Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week 33

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week was an interesting one. We got our first transfer calls from President Sekiguchi and they were a couple of days earlier than normal. Normally we don't have to worry about them until Sunday, but this week they were on Friday. And... I'm transferring. Miyako is dropping back down to a two-man area, so three of us are leaving and one is coming in. My current companion will be returning to America this week and I will be headed up North a little bit. I think my travel time is about six hours split between two different buses and a train, but the name of my new area is Misawa. There is a American Military base there so I get to go to an American ward as well as the Japanese branch. And supposedly I'll have meal appointments most days and will get spoiled like an American missionary. So that should be fun.

I also cleaned the sink earlier this week. I was so proud of it that I took a picture of the finished product. I like to think that I'm a charitable person, but if I had known I would only appreciate it for a couple days there is a high likelihood that I would not have cleaned it. :P

I would also like to put in a short advertisement (directed to all those who know any interested women... or anyone else living in that vicinity who happens to be interested in a missionary homecoming:)) for my companion returning to America:
He is single. He does Tae Kwon Do and is a blackbelt. He has gone jogging with me a couple times for exercise time and isn't half bad at that either. The only problem is that his English sometimes comes out a little weird. But I'm sure that with some TLC he will be back up to speed in no time. :)
Here's the info for his homecoming this Sunday: "My homecoming is 55 N. Main at 9:00 on the 20th. An open house will follow at 140 S. 200 W. in Springville, Utah."
The first address is also Springville, Utah. I've attached a brave picture of him. And one of the sink I cleaned.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

 Elder Reber

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week 32

Hello World,

So today is pday. We still don't actually know the real reason why pday has been changed to Tuesday because the AP's are some interesting people, but they listed a few of the side effects of changing pday to Tuesday:
1. About 40% of work holidays are on Mondays, so tracting will theoretically be a little bit more productive some days.
2. A lot of stores and haircut places are closed on Mondays
3. Also something about Elder Reber's group going home
Those are actually the only reasons I can think of right now. We assume that another resson is that President Sekiguchi likes to mix things up just to make sure that we don't get bored.

This week Elder Reber and I went on a local radio station. They didn't really want to hear about church stuff, but we just talked about our experience in Japan, things that we like and don't like, and hopefully some people listened and will be more friendly in the future.

We also had Zone Leader splits in Morioka. While we were there they had to fix the washer because some Elders put some really muddy shoes in it and clogged it up. We also tried to change a bike tube and then realized that they had bought one with an American valve and that we didn't have the right pump for it. Then we went to a famous bread place. Then we housed for a while and caught the tail-end of a matsuri. (Festival) There were a pretty decent number of people there. On our way back we were trying to find our bikes (which we had put next what we thought was a pretty easy place to find next to the biggest red building in the vicinity) and the building seemed to have disappeared among all the other ones. Morioka is quite a lot bigger than Miyako. We had to hustle on the way back.

We also had a testimony meeting sort of thing with our branch mission leader. It was above the beaches at Jodogohama. We talked about missionary work for the branch. It was fun. We took some pictures afterwards.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 31

Hello world,

This week was a pretty good one. We had a way good zone conference on Thursday which happened to be President Sekiguchi's first ever. It was way good though. For part of it we had baptism invitation practices and we were divided up into groups of three. I was with a full-Japanese Sister and a half-Japanese Elder who is fluent in both Japanese and Portuguese. So I was the only English speaker. They both gave me some constructive feedback. :)

I've also been jump-roping a little bit since being in Miyako. I've decided that my current level of fitness is not satisfactory and jump roping is one of the ways that I'm trying to resolve that issue. But anyway, I have some pretty good marks from when I missed and got some backlash. They've mostly faded away by now, but they were pretty clear for several hours.

I also sewed a button on some pants.

And last but not least, I had my first investigator come to church yesterday!! He left after the first hour, but we're supposed to meet him again on Wednesday and it sounds like he'll probably come again next week!

Thank you for reading,
Elder Mitchell

Excerpt from the family letter: I've also decided that I can play another song on the piano and I'll probably send a video of me playing that today. I'm pretty close on 'God Be With You Till We Meet Again', but not quite there yet. Maybe by next week.

 The picture of my button.

The result of my disagreement with the jump rope.
Elder Reber and I after having triumphantly housed an apartment complex.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Week 30

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week was a rather interesting one. A few days ago Elder Reber and I were on our way to check on one of our people and we saw this guy sitting on a bench in front of a grocery store. So we stopped and talked to him for a while. After half an hour or so we asked if his house was nearby (assuming that it was because he seemed to have walked) and he actually just took us to his house. We talked for a bit there and got a return appointment for two days after the initial contact. Since then we've seen him every day and he seems to be progressing pretty well.

I also saw a Ford Escape and a couple small Chevy cars. They were all a little different than the ones that you'd see in America, but it was nice to see a little American influence.

On Friday Fatoma shimai called us right after we had just had some instant ramen and said that she was with the other Elders at an all-you-can-eat curry place. We couldn't tell her no... so we had two lunches that day. :)

We found a little store near our apartment that sells a bunch of fresh produce. So we visited that this morning and got quite a few vegetables. I'm pretty excited to eat them all this week. :)

We also heard from the ZL's that the office Elders in Sendai got arrested for trying too hard to talk to people. I don't really know any of the details, but they were just hanging around the train station and someone didn't like it so they called the cops. We all thought it was pretty funny. :)

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

An excerpt from the family: Okay so another thing that might be worth mentioning is the kekko challenge that we had this week. So President Sekiguchi has heard of other mission presidents doing like a "new investigator" challenge but the missionaries haven't really liked it because it's too depressing. So he decided to make it a challenge of how many people could reject us. It's sort of funny in a rather far-off and removed sort of way because all of the missionaries were using the words "contact" and "kekko" almost interchangeably. Kekko just means "I'm good" with the implication that they don't want to listen to you. Apparently it's supposed to be a really polite thing to say. But anyway, the numbers of rejections and contacts were very close. We had about 300 contacts this week and got four people that were willing to talk again. The one in the first paragraph was the first. His name is Sugimoto kyodai. The other three are a little questionable, but we got the go-ahead to come back again which apparently makes them investigators.

Week 29

Dear friends,

I got my tablet back on Tuesday, and then was able to reinstall all of the missionary stuff back onto it on Thursday while waiting for interviews. I have been happily using it ever since. Some of you who know me well will also remember the fact that I have a rather strong bias against apple products, so the return to Samsung was very welcome.

We had a branch party that about 30 people came to and only about half were members, so that was pretty cool. I'll probably send some pictures of that. At that party, a potential investigator (who happens to be young 20s) came and even brought a friend. The friend didn't seem too terribly interested, but it seemed like the PI might be down to learn more. We'll see how that goes I guess. Interestingly, she told me that I was fluent. All I am going to say is that if there were one demographic who would be the most likely to tell me I was fluent in Japanese, it would be the young female demographic.

I also gave a talk this week in Sacrament meeting. I talked about how I'm trying to spread happiness as a missionary. I said that I find joy in running, but I don't go around as a missionary telling people to run because I know that not everyone enjoys that sort of thing. I said that we're all children of God, so we can all find joy through the Gospel. I think some people liked it. They also told me my Japanese was really good and that Elder Reber was a good... example I guess. They said senpai which I guess just means that he's senior to me. But anyway, all of their compliments were out of pity.

I also had my first three experiences with Sushi in the last two weeks. All of the other Elders were like 'dude how have you not had sushi yet?' and I was like 'dude no one has bought me sushi yet'. But now three people have bought me sushi. Two of them actually made it themselves. It was okay. The last one was at a members house and it was actually pretty good. I voluntarily ate a couple of extras.

Have a great week,

Elder Mitchell

  A few pictures of the branch party that we had.

  A couple pictures of a car that we passed when we were a little early to a 
lunch appointment today. Not really something that I would drive but it's 
quite a lot more interesting than most of the other cars that I've seen lately. :)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Week 28

Hello friends,

This week was rather interesting. We had the opportunity to meet our
new mission president. He's a really cool guy and it looks like he'll
do a great job. He already has several different things that he wants
to try out. He's also way into cycling and has done several really
long bike rides including one across the entire United States. I'm
pretty excited to work with him.

Another cool thing that happened this week was my companion's
birthday. I have a video of a restaurant full of Japanese people
singing happy birthday to him in English with karaoke. I think he
enjoyed it. :)

We also had a service project for a less active sister in the branch.
She had us move some rocks from a pile that she had across the street
from her house. It was a bit of an adventure. The rocks were just up a
dirt road far enough that it was rather difficult to carry them all
the way by hand, and the wheelbarrow that she had us use seems to be
made out of the super thin metal stuff that you might find on a
dollar-store broom handle. But we survived.

I've also been reading through 1 Nephi a bit and it's interesting to
me just how obvious it is in the Book of Mormon that righteousness
brings blessings and that rebelling against the commandments of God is
always a bad idea. Laman and Lemuel are a pretty good example of this
principle. :)

Have a great week everyone,
Elder Mitchell
The last one is my comp and I just before we left to see our new
mission president.
The first couple pictures are from the rock moving service project.

My comp and I just before we left to see our new
mission president.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Week 27

Hello everyone,

This was an okay week. We had zone leader splits in Morioka which meant a two and a half hour bus ride each way, but it was pretty fun. I got to work with Elder Price for a day. He's pretty cool and we had a really good lesson in the morning. Other than that we pulled weeds for a service project and then went finding in the evening.

We also had our switch of mission president's this week. As of the first of July we now have President Sekiguchi. We will get to meet him at a short meeting in Morioka this Friday. That will be pretty weird. I only had President Smith for about four months, but I had still gotten used to his way of doing things. It will be an interesting adjustment over the next few months.

And finally, I finished The Book of Mormon again this week. This time reading it for some reason was a lot more meaningful to me than other times when I've read it. It really is an incredible book and you can learn so much from it. As the missionary that I am, I would like to invite those of you who have read it to read it again; and those of you who have not read it to start reading it. The Book of Mormon is most of the reason that I decided to serve a mission and I really believe that the things it contains are true. As they say in Japanese, 読んでみてください. :)

Have a great week everyone,
Elder Mitchell

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Week 26

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This was an okay week. We had our last zone conference with our
current mission president before he goes home. That was a little
rough, especially for some of the older missionaries who have had him
as the mission president for their whole mission, but we all survived.
Our new president will take over on the first of July, and our first
opportunity to meet him will be on the seventh.

We also had district splits this week which just meant that I left the
apartment with one of the other two Elders that isn't normally my
companion. It was pretty fun. Elder De Leon told me that my Japanese
was good for being fourth transfer. I'm not exactly sure how I should
feel about that because I know that my Japanese is garbage. I guess
all I can do is keep improving little by little...

We also had a bit of an interesting housing experience this week. I
guess someone really important showed up and told my mission that
singing is a really good way to help people feel the Spirit and
recommended that we sing for people on their front porches (I said "I
guess" because this is all stuff that I heard from my companion, who said
it happened before I was in the mission). So he decided this week that
we would sing on someone's front porch if we got the chance. So I sort
of got roped in to singing "I am a Child of God" with Elder Reber, in
Japanese, on some random old lady's front porch . I thought it was a
rather poor performance, (Those of you who know me well will also know
that I don't claim to be any kind of proficient at singing. In fact if
I had to rate myself on a scale from 14 to 47, I'd put myself somewhere
around 19) but Elder Reber seemed to think that it had gone well.

Last thing: I'd just like to share a scripture that I think explains
the reason for missionary work pretty well. It's Mosiah 2:41 which
says: "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the
blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.
For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and
spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received
into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of
never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are
true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
I've experienced the blessingsof living by the Gospel so I'm trying to
give other people the opportunity to try it for themselves.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

 - Elder De Leon: He has some rather shiny sunglasses.

 - Me: Not dead yet.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 25

Hello world,

I suppose some of you may have assumed that I was dead after going two
straight weeks without receiving any communication from me. Or perhaps
that I no longer loved you. But fortunately I am still alive and I
still love you all.

So first I guess it would be appropriate to explain the rather long
vacation that I took from emailing. As a missionary in Japan I've had
a Samsung Galaxy tablet that, until about two and a half weeks ago, I
emailed from every week. I loved that tablet. But it seems to have
died slightly. On the day of it's passing I had been using it as I
normally did, had set it down for a moment to do something else, and
came back to a non-functional tablet. I tried several different
troubleshooting methods, but to no avail. It was not saved. I believe
that it's currently somewhere in the US on it's way to a Samsung plant
where they will rip it apart and diagnose the reason for it's death.
But until then I have an Apple iPad that was lent to me by the
mission. I'm not really enjoying the learning curve after having
already figured out how to use the Samsung, but I'll probably survive.

So I don't recall exactly what I talked about in last update, but I
guess there are a few things that I can talk about. One of the members
in my current branch is an Indonesian lady that apparently has more
money than she knows what to do with. And she loves the missionaries.
So she has taken us out to eat probably 6-8 times in the four weeks
that I've been here so far. And she takes us to some pretty nice
restaurants too. It's a bit of a luxury. :)

Also worth mentioning is the fact that last transfer was only three
weeks because of the upcoming change in mission president's that I
believe happens at the beginning of July. So that makes my current
transfer nine weeks and it means that I'll be killing Elder Reber. For
those of you who are not familiar with the ins and outs of missionary
life, that just means that my companion will have completed his two
years of service and will be returning to America. There actually
won't be anyone dying... probably. :)

That may be all that I have to say this week, so I guess I'll leave
you all there. I love you all and hope that you all have a great week.

Keep up the good work,
Elder Mitchell

A couple of pictures:

One that I got of my comp at our house the day that I got the loaner I-pad.

 One of me on the way back from a service project in front of a rather
fabulous parking spot marker. The kanji after his name is basically
just an honorific "Mr". But we decided that the owner of that parking
spot must just be a young single male who skips leg day and replaces
it with chest day. We're rather interested to find out what kind of
car he drives.
 And now a couple that I took just now. You'd think that I'd have more
pictures after three weeks of now sending any, but my old tablet also
served as my camera, and not having it meant that I didn't take any
The pink circles are pointing out how chubby my cheeks have
gotten since being in Japan. I've actually lost some weight since the
MTC, but I guess all of the rice is starting to catch up to me. :(

A tidbit from the family letter that gives a glimpse into life in Japan. . .
So I don't have a whole lot of interesting things to say at the
moment. I guess I don't really remember what you know. I remember that
a while ago the shower ran out of gas while I was in it and it went
from a little over 40 degrees Celsius to what I can only guess was
about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in about 12 seconds. 

When asked if the water heater had it's own gas tank. . . It does indeed have its own tank and we have to fill it up from some other tanks that we have. We just siphon it out of those little five gallon gas tanks. I think it's kerosene that it runs on. I actually haven't had to fill it up yet.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 24

Hello family,

So Im on the dumb public computer again.
so its been a while. im surviving tolerably well. in the last little
bit i recall someone asking me for names of members and investigators
in my weekly updates... so i might do that. im not sure how much i can
actually do though because there are supposedly some crazy weird
privacy laws in Japan and it makes it hard for us to even have our
electronic Area Book. so thats fun. I dont think that ill end up
getting out a weekly this week either just because this computer is
total garbage and I dont know where any of the useful puctuation marks

i got my transfer call yesterday and guess what... im staying. which
actually was a bit of a surprise. we had 9 missionaries going home
this transfer and only one coming in and so we thought that Miyako
would be among the first to drop to a two-man area since its so small.
but it stayed with the same four elders.

the new area is pretty good. its for sure a lot smaller than Hirosaki,
but still good. we still dont really have any real investigators that
i think are actually going to get anywhere, but ive kind of started to
be accustomed to that. the branch is about half the size of Hirosaki.
yesterday there were about 22 people and there are normally about 30
here. Hirosaki was generally between 40 and 50.

this might only be interesting to Poppy, but i also learned recently
that to have a comp for two transfers is borderline normal (on the
high side) and that to have one for three transfers is almost unheard
of. so missionaries just move around all the time here. maybe that
will change with the new mission president next month...

also Sister Young just called. it sounds like theyre going to bring me a temporary tablet from
the office this week.

i love you all the most,
Elder Mitchell

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week 23

Given the circumstances, I resisted my OCD urge to edit Ben's letter for the week. :-) Here's what we got from him. . .

so my tablet is pretty badly broken. i had it working on friday night and then i set it down and looked at something else and then came back to it and it was totally unresponsive. ive tried all of the restart buttons like power and volume down for all of the numbers of seconds and were on a public computer now with a bunch of japanese characters some of which i recognize and others of which i dont. and the keyboard has all of the letters in the right place but im not really interested in figuring out the punctuation on this thing so sorry about that. i just spent about an hour browsing the very slow internet at this place and they havent told me anything that i havent already tried. and ive tried everything that theyve said over again. so there you go.

all of my symptoms are
no lights
none of the buttons do anything
no sign of charging

so i may or may not send out a better email than this today. weve called the honbu but all the tech support they have seems to be an elder with slightly less tech saviness than i have who happens to have been called to work in the office for this transfer. he will probably end up calling someone higher up eventually and they might want me to send my tablet somewhere but im not really sure how thats going to work since the tablet belongs to me.

so i rerread the first paragraph and it was a little all over the place so heres what ive tried
all of the outside button combos and ive held them all down for plenty long. on my phone i believe it was power button and up volume for 6 seconds. the internet seems to think that for my tablet it should be power and volume down for fifteen. didnt work
i tried blowing on the charging port and charger because that might have helped the not charging if my tablet were dead somehow. but it isnt. it was at like 50 or 60 percent when the issue happened. but i did it anyway
ive tried all of the button combos while plugged into this computer and interestingly after holding them down for a while the computer will make a noise like it thinks there is a device connected. but still nothing from the tablet. it seems to think that i need to download software on the computer so i can get into the tablet from the computer but the downlad isnt working.

that might be all. also the live chat thing on samsung seems to be closed because its still Sunday in America. thats unfortunate.

i love you the most,
Elder Mitchell

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Week 22

Good morning friends,

Miyako is an interesting place. This week I found out that our house isn't actually within the reach of the huge tsunami six years ago, so that's good I guess. We did get to see some of the damage that it caused closer to the shore, and there are quite a few things that haven't been fixed yet. There was a four story building right next to the shore and you can see that the water just barely got up to the third floor. The first two were just the big metal support beams. The walls and everything were just gone. It was kind of crazy. I probably should have gotten a picture or two but I didn't think about it.

Elder Reber is my new companion. He's great. I don't think that I'll have to worry about any comp problems this transfer. He's interestingly also from Utah just like both of my other two comps. I'm not exactly sure why that is. Maybe God just thinks I need to learn to get along with Utah people. Or something like that. :)

The weather is nice. It's 71 right now with a high of 73. Which probably means that it'll actually get up to about 80. Miyako is definitely smaller than Hirosaki, but the mission area is still pretty big. This week our branch mission leader drove us about 70 minutes North to where we have an investigator. That was an interesting experience. He drives a stick-shift... van? It's sort of just a normal box car (like 90% of the cars on the road here) but it's blown up by probably 120 or 130%. I judged him perhaps a little too harshly on his stickshift driving... I guess that's something I can work on this week. :)

Lately I've mostly been reading The Book of Mormon for my personal study. I recently just finished up Alma and started on Helaman. Today I read Helaman 5:12 which is pretty legit. Lately it has also stood out to me how much Alma talks about missionary work. It's mostly in the first half of Alma since the second half is all wars, but there's still some good stuff in the second half too.

A couple that I've highlighted recently (not word for word):
Alma 62:10 - says something about speedily executing those who were opposed to freedom.
Alma 60:13 - The Lord allows the righteous to be slain to bring justice to the wicked
Alma 60:the last verse - I am Moroni, and I don't seek for power I seek for the glory of my God
Alma 57 talking about the 2000 stripling warriors - They remembered the things that their mothers taught them,and they had faith.
Alma 43:47 - Ye shall defend your families unto bloodshed.

Last couple of things: This transfer is already a third of the way over because it's a three week transfer. The new mission president comes in a week after this transfer ends so then he'll have the long 9 week transfer to figure stuff out a little better before he starts calling transfers and stuff. Also I've decided that I have thirty minutes of free workout time built in to the morning so I'm going to make good use of it. If I'm not way shredded by the end of my mission I will have been doing it wrong. :) That might be all.

Lots of love,
Elder Mitchell

 For some reason people in Japan think that Prius's and minivans are 
cool and so they'll deck them out with fat exhausts, low-profile tires, 
and whatever else they care to put on them. This picture is a pretty 
decent example of how people in Japan feel about Prius's. There was 
a pretty good minivan too that I saw yesterday that was lowered with 
four exhaust pipes and fancy wheels. But we were working at that point. 
So no picture of that one. 

  Some pictures that we just took with all the Elders in my district at the 
church building. If you look close you can tell that I have some 
helmet hair. I guess that means that my hair is too long...
Elder Mitchell, Elder Reber, Elder De Leon and Elder Davies
 And then there's one that I got of my new companion, Elder Reber.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 21

Hello everyone,

I'm a little pressed for time today because we had transfer calls yesterday and I'm supposed to head to Miyako tomorrow. So it's a rather short email today. The most important thing that I can tell you all is that Miyako is right on the Pacific coast so if there's a tsunami... then I'll be the first to get wet I suppose. But I'll be in good company because Miyako is a four-man area (meaning that four Elders share the same apartment. Interestingly Miyako doesn't have an apartment for Elders, they actually have a house. So that will be interesting). My new companion will be Elder Reber who is basically an old man. He only has two transfers left which means I could very easily kill him off.

Have a great week,
Elder Mitchell

Advice to family and friends with regards to preparing for a mission from an email sent to Bro. Rob Welch the Mission prep teacher for our Stake: In regards to your favor, I can think of two things. One would be to study The Book of Mormon every day and become as familiar with it as you can. I suppose that's not the most original idea, but The Book of Mormon really is what sets us apart from other churches. The truthfulness of The Book of Mormon supports our claim to modern revelation and the reality of the Restoration. Make sure that you have a strong testimony of The Book of Mormon. The other thing is to think about all of the ways that The Gospel has blessed your life and practice sharing those ways with your friends. If you can share the Gospel out of love for people and with a desire to help them, then people on your mission will be about a million times more likely to listen to you.

 Me when I found out I was transferring.

 The cute little boys are the ones that we teach every week. The 
youngest one doesn't actually participate. He just sort of runs around 
and makes noise. But his brother and the other kid do pretty well.

 The family is the Takaya family and Brother Takaya is the Young Men's 
President. Shinnosuke is his son home from a mission for a year or two. 

Me with Shinnosuke the 2nd counselor.

 Otani Kyoudai and I.

Hello Family,

I am still alive and mostly well.  I really enjoyed talking to you all last week. I suppose I hadn't quite realized how much I love you all before I left and went halfway around the world. I realized a little better when I went to BYU, but for some reason that just wasn't quite the same. So there.

Yesterday we got transfer calls and... I'm transferring. . . So tomorrow I have a four and a half hour bus ride to Sendai (the same one that I've taken all the other times) and then two different bus rides (2.75 hours and 2.5 hours) back up to Miyako. It's pretty close to where I am now (but in a different zone), but for some reason somebody thought that my current comp and I both needed to take buses clear across the mission and back. So that will be fun.

Yesterday there was a Japan devotional thing with Elder Oaks speaking at it which was pretty good. They just went back and forth between English and Japanese after every line and it was interesting to see how much of the Japanese I could catch. It still wasn't a whole lot, but I guess I'm slowly and steadily improving... or something like that. 

I'm really going to miss some of the people here. Like Takaya Kyoudai and Nakabayashi Shimai and Otani Kyoudai. And Mikami Kaicho. And Yamaguchi Kyoudai. And Fujita San, our prize Eikaiwa student. And most everyone else. And I really did have a really good district here too. I don't know. I'm still a little confused about exactly what is going on and I haven't had too much time to think about it because I'm in the middle of packing.

I love you all,
Elder Mitchell

Friday, May 19, 2017

Week 20

Hello world,

I got to talk to my family this morning over Google hangouts which was definitely the highlight of the week. We had a pretty good talk. I'm not exactly sure what to say about it except that it definitely wasn't long enough. It's nice to know that the other half of the world still exists. I suppose I had a reasonable amount of evidence that they did from all of the emails that I've gotten in the last while, but there was still a little bit of faith required. But the seeing of their faces and hearing of their voices left no room for doubt. :)

One other thing probably worth mentioning is the fact that I got a new bike and I am again able to cruise around Hirosaki as I please. The office couple brought us new bikes and took away mine with the broken axle and the other one that had just been sitting under our bike cover broken for as long as I've been in Japan. So we now have three bikes that are all in good working order. I guess we'll see how long this one lasts now that it's an established fact that I'm fat. :)

Also, our district leader went home early this week because he's been pretty sick the last few weeks. So I am now the only Elder Mitchell in the district. It's a little lonely.

Perhaps the second most exciting thing of the week is the man named Saito that we housed into this week. Not quite sure if this is insensitive or not, but a decent sized portion of the population of Hirosaki is named Saito. Anyway, this guy is probably about 60 years old and he seems to be pretty interested in religion. He's currently a part of the happy science religion (I really have no idea what that is, but according to this guy it's a worldwide thing), but he readily accepted a Book of Mormon and told us he'd be happy to read from it and then talk about it this next Tuesday. So I guess we'll see how that goes.

I love you all,
Elder Mitchell

 This picture is at my Branch President's house when we had dinner with him 
last night. He has a bird that just flies around in his house which is 
pretty cool. The picture is a little blurry, but that's the best one that I got.
 This is with my first companion.  I saw him at a new 
missionary meeting that was in his area. He's a funny guy. I hope I 
can grow up to be as good of a missionary as he is. :)
The Google Hangout with the family on Mother's Day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 19

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week was rather enjoyable. There was one event this week that will probably live in my mind forever because of how funny it is to me. Unfortunately it's not the sort of thing that I would expect to cause laughter in anyone else, but here it is. This week the back axle snapped on my bike. I've always told people that I'm really fat (and none of them have ever really believed me) but this is undeniable proof. :)

So actually none of the people involved seem to be of the opinion that my weight was the reason for the catastrophic failure of my axle. There are basically three factors that seemed to have a role in the incident. 1. The bike has been used by other missionaries for who knows how long. It's probably a miracle that it didn't break before I got it. 2. A long time ago while I was riding up a hill with a little larger than average desire to get to the top, I found that my bike started to make a weird rubbing noise when I would pedal. I can only assume that my extraordinary leg strength (I thought that self-compliment fit in very nicely:)) bent some of the inner workings of the bike and caused the rubbing. 3. The gears on my bike would sometimes just change of their own accord when I would pedal very hard or when I would go over a larger than average bump, so the resulting jerk on the pedals probably wasn't terribly good for the axle either.

The final moments of my axle's existence as a cohesive whole were on a wide sidewalk with no traffic and at a very low speed. So when the axle finally snapped at the inner extreme of the gear rack, it was easy to pull to the side and stop. Interestingly, I didn't realize at first that it was the axle that had broken. I felt/heard the pop and then heard the smaller piece fall out and land on the sidewalk. I thought something along the lines of "Oh that wasn't good" and then called for my companion to stop since I was following him at the time. But, this incident is also a small miracle. The miracle is that it was such a low-stakes situation when it actually broke. If I had been riding at any sort of speed, or had been amidst a bunch of car traffic without a convenient place to pull off, it could have been a very different story. As it is, I did not receive any bodily injury, and we are simply waiting for the mission office to send us another bike.

That turned into a rather long story, but I guess that's okay since I don't have a whole lot to say this week. Other than the bike problems it's basically been business as usual. We just pick an area, talk to all the people on the street in between our apartment and the desired neighborhood, and then knock on doors until it's time to come back and eat or sleep.

Lots of love,
Elder Mitchell

Excerpts from emails to the family. . .

So I was trying to figure out in the title how to use the word 'eve' to describe what this P-day is in relation to next one (it being Mother's day for you) since I get to call. I sort of gave up. This is the closest I got: Mother's Day P-day Eve.

Okay so I just got an email, and apparently someone wants to know what I've been studying lately. So um. I've been reading quite a bit out of the Book of Mormon, and I just finished Mosiah recently. I've been rather disappointed with how well I know the scriptures, so I'm trying to fix that a little bit. Lately I've noticed how many times it says 'keep the commandments'. I guess they're trying to emphasize its importance by including it so many times. Anyway, it often says something like 'keep the commandments and have love and charity, and you will receive eternal life'. And then after that it usually says something like 'but if you keep not these sayings you shall reap damnation to your soul'. So I guess we can just make the choice whether we want eternal life or eternal misery. :)

So I did think of another experience that I forgot to put in the regular update. We had a role play lesson with one of the members (who happens to be going to college right now in Hirosaki, but also served in the Sendai mission, like right before I got here) and I quite enjoyed it. I was still clearly the Junior companion (as in, I sort of just waited for Elder Anderson to ask me to say things), but there was quite a bit more back and forth than normal and there just wasn't a whole lot of pressure on me. It was really the first lesson that I've felt like it might be possible to become a decently good missionary in Japan. My self-esteem probably increased by about 47x. :) There is obviously still a quite large area from improvement (as in like I might have reached one or two percent of Japanese language knowledge), but I feel quite a lot better about it right now. It was one of the best experiences that I've had in Japan.

I think the only other thing that's worth mentioning is the seemingly really nice bag that I got today. I, unfortunately, don't have it on me to take a picture, but I might get one by tonight. I think it will be quite a lot better than the one I've currently got.

So um. I think that might be all for today. Tune in next week

I love you all the most,
Elder Mitchell

Monday, May 1, 2017

Week 18

This week was pretty okay. The major things that happened are:

 - This week the last of the snow on the street of my apartment melted. There was a huge pile that people from all over the block made and the last of the snow I saw from it was Monday night. However there is still a pretty massive amount of snow in a pit just south of the church building.
 - This week we had a little bit of service for a single sister in the branch. We just helped her do a little garden. I ended up being the most accomplished user of the hoe, and I sat on the fence so now all of the sisters in the district think that I'm going to become a farmer. That was maybe Tuesday. Elder Sato is the other Elder in the picture because we were on splits. He's one of the ZL's. There are pictures attached. The first one is a selfie and the second and third ones are just of me that they took. For some reason they all thought that me sitting on the fence was the coolest thing ever.
 - We also got to go with one of our English class students to the Cherry Blossom Festival again which was pretty cool. Aomori (the zone that I'm in) is famous for apple trees because their farmers are just the best somehow, and they applied all of their tree knowledge to the park here, so apparently Hirosaki is basically the best cherry blossom festival in the world. I'm going to put a picture of the heart shape (which apparently takes year-round maintenance) and a picture of my comp and I inside the castle. I'm not exactly sure what it is that I'm holding, but it's not a swastika. It's backwards and I think it has something to do with Buddhism.

Well, besides my other bike tire going bad I think that's about it. For some reason my bike just can't keep air in the tires. I'm not quite sure why.

I love you all,
Elder Mitchell

 Inside Hirosaki Castle with Elder Anderson.