Very eventful Christmas week over here as I'm sure it was for you all as well. I'll hit the highlights.
Caroling dendou: My district and I gathered on Tuesday night and headed over to downtown where there's a tree lighting all down the street. I dressed up as Santa Claus as the rest of my district wore their Santa hats singing Christmas carols for people as they walked by. My job was to pass out the Christmas church video cards, English class fliers and Books of Mormon/ take pictures with a million and a half people. If you have two or three minutes right now, search on social media and browse near sendai Japan, I bet you can find a picture of me dressed up in a Santa suit with a kid or someone. Endless picture taking that night for me. It was exhausting haha but definitely a fun and memorable night.
Wednesday brought hot chocolate, whipped cream and marshmallows to our English class. Japanese hot chocolate isn't very good at all but with the whipped cream and marshmallow in it too (something they never do with their hot chocolate) it turned out great and was a big hit for the Christmas theme.
We were on splits for Christmas Eve. I was with elder Larsen! Fun day, taught a few lessons and had a good time riding bikes around and talking with random people. Ended the night at the church to have a little family home evening with some other single adults in the ward who didn't have families to celebrate with. It was nice. They provided a bunch of food, drinks and desserts and had a nice night together again as a district and friends.
Christmas Day: Started it off right by making my Christmas omelette, a tradition my family has done for years and years. It turned out amazing, if I might say so myself. Then we had Christmas district meeting! We brought the omelette, the sisters brought donuts and cake, and the zone leaders brought drinks and eating ware. We opened presents, exchanged white elephant gifts and had a nice spiritual message at the end about the huge and significant role Christ is in our lives. Then I got to skype my family for the first time since Mother's Day! It was splendid as they commented on how chubby I was looking and my haircut being subpar. Hahaha I'm just giving them a hard time but it was really nice. Everyone's looking so old and grown up except for my parents of course, still living out their prime. Tyler is still as goofy as he was when I left with his random questions but he's so big and growing up fast. Alli is starting to look like her older sister jessi, freshman in high school, unbelievably grown up. Jared is growing out his hair and soaking up the throne of being a senior at SRV. Jake is working hard in school, not dating at the moment as he's "busy" but he seems to be doing well and is planning to enter the Biomed field. My baby niece, Averi, is even more adorable than her pictures and can't wait to get to meet her again! Jess and Wil are looking magnificent as they too are in the midst of their physical prime, doing well and enjoying life as young parents occasionally do. I also got to meet a new cousin and see the rest of my cousins all big and growing up!
After Skype, we went out to dendou! Saw a lot of success in the 2 hours we had! Thank you Christmas! For the remainder of the night, we went caroling in the freezing cold in an attempt to bring the Christmas spirit to those at work and in need of some cheer.
In Japan, they decorate for Christmas downtown and hype it up a little bit as a society, but most everybody still works, a lot of the kids still have preparation schooling they have to go to on Christmas Day, and most of them haven't had a tradition in their family of giving and receiving gifts. It's pretty different from America. It was still an awesome experience and we had a great time and have tons and tons of unhealthy food in our apartment from the many gifts we received.
Another highlight was on Tuesday- two of the four zones in the mission met together here in Sendai and we had a Christmas Gathering with president smith. It consisted of a Christmas video compilation, a video president smith made of pictures of all the missionaries in the mission, a musical number, the reenactment of the nativity in which I was a part- a huge and crucial role- the star lifter. Yes, the audience may have not seen my face, but I was the make it or break it, if my hands weren't as delicate and strong as they are, who knows if the nativity could have actually been a success... ;). Then we had a testimony meeting. I felt the spirit like crazy! Elder Barr and his comp, me and my comp and a pair of sisters were chosen by president smith to bear testimony, on the spot, to half the mission. I talked about how happy I am to be on my mission, about the gift of being able to change, grow, and improve through Christ and how lucky we all are to be serving Him. To end the gathering, we had a big white elephant gift exchange and lots and lots of food.
This week is transfer calls- I have a good feeling elder Huston and I are going to be staying here together another transfer- which would be a first for me having the same companion for two transfers straight but I think that's how it's playing out this time around, we'll see. Also, for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we are asked pretty much to not do any dendou. Every missionary will spend all of the 31st in the apartment doing a massive deep clean of their apartment and then on the 1st, we read all of 3 Nephi and will go visit a Buddhist shrine with some members- as culture in Japan. I'm way excited and it'll be another fast week.
Love y'all and hope you had an amazing Christmas and will have a safe and enjoyable New Year!