Monday, June 24, 2013

Hey everyone!
   How are things going for you all? I hope you're all good! Things have been going pretty well over here in Japan. I suppose this week I should start with the biggest news first. As I mentioned last week, the mission is splitting on July 1, and I would find out which mission I'm going to end up in after transfer calls on Saturday. Well, those transfer calls were two days ago. I found out that I'm staying in Atsugi, which means that I'll be in the Tokyo South mission after the mission splits in a week. It'll be interesting to see what happens. The Tokyo south mission is really small. It only has 4 stakes, and 27 wards. If you figure that they're expecting to have around 200 missionaries by the end of the year, that's between 7 and 8 missionaries per ward. Right now starting this transfer, there's already a ward with 8 missionaries. The Fujisawa ward had 4 Elders and 4 Sister missionaries.
So on Wednesday there were two birthdays. One was Brother Kitajima, who helps us out a lot and participates in a lot of our missionary activities. The other was one of the students who regularly comes to the English class we teach for community service. We decided to make cookies for everyone at English class (which conveniently happens to be on Wednesday night) to celebrate! I asked my mom to send me the recipe for my Grandma's peanut butter cookies, and they were a hit. Everyone enjoyed them. Elder Hoshino made butter cookies. They were pretty good too, but they're called butter cookies for a reason. He told me the recipe. It's pretty simple: equal parts butter and flour, and half as much sugar. Then you can add whatever you like, such as coco powder, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, etc. Like I said, they were good, but it's a lot of butter.
   Yesterday we had a pretty interesting experience. We had a first lesson with a new investigator that we found last week. We showed up, and he unexpectedly brought a friend along. As you can imagine, we were more than happy to teach him and his friend. But, his friend had another idea in mind. He kept trying to teach us about Buddhist stuff. I just thought it was pretty funny. We showed up with the expectation of teaching them about the church, and his friend had the expectation of teaching us about Buddhism. However, the interesting thing, is that during the "lesson", the guy we came to meet didn't say much, and we were mostly talking to this guy's friend. Towards the end, the friend stepped out for a minute to take a call, and as soon as his friend was gone, he asked me if he could look at the Book of Mormon I had had out for the entire discussion, we gave it to him, and he agreed to start reading it. He also asked some other really good sincere questions. But, it was only after his friend stepped out. He's clearly interested, but for whatever reason he doesn't want his friend to know. We'll see how this one turns out. It should be interesting.
   Well, that's about it for now! This upcoming transfer will only be 3 weeks long. To deal with the increased number of missionaries, the MTC has started staggering entry and departure dates more than they used to. Instead of all the Japanese missions being on the same transfer cycle, half of them are offset by 3 weeks now. Tokyo South is one of those missions, so in order to get in sync with the MTC, this transfer is only half a transfer long. So, I may only be in Atsugi for 3 more weeks, or I could be here for some time yet. We shall see.
Take care!

Elder Blake

Pictures! I actually have some for you this week! So last week we had Temple day on Tuesday. It was the last time that the whole mission would have an opportunity to get together before the split, so President Budge wanted to take a mission picture. He set up his camera up some stairs on a porch thing, hit the timer, and ran to get in the picture. There was a low with a handrail for the stairs that kept going a little ways past the end of the stairs, so rather than running all the way around, President Budge decides to vault the wall. He couldn't quite get in the picture in time, so when we tried again we got a repeat performance. Except this time we were all expecting it, and a Sister missionary had her camera ready, and provided us all with a picture. Definitely a photo worth a 1000 words. 

This picture is the Fujisawa District from this last transfer. It was an interesting district to say the least. So, in a (mostly) left to right fashion, we have Elders Staheli, Alred, Orton, Burgin (sitting), Barlocker, Loyd (handstanding), Shumaucher, Hoshino (hiding behind me), me, Mangum.

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