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 lds.org 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. "...it 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!