Sunday, October 26, 2014


Good Morning Sports Fans,

So, Mondays in 日本 are Sundays in America.  My P-Days are typically Mondays unless there`s some big festival, then it`s on Tuesday.  

First thing is I`m too big for this country.  Everything is small.  I have to duck through doorways, cars are tiny, I can`t buy a bike yet because they`re all too small, and the people are tiny.  I`m a giant!  I stand out like a sore thumb.  They call foreigners gaijin and Bills 長老 (my trainer) can evesdrop on people talking about us as we walk by.

This place is also a jungle.  The roads are lined by bamboo jungle.  There are flippin massive spiders that make gigantic webs.  They don`t need decorations for Halloween.  There`s also random shrines in the jungle and there`s one close to our apartment.

Our area is Toyota City.  I will be here for at least 12 weeks, maybe longer.  There are 4 choro-tachi in this area, us and another set.  Miranda is in my area with his trainer (he`s one of the Brazilians from our district in the MTC).  In Japan all Greenies are called Bean-chan.  Chan is a title for children and we are little like beans so that`s the explanation.  Our ward here in Toyota has about 50 active members (so it`s pretty big) and we currently have about 15 investigators.  I haven`t met the ward yet because Sunday was Stake Conference so I went back to Nagoya for that. I go to see Klein and Cowan there. All the members I`ve met are super nice.  They gave us a ton of food yesterday.  It`s great.  I think I`ll get spoiled a little in this area.  

My trainer`s name is Bills Choro from Cliffton, Idaho.  He was converted to the church two years ago while going to school at USU. He`s a biochem major hoping to become a trauma surgeon.  He seems like a good guy.  Even though we only have 20 Japanese elders in the mission he hasn`t had an American companion since his trainer which was 8 months ago.  His Japanese is super good and he`s working on learning Portuguese right now.  He`s super smart and good with languages.  He`s already fluent in Spanish and pretty much fluent in Japanese.

The language is rough.  I maybe get 5-10% of what someone is saying.  Bills 長老 has to help me understand a lot of what people are saying.  A big thing in our mission is OYM, meaning Open Your Mouth, which is talking to everybody you pass.  I have made it a goal (a wimpy one but none the less a goal) to OYM at least two people a day for this upcoming week.  Bills told me that he never OYM`ed with his trainer because his trainer didn`t like it.  I feel for some reason that if I talk to people, or at least get them started and Bills finishes, my language skills will improve.  Missionaries are supposed to follow a 12 week training plan (not just for language, but all things missionary) and at the end of those 12 weeks you are supposed to be ready to train a new bean.  It`s our goal to have me ready to train in 12 weeks.  Let`s go!!

It`s been good, but tough here.  It`s going to take a lot to get the language and get familiar with the area.  The struggle is real.  It`s going to require a lot of patience to do.

I love you all.  Thank you all for your support, it is very appreciated.

スピイドとてんし (Speed and Angels)


Pic 1: The view from the アパート(Apa-to; ie Apartment)
Pic 2: Dinner yesterday


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mission: Nagoya

ハードキャッスル長老のでんどうをうければ日本にいきます。 (Literally: Elder Hardcastle your mission if you receive it is to go to Japan)

Well I tried to make it like Mission Impossible.


So this is it folks, my last e-mail from the BYU State Penitentiary.  We say goodbye to the good ole MTC on Monday at 0330 in the morning.  We fly from SLC to Detroit at 0730 and then we fly from Detroit straight to Nagoya at 1330 and land in Nagoya at 1730 the next day.  Crazy isn't it?  It's so exciting to get to finally go to Nihon.  There are 14 of us Senkyoushi on our flight (8 choro-tachi and 6 shimai-tachi) and I don't know how we are going to be seated or anything.  We are not allowed to watch the movie or anything on the flight.  It's going to be a long ride.  I'm probably going to catch up on some sleep.  The only other thing we're allowed to do is read my scriptures.  Tanoshii desu ne?  

It's going to be pretty sad leaving our shimai behind.  Our whole district has become really tight over the last 8 weeks.  It's going to be hard to leave all the boys behind once we split up in Nagoya.  We only spend one night in Nagoya and then we go straight to our area.  The Kobe missionaries spend 3 days at their mission home which just seems like a long time.  I'd love to get sent to somewhere in the Japanese mountain countryside, but knowing my luck I'll be sent to a big city area.  I'm sure I'll love wherever I end up.  

It's time to rock and roll.  I love what I'm doing and I know I am going exactly to where the Lord needs me to go.  It's going to be hard with lots of difficulty learning a new language and trying to get people to talk to me, but with God anything is possible.

皆さん愛しています。  I am so grateful for your love, support, and prayers.  I need all the help I can get.  Talk to you all when I get to Nihon!!




Pic 1: Off to Japan
Pic 2: My Testimony written in hiragana.  It's got several typos, the first sentence has a huge error, but other than that it wasn't too shabby.
Pic 3: The District


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Who Do I Cheer For?


So it's been a great week for the spiritual and secular side of life here at the MTC.  First off,  UTAH STATE BEAT BYU!!! Secondly AIR FORCE BEAT NAVY!!!  Both are pretty big deals and I am super excited.  But now the dilemma is this: who do I cheer for this week with USAFA playing USU?  I guess I really shouldn't be worried about that and focus on my spiritual side of events.

General Conference this weekend was awesome.  Despite the fact that I sat in the gym auditorium for 16 hours over the course of Saturday and Sunday it was really good.  It was the first time I have ever taken notes during General Conference and I saw the trends and patterns of what the Prophet and his Apostles received revelation on.  My favorite talk was by Lynn G. Robbins (the second speaker) about the importance of which way we face, are we doing the right thing by facing the people and standing for God or are we doing the wrong thing by giving into the World and standing for the people against God.  It was a great missionary talk because that is our purpose.  Our purpose is to invite people to come unto Christ and join His restored church here on the earth. 

The huge topic was on the importance of prophets especially of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Gospel.  On Sunday night our district went and watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" movie. I love it and I am so thankful that a young boy of 14 sought out an answer from our Father in Heaven.  I know the Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is the most true book here on planet Earth.  If you haven't seen the movie I have mentioned above I challenge you to watch it.  If any of my non-member friends have any questions about the Church, please find the missionaries and ask them.  You won't get any good info from the internet.  It's the missionaries job to answer your questions so I challenge you to talk to them.

On to my Nihongo.  We had to give orientation to a new district of Nihongiins (Japanese) missionaries.  There are two elders and seven sisters.  They can't pronounce my name very well so they call me "Katai Shiro" which is the literal translation of Hardcastle.  It's pretty cool.  I leave for Nippon in 11 days and I definitely can't speak Nihongo on a conversational level.  I will definitely be learning most of my Nihongo in the field.

So tomorrow the movie "Meet the Mormons" is coming out and I hope we get to see it here at the MTC.  I would like to challenge you all to go and watch it.  Navy's football coach is highlighted in it.

We get our flight plans to Nippon tomorrow!  We're all pretty excited and can't wait to get to country.

皆さんを愛していますよ.  Thanks for all your prayers and support.  It is felt.
Pic 1- Japanese fish and rice cracker snack.  Yes that's a real fish with bones, guts, and all.
Pic 2- Eating him
Pic 3- I made a deal with one of our Sensei-tachi that if BYU won I'd wear a BYU shirt and if USU won he'd have to wear my USU shirt.  You know the end result of the game.  Nitta Sensei is an awesome sport and the best sensei we could ask for.  He is a great guy and we love him to death.  That's Kasteler Shimai with us.  She's an Aggie so she joined in on the picture

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Apparently it's Navy Week...


And another one bites the dust.  It's hard to find something new to talk about when everyday is just about the exact same.  I was extremely happy to hear that Air Force beat BSU!  I leave and USAFA starts winning, not fair.  

The language is progressing slowly.  Last night we had one of the most awkward lessons ever.  We skyped a member living IN Japan.  It started off super awkward because my headset was having technical difficulties and she was patiently waiting for that to get fixed.  Then my companion got nervous and jumped straight into the lesson without getting to know her at all.  After we finished the lesson we talked for a while.  This is where I notice my Nihongo is better when I'm talking normally to someone rather than teaching a lesson where I don't want to forget saying something.  Watashi no doryou freezes up and can't speak when he's nervous even though he's pretty good at vocab and grammar.  The ending was really bad.  I didn't know if we were to end a lesson on skype with a prayer or not so I kind just said, "Watashitachi wa choto jikan ga arimasu soshite iku irimasu."  Definitely not good Nihongo I literally said, "We have little time, therefore we need to go." At least that's what I hope we said.  We hung up afterwards.  Super awkward right?  We have 3 more skype calls before we leave, but we have devised a plan to not let it be so awkward in the future.  The lady was really nice and spoke super slow for us and it was fun to get to know her.

Nothing truly exciting has gone on this week.  No Apostles came so I fell asleep for have of the fireside on Tuesday.  That happens just about every week but it's not intentional.  I just need one day where I can sleep in until 0930 or something.  

General Conference is this week and 5 of the 8 Choro tachi are singing in the Priesthood session of conference.  I would have loved to sing in the choir with them, but I had to be in a Zone Leader meeting when they signed up to go.  I'm really jealous of them.  

I love watching us all grow as a district.  We all want to go and teach the people of Japan.  My testimony of the Gospel has definitely grown here and I know that it will continue to grow once I get into the mission field.  There are two things I know that God has wanted me to do and that is go to USAFA and go on a mission.  Both have been the best experiences for me.

Also I'm sorry if I haven't responded to anyone's mail they've sent me.  We're only allowed to write on P-Day and I already go over time on the computer.  Have a great week and thanks for all your support.


Hardcastle 長老



Pic 1- P-Day fiesta
Pic 2- Katakana name tag.  We can't wear them until we leave