.  Everything has been anime ified.  Practically all of the ads have anime characters made for them.  It`s hilarious.  

Hallelujah, I have a bike now.  Because we live on an island, there is not a lot of bicycle selection here.  So I had to order one from the mainland.  Unfortunately this means I had to wait a week for the bike to get here.  Ironically my companion`s bike broke right after I got here, so even if I had a bike, we couldn't have been riding.  It was great, because the new piece he ordered for his bike arrived Saturday along with my bike, so we both had working bikes Saturday evening.  I can`t tell you how much of a blessing bikes are.  After walking around for a week, having a bike was glorious.  

Because we did not have bikes, we had to stay pretty close to home last week.  This isn`t too bad because we live about a ten minute walk from the main town of Naze.  However, a lot of the less active members (people apart of the church but who don`t come to church on Sunday, or haven`t been lately) live further away, so it limited us a little bit.  

The other problem was if we went to someone`s house to teach and they weren`t there.  This wouldn`t be too bad of a problem, except that to get to the next house we had to walk for ten minutes.  Needless to say, we did a lot of walking.  Most of the people here are not too fond of specific appointments and just say to come back sometime.  Sometimes they give us a specific day and rarely they will say come in the morning, afternoon or evening; but never a specific time.  Which means when we show up, they are not home a lot. 

But it worked out okay.  We were able to street contact a lot.  While we were walking to the different houses, we tried to talk to everybody we met.  Most of them weren`t interested in hearing about our message, but we met a few people who seemed like they might like to hear more about the gospel.  The problem is just when they live far away.  Also, sometimes when we show up to meet them, they`ve decided they`re not interested anymore.  Again, we spent a lot of time walking.  

This week, we are planning on visiting more people and people who are further away, because we have bikes now.  

We started a couple activities since I`ve been here that we are hoping will lead to new investigators (people who we are teaching and are interested in the church).  On Tuesday nights we are playing basketball at a local school gym (I don`t love basketball, but whatever).  Last week we only had two people come, but we are hoping for more this week.  

The second is kodomo eikaiwa (I don`t know how to spell it for you, so you will have to just sound it out) which is teaching kids english.  We have a regular eikaiwa every week as well where some adults who are interested in english come and learn from the four gaijin (guy jee n).  eikaiwa just means english class; kodomo means children.  However, when the class started on Saturday, no one showed up.  So we just had to wait around for an hour just in case.  We were all very disappointed.  These are essentially the three activities we have to try and meet people.  

On Saturday the district presidency (same as a stake presidency; the church leaders over our area) came to Naze.  My companion and I rode the bus to the airport to pick them up (an hour bus ride; about three by bike).  We didn`t know this at the time, but only one of them was arriving on that plane; the others all came later.  The 2nd counselor (in a presidency there is a president and two counselors) Takenaga Kaicho (ta K nah gah; kaicho means president) then rented a car and the three of us went and visited less active members in the area.  We also had been contacted by someone from another island who gave us a list of names of people we should visit.  One of the names on the list was around the area so we tried to visit her too (we normally could not contact this person or the less active members in this area because it was too far away; even by bike it would be difficult; that would be like six hours of riding, there and back).  We could not find her house though.  I am still not exactly sure how they number houses here, but they are not in order.  So even though we had the number of her house, we could not find it.  So after spending about 45 minutes talking to the people in the area for directions, we finally decided we did not have enough time left, so we started driving home.  Even though we weren`t able to find her, we were still able to talk to a few people and actually saw a member and an inactive.  On the way back to Naze (we had to pass the airport on our way to Naze)  we stopped at some store and Takenaga kaicho bought us both this brown sugar drink.  Essentially, they took stalks of brown sugar and put it through a roller which crushed it and squeezed out the juice.  It was very interesting.  It was a fun day; it was fun to do something different.  

Being a missionary is awesome and I love it.  We haven`t been able to teach all that much yet, but everything we`ve done has been rewarding.  I love it here.  I love the people.  

Thanks for your support. 
-Iain Lee

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013

Iain had a pretty eventful trip to Japan.  He was part of a group of 31 missionaries traveling to the Fukuoka Japan mission.  They started their first leg of the journey with mechanical difficulties and a cancelled flight causing them to arrive in Japan a day later than expected.  We were able to speak with Iain a couple of times, he sounds great.  Happy and excited.

We received our first email from Iain late Sunday night, Monday afternoon in Japan.  Here is his first blog entry from Japan -

So coming over here I had two dreams.  The first is to go to an island and have an "Other Side of Heaven" experience.  While I can say it`s not like the other side of Heaven, (it`s very modern) I am on an island and it is freaking awesome.  It`s looks alot like Hawaii (the little bit of it I saw on Mauii).  It`s so cool.  Actually, that`s wrong, it`s pretty hot.  Like all the time.  I don`t think I have stopped sweating since I have been here.  It`s actually kind of gross.  But I`m getting used to it, it is Japan after all.  

My other dream was to have a Nihonjin (nee ho n jee n/ japanese) trainer.  The advantages of having a native are quite obvious.  And I`m lucky enough to have one of the few that speaks good english.  It`s supa cool.  His name is Mukaitani Choro and he`s from Kanagawa (east of Tokyo).    So essentially both of my dreams have come true.  I am on an island with a Nihonjin companion.  

So when I came over they gave me a new phone because I was expanding the missionary force on the island.  Up until now they have had only one companionship on the island.  But me and the elder I came over with made it four.  So we`re expanding the force a whole lot.  It`s awesome.  

The group of missionaries coming out of the MTC with me arrived in Fukuoka about 9:30 Wed. night.  We then were up `till approx. 12:30am doing orientation, because we were leaving for the field that next morning.  The group going to Okinawa (including my old comp. another member from my old district, the two Nihonjin that left the MTC with me and a few other missionaries) had to get up before 6:00am because of their flight.  Most everyone else was out of the mission home by 8:00 due to train rides and stuff.  The last of us to leave (me, two elders and a sister) left at 9.  I was supposed to get on a flight leaving at noon to head out to my island, but the elder I came out with got lost in the subway system and we missed him.  Apparently it happens to gaijin [foreigners] missionaries a lot, Parker Choro, a Hawaiian, was making his third transfer (he`s training the other American elder on the island who used to be Mukaitani`s apprentice).  But we didn`t know he had gotten lost, so we just sat around at the subway/train/bus station until 11:30 when the AP (assistant to the President essentially they make travel plans for people changing areas, help the mission President with various stuff and stay in Fukuoka doing missionary work) I was with decided we had better head over to the airport because Parker Choro might have gone straight to the airport.  We got there and found him, but we were not able to make our flight.  So we went back to the station we were at before (keep in mind I had already spent four hours at the station) and proceeded to wait with the APs to help the other missionaries get to their areas.  We did this until four in the afternoon.  Needless to say it was the eight most boring hours I have spent in my short time in the mission field.  

However, we did get to go street tracting that night.  Parker Choro, Carpenter Choro (one of the Fukuoka elders [not an AP] who had served on my island, walked to the nearest subway station while contacting on the street.  We had walked for less than a minute when it started raining.  After going under an overhanging, we debated whether we should keep going, or contact over the phone (I`m still not sure how that`s done).  We had scarcely decided to keep going when the rain stopped.  It didn`t rain for the rest of the evening until after we got home.  It was awesome.  We got to meet tons of people and handed out three Book of Mormons.  One of the people we contacted was standing off to the side smoking, and Carpenter Choro decided to talk to him.  He turned to me after saying a few things of which I have no idea what they were, and told me to bear my testimony (something my trainer has been doing lots since I`ve been here).  I tried my best to say something about why the Book of Mormon is important (I don`t know if any of it was understandable) and then asked him if he would want to read to Book of Mormon.  He said he wanted to (which according to Carpenter Choro is extremely rare).  The man lives in Tokyo, so I don`t know if anything came of it, but it was a great exprience to have.  It was crazy how many people we talked to, considering how many fewer people there are here.  Fukuoka is big, but I didn`t realize how big until I came to my island.   

In case you were wondering, my island is called Amami Oshima (shima means island and I think the O makes it honorific; no idea what Amami means).  The city is called Naze (which is funny because in Japanese naze means why).  When we arrived my new companion and the other elder here, Anderson Choro, were waiting for us at the "airport" ("`s because the airport is so small; only three or four planes come in and out each day, I think).  We took a fifteen or twenty minute bus ride into to the city of Naze.  

That night the elders already on the island had an activity planned so Parker Choro and I got to meet some people from the ward pretty quickly.  The activity is called Somenagashi.  Essentially you take a bamboo shoot and cut off the top half (so it looks like an open tube).  You have a hose at one end and you pour water down.  You then take ramen noodles and put them in the water stream.  As the ramen goes down, people on either side have chopsticks (called hashi here) and try to grab the noodles.  Apparently it`s really fun.  But unfortunately it started to rain and apparently there was a typhoon hazard, so we went inside (I have heard since that Kyushu had a HUGE typhoon last week; we got nothing).  It was still pretty fun.  There was lots of ramen and some interesting Japanese deserts.  When you eat ramen here, you take the noodles off of a plate and put it into your bowl which has tsuyu (Japanese soup stalk; don`t ask, I have no idea what it is or what it tastes like).  The noodles are cooked in round balls, so when their taken off of the plate, they come off in a little clump.  You stir in in the soup and eat.  It`s really good.  Other than stir-fry, it`s been my favorite so far (but that`s not saying much).  

On Sat. we had the first baptism this branch has had in almost a year.  In addition, it was Mukaitani Choro`s first baptism in the mission, so it was pretty exciting (especially since I`ve only been here a few days).  

The ward consists of about a hundred inactives (we have a top 5 list we are working on currently) and ten active.  They are mostly elderly people (at least the few that I`ve seen) and there is no primary.  We have a lot of work to do, but I`m super excited.  I can`t wait to get my bike and get to work.

I love you all and appreciate your support.  The gospel is true.  Ganbate (good luck/work hard/tons of other stuff).  

This is Iain's first view of Fukuoka

Iain spent his first night at this church building in Fukuoka next to the mission home.  There were so many missionaries that they couldn't all fit at the mission home for the night.
Iain's first view of Amami Oshima.

The church building in Naze.

Iain's companion - Mukaitani Choro