Monday, January 22, 2018

Week 55

Good morning,

I have unfortunately lost track of which week it is. If I had to guess I would say that it's 54.

This week was not the most eventful week of my mission. My companion was sick for most of the week, so our full-time missionary work sort of dwindled into just part-time. But that did mean that I had some extra opportunities to study. It was kind of nice to have a few lower-key days and relax a little bit. Elder Warner seems to be doing fine now so we should be good for this week.

We have a zone blitz this Sunday. That just means that our mission recently opened a new area and the missionaries there don't have anyone to work with right now. So the whole zone is going to spend a day there, talk to every single person we see, and hopefully multiply the area's teaching pool by about 1,000,000. It should be fun. :)

We also have another transfer call in two weeks. I like to think that I should be able to safely stay in this area for another couple transfers, but President Sekiguchi seems to really like asking me to pack my bags and bounce around the mission.

This week we received some counsel from President Sekiguchi on how we can do better at getting people to listen to us (this was directed to the whole mission, not just Elder Warner and I :)). Anyway, we're really excited to try out President's new finding tactics and teach more people about the gospel!

I was also challenged by another missionary to try posing next to signs with faces on them. So I tried this week next to a nice political poster. I realized that I'm not very good at it. First and foremost, my cheeks are simply not chubby enough. My head is also way too round. These and other factors (including skill and experience) made it very very difficult to mirror his facial expression. There were some points that matched fairly well. Like the fact that we were both clean shaven. And that we were both wearing a white shirt. The attached picture is somewhere around attempt number seven. I guess I'll have to work on posing for pictures. :P

Love,
Elder Mitchell

P.S. Just after I wrote the first part of this email, we were taken by a couple of branch members to a sushi restaurant. I think that I ate a decent amount of sushi. For sure not the most sushi ever eaten at one time, but I was kind of proud of myself. :)






Excerpts from the letter to the family:

Hello Family,

Today is district Pday. That means that we get to go somewhere and see something with the Sisters that also live here in Iwaki. But it has to not be a double date so we were obligated to enlist the help of a branch member to be our mom and supervise. And drive us because we don't have cars. I think the plan is to go to some aquarium somewhere. It's stinking expensive though. I don't know what they were thinking when they came up with that idea. I just had a bit of a scary moment. I was thinking 'Oh it's transfer week next week' and then I was thinking 'Oh shoot I don't actually have that many more transfer weeks to tell my family about since I'm more than halfway done with my mission'. Shoot. It's actually in two weeks. But still.

Elder Warner just made it sound like we'll actually have two mothers from the branch coming with us. Wow. So many moms. Actually, speaking of moms, the branch president's wife brought us dinner two nights in a row because Elder Warner was sick. We were just about to start making something and she just showed up at our apartment and handed us food. I love moms. :)

I probably will not have very much, if any, time after our date to the aquarium to write emails to all y'all so I am sorry. I will see what I can do.

I did have a couple of dreams this week. I normally don't have very many dreams. One of them was about a McDonalds factory and the other had a Lamborghini that picked up the signal from my friend's Ford key and unlocked itself. Unfortunately there were people in it so I couldn't hop in.

This week will be pretty eventful. We have English class tonight, interviews with President on Wednesday, FHE on Thursday (not sure why. That's just the way they have it set up here), and a zone blitz of a new area on Sunday. That just means that everyone in the zone travels to the aforementioned new area and talks to everyone and finds all of the investigators. It could be fun. We have to leave church early for it.

I'm trying to decide if I should start packing my bags one of these next couple days. I'm thinking that maybe if I started packing early then I might stay in an area. Maybe.

I'm going to turn 20 in just less than three months. Wow.

I love you the most,
BeN
 Elder Warner and the two ward "Mothers" 
who accompanied us on our outing.




 The Elders and Sisters currently serving in Iwaki.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Week 54

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We got to go to a neighboring area twice this week: once for zone conference and once to teach English because that area doesn't have young missionaries right now; they just have a senior couple. And they were the only ones that showed up for the English class. :) They're pretty good at English and really funny so it wasn't too difficult to teach them.

I've recently made an extra effort to write in my journal everyday and I'm still at 100% for 2018. Hopefully I can keep that up for a while.

We talked to this super cool dude yesterday that seemed to have some interest but is actually from Kyoto which I think is in the Kobe mission. He was actually walking to the train station on his way back when we talked to him. So we gave him a mormon.org card and asked him to look us up. I hope he does. He was a bro.

I ran a little bit yesterday. Elder Warner rode a bike with me. For some reason he doesn't like running. :)

We had a party yesterday. It was an open-house for a sister in the branch who just finished building a house for her and her son. There was a lot of food and branch members there. We had helped a little bit with stuff in her sheds a week or two ago so she was like 'Hey come eat my food and talk to my non-member friends if they come'. So we came and ate lots of food and took home some left-overs. I love it when stuff like that happens. :)

Lots of love,
Elder Mitchell

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Week 53

Good Evening,

We got two pdays this week so that was pretty cool. Yesterday Elder Warner and I played ping-pong at the church for about four hours. It was really fun. Today is just a regular pday but for some reason there are still a lot of stores that are closed. So I wasn't able to get a haircut this morning. Sad stuff.

We stayed up until midnight on New Years Eve. Our mission president told us that we could since the rest of Japan would be partying too. We watched some videos released by the church and ate popcorn. It was pretty fun.
I think it's really weird that we're already in 2018. And that I was a missionary for all of 2017. Wow.

Elder Warner and I did something a little crazy at McDonalds last night. It's a thing among missionaries to get 10 burgers from the McDonalds 100 yen menu. So we did. It's probably not something that I'll ever do again. Those burgers aren't very good.

I put up my new calendar this morning. That probably doesn't mean a whole lot to most of you, as I would guess that I'm not the only only putting up calendars for 2018, but I would like to suggest that my calendar is a little better than all of yours. :) My mom's family recently started making a calendar with all of the birthdays, anniversaries, and any other dates relevant to the family. I attached a picture of the one from last year, as well as a picture of the new one that I got for Christmas. I also did some interpretive drawing on them to make them easier to understand. :) I love my family and I know that families are gifts from God.

Do great things in 2018,
Elder Mitchell



 Before and after I ate ten 100 yen burgers.

 My old family calendar.
My new family calendar  - there are some family members not 
represented in this picture. I, for example, was not present as I am 
currently on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. But a good 
number of people were able to show up for the wedding of 
my mom's youngest sister. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Week 52

Hello World,

It has been a long time since I have composed one of these weekly messages. For now, it sufficeth me to say that much has transpired and that you will be privileged to hear about some of it if continue reading this email. Hopefully there is still a chance that I will be forgiven for my lack of writing and that I haven't caused anyone to take too much offense. I still love you all dearly.

The first thing on my mind right now is Christmas. With Christmas came the special opportunity to Skype my family for about 40 minutes. I say Skype, but that's only because it sounds better than saying 'video call'. We actually used Google Hangouts because I prefer it to Skype. So there. Anyway, we had a great discussion and really enjoyed hearing one another's voices for the first time since Mother's Day. At the end some of had eyes that became what some of my younger cousins might call 'juicy'. Others might have observed that we were suffering from allergies.

I got several presents from people in America. A lot more than I was expecting. I'm really grateful to everyone that did send me stuff. I felt the love as I opened everything up and read notes from people.

I ran twice this week. Elder Hall came to Iwaki for splits and has a similar best mile time to what I had. So we ran together both mornings that he was here.

On the subject of Iwaki, I guess that you all probably haven't heard yet (since I haven't yet told you) that that is my new place of residence. I transferred here about two weeks ago from the Mission Office. So now I'm an eighth transfer missionary and I've been in six different areas. Maybe I'll stay here for a while. Maybe not. But I do quite like Iwaki based on what I've seen so far. We have really nice branch members and this is the warmest area in the mission. It's affectionately referred to as 'Hawaii' by missionaries who are familiar with the weather or have had the opportunity to serve in this branch. It's not actually warm. But I haven't seen snow since I've been here, so I guess an accurate description of the weather would be 'a little bit less cold than everywhere else in the mission'.

My new companion is Elder Warner. He's from somewhere in Utah. He's been in Japan about six months longer than me and is half Japanese. His Grandpa lives in this mission and Elder Warner got the opportunity to meet him a couple times. Pretty cool.

Something interesting that I've noticed recently is the fact that a lot of the missionaries in this mission are the oldest child in their respective families. I don't have real stats or anything like that, but I would say that probably 75% of the missionaries here are oldest children. The only reason I can think of to explain this phenomenon is that oldest children are way too prideful and they get sent to Japan to help them out with their pride issues. If you have another explanation that you'd like to share, please do so. I would enjoy hearing it.

I've thought quite a bit about my effectiveness as a missionary lately and ways that I can be more effective. A very obvious way is a drastic improvement in my Japanese speaking ability. But another thing that I've come to realize the importance of recently is talking about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Earth. As far as I know, our church is the only one that claims to have the complete gospel of Jesus Christ on the Earth. And that started with the appearance of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith. So my invitation to all of you is learn a little bit more about the restoration. Maybe read Joseph Smith History or have a discussion with your local missionaries. Missionaries are great resources, even if they are just some punk kids from Utah. They're punk kids with a purpose and a message that changes lives.

I love you all and hope you had a Merry Christmas. It's a very special opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

My next email will be in 2018,
Elder Mitchell

The pictures are of: 
 The temperature here in Hawaii.
 The bag of oranges that we received from the members.
Some noodles that I was very proud of. 



Week 51

I was thinking about what to send you in your Christmas package today and I went to a few different stores and I've decided that there isn't a whole lot of Japanese stuff in Japan. I couldn't find what I was looking for at all. I might have to just tell mom what I was looking for so that she can order it for you all on the internet because the one that I found was 1. Not terribly Japanesey 2. about twice as expensive as I wanted to pay for it and 3. Huge so that my package shipping costs would probably have tripled or quadrupled. So I gave up. Sorry. I'll just send the other little things that I have already. And maybe some other of my stuff that doesn't really fit conveniently in my bags.

Question:  What were you planning to get us? 
That is a good question. I was thinking about getting a shogi board but it seems like it might be a pretty involved sort of game. There were a couple versions that were fairly small and cheap, but those only had the kanji written on them and not the move options. I figured that I didn't even want to figure out those kanji and their respective move capabilities so you all probably didn't want to either. But the ones that did have the move options on them were way big. So I'm sort of at a loss. Ordering it on the internet wouldn't quite be the same and I don't actually know how to play shogi.
I'm also sorry that I haven't sent anything already. Last transfer was a little bit hard to do anything on Pday because some other missionaries were pretty intent on doing things like shopping at malls, eating at super-fancy restaurants, and laying in their futons.

But I did get the 12 Days of Christmas that you sent me!! I've already eaten some of the granola and fig bars. And we had Day 2 for lunch the other day. :) I actually didn't get the package until probably Friday or Saturday, whichever the 16th was, so I got to open the first three days at the same time. My most recent one this morning was the hot cocoa. Yesterday was the taco seasoning. And I didn't even look at the customs declaration. I taped over it. Someone should be proud of me. :) I've also gotten packages from Grandma and from the Mellor's. I'm feeling the love. :)

I am currently in the warmest area in the mission. It is known by some as "Hawaii". It's not terribly warm. Being in our mission makes it still colder than all of the areas in Tokyo, Tokyo South, Kobe, Nagoya, and Fukuoka missions. But that's okay. It supposedly doesn't really snow here.

I love you the most and I think that the latest plan is to call at around 11am my time which I think would be 6pm your time. That would be the 26th for me and the 25th for you. I'll probably use google hangouts again. I think Skype is a little questionable.

Ben


 The tape over the customs declaration. 
Cooking the noodles you sent me for lunch.





Week 50

Hello Mommy,

I have not yet gotten a package from you although I did get one from Levan. I think that I'll probably just open one (present) a day since that's what it sounds like I'm supposed to do. I would believe that you had a lot of fun putting stuff in my package. And I think it's funny that Amy thought you could fit "just one more thing". I'm pretty familiar with that line of thinking. I used it plenty when I wanted to eat more than I could fit on my plate with just one level of food. :)

I'm not quite sure how I feel about transferring again. My first one-transfer area was quite the surprise because I thought that didn't really happen. But I'll be an eighth transfer missionary in my sixth area. One of our current APs who will be dying this transfer only has five areas... Hmmm.

I'm not in Iwaki yet. I'm supposed to train the new commissarian tomorrow and head to Iwaki after that. I've seen my new comp a few times and he seems like a pretty nice guy. Also Sister Lor who was in my MTC district is in Iwaki, so that will be fun.

I think the plan is for us to call on your Christmas.

I love you the most,
Ben

Hours later. . .
This is your favorite missionary speaking. I'm in the middle of a van on the way to a restaurant which is apparently twice as expensive as the one from last week. Elder Sato wanted to go out with a bang on his last pday. So we're going to some all-you-can-eat place that's apparently famous among missionaries. It makes me wonder a little bit how missionaries can justify eating out this much. I suppose eating fancy food is one of the quickest ways to feel joy as a missionary.

I bought some fancy thermal stuff today. It's a few weeks late, but it seems to be some pretty high quality stuff. I might not freeze to death now. That would be good.

I'm moving to Iwaki tomorrow. I'll probably finish packing tonight.

I was pretty impressed by Anna's gymnastics. That was pretty legit. I wouldn't mind learning how to do fancy stuff like that. Maybe Anna will teach me when I get back. :)

This restaurant is really far away.

I'm really excited to Skype in just a couple weeks. I think I told mom, but it might be good if you all made a list of things that you want to talk about. We don't need a program or anything, but just a couple things that we for sure want to talk about would be good.

For some reason I thought I had sent this already but it was still in my drafts box rather than the sent one.

I love you the most,
Ben

Week 49

Hello family,

I'm in the back of a corolla with two other elders. I think that puts about 470 pounds in the back seat. And the two in the front are probably about 400 together. There's not a whole lot of air in this car right now. It's pretty full of young men.

Now I'm waiting to get a haircut. I'll probably go for 15mm again. I quite like short hair.

We find out transfers tomorrow. Since I live with the APs I have heard a little bit about it. They don't say a whole lot, but they seem to be pretty excited about it, so there might be some crazy stuff happening. You'll probably find out on Facebook before I email you again next week.

I have some pictures from last week when we went to the zoo. Or I thought I did. I have some grossly expensive (but delicious) katsu and the bottom of our fridge before we cleaned it out.

The whole mission is going to Misawa tonight and staying on the base with American members. I'm pretty excited. I was only there for one transfer, but I haven't gone back to any of my areas since I've left them. And English class in Misawa is tonight too, and one of my favorite people will probably be there. I did watch a few of the videos (Light the World) though and if I remember right my favorite ones were 6 and 8. 6 is the pole one that you recommended to me I think. I don't remember what 8 is right now. It just sounds like the sort if number that might be one of my favorites.

I love you the most,
Ben