i made it! i am in japan! and i can't undersTand a single thing a person says unless it is "yes, no, or konichiwa" also i have figured out that "kekko desu" means "i'm good" people talk so fast here, its nuts! but i am going to learn this language if it kills me! which it migHt be doing considering the splitting headache that i have from tryIng to understand people. or maybe the headache is from the jet lag, or the endless bike riding, or all the foreign food that i have been eating as opposed to mtc food. the food iS delicious though! and i love using chopsticks! now i just need to catch a fly with my chopsticks so that i will become like daniel-san from karate kid and master the japanese culture and arts and be able to speak fluently by next week. just kidding why would i need that when i have the gift of tongues! well besides my Crazy experiences trying to adjust to the culture of japan, and lifestyle of being a japanese missionary, and the art of using a bidet, i have seen a couple really cool tender mercies from the lord. i don't have too mucH time but i will just share one experience. so in the morning of my second day in japan me and elder hyde went to go get his ipad from the chapel. on the way back we saw a gUy with a big bag of stuff that looked like he was getting ready for work, i felt like i should say hi so i said konichiwa and he staRted asking questions. amidst the barrage of japanese jibberish i figured out that he was asking us if it was okay if he put his bags down next to the church building. i told him yes, and we were about to leave, but then i turned back and told him who we were. i fumbled through the story of joseph smith translating the book of mormon, and he seemed interested so i said to hold on a second as i ran and grabbed a book of mormon out of the ChurcH building. i came back out and he was still there. i testified about the book of mormon as best as i could and asked him to read it. he said that he would and i took down his number and address. he told me in broken englIsh what i think was "this was not chance" which hopefully meant that it was fate! it was awesome! i hope that the miSsionaries that i gave the info to go and find him and that a miracle happens and gets baptized because that would just be so awesome! the lord is at the head of this work and we just need to open our mouths and the lord will put prepared people in our way to hear our message. Though it has been so hard to find people that will listen i have felt the savior near and i can feel his spirit so strong as i testify of the truthfulness of the gospel. this work is tRue, and these people need christ in their lives. i am privelieged to be out here serving my lord and savior. i hope that all of us will recognize his inflUence in our lives this week and accept his life giving love into our hearts because it will fill us with happiness and joy. i love you all and hope that your weeks are super awesomE!
Here are some questions I sent Braden, and his answers:
How did your traveling go? Who did you sit by for 12 hours? How did the plane transfer go in Tokyo?
Traveling went good, we got a little delayed out of Salt Lake, and the captain said that it would be for an hour which meant that we were going to miss our flight to Tokyo, but then the Lord stepped in and we got going after a couple minutes. The cool thing is too that right as we landed in LA our flight to Tokyo was leaving and we just barely got on! Tender Mercies were popping up already. And then one of the missionaries that we were with taught this lady that he sat down with all the way to LAX, by the end of the flight he had committed her to get baptized if she read the Book of Mormon and prayed and felt like it was true. I was mostly sitting next to other missionaries so I wasn't so blessed to have started many discussions about the gospel. However I did try to start up a conversation with this Taiwanese guy who was on the row behind us and we ended up talking about Christ for a solid hour or so, unfortunately he wasn't interested in the gospel, but I bore my testimony to him and he shared some cool stories and something he kept saying really stood out to me He told me pointing at the picture of Christ that I had, "They need him" talking about the people of Japan. It was really cool. Besides that all went well with our flights.
First impressions upon landing in Tokyo, and Osaka?
The second I stepped off the plane it felt like I had just stepped into a hot tub with my suit on, it is so humid here! So mix that with jet lag and that'll about sum up how drained I have been the last week. Also I feel like time is just shooting past, I feel like I haven't been able to adjust for a second. Our schedules are so packed I just feel like I don't have much time to really unpack and unwind, but I don't think that I really ever will have that time. This is the Lord's work and there's not much wasting time on his errand.
Where did you sleep that first night? What did you eat? What did you do that following day at the mission home?
So the first night we all piled into the missionary apartment near the mission home and just fell asleep on the ground because there wasn't much room, but it didn't even matter to me because I was exhausted. We ate this really delicious dumpling thing that was super soft and full of pork. I can't remember what it was called but it was delicious! The next day was all training, right after we all played ping pong in the cultural hall of the church building for a while. There was some great stuff taught and I am way pumped to go serve as a missionary. Then the next day at the mission home was awesome! We had some time in the middle of the day to do whatever we wanted so me and my Companion Elder Cook went out trying to do some street contacting. Everyone we tried to talk to either brushed us off very quickly or just ignored us. It was hard but then we found some kids playing basketball and we joined them and then invited to the missionaries free English lessons. It was cool.
Where is your companion from? How long has he been in the field? What are your impressions of him?
My companion is Elder Wheeler. He is from Southern California, he has been serving for about 6 months now. He is such a cool guy and is just so dedicated to being completely obedient. He is a hard worker and a great trainer. I'm super glad that we are companions. We definitely get along.
How did you get to your first area? What is your apartment like?
Me and my companion took a bunch of trains to get to Tottori and it to quite awhile, but we were able to teach a couple of lessons on the train so that was cool. I really like our apartment it is small but really nice since it is only me and my companion that live in it. And I actually really like the futons, I can't tell if it's because they are awesome, or if I am just so exhausted every night but I have gotten the best sleep that I ever have this last week on them. It's great!
Did you get a bike? Sheets? Rain gear? Food?
My card works great and I was able to pull out lots of yen for my bike, it's pretty cool. I really like my bike, but my butt hurts so bad from riding it and my palms are all blistered because we ride everywhere. But it's all good because it hasn't killed me so it's just making me stronger, right? I got my sheets, but I haven't quite gotten rain gear yet. I should though soon because it rains all of the time. But at least it's always a really warm rain. My trusty companion has been cooking lately for me which is awesome! He said that he will teach me how to make all of the quick easy Japanese meals that he has been making so I'm soon going to look like the big smiley anime cook that is on the side of the grocery store cooking up Japanese food like a Nihonjin (Japanese person).
What is shopping like? What kind of food have you bought?
Shopping is easy because we live right next to the store. We bought a bunch of vegetables and noodles and rice because that is what goes into about 90% of Japanese meals. And then we cook it and eat it all up with our chopsticks which I have gotten really good at recently!
Have your experiences with bidets gotten any less weird - hahaha?
I really need to learn the Japanese Character for STOP.
Have you been out proselyting? How is it?
All day everyday! We actually don't have any investigators right now in our area which I was really sad to find out, but that is going to change really soon because we have been working and praying hard, and we will find the Lord's elect! I've taught a couple of lessons at doors, but a lot of people don't want to listen, but every once and awhile we will find someone who is nice enough to listen to a lesson, but we haven't found anyone who wants us to come back yet. We've definitely got our work cut out for us in this area though.
How have you seen the hand of the Lord in your life this week?
I can tell that the Lord is going to teach me a lot in this area. His sheep are out there and we are going to find them and bring them back to the flock. I know that the Lord cares for me, even when I feel like I'm not doing enough to build his kingdom in this area quite yet, but that is going to change. The mission president promised us that if we work hard then we will see a baptism in our area before the end of the year, and I believe it.
We just love this kid and are so excited that he is doing what he's doing!