Monday, December 02, 2013

Hey Everyone!

So, I just wrote a few days ago. There have been a couple of things that have happened though. This week will definitely be alot shorter than the last one though. I guess that'll balance them out just perfectly then. haha!

Friday there was an all Sister's conference here in Kichijoji. They had asked me to interpret for that as well because they wanted all the sisters to be able to pay attention and focus, and if one of them was interpreting that makes it pretty tough to take notes and whatnot. So, Elder Crandall and I were companions for the day and went to that. It was kind of strange. I mean, we were the only two guys at this thing, and it was specifically tailored to the sisters and their needs. 

Sunday was pretty good. We went out and hit the streets for a little bit, and got to talk to some pretty cool people. We actually found a guy who was baptised almost 40 years ago but hasn't been to church in who knows how long. We invited him to a Christmas Concert this next weekend, and he might come to that. We also gave him a Book of Mormon because he didn't have a copy of one anymore. So, we'll see where that goes. 

Today was pretty fun. We went and had lunch with Ishii. He's a member from Atsugi, but I met him back when I was in Yamato because he attends the English Branch in Yamato. I did bump into him a few times in Atsugi too though. Anyways, Ishii called me up last week to tell me something. I had completely forgotton until he called me, but the day I transferred out of Atsugi he called me in the morning and said he had a favor to ask. He wanted to apply to the BYU Provo English Learning Program, but the application had an essay portion that had to be written in English. So, we met him up at the church, I helped him write his essay, then transferred later that afternoon. Ishii was calling to tell me that he had been accepted, and that he is going to the states on December 12th. I told him that he should come see me before he heads off to the states, so he did. We went and had lunch together today, and while we were talking I found out that he knows Clark Sensei from the MTC. That's also when I found out that he's married now. Ishii showed me pictures on his phone. Looks like it was a great wedding. Ishii tried calling Clark Sensei right then too, but he didn't pick up. Oh well. 

Yup. And tomorrow is Elder Yamashita's Birthday. Elder Medeiros had the idea to fill his office up with balloons. Fortunately for him, I have experience in that department. Haha! We're still not quite done yet, but it's getting there. It'll be fun.

That's about it since Thursday! Take care everyone!

Elder Blake

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hey everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

How have you all been? It's been a pretty eventful week and a half since I last wrote. Hold on to your seats.

Last week was the start of the new transfer, which means that returning missionaries were going home and new missionaries were coming in. Tuesday morning, the day missionaries departed and came in,  we had a combined mission conference with the Tokyo North mission here at Kichijoji. It was alot of fun getting to see old friends from the North Mission. I was also pleasently suprised to see Elder McKnight there as well. We were in the MTC together, but he was in the group after me. We got along pretty well. Sometime in that transfer when I came and he was still in the MTC he went home, so when his group came to the field I was suprised when he didn't come too. I'm not sure why he went home, but I didn't think he was coming back, especially after several months and then a year passed. Then, at this two mission conference, I see him out in the crowd of mingling missionaries, and I'm all just like, "woah! When did Elder McKnight get back?" He had only been out in the field for a couple months, but he ended up in the North Mission. I'll tell you what, my respect for him went up alot more when I saw him there and found out that he came back after being home for over a year. 

The conference was really good too. Elder Evans, the head of the church missionary department, and his wife came and spoke. The AP's had asked me to interpret, but then the morning of when we were setting up all the interpretation equipment, Brother Westman who is a member in one of the wards here in the mission and is a professional interpreter, came over. Turns out President Wada had asked him to interpret. When he found out that I had been asked to interpret too, he had me go sit by him and help him out. He let me interpret Sister Evan's talk, and gave me some good feedback. Then I got to sit next to him and listen to him interpret Elder Evan's talk. I was really impressed. That was a real treat. So back to Elder Evans, he's the head of the church missionary department, so he rubs elbows with the First Presidency and Quorom of the 12 alot. He talked about alot of interesting things. One of them was why when they lowered the missionary ages, why sisters still only serve for 18 months instead of 2 years like the guys. He said he doesn't know all the reasons, but one of them is that one of President Monson' big concerns about returning missionaries is whether or not they'll be able to quickly and easily get married. The way it was before, when guys came home from their missions, a majority of girls available to date are several years younger, and when the sisters come home a majority of the guys available to date are still several years younger. But, because the ages are changed now, you figure that most young men will turn 18 during their senior year of higschool, and then leave for thier mission between 18 and 19, and a majority of departing sisters are now leaving at 19, that means that when they all go home a majority of them will be within about a year spread of each other. Pretty interesting I thought. Another really good part was at the very end, when he shared what are in his opinion the 3 most important rules in the missionary handbook. He said 99% of all problems missionaries have could be avoided if they just obeyed those 3 rules. The 3rd and final one he shared came with the disclaimer that it's not actually written in the missionary handbook, but he said, "Just don't do anything stupid." I laughed pretty hard at that one. 

Halfway through the conference the departing missionaries snuck out the side door and then got on a bus to head off to the airport. Well, everyone except Elder Rindi. He's from Hawaii, so his flight wasn't until 9:00 PM, so he stayed til the end of the conference, and then went to the airport with the Wada's and us after the conference. After he got through security we went over to the arrival gates to wait for the new missionaries. I actually ended up seeing a member from my first area Yamato there at the airport. That was pretty cool. When the new missionaries started coming through the gates, all the Japanese missionaries came out well ahead of everyone else because of Customs. Do you know who I saw? I saw Ryohei. He was on his way to Fukuoka with another group of missionaries going to the same mission, and they were tranferring flights at the airport we were at. That was a pretty big suprise. We got a picture together, and he gave me his email. I'll have to see if I can get that picture from him. All of our new missionaries finally arrived, and we loaded them all up on a bus and came back to the mission home. 

The next day consisted of trainings for the new missionaries, and then the trainers came to pick up their new companionsThursday morning. The AP's asked me to interpret again, so I was interpreting for the new missionary training all day. It was pretty fun. Really long though. There were some pretty interesting new missionaries in that group. 

The weekend was pretty normal. Saturday there was a YSA activity at the church next door, and when we were attending a baptismal service for one of the little girls in the ward I saw Ryohei's sister. She came home from her mission while I was in Ushiku. So, I got to tell her that I saw Ryohei at the airport. That was pretty cool. 

Then we come to yesterday. Yesterday was a crazy, crazy day. Elder Fukuchi got a call from Elder Farr in the morning, and he said that his bag had been stolen. Their apartment key was in the bag, so they couldn't get into their apartment. We had them come to the mission home and we gave them a copy of their apartment key. Then we got a call from Sister Kawajo, and she had lost her wallet, so we had to cancel her debit card. About this time it was almost 9:00 in the morning, time to get ready for staff meeting. Then President Wada comes in, and asks me the procedure for when a missionary gets in a bike accident. Turns out a fairly new missionary got in an accident, and dealing with those is one of my responcibilities. It all ended up getting taken care of, it just took a process of calling them, calling PBO, calling them back, talking with police, waiting, getting called back, etc. Elder Barker, the missionary who was in the accident, is ok. He went around a corner and hit a 16 year old kid who was on his way to higschool almost head on. Elder Barker faceplanted on this kid's chest and got a bloody nose, and this kid's bike's front tire hit Elder Barker's knee hard enough that it bent. Somehow he walked away with just a bruise. The amazing thing is nobody fell over, they both ended up on their feet straddling their bikes. 

After that finally got taken care of, I started putting Sister Sasaki's bike together for her. She transferred into Kichijoji, but had trouble getting her bike shipped here. It finally arrived, and I was going to put it back together for her before district meeting. That's when I found out that some bikes are just never meant to be taken apart. All the sisters in the mission get little beach cruisers with baskets instead of mountain or sports bikes, and Sister Sasaki is no exception. There were so many little tiny bits and pieces that I had no idea where they belonged because I've never used anything but mountain bikes. I eventually got it all figured out. you can ride it, and there were no leftover parts so I'm pretty sure it got put together right. It ended up taking enough time that we only had 10 minutes to eat lunch before district meeting though. District meeting went well, and then we all finally got a breather for a few hours before English Class that night.

English class went well as always. Then after class I was back in the office with Elder Fukuchi, and Elder Yamashita came in and I started talking with him. Then I passed out. Don't worry, this has a happy ending. Nothing is wrong, the doctor says it must have just been a fluke. Anyway, they called an ambulance, but by the time they had me on the stretcher to take me out to the ambulance I was ok. As they were strapping me in, I called over to Sister Yamashita to grab a Book of Mormon and some pamphlets for me. I wasn't able to give any away. I was in and out of the hospital pretty quick and didn't really get to talk to anyone except the EMT on the ambulance ride over and the doctor's assistant as he was prepping for the doctor to check me out. Oh well. 

And today is Thanksgiving! We had Thanksgiving dinner up in the mission home with all the Kichijoji missionaries, and we had permission to invite investigators. We invited Lily, and she came and had a great time! There was actually another Chinese investigator there too, so they were able to talk and have a great time. It turned out really well. 

Yup. That's today. Oh, and today's picture is my Thanksgiving Dinner. It was really good. 

Talk to you all next week! P-day is on monday like normal again next week, so don't miss it!

Elder Blake

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hey Everyone!

How are you all doing?  We had another great week here in Kichijoji. It's way fun. Today is the official start of the new transfer, but transfer day isn't until Thursday. Elder Nagaoka will be on his merry way to his new area, which means Elder Fukuchi and I will be in just a normal 2 man companionship from then. 

This is just a picture of some of the Elders here in Kichijoji
 from Saturday night. Elder Piland is going home tomorrow, 
so we went out to eat with him to celebrate. 
LtoR, Elder Fukuchi, Nagaoka, Nebeker, Piland, Me.
So, there were some pretty cool things that happened this last week. First of all, on Wednesday, I went with Elder Rindlisbacher and Elder Medeiros to the Driving Center so that Elder Medeiros and I could take our tests for our Japanese driver's liscences. While we were there, waiting for our tests, this Chinese lady (Lily, which is actually the same name as my niece who was born a couple months ago) starts talking with me. She starts telling me about how she used to work as a flight attendant at China Air, and she had been to Salt Lake before. She said that she really loved how our church was really focused on family. She then asked me if she was allowed to join our church. I said yes. Then I asked if she wanted to join our church. She said yes. We swapped contact info, and then took our driving tests. Unfortunately, we both failed. The driving test in Japan is super strict. The guy giving the test said he failed me because I wasn't looking in my mirrors enough. Oh well. I'll just have to try again in a couple weeks. 

I called Lily up and invited her and her husband to church, and they came. It was way good. They actually ended up oversleeping, and they arrived just as church was ending. They stuck around for a bit, and we had a really good conversation. We gave Lily a Book of Mormon in Chinese, and her Japanese husband one in Japanese. Turns out they actually live in the Tokyo North Mission though (Kichijoji is right on the border of the two missions). So, we'll end up having to refer them over there, but they live close enough that we'll be able to keep meeting with them. They're way cool, and super nice! I'm excited to see them again. They'll be coming to a Christmas Concert in Kichijoji on December 7th, which is apparantly Lily's Birthday. 

The other Elders here in Kichijoji had a baptism on Saturday. There was only one problem: the water heater wasn't working. The guy getting baptized was over 60, so it's not like we could just tell him to tough it out and be baptized in cold water. So, what idea did they come up with? Let's just fill up the font with buckets of hot water from the apartment! So, between 6 of us, we got a bucket brigade going from the apartment, into the room with the font through a window, and then into the font. Not sure how they came up with that idea, but it worked. Several hundred buckets of water and about an hour and a half later, the font was filled with warm water. 

That's the big news for the week. Thanks for all your emails. I hope you all have a great week this week! 

Elder Blake