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 Wed. night. We then were up `till approx. 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 because of their flight. Most everyone else was out of the mission home by 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 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 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