Monday, October 29, 2012

Seeing as how we don't have an oven,
we got creative and cooked the brownies
in our rice cooker

Well hello again. Yet another exciting week here in Yamato. So, I had a strange realization not too long ago. This friday is my 6 month mark. Even though it feels like I've been gone for quite some time, it really doesn't feel like I've been gone for 6 months... wierd.
Anyway, Elder Nakamura and I had a chance to use the party in a box that my family sent me for my birthday. We were planning to use it last week on p-day, but that ended up changing when we were invited to go bowling with the Elders in Fujisawa. Bowling was way fun, and it was good to spend some time with some of the other Elders in our District. What ended up happening with the party in a box, however, is we post-poned it a day, and had a short party during lunch. We blew up all the balloons, hung up the lanterns, then ate the brownies that were baking during study time. We of course had vanilla ice cream to go with them, compliments of missionaries past who left it in our freezer. We didn't quite finish it off, but I'm sure we will someday... maybe... But anyways, yes! We had brownies, icecream, and Dr. Pepper. The rest of the district helped us finish off the brownies at district meeting the next day.
The rest of the week has been fairly routine. Lots of finding, a few lessons, english class, and more finding. There were some interesting things of note however. One of the members in our ward, Sakuma Takuto, hasn't been coming to church for a while. I thought that was strange, because he's a pretty solid guy. We have an investigator that we thought Sakuma would be able to get along with and help out really well, so we tried to get in touch with him. When we called, he didn't answer. That was slightly dissapointing. Well, out of the blue, he shows up to a softball activity saturday morning. He apologized for missing our call, and explained that he's been really sick lately. He also said he was intending to go to Church on Sunday, which he did. Awesome. I don't think it's any coincidence that he just happened to come back to church the very same week we thought about him and how much help he could give our investigator.
We don't normally eat on the floor. I promise.
Also on Saturday, the Yamato Ward had a halloween party. We were invited to come. Well, that sounded like fun, so of course we decided to go. We invited Jun to come with us, and figured it would be a good opportunity for him to meet some of the members. Well, what they neglected to tell us when we were invited, and what we didn't find out until we showed up, was that the Halloween party was actually a Primary Halloween party. Yeah... That would have been nice to know before we invited a 40 year old man to the party. Haha! He laughed it off, and we ended up just having a chat off in the corner while the kids had their party. We did get some cake though, so I guess Jun enjoyed the party anyway.
Sunday ended up being really fun too. This week was the Yamato Ward's primary program. That was really fun. Some of the kids in the Yamato Ward are really funny. There are some kids in the primary that really remind me of the kids in my ward back home. Later that night, Elder Nakamura and I had dinner with the Gunn Family from the Zama Branch. We had tacos. Delicious. Well, that was really fun, and then something that's amusing in retrospect happened. First, I suppose I should explain a little bit so this makes sense. A vast majority of the members of the Zama Branch are military personell, and live on either the Sagamihara Housing installation or one of the two bases in our area. To get into any of these three areas, you need a sponsor to sign you in, and you're given a visitor's pass. We have to do this every time we go to visit any of the members that live on base. The Gunn family is one of these familes. So anyway, as we're leaving, Brother Gunn takes us to the pass office, we sign out, then he goes home and Elder Nakamura and I go our merry way. Well, as we're getting on our bikes to leave, I realized that my bag was still inside Brother Gunn's car. Well, we can't go back to his house to get it, because we need a sponsor to sign us in. We couldn't call him, because their number wasn't in the cell phone (and since we confirmed our appointment at church, we didn't call them earlier, so the number wasn't in the call history either). I had their number written in my planner, but my planner was inside my bag... along with my scriptures, my camera, my electronic dictionary, pass along cards, and pretty miuch everything else I typically carry around with me. The only thing we could do was go back to our apartment and look up their number on the meal calander. By that time, it was too late to do anything about it that night, so I had to wait until today to get my bag back. Oops. Haha! yeah, that was slightly embarrassing.
Anyways, that's about it for this week. I hope you all are doing well! More to come next week!

Elder Blake

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hello everyone! This last week has been fairly exciting. Due to the season, the weather is at that awkward stage where sometimes the mornings are cold enough that you kinda want warmer clothes, but the afternoons are still hot enough that short sleeves are the way to go. Yeah. I've been told that once winter hits it'll be pretty cold though, so we'll see how that goes.
So almost exactly a week ago, last monday after emails, we had a dinner appointment with the Bishop family on Zama Base. They took us to eat at the food court, and when we walk in this man walks over to us and says "Elders! Hey, I have a question for you." Well, you can imagine we were quite suprised, and a little excited. Well, it turns out that this man's name is Rick Taylor. He's only in Japan for a couple of weeks to teach some kind of class, and he was wanting to know when and where to go for sunday services. We of course told him where the church was at and everything, but in the course of our conversation, found out that he's from Gilbert. Cool, right? But that's not all. I after hearing that he's from Gilbert, I of course told him that I was also from Gilbert. Well, after talking a little more, it turns out that his cousin, Sister Crocket, lives in my ward. Haha! wow. The world has gotten smaller, once again.
Me, Rick Taylor, and Elder Nakamura
Sitting on a chair at a train station.. Elder Apalanio's
chair broke so we brought him a new one
Tuesday was pretty fun. First of all, it was my birthday. Several people asked me to let them know what I did to celebrate, so here it goes. First of all, Elder Nakamura and I made a card for Elder Harrison, whose birthday is also the 16th of October. When we left the apartment for the day, we went and bought some treats for the Harrisons, then took them over to their apartment. They weren't home because they had some meeting, so we stuffed Elder Harrison's card and gift into the post box. I'm sure they weren't expecting that when they came home and checked the mail. Haha! So yeah, after that, we went out and did work. Our day was completely open, except for a dinner appointment. That means we had almost 6 hours to do some finding. As you can imagine, 6 hours is a long time to be trying to find people interested in learning about Christ. So, about halfway through, we stopped at a 7-11, grabbed some drinks, and took a quick break. Yay! Birthday treats! After that, we had our dinner appointment with the Smith family. They're a way fun family. And they have a hairless cat. So I got to hold a hairless cat for my birthday. When we went back to the apartment at the end of the day, there was a bag hanging on our doorknob. It was filled with various candies, and a card. Wouldn't you know it, the Harrisons attacked us while we were out too. Yes, that was my birthday. A gift... exchange? of sorts with the Harrisons, 6 hours in the streets, a quick break, and a hairless cat. Exciting, right? Right. Oh! And that night I also opened the birthday package my family sent me. It was a "Party in a Box", with balloons, brownie mix, candles, some candy, a few gifts (most of them were somehow related to ninjas) and letters and cards from quite a few friends and family members. I haven't had a chance to use the party in a box yet, but I'll let you know how that goes once I do. My favorite part though was easily the letters and cards. So to everyone who wrote a letter or card for my birthday package, thank you. You're the best!
Elder Nakamura enjoying the dinner that I made for us
So, as far as the rest of the week goes, it's been more of the typical missionary schedule. Ishihara and Jun are both doing really well. I'm excited to keep working with them and watch the progress they've been making. General Conference was also a great help. They were both really impressed with it. I hope that their experiences with General Conference will give them the boost they need to keep progressing. On Sunday, Elder Nakamura and I went back to his old area to attend the baptismal service of one of his former investigators. That was way good. It was exciting to be able to go and watch that. The man who was baptized is actually from Gana, and he seems really solid. He's a good addition to the ward out there. Hopefully there will be some baptisms in the Yamato Ward soon too.
So those are the highlights for the week. Maybe by next week we'll have had a chance to use the party in a box and I'll be able to let you know about it. Anyways, until next week!

Elder Blake

Monday, October 15, 2012

   Hey everyone! It's been a way good week over here in Japan. It's been great having this opportunity to work with Elder Nakamura. He's a great missionary, and a fun companion. I'd have to say the highlight of the week was definitely general conference. It was a little different watching it a week late, but the talks were all still great. I was able to watch it in english, but I ended up watching about half of it in Japanese so that we could sit with a Japanese investigator who came. I'm really glad they came, because the talks during the session they came to had alot of things in them we had been preparing to teach them anyway.
   So, I still need to read the talks that I watched in Japanese, (I understood enough to get a general idea, but that was about it. After all, general authorities do tend to use some elevated language at times.) but my favorite talk so far was Elder Russel M Nelson's talk, "Ask the Missionaries! They can help you." It may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I'm currently serving a mission. Haha! But it was my favorite, mostly because he so clearly and directly spoke to those who were watching who were not members of our faith, which obviously includes our investigators who came. Haha! I find this slightly amusing. You all watched conference last week, and have already finished discussing your favorite bits, and here I am and that's all I can really think about to share. Well, I guess you'll just have to put up with it.
   Um... what else is there... Oh yeah! So I neglected to tell you about our new investigator that Elder Christensen and I found the last week before he transferred. His name is Eduardo Suarez, and he's Brazillian. He's lived in Japan for 20 years though, is married to a Japanese woman, has a son, and speaks fluent Japanese. Oh. and he's wicca. Yeah. We have a wicca investigator. This should be interesting. Anyways, we haven't been able to meet with him yet, because Elder Nakamura and I have been so busy with his new responsibilities as the district leader. Well, when we went grocery shopping today, guess who we saw at the store? Eduardo. Guess who we're having a lesson with this wednesday? Eduardo. I'm excited.
   So I recieved a birthday package from my family this week. No, I have not opened it yet. I've been a good boy, and I'm waiting until the 16th to open it :P It's been sitting on the extra chair in our apartment all week. I'm not sure if I've already mentioned this, but I actually found out that Elder Harrison actually has the same birthday I do. So tomorrow we'll be celebrating a double birthday! well... Ok, I'm not sure if we'll be doing anything special or not (probably not), but both of us have a birthday tomorrow! I'll be sure to let you know if anything exciting ends up happening though.
   Here's an interesting story that's actually from my Mom's email to me this week. She got me pretty good. As I was reading through, it said that my brother Jared had a new room mate, I was just like, "ok, cool. That's new". And then the email referred to the new room mate as "she" I was just like "What!?!? This will be good." Then I kept reading and found out it was a cat... haha. Yeah, she got me. Well, my family can enjoy their new cat. I'm just grateful that I won't have to live with it for the next year and a half. Most of you probably already know, but I really am not all that fond of cats.
   So yeah. Those are the big things from this week that come to mind. I appreciate all the support from you guys! I'll be sure to fill you in on our crazy adventures some more next week! Later!

September/October Pictures

Someone took us out bowling for our dinner appointment one night.

The new clock for our apartment

My birthday package came!! I waited until my birthday to open it though.

Monday, October 01, 2012

   Well, to start out with, let me just say that I can now take riding my bike in a typhoon off of my mission bucket list. Haha! Yeah, that was way fun. We had a typhoon blow in last night around 7. We had received instructions from the mission home earlier in the morning to make sure we were back in our apartments before the typhoon hit. Well, Elder Christensen and I were with Brother Foster until about 6, so while we were riding home, we got caught in the beginning phases of it. It was pretty wet and windy, let me tell you. When we got back to the apartment, we were so wet we might as well have just jumped in a pool. But, all is well though, as we were home safe and sound a good 45 minutes or so before the really crazy wind hit. It's so windy we could feel the apartment start to rock from time to time. Glad I wasn't out riding my bike during that. Haha!
   So yeah, other than the typhoon, things were still really good this last week. I have 3 really exciting things to share this week. Ready? Cuz here we go. So, first off, you need to know who Nami is. She's a member who comes to our weekly English class, and recently starting coming back to church maybe less than half a year ago. Well, she brought a friend with her to English class last week, and introduced him to us. This friend of hers is named Shun, and he's pretty interested in learning more about the church. He seems really open, and I'm excited to start working with him. What's even more exciting though, is to see the progress that Nami has been able to make in strengthening her own faith, and watching her get to the point where she is now comfortable sharing about the gospel with her friends.
   Second thing, Saturday we had a lesson with Jun that went really well. Elder and Sister Harrison joined in on it, and it was great. So, lessons are exciting right? Well, what's even better is that Jun finally came to church yesterday for the first time since we've met him. It was really good to see him there, and Elder Christensen and I are incredibly grateful to have such an awesome branch to work with. I don't think there was a single individual that saw Jun that didn't take a second to introduce themselves and welcome him to church. Fantastic. We're hoping that Jun will continue to progress.
   The third thing is our new friend Ishihara. She just showed up at church yesterday out of the blue. She had heard from a friend about the church, and wanted to check it out. Well, during sacrament meeting the Spirit pretty much smashed her in the face with a 2x4. She's really spiritually sensitive, and it was easy to see that she was able to feel that. After sacrament meeting we had a quick lesson with her, and we'll be meeting with her again later this week. I'm really excited to see where this one goes. She's truly been prepared by the Lord.
   So, those are my three exciting bits of news from the week. Other than that, there was a talent show on Saturday hosted by the Fujisawa Ward. We ended up going to that with Jun. It was really fun. There was some singing, a few hula routines, a magic routine, and a group even did the Thriller. It was good to be able to spend that time with Jun just doing a fun activity like that.
Well, that's about it for now. More adventures to come next week!