A Day at Church

I like the people at church here…  It’s weird being at church somewhere else, though…  Similarities, differences.  Indeed.
Not this kind (pictured) of church, by the way.  Ours looks much simpler. ^_^

Okay, this post is going to be much more personal and much less funny, and rather a bit more religious, so if any of that doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip this one.  Besides, you got two updates this time, so feel free to be satisfied with the one that’s much funnier.  Also, I’m LDS (Mormon), and I’m not really going to explain the terminology I’m going to use.  If you are still interested but don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to send me an email (or comment; I get those every now and then when I edit and make new posts) and I’ll clarify some of the terms.
Okay, so this was the third week I’ve gone to church here in Japan.  (I’ve been here a month already!  Weird!  Oh, and I missed the first week.  I feel a bit bad about it, but it doesn’t bother me too much.  I was lazy, blah, blah, blah, but I found a church, and I’m going now, and that’s what’s most important!)  It’s very interesting to see.  There’s a lot more mayhem, it seems to me, involving children and talking in sacrament meeting and such.  On the one hand this is unfortunate, but on the other hand, it kind of seems… somehow warmer to me.  A little bit.  The people here really are a lot like a family.  There’s no picking and choosing who you want to hang out with, at least to the extent you can in America.  That may partially be a side-effect of only having about 200 (tops) active members in the ward, but something tells me it’s more a societal thing.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend too far beyond the borders of the church building, from what the missionaries tell me.  (We’re like, close friends by now, seeing how I’m excited that they speak English with me, and they’re excited that there’s finally a member around who knows what the church is kind of about and they can ask for help in their own way without imposing.)  I guess the members are all afraid to boldly wear their religion, which is completely understandable, even without the social taboos of Japanese society!  There’s a fair amount of inactivity in church as well; and there’s entirely too little social interaction between the YSA members!
I had to wait for freakin’ two weeks before they had an event for the YSA members in the ward.  And it was today, after church, after General Conference.  (For those keeping track, they rebroadcast/play General Conference almost a week later here because to watch it live would kill your sleep schedule, and even a little delay would put you showing it a day later, so they hold off a week.  That’s cool.  They had a room for it in English, which was nice…)  The YSA event was a lot of fun, and generally seemed to be heading in the right direction for what sorts of activities should be done at YSA events.  There was a series of brief games intended not necessarily to WIN, but to get people to meet and say ‘hi’ to one-another, and to establish a presence of approachability amongst the members.  Great!  Perfect!  How else are kids gonna start dating and find a nice other kid to marry if they don’t even TALK to each other, right?  And the best part is that they have one of these things every MONTH!
Wait, month?  Seriously?  Did I hear that right, you said ‘month’…?
Really?  Like…  for real, only once a month?  As in… once every 30 days or so?  Um… so… do the Mormon kids hang out outside of church at least?
Well, not that I’ve found.  And it makes me sad.  VERY sad, actually.  These are good kids!  They’re just normal people, and they aren’t hanging out together!  I don’t even LIKE Mormons in the US and I was hanging out with them all the time!  I had friends at church that I hung out with more than my friends NOT at church (which is unfortunate only because y BEST friends aren’t members of the church, and so that means I wasn’t hanging out with them nearly as much as would have been optimal… Sorry, guys. >.> ).
So I think I’ve decided that, because I know better how to do the whole “hang out with kids from church” thing, it rests on me to help show these kids that it’s a good thing to have friends from church, and to hang out with them.  I mean, they all seem to LIKE each other okay, right?  I want to do what I can to help the church here, and right now it seems like what I can do is to help foster a greater spirit of camaraderie amongst the people my age OUTSIDE of church.  Maybe I could get a movie night started over here as well…  (Out of curiosity, is that still going on back home?  If so, how’s it been?)  I’m thinking about, sometime this week or next, getting a group of people to go do karaoke with me, since I haven’t DONE karaoke in Japan yet, and it’s also a wonderful group activity with likely much socialization and fun times.  So, wish me luck in that, as I take on yet MORE responsibility over here in Japan.  I just… it just seems right that I work to try to bring these kids together, you know?  There’s a beautiful thing we have in our church: the truth.  I know that being a part of the church is the only reason I’ve been able to be as happy and successful as I’ve been in my life.  It’s rarely easier, but it’s always better; and I hope that the kids out here don’t miss that…  So I’m going to do what I think I can, and give it my best.
On more impersonal and (potentially) interesting notes, the bishop for our ward is white, I’m not sure what he does for work, but he’s married to a Japanese lady, and he have at least one daughter who is, alas, too young for me (Maybe Tina’s age, or between Tina and Cat), and a younger son.  There’s one man from one country in Africa (never was any good at African geography, though XP ), and another man, who’s investigating, from a different African country.  There’s a man from Taiwan, and a couple from somewhere else in SE Asia…  There’s folks from all over in our ward, which is kind of cool.
The African man who’s a member also used to be a professional boxer!  That’s pretty cool, too.  He’s a real character, though!  Very energetic, and rather socially up-front and intimidating… and I’m AMERICAN.  Oh, the poor, poor Japanese. T_T
And in case anyone was thinking about coming to church here in Japan, you need to know and be prepared for the fact that, ah, hymns in Japanese are weird.  Sometimes they’ll end a phrase with a character whose vowel sound is “u”, and just sit there for a few beats.  That, or they may throw in an “n”, which is pronounced like the letter is pronounced in pretty much ANY word.  But it gets its own syllable in Japanese, which makes for… interesting musical phrases.  I’d almost like to direct a church choir in Japanese, just so I can see about making those nasty sounds go away… >.>
Alright, well I have homework (and I haven’t written the rest of Friday’s post yet either…), so I’m ending this here, for all who followed me to the end. ^_^
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