Monday, March 2, 2015

19 years and 12 weeks‏

Alex's birthday is this week and it will be the first one he hasn't spent at home. We sent a little birthday package (shipping to Japan is crazy, gotta say) that had gifts and lots of candy and these funny kid's size nose and glasses. I told him in the letter that he had to take pics with them. I sent 4, one for each of the elders. I didn't really think he'd wear them for a photo, but he did. Yay! But I didn't get the photos from him. I only got one photo from him (the last photo in this post), but Elder P.'s mom posted these first two from her son.

Alex (in front) and his companion Elder O.

Some parts of his letter to me:

A new favorite food? I don't know if it is necessarily a favorite, but something that I've come to like is called an onigiri. It is a ball of rice with some kind of filling in the middle (usually fish), and wrapped in seaweed. It doesn't sound to appetizing, but I like 'em.

I have met with President Smith in an interview setting twice since getting to Japan: once for an arriving interview, and one for a regular "check up." I can call him if I need to, and I write to him every week about how I'm doing. I definitely think that I have somewhere to turn to if such an occasion arises. One of the first things President Smith said to me was something along the lines of "your father is thousands of miles away, so I will do everything I can to be your father for the next two years." I truly to feel like he loves every one of the missionaries as his own children, and he is an amazing man.

I wrote to some elders, including Alex's companion and he was nice enough to write me back. I appreciated hearing a bit about Alex from him: Elder ___ is a great companion and an even better missionary. Thank you for teaching him and helping him become the man that he is! I am learning more from him than he is from me!
Sendai South Zone Conference -- Alex is the last (right) on the back row
Here is his letter to everyone:
Am I really turning 19? I honestly don't feel like how I thought I would feel when I turned 19. I can't believe I've been on this earth for 19 years already, time goes by so quickly. I am reminded of how I always used to look up to the missionaries I saw when I was young and thought how it would be so cool to be their age and be so mature. Now I have started to think about how I am in their shoes now, and how their are people looking to me as an example, as a hero, and as someone they want to become like. It's weird to think about. I don't feel like I am something that kids would look up to, but from my experiences in the past, people notice you a lot more than they tell you most of the time.

In addition to this, I have been in Japan for about 12 weeks. That's about 3 months! I really don't feel like I've been here that long, and I sure don't feel like I have already been out on a mission for just under 5 months. Time sure flies by when you're in the service of your God.

This weeks Japanese word is: 宣教師  ( Senkyōshi ) It means Missionary, and the literal translation is something along the lines of "teacher of the message."

We now return to our regularly scheduled program:

Monday: We got our suits dry cleaned for the zone conference we were having on Thursday, and after email, went up to the north part of town to meet with Brother Gessell. We were going to have a role play with him, but when he found out that I hadn't been to a Japanese sushi place yet, he took us there. I had lots of fun, and it was an all you can eat place. I tried eel, and octopus sushi, as well as other sushi that I can't remember or didn't ever know what it is. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but I assure you that I loved it (despite the wasabi).

Tuesday: We went to visit a man named Iwai, and he was really nice. He met with LDS missionaries 40 years ago, and it was really cool to get to know him. He gave us coca-cola, and lots of treats as well. After that, we went to the church and had DCS followed by a lesson with Brother Hasebe (we have been asked to emphasize calling everyone by brother or sister or their title, so I will be doing that from now on). We were able to talk to him about his experience at church, and it was good.

After that and a quick finishing of our daily studies, we went over by the train station to follow up on some stake pamphlets we put in some people's mail boxes. We didn't have too much success per se, but we did get some interesting conversations. One of the most interesting ones was with a man who after hearing that what we were talking about was religious started to go off about his visits to Egypt and things like that. That activity took the rest of the night.

Wednesday: We practised in the morning for a special musical number Elder O. and Elder P. had for the zone conference. we then went and tried to visit a less active member, but he wasn't available, so we went back to the church for yet another lesson with Brother Hasebe. That took the rest of the time to English class, and that was interesting. We had kids class that day, and we played four corners the entire time. I ended up winning, and the one kid who came couldn't get enough of the game.

Thursday: Zone conference was amazing. We had to wake up at 4:30 to get to Yamagata city, but despite that, we had an amazingly spiritual meeting, and I learned so much from it. We also got a surprise gift from Elder Evans of the Seventy. He had given President Smith a copy of Meet the Mormons to show on special occasions, and President Smith decided that it was a special enough occasion. After that, we got a little seminar from one of the stake presidency on a new program that will be starting up to make it easier for members to refer their friends to missionaries. We then rode a train back to Yonezawa, and went to sleep.

Friday: This was as usual an uneventful day, because we had LOTS of planning to do. After we planned, we went to a members house to share a message. On the way we met a boy we might play basketball with soon. When we got to the members house, we were surprised to find they had made a dinner for us. They had karaage (fried chicken that is really delicious), and lots of other things, and it was really good! We then shared a message with them about holding to the iron rod mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and how we should help our friends find it as well. Since that was in the evening, we went home and finished the day.

Saturday: Saturday was full of planning for the party we had. After the planning we had a lesson with Sister Momozono and Sister Keiko (An old investigator we picked up, and her friend who is now more of an investigator than she is, respectively). We had met them a few times before, and we didn't know if they would keep the commitments we had extended to them. When I asked them if they had prayed on their own, Sister Keiko said that she had, and that she felt the peace and calmness we had talked about in our last visit with her. It was amazing, and I am so happy that she is coming closer to her Heavenly Father.

We then got the church ready for the party, and had the party. The beginning was slow, but it picked up as we played "ninja" and had a three legged race. It was a lot of fun, and the crown event was the gyoza (I think they're called dumplings in English) that were made by a chinese member here in Yonezawa. It was fun, and we got to talk to lots of people.

Sunday: We had a really good sacrament meeting, and one of the members who has recently been coming back to church bore her testimony during the testimony meeting. The same member also gave us all presents for our birthdays. I love her and her strong testimony; she is such an amazing person.

After church, and again after studies, we went to visit a family that we have tried to start teaching. They were all sick this week, so we weren't able to meet with them. Since it was pretty far away, it took us an hour to walk there, and we were able to get a ride back from a member who we went to go visit with. We finished the night off at the apartment with dinner and planning.

I truly hope that you all are doing well, and I pray for all of you often each day. I hope that you stay close to the Lord, especially during your trials and hard times.

Elder ____
Alex and his companion Elder O. -- Thanks to Alex for breaking his no selfie rule so I could get one pic!

1 comment:

  1. missionary pic's are always entertaining. Sounds like he is having an amazing mission experience.


Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...