Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week Seventeen

Ohayou Gozaimasu, family!

This week has been pretty fun. We have been trying hard to find new investigators, because the Sendai mission has a goal of finding one new investigator per week per companionship. We weren`t able this week to accomplish that, but we did have other success. For example, we were riding past a public park yesterday evening where only two people were playing soccer. Dowdy Choro said that we should probably go back and talk to the people, so we turned around half a block later. As we were talking to them, the father told us that he was a friend of Y (B) from our branch, so he had a good impression of Mormons. He even had been helped by the church and Y

(B) in particular after the tsunami destroyed his home in Ofunato. He was really nice and even let us exchange phone numbers and possibly meet again for soccer, which Dowdy Choro actually enjoys doing, thankfully.

We also went to another touristy area, Genbikei! Like Geibikei, it is a river gorge, but it looks way different. The river goes through a low, rocky canyon with an unusual turquoise colour. I`ll have to send you the pictures, because it`s rather difficult to explain it properly. But it was really fun! We also tried to order the flying dumplings, which is where you put money in a basket, hit a board, and have fresh dumplings sent back to you, but it closed right as we walked up. We`ll perhaps try again on a P-Day in the future. When Dowdy Choro told a store worker that he was from Australia, the guy went and got his 2000 Sydney Olympics picture book that he had taken. We were able to invite him to Eikaiwa, so perhaps we`ll see him again.

We`re hoping to really do a lot of work this week! We have a few lessons set up and will hopefully be able to pick up some new investigators this week. Also, tomorrow we`re going to Hiraizumi for the lego exhibit of World Heritage Sites. I`ll be sure to send you pictures of that too!

Cultural Point: People in Japan traditionally buy souvenirs for everyone back home when they go on vacation, so there`s lots of stuff available to buy. Especially treats with the name of the touristy place on the wrapper. Be prepared for something of that type in gift packages.


Earl Choro

Well, in Japan the traditional thing to do would be to clean my grave and give me some offering, which would seem to indicate the sending of a package of my favourite food. Sounds like things are still fun back home. I`m sure Andrew would be disappointed that Hannah didn`t do everything like that, but it`ll be fine. I knew a lot of people at the MTC who didn`t do any of the stuff like that, and they made it here to Japan at least.

Week Sixteen

Well, this week has been pretty exciting as two new missionaries have come in to Ichinoseki! First of all, my new trainer Dowdy Choro is so cool. The other new missionary is Wolthius Choro, who is actually from Pleasant Grove. He said he had seen me at school before. He`s a football player. (By the way, I think his mom is on the missionary mom`s thing, so you can tell her that he`s probably going to be online at about midnight your time). It`s been really strange having so many gaijin in this town. I feel like I`m learning a lot of new things. For example...

Fun dendo! We were able to go to the touristy resort of Geibikei on Saturday. Because the purpose was dendo, it was OK to do it on a normal day. It was so pretty, it looks like the Chinese landscape paintings. Don`t worry, I took tons of pictures, so be prepared to be bombarded. We were even able to take the boat that they take into the gorge, which was really cool. Our boat drive used a pole to push us through the steep canyon, and she also sang the Geibikei song (which I recorded, but probably won`t be able to send because it`s a huge video). When we got out, you could buy some clay stamped with kanji representing different blessings. You then tried to throw them into a hole on the other side of the river. It`s pretty easy for us gaijin, so I should have a few blessings in store!

We were able to talk to a few people in interesting ways there. I wanted to try the ice cream, so I asked the shop-owner which flavour was best. She told me it was the edamame one (Dowdy Choro was hoping she`d say tofu, but this was sufficiently weird). It really wasn`t that bad, but a mom and her daughter were laughing at me as I ate it. While waiting to take the train back to Ichinoseki, they came onto the same platform! We were able to have a nice conversation, starting with discussing the food, but we were even able to hand out chirashi about the church and Eikaiwa. They were really nice, but they live in Kanto, so hopefully missionaries down there find them.

Also, as we were walking near the station, a woman in a tourist services uniform ran up to us asking if we were baptising people in the area. We didn`t know what she meant by that, but eventually found out that she wanted our help with English tourist brochures. She might come to Eikaiwa where we can help her with that.

We also went to one apartment complex that we felt prompted to visit. At the first door, a little girl came running up when we told her through the door about Eikaiwa. She said she wanted to go, but she`d check with her dad. At the other door, a woman and her three year old baby got to the door. At first, she said she wasn`t interested, but we talked for a bit, and eventually she said that she`d be willing to meet again. Her daughter was so cute, she wouldn`t stop waving to us as we left!

Anyhow, that`s basically my week. It`s becoming really fun, and the new missionaries are really helping me enjoy the area! 

P.S. I`ve started buying souvenirs! Tanoshine kudasai!

Earl Choro

Cultural Point:

Now that it`s harvest season, there are tons of farmers putting rice stalks on poles. I`ll have to get pictures, but it`s very interesting looking. I know this was kind of lame, but I figure the Geibikei story was worth a few cultual points.

[From Zach: I apologize for running behind on updates, I'll be getting back on a schedule soon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week Fifteen

Get ready for a lot of words! I`ll try to go in chronological order of all the stuff that`s happened around here.
First, we had our zone conference up in Morioka. This is the meeting that only happens every three months, so it was really good. We heard nice things about how we should have more faith to bring people into the church and how we should focus more on prayer and the Book of Mormon. We also ate at one of those rotating sushi restaurants. Unfortunately, I don`t have pictures, but it would be somewhat difficult to capture it anyways. It was really cool though! You can take food off of the conveyor belt or order specific items via computer. The computer will ring when your food is moved in front of your table. It was somewhat expensive, but not as bad as I was afraid it would be.
After the zone conference, though, me and Katayama Choro were planning on running to the bus so that we could back to Ichinoseki on time for seminary. However, the mission president gave us a ride in his car instead! While we were driving back, he had us do a mogi (mock lesson, but we always use the Japanese word, so I`ll probably not translate it again). It actually went really well, which of course made me quite happy. He said we had really impressed him!  We were very glad to make it back in time for all of the activities scheduled for the branch.
Also, we were able to teach one lesson. We were able to schedule appointments for the next week with the other investigators and PI`s, so we`ll be busy next week! Also, the Hills are coming soon.. All we know about them is that they love sports, and that Sister Hill doesn`t know Japanese. Should be interesting for her...
The first transfer is finished, so we eagerly awaited the schedule of the new missionaries. The call came, and it turns out that Katayama Choro is getting a new missionary and I`m getting a new Australian trainer, Dowdy Choro! We`ll all be here in Ichinoseki, so it won`t be too difficult. I think the president wanted people in both companionships to know the people who we`ll be talking to. But, I`ll get to go back to Sendai tomorrow for a few hours, so I`m kind of excited about that!

Finally, we`re in the middle of a major typhoon right now, the power went off in our apartment a few times, but at least the church is a beacon of electrical light right now. As we were going shopping this P-day, the power went off in the store. The store clerks had to use simple calculators to add up our purchases, as the storm raged outside. It`s really raining like crazy and the wind is blowing hard, but at least we`re at a reasonably high elevation, so we`ll probably be safe.
Cultural point!
When you leave someone`s house, you either say `ojama shimashita` or `shitsure shimashita`, which both mean `I`m committed a rudeness`. Also, you can say the same thing but with `shimasu` when you enter a house. Then it`s more like `I`m going to be rude`.
Matta ne!
Earl Choro

Week Fourteen

By the way, sorry for not writing yesterday. Hopefully mom didn`t worry. We had tried to, but the door to the branch president`s office was locked. We tried going somewhere else to write, but they closed early, and the elementary school we went to let us in after waiting an hour, but was blocked as a `cult site`, so we had to give up. Usually we can only write on Monday, but thankfully they let us do this if we really tried our best to avoid it. Also, I got an electronic dictionary yesterday. It is so cool! I got it for 5000 yen less than normal, but I figured out yesterday it doesn`t plug in to charge. I`m pretty sure I can get rechargeable batteries for less than 5000 yen though, so I`m still pleased with my deal.

We finally found an investigator that I think has real potential this week! It was such a cool experience too. We had found him on our first P-Day in Ichinoseki, but we couldn`t meet again until just a few days ago. We were only going to give him a paper for church, but he invited us in and let us teach a lesson! Completely unexpected. He also tried giving us drinks, but he only had tea, coffee, and sake, so we just got water (which we were fine with, he felt bad though). He also gave us grapes, cookies, snacks, etc. I love it when that happens! We taught about God and families, because we could tell that family was important to him (he showed us pictures of his daughter who lives in Chicago and him and his wife visiting her). He lives with his wife and adult son, so maybe we`ll be able to teach a family for the first time. He doesn`t believe in God yet, but I felt like he really pondered over our message and might have a chance of being converted. I don`t want to get my hopes up too high right now, but the other foreign missionary in our district said that it is quite unusual.
Also, we went to Morioka for our zone training meeting, which is a much bigger city than Ichinoseki. I wouldn`t mind being transfered there after Ichinoseki. We ate Chinese food there, which was of course delicious.
I got Sichuan Ramen, so it was a lot spicier than anything else I`ve eaten here for a long time. Other than that, we`ve spent the week preparing for the new missionaries coming. There will soon be four of us in the apartment, and two couple missionaries as well! I`m guessing we`ll be almost completely foreign too, other than my trainer. It`ll be interesting for sure.
People in the branch say my Japanese has improved, so I have that at least. Also, I had allergies for a while, but now that I remember to take my pills, it`s completely stopped, thank goodness.
Anyhow, I`ll try sending a few pictures.
Bye bye

I forgot my cultural point again!

This is kind of a funny one too. You remember how Grace used to use those funny onamotepia like `waaa`, `baam`, etc.? Well, the Japanese do the same thing, except it`s normal for them. It`s a part of adult language as well as children`s language in this country. In fact, I`ve heard the exact same ones that Grace has used before. It`s so funny! In Japanese, even emotional states have onamotepia associated with them, which makes it even better! I love this language.

Also, on the crowded train to Morioka (crowded as in there was literally no room for any more people to stand anywhere in the train), I saw a girl who I think is Grace`s sister seperated at birth. She had the same thick, difficult-to-control hair as Grace, the same facial expressions. She even had almost the exact same school uniform that Grace wore to Timpanogos Academy, which is actually fairly rare as most Japanese girls where sailor style suits to school.

Right now, I really am very much enjoying this mission experience. It`s been a good time recently here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Week Thirteen

This week has been pretty exciting. To start, we actually taught a real investigator for the first time! Sasaki San is a small guy who was interested in the church but got sick, so we`re teaching him now. I`ve actually taught him stuff, which has been pretty scary. Even scarier is his apartment, which is in the nastiest apartment complex I`ve ever been to. The spiderwebs are just at my head level. Super creepy. 
Also, we had splits this week, which means that elders from Kitakami, the city north of us, teach with us here in Ichinoseki. That was pretty nice, because I got to go with the other gaijin. While we were out visiting people, we took a shortcut through a Shinto shrine as well as a cemetary. The Japanese are too creeped out by the graveyard and too bored by the shrines to go in them. The shrine was super cool, I`ll try to send a few of my pictures, but it`s hard to capture everything. There`s a place where you tie prayers to, a place to tie bad fortunes to so they don`t come true, as well as a big shrine surrounded by lots of little shrines. Super cool. 
The food`s also been yummy usually, no complaints there. I`ve been more willing to get drinks from the vending machines all around, especially on hotter days. I`ve said it before, but they`re so good! Seriously, go to Da Zhong and get Mitsuya Cider and any other Japanese drinks that you can find. You won`t regret it! Anyhow, that about sums up the week. My companion is annoyed at how often I yawn now, but Japan`s great. The time`s been flying (which right now, I`m perfectly OK with). Bye!
The food here is pretty good, you just need to know how to cook it! Also, the food baskets are very nice to receive from members. We`ve gotten tons of food that way! And yes, it is so hot here, but it`s nicer than when I first got here (either that, or I`m beginning to adapt). The rumor around here is that early next year we`ll all get iPads that we can use in our apartments. 
I think Sendai mission is just about to become more gaijin than Japanese, something the Japanese aren`t necessarily too excited about. In fact, Ichinoseki will go from being mostly Japanese to mostly foreigners once the Hills move in (the senior couple allegedly coming in September or October.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week Eleven

Near the train station here at Ichinoseki.
Hello family! This week has been pretty interesting. As the time goes by, the things that used to seem so unusual and weird about Japan have become less and less strange. I`m pretty sure I`m entering the culture shock phase where I start getting somewhat irritated with things that aren`t like they are in America. Lately, posture has been something I`ve been corrected about constantly. The Japanese can`t stand any deviation from perfect posture, so it`s been somewhat irritating. The food, while delicious, is also kind of unfilling, and I`ve definitely begun to miss the treats you sent me at the MTC. Biking is usually pretty fun, except when it`s extremely hot and humid and I have to go uphill, or when Katayama Choro gets us lost, which happens fairly often. Thankfully, the hot season should be over soon, and then biking will be a lot nicer.

I think it was another festival, but I`m not sure what.
 I think each city around here has it`s own local traditions.
On a better note, we had the firework festival just a few days ago, and since it gets dark much earlier here than in Utah, we actually made it back to our apartment reasonably on time. I have some pictures from the show that I`ll send later, but just know that they were much more spectacular than anything I`ve seen in Utah, even though we`re in backwoods Japan.

I understand more about this city now. One interesting thing about this city is that there`s an unusually high number of mentally ill people! Kind of strange, but usually they`re not dangerous at least. I`m trying to avoid drinking the water; it`s one of those poor areas that people who can leave end up doing. We have a lot of less active members listed, but most of them have moved away to nicer cities where there are jobs. The area is certainly beautiful, though. And the members are very kind, giving us fruit baskets each week as well as drinks when we visit them. The branch mission leader is actually pretty funny. We go every week to have family home evening with him, which means apple curry (not my favorite) and ice cream!

I have to go to many members` houses to do mogis with them, which has been interesting. Hopefully I`ll be able to do real lessons well soon enough. In fact, I`m meeting with a real investigator for the first time tonight, and I`ll be teaching about God and families! Wish me luck!
Also, here`s an ancient house we visited! More than 100 years old.
Japanese culture point (I`ll do one of these a week, I doubt I`ll ever run out of things to say):
In Japan, most people have intercoms on their doorbells, so rather than actually answering the door, they`ll talk to you through it. They can see you, but you can`t see the person inside. I`ll send a picture later. We call it the *not interested* tool.

Anyhow, talk to you later! I`ll be sure to send photos in about four or so hours!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week Ten: Japan!

Decorations for Tanabata Matsuri in Sendai.
Hopefully you`re all doing well! This has been a crazy week so far, but very exciting!

Yummy Japanese meal, yakisoba, rice, pickled cucumber, and miso soup.
When we landed in Tokyo, it was pretty crazy. I thought it looked cool and rainy outside, but it turned out to be very intensely humid and hot. Not fun when you`re wearing a suit. It was fun to wander around Tokyo airport and try some authentic Japanese food and drinks, like Calpis. I can pretty much guarantee that I`ll need weekly trips to the Asian Market to survive after two years here. I`ll talk more about the food later, but anyhow, we flew up to Sendai after not having slept since Saturday night at the MTC, so we were pretty exhausted when we got picked up. After we got there, we went off to the church to fill in some forms for our residence cards and got our luggage ready to be shipped. That night was spent in the mission home apartments, which was pretty crowded considering the 13 additional elders arriving in Sendai. We had a welcome orientation at the church again and I got my new area and companion. I`m now in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, just a bit over an hour by bus away from Sendai, but a world away. My new companion is Elder Katayama, a native Japanese who speaks very little English. Meaning, I`m pretty sure he understands English fairly well, but he speaks almost exclusively in Japanese. After we took our bus to our new area, we met the couple missionaries, the Tanaka`s from Kobe. They are very nice, helping drive us to distant members` homes and other such things.

Here`s a picture of Ichinoseki itself! I`ve taken tons of pictures, but it takes forever to send them. So many interesting things here! Hopefully you weren`t worried about the flooding in Tohoku, but you probably didn`t even hear about it, thank goodness.
Perhaps I should describe Ichinoseki. It`s very small-town Japan. The climate is hot and humid, at least for now, and there are lots of cicadas. It pretty much looks and feels like Missouri, with slightly higher mountains. We also have a few neighbouring cities included in our area, such as Kesennuma which was damaged by the tsunami quite badly. The branch itself is quite small, only around twenty people, but it is fairly successful for Japan, having had a baptism per year for a few years (that`s actually really amazing for this country). I got my bike prepared yesterday, so it`s been fun to use it around this city. It`s very old-country Japan, as you`ll see in the pictures. Apparently, there`re also some World Heritage Site temples just north of here that I`ll hopefully visit sometime.

Anyhow, Japan is great! I`m so happy to be in Tohoku, though I haven`t seen a foreigner for a while now. I`ll be teaching Eikaiwa (English conversation class) on Wednseday, which should be exciting! Anyhow, matta ne!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Dear Parents,

I'm sorry this is impersonal but I wanted to let you know quickly that your missionary arrived late last evening into Sendai.  We met them at the airport and they were all doing great but they were tired after 24 hours of traveling.  They were loaded onto a bus that brought them to the Mission Home where we fed them a light meal and sent them to bed.  Today has been a wonderful day of interviews with President Rasmussen, training and information before they left for their first area of service with their new best friend, their trainer.  Everyone was healthy, happy and excited to finally be in the mission field.  

Preparation Day in the mission is Monday (which is Sunday in America) so you can expect an E-mail from your missionary that day.  I knew you were very anxious to know if they were safe and sound and I hope this E-mail will ease your mind.  

The pictures were taken this afternoon with their trainer before everyone left for their areas.  We had 24 new missionaries arrive so this is a large group.  

We have fallen in love with every one of these new missionaries that have come to us.  They will be a wonderful addition to the Japan Sendai Mission.  Thank you for preparing them so well!

Our love and best wishes, 
Sister Rasmussen
Japan Sendai Mission Mom

Week Nine

So, Seth told me that my emails needed to be longer and with subtitles for the 日本語(Japanese), so here it goes! This week has been somewhat more exciting as we actually prepare to leave this place. Our 先生(teachers) have been preparing us more for actually leaving to Japan, which has been pretty nice. We've learned a bit about Japanese 文化(culture) lately, such as how important it is to have shoes facing towards the door when you take them off, proper words to say when starting a meal( いただきます)and other such things. Yesterday was our in-field orientation, which was fairly nice, just them talking about important things to focus on in the field like how to find investigators and make goals and things like that. It was pretty cheesy most of the time, sometimes overly so. I thought the main speaker was a bit prideful, which made listening to him kind of annoying. It was also weird to see how many English missionaries there were at the MTC, it seems like nearly half of missionaries leaving in the next few days are English speaking, including some going to Provo and St. George. I was so grateful to be going to Japan, especially since almost all the English missionaries seem kind of weird. I hadn't realized that the Japanese missionaries were abnormally interesting people (in general). In the past few weeks, I've been getting to know the other missionaries going to Sendai better, and they all seem pretty cool). It's going to be weird leaving my district behind, since almost all of them are going to Tokyo instead of Sendai. By the way, I'll be buying my phone card today, and it seems that I'll probably be calling you from Dallas around 9:00-10:00 am, so be prepared for that! I'm so excited to head out to Japan, we're all going a bit stir-crazy here. 愛しています!

P.S. We finally got our full Japanese nametags! I'll be sure to send a picture later.

I miss being outside with normal people, though at least I'll be in the real world soon enough.

Well, I won't deny that I'm really excited about having good food (hopefully Cafe Rio at the airport, if it's open (can you figure that out?)), we're going to make Greenburg 長老 try sushi in Narita. I'm also excited to be out of the MTC, it feels like a nice prison sometimes. It seems that it will be pretty warm in Sendai when we get there, which is slightly disappointing, but I don't really care, I'm ready to be gone.

Eating for sure, we'll have sushi, but other than that, probably just look for souvenirs and things.

[Zach: What did people think of the photo album we sent you?]
They said they were surprised. Also, all the shimaitachi thought Hannah was my girlfriend, even though I very clearly said she was my friend. (Though the pictures do admittedly make it look otherwise.) They were like "you're (implied quotation marks) "friend" is pretty cute". And they thought I was a world traveler too.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Week Eight

Nothing much has happened much this week, except for getting our travel plans yesterday! We were hoping to get them on Thursday, but apparently Pioneer Day (which we didn't celebrate here) kept the mail from coming on time. However, it's just great to see that we will be leaving pretty soon! Our itinerary is kind of weird, we leave the MTC at 2:30 am, catch an American Airlines plane to Dallas, after about an hour fly American Airlines again to Tokyo, and then fly to Sendai on ANA after about five hours in Narita. It's going to be pretty crazy. The rest of our district, the one's going to Tokyo, are flying through LAX, but they don't even leave the MTC until around 11 am, so we'll actually arrive in our mission before them! I made a chart of our flight plans converted into Utah and Japan time, so I'll send that sometime later. After getting our plans, it's been so much harder to focus on anything, because all any of us can think of is actually going to Japan. 
We also had a leaving devotional for Japanese missionaries, and it was amazing. We heard about how Heber J. Grant had declared that Japan would be one of the countries where missionary work becomes most successful. After hearing that, and how they believe that Japan is now ready to really receive the gospel, we all knew we had been called to the best mission. It'll be kind of sad to say good bye to all the missionaries going to other parts of Japan, but it's still really amazing to finally start doing the work in Japan. 
I hadn't actually heard from Andrew yet, but based on what he said to Aunt Cheryl, it seems that he's been super busy. It's crazy what his experience has been like, good thing it's easy to enter Japan. Not much else to say, I'll probably be spending the next week packing and finding things to ship back home. Tell Eliza I sent her a real letter. If you have any questions, I'll be on for a bit, and I'll come back on around three as well (can't stay on too long due to laundry). 待ったね!

We arrive in Sendai at about 8 pm their time, so at least we'll be able to sleep once we make it to Japan. The Tokyo group doesn't get to Tokyo until 11 pm! We've been looking at Sendai and can tell that it's the most amazing city. The MTC is fine, but it gets really boring after a while. Sometimes it feels like time doesn't really exist here. I think we've started going a bit crazy, the funnest thing we've done recently is feed a sparrow out of our hands (the birds here are really friendly).

Yeah, we've heard that we are going to have two days at the mission home, and then right to our area, which could be way far from Sendai. I actually have to go now, but we'll be back at 3:00 or so. Be ready!

I miss decent food. The food here is normally fine, but it's extremely repetitive, so I'm getting very bored of it. Our district is probably the most loved in the MTC, I've never seen another group get more packages and letters. I'm pretty sure Snow Shimai alone gets more than most other districts.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Week Seven

おはいようございます!This week has been pretty interesting, now that everyone seems to be going. It was pretty sad to see Andrew and Carlin leave. On the last day, Carlin told me he had a few Chinese grammer books to give me, and so I went to the Chinese residency to pick them up. It was a bit crazy, though, because the Chinese take forever to leave their classrooms, so we ended up leaving their apartment around 10:15, which is when we're supposed to be in our rooms. We still made it back before it was too late, at least. I think they were ready to leave, though. 
After a while, this place can get pretty boring, with the same schedule week after week. Sometimes, it feels like nothing is really happening here. Wednesday was pretty crazy, though. New Japanese missionaries finally came in, this time heading to the northern missions that we're going to. As usual, I was hosting, and I finally got to host someone going to Japan, which was cool even though he wasn't going to Sendai. My other people were going to Tempe, Boise (Spanish speaking, native speaker), and Sydney. The amount of people going to Japan keeps growing, which is pretty exciting! 
Also on Wednesday, we had TRC with real Japanese people via Skype. We had gotten a letter informing us of the change from TRC with people here and Skype TRC, but it hadn't provided us with a time, so we didn't know when we'd be doing it. Then, on Wednesday, an MTC employee came in to our classroom to tell us we had five minutes to get to the computer lab to start talking to the Japanese people. Some people were pretty stressed, but it ended up being really interesting. Our video feed worked poorly, so me and Greenburg Choro had a bit of difficulty understanding a lot of what our person was learning. She was pretty nice though, and she spoke a tiny bit of English. She was in Kobe, so she said some things a bit differently, but it was overall a great experience. 
Right now, we're all waiting on travel plans that should be arriving on Thursday of next week. That's pretty much the only exciting thing happening for a while. Also, I was told I couldn't have my name written in Kanji because Earl in Japanese would seem like a prideful title. That was kind of disappointing, but I can sort of understand. I'll say more in later emails today, but I'll probably have to retrieve laundry soon. 待ったねえ!

It'll be sad to say goodbye to the majority of my district, but other than that, it will be extremely wonderful to leave.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Week Six

こんにちは! This week has seemed longer than the other ones, but things are still going well. All of us are getting a little bit bored of the MTC, but we still have a lot to learn, so it's OK. Right now, we've begun having other missionaries teach and be taught by each other  so me and Greenburg Choro are teaching Snow Shimai with Day Shimai acting as a church member. Snow Shimai is being a neighbour of hers from Midway and it has been interesting. We've gotten her to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about the restoration. They've said our lessons have been pretty good, but our latest lesson was taught in an empty classroom in the Spanish building, which was interupted by a group of four elders sitting in and watching us teach in Japanese. Eventually their teacher took them to the correct classroom, but it was a bit more scary teaching in front of an audience. I've been acting as Daniel Parrish, which is apparently the same person Andrew had chosen, which I hadn't known about (he had said he was being a church member). Snow and Day Shimai's lessons have been very good, but we'll see if they can convince me to be become a full member of the church. Our lessons to our teachers have also gone well, though we only taught twice this week. Komeda San forgot about our lesson on the Word of Wisdom, so we had to re-explain everything to her, which was a bit annoying though the lesson ended up being really good in my opinion. We also taught Shohei Kun about the Word of Wisdom, which he was willing to follow, since he is too young to have started any of the really bad stuff. 
In other news, Greenburg Choro was allowed to receive a Kanji name for his tag, so I'm going to try to write them again and see if I'll be able to get a Kanji name printed in time. I never thought they'd allow us to do that, so I hadn't even tried, but hopefully I'll get to be 伯爵 Choro. Yesterday, we had an English fast, which meant we could only speak in Japanese. It was really long and difficult, but it was interesting. We had to speak in Japanese to a few police officers, but they eventually understood what we were saying. Pretty much everyone I know outside our district is leaving on Monday or Tuesday, which is pretty sad, but I'll get to see Andrew and Carlin in the basement of our classroom building on Monday night, so we'll get to say our final good-byes. Right now, all I want to do is go to Japan and start doing stuff like them, but I'll keep working to be prepared to go there. またね!

Our district and Tingey Sensei with the candy Snow Shimai's mom sent each of us.

It was a bit rainy last Sunday, so we got this picture too.

Here's me and another Elder Earl. He's going to the Czech Republic. I don't think he's actually related to us, but he wanted a picture, and I got one too.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

FHE Reunion and Naming

Kirk was able to get a picture with everyone who was in his FHE group while at BYU!

Email from the Sendai Mission:

Just a note from the Mission office requesting your assistance on a couple of items.

#1   We have to order your name tags and meishi (business cards) within the next 2 weeks.  In doing so, we need your name, as you would prefer it written, in Katakana.  If you do not have a preference or do not know how to do this, then we will do it for you.  I need you to respond to this email ASAP (please,  within a week) so  I can get the process rolling.  With 24 missionaries coming in August, the printing companies are requesting more time to prepare the cards and tags.  If we don’t hear back from you by July 17th, we will process your Katakana name with the best guess of our resident Japanese office experts.  J

#2  We also need your name as printed on your passport in English and Katakana.  So if you take care of my first request, that will pretty much take care of the second as well.  I feel your pain with the Japanese language, so I’m trying to make this as easy as possible. 

We are so excited to welcome you to Sendai!  You will love our mission!!!  The rainy season should be over by the time you get here, and you will get to enjoy the heat and humidity of August and September!  Yeah!  We’re all looking forward to that one.  ;-)

God bless you as you continue your studies in the MTC.  Your efforts there will pay huge dividends when you begin serving in Japan. 

Much love,

Sister Rollins  

And Kirk's response:

おはようございます!Some of us were actually going to email about whether we could choose our katakana names, so thanks so much for this! My full passport name is Kirk Montgomery Earl, and my Japanese name that I'd like to have used is カーク*アール. We're all excited to go to Japan in about a month, Sendai's going to be great. ありがとうございます!

Just in case you were wondering, Kirk's Japanese name カーク アール is pronounced Kāku Āru.

Week Five

This has been a pretty interesting week, especially with the 4th. I thought we probably wouldn't do much, but they actually let us out of class early so that we could watch a real movie (17 Miracles, about the handcart companies). It was pretty cool. It finished at 10, which is when we normally are supposed to be in our dorms, but then we got to go outside and watch the fireworks, which didn't finish until around 11:00! It was pretty crazy.
Other than that, this week has been pretty normal, but good. The Japanese is slowly improving, which is always good. 
We've been teaching our two teachers lately, and it normally has been good, but one of our "investigators" is addicted to tobacco, which we hadn't realized until we started talking about the Word of Wisdom, so that has been kind of difficult. We also got to teach at the TRC for the first time, which was pretty interesting. We didn't really know what to expect, but our lesson went reasonably well, considering we were teaching an RM playing himself. 
By the way, Andrew and Carlin should have gotten their travel plans yesterday, so Andrew will probably email the details on Monday. I haven't seen him since yesterday afternoon, but he had said they were getting them that night, and everyone I know leaving at the same time have their plans. By the way, yesterday we decided to randomly wear our rain jackets to class for no reason whatsoever, and that night it was very stormy on the way home from class. It was much more comfortable with our jackets! By the way, does mine have a hood? I haven't been able to find one. 

I showed Elder Cottle the thing you had put in the ward newsletter, and he was laughing. His mom apparently has showed all the parents of our district members his blog, so we know how popular his post has been in the real world. I got to host again this week, and only one was going on a foreign language mission, with ones going to Brazil, West Indies, Long Beach, and Pocatello (poor elder). Andrew and Carlin also hosted for the first time, they hadn't realized that you don't actually need to be invited to host, you can just go up whenever! I think that's all to talk about this week, you can email me any additional questions.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week Four

Kirk is on his fourth week in the Provo MTC, and was able to send these letters to us.

Good morning, family. This week has been pretty good, especially since the new Japanese kohai came this week. They're really increasing the number of Japanese missionaries, with 28 new ones in our branch alone. I also got to host this week, which Andrew was pretty jealous about. The ones I hosted for were going to Chicago, Tacoma, Sao Paulo, Tucson, and Tampa. A lot of them were recent high school graduates, which was pretty interesting. Other than that, this has been a fairly normal week here. It was fun seeing you all at the missionary thing at the Marriott Center. I'm glad I'll get to use the Internet and Facebook still! It's been really [hot] here and we don't have any access to weather reports, but my teacher's phone said it got to 100 yesterday. I'm kind of excited to go to Sendai, where I can see that it hasn't gone above 80 yet. By the way, you may not have heard this, but missionary clothing has been updated, so we're allowed to wear khakis but not allowed to wear backpacks anymore. On another topic, I learned from the LDS's statement on their website that the Supreme Court ruled on Prop. 8, but the way it was worded doesn't tell me much about what actually happened, like how the votes were split and what the reasoning was. [See here for the statement] I'm kind of disappointed you didn't send me anything about it, but I'll forgive you somehow. By the way, I've realized that some of the people in our district are like people in our family; Greenburg Choro is like Zachary, Cottle Choro is like Seth, and Jaycox Choro is like dad (except dad usually doesn't say that he hates people in public). Cottle Choro's blog post has also been really popular among the missionary moms apparently, because a few of us have heard about it, so if you can send it, I'd like to know what all the fuss is about. [The post he's talking about is here:] I'll be online for about fifteen more minutes and after our last temple trip, so feel free to respond. Bye!

In reply to news that Lindon's water is contaminated with E. coli: Delicious [For story see here:]

I told Kirk that he needed to send some funny stories, and here they are:

Well, a few weeks ago, one of the shimaitachi in our district got a watermelon shipped in from her parents. We managed to get the cafeteria staff to slice it up for us, so we got an entire tray of watermelon sitting on our table. We had eaten all we could and still had a lot left, so Snow Shimai told us to try to get other people to eat our watermelon. Greenburg Choro finally asked just one person if he wanted watermelon: the one black elder in the MTC. You should have seen Greenburg Choro's face after that.

Also, Greenburg Choro was trying to see if he could fit a cup in his mouth, which he easily did. I tried to do the same afterwards, but right at that moment, all the shimaitachi looked at me, and didn't see anything of what Greenburg Choro had done. So basically, they thought I had just stuck a cup into my mouth for no reason. It was totemo kimazui.
 I really miss swimming. It feels really hot here, but we don't have access to how hot it really is.

There's a lot of Chinese speaking missionaries around here, but not as many as the Japanese!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Elder Logan Cottle's Letter

Elder Logan Cottle, a choro (elder) in Kirk's district sent this letter to his mother. With permission, here is an excerpt about Kirk:

"...i was frusturated and felt that we had taken a step back and hadn't gone anywhere with the lesson and that we were just at the same spot as we were and i was just kind of bummed out. so we came back to class and the next thing we had planned for the night was to go and meet with a guy who is like the boss of the entire korean and japanese language districts.  he was a younger guy..not married but really cool.  we sat down and of course, all japanese, he began to ask us why the plan of salvation was so important and we began having a really good discussion about the plan of salvation.  he had us practice teaching it to each other as companions a couple of times, and had us really focus on the spirit, annndd only explain it using 6 sentences! it was hard..but the spirit built so strong! he then had earl choro (the one mom knows) come up to the front and it was all quiet and the teacher said "earl choro, i don't know why i had you come up here, but the spirit testified to me that i need to learn from you today. i dont know why, but there is something that i need to learn from you today that spirit is telling me so strongly. sit and think, let the spirit tell you what to say and help me today." there was a long pause, and just so you know earl choro is the kindest sweetest guy here, wouldn't hurt a fly, but he isnt the most social and doesn't talk alot. he then started to explain the plan of happiness and about the atonement and about how incredible it is that through that, we can return to live with our heavenly father. he then talked about how nobody is perfect and we have all made mistakes but no matter how big the mistake, we can always find christ, and he testified of that.  the spirit was so strong as the was just a long quiet pause, the teacher started tearing up and he just said arigato(thank you) earl choro. arigato.  i didn't even realize that at this same time im all teared up and i could not help but feel that the heavenly father had brought this strong spirit to this meeting to strengthen me, since i had had a hard day, and possibly other missionaries in our district who i wasn't aware were struggling too.  there have not been many times in my life that i have felt the spirit so strongly...."

-Elder Logan Cottle
Tokyo, Japan Mission

Week Three

日本語を作るよにいいですか?I finally found out how to type in Japanese on these computers, so that's been interesting. This week has been pretty good, but things aren't changing as much anymore, so I'm not really sure what to say. Instead of teaching just one investigator, we're teaching both of our teachers, Gregory 先生 and Tingey 先生. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures with them, but I'll be sure to get some soon. 
We might be starting to go to the TRC today, but our 先生 are being ずるい so we don't know for sure. The 大先輩 leave on Monday, so soon we'll be upgraded to 先輩!(Basically, the oldest generation of Japanese missionaries is leaving, so we'll become seniors!) The next group of Japanese missionaries is also rumored to be entering this Wednesday. I don't know if you've heard, but the country with the most missionaries preparing to enter it here in the MTC right now is 日本!We have three branches of five districts each while the Chinese only have two branches of four districts each. The hymnbooks also finally arrived at our bookstore, so people in our district have been buying them. Thank goodness I had mine before I got here! There's quite a few songs that they don't have in English, such as the popular "Waiting for the Reapers". You'll have to find a Japanese hymnbook and learn it, all the Japanese missionaries love it here. 
Oh yeah, there's some norovirus or something spreading around the MTC, so we're kind of on health alert, with handshakes and hugs now forbidden. I'll possibly see you from across the Mariott Center tomorrow. 愛しています!

こんにちわ!お元気ですか?私はすばらしいです!Andrew didn't want his birthday cake, but I still gave left it in his classroom. My district ate a little bit of it, but the cake was huge enough that there was still plenty  for his district and the Tongans as well.

He just didn't want his district to know it was his birthday. And I'm pretty sure he was happy about it, he just didn't want to admit it.

With some help from Google Translate:
日本語を作るよにいいですか? = Nihongo o tsukuru yo ni īdesu ka = Is it good to make a yo Japanese?
先生 = Teacher = sensei
大先輩 = Dai senpai = big senior (student)
先輩 = senpai = senior
日本 = Nihon = Japan
愛しています = Aishiteimasu = I love you
こんにちわ!お元気ですか?私はすばらしいです = Kon'nichiwa! Ogenkidesuka? Watashi wa subarashīdesu = Hello! How are you? I'm wonderful

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week Two

Ohayo family, this week has been pretty good. I finally got my camera to get pictures onto these computers, so that's been a good thing. My Japanese has improved quite a bit, which I am very happy about. By the way, at the MTC, our main focus of every day is the lessons we have to teach to our investigators. We'd been teaching Tominaga-san for about a week, but now he's going to be replaced by our teacher, Gregory-sensei. We were really happy about convincing Tominaga-san to give up drinking and getting him ready for baptism, but now we'll have to start from scratch again. 

Thanks for the cheezits, the other chorotachi have almost eaten all of them. By the way, just a few hours after sending the emails last week, I saw Carlin walking down the stairs in my building. It turns out he'd been in the same building the whole time. He also told me that he and Andrew's classrooms were on the floor below mine, so I went and saw Andrew! You might have already heard all of this, but I was pretty happy about it, and he seemed pretty happy. We've seen each-other almost every day since then, like both times at choir practice, which I have been going to! 

I saw Clement Shimai come into the MTC, and she seems to be doing pretty well. We've also had a group of real Japanese missionaries come in, though they'll only be here for a few weeks. They seem to understand our Japanese pretty easily, though I think they laugh at our accent. Some of them from Nara, and one of them even recognized Nishiyamato Gakuen. They think my name is pretty difficult to say, so it's a good thing I'll get a katakana name once I have my fully Japanese name-tag. Our district seems to have unusually good Japanese, even though we're kohai. Some of the daisenpai seem to have much worse Japanese than us (the three "generations" of Japanese missionaries at the MTC are called kohai, senpai, and daisenpai). 

Also, everyone thinks Eliza's letters are adorable. Don't tell her that other people see them, though, or she'll probably be pretty mad! I don't think I need anything else right now, and I think things are going about perfectly here. Mata ne!

My District:
From left to right, Jaycox, Von Niederhauzern, Cottle, Greenburg, me, and Olsen Chorotachi (Elders), and Ivory, Haderlie, Snow, Christensen, Moss, and Day Shimaitachi (Sisters).

Me and my friend/former roommate Elder Humphries:

Last Saturday, I found Carlin while walking down the stairs in my classroom building. It turns out that he'd been in the same building the whole time!

My cousin Andrew and I:

Carlin told me where Andrew's classroom is, and it turns out that he's been in the floor below me too. I've seen him almost every day since then.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week One

Kirk with Sister Merrill, an MTC worker in our ward.

Konnichiwa! It turns out that today is my P-day, you probably weren't expecting me to write so soon. The MTC has been pretty good so far. My companion is Elder Greenburg, who I knew from Startalk. I think we've gotten along pretty well so far. Our district has 12 people in it, six chorotatchi (elders) and six shimaitatchi (sisters). All the sisters and three of the elders in our district are going to Tokyo. Class has been pretty intensive; our teacher only speaks Japanese and we're supposed to use as much Japanese as we can possibly use, meaning if we know a Japanese word, we're supposed to use it. I really like our teacher, Gregory-sensei, he's always cheerful and has so far kept from using English.
I still haven't seen Andrew or Carlin yet, even though I've seen people from their districts for sure. I've seen nearly everyone else I expected to see here, though, and I'm hoping I'll see them pretty soon. Our living space isn't nearly as crowded as I was afraid it was going to be. Only the six chorotatchi from my district are in our room. Everyone keeps saying that today is supposed to be the worst day of our lives so far, but it really hasn't been bad at all so far, so I'm pretty happy. Our district gets along really well, which is always a good thing when you're stuck with them for the entire day. When you get to the MTC, you start teaching an investigator on your second day, and our district is currently teaching Tominaga-san. Our appointment with him went pretty well, except for how we kind of walked into his "house" without knocking first and left our scriptures in our classroom. He acted like he understood most of our Japanese and we managed to teach him how to pray, somehow. Tonight, we're going to teach him about the holy ghost. Hopefully it goes better!
By the way, we eat meals really early, in fact dinner is at 4:10, so I'm usually pretty hungry at night time, so unlike Andrew, I'll be very happy to accept food! Also, thanks for the new towel, the one you sent me felt like a shower curtain. My departure date has turned out to be August 5, so you might want to use that if you want to send stuff in the future, though I've gotten everything you've sent so far, I'm pretty sure. I've taken quite a few pictures too, but I'm not sure how to attach them. Hopefully, you'll be getting another email with pictures in a few minutes. I love you all, and tell Eliza thanks for the daily messages.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Last movie before being set apart! 

 Going to the Timp temple the day before.


Right after getting set apart 

No hugs allowed. :( 
 Last time with Copper for two years.

Last hugs! 

Driving into the MTC.