My magnificent Mommy,
Kitakami is great! I still miss Yokote though. But, we have been so busy I barely have time to think about anything besides Kitakami!
So the members here are fantastic--the branch is sooo genki. The 15 minutes before sacrament meeting were so lively! And everyone was so jazzed to have Sister missionaries in Kitakami! There have never been sister missionaries here until this transfer, and they are both Nihonjin, so that just adds to the branch's excitement. They had the 3 new missionaries give a short self-introduction in sacrament meeting, I told them that we only eat potatoes in Idaho and people actually laughed this time! Then the sisters bore super spiritual testimonies and everyone was in tears, it was great. The first speaker got up (who actually happens to be the district president's wife) and she said she almost didn't want to speak because she would rather just listen to the missionaries the whole time! Haha. One of the branch presidency members came up to me after and asked me to give a talk in 2 weeks about dendo, he asked me to bear testimony of missionary work and make it so everyone wants to share the gospel. Basically the branch loves us so much and it is a great time to be a missionary in the Kitakami branch!
This branch is about 1.5 times the size of Yokote, the building is actually smaller though. We own the first two floors and the 3rd floor is some business. We actually have a very full area book, the problem is that we are not meeting with most of the people that are technically in our teaching pool. So this week has been mostly trying to make contact with people who are technically investigators but not really investigating yet, and people on our endless PI list. We've also been trying to help the sisters build up their teaching pool, they are definite otsukaresamas. (hard workers) One is new straight from the MTC and the other is pretty new and training for the first time, and they are whitewashing the area with a literally completely empty area book. They apologized profusely for not finding any new investigators yet (they had been here like 3 days), haha. Once our area book app's referral tool gets up and running again though we will be sending basically half of our area book over to them though, so that should be a nice boost.
Our district is the 4 Kitakami missionaries and then 2 Elders in Ichinoseki. We have 2 "beans" (new missionaries) and 3 Nihonjin, it is a great district. Our DTMs are in all Japanese, and for the first time in my mission I am the "oldest" missionary in my district. It is so weird to be one of the "older" missionaries. But yeah we have a great district and there is so much dendo fire!
My comp is Elder Holdaway, he was actually trained by someone in my Doki so that is pretty fun. He is from Payson, Utah, and is the youngest out of 13 kids! He has great Japanese and he is a little on the quieter side, but a fantastic missionary.
We met with a new investigator, F san, twice this last week. He is a 70 year-old ojiisan who rides a moped and is way awesome. He has met with JW missionaries (among others) and read the entire New Testament before, so he understands Christianity pretty well. His wife died in the last few years, so we have been teaching about the Plan of Salvation. He likes what we teach but he says he is too old to do anything about it.
On Sunday, we went over with the Sasaki Fufu (a couple who are closer to his age than we are) and it was straight miracles--we introduced them, then basically just sat back and watched as the members made friends with him, taught and testified of the joy of the gospel, and invited him to church! He had declined our invitation the day before, but coming from them he said he would give it some thought. F san mentioned that he had kind of felt unloving pressure from some other religious representatives before, but the Sasakis were able to resolve all his concerns. They told him about how we are volunteers, and how all the church members are volunteers, and how everything that we share is shared because we find joy in it and want others to have that same joy. They talked about how he is welcome at church, and we would love to have him even though he is not a member, and even if he is not planning on becoming a member. All these things that we could have said, but were so much more powerful coming from a "regular person" rather than a missionary. And they really set the stage for us to be able to teach so much more effectively, I was amazed by the trust the Sasakis have already put in us. Member missionary work for the win!
We picked a PI named C as an investigator this week as well, he is an awesome guy. He has had a lot of trials in his life, with family and illness and whatnot. We taught him the Restoration, and he is understanding everything so quickly. He loves the idea of a God who loves us and wants to guide us, and he readily accepts the idea of prophets which is huge. He is excited to start reading the Book of Mormon and we will meet with him again next Sunday.
There is a super awesome RC named Takano Kyoudai, he loves swimming and the gospel so we get along really well. We taught him on Saturday and it was fantastic! He had super deep questions about outer space and other worlds haha. I have never had a lesson that in-depth before. And he has only been a member for 2 months! We were talking about how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created numberless worlds, and Takano Kyoudai said "wow...and Jesus chose to come to this earth? I guess we're really lucky to live here huh?" It is amazing to see his thirst for more and more of the gospel. He is such a powerful member already.
People here are very friendly, almost everyone is willing to talk at least for a little bit. We housed into a guy whose brother died recently. He said he had been thinking about what happens after death for the first time in his life, then we came to his door! He took a Book of Mormon, we recommended Alma 40 for him to read. We knocked on the door of a lady who didn't have interest in the gospel, but thought it was fantastic that we taught free English and asked for 5 more fliers so she could tell her friends about it. We have been picking up PIs like crazy, and we have been so blessed that when we go to follow-up, they are almost always home. We are like 14 for 15 on totsu zen visits this week, it has been great.
Thanks for all updates about missionaries, so fun to hear! I'm so excited for Dannica.
Love you so much! Thanks for everything!