Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hey Everyone!

Sorry that I'm emailing a day late this week. We had temple p-day this week, which means we didn't have p-day until today. But, as always, it was great to go to the temple. 

So this last week has been pretty interesting. A couple of surprises along the way. Things have really been picking up in Fuchu lately, which makes me really happy. We've been blessed to find several new people to work with, and some of them have quite a bit of promise too.

So this week we had a lesson with the Yamada couple. They're the older couple we've been trying to work with whose daughter is married to an american, lives in America, and was baptizes several years ago. We were able to have a couple from the ward come with us, and we all ate lunch together at the church, then did a church tour with them to help explain what it is we do on Sundays and why it's significant. Mr Yamada didn't seem too terribly thrilled, but he listened respectfully. Mrs Yamada was much more interested, and you could tell that she was really feeling something. It was really exciting. 

So, the biggest surprise of the week was when I was on companion exchanges with the Elders in Fussa. We got a phone call from the AP's, and they wanted to talk with Elder Thurman (a new missionary who's still only on transfer 2). Then they wanted to talk with me. They told me that I was transferring to Kichijoji in that Thursday, and Elder Thurman would be my replacement in Fuchu. Well that came as a surprise to me. I mean, transfers aren't for another week. So, I was transferred early, and now I'm in Kichijoji, and Elder Thurman and Elder Otsuka (who are both only transfer 2) are alone in Fuchu. I hope they have fun together. haha!

Coming to Kichijoji has been fun. I'm in the same area as Elder Fernelius now, so we see alot of each other again. That's way exciting. So I have a funny story from the other day. I'm out streeting with Elder Nagaoka and Elder Fukuchi (my new companions... at least until the regular transfer in a week. Then it will be just me and Elder Fukuchi). We walk by this random small field in the middle of the city with this old man cutting down a persimmon tree all by himself. Like, this guy is old. He's 86. He can hardly stand up straight. So, the tree is already felled, and he's working on cutting it all up into small pieces with a chain saw. But, his chainsaw is so dull that it's literally burning the wood. He was sitting there for at least 5 minutes working on a section maybe 8 inches thick and only made about 2 inches of progress. We talked with him, and found out he was cutting the tree down because it wasn't producing good fruit anymore, all the fruit was bitter. Then, because of the way the tree was laying, the weight of the tree caused his chainsaw to get pinched in the cut he was making and he couldn't get it out. We tried to help, but we couldn't get it out either. He hobbles on off to his house just down the road and comes back with a hand saw. He starts going at it with this handsaw, and he's cutting faster with the hand saw than he was with the chainsaw! Talk about a really dull chain saw. Anyways, we helped him out a bit, and eventually we got his chainsaw free. He opened up a bit then, and we were able to talk with him for a bit. He's a really nice old man, but he's not super interested right now. We're going to keep trying to work with him though. 

The only other exciting news that come to mind right now is that this morning at the temple I ran into a member from the Ushiku Ward. Do you remember the Comba family I taught in Ushiku? Turns out that Sheila, the mom, was baptized last month! I was so excited to hear that! Jose still isn't baptized yet, but I know he will be one of these days. 

That's about it for now. Take care everyone!

Elder Blake

Monday, November 04, 2013

Hey Everyone!  

It's been another good week for us out here in Japan. Lots of fun stuff going on.
   So to start with, Elder Otsuka and I found a new investigator earlier on in the week. He's in college, and when we stopped him on the street, you could tell he was super nervous. Our conversation wasn't really going anywhere, and despite declining to trade numbers or set up a lesson he still wanted to talk. On a whim I asked him about his hobbies, and he said he likes taking pictures. I asked him if he had any pictures with him, and he pulls out a small album. It was full of pictures of trains. Just trains. Well you know who that made me think of? My Grandpa. He loves trains. That's his hobby. So, I pulled out my photo album with pictures from home that I carry around, and showed him the pictures in there of my Grandpa and his train. That got him to come out of his shell at last. As we kept talking and he looked through the rest of my pictures he realized that we're actually really nice guys, traded numbers with us and told us that when we first stopped him he thought we were going to kidnap him or something. Sister Swainstan's advice (more like a command really) way back in my first transfer to carry my pictures with me everywhere every day finally paid off. I'm pretty sure he would have been gone if I didn't have those on me to show him. We then also found out that apparently he gets bullied a lot at school (that would explain why he was so nervous when we called out to him). We met up with him again for a second lesson later in the week, and he starts telling us about how at school something of his got stolen, but when he reported it nobody believed him. I could see that. I mean, it is Japan after all. Crime is rare enough as it is, let alone petty theft in a classroom. I asked him what got stolen, and he told me that it was his eraser... now I really know why nobody believed him. XD Poor guy. He really needs some friends.
  Later in the week on Thursday (Halloween) Elder Otsuka and I were riding the train back home in the evening and I started talking with this guy sitting next to me. He wasn't very talkative, until I asked him if he was doing anything for Halloween. He said he wasn't doing anything for Halloween, but he was going around looking for smiley face pins that night. Turns out he collects Smiley face pins. He had one pinned to his bag, and I asked him if he had any others with him right then. He pulled out a little box with about a dozen pins in it. He started talking to me for about 5 minutes about just smiley face pins. I never knew that they could be so interesting. Haha! He said that in his collection he has 380 pins, and they're all different. I didn't even know that you could make 380 different types of smiley faces. But, anyways, he's a way nice guy, and after I got him talking a bit, I was able to slip in the gospel and gave him a Book of Mormon. He gave me his number, and a smiley face pin to boot. What a nice guy! It's great to know that the Lord will put these people in our paths, and if we're just being our friendly selves, opportunities to share the gospel will arise.
   Oh, this one's really short but I got a good laugh out of it. Elder Otsuka and I were out and about doing our thing one night, when we walked by this group of old retired bums that are always hanging out near the Fuchu train station. I overheard them talking to each other, and one of them says, "Hey, I have a job!" (it doesn't translate into English, but the way he said it in Japanese implies that he's telling brand new information to the listener, almost defensively). Another says, "really? What is it?" "Drinking booze." Then his friend replied with something to the effect of "you're an idiot." I got a pretty good laugh out of it. Elder Otsuka didn't think it was so funny. Something must be wrong with the kid.
   Well, that's about all for now. I hope you all have a great week! Take care!

Elder Blake

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hello Everyone!
How have you all been this week? I hope you're all having a great time!

For P-day last week we went with Bishop
Kawashima and two of his kids (Meimei and Rei)
to tour the Suntory beer factory. It was pretty
 interesting I guess. I was hoping to see more
of the machinery and how the factory works.
Instead I learned how the proper choice of ingredients
makes better beer, and how they produce the beer itself.
Oh, and I learned how to properly pour a
glass of beer. Haha!
   So, Wednesday we had a pretty cool experience. We had a pretty full schedule between the English class we teach every Wednesday, a practice lesson we had set up with a member, and trying to track down some names the Bishop gave us of people who are on the Ward list but nobody know who on earth the are. We had less than an hour to do any finding, but we set a goal to find somebody in that hour-ish window who would be willing to go with us back to the church and do a church tour. We hit the street, and we couldn't get anybody. Time was up, and we turned to head over to the church for English Class. From where we were, we had just enough time to make it to the church on time for set up if we didn't stop and talk with anyone. As we're walking, I see this guy, and I'm about to just pass him without saying anything so we can make it to the church on time. Then I had the thought that maybe I should try talking with him anyway, and before I had time to make a decision, I called out to him without thinking. It's a good thing I did, because he stopped and talked with us. He didn't go back with us to the church like we had set a goal for, but he traded numbers, we set a lesson, and he's really excited to meet and learn more. We even said a prayer with him right there in the street before we went our separate ways. We ended up being a little late to the church, but that's ok. I'd say it was a good trade off.
Ward Halloween party on Saturday.
One of the kids dressed up as Goku
   Sunday ended up being pretty cool too. I was already really impressed and very grateful for how kind and thoughtful everyone in the Fuchu Ward was for my birthday, but it turns out it wasn't over. There were a couple families who didn't find out it was my birthday until after the fact, so they threw together a "Birthday Party" for me after church yesterday. We had lunch, dessert, and everyone sang for me. How nice of them! But, that wasn't the best part of Sunday! There's a man who's been coming to English class for a couple of weeks by the name of "Paw". That's his nick-name. Not sure why. Anyways, we invited him to hear the missionary lessons, and he told us "maybe". Last week he said that he was thinking about coming to church on Sunday. We told him we would love to see him there. Saturday night we get an email from the missionaries in Kichijoji telling us about a baptism they're having the next day (Sunday). Elder Otsuka and I both thought it sure would be nice if we had somebody who could come to the Baptism. All of our investigators were busy and couldn't make it. We decided that if Paw came to church, we would invite him. Well, guess what? Paw came to church! That was already pretty exciting as it is. We invited him to the Baptism in Kichijoji that night at 7. He said he'd think about it and call us back. He did. And he went! The Lord is definitely mindful of us. Paw had a good time, and said it was a great experience. I'm excited to try inviting him to hear the lessons again now.
   That's about it for this week! Talk to you all later!

Elder Blake