V-Day in Japan

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a Valentine, it’s you! And you….and you.

Valentine’s Day is interesting in Japan. Mothers everywhere groan because their young daughters all want to make homemade chocolate and give it away. And then of course there’s “friend” chocolate and “true love” chocolate, so you have to make that distinction in ingredients.

Meanwhile little boys just sit in anticipation and mild jealousy as the girls around them exchange chocolate and they wait to see if a girl will gift them some as well. Excitement….because it’s chocolate. Apprehension….because it means if they get something they have to return the favor a month later on White Day. And for adults I’d say it’s pretty much the same.

On Valentine’s Day we had a huge “Heartful Concert” and hosted a singer from Okinawa to come and perform. The theme was “Love” (surprise surprise). She’s like the Jenny Phillips of Japanese members. Not quite David Archuleta status yet. In preparation, I went through the phone contacts (which always stay in the same area no matter who is there) and texted about 60+ people I had never met before the Japanese equivalent of “long time no see! We’re having a concert! Please come!” And out of that six people I’d never met showed up so that was fabulous.

The awkward part was explaining to them the person they thought they were texting was probably in another country now and they were stuck with me.

The crowning moment to that was when a woman I had texted arrives and I introduce myself and sit next to her in the back because the hall was packed, thanking her for coming. About two minutes later I see her texting and two seconds later I hear my phone start vibrate as I receive her text: “I’m in the back listening to beautiful music, where are you?”

This week we visited several sick and elderly women, all of whom are amazing. We convinced one of them to let us come clean her house next week because it was a mess, and whoever was supposed to be helping had done a pretty abhorrent job, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. The other is a spunky Filipino woman fighting breast cancer, but she has such a strong spirit and is so independent despite her constant state of pain that I always leave her house inspired and grateful to be alive.

She taught me never to make the mistake when trying to say “mi amor” and saying “mi Amoi”, because then you’re commenting on the odor of someone’s underarms. That woman is a goldmine of joy and wisdom, let me tell you.

On Friday we helped host a surprise Bridal Shower for a newlywed on base, and played a game trying to guess words associated with weddings based on a prompt. My results were abysmal so it’s clear I can’t get married anytime soon. I aced the cake one though.

On Thursday (back in time folks) I had Missionary Leadership Conference, and for part of the conference we watched a movie about Ghandi, and how he saw a problem in South Africa, and then he ACTED, despite apathy and acceptance on the part of other Indians. He was strongly interested in Christianity and applied the teachings like “turn the other cheek” when people who openly professed to be Christian did nothing that would indicate that they followed Christ’s teachings. The hypocrisy was awful, but Ghandi is famous for a reason – he’s truly inspiring.

After that we planned how to help the missionaries throughout the Tokyo South region by conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats chart, which was a throwback to my Marketing and DECA days. It was good to get an action plan started to see how we can really help missionaries become more effective teachers and better at serving others.

Right afterwards I had a meeting to help plan a training I’ll be doing with two others in a few weeks for other Sister Training Leaders. It’s all a little uncomfortable for me because I’m the youngest (mission age-wise) out of all the Sister Training Leaders, so I’m hoping I can do something to help, despite my overall lack of experience.

Saturday morning I played basketball and twisted my ankle. It’s currently huge and purple. You’re welcome, I knew you wanted details. Once I finally made it all the way back to the apartment limping and hobbling, we realized we had forgotten our apartment keys at the basketball hoop. It was….the worst.

It was also warm enough to finally go without a winter coat, so #blessings!

Later that day, our friend was baptized! She was radiant, and it was a really defining moment for her whole family. It’s been amazing getting to teach her and help her these past few weeks. She gave a speech after her baptism and started tearing up halfway through because she felt so happy.


That’s all there is!
Happy Chocolate Day ! 


This is at McDonald’s : prepare to lose your lunch:

Yes. Those are fries. And that is chocolate. 


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