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. :)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Week 57

Letter to the family. . .
Um. I didn't really get a chance to email today. The sisters apartment is closing because one of the sisters messed up her knee and can't walk. That's not the whole reason but it is a decent amount of it. We got most of their food which is kind of nice. We also bought a huge amount of meat at the grocery store today because it was 50% off. We're going to freeze it and not have to buy meat for a while. We were pretty excited about that. :)

I'm happy and healthy and loved all of your emails. Or at least all of the ones that I've read so far...

I love you the most,

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Week 56

Good morning,

I got what I would call a pretty solid affirmation of the fact that I will be spending more than just another week here in Iwaki (That's when transfer calls are scheduled to happen). I believe that President's exact words were 'You have transferred too much'. I had a small desire to remind him 'You are in charge of transfer calls and I've transferred every six weeks since you became the mission president'. But I didn't do that. :) This was all during interviews yesterday. I guess only time will tell how that all unfolds.

Elder Warner is still kind of sick and neither of us are sure why. We're also both pretty sure that he'll transfer based on the way that we read our interviews yesterday. He's already been here for three transfers and there are a couple of reasons for him to transfer. One being the fact that a transfer is necessary for him to become a zone leader.

We got snow yesterday. Quite a lot actually. This morning we had a pretty cool area of ice and slush on the road and I took the unique opportunity to skid with both of my bike tires simultaneously. I enjoyed it. :) I don't think I broke any rules (besides having too much fun). All the white handbook says is something like 'In extreme weather you may have to adjust your travel plans'.

I also forgot to send a picture of our board from English class last week. Elder Warner and I actually didn't realize that our names were included until the Sister in charge of the activity turned the board around for everyone to see. I think it's pretty funny to read, especially when I consider the fact that our student demographic is largely made up of older women. The only exceptions that week were a middle-aged man, probably about as old as my father, and another man a bit younger than my grandparents. I'm glad that they all seem to have one nice thing to say about me. :)

Have a great week and talk with someone about the restored gospel!

Elder Mitchell

P.S. The first picture was our reaction to snowfall in the "Hawaii" of our mission. I'm sure you can tell that we were very concerned. :)

I took some pictures with me and my 6'3" 225 lbs comp 
wearing my coat. It's a little big for him too, although 
quite a lot better on him than on me. I think that to fit 
in it properly I'd have to gain closer to 30 kilos than 30 pounds. :) 

 Mom: How did you end up with such a big coat?
 Ben: I'm not quite sure. I think they just said "You're 
medium sized", and like I did to everything else 
they (and you) said that day I replied "Yep" and then we 
took it off the rack and brought it home. It says that 
it's a medium. But it's waaaay big. 

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

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,
 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 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.