Well, it`s probably one of the warmest days that we have had in a good little while! It`s not in the negatives at all...oh and by the way, speaking of cold...I actually don`t need gloves anymore. (Hopefully you haven`t bought any yet...) So, turning twenty is a big deal in Japan, and every year they have something called a 成人式 (seijinshiki) which is basically a coming of age ceremony that everyone goes to. I of course wasn`t able to go to that, but because I turned twenty last year, the neighborhood authorities (that sounds kind of odd...I can` t think of the proper word in English...) came by our apartment yesterday and gave me a coming of age present...which was a 2,000 yen gift certificate to one of the department stores here! I was pretty surprised, but it turned out perfectly because they had a really nice pair of gloves there at the store for just that much.
We had zone leader conference down in Nagoya this week so that was good...it`s always a great opportunity to refocus on what we want to do with dendo in our own areas, and get recharged on dendo fire. Part of the zone leader conference is discussing the goals of last month, and the ones that we have set for the new month...the new January baptism goal that we have set for the Nagano Zone is 2-7. We were able to achieve the low range end of our goal last month, and we have lots of great investigators getting close to being able to receive baptism, so everyone is excited to see what we can accomplish in January. :) Going back a little bit to the zone leader conference...we also got to have a lunch made by Sister Baird, which was DEFINITELY worth the trip. I love Japanese food, but it is amazing to have an American style meal!
We were actually scheduled to move this week, but I guess a few complications with the apartment are causing it to maybe get moved to next week sometime...not really sure when it will actually happen, but we will be changing apartments sometime in the near future.
We had a pretty neat experience with O----- this past week! Actually we weren`t able to contact him for about 4 days over New Years, and we were getting really worried about him, but on Thursday we were able to meet with him three times! He called and said that he wanted to take us out to lunch and talk, which we did...and then later in the day we saw him as we were biking, and finally we had a lesson with him right before we went down to Nagoya for Zone Leader Conference! We really felt that was a huge blessing. He is doing awesome! He set a goal to stop smoking on the first of the year, and has been keeping it ever since! He is so much more focused on his baptism date now, and it`s awesome to see him making such big progress :)
I actually just remembered...we are finally getting family history facilities here in Matsumoto! It`s been kind of frustrating to not have anything like that to help investigators get interested in family history, but our branch president just installed the computers for it and it looks like from now on that is something we will be able to do! :)
Oh yeah okay...so some of you have been asking about culture lately, and last night we got a new little culture experience. When we were leaving for church yesterday we were heading through the park, and saw these HUUUGE bonfire heaps with these ceremonial heads on poles and stuff like that and had absolutely no idea how they got there, or what it was all about. Well, in the evening, after dinner, we were heading out of our apartment to go visit some people and saw that there was a really large crowd of people streaming into the park, and there was a bunch of smoke rising. We went over to check it out, and found that they had lit both of them on fire and the whole crowd was just standing in a circle, with multi pronged sticks in their hands. We watched the fire as it burned down to a smaller size (the ceremonial heads made little explosions and flashes of fire when the fire reached them) and then everyone crowded around with their sticks, on the ends of which were little balls of mochi (pounded rice) and roasted them in the fire like marshmallows! I can`t remember if I`ve mentioned mochi before, but it`s kind of a sticky, doughy texture, and super delicious. Anyway, I`m not exactly sure of the whole significance with that event...but I thought it was pretty cool. I guess you`ll be able to see a better idea of it with the pictures.
Kind of a little side note from something that I mentioned when we talked on Skype...I have continued reading Jesus The Christ, and am enjoying it so much! It has drawn my attention to so many things that I never noticed before while reading the scriptures, and I have spent a good number of personal studies just on a few pages of it, reading through all of the cross references that it has to the scriptures.
I actually wasn`t looking at the time very closely! I`ve got to get going...but as usual, have a great week, and I love you guys! The gospel is true! :)