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,
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.