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