Saturday, March 26, 2016

No Rest For the Weary

Good morning Sports Fans,

I guess I would like to start this morning with a sports news update.
Every week on Saturday we play baseball with President Ishii at 0700
in the morning at a close by park and today a first occurred while we
played. We just blitzed back from 野並 (Nonami) so we could be there on
time and we started to play and I was playing as catcher with
President Ishii pitching to me. I felt pretty safe with Ishii pitching
to me because he's been playing for decades and I had trust in him.
However, in our second inning he pitched just a little short and the
ball had a really hard bounce right under my glove and I caught a full
softball right into the testicles. The next five minutes or so was
just about everybody laughing and me hopping around to shake the pain
out laughing and wincing. It was so comically funny. Once the pain
subsided a little bit (it still kind of stings) we kept playing, but
so far I'm the first missionary to ever get nailed in the sweet spot
by his mission president.

So this has been a long, busy week starting with last Saturday and
Sunday driving President Mills from the MTC. I, being the newly
licensed driver, took it upon myself to drive throughout all of 岡崎
(Okazaki) Zone on Saturday. We went to every area in the zone to go
participate in mostly practice lessons with members. All we would
essentially do is drive him to the lesson and wait outside or in a
different room until the lesson was done and then move on to the next
area. I am so grateful for the missionaries' patience with the whole
situation. It was very demanding on them and I'm so grateful for their
cooperation. One cool thing was that on Saturday day night our last
stop was in 豊田 (Toyota) and while Mills was in the lesson I got to
literally "drive" down memory lane and go check out the city with
Nakamoto. I was way good to see the place and I was grateful to see it
again for the first time in almost a year. On Sunday we went to church
in the 御器所 (Gokiso) and 福徳 (Fukutoku) areas for church and lessons.
The best part of Sunday was in 御器所 before church there was a baptismal
service before the normal meeting and it was a beautiful service. The
lady being baptized looked so happy and everybody's shared testimonies
were so sweet and the Spirit was definitely felt there. The rest of
the day was driving Mills around to lesson until late at night. I'm so
happy that ordeal is over with. It was a good experience and learned
some stuff from him, but I wasn't sad to drop him off at his hotel and
drive away.

We had two companion exchanges this week. The first was on Wednesday
in 福徳 (Fukutoku) and I got to work with a fantastic ZL, Elder Hall. He
is a way funny guy and it was such a good time to work with him. The
ZLs there are doing such good things and are seeing a lot of success
there. On Thursday we were supposed to go on an exchange with the 野並
(Nonami) guys, but we got really busy closing down the 野並 elder's
apartment. At transfers we shut down the sister missionary area there
completely; meaning we are no longer going to rent an extra apartment
there so we had to clean and move everything out. The ZLs there
decided to move into what was the sisters' apartment so we closed the
one I used to live in. The ZLs hadn't cleaned it much before they left
so we and the Gunnerson's (couple missionaries from the office) took
a moving truck out there and spent the whole day cleaning and moving
things out. It took all day to get stuff out, load it, bring it to the
本部, unload it, and then reload it again when we got rid of it to
recycle it out to a vendor. We ran out of time to do the exchange so
we went on Friday after ZTM. It was way fun to be back in 'Nam. I
worked with my replacement Elder Smith and we went sprinting around the
city to make it to a couple of appointments they had. I got to meet up
with two people I worked a lot with, one was 藤本姉妹 (Sister Fujimoto)
and 有坂会長 (President Arisaka). 藤本姉妹 was so happy to see me again and it
was good to talk to her. The ZLs are still trying to meet with her
husband to teach him. 有坂会長 is still as good as ever and we went out
with him to go visit some less active members which was really
successful. He is one of my favorite leaders that I've met in Japan.
Getting to return back to areas and meet the people you loved is so

The rest of the time in between all of these happening was office work
and we have already started transfer meetings. A lot of work is
getting done and it will just keep rolling on as the next week rises.
We're tired, but what's new. Nakamoto and I are having fun so that's
what truly matters in the end.

Tomorrow is Easter which is strange since it's in March, but just
thought I'd remind you all about it. It's a good opportunity for all
to think back and reflect on what the Savior has done for each of us
and the things that are possible because of Him and His everlasting
atonement for you and me. Because of Christ we have the opportunity to
be resurrected and return to live with our families eternally in the
presence of our Father in Heaven. I know it's true and that's why I'm

Have a great spring season and try not to get diabetes from all the
Easter chocolate!




Nakamoto wanted a selfie to document the experience. Here's Pres. Mills.

Just hangin' around in 福徳 (Fukutoku)

有坂会長 and I. He's my favorite Branch President.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Look Mom No P-Day!

Hey Sports Fans,

Well as the subject line states, we have no P-Day today. Today we are
driving a bigwig from the church Missionary Dept. almost all day long
to take him to lessons in 岡崎 (Okazaki) Zone. So this guy created a
beta test program for a pamphlet for the iPads that is supposed to
help teach people without a Christian background and this was given
only to missionaries in Japan around last year in October. He is
visiting different missions in Japan this week and wants to watch
missionaries teach using the pamphlets. He's going to be in our
mission for two days and we were worried that we weren't going to have
very many lessons planned because we didn't have very much prep time
in advance. Luckily these lessons don't all have to be investigator
lessons so we'll still be able to take him to lessons where the
missionaries are practicing with members. So today we are picking him
up at the Nagoya Train Station and will be driving him to four
different areas and then tomorrow after church we will be taking him
to three more areas. We'll be working all weekend.

Well that's enough about today, so I guess I'll talk a little about
this past week. It's been a long week and I haven't really been
anywhere. Monday and Tuesday were spent at the Japanese DMV which is
worse than the American DMV any day of the week. The building itself
looks like a gigantic prison and seems to suck the happiness out of a
soul. Our purpose for these trips was to obtain my Japanese drivers
license. Monday night was my practice driving test which went ok. That
was my first time behind the wheel of a car in about 18 months and it
was pretty weird, but my skills were still there. The hardest thing
about the driving test here in Japan is that you have to memorize two
courses and you don't know which course you will take until the day of
the test. The instructors are also really picky about how early you
turn your blinkers on and how close you are to the inside lines when
you turn. I learned all of these rules on Monday night with a grouchy
instructor to prepare for my test on Tuesday afternoon. I was pretty
nervous for my test because usually missionaries don't pass on the
first time and President Ishii was really pushing hard for me to pass
so Nakamoto can get out of the 本部 next transfer. Tuesday rolls around
and we get to the DMV at around 1130 to check in and then I waited
until about 1245 to actually take the test. When I drove the course I
remembered everything and after I finished I felt confident that I'd
passed, but wasn't quite sure because that's what Nakamoto said he
felt like after his first test. Once my test (which only took about
five minutes) was done we had to wait around for another hour for the group
to finish the other tests. At a designated time they read the names of
those who pass in front of everyone and if your name doesn't get
called then you go home with no prize and a sense of shame. As they
started to announce I waited and... My name was the second of four
only who had passed for the day! It took another 30 minutes to get my
card made and printed, but I am now a licensed driver here in Japan. I
give all the credit to the Transdev Harrogate & District Travel bus driver
tie I was wearing from Fonty.

Wednesday was Mission Leadership Council where all the Zone Leaders
meet every transfer and we APs and the President give trainings. This
transfer our focuses were on working with members and using family
history as a tool in our 伝道 (dendo). It was a way successful MLC with
a lot of good round table discussion and everyone was really involved.
Afterwards we had to drive the 金沢 ZLs to the 駅 (eki-train station) so
they could catch their three hour train ride home, but the problem was
the other 本部 missionaries took our van so President Ishii told us to
take his. I was given the keys and my first time driving for real on
the narrow roads of Japan was in the president's gigantic van. It was
a little sketchy, but my virgin voyage ended safely and no plants,
animals, or people died so I consider it a mission success. At night
during 英会話 we tried teaching about knock-knock jokes and pick up
lines, but nobody understood so it was pretty much a failure. Their
sense of humor here is way different. After 英会話 we had an after
baptism lesson with our recent convert named Katsuki. He's only 16
years old and he's such a bro. We taught a lesson with the bishop
about the priesthood and the whole time he seemed kind of in awe about
how important the priesthood is and the power it has.

The next day was pretty slow for me. Nakamoto went with 阿部 (Abe) and
the senior couple missionaries to go look for a new apartment up north
to open a new area so I was stuck in the office all day. I didn't have
too much to do in the late afternoon , so I ended up shredding old
records from 2005 for two hours straight. I filled up three huge trash
bags of thousands of travel reimbursement sheets. We still have more
records so I'll save those for another slow day.

That's about all of the excitement for the week. I guess I just want
to finish my email with some stuff I've been thinking a lot about this
week which is conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. On my mission
I've realized how far my personal conversion has come. Looking back
over my past 18+ months here my testimony has grown so much. I have
the desire to come closer to Christ and follow commandments and strive
to return to our Father in Heaven. I am so grateful to have been so
affected by my mission up to this point. Nakamoto and I listened to a
youth broadcast with Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles and he talked about how every good thing in his life came
through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It made me want to have the faith
to be able to say the same thing someday. This church is true and the
blessings are real and the joy is forever and I'm starting to
understand that and it's exciting.

I hope all is well on the home front. I'm under four months left out
here folks which is getting interesting to think about. I'm so
grateful to be working out here with such wonderful people and I feel
so blessed by your support. Thank you so much!




Licensed to Thrill

 Getting gangsta by this car we found the other night

we drew this picture to teach thug in 英会話 (Eikaiwa)

Friday, March 11, 2016

My Eyes Are Purple...

Hello Sports Fans,

This has been one long week. In case nobody knew, I really didn't get a
P-Day last week because we had the Family History Fair (more on that
later) and then since it was transfer week we were way busy. I am
チョー疲れた. Going through the week without a P-Day, running on fumes with
early mornings gets rough. That's life I guess.

I guess I'll start off by talking about the Family History Fair last
week. It was actually a really big success. There were around 300
people there (with about 30 missionaries) and we all got to listen to
Elders Packer and Yamashita of the Quorum of the Seventy. After
hearing from them everybody went through the fair where different
"booths" introduced a different aspect of family history. Elder
Nakamoto and I were assigned to teach groups the Plan of Salvation
which was a way neat experience. Some of the first people to come over
to talk to us was the Yamashitas. It was so awesome to get to see and
talk to President and Sister Yamashita for a little bit! Sister
Yamashita was so excited to see all of the missionaries and was
running around with her phone taking pictures of all of us. After
getting to talk to them we had the opportunity to teach a lot of
people about the Plan of Salvation and explained why family history is
important to our church and how we can live together with our family
forever. It was a way cool, once in a mission experience even though
if stole my P-Day.

The rest of the week was normal transfer stuff. We had the dying
missionaries come into the 本部 on Monday and woke up flipping early on
Tuesday to take them out to the airport. One of the people I got to
see off this time was Sister Brewer which was way weird for me. I met
her on her first week in Japan and her and I served together in the
same zone for 8 transfers, 6 of which were in the same district, and 1
of which was the same area. It made me feel like an "old" missionary
to watch someone a transfer younger than me go home. Our trip to the
airport this time wasn't as hard on us as the last time which was
good. At night we picked up the bean-chans and they were way quiet and
tired compared to the last batch. There were only four who came in and
they all seem pretty solid.

On Wednesday we had orientation and introduced the bean-chans to their
trainers.  During the orientation I translated for a Japanese elder
for most of the time so Nakamoto kind of soloed most of it. Once we
finished the orientation we took them all to meet their trainers. I
love all of the trainers! It's always really fun to watch a first-time
trainer meet their bean-chan for the very first time. I kind of wish I
could have the opportunity to train again, but alas I believe my time
has passed.

Thursday was a pretty productive day and we got a lot done and had
some cool experiences talking to people. We are trying to be more
effective in our area this transfer and so we are trying to do some
different things that haven't been tried for a while so we'll see what
happens. Friday was a solid office day where we didn't really get to
leave at all because due to opening and closing of apartments,
training meetings, and exchanges we wouldn't have the time to get any
immediate things done if they weren't done yesterday. We also got some
fancy partitions in the office to make us look more professional. So I
guess that was exciting.

And that's where you find me at the end of this week. It's been a really
good successful week with a lot accomplished and now I am チョー疲れた and
my eyes are shadowed in purple. Thank goodness for a P-Day!

I hope you've all been able to keep yourselves busy this week. Spring
Break should be coming up soon so I hope that people are starting to
create some fun plans for that. Anyways, I wish you all the best of
luck and I love all of you and thanks for everything. I couldn't be
more appreciative for all of your support and prayers.




Pic 1- Teaching at the Fair

Pic 2- Sister Yamashita

Pic 3- Tired at the Airport

Pic 4- Partitions

 Pic 5- My AP "Trainer" and I

Friday, March 4, 2016

Down With the Sickness

Good morning ladies and germs,

It's transfer calls today and shortly I'll be making calls to people
all over the mission informing them what their next stage of "life" is
going to be. It should be pretty fun. I've got around 30ish people to
call which is about double last time so we'll see how long it takes to
finish. It will definitely be the most exciting thing I've done this
week.  Speaking of which, here we go!

Alright so on Sunday my companion Elder Nakamoto was absolutely dying
of sickness in church and looked like he was going to pass out in an
FHE (Family Home Evening) that we helped President Ishii out with
after church. Nakamoto came back to the apartment and just slept for
the rest of the day. The next morning he looked like death and was in
bed for most of the day with a fever at around 102 degrees. Sister
Ishii was freaking out and was bringing us soup and such to get him to
eat. On Tuesday Sister Ishii was fully committed to taking him to the
clinic and threatened to wrap a chain around his neck and drag him
there if need be. Japanese people love going to the doctor for even a
small cough so she was hell-bent on taking him with his high
temperature. The docs couldn't tell what he had, but his fever had
dropped by then to 99 so they just assumed he had some sort of cold.  By
Thursday he was loads better and wasn't as tired. Now he is doing fine
with just a cough.

With my companion down for most of the week I really didn't go any
where past my desk. I didn't even leave the building for two days. The
bright side of this all was that I was pretty busy with office work.
With this being transfer call week all of the final call decisions,
transfer board, and actual phone call schedule needed to be planned,
typed up, and given to all office staff. I soloed the desk and
computer typing and editing agendas and making the transfer board with
Nakamoto coming out for periods of time to try to work between naps.
Since I was the one on the computer almost all of the time I was
pretty busy. We had our final transfer meeting on Wednesday and we
still changed even more stuff in the mission and moved some people
back to their original spots. These meetings have been so interesting
to see what changes and what inputs are used. All of the ZLs that I
report with have been freaking out about transfer calls all week and
I've had fun teasing them.

One exciting thing that happened this week was on Wednesday we had a
training for the trainers and their bean-chans. It was a lot of fun to
see all of them after their first transfer together. We split them and
did separate training with them where we talked to them about how
things are going and the good miracles they've seen and to help
them with any struggles they currently have. I love all the trainers
so much and I have become friends with most of them and love working
with them. I had a lot of flashbacks to when I was bean-chan and when
I was training as we discussed everyone's experiences. Good times.

After transfer calls tomorrow at the church there is a huge stake wide
Family History Fair. Both Elders Packer and Yamashita of the Quorum of
the Seventy are coming as special guests. All the missionaries from
the Meito and Okazaki Zones are coming and it should be a pretty big
missionary event. This week with my extra time with Nakamoto down I
have been prepping my personal family history booklet that President
Ishii wanted us to fill out. I also was using my Family Search app on
my iPad to see how much info it has. I forgot how much I liked doing
family history stuff and as I received some pictures from home of
grandparents and great grandparents I started entering them into the
app and checked out other pictures that had been put in by other
family members. As missionaries in the office we talked a lot about
our families this week and shared cool stories about them and it just
secured more firmly in my mind how important families are and how much
they bless us. I love my family and I'm very proud of my lineage and
don't want to disappoint them. This gospel that we as missionaries
teach about is centered around how we as families can live for
eternity with our families through Christ's atonement in a plan
created by our loving Father in Heaven. There's nothing better than

That's about it for the week folks. The only word of advice I have is
don't eat Indo Curry two days in row (It wasn't my fault a member took
us). I hope the best for you and have an exciting week. If you want to
be entertained and get the chance maybe pull out some family history
records and pedigree charts and have some fun. Maybe you'll learn a
little something you never knew!

Thanks for everything y'all and have a great week!




 Half of the Mission President's board that we use to decide transfer calls

Cool things your dad sends you when going through old pictures. That's my grandfather on his mission in south Brazil in the 1950's on the left and on the right is me as a sophomore in high school. I am wearing the same gaucho gun belt and pants about 60 years apart. We kind of look similar don't we?