Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015 Last email as a missionary in the Japan Kobe mission

So, I'm sixteen transfers down and only 5 more to go--five days, that is.

Mom and Dad,

This week was pretty unlike a lot of the other weeks of my mission, but that
was to be expected.

Last prep day we went to see the Naruto Whirlpools with some
investigators. There was supposed to be one rather large whirlpool,
but apparently there was a typhoon coming, so the winds messed with the
currents a bit and it wouldn't form; just several small whirlpools,
but the wind was nice and strong! About 60 mph! That made up for it!
We also went through a little exhibit they have nearby about the
whirlpools and went out for sushi afterwards. I finally had blowfish! It's one of
the items on my mission bucket list! It actually tastes pretty good!
Probably my new favorite fish! Smiling face with Sunglasses

Tuesday we had the mensetsu for our baptism on Saturday. She passed!
But that was expected: she's waaay solid! It was also a pretty rainy
day, so it was nice to get soaked through my kapa while out dendo'ing.

Wednesday we went out to the genki LA and had a lesson with him. He
said he'd come to church this week because he wanted to hear my talk
and final akashi. We also met with the other member out there who
we've been visiting lately and had a small message for him. He's got
to the point where he asks if we're coming over rather than us asking
if we can, so I think he really appreciates it!

Friday was my last district meeting and it was cool to be able to
teach it. The zone leaders also came to our's rather than their
district, so the pressure was on. Afterwards we went to Tokushima
Ramen, which is the best ramen in Japan, and it was pretty crazy
delicious! We'll have to go if we ever come to here in the future.

Saturday was one of the craziest days of my mission! We met up with a
member to head out to another member's place in the mountains for
a shokuji. One of the other choro's, Page Choro, gets carsick. and he
didn't take anything, so he ended up puking on the way over. We got to
the house, and we first had a lesson with the wife of the member who
drove us. She's wanting to be baptized, too, but her husband's mom is
hantai and won't let her. We discussed how we can overcome that
barrier. After the shokuji and a couple games, we went over to the
ocean for the  baptism! The water was pretty cold! It was kind of interesting
having it at the ocean because the members wanted to play afterwards and had come
in normal clothes--even the branch president--so only the missionaries
were really wearing dress clothes!

After returning from that we biked out to the kid we were finally able
to meet a couple weeks ago for the appointment we made. Since he wasn't
home, we went on over to another person's home we've been trying to
contact and finally were able to meet him. We set up an appointment
for Tuesday! Saturday was a pretty great day!

Yesterday, I had my final talk in Japan. I was pretty nervous, and I
also had just confirmed our convert, so I was still a little shaken
from that. My talk could've gone a little better but it went fine.
The LA did, in fact, come, as well as the  couple we went to the
whirlpools with! I had also arranged a kōkan with Iverson Choro for
that day, so during Sunday School we had a lesson with one of their
investigators who wants to be baptized. He wants to first make sure
he's ready and solid before being baptized. He's way solid, too, and
hopefully can make the decision to follow his Savior soon.

Our investigator wanted an on-the-down-low baptism, so only one of the
other companionship's investigators, the convert's best friend, and a
couple of members came to it. Last week, though, at the kid's baptism,
our investigator who has studied many religions came, so that was
great. He was glad to be invited.

Okay, that's all I got for now! See you soon! :)


Monday, May 11, 2015


Happy Mother's Day: It's officially YOUR Mother's Day now!

Mom and Dad,

I'll probably make this a short one because of the plans we have today and because you know about the biggest part of what happened this week (baptism) from skyping. Did I mention I'll be baptizing her in the ocean?

Last preparation day, the reason I didn't have much time was because we went to Asutamu Land. It's similar to OMSI. It's a bunch of science exhibits and simple, interactive science projects and even a Planetarium. It's mainly meant for kids but there were plenty of adults playing around outside on the science-themed play structures and the projects indoors. It was pretty fun!

We went to Kazura Bashi: that means "Vine Bridge." It's an actual vine bridge in the mountains on the other side of the prefecture. We went with the recent convert we're doing AB lessons for and one of their friends from work, and the guy in the branch who's super fun and organizes activities randomly. He decided everyone was going to hike the mountain and drove us. We talked a bunch about spiritual stuff in the car with the friend of the recent convert because it was a 2.5 hour ride out. Those discussions and then getting to walk across a vine bridge made the day pretty awesome, but once we got back we had a lesson with the truth seeker. I've determined for certain that we have to help him focus on the right things-- not the little, itty-bitty stuff. The lesson went kind of difficult because he wants to focus on the little, itty-bitty stuff and not the whole.

On Thursday I kokan'ed with Page Choro. I was also his district leader last year, so it was cool to see how far we had both come in the last year. We tried visiting a LA that he's only visited once, and whose actual address has apparently changed. It ended up taking a little while to find and then the LA wasn't even home. Later we had a lesson with an investigator they picked up from the shimai who they've been trying to meet with this whole transfer, but she keeps not showing up. She finally showed up! It was a first lesson deal where we get to know each other and what her knowledge and beliefs about religion are. Then, after that, we had a lesson with the recent convert they're teaching, which also went pretty well.

Friday we had to go to Takamatsu for ZTM. They had me bear my bye-bye akashi. The first thing I said was that I get to use Facebook before all of them! They all had a good laugh. Usually those akashi's are only done in Zone Taikai's, but this last one the returning missionaries weren't called up to do it, so I thought I wouldn't have to give one. I was wrong. I went back to Tokushima after the meeting with one of the zone leaders--the same one who was in my last district. We had a good kokan. We had game night later, at which the whole process of this baptismal decision began to transpire.

Then there was Sunday. You know the gist of that already through Skype. We managed to make it though all three lessons. The first was with the girl going to be baptized, and we had a couple members to help sort out all the details. The next was with the guy who's studied a lot of religions. He had his friend over, so we kind of focused on him more since he was new. He was just there this once and won't be continuing discussions, unfortunately. The third was with the guy who was going to move to Canada but in the end didn't. It was a simple lesson because a chunk of time was used to discuss this service he might have for the missionaries to help out with.

Sooo yeah! That was my week!

I guess I'll leave it at that because I don't have anything else to write about, and time is just a little short. I'll email you again next week. Maybe!


Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015

Mom and Dad,

So it's Golden Week here in Japan. That's basically a whole week of successive holidays that a lot of people have off work. It also means a lot of people are out of town and/or relax during the whole week because it's the only real break anybody gets. It makes things slow down quite a bit.
So, this is obviously pretty late. We went out and did cool stuff at cool places, so I don't have much time to write anything. I'll explain about what we did in next week's email.

Tuesday we had TTT--Trainer/Trainee Training--in Kobe, so that took up basically the whole day. It was a pretty good training, but it was focused a lot on iPads and how to use them for more effective teaching and study, and the other half was normal how to be good trainers/trainees. Fun stuff!

The next day we went to the older genki LA for a lesson. We took the visit to get to know him better such as his conversion story and other big events in his life. We think we can take what we learned to help him progress further and start coming regularly to church again. We also were asked to visit another active member that's having a hard time, so we stopped by his place on the way back and shared a message with him, for which he was really grateful.

Saturday was pretty crazy because we went out to contact one of the shimai's investigators we haven't met with yet, and we actually found her at her shop and exchanged contact info! Then, on the way back towards town, we dropped by two referrals we received from people long ago, but have never been able to meet them since they'd never be home. Well, we found BOTH of them, so we felt pretty blessed!
But yeah, that's what I had this week.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

4/27/15 email

I thought I wouldn't have homework 'til I went back to BYU!

Mom and Dad,

This last week, the new Area Book Planner app on our iPads got sent out, so now we have to do all our records on that rather than on paper. What's more is we have to take all the records from the past and put them on, as well.

Last prep day went over to meet the office choro's at the shimai's old apartment to help them finish up the last things to clean and close it. It only took a little while so it wasn't much of an obstruction to prep day. Then of course we went over to the couple's house for the weekly shokuji. They had a guest come over earlier that day--a lady from Nagoya--who liked to talk. They ended up taking us out to a ramen restaurant. It was pretty good, and they give you unlimited eggs to put in your ramen!

Wednesday we went out to the way genki LA and met with him. He got called to the hospital randomly for a check up, so we didn't have much time to see him. We talked with him about the importance of coming to church and the Sacrament and those kinds of things. Then later that day we had a lesson with an investigator we picked up from the shimai. She's super solid and wants to be baptized, but she's been having difficulties with her mom consenting, so she can't right now. We met and talked about things she can do to help her mom soften her heart and consent, but the zone leaders and I--and even she--think that she's on the verge of getting permission, so we're looking forward to that happening soon.

The next day all of the missionaries of the Rock gathered in Takamatsu for another iPad-related taikai. This time it was for the app I mentioned earlier, which is the second of three stages that they're rolling out full usage of iPads in.
Anywho, this is where we were told to get all of our current teaching pool info put on the app before Sunday evening rolled around. Since we had our own investigators as well as half the shimais' to put in--and several peoples' history goes pretty far back--there was a lot to do, so it took a lot of time to get it in. We're still not finished, but everything we needed to have the app calculate work correctly was done, so I was able to sleep well last night. This app is going to be awesome for missionary the future. Right now it's kind of a nuisance.

Friday was packed with stuff! We went again to volunteer at that class at the university, then after that we joined in a special international students' basketball activity they have arranged which begins right after that class ends. You should have seen their faces when they saw four gaijin walk into the gym in dress clothes, then again when we came out of the locker room geared up to play basketball! We all had a good time and we talked to a few of them about why we're in Japan and what we do, so hopefully that will spark something in them. Later in the evening we had game night, and we spent the majority of it playing a card game called "Pit". You should look it up: it's pretty fun. This is the first time I've been at game night and didn't give any attention to the ping pong going on, it was that fun.

Saturday morning we dropped by one of the young men in the branch's baseball games. He's the pitcher, and we saw him go to bat once, so we got to embarrass him a bit. His teammates all thought it was awesome that gaijin were cheering for him, though. Later in the day we went out to the LA lady and her non-member husband and had a nice lesson with them. We talked about family, which is really important to them. We're going to try to help them see how the Gospel helped her children when they were being raised.

Last night we met with the guy that studies a lot of religions. We taught him about the Gospel of Christ and how it's the way back to God and to eternal happiness. He said he wants to follow it, but he feels he is turning his back on all the other people he's studied with, which is hard for him.
Okay! That's my email for this week! Next week we got a couple things going on, and we're having better contact with all the investigators we got from the shimai, so next email might be a little crazy!



Time turner anyone? I could sure use one these days!

Mom and Dad,

Crazy, Crazy week with lots of mixed up numbers confusing my old, tired brain!

The last couple of weeks we've been wanting to go do something fun on prep day, but it keeps raining and doesn't leave us able to do much. At least we got the weekly shokuji with the older couple to look
forward to. It does look like it'll be a weekly thing from now on with the shimai gone out of the area. Last week we had sukiyaki, which is a basically a bit pot with lots of stuff stuck in boiling water places on table in front of you and you just reach in and pull out what you want and dip in in a sauce or a raw egg or something like that. Sooo good!

On Wednesday we went out and visited the LA guy who loves missionaries and the church, but has a hard time returning to activity. It was really windy that day and it was going in the opposite direction from where we were headed, so it made the long trip even longer. We were able to have pretty good lesson with him. After that we tried to go out even further to visit an investigator the shimai were teaching, but they weren't home, neither was a past referral who also lives out there. On the return trip, the wind magically switched directions to blow the opposite way! There's no such thing as a tail wind on your mission. We also had to meet up with the Office Choros to let them into the shimai's apartment and take the fridge and washer and stuff like that so they can close the apartment. They were pretty grateful for our help because earlier that day they had to go and close Habikino because there are no missionaries there and they had nobody to help as a result.
Friday was fun because we had district meeting, so I got to teach that again. It looks like we'll only have one or maybe two more the rest of this transfer, so I won't be having many opportunities like that for the rest of my mission. The one we had that day was pretty well and we discussed lots of stuff that I felt would be good for the district to hear. Later we met up with an investigator to go with him to an advanced English learning class that Choro's used to volunteer at. We were all surprised when the professor had us do Tai Chi at he beginning. Later that night we had game night with everyone, so it was a pretty awesome day!

The next day we went to visit a LA woman and her non-member husband the shimai were teaching. I wasn't too hopeful because she never really opened up to the shimai, but apparently they really like the Choro's. They ended up talking to us for a couple hours then took us to this really strange park near their house that has a giant tanuki statue that you clap at and a waterfall appears behind it. They also took us out to eat since we didn't have much time left in the day. After getting back from them we went and played volleyball for the first time in a few weeks.

Yesterday, following church we were asked to participate in branch council, so I'm expecting that the members are starting to trust us and desire to work together. The district president was also there, so having him participate in the discussion was also really great. After all of that we went a really really long way out to visit another set of investigators of the shimai, as well as the members that live next door to them. Well, it's a really far away place, and I've never been there, and the navigation on our phone is really bad, so it ended up taking forever. Not to mention the headwind that there always seems to be plenty of in this area. We ended up getting close and having to call the member to ask exactly where they live so she came and fetched us. We talked with the investigator, but she wasn't much into continuing with two gaijin dudes, but agreed she'd be happy to let the shimai come whenever they return to the area. Then the member invited us into her house to feed us spaghetti before we embarked on the long journey through the night! We ate and shared a message and then headed off. The kids the whole time the mom was cooking and we were all eating and sharing the message kept saying things like 'hurry up; we want to have time to play with the choro's!' We didn't end up having enough time, which bummed them out, but the mom said she'd be glad to have us over again soon. The members in this area are so awesome!

Alrighty, that's about it for this week.Things look like they'll be picking up pretty well over the next couple weeks, so I'm looking forward to that. Talk to you next week!


4/13/15 email

And thus begin my final transfer... I have this constant weird/unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach!

Mom and Dad,

Last prep day wasn't too different from all the rest other than Lamb Choro and Roylance Choro had to pack. Afterwards we again went for a shokuji at the couple's house. They were pretty shocked to hear that those two were leaving and that the shimai would be closing. It made for a kind of saddening shokuji, but we still had tons of fun! We also found Costco muffins for 60 yen each! That's about 55 cents each! 

The next couple of days were spent getting everything taken care of for those two to transfer and the shimai to leave altogether. We had to make a couple trips between our apartment and theirs to take all their food and other things they needed to give to us before leaving. The funny thing is Hiatt Shimai is still in Japan with her family and she'll be back in this area later this week to finish out the rest, so she still has the keys to that apartment and the phone. Lucky for us because we have had so many questions about their investigators and we've simply been able to just call or text even though her mission is over!
One of the other choro's investigators took the two of them to a race track in his super-charged Nissan Skyline and did a drifting laps around the circuit. He's planning on taking us later this transfer too! We also had a very well timed potluck party after eikaiwa. It ended up being kind of a goodbye party, but everyone enjoyed themselves. I made 800g of spaghetti because I thought nobody would bring much food. Yeah, just about everyone brought equal amounts of food!

Wednesday we went out to visit a less active guy we're teaching whom we haven't been able to contact. He's older but really genki and he loves the missionaries and church and everything. He was about to go to the hospital for a check-up, so we only had 5 minutes of so to talk to him, but we could tell he was grateful we stopped by.

On Thursday we got up very early to make it to Kobe for transfers. Mainly so I could make it to the honbu to pick up my trainee on time and everyone else wanted to come at the same time. My trainee is named Whitaker Choro and he's actually from Oregon! Well, not from any part of Oregon I call Oregon, though: Ontario--right next to Idaho. So, it's not green and rainy and culture atmosphere like Portland or Eugene. After all the meetings and getting his stuff taken care of--and traveling back, naturally--it was kind of late so we didn't have much time for anything else.

Friday, right before game night, one of the PI's we have who has learned a lot before and is kind of skeptical about taking lessons again called us up and said he wanted to try out the special half English, half Gospel lessons. He's already pretty freaking fluent, so he had questions about words neither of us know or heard! The Gospel discussion went pretty well, though! He said he learned something new and wants to meet again next week.

This weekend was GC here in Japan so there wasn't a lot of time to dendo. We did get called up by our truth seeker and he said he wanted to meet. It was a pretty big shock for Whitaker Choro--all the Japanese and such--but it went well. We talked to him about the Restoration and prophets and the Priesthood. He loved the analogy of the Gospel being a glass table, and when the Priesthood and everything supporting it is taken away it falls and shatters and nobody can get it back together, but God through Joseph Smith did just that. Every metaphor we used helped him understand the Gospel.

As for've got my SD cards. You know I haven't taken too many pictures so far, so don't be mad if I don't get many more!

Okay, looks like that's all I have for this week. Give my best to all and I'll write you next week!


April 6, 2015

So, I will continue to be DL here in Tokushima, but Roylance
Choro--despite having arrived here with me, is going to Omihachiman to
be DL. My new companion is going to be very new, literally. Brand new
to Japan. I hope he's Nihonjin so he can speak Japanese. Or at least
has studied it for a while before. Lamb Choro will be going to Abeno
to be ZL. One of the shimai finished her mission this transfer and is
going home and her companion is going to Okayama. My district is
going to be very small, but I'll also be training a greenie.

After the prep day, we had another shokuji with the older couple in the branch. They're awesome and they love us missionaries so much! We're going back again tonight!

DLC was on Tuesday. Got up at 5:30, left at 6:45, got back to
Tokushima at 7:15 at night. It was pretty great, though! The
best part was the Costco pizza and American grapes! It was a lot of
talk about rolling out the iPads and achieving what the First
Presidency wants.

On Wednesday I went on a kokan with Iverson Choro. We had the
appointment to bike out really far to that same place as last week.
When we got there, however, we found the investigator not home and when I called he
said his family came to town and was busy. So, we made do with what we
could and housed out around that place.

The next day I kokaned with Lamb Choro. We got to the little talk you
always do at the beginning of a kokan. Well, it turned into a crazy
revelation frenzy. One of his goal was to learn how to be more in
unity, but the discussion got really deep and we basically discovered
what we think might be the key to dendo in this branch and even

Friday was the first and last district meeting of the transfer!

Saturday: super busy. Morning: we helped with a cleanup project at a
member's house. Afternoon: hanami party all the way across the area.
Hanami is where you go to look at Sakura trees while they're in bloom
for the two weeks out of the year. Evening: young men's activity.
Impenadas and root beer!

Sunday night we had a shokuji with the most interesting family in the
branch and probably one of the most interesting families I've ever
met! The mom is super outgoing and hilarious, the dad is way quiet,
the second son spends just about all day, every day sleeping, it
seems, the three daughters are basically like your normal
teenage/young adult Japanese girls, and the oldest son makes his
living by racing RC cars. Yeah, it was a pretty fun night!

The iPads are pretty nice and useful, but I still tend to default to
paper items first. I haven't told many people about Brianna making
them because I'm not sure I can explain all that in Japanese.

Okay, that was my week. Submitted for your entertainment! Give my best
to everyone!