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!


3/30/15 email

Mom and Dad,

This week, we were really looking forward to getting a lot of lessons
done, but several of them cancelled on us at the last minute. Overall,
it still went pretty great and we had a lot going on! Our weekends are
going to be super busy over the next couple of weeks!

Last Tuesday we had a lesson with our truth seeker. He had a few tough questions about our views and beliefs of the Bible. He seems to be trying to prove religions right and wrong with physical and scientific evidence, so we need to help him find the spiritual evidences that are everywhere.

The next day we had to travel out to Marugame for the taikai to receive our iPads. First we had to take a two hour bus to Takamatsu; then ride a 40-ish minute train to Marugame; then rent bikes and bike the last 20 minutes to the church--so it ended up being quite the
adventure. Following the taikai we started a kokan with the zone
leaders, so I brought Akagi Choro back to Tokushima with me and left
Roylance Choro in Marugame. Did I mention that Akagi Choro was in my
MTC district? I finally got to dendo with someone from the MTC!
Unfortunately, we got back at about 8:30 at night so there wasn't any
time for dendo on Wednesday.

The next day we did have some time, but not a whole lot. A
chunk of that time was taken up with biking to an area of town that I
thought was a lot closer than it actually was. We did manage to
contact a handful of people and even gave out a Book of Mormon on the
street! Then we had to go to the eki to met up with the other two and
end the kokan. We were going to have a lesson after that, but that was
one of the ones that got cancelled.

The next day I went out in the morning with one of the other choro's
to teach an investigator that lives kind of far away because his
companion was sick. That was a great lesson! It was actually
with their truth seeker, so the lessons I've been getting to teach
lately have been pretty awesome! The rest of the day was spent
preparing for an hour gig that we had to teach at the youth conference
for all of Shikoku. We planned out a scripture chase where they had to
read scriptures to get clues as to where the next scripture was hidden
around the church. At each location was the scripture hint to the next
location and a small passage from a story in the Book of Mormon that
we'd have them piece together and act out. At the end we had them
discuss what they learned and how they can apply that. Our job
basically was to get them psyched up to dendo by using the scriptures,
and it seemed to work pretty well!

The next day we spent basically the whole day in normal clothes
because in the morning we went to a members place to help them with a
move that lasted through the afternoon. Following the move we were
taken back to the church where we found one of the newer members
trying to clean the church as part of his assignment. The other
members that were supposed to be there didn't show, so we helped him
clean the church for quite a while. Right as we finished, one of our
investigators showed up to the church so we had to taught him on the
spot in our street clothes. That was with the guy we ran into at the
eki when we first got here. We used the iPad to teach him about The
Plan of Salvation and it worked great even though we didn't get a
chance to plan out the lesson! We were then going to have another
lesson with the truth seeker, but he cancelled. We also had an
appointment that morning that got cancelled.

Lastly, on Sunday we had lesson with the guy from a couple weeks ago
that studies a lot of religions and respects all of them. We read with
him through 2 Nephi 31 to show him the importance of following the
one and only straight and narrow path of God. He actually understands the scriptures really well;
I was pretty surprised! He did promise that at some point in this life
he would join the church and be baptized, so I guess the next thing we
have to work on is helping him to not procrastinate following his Savior. After
the lesson we (all four of us) biked out really far to visit this old
couple from the branch. The husband is sick and confined to their
house and the wife has to take care of him, so they can't come to
church. The husband was actually the stake patriarch back when Shikoku
was all one stake, and he was the only one on Shikoku, so he's the
only one to ever have been given that authority. They were really
grateful we came by and were ecstatic to talk with us! They wanted to
feed us okonomiyaki (the cabbage pancakes) but that would have meant
us being late I getting home, so they invited us back for another
time. We sprinted the hour or so back to the apartment to end the

お誕生日おめでとう〜〜Double exclamation mark

Give my best to everybody! I'll write again next week!


Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23/15 email

New training to dendo with digital devices! Looks like the iPads will be rolling out this week and my zone will get them on Wednesday.
Mom and Dad,

Small change from my last email: DL's will no longer be going to the MLC that will be happening tomorrow. Turns out they separated it and will go the following week to DLC! We may also have to go a little farther for ZTM later this week to get our iPads, because the plan is for it to be in Marugame instead of Takamatsu.

We had an FHE last week following prep day. We went to the house of this older couple who got baptized a few years ago. They absolutely love the missionaries and basically treat them like their grandkids! Apparently they usually do this every week, but the wife broke her back a little while ago so they started up again this last week. They've been doing this almost every week for the last couple years and have TONS of pictures of all the missionaries that have come through. The both of them are super genki and hilarious despite being old enough to actually be my grandparents!

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that place pretty far away that we went to the second or third day after getting here? It has the super nice houses. We went out there the next day to do some more housing. We quickly found that although it looks small on the map, there are sooo many doors to knock on! What's more is the other neighborhood, next to this one, is at least 6 times bigger! We're going to be housing that place for forever!
Before Eikaiwa on the same day we had a lesson with the guy who had all the questions. Lamb Choro likes to call him a "truth-seeker." We taught him about the Godhead and about prayer to start things off and see where he's at. He actually knows the Bible really well and compares things to it all the time. It wasn't an incredibly remarkable lesson but it was still a great one. He said he'd come to church the next Sunday!

Thursday, we were invited over for lunch to the house of the really old member who drove us home from District Taikai. The funny thing is in the Taikai one of the speakers said that members need to have the missionaries over more to be strengthened by them, build better relationships with them, and show your appreciation. He came to us after the Taikai and invited us over! He's such an amusing old guy with one of the kindest personalities. He's also pretty open.

The next day the whole mission gathered in Kobe for the taikai with Nelson Choro! Ringwood Kaicho, the Area President, was also there, as well as one more man from the missionary department. Welch Kaicho also invited all of the stake and district presidents to attend and most of them were able to come. We got basically a run down and preliminary training--a lot of it--on how the iPads will be rolled out into our mission and how they'll be used and such. The strangest part--that wasn't too strange when you realize this is one of the Twelve Apostles--was the fact that Nelson Choro kept bringing up marriage and finding the right person. In fact, that was the very first thing he talked about; not iPads! It was a great taikai and now everyone is even more excited to get the iPads going. After getting home from that--which took a while--we had only game night left in our schedule. I almost beat one of the best ping pong players in the branch!

Saturday was really busy because we had a lesson with the couple who we were going to teach last Saturday, but they ended up not being able to make it and so rescheduled for this day. They're doing the half-Enlgish, half-Gospel lessons, but it ended up being all in English and about the Gospel, so win-win! The wife grew up with a Christian mom and is way into the lessons, and the husband kinda chills while leads the conversation. The two of them--well, especially the wife, seem pretty interested in the Plan of Salvation. I'm really looking forward to their lessons.

Right after that lesson--literally RIGHT after--we met with the truth seeker again! He had questions about the Bible and comparing it with the Book of Mormon. We answered all of his questions and for the next little while he actually asked us questions about English! He loves English and America, so that's almost like a second objective of his meeting with us.

On Sunday he came to church and the theme of Sacrament Meeting was faith, so Roylance Choro and I were optimistic about all the talks on faith and how it'd help him. It had an opposite effect: when we talked to him following the meeting, he said that for now it'd be better to not come to church because he doesn't have faith like everyone else there does. We explained faith and reiterated parts of the talks for him and assigned him to read from Alma 32 for the time being. We have another appointment with him for tomorrow after Eikaiwa.

Yes, it was Elder Russell M. Nelson that came to the mission on Friday.

Okay, that's all I have for this week! Next week is looking to be pretty exciting and eventful too! I won't even try to guess how that email is going to go. Spread my love to everyone!


I thought being in a district that only includes the area itself and being on the Rock, I wouldn't have to do so much travel. Well, there was more travel this week and it's only getting started!
Mom and Dad,

Last preparation day it was sooo rainy! I already said that, but we had to bike a ways from the apartment to buy dry ice. I was completely dry when we left, then completely soaked--raincoat and all--by the time we got back. Why did we buy dry ice, you ask? Well, we were having a celebration at the church for the new branch dendo shunin (mission leader)! The crown of the party: home made root beer! Can't have that without some carbonation right?

The next day we finally had a lesson with the investigator whom we saw at the eki right as we got Tokushima. Remember him? It's okay if you don't. He's way busy--such is student life in Japan--so we kept pushing back the appointment, but we finally got it. We got to know him well and talk with him about eternal families since he really loves his family. We're hoping he'll decide to be baptized before May, because he's looking at moving to Montreal then.

Wednesday we went to Kobe for zone taikai since they had some zones before the transfer, and some for after. I got transferred from a zone that hadn't had it, to a zone that already did, so I got to go to my old zone in Kobe for it! It's funny how some missionaries never get to go to the honbu as they go through their areas; well, I can't escape the honbu! Even on the Rock where nobody ever goes to the honbu, I can't get away! Love it! But, it's kind of far and it was a pretty long taikai, so it ended up taking the entire day.

The following day all four of us choro's biked out about 90 minutes to the place where all those lost records are located and got to work trying to find the people. We didn't have too much time because we had to be back before a lesson appointment, but we managed to find a few. One of them was a woman who now lives in Hawai'i and is going to church actively! Miracles do exist! She probably hadn't been to church for a couple dozen years when she was still in Japan!

The lesson that night was with this guy who loves all religions and respects them all very deeply. He absolutely loves meeting with us because we "give him energy and light," as he phrased it. He also likes English a lot. He's very kind and open. He says it's basically impossible for him to choose just one religion to follow. We're going to seek a lot of inspiration to teach him and help him follow the Savior into the waters of baptism!

The following day we met with a new guy--all four of us--who called and asked to come to eikaiwa. He has come the last couple of weeks, and this last time he gave us a list of things this documentary he watched said about Mormons. We scheduled a time to meet so we could dispel the misconceptions and some entirely incorrect things. He himself said he didn't believe it and that he was just curious. Well, we actually didn't talk about that list at all when we met, we just answered questions he had. One was particularly hard to satisfy. After I answered some of his questions. He said "Ah! That makes sense! I've never thought about it like that before! It's like scales have fallen from my eyes, like Saul!" In Japanese there's a phrase that means something along the lines of scales falling from your eyes. Coincidence? Most definitely not!

Saturday and Sunday. Travel. We had District Taikai in Takamatsu--funny because I was just at Stake Taikai in Kobe a few weeks ago!. We headed up on Saturday afternoon and caught the Priesthood Leadership and Saturday Night Sessions. Then the next day we had the Sunday General Session. After getting back from that we had to promptly have dinner then go to the church for a broadcast from Tokyo where Nelson, Whiting, Evans, and Ringwood were speaking to the whole country. It was a weekend packed chock-full of talks, the Spirit, and revelation. Oh, and at the District Taikai, there was another Choro from the Area 70 that spoke, so I got to meet another GA! Plus, this week on Friday I go back to Kobe for a taikai where Nelson Choro will be speaking to the mission. Then I go back AGAIN to Kobe the next Tuesday for a combined DLC/MLC where they'll start rolling out the IPADS to each area! Lots of travel, but it's so incredibly worth it!.

Japanese pot stickers are infinitely better than any pot stickers you'd find in America. My talk was scheduled for April but they moved it back to the Sunday before I go home.
Alright! That's all I have for this weeks story! This next week is looking to be very exciting, so we'll see!


Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

The Rock is turning out to be pretty awesome! I'm starting to see why people, especially members, are so happy and upbeat here!

On Tuesday morning we had our first lesson here! It was with an older couple who like the missionaries and are probably the most mellow people in the world. If they lived in America, I'd imagine them living in high-class neighborhood in a small city. They're both super friendly and love meeting the missionaries--though they're pretty busy and can't meet often--and they love going places with them. They were talking about taking us to several big spots in Tokushima like the Naruto whirlpools and the most famous museum in Japan that's a replica of the Sistine Chapel and filled with tons of famous pieces and stuff! This was mainly a get-to-know-you lesson so we didn't end up teaching much about the Gospel, but becoming their friends.

Wednesday we became the clean-up crew! All 6 of us. We took about an hour and a half to walk around the eki picking up litter on the streets and throwing it away. Not for any particular reason nor under any direction, we just want to get more service opportunities. We did that while wearing the yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests, so that was pretty neat.

The next day was gyoza challenge day. Gyoza is a Japanese pot-sticker, and they're super delicious! There's a restaurant here that has a gyoza challenge: eat 60 of them! It's actually not much of a challenge because they give you 3 hours, you can order them at your pace, and there's not prize for doing it, nor penalty for not. It's just a fun thing to do with your friends--one more member got 30: he looked like he was going to be sick.
Then, on Friday, we had ZTM, so we had to go to Takamatsu from that. The problem was the bus to there was way late, and we had to rent bikes there and ride to the church. The people who hadn't done it before had to do paperwork to be able to--and one of the shimai is new and not too skilled at riding a bike, so we ended up being pretty late. Luckily, both the zone leaders are way chill--one was in my MTC district, and the other in my last district--so they weren't mad. Made for a pretty stressful day, though! We also had game night that night, and I lost at ping pong to one of the best players in the branch 9-11!

Saturday was pretty frustrating because it was drizzling all day while trying to visit 6 people--a couple LA's, a couple referrals, and an investigator--but we weren't able to meet any of them. At least earlier that day we went to lunch with the other choro's and one of our PI's who comes to all the church activities and loves Enlgish, so they day wasn't entirely disappointing. Then, that night we had volleyball!

Yesterday was probably one of the busiest and happiest Sundays ever. We had an investigator who said he'd come to church if it wasn't raining, but the weather report said it would be. We prayed that it wouldn't, and although it was cloudy, it didn't rain and he came! We also had a shokuji after church, then following that we had a dendo fireside with the branch to help them get into the dendo spirit more, and the missionaries had a big chunk of that time to fill. That meant basically that they made me get up and say everything since they thinks I'm as fluent as a Nihonjin.
My shigansha in Ako is scheduled to be baptized on May 20th, so I may get permission to leave the honbu and go to that!

Shikouku, the entire island, is nicknamed the Rock. Virtue Island is what Tokushima means in English, though most Nihonjin argue that names don't actually have meaning or significance.

Okay, that's just about all for this week! It's pouring down rain outside, so this area is becoming more and more favorable to me! :) Usually when it rains here it just sprinkles a bit, but never actually rain rain. Give out my best! いざ、さらば!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 2nd, 2015

Greetings from Virtue Island (That's what Tokushima means) This place is awesome!

Mom and Dad,

So it's only been a couple days in Tokushima, but there's already sooo much to say about it that I will probably just wait to tell it all over the next little while or when we have our Mothers' Day call!

Where to begin!?

So, we had another eikaiwa/Gospel lesson at the one family's house last prep day. They were all pretty sad that both of us were leaving. We also took the opportunity to give the father, who's not entirely active, a tie. The wife was telling us that the other day he was upset he didn't have any new/good ties to wear!

The next couple of days we spent biking out to visit investigators and members and tell them we'd be leaving. We were kept pretty busy during those two days! Many were pretty disappointed we'd both be leaving, but we assured them the other two missionaries would drop by.

On Wednesday, though, we were able to squeeze in a lesson with the inquisitive Methodist man. We actually had all four of us in that lesson so he could get to know the other two and be willing to meet with them following our departure. Then, later that night, one of the families in the branch who are really good friends with the missionaries had us over following eikaiwa to have one last shokuji with them. They were pretty disappointed, but they understood since the parents both served missions recently. I was in Ako for a long while but all the goodbyes made it much harder to have to transfer.

The next day--off to the Rock! We actually had to wait for our phone to come to Okayama from Kobe, then head down the bridge to the Rock, so we had to wait quite a while 'til we could finally go. It ended up taking all day but we got to chill with the other missionaries that had to wait awhile, and I found white chocolate Tim Tams! WE got to Tokushima and found that it's actually a pretty decent city! Probably one of the biggest on the island! I'd guess it's comparable to Eugene, even! We were pretty excited. Oh, and my companion, Roylance Choro, is a 14th transfer (one behind me) missionary from Boise, Idaho. As of yet I don't know too much about him except he and I have had two or three of the same companions.

Friday we really got to work! Well, as much as we could without knowing the area or our investigators. We did weekly planning and really looked through all the notes the last choros left for us. Friday night is game night at the church so we went to that. Sooo many people came! At least, compared to past areas. This branch is apparently 108 active members strong! It's just a branch because there is no stake to put it in. Remember that project last year to get a stake on Shikoku? Yeah, Church HQ didn't approve it, so there's still work to do. Tokushima is pretty set, though! At game night, there were also several nonmembers in addition to the several members, so it was even better!

The next day we went out to house in this neighborhood pretty far away. It actually shouldn't take that long to get to, but since we didn't know anything except the path from the eki and apartment, and the church and apartment path, it took a while. We got some good housing out there. There was a section raised literally three stories above the rest of the neighborhood that had a wall and a gate built up. It wasn't a gated community but still pretty awesome!
That night we also had a volleyball activity with some members and non members! Even more fun! And I love volleyball! When our team wasn't in a match-up, Royland Choro, another choro, Lamb Choro, and I played basketball on the side and we noticed a huge group of grade-schoolers pressing up to the doors watching the gaijin play basketball. It was definitely a pretty eventful night!

At church, I found more responsibility than just being a DL. There's a girl in the military stationed in these boundaries, so I needed to translate Sacrament Meeting for her. I'll probably be having to do that every week that she comes. The members said that since I'm just as good as a Japanese person when it comes to speaking Japanese--based on my introduction and testimony--that I got called to give a talk already! Goodness!

So, now, here I am emailing you all while indulging in unlimited soft serve vanilla ice cream and unlimited fountain drinks. This is a pretty awesome!
Okay, that's my story for this week! These last dozen or so weeks look like they'll be pretty exciting, so get ready!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015

Shima nagashi--island exile! I'm getting transferred to the Tokushima area on the island of Shikoku (the smallest of the 4 main islands of Japan). Never thought I'd be going to the Rock, but I am!
Mom and Dad,

It looks like I'm also going to be the district leader of that district 'til I go home! Tokushima is one of the biggest cities on the Rock! My companion's also transferring and they're closing one of the companionships in Akou altogether. It's just going to be Downing Choro and Reber Choro.

So, on to the stories of the week! It was a pretty good one this week, as well! I'm losing my English...

Last week we had another lesson at the member's house across the area. We prepared ahead of time to get actual teaching material for the English portion and to prepare a lesson. The friend of the daughters loved it! The mom of the member family told us later that week that the friend had tons of fun and her mother as well as a couple other people might start joining in! Best part: I didn't catch a cold this time! Nah, that wasn't the best part, but I was pretty grateful.

The next day we met again with our shigansha and taught him about the last parts of the Plan of Salvation. He thought it was all pretty cool, although not to the extent that our kinjin did. We ended up being a little late for this lesson because earlier in the day we had biked out to Aioi to contact a referral we received and had to hurry back to make the lesson on time. The referral, unfortunately, didn't end up going anywhere.

On Thursday I headed out to Himeji for a kokan. I was with our district leader's trainee, Van Cleave Choro. Since I had to be his surrogate trainer for the day and do the extra study with him, we didn't have much time left over from that and travel to go finding, but we made good use of the time we had. We had a speacil eikaiwa with this group of old people that study English together. Old Japanese people speaking English is very amusing! After the eikaiwa we had a lesson with their shigansha who's baptismal date is set for August 2016! I mostly spoke with him because he's really hard to understand, even for a Nihonjin, and Van Cleave Choro is a first transfer and doesn't know Japanese. We taught him that his body is a gift from God and linked that to the Word of Wisdom.

On Saturday we had a special activity (back in Akou) that we, the missionaries planned. It was America-themed. We made pancakes, sausage, and bacon, and played silly American 'Minute-to-Win-It' type games. The big family that Morin Choro and I had lunch with a couple Saturdays ago came, so the attendance count was actually decently high! The family that the other Choro's found and who came to church last week also came, so the members that were able to come were super excited to see SOOO many non-members! The activity was a huge success and the branch president was sure to praise it several times during church.
Sunday, we had a miracle! It was a small miracle, but I was so grateful for it. This whole transfer, we haven't been able to find even one single new investigator. We worked pretty hard--and of course there was room to work harder since we're not perfect--but we couldn't find one. This last week we still worked hard and prayed harder to get at least one new investigator because neither of us wanted to go a transfer without finding any. Well, Sunday rolled around and there weren't any new people in our pool; BUT! Following church, we got a call from a PI who had been a PI a year ago and he said he wanted to meet us right then! He was in Aioi when he called, but he agreed to basically drop anything and everything and drive halfway across this area to meet us in Akou! He became the new investigator we worked and prayed for! He's a pretty crazy guy--another old person that loves to speak English--and has tons of energy. The two of us were sooo happy to receive that blessing, but we didn't stop there and went out to see if we couldn't find more people. We visited a PI that was found two kokan's ago when I was in Himeji. While we didn't get a lesson or anything, the mom didn't say it was entirely out of the question in the future. We also found a new PI who's way young and seemed way open to meeting in the future! The Gospel is true!

Another great week to end the transfer! I'm kind of sad to be leaving, but excited at the same time (since I've been here for a pretty long while, it's been a tough area, and I'm going to the city). I'll email you next week from my island banishment :)--I feel like John the Revelator! Until then, give out my best!


February 16, 2015

Mom and Dad,
Last week we were going to have another half-English, half-Gospel lesson with some friends of the daughters of a family whose father we're trying to reactivate. Yes, the one that lives on the exact opposite side of the area. Does that make sense? Hope it does! We've been doing it for a while, but then the last couple of weeks we haven't been able to do it because everyone keeps getting sick. Finally she invited us over again, but nobody could pick us up at the eki. So, we took the train and rented some mamachari's from a shop next door and rode the last 5km to their house. No matter how bad the mamachari I used to be riding in this area was, it's sooo much better than the ones we rented. By the time we finished the 5k I felt like we had done 20! Anywho, we went into the house and the mother let us know that the moms of her daughters' friends just contacted her and said they're still feeling kind of bad so they wouldn't be coming. We ended up having the lesson with the 3 daughters and the baby. The daughters aren't interested in learning English, so they basically just asked a lot of questions and want me to take them to Tokyo Disneyland after my mission. I don't know how that happened?

THEN: I woke up sick the next day... pretty gnarly head cold. Being around sick kids for an hour or so, then biking in the cold on an awful bike probably didn't help any; however, after sitting down so much last week, I wasn't going to let that stop us from dendo'ing. The main thing we did that day was meet for the first time in a very long while with our shigansha! He's finished his first year of college and is on break 'til April, so he has time again. We taught him about the Sacrament and the importance of striving to go to church every week to help him see why he should come even if he is pretty busy on the weekends. Now that he's on break, though, there's not much stopping him.

Then came Thursday. The best day this week. I usually don't like Thursdays much because we have the 3-hour or more weekly planning session. This Thursday, though, we went to Kobe (again!) for the taikai with the Aoyagi's! I mentioned that they were at Stake Taikai, right? He and his wife are both sooo funny! The first to talk was our mission president and he spoke kind of sternly about obedience because there are a few people in the mission that thought a change of mission presidents meant a change of rules. After him Aoyagi Choro spoke, and he was super genki and interactive, and he shared with us some really great stuff. Later in the taikai, Aoyagi Shimai spoke and became my absolutely most favorite person in the whole world! I probably can't describe sufficiently all that she did (or made us do)--nor would you believe it supposing someone had videotaped it--but it was the best. I promise. Basically she had a really funny voice, talks really brightly, had the assistants do several mogi's (role-plays) for us--which contained plenty of inside jokes from around the mission--and made us dance while singing "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel".

The next day, the LA man that has been sick and busy--after having cancelled another appointment on Wednesday--called us up randomly to tell us he was in Ako and ask if we could meet. As fast as we could we dropped everything else we were doing and went to where he was. He was apparently in a store when we arrived so we looked all around the building and couldn't find him. We figured he was going to take a train back to Aioi so we waited in front of the ticket gate for him to come by, but still nothing. We went back to the other building (adjacent to the eki) and found him just chilling at a table we passed at least 6 times. We were so disappointed at first, then so overjoyed once we found him. We had a great discussion with him for a couple hours. He's doing well but is in a tough spot in his life.

The next day we went to town! Early in the afternoon we met up with the branch president at one of the eki's and he drove us out to Mitsu to teach our kinjin. Again: a fantastic lesson! He understood everything perfectly and said several times that he wants to go to the Celestial Kingdom, and expressed his volition to do good things in this life to be able to go. Probably the best part, though, was that the branch president was with us. He got to see for himself how incredibly this man is and the need to get him to church and get him baptized. The next day at church, he probably brought up this one investigator several times throughout the 3 hours! After teaching the lesson, he and we went around that part of the area to visit several LA's who are hard to visit because they live so far away. We got to meet all but one (so 2 out of 3), but we met the wife of that one. They were all really friendly and grateful to have us visit and said they'd try to come to church. Granted they live over 20km away, so it's not easy circumstances to come, but we helped them come a little closer to Christ.

On the way home, the branch president dropped us off at the house of the man who'd always take us out to eat just so we could see how he's doing and thank him. He's still not interested in continuing the discussions, but was happy we came. We talked with him for a little bit, then walked to another LA whom we visited a few weeks ago, but she wasn't home then. We got to meet her this time, and found out that one of the members whom she's never met sends her letters every so often and that she still prayers pretty regularly. She gave us her phone number so we could set up a time to drop by with that member that writes her occasionally, so it ended up being a really productive contact!

So, that was my week in a nutshell! It was a pretty good one, though I was sick for a couple days!
Alright, that's all for this week. Everything is going well here in Ako, so hopefully it's all doing well over there. I only have 2 transfers left and I've been here for 4, so I imagine I'll be transferring. Then again, that's what I was saying 6 weeks ago!


Monday, February 9, 2015

2/9/15 email

Mom and Dad,

Last week certainly went out with a bang! The kind of bang you sit through, though, and I'm so tired of sitting this week. Details to follow:

Last prep day, we decided to celebrate my birthday with cake and watching a little robotic puppet show that plays on a small clock stand at the main intersection of the city. The story is the one of the 47 Samurai. I don't know if you looked that story up or not, but the show lasts just a few minutes and runs every hour.
The next day was my birthday, technically. It was still only the 2nd in America. We actually didn't dendo outside: Morin Choro's knee has been getting worse and worse every time we ride bikes and the mission doctor told us to take it easy. So, we made use of our time to dendo inside by planning lessons, planning how to help the ward and uplift them, etc. I thought it'd be nice to have a little break on my birthday but I was sooo wrong. Spending practically the whole day studying, planning, etc. was probably the worst way to spend my birthday. I had never wanted to leave the apartment and bike halfway across the area so much before!

The next day, we had a couple lesson plans in Aioi, but since Morin Choro's knee was still acting up we planned to go by train. That was, until we called one of the investigators and he dropped us, then the other guy called (a less active) and said he was too busy and re-scheduled for next week. The day was completely changed in two phone calls; however, the zone leaders called me up right after lunch. We had zone training meeting (ZTM) that Friday, so I figured he was going to ask me to translate for the Japanese missionaries. He actually assigned me to do some training IN ZTM! I thought this meant I wouldn't be translating, but it didn't. He asked me to translate right after asking that. Wow! So, I basically had to work on getting my training segment planned and practiced while Morin Choro continued to plan for stuff around in our area and go through the area book.

The next day we had a short meeting with a member whom needs assistance in assisting us in the Lord's work. We took an hour to get to know her and tell her about ourselves and shared a GC talk from a while ago that Ballard Choro gave. Right after that we had a lesson with the highly inquisitive, analytical investigator--which was about 2.5 hours. So between those two appointments there wasn't much time left in the day to finish my ZTM training.

The next day was ZTM. Recently, a lot of the zones have merged to fit with Stake/District boundaries, so now instead of going to Akashi we had to go all the way to Kobe for ZTM (about 2 hours of travel). Then I had to translate all of it (a 3 hour meeting) to Japanese and give my training piece. So, I had expended quite a bit of energy and effort by 1pm. At least I had a kokan in Himeji, which is closer to Kobe than Ako is. I kokan'd with one of the guys from my hall at BYU? We had a really great kokan following ZTM, and a lot of reminiscing at the end of the day.

This weekend was Stake Conference in Kobe, so instead of going back to Ako, we extended the kokan to the beginning of Stake Taikai. We streeted around Himeji Eki since that's the only place you can really find enough people on the street in Himeji. We met quite a few cool people, including one guy that interviewed me for a survey his radio channel was doing! We met another guy who was waiting for a friend, then was going to head off to that friend's wedding, and we found out he himself is getting married in September. Perfect opportunity to testify of eternal families! Before meeting up with our companions at the eki we grabbed a snack at a shop in the area.
Then we went to Stake Taikai! Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy (First Quorum, I believe) and of the Area Presidency and his wife both spoke. I also got to meet several members from Kitarokko for the first time in a year, so it was an especially great Taikai. Luckily, we didn't have to travel all the way back to Ako for the night because they let us spend the night in the Kobe apartment. One of assistants now is the other trainee that was in my first district in Nishiwaki, and I also had Writing 150 with him at BYU, so I got to reminisce with him, as well.

The next day we had Sunday Stake Taikai, at which Welch Kaicho spoke, as well as the Aoyagi's again. They spoke about practically the exact same things we did in our monthly fireside to the ward last week, so we're hoping this'll make some great changes! I also got to see even more members from Kitarokko! So, this weekend was pretty great! Then was the long trip back to Ako, as well as our weekly planning session which we couldn't do on Thursday, the usual day.
That's all for now and all the sitting I can stand :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2nd 2015

Mom and Dad,

Well, I'll just get right on to the good stuff. We met with our kinjin this last Tuesday. Morin Choro and I both had probably the best, most enjoyable lesson of our mission! We biked out over the ocean road, as usual. Thanks goodness I'm no longer on the Mamachari bike! We get to the house and go in intending to just teach our investigaor about pre-Earth life and creation. I don't know if Mr. Kinjin had something else in mind or not, but he was going too fast for us to keep up! Basically we taught the Pre-Earth Life, then started talking about the Creation, and he started putting all the pieces together on his own and ended up figuring more than half the Plan of Salvation! He seriously understood it all perfectly and loved it! He was literally bouncing up and down as he rephrased basically everything he and we had said! This man is going to be an awesome member. We both came out of that house blown away.

I kind of don't even want to bother saying more because that was such an awesome experience! but, I know you want to hear more. Sooo...

...the other big thing that happened this week was on Saturday. Have I ever mentioned the couple in their 60's, who are super great at English and LOVE the missionaries? to the point that they feel they have to feed us instant ramen when we drop by just to give them a li'l Christmas card? Well, that morning we left study a little bit early to help at the English class that the man teaches. In Japan, you don't have any formal English class until you're in middle school, but these kids were only at the end of grade school and are really good. Anywho, following the class we got invited downstairs to have lunch with the entire family. Not even joking, the grandparents, whom we're teaching, their two daughters, and their daughters' children plus one of their son-in-laws. I'm not sure exactly how we got to the next point in the conversation--it may have been because they were looking at Google Earth and I mentioned if you go into street view, of our house, you and Jayden are visible in the street--so they wanted to see. The grandfather suggested we look at the church honbu in Salt Lake. I got them to a point where you can see the temple and they all were pretty amazed. I then showed them the Portland temple. All-in-all they ended up on looking up several of the temples around the world, as well as going to the main page and looking through tons of stuff. One of the daughters and her husband were looking pretty intently though the whole website for a good chunk of time! I think we found ourselves a handful of new potential investigators. We're not certain if they'll want to know more because they're all very strongly Buddhist--at the very least, it was a great family experience!

Other than that, we had another dendo fireside following the end of church yesterday. We focused a lot on LA's and how we can friendship them better. We don't think everyone took in the message we were trying to get across since they kept going off on random tangents. The four of us know that this branch needs a lot of help strengthening it. We had good, long talks on the phone with our zone leaders about how we can help, so hopefully we can accomplish that.

This one's pretty short! I didn't write it in the beginning, but I definitely thought it would be! I just didn't write it because you know how it usually goes when I say it's going to be short. :) Give my best to everyone!


January 26th, 2015

Morin Choro and I decided that our motto for this transfer is E=mc2. Why? Well, Energy is directly proportional to mass according to this very famous equation, right? So, no matter how tired we are, we still have mass, so we still have energy! Sure, it's taking the concept and flipping it completely upside down and destroying the principle behind it, but as long as we weigh next to nothing or more, we'll work 'til we drop. Or cease to exist...

Mom and Dad,
This week started of on a pretty good note. We had interviews! The last interview I had was almost three transfers ago! Welch Kaicho and I talked about a lot of good stuff. I prepped beforehand and wrote down a few concerns and questions I wanted to have him answer. One of them just came up naturally without any prompt from me, and he responded with the answer. I realized his response was the real answer to all the rest. So, when he asked if there was anything else on my mind, I looked at the notes in my planner for a good 15 seconds without saying anything because I was hit by that realization. Fortunately, I feel like I found a few other answers to prayers from the ZL's and what not.

Another great thing that happened this week! The guy that takes us out to eat and suddenly lost all interest is getting back up again! Randomly when we visited him last week he mentioned how he actually read a bit of the Book of Mormon. That was probably the best news of the week! The rest of the lesson, though kind of difficult to really get through to him, also went really well.
The day after, we met with the Methodist guy. This time he was really focused on learning more about the Book of Mormon and didn't go off onto other tangents. Again, it was another 2-2.5 hour lesson of answering questions. In the end, he definitely came out with much more interest in the Book of Mormon and committed to focus more time on reading it!

Lastly, Sunday was great! This week was branch conference, so the stake presidency all came out and the other people with stake callings. Four of those people are from the Kitarokko ward, so I got to see and talk with them for the first time in a while! The whole ward is still doing well, but there are no longer shimai working there, only four choro's. That was kind of inevitable because the number of shimai in the mission has dropped so much and will continue to. The Stake President, Kojima Kaicho, and his First Counselor both gave fantastic talks. In two weeks we have Kobe Stake Taikai, so I'll get to see everyone (almost) from the Kitarokko ward again!

C'est la vie = しょうがない or 仕方がない--read "shou ga nai" or "shikata ga nai" Literally means 'can't be helped' or 'no way of doing'.

Okay, that's all I have to say for now. I have a hard time really deciding if any one of my emails in particular is long or short, so I'll leave that for you to decide! Write you again next week!


January 19th, 2015

Mom and Dad,

Well, this week we tried really hard to get things moving. It seems like it worked because we got a few new PI's and a handful more lessons than we've been teaching lately! Unfortunately, towards the end of the week, lesson appointments didn't end up working out and we didn't beat our record. Not the way I was hoping to finish the week--especially with the Duck's loss on top of tha. It was still good, though, and we'll be shooting for even higher this week!

Tuesday we biked once again out to Mitsu (remember that place? It's on the other side of the area) and met our kinjin for the first time in a while. I was getting really worried because he seemed never to answer his phone when we'd call, so we couldn't set up an appointment. Well, since he's a great investigator and I finally have a working mountain bike, we went out there. Holy cow, that ride is sooo much easier on a real bike! We didn't know what to expect when we knocked on his door, but he was there, healthy and whole, and we had a really great lesson with him. Morin Choro--this was his first time meeting the kinjin--was stunned by how great he is! After the lesson we housed around, met a lot of nice people, and found one guy in particular that showed decent interest in religion. We'll be following up with him when we go back on the 27th (hopefully with a member).

The next day we biked out to another very distant place: Kamigori. It's at the very northwest part of the area. We had a lesson with the guy that was referred to us a while back, couldn't see up until now, and has had a rough life. He's turning out to be a pretty kinjin investigator too, just a little more subtly! Oh, on the way there my tire popped on something--heaven knows what!--and made a small hole. Luckily it was right by a home improvement store, so we pumped it up, rode to the investigator who was pretty close, had the lesson, pumped it up at his place, and quickly rode to the nearest bike shop. All [was] well in [Kamigori]!

The next day we had plans to bike out to the opposite corner of the area! God told us not to and sent a lot of rain making it a very miserable, dangerous trip. Miserable not due to the rain, but due to fatigue from the last two days. We were exhausted! Instead we hopped on the train and went to Aioi and met with one of our investigators. He's still going through this phase of apparently not having any interest anymore. We also managed to find a LA and share a short message with her at her front door.

On Friday we had a lesson with the Methodist guy. He doubts everything until he finds sufficient proof for it. He also speaks very polite Japanese, so it's a little difficult to understand. That lesson ended up being two hours of him asking one question after another. In the end, it all went well.

I would've liked a 2015 NCAA Football Champions shirt for my birthday, but I guess the world isn't perfect after all with Oregon not winning and all :)
Well, that's all for this week!


January 12th, 2015

As for transfer news, I will be staying in Ako, as will the other three. This breaks my record for the number of transfers I'll be staying for in one area (previously it was three in Kitarokko and Tottori). I'm actually pretty surprised because I figured Kaicho would put me somewhere else for my last three transfers.
Well, last week we actually went to Himeji Castle for real. Its still under construction to touch it up or something, so we couldn't actually go into the main castle itself. We did get to walk within the walls and other structures around the main castle and look at various exhibits they have set up. Pretty neat stuff!

We met with the branch president twice during the week to go through every name on the member record to see who still lives where it says they do and who doesn't. Apparently, since the actually branch clerk is LA, none of it has been updated on the form. So literally half of the people on the record don't even live where it says they do. Now we have a lot of work cut out for us on figuring out where they've gone to and reactivating the one's we know the residence of.
Friday was the best day this week! We had ZTM in Akashi so we headed out for that, but we missed the train and had to wait another hour for the next one, making us a bit late. ZTM was really great, beneficial, and spiritually uplifting, so I came out feeling much better than I did going in. I want to ganbaru more despite the various problems and setbacks that are around me.

After ZTM, we biked to Aioi to have a lesson with the guy that takes us out to eat. Something changed in him--he got around to saying that he really didn't have interest in the Book or Mormon or religion. Having been teaching him for a couple transfers, I know that he had interest before. I don't know what happened, but he'll still meet with us mainly because he's retired, has nothing to do, and likes the company. Other than that lesson, we biked around Aioi contacting a few referrals a man in the branch gave us. There're all just people he knew at work 20 or so years ago. We also tried to find a less active that the shimai were working with before some issue with her family arose that now prevents her from continuing to meet.

Late last night we visited the apartment of one of those LA's that doesn't live there any more to hopefully get some info as to where he moved. We asked the guy living there now if the previous guy (the LA) moved, and he said he's not sure at all because he's been living there for 5 years. We have a whooole lot of work to do!


January 5th, 2015

Mom and Dad,


So this last week was New Years, as I'm sure you know, and with it came the shutdown of all of Japan! Seriously, New Years in Japan is bigger than the World Cup in Brazil! So, there wasn't much opportunity to get a lot of dendo done, but we managed to make do with what we had.

Last prep day we went to Himeji to check out the castle. Himeji Jo is probably the most famous castle in all of Japan. Most of "The Last Samurai" was actually filmed around Himeji. From the eki you have to walk a good 10 minutes to the castle and after doing so we found that it was actually closed--Entirely! for New Years. We also found that the main part of the castle is closed 'til late March due to cleaning and reconstruction. I may never have the chance to go into a real castle while in Japan. We ended up chilling in Himeji and going to a couple stores.

Tuesday was probably the most productive day I've had in a while. We biked to Aioi to visit some people and the branch president actually called us over to the house of the guy he referred to us. We ended up having a lesson with him, and also tried visiting another LA around the neighborhood. Then we biked out even further to Tatsuno. It's another 20km bike ride--like Mitsu--but it's all flat. There we visited the family we teach English at and had dinner with them. We really just wanted to talk to the father who's LA, but when you visit people in Japan it's hard to get out of eating with them. We also tried to visit a few LA in Tatsuno, but since we don't have navigation on the new phones yet, it wasn't very successful. Then there came the long bike ride back to Ako!

The next day was obviously New Years Eve, so basically you can't really dendo because everyone's preparing for New Years. One of the families in the branch invited us over for lunch and we spent some time with them.

Then New Years, so basically you can't really dendo because everyone's celebrating New Years. In the morning, though, we participated in 初日の出、(Hatsu Hinode) the first sunrise of the year. We got up early and ran to and climbed up this "mountain" near our apartment. Up there a lot of people were also celebrating the first sunrise on 2015. They were also very surprised to see a bunch of gaijin up there. We got some really great pictures of the sunrise, had lots of fun with the locals, and ran home in the snow. Yes, it started snowing. Just a little bit, though. Later that day we had a shokuji with the branch president's family in Aioi. He planned to have us over for a couple hours because there's literally nobody on the street (more so than usual) and nobody answers their door on O-Shogatsu. But, in Aioi, the snow was starting to really pile up, and they live on a hill, so they cut it short to get us back to the eki.

Lastly, on Sunday, we had a lesson for the first time in three weeks or so with the lady who talks about WWII. We didn't have time to ask anyone to doseki because we had another dendo fireside following church. As expected she tried to give us back the Book of Mormon we gave her last time. We saw that she had already read up to Alma! We asked why she couldn't keep it, and she said "because it's filled with God's words!" We explained to her that's exactly why we want to share it with her and everyone else in the world. She decided to keep it! Score one for the Word of God!

It would be a very happy new year if Oregon won!

December 29th, 2014

Another Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye and now Downing Choro has only 14 weeks before he goes home!

Mom and Dad,

Last week, following prep day, we went and taught a Christmas message to a family in the branch, two friends of the kids, and their respective mothers. We also had a really big shokuji with them all, which was pretty fun. The message, though it could've gone a little smoother, went really well. For the grand finale we showed them the "He is the Gift" video. Do you all know about that video? If not, go to the church website and look it up. It's caused a lot of great things all over the internet. Also search "Because of Him." The church made that video earlier this year for Easter. Like I said: the church is making some pretty great videos/movies these days!

The next day was also pretty great because we had a lesson with the guy who's had a rough past and with the member that referred him to us. I'm so glad this investigator has a lot of interest, and understands religious things very well. We also met with our shigansha on Tuesday since he was going back to his hometown for a couple days. We taught him, from the February 2014 Liahona article about communication, to help him help his nonmember family understand what the Gospel has done for him. Our hope is they consent to him being baptized earlier. Fingers crossed and prayers made!

On Thursday we had a taikai in Kobe for Christmas! This zone, Kobe zone, the zone I was in when I first came to Japan, and Kyoto zone were all there. I think I said how we played dodgeball last year before New Years taikai? If I did, I probably mentioned how sore I was the next couple days. Well, it was a very similar story this year, just to a lesser degree. For the taikai we watched some church-related Christmas videos and a video where some monks, having taken a vow of silence, sing the Hallelujah Chorus. They also put on a big talent show but since we're missionaries, many without their talent tools, I can sum up the whole talent show in two words: piano; singing. It was still really good! 

Friday I skyped with you!--which was awesome!

On Sunday following church, we missionaries gave a half hour presentation on family history as a part of dendo to the branch. We originally planned with the branch president to do a 90-120 minute fireside about dendo with the branch, but at church he decided we'd do a half hour presentation following church every Fast Sunday. We had very little prepared because we just made a basic outline of the whole fireside to run by him, but we managed to pull off a good half hour sermon on family history, the importance of it, and how it can be used in dendo. " shall be given in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." Scriptures being fulfilled right in our own faces!
That's all I have for this week. I'm sure you all had a great Christmas together, and pray that you have a great New Years, too!


December 22, 2014

Mom and Dad,

It was kind of a slow week this time. A lot of our investigators cancelled on us and we had a lot of other stuff to do that kept us from normal dendo.

Last week we had an appointment for right after preparation day but we couldn't find a member to doseki (and we needed one because we were going to be teaching two women). Things ended up working out and all in all the lesson went really well! The women we taught commented on how this is a message she thinks everyone in Japan needs to hear!

On Wednesday, the day was really cold. I decided to put two sweaters on rather than just one, but the other Choro was practically freezing in his five layers. One of the other Choro's in Ako is from Texas and he went out with six layers and still felt freezing cold. Everyone says that there's something wrong with my body.

Friday we had ZTM in Akashi, so we spent half our day over there. We had a good chunk of the training on stress management. I don't feel all that stressed, but I still found it helpful. All the other training was also great. We also got new phones in the whole mission! It was like Christmas! It was also really funny to watch everyone try to figure out how to use the phone with everything written in Japanese! We also got news at ZTM that we won't be getting iPads 'til the beginning of Spring, so there's a chance I may never get to use one even though I was at the very meeting when they announced them!

On Saturday we had the branch Christmas program. In the afternoon we went to an old-folks home and spent an hour doing Christmas stuff with them. Morin Choro and I got to dress up as Santa and hand out presents to them. Then, a few hours later at the Christmas program we got to be Santa again and be super goofy and jolly and give presents to everyone all over again. Probably the best Christmas of my life!

Wish everyone a Merry Christmas on my behalf! Extra points if you do it in Japanese!