I hope that everyone had an excellent week this week over in their respective parts of the world. Things here in Japan have been relatively calm. The rain season officially ends in a couple of days. Soon the days of being completely soaked while riding my bike back to my apartment in the evening will be over. The next part of the Japanese season will be the extreme heat and humidity that results from being stuck on an island in the pacific.
Currently our apartment has no source of cooling other than a small electric fan that we are borrowing from another missionary apartment. It is so hot in our tatami room that we sleep in at night. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be a Japanese person living in Japan before the invention of the AirConditioner. Fun fact: Here in Japan, people don't believe in central heating and cooking. They use many, small wall-mounted units to provide the cooling air to the rooms in homes and businesses.
Things here in Japan as a missionary have been super exciting. Ever since The Tokorozawa area has gone from 6 missionaries to 8 missionaries (and soon to be 10 missionaries) this area has seen a whole lot of success. As missionaries, our main purpose is to invites other to come unto Christ. This seems relatively easy however, for a nation with not much exposure to basic Christian backgrounds it's a whole lot harder. It's fairly common to talk to someone on the street that has never heard of the Bible or of Jesus Christ himself. It's up to us as missionaries to help teach and better the cities and areas in which we are chosen to work in.
This week we had the special opportunity to attend the Summer Concert of a pretty famous (in Tokyo, Japan at least) LDS Young single adult choir called the "Little Witnesses." They're comprised of institute students who gather in Shibuya and spend some of their free time putting together a concert/small play that helps to explain basic beliefs and practices of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. We spent the last week, making flyers and inviting people to attend the concert as it was a great non-threatening way to introduce the fundamental beliefs of our church to non-members. We had an investigator, 岩澤さん, come to the concert. It was a really good experience for him. Afterwards we talked to him about how he felt during the concert and invited him to sacrament meeting the next day. He came! Were going to start teaching him more about the Church in the next up and coming weeks.
One thing that I've thought is really interesting about the Japanese culture is the aspect of conformity that runs throughout the whole country. All the school children wear pretty much the same uniform, businessmen and women wear essentially the same kinds of suits. School children all wear the same colored hat to indicate that they're small children (as if someone one couldn't tell by looking at them). When we talk to people about religion they usually talk about how they are actually "Buddhist" even though it's been generations since someone in their family has practiced anything resembling religion. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that conformity is a bad thing, I'm just merely stating that it plays a very interesting part in how things are done here in Japan. The streets here are Spotless, the trains are essentially silent regardless of how many people are on board (it's a different story if there are large gatherings of High school students on board. Japanese kids LOVE to talk, especially talk loud. ) the streets here are absolutely spotless. Also, everyone here is extremely nice. I love Japan. The people here are the best!
Today Elder Young and I went to Kichijoji today to practice our presentations for Zone Conference with the other Zone Leaders from the Musashino North Zone. We spent about an hour practicing what we were going to present and how the Zone conference was going to be run. Tomorrow, Elder Young and I are going to present to about 50 missionaries throughout the Musashino North and South Zones. As a mission leadership-team we will be teaching for over six hours covering a variety of different topics covering from basic emergency preparedness to using the Book of Mormon to help investigators with their problems. It should be a whole lot of fun!
For the Fourth of July this week, we sang the National Anthem in two district meetings, pledged allegiance to the Flag and ate American food that has been re-packaged and labeled for consumer use here in Japan. It was a fantastic Fourth of July considering the fact that were about as Farr away from the United States as you can get! You can take the Americans out of America but you can't take the American out of the Americans!
It's been a great week, I love you all!
Elder J. Alan Farr
Pics: Recycling is hard in Japan, check out what I found in Japan, zone meeting, on splits in Hibarigaoka, Elder Crandall