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!