Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 21, 2014

Transfer 8, Week 5

Hey, guess what?  I went to a freakin' castle today!!!  Yeah!! Woooooo!  Okay I'm done.  But seriously the castle was the coolest thing I have gotten to do in Japan.  We went by bus (because it was faster than bike) and found out about a 1day bus pass for $7.  So we took it and it saved us a dollar on admission to the castle too (usually $5).  It was super cool; when we come back we will definitely have to check it out (a lot of it's wheelchair accesible, because it's Japan).  Then we ate lunch at the shotengai (a big outdoor mall thing) and took the bus back.  It was super fun and the best P-day we have had here so far (maybe the best in my mission).
If you want, you can find out a bunch of info on the castle.  It was a big battle during what's called the Seinan Civil War.  It was pretty much a rebellion from the Samuri during the 1800's (about American Civil War era).  The Last Samuri movie takes place in that war and part of it was filmed in or around Kumamoto Castle (I definitely want to see that again when I get back).  I'll send some photos after.  

Well, we found a pretty good investigator who has thought a lot about God and stuff, but he says he can't understand the Book of Mormon that we gave him because he doesn't understand God.  We tried to explain God to him but he won't pray, so he might be stuck because of lack of trust or willingness to act.  If so it would be really frustrating if he stays there, because he has such great questions and the gospel would help him so much.  He is 70, but he plays baseball and tennis once a week and ceramics once a week and a whole bunch of other activities to keep him busy.  The gospel would give him what he's so obviously looking for in life.  

We also met some super cool guys last night who will hopefully become investigators eventually.  I love doing this because we get to meet so many interesting and cool people.  

So next week if transfer week (surprise surprise, I know it comes so fast, right?).  I am pretty sure I am staying, because Kaicho wouldn't send me after only one transfer twice in a row (I hope).  Part of the reason we came was to firm up relationships with the ward and I feel like we've done pretty well.  But if we leave now it will amount to nothing and I think Kaicho knows that.  Or he thinks we're needed elsewhere and we'll go.  

As far as a package goes, I would like some more deodorant and some more shampoo would be nice.  Otherwise I have a hankering for graham crackers, but don't worry too much about that.  

Love you guys, hope you have a good week.  
Elder Lee

In front of Kumamoto Castle

Beautiful screens

View from the top of the castle

My companion and I at the top of the castle

Me as a samuri

Our delicious dinner

July 14, 2014

Transfer 8, Week 4

Hey, how's it going?  Not much here.  Apparently it hasn't been as hot as usual or as rainy as usual, so people are worried there is going to be a big burst of rain.  That or the whole rainy season is delayed. 

The Typhoon was a bust.  Absolutely nothing happened! (it turned from Kumamoto down South or something and then died).  So after a usual planning session we went out and dendo-ed like we usually do. 

So far we haven't really found any investigators yet, but in the past week we have really made our goals bigger and been able to find some new people.  Goals are super important in progressing as a missionary and really in anything.  Lately I haven't really worked as hard as I could in Language Study time, but I decided that I want to be able to translate in Sacrament Meeting which will mean I have to work a lot harder and get a lot better at Japanese.  But with that goal I think I will be able to improve my Japanese a lot. 

We have been able to make some good friendships in the ward and I think we can work with members more from here on out.  We got to meet with the Bishop last Friday and it was really good.  He said he really appreciated how we went around and shook hands and introduced ourselves before church and sacrament meeting.  He said his parents really enjoyed it and asked us to continue.  I have found that on Sunday, more than any other day, you have to be super pro-active.  It is a great opportunity to build your reputation as a missionary (something that is very necessary in hastening God's work) and building good relationships with everybody.  I have now been able to learn most of the members names and by the end of the transfer I think the opposite will be true as well.  One great thing I have noticed is although I don't really like to talk to people and am not all that good at Japanese or small talk, Heavenly Father has really given me the gift of tongues and the ability to make friends.  My mind has been hastened and I have found ideas that I could never have thought of on my own.  I am so grateful to see His hand so powerfully in my life. 

I have also discovered that members want to be involved in dendo.  More than that they want to help the missionaries.  This means that instead of trying not to annoy them, I have realized I need to start looking for ways to involve them, or ask for their help. 

I had two very American missionary like experiences in the past couple of days.  The first is when we were riding our bikes and tried to stop a guy who promptly told us to "shut up" in English.  We rode off and when we stopped at a light my companion and I looked at each other and were like, "did he just say shut up in English?".  It was super funny.  I have never had that happen before. 

The next was the same day on our way home.  We were stopping at a light and I smiled to this guy as we passed him on our way through the intersection and I thought he smiled back.  I got a feeling we should stop and talk to him so we waited until he came through the intersection after us.  As I tried to start talking to him, I looked away for one second and he rammed me with his bike (he wasn't riding it, just walking beside it).  It didn't hurt, but it was so unexpected that I jumped.  Then he started yelling at us all super mad.  I had never had this happen before (people have gotten mad at me before, but not enough to hit me).  We promptly got on our bikes and rode off before he could hit me again.

Moral of the story is people get really angry at us for no good reason no matter where you are in the world.  

Love you guys and hope you have a good week. 

Elder Lee 

PS I would also like to onegai you for something (ask a favor=onegai shimasu).  Could you each send me your testimony with an experience you have had in which you testimony was strengthened?  I would really appreciate that. 

July 7, 2014

Transfer 8, Week 3

This week brings not a lot of news to report.  It's been rainy for quite a while now and the past couple of nights there was a ton of thunder and lightening which was awesome.  We have been working our butts of to find some new people to teach and been talking to a lot of people, but so far no one new.  This week we have two former investigators left from the previous missionaries who we are planning and meeting with.  Hopefully we will be able to work with them a little bit.  

One of them is named Tanaka and is super good at guitar.  He plays a lot of Rock and Blues and even some Jazz.  He knows one of my favorite artists (Grant Green) and he wants to do a jam session with the missionaries (Harvey E. our ZL plays drums and they've done a jam session before).  So I might play some piano, if I can (I guess I should have practiced more).  Afterward we want to invite him to hear the lessons so hoping that will go well.  

Last week we met a really cool 30ish guy who had been thinking about God and so we made an appointment and talked to him again.  We had a great discussion, the guy is super cool, but he decided he doesn't need the lessons right now.  Story of my life (in Japan).  We also tried to contact a referral that the Kumamoto sisters gave us, but he said pretty much the same thing.  So we're at square one again (housing, streeting, etc.).  But it's fun.  

Yesterday we had an excellent Zone Conference in which our whole zone (now the biggest in the mission) met and got taught by Kaicho and the AP's (Mission Pres. and his assistants).  It was awesome and built our faith to find quite a bit.  I love hearing the cool stories and the stuff they share really makes us better missionaries.  Essentially there is no point in finding unless we are directed by the Spirit to God's prepared people, so we are going to end up praying a lot until we find some investigators.  

This week we are actually pretty busy though.  On Thursday there's a typhoon (the worst in decades according to the missionary couple) so we've been ordered to stay inside until it subsides (yeah for no sunlight or going outside, not).  So that will be interesting.  On Friday we have some appointments with members so we will be pretty busy because of that.  We have built some great relationships with some of the members and one of them wants to visit a less-active with us.  We are also meeting with members to build faith (always good) and try to establish a good image of missionaries (because apparently they didn't have one before).  But I think we will be able to do some great less-active work this transfer (even if we don't have investigators).    

Wyatt's bike trip sounds super cool; I wish I could go.  I think it would be so fun to ride your bike that far (and I probably don't even need to train right now).  Just make sure he's paying attention to the road and not in a conversation or something the whole time.  That's what gets me; if you get distracted or anything you're much more likely to crash.  Make sure to send me photos (maybe collect some photos over the last 3 months and mail them to me again (love that).  

Kumamoto is indeed hot and humid.  The rain doesn't help at all either.  The one good thing about rain is it does get a little cooler and there's usually a little wind, so that's not so bad.  But the day after is miserable.  The typhoon will be interesting.  I really hope we don't lose power because otherwise it will be really hot.  

There are a lot of people in Kumamoto who say they hate Christianity.  They say that religion, particularly Christianity and Islam cause all war and bad things in this world.  In Japan, Buddhists never cause problems, so obviously Buddhism is much better.  These kind of people say they believe in allowing everyone to believe whatever.  It's kind of a self-righteous image they have and considering they don't really believe in Buddhism either (almost no one does), it really doesn't surprise me that they have this image.  In a lot of cases we can have a decent conversation and I think we are able to change some of their opinions.  But when you can't, then it is just really frustrating.  People just tell us they have no interest in religion.  

Sorry, out of time.  Love you guys and hope you guys have an amazing week.  
Elder Lee

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 30, 2014

Transfer 8, Week 2

Alright, so I admit it.  I hit my year mark four days ago.  Holy Manchester I have been a missionary for so really long!  I can remember what I was doing last year at this time and it was definitely a lot different than what I'm doing now.  And I am doing a lot different than how I thought I would be.  Sometimes I still get wampy and want to play games or do something non-missionaryie.  But it is a lot easier now. 
I think one of the hardest things about missionary life is the focus.  In order to be led by the Spirit in all things and to be an effective missionary, you need to stay focused on missionary things, like Japanese, talking to people, practicing teaching and stuff like that.  It is so much easier if you are proactive.  If you are able to keep yourself busy and always think about what needs to come next, or how can I improve, or how do I say this in Japanese, then you are much better off.  But to keep your mind running like that is hard sometimes and if you don't have stuff to do all the time to keep you busy, then you end up with some idle thoughts.  If you idle, then it's really easy to start thinking about non-mission stuff and then your desire to work, your resolve to serve softens and it's harder to dendo.  So I have had to learn when to keep busy and when I can relax a little bit.  It's been an interesting experience, but I am super grateful for P-days and the opportunity to de-stress. 

So Kumamoto is great and all that, but I kind of miss the small towns that were just huge.  It's just a completely different environment and ballgame, so I haven't decided whether I like it here yet.  But I love the apartment here.  It's lots of fun and the other guys are way cool. 

Ironically I think riding a bike here is actually safer than in small towns.  There are more bike lanes and wider sidewalks and what not.  And because there are more people the drivers are sometimes more careful and are forced to drive slower.  We've done some fun stuff so far, but not much.  We still haven't been able to check out the castle (hopefully next week).  The castle here is super cool and there's also a volcano that we need to check out sometime.  So we have plenty of stuff to check out.  I got my hair cut and we are just going to write a couple letters and relax today.  I have been super tired ever since getting to Kumamoto.  It might be because of the heat, clouds, humidity or a combination of the three, but all I want to do is sleep here.  But I gambaro and keep working.  Love you guys and hope you have a great week.  I'm glad Wyatt was able to have such a fun time at EFY.  I think the EFY's are getting better and better.  I know the last year I went they changed it up a little bit and I think they're becoming more mission preppy, which is good. 

Love lots,
Elder Lee

This was my last Eikaiwa (English class) in Yanai.

This is my apartment in Yanai when I was made three man for the second time.