Thank you to everyone who sent cards, video messages and emails! I appreciated it so much! You are all amazing 🙂
This week was marked with fireworks and festivities. The rainy season officially ended, and in doing so brought on the blazing hot and humid weather. The problem was the rain hadn’t quite had enough, and so the past two days, after looking deceivingly clear and beautiful, we had squalls (sudden rain storms) that caught many unprepared. It was a
party under the bridges.
Almost every night I’ve heard fireworks going off somewhere, and seeing someone walking around in a yukata (a cheaper summer version of the traditional kimono) is as regular as seeing someone with their hair dyed various shades of blonde (read: a lot of people).
On Sunday there was a huge summer matsuri festival outside the church celebrating ohbon, a holiday honoring ancestors, and so after it ended we set up a family history booth and helped passers by start their family history. People seem to be much more strongly interested in ancestors when they are inebriated for whatever reason… We also advertised our free English Classes at the station by passing flyers, and that’s always fun. We noticed two slightly sketchy looking men at the station the whole day (every time we went to the station they were still there) who would go ask pretty girls for their numbers and wondered why they were so desperate. Then one of the Japanese missionaries explained they were paid to find girls to work at their host clubs. That explained a lot, unfortunately.
(A cat staring us down)…
This week we had zone conference with the Warnicks (new mission president & his wife), and I delivered a training with the Zone Leaders. The Warnicks mentioned the importance of prayerful and inspired planning, and I decided to make that the focus of the week. In doing so, we saw so many small miracles every day! We were able to make contact with people who we had no idea when they were home because they were often out, and find new people interested in learning from us and have so many great experiences. It even led to free cornbread because we were at the right place at the right time. 😀
We were able to work and meet with people from several religious backgrounds and gain some awesome perspective on how religion influences people’s lives. One person shared their story of changing religions and then being bashed incessantly with harsh emails and messages from family members who claimed they only did it because they “cared.” Seeing her so hurt by those who were closest to her broke my heart. I just felt so strongly that it doesn’t matter what religion you are joining or leaving, everyone deserves equal respect and freedom of religious expression or lack of it. Mistreatment or hateful speech or actions, either on the grounds of religion or under the facade of “religious expression”, are just unacceptable. It makes you pause when people who claim to teach love and service or who profess tolerance then attack you when you don’t think or believe the same way they do.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26-27
On a different note, My bean-chan finally bought a bicycle, I found a bag to use that doesn’t leave my back feeling like an 80-year old arthritic obaachan’s at the end of the day, and I got a great TOM’s tan.