Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24th, 2014 email

Mom and Dad,

There's so much that I'm not sure where to begin.

Wednesday morning the ZL's had us come over to Yonago to do an exchange so I could receive some DL training from them--and then we would all leave for Kobe for DLC. They wanted us in the Yonago church by 10 and it's a 2 hour train ride, so we had to get up very early. Once there, we split off and I, along with the other DL in the zone, received training from the ZL's. Then the four of us went to lunch at a way cool sushi place. I'll admit it now: sushi is a way good--real sushi. Then we had a bit more training, then we caught a bus all the way to Kobe. There was some wreck on the highway, so we spent about a half hour or so sitting in one spot without moving the slightest. We were in transit about 4 hours on the road, but we made it to Kobe before 9pm.

After spending the night in the Kobe apartment, we had DLC the next day. Holy cow, it was incredible! I'll just say that I'm honored and way nervous to be a DL--especially for the first time--at this point in the mission. Kaicho decided the missionaries are having a difficult time using the current training plan designed to help us rely on the Lord because we need to have a 'higher' relationship and knowledge of Christ. So, he decided to put a different, brand new training plan in place for the next two weeks. This has never been done before and nobody knew about it until DLC. Usually these things are done at ZLC, but Kaicho said there isn't time to wait till then. For the whole afternoon part of DLC, Kaicho went through the new training plan with all of us. It's basically designed to make every single fact about Christ, who He is, what He did, and what He can do resonate in your mind and soul until you understand it completely. That's kind of where it got scary, because Kaicho told us that we, as DL's, have to present it to our districts the very next day at district meeting.

Oh yeah, Thursday morning we had a lesson appointment with the guy who called on a payphone and came to church last week. Obviously, we weren't in Tottori to do it, so we had to have the shimai teach the lesson for us.

Anywho, following DLC we went and caught a bus back to Yonago. We got there way late, about 10pm, but we had permission. Then Calder Choro and I had to catch a train back to Tottori early the next morning to make it to district meeting, which I already had to postpone an hour since I was coming from Yonago.

So, after going from Kobe to Tottori at transfers, I had to go right back to Kobe, then back to Tottori within a week for DL training. I spent $200 on travel! Best part: I have to spend another $60 to go to a taikai where a GA is speaking this week, then back to Kobe and back again next week for Trainer/Trainee Training Meeting. Boy, I'm glad that travel is reimbursable. :)

At district meeting I presented the new, temporary training plan to the district I've never been over before, in a part of the mission I've never been before, at a position I've never been before. You can imagine I was way nervous. I had seen how serious Kaicho was about this and the sense of urgency in his presentation, and I was doubting I could present it with the same power and urgency.

Fortunately there's a little thing called the Spirit. My district didn't know what was coming up, just like we didn't before the training meeting. I was praying in my heart the whole time leading up to it that I could somehow convey what Kaicho conveyed. After the presentation, I asked everyone how it was. One of the district members mentioned that I was noticeably nervous at the beginning, but as things settled in the Spirit took over and taught to them what needed to be taught. I can promise anyone that it truly wasn't me that was teaching the new plan to the Districtees. There's no way it would've turned out as well as it seemed to had it been solely up to me and my ability. I love it when those sorts of things happen; when the Spirit does the work.

Basically that's all I have to say about my week. It all covers the space of 3 days and the expense of 200 bucks! So Worth it!

Yeah, the jello ended up making a lot of the stuff a little more red--including the tie--but I wrapped that up in plastic wrap and dropped it off at a dry cleaners today. It should be almost perfectly fine after that. As for my other birthday stuff, yes I like it.

Yep, Elder Calder speaks Spanish. Sometimes in prayers he'll go from Japanese to English to Spanish, and jump randomly between the three. He also does that in his counting during his morning workout.

We actually live just a couple kilos away from the coastline, so if we ever dendo out by there during the day we could definitely get some good pictures.


Monday, February 17, 2014

2/17/14 email

Mom and Dad,

So far Tottori seems great! I have way too much to tell you because of transfers and because I'm now a DL/Trainer, so I have no idea where this email is going to go!

Tuesday we biked up the foothills of Mt. Fuji again! 久しぶり!We went and finally got a lesson with the guy that lives up there. Up 'til now he hasn't accepted a whole lot, but this time around we had a good discussion of life's wonders. It was perfect, actually, because we planned to teach about the BoM to him. We included how the BoM can answer all sorts of "questions of the soul". We then suddenly remembered a paper that the bishop's wife had given us that listed several questions of the soul, and references in the BoM where they're answered. We pulled that out, gave it to him, and he was way interested in that. He even said "yes, I have interest in this." Except it was in Japanese (はい、これに興味がある). Awesome!

One night--I've already forget which--we visited a PI that loves the missionaries and has met with them before. He also really likes English, so whenever we go over we talk to him in English. Well, I may or may not have taught him the word 'chocaholic'. Basically, he remembered that, and gave me a whole bag, a REALLY big bag, of chocolate.

Thursday, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant that I've been wanting to go to since I got to Kitarokko three transfers ago. It's probably the only legitimate Italian restaurant in all of Japan. Or, at least, they fake it pretty well. :) You'll have to wait to see pictures from it (still trying to get those off!).

So transfer day was on Friday. If you look at the map, you'll see that Kitarokko and Tottori are halfway across the mission from each other. We got up early to meet at Sannomiya in Kobe where transfers happen. There I had to wait for all the people going to the west side of the mission to gather so we could all go together. Unfortunately, there was a wreck on that train line, so our train was delayed an hour. We finally headed off as a group and got to the Okayama area--the honbu of the west side--about 2.5-3 hours later. Then we met up with our companions. My new companion/trainee is Elder Calder. He was born in Guatamala and raised in Utah. He's proven himself to be a pretty cool guy and hard worker, as well. After we got there, we had to wait about 3 hours for the next bus that would take us from Okayama to Tottori. Then the bus ride took another 3 hours, so after taking another 5-10 minute train to the eki by the apartment, it was 7:00 at night. Apparently every Friday night at 7 in this branch is game night, so we went to the church for that. The shimai had forgotten about it since they also had to deal with transfers, so it was us and a couple other members, and the shimai came a little late. Pretty awesome way to start out the transfer!

I've already met a lot of the investigators here. One investigator I met on Saturday really likes the missionaries.
Other than that, I've had to start completing my DL responsibilities. I haven't quite started them all, such as weekly follow ups, but I'll get those done soon. Funny story: I came all the way from Kobe to get here and now Kaicho is holding DL training this Thursday. So in less than a week of being here, I have to go all the way back to Kobe, then back here again.

Ya, I'll probably leave it at that for now. If there's more left over to tell next week, I'll do that.


10 inches?! Really? I'm missing all the good stuff! When Pace Choro and I left the apartment to go to transfers, it was snowing again. I have no idea how much accumulated, though.

It actually isn't any colder here than Kitarokko. There also isn't a flake of snow anywhere. The whole train ride to Okayama we could see snow our the windows,but up here, there's nothing. I guess the members and other people just don't know what it's like out here. The weather here is actually a lot like Oregon's; in other words, it's raining constantly and the wind is blowing. Another funny story: we were biking over a bridge that runs out into the Sea of Japan. The bridge is also the closest bridge to the Sea of Japan (yes, I'm on the coasts, right now). Well it seems that the Japanese coast is like the Oregon coast in that there is a lot of wind. As we crossed the bridge, that had no other buildings or bridges to damper the wind, we were blasted by super strong, super cold wind. We seriously were almost blown over. If it had been raining harder, I'm pretty sure that part could've been considered a typhoon!

One more funny story: When we left the morning of transfers, there was one more gift bag on our apartment door handle. Having absolutely no where to pack it since it couldn't fit anywhere, I carried it the whole time.

That's all there is for this week. I'm pretty stoked to get a whole week of dendo in my new area. Then again, I probably won't be able to since I have to go all the way to Kobe and back for DL training. Give my best and my love to everyone. I'm losing my English: at first I typed 'everything'. 皆様に私の愛を上げてね! That's better!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

2/10/14 email

Mom and Dad,
A couple of families had us over for a shokuji since my birthday was this week. Just last Monday we had a birthday party/setsubun party at the dendo shunin's place. He also invited a couple non members from his work over and one of them showed quite a bit of interest in the Gospel. At that shokuji, the family presented me with all the birthday presents that the ward got for me. There were a alot. There's going to be a lot to pack up to transfer.
This week was also freezing cold every day. The weird part is it was actually pretty warm last week--it was at least 60 degrees. We went and housed this HUGE danchi that's 11 stories tall. I counted all the mailboxes in the lobby afterwards: 160 apartments. It actually didn't take that long because a lot of them were vacant. We had anticipated that it would take practically all day to house it, but we ended up with extra time afterwards.
On Thursday we had another shokuji. We got there late because the navigation on this phone doesn't get anything right and one of our PI's calls us a lot at random times--so when I needed to use the navigation, I had to wait for the PI to finish calling, but, we finally got there. They had Google Maps open because they asked the shimai where they lived. I showed them our house then I remembered that the street view of our house has you and Jayden in it, so I showed you to the two of them, as well. Then I showed them the Portland Temple. They were pretty amazed by it. Number one temple! At the end of the shokuji, they presented me with a cake-- It was a Costco cake! A whole Costco cake! I don't think I've been so excited in my life! Since it was a huge cake, after everyone had a piece there was plenty for us and the shimai to take home. We still have a decent amount sitting in the apartment.
At ZTM on Friday, we learned something pretty incredible. Last Sunday, the day the mission had a goal to get 400 investigators to church, 5 baptisms took place. That makes 401 people that came to church! Also, today in the mission email, Zinke Kaicho apparently went around the mission and a couple Stake Presidents told him the number submitted for their stake was slightly off. After getting the correct numbers in there were substantially more than 400 investigators that came! Probably one of the greatest miracles that has happened in this mission!
Saturday. Talk about snow! There was about 4 inches when we got up at 6:30am and about 6 inches when we finished studying! We had a lunch appointment with one of our investigators so we left early to have enough time to bike there. Fortunately, the shimai were walking by as we were leaving and told us that biking probably wasn't the best idea. Lucky they did because looking back I think we totally would've gone through with biking there--so, we walked. I took a couple videos of it, so you should enjoy those. Yes, I'm still trying to get the pics and videos off.
Another great story about Saturday: we have another yakusokusha! It's the GC investigator. We planned a really great lesson using a lesson format the AP's taught to everyone at interviews. His date is for March 23rd.
Sunday, church was delayed two hours. In this part of Japan snow usually isn't a problem, so there's no plow service or anything to get rid of the snow. The two hours before church started were spent shoveling snow out of the parking lot. There are also a lack of snow shovels so we used normal shovels and sled-like scooper thingies. I've never been so sweaty in such cold temperatures.
Sooo, as you probably guessed from the title, I'm transferring. Dang! I'm going to the area that Hiratsuka Choro was in before coming to Kitarokko: Tottori! There's going to be sooo much snow there! I probably won't be using a bike for most of my time there. It's also way out in the boonies, but not quite as much as Nishiwaki. I'm going to be finishing up the training of a 2nd transfer missionary. I'm also going to be the District Leader! I sooo do not feel ready for this. I want to be here in Kitarokko for our baptism on March 23rd, but I'll go where the Lord wants me to go.
My birthday was a pretty normal prep day. We did get haircuts, though. My hair is really short again. The stores we looked at for Nikes were in a shopping complex that has tons of different stores. There are also a couple restaurants there including McDonald's. To save time, we ate there. I don't know if they're doing this in America or anywhere else in the world, but they're running an "American Vintage" campaign where the specials are old-style hamburgers. The current one is called the "Hot n Groovy". It's actually waaay good. You'll have to tell me if they're doing something like that in America.
I got a slip in the mail saying they came buy to deliver my package on the 7th but I wasn't here. So yes, I essentially have received it.
That's all I have for this week. Next week I'll be emailing from Tottori.  I'll probably have to watch out because of the crazy weather there. Give everyone my best!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2/3/14 email--Jordan's birthday

Mom and Dad,
So we've had a lot going on this prep day, and we have an appointment at a member's house at 4:30 for my birthday, so this email will have to be short.
On Monday, just a few days after interviews--at which we talked about doing all things with faith and having "faith in every footstep"--we went out housing afterwards. We biked a little ways out, and the whole time I was thinking about my faith level. I decided I'd think positively and rely on the Lord. Well, BAM, the Spirit led us back to this tiny corner of a small neighborhood, a place where probably not a lot of missionaries have housed, and at the very first door a lady came out. She seemed to have interest, though she said it'd be hard to make an appointment due to her busy schedule. Still, she wasn't trying to get rid of us. A few houses later, a mother came out who actually knew who we were because her son was friends with someone in the ward. She had a rather loud conversation from the door with that son--who had just gotten out of the shower--and us, relaying information and all. Long story short: she said they'd come to church to check it out.
That last bit goes in well with this next bit: the mission goal of getting 400 people to sacrament meeting this week. We got 396! Holy cow! The mission has been averaging probably 130 people each week! For the Kobe zone, and a couple other areas, yesterday was stake conference, so coming all the way from our area would've been tough. We were hoping the GC dude and the Filipino guy would come. The GC dude said he didn't have the time to travel down to Kobe for the conference.
On Friday, we had planned to go housing in this big remote area. As I was looking at the map, this one particular road stuck out to me. We went all the way to the end, which led up into this big hill. I led us there because on the phone gps there looked to be a cluster of houses. We got there and it was just a bunch of cabins that seem to be part of a summer camp sort of place. So, we went right back down the big hill and got started. There were a few houses that kind of let us off a path from that road I wanted to house. I realized we kind of strayed off, so I took us back, leaving a few houses un-housed. We continued down on that road 'til the end. We went to every house on the road and close-by it. There weren't that many because it was a rice farm land area. We got to the end and started to head back having not housed one house because we had a lesson with GC dude and we still wanted to polish up the lesson. We went up the road back to the highway, up this small slope. I looked and saw a small gravel path that lead right back down to the house. I decided: hey, we'll just ring, get kekko'ed, and be on our way; it'll take maybe two or three minutes.
So we swerved back around and went down that hill back to the one house. I skidded to a stop in the gravel driveway of the house--in a pretty awesome manner--and looked up to see a guy standing there. I quickly took off my helmet and told him who we were, right as my companion also skidded to a halt. He said he'd met missionaries before, and invited us in. We taught him, and though he wouldn't make a return appointment, he said he'd listen again if we stopped by and he had time! That was probably one of the coolest finding experiences I've had so far!
Then Saturday and Sunday was Stake大会。
We have next to no snow in this area. Nishiwaki, however, has a bit. I have been told that Toyoka, the extreme weather capital of Japan, has almost 5 feet.
Don't need an oven to cook cakes here! Missionaries found out a way to bake cakes in the rice cookers!
Thanks for all the birthday wishes and such! I really appreciate it!
That's all I have for this week, so until next week.