18 January 2012

Email from Matlock - 1-2-2012

Dear 家族、

The year is over! But you probably already knew that. In Japan the New Year’s celebration takes three days and missionary work is completely shot. Just imagine Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a religous tradtion running back for centuries and is only observed once a year and you have three days of Japanese Shogatsu. Members invite us over to their houses and feed us the traditional Shogatsu food. We went to the Kubota's family for dinner last night and it was really good. The Shogatsu food was better than I remembered it being. A lot of it was really good, and some of it you quietly choke down. I could have eaten more but after a while you've eaten enough weird stuff that you call it quits. A lot of it is eaten not for taste but for the symbolism it seems. The shrimp (I mean the whole shrimp) has a curved back just like the old people stooped over with age and it’s a token of a long life. The fish eggs are a token of fertility so you have lots of posterity. You'll never eat a meal that has so much meaning behind it as Shogatsu meals. On New Year ’s Eve we made gyoza and had the traditional end of year bowl of soba. It was really good! Until after tomorrow we're not going to be doing much missionary work though. In the past missionaries have been told not to leave their apartments during Shogatsu unless they had been invited to a members home. Pretty intense right?
      Before the Shogatsu madness began we were doing pretty good. In one day we passed out three Book of Mormons! One was to a former investigator and the other two were to people on the street who didn't give us their contact information. They're in God’s hands, but it felt good to pass them out. Felt like we were scattering salvation.
      Also spent a lot of time this week writing nenkajyo to members and other people we know. Before the New Year everyone in Japan writes postcards called nenkajyo to everyone they know and send them off. Decided we didn't want to miss out on all the fun! Turns out it’s not as fun if you’re writing them for a whole congregation and hardly know a portion of the people your writing to. Acquaintances work differently as missionaries. You can know the missionaries and the missionaries have no idea who you are.
       My companion is doing good as well. He's a pretty quiet guy but he's really funny. I'm still thinking about the best ways to break the ice so to speak. I had plenty of practice with one of my former companions (he went home by the way!) but I don't consider myself a master at it by any means. Probably because none of my attempts with Fukushima actually worked. It’s going good though.
love you all!
--Elder Wyman

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