August 12, 2013

In the Land of Japan! AKITA district! Morioka Zone!

I am so excited to tell you all about my mission so far!!!
I am in the Morioka Zone in the Akita district!  I am loving AKITA! and I love my trainer sister STEVENSON!  Sister Stevenson is so sweet and honestly the best trainer in the whole world I’m convinced. Coming here I was a little bit nervous about who my new companion would be I’ll admit, but she is exactly what I need!  You’d think she was an American with her last name but she’s definitely Japanese! haha! She is 23 years old and from Tokyo and there’s 9 in her family! She has an older brother who’s an RM but inactive, an older sister, and four younger sisters. Her dad is American but they’ve lived in Tokyo her whole life. Even though she’s only half Japanese she seems whole to me because she acts full Japanese.  I love her so much and she is so obedient and kind. She is very patient with my slow Japanese. The Japanese is coming little by little every day. I love my branch! There’s about 30 active members in this tiny branch and there’s probably around 60 or so less actives. The members are so kind and bow when you meet them about every second, the Japanese people love to bow. It’s very respectful. And they say the phrase “yoroshiku onagai shimasu” all the time. It means “looking foward to getting to know you”. But it’s said so much you’d think it would mean a simple phrase like, “good to see you”, except said 100 times during a conversation! haha. I say it all the time and bow constantly, I know by the end of my mission when I come home, I will be like a Japanese person! I already have picked up many of their mannerisms.
When I first arrived in Sendai! I was so exhausted from the plane ride, all of us 24 missionaries were. I love the weather! It is pretty humid but I love the heat, even though Im sweating all the time! We all stayed at President and sister Rasmussen’s house. It was so fun being with most of my district and two others districts from the MTC.  We didn’t end up going to bed until 11:30pm that first night. The next day was some training at the Church building and then our trainers came! When they all walked in the room I looked at all the sister missionaries and knew exactly who my trainer would be, probably because President Rasmussen told me she was half Japanese haha. We all got our areas told to us one by one and as President Rasmussen announced, “Sister Butler you are going to Akita” sister Stevenson came running over to me. I ran to her to and we hugged and I immediately had a really good feeling that she would be the best companion. She has already taught me so much and I will be forever grateful to her. And what a tender mercy that Sister Kirby from my MTC district is with me here in Akita! Her trainer sister Nakaima is super sweet too and we all live together in a tiny apartment near the Church.
I have a bike and I love riding my bike! It is definitely an older bike and the brakes make a screeching sound but I love riding my bike so much that I dont mind.  Some things have changed here in the Sendai mission, like for example, we don’t buy our bike and keep it our whole mission, we use other missionaries when we transfer. Also there’s 12 weeks of training. I will be trained my first 12 weeks by sister Stevenson and then I will become a trainer most likely. The point of this new training way is so that missionaries can be prepared to become a trainer after their first 12 weeks.
I love the Japanese food!!!  Noodles, yummy bread, amazing Japanese popsicles all day e’ry day! well…when we have time to eat. So my first day with Sister Stevenson started off with morning studies in the apartment and then we went out by the huge train station/mall to go streeting. We went to find anyone who would be interested in hearing about our message about Jesus Christ. I thought I would be intimidated and especially scared not knowing the language, but I was so ready to go!  All that MTC waiting feeling came out and I maybe even got a little too excited haha. Every time anyone would make eye contact with me for more than a second, I’d run after them. I learned that first day Japanese people think it’s weird if you run after them to talk to them…well probably everyone thinks that’s weird haha. I gave out my first Book of Mormon to a young Japanese girl studying in school, probably around 22. Her name’s Morita and I had such a good feeling about her. We got her number and I got to talk English to her because she knows some english. We texted her but she never texted us back. Hopefully she will read the Book of Mormon and feel the need to call us.  The Branch I’m in is so great! I have been constantly studying the names of all the members and trying to memorize names and faces. With only 30 members it’s not too many, but Japanese names are a bit difficult.  Sister Stevenson and I spent 4 hours last nice organizing the Area book. I want to make it neat so other missionaries who come to Akita won’t have the problem we do of calling a less active to find out they’ve moved or they don’t want anything to do with the Church.

My first lesson in a Japanese home was so fun! It was with brother Takaku who was baptized in April. He is about 55 and lives with his parents. He loves Japanese caligraphy and he taught Stevenson shimai and I. I couldn’t say much but ask a few questions and bear my testimony but I tried to do it from my heart. He’s very nice man. We have 5 investigators and are constantly trying to find more people. I’ve already had many learning experiences of what I’m sure the usual missionary experiences, such as no success knocking doors. But I know that if I put my whole heart into this work the Lord will guide me to those who are seeking the truth, but just don’t know where to find it.
I am just loving life as a missionary. We have 8 missionaries in our branch, 8 of us! can you imagine 8 missionaries even in a normal 150 member ward? The elders are so great and guess what! When I was in Jerusalem my friend and roommate Kara Trammell told her friend that I got my mission call to his same mission. So for the past months he wrote me a few letters getting me excited for Japan. Well guess who’s branch I’m serving in…his branch! That’s so crazy to me. Out of all the missions in Japan we are in the same branch and see each other all the time.
My very first moment in Akita sister Stevenson and I jumped off the bus with my bags and raced to the church because we, meaning I, would be teaching english class. Every Wednesday missionaries teach free english class to anyone who wants to come. It was so fun! only 8 or 9 come, but they love it. We are going to try to make Eikawa, english class, more exciting and I got a few ideas. Please any ideas to make teaching english fun and easy SHARE! Our next topic is the difference between pronounciating R’s and L’s. For Japanese people they sound the same. I’m excited for this next class.
I love you my family and friends and I am going to try and work my very best this next week thinking of you as I preach the word of God to all who will hear.
 I love the Lord and I know He is mindful of us all. I am so grateful for prayer and the peace and comfort it brings me.
Sister Tori Butler

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