8:59 PM


I guess I`ll answer your questions, Mom... 

1. President and Sister Gustafson are very kind. They were so excited when we got to Japan and said how much they needed us - especially the sisters - right then. They are very enthusiastic, open, and loving. I have not had the opportunity to interact with them much since coming to Hiroshima, but I know how great they are.

2. Orientation on the first day was similar to Tahiti but also not. The information itself - besides a few Fukuoka mission specific items - was pretty same old same old to me. I DID work in a mission office for six months, you know... Since the mission is bigger, though, they have two sets of office elders and so there was more input from them. We also spent a lot of time doing missionary work on the first day. 

3. My companions - now just companion - are great. Sister Watanabe is very spunky. She just got transferred, though, to a nearby area to work with a mini-missionary for the rest of the transfer. So my tri-force experience was short lived. Her English was decent and she was very eager to learn more. Her enthusiasm was contagious for sure. On a related side note, Japanese people are very short. I feel like a giant here. I wonder how my 6-foot tall Sister Peterson friend is feeling in Sapporo.

I will really miss Sister Watanabe, but it is kind of nice to have just one companion. It forces me to push myself a little more.

Sister Hinode is my trainer and now it is just the two of us. She is probably the warmest and most loving companion I could have possibly received. She always has a huge smile on her face and talks in a really high pitched voice. With Sister Watanabe gone, we are now sort of white washing into Hatsukaichi. Neither of us know the area very well (obviously I don`t), so it`s going to be an adventure for the rest of the transfer.

4. Luckily, the banking system doesn`t seem to be quite as disastrous as it is in Tahiti. I have had no problems so far. I did get my wallet back, by the way. You can all calm down, now.

5. As far as I know, just send a package to the mission home. On the note of Christmas, though, start thinking of when would be best for you to call: Christmas Eve, or Christmas. I believe the time difference is 16 hours, so probably your evening maybe to my morning or something. I`d love to talk to Adam and Brooke`s fam too if you`re doing anything Christmas-wise with the Hoopes-clan. Let me know ASAP. I`ll have you call me on our cell phone number. I`ll give you the number as the time gets closer. Yay, Christmas calls!

Here are some things about Japan:

-Every time we go shopping, I feel like a little kid in a candy store. Everything looks so delicious and I seriously just want to eat it all. I walk around wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Also, everything looks like it`s packaged for a party.
-I have had the chance to eat a lot of really delicious Japanese food this week including ramen (real ramen, guys), okonomiaki (crepe stuff with lots of vegetables), and udon (noodles with fried stuff). Basically where I lacked in vegetables at the MTC I am making up for in Japan. I eat nothing but vegetables.
-In Japan, you are rarely invited into people`s homes. You visit them and remain at the ``genkan`` - the entrance way type of thing. Since I`ve been here, I have been inside only a few homes and those were all previously arranged.
-If you ARE invited in, you usually don`t sit at a table, but on the floor, on your knees in ``seiza`` position. We taught a lesson like that this week, and I literally thought I was going to die. My legs were totally asleep. I was so worried that I would try to stand up and collapse in front of everyone. I tried my best to grit my teeth, and subtly wake my legs up before the end came. It was really, really painful. Luckily we`ve been teaching more lessons at the church. 
-They don`t appear to use napkins ever. Just tissues. 
-I feel like a boss every time I bow to someone.
-It is SO BEAUTIFUL here. Riding up hills is not the greatest thing in the world, but the view is worth it. Japan is the perfect mixture of city and mountain. I forgot my camera cord today, but I will try to send pictures next week.

In other news, it is frickin freezin. FRICKIN FREEZIN. Especially since I can`t wear pants, or whatever. Everyday, I have been wearing socks, tights, leggings, and one more pair of tights and boots. I`m hoping that the layered pressure around my middle will just squeeze out all of the fat that I`m trying to lose. But seriously, it`s really cold. So very cold.

I got my bike finally! I be riding fly. I`ve got a BASKET... some fancy LIGHTS... some supes dupes nice BREAKS... it`s GREEN... and his name is Max. Wanna guess why?

Yes, ten points to Gryffindor! (That`s a Harry Potter joke). It`s named Max as in ``Miracle Max`` (That`s a Princess Bride joke). Since I`m looking for miracles everyday and stuff. Shut up, I thought it was a clever joke STOP HATING.

I am blessed in my first area to have a ward that is very supportive of missionary work and some really great investigators. We have about 4 progressing investigators right now and several others whom we teach. We teach one particular family whom I love. Their nine year old daughter, Kokoro (which means heart) was baptized before I got there and their seven year old daughter, Kurumi, will be baptized in January along with their mom (hopefully). They are a really awesome family and I love teaching them. 

I feel more and more confident in Japanese every day. I got to bear my testimony in church this past Sunday to kind of introduce myself. Everyone seems to think I`m some kind of prodigy child to be able to speak ``Japanese so well with just the MTC as experience.`` Little do they know that I don`t actually speak Japanese at all... I can get by, but it`s a daily struggle. I just happen to be REALLY good at bearing my testimony. ;) Talking to people, though, is still hard. I`m trying to push myself. The hardest struggle is definitely trying to figure out how to be myself in Japanese. With the nervousness, I tend to be a lot more reserved and shy. I hope that as I get better at Japanese, people can see that I care about them and that I`m a fun person. Since we all know how funny I am... right? right.

My favorite thing so far is Eikaiwa. It`s the free English class that we (and be we I mean I) teach once a week. First of all, I get to speak in English, and second of all everyone is so cute! My class has about 8 students and they are all so cute and eager to learn English. We play games and learn words and then share a brief spiritual message in Japanese at the end. It`s seriously so fun.

Well kids, it`s been real (I taught my companions that phrase this week). Plz send me mail. I have yet to get a letter in Japan and I am VERY ANXIOUS. Sorry about the beast of a letter, but I know ho much you love to hear me talk. Or read me. Or whatever. Take care! I love you all! 愛しています!

スミス 姉妹

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