I am having a hard time getting my photos uploaded, but hopefully I will be able to get things working soon.
It is really amazing here! Niigata itself reminds me a bit of Yokohama where we lived. I thought I was going to the inaka rice fields and such, but it is a big city. There are quite a few community colleges and a university so it really is kind of like Kalamazoo MI area. There is a big beautiful river that we cross over to get to the Eki (train station) too! This area is famous for the best rice in Japan (Koshihikari) and fish. We are pretty close to the ocean. I got to see a glimpse of it on the way to an appointment about 30 min from the church.
I heard that the winter here is bad because it is so humid and snowy that it is hard to keep things dry. But for now it is still really nice. We are getting a kerosine heater for the apartment (we are the only zone that gets them because they are a little dangerous). We are also the only apartment in the whole mission that has a clothes drier, though it takes its sweet time getting things dry. :)
My bike is treating me well. It is perfect. I heard that because of the sea winds everything rusts really easily. :(
The members really take care of us here. They buy groceries for us every week and leave it in a big basket for us at the church. We split it with the Elders, but there is always plenty. It makes shopping on Mondays easier. Especially because we have to transport whatever we buy on our bikes. Though thankfully it is very flat here!
Anyway, funny story. On Sunday we had an inactive member come who we had never met before. She randomly pulled out 2 parakeets in the middle of Gospel Principles class! They were squawking and walking around on the floor and everyone just ignored it! Japanese people are good at ignoring social abnormalities like that. Anyway we took her and the birds out and talked with her one on one for the rest of church. The Elders had to explain to their investigator (who had never been to church before) that in all the years they had been going to church that had never happened before. :) Birds are not normally part of our Sabbath day observance.
Also we had a wonderful surprise lesson with a member who brought her close friend to us because she wanted to learn about how to pray. It was amazing to get to listen in on her first spoken, heartfelt prayer. I really felt how much God loved her as His daughter.
I am loving the food, of course! We are experimenting with cooking at the apartment, but I really enjoy getting store-bought food, too. I am recognizing a lot of things I ate before. :) Curry of course, katsu, udon, ramen, and all the really yummy bakery goods :)
My trainer is nuts about Mr. Donuts.