Monday, January 26, 2015

Visit to Fukishima!


This week has been pretty interesting. I`ll go day by day to make sure I get everything.

On Monday afternoon, we went to a member`s house, the Endos, and helped the children build a snow playground. Since the snow was nearly four feet high, we were able to continue the elaborate tunnel system the Olsen Choro-tachi had built last time. I scooped out a `kamakura` or igloo near the edge of the pile of snow. The children told me that it was `meccha ooki` or `really big`. It`s funny hearing the boys, Enoku, Noa, and Amotsu, talk to each other. It`s not exactly the most polite Japanese! However, it was really fun and we felt like it was a good way to spend district P-day. We then got fed curry and shared a spiritual message.

On Tuesday, we went with an Eikaiwa student to the `most delicious ramen shop in Yamagata Prefecture`. It was, indeed, extremely good. It was also in a small town called Akayu a few train stations away from Yonezawa, so it was interesting going there! Whitrod Choro and I had to run to catch our train, but we reached the platform just as the train was pulling up to the station. We tried visiting an old referral who lived way out in the middle of nowhere after getting off at a station midway between Akayu and Yonezawa. However, only grandma was there, and she wasn`t all that helpful. We decided to walk back to Yonezawa since the road between the station and her house seemed a bit dangerous at night due to heavy traffic and no sidewalk. Let`s just say that it ended up being a long winter hike back, but we didn`t die at least! While waiting in Aeon for our bus, we saw Mythbusters playing on the TV. That was something I hadn`t seen in a while!

Wednesday was "H"-san`s lesson. We had Yamaguchi Shimai, a recent convert, joint for her first time and it went awesome! We were able to teach a good lesson on baptism and confirmation, though we ended up talking about the priesthood as well unexpectedly. It`s nice having women as joints when the conversation turns to women and the priesthood. We also taught "T"-san about Thomas S. Monson. Then, we had Eikaiwa, which was Kids` Class for me and Whitrod Choro. Only one boy came, so it was pretty easy!

Thursday, we had Chinese lunch at the international association. It was fun! They always think that Chinese speaking Gaijin are interesting. The Chinese people there remember my Chinese name now and pretty much only speak to me in Chinese. It turns out that one of the Chinese ladies there was a past investigator. She still seems interested in meeting, but she`s unfortunately busy right now. We`ll try working with her though! We then taught Yamaguchi Shimai and finished her AB (after baptism) lessons!

Friday was weekly planning, district meeting, and a canceled lesson.

Saturday was splits with Olsen Choro. We had a good time walking around shoveling snow, talking to random people, finding an Iranian restaurant that we will definitely be trying soon, eating ramen with a Chinese PI of the other two elders, and teaching "S"-san. It was an interesting day for sure!

And finally, Sunday. We took the early train out of Minami-Yonezawa and got into infamous Fukushima a bit before nine. It`s an incredible place. Despite just being an hour away, the weather is completely different: warm and not a trace of snow. The members are extremely kind, giving us a very generous fruit basket. However, it`s a really sad place. They don`t have any missionaries due to fears of radiation, yet the ward members live there full-time. The ward mission leader talked to us about his hopes for missionary work there, but the lack of missionaries really makes everything difficult. The ward has been slowly getting smaller and smaller as people move to safer places without a chance for any converts. Thankfully for me, I didn`t have to teach a personalized lesson to the Chinese lady this time. However, it`s obvious that her understanding of Japanese probably is an obstacle to her gospel understanding. If I don`t transfer next week, I`ll probably be teaching her the AB lessons again. In less pleasant news, our three investigators who were supposed to go to Sacrament meeting in Yonezawa didn`t show up. Hopefully we`ll see them next week!

That`s about it! I`ll send pictures in the following emails!



Sunday, January 18, 2015


Hey, everyone!

This week has been pretty good, other than the blizzard on Saturday which was probably the worst weather I`ve ever experienced. 真っ白 is the term they use in Japanese, which pretty much means `complete whiteness` due to all the snow flying in the wind.

However, while the weather may be continually miserable, the work isn`t! We taught most of our investigators this week and even had a member feed us dinner! We taught about the Sabbath Day to "S"-san, who found it pretty unusual, but she agreed to follow it! "H"-san is still doing well, and she gave us some vegetables from her hometown in Tochigi. We`ll try to set a baptismal commitment at this next lesson. We taught "K"-kun about the purpose of life, and now he wants more of a purpose in his life. And, finally, "T"-san came to church! But, we made a bit of a mistake. We told thim the Otahara Choro, the father of a missionary who taught him, would be coming this week, but apparently we had been misinformed. Our branch president seems to say 来週, which means `next week`, no matter how many Sundays later it will  be. Thankfully, "T"-san wasn`t mad at us, but it was kind of embarrassing. He said he was glad he came to church regardless of whether the person he had wanted to see was there or not.

Also, I had a split in Yamagata! It was so nice being in a bigger city again; it reminded me a lot of Akita, honestly. It was also nice riding a bike again, until it started snowing and I realized that I had forgotten my gloves. The apartment in Yamagata is extremely nice, but it`s literally on the edge of civilization. Other than that, though, it was really fun! It`s interesting having Zone Leaders who are `younger` in mission experience, especially since Bethea Choro was in my first district back in Ichinoseki/Kitakami.

What we`ve  been focusing a lot on this past week has been goals. Specific, achievable goals will get you much farther than anything else. Just make sure that they help you accomplish our true purpose in life, which you can find in 2 Nephi 2!

Also, next Sunday, I go to Fukushima! And teach a Chinese person about tithing! I still don`t know how that`s going to work, but I`ll do my best.


Elder Earl

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy Seijin no Hi!

Hey everybody, today marks the beginning of the last five months of my mission. Everybody says that missions go way too fast, and it`s true! I was hoping that talking a lot about how little time is left would make it feel like it`s taking longer, but I`ve discovered that there`s really absolutely nothing you can do to make it go slower at this point in my mission. You just have to keep on working your hardest and accept that it will all be over too soon.

We`ve been able to pick up the work a bit this week. "S"-san quit smoking! She`s been good for more than a week now and doesn`t show any signs of returning to cigarettes. She`s also been reading from the Book of Mormon, which brought her to the infamous Murder of Laban scene. I think we managed to help her understand it, but it still can be a tough part to place at the very beginning. Our other investigators are doing pretty well; "T"-san still has no desire to be baptized, but hopefully he`ll feel something soon. "K"-kun wanted to know about apostles, but we were kind of sidetracked with the lesson. We`ll be able to meet all of our investigators this week again, finally, which will be nice after this long holiday season.

Also, I went on splits with Mendoza Choro. According to our phone, we walked 16 kilometers, a new record almost! It was very, very cold, and we were unable to teach lessons or find new investigators or anything, but it was still pretty good! We found a tasty Chinese restaurant. The waitress hardly spoke any Japanese. I asked her `どちらから来ましたか?‘ (Where are you from). And she just looked at me. I changed to 出身はどこですか? (Where is your birthplace?) with more confusion. Finally, I just asked 日本に来る前に、中国にいましたか?(Before you came to Japan, did you live in China?) and finally got to the point where we could stick to Chinese. When we left, I tried explaining that I wanted an Eikaiwa poster hung up, which I could mostly do in Chinese, but I forgot the word for `to hang up`, so I tried asking in Japanese. このポスターを貼ることが出来ますか? which she responded by saying `Wo de mingzi?` (my name?). Needless to say, I had to kind of mime putting a poster up to get her to understand, but she said that they could do it!

That was pretty much the highlights of this week! Other minor stuff that happened: Zone Training Meeting with Whitrod Choro and I training on member missionary work, interviews with Smith Kaicho mostly focusing on how to help investigators progress, donut sale at Mr. Donuts that we`ve been taking advantage of too much, and that`s about it! Also, I get to stay in Yamagata this week, and go to Fukushima the week after! And there`s a Chinese recent convert who they want me to try teaching, so we`ll see how it goes!

By the way, for those who don`t know, today is the day when Japanese people celebrate those who turn twenty years old! In Japan, you are a real adult from the age of twenty. Apparently, they have ceremonies that celebrate these young people making the next step in their life`s journey. Unfortunately, one of the main things they celebrate is the ability to drink and smoke, so it`s probably not best to go.

That`s about it. Baibai!

Elder Kirk Earl

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Happy New Year, everyone!

This week has been pretty slow, but good as well. We had our `Oosouji` on Wednesday, so our apartment is pretty neat now. I don`t even know how many bags of garbage we ended up with, but I will say that we spent more than eight hours on our apartment. Thank goodness that`s over!

We also had lunch with the Takaku family, the parents and brother of a college student in the branch. It was extremely delicious, meat and vegetables grilled in an electric pot thing along with inari, sushi, and other Japanese delicacies.

After that, we went to Uesugi Shrine to participate in the cultural fun! It was really cold and snowy, so we left as soon as we rang the bell to welcome in the new year. Picture is above. 

In terms of investigators, we were only able to teach two of them this week, and one of them is a Free Family English Program investigator who`s mostly interested in English. We went out to Indian Curry with him, though. And "Tomoko"-san came for his lesson, which went pretty good. He didn`t get an answer yet, but he said it`s probably because he`s not ready to be trusted with such an answer. However, we went over the baptismal interview questions with him, and he`s really, really close! We`ll see what happens with him, but I know that he`s getting baptized someday.

That`s about it for this week. We also went to Nagai, a city that takes forever to get to by train, and tried visiting less actives, but none of them were there. It was an adventure though! This week should be much better!


Elder Earl

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Holidays in Yonezawa!

Happy Holidays, everybody!

It was great talking to you on Christmas! You probably don`t need too long of an email today, especially since there should be more to talk about next week.

"Tomoko"- san wasn`t able to meet on Sunday because he had work, so we don`t know whether he got an answer yet to his prayer. His job at the onsen hotel often prevents him from coming to church but hopefully we can figure out a way to solve this conclusively someday.

Like I said on Christmas, it`s been really cold lately, though the blizzard that hit us on the day itself has been the worst so far! Yesterday, when we tried using the shower, we realized that the water had actually frozen, so we weren`t able to use it until it warmed up a bit. Even more worrisome, the church`s water was frozen as well, which meant we didn`t have water for the Sacrament, until a member brought a bottle of water nearly twenty minutes late. Thankfully, Sacrament Meeting never starts on time here, so it wasn`t too much of an issue. Along with heaters not working, it`s been a chilly week!

Unfortunately, because of the New Year, dendo is getting a bit slow, but at least it`s a good opportunity to try to check up on Less Actives and others. Hopefully we`ll have good stories to share next week!


Earl Choro


Looks like they had a few snacks to enjoy! Olsen Choro, Whitrod Choro in back and Earl Choro in the front. Mendoza Choro took this picture)

December 21, 2014
Hey everybody!

First off, I`ll start with what`s probably most important to my family! I`ll be calling via Skype at about 9:30 AM on December 26, Japan time. That should be about 6:30 PM on Christmas Day in Utah. We`ll be using Whitrod Choro`s account, and he`ll have his mom kind of set things up with you. Try to think of questions before hand because we`re limited to 40 minutes this time! If you have anything that you know you`re going to ask me, please send it today so I have time to think about it properly!

Anyways, this week was pretty good! We welcomed Elder Mendoza to the mission and are now enjoying an all gaijin district. It`s weird having three `older` missionaries along with a new one, but it`s been interesting for sure. Unfortunately, he came on a very snowy day, one of the worst here in Yonezawa, so that`s been his introduction to the mission so far.

We had our branch Christmas party this week! At first, we were worried that it wouldn`t turn out very well because no one showed up on time for the event. Twenty minutes after it was supposed to start, we decided that we had enough people to begin the festivities. We started with a `shuwa` chorus, which went pretty badly because Olsen Choro couldn`t stop laughing during the song. It was, admittedly, pretty silly for us to `sing` a random hymn (I Know My Father Lives) during a Christmas party, but one member really wanted to do it, so it wasn`t a failure at least. Eventually, enough people made it to the party, including three of our investigators!

Speaking of which, they`re doing pretty well! "Suki"-san is closer to following the Word of Wisdom and her son told us that he received an answer to his prayer and that he wants to get baptized! He just has to wait a few months until he turns eight. "Hikari"-san is awesome, and her Santa costumed baby was the star of the party. She asks great questions during lessons and she really wants to know who and what God really is. We`re teaching her again today before she heads back to Tochigi for the holidays. Also, I was bold with "Tomoko"-san during yesterday`s lesson. In the Ward Newsletter, I read about Paige in Argentina who had an investigator who was in a similar situation to "Tomoko"-san. She had the investigator read a chapter from the Book of Mormon and pray about whether to get baptized on one of three specific dates. I felt strongly that I should do the same thing with "Tomoko"-san. It was rather intense, because he`s worried about getting into a church that`s not true and having no way to get out, even though he thinks that our church is probably the most correct. He refused the commitment at first, but I told him that I felt strongly that this would be the way that he would get his answer. He told us just before he left home that he would do what we asked, even though he has doubts. I was so happy, but now we just have the wait until we meet again to see whether he gets the answer that he`s desiring. Pray for him!

Anyhow, that`s about it! We can talk a lot on `Christmas`, so be prepared with stuff to say and ask!