Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year!

Beautiful New Year's Day sunrise in Ibaraki
Happy New Year everyone!!

It was a wonderful week in Japan for the New Year :) During New Years week in Japan, there are tons of way cool cultural traditions, and last year I had no idea about any of them...but this year I did, because I can kind of speak Japanese and our mission president emailed the mission to inform us of a few of them, so we were able to participate!

It was also an effective week of just working super hard...even though the holiday would make it seem more difficult to teach people. We ended up being able to teach more lessons than we had yet in any of our weeks in Ibaraki! I also think that I ate more this week than I have eaten on my entire mission because so many of the members invited us over to their homes for meals. We had a ton of fun getting to know the members and becoming friends :)

Something that I have found interesting about my time in Japan is how much my love for these people has just GROWN. I think truly loving the people that I was teaching and the members that we were working with was something that I struggled with at the beginning of my mission. But, as my mission has gone on and I have increased a little bit in my charitable, Christlike love, my heart has just opened up and I have learned how to really love these people. Every time...well all of the two times...that I have transferred, I have noticed that I am able to really develop a love for the people that we are teaching and working with just a little bit faster than the time before. I think the same idea applies with my companions, with each companion I learn how to love just a little bit more. I learn how to love the people around me for exactly who they are and who they are becoming, instead of seeing all of the things in a companion that might make them hard to get a long with. I guess, it is learning how to really see the people around me the way God sees them, instead of the way my weak little eyes would see them.

This week I fell even more in love with Japan and the people. These people are just AMAZING. And they bend over backwards to serve others and see beauty in the world. As a result I have decided that I want to take up gardening because the Japanese people just see so much beauty in the world, and I want to be the same.

One of the Japanese New Year traditions (which completely juxtaposes the American tradition of staying up late on New Years Eve) is to wake up early on New Years Morning and watch the first sunrise of the New Year. Mills Shimai and I woke up early and biked across Ibaraki to this river where a group of people had gathered to watch the Sunrise. It was a WAY cool experience! One man and his wife were especially kind and explained to us that they come every year because watching the sunrise (Hatsu Hinode) for the first day of the new year is an exhilarating feeling. And it just awakens something inside of them. It was a very cool conversation that I wish I could translate better into English, but basically I just love JAPAN and I love JAPANESE :) And also JAPANESE PEOPLE!! Anyway, I was able to liken this feeling to feeling God's love (see 1 Nephi 11:22-23 Here), and we gave both him and his wife mormon.org cards, and they were really excited about the idea.

So, I will attach some pictures of this awesome sunrise for you to see and I hope that you enjoy them greatly. It was an awesome New Years here in Ibaraki! AND IT SNOWED ON NEW YEARS DAY! It was very beautiful. And also very cold and my fingers almost froze...but, there is nothing quite like biking on icy, snowy roads to make you feel alive on New Years Day! Have a great week! We are off to Kyoto this afternoon!

"It was an Awesome New Year's here in Ibaraki"


Grundvig Shimai

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