I have been posting on the blog quite a few pictures and descriptions of our accomodations and our travels and thought I should take the opportunity to actually tell you what we are doing here as missionaries. We are assigned to serve as Military Relations missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to the military members stationed at the Yokota Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base and Camp Zamp which is a Army Post with a Navy Air contigent. We are specifically assigned to work with the young single adult military members of the Church and also meet the needs of other military members assigned to these bases.
Our apartment is located in the town of Fussa near one of the main train stations. The tourist books describe Fussa as being "typical small town USA" because of the stores catering to the US Servicemen. Obviously they have not been to many small towns in the USA!! Yokosuka is about 73 km (45 miles) from Fussa but we understand it takes about 3 hours to drive there due to traffic. We went to Zama Branch the first Sunday after we arrived. It took us just over an hour to drive the 25 km. We understand it can take over 2 1/2 hours when the traffic is heavy.
Elder Arnell was called to the Honshu Military District High Council last Sunday. A Military District is like a Stake Unit of the church in its structure. The District serves only American Military Branches within its boundaries. The island of Honshu is the main island of Japan and covers over 1,000 miles. The area of our mission covers just the middle portion of the island but Elder Arnell may be traveling throughout the entire District boundaries. We figure it will take us the rest of 2010 just getting to know where things are and not getting lost along the way. Driving on the left side of the road can be a challenge. Since we lived in England 30 years ago we got used to it and it didn't take Elder Arnell very long to become accustomed to it as well as the winding, narrow roads.
The people in Japan are very courteous, both on and off the road. The road construction flaggers have lightsaber-like wands it indicate slower or stopped traffic. They are very humble and bow as you go by. The streets are amazingly clean and even though there are quite a few people coming and going there is not a lot of noise. As I mentioned, we live right next to a major train station and can barely hear the trains coming and going.
The LDS Church helds it's semi-annual conference in Salt Lake City the 1st weekend in October. Since we are 15 hours ahead in time from the Mountain Standard Time it was already Monday here where it was Sunday there. Therefore, we will be going to the church this Saturday and Sunday to listen to the conference sessions. Of course we know we can get them online anytime and have listened to a few sessions already. It is nice to be able to be with other members of the church though instead of just being in our apartment.
We plan to start an institute class here at Yokota soon as well as at the other two military locations. We just need to figure out the logistics. We will probably travel to the furthest base and stay for a couple of days each week. As I mentioned--it will probably take us the rest of this year just to get things figured out.
I hope you are all enjoying our little adventure in Japan as much as we are.