Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Travel Log: Getting to Brisbane

I tried to figure out the best way to share my girls trip experience in Australia and all my photos, well, some of my photos. I decided that I'd do a travel log of each day and have enough info that someone who is planning to travel there who has never been will find it helpful. But it will probably have more info than anyone not planning a trip there will want to read so feel free to skim or just look at the photos. 

We bought tickets from LA to Brisbane, but we live in Utah. We were gonna buy tickets from Salt Lake to LA, but it would be cheaper to drive to LA and spend the night at a hotel.

So we drove though Utah, into a corner of Arizona, through all of Nevada, hitting HORRIBLE traffic just west of Las Vegas with all the California drivers going back home after a weekend in Vegas. We were at 0-17 mph traffic for 2 hours through the rest of Nevada and into California. And driving straight into the sun. We finally got to the hotel in LA and checked in, had dinner at a restaurant across the street and went to bed. 
Our view from the hotel room window, zoomed in
The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel and then checked out. Sabrina wanted an adult coloring book and we needed some last minute things so we went to a couple of stores. I tried to buy Sabrina's book with my debit card. The register wouldn't accept it. We went out to the parking lot and I called my credit union. I had gone to the credit union the day before I left to let them know that I was traveling and to pick up my new debit card. There was a problem with my PIN and they had to fix it over the phone and it was a long phone call with them trying to figure out what was going on. I was worried because I wanted to use it in Australia, but finally that was taken care of. 

Then we went to Manhattan Beach and actually found one open spot in the small parking lot right next to the pier. And that spot had 35 minutes left on the meter. We walked on the pier and took pics, but we didn't want to get wet and sandy right before the long flight so we didn't get in the water. 






 The beach was right there and it was sad to not get in. It was cloudy and windy and chilly though so not many people were in the water. 






We drove around for a while trying to find a place to eat lunch. We actually passed a Cafe Rio (super popular in Utah and other places), but we wanted to try something new so we drove on. We finally ended up just getting pizza since one of my daughters is super picky. 

From there, we went over to the long term parking. My girls said it was way too early, but I wanted to be early to avoid last minute problems since I had read online that the shuttles take a long time to come. Good thing! It took us a while to get our things from the stores together and into our bags and put locks on bags (took a while to open the packages to get the new locks out). Then we went to a shuttle stop where it got darker and colder. The shuttle didn't come and didn't come so we moved to another stop and then we finally got picked up. We got off the shuttle at the wrong terminal and were totally lost. After walking around a bit, I found someone to ask and they told us to go 2 terminals down. We rushed over there. Okay, I rushed with my girls trailing far behind me like they did the ENTIRE trip. Then we stood in line a bit for check-in. During check-in realized that we have 1 bag per person allowance and we have 4 bags. How did I not thin of that? We were gonna be charged $170 for the extra bag. I asked about something on my reservation papers that said extra bag $1 if prepaid so the associate actually helped me "pre-pay" for that bag online on my phone as I stayed right there holding up the line. Way nice! 

We went up to security and were one person away from going through the body scanner when they decided the line was getting too long so they sent us over to just the metal detector to walk through. We quickly found the correct gate since it said Air New Zealand it was going to Brisbane. We sat there and I found 2 missionaries and a lady from Springville. I took my usual missionary photo and texted it to mom. After a while sitting there, I figured out that they were calling for NZ flight 1 and we were NZ flight 5. Wrong gate. We went down to our correct gate and still had time to sit and wait for a while.

We got on the plane for our long 12 1/2 hour flight and on each seat was a blanket, a pillow and headphones for the movies, TV shows and music that we could choose from on the screen at each seat. Anyone who has flown knows that you have to sit through the safety instructions from the flight attendants. Well, Air New Zealand has a different way of sharing their safety rules. We got to watch this video at the beginning of both flights there and both flights back. On the plane it actually has captions so it was easier to understand than the video below that doesn't include them.


Air New Zealand has apparently been using unique safety videos for a while, as you'll see if you search it on YouTube. 

A 12 hour flight with very little leg room even in the "extra room" seats we had was really long.  Near the beginning of the flight, we had dinner. There was a choice between lasagna and chicken. All 3 of us chose lasagna that came with a roll and with hazelnut mousse so Sabrina (whose allergic to all nuts) couldn't eat it and she was bummed because she likes sweets.
Sisters sleeping on each other
After dinner, they dimmed the lights so those who wanted to sleep could. We left LA at almost 11 pm so most people were ready to sleep. I have never slept on a plane before, no matter how tired I was so I took a sleeping pill and actually got a little sleep after watching a movie. I woke up on time to watch some more movies before breakfast. They had a hot option of scrambled eggs and a cold option with fruit and yogurt. Breakfast included a carrot muffin. I asked the attendant if they had nuts. She didn't know. The well-meaning lady then told me that I cold request a gluten-free meal for her next time. I told her she was fine with gluten, not nuts. All the special meal options online were kosher meal, vegetarian meal or gluten-free. Nothing about nuts. 

We had left LA at night on the 13th and got to New Zealand on June 15 due to date change and long flight. It was still dark and cloudy when we touched down so we couldn't see much of New Zealand. Just enough to see that it is very green. We had to go through security there before we could get to our gate. While in line, I asked a security screener if we had to take off our shoes. "No. That's an American thing." 

When we got to our terminal, I checked the screen with the flights, determined not to go to the wrong gate this time. I see our flight and instead of saying a gate number it says, "Relax". All part of the New Zealand way of life. I asked someone at the counter and they said that it's a small airport so they don't announce the gate until an hour before the plane leaves. Finally, the screen told us which gate to go to. As we waited for next flight, the sun started coming out and we saw a rainbow. 

They boarded us all a bit late. The flight was 3 hours with another meal and then we were in Australia. They checked our passports quickly and we went to baggage claim. On the questionnaire everyone flying into the country has to fill out, the first question was "Do you have medicine, illegal drugs, illegal weapons..." Since we had Sabrina's inhaler, and migraine medicine and sleeping medicine, I had to check yes. That was a strange question to me since there's a big difference between bringing in medicine and an illegal weapon or drugs. Since we checked yes, we got to have our bags and us sniffed by a cute, but professional dog. Then we headed to an ATM to get Aussie dollars. I had read online that it saves money to use an ATM to get Australian dollars than it is to bring American dollars and exchange it. We headed right outside to get a taxi and there was one waiting there. Tony from India was friendly, but he didn't understand what I was saying some of the time. He dropped us off at our hotel for Day 1 in Brisbane, which I'll write about in another post. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quick Note

Another week with a very brief letter, but at least he sent a few photos this time. He wrote this part in his letter to me:

The investigator with the baptismal date is going through some tough times right now, but he's still a good investigator. We're also finding a lot, and doing lots of work. I am doing well, and am really happy to be working as a missionary, and so sad with how fast the time has gone. I'm happy to just be in the moment though.



To everyone:
This week was another great week, and there is too much to write in a
letter back home.

I haven't chosen a scripture of the week yet, so I can't include that.

Kanji of the week is: お茶 pronounced "oh-cha" and means tea.

This week has been a great week for learning of the power of God, and
I have no doubt that He is there, that He loves us, and that he is
with us every step of the way--even when we can't see it. Please,
deepen your relationship with Him, because when you try to get close
to Him, He will come closer to you! I promise you that this is a true
principle. Have a great week!

Love,

Elder 



Crab flavored ramen from Hokkaido

Treat from a member

Ohm-rice that I made 
A burger with cream cheese sauce

Tonkatau made by Elder S (my companion)

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Transfer, Same Area

I'm late posting Alex's latest email because I was on vacation in Australia. I have lots of photos to post from my trip, but I am not very good about making time to blog lately. I was able to see a few missionaries in the airports and took photos to send home, but I didn't see a single missionary in Australia, even at the temple. 

Alex didn't write much and didn't send any pics at all.  So this is a very short post. 

To everyone:
This transfer nothing is changing in my area. My companion is becoming
the district leader. I'm glad to work in Odate for another six weeks.

With the whole transfer schedule though, I don't have too much time to
email at the moment, so I'll just leave it at that.

Kanji of the week is: 中華 pronounced "chu-ka" and is used for things
that are Chinese, such as cuisine or such.

I love you all and wish you a good week!

Love,
Elder 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hard Work




 As humans, we tend to be--to some degree or another--lazy. We don't
want to plant all day in the hot sun, so we make machines that do it
for us. I am not saying technology is bad, because without technology
I couldn't be writing to you all in this way. However, it goes to show
that we tend to want a life of easy. What I've come to find out
though, is that those initial thoughts of wanting to do things the
"easy way" are actually the harder way in the end. As President Benson
once said, "there is no satisfactory substitute to work." We feel so
much more accomplished, so much more relaxed, after a good day of
exerting all our efforts. As crazy as it might sound, it's true. If
you don't believe me, try it out; nothing bad will come of it, I
promise.

Scripture of the week is Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3 Yea, behold, I
will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which
shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold,
this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which
Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry
ground.

Kanji of the week is: 勤勉 pronounced "keen-ben," and means diligence.

Monday was district p-day, and that was fun. We went to an owl cafe,
where you basically get a drink or some food, and then you have around
an hour to roam around the owls they have. They had really small ones,
and really big ones. You could pet them, and hold them. In the evening
we went around to visit people, and got a good lesson in with one of
our investigators. We also found some good potential investigators.

Tuesday we had service as usual, and they were great again. Then we
did a lot of finding, got some good conversations in with people, and
even met two middle school students who, when we asked them what they
thought the purpose of life was, said, "this life is given to us from
God, so we should use our time wisely, and serve others." They were
great kids, and very deep thinkers for 13-ish year old children.

Wednesday we went and had a good lesson with a less active, followed
by weekly planning. After weekly planning, we went to family home
evening with a member. Then, we had English class. As always, I love
English class, and I love the students even more.

Thursday was district training meeting. We had a fun time, and learned
a lot. Following that, we started splits. I was in Hirosaki with Elder
C. We had a good fun time, and even found them a good potential
investigator. They've been finding a lot of investigators for the
sisters lately, so he was happy to have someone new to teach.


Friday was spent mostly in Aomori for interviews. I love the Smith's
and their love for the gospel; it truly is a strength to all those
around them. When we got back, we did some finding, but not much to
talk about there.

Saturday was pretty busy with district conference meetings, and that
took up the majority of the day. We were able to meet an investigator
before hand, and went to lunch with him. He is a great guy, and when
we told him about repentance, and how it can help him become a better
person, and improve, he said that he really wanted to do it! The
gospel can truly change people. After the meetings, we met with an
investigator, who is really smart, and has a knowledge of just about
everything in the church because he read the "guide to the scriptures"
before attempting to read the Book of Mormon so that he would
understand it more.

Sunday we had a lot more time for finding, and we went to one
apartment building that had three people almost in a row accept us,
and a Book of Mormon. We only got one appointment set up, but the
other two were okay with us going back and talking, if they were ever
free. The rest of the day was tough as far as finding goes, but it
wasn't bad.

Can't believe that it's already been five weeks since I came to Odate,
and only one more week in the transfer. I want to work as hard as I
can, and will give my best to my Father in Heaven.

Have a great week!

Love,

Elder  

長老
A small gift given to us by the Seza family (the husband is
President Smith's first counselor).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Loving God

Alex said that for their district p-day activity yesterday (Monday in Japan), they went to an owl bar where you pay to get in and get unlimited drinks and "all you can pet and hold owls". I've never heard of such a thing. He was excited about it and even said. "I love owls!" 

He even sent a short video, but I


I was reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage the other day, and he talked about the first great commandment, to love God with all
your heart, might, mind, and strength. He said that this one
commandment encompasses all the commandments, for if you love God, you
will do what He asks. It also implies that you don't do it just to do
it. As I've heard it explained before, the commandment includes the
inward hear and mind, not just the outward might and strength. The
more we learn about the true nature of God, the more we will come to
love Him, for He is truly a perfect Father, full of love, mercy, and
patience. My invitation to you all is to learn to love God with all
your heart, might, mind, and strength.



Scripture of the week is Mathew 22:36-39, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."


Kanji of the week is: 臨死体験 pronounced "reen-shee-tai-ken" and means near death experience. For those who might worry: no, I didn't have a near death experience this week.


Monday was as all Monday's go, and we mostly just relaxed in the
apartment during the preparation day part of it. In the evening, it
was too wet for us to use our bikes, so we walked around and tried to find someone interested at home. There were some that were, but
everyone was busy, and couldn't make any promises. We also tried to visit an investigator, but he had just gotten home from grocery
shopping. We did make a visit for that Thursday though.

Tuesday we had service, as usual, and that was fun. We then went to try and visit some potential investigators, and to house, but not much came of it. Shortly after starting our departure from the area, it started raining, and rained for the rest of the day. We felt like we
should go visit a less active member, so we walked there, but the wife didn't want us to come over anymore. We then houses in the area for a bit, but nothing else really happened.

Wednesday was also rainy, off an on all day. We walked over to visit a less active, and had a good talk with him about family history. Then we went and had a lesson with a different investigator. It was a good lesson, but he's been struggling with commitments as of late. We'll keep helping him though. After that we did most of weekly planning, and went to a members house for family home evening. That was also fun, as it always is. Then we had English class, which was about the same as every week since I've come to Japan.

Thursday we went to Hirosaki in the morning, and had splits. I was in Hirosaki with Elder S. We had a lesson with a less active
member, which went really well, and tried to visit some potential
investigators, which were all not home. Not much else to say about
splits.

Friday we had zone training meeting, which is always a great spiritual experience. Afterwards, we had lunch made for us by the Shortleff's, a couple missionary for military relations. Because they have access to cheap American food, we had taco salad, and it was super delicious. Those back home won't fully understand why, since it seems so normal, but it was a commodity here. I love Japanese food, its delicious, but it was good to have American food again. We then finished weekly while waiting for our train, went home, and tried to find again, with not too much luck. We did meet a really nice family, who have meet with missionaries in the past. We're going to try and start something up with them soon.

Saturday was a lot of finding, with not too many things happening in that time. It was a good day though. We had English class in the
evening, and afterwards went to dinner with a student. He took us to a famous restaurant throughout Japan, although I can't remember the name. They are mainly famous for their Oyakodon, which is a dish consisting of chicken and eggs (scrambled, for lack of a better term) on top of rice. It was delicious! He's such a nice guy.

Sunday was pretty busy, we met with an investigator family of the
sisters' to help build more of s relationship, and have them come to
church. The wife taught us origami, and the husband entertained us
with his humor. The rest of they day was finding, and that was good, although not too much to report.

That's my week! I hope you all got something out of it, and remember to learn to love God, because there is so much to love!

Love,

Elder 

 長老










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