Sunday, November 30, 2014

Transfer Calls...

Morning ya`ll,

So Saturday was transfer calls.  A transfer occurs every 6 weeks where some missionaries get shifted around to different areas.  Trainers and bean-chans don`t typically get transferred, but....Someone did get transferred out of Toyota.  Elder Tuakoi who is Miranda`s trainer got sent to Meito (The Mission Home is in that area) to become the Zone Leader!  He is super cool and it will be sad to see him go.  I`ll be here in Toyota for at least another transfer.

So this week has been super full of experiences.  First off, Elder Miranda who came to Japan with me from the MTC and he is Brazilian and all the English he knows started at the MTC (and he`s actually really good) and we went on exchanges with each other this week.  It is super rare for two transfer 1 beans to go on exchanges together.  We went to Homi Danshi (Brazilian Heaven) to visit his investigators.  On the way I was about to OYM a guy and it turned out to be a less active member I have a good relationship with and I talked to him for almost 30 minutes.  My first Japanese conversation without a trainer!!  It was a really good confidence boost.  The rest of the night was Miranda talking to investigators in Portuguese and me talking in Japanese.  It was really good for me.  It was the most Japanese I have spoken in Japan.

Last P-Day I fulfilled a goal of mine: I met a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force) Airman.  He is a member`s son who just joined the Air Force in March and is already an NCO.  He is an electrical engineer on the C-130s I see everyday.  He was super cool and we talked (in mixed Japanese English) and showed each other lots of pictures.  He also has a sweet motorcycle.  He`s pretty much a Japanese me.

I want to talk a little about an investigator Morimura-san.  He is by far my favorite investigator.  He is super genki (energized)  all the time.  He owns a Euro/American clothing store in town where we teach him.  He looks like Tony Stark (Ironman) and he talks really informally and really fast.  He is so cool and is super fun to talk to.  We went to his shop this week and talked to him for a while and then taught about prayer.  It was super good and then we challenged him to pray on the spot with us after I provided an example for him.  He actually was willing to do so and it was so cool!  The last two investigators we`ve asked to pray have not been willing to do so.  It was super awesome and I know he will be blessed if he talks to his Father in Heaven.

Thanksgiving here was lame.  See the attached picture.  We had meat from Homi and dehydrated potatoes with a boiled egg.  Yum.  Hope you all ate a lot more than I did.

Thanks for everything everyone and ENJOY THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!



Pic 1- Air Force!!
Pic 2- Thanksgiving dinner


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving


Good morning sports fans,

Another week bites the dust here in 豊田市.  This week has gone by super fast and it`s been full of ups and downs.  We had some adventures this week and it`s been a lot of bike riding.  Also it`s Thanksgiving of Labor Day here in Japan today, so Happy Thanksgiving.  And yes there was an earthquake.  Apparently it was a 6.8 in Nagano, which is a long ways away from me, but we still felt it at night and the whole apartment was swaying and it felt super weird.

We went to a member`s home with the intention of making bread, but it turned into a full on dinner and we spend almost 4 hours in the evening with the Ichikawa family.  It was super good and they are one of the nicest families in the ward.  The father is a non-member and he was at work but they have a daughter on a mission in Temple Square in Salt Lake.  We made soup, bread, and hamburger (went in the soup) and it was all ``souper`` tasty.  It was good to spend some time with a member family.  Some of my favorite memories from living in Yuma was having the missionaries come over to our house and play with us kids.  I want to be a good example for families and their kids in the ward so they can have similar memories of the missionaries that I have.

Missionary work has been kind of slow this week.  We had more member lessons than anything else.  We went to an older gentleman member`s home for me to practice Japanese and give a lesson.  His name is Miyachi Kyodai and he is super nice and one of the first members I met here.  The beginning of the lesson where I was just getting to know him went the best.  Once I tried teaching a gospel principle, everything went down hill.  I didn`t know where to with the lesson and once that happened, I lost confidence, and when I lost confidence, I lost my ability to speak.  It was great to practice with someone who is patient and wants to help me out. 

We decided to ride our bikes to the bishop`s home to talk to him about ward missionary efforts.  The ride was a 55km (35 mile) ride round trip.  It took us 2 hours to get up there all up hill.  We got to see sakura!  Sakura is cherry blossoms that only bloom twice a year.  It`s super pretty and there`s a video on the dropbox.  On the way back down (in the dark) we were flying downhill and we saw this shrine all lit up and decided to check it out.  Bills had never seen anything like it before.  There were 600 candle ``magic`` lanterns made by some mentally handicapped kids at a hospital down the road.  It was really neat and we were offered some free wild boar stew if we would have come back the next day, but we couldn`t because the next day was Sunday (shucks).

Hope you all are doing awesome and have a great Thanksgiving on 木曜日.  Eat lots of turkey for me.

Love you all and thanks for everything.


Pic: Sakura!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Sheep Dog

O-haiyo freakin gozaimasu!

It`s been another week here in 豊田市.  Speaking of which, Wednesday is my one month mark being here in Toyota!  It`s crazy to think I`ve been here for a month.  

So gone are the days of 75 degrees day and night.  All of a sudden out of nowhere it got cold.  It`s been around 45 degrees when the sun goes down (which is like 1730) so gone are the days of riding the dark streets of Toyota in short sleeves.

So here in Toyota we are on the flight path for a Japanese Air Force base in Nagoya.  Every day I see about 5-8 C-130s fly over with the the red dot painted on the sides.  Every time they fly over (I look up and almost crash my biki) I get super what we call ``trunky``.  ``Trunky`` (meaning pack your trunk and go home) is our term for missing things from our past lives or home.  For example, most missionaries get trunky when they think about girls they left behind or will potentially date when they get back.  There are only a few things that get me trunky, those things stated above.  My trainer likes to poke fun at me for getting trunky over airplanes.  I guess I`m an Air Force nerd.

Well not too much out of the ordinary has gone on here.  The big emphasis has been visiting Less Active members lately.  It`s not my favorite thing to do, but it takes us all over the city and helps us find new investigators.  

I have been really trying to focus on investigators this week and it`s super stressful.  It`s stressful to always be wondering what they need to be taught next and how to best teach them about the gospel in order to help them.  It`s been a super good, but super exhausting focus.  I am trying to be as involved as I can with everything since I cannot express myself all to well in a lesson.

My big focus for the week has been to develop a Christ-like attribute and it was also a challenge from our district leader.  On the self assessment I learned that I am the worst at...PATIENCE.  It`s funny because it`s true.  I have had a hard time being patient with our investigators slow progression and with myself learning the language.  There are days where I am super happy with how I performed while speaking to people and others where I wonder how the heck I`m going to do this.  I thought I was getting away from stress when I left USAFA, but I traded it for a new type of stress.  The main difference is that I stress over other people much more than I stress over myself.  I want to help and teach the people so bad so that they can feel God`s love.  My job is to seek out those sheep who are lost and rescue those who are in the jaws of the wolves of this world and bring them to God.

There is a Shepherd.
There are Sheep.
There are Wolves.
I am His Sheep Dog.

Thanks for all the prayers.  I love all of you.  Thanks for all the support and e-mails, it means so much.


Pic-We found this while dendo-ing.  It`s the closest I`ll get to flying for a while

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Want a Gym...

Good evening 皆さん!  Well I guess it`s 0100 in the morning for all of you in the States.  Yeah!

So this e-mail is being typed late in the day because I went to go pick up my noble steed.  Yes, you heard correctly, I finally the proud owner of a bicycle that`s not a mama-chadi!  I got like 4 e-mails last week with everybody telling me that my bike was super girly.  Well now I have a stallion that rides smooth, silent, and absorbs shock like nothing else.  I hope it stays nice for a long time.

So I decided to weigh myself this morning after I did one of my excise routines (you have to be creative) and I did so.  To my surprise I weighed in at... 194 lbs!  I haven`t weighed that since the fall of my senior year in high school!  I really miss the weight room at USAFA (Tommy probably misses it more than I do) because I feel like I`m not going to be able to maintain anything I had pre-mission.  Oh well, I guess that`s not the point of a mission.

Also speaking of USAFA, I just learned that two of my friends soloed last month!  A big shout out to John Cahill and Ashley Torres! Ya`ll rock.

Back to Japan.  Well everything is going just genki.  I have been all over the place this past week.  I`ve been to Seto-shi for my bike, Okazaki-shi for district meeting, and good old Toyota-shi for some excellent dendou (missionary work).  I learned something super interesting about culture this week.  So chewing gum in public is super taboo (super weird for Americans), but you can take a pee in the bushes in the middle of the street and that`s ok.  When Elders Bills told me that I didn`t believe him, but later that night as we rode though Toyota City, sure enough there was a guy walking away from some bushes zipping up his trousers.  Really!?  Gum is bad, but you can pee wherever you want?

My language skills grow super slow and I`m a very impatient person.  I want to talk and understand people so bad.  After every time we talk to someone I look over at my trainer and try to translate and recite everything I heard so that I can see if I actually understood what people were saying to me.  It`s so frustrating when you are super far off from what they said.  I`m still in the 10% range of comprehension.  People say that the mission isn`t about learning a language, it`s about teaching people.  To that I say yes, that is true; however I can`t teach if I don`t understand a word they say.  I guess I`ll just have to just press on.

So we had couple of really good lessons this week.  We have three Filipino investigators who speak fluent English.  They are 18-24 years old and they are pretty cool guys.  After I first met them my first week I felt they really needed a Book of Mormon.  We got to teach one of them this week.  His name is Koji and he is super cool.  We taught the First Vision and about the Book of Mormon and it was super good.  He said he would get his buddies to read as well.  This Sunday (yesterday) was actually pretty good.  I had to talk in front of the ward, but it was only an introduction and testimony.  The members were a lot more friendly towards me this week for some reason.  We had a really good lesson after sacrament meeting with a 47 Japanese man named Ando-san.  His Japanese is super hard to understand because he has no teeth.  We taught once again about the First Vision and the Book of Mormon and the importance of prayer.  bills taught most of the lesson but I was able to share what I thought about prayer and bear my testimony about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  Even though I didn`t understand a lot of what was said I definitely felt the Spirit and it was such a good lesson.  We invited Ando to be baptized...but he declined and said he needs to think about it.

I wish I could tell you all that I experience.  Life`s full of ups and downs out here.  It`s a matter of making the ups last longer than the downs.  God bless all of you!  Your support means the world.



Pic: A sweet bell from a shrine in the mountains

Monday, November 3, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough


So I just experienced my first full week here in Japan.  I did a lot of stuff this past week.  First off,  no one can pronounce my katakana name to save their life(Ha-dokyassuru).  It usually takes them two or three tries to get it right.  Some people call me ``Ha-do`` or ``katai`` (means hard) or ``katai shiro``(hard castle).  I wish I just had a kanji name tag because it would solve that problem.

So last P-Day I ate the dreaded natto which is fermented soy bean paste.  It is friggin gross and I hope to never eat it ever again...hopefully.  I`ve had a lot of really good food and I take pictures of a lot of the different things I eat.  My favorite thing to eat here is katsu(fried meat) and curry.

I`ve been to a couple different shrines.  I was on companion exchanges with Tuakoi Choro and we went to a shrine on Halloween night.  The shrine was one where they used to behead people.  It was raining and super dark and there were a bunch of statues without heads.  Pretty neat right?  Later today we`re going to the mountains into the jungle to go to another shrine.  Adventure Time!

I went to Okazaki for Zone Conference and got to see my buddy Cowan from the MTC.  I also went to Seto yesterday to buy a bike.  I`m getting to see some different places which is cool and apparently we get transferred a lot in this mission, except for Toyota.  Most missionaries who serve in Toyota end up being here for 5 months.

As for dendou (missionary work)  I`ve tried to keep my personal goal of talking to two people a day.  I can usually get an approach started and Bills Choro finishes it up.  He`s super good at OYMing.  We do a lot of housing (tracting).  We will usually bike to someone we`re going to visit and if they`re not home we house the apartments next to them.  Most have what are called ``keko boxes`` which is a camera on the doorbell.  I hate them.  I would much rather talk to a person.  

We had 16 investigators.  We dropped 5 of them and 5 more are in danger of being dropped because they`re not keeping commitments.  We have about 5 promising investigators so we`ll see how it goes as the week progresses.  

I taught my first real lesson this week IN ENGLISH!  Tuakoi Choro had an investigator who went to a year of college in Washington and wanted to practice his English.  Miranda hardly speaks English so Tuakoi asked if I could be prepare to teach about The Restoration and the Book of Mormon (Lesson 1).  The guy was super cool and it was a really neat experience and it was going well, I could feel the Spirit and asked him if he would start reading the Book of Mormon.  I had a greenie moment and thought that he would be super excited about it and say yes...but he said he didn`t feel like this was the right time for him to get into religion.  He kept the Book of Mormon and we bore testimony on the truthfulness of the Gospel and that if he had any questions he should call.  Hopefully he will have that drive to listen to all of our lessons someday.  It was actually had to teach in English because I had to keep it simple.  Tuakoi told Bills later that day (to my surprise) that I led the lesson.  It was a great experience.

I understand about 10% of what people say.  The ward has really nice people and others who are hard to work with.  Some don`t like that I don`t understand Japanese.  Tough for them, I`m learning.  I feel like I understand more and more everyday.

Hope everyone is genki.  I am so thankful for your prayers.  I love all of you


Pic: Shrine from last P-Day