Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Week 64


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. :)

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


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.

Week 60

Hello World,

We had a great lesson with one of our investigators this week. We will call him Tony (due to privacy laws that I'm supposed to follow as a missionary), and he doesn't take the lessons for himself. He takes them as a service to us so that we can get practice teaching and get feedback at the end. Or at least that's what he thinks. Anyway, we told our newly called branch mission leader about this dude on Sunday and he was like "What if I just showed up 'randomly' and jointed with you on your 'practice lesson' with Tony?". We were obviously very excited to hear a proposal like that and told him that he is welcome to barge in on our lessons any time he pleases. He did end up coming and we had a great discussion about the plan of salvation with the four of us. And from what we understand from a phone call we got from Tony afterwards, he and our branch mission leader stuck around at the church for another hour after the lesson and just talked together. So we're gettin' those taisetsu member kankeis. We think that we're on the right track to getting Tony to actually think about the gospel for himself. I love it when devious plots play out for the benefit of my investigators.

That's about all the time that I have for today. Please tell someone you love them and give them three reasons why.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Elder Aiu and I

Recent Zone conference

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Week 59

Good morning,

This week was a good one. We got a new branch mission leader, got some home teaching assignments, did a little bit of service for a member (and got a lot of food in return), did some finding in an area that missionaries don't normally visit, made friends with the owner of our local surf shop, found out that Tuesday and Friday are 540 yen lunch days at a nearby restaurant, and got to do some missionary work with our branch's only young man. I don't have too much time this week to elaborate on any of that, but I am healthy and happy, so you can all be reassured of that fact. We're working hard to get more member involvement and have activities that members can invite friends too. We're also working on getting an English class for young people established so that they can get some exposure to missionaries and church members. I also bought a jacket today. That's not really related to anything that I was just talking about, but I'm pretty pleased with it. I might send a picture of it next week. But those who know me well will understand that shopping is not something that I come by naturally. Shopping is hard work. In case anyone is interested, I plan to marry someone with a talent for shopping. :)

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Week 58


We had transfers this week and I am now companions with Elder Aiu. I actually stayed in Iwaki for this transfer, so not having a need to pack was a welcome change. This is actually the first time that I've stayed in an area for a transfer call since our new mission president got here this summer. I was pretty excited about that. There are a few different things that I want to do in this branch before I have to leave it. One is get their Family Home Evening program back up to what it was when they had senior missionaries here (for those that don't know, senior missionaries are super-nice old people who have more than enough money to retire and decided to go on a couple-year vacation to help out the church in other areas. Or at least that's what they generally are here in Japan... :)). Anyway, when they left it sort of lost branch involvement. I'd also like to get more people to come to our new English class for young people. We've had as many as six people, but we think that it would be a bit more of a party if we had 15 or 20. :)

This week we've had a few lessons with people, but most of them didn't quite play out how they were supposed to. We're doing our best to invite people to Come Unto Christ and help them receive the restored gospel, but for some reason even our recent convert hasn't been coming to church lately. We also have a guy that might be referred to by some as an "eternal investigator" who likes meeting with missionaries and hearing about the gospel, but will frankly tell anyone that he will not be baptized into our church. So I guess we have work to do on a few different fronts.

Last (and maybe most important), we got to witness a miracle firsthand this week! One of the Sisters in my area hurt her knee pretty badly and had been told by a local doctor that she would more than likely need surgery. This information was shared with some mission leaders and they took her to Sendai where they could get a better idea of what the problem was. If she needed surgery it would more than likely be done in America and lead to a premature end of her mission. BUT, they got the MRI and the problem was nowhere near as serious as the first doctor had guessed. So not only did she not have to return home, but she's back in Iwaki! She is slowly but surely recovering and is still able to go out and share the gospel with people!! The moral of the story is that Heavenly Father protects his servants and that the work must go on. :)

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

P.S. This is something that I was taught how to do a couple weeks ago during a missionary training. I was pretty proud of it... I also took a few pictures of myself just now. :)