Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 2013

I pretty much just rolled up my responses to all of your emails into one.  Here you go.  

So first off, this weekend was fantastic.  Not that other weekends aren`t good, but this weekend the Zone Leaders came (rode an all night boat from Kagoshima).  And I may have forgotten to tell you, but my trainer left Naze to become the Zone Leader.  So Mukaitani Choro came back to Naze; triumphant return after being gone for a whole three weeks.  They arrived on the dock at five am (ish) and came back to our apartment and slept until 6:30.  It was funny because I woke up in the middle of the night to see them walk in and then fell back asleep five seconds later.  So I just have the image of two dark figures walking into our room.  Way funny.  So we had a fun time Friday and Saturday while they were here.  So the Zone Leaders split up to work with each companionship, so on Friday Robinson choro and I went out with beloved Mukaitani choro; we switched on Saturday, so Robinson and I went out with McConnell choro (other Zone Leader).  They also did some training which everyone else in our zone had gotten already, but because we`re an island...  It was way fun to work with them.  They are both very experienced and I learned a lot (and had lots of fun with my trainer).  They left Sunday after church.  

Our investigators are doing well.  With on of them it seems each week we learn more and more about him and we are starting to understand how to help him progress (at least we think we are).  Still lots of work to do.  The other loves the Book of Mormon and pretty much reads whatever we ask her to.  She has some misconceptions about prayer though, which will take some work.  Hopefully she will start to understand better as we keep praying with her.  If we can get a member present for one of our next lessons we will be able to explain it better and that would help a bunch.  For Japanese people prayer (at least the way we do it) is just a completely foreign concept and it is hard to help them get over that barrier.  They pray to their parents at their alter (pretty much every Japanese person has an alter in their house) but it`s completely different from the way we do it.  

I actually haven`t really ever felt uncomfortable with Japan so far.  It took me maybe a few weeks to adjust, but now it`s just life, has been for a couple months now.  What was hard to adjust to was being a missionary everyday and having that desire to talk to everyone and share.  I hated not understanding their responses, so contacting (most of what we do) wasn`t fun. But now I love it.  As I have been able to understand more and not have that same fear, I have been able to hear the Spirit at each turn and know where to take the conversation.  It is a wonderful miracle to see people as you astonish them with the gospel.  I have come to decide that when people hear our message they should either think we`re crazy, or this is something amazing.  Or they just shut the door after hearing that we`re Christian.  That happens a lot too.  

Still suck at basketball.  

The weather on Naze has been nice.  It really only gets cold at night, when the sun goes down.  But in other places it`s freezing cold, even if it`s not below 32F (humidity and wind chill).  

For Christmas we are going to get up, eat and come down to the Church.  We will be skyping from 8am to 11am plus another hour later in the day.  But then we want to spend the afternoon on the beach.  There is a very nice beach that is reasonably close by.  Then we have to do shopping and clean and stuff.  Maybe play some shogi.  

I really want a baptismal date.  That`s the only thing I really want for Christmas.  Don`t have anything else I could use (`cause I`m a missionary).  Sorry that`s probably not the answer you wanted Wyatt.  

My favorite about Japan thing is probably the culture.  It is something you can`t really understand unless you speak the language and talk to the people.  The language and the culture are just so interconnected, it is just such a cool thing to grow to understand.  Of course it takes a long time of frustration and not understanding to get there.  The places are really cool too.  One thing that I never understood about culture is how the location and language affect  the culture, how the people act and feel.  It`s just fascinating.  You can really start to understand where anime/manga comes from and why it is that way.  

I really wanted to serve because we have been blessed so much.  So many people won`t have the same blessings we have unless they have the gospel.  So I want to share the gospel and share the blessings.  Think of all the cool stuff we`ve done.  Most of those are because we have the gospel in our lives.  Don`t other people deserve the same?  But now that I`m here the reason has changed.  It`s taken time, but slowly my desire has grown to wanting to share the gospel because of the joy it brings.  It is an amazing feeling to share the gospel with someone and just be able to really teach it to them and help them really understand why it`s important and how it helps them (especially when there is this language/cultural barrier).  It just brings the Spirit and just an overwhelming happiness.  Hard to describe.  Love it.  

Love you guys, hope your Christmas prep goes well.  Have fun.  


December 8, 2013

Yeah, I got your package.  I love it.  We all watch each other open packages, because it`s so thrilling, so everyone saw the "P-Day Activity for the Elders".  We`re all way excited.  I saw the sweater but I am trying to wait until Christmas if I can.  I haven`t had to wear my suit all day yet, so I think I`m good.  But it sounds freezing where you are.  Everywhere else in Japan it`s about the same, but not the islands (woohoo).    

I have had to do a lot of work on the Holy Ghost lately.  One of our investigators has been taught everything, but doesn`t think he has felt the Spirit.  So we have been trying to help him feel the Spirit and explain to him why.  Lots of work and we go in circles a lot.  It`s really tough because his Japanese is very blurred and words are harder to pick out.  Requires lots of concentration.  And then he doesn`t understand some of my answers (partly because of my Japanese and partly because he doesnt understand the Spirit).  But one thing I have learned is how important the Holy Ghost really is.  He guides us and gives us comfort and is so important in our everyday lives.  It`s just hard to explain how to feel and understand Him.  As another testimony, we worked with a less-active recently who has been slowly opening more and more to us.  She recently confided that she hasn`t ever felt the Spirit though.  So we are having to teach her the same sort of things we are teaching to our investigator.  I would have thought that converts wouldn`t have this problem, but apparently they do.  Either way, I have realized how important it is to make sure you can feel and understand the Holy Ghost now, because when temptation comes, or you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, it will be much harder to receive and understand guidance and safety.  As your understanding grows, you can tell each hour and each minute whether the Spirit is there or not.  A prophet or apostle or someone said that they check themselves every five minutes to see whether or not the Holy Ghost is still there.  If it`s not they change something immediately to bring Him back.  I have really tried to take that to heart as we try to find investigators and people to teach.  It`s just so important.  

My companion and I are doing well.  Lots of fun.  We recently found an investigator who has lots of interest in the gospel and learning about the Book of Mormon.  After our first lesson we asked her to read the first chapter in the Book of Mormon and a couple verses in other places that we marked for her.  She decided to read the first ten chapters and all of Moroni 10 (we asked her to read 3 verses from that).  She said she loved it, but still doesn`t understand all of it (apparently the japanese Book of Mormon is very hard to understand, even for members; at least much more so than in English).  So we are very excited to get to teach her.  

Love you.  Hope you are well.  Thanks for the packages and I hope you can get mine soon.  Say hi to everyone for me.  
Elder Lee
Lee Choro 
yori より

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

Thanks for the package.  I`m super excited.  Recently, it actually has been pretty cold here.  I`ve worn long sleeves the past few days.  We don`t have any electronic equipment except a regular in-destructable cell phone.  And a dictionary.  By the way, I gave in and bought one today.  I am so happy.  Cost $130, so not as cheap as I would have liked, but oh well.  I haven`t had it very long, but it has already been very useful.  Love it.  Small, portable.  Don`t use the internet other than emailing you.
As for teaching, we have actually recently found two more investigators, so we have about four right now.  One of them has a real interest in the Book of Mormon and seemed to drink in everything we said.  The other might be a little harder because she sounds rather busy.  But we will see.  We still have the investigator that we meet every Sunday, and in our last lesson we committed him to fast next Sunday.  So we have to fast too.  Fun fun, ne.
Today we ate at a curry shop.  It was curry on rice and a fried chicken.  So good.  Curry is a big favorite of ours right now, but I have a feeling we will get sick of it soon.  Well see. Still love ramen.  
We have a less-active who loves to make us food, so almost every Monday we go eat with her.  She likes to make Amami local food, so I have eaten some stuff with her that I still don`t know what it is.  I still don`t have to do much cooking, which is fine with me.  More study time.
One thing I have noticed recently is how much better I can speak and hear and understand.  My speaking has gotten good enough that it just comes out.  I just flick a switch.  It is such a blessing.  I had been worrying about not doing well without Mukaitani choro, but as long I as i confident and listen to the Spirit, I know I can do all things.  When I get discouraged, I have a hard time, but when I have that confidence, the Spirit just lets me know what to say.  Amazing.
I got a flat today.  A staple got stuck into my tired somehow.  Spent about half an hour, forty five minutes trying to fix it.  But we finally got to go see our new investigator, so ended well.
Sorry you had a hard time with the moulding.  I still think it`s funny that you accidentally picked a hard one on YouTube.  I honestly can`t really remember what it looked like before, so it`s a little hard for me to tell the difference.  But I am sure it looks good.
Glad you had a good Thanksgiving.  Sounds fun.  When I get home we`ll have to have a great Thanksgiving party together, ne.  Maybe I`ll fly home from BYU for the weekend or something.  

Hope you are well.  Love you.  Your favorite son and bromine,
Elder Lee
Lee Choro

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013

Our Thanksgiving party went pretty well.  We didn`t really have many less-actives or investigators come out, but we made lots of food and had fun.  It was funny, I had to explain Thanksgiving to the people who were there.  I actually think I did a pretty good job, even though my Japanese is atrocious.  I found out that although Japanese people don`t believe in Christ or anything, Christmas is still a pretty big holiday (not as big as New Years, but...).  oh the irony.  I have actually seen some Christmas lights going up already, so I am way excited.  Christmas!  Other than our activity, the Japanese don`t have another holiday until Christmas.  They have a bunch in spring and summer and then the have Christmas and New Years.  That`s about it.  No Fall holidays.  

My companion is from Utah (right around the Provo area).  His name is Robinson Choro.  He likes soccer and singing.  I think we will get along well.  We both want to do a lot of work with less-actives, so with the same goals and ideas, I think we will be able to do a lot of good this transfer.  

When you transfer, you send your bike through the mail and it usually takes a couple days, but it`s been about four and we still don`t have it.  Needless to say, we`ve done a lot of walking.  But still fun.  Did some good missionary work.  

Hope you are all well.  Thanks for your support.  Love you all.  

Elder Lee
Lee Choro

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

I still get along great with my comp.  He`s fantastic and I`ve learned so much from him.  I learned a lot about how Japanese people act and how they expect others to act, which is very helpful.  I am slowly turning into a Japanese person (except for my skin color, my height, my build and my nose (for some reason everyone points out my nose; hana ga takai: high nose!)).  But he is leaving Naze now and becoming the Kagoshima Zone Leader (my zone leader).  My companion will be Robinson Choro who I have not met, but he one transfer ahead of me (he`s been in Japan six weeks longer than me) so this next transfer will be very interesting.  I really hope he understands the language well.  But I know we will be able to do whatever the Lord asks of us.  The other companionship is staying the same, and we get along quite well, so that will be good.  I really hope we will be able to work miracles in Naze this coming transfer.  

If there is one thing I have learned on my mission so far, it is patience.  Nothing happens without hard work and, in most cases, time.  In order to find people to teach, we do a lot of door to door.  We talk to people on their porch trying to find someone who has interest.  Every time we have found someone who we can come back and teach, it has been when we are almost out of time.  We have "housed" doors and doors and doors and nobody has wanted to talk to us, but finally we hit success.  This has happened repeatedly which always reminds me of the scripture: nothing happens until after the trial of your faith(I don`t remember the scripture right now).  Yesterday we decided to go see a less-active who is about an hour away.  She wasn`t home when we first got there, so we decided to "house" the area.  It was about 2pm so nobody was house.  Needless to say it was not very effective.  So we went another half-hour out to a member.  Our zone leaders had given us a tip a few weeks ago that I decided to try and implement.  We went to the member and told him we were going to look for investigators (people interested in the church) and asked him to pray with us so we could find success.  After the prayer, we asked him if there was anyone in the area who he thought we should go teach.  We thanked him and left.  We quickly realized that most of the people in the area were elderly and that it would be hard to communicate with any of them.  It was also getting dark and we were a little over an hour away from home.  Right as we were about to leave, a lady walked up to us and said she had seen us before and had gone to our church before.  She said something about a special book that our church had and said she wanted to read it.  Shocked, we gladly gave her a book of Mormon and our phone number and asked he to call us so we could meet again.  I am not sure what will happen, but that was definitely a rare experience and we were very excited.  We found one more potential investigator that evening.  I`m very grateful to have my faith strengthened so much and for the opportunity I have to be an instrument in the Lord`s hand.  

Another I have learned is the importance of members which was exhibited again the week before last (I forgot to put it in my last email).  We decided to go out "past the airport" to see some less-active members (the airport is about 35 kilometers away from Naze).  One of the less-active members is very good friends with a member (they grew up on Naze together; they`re both about 80).  So we called ahead and asked to see the less-active and the member`s house.  She ended up bringing another childhood friend and so we ended up talking to three childhood friends.  We wanted to share a message about the Spirit and when we started sharing the non-member friend got silent and was a little awkward.  But when Mukaitani choro had finished talking, both the member and the less-active started talking about how they have felt the Holy Ghost in their lives and how important it was.  When they started to share, the friend`s attitude completely changed.  She had a curiosity she did not have before.  When they members started opening up and sharing what they knew and felt, it became not just two random youth whose only job was to talk about God, it became the message of real people; friends.  People who have the gospel have a power they don`t realize they have.  I didn`t realize it.  Members can do so much in just the little things.  

Thanks for all your support.  I love you all.  I am so grateful to be here.  Now that I am understanding some of the language, it is becoming way fun.  I love the gospel and I know that the Spirit can bless eveeryones life, no matter who they are.  It has blessed mine.  The Spirit is strong.  Listen to Him.  

Thanks again,  
Elder Lee
Lee Choro

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 10, 2013

I`m super excited to get the packages.  Your timing will be perfect.  We get transfer calls on the 21st, so you will probably know where I am going before you send the package.  By the way Pday is Tuesday next week, so you wont get an email as soon as you usually do. 

So all the people from MTC district are in different zones, so other than a few people I flew over to Japan with, I didn`t know anybody.  I did get to interveiw with the Mission President.  It went fine.  He just checks up on you, makes sure your companionship is working well, makes sure your keeping mission rules, etc.  I like him, he seems pretty cool.  He`s obviously very busy and that, combined with the fact that I`m on an island mean I haven`t gotten to know him very well.  But he used to run a construction company and I think he did business in CA, so it would be interesting to see if he ever worked with Pacific Erectors or anything.  But I`m not sure.  

There was a guy from Okinawa at church on Sunday.  It was way cool to see an American again.  Other than missionaries, we don`t see a lot of Americans (especially on Amami).  He works for the US embassy and right now is the Consul General of the Naha (Okinawa) Consulate.  Essentially the highest ranking person other than the Ambassador, but no biggie.  He said there is a boat coming from Okinawa with 80 military personell coming sometime this week and said if we emailed him a list of this we wanted, he could send them (like American only stuff; peanut butter, chips ahoy, cheeze-its, etc.).  

I love to hear from you.  The language is coming.  I won`t say more than that.  I have realized very quick that rote memorization does not work well with my brain.  I don`t possess that skill.  But I can figure things out, so if things make sense, if they pieces, then I will be able to remember them based on the pieces.  So as far as my vocabulary goes, it is very limited.  This makes understanding a little difficult.  But I have figured out the grammar pattern and am able to figure out how they speak, so I sound pretty good (I think.  My companion is a Japanese person, which means I can`t rely on an honest response from him.  But people usually understand me).  I have found that studying some of the Kanji actually helps me figure out words and their meanings and as I do so, my vocabulary increases.  So I am studying some kanji.  When I get back I might be able to read a little Japanese.  Way cool.

We rode out to the airport again (another seven hours of biking).  I think I am getting sick again, which is annoying.  Right now the weather is terrible.  Not much else has happened this week.  Sorry.  

I love you guys. 

Love, Iain

November 3, 2013

Well we discovered that this week was almost useless as far as missionary work on Naze goes.  Actually that`s not completely true.  But it was definetly a not very effective week.  First off, we left the island right after church on Sunday so we didn`t do any missionary work on Sunday and then we were on Kyushu (the main island for our mission) until Thursday.  We usually do weekly planning on Thurs.  (a big planning session in which we talk about our investigators and figure out how to progress the work in Naze; usually takes half the day).  But we had a Halloween party on Thrusday and ended up spending the whole day planning and preparing for that.  The weather was great and the party turned out fantastic.  We had a whole 19 people show up including like eight youth/kids.  It was the most people I have ever seen at the church.  We had a less-active family show up, two investigators and someone we had never seen before.  And five members came, so it turned out fantastic.  A miracle; especially because we (well me at least) spent the whole day worrying about whether anyone would show up.  

But the next day the weather got bad again and we almost the whole day inside doing mandatory study and planning.  But we did get to see a less-active and help her move some things (she is remodeling her house).  The next day Parker Choro was very sick, so we did a couple of companion swaps so that all the appointments were made and both of our investigators were seen.  Sunday Parker was still sick and so they still didn`t get anything done.  Mukaitani Choro and I were able to see three of our investigators though and had two great lessons.  

So overall the week was very interesting.  Not a lot of missionary work, but it was fun nonetheless.  Unfortunately the weather is not very good right now (tons of rain clouds, it`s still hot and it rains on and off).  I really hope we get some sun soon.  

Transfer day is the 21st so if you could not send the package until after the 14th or 15th or something that would be awesome.  That way I probably wont get it until right after transfers.  It will be way easier for me.  
My shoes are awesome and my rain coat is working fine.  

Well that`s about it.  Love you guys, hope you are well.  

October 28, 2013

Having a blast!  Zone conference was pretty cool.  Got to see everybody from both Kagoshima and Kumamoto which was way cool (expecially because I don`t really know anybody).  We took a plane to Kagoshima and a three hour bus ride to Kumamoto, so I was really tired.  The whole Kagoshima district (minus the Sisters) stayed in the same four man apartment, so there were like sixteen or eighteen people in the same tiny apartment.  Crazy! 
For Zone Conference there were some elder missionaries who came and talked about health/safety and then Gustafson Shimai and Kaicho talked to us about the mission and different spiritual things.  It was way good.  At the end we had a "talent show" where missionaries got up and did different musical numbers.  It was good.  Unfortunately I had been getting a sore throat a couple days before and due to the travel we have not gotten much sleep.  Combine the two things and now I feel terrible.  I`m fine, it`s fun, but I will be glad when it is over and I can sleep.  The life of a missionary, am I right?
I don`t really have anything I need for Christmas, but I have been to Kumamoto now where it is freezing cold and likely to get colder.  On the off chance I get transfered, a sweater might be nice.  If when you send my Christmas package you can just send me a sweater, that would be great.  I haven`t gotten a chance to eat much of the food you sent me, but I tried the peanut butter and love it.  Other than some more peanut butter I am good. 
Japan has a ton of Holidays and they love to celebrate all sorts of random things.  But a lot of them are at the beginning of the year and I am also on an island, so...  In a few months when I get transfered off Amami, then I probably will get to see some Japanese holidays.  It`ll be way cool, I`m sure.  
Well the new puppy seems to be a lot of fun.  Too bad I won`t get to meet her for another two years.  When I heard about the new dog I was worried that she and Jock would not get along, but I guess that`s not been a problem, huh. 
I love it here.  Kagoshima is way cool.  Amami is great, but I want to go to a city like Kagoshima or Kumamoto soo bad!  Cities are so cool.  Amami does not have much of a city.  Comparing the two is like comparing Woodland and San Francisco.  Actually, take away Amami`s Beauty and Woodland`s Costco/all other big name stores (Target, etc.) and they are pretty much the same.  Except you can`t really leave Amami and Woodland is easy to leave. 
Also, I think the city you found is Kagoshima not Kumamoto.  I am in Kagoshima now and will spend more time here, but the zone conference was in Kumamoto.  There is a way big castle in Kumamoto that is way famous and looks way cool from what I`ve seen.  If I ever get to go to Kumamoto zone, then I`ll send you some pictures.  [Sorry, I forgot my camera on Amami, so I don`t have pictures of zone conference.]  Kagoshima has the big volcano.  The volcano errupts once a day and the whole city of Kagoshima is always covered in ash.  It is way funny.  There are constantly piles of ash everywhere.   
I don`t have a ton of time to email today.  But I still love you and hope you guys are well. 

Lee choro

October 20, 2013

First off, I promised a less-active to ask you guys for an American Waffle recipe, so before I forget, could you send me one please.  Preferably homemade and from a reliable source.  

This week has been fun.  We spent a lot of time visiting less-active members this week and feel they are progressing.  We are trying to build a relationship with them (which for me is hard because of the language barrier)  and I think it is going well for the most part.  But we run into some problems when they live far away.  First off it is hard for them to come to church if they live an hour away and second it is hard for us to visit them if we are a 2-3 hour bike ride away from them.  Sometimes they have bad relationships with the members here, which is terribly frustrating because there is absolutely nothing we can do about that.  It is so hard sometimes.  You just want to help so badly but there is almost nothing you can do except keep visiting and trying to strengthen their faith.  

I think it is so cool we have four missionaries now (in our home ward).  That is so exciting.  I only hope the members make use of them and help out with the work.  One of the biggest things I have learned on my mission (something I think I have said before and will probably say again) is that this work is nigh on impossible, without the members.  I didn`t realize how bad a member I was before.  I didn`t break any commandments or anything, but I didn`t help out in the ward very much and I definetly was not participating in building the Kingdom of God.  I have realized there is such a huge difference between being an active member and being a pro-active member.  I hope I can be a real pro-active member when I get back.  It can be scary and/or hard at times, but pro-active members are what build up God`s Kingdom more than anything else (even missionaries).  

That being said, being a missionary is awesome.  I love Japan and I love the people I get to meet and serve with.  The people here are so cool, as long as you understand what's going on.  Now that I am starting to understand what is being said (I understand the flow of the conversation usually, the general topics and how I can add input) it is becoming much more exciting and I am having a much more enjoyable time.  You just have to wait out the first six weeks I guess.  I still need to learn a lot more vocabulary (a whole language of vocab.) but it is getting better.  Sometimes I still run into people where I am totally lost and I just stand awkwardly there trying to hear a recognizable word.  One of our investigators is a really deep thinker and uses a ton of vocab that no one else uses (he used the word torinashi, which means intercessor, in our last lesson).  He`s a great guy and I really like teaching him, I just have no idea what`s going on most of the time.  I actually play him shogi every friday.  

Well, I don`t know how else to describe our zone conference.   That`s the name of the city, Kumamoto, sooo...  We are in the Kagoshima zone/district (district is the same as a stake except smaller) and that is the Kumamoto zone/stake.  I would think it would be on the map, but I am not sure.  You found my island alright though, right?  We actually fly out Sunday evening and spend the night at the stake center (I think) and then zone conference is the next day (by the way, this is a double zone, zone conference).  We spend that night at our zone leaders house, then the next day we have a zone party/luau thing.  We finally take a boat back the next morning and arrive at about six oclock when we will then go proselyte for a couple hours and finish our day.  We might have p-day thursday, but we also have to prepare for our Halloween party.  We will be busy for the next week.  

One of the rules for our mission is that from Oct. 1st to April 1st we have to wear suits.  Luckily I am on an island where it doesn`t get cold and that rule does not apply to us.  But if I were to transfer, for 1: I probably would be fine with just my suit jacket 2: I don`t think it would be cold enough to need a sweater anyway and 3: there are some places that sell some pretty inexpensive clothes that I think would work just fine. 
If it becomes a problem though, I will let you know.  I think I will be fine though.  I will reconsider next month though and see.  

Love you all so much.  Have fun with your days off.  I wish I could hang out with you, but I will see you guys again soon.  I have finally reached the point where I know that I would not want to be anywhere but here.  I love this work so much.  It is so important.  Please keep writing to me, I love to hear what`s going on.  I am glad you finished the computer project.  Please take time in the evenings to relax.  I know your life is stressful, but when you`re at home you really should try to relax a little bit more.  

Love you, have fun.  

Love, Iain

October 13, 2013

New Area!!!

Not really...  I`m still in Naze!!!   

So I am still with the same companion.  Fortunately he didn`t get transferred.  But Anderson choro (in the other Naze Companionship) did get transferred (Isahaya area, Nagasaki zone).  And my good friend Parker Choro has a bean-chan (a new missionary straight from the MTC).  His name is Culverwell Choro (I think that`s how you spell it).  

My companion is still making most of the food.  But last week because of the typhoon there was no bread at the stores, so we got a lot of pancake mix.  So for the past week I have made pancakes for breakfast everyday.  We eat stew and curry at least once a week, sometimes twice, and we usually have karaage (fried chicken) once a week (with curry it is freaking awesome).  Mukaitani Choro makes a lot of food that he just comes up with.  Pretty much everything we eat, though, is very japanesey.  Unfortunately it would take me forever to describe all of the food to you, but we eat stirfry every few days and lots of cabbage.  It is funny, cause I actually don`t mind cabbage anymore.  I actually like the way Nihonjin use cabbage in food.  It`s pretty good. We eat a lot of veggies, not many fruits.  Carrots, cabbage, green onions, regular onions and potatoes are the most common for us.  

Our basketball activity has quite a few high school kids coming now which is really exciting.  The other activities are proving difficult to plan and execute, so we`ll see what happens.  

Another typhoon is supposed to be coming within the next few days, and we will be unable to do any teaching or anything.  We have not been able to meet with one of our investigators for a few days, which is a little disappointing, but we are going again tonight and I think it will turn out alright (fingers crossed).  

I took out a little bit of extra money just because I thought it would be better to have a little more emergency cash (it says in the whitehandbook to always have enough money to get back to the hombu (mission home)).  I still have not been able to buy an electronic dict. but I have other things I might have to use the money for.

I also ended up getting a smaller backpack.  That`s what most of the missionaries here have.  I tried to get a shoulderbag, but I couldn`t find a good one.  I bought it the first p-day in Japan.  I think that`s the only thing I have bought with personal fund though.  Oh wait, I also bought a shogi board (about five bucks) and a different wallet (one dollar; they have really good dollar stores here that have lots of useful stuff) (this wallet has a coin spot which is important because the only bills they have are tens fifties and hundreds; at least that I have seen; they probably have thousands but I don`t think I will ever see one of those; all of this is obviously in yen).  

I can`t think of anything else.  

I love you.  Thanks so much.  I am superrr excitteeeddd for you package.  

Love, Iain

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 8, 2013

I can`t believe I`ve been in Japan for so long; it`s crazy.  Not that I can speak the language or anything, but still.  

So this week is transfer week, my first one in Japan.  It`s funny how everything is up in the air and nobody is sure whether they are staying or not (except me, I`ve only been here one transfer and I am pretty sure they won`t transfer me; but we`ll see).  Apparently they change P-day to Tuesday during transfer week, so our whole schedule gets kind of thrown off.  We won`t find out until later who is transferring (my companion`s been in this area for three transfers so there is a decent likelyhood that he will be transferred).  

But in the end it has worked out well because having P-day during a typhoon would be a little hard.  Oh yeah, I forgot; yesterday I experienced my first typhoon.  Way fun.  Way boring.  Because of the dangerous nature of typhoons we did not have much time to proselyte yesterday.  So we went to the church and watched General Conference.  It was great, but also a little disappointing that we couldn`t be doing missionary work.  In the evening we had to go back home before the typhoon got too bad to travel outside (which it did almost immediately after entering our apartment).  So we made some phone calls to different investigators and members and just studied some more.  It was good to have the extra study time and fun to see a typhoon, but I definitely would not want it to happen very often.  

This week we spent a ton of time contacting (which just means knocking on people's doors, talking to them on the streets, etc.) in an effort to get more investigators, or people to teach.  We have a couple of really good people we are teaching, but we only see them once a week and that does not exactly fill up our time.  So we are hoping to find some more people in the upcoming future.  

Thanks for all your support.  Love you all.  

Elder Lee

Sunday, October 6, 2013

September 30, 2013

I hope you`re all doing well ;-!  I learned how to play shogi a few weeks ago; i think about week two.  I haven`t had time to comment on it, but my companion taught me how to play (it is really hard to learn because the only difference in pieces is the kanji and they all look the same!).  I finally won against him today.  Yata!!!  I`m pretty sure he wasn`t taking me seriously though.  If I can beat him again, I`ll let you know.  Shogi is pretty much Japanese chess.  The pieces move a little differently, but the basis and the strategies are similar.  The thing that always throws me off is that you can bring pieces back!  Every piece you take from your opponent you can use later.  It makes strategy way hard.  Anyway, I digress; it`s really fun.  

I still haven`t bought an electronic dictionary (jisho in Japanese).  There is a store they call a recycle center which is essentially a used store, and they sell jisho`s.  Two of the elders in my apartment bought jisho`s there and only paid 60 and 70 dollars.  A new jisho is at least 140 (usually more for a good one) so I am going to wait and see if they get another one that is less.  

I am indeed sleeping on a futon.  It was really wierd at first, but I really like it now.  In the mornings we just roll it up and move it out of the way.  We have tons of room because of it.  It is definitely the way to go.  

We aren`t doing anything interesting this week on our P-day, which is fantastic because we are all tired.  The plan is to play some shogi, take a nap and relax for the rest of the day (shopping and important stuff is all done already).  

We are biking pretty much all the time.  But unfortunately my companion`s bike has gotten some flat tires.  In the past week he added five or six patches to his back tire (none to his front, thank goodness).  I told him his tire is dead, but he refuses to buy a new one.  Oh well.  Whenever a bike breaks down it usually means a lot of walking.  Last time he got a flat we were about an hour away from our apartment on foot (fifteen by bike) and we had an appointment in 30 minutes (the appointment was at least fifteen minutes past the apartment, by bike).  Needless to say we didn`t make the appointment.  It turned out she couldn`t meet with us anyways, so we were all good.  

We rode all the way to the airport last Wednesday.  The airport is about an hour away by bus and forty minutes by car.  It took us about three hours to get out there.  Unfortunately none of the people we wanted to visit out there were home, so we just road back (not a complete waste because we got to stop by and see two less actives on the way back).  Out of the 7 people we wanted to visit that day, we saw two.  We are going to try and get appointments next time.  

Along with peanut butter, maybe you could send a small package of oreo`s.  My companion got a package from his parents with Oreo`s in them.  But when I tried one, I realized they taste different.  So I need to show him what they are supposed to taste like.  

I still can`t understand diddly squat.  I learned something though.  When people talk to my companion they talk differently than when they talk to a gaijin (foreigner).  Our zone leaders came out to do exchanges with us (way expensive `cause we`re on an island) and they are both gaijin.  So when we talked to people I could understand about half of what they were saying!  I was like "what the heck!".  Then I went back with Mukaitani Choro and I couldn`t understand anything again.  Pssssshhhhhhhh!!!  Nihonjin.  Anyway...

We have gotten to teach a little more and I am way excited.  We have a Halloween party that we are starting to plan and we are hoping it will be a good activity in which we can meet some new people.  We have high hopes, but we will see.  

As another finding activity we are going to hold a family history fireside for the members to bring their friends and we are hoping to introduce people to the church family history website (they updated it recently and it`s supposed to be way better now).  Hopefully we can meet some people who are interested in their ancestors.  I was hoping you guys could find out more about our family tree (obviously only if you have time, I know you guys are busy).  I would be useful to use a story or two in our fireside.  But don`t worry too much about it, Anderson Choro has a nine generation pedigree chart that he loves to whip out, so I probably won`t need to say much.  Also on the church website you can print out fan charts which are pretty cool.  Grandma Wyatt might like one of those.  

I love you and hope you are well.  
Love, Iain

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013

So today was super busy.  I have found that P-days can be the busiest days of the week.  They are not relaxing at all; ever!  One of the finding activities we have in Japan (and I think other countries too) is Eikaiwa (english teaching class; pronounced eh (like a Canadian) kai (like kite without the t) wa (like wombat)).  There are actually lots of people in Japan who like to learn English, so it`s kind of a big deal.  Of course on Amami we only have five people who come (on average).  But it is still fun.  There is a man named Tanaka-san who comes to eikaiwa and has heard that every six weeks missionaries are transferred.  He was worried that we would all leave so he called us up Saturday night and asked if he could hang out with us on our P-day.  We said sure and he said to meet him at the church at ten o'clock.  He has an RV (obviously smaller since it`s Japan and called a campingu caru (literally how they say it).  He drove us to the other side of the island and back (which in total ended up taking about five hours).  We got to see some great sights and a side of the island that we would never get to see (it is at least three hours by bike, one way!).  It was fun, but we have had little or no time to shop, clean the apartment, email or do anything else today.  As I said, stressful.

The other side of the island with two nearby islands.

My companion and the RV owner who drove the four of us around the island.

The Japanese write on the beach in kana.  The message says Kana I love. 

The campingu caru.

We have been able to continue meeting Kumamoto-san who at this point is our star investigator.  He is the only one we meet on a regular basis (all the others we show up and try to see, but they usually are not home; plus they all say they are busy and don`t make solid appointments, just ``yeah, come back sometime next week``).  He reads the Book of Mormon everyday and each week comes with tons of questions.  It`s way fun to answer the questions.  We haven`t really had to teach anything, just answer his questions.  So far he has been following our ideal lesson plan, so we are super happy.  He says he started off not believing in Christ at all, but now he is at thirty percent and if he gets above fifty percent he will probably do something about it (like be baptized).  He started learning about the gospel about a year ago.  It`s amazing.  We have high hopes for him.  I just don`t know what to do if my companion gets transferred in a couple weeks (changes areas).  Without a Nihonjin, I don`t know if we will be able to answer his questions (he asks super deep and complicated questions that I don`t know if any gaijin missionary will be able to understand).  But I know things will work out.  

In order to solve the dilemma of not having any solid investigators, both of the companionships on the Island have started to do a lot of door to door tracting and it has actually worked quite well.  We have a few potential investigators (people who might want to be taught about the church) and we are really hoping one or two of them turns out.  

I love it here.  The island is beautiful.  The past week it has been raining which is kind of a pain, but we have been able to teach some good lessons and I think we will be able to teach some more this week.  We aren`t here without a reason.  There are definitely some people who have been prepared to hear our message; we just have to find them.  

Thanks for all of your support.  I hope you are all doing well.  Best of wishes,
Elder Lee

At the aquarium last P-day

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 16, 2013

Week three on Amami.  

Amami, I have decided, is one of the most beautiful places ever.  Seriously.  This place is amazing.  It hasn`t rained very much since I have been here either, so the weather has been gorgeous.  The one complaint I would have is that it is hot.  Always.  Because I have been to the east coast, I thought I had an idea of what humid was.  I was right.  Essentially since I arrived here I have not been dry.  The humidity cakes your skin.  Besides which, I am constantly sweating.  Which is hilarious because even though I am sweating a ton (and drinking a ton too) the natives are largely unaffected.  I guess you just get used to it over time.  Every day for the past week I have gotten home and found that my clothes are completely soaked.  Not dry whatsoever.  Ever.  

Since I have been here we have had a ritual of going out for lunch every P-day.  Last week we went to this fantastic ramen restaurant and had real Japanese ramen.  I had a fried chicken ramen which was fantastic. 


Today we are going to an aquarium on the island that is supposed to be really cool.  We are supposed to be eating Chinese food for lunch, which is supposed to be different from American Chinese food and China Chinese food (so Japanese Chinese food; which I think is hilarious).  I am very excited.  

We are teaching an investigator every Sunday who has read to Book of Mormon and has tons of questions.  And all of his questions are super duper deep.  He`s asking questions that some members might not know how to answer.  It`s way fun.  

Everything about this place is awesome.  I can`t understand the people most of the time, but my companion is translating and I think that I am getting better (fingers crossed).  

Thanks for all of your support.  I love you all.  Yoroshigu o-neigaishimasu!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 9, 2013 - First week in Naze

Well, I can`t believe it`s been a whole week already.  Time goes by soo fast here.  I am still loving Japan.  There`s always something new to see (at least for another week or two).  I love shopping here.  Everything has been anime ified.  Practically all of the ads have anime characters made for them.  It`s hilarious.  

Hallelujah, I have a bike now.  Because we live on an island, there is not a lot of bicycle selection here.  So I had to order one from the mainland.  Unfortunately this means I had to wait a week for the bike to get here.  Ironically my companion`s bike broke right after I got here, so even if I had a bike, we couldn't have been riding.  It was great, because the new piece he ordered for his bike arrived Saturday along with my bike, so we both had working bikes Saturday evening.  I can`t tell you how much of a blessing bikes are.  After walking around for a week, having a bike was glorious.  

Because we did not have bikes, we had to stay pretty close to home last week.  This isn`t too bad because we live about a ten minute walk from the main town of Naze.  However, a lot of the less active members (people apart of the church but who don`t come to church on Sunday, or haven`t been lately) live further away, so it limited us a little bit.  

The other problem was if we went to someone`s house to teach and they weren`t there.  This wouldn`t be too bad of a problem, except that to get to the next house we had to walk for ten minutes.  Needless to say, we did a lot of walking.  Most of the people here are not too fond of specific appointments and just say to come back sometime.  Sometimes they give us a specific day and rarely they will say come in the morning, afternoon or evening; but never a specific time.  Which means when we show up, they are not home a lot. 

But it worked out okay.  We were able to street contact a lot.  While we were walking to the different houses, we tried to talk to everybody we met.  Most of them weren`t interested in hearing about our message, but we met a few people who seemed like they might like to hear more about the gospel.  The problem is just when they live far away.  Also, sometimes when we show up to meet them, they`ve decided they`re not interested anymore.  Again, we spent a lot of time walking.  

This week, we are planning on visiting more people and people who are further away, because we have bikes now.  

We started a couple activities since I`ve been here that we are hoping will lead to new investigators (people who we are teaching and are interested in the church).  On Tuesday nights we are playing basketball at a local school gym (I don`t love basketball, but whatever).  Last week we only had two people come, but we are hoping for more this week.  

The second is kodomo eikaiwa (I don`t know how to spell it for you, so you will have to just sound it out) which is teaching kids english.  We have a regular eikaiwa every week as well where some adults who are interested in english come and learn from the four gaijin (guy jee n).  eikaiwa just means english class; kodomo means children.  However, when the class started on Saturday, no one showed up.  So we just had to wait around for an hour just in case.  We were all very disappointed.  These are essentially the three activities we have to try and meet people.  

On Saturday the district presidency (same as a stake presidency; the church leaders over our area) came to Naze.  My companion and I rode the bus to the airport to pick them up (an hour bus ride; about three by bike).  We didn`t know this at the time, but only one of them was arriving on that plane; the others all came later.  The 2nd counselor (in a presidency there is a president and two counselors) Takenaga Kaicho (ta K nah gah; kaicho means president) then rented a car and the three of us went and visited less active members in the area.  We also had been contacted by someone from another island who gave us a list of names of people we should visit.  One of the names on the list was around the area so we tried to visit her too (we normally could not contact this person or the less active members in this area because it was too far away; even by bike it would be difficult; that would be like six hours of riding, there and back).  We could not find her house though.  I am still not exactly sure how they number houses here, but they are not in order.  So even though we had the number of her house, we could not find it.  So after spending about 45 minutes talking to the people in the area for directions, we finally decided we did not have enough time left, so we started driving home.  Even though we weren`t able to find her, we were still able to talk to a few people and actually saw a member and an inactive.  On the way back to Naze (we had to pass the airport on our way to Naze)  we stopped at some store and Takenaga kaicho bought us both this brown sugar drink.  Essentially, they took stalks of brown sugar and put it through a roller which crushed it and squeezed out the juice.  It was very interesting.  It was a fun day; it was fun to do something different.  

Being a missionary is awesome and I love it.  We haven`t been able to teach all that much yet, but everything we`ve done has been rewarding.  I love it here.  I love the people.  

Thanks for your support. 
-Iain Lee

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013

Iain had a pretty eventful trip to Japan.  He was part of a group of 31 missionaries traveling to the Fukuoka Japan mission.  They started their first leg of the journey with mechanical difficulties and a cancelled flight causing them to arrive in Japan a day later than expected.  We were able to speak with Iain a couple of times, he sounds great.  Happy and excited.

We received our first email from Iain late Sunday night, Monday afternoon in Japan.  Here is his first blog entry from Japan -

So coming over here I had two dreams.  The first is to go to an island and have an "Other Side of Heaven" experience.  While I can say it`s not like the other side of Heaven, (it`s very modern) I am on an island and it is freaking awesome.  It`s looks alot like Hawaii (the little bit of it I saw on Mauii).  It`s so cool.  Actually, that`s wrong, it`s pretty hot.  Like all the time.  I don`t think I have stopped sweating since I have been here.  It`s actually kind of gross.  But I`m getting used to it, it is Japan after all.  

My other dream was to have a Nihonjin (nee ho n jee n/ japanese) trainer.  The advantages of having a native are quite obvious.  And I`m lucky enough to have one of the few that speaks good english.  It`s supa cool.  His name is Mukaitani Choro and he`s from Kanagawa (east of Tokyo).    So essentially both of my dreams have come true.  I am on an island with a Nihonjin companion.  

So when I came over they gave me a new phone because I was expanding the missionary force on the island.  Up until now they have had only one companionship on the island.  But me and the elder I came over with made it four.  So we`re expanding the force a whole lot.  It`s awesome.  

The group of missionaries coming out of the MTC with me arrived in Fukuoka about 9:30 Wed. night.  We then were up `till approx. 12:30am doing orientation, because we were leaving for the field that next morning.  The group going to Okinawa (including my old comp. another member from my old district, the two Nihonjin that left the MTC with me and a few other missionaries) had to get up before 6:00am because of their flight.  Most everyone else was out of the mission home by 8:00 due to train rides and stuff.  The last of us to leave (me, two elders and a sister) left at 9.  I was supposed to get on a flight leaving at noon to head out to my island, but the elder I came out with got lost in the subway system and we missed him.  Apparently it happens to gaijin [foreigners] missionaries a lot, Parker Choro, a Hawaiian, was making his third transfer (he`s training the other American elder on the island who used to be Mukaitani`s apprentice).  But we didn`t know he had gotten lost, so we just sat around at the subway/train/bus station until 11:30 when the AP (assistant to the President essentially they make travel plans for people changing areas, help the mission President with various stuff and stay in Fukuoka doing missionary work) I was with decided we had better head over to the airport because Parker Choro might have gone straight to the airport.  We got there and found him, but we were not able to make our flight.  So we went back to the station we were at before (keep in mind I had already spent four hours at the station) and proceeded to wait with the APs to help the other missionaries get to their areas.  We did this until four in the afternoon.  Needless to say it was the eight most boring hours I have spent in my short time in the mission field.  

However, we did get to go street tracting that night.  Parker Choro, Carpenter Choro (one of the Fukuoka elders [not an AP] who had served on my island, walked to the nearest subway station while contacting on the street.  We had walked for less than a minute when it started raining.  After going under an overhanging, we debated whether we should keep going, or contact over the phone (I`m still not sure how that`s done).  We had scarcely decided to keep going when the rain stopped.  It didn`t rain for the rest of the evening until after we got home.  It was awesome.  We got to meet tons of people and handed out three Book of Mormons.  One of the people we contacted was standing off to the side smoking, and Carpenter Choro decided to talk to him.  He turned to me after saying a few things of which I have no idea what they were, and told me to bear my testimony (something my trainer has been doing lots since I`ve been here).  I tried my best to say something about why the Book of Mormon is important (I don`t know if any of it was understandable) and then asked him if he would want to read to Book of Mormon.  He said he wanted to (which according to Carpenter Choro is extremely rare).  The man lives in Tokyo, so I don`t know if anything came of it, but it was a great exprience to have.  It was crazy how many people we talked to, considering how many fewer people there are here.  Fukuoka is big, but I didn`t realize how big until I came to my island.   

In case you were wondering, my island is called Amami Oshima (shima means island and I think the O makes it honorific; no idea what Amami means).  The city is called Naze (which is funny because in Japanese naze means why).  When we arrived my new companion and the other elder here, Anderson Choro, were waiting for us at the "airport" ("`s because the airport is so small; only three or four planes come in and out each day, I think).  We took a fifteen or twenty minute bus ride into to the city of Naze.  

That night the elders already on the island had an activity planned so Parker Choro and I got to meet some people from the ward pretty quickly.  The activity is called Somenagashi.  Essentially you take a bamboo shoot and cut off the top half (so it looks like an open tube).  You have a hose at one end and you pour water down.  You then take ramen noodles and put them in the water stream.  As the ramen goes down, people on either side have chopsticks (called hashi here) and try to grab the noodles.  Apparently it`s really fun.  But unfortunately it started to rain and apparently there was a typhoon hazard, so we went inside (I have heard since that Kyushu had a HUGE typhoon last week; we got nothing).  It was still pretty fun.  There was lots of ramen and some interesting Japanese deserts.  When you eat ramen here, you take the noodles off of a plate and put it into your bowl which has tsuyu (Japanese soup stalk; don`t ask, I have no idea what it is or what it tastes like).  The noodles are cooked in round balls, so when their taken off of the plate, they come off in a little clump.  You stir in in the soup and eat.  It`s really good.  Other than stir-fry, it`s been my favorite so far (but that`s not saying much).  

On Sat. we had the first baptism this branch has had in almost a year.  In addition, it was Mukaitani Choro`s first baptism in the mission, so it was pretty exciting (especially since I`ve only been here a few days).  

The ward consists of about a hundred inactives (we have a top 5 list we are working on currently) and ten active.  They are mostly elderly people (at least the few that I`ve seen) and there is no primary.  We have a lot of work to do, but I`m super excited.  I can`t wait to get my bike and get to work.

I love you all and appreciate your support.  The gospel is true.  Ganbate (good luck/work hard/tons of other stuff).  

This is Iain's first view of Fukuoka

Iain spent his first night at this church building in Fukuoka next to the mission home.  There were so many missionaries that they couldn't all fit at the mission home for the night.
Iain's first view of Amami Oshima.

The church building in Naze.

Iain's companion - Mukaitani Choro