Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week #8 pictures

Japan week #8

      I'm flipping out about about the weight loss! My body seems to be stabilizing at about 88.5 kilos, which is like 190ish pounds, so that's not too bad I suppose. Hopefully I don't lose anymore! I like being the big guy!! We haven't had a chance to make cookies yet, we're going to this week though I think. And we're very excited to try pizza and dough making, should be great. ;) We have a ton of fun cooking. They also make a burger here, that's like mashed potatoes and gravy, on a patty in between too buns!! I'm very excited to eat it, we're gonna try and make it today. ;) Haha! They have such crazy stuff over here, I love it. And they're 'american food' is rice and a hamburger patty, makes me laugh. :) The Japanese people are just absolutely the greatest. They're SO stinking nice, and they are very hard workers. 
   Wish I could see the play!! Sounds like it's a ton of fun. :) Megan has Walter's Scarecrow shoes to fill, so some pretty big ones. ;) Just kidding!! She's gonna be epic at it. 
  How's Rick doing? Happy being a married man again? Tell him I said congratz, and that I'm very happy for him. :) How are Jake's new siblings? I'm excited to meet them. In a few years. ;) 
     Oh, I guess I should update you about the health. I am doing MUCH better, We're working a normal schedule again which is getting rid of Elder Harper's stir crazy. ;) So yeah, and think we're all good on that front! No more fever, no more diarrhea, we're doing good. And YES! I did get a priesthood blessing! I got one the day before the first time I went to the hospital. And it was a great blessing. Really set my mind at ease. 
  By the way, I'm working on a list of things I want / need for the future. Christmas type stuff. I'm doing good for now stuff wise, I love music though. ;) So I might keep bumming stuff from you guys on that front. ;) I'll let you know as stuff comes up. The biggest thing I miss probably at the moment, CHEESE! They don't have cheese here! They do, but not like we do back at home. And the little cheese they do have, is CRAZY expensive. Like ten bucks for a thing of cheese I could eat in one bite. It's rough. But nothing you guys can do about that. :P 
   So, my week was great. We were finally back to a mostly normal schedule. Which feels great. At the beginning of this week we visited a man named Takuro, who is a former investigator of like six months. He stopped investigating because he wants to be responsible for his own sins and what not, and doesn't want to use the Atonement. WHAT the heck, right! Who has a problem with the atonement! He still likes the church, and the missionaries, so that's good. We're keeping up relationships with him in case he expresses interest in investigating again, as well as just being his friends, because having friends is ALWAYS nice. We also sanded our table, that was covered with an old gross bed sheet because the table was gross, so we can use it again now! Makes the fuinki of our apartment much better, plus the wood likes nice. :) 
  I've also been experimenting with some food stuffs I've found in the apartment, found some weird mac and cheese stuff that I decided to have at. Turned into mac and soup. :P But it tasted great so, it was ok!! 
  Wednesday was super crazy. We biked to Hakuchorai, which is an hour bike ride away. O.O We rode there in the pouring rain, along a road with no really safe sides, through construction, it was nuts. We made it there, and it is a GORGEOUS place. Small town, trees everywhere, and the rain made it all very pretty. We did lots of dendo, got a ton of contacts, and had a great time. I had a flippin scary contact though. A lady opened the door, and I got blasted in the face with smoke, like, a TON of smoke, it was bad. But that's not the worst. She was part nude. O.O She looked like she was mid breast feeding, she was holding a child, and her shirt was not where it was supposed to be. I was like. O.O Froze, and then went on and contacted her, it was the flipping most AWKWARD THING I've ever done in my life. Hanging out in the onsen with a ton of guys was WAY more comfortable than that. I can't believe she answered the door!! What the heck right!
    The day doesn't end there though. Our ride home was just as crazy. It's starting to get very cold here at night and in the mornings, and it gets dark fast. And so by the time we were riding home, it was pitch black. We decided to take a back road to cut off some travel time, and that was the scariest downhill road I've ever ridden. We were in the rain, in the dark, on a completely overgrown road more grass than road, getting smacked in the face by tree branches every few feet! We made it down and stopped,  because it dropped us right into the middle of the free way, which makes no sense. So we had to ride down the free way with cars whipping past us, and after all that we finally had a more normal ride home. We're not going to go back there without some better prep on our part. :P 
  We have a ton of crazy biking here in Muroran. Friday we road our favorite mountain road all the way down the hook of Muroran. And it was amazing. It's the most beautiful mountain road, and it's just as fast for us as the main road, so we take it all the time now. On the return trip from that day, Elder Harper and I got separated! :O He rounded a corner and took another turn real fast before I could see, so I stopped and just was like, what do I do. So for twenty minutes I just patrolled the area where I had last seen him, and in the middle of my prayer, I look up and see him. He was freaking out thinking I had gotten hit by a car or something, we had a joyous reunion and then continued on our way. We road down the mountain, and I thought I could feel something wonky with my front tire, but I was riding fine so I didn't think much of it. Once we got down this lightning fast road, we stopped to grab some ice cream, and when I parked my bike, the tire came off. O.O It had come unattached somehow on the ride home, and if it had come off on that downhill road, I would have been VERY badly injured. I had a long prayer that night thanking Heavenly Father for his divine protection. Miracles are incredibly real out here, I really know that now. 
    All of our bike riding isn't like this, we're pretty safe. I just like to share the crazy stories because they're fun. We are safe, and we have MANY MANY MANY uneventful bike riding days. So don't worry about it, these are rare situations, usually. :) 
     We also had a great service opportunity with an NA in our ward. We lifted her mattress to her second floor, with ropes and her roof. Japanese homes are pretty small, and they can't really fit a mattress up a flight of stairs, at all. So Elder Harper and I got on the roof after getting some ropes around the mattress, and we lifted it right up and through a window! We had a blast. :) 
     So that's what's been happening in my life. Japanese is coming, I'm getting better everyday. I just wish my hearing comprehension was way better! I can say tons of stuff, but I'm still working on the understanding what's said to him. I HATE having to have Harper translate for me occasionally. Oh well. Time and effort.
        LOVE YOU ALL!!! 

             Mike, The 会話長老 Kaiwa Choro, Dialogue Choro, literally. Kaiwa means Dialogue or converstaion. Lol! ;) 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Japan week #7

Dear Kazoku,
 This has been another trying week. I haven't had crazy fevers, but I've still been having mild fevers, diarrhea, and NO energy. So it's been rough. Still haven't been able to go out and do much regular work. But we've been doing what we can. 
    As you may have noticed in my pictures, my hair was getting a tad long. :P So we finally went and got haircuts last Monday. :D So that was nice! I can finally put my hair back up now! ;) That Monday night was awesome too. We went to go have a curry party / family home evening with a family in the ward, the Kamada's. They invited some non member friends over and we had a great time. Elder Harper and I made ALL the curry, it was nuts. I've never seen so much curry in my life before. We had a TON of fun. We taught a lesson on families for that family home evening with everyone there and that went really well. The friends they invited over are all young families, and the Spirit was definitely there, so that went very well. :) 
     Tuesday was also awesome. It was transfer call day. Elder Harper and I are staying in Muroran, big surprise ;), but one of our Tomokomai boys left us to go become a district leader up north in Asahikawa! :O We'll miss him a ton, he is such a cool nihonjin, I love him to death! After all that I spent some time resting, because I wasn't feeling well, and that evening we went and and decorated the new shimai's apartment. We got some garland, balloons, and poster material, and we spiffied up the place! Elder Harper made some posters to hang up, and it was glorious. :) The Shimai loved it. 
      Wednesday I was feeling good enough to go out and do some work so we made some NA visits, and visited the Sasahara's in the ward. They're strong members, but their health is declining rapidly. They're on the older side, and so it's sad but natural to see their health decline. Sasahara SHimai had recently burnt her hand rather severely while cooking, and she had to go to the hospital for it, and during our visit with them she asked us for a blessing. That was such a special blessing for me. I love being able to use my priesthood. Ever since becoming an Elder I've had quite a few opportunities to participate/ give blessings, and I love that I'm worthy and able to use that power to bless those around me. It's so special to me. Every time I use it, it makes me want to honor it even more so that I can always be worthy of it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I am able to use that power to help those around me.
     Thursday was the big day, the new sister's arrived! First shimai missionaries here in twenty years! O.O Crazy, right? We picked them up at the train station, got their stuff to their apartment, and wished them a good night, they arrived quite late at night. Elder Harper and I have felt impressed to do everything we can to help the shimai be as successful as possible. Obviously Muroran is ready for shimai, so we want to do all we can to help them. Our two new shimai are Kuroki Shimai Nihonjin, and Soderquist Shimai, gaijin. Soderquist Shimai just arrived from the MTC, and Kuroki shimai is training. It's quite a feat to open an area AND train at the same time, that's awesome for her. Kuroki shimai is really cool and awesome, very experienced missionary. Her bean is WAY quiet though, she seems very overwhelmed, so I hope she acclimates well. 
       Saturday was an awesome day as well. I was feeling pretty good, so we went and did service for the Muroran Library. They recently changed locations, and so they are still setting up the new place. We moved shelves, display cases, and a TON of boxes. We had a great time. :) I'm still not 100 percent, and the work killed what little energy I had. :P Came home and crashed. But it was awesome nonetheless. Was very nice to get out and do something. 
    At church yesterday we had a big like welcome party for the shimai. It was WAY big. Tons of food, great company, twas fun. The shimai here have probably gotten the greatest welcome a missionary has ever received in all history! It was quite the shindig! The ward is VERY excited to have shimai, so hopefully they do all they can to help the sisters be successful. 
 So yeah, that was my week. Still dealing with illness, but next week we're just going to do as much as I can everyday. Gotta do something! I'm down to 30 total pounds lost also, it's crazy. I only weigh like 187 now, i REALLY can't believe it. I'm afraid my pants won't fit soon! Gotta tighten those belts! Just for fun last night I wore those thorlo socks Mom sent me, and they are QUITE nice. Super comfy, I thoroughly enjoyed them. ;)
   I'm doing much better than I was before! Thanks for all your prayers! I can't wait to hear from you all!
            Love love love! 
So Dad, about the micro usb keyboard, I think that'd be awesome. The Japanese keyboards are very hard to use, and my accuracy and speed has taken quite a hit as I'm sure you've noticed.
Momma!! Could I also get your pizza dough recipe? ;) We wanna try pizza one p-day.
New address I think is working great! I've been getting letters from recent times, and the package took eight days to get to me, we were SO excited to get the jerky and music! We LOVE the lamb of god cd, it's epic. If you can still try and get the restoration one for us, that'd be great, thanks a ton. :) 

 Thanks for all your love!!! I miss you all. :) I think about you and pray for you all the time! Till next week!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Japan week #6

  I hope you've all had a glorious week!
I hope it's been better than mine! I'm not gonna lie... this week has been pretty rough. So remember how I said I was sick last Sunday? Yeah... I'm still sick. Turns out it was QUITE serious. :P I've had fevers averaging from 102.5-104.7 degrees ALL week. 104.7 was my all time high this week. Pretty bad, right? O.O I thought I was going to die. I've slept for almost this entire week, it's been bad. :P Wednesday we went to the hospital because my fever was lasting so long. 
   We went with the bishop, because we had NO knowledge of any medical words, so he was a lifesaver. We couldn't have done the paperwork either without him. He has really saved us this week. That first hospital trip was useless. They didn't investigate at all, and just gave me ibuprofen basically. >.> That was a useless visit. So we went back Friday, and got some real work done. Got some blood drawn, had an ultrasound done, the works. I've never had an ultrasound done on me before I don't think, so that was weird, and cold. :P They did the blood work immediately and lo and behold, bacterial!! Just like I thought it was. So I was prescribed some fever reducing meds that I drink, that are VILE tasting, ;), and some antibiotics. After the first dose I was feeling so much better. Finally on the mend I think!! 
  I've learned a lot from this though. Immediately I tried to think about what I needed to learn from this. And this week I've turned to the Lord, that's the lesson I think. I have been scared, worried, and unsure of what was going to happen. As I turned to Heavenly Father and Christ though, I received so much comfort and peace. I've been watched over this week by a loving Father, and I've felt your prayers. Thank you all so much! 
  This week wasn't all sick in bed time though! Monday, before we knew how bad I was, we went to the Onsen! And we ARE allowed to get in them, Momma. :) Weird, I'm sure to think since we can't swim, but we can! So we went to the world famous onsens in Noboribetsu about thirty minutes away. I cannot describe to you how amazing it was. There is something about that water that is just magical. Noboribetsu has 19 different onsen I think, a TON, and we went into a good lot of them. It's also like a public bath. So everyone is nude. It's split by gender, so we don't have to worry about that, but it's still just a bit different hanging out with a bunch of nude men in a hot spring. I never thought that'd be so much fun, but it was! :P It was a district activity too, so we went with our boys in Tomakomai, and we had a BLAST! This is the ONLY mission in Japan that allows the missionaries to visit the onsen. Evans Kaicho is really cool like that. He thinks the onsen is a great cultural experience, so he allows us to go. And boy are we grateful. I love you all family!!
   Just a few things:
      I just got your letters from the 14th and 28th of August, 14th got lost on it's way here haha! 
      The honbu just slaps a sticker with our Muroran address on it, that's how they forward the mail. ;) 
Couple requests:
    Could you send me the joseph smith concert cd you guys went to a long while ago? That'd be glorious. The one that has the really cool songs on it, and has the commentary in between songs? Thanks. :)
 And could you also send some Josh Groban music that is spiritually themed, obviously. Like The Prayer, for example. Music like that is fine, and we really want to hear the Prayer, since it's beautiful, and JG kills it!! So anything else from him too that's like that would be great also. :) thank you so much guys!! 
 That's all I have! Thanks so much for everything!! I love you!

       Love, Mike

Sunday, September 8, 2013

week #5 pictures and videos (new)

A video clip about his gold tie and the MTC laundry workers

A video clip about the gifts he received at Zone Training Conference

Japan week #5

Dear Kazoku!
   Hey everyone! Glad to hear from you all! This week has be crazy, again! Just like last week. First though, I got your letter dated on the twentieth of August, on the 5th of September!! So I don't know what's up with that... I got it though! And that's what is important! So Tuesday we went to Hakodate, the 'capital' so to speak, for our zone for Zone Training Meeting. It's about two hours by train to the southwest of Muroran. There were 11 of us in a 2 man apartment that first night, was CRAZY! We took up every patch of floor, and even the pantry and closet! It was a ton of fun. :) It was great to meet all my zonemates too. There are some COOL elders in my zone. Oh!! Brandolino Choro is in my zone too! So I got to hang out with him for two days which we were SO HAPPY about. We're like best buds at this point. Love each other. 
   Wednesday was ZTM. I'm not sure how it's different from Zone Conference, but it is, I guess. We did some workshops, led by the zone leaders and AP's. We did lots of roleplays, good discussions, and it was fun. The focus was on member involvement, and unity in our companionship's, both of which are CRITICAL to success as a missionary. So that was very good to discuss I think. After ZTM we had a zone activity. We played some silly games, tons of fun. ;) And then went to Mt. Hakodate. It's on the very southern part of Hakodate, and it overlooks the entire city. It's like the third best night view in the world with the city lights, and man it did NOT disappoint. The pictures I took don't do it justice. It was simply beautiful!
  We spent the night again in Hakodate and then caught the 8am train home. Thursday we finally after a few weeks of trying, got to meet with two of our potential investigators, Nagata San and Kanauchi san!! We chated it up, and got some of their schedule info so we can meet with them easier. :D Oh! At ZTM we found out that next transfer a companionship of sisters will be coming to Muroran!! O_O It hasn't been more than just two elders here for years!! That's crazy!! It's cool to think though how we've been unknowingly prepping the area for shimai. Lots of women pi's, lots of women members who want to dendo, and other stuff like that. It's crazy. The dynamic is going to be so much different here with shimai! It's exciting stuff!!
   On Friday we went to visit a slightly less active member again, Sato Shimai. When we got there she was so happy to see us, said she'd been praying for the Elders to come by. :D With the crazy rain recently, she's been really afraid of landslides. So she asked us to dedicate her home, for physical and spiritual safety. I didn't even know we could do that!! After we finished at her place we just walked away, stunned. It was such a cool opportunity to be an answer to a prayer. It's the greatest feeling. I also got to pet a kitty for the first time since before the MTC! :D He walked up to me, flopped down on my foot, and I couldn't say no. Elder Harper didn't understand how happy that made me. ;) We also tried to make cookies, in the microwave...It failed. Horribly. So perhaps Momma you could send us your chocolate chip cookie recipe? We'll use the church's stove too. ;)  
  Saturday was regular, nothing to report there. But I got MEGA sick Sunday!! :( I have been having crazy fevers, and I don't know why!! Gah!! So anyways, that's been my week. Today we're going to world famous onsen, (hot srpings) in Noboribetsu, so that'll be AWESOME!! Also doing splits tomorrow, so I'll have a nihonjin comp for a day, that'll be interesting. ;) Dad!! A couple things. How do you like being high priest group leader? ;) So, you know the song that goes, la la la la la la la la la laaa means, I love you!! Right? I was in a convenience store, which are huge here, and I heard it come on!! Made me laugh! Never thought I'd hear that song in Japan! :) Thanks for everything you do family! I love you all! By the way dad, got any ideas for ending rust? My keys are getting hammered from the weather over here.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week #4 photos

Frozen banana with chocolate pieces...Mike's new favorite treat!

Harper Choro Piccolo costume

Jazz night

Japan week #4

   I hope everything is well at home, everyone loving school? ;) It's been a crazy week for me here in Muroran and Sapporo! 
       We had our lesson with Nishigaki San last Monday, and that went alright. She's having a hard time keeping our commitments which sucks because she's not really progressing unless she's experimenting on the word, ya know! That p-day was fun, practiced for jazz night, which I'll talk about in a bit, and we got all our shopping done. There are dollar stores in Nihon called Daiso, and they're amazing! They are like a regular general store, and it's all 100 yen! Some of their ties are EPIC, and famous among missionaries, so I'm gonna have to get some I think sometime! ;) We bought some candles and spent our evening in candlelight! Twas awesome! :) Had some fun, got some sweet video and pictures. ;) 
      Tuesday was crazy! Our morning was normal, had DTM with our boys in Tomakomai, but a really cool miracle happened!  I was feeling down a bit, had a REALLY serious personal study, wasn't sure if I was doing any good, and I found a note in my suit coat!! I had turned it in to get dry cleaned, and the workers left me a super nice note that MADE MY DAY! I wish I could tell them how much that meant to me. I've got it in my scriptures now as a pick me up for later. ;)  This is what the note said:  Thank you for having a spiffy gold and silky tie, and a spiffy name. You have made our days here, good luck out there, heart, the laundry workers.
     That evening got crazy though. Elder Harper has been having some back issues, and it got really bad that same day. So we made a back brace. A back brace of doom! It was duck taped all around his stomach, and four chop sticks! O.O LOL! He also asked me for a blessing which scared me to death!! First blessing ever, I didn't know what to say! I just said what came to my mind, and it made sense and made him feel good. :) It was so great. I've never given a blessing before till then, and it was quite a powerful experience. I'm blessed with the spirit of healing as you know, so hopefully that kicks in. ;) We bought some cloth to make a new back brace, and with the extra cloth Harper Choro made a turban and showed me his Piccolo costume! (Piccolo is a character from Dragon Ball Z by the way) That was fun! 
      Wednesday and Thursday were normal days. Just lots of dendo. You get to know quite a few words very well when you tract. ii desu! I'm good! keko desu! I'm good! suki ja nai! I hate you! ;) Some old man said that, right after we volunteered to help him weed his garden! :) He was having a rough day, I'm sure. 
The weekend though is where things got crazy. I'm not sure if I told you before, but Evans Shima is ALL about music. She was a singer for awhile making records, plays violin, she LOVES it. And she puts on music nights every once in awhile. This one was Jazz Night, and since Elder Harper plays the Sax AND clarinet, naturally she commissioned him to be there. And then she found out I sang, and so I became a part of it! :D We left Friday afternoon for Sapporo for  rehearsals. They went well, and we had tons of fun! I actually sang, accentuate the positive, with Elder Spurling, who was Elder Harper's comp just last transfer!! That was cool, and he has got some PIPES!! HE's so good. He's only three transfers ahead of Muroran and that was his bean area too! So we have lots in common. Loves SX too!! :D 
        We spent the night in the mission office in the ap's apartment. They have a NICE apartment. It's HUGE! And new! They have it so good! There were eight of us there and we had a bit of a party. I ate a watermelon the size of three of my heads! Not alone of course ;) We played some games and had a great night!
       Saturday was the big day. Before rehearsals Elder Harper and I did some dendo in Moiwa, HIS bean area, so that was crazy cool for him. Hadn't been there in a year. Pretty soon it was Jazz Night, and we had a great turn out! TONS of non members there to talk to. I spoke so much Japanese, it was amazing!! I still know nothing, but it's coming. Every nihonjin says I sound very natural when I talk, and that my pronunciation is great. So that's good. :) We mingled for the first hour then the show started. The music was awesome, and we did a GREAT job! Everyone loved it! After it was over they encored MY song!! :D :D So we went and performed again! It was so much fun. After that we hung out for a bit, mingled, got swarmed with people saying how good we did. And then caught the 7:30 pm train home. This week was epic! I know I've only been here for four weeks, but I can't believe it!

      I can't believe everyone is doing so much crazy good at home. Tell Mark that that is AMAZING, what he's doing. I love him to death! 

We have NO central heating, even in our missionary apartments. Just futones, blankets, and a space heater! Lol!! It's great! And some parts of hokkaido get up to 4 meters of snow!! It's nuts!! I've lost 22 pounds since coming to Japan from the MTC. Isn't that CRAZY!!  Love you all!! :D

 Love love love!!