Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I didn`t write last week. There`s convenient free email in this area, but last Monday was a holiday. It feels like Japan has a lot of random holidays so it`s hard to keep track of them unless you look at a calendar.

On Thursday (Jan 7th) we caught a train at 8:08 and headed up to Osaka and met up with most of the other missionaries who were transferring. I temporarily joined up with Elder Cutler and we took the train down to Wakayama (about 90 minutes I think). We met up with Elder Andrews (My MTC companion) and Elder Slater (My new companion) and ate a quick lunch before heading over and catching a bus for Tanabe. The bus only had a few people on it, but it was pretty nice so the 90 minute bus ride wasn`t bad. We had a 90 minute wait in Tanabe before catching the local train to Shingu. That train ride was 3 hours long. We got there in the evening at about 7:30. There`s a much faster train but it`s about twice as expensive.

The church is on the first floor of an apartment. It has 2 decent sized rooms (Maybe half or a third the size of the relief society room back home) and an office. It`s small but nice. Our apartment is on the second floor of the same apartment building so it doesn`t take long to get to church.

Shingu is a really nice small town. It`s at the very South-East corner of our mission, it`s actually right by the border of the Nagoya mission. Some of our branch members actually live across the river in the Nagoya mission. It sort of reminds me of Marysville whereas Osaka reminds me of Seattle. It`s right by the coast and has really nice scenery. There`s a nice view of the coast along with the ocean, and hills covered in trees. The sky is also really beautiful at night. We run into people who come here to go sight seeing.

If you want to see where I live on Google maps:
Japan Wakayama-ken Shingu-shi Shingu 3651-1

The branch has 4 people who come weekly and another 2 or 3 who come occasionally. I`ll probably end up speaking every 2 or 3 weeks, though there`s a fair chance I`ll have to speak sometimes when someone doesn`t show up or is late. Yesterday that happened but I asked Elder Slater to speak, I doubt that`s his first time. (Sacrament meeting tends to be 45 minutes) and teaching Sunday School every third week. After church I hop on the computer for a few minutes and check for updates on MLS, the church network program.

I haven`t finished my BYU application yet. I`m not sure when I`ll be able to get around to finishing it I may change it to the winter semester so don`t worry about it for planning summer vacation. If you are planning a vacation for your anniversary you`re welcome to come here, I just don`t want you to feel like you need to fly all the way to Japan if you want to go on a cheaper vacation in America.

Something on my bike got broken again. I was a little depressed/annoyed by it but I talked with the Tanabe Elders last night and Elder Homer mentioned that someone left their bike behind there when they went home. So on the way home from Zone conference on Thursday or Friday we`ll stop by and grab the bike, put it in a bag and take it back here to Shingu. It should have the piece I need.

If you`re sending a package than maybe a bag or two of pepperoni (They don`t really have that here) and a container of frosting, a bag of pecans, a can of pumpkin would be nice. Make sure not to send Jerkey, you`re not supposed to ship that into Japan. There`s even a little note on the back of some jerkey packages that say that. I checked the back of an American bag of jerkey my companion got, it had that note but it was in Japanese :P.

I feel really blessed to be here in Shingu in such a beautiful area around such wonderful people. I know this is the Lord`s work and will continue to move forward.

Elder Andrew West.

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