Monday, July 30, 2012

well, it's been another exciting week here in Japan. We're still working with the same people as before, and staying busy teaching them and helping them out. The members in this area are great. They're always trying to find ways to help out the missionaries, and are more than wiling to try to help out when we ask. One of the members in our ward, Brother Seya, actually just returned from his mission just a little while ago, so he's been a great help. I also actually found out that Brother Honda in our ward is brothers with the two Honda Brothers that were at the MTC with me. That means I now know 3 out of the 4 Honda brothers in this particular family. How cool is that? Oh, and to make the world even smaller (as it seems to happen every week), I forgot the mention last week that when I was upacking all my bags when I first got here, I found a picture of Clark Sensei and one of his companions in one of my dresser drawers. I don't know if he left it, or if his companion in the picture left it, but I definitely wasn't expecting to find a picture of Clark Sensei in my apartment. Crazy.
It would seem that I arrived in Japan at quiet the eventful time. Just this last weekend was the Yamato City Summer Matsuri. Saturday Elder Christensen and I had lunch with one of the families in our ward, after which we went and tried to visit one of our investigators. He was busy, so we ended up just visiting for a few minutes instead of teaching the lesson we had planned. Afterwards we did some street contacting, and later in the evening we had the opportunity to go to the Matsuri. It was pretty fun. There were several areas with stages set up and groups doing traditional japanese dances. Of course, there was lots of food for sale too. We ended up meeting with a member and went around the matsuri for a while with them. While we were there we were able to talk with lots of people, which should come as no surprise since there were people everywhere. A few of the people we talked to at the Matsuri may start coming to Englih class, but we'll have to wait and see if they come. All in all though, it was a fun experience.
Sunday was a pretty busy day as well. After church we had a few appointments, and after those were finished we still had a few hours left before dinner with a member family. So we went back to the Matsuri and tried contacting people there. We were able to talk with quite a few people, and hopefully we were able to build a stronger relationship between the church and the community as well. When we finally headed over to the member's house for dinner, we ended up finding a street along the way that was nothing but shops. Nothing too special about that, right? Well, in Japan, it's fairly common to have metal garage style doors at the fronts of shops other small buildings. Every single shop on this street that was already closed and had their shop front closed up, had these full murals painted across their entire door. It was way cool. You never know what you'll find next here in Tokyo.
Well, that's about it for now! More to come next week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

   Hey everyone! I don't know if my sister put anything up last week since I wasn't able to email home, but It's been quite the adventure so far my first week in Japan! I'm currently in the Yamato ward of the Fujisawa stake. We have a military base in our area, so we actually have an english branch that we attend every sunday in addition to our Japanese ward. My trainer is named Elder Christensen. He's already been in the Yamato area for 12 weeks, and is pretty familiar with everything going on here. There are some pretty neat people here that I've met so far. I'm excited. Oh, and an interesting tidbit about our area: the chapel we meet in is the same chapel they have a picture of in the Japanese version of the Word of Wisdom Phamplet. Pretty cool, huh?
   Elder Christensen is a pretty interesting guy. He's from Salt Lake, likes to longboard, snowboard, his family used to travel alot, and he's been out for about 13 transfers. He's pretty mellow, and can be kinda quiet sometimes, but the members really seem to like him alot, so he must know what he's doing. I hope I can learn alot from him.
   The Yamato ward is fairly small geographically compared to some of the other areas in the mission, but there are still plenty of people, and it's still plenty big. Our apartment is about a 10 minute ride away from the Yamato subway station which is pretty central to our area. I was told on sunday that Yamato City has a population of about 300,000. Not too shabby. We have a handful of people we're teaching right now, but we're still doing our fair share of street contacting because they've all been fairly busy lately.
So my first full day was pretty exciting. Wendsday morning we did some training with President Budge, got a crash course on some basics of the mission from the office Couple, met our trainers, had lunch, and then we were off to our areas. Every wednesday night we teach english conversation classes as a community service project, which means that my first day in the field I ended up teaching an english class. That was fun. What's really funny is that all the lessons we've taught so far have been to investigators that aren't Japanese, so they've been in english. I have yet to teach a lesson in Japanese, and I've been here a week. I've done plenty of street contacting in Japanese, but haven't taught a lesson yet. Defintely not what I was expecting.
   My favorite thing about being in japan so far is probably the city itself. It's always really interesting to be riding around and see these really new modern buildings everywhere, and then in the middle of nowhere there's just this stone wall that could be hundreds of years old and you would never even know. The blend of modern and traditional architecture is really different from that back home. The weather has been pretty great lately too. Unfortunately, it's just not meant to last. My first couple of days were in the 90's with pretty close to 100% humidity. It cooled off for a few days when a storm blew in, but now it's starting to warm back up again.
I just sent some pictures home to my family, so once those arrive there should be a few getting put up on the blog soon. I hope everyone is doing well! More to come next week!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Well, only one more week at the MTC, and things have been quite exciting lately. Last week for the 4th of july, at the end of the day we had an MTC fireside sort of thing to celebrate the holiday. There was some miscommunication, so everyone began to arrive in the auditorium about half an hour earlier than anticipated, so to kill time they had us sing some songs. We all sang happy birthday to a few people who's birthdays weren't too far away. After that, however, we sang "popcorn popping". That was quite the experience, to see 2,000 missionaries all standing up, singing popcorn popping, handmotions and all, and completely loving it. To top it all off, after we sang popcorn popping, the music director asked for suggestions. Wouldn't you know it, we ended up also singing the snowman song. Win. After the fireside, we were all instructed to go outside, and to "not return to the residency halls until after the final firework has been launched". So we all got to watch the firework show being launched from just a few blocks away at the BYU stadium. That was pretty cool. and to top it all off, after we returned to the residency halls at the end of the show, my room mates and I are in our room talking and getting ready for bed, and someone comes sprinting from around the corner, into our room (he has a hoody on and an improvised mask), jumps halfway across the room, turns a full 180 in the air, throws a fistfull of dryer sheets, sprays some airfreshener the instant he hits the ground, and is gone again all within literally about 3 seconds of us seeing him. I was impressed. And it was hilarious.
Other than that, it's just been a regular week... ok, it's been anything but regular. I'll be honest. We all have our flight plans now, so that's on everybody's mind. It's our last week at the MTC, so we're all trying to buckle down and finish all our last minute preperations before we head out but there's something irregular going on almost every day because of our preperations to fly out to Japan. I'm super excited. We've all been making leaps and bounds in our abilities to teach, and it's been quite amazing to see how much everyone has grown in just 10 weeks. Even though we're the same in alot of ways, we're a completely different group in many ways as well. It's exciting. I hope we can all hit the ground running when we get to Japan.
So, I have some pretty exciting news. Some Japanese broadcasting group is coming to the MTC tomorrow to do a kind of report of sorts on the MTC and the missionaries. It's going to be broadcast to 6 million viewers in England, and pretty much the entire country of Japan. Since it's a Japanese broadcasting group, they're obviously interested specifically in the missionaries going to Japan. Wouldn't you know it, but my district is the one they're going to observing and interviewing tomorrow. How cool is that? They're gonna make sure to send us links to the videos once they're broadcasted, and I'll be sure to get those links to you guys as well. It should be an interesting experience for sure.
That's about it for now. Things are gonna be kinda crazy the next few days, but it'll be fun. I'm not sure how next week is gonna work with getting an update to you all, seeing as how I'll be traveling pretty much all day monday, and because of the dateline I arrive in Japan Tuesday night. So, there may not be a blog post next week. We'll see how it goes. More to come later!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Well, it's been two months and a day since I left home to come to the MTC, and in just under two weeks I'll be flying out to Japan. It's been quite the experience for sure. Sometimes it feels like we've been at the MTC for way longer than two months, and sometimes it still feels like we just barely got here yesterday. Despite all that, it's definitely been a great experience.
I don't know if there's been anything about it in the news or not, but there's a forest fire that's been burning somewhere nearby for a little over a week now. Every few days when the wind blows in the right direction, the entire valley fills up with smoke and we can smell the fires. It's really wierd to be walking around outside and just smell smoke like that. Hopefully they get it under control soon. Wherever it's burning though, it's far enough away that it isn't a concern here at the MTC.
It's been a relatively quiet week here at the MTC this last week. Just more of the usual routine of studying, teaching, and more studying. One interesting thing, however, was when I met a missionary that knows my Uncle Conrad and his family who live in Missouri. His name was either Elder Travis or Elder Tanner. I can't remember which one, but I'm pretty sure it was Elder Travis. We were standing in line together at the cafeteria and started talking, found out he was from that area of Missouri, asked if he would happen to know Uncle Conrad, and it turns out they're in the same stake. Wasn't expecting that one. The only other notable event from this week was when we found out that one of our teachers, Shaner Sensei, was offered an internship out on the east coast, and yesterday was his last day of work here at the MTC. So, we all had to say goodbye just a little earlier than we had been planning on, but we're all happy that he was able to land this internship and (hopefully) get a jumpstart on his career.
Oh! I heard a funny story that I thought would be worth sharing during one of our meetings on Sunday. The wife of one of the MTC president's counsilors shared a story about one time she had a bunch of little children over at the house for daycare, and they were all around the ages of 3-5. They had started playing a game of "I Spy", and one of the times it was this sister's turn to spy something, she saw a little statue figurine of Jesus and two children. After all the kids finally guessed what it was she had spied, she went and took it down off the shelf and asked the children if they knew who it was in this figurine. One of the little girls, Erin, who was 4 years old, answered "I know who that is! That's Jesus! He's from Australia." Kids say the funniest things, don't they? It turns out that Erin's family had moved to the states from australia not to long before this had happened, so in her mind Jesus was associated with her old home in Australia. The sister has used this story to illustrate the point that regardless of where in the world it is that we are living, the gospel of Christ can help anyone and everyone, and we need to share it.
That's about it for this week! More to come later!