Monday, January 27, 2014

Pictures and videos from December 2013-January 2014















                                 Welcome to Otofuke!                                             Christmas in Otofuke

video video

Japan week #25

Hello everyone! 
     This has been another fun week! As some of you have heard, I am now officially in Otofuke for another transfer, and with the same companion! My district didn't even hardly change at all either, so this transfer was a bit boring for us. ;) Haha!! BUT! My old zone leader from when I was in Muroran, came to Obihiro, to be my zone leader again! :P Needless to say I'm way stoked! Love the man, wanna go out and dendo with him again! And I'm finally gonna have that opportunity! :) 
   I am happy to not be transferring, and to not have to change companions. I feel like we are together for one more in order to see some miracles over these next six weeks, and so we're gonna be working hard to make sure they come! The AP's called us and told us that they feel that our investigator Sato San, can get baptized this transfer, and they STRONGLY encouraged us to do all we could to make that happen. And so we're gonna do our best! Elder Kozuma and I would love to see a baptism, so we're working hard! 
  So this week was pretty eventful. Even though we weren't transferring, we still had to make the 4 hour trip to Sapporo to the transfer spot anyways. For music practice. So yes, I am still in it! I'm in a couple big group songs, and then one small group song, and I'll tell you, are they AMAZING. Way fun, way good! I'm very excited! We have two concerts to perform, one on the 15th of February, and one on the 1st of March. Sisters Evans is going all out because this is her last chance to put on a music night since their mission ends in 6 months, and boy is it gonna be great. The missionaries have written some really incredible numbers, and they sound great. It's way fun. :) I love that I'm out here on my mission, and I'm still able to use my talents and perform for people. It's such a blessing. :) And we always sing in Japanese, sometimes English. 
  At the music practice this week, I was talking to President Evans. He is way fun to talk to, and he's a WAY smart dude. We were having a nice conversation, and then he asked me how my Japanese was, how I felt about the language, and what not. Pretty natural question. I told him that it wasn't an area of stress for me, and that I feel pretty comfortable with it. To which he said, 'Oh good, I knew when I met you that it wouldn't be a problem with you. I expect you to keep working, and to become one of our gaijin japanese speaking all stars.' And then walks away!! I'm standing there going. :O Then I yell, 'Thanks for your faith in me!' Haha!! Talk about pressure. Now I have president Evans expecting me to be flipping awesome. ;) Haha! It was interesting, figured that you might like to hear about that. I haven't talked a ton about the language, but it's going great. I have really improved a LOT since my first transfer. I look at some of my old notes and what not, and I have come a LONG way. In fact, I was just thinking about this yesterday, that I understand more than I don't understand. That thought just hit me yesterday. And it really made me think a lot about how flipping blessed I am. I am just some young white guy from Idaho, only thing he knew about Japan was that they bombed america in WW2, and now I'm in Japan, serving the people, speaking the language. It's flipping amazing. My language skills have really come a long ways. Being with a Japanese companion certainly helps, and I feel like last transfer I really got a handle on the understanding part. I almost always know what's being said around me now, and I can just about express myself without any hitches at all. Obviously I'm not perfect, and there's still tons I need to know, but I am just so grateful that I've been blessed with language skills that I can use to further this work. That's kind of the biggest thing that happened to me this week. I've been very humbled because of that realization. I'm so dang blessed! I'm growing so much! Man, there's just no way to one up the Men Upstairs! Anytime you think you're paying any of it back, you realize you've only dived further into their debt. It's great. :) 
  That's what I learned this week. After all the music night practice craziness we came home, and had some fun dendo. The ward had a single adult activity that we attended, which was a blast. It's great times out here. :) 
I love you all, and I wish you all a very very very happy and successful week. :) Keep Sato San in your prayers, we want to be able to see her baptism this transfer. :) I love you all!! :D

      -Mike

Sunday, January 19, 2014

week #24 pictures







Japan week #24

Hello from Japan everyone!! :D
     Terribly sorry about last week's email... Darn ward activities stealing my email time! How dare missionary work do that! ;) It was great, the ward mochitsuki. It was our new years party, and we made mochi! Which is a special kind of rice, that you smash with a wooden hammer, and it turns into the consistency of chewed gum! And then you eat it with mashed beans and all sorts of other good stuff! We had an investigator show up, Riku Kun, whom we hadn't invited! He is actually a former investigator, and I had never met him before, he's 16. I don't know how he knew about it, but he came and had a great time! He also came to church this week and so we went to young men's with him, haven't been in a YM's class room in awhile. And it was just like I remembered it was. ;) HAHA!! It was great, and Riku Kun really liked it, said he wanted to come again next week! O.O What a kid! Love it! Hopefully we can pick up the lessons from where he left off and get him on his way to baptism!
   So this week was a solid week to end the transfer on. We didn't have anything too spectacular happen, it was just a good week. :) We had our lesson with Sato San, and that was I think the highlight of this week for me. Last time we saw her we taught lesson 3 in the PMG (Preach My Gospel), which is all about faith, repentance, baptism, enduring to the end, all that jazz. And we also talked a little about the Word of Wisdom since she asked us what kinds of things we can't eat or drink. So this time we decided to teach the Word of Wisdom. The word of wisdom is always a hard one for Japanese people to accept. Tea in particular they have a REALLY hard time accepting. They don't understand why it's wrong, and it's SUCH a huge thing culturally that they just don't want to give it up. So needless to say, I was more than just a little worried about our lesson. I was REALLY hoping that Sato San would feel the Spirit, and then be willing to follow this commandment. I really didn't want it to be a problem for her, and I was praying like mad. We got Brother and Sister Okuda to come team up teach with us. They both are the first converts in their families, and so we thought they'd be able to be a great help in sharing why they follow the word of wisdom. And man did they slay it! They bore some amazing testimony, and really were able to relate to Sato San, which was PERFECT! So we taught the lesson, and I shared some experiences from High School about friends and people I knew who didn't keep the word of wisdom and the spiritual stumbling block it was for them, and it went really well. We really wanted to stress the spiritual blessings of the word of wisdom since Sato San LOVES the spirit, and always wants to feel it. At the end of the lesson we straight up asked her if she wanted to keep this commandment, and she said yes!! :D :D She also told us how since she started meeting with the missionaries and getting taught every week, her desire to use those substances has gone away, almost entirely. Even drinking or whatever with friends and family, she's already given those things up!! O.O How sweet a miracle is that!!! We also found out that her favorite kind of tea, is OK to drink, since it's herbal, so that's a win win there! :D She is so rocking awesome, I really hope that I get to see her baptism! I might be here, who knows! If I'm here for three I'll see it, if she doesn't get baptized sooner. Keep praying for her!
   We also had our singing in sacrament this week! And we killed it! We did very well, and the ward was way blown away. Everyone was like, oh man! It was just like general conference! Or it was like watching amazing opera, and they were all way shocked that we could sing like we did. It was great. :) The sister who was kind of our 'vocal coach' / general helper lady, was very impressed with my singing. She teaches vocal lessons, and really knows her stuff when it comes to music, and she said that I can definitely sing. Maybe just being nice, but it made me happy. :)
    So that was my week, just a solid week of dendo, hard work, miracles, and music! This has been a great transfer, I've learned a lot, and I've grown a lot, and it's been great.
   I can't believe tomorrow is transfer calls!! That's nuts! I'll never understand this whole mission time thing. Never ever ever.
 I love you all dearly, I pray for and think about you all the time! LOVE YOU !!
  愛している!

    Mike

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Japan week #23

MINA! So, have I NO time to write today. I have 4 minutes to write this email. 3. SO! This week was a blast. We had a lot of fun, we did some splits, and we had lots of success. Today is our new years party at the ward, and then we're going to go to the onsen and yakiniku as a district! Very excited!! Elder Kozuma and I have been getting along very well, and we love this area. I really have grown to love Otofuke and Obihiro a ton. I didn't want to leave Muroran and Elder Lee, but this area has been amazing, and I'm glad I'm here. Can you believe that this transfer is over next week? This is the LAST week. O.O Time goes by WAY too fast... In a week, I'll be a quarter done with the mission. Six months in Japan... I can't believe it. I don't want to think about it. I don't want this to end!! I feel like I just barely started! ;) I'm excited for our new mission president, it's going to be way different with a Japanese president. This mission hasn't had one for awhile. It's going to be great I think. So, I'm just about out of time, so, I'll have to end here. I'm writing letters tonight, so I'll talk about my week in those. Thanks for everything you do!
 LOVE! MIKE!

  P.S. So, with some of my birthday money I bought a sweet kanji book to help with my learning kanji, I'm very excited to start digging into it. AND, I bought a ukulele. I was dead serious when I said I was learning, and that I can play it. It's stupid fun! I'll give ya more details about it later! But, could you guys send me like a list of ukulele chords, and like, a bunch of songs or something that I can learn to play on it? That'd be legit. :) ALSO! I sent off my sd card today, could I get you to send my other one to me? Emailing pictures and using the web page to drop box is so incredibly annoying. We can get on a rotation sending sd cards and what not, that'd be good me thinks! LOVE YOU ALL! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Japan week #22

Hey everyone! Thanks for the emails! I love you all! :) This has been one epically fun week. :D But, a few things first. One, I watched the DVD, not sure if I told you or not, it was amazing. Made me LAUGH AND LAUGH AND LAUGH. It was lovely. :) One question...Orange is my color? Really? Fo hontos? Ok! I don't understand that one, maybe I'll get an orange tie and model some pictures and send em. ;) Two, I showed my pictures to some members, and they all told me that they think Mom is also a bijin. Congratz Momma, they love ya here! And they also said we looked like we could be married in our central america trip pictures. EVERYONE says that, americans, nihonjin, who'da thunk? Three, dad, you're gonna love this one. Guess what I found out is culturally rude here. Bouncing your legs. Yeah, my habit, that I don't even realize I do. It's rude here... Great. Gotta stop that quick like. ;) And Kozuma Choro loves Josh, thinks he's awesome. He says Yoroshiku to josh. Just means like, good vibes, good feelings, wishing ya well. We'd say tell him hi for me, that kind of thing.
   So this week was a blast! With it being shogatsu and all, new years, we weren't able to do a ton of regular dendo. Didn't have much opportunities to go knock on lots of doors and what not. But we still got lots done. We had dinner every night with a member this week, which was AMAZING. The ward set it up so EVERYONE got gouched, it was wonderful. :) This ward has some great chefs, and we had a ton of fun with the members, they are so epic here! This week all in all was pretty uneventful. We went to the big shrine in Obihiro on the first, and participated in some fun cultural new years things. Chucking money at a barrel, getting a fortune slip out of a box, I got the best fortune you can get, just saying. ;) And eating some good food! Had lots of fun!
   This week though I've had a few cool spiritual experiences, and we were able to meet with Sato San. I'm running out of time, I wasted time trying to copy pictures, gomen! So I'll have to take these a little fast. We met with Sato San, taught Lesson 3, all about the gospel of Christ, faith, repentance, that jazz. And she FINALLY made a baptismal date!! :D She chose the date, and it's kinda far away because she wants to go slow even though she's progressing so fast! It's April 4th. So, odds are I won't see it. BUT! That's ok! SO long as she sticks to it! And who knows, maybe she'll be prompted to get it sooner, we'll see! That was such a sweet experience. :)
   And this week during my personal study I've had a couple amazing experiences. I've been thinking a lot about Christ, his life, his mission, his purpose, those kind of themes. And I've felt Heavenly Father and Christ's love for me stronger than I ever have before. I had one morning where I was just sitting in tears, for no reason. It's just been so good this week. I've really been growing in love for everyone in this area, my companion, myself, and most importantly the Savior. That's what I've been experiencing this week, lots of love. :) And It's been wonderful. Thanks so much for all you do!! I love you all dearly!
    Love, Mike
P.S. I sent a package today with some stuff in it for the family. I forgot to write in it who each item belongs to, so I'll tell ya here. MOM: Epic folding fan given to me by an investigator in Muroran. He hand made it, it's amazing. CHRISTA: Cards from a very famous anime here called Garitame. Way cool, thought you'd like em. JOSH: BOLT MAN! From Muroran. :) Megan and Jake: Chop sticks! Whichever one you guys like best, have at em! Dad: Haven't found anything specific to send you yet, for now, it was the Shuwa Shuwa chips. ;) And by the way, you guys weren't slaughtering the pronunciation TOO badly. ;) LOVE YOU ALL!