Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello everyone! Thing are finally starting to cool off here in Japan, and the humidity is now no longer quite as ridiculous of a problem as it was before. Hopefully things are starting to cool off for you guys back in Arizona as well. It is almost October after all.
Well, things have been good this last week. We've been meeting alot with our investigator Jonas. He's doing well, and he's hoping that he'll get his work permit this week. We were also able to meet with Jun again after he got back from his trip to Korea. We've also been able to get to know some of the members a bit better over the course of this last month, because we've been able to have dinner with 2-3 familes a week lately. The members here are great. They're all super willing to help out, and they do a great job of befriending anyone we bring with us to church.
So even after I've left the MTC, the world still isn't getting any bigger. This last week we did exchanges with the Zone leaders, so I stayed in Yamato and worked with Elder Fuller for the day. He's from Idaho, but it turns out that his uncle lives in Gilbert. Not only that, but his uncle actually lives less than two miles away. Pretty crazy, huh?
This weeek we also went and visited Brother Foster, a Nigerian brother that was baptized earlier this year. He made some Nigerian stew for us. The stew was pretty spicy, but it was really good. I guess in Nigeria they usually eat it with a banana. I never would have thought to eat spicy stew with a banana, but it was actually really delicious. I'm definitly going to be playing around with that a little bit.
Um... well, that about sums up the highlights from this week. haha! doesn't really sound like a whole lot happened, did it? Well, It was still a good week anyway, and we've been working hard. Maybe next week I'll have some more interesting stories to share. I hope everyone is doing well! Thank you to those of you who have sent letters recently! If you haven't gotten a response back yet, it's either in the mail or will be soon! More later!
Elder Blake

Monday, September 17, 2012

   Well another week has gone by here in good old Yamato City. So this last week has been fairly interesting, but also fairly quiet. Elder Christensen and I recently made friends with some bums who hang around the Yamato station. One of them is Brazillian, and he called out to us, so we went over and talked with him. Now every time we see him or his friends, we say hello and chat for a few minutes. so yeah, that's always exciting.
   This week we went on splits with our district leader. I went to Fujisawa with Elder Welch, who is actually on his last transfer right now, so he'll be going home in october. It was a really neat expecience to be able to work with him. He has a really interesting perspective and approach to missionary work. He really took it to heart when he was taught to use his talents to further the work in his own way. He's a really crafty guy, and likes making things. He's almost always making something as a gift for his investigators. For example, while we were out and about together, we were also keeping our eyes open for rocks we could use to make a prayer rock (you leave it on your pillow as a reminder to pray before going to bed) for one of his investigators. something simple, easy, and inexpensive. He's always doing little things like that. I think it's great that he's found a way to put his talents to use.
   Saturday Elder Christensen and I went to the flea market they have at the station every 3rd saturday of the month with some of the members from the ward. It's always fun to look around and see what kind of things will be there for sale. Alot of it is junk, a bit of it is overpriced, but there's alot of really neat stuff too. That night Elder Christensen and I went to kendo class with Iwano, one of our students in the english class we teach every week. He's a 7th degree blackbelt in kendo. pretty cool stuff.
    Sunday was actually a really great day. One of our investigators, Ito, dropped off the map almost 6 weeks ago. We haven't been able to get in touch with him or meet him except for the one time we ran into him at the station for a few minutes. He couldn't talk for long though, because he had somewhere he needed to be. So Sunday he shows up for church, out of the blue. What a nice suprise. He says that he'll be able to meet more regularly now, so I'm looking forward to that.
   So I have a funny story from today. When Elder Christensen and I were getting lunch, we were sitting down at this table next to a Japanese man and his teenage son. On the other side of this Japanese man, a woman and two boys about 5 or so come and sit down. While the mom is gone to buy food, these two little boys are being typical little boys and goofing around a little. The Japanese man is watching them, and when the boys notice, they start saying (in japanese obviously) "what're you looking at?". To which the man responded "you!" and started laughing. Haha! Those little boys were so funny.
   That's about all for this week. I hope everyone is doing well! Stay safe, and enjoy the weather as it starts to cool off!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Well hello everyone! It's been another week here in Japan, and things have been looking good. The weather has been fantastic the last few days, and just dumping buckets of rain in the morning. It usually clears up by noon, but it's been a change of pace from the sunny skys that we've seen almost every day since I got here in June. Now that it's September, the seasons should start to turn in the next few weeks. The tree right outside our apartment window already has a few leaves starting to change color. I'm not sure why, because it's still in the high 80's almost every day, but regardless! The leaves are begining to change!
So, just to go over a few of the highlights this week, first and foremost is Jun Granada. I mentioned him a few weeks ago. He's the philipino who met with the missionaries forever ago, and the very first sunday after we met him the missionary who first found him showed up at church while he was visiting Japan. Well, he's been pretty busy, but we were able to have a lesson with him, and has accepted the invitation to be baptized. Exciting, right? He's still got a ways to go, seeing as how he's only had one lesson, but it's a step in the right direction for sure. So that's exciting.
Everyone else is progressing well. It's a little difficult to meet with alot of them sometimes, because everyone is really busy, but it is Japan after all. Not many people have a whole lot of free time. I do have some good news about one of the new members in the Zama Branch though! Brother Mensah, one of the Nigerian brothers, moved to Japan around December of 2011. He was baptized in March, and has been struggling to find a job ever since he came to Japan back in Febuary. He was finally able to get a work permit, and he finally found a job! We're all way excited for him. His job is clear on the other side of Tokyo though, which means he's going to have to move. We're a little sad to see him go, but we're still happy that he was able to land a job finally. He's a really humble guy, and he's got a great spirit about him.
That's about it for this week. Everything else has just been more of the same. Thanks for all of your support! I got a few unexpected letters this last week, so that was really exciting to hear what's been going on with all of you. Responses to those will be coming soon!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Well hello! It's now officially transfer 2 for me here in Japan, and the work is going well as always. To start with, At district meeting last week, our district leader Elder Burningham gave us an assignment to study the Christlike attributes section of Preach My Gospel again, and to choose one that we would like to develop, then make a daily plan of how we can develop that attribute. I ended up selecting humility, because let's face it, I'm the most humble person you know, right? haha! So yeah. Something interesting that caught my attention this time around when I was studying the Christlike attributes is when it says that a characteristic of a humble person is they recognize the hand of God in their life. So I asked myself, "do I recognize the hand of God in my life as much as I ought to?". I decided then that my daily plan would be to write down at least 5 things in my planner at the end of every day the the Lord had done for us that day. The first couple days were a little tough, because all of our appointements had fallen through for those days. But over the course of just a few short days, it became much easier to think of things to write down, even on days we weren't able to meet with anybody. That's been a great experience, and I'm glad that Elder Burningham gave us the assignment.
Last Tuesday I had an opportunity to go to the Tokyo Temple. That was way aweome. It was good to be able to go to the temple after over 6 weeks of not being able to. Later that afternoon Elder Christensen and I went to Akihabara with one of the missionaries he served with that's actually going home tomorrow. Akihabara was quite the interesting place. I think I saw more references to anime and video games in the first 30 seconds walking around that district then the entire 6 weeks of living in Yamato. And people. Lots of people. More people than I've seen anywhere else in Japan so far. It was fun.
So, it's been a good week, but the weekend especially was great. There are some less active brothers in our ward, and one of them goes to sports night on friday night almost every week. Saturday morning there was a stake softball activity, so we invited him to that. We met up at the station saturday morning, and lo and behold he brought his brother with him! Great! So we have a great time at softball, and had a lesson with them afterwards. They both said they would come back to church, so we're lookig forward to seeing them next week. Later that day we had an appointment with another less active member. Before our appointment, we did some housing at the apartment complex he lives at, and found someone that we were able so set up a return appointment with. Not bad. Our lesson with the less active member that afternoon went fairly well. He can't come to church because of work, but he still reads his book of mormon and prays every day. Good for him. He wants us to start teaching his duaghter who is 24-ish and still living at home. We're hoping that will work out, because they could both really strengthen each other if she accepts.
Sunday was probably my favorite day this week. Saturday evening we had gone by our phillipino investigator John's house to try to visit him. We haven't been able to see him for almost 4 weeks because of his work schedule. He wasn't home, but his wife was, and she told us to come back sunday afternoon. So we did. John was home, and we were able to have a lesson with him. We found out that he got his work schedule changed up a bit so he's not working overnight anymore, so hopefully he'll be a little easier to get ahold of now. That was really exciting to be able to finally have a lesson with him after almost a month of not even being able to have a conversation on the phone with him. After our lesson with John, we went and had dinner with the ward mission leader from the Zama Military Branch, Brother Smith. It was a good time, and ended up turning into a mission business sort of dinner. We found out about one of his son's friends who went to youth conference just a few weeks ago, has been to church a few times, and has expressed interest in learning more. Right now the plan is to take him to sports night friday night, and if he can get permission from his dad we can start teaching him. So yeah, Sunday was a great day.
Those are the highlights for this week! It's been good to hear from those of you who have written letters the last few weeks! I appreciate the love and support! More to come next week!
   Elder Blake

Monday, August 20, 2012

Well, it's been another week, and things have been going well. It wasn't quite as exciting as last week, but there were still plenty of things that went on. I'm just gonna highlight a few things though for the interest of time. And it's hard to tell when things happened anymore anyway. All the days just kinda blend together now. Haha! So anyway, this last week while Elder Christensen and I are out streeting people, we walk by this small pub at about 7 or 8 at night. There was a table set up outside with 3 men and 1 woman, all between their late 40's to late 50's. They weren't wasted, but they had definitely been drinking. One of the men called out to us, and recommended the restaurant next door, thinking we were hopelessly lost tourists looking for some food. We ended up going over and starting up a conversation. That was probably one of the funniest conversations I've had all week. They were just drunk enough to be a little weird, but not so drunk that they didn't make sense. We found out that discussing religion with drunk people, while entertaining, doesn't really go anywhere very fast (hardly surprising), so after about 10 minutes or so we gave them some pass along cards and went our way.
Saturday the Atsugi Military base had a friendship festival thing, that's apparently only once a year. It was open base, so anyone with proof of residency could go on base. Elder Christensen and I went, hoping to meet up with one of our investigators. He ended up being a no show, but we went in anyway to see what we could see. It was a good thing we did, because we ended up finding a couple that had been stationed in Japan since March, and hadn't been to church since then. We ended up giving them the information about where the church was located, and they told us that they would start coming. So that was great. Other than that though, the friendship festival was essentially just a bunch of stands selling the same food lined up around a field on the base, and a stage with a concert set up on the far end of the field. It was really wierd after a month of being surrounded by Japanese people to go on base and see americans all over the place and hear random english conversations again. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like after two years of being surrounded by Japanese people.
Later that same Saturday, the Yamato Ward had a summer festival. The military branch was invited to attend, but only a few families from the military branch actually came, which is unfortunate because it was really fun. We had Okinawa Taco Rice, Shaved Ice, and some games and skits. Elder and Sister Harrison, the senior couple who work with the members on the base, brought a family with them, and Elder Christensen and I had an investigator that was able to come too. It was a great experience for sure. It was a great opportunity for everyone to relax a little and just get to socialize, and a good opportunity for our investigators to get to know some of the members a bit better.
Those are a couple of the highlights from this week! More to come later!