Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 24, 2014

Wait...Thanksgiving is this week?! I thought it was hard to keep up on holidays before they started switching them around. Don't tell me Christmas is actually in July... Wait: Thanksgiving is usually the third Thursday in November, right?

Speaking of Christmas, Welch Kaicho will be letting us skype home! I'm not sure what skype account we'd be using, but we still have a month to get that all figured out. If you still just want to do a normal phone call, just let me know. I'll understand if you don't. 

In other news, an investigator I taught a lot in Tottori got baptized! If you look through the pictures on my SD card (I still need that back if you want pictures of Kyoto), he's the big guy that's basically always wearing a doctors mask. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he got baptized! The church is true, and miracles never cease to happen! You have my guarantee!

Well, I don't have a whole lot of time to email today because some members are taking us out to eat (at tabehodai yakiniku!) and we still have to finish up the last parts of the move, so this'll be short and probably really bara bara (umm...sporadic? I don't know English anymore).

We had Zone Taikai this week! It was great! I still remember my first Zone Taikai last year in August. Things have changed a whole lot since that taikai! It was an awesome thing to attend, and we enjoyed this taikai immensely!

Wednesday we had another golden member-missionary moment. One of the shimai in the branch set up an appointment for us to meet with this man she knows who has started to believe in God more and more. The lesson was.......interesting (mainly because she is very enthusiastic about the Gospel and more or less "open[ed] up the windows of heaven and pour[ed him] out a [lesson] that there [wasn't] enough room to receive it." It was a very spiritual setting and he agreed to meet more with us and continue learning more!

Thursday and Friday: more bike problems! I'm not sure how much your prayers and fasts are helping that out, haha! I think this bike is just past the point of repair and needs to be resurrected already!

We met with our shigansha, finally! He's been pretty busy lately. He wanted to know more about the Fall, so we taught from Moses 3 and 4. We didn't just leave it at that; we connected it to baptism and how baptism enables us to receive of the full power of the Atonement and overcome the bad effects of the Fall and. I think his desire for baptism jumped up a decent amount through that lesson and the Spirit!

That's basically the gist of my week. Things started to pick up again! I'm certain it's because the move is almost over so we're not spending as much time with that, and we can feel the Spirit more abundantly since we're not stressed out of our minds half the time!

I may or may not be able to get cherry pie filling and sour cream. I talked one of the eikaiwa students to snag me some next time she goes to Costco, assuming they have it. Assuming, also, that she knows what it looks like! It took probably 5 minutes to explain what cherry pie filling was! I can get pudding here, so that's fine. Maybe a little more toothpaste--I'm almost out and Japanese toothpaste doesn't have fluoride in it. I also grabbed some slacks an old missionary left behind at the honbu when we ere there for Taikai, so I don't need slacks.

Grant's getting married already?! Honestly, I recently had two dreams about being done with my mission and getting married. Probably the two most unwelcome dreams I've had in a long while!

Nope, I didn't feel any earthquake. Where's Nagano?

Okay, that's all I have for this week! The days go by quicker and quicker and it feels weirder and weirder. Pray for them to go slower! And, of course, give my best to everyone and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving for me!


November 17, 2014

Six Months! That can't be right! I just got here! Right?

Mom and Dad,

I've passed the 3/4th mark. Doesn't feel like I have. I'm not old! Then again, my mission president told me I'm an old missionary last do many other missionaries. Duren Choro tries to tell me I'm old, but I remind him he's only one transfer behind me.
We taught the guy that lives way far away on Tuesday. This time we taught about prophets and dispensations, and the priesthood. He is so quick to understand and soak everything in! He told us he believes everything we've taught him, too! The only challenge is we have no idea how he can go to church. He lives way far from the two closest churches and doesn't have a car or anything for transport. We discovered a less active lives in that area so we're hoping he'll return to activity and hopefully be willing to bring this guy with him every week.

My back tire popped just before getting to his house so we were really worried about getting back to Ako. The investigator directed us to a nearby bike shop, so we went there. It's owned by this really funny old guy who is very difficult to understand even if you're native Japanese. He and his wife were way nice to us, and even did the work needed on the bike for free! That's not even the funniest part! While waiting in there, a middle schooler from the neighborhood sees us in the shop, comes in, and is absolutely awe-struck that there were two gaijin in front of him. He's been taking private English lessons since he was a kid, so he's really good and he LOVES America (and gaijin). I've never seen anyone as happy as he was.

Wednesday we moved a piano. A really big, heavy piano. No joke! It weighed probably 200kg. It's a super nice piano that was used in a popular music school somewhere in Japan, so it's made entirely of hardwood and dense, high quality metal. Crazy.

Friday, we had district meeting and I went to Himeji on a kokan! It's so much fun to dendo in the city! It's also way more fun to spend all your time talking to people on the street rather than knocking on doors. Oddly enough, all the Japanese missionaries like housing more, but that didn't stop us from streeting the whole time! He's fresh out of training (in Nishiwaki, like me!).

Saturday morning, we were doing study, then got a big surprise. Takaku Choro, the guy I was kokan'ing with, left the phone in the bedroom, so when he grabbed it we found several missed calls from Ako. Turns out the branch president called them that morning and said he was coming over to help us move stuff from the shimai's house to the new apartment. That all went on as the two of us rushed to Ako. Basically we spent the rest of the day taking in what the branch president left outside the apartment and bringing more stuff from the house. We can't really carry much on our bikes, though, so it was kind of a slow process. There are still things to grab and things to have someone move by car, but the new apartment is nice. We don't have gas or water yet, so we're practically sleeping and studying in the apartment, and eating and doing hygiene stuff in the house...which is literally half-way across Ako. So, it's been a really interesting weekend.

If you don't like brussel sprouts, I'll have to show you goya. It has a really bitter, pungent taste. Most Japanese people don't even like it, but I find it alright. Then there's nato, the fermented soy beans!

That's all for this week, it seems. Sounds like it's much colder there than here! Last year was probably the opposite: Kitarokko was pretty cold! Duren Choro thinks I'm crazy, but he's from California.Give my best to all!


November 10, 2014

Mom and Dad,

This week we were able to meet with the kinjin that lives on the other side of the area (in Mitsu). Apparently last week he was just sleeping so he didn't hear when we came to his house the first time, or the second time...or the third; however, we had a really good lesson with him. We taught him about God and prayer. When describing how making wrong choices separates us from God, he looked up and said, "what should I do for God?" It doesn't sound all amusing in English, but because of certain Japanese grammar points, it was way awesome. Basically it was along the lines of "what would be good to do as a favor for God?" Cool stuff!

We also had ZTM this week. It was a really good ZTM and one of the zone leaders was my district leader when I was in Shimogamo. After ZTM was kind of crazy because we had to get off the train before getting back to Ako to teach a lesson to an investigator living in Aioi. The man is really good friends with the branch president so we all went to drop by their house after having a lesson and going out to eat. I thought it'd be quick but they ended up talking for a looooong time, and we ended up getting back to Ako without time to meet with our shigansha. The lesson we had, though, went way great. We taught about our spirits and the pre-Earth life. He shared some crazy experiences he had as a kid. He definitely believes we have some sort of spiritual being inside us due to those experiences.

Lastly, we had the Primary Program in Sacrament Meeting. It's funny to see how all the different units do their Primary Program with a very limited number of kids and age range. They always get it to work out, somehow. It went pretty well. The best part was the two sunbeams sitting front and center that can't really sing or do anything, so they goofed around the whole time. Duren Choro and I had some good laughs.

It was a pretty tough week. My theory still stands that you always have really good weeks following a series of long, tsurai (hard to endure) weeks.

As for my Christmas package, I can't really think of anything I need or want (other than jello salad). I'm pretty well set. Maybe just one of the ties we wore to Brianna and Alex's wedding--yes, I've repented--turquoise is fine. You know how I've become with Christmas and birthdays the last few years--whatever's fine. Just don't spend too much because I know you'll send me a ton anyways!

I still have the cold pills you gave when I left. I haven't actually used any of them, though. Just a few ibuprofen. I'll be just fine, though.

For the Gishi-Sai back story, you can probably google the story of the 47 samurai. That's the reason they have the Matsuri--the Samurai were all from Ako.

Hey, it's been raining a lot in Ako! Duren Choro doesn't really like it; he's from the Bay Area.

まぁ、正直に、 Oregon should be ranked #1. On the way to ZTM, another missionary in the zone told me Oregon lost to Utah. I took the opportunity to clear up the difference between Oregon and Oregon State. He's also really into college football.

Give everyone my best and thank them for their love and support!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

11/3/14 email

 In terms of stress--holy cow, this was a stressful week. Now I understand why you weren't very excited to make the big move to Portland. I thought going to/from BYU and transferring was a hassle. Too bad we have to move again to our new apartment in a couple weeks...

Mom and Dad

We spent any time outside of planning, teaching, et al getting the move to the shimai's house done. We had little pockets of time here and there for finding, at least.

Last prep day we met in the morning with one of the shimai's investigators. It's a couple whose whole family is really good at English, including them! It felt weird to 1) be teaching a lesson in the morning, and 2) teaching a lesson on prep day. Neither happen all that often! It was a nice addition though, because all of prep day we spent starting prep for the move.

Of course, the next day we biked to the way far place again (Mitsu). We stopped in Aioi to visit another one of the shimai's investigators, with whom we were able to make an appointment with. Then we continued on to Mitsu to teach the kinjin we found. He wasn't home though so we housed in the area some more, returned to see if he was home, housed, visited, etc. We were never actually able to find him. We met some more nice people while housing and at one point a truck selling bread stopped in the neighborhood. In Japan, bread is a big deal. It's nothing like European bread but people really love it and make all kinds of different bread. I bought this chocolate and whipped cream bread that was probably the closest thing to a real donut I've had in Japan (aside from Krispy Kreme). The donuts here are shameful.

Thursday we did the move...for the most part. In the morning we had a man from Facilities Management come and take away the big things we can't throw away without paying tons of money. I thought he'd have a big truck, but when he rolled up in his van I was very worried we wouldn't be able to fit it all. Somehow, it all fit! Every single nook and cranny was stuffed, but it all fit! Then, the Branch President and his wife came to haul everything else to the shimai's house. They only had two hours available so we hurried to get absolutely everything. We got almost everything moved out, just some small stuff left that barely fit in the basket of my mamachari. Taking it by bike to the house was interesting and we got a lot of funny looks.

Friday ended up being like waking up from a nightmare! We had district meeting but in Himeji rather than Ako. Getting to the church is really hard because you either walk for several kilos or you have to figure out which of the dozen or so buses is the right one. We managed it just fine. It just meant travel time to get back would take a while, cutting our time to get the rest of the stuff out of the apartment very short. We got back and called a recycle shop to see if they could come take some big appliances before we headed out to Aioi for a couple lessons. They couldn't. That was scary because we were to have everything out of the apartment by November 1, which was the very next day. Kind of in a half-freaking out, half-reasoning it'll all be fine mindset went to Aioi. One of the people got too busy to meet, so we went back and I tried the recycle shop again. We only had a small window before our next lesson, then the day would be over. They said they could do it because they had some business to take care of in our neighborhood, afterall! We took care of that, then had the lesson with our shigansha. IT went pretty well, but I was kind of stressed out still, and I had caught a cold the day before, so it was an interesting appointment.

Sunday also was kind of disappointing because we weren't able to visit all the remaining investigators of the shimai we hadn't visited yet. The phone died and we lost the charger in the move, so we had to spend a while searching through every box and bag we moved trying to find it. IT was no where to be found. After a lot of effort we discovered the branch president took it back with him to Aioi, so we used a members charger to charge the phone while we visited the investigators. None of them really had any interest in continuing to meet, though. But....we did finally get everything moved, figured out, and everyone visited!

In Ako, the branch actually cancelled the Halloween party a while ago so they can focus on the upcoming Gishi-sai, a really big festival that takes place in Ako every year to commemorate a pretty awesome story concerning samurai that lived in Ako back in the day.
Okay, that's all I have for this week! I'm pretty excited to get back to a normal week of dendo with no dealing with moving and/or lost phone chargers! Give my best to everyone! Happy (late) Halloween!


10/27/14 email

...there's something to deal with lurking about. This week will be pretty interesting. The past week started getting pretty interesting.

Mom and Dad,

Update from last week: we won't be moving to the sisters' house. Actually, we will but temporarily. Basically, Kaicho heard that the floor of the old house was really weak and we could possibly fall through it if we weren't careful. So they cancelled the move, but we had to take all of the food out of the house. Since the Honbu already told the apartment owner we'd be leaving by November, we have to be out by November. They haven't found a new apartment for us yet so we'll be going to the shimais' house (with all the food we just took out) for the time being. You probably know but there's a lot of prep that has to be done. All this week before November 1st.

Last week, we went to tabehodai yakiniku! The closest one is far away, so I haven't been to one since I left Tottori.

Tuesday, we biked way far out again. We met with the guy we found last week. He's sooo incredibly kinjin! That means an awesome investigator--literally means gold person. We talked just very basically with him about the stuff we normally talk about the first time we meet with someone. He loved it! He asked so many questions to get to know more about what we talked about! I think we found the elect we were looking for! The weird method we used to find him seems to actually have worked! After meeting with him we kept finding and ran across other really nice, old people. They didn't have interest but were super kind.

Thursday was the day we were going to have the move but ended up cancelling. We went to get all of the food out, though. They had waaay more food that we anticipated so it took a little while. Then, later in the day we had a shokuji. The woman we had the shokuji with lives alone so someone else to be there. She invited her son to come along. That made for a very interesting night. It was s stressful night! We biked way out to her place but she got home from work late. Had the lesson. We went to eat at a restaurant in Ako, then we had to power bike back to the apartment before 9. I actually had also got my mountain bike back. It doesn't seem any more fixed than before, so riding out there and back was really exhausting.

The next day we had transfers and I met up with Duren Choro then went back to Ako. Being Friday, we had bunch of lessons so we got back, planned, then went to Aioi. After those lessons we went back to Ako. My bike proved to be in no better condition than when I took it into the shop. I'll just add that we went to study at the church the next day and the back tire was magically flat. One day I'll be in an area with a good bike!

Sunday we started running all over the place trying to meet the shimai's investigators and build a relationship with them so they don't just drop. We had to ask for a lot of help from the members since all their investigators are women and we can't meet alone with them. Over the course of the last few days, I've been on the phone with the Honbu a lot, figuring what to do with our housing and how to get it done. It's been an interesting week...

You have no idea-- the cabbage pancakes are sooo good! I promise! I'll make sure you eat some if you ever come to Japan. I've had them many times before. I even had them at Westview once when we took a day to make them in the kitchen during Japanese class!

That's all I have for this week. I would take time to write a bit more, but there're a lot of things to do while in prep day hours to get the move done. I'll write again next week and hopefully there'll be less things on my to do list!


10/20/14 email

Mom and Dad,

First off: transfer calls! Anderson Choro will be going to Fukuchiyama, an area that flooded a couple of months ago. My new companion will be Duren Choro. He's one transfer under me and he actually served in Fukuchiyama and replaced me in Kitarokko. One of the shimai here in Ako will be going home--yes, it's her time--and the other will be transferring to Kitarokko! So, they're closing Ako to Sisters for now and the Elders will be moving into their house! That's probably the biggest news of the transfer.
Last preparation day: Once again, the typhoon failed to impress me. There were decently strong winds and some rain but nothing like a hurricane. It was enough to force us to stay inside the whole day.

The next day was also supposed to have plenty of rain but we woke up to skies without a cloud in sight! Since we had no lesson appointments, we biked out to that really, really far place again! We found a guy that was very kind and seemed quite willing to listen, so we'll hopefully go out and visit him again this week.

On Thursday we had an appointment with a LA who lives in another distant place. This is the same one we couldn't meet with a couple weeks ago because my tire popped and we had to walk back. I was praying that we wouldn't have a flat or other bike problems. We made it quickly and problem-free to his house, thankfully, but he wasn't home.  We took the opportunity to visit another LA who lives close by, and then a former investigator that lives a little further away. Neither of them were home but we did talk to a family member. In both cases, neither seemed very open. Then we rode back to have a lesson with the guy who asks a lot of questions. This time, he asked A TON of questions.We tried inviting him to be baptized in January, but he didn't feel comfortable enough to accept it. 残念。

Friday we had a lesson in Aioi with the referral guy. This time we really helped him to understand prayer and God. At first he was resistant, but by the end he started to take it in. After going out to eat with him we biked back to Ako and met with our shigansha. Bad news: his parents are Hantai and he can't be baptized. Good news: he really wants to be baptized and will next May after he turns 20 and doesn't need his parents permission. Sad news: his birthday is May 19th, the very last day I'll have in Japan. Ugh!

Saturday night, following the weekly ping pong activity, a former investigator who's still really good friends with the missionaries and members, along with the help of some members, put together a shokuji for the missionaries! We made okonomiyaki! Don't know what that is? Cabbage pancakes! They're sooo good! You have to try it....really! It was kind of a bye-bye shokuji since one of the shimai is going home

Finally, on Sunday, the shimai going home and both of us had talks in Sacrament meeting. We're actually the only three that talked. I thought talking for 15 minutes in English was hard: It all went well, though. Also, the referral man and our shigansha both came to church! Following the three hours there was another shokuji put on by the branch. Again, kind of a bye-bye shokuji, but it had other purposes, as well. Basically we have TONS of left-overs to eat. It all was really fun. Then, while out housing later that day there were a couple pretty funny contacts we had. I won't go into detail because they're not all that important nor did any of them really have interest. Someday, though!

My legs are already a lot stronger! When we tried to go to Fukuchiyama, we were required to wear pants. Well, the jeans I brought don't really fit anymore around the thighs...

Still on the Mamachari. We went by to see what was up. They're still waiting for another part to come in. That makes it about four weeks now. They told me two.

K, that looks like all I have for this week. My prayers go out that everyone else has good weeks!