If there ever was an area that was the complete opposite of Yamate, I think Fujisawa is it. I saw farms and gardens in backyards of apartment buildings. We biked on a straight and FLAT road one day for 30 minutes straight, which I’m fairly positive would never be possible in Yamate no matter where you went. It’s much more rural and suburban, with one of the main sources of income stemming from factories.
Where before I saw Ferraris and Mustangs regularly on my street, now I see delivery trucks and vans. I’ve counted three separate instances of hearing whistles and cat calls from “youths”. There’s also a thriving Latin American population – Brazilian, Argentine, and Peruvian predominately.
If you remember my last post, about learning Spanish – well that happened much more quickly than I had anticipated. The only time as senkyoushi that we’re ever alone is when we travel to a new area. Of course, after saying goodbye to everyone I ended up late and missed my train. After struggling under the weight of my ridiculously overstuffed bags I found a subway that was going to the same station and luckily arrived only a few minutes later than I was supposed to.
Within a few hours of arriving, I found myself teaching the word of wisdom (the health code we adhere to) in Spanish. What? I have no idea what language I was speaking half the time. This week I also had the opportunity to talk to and share a message in French with someone from the Congo, and only slipped into Japanese a few times on accident.
My new companion is Eyring Shimai. She’s way funny, and it’s always interesting working with her. She’s going home soon so she’s always making jokes about being an old woman or a grandmother.
The ward I’m in now meets at the the stake center which means it’s the central location for the church in our area (a “stake” is made up of several wards=congregations). So there are lots and lots of members, and they even have a service in Spanish and Portuguese every other week. Better yet, they have shokujikais and give us free food all the time! This area is really a special place, and we’re meeting people and seeing small miracles all the time.
Every Wednesday we teach a Mama Eikaiwa English class, and every Thursday we teach Eikaiwa and Spainkaiwa language classes. I somehow found myself having to TEACH a Spanish class on my first day here. Never again. That was a disaster.
On Fridays we teach a Book of Mormon class for 30 minutes and then have a Sports night which was so fun! We played volleyball with no net and a four square ball…not quite sure what sport it ended up being but everyone had a good time so it probably doesn’t matter.
Sometimes, I feel like the Japanese take every sport and game and just take it up about three levels. Even things like dodge ball and Rock, Paper, Scissors. You would think those can’t be confusing, but the nihonjin find a way…or maybe I’m just terrible at learning new rules.
This week we also had a fiesta! It was pretty fabulous, and I emceed in both Japanese and Spanish, with some Portuguese intermingled. We had people attend from 13 different countries! Activities included stereotyped classics such as the Macarena, self-crafted sheep and elephant and my little pony piñatas (transporting those while riding a bike was a story in and of itself), and other activities like Jung Ken Po (deluxe form of Rock Paper Scissors) and that dance with the sticks you hit on the ground and try not to get your ankles crushed in. I completely forget the name, but they perform it at Stanford every year at the Filipino cultural night. I also found the cutest baby of all time.
We had an amazing turnout, and over 14 of our church investigators came, and eight came the next day to sacrament meeting as well, which is basically unheard of in Japan — 3-4 is normal. After the Fiesta we had a 心の響く質問 – “Questions of the Soul” event with Wada Kaichou, our mission president, and he taught about repentance by way of a Quentin Tarantino (is that his name? I don’t know, but he’s famous) movie. Who knew that was even possible?
My Australian Zone leader from Yokohama came as well, which was way natsukashii (there’s no good translation for this – inspiring homesickness might be the best substitute); it was so good seeing him, and it made me miss Yokohama!
This coming transfer will be difficult, in terms of language and my first new area besides Yamate, but I’m excited to learn and I can tell this is going to be a great place for me to grow. Watch out world, in 6 weeks I’ll be speaking Spanish!