Monday, May 30, 2016

Through the Weak and Simple

It was fun to get Alex's letter today and funny to read some of the things he writes in English now that he's been speaking Japanese for more than a year and a half now. Like this: 

"I would also like to learn Spanish, because I feel like it's long time I figured out that language."

I shouldn't laugh because I know how it is when you are immersed in another language and it affects how you think and speak in your own language. 

I was happy to see that they have an investigator with a baptism date who they are working with. It's the last Saturday of that transfer so I'm kinda hoping Alex doesn't get transferred somewhere else so he can stay and continue to fellowship him as a new member. I'm sure it's hard for someone who gets baptized and then his missionaries who he knows leave. 

This week was really special, because we had the privilege of spending
two hours with Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Gong
of the Seventy, and Elder Yamashita of the Asia North Area Presidency.
What love these men, and their wives, have for not only us, but also
all of God's children. Being a member of the Church for my entire
life, I've always grown up seeing the general authorities on the TV,
and thinking that they were so much different than us. One of the
things I really learned from this meeting was that Elder Stevenson is
a normal man with a special calling. God can do anything through
anyone, no matter how weak, even through me.
Scripture of the week is Exodus 19:5-6, "Now therefore, if ye will
obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a
peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.
These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of
Kanji of the week is: 秋田犬 pronounced "ah-key-tah-ee-new," and is the
special breed of dog that was born in Odate and the surround area.
Fried rice that Elder S made
Monday was good, relaxing, and refreshing. In the evening we met with an investigator who is so close to figuring out everything for himself, but is afraid that if he prays that the Spirit will come to him and tell him something he doesn't want to hear. He says that he'll eventually get baptized once he figures things out for himself though. The rest of the night was just housing. Tuesday was service, and that was fun again. The people we work with are so nice! After that we went to go visit a less active, but he was busy, so we couldn't meet. After that we tried to talk with people on the streets, but there weren't too many people. We then met with a member for family home evening. He's a great man, and really funny. We then also met with two other less active members, and they are both nice.
Wednesday we woke up early to catch a bus to Sendai. Then, we spent two hours with Elder Stevenson, Elder Gong, and Elder Yamashita, and their wives. As my companion so well put it, "as soon as the meeting started, it was like general conference." Only this conference was directed to 100 missionaries. Elder Gong, speaking of Elder Stevenson, said that as an Apostle, he loves all people, and desires all of their salvation; from the way he talked and instructed us, you could tell it was true. Elder Stevenson Served in Fukuoka as a full time missionary, Nagoya as a mission president, and in the Asia North Presidency, which includes Japan. He also had a business that dealt a lot with Japan. Needless to say, his Japanese is great, and what a unique experience we were able to have in hearing one of the Twelve bear testimony in Japanese (although most of his talk was in English). I could say so much more about what I learned, and a bunch of stuff. But this email is too long already.
Chocolate that I got for my birthday. I got it Wednesday, because an
investigator in Furukawa hear when my birthday was, and decided to buy
me a present. I left before my birthday, but she gave it to the elders
to give to me. I am so glad they didn't eat it!
Thrusday was spent mostly coming back to Odate and weekly planning. We also had a lesson with an investigator and his friend, who became an investigator. Friday was great, and the part that I would really like to say is that because of the things we were able to learn from Elder Stevenson, we got a new baptismal date (June 18). He was so happy to hear of the great blessings of comfort and relief from guilt that baptism brings. And we're happy to help him get to that point. Saturday was great, and we had lots of fun talking with lots of people. Sunday we were going around and were following up on someone we talked to two weeks ago. We didn't know if he had too much interest, but followed up just because that's what we do. He ended up having lots of interest, asked us about our beliefs, and the Book of Mormon. When we had talked a bit, he then asked us how he could know for himself. It was a great lesson, and things are looking even better than they were before (not that it was bad before). This week has been great, and I am looking forward to having an even better time this next week. I love you all! Love, Elder 長老
McDonald's Loco Moco burger, a Hawaiian burger here for a limited time in Japan. 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Change is Possible

Something that I really felt strongly this week is that because of the
atonement that Christ performed for us, we can change. As seemingly
stuck in old habits as we might think we are, there is nothing that
Christ can't, if we let Him, change and make into a beautiful work of
art. I've seen it in my life, on my mission, and in the lives of
others. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and they are helping us
become the best people we can become.
Some delicious food that my companion Elder S. made

Scripture of the week is Isaiah 53:3-5, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Kanji of the week: 気象学 pronounced "key-show-gah-coo" and means meteorology Monday was busy just because it was my first in Odate. We had fun, and in the evening we did lots of housing. Tuesday we had service, which was drying old people's hair and serving them drinks. It was fun. The rest of the day was spent finding.

Hamburgers at a restaurant after district meeting
Wednesday we went to visit a less active, and he was nice, but a little hard to talk to. Then we went and had a lesson with an investigator, and he was really good. He's progressing, and he's said he recognizes a change in himself since starting to meet with the missionaries. We did some more finding, and then went to a members house for family home evening. He's a great member, and has a great testimony. English class was fun too, and we had lots of people come. Thursday we had weekly planning, and did lots of finding before going to an investigator's house and having a great lesson with him. He is really close to accepting the church, and we're doing all we can to help him. Friday we went up to Hirosaki for district meeting. It was fun, and I learned a lot. We got back, finished studies, and then went to find more investigators. We did find one, and she seemed like a very genuinely interested person. But, since she's a woman, we passed her to the sisters to teach. After that we went to another investigator's house and had a great lesson with him too. He's really accepting what we are teaching, and is a really nice man.
One of MANY dog statues in Odate
Saturday we went to find more investigators, and we succeeded again! We went housing in two areas, but after no success in those areas, we went to a new area. On the way there we stopped to high school kids, and talked about the purpose of life, God, and taught them how to pray. We have another appointment with them this week. Then we got another investigator when we were housing. It was really awesome. English class is twice a week here in Odate, and so we had that then. It was fun, but not too many people came this time. Sunday was great, and I loved the chance to partake of sacrament. I also got to see some members from Hachinohe, who came because it was branch conference. A lot of our day was spent in meetings and other things with counselor duties, and also studies. We tried to have a lesson with an investigator, but he wasn't home, despite making an appointment. We housed near by, and got to talk with some people, but not too many people were interested. That's my week. Hope you didn't die reading all this! I love you all! Love, Elder 長老
Elder C. is holding up a snack called Takenoko, a mushroom looking snack with a cookie base and chocolate top.
There is a big debate between these and "Kinoko" (chocolate covered cookies shaped like bamboo shoot tops that 
look like pine cones) which is similar to, if not more fierce than Coke versus Pepsi in

Monday, May 16, 2016


Apparently there was a baptism before his transfer, although Alex didn't get to perform it I assume since he's not the one in 
white baptismal clothes. Baptisms are very rare there so I'm glad he sent photos, but he didn't say a single thing about it.

In his new area of Odate, there is only one Melchizedek priesthood holder and he is the branch president. Alex is the second 
counselor in the branch presidency so he's getting some cool new experiences there I'm sure. 

I asked about his new companion and he gave me the info below and even included his birthday. Finally he tells me that before 
I have to ask. I always ask. 

Elder S. came in at the same time as Elder A. Both his parents are
Japanese, and He was born in Sapporo, where he lived for three years. 
Then they moved to Provo for schooling, and then from there to Chicago, 
where he grew up. He knows both languages fluently. He loves anime, and 
especially reading Japanese comics. We have a lot in common, and get 
along very well. He's an extremely hard worker.
I told Alex that I felt bad that for his graduation trip, we only went to Canada (although we loved it!) while we're going 
to Australia for Elisa's graduation trip. I did mention how he is living in Japan, his dream trip, even though he isn't a 
tourist. This was his reply:
I can't be mad that you're going to Australia for her trip, because 
you're paying a lot more for me to be in Japan, and I feel like it's a 
better deal. I get to draw closer to Christ--and help others to do the 
same--in the Land of the Rising Sun. What else could I ask for? I hope 
you have fun in Australia. For the time that you're in Brisbane, you'll 
be in the same time zone as I am, I believe. That will be weird! 
I'm not sure who this missionary is. It's probably one of the missionaries who lived in his apartment.
Pretty, but I don't know the name of this place.

This is Alex with his former companion.
Letter to everyone:

Too much to write about in a short time. I got a new area, with a new
companion: Elder S. The area is called Odate, and is famous for a
breed of dog called Akita. They're all over Japan, but especially here
in Odate (and maybe the entire prefecture).
I had the hardest week ever in terms of work goes, but as I continued
to push myself to do that which God wanted me to, I saw many
blessings. Odate is a great city!
My scripture of the week is a scripture mastery from the Old
Testamant, but for time's sake, I am not going to attach it.
Kanji of the week is: 大館 pronounced "oh-dah-te" and is the name of the
city where I am serving now. It literally means big mansion.
For time's sake, I am not including a play by play, but I want you all
to know that God lives and that he is active in this work. He gives to
those who seek and keep is commandments.
Love you all!
The pie and the Polaroid pic in the next pic are going away gifts from a recent convert before Alex left Aizu.

 He had a good time visiting a glass museum and took LOTS of pics. I was glad to see 
that he went to a museum and the lake or whatever those other beautiful photos are of since his p-days 
are often just shopping and stay at home. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Transfer to Odate

Alex didn't send a mass email yesterday since we had a Skype call. 

He looked great and it was fun to talk with him, even though it was the shortest Skype call we've had with him the whole time he's been gone. It was just half an hour. It's our last Skype call before he comes home at the end of October. 
I thought we would have more time so I was waiting to take more pics toward the end, but this is the only good one I got when I snapped a few quickly at the beginning. 

He mentioned that he's transferring to Odate, back up north. There are very few Melchizedek priesthood holders in the branch there so the missionaries are in the branch presidency. Since he didn't send any photos, I found some online of this new area. 

There is a museum dedicated to the Akita dog, considered a national treasure according to things I read. There are many dog statues around the town and the man hole covers have a dog on them.

Then there's this dome that was built so that the heavy snows and strong rains would not disturb their baseball games and other events held inside.

Below is just a train station.
 And it looks like there are many public baths and spas in Odate.
I hope he sends some photos of his area next week.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Truth and Gravity

Gravity is there whether you like it or not. If you try to go against
it, it hurts. If you know the rules of gravity, you can do amazing
things, like acrobatics, or lunar landings. The same is with spiritual
truths. When we go against eternal truths, it hurts, which we call
guilt. That pain doesn't go away until you align yourself with truth.
Once you know the rules, you too, can do much more than you ever could

My scripture of the week is Mosiah 24:15 "And now it came to pass that
the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made
light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their
burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to
all the will of the Lord."
Alex didn't send any photos this time so I found two online of the area where he is

Kanji of the week is: 磁石 pronounced "Jee-shock" and means magnet.

Monday was good, but not too much to write about in the day time. At
night we visited a less active that was really receptive to the
message that we had to share with him, and it was so awesome to see
the Spirit work in him and see him want to change.

Tuesday was a lot of finding, but not much luck. We also had a lesson
with our recent convert. It was good, because we learned a lot about
his conversion story. We didn't have anything else happen after that.

Wednesday we went and biked far away. It was really good, because we
found a less active that was really nice, and that listened to us. He
hasn't come to church in a long time, and didn't know where the new
church building was. Hopefully he starts coming again. English class
was fun.

Thursday was weekly, and after that we did more finding, but not much
else happened according to my remembrance.

Friday was Zone Training Meeting, and we had a great time there. It
was very spiritual, and I was glad that we could learn from great
leaders and missionaries. Then we went back to Aizu and it rained for
a long time. Not much else happened.

Saturday was splits with Elder Mathews. It was fun, although not too
much happened. We did get some good conversations with people on the
street though. Our lesson in the evening with our recent convert was
great, especially because we had a member come and fellowship him.

Sunday was great, and I always love learning about the Gospel and
about Jesus. It was a good day, and we ran into a nice man while
housing. A lot of time went to district leader things.

That's my week. I hope that you all had and will have good weeks! Love you all!



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 ...