But some awesome ladies at Missionary Mommas put together this video and Alex's photo of his freezing face is included. So is one of his friends, Elder M., who is serving in the Massachusetts Boston mission.
This is Alex's letter to everyone. It's a long read and I loved reading it all.
I honestly can't believe that it has been seven weeks since I came to Japan. It feels like it has been a lifetime, and it also feels like I arrived yesterday!
I have my journal with me this week, so here is what I had to say about this week.
Monday: "Today we had a normal morning, and then went to email. Email was faster this week, because now we have two computers. Since we had extra time, we decided to go to the recycle shops on the north side of town. The bus was going to be coming soon [after we finished emailing], but Elder O. still had to get some money out from his personal card. We hurried over to the post office, and saw the bus waiting to turn down the street [towards the bus stop] at a light. We rushed into the ATMs, he got his money in record time, and we ran towards the bus stop. The bus ad just barely turned [down the street] because of traffic, so we had a chance of making it. The bus stopped, and let someone off as we got to the stop. We weren't in a very visible spot for the driver as we tried to get over the snow, and the bus pulled away without us. There was one woman on the bus who saw us and smile as the bus pulled away. (I thought that was pretty funny)
"We had a good laugh at how close we actually got to catching the bus, and then went to the post office again to get some of my own personal money out. After that, we walked to a closer recycle shop that we had found the other day. Elder O. almost got a camera there, but he didn't like any of them when he tested them out. They didn't have too much else we were looking for, so we left.
"Following that was a long walk up to the north side of town. On the way, Elder O. saw a store he wanted to go to to get something for his boots, because they were leaking. We got them and continued on our way.
"We got up to Hard Off, a recycle shop but they didn't have exactly what we were looking for either, so we decided to go to a sports store to look at ping-pong paddles for Elder O., because he had been wanting one.
"We didn't find any that he thought would be worth the money (either mediocre, or too expensively professional), so we walked to a bus stop to go back to the apartment. When we got on, we met the same lady we met on the bus before [on three different occasions], and had a good conversation with her. When she got off, she forgot her gloves, so we gave them to the bus driver. The rest of the bus drive was uneventful.
"After a bit of relaxing time, 6 o'clock came around, so we headed out to do missionary work. We walked over to the Sasaki Family, but he wasn't home. The other two [called us, and] asked us to go back to the apartment to plan a "dendo fireside" [a missionary work fireside] we'll have this sunday with the ward. We got back and planned that. The rest of the night was normal [for getting ready for sleep].
Tuesday: "Today, as it was a normal Tuesday, we went to DCS [Missionary council, I think, in English. Don't know the actual translation of the acronym]. After that, we went to YIRA [Yonezawa International Relations Association if I remember correctly], for a "Japanese lunch". While there, we talked with Brother Ben Gessell [a member from Washington State that has been living in Yonezawa for the last year and a half]. He told us that he would be more than happy to take us out to lunch and eat with him, so hopefully that actually happens, because he's a cool guy.
"Next, we went to go visit Brother Seino at his work. While we were there, Elder O. got his hair cut [Brother Seino owns a salon].
"After that, we went to Sukoyaka center (a community center), and paid 3 dollars for the sign up fee for service on Saturday. When we got that done, we went to visit a bunch of less active members. On one still lived at the same houses though. When we finished, we went back to the apartment and had language study.
"We then went out again to find Mr. Saimaru's house, because he had left his phone at the church the previous night. We were going to be in the area anyway earlier in the day, but we couldn'T find the address on the GPS we got on our phones today, so we decided to find out where he lived when we got back for language.
"We got to his house, but he wasn't there, so we gave the phone to his niece. We then went to go back to a Family Mart [a convenience store] we had gone to earlier in the day, because Elder O. left his umbrella there. We found it, and then went back to the apartment.
"When we got back we planned out some of the training we [did] at zone training meeting, at dinner, planned for the day tomorrow, and closed off the day."
Wednesday: "Today was a very interesting day. After a normal morning, we went to Silk Road, an Iranian restaurant. I ate chicken curry that they had. It was really good.
"When we got done, we went back to the apartment and had language study, as well as planning for our English class.
"Next, we did some follow up on some pamphlets we had posted the previous week. Two people listened to us. The first one lives in Tokyo, but is staying with his parents at the moment. He seemed genuinely interested. [The second occasionally did missionary work for her Buddhist church].
"Afterwards, we went to Brother Shimura's house. We just met with him really quick to see how he was doing since he's really busy with school right now.
"We then went to the church, and had a normal English class. However, a new person came [named Naomi].
"Next we went back to the apartment, had daily planning, and ate spaghetti, and finished the day"
Thursday: "For lunch today, we went again to YIRA, this time for an English lunch. Brother Ben always does the English lunch presentations, and today he talked about his trip back to the US. Apparently, there is a street in Washington State named Yonezawa Blvd, because the city it's in is a sister city to Yonezawa.
"After lunch, we went to the church to prepare for our training we [had] in the Zone Training Meeting [Friday] while waiting for Mr Hasebe to come for a lesson.
In that lesson, we talked about the Law of Chastity and some other gospel stuff in English (he was a bit confused what the word "dating" meant), then talked about 1 Nephi 18 for the Japanese part of the lesson.
"After Mr. Hasebe's lesson, we took a bus up to Aeon (local mall), and from there walked to Mr. Kato's house. When we got there, we knocked on his door, and he wasn't home. Because of that unfortunate event, we went to Aeon and planned the rest of our training on Revelation through Church Attendance.
"When the time came, we left to go catch a bus, and on the way to the stop, we met some high schoolers who play tennis. They also like basketball, so that might happen soon. We then got on the bus, and took it back down past our apartment a bit, so we could go visit a potential investigator family. The father answered the door, and we talked for a bit. He said to come back if we have time and they are home, so we will make sure that happens."
Friday: "Today we woke up at 5 AM to catch a train at 6:47 ish up to Yamagata. We did this because we needed to give the zone leaders videos of us saying a goodbye message to Elder H.; he is leaving at the end of this transfer, so they were going to show it at the end of the Zone Training Meeting. However, we ran overtime, and they were having problems with the video and audio [so the didn't show it].
"Zone Training Meeting itself was very fun. We got to hear from everyone in the zone today, and I was able to learn a lot. I felt the spirit so strongly today, and my motivation to share the gospel has been stoked again. (As a side note, Elder O. lost one of his gloves again. He lost the right pair twice, so he can't use the extra glove he has.)
"After ZTM, we went to a restaurant at the train station called Inian Tomato. I got curry and nan bread, and it was really good. I had forgotten how uch I loved nan until I ate it again today. The curry was good too; not too spicy for me.
"We then took a train back to Yonezawa. While on the train, I messed around with the electronic dictionary I bought from Elder Fox durring one of the breaks in ZTM.
"Upon arriving back at the apartment, we had our last weekly planning of the transfer. We then did daily planning and got ready for bed. Now I'm sitting on my futon, waiting, with more time than I thought I had Sooo... I would like to write about the upcoming transfer. I really don't mind if I stay or go [somewhere else], or where I go to this transfer, but I am hoping I will be able to see the snow lantern festival in February [here] in Yonezawa. Besides that, I have no particular feelings for transfer week/calls.
Saturday: "Today was a busy day. In the morning we went to sukoyaka center and went with them (the staff and volunteers) to do snow shovelling at a woman's house. Yonezawa is know for having a lot of snow, and the place we went to was know for having a lot of snow inside Yonezawa. The snow got up to the rooves of some of the [one story] houses it was so high. It was really fun, and lots of work. We were able to clear quite a bit of snow in just 2 hours.
"After we finished shovelling snow, we went back to the meeting place and had lunch. They made some really delicious miso soup for us, and I enjoyed the lunch time. Elder O. was asked to say something in the closing meeting, and so he did. It was only a couple of words, but it was cool that he got that chance.
"When we got back to sukoyaka center, we walked back in the snow to our apartment--it had started snowing right as we were finishing shovelling snow--and from there went to the church.
"At the curch, we had three lessons in a row. The first was with Mrs. Momozono. She was a past investigator, but she stopped taking lessons because she had a baby. Today was the first time in a while that she met with the missionaries. [It was a good lesson]
"Next we had Mr. Hasebe. With him, we talked about what he had done in the last two days since we saw him, and then somehow got on the subject of his "English" name. After putting some names on the board, he settled with the name "Davis Tanning".
"After him, we met with Mr. Hide (pronounced hee-day). It was our first meeting with him, so we explained how things would work for the program we were going to start with him [half an hour of English and half an hour of us "practising" Japanese lessons].
"When we finished with we went to a ramen restaurant close-by together. Right as we were leaving the restaurant, we got a call from President Smith (the Mission President and found out that both of us were going to stay and that Elder W. would be leaving."
Yesterday we did a lot of snow shoveling and that was it besides church.
Love ya all!
Parts of his letter to me that I thought were interesting to share (if you're still reading)...
Things have been going well here. I am going to the local dollar store (a lot better than in America) today, and I'll be getting some stuff there. I am also planning on making five minute brownies for my fellow missionary who will be leaving the area this transfer (Elder W.). In my experience so far, ingredients that have been hard to find for sweets are powdered sugar and cocoa. They have them here, but not in very big, aka enough, packages. I had to get two little things of cocoa for the brownies, and even then there is barely enough (and it was all they had). There was only 40 g per package
(This was in response to me asking if he had given a blessing yet.) I have given a blessing since coming on a mission. I was able to participate in a anointing and blessing for the sick and afflicted in the MTC to one of the sisters in the district (I did the anointing), and I also gave a blessing of comfort and counsel to my companion while in the MTC. I also did two anointings here in Japan to two members, and participated in the blessings there. I did the anointing in English, and Elder O. did the Blessing.