Monday, April 16, 2018

Week 67

This week's email takes a rather unique format. Since I failed to write a mass email last week this one will cover both weeks. Normally I write my family first so that they can read it before they go to bed and then I'll correct the major punctuation/grammatical errors and maybe tone it down a little bit to make myself sound more like a missionary. You may notice that the first section of this email is written as though I think that Easter was two days ago. This is because most of this was taken from the email that I sent to my family last week. Here it goes:

I'm on the bus and guess what: it has wifi!! I think Iwaki might be my favorite area. Our buses between areas in the zone have wifi, we have a member that gives us donuts all the time, our branch has the Igari's in it and they're amazing, and Iwaki is a pretty big area so I haven't gotten bored with it yet. We also have our apartment on the first floor which means that I can do all the jumping and crazy exercise in the morning that I want to. And the grocery store right next to our apartment is almost like a famer's market and it's the best store I've shopped at my whole mission. I've also seen a golden lamborghini on two separate occasions and a red ferrari. This area also has one of my favorite branch mission leaders. One sad thing about Iwaki is that our district only has two young Elders so we only get ZL splits once a transfer. We don't get any district splits.

This week we had a zone blitz. The whole zone came to Iwaki for a day and tried to find all of th einvestigators. It was pretty fun. We were in charge of figuring out areas for people to go and buying some stuff so tht the ZLs could make us all curry for lunch. Going to a restaurant witht 14 missionaries would have been a little bit more fun I think, but they were worried that people might have no money and just starve to death. I think that in total 14 new investigators were found that day which would mean an average of two investigators per companionship. It wasn't quite equal though because the ZLs didn't find any and the STLs found five. My comp and I did find two.

Two days ago didn't feel like Easter. It was still a fast Sunday for us since we have General Conference next week, and it felt like Easter just snuck up on me this year and was gone as fast as it came. It was funny during testimony meeting when the most energetic senior citizen in all of Japan (who also happens to be a sister in our branch) got up and at the end of her testimony mentioned the fact that our one young man in the branch bounced and went to America, and the other young dude who happens to be 28 got engaged and moved way down south. Her suggestion for fixing the bias of our branch demographics towards old people was to have the missionaries get married and move back to Iwaki. It's not a terrible idea. Except that I'm not sure that I could live in Japan as an ordinary citizen. Japan is great, but America is the promised land of the Book of Mormon and they speak English there, so I'll likely end up east of the Pacific. Not in the Pacific.

I've seen and heard some of the changes at General Conference on Facebook and in mom's email to me this morning. There were some pretty big changes. That's exciting. I'm interested to find out how the ministering thing is going to be implemented. And what a combined High Priests quorum and Elders quorum will look/sound like. And I don't know if you all remember this, but I actually got to eat dinner with a dude known as 'Elder Gong' during my time at the MTC. And he actually looks just like a dude that got sustained by most of the world as an apostle the other day. :) I think he was the mission president over Elder Turk's home mission when he got baptized. So when Elder Turk got invited to dinner I did too. :)


Okay this is the beginning of this week:

I'm about to get a haircut. There's a poster of a bunch of haircut options and I think I'll probably go for either the executive contour or the scumbag boogie. I think President would approve of either.

General Conference was way good. I was asked if we watch it in Japanese and the answer is no. We watched it in the room next to the chapel with the Sister missionaries and the door open. In English. Except for a couple talks at the end of the Saturday afternoon session because a dude showed up that we had invited. He's a bit mentally handicapped and we didn't quite realize before he got to the church, but it was still fun to sit in the chapel with him and watch a bit of conference in Japanese. Or sleep through conference in Japanese. That's closer to what happened. It's really hard to learn anything in Japanese. :) Another question that I was asked went something like this: 'Do you get as much out of conference in Japanese as you do in English' and the answer is no. I don't claim to get a whole lot out of conference even in English and the comprehension rate in Japanese is (astonishingly) quite a lot lower.. Haha I actually do get some things out of conference. For example: I really liked Elder Bednar's talk about meekness. And his line in the priesthood session where he said something about the Elder's quorum change not being a High Priest takeover. I also thought it was interesting to hear the number of times that President Nelson fixing hearts came up. Both literally as a surgeon and figuratively as a prophet.

I recommend some further study of the general conference messages over the coming week. I'll be doing that too. :)

Lots of love,
Elder Mitchell

 The cake that the Sisters made for my birthday. Their message was Youがoldだ.
Me with some cherry blossoms.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Week 66

Excerpts from two emails this week: 

Our zone pday today will be in Koriyama and we'll be going to see the cherry blossoms at some park there. Our bus stop is called Koriyama Women's college but I think that will not be one of the places we visit, as fun as visiting a women's college would be. It sounds like our ZLs will be bringing a football and are planning to have some sports go down, so that will be pretty fun. I'm excited for that.

This transfer is halfway over. That's a little bit scary. Thinking about things in terms of transfers makes them feel really short. Like semesters at BYU. Or the amount of time I have left on my mission. Or the time that I have to wait until I can Skype you again. Or the time I have left as a teenager.

Okay I'm about to go hop on my bus since it's 916 now. I'll probably write some emails on the bus and get them sent out a little later. My bus might even have Wi-Fi. I don't remember.


Hello Family,

I'm on the bus and guess what: it has wifi!! I think Iwaki might be my favorite area. Our buses between areas in the ezone have wifi, we have a member that gives us donuts all the time, our branch has the Igari's in it and they're amazing, and Iwaki is a pretty big area, so I haven't gotten bored with it yet. We also have our apartment on the first floor which means that I can do all the jumping and crazy exercise in the morning that I want to. And the grocery store right next to our apartment is almost like a farmer's market and it's the best store I've shopped at my whole mission. I've also seen a golden Lamborghini on two separate occasions and a red Ferrari. This area also has one of my favorite branch mission leaders. One sad thing about Iwaki is that our district only has two young Elders so we only get ZL splits once a transfer. We don't get any district splits.

I'm not sure if you can tell from my writing up until now, but I'm not actually looking at my tablet right now. I'm on the bus with my keyboard on my lap and looking out the windows so that I don't get motion sick. It's kind of fun. My tablet is just chilling on the seat next to me. Hopefululy there aren't too many typing errors, but if there arer that is the reason.

This week we had a zone blitz. The whole zone came to Iwaki for a day and tried to find all of th einvestigators. It was pretty fun. We were in charge of figuring out areas for people to go and buying some stuff so tht the ZLs could make us all curry for lunch. Going to a restaurant with 14 missionaries would have been a little bit more fun I think, but they were worried that people might have no money and just starve to death. I think that in total, 14 new investigators were found that day which would mean an average of two investigators per companionship. It wasn't quite equal though because the ZLs didn't find any and the STLs found five. My comp and I did find two. Those were also the only two that we happen to have found all week, but we were pretty happy about it. Hopefully we can meet with them again and get them interested in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Two days ago didn't feel like Easter. It was still a fast Sunday for us since we have General Conference nexxt week, and it felt like Easter just snuck up on me this year and was gone as fast as it came. It was funny during testimony meeting when the most energetic senior citizen in all of Japan (who also happens to be a sister in our branch) got up and at the end of her testimony mentioed the fact that our one young man in the branch bounced and went to America, and the other young dude who happens to be 28 got engaged and moved way down south. Her suggestion for fixing the bias of our branch demographics towards old people was to have the missionaries get married and move back to Iwaki. It's not a terrible idea. Except that I'm not sure that I could live in Japan as an ordinary citizen. Japan is great but America is the promised land of the BoM and they speak English there, so I'll likely end up east of the Pacific. Not in the Pacific.

I think that mom said last week that the package you all sent to me for my birthday was 13 pounds. I'm not quite sure what you might have sent 13 pounds of. One of my guesses is that it could be 13 pounds worth of keys to all of the Ducati motorcycles that you got for me for after my mission. Maybe there are some STi keys mixed in too. I'm not sure. Or maybe you just sent my 13 pounds of money for groceries. Or 13 pounds of calendars of all of the hot dates that you've scheduled for me (for after the mission:-). Or something else. I'm not sure. I haven't gotten it quite yet. It's probably somewhere in between Iwaki and the Sendai mission office.

I've seen and heard some of the changes at General Conference on Facebook and in mom's email to me this morning. There were some pretty big changes. That's exciting. I'm interested to find out how the ministering thing is going to be implemented. And what a combined High Priests quorum and Elders quorum will look/sound like. And I don't know if you all remember this, but I actually got to eat dinner with a dude known as 'Elder Gong' during my time at the MTC. And he actually looks just like a dude that got sustained by most of the world as an apostle the other day. :) I think he was the mission president over Elder Turk's home mission when he got baptized. So when Elder Turk got invited to dinner I did too. :)

I did actually sneak a few peaks at my tablet and fixed some of the typing errors. There are probably still some left over, but I think that as it is you'll probably be able to understand most of what I said. I can't think of anything else to say except that I love you all the most.

I love you the most,
Ben

Monday, April 2, 2018

week 65

Good morning!!!

We had zone conference this week and learned that although smartphones won't be here for a while, we will be getting portable wifi so we can message people more easily. In the past we've had to make trips to the church or to a nearby 711 in order to message people. We're pretty excited about that. The work of the Lord is hastening and effective use of technology is part of it!! Fortunately missionaries aren't the only people who can have a positive influence on others through the use of technology. Anyone can do it!

By way of information, I broke my third rear axle on a mission bike the other day. Apparently the second to last one was a solid (rather than hollow) axle too. I'm not quite sure what to do about that. Maybe I just have too much passion when I ride my bike.

General Conference is starting later this week!! Unfortunately I won't get to see it until the end of next week when they have the Japanese translation done, but it will be a great opportunity to hear the words of the Lord through his prophets!!

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

These pictures were posted on Facebook this week with this caption:

 We were on our way to spread the #restoredgospel when we were suddenly attacked by the #fierydarts of the adversary. Fortunately we were armed with our #shieldsoffaith and the work of the Lord continues to move forward. Let's go see miracles!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Week 64

Greetings,

Lately our dude that was showing promise has started to have some interesting problems, the largest of which is with our branch mission leader. It's pretty sad because I love my current branch mission leader. He's definitely one of my two favorite mission leaders (if not my favorite) I've had in Japan and is totally willing to help out the missionaries any time. But for some reason our investigator doesn't love him as much as I do. Unfortunately he also has some other things that he's struggling with lately and we're not quite sure how much we can do to help him. Last week he seemed quite a bit more willing to keep commitments and apply stuff to himself but based on the couple of phone conversations we've had since then he seems to have checked out a little bit. Hmm. I guess I just need to remember that everyone has trials in their lives and the ability to choose how to react to them. It's an individual responsibility to make sure that our faith is strong enough to keep ourselves tied to the gospel.

We went to a couple of high schools this week and tried to do some advertising for our English class. We got a phone number to call from one of them and an "if you want to you can stand outside our gate and give cards to all of our students" from the other one. So we'll probably be following up with those in the near future.

I also got a new companion this week. His name is Elder Bunderson and he's from Utah. He's excited to work hard so we should have a good transfer together.

I'm not sure that I have a whole lot else to say for this audience. Except that 1 Nephi 11 is pretty cool. The Holy Ghost talks to Nephi and helps him to answer his own questions. The Holy Ghost can definitely be used as a model for how to be an effective teacher. I highly recommend it. :)

Love,
Elder Mitchell


 My new comp and I

District photo from last transfer

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week 63

We got transfer calls this week and I'm staying in Iwaki again! This is my first three transfer area. Woohoo!!! The only sad thing is that the only young man in the branch is leaving for a few months to attend an English school. So I guess we're going to have to baptize some other young people. :)

I've realized more recently how much of a waste of time social media can be. There are a lot of people that can spend hours on it and get absolutely nothing done. Be careful with how you spend your time. Our time on the earth is limited. Make the most of it.

I've realized that my time as a teenager is quickly coming to a close. I'm told by other missionaries that it's not a bad thing to turn twenty, but I'm not sure how many of them I believe. It is a bit of a problem. The way I see it there are infants, children, youth/teenagers, and everyone else. I'm about to join the final classification and enter the last stage of my life. I'm sure that there are some nice things about being an "everyone else". Midlife crises sound fun. And so does giving motorcycle rides to grandchildren. But those might be the only two fun things. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I would love to hear about other things that individuals of advanced age have to enjoy.

And now to end on a more missionary-like note (something that I sometimes struggle with), one of our investigators is starting to have a lot more genuine interest in learning about the gospel. He actually hasn't told his family yet that he's learning about the gospel, but it's really cool to see the change that is taking place in his life slowly but surely. He's started to apply what we teach to himself and even think about others that would benefit the most from the restored gospel. That's something that I feel like I haven't stayed in an area long enough to see up until now. The gospel changes people!!

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Week 62

Hello,

This week my youngest two siblings made the transition into the teenager club. That was significant for them, but also for my parents as they now have five teenagers. Unfortunately the teenager club is one that I'll be expelled from rather shortly. Then my parents will have only four teenagers, and according to the words of one of my adorable younger sisters, "one old man". She's not far wrong.

This last week we had a mission conference where we made a video for the people affected by the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. My mission president wants to make our video (that should be out sometime in the middle of next week) go viral so he wants everyone to make some kind of effort to make that happen. I believe that his exact words were "I want to be a professional youtuber". If you all could make sure that everyone you know has an opportunity to see it, that would really help us out. :)

Another highlight of the week was when a member gave us a package of strawberries. I see strawberries at the grocery store every week but can't ever buy them because they're about five times too expensive to fit into a missionary budget. I was very grateful for that.

I also went on a run this morning. I've been jogging a little bit recently but today I decided to pick the pace up a little bit. It was an effort level that in my high school years I would have associated with a mile pace of six minutes or just under (if any of my cross country friends are reading this). Unfortunately I think this morning was probably about seven or just over. That's okay though. I was still pretty proud of myself.

The gospel is true,
Elder Mitchell

 Elder Mitchell and Elder Aiu

Blast from the past: This picture was taken the first 
day (Feb 28th) that Elder Mitchell got to Japan just over 
a year ago.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Week 61

Good morning,

This week we had a mission-wide conference where we filmed a video for the earthquake/tsunami that happened on March 11, 2011. It might be an okay video. It might also be really bad. I think my voice recording was okay, but for the camera they told us to look happy while we were singing. I'm not too good at looking happy under ordinary cicumstances, so the super-bright sun shining off the snow while I was trying to happily pose for a video and sing a song that's half an octave too high was a little bit too much for me. I'm not quite sure when they'll have the video ready, but when it is it will be on Facebook. Also, the mission conference is the reason for the two-day delay in emailing.

This week we also had the opportunity to attend a speed-reading class put on by our branch mission leader. We've been trying to support the class by our attendance. We don't have any regular students yet, but hopefully we'll be able to get people to start showing up to it. If not we might have to drop it. It is an interesting class though.

We have a plan to go get some Indo-curry this afternoon for lunch. It's $6.50 for all-you-can-eat naan and a bowl of curry. Definitely worth it. I learned about this place last week and plan to frequent it for the remainder of my time here.

I'm not sure if I have too much else to say. Except that the week before the conference some of the more athletically inclined Elders said over our mission line chat that they wanted to go for a run in the morning at the conference. So being motivated by the opportunity to run with other missionaries, I packed my running shoes and got up at 5am to go run with some hooligans. We couldn't figure out how to get out of the building for about fifteen minutes. All of the main doors were locked. We finally got out through an emergency exit. Ours probably wasn't the kind of emergency that emergency doors are traditionally intended for, but I would qualify it as being acceptable. It was pretty fun. And cold. But I would definitely participate again.

Oh. We also got the opportunity to use the ofuro that they had at the mission conference. It's just a man-made public bath (which is different from a traditional onsen because those are natural outdoor hot springs). I said "opportunity", but it was a three-day conference and the alternative was skipping shower time. It wasn't terrible, but I don't think that I will ever go out of my way to attend something like that again. I kind of appreciate the fact that I have a shower and bathtub at my disposal in the privacy of my own apartment.

I was reminded yesterday by Sister Lor (who is in my current district but also happens to have been in my MTC district) that our year mark in Japan is today. We got here late at night on the first of March. That's weird. I knew that I had already hit my mission year mark, but I had totally forgotten about the year in Japan one. Time flies and life is short. It's our job to make the most of the time that we have.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Here are some pictures that Sister Lor got of me at the conference. She couldn't do a whole lot since she hurt her knee recently so she just took pictures of everyone. She got some pretty good ones.