Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ramen, Goldween Week, and the Doki

Hey Friends!
I hope you are all having a wonderful week! The weather is great here in Okegawa, a breezy 60 degrees. With the Humidity it feels like 80. I'm going to hate it here in the summer that's for sure.

Last P-day Elder Gallacher and I spent the day in Yokohama. Yokohama is a fantastic place. It's sleek and modern, it's by the ocean, it's got some of the coolest architecture I've ever seen, and everything is more spread out. It's not quite as tightly packed as Tokyo is. It actually kind of reminds of a Japanese Seattle. Our plan for the day was to go to the Cup Noodle Museum and then on to Landmark Tower and the Shinyokohama (Literally New Yokohama) Ramen Museum. When we reached the Cup Noodle Museum we were shocked to find it was closed! It isn't open on Tuesdays. That may sound weird but that's really common in Japan. Because most people here don't have a Christain Background the idea of taking breaks on Sunday hasn't really stuck so a lot of businesses take Monday or Tuesday as their day off. Sad but not defeated we moved on to Landmark Tower. Landmark Tower is a super cool building filled with shops, offices and even a hotel. It was built in 1993 and stands 296 Meters Tall. It's roughly the same height as Tokyo Tower. It also has Japan's fastest elevator and one of the fastest elevators in the world. It takes you from the 2nd floor to the 69th floor, (273 Meters) where the Observation Room is, in a blistering 750 Meters a second. The whole trip takes roughly 40 seconds. (Side note: I think I'm becoming converted to the Metric System, It just makes so much more sense!) The views at the top of Landmark Tower were fantastic despite it being cloudy. After we had seen what was there to be seen we headed down and discovered that the Pokemon Center was at the bottom! This should get some of you VERY excited. The Pokemon Center is every Pokemon lover's dream. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about then please just bear with me..) They have plush Pokemon of every kind and Pokemon cards, and video games etc. I however was thwarted in my attempt to find a plush Charmander! How could you not have a Charmander, he's the original fire Pokemon! I settled for a super awesome Pikachu. We then hopped on the Train and went to Shinyokohama. The Ramen Museum was by far the coolest place I have ever been to on my Mission. They Museum has nine different Ramen Shops each with a special Ramen advertised by the Museum. These shops are chosen from shops all over the country that have really high recommendations from customers. While in the Museum these shops maintain a rating. If a shop's rating gets below a certain point they are asked to leave the Museum and a new shop moves in. So all of the shops in the Museum have really good Ramen. (This is a little neat fact, but the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum was the first “Food Amusement Park” in the World!! Cool right??) Miso Ramen which is from Hokkaido is my personal favorite. Elder Gallacher really likes Kyushu or Tonkotsu Ramen. Tokyo Ramen is Shoyu(Soy Sauce) Ramen. We tried several of the really yummy Ramen they offered. 

That however was not the best part of the adventure to the Ramen Museum. There are certain street performers that have shows on the Museum floor. Elder Gallacher and I were front row for both show's we saw. The second show we saw was a man who does what is called “Kendama.” Kendama is a Japanese toy akin to a Yo-yo. It looks a little like a hammer with a spike on top and you You try to catch the ball in the little grooves before finally getting it on top of the spike. It's crazy hard but tons of fun. The performer (Ironically I believe his name was Ken, he has a website it's www.Kendamashi.com or something like that) actually has a couple of world records and was doing some crazy crazy stuff. Eventually he got to a point where he asked for volunteers just to prove how hard it is to actually do Kendama. Elder Gallacher and I being on the front row volunteered. Everyone was a little shocked when they discovered we understood his Japanese. We tried our hand at it and with a few minutes of trial and error managed to get the ball in the biggest groove a few times. It was a lot of fun. Afterward we took our picture with him and talked to him a little bit about why we were in Japan. It was the most interesting dendo (proselyting) opportunity of my mission. It was a full day of Sightseeing and Cultural experiences. I just have to say, I absolutely love Japan. It's an incredible country. 

With transfer day just less than a week away Elder Gallacher and I have really been pushing to give the area a little momentum for the coming transfer. Okegawa is an interesting place. It's a bed town. Everybody lives here but no one is ever home. A lot of people commute from here to Tokyo daily because we're only an hour away by train. As a result our timing has to be perfect. The people who are really ready to accept the gospel are busy, they have jobs just like everybody else. We're always working on more effective dendo strategies.

This week was Golden Week! Golden Week is akin to Spring Break back home except that everyone still has school and work. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the vacation days for people at work. Golden Week is a favorite week for the Mission however because the people who are not working are out and about. Have I mentioned that there are over 40,000,000 people in my Mission? During Golden Week everyone comes out to play.
We spent a few days walking around parks and talking to families. That's probably my favorite way to proselyte now. We have this one park called Maruyama Koen. The park is absolutely massive with lots of different things to see and do. We had a fun time helping two guys, about our age, fish for crawdads (zarigani). That was a blast, I never thought I'd be able to share the Gospel in a different language while trying to catch crawdads. There has been more than one occasion I've turned to Elder Gallacher and said “Only as a missionary..” it's so true! Words often don't describe the experiences of a Missionary.

Sunday I had a really neat experience with Spiritual Gifts. This past Sunday was Fast Sunday and two of the things I was fasting for were The Gift of Tongues and The Gift of Discernment(Which is mentioned in my Patriarchal Blessing.) We had a lesson with an Investigator Sunday night around 5:30. We met him and started talking about the Plan of Salvation. Initially the lesson wasn't really going anywhere and we weren't sure how to help him but as we continued we were able to discover that he has some concerns about church. We asked him what his concerns were and he flat out said he wouldn't tell us. We didn't push, as it's not so uncommon for people to not want to tell us things, but we were able to unfold the Plan of Salvation to him and testify about the truthfulness of it. As we continued his questions became deeper and more difficult to answer, at one point he mentioned something about the Church having a negative impact on his life, or him becoming a negative person by joining the church. He explained that he didn't have the Faith.
I'm not exactly sure how I got around to, but I was able to compare Testimony to a light. An example I'm pretty sure I've never thought of before and I did it all in perfect Japanese.
When I was done Elder Gallacher bore his testimony and then we sat there and waited for our investigator to respond. He thanked us for sharing with him and told us that he didn't know what to say, that he liked the feeling of our message and that he would think and pray about it. We told him to read Alma 32 so that he could learn more about Faith and then we parted ways. When we were walking back to the apartment Elder Gallacher looked at me and said, “nice analogy.” I told him I had no idea where it came from. That lesson was probably one of the most spiritual lessons I've had the opportunity to participate in on my mission. I'm proud of my Japanese knowledge and my willingness to share my testimony, but what happened during the lesson was not from my own knowledge and after Fasting and Praying it's hard to deny that it was the Holy Ghost.

Today was Temple Day for the Mission! Elder Gallacher and I got up at 5:00 so we could make it into to Tokyo in time for the session. It was a great session, Elder Gallacher and I had the opportunity to talk to President and Sister Budge in the Celestial Room which is always a treat. I really want to build a good relationship with them. Today was Sister O'Rourke's last temple day as she leaves next week! In honor of that we took a picture of the doki and then when to eat Sukiyaki in Shibuya. Sukiyaki is the best! It's all you can eat in 90 minutes our group of 16 people made a goal to eat 100 plates of meat. We managed to hammer down 96. I wanna believe that's a mission record. We were all very full. It was nice to see everybody in my Doki and because some of my other friends (like Elder Healy) are companions with the members of my Doki we were able to hang out with them too! I can't believe the Sisters in my MTC group are all done with their missions! That means the Elders only have six months! Pretty soon I'll be the only remaining member of my Doki. I guess that makes me special. I won't be too far behind everyone, my mission is absolutely flying by!

Hope you all have a great week!
Next week is Mothers Day so I may just skip the weekly blast so I can call my Family.
I love you all!

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