This past Christmas has been my most favorite Christmas yet! With all the gifts and love from you and seeing my family on Skype, to spending Christmas serving others, I felt close to the true Spirit of Christmas and I just want to say thank you for all you did for me this Christmas. I will forever remember all the love you gave me this Christmas. I hope you found your present by now!
Well Christmas was amazing in Japan! It`s definitely not really celebrated though by the Japanese people. Many people do their normal life routine on Christmas day. The only time it`s celebrated is if you`r Christian (very low percentage) or are dating someone. If you are dating someone you spend the day together (sounds like valentines). It`s actually really funny because the Japanese people see our Americanized commercials and try to copy the holiday from what they see in the commercial! For example I guess they saw commercials of family eating Kentucky Fried Chicked KFC on Christmas dayand so now the tradition is to eat a bucket of chicken from KFC on Christmas day!! Haha I couldn`t stop laughing when I heard that, but it`s true!
I loved going caroling to the Retirement homes and the the members and Less Actives homes. I will never forget going to brother Takaku`s house who got baptized last April. All of us 8 missionaries with Bishop Sato knocked on his door and when he saw us he started to cry. We sang “We wish you a merry Christmas“ and he could barely speak because he was in tears. I began to cry too and I think we all got a little emotional. He just kept saying “Thank you, thank you“ in English. He said it was the best present he`s ever received. This 60 year old man, who has no friends said that us caroling at his house was his best present. That made me reflect on how grateful I should always be for than many things I`m given. It was truly humbling.
Sister Iwahashi and I taught two of our investigators Christmas day! Sato san who`s husband passed away two months ago and Ayaka chyan who`s 19. Ayaka chyan is really progressing and after our lesson about Jesus Christ she said, “I want to become like Jesus Christ“. I was so happy she had felt Christ`s love that lesson. Sister Iwahashi and I also visited a less active`s house named brother Taguchi. He owns a tobacco shop and hasn`t been to Church in 20 plus years. He doesn`t remember a lot about the Church`s teachings. I had been to his house twice with my trainer sister Stevenson but had never met his wife. This time I felt we should meet her, so I asked if we could. He said she`d be back later that night. So we came back and met Minerva! She is so nice and is from the Philippines! She grew up Catholic and attends the Catholic Church. As we talked she said that recently this past year her brother and mother passed away and she cries every night because she misses them. I and asked if she`d ever heard the lessons from our Church. She said she never had! I was so surprised. They`ve lived there 13 years and no missionaries have ever taught her! We asked if we could come share a message with her on Saturday and she said yes! We had our first lesson with Minerva and it was amazing! Especially since she speaks English and I got to teach my first lesson in English. I don`t know why but teaching in English feels more powerful. There`s many phrases we say in English you can`t say in Japanese because it`s not a very expressive language. The Spirit was in the lesson and she already says she says she believes the Book of Mormon is God`s word and is excited to read it. We will meet again next Saturday!
New Years Eve is clean the apartment day! Sounds like a different kind of New Years Eve but with us four sisters together there`s definitely going to be dancing and singing. We always have fun together and I just love sister Tuttle, sister Smith and my companion so much!
Sister Iwahashi and I went to the store today to buy a lot of cleaning supplies for our apartment. I love stores in Japan! One, they are so organized and clean! There is not one thing in any store that is mismatched. And two, they Japanese workers are so friendly! In America someone can be having not the best day and maybe show it in their expressions, that`s normal right? Well, in Japan ever worker in any business you go has the biggest smile and is so respectful. At the cash register they get the change perfectly on the receipt and bow handing it to you saying “Arigato gozaimasu“ which means “Thank you“. Any time you walk in a store you hear all the workers say “Ira shai masse“ which means “Welcome“. Sometimes it`s a little too perfect, everyone seems like robots. I tried once to have a conversation one time with one worker and they looked so surprised because it`s very abnormal to have a conversation with someone you don`t know. I remember the nineteen year old kid just smiled and giggled and bowed haha.
New Years day all of us missionaries are going to a Japanese Shrine! I`m so excited to learn some Japanese culture. New Years is HUGE in Japan! The biggest holiday!! I am excited to make some new year resolutions! I can feel 2014 will be the best year yet!!!
I also feel that this next year I will grow closer to the Lord than I ever have.
I love you!!!