Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

Well hello.

Elder Low at Sakaide Station. His parents lived in this city years ago when his father taught English. Elder Low's older brother was born here. This city is in his new area.


Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Mine was great. It's been fun seeing all of the things you've been up to lately.

So last Monday I packed up and was out of Nara early Tuesday morning. No time to take Monday to Thursday, packing, wrapping things up, and saying goodbye. I was just gone. It was kind of sad, I really grew to love that branch and the people there but I think it was time to move forward. I'm so excited to be where I am.

I got to Marugame Tuesday afternoon and we were immediately off to work. We had Eikaiwa (English Class) and taught an investigator right before and he had a really strong desire to be free from his past and to enter heaven at the end of his life. He committed to come to church on Sunday.

Marugame, Japan


On Wednesday I went to meet the branch president, President Jackson, from Utah. He is so awesome. His wife and kids are in America now for the holidays and he's actually packing right now and leaving to join them tomorrow. I think his personality is pretty similar to mine. We could've been really good friends before my mission. He and his wife teach English for a living and seem to be doing well. There is actually a really large concentration of English teachers here in Kagawa-ken, thus the branch is full of English speakers.

I met Suezawa Shimai. (One of the family's dearest friends from 23 years ago when they lived in the branch) She was stunned and so happy.

Sister Suezawa and Elder Low

We went to Sakaide English Enjoyment Club held at the Sakaide Hall and run by two members, one of which met the elders there and converted in February. She's a fireball. I love her. She's been to both the Tokyo and Fukuoka temples multiple times. The other member said he remembers being in a faculty meeting with a Low-san (Elder Low's father) many years ago. He himself was an English teacher and a member but went less-active at the time due to his hantai (opposed) mother. He remembers people gossiping saying that Low-san was Mormon. When I showed him the picture of dad, he recognized the face instantly. This member is very active now.
 
That evening we were supposed to have Family Home Evening for single member and new converts, but not many showed up.
 
On Friday, we had a Christmas activity. The activity was amazing. This branch is unbelievably musically talented. It was spectacular, to be honest. I haven't seen anything that musically impressive since before my mission.We had a lesson with Investigator Y Shimai and her husband and she seems really sincere.
 
It seems like the biggest obstacles to the work for me on my mission have been social problems. That honestly NEVER crossed my mind before serving. Patience is really an important attribute to carry I feel. We can't do too much mediator work, most of it has to come from example.
 
Did I say that it's freezing cold? The wind is killer here.
 
I talked to Akiyama Shimai and Yamanishi Shimai (Two members of the branch that Elder Low's parents were friends with years ago when they lived there) for about half an hour before church. They had to make a little effort to remember you from the picture, but when I explained your situation a little further, their faces lit up and they knew who you were. They are darling, really elderly ladies. I'm really impressed with their determination to come to church. Fujimoto Kyodai drives then to church. He remembers you as well.
 
This building is one of the coolest I've ever been in ever, let alone Japan. It's brand new and has, by far, the biggest parking lot of any meetinghouse in Japan. Yes, it extends all the way to that house in the last picture.



 
 
That night President Jackson took us out to The Ellis' house for dinner. It was fantastic. Everyone was speaking English and eating fried chicken. It was like being in America again. I love the Americans here too. They're all really adventurous; you have to be to move your family half-way across the world. I think I'm going to love it here. This Christmas was just as good as last year and I really didn't think that was possible.
 
We had a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner of KFC and cake at Brother Ellis' house in Takamatsu. President Jackson drove us there. Yeah, you're reading those names right. There are TONS of English teachers in our branch. So many that they have to provide translation service. They also come from all of Kagawa ken, so they can be together and all receive translation service from the same place. It"s really cool.

 

Well, I should get going. It was great talking to you today. Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 19, 2011

We had a zone activity at Osaka Castle Park last Monday.


Built in the 16th Century.


Downtown Osaka, the 10th largest city in the world.

Taken from the roof of the castle.


We played sports in the park for a little while and had to ride the train in the street clothes due to a lack of a place to change. These are kind of incriminating pictures, I suppose.

Plus, I look like Jabba the Hut, not paying attention with my sweats and slumpy (is that even a word?!) back.
 
 
 
Most importantly, transfer calls came last night. They said this transfer will be minimal so they only called those who were transfering. We were called. I`m transfering. I`m heart-broken that I don`t get to spend Christmas with my favorite branch in Japan, but I`m also bursting with excitement as to where I`m going. Any guesses?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
MARUGAME!!!
 
Apparently the assistants and president prayed really hard about me and felt that I needed to go here. They didn`t even know the relation our family has to the area. I`m so excited. (Editor's note: Elder Low's parents lived in this branch over 22 years ago when Chris was teaching High School English. Elder Low's older brother was born there.)
 
The next important item of business is the Christmas call. Please call me at 8:00AM my time which should be, if I calculated correctly, 3:00PM your time on Christmas day. It will be Monday over here, Sunday over there. You won`t be at church or on your way to Logan then will you?
 
I`m way short on time and not too sure what to report on. We spent most of this week contacting people about the Christmas party here in Nara and it looks like there`s going to be a huge turn-out. I hope the missionary that takes my place can handle it and get it coordinated. They will still use whatever you sent to Nara for the Christmas party. I think the branch will really appreciate seeing it, since I`ll be gone.
 
Funny story, Ono 兄弟 had us 今西兄弟 (Brother Imanishi) (recent convert and his new home-teaching companion), 久保兄弟 (Brother Kubo) (branch missionary), and us over for lunch after church. Suezawa 姉妹 called their home and I got to talk to her again. (Editor's Note: Elder Low's parents lived in the same Branch as Sister Suezawa over 22 years ago when Chris taught High School in Japan. She is a very close friend of the family. Elder Low's mother spoke with her for the first time in over 20 years last week.) She was so happy that she got to talk to you. She said she hadn`t heard from you in over 20 years and was really wondering how you were doing. I gave her your email address so be expecting something from her sometime. I told her I really wanted to go to Kagawa-ken (she`s actually in the Takamatsu branch) and at that point I didn`t know that I was transferring. Crazy. This is really inspired, I can`t wait to see what happens out there.
 
I`ve grown and really been stretched by these last two transfers as a trainer. It`s almost like my mission started over in a sense. I had to re-evaluate everything I was doing. I think in the end it certainly contributed to growth for the both of us. I`m excited to see where Nukaya 長老`s mission takes him. He`s really evolved in these past 12 weeks and I think he`ll only change more and more for the better.
 
We actually transfer tomorrow morning instead of Thursday so I`m going to be packing like a maniac all day today. I don`t know if I can get everything ready and sent off in time.
 
I`m really jealous that you`re in Disneyland. I can`t wait to go again. I hope you`re getting all the rest and relaxation you need.
 
I`m sure the holiday spirit is pretty crazy in Utah as well. I remember coming home from finals two years ago (whoa.) and Grandma was in the house because you two were in Disneyland. Good memories.
 
I haven`t gotten sick at all. I think I`ll be ok. If I do, I can gaman with the stuff they have here, even if it`s weak.
 
Yes, please do post-pone me until winter semester. There is no way I can step off the plane and go to school the next day.
 
I did get the newsletter and it was awesome. I get a physical copy too, right?
 
I might be sending you a couple post-cards that I need you to give to members there. It would be best if I could somehow send it to them, but it`s too late now, so I`ll just send them to you so they make it in time and you can hand them off.
 
I`m out of time. Talk to you next Monday!
McDonalds is selling an "i`con box" for Christmas. 1000 yen  (about $12) for two sandwiches, a set of chicken selects, a set of chicken nuggets and two medium orders of fries. My companion and I ate it and nearly died. I really wanted to send something home in the box.

 

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011

I`ve now been in Japan for over a year. I came on December 6, 2010.

I`ve always gotten a kick out of this picture when I see it in the elevator. I finally got around to taking a picture of it. Is that bad?


On Tuesday of this week I went on a 交換 (exchange) with Soares 長老 from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He`s been the district leader here ever since I got to Nara. He`s going home this transfer. He`s one of the most naturally happy and friendly people I`ve ever met. It`s impossible not to like him. We went to Nabari, his area which is the only area in the mission in Mie-ken. Maybe you`ll remember that I went to Mie-ken several times when I was in Shingu. Anyway, it is really 田舎 (rural) out there. There is a member there named S兄弟 who lives in a home for mentally disabled people. There are surprisingly quite a few people like him in the church in Japan and to be honest, they`ve tried my patience the most on my mission and I`ve had to pray for charity and patience for them. This S兄弟 however required no patience. He was so naturally lovable. For the most part, he was a pretty normal guy, just a little bit slow. He was very shy and soft-spoken, but had a lot to say, especially about the gospel. I loved meeting him. I wanted to take him home with me, actually.

A lady called me Thursday night saying she was planning on driving an hour from Kashihara city to attend our Eikaiwa (English Class) on Friday. I spoke to her on the phone in Japanese. She called Friday night because she was lost and I gave her directions to the church, again in Japanese. She got out of the car with a 10 year old daughter and 8 year old son. I thought "great, we`re going to have to teach a kids class tonight." I small talked with the mom in Japanese as we walked up to the church, but as we were talking, she leaned to her kids and said in English: "Ok, be on your best behavior." It was pretty shocking. What was even more shocking was hearing them reply in absolutely PERFECT English: "Yes, mother." Both children were completely fluent in English. In fact, they prefer English to Japanese. Their mother only speaks English to them and they talk to foreigners on Skype all day. Their mother is pure Japanese, and NEVER studied abroad. She just loves English and only uses it with her children. They actually speak better than her. Plus, they go to a Japanese public school and their father only speaks Japanese so they have no problem with either language. I was probably flaming green with envy the whole night. We should be seeing them again at the Christmas party.

Fujita 兄弟 the 伝道主任 (ward mission leader) invited us over to his house on Christmas day. He said he was praying that I don`t transfer since transfer is on the 23. We`ll see.

We went to visit N姉妹, a less-active member who lives really far away. I felt like we needed to go by bus. We can go in a relatively fair amount of time by bike but I felt like we needed to take the bus. We visited another former-investigator close-by and then walked over to her house. She answered and said she was busy and basically sent us away. That was pretty disappointing. We went to wait at the bus-stop and after about five minutes, she showed up. She was planning on riding the bus as well. We were able to talk for about 20 minutes on the bus about her situation and it was a really spiritual experience. She wants to go to church, but can`t due to complications with her family. She still keeps all of the commandments and is praying for some solution. She seemed really thankful an waved to us after she got off the bus. I suppose that was a prompting.

We visited the Takakura couple on Saturday for lunch. I first met them at the Ibaraki ward and they moved to Nara the same week I did. They`re both returned missionaries and have been helping us a TON. They live practically next door to us, and the church. They`re great people.

The Takakuras


Church started an hour late yesterday due to the Nara Marathon. We didn`t see any of it, but apparently it`s a big deal. I gave a talk and I felt like it went pretty well. I talked about Brother West, my 9th grade seminary teacher and the very, very important role he played in my conversion.

I haven`t gotten an email yet, and this computer`s keyboard is really messed up, so I`ve spent a ton of time correcting and backspacing. Man, internet is frustrating. Anyway, I might get to check to see if you have sent anything after my companion finishes up his email, but just in case you`re writing anything, please do send it quickly! I hope everything is well at home. Have a good week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011

It`s December now.
 
I`m sorry this is so late. I assume you`re all asleep now. The internet cafe has been so busy, we had to come back twice before there was space for us. Even so, we`re using one computer at a time so we`ll be here for two hours. Gah. I really wish libraries in Japan were open on Mondays.
 
I forgot to write possibly the biggest news of the week last week I just realized. Last Sunday, our branch president changed. It`s definitely rare to see that as a missionary I suppose. We only stay in units for 3-5 months on average. Our new branch president is Takara 会長 and he`s really young. He and his wife are expecting their first child. He was the young men`s president before and did such a fantastic job at it that they made him the branch president, I think. He`ll still work very close with the few precious young men the branch has...and watch over all of the おじいちゃん`s and おばあちゃん`s (elderly people) in the branch. He`ll be great and really easy to work with I think. I really admire he and his wife`s sacrifice though. I can`t imagine the stress and pressure. He returns home from work at 8PM daily and he got called right in time for tithing settlement. かわいそう. (Poor man)
 
We took a the Hattori`s, a member couple that`s been in the branch since the beginning to go visit 竹村 姉妹 and her husband. I think I wrote about her last week. Baptized 30 years ago, went to church for 5, and hasn`t been back since. It`s very interesting to see people catch up after 25 years of not seeing each other. It was good to talk and to help some member`s realize that all of the people that have stopped coming to church still exist.
 
There`s this guy with a super neck-beard that we see walking around the eki (train station) near our church and apartment everyday. He`s started talking to me a couple times but I can never understand what he`s trying to say, he`s obviously got some sort of mental illness. He looks homeless and uses the world as his toilet. Anyway, I think I wrote about how we found a Chinese investigator in the freezing cold last week (two weeks ago?). Anyway, we went to that Chinese guy`s apartment complex because there was apparently a less-active member living in it but we forgot to write down the room number. Well, this week we went back to follow-up with the Chinese guy and wrote down the less-active`s room number so we could see him as well. I`m guessing you can guess who the less-active was. Yep, neck-beard guy. He invited us in but he was in his underwear. And it smelled really funky. We invited him to church and got out pretty quick. It`s really fascinating to see the variety of people that have come and gone through the church. We visited another one who was baptized 30 years ago, moved twice, and hadn`t been to church since she was baptized, nor had she met or talked to anyone from the church, yet somehow her current address was in the records. She was terrified that we had found her.
 
We got to see the 森下`s again on Saturday. I really think that 森下姉妹 could make a living as a stand-up comedian. I have trouble not falling out of their couch laughing everytime we go. Their super Shikoku-ben  (dailect) is half of what`s so funny. She always talks about how she used to be skinny (she still is very skinny, I think) because of all the work that she did when she was younger but now all she does is sit and eat. She said she was skinny because 「家をそうじしごはんを作り仕事をししゅじんに仕え」("I honorably served my husband by cleaning and cooking.") and as she said that last one, she put her hands on her thighs and did a super polite bow with this indescribable sarcastic face. She then went on and on about he is a "せんさ" (Shikoku-ben;なにもしない人 ("useless")) because he is a "muakshi no hito" ("ancient") and just expects the woman to do everything. This whole time he`s laughing as well. Those two are just very simple, happy people. I think everyone deservest to be as happy as they are once they reach retirement. I hope their daughter earns a good retirement from their pan`ya (bakery). They are just so exhausted and it`s becoming hard for them to come to church. We just go and clean and then they give us everything that`s left over. I still wish there was more that we could do. 森下姉妹 would say 大変でーー!("It's tough!")
 
I think that`s about all I have to update on. Transfer lands right before the Christmas party here in Nara. I`m really curious as to what`s going to happen. It can swing either way.
 
Was this week normal besides the wind storm? Everyone staying busy?
 
Any questions? I never feel like I have enough to write.
 
Have a good week!
 
The giant toy horse is right by a member`s house. I`ve meant to take a picture of it for a while but kept forgetting. Cool right? Playgrounds don`t look very fun here, but they sure are interesting to look at.



I thought I needed to take some pictures of some of the fall colors. It`s めんどくさい (a pain) to jump off your bike everytime you see a pretty tree, but this mountain view was too pretty to pass up.
 

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

I have no time.

On Tuesday we helped N 姉妹`s husband put up his Christmas lights. He took us out to eat afterwards and said that he feels like the two of them need to start going to church once a month. It will help them grow stronger and perform better in their respective jobs. It was like we didn`t have to say anything, he said that himself. Service is powerful. I called to follow up and N 姉妹 said she would be coming this Sunday, but her husband had work. The branch was stunned to see her. It`s been nearly 3 years since she last came.

We had another dinner with Na兄弟 this week. He`s so much fun. I wish I could have dinner with him once a month for the rest of my life.

Thanksgiving was a day of miracles. First of all, N姉妹 told me she`ll be coming to church. Throughout my whole time in Nara I`ve had a thought in the back of my head to attend seminary. I put if off until Thursday. Monday (today) was Sean-kun`s birthday so I decided to call the seminary teacher and see if it was ok for us to come. She answered and said "Oh, you want to come because Y is coming, right?" I had no idea. Uekubo 兄弟, his best friend from the Yamatokoriyama ward had a sleepover at his house Sunday night with Y and Sean and then brought them to Nara seminary in the morning. Now that`s a young man fulfilling his Duty to God. We see him every now and then at Eikaiwa (English Class) in Yamaokoriyama. He`s my hero.
Here are the seminary students. I admire and look up to each one of them.


We also found an investigator in the freezing cold that night. We picked a random less-active name on the huge list we have that was close to our apartment but I forgot to write down the room number. We decided to just house the third and fourth floor and the first door we knocked on found us a Chinese college student wondering about God. I haven`t worked with any Chinese people since Kobe, but it was really exciting. It was freezing cold when I was in Kobe too. It was just perfect. Teaching Chinese people about religion in the cold. As ridiculous as that sounds, it really was a spiritual confirmation. It felt really good. Like everything is in one eternal round.

We had zone conference on Friday. It was great, as always, to see all of the other missionaries.
As you can see, zone conference was a miny MTC reunion. Sister Ilch and Elder Ewer were there. Sister Ilch transfered to Okamachi and it sounds like she had fun with Sister Myagmarjav last transfer in Tokushima. Elder Ewer is in Hanayashiki. That is the gym in the Ibaraki church, my old area.


We got to visit the Y family who recently moved into the branch from the Sagamihara ward in the Machida stake. They`re darling and my companion really appreciated their clean, standard Japanese.

Your Questions, My Answers:

Q: How’s your Japanese language? Have you had any Japanese dreams? Actually, are you still having English dreams?
A: I`ve never been able to remember any dreams I ever had. I honestly can`t answer that question because I don`t know. My guess would be English though.
 
Q: Have you learned to like Curry Rice yet?
A: I have actually. But I make it very differently. It needs Masala and any thing else spicy that you can get your hands on. The most important thing: it needs to be topped off with Kewpie Mayonaise. I`m dead serious, you can`t eat curry without it.
 
Q: How’s your companion doing? I’m sure he’s a great missionary, but is he a great friend?
A: He`s both. We get along really, really, really well. We can talk all night if we`re not careful.
 
Here is our Thanksgiving. Elder Nukaya`s family very kindly sent some supplies. Instant mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and canned chicken. I`ll never forget it.


 
 
 
I think that`s all. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It sure looks like you did. I hope everyone was smiling and 元気 (happy). I`m happy about our family becoming a little bit more music-oriented too.
 
Have a good week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Since last Saturday, we were at Irie 兄弟`s concert, we went to the 泉川`s on Monday to go clean up. They need all the help they can get. They feel really guilty about having us clean the place, especially on a preparation day, but I wish there was even more that we could do. I found out on Monday that they don`t leave the store until 1 in the morning so they get to bed at two and have to be back by seven. They`ve been doing this for 10 years. Plus, 泉川 兄弟 is the high priest group leader so he usually has to stay up until 3 or 4 preparing lessons on Saturday nights.
This week on Saturday, it rained from morning to evening so when we got to the 泉川`s they had tons of left over bread and we went home with more than we could carry, as usual. This picture is mashed potato-bacon bread. I had koroke bread for the first time as well but ate it before I even thought to take a picture of it.


On Tuesday I had a exchange with the zone leaders. Hale 長老 from Boise, Idaho came to Nara to work with me. We visited Mama -san. Her real name is something else. Have I told you about her? She`s been visited once a week by missionaries for the last 30 years. When I first got to the area with Anderton 長老, he said he wanted to not go over there because she isn`t interested in the message. I took his word for it and we left her alone. After 3 weeks, she called and told us to come over. That didn't go very well. I hadn`t been back there since then. She has come to church several times and asked us to come over and eat dinner, but I avoided it. For whatever reason, I just felt like we should go over that day. We don`t have anyone to teach right now so I figured we`d just give it a shot. She was the same as always. Speaks like she doesn`t like us at all, but acts full of love, won`t stop feeding us and wanting us to come back. She said she wants shukudai (homework) so we will probably go back and commit her to be baptized. She`s been going to church for longer than I`ve been alive. Who knows.

K兄弟 who we`ve been working with is headed to the temple on the third! That`s really exciting about him. I really wish I could be there. He`s doing baptisms for the dead this time anyway, so hopefully it will be ok.

We went back to the 新本`s this week. They were so excited to hear that you knew his sister. She`s still a very sweet lady and said that she will for sure have me over for dinner before I transfer. Let`s hope so. I`ll report if anything happens.

We found a couple more less-actives this week. It really is such a privilege to meet all of these very different people. One is a man from Utah who works for a radio station. We only met his mother in law, but she like some other people I`ve me - walked right out of a movie. She was tooth-less and almost seemed like she wanted me to get mad at her for smoking (she was baptized forever ago as well). We also met one that was baptized 25 years ago, stayed active for 5 years, and then left activity behind. It`s sad how few of the members that are listed on ward-lists are active. It`s been interesting to track these people down and hear their stories. It`s even more fascinating to see the looks on some of the 40 year old members` faces when they find out you went and visited their old primary teacher whom they haven`t seen at church since primary.

As you can see, Christmas lights are always up in time for my birthday no matter where I go.

A member brought her friend to church on Sunday. There are some really fiery members here. It didn`t go as smoothly as it could have, so she`s not an investigator, but I really am impressed with the effort. I still love this branch.

I don`t really know what else to report this week. There`s a zone conference this week in Ibaraki.

I think that`s all. Do you have any questions? Please don`t hesitate. It will help me know what to say in these emails. I feel like they`re so ばらばら (scattered) and I`m running out of things to say. Have a good week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

I`ll just get to business as fast as possible.
 
On Tuesday we visited K兄弟 again (he started coming to church after we started visiting him regularly) and he made a temple recommend interview and should be going on the third!
 
We also visited the H`s during the week. I don`t think I wrote about it last week, but the mother bore her testimony last Sunday and I wanted to go see her and say that I enjoyed it. H姉妹 is from Italy and came to Japan 12 years ago as a foreign exchange student. She now has three young kids and she talked about how people criticize her because they can only speak Japanese. I told her about my family and she said to tell my mom that she understands.
 
A guy that we see all the time when we go to our email place stopped us on the street during the week and we went into Mister Donuts with him and sat down to teach him a lesson. He is one of those guys that ran into missionaries 30 years ago and stops them whenever he sees them. He knows all about church history and quite a bit of the teachings. He was really fascinated by my companion and how he is 100% Japanese, but had never been to Japan nor heard a word of Japanese before. He wasn`t interested enough to make another appointment with us or come to church, but I`m sure we`ll run into him again.
 
So this is what a shoyu (Soy Sauce and Seaweed) doughnut looks like. Yes, they taste good.

Mister Donuts is doing a Snoopy promotion right now. I nearly felt guilty throwing this box away. My companion said one of his addictions is point cards. He now has a Misdo point card so we`re going to have to be careful or we may gain a ton of weight this winter.
 
 
On Thursday we had an interesting experience. We had been hesitating to visit the O family for a really long time. The wife is in her 60`s but has some health problems. She`s really frail and has to walk with a rolling walker and at church she basically has to be carried around. I always thought that if we went, we`d be a big bother. We decided to go anyway and it was like they were waiting for us. They had just returned from the temple a couple hours before we got there. O姉妹 was baptized at 30 and served a mission a year later. O兄弟 was baptized at 26 and served a year and a half mission at 29 with special permission. O兄弟 served in Sapporo in 1982 and he served in Wakkanai. Do you know him? Anyway, they let us in, fed us a bunch of snacks, told us mission stories and then showed us a slide show that they used on their missions. It was about a mother that dies and touches on the plan of salvation. It was really great. We then shared a message and left. It all timed out to be exactly one hour, like they had a perfect program set for us, even though they didn`t know we were coming.
 
That night, on our way back, we didn`t have much time or really any good plan. We decided we were going to park at the church and then just house the apartment complex next door. When we went into the underground parking lot, there was somebody else down there in the pitch dark and it was kind of scary. The person immediately said 久しぶり ("It's been a long time") and lo and behold, it was M! We haven`t seen or been able to make contact with him for nearly two months!! He was as nice, mature, and spiritual as ever. His parents strictly advised him to stay away from the church until he is finished with juken (entrance exams) in March. Respecting his parents, he strictly follows their wishes and said he honestly doesn`t really feel a desire to come to church anymore, school is more important. The reason we haven`t been able to contact him is because he stopped using his cell-phone. He wants to study that hard. Nobody can make contact with him. He said he still prays and reads his Book of Mormon daily. I know someday he`ll come along. I really hope so at least. He was and is so ready. He just needs a little bit more freedom and stability to make the choice himself. It`s such a hard thing to know that there is nothing left that I can do. It was really good to see him again though. I didn`t know if I ever would.
 
Sean-kun took his TOEFL test on Saturday so on Friday night for Eikaiwa (English Class), Nukaya 長老 taught him one on one. I can`t explain how much I just naturally love that kid. As the class finished I went to encourage him and wish him luck on his test and he said he really wants to go to BYU and see me there. I get emotional just thinking about that. I want to be there for him as just a normal friend. My missionary badge limits me a little bit. I`m thinking that if he gets in, I may move down to Provo during fall semester, find work, audition for a show....something....just so I can be there for him and help him out. He really needs it. I think there are reasons that I`m meeting him now that extend beyond my mission. He is an amazing kid. He`s been through everything and just keeps moving forward. I really hope and pray that he`ll get into BYU. It will do so much good for him.
 
Ok, you know the 新本`s are completely less-active, right? Like, haven`t been to church in years. Do you have pictures or anything? I need to go see them again. That is just too much to be coincidence. I can`t believe that.
 
For my birthday, it was a pretty normal day. I don`t know if you`ve ever heard of Irie 兄弟 before, but he`s somewhat of a celebrity among Japanese members. He makes Japanese gospel CD`s with Janice Kapp Perry. We went to his concert on Saturday because the zone leaders said I needed to go since it was my birthday. He has the missionaries sing with him at every concert he has so we sang. It was at the Higashi Osaka church, his home ward only about a half hour train ride from Nara.
 
Church was good yesterday. I was afraid I might get sick of this place since I`ve been here now longer than I`ve been anywhere else on my mission. It`s quite the opposite. I feel like I`m too attached to some of the members. Like I want to just have a normal calling and be their friend and just be spending time with them all the time. Who knows, I may come back here to visit in the future.
 
Fujita 兄弟 also asked me to ask you to think about sending some sort of Christmas greeting from our ward to the Nara members. It can be something really simple. He doesn`t want to be a burden. It can be a simple thing. I suppose using the primary could be the easiest. Just like a sort of "Merry Christmas from one member to another" deal. Remember, simple. Really simple. Please don`t overdo it. He`s preparing something for a Christmas activity.
 
Gosh, I`m already out of time. I hope you all have a good week. Have a good rest of the run, Randy!
 
So we once more went to Nara Park, this time with the district before transfers. It was fun. I don`t really get sick of the place. It`s fascinating just watching people interact with the deer.


We entered Todaiji right before it closed so we were nearly the last group of people to go through and it was awesome. It feels much more mystical in the dark. Since there were so few people, everyone wanted to try to fit through the hole in the pole (ha, rhyme) that is the size of Buddha`s nostril. My companion and Elder Tsushima from Sapporo were able to get through. 


 

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011



Sorry, I guess once you`ve been in an area for a while, you forget to take picutres. This is all I took this week. This is the view from our apartment complex if you are to step out the front door. I thought it was cool how the sun was coming through the windows of that building. It looks like it`s on fire or something.

So, we got our transfer calls this morning. As expected, neither of us are moving. The training program is twelve weeks so they`d only consider moving us unless one of us was about to kill the other. I will begin my third transfer in Nara making it my longest area yet. I`ve moved around a lot on my mission. Much more than normal.

On Tuesday I had an exchange with Elder Waterbury who is the district leader`s companion in Nabari. He was trained by Elder Soares (district leader) and they`ve been together for three transfers. He`s a really young missionary, but was really surprisingly capable. He really didn`t have to lean on me at all. I was impressed. He`s about 6`4 or 6`5 and blonde so he`s not hard to notice. It`s very easy to stop someone and have a nice conversation with him standing next to you. I`ve missed that.  がんばるは!

We got a referral from the referral center that day so the two of us biked out to go see it. She visited Temple Square and the Conference Center while on a Nuskin conference and left her contact information. She was really shocked by how quickly we came. We were there around 4:00PM and she had returned the late the night before. Referrals are meant to be contacted quickly. She was a really nice lady, really open to everything. Not sure how far her interest goes right now, but she was willing to accept and read a copy of the Book of Mormon and we will probably return sometime and take some 元気 members with us. She seems to be a pretty sociable person.

Last week, we got a random call from a guy named Bobby Brown who said he wants to play at the Branch Christmas concert. Apparently he`s done it plenty of times before. He`s half British, half Japanese and was born and raised in Japan so obviously, he speaks Japanese. He doesn`t look Japanese, AT ALL though. He had hair nearly down to his waist and was really a free spirit. He`s own of those rare people you meet on your mission that have walked straight out of a movie. He`s a musician, but has more experience than most families have all put together. He`s on par with Warren from Ibaraki (remember him?). No interest in the Gospel really, but we`ll be seeing him in the near future I believe.

This month also started a new month so as with the new training system, we got a new mission training plan. ....it was the exact same one as last month`s titled "Teaching More Effectively and More Often" part 2.

We visited a less-active couple named 新本 and they were so wonderful. They have a hard time coming to church and living the gospel, even though they believe it`s true. Just not enough motivation it looks like. They love missionaries though. The husband came out with his zipper down and zipped it up in front of us like it was no big deal. He shoved us into the genkan and started feeding us persimmons and sweet potatoes like crazy. He was telling me that his older sister owned a Japanese restaurant in Utah. Right when he said that, a light went off in my head. He didn`t know where in Utah the restaurant was or what it was called. The wife finally came out from the back room and I asked her what the restaurant`s name was (she had actually been there) and she couldn`t remember but she did remember that it was in Provo. I then said "my mom worked at Osaka restaurant in Provo about 20 years ago" and they both grabbed their arms and the husband said "さむくなってきた!" ("I've got chills!") They had goosebumps and were so thrilled that I had come. I wrote down the name of the sister that owned the restaurant but since it`s a new transfer I switched planners and forgot to bring it with me. I`ll write it next week. I`m sure you remember though. (Yes, we do.)

We are practicing teaching members as much as possible. We met with the 森下`s again and they were wonderful as usual. Two of the most hilarious people I`ve ever met. I need to remember to get a picture with them the next time we go. We then went over to their daughter`s (they are 泉川 姉妹`s parents) for our weekly service in the pan`ya. They gave us more bread than usual so we stuffed ourselves with carbs on fast sunday. I`m still recovering from it.

We (mostly my companion, for practice) taught two members on Sunday during Sunday School and we should be doing that every week from now on. I think it`s a great idea. Fujita 兄弟(伝道主任) (Mission Leader) came up with it. He is a text-book, Preach My Gospel mission leader. I`ll miss him when I eventually leave here.

Overall, it`s been a good week. It`s still not that cold. I`ve only worn a sweater once. We still open the window when we sleep at night. Sometimes I turn a space heater on during study, but it still isn`t winter quite yet. I`m recalling all my memories of last year and getting my scarf and gloves ready. I came to Japan on December 6. I`m going to hit yet another anniversary in a month. The time just flies.

Well, I`ve got to go, we`re going to Nara koen as a district. It`ll be my third time, but I don`t mind. I love the place.
Have a good week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!
 
From what you`ve been writing about Randy, it kind of sounds like he is that kid that I acted like I couldn`t stand, but secretly wanted to be my best friend in high school. The one who`s not only ridiculously talented and fun, but nice to everyone...even the people that like him a little bit too much. I finally got a letter from him. Maybe you should read this outloud to him and tell him thank you for me. I know how many of Jacob`s emails I read when I was in high school so....it would be best if you read this outloud to him. He won`t know otherwise.
 
So like I said last week, I went to Nara-koen for the second time to show my companion around.
 

 
 
There were lots of school tours going on that day.
 
 
 
We met a member family on a tour from Salt Lake City right as we entered Todaiji. They were thrilled to see us. Apparently that happens fairly often here. Anderton 長老 (my last companion) said that a Mormon guy took him and his companion out to lunch before I got here.
 
 
 
I don`t know if you remember, but there is a hole in one of the pillars that is the exact same size as one of Buddha`s nostrils and if you can fit your body through it, it`s good luck. The last time I went, there was just a British tourist stuck in it, this time there was a queue of hundreds of school kids and a lady squating at the base of the pole, pushing them all through one by one. It was really...fascinating.

 
 
Your Questions and My Answers:
Q: How is Sister Zinke?
A: Unbelievably friendly. Sister McIntyre was like a mom in that she loved us, took care of our temporal needs and wasn`t afraid to scold us, but Sister Zinke is like Grandma.
 
Q: What kind of person is she? From what I read, she sounds pretty nice?
A: She`s lovely. She really, sincerely loves the missionaries and supports her husband.
 
Q: We checked, and it looks like you’re going to get a Snoopy mug if you keep using your Mr. Donuts card. Mom wants to know if you’ve tried the rice flour donuts or the snowman donut. I really miss Mr. Donuts. The smell . . .
A: I had one doughnut that was coated with 100% coacoa powder and it was possibly the most revolting thing I`ve ever put in my mouth. I think I`d rather lick the floor. The last time I went I had a shoyu (soy sauce) doughnut with shoyu and nori (seaweed) flakes on it and it was surprisingly good. Like, I really really enjoyed it and will probably get another one today. I have a coupon that expires today...
 
Q: How is your companion progressing?
A: He`s getting there. He`s a fighter. He`s quiet but I can see the drive and desire in him. He`ll be a great missionary.
 
Oh, mom. I do know what I want for my birthday. There`s a DVD called "Another Testament" and it is made up of photographs of people re-enacting Christ`s visit to the America`s in 3 Nephi. I used it in Kobe but I want to be able to use it again. It did miracles.
 
Have a great week! I`ll be just fine!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

This week is really blurry, I`ll see what I can piece together of it.
 
We visited a family where the wife is a less-active who converted 20 years ago, the husband still isn`t a member. Apparently they have two daughters who are baptized and completely active and one of them married an American at BYU. This was the subject of conversation. The husband was outside trimming his trees when we went and we got to help him a little bit. It felt great to be of service like that. I feel like that`s something that missionaries are just supposed to do. Unplanned service like that hasn`t popped up in my mission as much as I would like it to.
 
We`ve spent a lot of time going from member`s house to member`s house. As I said last week, we`re focusing on teaching 3 lessons a day and we certainly don`t have 21 investigators to teach so we`re doing lots of member lessons and re-activation. The good thing about it is the communication between our work and the members has improved a ton. We`re able to discuss all kinds of things about less-actives and how to help them and in turn, I`ve made really good friendships with a lot of the members here.
 
On Thursday, Elder Ringwood, the first counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency came and spoke to the mission. It was a long conference with a morning and afternoon session. I loved it. He was very humble and dignified. The thing he said that stuck with me most is that if we give all we have everyday, we can say in our prayers "we know a miracle happened today and we don`t care if we ever see it." Lately that mentality has sort of left me. I`m thinking too hard and beating myself up too much about the work.
 
On Saturday we had the Halloween party. 20 people showed up. We invited lots of less-actives and we were able to identify some that look like they will come back to church with the help of some members. I think for the members to see and hear about people attending who hadn`t been in the church for 10 years was really good. We asked some members to follow up for us and invite them again. Hopefully other members will follow their peers examples and begin inviting their friends, whoever they may be, into the church. It`s something we just simply have to do.
 



 
 
Yesterday at church was the Seminary 発表 (program). Three students spoke. Man, they are awesome. They`re really examples to me. To be honest, I don`t think I could switch places with them. I struggled enough going to seminary during school. They wake up at 5:00 and have high school and college entrance exams that are 10 times harder than the ones I took. Apparently the year started with 5 students, but only three of them finished the year and they`re the three that spoke. They sang a musical number as well. I honestly can`t imagine a harder environment for a youth in the church than their`s. There probably is one, but they have it rough. They`re amazing. I got emotional hearing Sean-kun speak about how he didn`t go to seminary for his middle two years, but when he came back, he lived a church centered life and is more happy than he`s ever been. The stake president`s daughter spoke about how she feels like she has learned about the importance of spreading the gospel. She is the one who said that her EFY company all promised each other that they would meet at the MTC.
 
I haven`t been the the Grand Canyon either. People ask me if I have all the time here and then scold me because I live so close to it. It looks like you had a fun time. It`s weird seeing all of these pictures of just the four of you. You`re all getting so old. Well, we, I guess. That`s weird.
 
I`m going to walk my companion up to Todaiji and go pet some deer now. He hasn`t been yet and is really itching to see what it`s like up there.
 
I`m sorry this is short. Like always, if you ever have questions, just ask. Until next week...

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011

First of all, thanks for all of the emails and pictures. I enjoyed reading them. I feel like the Uncle Mike from my child-hood would never be caught at a GEEX expo for some reason. I`m glad Sam and Clint liked it and really glad that his company is having success. I remember hearing about Gears of War. Has he been working for that company for a long time? That sounds like a pretty big deal.

These weeks are all bluring together. We were pretty busy and feel like we sat in meetings all week.

The mission`s training plan now wants us to have three lessons planned every week. It`s different. We end up teaching lots of members and less-active members. The expectations I have now when I walk out the door are so different from the way I was when I would walk out the door with my trainer. I was always anticipating talking to at the very least 100 people wandering around Sannomiya. That kind of dendo is basically gone now. President Zinke wants us in lessons teaching as much as we can so we can develop the skills to become good teachers that the Lord can trust with his elect. The idea is that once we are skilled enough, we won`t have to spend all day looking for them, he`ll just trust us and lead us to them or lead them to us. It certainly makes sense but takes a lot of adjustment.

So on Wednesday we had a 交換 (exchange) with the zone leaders and I was once more with Lystrup 長老. I think I`ve gushed enough about how good of a missionary he is, but really, he`s incredible. I`m thankful for every opportunity I have to work with him. He teaches through example and beyond that, he`s just fun.
Me with Lystrup 長老.  This time I brought him to Nara. That teeter-totter is right outside of our apartment and he couldn`t leave without taking a picture on it.

The next morning was interviews in Sekime which was a long train ride away and when we weren`t being interviewed we were either talking with Sister Zinke or being trained by the Assistants. They way interviews and zone conferences are run has completely changed since the mission president changed.

Through all of this member work, we`ve really developed great relationships with the members. I`ve realized that those relationships are "treasures in heaven" that we can take with us after die. President McIntyre strongly encouraged us to find those treasures as his "dying words" to us in a sense. Fujita 兄弟 our dendo shunin (mission leader) drove us around like crazy and we`ve worked on some re-activation. I`ve heard that one way to measure your success as a missionary is to constantly count sacrament meeting attendance, members and investigators included. Well, it is going up here. We aren`t bursting at the seams with investigators like we did at church in the Kobe ward, but people that haven`t been to church in years are popping their heads in.

Nagura 兄弟, the branch clerk took us out for ice cream on Saturday. He`s hilarious, and really contributes so much to the branch. He says he reads my blog so, hi Nagura 兄弟.

Sunday was great as well. We met with the branch president and he expressed concern for our investigators and gave us serious, very specific instruction and assignments regarding less-active members. He really cares for his branch and I`m so happy that he trusts us enough to put us to work.
This is the inside of of the Izumikawa`s Bakery, taken from the loft above. Yes, there`s a train inside of it and they`re really famous for it.

It sounds like things are kind of how you could expect them as far as home is concerned. I hope everyone is staying busy and happy. As long as you have both it`s a good thing.

I got a reply from Grandma to my letter. I`ve tried emailing them but they never answer. Did their address change again? This is the first letter she`s sent me with no English part. It`s still bizarre to me. She`s still Grandma but....not Grandma. She can express so much more in her native language. It makes me sad thinking about all the time I spent not knowing my Grandma and Grandpa`s real personalities. Heck, I could even say that for my own mother. I can`t stress it enough to each of you LEARN JAPANESE, NOW!!! I don`t know what it will take for you to take me seriously but maybe you`ll start when I stop speaking English in the home. Not because I don`t want to communicate with you, but because you (brothers) need to find out who you really are.

I`m short on words this week. All is well. We have Elder Ringwood, the first counselor in the Asia North Presidency, coming to speak to us this Thursday. That should be fun. Talk to you next week!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elder Low's Been Blogged - Again

Read a great article about Elder Low's companion on President Zinke's blog here.

October 10, 2011

I guess first of all, I haven`t taken any pictures this week. I don`t know what it is, I guess I`m finally getting used to this place and I`m not amazed everytime I turn the corner.

I`m just blown away about the lack of time I have right now. Adding another hour to companionship study and 30 minutes to language study everyday really puts you in the apartment for half of the day. I still need to figure something out. We`re not finding anyone and I feel like I`m really not giving my brand new missionary the right entry experience into missionary work. I really need to think and work smart.

So I guess I`ll start with General Conference which was this past weekend. The last time I watched General Conference was in Ibaraki which also happens to be the Osaka North Stake Center and the entire stake was there. That was a blast. Since the Osaka Abeno stake is so big, the split it into two viewing districts. On Saturday, there were 7 members watching General Conference in the Yamatokoriyama building. Yeah, seven. The member setting up said he`d never seen anything like it. We`re still not sure why exactly nobody showed up. There were hundreds of members in the Ibaraki Stake Center last April for the Saturday sessions. I`m confused. Sunday was pretty normal, high attendance though.

The talks were great. Elder Holland`s talk in Priesthood Session really made me sit up straight. I don`t think he`s been that fiery since his Book of Mormon talk. There definitely needs to be some straightening out. I loved the talk from one of the Seventies (forgot the name) about how service is doing the right thing, at the right time, without delay. I also thought Sister Dalton was genius. A lot of the time when a member of the primary presidency or young women`s presidency speaks, we expect a sappy talk about how we can learn from the young people`s example and their experiences as they`ve traveled the world meeting them. I loved how Sister Dalton chose a very specific topic and wasn`t afraid to speak to Priesthood holders. General Conference simply has so much more meaning when you`re a missionary.

On Tuesday we were out working when Mr. S called and asked if we could meet him in 30 minutes. He`s been busy so we haven`t been able to see him too much. He`s one of my favorite people I`ve met on my mission thus far. He`s just a blast. He`s really outgoing and open, we get along really well. Anyway, we just discussed what he was feeling, how his Book of Mormon reading is going, whether he had prayed or not and such. He said that he took up Moroni`s challenge as we invited him. He prayed moreso for personal reasons rather than to know if the Book of Mormon is true or not. He just started living by himself. His family all moved back to his hometown while he stayed behind by himself and apparently it`s been difficult. He works at Mos Burger all day and he doesn`t really know what he`s living for. He prayed to know what to do with himself and said he really felt like something was telling him that he`s being selfish and that if he wants to become more happy, he needs to find a way to help and serve others. We talked a little more and the discussion wasn`t moving forward. He still wasn`t sure about joining an organized religion or whether he wanted to keep commandments.

I decided to just ask him what he wants for himself. What he wants in life. He told me what he`s said earlier: he wants to just lose himself in serving and loving others and be fulfilled that way. He just doesn`t know how. I opened Mosiah 18:8-10 and read it with him. He stared at it for over a minute. It was one of the most spiritual moments of my mission. He didn`t know what to say, neither did I. We gave him a solid commitment to follow the Word of Wisdom and he agreed. He also came to General Conference yesterday. He loved it. He didn`t understand much of what was being said but he said he was so impressed with all of the speakers because they were so "信じぶかい” (wise). Well, he went for a walk to go get lunch afterwards and the Yamatokoriyama elders caught him smoking. He told us before that he drinks coffee on ceold mornings sometimes to stay awak, only drinks tea when offered, and socially drinks alcohol about once a month. He said he hated tobacco so naturally I felt a little bit betrayed. When he got back to the church, he basically turned himself in. He felt horrible and said "止めるしかない” ("I have to quit") as he went home. I think that was supposed to happen.  God is really working with and preparing him. I`m excited for him.

We visited K 姉妹 this week. Apparently she still talks to Elder Everett and his mom all the time.

I-san has a baptismal date next month. We needed to make a goal with him or he wasn`t going to progress.  For the lesson, we read 3 Nephi 14 to really teach him the importance of the sabbath and it worked beautifully. It just made sense when he read it from the scriptures. He made a goal to come to the last hour of church almost by himself. It was like his faith and desire jumped through the roof once he read the commandment from the Book of Mormon. I`ve really (re)learned the power of the Book of Mormon this week. I don`t know why I haven`t been able to use it this effectively for my whole mission. Anyway, it did miracles this week.

With General Conference and two hours of studying everyday, we really haven`t had time to do much else. I wish I had more to report on.

It looks like the Homecoming festivities were fun in Kaysville. That really is a tradition-rich place. I would`ve paid to see you drive that truck in that parade.

They`ve tried to deliver the package from Eiko Andrews to me twice but I haven`t been home. I`ll get it tomorrow. Thanks for sending the music. This month's Liahona had a section on just EFY Japan. Did you get it? You should. Just looking at the pictures makes me teary-eyed. I always thought the idea of being an EFY counselor sounded like hell but I`d for sure do it in Japan for a week.

I enjoyed the question exercise last week. Feel free to do it whenever you`d like. And it doesn`t have to be just Dad. I do understand that asking any of the rest of you to have interest in what I`m doing is a little むり (pointless) though.

I guess that`s my time. Have a good week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Elder Low's Been Blogged

You can see some great pictures of Elder Low and his new companion on Sister Zinke's blog. Click here to view.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 3, 2011

Well, it`s October. The weather has finally started to cool down a bit. I`ve been out for over a year and I have a brand new missionary with me. This is really strange.


That's me on the board in the Mission Office.


I`ll start off by answering the questions that you sent:

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this month?
A: M 兄弟 took us out to eat Okonomiyaki as somewhat of a farewell gift for Anderton 長老. It was one of those places where they cook it in front of you and you eat it directly off of the grill. It had pork, shrimp, and squid in it and it was unbelievably good.

Q: Do you go to Mr. Donuts frequently? I miss that place.
A: I go at least once every time its 100円 week. I have a point card that expires in February. I`ve got 210 points. I get a prize when I turn in my point card.

Q: Who is your new companion? Are you going to get along with him?
A: Good question. My new companion is Elder Dustin Tsuyoshi Nukaya. He is from Idaho Falls, Idaho and is 100% Japanese, 101% American. Really though, his blood is 100% Japanese, no corruption. Does he speak Japanese? No. Neither do his parents, or even his grandparents. We are going to get along perfectly fine. He`s actually really, really similar to me. It`s kind of scary. To be perfectly frank, it`s no fun to look Japanese and not speak it. It`s hard. It`s something you can`t understand unless you`ve been through it and I`m glad I can help him through it and give him advice as someone who`s situation was very similar to his. It does also mean that there will be some special challenges, for sure. Every new missionary and trainer has them. It`s almost like all of the things that I worked so hard to conquer at the beginning of my mission are going to come back to haunt me through my companion. I`ve got my work cut out for me, but it`ll be great. He`s a great missionary and has a rock solid testimony. He wants to work hard, and really that`s all that is necessary. Worthiness and willingness.

Q: Do you ride your bike a lot? Are you tired of that yet? Are you being careful?
A: Yeah, I don`t see myself dying to get on a bike when I go home. Biking here isn`t too bad. Kobe was really full of hills; Himeji was huge and we had hour long bike rides sometimes; Shingu required biking up mountains (really) nearly everyday so I have nothing to complain about. I`m being careful, especially with a new missionary. He`s still weirded out by being on the left side of the rode and how narrow the rodes are.

Q: What are your thoughts on your mission president's monthly training he’s been giving you?
A: He`s completely reformatted the way the monthy training and focus gets to us. It`s extremely heavy on the Spirit. Basically everything has been about the Spirit since President Zinke got here. It`s a really important element of missionary work. I`m anxious to see what else he will train us on...or if we`re just going to be talking about the Spirit for the next year.The way I work has slowly changed and I have to say, I like it. I like where the mission is headed.

Q: Are you happy? (That’s the one parents worry about the most.)
A: I`m happy. Missionary work can be fun, sometimes it`s not.

Q: Is there anything scary that’s happened to you? The kind that would make Mom freak out?
A: I think I`m safer here than when I was grocery shopping in Provo, Utah.

Q: Finally – do you feel the Spirit in your work? Is He guiding you? Has your testimony grown?
A: I think so. My testimony grows most from my observation of others. I do think I have a way to go in terms of being "guided." Sometimes I feel like I need to be seeing a miracle every second or I`m not suceeding. But then again, what`s a miracle? It`s all about perspective.

We spent the beginning of the week getting Anderton 長老 all prepped and ready to be white-washed into Kouchi. This was his first area. We went and said goodbye to a lot of the members.

On Thursday morning I headed out to Kobe to go and pick up my new companion. I was half an hour late because the group that I was going to Sannomiya with all showed up 20 minutes late. I had to take a taxi from Sannomiya to the honbu (Mission Home). I still saw Myagmarjav 姉妹, Shumway長老, and Ewer長老 at Sannomiya. I love seeing my MTC group in the field. Myagmarjav 姉妹 is now in Tokushima and guess who her companion is? Yep, Ilch 姉妹. They`re reunited. I can`t wait to hear about the kind of miracles they work together, again.

So I told you about my new companion. He`s great. It was so bizarre being in that Trainer/Trainee meeting sitting on the other side of the chapel. I remember so distinctly sitting in there, so nervous about which person was going to train me. It still hasn`t quite hit me yet that my companion has never been to Japan and is straight out of the MTC. I still feel like that`s me sometimes.

There is a new program for new missionaries that requires two hours of companionship study and an hour of language study everyday. I feel like we have no time. I`m not sure what to do with the time. I`m going to have to really re-evaluate how we plan and how we spend time if we want to get anything done this transfer. It`s really different. It is a good program though. President Zinke described it as a "learner`s permit." It restricts you time wise, but really teaches you how to be a missionary. Every new missionary has to do it for their first 12 weeks (two transfers) so I will most likely be here in Nara for at least another transfer (until Christmas).

I guess that`s all I have time for. I`m glad you enjoyed General Conference. We do indeed have to wait until next weekend to see it. I hope all is well at home. Until next week!

So last Monday, Elder Anderton and I went to see Yakushiji and Toshodaiji. In one transfer we saw all 7 of Nara`s World Heritage temples. These were the last two.

Yakushiji, built in 698AD.

Toshodaiji was built in 759AD.