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