Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been BUSY! I am learning how to juggle, that is probably the best way to express how I feel now.
We woke up and had a full studies! It has been so long since I've had a full studies! Afterwards Elder Ishikawa and I wrote some letters, then headed over to the church to email. After emailing we went to yodabashi camera for some light bulbs. Japanese electronic stores are insane, it has about the same building footprint as a Best Buy, only it is 9 stories tall! It has everything inside. Since the light bulbs and the massage chairs are on the same floor we took a little break. Thinking back on it, it's probably better if they were on the same floor as the sowing machines. After we went to the post office to buy a box, then to lunch and an insanely cheap ramen place, back to the church to fill out a package slip and borrow some tape from the Honbu. Back to the post office to send the package then to some Christmas shopping. I'll tell you what I found some neat stuff. The sad thing is last Christmas Japan was so new to me that I was able to find good presents however, now I've been acclimated to Japan. After some shopping we bought groceries and went home. Then spent our last hour of preparation day decorating the house for Christmas, since it used to be a sisters apartment not to long ago they have a ton of decorations. Then as we were going to the church to look up some addresses, I got a call from the assistants asking about a tech problem so I had to spend an hour in the office fixing it, then teaching Elder Leach and Elder Yamada how to fix it if it comes up again. Then elder Ishikawa and I went to go visit Less actives! Sadly we weren't able to meet with all three we tried visiting. One we spent a little over an hour looking for! Japan's address system is so confusing! As we were riding home that night i was reminded, "no effort is ever wasted".
One. Year. In. Japan. Wow. I can't believe I've been here a whole year that is crazy to me. We had normal studies, ate lunch, then went to the church so I could send my presidents letter, but when we got there Elder Mukai needed Elder Ishikawa and I to go with him to the old elders apartment to see what kind of trash was left in it...there is a lot. So we spent two hours with him while he fiddled with the idea of having a company come pick it all up, thankfully he did because we would've been in quite the pickle if he hadn't. We then helped him load a washing machine into the van and take it to another apartment. When we arrived at the mission office, which shares the parking lot with the church. Elder Ishikawa and I were on our way over to the church when Elder Leach came out and asked if I could help with something, so I spent another hour in the Honbu. Then we finally got out and I could send my letter, it is dangerous going back to the office. We went to the park afterwards to dendo but no one would talk to us, literally no one. We tried and tried but we must have had our invisibility suits on or something. We then came back home and I made us some omelets while my companion watched a Play that the machida stake had a while back it was pretty interesting. Feeling more hopeful we found some less actives and went to go bless their lives. The first member we visited wasn't home but his 90 year old mother was and claimed she was a devoted Buddhist as she batted her eyes at me. Talk about giddin' on up outta there! The next person we couldn't find, but as we were housing the nearby area we found another woman who had no interest in church whatsoever, as she claimed 5 times, but she proceeded to tell us about why she believes family history is important. Perfect! Another great opportunity to testify of the gospel. The next person we met was yet again another woman. At first we asked her for directions then introduced ourselves as missionaries, she then told me in English, "I have no interest in religion, but I want to learn more English"! Well perfect! We have got something for you too! The next person we visited was home! He answered his intercom, and told me, I was the one making the call on this house, "I have never heard of your church before, and I don't have a religion" I responded, "great, we are missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and we love people that don't have religions, in fact, we love everyone because that is what the savior would do." After going back and forth, he told me, "leave me alone I'm watching tv, and I don't hold a religion, close the gate on the way out." I was lost at the last bit because it was a very command form of the word so I asked him to repeat it like 4 times. Then he just hung up, confused because of radio static and commanding words I turned to my companion who smiled, then said in English, "he wants us to close the gate." Oh. Oops. On our last door of the night we rang and a woman answered, we introduced ourselves and our message and she responded, "sorry I'm on the phone right now, but I'd love to hear your message, can you come by later?" Uh...yes! Well send our sisters over have a great night! Talk about one of those last miracles for the day. Elder Jennings and I Tim tam slammed to celebrate our year mark in Nehon, and I wrote the ward mission leader. Having a Japanese companion is great for practice because we spent 45 minutes talking about the difference between McDonalds in America and Japan right before bed.
After studies we headed over to the church for a lesson with Adachi-San! That man is so great, we taught him the Plan of Salvation and he soaked it in like a sponge then asked all kinds of inspired questions. Kajura Kyoudai had some great questions as well, it was a good lesson overall. Afterwards I got called into the office to help with the photocopier, all the other office Elders had left for various driving related things so since I was close by they asked me to help. We came back near the house to knock on some doors. We got yelled at and had the door slammed in our faces over and over again, but finally the last woman we talked to we were able to give her a plan of salvation pamphlet and committed her to read it. Then came home, ate, and went to eikaiwa. Part of being district leader means I am in charge of eikaiwa for the area. Gulp. I think it went well, we are figuring out some new ways to improve and grow our classes. Afterwards a man by the name of Michael with his other drunk friend and I had an interesting talk, they are kind but we will see what comes of it, they are deadest about coming next week which is great!
After studies we headed on over to the church for Weekly Planning. It took us a while because we had a lot of contacting to do as well as get to understand the area better. There was also MLC going on so that was an interesting time being inadvertently involved with that. After our planning we headed over to an inport store to find hot cocoa however there was nothing great. So we headed back home but just as we were about to leave Elder Yamada came running after me for some more help. Don't get me wrong I love helping it is just hard when you plan for things to do that day. When we got home we went to unlock the door, and well it was locked. Then we tried the windows. All locked. Then Elder Ishikawa and I began trying to figure out how were were going to get inside. Our second floor has a walk out balcony so we decided I would hoist him up and he would climb onto the concrete wall, into the window sill and then up into the balcony. It seemed pretty easy so we went at it and wouldn't you know it, he made it on the first try! And without falling too! Sadly all the doors were locked up there too! So he was stuck up there yelling for me to call the other elders because they had the key. We waited about 15 minutes until they came. Poor Elder Ishikawa, he was pretty cold up there without his coat. After dinner Elder Gerard and I began splits. We decided to visit some members, we found one active members house but remembering they had small children we left a note and continued our journey. We found one other house and a woman helped us find another as well. It is funny how friendly Japanese people are if you ask for directions, but as soon as you bring up the gospel it is game over...sometimes.
Elder Gerard and I headed over to the Church early and grabbed Elder Leach and Elder Yamada for a meeting with all the new missionaries. On our way to Hakuraku, I found out that I'd be giving a bulk of the training, so much for not being Tech Staff anymore. Afterwards we went out to eat at a Shabu Shabu place, it was delicious! It's probably one of my favorite Japanese foods. On the train ride home we ran into Bubba Kyodai, a recent convert in Hakuraku, I had never met him but it was great to see him. When we got home Elder Gerard and I looked up some less actives to go visit, and went to go house around them. We chose Maedaimia which is at the very edge of our mission. I thought it'd only take 20 minutes by bike however it took about an hour to get there 😩and we left the mission as we were getting there. We found on of the less actives wives, but it turns out her husband is dead and she had no interest so we moved on inviting a few people here and there. Afterwards we biked back to the church and ran to Seiyu (Walmart) and bought some supplies for hot chocolate for district meeting. Then we had a District meeting, it was great! You could really feel like things will start picking up here in Kichijoji. After we came home I wrote the award mission leader who hasn't responded to any of the messages I've sent him this week. I think it's the right email address...guess I'll just have to be persistent. Then Elder Ishikawa and I talked about Star Wars in Japanese, I actually found out that Japan doesn't have a rating system for movies, they just kind of advertise movies to certain ages. Also if a movie is doing really well and makes over a certain amount of money the movie is cheaper to go and see!
Elder Mukai called us earlier in the week and told us that we needed to clean the old apartment which is a piece of junk...seriously though it is awful, the elders had to emergency transfer out of there because of all the mold. So we had to bag up all the trash and take it out to the churn, but in the mean time we had fun getting stuff small enough to fit inside of the trash bags. In Japan you have to separate all of your trash which is really frustrating, because you have to continually ask yourself the question, "Could I burn this?". And the answer is, well if Boy Scouts taught me anything it's thatI can set fire to anything. Sadly that doesn't work here in Japan. After we finished, we hurry and changed and ate dinner at this oil noodle place, it was alright, I think broth just makes a good dish though. Then off to the Christmas Concert! It was so crazy going again this year, last year I went and understood nothing. But this time I understood the whole thing! It was so cool! Plus I knew more than half the cast this year! It was neat to see the youth I worked with in various wards sing. Afterwards we talked to them and I was amazed at how many recognized me with how many missionaries change! Get this though! I saw my MTC companion, Elder Tolen! But if that wasn't enough we both recognized a man we taught in the MTC, Yuhei! We went up to him and began talking to him and catching up, he just got his mission call to Kobe, and got into BYUi! It was cool being able to talk to him in his native tongue and feel comfortable. I remember thinking how embarrassing it was to speak Japanese, not to say that has changed a whole lot. It is just different.
We went DCS, and had a great meeting, we announced our plan of caroling to the ward, it got some people excited which was great. A man sat in front of my companion and I at church, then afterwards he turned to talk to me and said in English, "Hi, I am brother so-and-so." We got to talking and when I inquired as to where he learned English he said the Yokota Air Base, i related where I was from and he grabbed his phone and showed me a picture of an address in Ohio and asked if it was close to me. Turns out the address is inside my stake boundaries! The man who taught him English retired close by to where I live! Pretty nuts! We were on our way to Gospel Principles with him but the Assistants grabbed him and took him somewhere else. After church we split up the fruit basket and then Visited Kosaka Kyoudai who is a computer animator for Japanese cartoons! It's pretty cool, we shared the Liahona message and set up a dimmer appointment for later in the week. After we went to Ueki Kyoudais house and taught him "Who is God" one of the new pamphlets we are using. Then we ate dinner and went to Mitaka Eki to Carol! There was a great turn out from the ward! They were all pretty excited to sing! By the time we left there was a giant group around us listening. Elder Jennings found a Chinese man, and the sisters found a woman! It was a great district activity to help the ward members and people of Kichijoji.
After studies and lunch we went to the church to send our presidents letters and find some less actives to visit. However the Wi-fi was off. So I called my friend at the area office Elder Jones who is over all Technology in the Asia North area, and he was able to turn it back on remotely. We got that figured out then left for kogane which was forever away! We housed a whole apartment complex and no one answered the door. We prayed and felt like we needed to go somewhere else so we turned down another street and found 3 kids playing basketball. We talked to them about Christmas, actually it was more like taught they had no idea why people celebrate Christmas. Then we visited the Takahashis but they weren't home, so we left them a message. Then took the long bike ride home to eat dinner. After some spaghetti, gravy, and chicken bullion noodles we went with the intention to go to south Mitaka to find more less active and house in the nearby area. However, when we got to the church we took the snap shots, then just as we were about to leave the church a woman came up to us Holding a Mary medallion and asked if it was ours. Sadly it wasn't but she expressed interest in who Mary was so we showed her the nativity Bible Video and were able to testify about it and set an appointment for her to meet with the sisters. We then stopped by the Honbu to grab some fliers to go and street in the park but the tech elders needed me to write a quick excel file for them so that blew through more time :/. Finally we were able to get out but sadly we only had a half hour.
A lot of people really are unaware of what Christmas is all about aside all the Shopping, American songs, and KFC dinners. Some people think it is just an American holiday or the "cool- in thing to do". But in actuality it's not. It's to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I really love sharing our Christmas message with those we meet on the street. The simplicity of the video and children's testimonies of Christ really put the holiday into a clearer perspective. It really is able to impact those whom I have the opportunity to serve here in Japan.
Hope y'all have a great week!
Me and some of our Eikaiwa friends!
We went to this ramen shop that puts charcoal in their water to purify it.
Elder Tolen, the man we taught in the MTC (Yuki), and me after the Christmas Concert.