Thank you for your emails! Sorry I wasn't able to reply to anything last week, but I got a double load today and it looks like you're still having a blast. I'm still waiting for a photo of Tyler in his kilt!
I haven't been able to watch Conference yet because it's on a one-week delay in Japan. From what I've heard though, it sounds like the missionary excitement is in the air! It's so cool to be part of the madness, even if only on the front end. Madness is not an exaggeration, either; our mission got 13 new sisters this week (to add to our 17) and they told us about how the MTC has doubled and there are sisters everywhere. Apparently the MTC is renting out BYU apartments to house everyone! Plus, our mission was only expecting 11 sisters so two got unexpectedly conned into training! There are only four shimai not training right now (me and Wylie Shimai are two of them!), but next transfer we'll get 10 more sisters so we're not sure what the mission president is going to do! Maybe we'll each get two sisters? Crazy stuff. But anyway, I'm looking forward to conference! I know the messages I'll listen to are true and will help me focus on how to help my area.
Kiryu is...well, it's SO different from my previous two areas! We're in the border of Tokyo mission where it's all countryside. It's gorgeous here! But also very windy, and we're having to get more creative with proselyting since there aren't many people around. We're getting permission from president to go to exercise classes at a community center to meet people, and we're starting up more English classes to make friends. We've been talking to a lot of members about successful dendo, and the concensus is that even if people don't have interest, if they see that missionaries are good people and become their friends, they will agree to at least listen to the message and unexpectedly find something they want to hear more about.
The biggest shock in Kiryu is the ward. We have a HUGE church that was converted from an old warehouse, but only about 30 active members (my last wards were 250 and 150). We have a primary of 5, a young men's of 1, and 0 young women---the majority of the ward is older single men and older married couples. Relief Society was 8 people, including two missionaries! Wylie Shimai and I spoke in sacrament meeting and just poured out our love on this little ward. The members have told us that most inactive members don't come because it's so difficult to get to a church out in the countryside. Many of the members we talked to have lost a lot of hope, and we want to do everything we can to build their faith and trust in the gospel. We're going to do all we can to brighten and lift the saints here and bring in as many new ones as we can! Our long-term goal for the ward is to double sacrament meeting attendance in six months. If we can do it by the end of this transfer, all the better! We know God has a purpose for sending us here, and we're not going to waste a bit of it.
As for being companions with Wyle Shimai again, it's the BEST! It's kind of weird because we were companions at the MTC exactly a year ago---we had no idea what we were doing but we had a blast, which is exactly the situation we're in now. Living together is so much fun and we're laughing all the time trying to make new friends. We've met lots of cool people already and taught several lessons, so our faith is up and our future is bright. Keep your prayers up for the saints in Kiryu!
I'm so grateful for all of you and I love you! Enjoy the warm weather and beautiful flowers!
P.S. The two photos attached are 1) what my desk looks like on the inside. Elders (and one sister) have been graffiti-ing my desk for 30 years or more! And 2) Wylie Shimai and I made a meishi (business card) for each of the ward members with our picture. We've both got weight to lose but luckily one of our investigators is a fitness instructor who loves cooking healthy food! We'll try not to have TOO much fun this transfer C: