Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Awaodori and Sushi Cake

Dancing in the Festival (Grundvig Shimai and Payne Shimai in middle)
This week was probably the best week of my entire life. InTokushima every single year there is this enormous dance festival - Awaodori! Which is one of the biggest (if not the largest) dance festivals in Japan. It started on Tuesday and ended Friday. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE. People come from all over the world and they start preparing a week or two in advance and set up bleachers all along the streets. And then they close off all of the roads, and there are tons of food booths...and then people just dance in the streets all week long. It was so much fun! There were just people dancing everywhere. And we got permission to dance, so we went with an investigator and rented these outfits to dance in and we danced Awaodori. And we were not very jouzu (Skilled). But, it was ok because they were so excited that there were three Americans and one Brazilian dancing that they announced us at the festival and we may have ended up on Japanese TV. When we signed up to go dance, we didn't realize we were going to be part of the groups actually dancing down the street...but it was really awesome. Also, we got to see our Branch President perform because we just happened to be walking down the street when he danced by with his sons, he was pretty good. So usually this week in Japan is kind of a dead week because it is a week of remembering ancestors, but in Tokushima it was crazy busy and there were just people to talk to everywhere and loved it. 

Happy Birthday! With Friends
Sushi Cake
Also, on Friday I had a super fun crazy birthday. Basically, my companion is amazing and made me a delicious breakfast. And we also made a cake. And we went to the giant festival and talked to tons of people. And then we met this lady who bought us lunch, and talked to us for a really long time, but then had to leave immediately...but she was super sweet and really just needed people to listen to her. But that whole experience was one of the most interesting of my life. And then in the evening we went to dinner with friends at this delicious sushi restaurant. And I didn't know that they even knew it was my birthday. But we got there and then the restaurant people brought out this huge cake made of sushi! And everyone sang happy birthday and it was just really nice and heartwarming. And I didn't even know that sushi cakes existed but it was delicious and the nicest thing ever probably. And then we also had to eat lots more sushi and I thought my stomach would burst, and I was able to try fish eggs again which were awful the first time around...but the second they were better. But I would still probably choose not to eat them because they are just far too crunchy. And they are expensive. So why pay for extra crunchy fish eggs when you could just eat the much cheaper avocado, mayonnaise, and shrimp? And, we got to meet the less active and we will probably see her again this week! She was the cutest girl, she joined the church about four years ago somewhere else in Japan, and now she lives kind of far away from the church building. 

Mormon Helping Hands Project
   On Saturday we ended up going to the very far part of our area, which was hit really bad by the Typhoon. All of the missionaries in the Zone went and we got to be part of a Mormon Helping Hands project! Which I have basically wanted to do my entire life, so all of my life dreams have been fulfilled this week.....eating sushi cake, dancing in a huge Japanese festival and participating in a Mormon Helping Hands project...and we helped clean up this lady's house who had had a lot of water damage and her floor had basically turned into mud. She was older and difficult to understand, but she was just so grateful and so helpless on her own. It warmed my heart so much. She was so happy when we gave her hugs, and we really want to go back and visit her again since she lives in our area but it may not be possible because it was about four or three hours away by bus....but it was one of the best things ever! She just looked so happy and so grateful and when we left she was significantly more genki (more energetic, vigor) than when we arrived. I guess we were just literally able to see hope come into her eyes again :) Her life did not look easy. Also, I got to see our zone leaders break dance for the entertainment of all the Japanese people....they were waiting at the little base to begin serving/ receive counseling/ whatever it is and all of that stuff. It was a very rare opportunity. 

Slash, also we saw some amazing miracles this week. And we were able to find some new investigators who are the family of a less active! And their hearts are changing and opening to the gospel! The only problem is they keep feeding us lots of treats and I will probably become fat. But, the good news is they live really far away by bike so probably all will end well when it comes to eating their delicious Japanese treats. 

I love you all lots! I hope that it was an amazing week!

Grundvig Shimai

p.s. I found a super cheap yukatta but I ran out of room on my camera so I can't send a picture of it.
p.p.s. A yukatta is essentially the same thing as a kimono, but for wearing in the summer so they aren't as hot. And mostly they are cheaper :) 

Dancers at Awaodori Festival

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