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!