Happy New Year! They do celebrate New Years here, at the same time that we celebrate it in the US (other than 16 or so hours difference). New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in Japan. There are a lot of shrines and temples in Kyoto (the city I`m in), so on Jan.1st my area was way packed full of people. It was hard to walk around in some parts of the town just because there were so many people there. There were a lot of foreigners too. It was cool.
On Christmas, after I got done talking on the phone, we went to the church building in the area neighboring ours and spent the day there with some other missionaries and a couple members of their ward. Never in my life did I think I`d be able to say that I ate Navajo Tacos, in Japan, on Christmas. It was a lot of fun. After eating we played some games (all in Japanese). One of the games involved picking animals and making animal noises. I usually don`t particularly like that kind of game, but I had fun that time because of everyone there (except the Japanese people) I had the best Japanese animal vocabulary. I knew all the animals that were mentioned. It made me feel good. While we were playing the game, it snowed a little bit. We were pretty excited about that. It was super light and none of it stuck to the ground, but it was still cool. It still counts as a white Christmas, right?
On New Year`s Eve, it snowed all day. It was great. My companion didn't like it though. While we were riding our bikes, he slipped and fell. I thought the snow was fun though. It was the first real snowfall of the season. Christmas was too light to count. The next day all we had was a bunch of slush and the day after that everything was gone completely. It was fun while it lasted. On New Year`s morning I could see my breath, inside my apartment. It was so cold.
We had a big conference for half the mission on New Year`s Day. We all got together and played sports and stuff. It was a lot of fun. Can you imagine sixty twenty year old guys playing a big game of dodgeball? It was a lot of fun. They also let us watch a movie. We watched Kung Fu Panda. It was good. We watched it in Japanese with English subtitles.
Today, we went down to Osaka for the day. We went up a big tower that they have in Osaka. It was like the Space Needle except only half as tall, doesn't rotate, doesn't have a restaurant, we had to wait for an hour and fifteen minutes before going up, it has taller buildings nearby, and it doesn't look cool. It was still pretty fun though. We could see all of Osaka, I think. In every direction tall buildings and city stretched on as far as I could see. It was crazy. Osaka is like twenty times the size of Seattle.
Today I ate some Takoyaki. It`s balls of batter with a piece of octopus in the middle fried and topped with mayonnaise a black sauce and fish flakes. It was pretty good. On Saturday I ate a fried sparrow. They cooked it just the way it is. It still looked like a sparrow and everything. It wasn't that good. It still had all of the bones in it. You were just supposed to chew and swallow the bones along with the meat. I was worried that the bones would cut up my throat or something. I was OK though.
We found one new investigator this week. Everyone`s in a big hurry around New Year`s and nobody wants to talk to us, but we found one person who said he wants to hear about our message. His name is Ishida. We`re meeting again on Tuesday. There is one person who has come to church every week for the last six months. He loves all the teachings of the church and everything. He loves all the members. He said that he doesn't want to get baptized though because he doesn't believe in God. His name is Yuta. We also have an investigator named Hirano that is progressing really well, and liking everything about the church.
In Japan there is only one ward in each church building. I thought that was weird.
Japanese is still really hard for me. I still have trouble understanding people all the time. I have to really concentrate to understand what people are saying to me. Everyone understands what I say just fine though.
That`s all I have for this week. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year`s Day.