Wow, it sounds like the busy Long summer is still at full speed! I hope Mum and Dad are feeling better from their wild adventures in Hawaii. I'm glad you get to taste some Japanese culture there! Hawaii is actually SUPER popular in Japan. A ton of people go there on vacation, and almost all the married members in Matsudo have been to BYU Hawaii.
The big news I have for this week is, of course, that I'm now no longer a "bean-chan" (Japanese missionary-speak for "Greenie"). Ohsugi Shimai got transferred and I'm staying in Matsudo with my new companion Sister Mano. She's full Japanese but lived in Salt Lake City her whole life, so she says she's as gaijin (foreigner) as they come! She's on transfer 8 or so and very good at Japanese. I went proselyting with her yesterday after she moved in and she's such an awesome missionary! She relates with the people here so well, and she has a great attitude. She laughs and smiles all the time. We set a transfer goal to have a lot of fun and see a lot of miracles. I'm very excited.
Lots of family members keep emailing me about my Japanese...I don't know how I would "rate" it, but I'm feeling okay. From what I've been told, I'm quite good for only having been in Japan for two transfers. However, that doesn't make me feel much better when people have conversations around me and I only catch 5 words. I have to remind myself every day to be patient! It will come as I work hard and love the people here (working on that and getting better). When people compliment my Japanese, I always tell them that it's because of all my family praying for me at home. Here's something funny: people tell me I have a "pretty" accent. I don't sound much like an American speaking Japanese but I don't sound like a native either (though I try to immitate them as much as I can). I wonder if learning French has anything to do with it?
The photo I'm sending this week is from another big dinner party ("shokujikai") at the Ishijima family's house. We had a big goodbye party for the two Japanese missionaries transferring out. There are a few nonmembers, including a foreign exchange student from Sweden, but most of the people are our friends in Matsudo ward. My last companion was in Matsudo half her mission, so lots of people at dinner and at church came up to say goodbye. It made me more motivated to be a better missionary so that I get that kind of farewell too! I love the members here, but sometimes it's hard to build good relationships with them because of the language. It's not easy to get to know someone when you spend most of the time going, "Huh? What was that? One more time? Eh, nevermind..."
I hope Tanner's doing great in the MTC. Well, I know he's doing great! The first week there is a shock because as much as you can prepare for a mission, you're always surprised to see what being a missionary is actually like. It will be the same kind of readjustment when you actually get to Chile but will last much longer! Everyone here in Tokyo says the first two transfers are the hardest and then it gets fun; I hope so!
Love you all---keep up your missionary efforts and try harder. This gospel is so important and the work is urgent! You're the best!