Sunday, December 14, 2014

Another Freezing Transfer in Yonezawa!


The transfer has come to an end, and my companionship is one of the few in the mission not changing at all! While I`m not going to enjoy the constant snow that has been falling for the past few weeks, I am grateful to not be losing my good investigators! Also, a new missionary is being trained in the other companionship, so it will be interesting to see what that`s like!

On Tuesday, we had our Christmas Zone Conference in Yamagata with all missionaries in Yamagata and Fukushima Prefectures, as well as the Nagamachi missionaries. It was both spiritual and fun, though being the angel in the nativity wasn`t the best. We had a vocabulary game, and our district won somehow, despite not having studied whatsoever! There wasn`t any prize, so it didn`t mean too much, but it was pretty fun. We also had a present exchange, which was interesting as usual. I got a `grenade`, set to `go off` when I opened the package, from Greenburg Choro, my MTC companion. The Japanese AP got my present, a big Christmas tree with red ornaments made out of Daiso materials. The best part, though, was probably getting to see lots of missionaries who we don`t generally have a chance to visit with. A lot of them are now off to other areas, except for the sisters who came to Japan with me who are all heading home this week. The mission keeps getting faster and faster!

Back in Yonezawa, we had lots of good lessons with our investigators. Some of them are actually progressing now! "S"-san finally came to church with her seven-year-old son! They had to leave after Sacrament meeting, but it was still pretty good! Also, "T"-san came to church just a bit after the Sacrament had been passed, and he told us that he had finished reading the Pearl of Great Price! "H"-san`s lesson was pretty good, except she had trouble finding the apartment of the member we taught at, so it ended up being a bit short. However, she has lots of good questions, including the golden question, `Where in the Bible does it say that there won`t be any prophets after Jesus Christ?` which we were able to answer with by explaining modern day prophets. Our joints have high hopes for her and her adorable baby!

This week will probably be pretty busy as we prepare for our Christmas Party, welcome the new missionary into Yonezawa, and do the normal missionary stuff! Tomorrow, I`m going to go with one of our Eikaiwa students to a Chinese class, so that will be different from normal. Hopefully it turns out well!



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving in Yonezawa

November 30, 2014

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Here in Japan, it was a pretty small affair. We went out to eat ramen for thanksgiving, which was pretty good. It`s the same thing we did last year in Ichinoseki, so it was kind of fun. The ramen can be huge at these places, and I certainly felt like I had a sufficient Thanksgiving feast!

In other news, we taught our investigators a fair amount. We had to teach one of our investigators about the Word of Wisdom, which went pretty well. She said that she`s going to quit smoking! However, that leaves three more to go after that (tea, coffee, and alcohol), so we`ll keep going! All the other people we meet have pretty much been doing the same. We did get a new investigator, though! The zone leaders were on splits here and a woman who had been trying to contact Whitrod Choro came into the church and got a lesson set up with us through the zone leaders. Following that telephone call, she asked the other elders about our church and she got a lesson taught to her! We`ll be seeing her this Thursday, so hopefully she can do well! 

I don`t think that there`s too much else crazy that happened. We`re pretty much just doing the same old stuff, which is awesome! Right now, we`re all looking forward to the Christmas Zone Conference as well as the big transfer coming up, where nine new elders will join our mission!

That`s about it! Hopefully I`ll have more interesting stories next week!


Elder Earl

Stake Conference and More!

November 23, 2014
    Whitrod Choro and Earl Choro

Good morning, everybody!

This week was rather busy, but pretty good!

First of all, we went to Sendai this week. It`s almost incredible how different it is from Yonezawa despite only being about two hours away. The weather is at least ten degrees warmer, the streets are packed with people, and there`s just so much to do. It was fun going to Stake Conference and seeing all the missionaries in the stake, which covers to zones. It had been a while since I had seen the Hills, and they seem to be doing well in their new area. I love serving in this small, rural area, but sometimes it`s nice to get to see other places for a bit at least. One of Olsen Choro`s Indian friends from Kitakami got transferred to Sendai, so we went to his Indian place and got nice discounts. We were able to get a lot of stuff `service` thanks to that connection!

Since our member who drove us to Sendai had to head back early, we were unable to leave for Yonezawa until the following morning. We had to take the early bus to Yamagata followed by a train the rest of the way home just to watch a video broadcast from the area we had been in the morning. It was kind of silly, but that`s how it ended up. Most of the talks were the same as the ones I heard during Aomori`s District Conference, but they focused a lot on member missionary work here. I think the two Saturday sessions were completely devoted to it, in fact, pretty much saying that just praying for the missionaries and putting food in the fruit basket isn`t sufficient any more. I hope we can see results from this, though the members here are honestly already doing there best, I feel!

Other than that, we`ve pretty much had the same usual week. Lessons, finding, repairing our stupid bikes, etc. We`re hearing rumors that the iPads that were supposed to come this year probably won`t be here for a while, which is kind of disappointing. The cold weather was really miserable for a bit, but it warmed up a lot and when we went to Sendai it was warm enough to not even wear a jacket! I hope I get a chance to serve in Sendai at some point on my mission!

Anyhow, have a great Thanksgiving! The only other American we`ll be with is the Zone Leader coming on Thanksgiving, but I have no idea whether we`ll actually do anything for it!


Elder Earl


November 16, 2014


This week has been another wonderful one out here!

First of all, we had a baptism here! Little "A"-kun got baptized by his father yesterday at the end of church. It was my second time seeing a baptism in Japan and my first time seeing a child get baptized. It was pretty interesting. Just like in Ichinoseki, they don`t have a proper font, so they use a blow-up pool instead. We used the hot water from the church, but the `toyu`, kerosene used for heating purposes, ran out about halfway through and the water was nowhere close to being adequate. It was a bit of a scramble, but thankfully "A"-kun is extremely tiny, so we were able to use the shallow font successfully. Also, we had two investigators and the non-member husband of our recent convert come to the service!

We got a chance to teach "Y" Shimai, our Chinese recent convert. She`s honestly so awesome! You would hardly guess that she got baptized a bit over a month ago. Her husband is also really nice! He`s kind of shy, but I think he`ll get into the church at some point. We taught their 7-year-old son "Y"-kun English as well as a gospel lesson, and the whole family participated. It was fun watching them play charades, especially when "Y"-kun would get his parents involved!

We taught four of our investigators this week. We actually finally have two of them progress! "T"-san came to church for the fourth time in nearly two years of meeting with missionaries and also was able to see a baptismal service for the first time. He`s really nice and has immense gospel knowledge, but he`s not willing to make a decision until he feels like he knows for sure. We`ve been trying to get him to understand that he`s probably not going to get an answer in a big way, like a voice from God, but that it will come slowly, which I think he`s beginning to understand. I`m hoping that he`ll be a success story in the future! Our other lessons were pretty normal, but I still have a lot of hope for these people!

On Saturday, we ate Indian curry for the first time here. The shop-owner was really nice and enjoyed speaking English with us, since he says he doesn`t get too much practice in Japan. I didn`t know this, but apparently these workers transfer not only from restaurant to restaurant but from country to country. The person we spoke to this week apparently lived in Germany for five years before coming here and expects to be off to the next country sometime soon. We`ll try to see if we can help him with English and the gospel! Also, the curry was delicious. I`m going to miss eating curry all the time when I get back home.

Well, that`s about it. We`re going as a district to eat at a `baikingu` place, which will be really fun! I`ll try to get pictures and such! I haven`t taken almost any here, but I`ll stick a picture of our somewhat dilapidated church in at the end!



Blessed Yonezawa

November 9, 2014

Ohayo Gozaimasu!

It feels like this week has been longer than most do to the extended transfer, but I made it here to Yonezawa on Thursday and it`s been interesting! No pictures yet, but today should be a good day to take a few!

Yonezawa is quite a bit different from Hachinohe. Pulling in to Yonezawa on the highway bus, it was very clear that this place is much smaller than Hachinohe. It`s a pretty town with mountains completely surrounding it, but the whole city is in the valley so it`s pretty easy to bike around. The branch is extremely tiny: probably just about twenty active members here.

There`s lots of good stuff about this place. Missionary work is high on the minds of the members here. Every Sunday after church, they say a prayer specifically on behalf of missionary work followed by a shokujikai (pretty much a potluck). Recently, three less actives have been reactivated and one new person has joined the church, so a net gain of four! The branch has lost two people, but they both are on missions now, so that`s pretty good! It may be tiny, but the branch members are eager to share the gospel to the extent that they can. They talked during Sunday School about their specific efforts to share the gospel, and it`s pretty impressive. 

I taught a lesson each day I`ve been here in Yonezawa, with more planned for this week. There was the one guy, T-san, who I had actually met in Hachinohe before coming here who`s pretty nice. We taught him along with the branch president, marking the first joint lesson in more than three transfers for me. He`s struggling to choose between the JW`s and us, a typical problem out here for those who are religiously inclined. He knows that if he makes an act of faith, than he`ll be more likely to receive an answer, but he fears that he`ll be limiting his options to hear from other religions, so he`s hesitating to accept baptism. Our other investigator we taught it mostly in it for the English, but he doesn`t mind the gospel. He actually meets with us many times a week, which I guess is better than not meeting at all like many of my previous investigators.

Anyhow, this transfer seems like it will be a good one! Our international apartment is pretty fun! I`m getting a chance to use Chinese as well as shuwa (there`s a recently reactivated LA who loves shuwa), so I feel blessed to be here. I`ll try to get pictures of the famous Uesugi Shrine and other sites around here. The church may be rather old looking, but it`s a great place. It`s not the building but the people that matter!


Off to Yonezawa!

Picture from the countryside:
November 2, 2014

Hello everybody! It`s been a busy but wonderful week here in Hachinohe!

As the title makes extremely clear, transfer news has come! Even though I`ve only been here three transfers, I`m heading off to my new home in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture. We actually heard about it during interviews with President Smith on Thursday, which gave us a lot of time to warn members about the transfer news. I`ll be companions with Whitrod Choro, my second Australian, and I`ll finally get to have a Japanese elder in the apartment again! Yonezawa is very different from Hachinohe; the population is about a third of the size, there are no sister missionaries, the branch is very tiny, I`ll be in the southern part of the mission for the first time. Howerver, I`m very happy to hear about this transfer.

Yonezawa is one of the very blessed areas of our mission. They recently had their first baptism in more than five years, and I`m quite sure that I`ll be helping teach that recent convert. And guess what?! She`s Chinese! She also has Chinese friends that could be interested, so I`ve recently been trying to review the Chinese I`ve slowly been forgetting. Also, I`ve actually met one of the investigators that is being taught there because he came to Hachinohe once. It`s a lot of really interesting things, especially since President Smith had no idea about a lot of these things. Elder Fox and I are going to miss Hachinohe a lot, especially the investigators and members that we`ve really come to love, but we`re both excited about our new life in the south!

In other news, we had our Halloween Party on Friday, which took forever to pull off. It was pretty decent with more than thirty participants. Because of this week`s busy schedule, with District Conference on the weekend along with Zone Training Meeting on Friday and interviews on Thursday, we had pretty much no time for any normal missionary work this week. It was pretty fun though! I got second place in the costume contest!

Today will probably be spent preparing for the transfer and saying good-bye to those who didn`t have a chance to hear about the transfer. Fox Choro and I will probably go on splits so that we can make it to all the people we`ll be leaving behind. I`ll always regret not learning shuwa to the extent that I wanted to, but I`m excited about the opportunities that this transfer presents.

Aishiteiru yo!

Aaru Chourou

Hachinohe Threesome!

October 26, 2014

Hello everybody!

As you might know, we spent this week in a tri-companionship due to Fox Choro currently undergoing treatment for his wisdom teeth. He should be back on Wednesday or Thursday, but for now, Wheelwright Choro has joined me and Hill Choro.

This week was pretty interesting. Instead of holding our normal Saturday Eikaiwa, we went to Misawa along with an Eikaiwa student for their Halloween Party. Misawa is the location of a military base, so that means that a ward of nearly two hundred Americans gathers there every week. It was almost intimidating to be surrounded by that many Americans. After living among Japanese people for more than a year, it`s difficult to talk naturally with those from the homeland. The behavior, way of talking, and general attitude of Americans is significantly different from the Japanese. I pretty much stayed with S-san, the Eikaiwa student, the whole time. We got a lot of American candies, but when I put my candies down for a picture, some child stole them all! At least I got to eat a lot of chili, a food I hadn`t had in a very long time. I`ll send pictures!

We also helped with the city`s Halloween party. Basically, all we did was stand and have our pictures taken with children desperate to be seen with gaijin. We got to talk to an ALT (assistant language teacher here in Japan through the JET program) from Australia during breaks, as well as give Eikaiwa chirashi to the high school students volunteering with us. We weren`t allowed to proselyte during this activity, but we were able to both plant seeds and meet people who are at least interested in Eikaiwa, which is always a good start. The ALT was also really nice and seemed at least sympathetic to our message. Foreigners here often seem really nice to missionaries for some reason, perhaps a side effect of living in this country!

We also did normal missionary work, of course! We taught two investigators this week, "Bob" and K-san. "Bob" was especially strong this time, pretty much telling us that we believe in a lie and that he didn`t expect us to convert, but that if we didn`t we`d go to Hell. He is not very good at listening to us, which means he might not be an investigator for too much longer. K-san is the husband of an active member, but he`s older and has a hard time understanding things. After a year of being taught nearly weekly by missionaries, he really hasn`t changed too much, but he`s started showing some signs of improvement, like praying properly. We`re trying to find new investigators, like always, but other than a guy who actually is searching for the true church that was found through chirashi kubari (probably a first as far as I`ve seen in this country), we don`t have any great prospects. We`ll be at it again tonight, so pray for us!

We have an extremely busy week with interviews with the Smith Kaicho, Halloween Party, ZTM in Aomori, and District Conference in Aomori and Misawa. Basically, it`s a lot of important but busy stuff, with the Transfer Call topping it off. I`ll tell you next week what happens!


Elder Earl

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

General Conference Week in Hachinohe

Hey everyone, I finally got to see what everyone was talking about regarding General Conference! The week delay can certainly be annoying, but we`re almost finished at least!

This week has been pretty typical, honestly, mainly because General Conference and going to Aomori for Zone Training Meeting took up nearly half our week. Our investigator has also been difficult to meet with, so we only taught one lesson, and that was to our Free Family English Program lady. She`s really helpful at improving our teaching skills and she has moderate interest, but she needs to both feel and recognize the spirit to progress at this point. The other interesting thing we did was translate the Living Scriptures into Japanese with a member. I forgot how ridiculous and cheesy those videos were! The one where Christ comes to the Americas is honestly quite frightening. Watching these videos was very `natsukashii`, as the Japanese would put it!

Right now, it feels like there`s a lot of stuff that we`re waiting for, but not too much happening. We have quite a few people who want to do lessons, but they have to sort out their schedules still. We also have the huge Halloween party to prepare for. Activities are generally the most effective way to do missionary work around here!

Well, that pretty much sums up what`s been happening! We`re planning on visiting a member`s farm today, so I`ll have pictures of that next week, hopefully! As you may have heard, a super typhoon is heading up our way, so we probably won`t be able to do too much tomorrow (our one activity has already been canceled), but we`ll try to do our best! Aishiteimasu!

Elder Earl

Farm Visit and Typhoon


This week has been a pretty good one out here in Hachinohe.

After emailing you last week, we went to a member`s farm out in the country. While most of the Japanese countryside is endless rice fields, this farm was more Western looking, with a barn, farmhouse, horse-pasture, and quite a few farm animals. It was fun being able to see cats again! We were only expecting a few people to be there, but we ended up holding a birthday party for a nine year old member of the branch! It was fun celebrating with all the members and enjoying the tasty food they had brought for the occasion. I`ll send pictures separately.

Also, we got hit by a typhoon, which actually wasn`t too bad in Hachinohe at least. The roof tiles blew off of a nearby home, which was fairly scary, but nothing too dangerous. We weren`t allowed to ride bikes while it was raining, due to fears of sudden flash floods, so we rode by bus to an area called Korekawa in search of LA`s. As usual, we weren`t able to contact any of them, but we did see both an Eikaiwa student and a Shuwa Circle friend. The shuwa lady was the same one that I had talked to about prayer, but this time we just talked about Eikaiwa, which she expressed moderate interest in. I think that the gospel would probably be of more interest to her, but we`ll see how things develop.

I got to teach two investigator lessons this week, which was the first time in a while. "Bob", the American pastor, pretty much told us that we`re going to Hell despite being good people, due to our belief in the Godhead and the Book of Mormon. He really cares about us, so he tries as hard as he can to convince us that we should follow Jesus Christ correctly. This is pretty much the same way we feel about him. Our lesson started with him talking about Ebola, so the lesson had a rather heavy atmosphere the whole time, but we managed to share our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and help him understand how we actually believe in it. We also taught "A" -san about the Word of Wisdom. Because we had helped him carry rice to his apartment, he was in a better mood than usual. He says that he has to quit smoking anyways, but the other stuff will be difficult (and smoking will still be really hard, even though he has a strong desire to stop).

That pretty much sums up our week! This coming week should be good! Tomorrow is splits with the Zone Leaders here in Hachinohe, on Saturday we have a Halloween Party in Misawa with all the Americans, and Elder Fox is going to Sendai to get his wisdom teeth pulled out, so we`ll be in a threesome for about a week.


Elder Earl

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Busy Transfer Week

Reunited with his MTC companions!

Hey everybody! I hope you had a good General Conference weekend! I will be watching it this week, since we have to wait for the DVD`s to arrive in Japan, so don`t spoil too much!

On Wednesday, we took the long bus ride down to Sendai to pick up my new companion, Elder Hill. When we arrived in Sendai, I met my MTC companion for the first time since January of this year, so we all went and ate some Indo-curry before heading off to the Kamisugi church. When we arrived, there were nearly eighty missionaries there, about half the mission. It was probably the biggest group of missionaries I`ve ever seen, so I was able to talk to lots of different people that I hadn`t been able to meet with for a while. After that, we took the bus to the `honbu` (headquarters/president`s living quarters/Nagamachi elders` apartment) and left our luggage there. Since we went to Nagamachi Eikaiwa last time, we decided to visit Kamisugi`s this time. The big city of Sendai is honestly so different from the rest of our mission. When I first came to Japan, my impression of Sendai was that it was kind of run-down and not pretty, but now I realize how cosmopolitan and modern Sendai is. I would really love to serve there, especially when you consider how busy missionaries stationed there are. They even have a book store with English books, so I got a book to help with learning Japanese. I think if I stayed in Kamisugi for too long, I`d probably be very tempted by that place, so maybe it`s good that it was just for a day!

I went to District Leader`s training the following day, which was really interesting. We got served breakfast by Sister Smith (the president`s wife), which marked the first time I had French Toast on my mission. It was great hearing from President Smith during the training. He discussed how a `tsunami of evil` is sweeping the world. Using examples such as the mission president being kidnapped in Argentina and the wars and problems throughout the world, he made it clear that Japan is definitely one of the blessed countries. However, we need to get the word out to everyone ASAP, apparently. I`ve really come to love Japan more than you can probably imagine. I just want to help everyone out here, but they need to do their part and listen!

Other than that, it was a pretty standard week. We`re doing our best to plan for the Halloween activity, we had one meal appointment with a member yesterday, and we tried teaching Aizu-san, but he wasn`t feeling good so we couldn`t. The other elders taught their first lesson to Ron the preacher, and he had a lot of doctrinal disagreements with them, but it was generally good from what I hear. He`s a really nice guy and I love their family. They were talking about their typical meals, including breakfast of waffles, pancakes, and hashbrowns. That`s the kind of breakfast I miss!

That`s pretty much it! We`ve been doing our best out here and will continue to do so! Aishiteimasu!

Elder Earl

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Christ's Grave and More!

Hey everybody, this week was good, like most others!

First of all, Fox Choro and I went with the Japanese sister missionaries and the Yamanaka family, one of the pillars of our branch, to Christ`s grave! I`ll send pictures, but it`s pretty much just a cross on top of a mound. According to the legend, it wasn`t actually Jesus who was crucified but his little brother Isu Kiri. After that, Jesus dragged his brother to Japan, lived here for a while, and died. Also, apparently, Jesus spent ten years in Japan learning about theology before even going to Jerusalem. Yeah, it`s pretty much the most ridiculous story ever, especially with the English brochure flat-out admitting that it`s a completely made up story. It`s pretty nature at least.

After that, we ate horse meat at a yakiniku place. Yakiniku, by the way, is Korean barbecue, though everyone in Japan loves it. I mostly ate the beef, but the horse was actually pretty good, with a rich flavor and slightly chewy texture. I think it looks pretty gross, especially when it`s raw, but it was a good experience to have a chance to try it!

On Wednesday, we had our taikai (conference) in Aomori. It was really good, but because of when it ended, we weren`t able to catch our local train to Hachinohe. Instead, we had to take the shinkansen again. We were confident of making it to Eikaiwa on time, but the shinkansen got delayed for about twenty minutes, so we missed our connection in Hachinohe. We had to kind of scramble for a bus to the church and we still ended up nearly half an hour late. It ended up being a bit more expensive, so I`m hoping that the five thousand yen someone owes me comes sometime soon, or these last few weeks of the transfer will be a bit hard.

That`s pretty much it! Hope you all have a great week!


Elder Earl

Monday, September 15, 2014

September in Hachinohe

Week two 

Mori-Mori Taikai, Shinkansen, Respect for the Aged Day, etc.

Today, as you can probably tell, I`m on the computer unusually early. We woke up at 5:30 and got to the church right at 6:30, when seminary is supposed to start, but apparently it got canceled without anyone telling us about it. Well, at least that means we`ll have plenty of email time!

This week, we had our long anticipated Mori-Mori Taikai (AoMORI and MORIoka missionary conference). Returning to Morioka, the zone I spent eight transfers in, was pretty exciting, as I had the chance to see missionaries like the Hills and others. We were also privileged to hear from Elder Whiting of the Seventy. He pretty much told us to trust our mission president and told us a lot of spiritual stuff. I felt like doing better as a missionary after he spoke to us. I was glad we got the opportunity to gather and learn from him.

When we were returning back to Hachinohe, we were just going to go on the local train all the way back, but the sisters were late getting to the station, and it wasn`t too expensive, so we rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Hachinohe! It`s amazing! Rather than spend nearly two hours on a slow, winding rail trip, we had a smooth, comfortable half-hour journey back to Hachinohe. The inside is similar to that of an airplane, though rather longer than most airplanes. You hardly realize how fast you`re going because it`s so smooth, unlike the normal JR trains. It`ll almost make it harder to use the local trains again after experiencing the nicer option.

We`ve been trying to get up to teaching twenty lessons a week, but it`s still pretty difficult to find people. However, we have at least two new nonmembers that we should be able to start teaching soon, so that will be nice. I can understand the reasoning for wanting extra teaching experience by us missionaries, and I hope that we`ll be ready for any investigators. Our current investigator is still pretty much the same as always, we taught him about the restoration and he acted somewhat uninterested, but he said he`d pray about whether it`s true, so that`ll help no matter what.

Anyhow, today should be pretty exciting! Today is Respect for the Aged Day here in Japan, so a member is going to drive us to Christ`s grave later this afternoon, followed by eating at some meat place. All I know so far is that they have horse meat, so I`ll be sure to tell you how that is! Hopefully we can tell the visitors to the grave about the real story of Jesus!

Anyhow, that about sums up my week! 愛しています!日本の伝道は素晴らしいです!敬老の日おめでとうございます!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Another week in Hachinohe

Hey everybody!

There`s not too much to talk about this week. We`ve had trouble meeting with investigators because they`re all busy. We`ve also recently been told by the mission to teach twenty lessons per week, though they can be with members, LA`s, anybody. Since the focus is generally to improve our language skills, it`s a nonthreatening way to teach people who don`t really believe they have interest at this point. We were able to teach one woman in our Eikaiwa class through this program, and she was very willing to listen properly to what we said, though she told us plainly that she`s `mushukyou` (nonreligious). We`re going to try to see how we can get more lessons, but for now it`s pretty difficult.

On Sunday, the missionaries were in charge of teaching during third hour block, so we helped them learn about how to be effective missionaries. Members need to realize that they are actually the ones in charge of finding; missionaries in developed countries can really only do so much on our own. You`ve probably heard how housing is the least effective way to find people, yet if members don`t help us, then we have no choice other than to do that.

So, Elder Fox made a great video detailing what we do as missionaries! We wanted to show that it`s not just constant housing out here, because that is the image most members have, which might explain why they find member missionary work to be so `taihen`. We`re hoping that once they realize how easy and fun missionary work can be, they`ll be more eager to do it! It`s harder in Utah, but hopefully you`re doing your best!

Love you all!


Elder Earl

Last week of August in Hachinohe

    Picture is from his last area but I love it!          

Hey everybody! This week, like pretty much every other one, has been pretty good!

First of all, we have started going to Japanese class here. Not only is it a good way to improve our language skills, but we`ve also been able to meet lots of new people and have a chance to share the gospel with them! It`s generally easier to talk to other foreigners about the gospel, not really for language reasons but because of the cultural background. It`s interesting how most foreigners know who we are and what we do, but the Japanese are generally pretty unaware of what it is we do. The good thing is that we can talk to the teachers and other Japanese volunteers as well, so I think that this class is going to really help a lot! Our `shuwa` class has also been good for getting to know new people. I was able to talk about prayer to one of the other students, and during the time after class where everyone talks about what they did and what they liked (I call it `akashikai` or `testimony meeting`), the student talked about how she enjoyed our discussion on prayer. It was cool to have a more natural way to talk about what we believe.

Unfortunately, we weren`t able to teach any lessons at all last week. "A" san fell asleep in our first visit, and the second time he had visitors come, and since his apartment can only fit about two people at a time, we had to `shitsure shimasu`. We`ll have plenty of chances to get him taught this week at least!

We also made a new Eikaiwa poster! I had to wear it, I think to emphasize my gaijin height, and we went to the main street here and tried to bring anyone we could to Eikaiwa. We had a kind of crazy guy talk to us, he said that we were weak people because we`re religious. My companion said good-bye to him in the middle of his rant, which really confused the guy. We also had the infamous `pink house guy` come to the church and complain about everything. Branch leaders say that he comes every year, basically opposite Christmas. So, yeah, along with Hayakari Kyoudai saying things that we couldn`t understand, we`ve had an interesting week of crazies. Thankfully, though, we got our hometeaching finished yesterday and got pizza in return for teaching a lesson! I love good cooks!

That about finishes my week, but feel free to send any questions! Aishiteimasu!

Elder Earl

Monday, August 4, 2014

August in Hachinohe

Week four:
Hey everyone! We had a pretty good week here in Hachinohe!

Unlike most of the mission, we didn`t transfer, so we spent the whole week here, which was nice, though it would`ve been fun to see all the other people who were moving around the mission. The new missionaries here in Hachinohe are pretty cool, and I think we`ll get along pretty well.

We taught "A"-san twice this week, and he`s really starting to move forward! He has expressed genuine gratitude for our visits, and he seems pretty set on joining the church! We just have to keep working with him and help him understand what will be expected of him when he becomes a member. I think he can do it!

We also did service for the American family and played basketball with them. It`s been really fun to work with other native English speakers, and their family has really appreciated how much wood we`ve managed to move for them. The dad told us that if he had done the work on his own it would have taken nearly ten hours to do, but it took only an hour and a bit with six missionaries on the job! I doubt that they`ll be converting any time soon, but in some ways that makes the service more satisfying because it really is selfless, instead of just a way to find people (though that kind of service is really good too!)

Finally, we had a crazy activity on Saturday called 流しそうめん. Basically, they place a four-inch wide slide that descends from the second floor of the church and turn it into a noodle water slide. Everyone gathers around and snags noodles with their chopsticks, places noodles into a mixture of tsuyu, water, garlic, wasabi, green onions, and any other desired flavor, and then devours them! I really don`t understand why this isn`t a thing in America, because it`s so delicious and fun! We`ll have to do it when I get home. The activity was also pretty good from a mission-standpoint with tons of people coming, including plenty of non-members. Most of the people that Fox Choro and I had invited bailed out in the end, but there were still plenty of people to talk to and set up stuff with.

Well, that pretty much sums up our week. We also had our normal English class, shuwa, and other fun stuff. And everyone keeps telling us about the riots in America and how it`s too dangerous to visit.


Elder Earl

Week three:

This week has been insane out here in Hachinohe!

So, to start with the good news, I saw my first baptism in Japan yesterday! One of the sisters` investigators who`s been taking the lessons for more than a year finally got the courage to get baptized! It was really hard for her because her parents were not especially supportive, but she finally realized that joining the church is what she needed to do. It was really an exciting event, with Jones Choro performing the actual baptism! Fox Choro and I had one of our investigators, come watch his first baptism. I hope it will help encourage him to really push himself a bit more.

Along with that, we went to our investigator`s house to invite him to the baptism. It turned out that he had never heard of baptism before that, which isn`t really all that strange in Japan. When we taught him about what baptism was, he told us that he want to be baptized! He was pretty impressed with how through baptism we can become free from sin and basically start our life over again with a clean slate. He couldn`t come yesterday to the baptism, but we were able to meet with him yesterday and get a baptismal date decided on! Now we just have to hope that he`ll be ready by the 11th of October!

Also, we went to a fireworks show last night! The Japanese are pretty intense with their fireworks, probably because they don`t have to worry about setting things on fire when it rains so much out here. We also ended up talking to some people who really want to learn English, so they`ll come to Eikaiwa on Wednesday, which could lead to who-knows-what! I wanted to take pictures, but my camera is currently missing in our apartment, so I`ll have to steal pictures from the others when we have time!

Oh yeah, transfers happened, and we are one of the nine companionships in the entire mission that actually stayed together. I don`t know whether this is how transfers are going to work out from now on, but it is pretty interesting!

Anyhow, that`s about all I can write! If you want to hear full stories, ask, but we did service at the Americans` church and played basketball with their family, attended sign language class run by the city, had middle-schoolers in the area warned that we`re dangerous by teachers, and did our typical dendo!


Earl Choro

Week Two:

Hey everybody!

We`ve had a pretty interesting week here in Hachinohe as usual! Tons of rain, so it`s been cold for the past week, but it looks like it`s going to be improving now that the typhoon is gone.

First of all, we had an earthquake yesterday. As we were teaching the young men`s class, we started to feel a shaking and then all the earthquake alarms on people`s cell phones went off. It was probably the strongest one that I had felt as a missionary in Japan. Thank goodness the church is built on a strong, concrete foundation. Kind of an appropriate metaphor, I think.

We had companion exchanges on the fifth, which was also the one year mark for being in Japan for us. We were going to an investigator, but on the way we saw a festival at a military base on the way. We were running a bit early, so we decided to see what it was like. Generally, it`s next to impossible to enter bases like this, but we were allowed to just walk right in! Bodily Choro wanted to take pictures of the helicopters and tanks, but there were soldiers blocking those roads. When we asked them, though, they called their superior, and he ended up giving us a personal tour of everything! He even took pictures for us in the helicopters! He was really nice, and maybe he`ll be an investigator someday! We heard a crazy story about how during the war with Russia, a group of nearly two hundred Japanese soldiers died on a march between Hirosaki and Hachinohe due to the cold. You can learn such cool things from the experts.

That`s pretty much it! You should definitely be excited for next week! We`re taking pictures in traditional Japanese outfits today, we have the transfer call, and we`re eating at baikingu today! Hope your day is as good as ours! Aishiteimasu!

Week one:

Hey everybody! I thought I`d put a picture of the festival to start out this email! Basically they have huge floats that are pulled through the city by groups of screaming children. I took videos, but unfortunately you`ll have to wait to see them.

Anyhow, in other news, we finally have multiple investigators! We`ve been visiting this older guy for a while, but he hadn`t been able to make the jump to investigator. However, on Tuesday, Elder Fox left a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation behind and asked him to read it. Surprisingly enough, he did! And not only that, but he enjoyed it! He said that the more he read, the more he wanted to keep knowing what would happen next. 

Also, we taught a thirty year old guy, who`s really awesome! We wanted to get a baptism date for him, but he says that he`s not really ready to make that sort of commitment, because he doesn`t know whether he`s reached his turning point or not.

And here`s something interesting that happened. We were riding our bikes around as usual when we saw a group of American children weeding in a large garden. We asked their dad if we could help them, but he said that since we were wearing church clothes, that it would be better if we changed into normal clothes. So, the next day, we came back in clothes suitable for yardwork and weeded/ pulled out potatoes for a few hours. The dad turned out to be a minister, so we got bible-bashed for the first time! It was pretty exciting, honestly! He was really nice, though. We`ll probably try helping them again in the future!

That`s pretty much it for this week! I`ll try sending more photos! It`s great being in Japan for the summer festivals!


Aaru Chourou Yori

July, Akita to Hachinohe

Letters from Elder Earl's last few days in Akita and his first weeks in Hachinohe. 

Week four:

Hello everyone! Sounds like Utah`s been pretty fun recently!

Here in Hachinohe, we`ve had an interesting week. For one thing, on Monday of last week, we went to the Tanabata (sorry, not sure on correct spelling) Festival in downtown Hachinohe. We had heard that it was a fairly small festival, but it ended up being huge! Hopefully you can steal pictures from the other elders, because my camera was dead on that day, unfortunately. Hopefully you`ll be able to see some of these festivals when you come to Japan! BTW, I heard that you can get released by your stake president over the phone, so if you do come pick me up (Sister Smith says it will almost definitely be OK), that might be good to think about.

We taught our single investigator, "S"-san, three times this week. He seems really interested, having already read up to 2nd Nephi 26. He also has been giving us tons of people to visit, though, since this is Japan, they`re usually for English class. We also taught an investigator that the sisters want to pass to us. He`s really solid, and he even came to church yesterday! I think we have a pretty good chance with him!

We had interviews with President Smith this week as well. He`s really an amazing mission president. I was kind of worried when the changeover happened, but the more I get to know our new president, the more I feel that he really is the man meant to lead us here in Sendai. He really has a strong love for the people here in Japan, especially the deaf members of our branch. I feel inspired to really work harder on my sign language.

But yeah, I`m doing pretty good out here! Except that I think I might have caught conjunctivitis, because I woke up on interview day with my left eye looking pretty red. It seems to be getting better, at least. At least it doesn`t hurt at all, but it looks like I`ve been crying for a while!

Anyhow, that`s about it! I`ll be sending a package for mom and dad today, so be excited for that! Bye!

Elder Earl

Week three:

Hello everyone!

Well, as usual, we`ve had a pretty busy week. I finally got to go to Aomori for Zone Training Meeting, which was interesting. It was the first time not going to Morioka, so I enjoyed seeing a new place. It was also interesting seeing people who I hadn`t seen since they had left Morioka Zone. There`s still a lot of people that I don`t know at all, but I`ll get acquainted over time.

Also, we actually have an investigator now! His name is "S"-san and he`s a genki (healthy) old guy. He came about two hours before Eikaiwa interested in pretty much everything that we have at our church in Hachinohe (table tennis, English, gospel, hula, etc.) and we managed to get in two lessons last week! We`ll see how it goes from here! He`s also apparently in charge of parades in the area, so we are going to participate in the biggest festival in Hachinohe soon enough! I`ll be sure to send the pictures of us in our yukata!

My `shuwa` is starting to get better. I can pray and introduce myself and my family fairly easily, at least. We played `gateball` with the deaf members, which was pretty fun! It`s kind of like croquet with a bit more strategy included.

By the way, I bought pants for the first time in Japan last week, and believe it or not, it`s way easier to find cheap pants in my size on this side of the Pacific! I`ve lost two pairs of pants on my mission, so I got two pairs to replace them for about twenty dollars each. Not too bad, right? They fit nicely and they`re very light, which is nice in the hot Japanese summer.

Also, we started playing Risk in the elders apartment last P-Day and didn`t finish until yesterday evening. Basically, we spent nearly seven hours total on that game, which was pretty fun. Being in a four-elder apartment is way better than a two-person one.

Anyhow, that`s about it for this week. Please send any questions, if you have any!


Week two:

Hey everybody! Hope your week has been interesting, wherever you are!

My first week here in Hachinohe has been pretty crazy! If you haven`t looked at a map or anything, let me just tell you; Hachinohe is on the far northern side of Honshu, which means it takes forever to get there from Sendai. Basically, on Wednesday I was on the bus from Akita to Sendai for two and a half hours followed by a nearly four hour journey from Sendai all the way up here.

Hachinohe is a bit smaller than Akita, but it`s certainly bigger than Ichinoseki was. It`s right along the Pacific Ocean, but I haven`t actually seen the ocean yet. The apartment is super nice (Address is 039-1165 青森県八戸市石堂1-11-20サンアルストロメリアA202)
It has, believe it or not, actual beds! It`s the first time I`ve ever slept on a bed in this country, which has been wonderful. I love not having a futon to put away every morning.

The missionaries here are also awesome. My new companion served in Ichinoseki as well, so we talk about that all the time. Fox Choro is great to work with! We don`t have any investigators right now, and apparently we haven`t had any for about nine months in the companionship we`ve inherited, but we`ll find them! The other two elders are also great. Bodily Choro is probably better at cooking than any other missionary I`ve met. We had Thai curry for the first time in a while recently. It`s nice that the other missionaries are OK with spicy food too! I definitely prefer an apartment with four people rather than the small two person ones.

Also, I`ve been learning Japanese Sign Language (shuwa)! I can`t really `speak` too well yet, but I can almost pray properly and I was able to have a super conversation with some deaf members at church. I told them that Zachary loves sign language, and they found that interesting. By the way, the way you say `little brother` in shuwa is by holding up your middle finger around waist level. To be honest, there`s a lot of flipping off in this language, I`ve discovered. It should be interesting to show you all in the future!

Also, I saw a mini-Kanto festival in Akita just before I transferred! My camera cord`s still in my luggage so I`ll have to send it next week! I`ll also show you some more of what Hachinohe is like!


Week one:
Hey everybody! I hope you`re still awake for this e-mail! I`m sorry for sending my transfer info so early, but I figured I`d rather mom find out from me rather than the Facebook group. However, we had a pretty busy week in addition to that.

First of all, we got to meet our new mission president for the first time! He came to Morioka for the Zone Conference, which basically just consisted of us hearing a simple introduction of the new president and his wife followed by personal interviews. He said he wanted to talk to us all before he decided on who was going to transfer. He seems pretty nice, and I feel like he will be a really good mission president. Sister Smith is basically the polar opposite of Sister Rasmussen but very nice! I feel like we`ll enjoy having them in the mission.

The day after we came back from Morioka, we had to spend all day moving to the new apartment. Believe it or not, we were able to take care of almost everything. The only problem is that we still have a lot of trash in the old apartment that we weren`t able to throw away, because it wasn`t the appointed day for that kind of trash (cardboard, PET bottles, and aluminum cans). It can sometimes annoy me how picky the Japanese are with their garbage. However, being five minutes away from the church makes things significantly more convenient. The only weird thing is that there`s a tattoo parlor on the bottom floor of the neighboring building in our complex. 

We celebrated the 4th of July with an American-style barbecue at Hitotsumori-Kouen. We had a few dozen people show up and participate in an authentic American water-balloon volleyball tournament followed by a water-balloon fight, shish-kebabs, singing American patriotic songs, and fireworks! (Don`t worry, they weren`t anything more than sparklers!) A lot of people said it was the funnest 4th of July that they had ever celebrated! Of course, for most people, it was also the first 4th of July that they had ever celebrated, but I think most people really enjoyed it.

And finally, yesterday we went to the house of Pieda Shimai and enjoyed delicious home-made pizza. Canepari Choro and I taught a lesson on obedience, and just a bit after we had challenged them to be obedient this week, we got a telephone call from President Smith! We had all been hoping that we`d get called while we were all together, and sure enough, the members were able to hear the transfer call with us. I`m going to Hachinohe and becoming companions with Elder Fox! It`s interesting how after sharing the same bean area, we`re going to be working together again, but it`s going to be great! One interesting thing about Hachinohe is that there are a lot of deaf members, so I have to learn to `speak` Japanese Sign Language! You should be super jealous, Zachary! All I know so far is `cut`, `thank you`, `like`, and `hello`. I hear you take classes multiple times a week, so hopefully I can move my hands properly by the time I leave Hachinohe. The members tell me that Hachinohe is smaller than Akita, it has very strong wind, and it smells very fishy. In other words, another place that you`ll have to visit when you come out here!

If you have any other questions, please send them. Aishiteimasu!


June in Akita

Still coming soon...

May in Akita

More coming soon on May!

April in Akita

I may keep this title! Yes, it's also coming soon.

March in Akita

Coming soon!

February in Akita

Coming soon...
Letters from Elder Earl from February 2014

January in Akita

Elder Earl's letters from his first transfer to Akita.

December in Ichinoseki

Coming soon...
Letters from the last few weeks that Elder Earl served in Ichinoseki.

November in Ichinoseki

Coming soon...
Updating with letters from November 2013!