A lot has happened in the past month! Charlie had a birthday and turned 20 (what the?!), got a new companion, nearly drowned when it rained for a week straight (okay, not really, but he did get very wet), and was able to see the famous Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri, a huge dance festival that takes place every August as part of the Obon Holiday (more on that later). Read on!
This week was the craziest week of my life! SO much random stuff happened… I don’t even know where to begin. It rained Monday through Friday on us over here and every day it caught us by surprise and we got soaked. You think we’d learn our lesson, but on Tuesday we said “No, it won’t rain today, it rained a ton yesterday.” Wednesday: “No way, it rained two days in a row really hard, it’s gotta clear up today. There’s no way we need rain coats.” Thursday was “Four days in a row? Impossible. ” Friday was: “By now we’re just used to gettin wet, so whatevs.” 日本へようこそ! [Welcome to Japan!]
But this week we also had some pretty cool experiences and I got to see how the Lord’s hand guides us even when we make mistakes! My companion and I had taken the train to go to some towns east of Kochi-shi to visit a few less actives. Travel took longer than we expected, and later in the evening we missed our train back to Kochi, meaning we would be late going home and we wouldn’t make our curfew. We felt pretty bad about that, especially because we would just be sitting at the station for another hour or so waiting for the next train to come. There was only one other man in the station at the time, quietly sitting in the corner reading a manga [comic book]. I went up to him and asked him to help us buy the right train tickets back (which isn’t that hard to do, but I figured it would be an easy way to start a conversation). We started talking to him and it turns out that he had met missionaries before, and was willing to hear a lesson on the Book of Mormon right then! We taught him and set up an appointment to meet the next day. Even in times of inconvenience, if we reach out a hand to the people around us, the Lord will bless us for it.
The Yosakoi festival takes place every year in August during the Obon Holiday, when Buddhists believe the spirits of their ancestors return to their hometowns for a visit–it sounds spooky and ghostly, but it’s more religious and happy. While most Obon festivals include traditional Japanese dance, the Kochi Yosakoi is renowned for its contemporary and energetic dancing, colorful costumes, and wooden hand clappers. People travel to Kochi from the far corners of Japan to watch over 20,000 dancers take to the streets, and Charlie was thrilled to be right in the middle of it all. His enthusiastic review of the Yosakoi had us laughing!
Yosakoi was the coolest matsuri [festival] I have ever seen! Not that I have been to that many matsuris in my life, but this one was way cool. I will send lots of pictures and videos because I took a lot. I could go on and on about how cool it is, but I’ll just end here because you just gotta see it. It’s like feeling the Holy Ghost, right? You can tell someone til their ears are sore about how awesome the Holy Ghost is, but until they pray and actually feel it on their own they’ll never know! Ok, I’ll finally end this paragraph now and just send the videos and pics already.
What a fun time for Charlie to be in the city of Kochi! Pictures just don’t do it justice. If you really want to feel the whole spirit of Yosakoi, watch the video below. (Like he says, you just gotta see it.)
[note: if no video appears on your screen, open this page in another browser by clicking on the title “I love Kochi!” in blue letters at the top of the page.]
My new nihonjin dode [Japanese companion] Matsumoto Choro is awesome. We already get along like two peas in a pod! He speaks really funny English and usually makes me laugh and then we both give up and just start using Japanese instead. It’s way fun. We’re going to see miracles this transfer. We’ve already found some good people these past couple days and we’re going to find more. I hope I get to keep this companion until the end of my mission. We’ll see!
It’s fun to get to experience a different culture, being here in Japan, and being with a Japanese companion. I love the Japanese people more and more the longer I am here in Japan. Like any culture, it’s not perfect. It’s made up of imperfect people everywhere. I believe that the key to bringing cultures and different races and people together is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power to fill the holes in our lives and in the societies and cultures we live in. I know that no matter who you are, where you are, what your background is, how old you are, or how much or how little hope you may have, the gospel of Jesus Christ is for you. It will make “weak things become strong.”