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!