Oshougatsu on the Way! 

  
Christmas is over! Oshougatsu (New Year’s) is coming! And with it comes all the famous Japanese food they hide up and hoard the whole year just for this occasion.

  
Today the grocery stores were packed and I got to sample everything from tiny fried flounder to wasabi and squid samples and better yet, I got to watch my companions sampling them.

  
On Christmas we were finally able to see our Korean friend again when we brought her a Christmas present. Minutes later, we ran into a less active member’s daughter who we’ve been trying to get in contact with for months and became friends! She is fluent in Japanese but her mother speaks Spanish so she and I bonded over having everyone around us speak Spanish all the time. We also ran into one of the people the Elders had been teaching but haven’t been able to get in touch with for a while, and found a new family to teach. So good day all around.

  

For Christmas Eve, we followed Japanese tradition and bought KFC, then taught our English class. Apparently people still want to learn English on Christmas…?

* Side note, I didn’t actually eat the chicken, just biscuits and dessert. It’s the experience that counts. 

 
Christmas Day was spent in on an American Military base, with a Spanish speaking family and their friends. I even prayed in Spanish at the end! They told the Hermanas to stop speaking English to me, but no signs of change yet. Also I was kissed by a thirteen-year-old boy. Oops. 

  
I also got a goat for Christmas!!! Well, sort of, but I was so excited! My friend bought one and donated it to people in need in my honor. People were confused all day when I told them, especially because there’s a family we know whose last name in Japanese means goat. 

On Saturday, we taught a family home evening lesson at a church member’s home who has a four-year-old son. At first it seemed a little futile as he ran around the small apartment jumping on things and hitting people with pillows and trying to break plates, given that our message was about teaching your children good moral values and the gospel in the home to strengthen them from all the storms and difficulties in the world around them. The point we tried to emphasize was that children are always listening, even if we don’t think they are. She seemed skeptical, but as if to prove our point, while he ran around causing mayhem we sang the song about the “wise man and the foolish man”, an analogy for building a strong foundation in Christ. Ten minutes later, once he had quieted down and was playing with his Legos, he started singing the song to himself. Mission accomplished. 

  
Earlier that day all the missionaries in the district went to get sushi together. It was Castañeda Shimai’s first time, so in her honor, we ordered salmon sushi and played wasabi roulette, where under the fish on one piece of salmon we empty the contents of an entire wasabi pouch. You then mix them up and everyone eats it at the same time. Surprise surprise, she ended up with the wasabi sushi, and her face was priceless. Almost as good as the look she had when I had her try Nattou sushi for the first time (fermented beans).

One of my favorite games is having the Hermanas try new Japanese foods. If they like it, I’m pleased, and if they don’t, well, their facial expressions are funny enough that it’s a win-win situation for me either way. 

Castañeda Shimai isn’t quite used to Japanese flavors yet and dumps habañero hot sauce or jalapeños on everything. Typical Mexicana. Today She made us tacos for lunch though and they were delicious.

I also had both of them try the little dried fish that I make everyone try, and of course, took a video: 

In the evening we had a “Questions of the Soul”-event with Wada Kaichou (you may have seen my Facebook post about it. Jared, unfortunately, didn’t make it all the way from America as his comment promised). He showed clips from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and talked about the worth of souls and how people are often valued and appreciated and loved more than they think they are. Every one of you matters and is important! On the way over to an appointment earlier that day, I ran into a member who for no apparent reason had just decided to leave his house and bike around. I invited him to come to the event, and afterwards he told me he had been feeling a little sad and lonely lately, and this event reminded him that he was worth something and cheered him up. 

Finally, I know prayers are answered because my two companions the Hermanas are still alive after several near-death experiences. Every time we get on our bicycles I pray that they’ll make it alive and every day they do, despite severe odds against them. Even just today, they both narrowly missed being hit by a motorcyclist on a blind corner. The problem is, even if I lost just one of them, that’s a 66% success rate of keeping us all breathing, and I just can’t live with a failing grade like that. Also I love and care about them so there’s that too.

That’s all for now! 

Write me letters 🙂 

Xoxo 

スマイリー姉妹

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