Monday, November 25, 2013

11/25/13 email

Mom and Dad,
So yeah, time is going by way too fast. It feels like I arrived in Japan just last week. I also re-read my mission call letter and can vividly remember it. That was almost a year ago!
Monday: Hiratsuka Choro was transferring so he had to spend preparation day packing. After 6:00pm we went to visit a PI family a little ways away. They weren't home so we went on to house in a neighboring area. We had just started heading back when I had the feeling to visit them again. We went back and the 15 year old son was home. I feel like we were guided back there.
Tuesday: So at kids' eikaiwa, there's this non-member that brings her 2-or-3 year old son. This little boy looks at us while we're teaching and it seems like he's thinking "oh my goodness, what on earth are these two gaijin doing?" It's really funny. We also had a lesson with one of our investigators. When we extended the baptismal invitation last week, he rejected it because he didn't feel like he was showing faith or repenting, so naturally he couldn't take the nest step and get baptized. This week we taught him nothing but faith and helped him realize that he's showing faith little by little as he meets with us, prays, reads the BoM, etc. He really seemed to cheer up by the end, so I'm hoping he'll be more receptive to the idea of being baptized and following the Savior. Also, at eikaiwa, the word this week was 'supercalifragilisticexpialodocious'. They were all disappointed to learn that it's not actually a word. We also got cupcakes and a roll cake from members because Hiratsuka Choro was transferring out. I'm starting to like transfers. ;)
Wednesday: What a great day (you'll see why soon). Last week we dropped off the bike that lost the pedal at the bike shop: we went to pick it up today. The problem was it's a 40 minutes bike ride but we didn't have bikes. So...we walked all the way there. It's all good because we streeted as much as we could on the way. After getting the bike, we went and housed the entire area of new houses and young families that I have mentioned in previous emails. That took quite a while! Afterwards, since it was Hiratsuka's last day, we went to lunch at TABEHODAI YAKINIKU. New favorite food: yakiniku. Beef Wellington comes in a close second. Following that, we rode back to the church and had a lesson with the GC investigator. We taught a lot more about how prayers are answered and revelations are received. We gave him the talk "Spirit of Revelation" by Bednar Choro. I think I mentioned it last week: it's an awesome talk and very helpful in teaching about the spirit of revelation.
Thursday: Transfers! We headed down to Kobe to go our separate ways and meet our new companions. I finally got to see a lot of people that I was in the MTC with at the transfer spot. It was sooo great. There's one guy, Steers Choro, who was originally my trainer's MTC companion, but due to health and other things left after a week and a half. He then came out again and we were in the MTC together. He's a way solid missionary, and he's now a zone leader in his 4th transfer! That's how awesome he is. Anyway, I got my new companion, Pace Choro. He's18 years old and fresh out of high school. He turned 18 a couple weeks before entering the MTC. He's got plenty of energy to make it over the hills in Kitarokko. After taking him back to Kitarokko, we went out and housed since there were no other previous plans.
Friday: There was a lot of bike riding and housing. That pretty much was the entire day.
Saturday: We met with one of our investigators. All I can say is he is awesome! He has incredible amounts of interest in the Plan of Salvation and, as he said, he wants to "come around" to the faith he originally had growing up. I have a great amount of hope for this guy! We're meeting with him next Saturday. We would like to meet with him more but, since he works at the school, he's pretty busy and tired on weekdays. Saturday was also the first day I really felt the responsibilities of being senior companion.
Sunday: So I felt the stress today. After church, we had a couple of surprise things that came up that kept us from our original plans. We also ended up re-planning the day because we originally thought we'd be attending a priesthood fireside in Kobe, but it turns out that it wasn't for missionaries. We also took a long time to plan a lesson we weren't even sure we'd get to teach that night. BUT, after the ward mission leader got back from Kobe, he took us to the investigator we wanted to visit and we were able to have a lesson with him. We chatted and then started into the lesson we had prepared. A short time into the lesson, I had the prompting that we needed to just talk and show Christ-like love--something he doesn't have from anyone else. We testified, at the end, that the Lord loves him and wants him to return to Him. We thought that would help him more than the planned lesson--and it really did! He even gave us each bro-hugs after the lesson. Unfortunately, we went a little long and I got several calls from the district leader and zone leaders--they were beginning to think something happened to us because I hadn't yet reported in. It all worked out in the end.
That's all for this week. Next week is the start of December! I expect in 30 days or so I'll be calling home! Seeing how time has gone quickly, those 30 days will be over tomorrow.

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/18/13 email

Mom and Dad,
So, the end of transfers means the two shimai and I are staying, but Hiratsuka (who's been here for three transfers) is going to Tsuyama to work with a Choro who was in my MTC district, and to be a DL. My new companion as of this next Thursday will be Pace Choro. I have no idea who he is, but he must be younger in the field than I am because it says I'll be senior companion. Crazy! He's coming here from Yonago, which has had a great success, so I'm hoping he's willing to work the extra mile--mainly uphill.
Alright, so on Monday we visited the family that Hiratsuka Choro and the Choro that he exchanged with found. Close by there was also a PI we found that said we should come back when it was bright out (it was 7:30 and pitch black when we housed them). Unfortunately, nothing came of it. BUT, we'll still try.
Tuesday: We had kids' eikaiwa and regular eikaiwa. I taught the students hippopotomonstrosesquipidaliophobia. The week before was antidisestablishmentarianism. Other than that, we taught the investigator I mentioned in the previous email. He's doing a lot better with remembering what we teach, as well as saying his prayers. We invited him to be baptized on 1/11, but he feels he needs more time.
Wednesday: Hiratsuka's bike has been having some small issues with the front shifter and the parts needed to replace it finally came in. We made the 40 minute ride to the bike shop and waited while they repaired it. After that we housed a bit in the area Carver Choro and I went last week; the one with all the brand new houses and young families. We then had to hurry back for a lesson at 7 with the GC investigator. We planned out a way good lesson and mogi'd it tons, and it ended up going really well. We invited him to be baptized on 12/28. He shot it down but he feels he's not ready to be baptized. After that lesson we had to go to an eki to give the contact info of a returned missionary to a PI that he found way back in February. That guy ended up not coming and said he'd drop by the church on Sunday to get the info. WELL, on the ride back from the apartment, at 8:50-ish, the left pedal on Hiratsuka's bike fell off. It just fell off. That bike shop honestly has to be the worst bike shop in the world because they keep "fixing" things that end up creating "new" ones to be fixed.
Friday: District Meeting, and companion exchanges with the ZL's. The two of them both came to Kitarokko and left their companions to work together in Nishinomiya. I worked with Carter Choro, who was also trained by Bogedahl Choro, and Hiratsuka worked with Aono Choro, who's probably the most entertaining Nihonjin in the world. Right as the four of us left the apartment, there was a guy walking by that Aono Choro immediately approached. He's actually Filipino. He doesn't know much Japanese. He teaches English at the nearby middle school. It was cool talking with him and he even said he'd come to church on Sunday! Afterwards, as I was working with Carter Choro, I was using Hiratsuka's bike which meant I had to keep getting off and tightening the bolt that hold the pedal on. Well, eventually, the bolt simply just stripped. Don't worry, the bike is older (4 years old).
Saturday: We went hiking with one of our investigators and a member of the ward. We hiked to the top of Mt. Rokko and ate lunch together up there. It ended up taking way longer than we expected, so there wasn't much time afterwards. That extra time was spent getting a ride from a member to the bike shop who happened to be taking his son's bike in for repairs. We left Hiratsuka's bike there--which will soon be Pace Choro's bike--while they fix it, he's borrowing one from a member. After that the Bishop and his wife had us over for dinner. I shared a message about faith and enduring trials, using the Mormon Message video from President Eyring's "Mountains to Climb" talk, D&C122:5-8 and 2Ne12:2 (The house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains). Pretty much I talked about how trials (mountains) are there for our benefit and growth, and through the Atonement and Christ's power we can endure anything. Then I ended by saying how climbing those mountains not only makes us stronger but brings us closer to God (his house is established at the top). The Bishop and Hiratsuka both said it was a really good message.
Sunday: The Filipino guy came to church! He had a lot of questions about the service. We also made an appointment with him this Saturday to answer more questions. After church, we housed more in the area with all the new houses and such. Lastly, we had dinner at the Naganuma family's house. It was way fun and the four of us missionaries shared the message we planned using Elder Holland's "Lord, I Believe" talk to strengthen the resolve of the 22-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter to serve missions.
Yes, we heard about the typhoon in the Philippines from the members. The family of the Filipino guy is also fine since they're living in the northern part of the Philippines. He said the news is saying it's probably the biggest storm ever recorded in human history. He also remarked that there are lots of people like us (Mormons) from Japan and the Southeast Asia area helping out.
That's all I have for this week. For now, give everyone my best, as always.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Mom and Dad,
Wow, this transfer went by fast. I just hope I don't train next transfer--I don't feel ready!
This week was going on looking like it would end in a short email, but Saturday included a surprise that'll make it a little longer.
Monday: The Naganuma family wanted us to come by and share a message about dendo to strengthen their 22-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter's fire to serve a mission. We ended up not being able to, though, because one of their cars broke down, but it was still a pretty awesome day!
Tuesday: We biked up the foothills of Mt. Fuji again to have a last-minute lesson with the investigator up there before he went off on a trip for a week or so. November 1st was the start of suit season, meaning you should wear your suit whenever are outside. Well that day was actually surprisingly warm, so we took off our coats to bike up--but we put them back on before the lesson. Believe me, if you saw or experienced that mountain, you'd understand.
Wednesday: We had an exchange with the DL and his trainee. Instead of swapping companions, they both came to Kitarokko and we split up. I went with the DL and Hiratsuka went with the trainee. It went really well. I spent a lot of time with the DL going over additional training on how to be an effective missionary and a true disciple. He mentioned that the reason was because I need to be entirely independent--which really means "you'll probably train next transfer." Oh boy. After all the training I got from him, which I'm actually very grateful for, we went way out to find some potential investigators and to tract. We also received a text from the Protestant investigator that he doesn't want to meet anymore, which is very sad. His Protestant friends are giving him a difficult time. We planted the "Gospel seed" and hopefully he will nourish it sometime in the future and it will grow. It was still a pretty cool exchange. Hiratsuka and Isaac apparently found a family that seems to be interested.
Friday: District Meeting (finally).There hasn't been a District Meeting all transfer because of transfers, interviews, and the double Zone Training Meetings. The Meeting went really well: we learned a pretty crazy, new grammar point from one of the ZL's, and we also spent a lot of time learning/discussing the Mission Training Plan. After that, and after getting back to Kitarokko, we spent the rest of the day finding investigators.
Saturday: The day of surprises. Last Monday, there was a family that Hiratsuka and I found while housing, and the mother is really interested in the concept of eternal families and such. She invited us to come back on this day, so we did that. Turns out she couldn't meet just then, but we set up another appointment. After we got back, we were going to continue our daily study and eat lunch, when there was a surprise voice at the door. We went and found the two AP's standing in our genkan! They came by to go on exchanges with the two of us. We ended up not getting to finish studying because the AP's wanted to get to work. We went to lunch at a curry house, then the junior AP, Carver Choro, and I took off while the senior, Kershisnik Choro (the super-awesome guy who's been AP for 5 transfers), spent time with Hiratsuka. Honestly, if I took the time to write everything I wanted to say about what I learned, what we did, how much of a boss Carver Choro is, and how much I was intimidated to be on an exchange with him, etc., it would take A LONG TIME and the email would be REALLY LONG. Let's just say I couldn't be happier or more excited to do anything than to be a missionary serving in this mission at this time. I will say, however, that I was exhausted by the end of the exchange because of working so hard. I think I mentioned this, but the two of them served together in Kitarokko last year, so he was already excited to be back and see what's changed; in addition to his excitement to serve, made it all the better. The funniest part: they left before the day was over, so Hiratsuka and I had even more time to go out and work. Needless to say, I went to bed a little early that night.
Sunday: Sunday is always good. Right after church we went to visit a potential investigator that we found on Thursday. She actually told us that we should come by before noon because her husband has no interest in religion. Problem is that church ends at 1pm so the husband was there and he didn't want us to present a lesson. We also had the same investigator that came to church last week come this week, which was excellent. That night we went out with Asada Kyodai again to visit people. We went to visit one of our investigators and hopefully teach a lesson. We didn't get the lesson in, but we're going to keep trying. We decided to visit him every week.
Other than that, I have breaking news:
I just got an email from Bogedahl Choro. The lady we challenged to be baptized and was originally scheduled on October 13th, then the 27th, got baptized on Saturday! Unfortunately the awesome young man, that was suppose to be baptized too, did not get baptized.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Mom and Dad,
Monday-Normal P-day: We ran around and got lots of miscellaneous things done.
Tuesday: Kids' eikaiwa in the morning. This week was my turn to teach. Let me say: it's way awkward standing in the front of a room full of kids and their mothers and teach English. Also, it's expected that you act silly and what not for the kids, so that makes it even more awkward for us. I decided that from now on the gaijin sister missionary and I will teach together so she can be silly and I can be a little more normal. Don't you love compromises?
We rang one of our investigator's doorbell twice and knocked, but he didn't answer. We were sure that he was there, so we called him. No answer. We rang again and finally he came to the door. He opened it only to shut the door and lock it. Hiratsuka and I had no idea what happened so we kind of stood there for a couple minutes. We then called him again. No answer. We rang his doorbell again and he answered saying he was sorry and that he had forgotten about the appointment and was in the bathroom. He added that he'd see us next week.
Tuesday is also regular Eikaiwa. I added a new dimension to our teaching. After I finish teaching that week's lesson, I play hangman with the students and teach them a really long English word. Last week was fluccinocinihilipilification. This week was pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicavolcanoconiosis. They love it! This Tuesday will probably be hippopotomonstrosesquipidaliophobia.
Wednesday: we taught the young investigator who is Protestant. He had asked his Protestant friends about prophets and the priesthood, to which they said both no longer exist. Latter-day prophets and the priesthood are truths that are going to be difficult to teach him about because of those that do not have that knowledge.
Thursday: We biked up the foothills of Mt. Fuji again to teach one of our investigators. He's a way solid guy and understands spiritual things, but he has a couple of hurdles that are hindering him from accepting the Gospel. He is kind of along the lines of a philosopher. I always thought that teaching people with a Christ centered base would be easier because they would recognize the truth more readily--there's so much I have to learn!
That evening we also went to the house of an investigator with the sister missionaries--I'm going to refer to them as the shimai from now on. The investigator wanted us to be at a Halloween party she was holding for some elementary school kids she works with--to be an example for the kids and to help them with English. Well, there were probably twelve kids or so; all grade school boys except for one girl. It was a very long, very exhausting hour-and-a-half.
Friday: We had Zone Training Meeting, so we were in Kobe again. Awesome! I love Kobe and the honbu. ZTM was really great; our ZL's are way awesome. One of them was also trained by Bogedahl Choro. At ZTM we talked a lot about how to apply the new Mission Training Plan, and to prepare some special lessons plan for it. Compared to previous ZTM's, it was a little short--probably because we just had one two weeks before. Oh, I also bought a jar of Nutella from the honbu. Life keeps getting better and better! :)
Saturday: we rode way far out along a super narrow, curvy highway that had no space for bikes. Yes, if you saw it, mom, you would freak out. Our reason was to visit an investigator that hasn't been met with in awhile. I haven't met with him before so I didn't know a whole lot about him. The conversation lasted only about a minute and that was mainly Hiratsuka Choro was trying to get him to talk. While we were out there we did a lot of searching, then we headed back for a lesson we had scheduled with the really energetic guy we met with right after General Conference. It was a really good lesson and the member we had there was really helpful. We invited the investigator to come to church, but he declined. He doesn't quite see the need or importance of going to church.
Sunday: He came to church! Funny the way the Spirit works, huh? He actually showed up right after the Sacrament was finished, but was able to catch all of the testimonies that were shared. He went home after Sacrament meeting so he missed out on Sunday school and Priesthood. After church we went dendo-ing with Asada kyodai, the amazing hair-cutter. He probably has some of the strongest dendo fire in the ward. On Sundays (as often as he can) he takes the missionaries in his car and dendo-s with them. We visited a lot of less actives as well as several potential investigators; we also visited the guy who's super busy and, therefore, difficult to meet with. It was probably one of the most productive Sundays I've had in my life!
Lastly, do you remember Elder Holland's talk from April Conference entitled "Lord, I Believe"? All should read it and ponder it--that includes anybody reading this on my missionary blog!
It's a really great talk that has helped me. We are going to teach the principles in the talk tonight at a dinner appointment.
That's all I have for this week. I took a little more time this week since I had time to read and respond to two weeks worth in one email. Give everyone my best!