Monday, April 28, 2014

Hey Everyone!

It was another good week this last week. There was a bit of a cold snap, but it's pretty warm again now. The work is coming along, and we're having a blast doing it.

Later on in the week, Elder Young and I were heading off to a district meeting in Kamiooka. We're riding the train, and start talking with this guy. He's super nice and friendly, and works as a design engineer for Nissan. Elder Young loves cars, and was able to become friends rather quickly because if it. As we arrive at our final destination, we tell this man that we're about to get off, and he tells us he is too. He then told us that he actually had gotten on the wrong train and had to back-track a ways. That coupled with the fact that during the course of our conversation he told us that he usually has work on the day that we met him made me think to myself that there is no reason he should have been where he was at the time he was in order to meet us. But, he was there, and we met him. The Lord works in mysterious ways. 

Our picture with those high school
kids playing frisbee
One day all four of us were out together in Yamashita Park, and we saw a group of 5 high school boys playing frisbee. We decided to see if we could join in and play for a little bit. We walked on over and I put up my hands, signaling for him to throw me the frisbee. He threw it to me and I passed it back. They all seemed excited at the prospect of playing frisbee with 4 white guys. We quickly joined in, and while we were throwing the frisbee around we were able to talk with them and get to know them. A couple of them really like English, so we were able to invite them to English class. After a little bit, we're about to head off, but they wanted a picture with us. We take one, and then this woman walks over with a really nice camera and tells us that she's trying to capture the image of highschool. I'm not sure if it was for a news paper, or a magazine, or something else, but she asked if she could take our picture too. No objections here. So who knows, somewhere in some newspaper out there, there's probably a picture of the four of us missionaries with these high school boys. 

Saturday was an interesting day. Elder Young and I were over at an investigator's home, and they had prepared lunch for us. We were eating ramen, and it was a little spicy but only enough for a good taste, not spicy enough for it to actually burn or anything. Elder Young then leans over to me and asks if my lips are burning. Nope. He
said his were, and asked our investigator what was in the ramen. The husband grabs the package and starts reading off the ingredients. Turns out there was cashew paste in the ramen. Elder Young is highly allergic to nuts. Well crap. Elder Young noticed it pretty early on, so we were able to make it to the apartment and he got some meds. He looked pretty miserable though. We had another appointment at 3, which gave him a couple hours to rest. I would have preferred him to stay and rest more, but he pushed himself and we made our appointment. He was definitely not his usual self all day though. I guess he's gonna have to start asking what's in his ramen from now on. 

Love you guys!

Elder Blake

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for your emails. This week was temple P-day, which is why I didn't write yesterday. I's been another great week here in the land of Yamate. Things are going well, and we're keeping busy. 

Let's see, what would be good to talk about... well, we had another great lesson in our bible class on Wednesday night. We talked about how Jesus is the good shepherd, and we are his sheep. We were even able to introduce the Book of Mormon and talk about how Jesus's other sheep that he talks about also kept a record of their dealings with God, thus giving another witness of Christ. 

Sunday was Easter! That was pretty cool. I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting, and I invited everyone I know here to come and listen. There were a couple that came, and it was great to see them there. It was a good Sacrament meeting, and it had a good focus on the Savior and all he did for us, which culminated in his resurrection on Easter Morning. There was even a really sweet video at the church made for Easter this year called "Because of Him". If you still haven't seen it yet, you should go watch it. It's good. 

Ummm.... yeah, I'm drawing a blank here on what to write about. Sorry this week is so short. We've been busy, but there isn't a whole lot new that happened last week. 

Hope you all have a great week! Looking forward to your emails again! Here from you soon!

Elder Blake

Here's the link for that video:

Also, here's a picture of some college kids we talked with on the street a few days ago.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Elder Young and I at conference with Sister Uchida,
a deaf 
member who is working on coming
back to church and going to the 
Hey everyone!

It's been another good week here in Yamate. We had a zone conference on Tuesday, and that went really well. There were some really good trainings, and President Wada seemed to be pleased with how things went.

On Friday we went on exchanges with the Elders down in Yokosuka. That ended up turning out really well. They have an investigator who they've been working with for a long time but isn't really going anywhere, and they weren't sure what direction to take things. I asked them a few questions about why he wants to meet with us missionaries, what he hopes to get out of it, and things like that. They didn't know, so I decided that instead of teaching a lesson we needed to figure out those out. The meeting with him went really, really well. We just sat back, took a more relaxed approach, and just talked with him, asking questions and listening. There was quite a bit we were able to find out, and once we knew where he was coming from, it made it more clear how we could help him. He actually expressed a good amount of interest in baptism by the end of the lesson too. It really
is amazing how important it is to just ask those simple questions and really listen. I'm kinda sad I don't get to meet with him again. He's a really cool guy. I'm glad that the Yokosuka Elders now have a more clear direction on where to take things now though.

Later that same night I got back to Yamate, and Elder Young and I met up with someone we had met a week or two ago. When we first met him on the street he was hesitant to trade phone numbers, but he friend-ed us
on Facebook, and we were able to keep in contact that way. We went out and grabbed some dinner with him, and had a great discussion, getting to know him better, and becoming friends. After a little bit he started to really warm up. We'll be meeting up with him again this week.

General conference was really good. Every time they brought up the Gilbert Temple everyone turned and looked at me. I thought that was kinda funny. There were some great talks though. I'm really glad that we were able to have so many non-member friends in attendance. It was a great spiritual experience for all of them.

That's about it for this week! Thanks again for your emails! Talk to you all next week!

Elder Blake

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hey Everyone! 

Thanks for your emails. It was great to read them. Sounds like everyone had a pretty good week, and it sounds like conference was pretty good as always. I'm looking forward to watching it all next weekend. We had another great week out here in Yamate as always. There were a couple of exciting things that went on. 

It's been pretty interesting getting used to using Facebook as a missionary. It's actually pretty funny how many people there are out there are willing to exchange Facebook information but not a phone number or an email address. We have several individuals that we've met in the past weeks that we can keep in contact with through Facebook. We'll actually be meeting up with one of them again this next Friday. I'm excited for that. 

Saturday was a really good day. We went to the Park with a part member family, and the wife brought several of her friends too. We were able to get to know several of them really well and share about what we do as missionaries and the church a little bit. That was a great opportunity. Later that same day we went out with one of our PI's Shouta. He just got accepted into college, and he's really busy, but he was able to make some time for is on Saturday to go bowling together. Some or our new members, Eriko and Tomoko Sato came along as well, and they fellowshipped Shouta really well. We had already invited Shouta to a fireside at the Stake Center, and without knowing that we had, Eriko and Tomoko invited him to come too! I really hope that he's able to make it. 

That's about it that I can think of. Everything else is either mushed together in my head, or not exciting to talk about. Hope you all have a great week again this week! 

Love you!

Elder Blake

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hey Everyone! 

Thanks for the emails. It's been an interesting week out here in Yamate. It's the start of a new transfer, which means the schedule was a little shaken up for a day or two. Things are all settling  back to normal now though. So Elder Call is back home, and I'm now working with Elder Young. He's a way cool guy who works hard, is pro-active, and is focused. It's gonna be a blast to work with him. 

On Wednesday, before the transfer day, Elder Call and I were asked to go all the way to Kichijoji so I could interpret at the training all the new missionaries had before they were sent off to their new areas the next day. That was a lot of fun, and I got a chance to talk with a lot of the new missionaries. It was also nice to be able to see Elder and Sister Yamashita again. I hadn't realized how much I was missed in the office until Elder Yamashita saw me, came on over and gave me a big manly hug. 

The rest of that day was pretty normal. Elder Call and I headed back to Yamate to teach English Class. When Elder Call and I had first transferred in, we started a new class at English class. Usually there is a beginner, intermediate, and advanced class, but we added a Bible class. Essentially it's a class where we study old English together out of the Bible. It went really well for Elder Call's final English Class. We taught the parable of the prodigal son. Only one of our students showed up that night, so we wee able to go really in depth and make it very applicable to them. 

We had a great lesson with a great couple that we're working with. They're progressing along very slowly, but they're slowly making headway. They asked us questions about the Word of Wisdom, and we were able to answer their questions by reading together from Alma 32, and teaching them the principle of faith. We gain faith by trying or experimenting something, and then looking at the result. We showed them how they have used this principle in their own lives already many times. For example, the wife talked about paying the buck forward, and
how that makes people feel good. We pointed out that she knew that because she had experienced it. Everything then wrapped up nicely at the end when we shared that we develop faith in God the same way. Faith is built by trying, looking at the result, and acting on what you learn, not from having a perfect knowledge of every single last

That's about it for this week. The cherry blossoms are about in the middle of their peak right now, so here's a picture of Elder Young and I with a few of them. 

Love you! Hear from you later!

Elder Blake

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hey Everyone! Thanks for all of your emails! It sounds like things are going fairly well for you all. Today is the first day of the new transfer. We weren't supposed to get transfer calls until tomorrow, but then we got surprised when they called us this morning. I'm staying in Yamate (big surprise). My next and last companion is Elder Young. He's transferring all the way across the apartment. It'll be way fun.

Last monday we had a zone p-day, and that was really fun. After that, Elder Moua and I went grocery shopping while Elder Young and Elder Call went out to go contacting. After shopping, Elder Moua and I went to Yamashita park. We had just gotten there when we got a call from Elder Young, telling us that he and Elder Call had already gotten 40 contacts over on Oosanbashi, and to get our butts over there. We got on over there, and there were just tons and tons of people there. There was a huge cruise ship there called the Queen Elizabeth. It was massive! For whatever reason, everyone wanted to talk with us (probably because they thought we were from the cruise ship). Lots of fun.

On Wednesday we saw the most awesome young boys on the train. Elder Call is sitting and I am standing, and these three young boys who were maybe about 10 years old got on. They scampered on over to a bench that had three open seats that were near each other. One of these boys goes running over to one of these seats, and ends up almost running into a woman with a baby who was about to sit in the same seat. This young boy stood back and let the woman sit down. The other two boys went and stood with their friend since there was no longer a seat for all three of them. The woman thanked the little boy, and I mentioned to Elder Call how nice that was of the little boy. We managed to catch the little boys' eyes and say hello, and we talked to them a bit. A stop later, someone gets up from next to Elder Call, and Elder Call slides over in his seat to make room for the boys to sit down. However, instead of sitting down, the boys gestured for me to sit down instead, and refused to take "my" seat. Then, much to our surprise, this boy comes over and hands a piece of candy to both Elder Call and myself. What outstanding little boys. I was very surprised. 

Today was a bit of a crazy day. We started off with district meeting here in Yamate, and that went pretty well. We then went off to District meeting in Kamiooka. After the District meeting, we hurried back to Yamate as quick as we could to set up for for the Music Night that was planned at 6. We had a lesson with Laura and her two boys planned for 5, but we ended up being a little late. That worked out fine though because so did they. We had a quick lesson, and finished up by 5:40. Much to my relief, by the time we got upstairs all the set up was complete. 

Now, I was really nervous about this Music Night. We had found several potential investigators with musical abilities, and so we brought up the idea to the ward. They seemed skeptical, but gave us the go ahead to plan it on our own. As time kept ticking down, it was looking like Music Night was going to bomb. The last Sunday before Music Night, I was looking at the proposed program, and it was looking like Music night had devolved into a concert for Eriko Sato. None of our investigators with musical ability who we had planned this event for were able to come. Alot of our other investigators who we had invited to just come and listen ween't able to make it either. But, when we proposed this idea back at the beginning, we agreed that even if only one investigator came, it would be worth it. So, we rolled on ahead with it anyway. 

Here's a pic of Elder Moua and I at Oosanbashi
with a man that we 
talked with. That's the front end
of the Queen Elizabeth behind us.
Throughout the week, things had just fallen into place, and we were able to get enough acts lined up that we could take a good 30 minutes or more, and the. the. just take time at the end to socialize while eating snacks. Now we come back to where we were on Friday evening, with 20 minutes to go, and none of our performers are there yet. There ended up being a fairly good turn out from the members and our investigators, which pleasantly surprised me. But then things got pretty scary pretty fast. It's 6:00, time to start, and only one of the performers was there. We stalled as long as we could, but by 6:05 everyone started looking around, wondering why on earth we hadn't started yet. We now had our first performer, who was about 10, and Sister Mikami, who is a boss on the piano. We figured we'd just go ahead and get started and hopefully the other people would come before the first two acts were done. We get things started, but then the 10 year old boy who was first had run off and was playing somewhere. Well, I guess that means we're starting with Sister Mikami, right? Well, she had run off too to look for the young boy. Eriko was there, but couldn't sing because her accompanist wasn't there. So now there's me, up front, running a show that has no performers. For what seemed like the longest, most awkward 5 minutes of my life, I'm trying to amuse the crowd. 

Finally, the young boy shows up again, and he begrudgingly plays his two short pieces. Then Sister Mikami plays her pieces, which were beautiful. While she was playing, everyone else finally showed up, and we were able to proceed without a hitch. When all was said and done, after a rough start, Music Night ended up being a great event that everyone enjoyed very thoroughly. I'm so grateful that the Lord made it all work out and fall into place at the very end. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster of an activity. 

That's about it for now! I'm really excited for this final upcoming transfer! It'll be a blast to work closely with Elder Young. 

Talk to you all next week!

Elder Blake

Monday, March 18, 2014

Cherry Blossoms
Hey Everyone! Sorry This week will be kinda short. I'm kinda pressed for time. It was great to hear from all of you though! It sounds like you all bad a pretty good week.

Last week didn't have too much that went on that was terribly exciting. We did manage to meet up with a young guy named Sato Shota who we had met once before. He came to the church, and we played ping-pong for a bit before doing a church tour. He seems to be kinda interested in the church, but we'll see what happens as we get to meet with him more.

Thursday we had a zone meeting that was pretty fun. Everyone in our zone has been picking up their performance as of late. Elder Call and I are really proud of them. There have been a lot of new companionships that just opened up in this zone this last transfer, which means they're basically starting from nothing. Despite that though, they're all trying really hard to get work done. It's great.

After the zone meeting we had exchanges with the Kamiooka Elders. I stayed in zyamate and got to work with Elder Staheli. It was terrible weather all day. Just grey, rainy, and cold. We ended up going to a shopping center called World Porters and just wandered around talking with people inside all day. That worked out rather nicely. Inside, dry, and still contacting people.

Today we had zone p-day. We went and played frisbee in a nearby park and had a picnic lunch. We were able to get some pretty nice pictures of some cherry blossoms ( which are now coming into season), and just have a good time. We finished up with that around 3 and went out to hit the streets for a few hours before it got dark. We went over to Yamashita Park where there was a huge cruise ship at shore called the Queen Elizabeth. It was massive. Tons of people went to go see the ship at harbor, which meant there were tons of people to talk to. We
ended up having such a successful time of it that we didn't get back to the church until almost 7, which doesn't leave us with much time before we gotta head out again to go to back to the apartment.

Love you all! Looking forward to hearing from you all again next week!

Elder Blake

Ping pong with Shota before
the church tour

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hey Everyone! It was great to hear from you all yesterday. It sounds
like everyone had a pretty good week. This week is Temple P-day, which
is why I'm emailing today instead of yesterday.  Anyway, last week was
a pretty busy week. It was really fun.

Last Monday was a pretty cool p-day. We went over to Yokohama Landmark
Tower with the other Yamate Elders, the sisters, and the other
missionaries from Kamiooka. We went to eat at La Salsa, a pretty
decent Mexican restaurant (for Japan at least). Afterwards while Elder
Call and I were out talking with people, we saw a small group of
college kids playing soccer in the park. We were able to talk with
them, and apparently left a pretty good impression on them. When we
were getting ready to head back to the apartment, Elder Young gave us
a call and asked us if we had talked with a group of college kids
playing soccer in the park. Elder Young and Elder Moua talked with
them too, and ended up getting all of their phone numbers. We're gonna
be meeting up with them to play soccer in the upcoming week.

Wednesday morning we went to Kichijoji for follow up interpreter
training. I was invited to help with the training, but I ended up just
sitting there observing instead. It was pretty fun still though.
Getting trained by a professional interpreter isn't an every day
occurrence after all. After that was over, we went back to Yamate, and
had a lesson with the Harada's. They're a family with a single mom and
two young boys. The mom is a less active member, and her two boys were
just baptized last year. They're a really nice family. Laura, the mom,
who is Italian, actually came to church twice in a row since we've
gone to see them the first time. I hope she's able to keep it up.

All day Thursday was Mission Leadership Counsel, and we were told that
the use of Facebook has now been approved in our mission. However,
since we are missionaries, that means the primary purpose of using
Facebook is to more easily communicate with members and people we're
working with here in Japan. The rules for communicating with family
and friends are still the same. That means emails on p-day.

Friday we had District meeting in Yamate and in Yokosuka. Both
District Meetings ended up doing training 
Here's a picture of mount Fuji we took
from our apartment porch 
today. It was clear
enough you could actually see it this morning.
on the Questions of the s
oul. That was quite the coincidence. Saturday was District Meeting in Kamiooka. Wouldn't you know it, in the Kamiooka District they did a training on using the questions of the soul as well. After we got back to the apartment for the night, we asked Elder Young if he had received instruction from anyone to train on questions of the soul. He said he hadn't. That means all three District Leaders in the zone
ended up training on the same thing without any coordination.

On Sunday church ended up being great. We had several non-members in attendance, and a few investigators as well. Sister Jenny's husband ended up coming because Elder Young invited him, two of Elder Call's old investigators came since he spake in sacrament meeting, and Yokou came as well. Another nice surprise was that a deaf woman came in attendance today too. After sacrament meeting I got to talk with her a little bit. She's really nice. Turns out she's been in the ward for about a year, but isn't coming every week (which only makes sense since I've been here for a few weeks already and hadn't met her yet). Anyways, I hope she ends up coming to church more often. That would be nice.

After church Elder Call and I were able to visit Akie and Kazehiro,
two of Elder Call's old investigators. In the past, Elder Call would
go to teach them English, but they were never really able to get
gospel lessons in. This time Elder Call was committed to letting them
know up front what our main purpose was as missionaries and sharing
his testimony with them. Things ended up proceeding as normal (from
what I've been told... it was my first time there after all), but then
they brought up the free English class we teach on Wednesday night. We
told them that since 3 weeks ago we added a new class to the English
class: Bible class. A class where we study English out of the Bible.
Then we told them that thanks to our nifty new iPads we were able to
show a video to our Bible Class, and then showed them the video we
shared with the class. After that we were in. A nice, smooth
transition into a gospel centered discussion. We'll have to wait and
see if we can get it to progress further next time.

That's about it for this week. Looking forward to hearing from you
again next week, More later!

Elder Blake