Thursday, June 6, 2013


Hello everyone. Well this week went by pretty fast. I realized I've been on my mission over 6 months already. It feels like I'm still really new here in Japan though, it probably has something to do with how long I was in the MTC.
Well I trust that everyone has had a pretty good/normal week. It looks like Erika and Brian had a fun vacation!
This week I had an interview with President Budge. We talked a little bit about Faith and how much of a difference it makes in missionary work. One thing he talked about is how everything has both a spiritual and physical creation. The spiritual creation can be obeying the commandments, staying worthy, making goals, and planning, while the physical creation is actually getting out there and making it happen with a diligent, concentrated effort. I admit sometimes I do the spiritual creation part and then just go outside and go through the motions with my head in the clouds waiting for things to happen instead of making sure they happen myself. He said there's a difference between going out hoping for things, and going out expecting things. The expecting is where Faith really comes in and makes a difference.
We spent a good chunk of time this week doing the standard finding stuff, but also met with Satou almost every day. We met him only a week and a half ago but he really is the perfect example of a Golden Investigator. After the first lesson we researched all of the commandments on his own and started following them, and after church last sunday he read the Gospel Principles book in 2 days. We're working towards a June 9th baptism and things should go smoothly at this point! He has his baptismal interview tomorrow. This will be my first baptism here in Japan, and Shohei should be getting baptized the week after! 
The photos below:
A frozen egg we pulled from the freezer
A typical poster (think it is supposed to say "Fun and Recreation"
Our investigator, Satou
An artistic expression :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Week Of April 1, 2013 Highlights

During study today we were planning for a lesson with a group of recent converts. Elder Lloyd wanted to teach "Finding Happiness through the Gospel". I had a bit of a hard time preparing for that because it's not something talked about in PMG and as a result I don't really know the Japanese to teach it. I also had a hard time just thinking about what I would even want to say. I've definitely felt a removal of guilt and a sense of peace and calm through the gospel, but I had a hard time thinking if I've really felt a lot of "joy" through it though. So anyways it was something that was on my mind throughout the day, but I finally decided that I do feel joy, it's just not the joy that most people think of. I'm a calm and quiet person most of the time, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy. I'm not super excited about things, I'm never overcome with positive emotion, but I decided that I can say I'm happy, even if it is just through a consistant feeling of calm. We ended up just watching Legacy during the lesson anyways so I didn't really have to deal with it.
After the lesson we made homemade pizza at the church in preparation for the new sister missionaries arriving. Elder Lloyd and I met them at the train station and brought them straight to the church to eat really quick and then have Eikaiwa.Sister Reusser, one of the sisters that entered the MTC about a week and a half before I left is now being trained here in Koiwa. Her trainer is Sister Nagamine, from Okinawa. They're both pretty cool and it's going to be amazing having 6 missionaries here for the Koiwa ward. It's funny to see 6 missionaries in one ward when at home each companionship belongs to 2 seperate wards. We can definitely use everyone though, we have a big area and there are a lot of people that live here.
After Eikaiwa I called Hori to solidfy our appointment for the next day and I felt surprisingly comfortable on the phone, I was even able to use a few grammar patterns that I haven't been using so far. Apparently I'm learning Japanese after all!
Thursday 4/4:
Very busy day today, didn't really get to finish a lot of the things we planned but it turned out pretty well. We went with the new sisters to the Fujita family's house for a lesson in the morning. The whole family was there which was awesome. We taught the Doctrine of Christ and gave the baptismal commitment to sister Fujita and the commitment to receive the priesthood for Brother Fujita. In the past he has been pretty hesitant and wanted to study more, but today he was super excited and positive about setting goals and having challenges. It sounds like their planning to come to church every week and have Sister Fujita be baptized on the 4th of May, and likely the kids would be baptized soon after that but we haven't set up challenges for them yet. 3 of the 4 are older than 8, so that would be 4 baptisms!
After that we did some weekly planning where we set up a follow up list for the next week and talked a bit about who needs to be taught what.
Hori's lesson was not quite as good as the Fujitas'... We ended up pushing his baptismal date back quite a bit and he still doesn't have any sort of testimony about Christ or Prophets, and he doesn't feel like he's repenting or can repent either. He's definitely progressing from where he's been, but it's very slow. Elder Lloyd and I talked about it a bit and we both think it's probably just not his time. We're here for him and helping him how we can, but only time and his own choices will actually bring him to the point he can be baptized.
Friday 4/5:
Another very busy day. We had district meeting, met with Hori, introduced them to the Adachi elders since he's going to be moving there, and then he came with us as we took the sisters to city hall and a bike shop to help with all the random things they have to do. They're both new to the area and don't know where anything is so they appreciated our help. It did take a long time though.
Afterward, we finished our study, ate dinner, and went to a community Japanese conversation class. It was the first friday of the month, which we forgot, so we made food as a group and we had 2 dinners. We made homemade pot stickers which was pretty fun. We met a bunch of chinese people and found a couple people interested in coming to church, and one woman who might want to take lessons. She invited us to play badmitten with her the next day to talk a little more and meet her husband.
Saturday 4/6:
Today we went to Yokohama with a big group of investigators, eikaiwa students, and recent converts. We went to an all you can eat mexican restaurant! It was the first time I had ever seen mexican food here in Japan and I loved it so much. Make sure you all take advantage of the variety of food you have in America!
After lunch we went to the Cup Noodle museum and I got to make my very own Cup of Noodle! I got to draw on the cup and decide all the things I wanted included in it. It was super crowded, but pretty fun.
Throughout the visit we talked to Shu, a referral from the sisters who they found while tracting and invited to Yokohama. He's a 23 year old chinese guy, fluent in Japanese, and studying English. He seems pretty cool. I had a chance to get to know him a bit and talk about super heroes, video games, and movies. I did it all in Japanese too! On the train ride back we had a little more of a serious conversation where we told him about the Book of Mormon and gave a brief overview of the different lessons we teach as missionaries.
After dinner we met with Amy (the chinese woman from the Japanese class) and played badmitten. It was pretty fun, and she seems like she might come to church not this week but next week. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 11, 2013

Hello everyone! Here's my weekly high detail recap. Don't get too excited though, this week was a pretty smooth ride with not a lot of cool stories. I enjoyed it though.
Monday: After doing the to-do list of Pday with cleaning, shopping, and emailing, we were able to go bowling with one of our good Eikaiwa friends, Shohei, at his brother's work. My best game I bowled a 149, which I was happy with. Elder Lloyd got a 156 one game though so I wasn't quite the winner. After dinner we went to ping pong night and I tried to talk to some of the bilingual members and have them teach me more Japanese.
Tuesday: After studying we had a lesson with Hori. We used to just teach him short messages from the Liahona since he wants to learn english and wasn't ever really willing to take the discussions, but that lesson was much more of an actual lesson. We taught the Doctrine of Christ lesson, which includes the path we need to take in this life (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). We really tried to emphasize baptism. He said he feels like he has Faith and he tries to repent every day, but he still isn't quite ready to take that next step. He did say, "Maybe I'll call you tomorrow and say I want to be baptized, but as for now I don't want to." That really surprised me and made me realize that he really has come a long way, I'm sure we'll get him sooner or later. We streeted for a while and met a chinese man that we set up an appointment with, so I'll tell you how that goes next week. During dinner we watched the new CES devotional from Elder Bednar. Everything he said made a lot of sense to me and was something I had thought about in the MTC. What I really took away from it is that we need to truly submit ourselves to the Lord's will, even if its contrary to what we think is best for us. When we have faith, He will bless us, but we also need to recognize that He has His own plan for us and that somehow its for our benefit in the long run. If you haven't seen the devotional yet I recommend you watch it.
Wednesday: Pretty normal day. I feel like I'm being more effective during my study times, and I feel that I am able to understand more Japanese, but my speaking is still about the same. The increase of understanding is encouraging though. We taught a group of recent converts from last year about the temple and urged them to go do baptisms for the dead and even try and bring their own family names. Did some uneventful dendo (proselyting), had dinner, and had Eikawa. The first hour of Eikaiwa is pretty slow and tedious, especially in the beginner class where I co-teach with a very stuborn older ward member, so it's hard for me to try and change things up and make it more fun. The last 30 minutes is always a game of all classes combined and its a blast. This week we wrote the letters A-Z on the whiteboard, one team started at A, the other team started at Z. You go in a line writing a simple english word for the letter your team is at, and when both teams meet in the middle they Rock, Paper, Scissors. The losing team erases some of their words (First loss you erase everything, 2nd you erase 10, and 3rd and later you erase 5). First team to get to the other teams starting place wins. It took the full half hour but finally the other team ended up winning.
Thursday: Studied, had 3 hours of weekly planning, met with Brother Kawachi (a recent convert) and just kind of talked for 45 minutes. He's a pretty amazing guy who's had a lot of trials lately, so he likes to see us a lot. Then we went to Shohei's house and made dinner with him and his family.
Friday: Started the day handing out flyers for Eikaiwa at the train station to people on their way to work. It's kind of awkward since I've always been annoyed by people like that and now I'm one of them. I'm getting used to it though. We had a district meeting at our church and practiced testifying as a companionship. Later we did our study and some more uneventful dendo on the streets. After dinner we went to the Japanese class we went to last week. Right away there was a chinese guy (fluent in english) who asked us if he could come to our church. Of course we said yes, gave him an Eikaiwa flyer with a map to the church, and told him what time it was. He wasn't able to come yesterday but said he'll come next week. After the class we walked back to the train station with one of the teachers and talked about what we do as missionaries a bit. We exchanged numbers and might meet this week. Because she's a girl though we have a lot of rules to follow in order to teach her. There should be sister missionaries coming next transfer to this area and maybe we'll just keep her number to give to them.
Saturday: Most of the day was spent taking Hori to a baptism in Elder Bingham's old area (He's one of the tech missionaries we share our appartment with. He actually started his mission November 16th last year, the day I was supposed to report if I had gone to Nagoya). It was the first baptism I've attended in Japan so that was a cool experience. I think Hori liked it too, but it's hard for me to get a good read because I'm such a novice here. We'll try and ask more direct questions this week to see how he actually feels about everything, or if he just likes hanging out with us. We did a bit of dendo and went to a members house for dinner. The couple both served missions in America, and they invited another couple from the ward including a Nigerian man and his Japanese wife. He doesn't know Japanese yet, but is a pretty awesome guy. We got to teach our message in English so that was fun. I like being able to use English since I regain my confidence, but at the same time I'm afraid the amount of english in my ward will hinder my ablitily to learn.
Sunday: Church stuff, we had a 24 year old Nepali guy, Aman, come to sacrament with us but he left after. It was his first experience with christian churches but he said he enjoyed it. He doesn't really know Japanese so the brother we ate with on saturday night sat with us and translated. We did another recent convert lesson with a 13 year old girl and had Sunday Eikaiwa. For dinner we made some pretty sweet burgers. We had to mix the beef with tofu, but we added chopped onions to the meat and a special ingredient that I threw in just for fun. Rootbeer concentrate! It was actually pretty good. We didn't have any bread and they don't have burger buns here so we just cut up the patties and ate them with rice and a ketchup and soysauce blend. I played around on and found a direct line from our family back to Adam, you guys should see if you can find it too.
Today: Studied, cleaned, went grocery shopping, emailed! I got one of the 7/11 waffle ice creams that dad told me about. It was pretty good.
One of the things I really thought about his week was how huge and impactful the Plan of Salvation is. Our time on Earth, while it seems long while we're here, is nothing in the grand scheme of things. We develop relationships and families, learn to love, experience trials, and then it's over. I thought a lot about temple work and the timing for people to receive the gospel. The more I thought of it and talked about things with the other missionaries the more I realized that everything that's meant to happen will happen. In the end, everyone who is meant to inherit the Celestial Kingdom will inherit it. Everything is done in the Lord's time. I used to think that a mission is a responsibility to help those people to receive it, but even if I wasn't here they would receive it eventually if they would now. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be here. We're still allowing them to receive those blessings earlier, and it is actually mostly an opportunity for us to show Heavenly Father our willingness to do whatever he asks of us and receive the blessings for ourselves that he has planned for us. I don't mean for this to sound selfish or anything, so please don't take it that way. But it's reassuring for those who don't have the opportunity or ability to accept the gospel now. We need to trust God and His timing, but still try and help anyway we can, as small as we may be in the grand scheme.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 3, 2013

Thanks for all the emails and encouragement! Life's getting a little easier, still mostly just going with the flow, but nothing wrong with that. Here's a recap of the last week:
Tuesday: Pretty good day. Shohei (an Eikaiwa student who moved out of our area to be a manager at a pet store) was back in town and we made lunch at his house. They were an attempt at hamburgers, but we had to use pork and regular slices of bread instead of buns. Still tastey though. He still doesn't want to really investigate the church but he did contact the church in his new area to go to their Eikaiwa. Then we did some streeting and stuff, got a couple numbers of people saying their interested in Eikaiwa but not the church right now. Then the 4 Elders in our area went out to dinner with a recent convert and at dinner met an older man that we had a good conversation with. The other elders picked him up as an investigator and have seem him a couple times this week so far. Elder Lloyd and I started handing out Eikaiwa flyers at a nearby strain station. One guy came up to us and started speaking English to us. His name is Shota Chiba. He asked us what we were doing, we explained that we were missionaries. He asked about the church, and long story short we gave an overview of all the lessons and set a baptisimal date with him! It was pretty miraculous. We exchanged numbers but he's been pretty busy and unfortunately didn't come to church yesterday even though he said he would. He's been reading the Book of Mormon though. We probably won't be able to baptize him as soon as the date we set but I think it'll happen eventually.
Wednesday: Had a lesson with Brother Fujita, once again it was just him and not his family. He really likes the church and church members, but when we talked to him seriously about him receiving the priesthood and baptizing his family he said that he doesn't want to rush anything and will only do it when he feels like his family wants to do it on their own. Slow progress but still progress. Later we had a study session with recent converts and read a talk by Elder Bednar. I followed along in English but wasn't really able to participate in the discussion. Good listening practice. In the evening we had Eikaiwa and I taught the beginner class.
Thursday: We did our normal study and spent a lot of the day preparing for something special that happened Friday. We had a 4-person planning for what we wanted to do this week as an apartment, and we had a 3 hour weekly planning as companionships to talk about our investigators and have "companionship inventory", which is where we have to talk about our feelings and other girly stuff. I see why its important but I still think it's pretty dumb sometimes. We finished the day doing tracting and not much came of it.
Friday: Woke up bright and early to go to the Temple annex in Tokyo and hear Elder Nelson! First time I saw Zach, so that was cool. And I got to say hi to everyone from the MTC too and see how people were holding up. Elder Nelson was amazing and we had a question and answer session with him afterwards. I think what I took away most from it was the responsibility I have to be here and the feeling that I'm really not wasting my time, which was something I needed to hear. I think the biggest change in my way of thinking about church things since I started my mission is my respect and admiration for the General Authorities. They really do have power and authority, they're not just good leaders. They receive powerful and direct revelation. So a lot of the day was that and travel, but in the evening we went to a free local Japanese Class to try and find investigators and improve our Japanese at the same time. Turns out the first one of every month is just a dinner so we got an extra dinner. We did meet some cool people though. One of them was apparently baptized as a kid. He would go play basketball with the elders when he was about 13 and one just got baptized. Never went to church, got confirmed, or even took the lessons though. It gave us an opportunity to talk about the church and hopefully we can talk more this week.
Saturday: Pretty average day. Checked out during study time and was surprised how far back I could go. That was cool. We have an Eikaiwa student who doesn't want to officially take the lessons and commit to anything, but we teach him private Eikaiwa lessons using the Liahona and basically just teach him the lessons anyway without him knowing it. We taught the Plan of Salvation and he thought it was really cool. Had a lot of questions but understood it in the end. Still no desire to change his life though. Then we went to go to a soccer activity with one of the youth and an investigator. My companion thought it started when it actually ended though so the 4 of us didn't end up doing it. We taught a role play lesson to the youth that was with us in a mcdonalds on the way back. He's a pretty cool guy, 15 year old named Toshiharu.
Sunday: Did normal Sunday stuff. No investigators at church this week unfortunately. Taught a recent convert after church and Eikaiwa. We got a referral from some sisters in the area by ours, who had a Nepali guy approach them on the train back from Elder Nelson and say "I don't really know why, but I feel like I need to talk to you and hear whatever message you have." He lives in our area so they referred him to us. We met him at the local trainstation, he came with his friend and we walked with them to the church real quick before they had to go to work. They're both 24 year old Nepali guys who are here studying Japanese. They've only been here for 2 months so I'm kind of the same level as they are. We talked all in English. They're both fluent in it, as well as Nepali and Hindu. Pretty impressive. We set up appointments to meet with them on Wednesday.
Alright, I might have to start just writing my journal on the computer and copying and pasting it into the email. This took a long time to type. Have a great week everyone! Love you all!

The Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors model

Monday, February 25, 2013


Thanks for all the emails! I did get my bike, and it's got a light, reflectors, a lock and of course I wear a helmet, don't worry =). And yeah its pretty cool that they're splitting the mission! It takes affect in July and I don't know how they'll choose which missionaries go to the new one so we'll see. Also I'm curious to see if the Tokyo South mission will also have computers, they're definitely convenient here. People are so busy all the time and never are able to set apointments when you talk to them and pretty much only do it through email. That might just be because I'm in the heart of the city though.
Well I'll try to be more detailed with this email...
Last monday: Bought the bike, did other chore type stuff, then went to ping pong night at the church. One of the people we contacted on the street the night before, Imai, actually came and we gave him a book of mormon and restoration pamphlet.
Tuesday: Had a lesson with Brother Fujita, a nonactive member since about age 10. His wife and 4 kids aren't members but they weren't at the lesson. He seems really interested in the priesthood and we taught about the restoration. He seemed really interested. He came to sacrament meeting with his family yesterday but left after. They're family is super busy all the time apparently so we still don't  have our next lesson set up.
We also had lunch with an older man, Mr. Kawawa. He took us out to Chinese and bought a ton of stuff, it was pretty sweet. We talked to him about his philosphies a bit. He has lds friends in taiwan. When we started trying to talk about the plan of salvation a bit he kept talking about how you shouldn't think about death and just focus on life. He doesn't believe in an afterlife and didn't want to hear about it. Next time I think we'll just teach him some more basic things and see if he becomes interested later. Then in the evening we had a going away party for one of our Eikaiwa students. Imai came to this as well and asked a lot of questions about chirstianity and our beliefs. He seemed pretty interested and we invited him to Eikaiwa and church. He doesn't have a phone or email though so it's hard to get a hold of him and he had a lot of tests this week too. He didn't show up to either so hopefully we run into him at ping pong tonight.
Wednesday: Super weird day. We went to the mission home for interviews and my companion left our phone on one of the trains. We stayed at the mission home until they could track the phone which took forever. We did get to meet a lot of people from our zone though that came that same day for the interviews. Finally they tracked it and we went there. It was in someones house and the man wanted nothing to do with us. We got back right before "Eikaiwa" or English Class. I taught the beginner class and we pretty much just listed words and worked on pronounciation.
Thursday: Had a lesson with a recent convert. He's having a hard time feeling the spirit and I shared some things that hopefully help with him. We got a call from the mission home saying the phone changed locations and was at the train station. We went and got it but it was still under remote lock for the rest of the day. We went to a members house for a scheduled role play lesson but he wasn't home. It was super far from our apartment too. That's pretty much the jist of that day.
Friday: Had district meeting in the morning, that was fun. Then we had a "study meeting" with a group of 4 recent converts. We studied chapter 4 from PMG together. A couple of them are having a hard time knowing whether or not the church is true or not. I wasn't able to follow the conversation at all and every few minutes or so my companion would ask me "how do you feel about that?" and I had no idea what to say since I didn't even know what they were talking about. Then he would kind of just keep going. I felt pretty useless. In the evening we had a role play lesson with an older couple in the ward that fed us dinner. I was able to participate more in that because it was more of a planned lesson which I had practiced in the MTC.
Saturday: Did the usual morning routine: Wake up, excersize, eat, shower, study, study, study, eat lunch, then started the real work. We planned to go tracting with brother Ikari, a member of the ward. When we met with him he decided he wanted us to go visit his childhood friend instead. He was a bit out of our area but the Zone leaders okayed us to go meet him. We took him on a tour of the church in his area which is 5 stories. The tallest LDS church in Asia. Bottom floor is parking, 2nd is chappel, 3rd and 4th are classrooms, and 5th was gym and stage. Pretty neat. We taught him Lesson 3: The Gospel of Christ, in the parking lot afterwards. He thought it was interesting and he likes the missionaries but he doesn't really want to apply it in his own life. Seed planted though.
Sunday: Church meetings and Church in the morning. They had a ward fundraiser after church where they made curry and it was delicious. We got the leftovers too =). The Fujita family came for sacrament, and an Eikaiwa member, Mari, came right after sacrament for an English sunday school class we taught. She stayed for relief society which was cool. We had Eikaiwa after the fundraiser but I didn't teach this one, just sat and listened. We had an emergy transfer this week so one of the Elders in the companionship we live with left wednesday and a new one came thursday. The new one, Elder Bingham, from arizona taught the new class. He entered the mtc Nov 16th last year so I wouldn't have been with him then if I went to Nagoya last year. He's way smart and I learned some good study ideas from him. After Eikaiwa we had another church meeting then went to a members house for dinner.
Not going to lie from about Friday morning til this morning I was feeling super down and really questioning my motives and desire to be here. I didn't feel like I was doing anything special. This morning though after reading some things I got a better perspective and a better attitude. I might not be doing a lot right now, but I am doing something and in time I'll be able to have some good experiences.
Alright, hopefully that's detailed enough! Love you all!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arrival in Tokyo - February 12, 2013

Well Japan's pretty cool. I got in tuesday evening, President Budge picked us up from the airport and Sister Budge made soup and salad for dinnner. They seem pretty awesome. The next day we had a little orientation in the mission home and we met the trainers. Then after a while they assigned us our trainers and areas. My trainer is Elder Lloyd, and he was actually MTC companions with Zach. I'm in the Koiwa area, which is right on the outskirts of Tokyo. We have Tokyo Disney Land, Sky Tree, and some other landmarks in our area. I'll make sure to take pictures. The roads are tiny and confusing so I have no idea where I'm going ever I just follow Elder Lloyd around.
The Japanese is killer, I barely understand anything and can't really say much outside of lessons, and can't understand what the investigators are saying in our lessons so Elder Lloyd usually translates a bit. It'll come with patience though. We only have a couple investigators right now and we can only meet them about once a week or so, so we spend a bit of time on the streets too. Apparently they used to have appointments all day every day but nobody was really progressing and they were all just king of looking to "hang out with the Americans" so they dropped a lot before I got here. I've helped teach Eikaiwa (English conversation class) twice so far and it looks like we might have a new investigator from there. She hasn't asked us to give her the lessons but I think she's planning on coming to church next week. And last night we talked to a 21 year old guy on the street for quite a while. Apparently the most contact with religion he's had is from video games like Devil May Cry and Diablo, but because of those he's interested in what we actually believe. He didn't take a Book of Mormon but said he wants to come to Ping Pong night at the church tonight and that he might take one then. We'll see how interested he actually is. Haven't bought my bike yet but I should today.  Well my ward seems pretty awesome, one of the largest in Japan with 140 members or so. 10 baptisms last year. A lot of them speak some english too so I was able to talk to a few a bit, although I say what I can in Japanese. Well.... I guess I'll talk to you all next week! I get 90 minutes to email on Pdays here (way more than the MTC).