Sunday, March 15, 2015

山形へ I'm Transfering!

    Earl Choro and Olsen Choro with        young friend and his origami trucks he made for them on their last Sunday in Yonezawa. 3/15/15

Hello everyone!

It feels like it`s been longer than a week since I last talked to you since so much has happened!

First of all, thank you for the birthday wishes and treats. We actually got hit by a freak blizzard from about Tuesday to Thursday, so even though it`s nice again now, we realized exactly how fickle Japanese weather is. It took us off our bikes for a few days, but we were still able to keep busy!

At church yesterday, we probably had the most people in Sacrament Meeting in years. 28 people were at church, including seven non-members! Some members referred to it as 奇跡的 or miraculous. The Spirit was especially strong as we had a member talk about prayer in a simple way that non-members could understand too. All in all, it was a good last Sunday in Yonezawa.

So, yeah, I`m transferring to Yamagata Ward. This will probably be my last area since I only have two transfers left, but it`s a great situation to end in. My new companion, Mantz Choro, is going home the same time as me, so we`ll be able to work well together. One strange thing about this transfer is that Olsen Choro is transferring with me to Yamagata. I`ve never actually heard of people transferring to the same area as someone in their previous area, but we`re looking forward to it!

Yamagata is the area just north of Yonezawa, only 45 minutes away, but it`s completely different. I`ll be going from a branch with 20 members maybe to a ward with more than 70 people in attendance. One way you can see the difference is in how the Easter Party is working. In Yonezawa, the missionaries plan everything, invite people, arrange the entertainment, and try to talk to people at the same time. In Yamagata, I`ve heard that we have to do a five minute explanation on the true meaning of Easter and that`s literally it. After that, our job is to talk to people and try to set up appointments and such. The mission leader is a Hawaiian who moved to Japan specifically to increase missionary work in Japan, so he has things very neatly under control. It`s pretty much missionary work the way missionary work should be. I can`t wait to use these last few transfers to work my hardest!

Also, we have iPad training on Saturday with at least three general authorities and the entire mission. Fukuoka mission gets Elder Nelson for their training, but I won`t complain too much! I don`t know when we`ll actually get iPads or really anything about them, but you`ll surely hear about that next week!

Well, I feel like there`s a lot more to say, but I`ll leave it there! I`ll send a few pictures too!


Elder Earl

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fukishima etc.

Hey everyone! This week has been, unfortunately, a bit slow, but it was still pretty good!

So, first things first, we can use bikes again! The snow hasn`t completely melted, but the roads and sidewalks, at least, are clear enough to make travel safe again. You wouldn`t believe how nice that is! Trips that used to take more than an hour take less than half an hour now and we don`t have to pay for a bus fare. There are rumors that it could snow again, but at least it won`t be bad enough to stop us at this point!

We hardly had any lessons this week, unfortunately. We taught "S"-san on splits about the Word of Wisdom, which he said isn`t possible at this point, and taught "-kun about the importance of God. In addition, we taught "S"-san; we were going to teach about repentance, but she had a lot of questions from her reading in the Book of Mormon, so we spent the whole hour focused on that. It`s kind of crazy how much more she reads from the Book of Mormon now than when I first came here to Yonezawa. She said she would try to come to church yesterday, but something came up so she couldn`t.

On Friday, we went to Yamagata for our Zone Training Meeting followed by a dinner appointment in a town between there and Yonezawa. I made a mistake and ate a lot of Indian curry and bread before and could hardly eat anything that the Yoshida family made for us. Just when I thought we were safe, she brought out a huge cake for the missionaries` birthdays (we all have March or April birthdays). The pieces were almost as big as American cake slices. It was intimidating, though I`m now worried that there`s no way I`ll be able to readjust to American food. The family is really good and wants to do what they can to help their friends learn about the gospel.

We went to Fukushima and back yesterday, which was fun! I didn`t end up having to teach a lesson, which was kind of a relief for me. They were having a White Day shokujikai (lunch), which I enjoyed immensely. It was a lot bigger than Yonezawa`s. The members were as nice as usual, with some asking me questions about English, the Chinese lady talking to me as if I perfectly understood her, etc. We also saw a singing competition in front of Fukushima station with some gospel music! It was pretty interesting. A group of girls tried there best to talk to us in English and were shocked to find that we can actually speak Japanese. It`s always fun to do that!

I think that`s about it for this week! I`ll try to send pictures, because I actually have one of our district! The rest of the p-day time will probably be spent picking classes for BYU and enjoying district p-day! Yay for 17 Miracles!

Talk more next week!


Elder Kirk Earl

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Sunday, March 1, 2015


Elder Earl and Elder Pierson

Hello, everyone!

We had a pretty busy but fun week here in Japan.

First of all, we finally got to leave Yonezawa and have our zone conference in Yamagata. It was, as may be expected, really good. President Smith always has great things to say, with a focus this time on the importance of the gift of tongues and overcoming addictions. One good line from our president: `I`ve been studying this language for more than eight years, and even now I only understand about 50% of the words spoken in Sacrament Meeting. There`s no way that you can understand every vocabulary word. Even you, Elder Earl.` I can certainly understand the language much better than when I first got here, but Japanese is definitely a difficult language. Most of the time, you have to judge by context what the meaning probably is.

We also watched `Meet the Mormons`, quite the surprise! It was nice to watch a `real` movie for once, and it was interesting to see the lives of Mormons in different parts of the world. It was strange watching the missionary head off, for sure! Especially the pizza party they had. All the Americans here miss that sort of thing! I was extremely impressed by what a well-made movie it ended up being. I`d recommend watching it!

Finally, we had our Chinese New Year event, and it went really well! I was surprised by how many people came, more than Sacrament Meeting attendance by a fair amount, with nearly half of the people non-members. For a rural area in Japan, it`s pretty exceptional. Our Eikaiwa students did an English puppet play, which was really goofy, but it helped them actually come to our activity, and I think they enjoyed it. Yamaguchi Shimai, our Chinese recent convert, made tons of dumplings, which were extremely delicious. It was great to see the developing relationship between members and nonmembers, and we also had an Eikaiwa student say that he wanted to come to church!

One interesting thing that happened was that on Monday we went to teach "H"-san before she headed off to Tokyo for vacation. Our joint cancelled on us just after we got to Taira Shimai`s apartment, so Taira Shimai asked one of her neighbors to joint so that we could go in the apartment and teach the lesson. This neighbor was "K"-kun`s mom. It turns out, she is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and she said that we could do lessons with the family if the dad`s not home (he doesn`t like foreigners). Things are picking up here!

Thanks for all your prayers for us missionaries here in Asia. It`s a great place!

Random other stuff: Pierson Choro and I head off to Fukushima on Sunday to teach a lesson in Chinese. Wish me luck! And we are officially getting the iPads this month! Elder Evans is coming in to Sendai on the 21st and we have our mission-wide conference, the first I`ll have ever experienced.



Gong Xi Fa Cai!


Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! It`s not really a major holiday out here, just as it is in America, but we`ve been having a good time here in Yonezawa!

On Saturday, we went to a Chinese New Year lunch party sponsored by YIRA, the international association of Yonezawa. Our investigator was planning on going, but she cancelled. However, we still were able to have a tasty, fun time eating food and listening to a person from a small Miao village talk about the traditions in her remote hometown (to get there, you have to fly to Guiyang, take a bus for two hours, take another bus for half an hour, and walk for two hours). There`s some people that we met there that we definitely want to try working with, so we`ll see how that goes! This week, we`ll have our own Chinese New Year Party at the church, so hopefully we can get decent attendance!

In other news, this week is going to be a bit less busy than normal. "H"-san is going to Tochigi for the next few weeks and "K"-kun seems to have dropped us. However, we will get to meet with "H"-san today at least! And "S"-san and her son came to church along with one of the other elders` investigators! We also have Zone Conference this week in Yamagata, so we`ll finally get a chance to leave the area. I love Yonezawa, but three weeks in the same place can get a bit long.

I`m not really sure what else to say. We`ve continued teaching lessons, having people progress in the typical slow Japanese way, but at least we have good people that we`re teaching! In good news, we haven`t had snow for a solid week so it might actually melt sometime! Winter is almost over! If we`re lucky, we`ll be able to ride bikes again someday!

Hope you are all doing well! See you soon-ish!


Elder Earl


We`ve been enduring the cold of Yonezawa and seeing miracles! If the snow would stop, this would be one of the best places to serve in, but we hear that there`s a full month left of blizzards. We`ve had to spend quite a bit on the bus, but we`ll make it out of winter pretty well, I think!

The work has been going pretty well. We were able to meet with almost all of our investigators this week, which meant we actually had a decent number of lessons. I`ll do a kind of summary of each investigator quickly.

"T"-san: Came to Sacrament Meeting! Wanted to test the importance of the Sacrament. He thinks that our church is true, unlike the Jehovah`s Witnesses.
"S"-san: Finally met! Her son got an answer to prayer again! She said she`s still not sure about baptism. She has not been smoking and is reducing her alcohol intake.
"H"-san: Studied that 10 Commandments. She`s still doing awesome. We`ll try meeting twice a week from now on.
"K"-kun: He`s doing pretty well, but he`s still kind of bad at doing what we ask him to do. Reading and praying is pretty slow, but we`ll keep working on him.
"S"-san: Had a decent lesson for once. He has a pretty sad story with his son that we`ve been hearing about, but hopefully he can overcome it.
"O"-san: Couldn`t meet, sadly.

We`ve been using the finding technique, known as `Sendai Stake Chirashi Posting`, recommended by our mission president. Basically what we do is leave a lot of pamphlets about our church specially produced for Tohoku in people`s postboxes. A week later, we come back and see if the read them and try to talk about it. Well, last week a woman named Iwai-san said that we could come back and discuss more, which we followed up on Saturday. It turns out that both she and her husband have a long history with missionaries, including getting lessons as a family nearly thirty years ago. Despite living less than ten minutes away from our apartment, they apparently hadn`t been visited in that long of a time. They are Buddhist but very friendly and willing to chat, so the other elders will practice teaching lessons with them.

We also gave a Book of Mormon to a man who didn`t really seem all that interested at first. He said that he had never really thought about God, but he let us talk for about half an hour. As he looked through the Book of Mormon, he said `ちょっと興味がある`, which means `I`m kind of interested`! We`ll follow up and see how that goes. We also had perfect timing running into the landlord of the apartment complex. We asked her what her purpose of life is, and she told us that she thinks that her purpose is to feel happy by helping others. We talked for a bit and managed to make a return appointment for tomorrow. She`s Buddhist as well, but I have high hopes for her!

This weekend was the famous Snow Lantern Festival here in Yonezawa. We made a lantern near the Shinto shrine with the YIRA group, so I`ll be sure to send a picture as well. The other gaijin are really weird. It`s going to be hard to readjust to American life. However, one of the women is really good at shuwa, so she`ll get me books and stuff to help me continue studying.

Finally, I got the dreaded `trunky letter`. The mission president sends it in one`s third to last transfer. The point is to keep missionaries from feeling trunky, but it is a stark reminder that the remaining time here in Japan is severely limited. I`m still focused on the mission, but I`m excited to come back to Utah and apply what I learned out here!

Thanks for all you do!


Yonezawa, Transfer 3


Hey everybody!

I`m not sure what to say about what`s happened this week. Mostly it`s been the usual things. We couldn`t meet as many of our investigators due to lots of annoying random things, but we still were able to meet a few of them. They are all progressing in their own slow way, but we`ll work to help them a lot this transfer!

We were supposed to play basketball with a less active, but he was `irusu` (at his home, but pretending not to be), so we weren`t completely sure what to do, as we had already rented out a basketball place. Olsen Choro, who had called me to tell me this bad news, asked whether there was anyone else who would play with us. Well, there was a group of high school kids each playing on their own phones. I asked whether they wanted to play with some gaijin, and they were pretty excited about that. They may not be investigators or anything, but at least we found a way to turn lemons in lemonade!

We also started Yamaguchi Shimai on her family history, taught a member missionary class, and enjoyed a few days without snow. Keep praying for us!


Elder Earl



Good morning, everyone!

I hope you are enjoying a nicer winter than I am. We got about four feet of snow yesterday, which brings the total to around seven feet in uncleared areas. I promise that I`m not exaggerating at all. It always hits on the weekends too, which doesn`t help much for getting people to sacrament meeting.

Anyhow, transfer calls came late Saturday; apparently, our companionship was the last in the mission, so we spent a long time worrying about it. Elder Whitrod is heading off to Miyako, and I`ll be district leader here in Yonezawa with my new companion, Elder Pierson. 

We didn`t do anything too crazy this week. We went to sushi with a less active from Washington who told us about his mission experiences in Brazil. It`s certainly not the same as Japan, for good and for  bad! He wants to help further the work here in Japan, but his job with the city keeps him from coming to church on Sunday. He will change jobs soon, but I`m just hoping that he`ll return to church. We meet him at the lunches at his job fairly often, as long as our investigator, "H"-san. The Chinese lady is always so happy when I come, she calls me Ye-san instead of either of my other names. I`m really glad that I can stay and work with these people.

We also had to give a `totsuzen` blessing. Unfortunately, our oil had leaked away, but we still did the blessing and were even able to do it in Japanese. Even though it is a less active member, he has strong faith that he`ll be healed, because it worked last time with the other pair of elders. He and his wife don`t really have a great understanding in regards to the knowledge aspect of the gospel, but they at least know about the power of God!

Our investigators are doing pretty well. "T"-san made it to church just after the sacrament had been passed and "H"-san came about an hour early, only to leave quickly due to an appointment in Yamagata. "S"-san`s been busy, but we`re hoping to meet with her this week. We haven`t gotten any new investigators for quite a while, but because we have to walk everywhere, it`s hard to fit finding time in our busy schedule. We`ll do our best, though!

Thanks for all that you do! Happy Groundhog Day!



P.S. The picture is at the international place with "H"-san and her daughter.