Sunday, November 25, 2012

11/25/12 Eniwa again!

Hello!!! I'm super glad that you got the letter! I hope they like it haha. It probably will take that long for mail to come most of the time... I don't know 100% how busy it will always be, but actually getting to the post office to send the letters is usually the long wait thing.

I guess it all depends on how the things go here in... ENIWA again! ;) My new companion is named Ishiga Choro and he is a Nihonjin!!! He is also a boss. He got baptized 3 years ago from this Christmas and is from a place in Japan called Tottori. He is 22 so he was basically as old as I am right now when he got baptized. The other cool thing is that the missionary that taught him lives in this ward! Way neat. He just got done training one of the Nihonjin that left the MTC with me in an area called Kitami. Brown Choro in the apartment from New Zealand stayed too and got another new Nihonjin comp himself named Ogata Choro. It is really cool, but really tough at times because we basically have to speak Japanese all day everyday. I am helping Ishiga Choro learn English too, so that's pretty fun. His favorite thing to learn is English primary songs. He also loves American candy especially reeses and cereal with marshmallows in it ;););)

Holy cow!!! The news about all the mission calls is blowing my mind!!! I'm soo happy! Everyone's call fits them way well and I know they're going to do such amazing stuff!!! I'm excited for Sarah to do her papers too and I feel way bad that letter took forever to get sent... That's cool you got to see her at the musical and have fun. Glad Thanksgiving was fun too! My prediction about Curry was true :) (Mom's note: if you know what he means, tell me ;) ) The pictures of everyone together look really awesome though. Everyone looks different already too! I have definitely had a lot to be thankful for and I hope that I can show it through my service and actions even though I didn't get a chance to show it through eating haha. The new members are doing well too! I actually had a talk in sacrament meeting last week on a conference talk and I chose Pres Monson's talk from the priesthood session.

I'll let you know about Christmas call stuff as soon as I can. I don't know if I'll be able to use the card, but I'll let you know all the details right away when I find out. I miss Christmas lights haha. I heard there are some cool ones in Sapporo city though so that should be cool. The pictures of Mya and Olivia look awesome!

So this week has basically been saying good bye to everyone with Hansen Choro and then meeting my new comp and coming back to show him around. It's tough because I don't know the area as well as Hansen Choro did and I have to explain everything in Japanese, but it's going pretty alright still. Ishiga Choro is super good at talking to people and becoming their friend really fast. He actually worked as a licensed preschool teacher before coming on his mission too so that's pretty sweet! I wanted to attach a picture of him, but I forgot my camera as usual. Sorry! I'll do my best next week! Thanks again for the love and prayers and letters and example!!! Keep trying hard to do missionary work there too!!!!!!!

Hutchinson Choro

Sunday, November 18, 2012

11/18/12 "There is lots to be grateful for"

Hey! There is lots to be grateful for. So much that I had no idea that Thanksgiving was this week until you said something! So there is a lot of amazing stuff that happened this week. So last Monday night we met Haramai san again to talk with her and encourage her to keep pressing forward kind of thing and we talked to her a bit longer than we planned too, so Elder Hansen had to call and tell the other Elders we were going to be late for an appointment and as he was I was talking to her about her recent scripture reading and she said she had been reading about the brother of Jared in Ether 3. After Elder H was done on the phone Haramai had to get something for one of her daughters so I showed him Ether 3 and all the sudden he just got crazy inspiration and looked at me and was like, "I know exactly what to do." Then she came back and he just started relating the story to her situation and how she has made it so far (investigator for more than 7 months, read the whole BoM and D&C, etc) and how the "stones" are in her hands and she just has to present them to God for the miracle to happen kind of thing. Then I testified to back him up and we promised blessings then set the baptismal interview day for that Wednesday. The next morning she gave us a mail saying "Good morning! It's nice weather! By the way, Papa said Ok!" and I jumped for joy and banged on the shower door to the Elder H about it. Way awesome!

That night we had a good Eikaiwa as well and got up early the next morning for Zone training meeting on bike safety and getting referrals/helping members invite friends to stuff. Then we got back and tried to do our planning, but had to leave right away for the baptismal interview which took quite a bit of time, but they both passed great! Whooo! While we were waiting we had to try to keep the two kids entertained while the relief society was setting up an activity. After that we went to eat at the ward missionaries house (bottom picture) and had some way good meat/potato/awesome stuff. They are the bomb btw. If you still have my facebook password, get on once in a while and accept the friend requests from any Japanese people :) Then we shared a way good message with them on the atonement and had to run home.

Thursday was the real weekly planning. We had to go over everything extra in depth in the very likely chance that I'll be left here when transfers happen this Thursday.(Ahhh! scary) It was a way great experience to go over all the amazingness that has happened in these last two transfers though. That night we went to eat at Kurashige shimais house who is way cool and always feeds us a ton. Flatfish, sashimi, oyster miso soup, TONS of hamburg, etc. And we had a good talk with her and she gave us even more food for the apartment. Basically this week we had so much stuff going on that we needed do that we couldn't fit much normal finding in. Still so great though! Friday was a good amount of it actually. Also finding new brakes for Elder H's bike. That day we had another good AB lesson with Nakamura shimai with two sisters from the RS which is way good because we need to make sure we can pass her to the ward well. Then we met Haramai again that night for a bit and the other RC Hatanaka shimai who got baptized in Elder H's first transfer here. She is awesome, but has been super busy with school. We let her and her son know about church though and they came! Yay! Then in Dendo Chousei Shuukai (meeting with the ward missionaries) we talked a bunch about the baptism and that they talked with Haramai about me doing her baptism! I felt way way honored and a little bit nervous!
The next day we went to this big outdoor mall to do something called *shizen dendo* which means natural dendo. It's where you just try to start normal conversations. The mall was kinda dead though. Even on a Saturday! It was really nice too, but everyone there was on a date or with kids etc. So we left to Chitose to do some housing and it went pretty well. Then we came home to eat and go to this choir concert that some youth in the stake put on with Nakamura shimai and the Oofuji couple from the ward. It was surprisingly good considering how young and small the choir was.

The best day of the week was yesterday though. We got up early because the baptism was going to be before church (from 9-10) and I got dressed in my white stuff and borrowed Elder H's white pants and we took pictures. Everyone was pretty excited especially Nodoka. Then the meeting started and I sat up front next to the bishop who baptized Nodoka. She was a little bit nervous about going into the water and bishop was comforting her and stuff. Then they sang the song before the baptism and we came down from the stand. Nodoka was still a little nervous, but when she walked by her dad she ran and jumped on his lap and gave him a big hug and kiss. I had to try way hard not to cry the spirit was sooo strong. We went to the font and bishop baptized Nodoka really gently and she was way happy when it was done. She came up and said "Mom!! I did it" and was just smiling tons. Then I traded places with the bishop and went in to baptize Haramai and explained to her how to grab my arm etc. Then I said the prayer and it went perfectly! She went under just right the first time and it was awesome. After getting dressed again it was time to hear the testimonies and Nodoka got up (which is surprising because she's pretty shy about talking in front of people) and said how she was so happy to be baptized and how her goal from now on is to be nice to everybody! Way strong. She:s a genius. Then her mom got up and shared a ton of incredible stories. How she had been so inspired from Nodoka etc. and how recently she read Alma 32:16. I had to try really hard not to cry then too and I did a bit. Afterwards her husband stayed the whole time at church and it was pretty great! After church we got the baptism papers signed and I got chased around by hyper kids because it SNOWED! AH. Then Elder H took a bunch of pics with ward members because of transfers coming up. After church we went to the bishop's house and got the papers finished and rode around all day on our bikes in the snow! Wooo. So cold and wet. We also met this cool guy I found in the phone named Sendai and taught him a lesson on why we're different from other churches and the BoM. It went pretty well, but he said he wasn't ready to take a BoM. So yeah! That's the week!

Mara's play looks like it was pretty fun! The wedding looked awesome too! I hope you said hi to everyone for me. Cool that you got to do things to help them out with it! Did David really not go because of a football game? So cool everyone from far away could come. Thursday is transfers so I'm for sure probably eating curry or something like that with whoever my new comp is ;D It's going to be a way crazy day... After Halloween Japan just goes straight Christmas. Thanks a ton for thinking about me and getting my Christmas stuff going! I also kinda want a small set of speakers that don't need batteries or a plug. (for my alarm ipod) I used to have a pair, but gave em to Lauren and they'd really help.

Thanks tons and tons as always and I hope my letter is fun to read! I hope it shows you the testimony that I'm starting to gain stronger and stronger about the Savior and His power to change lives more than we can understand or know.

Next time you hear from me I'll for sure at least have a new companion! Maybe a new area too, but that's not likely since Hansen Choro has been here for 5 in a row!

Hutchinson Choro

Special day for the Haramais! Hutchinson Choro looks so happy.

From the letter, I think this is Kurashimage's family?

Feast at Kurashimage Shimai's house

Dinner at ward missionary's house - and a long string of paper cranes in the corner - cool

First snow of many to come....

With Hatamaka Shimai (and can you spot the little one?)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11/11/12 In the words of Hansen Choro...

Hey! My week has been pretty bomb. I couldn't feel any earthquakes, but thanks for the thought! Things are actually going pretty well with the Haramais. My companion wrote a way good summary of this week so I kinda wanted to steal it. Here is the story for the week in the words of Elder Parker Hansen with commentary by me:

"This week has been pretty full of crazy stuff. I'll start out with a story for you guys.

So we were housing a huge danchi (apartment building) with 10 floors... and we get to room 901. My companion (B: Me) pings it and this lady answers on the speaker phone. She just goes off on him. She asks him where he is from, and says "wait, I'll make a memo..." and pretends to write down his country, state, then asks for his home phone number. At this point, my companion is a little flustered... (B: I didn't want an angry Japanese lady to call you guys...) and so I jump in and the lady just kind of tries to make us angry I guess you could say. She knew why we were there and said something like "so what do you guys want me to do?" and after I explain that we just want to talk to her at her door for a sec she says "oh, if you would have told me that earlier, i would have come out... but now it's too late. so I'm good." So I ask her for a referral... if she knows anyone who has interest in families that lives close. She just starts yelling through the intercom. "I rejected you guys! I'm not gonna tell you anybody! AHHH!!!" kind of thing... so I say "ok. thank you for your time, here is a chirashi, please read it!" and go to leave, and she says " $BF~$l$k$J!* (B” (B: don't put it in!) and just starts yelling again... so I say (note: illegible/computer scrambled it)

So we go to the next house and right as we do so, the lady that has been standing behind us says, "wonderful! just wonderful!" and I'm pretty confused... no one has ever done that to me before... She continues "you guys are going around sharing a message that has blessed your lives with everyone, aren't you... I think that's wonderful!" and by this time I'm thinking "YES... biggest (spiritually prepared person) ever!” so we keep talking for a while and introduce ourselves a bit more. Then the lady says "so on the 9th floor you got yelled at by an old lady didn't you?" and I thought "ok... so we are getting stalked? this is a little weird... it's been like 3 floors..." and so I waveringly say "yea we did in fact." The lady's reply surprised me.

"I'm that lady. After you left, I felt really bad about what I did and I wanted to see what kind of people you are like. So I went all the way to the bottom of the building and have been walking up all the stairs looking for you. and now I found you,. I want to apologize for how I acted up there." I had a poker face smile, but inside I was like "no way!!! you are a completely different lady. Don't joke with me here." but she really was the lady. She apologized and asked for forgiveness which of course we gave her. She said that she had listened to our last contact and the old lady had said that she didn't like how people didn't follow what they taught, especially sokagakkai people. "I am the person that that lady was talking about. I am sokagakkai and I don't always follow it. and I feel terrible that people think that way of people like me." It was really like a movie I went to make an appointment after we talked for a bit more. .. and she said "you guys are better people than me, but my religion is better than yours!" ha ha. So that kind of ends the fairy tale ending... but it was a way crazy experience. People feel the Spirit and change. Maybe not all the way at once, but she became a little bit more Christlike through that. So did I. (B: me too)

Another cool story... Haramai san. She really wants to get baptized but needs permission from her husband. So we wanted to help her get it. We ended up setting up a family home evening with the bishop's family and her family where we played with balloons,(B: and table tennis. I had a way killer match with the dad, but he beat me pretty bad in the end.) Ate a little bit of food and had a message. It was really fun. so I was hoping that Haramai san would have the courage to ask him if we just got the conversation close enough to the subject. Just keep making it easier and easier for her. So we did a little story of how the atonement is important and how we can show our thanks for it by paying Jesus and Heavenly Father back by keeping commandments. It was all aimed towards the kids so we got them all involved. Then we talked about commandments, had the bishop talk about how commandments are important to his family and what blessings they have gotten from it. then we talked about baptism a bit and asked how the Haramais felt when they came and saw a baptismal service... and she said that she liked it a lot and it felt really good. (and right here I was hoping she would just turn to her husband and ask him kind of deal... but no.. she doesn't.) So everybody looks back at me again, and I realize that I have to be the one to bring it up. So I asked Haramai san if it was ok for his wife and child to get baptized. :) (B: the whole time I was praying for Hansen Choro because it was a way fragile situation) He said he isn't opposed, just wants to understand it more... and we kind of left off on that note. That was on Saturday.
Then on Sunday, Haramai san comes to church, and she says she talked with her husband a lot and since I had told them that I was probably transfering out, that Haramai (the husband) wants to talk about it all after church today. So we got to have a lesson with her husband! Taught him with 2 other members about what will be different in their life and I even tried to get him to accept the lessons. (He is just really busy - he is really ready for it though). We left on a really good note (taught him a condensed version of pretty much everything...)and he didnt really have opposition at all. He understood everything great. It was awesome. We focused on eternal families and the temple a lot at the end, told him that this message is meant to bless his family, bring them closer together, and not to separate them. It was great. so we'll find out today probably if it's all gonna work out for Sunday.
I'll let you know. Transfer day is on the 22nd, so I'll probably get anther email off from Eniwa. (B: that means I'm probably getting a new comp soon. Whoa...!)

We are getting fed a lot of times this week... that's what's pretty cool about being here for 7.5 months. (B: Hansen Choro is pretty much a ward member hahaha)
Yesterday we got a phone call from a non attending lady. We rode our bikes past her house to go somewhere else, so she saw us coming home. I've treid to visit her a million times and have only met her once, but she called and said "hey, i bought too many donuts, can you come take some with you?" best invite ever... We went and talked to her for a good 45 minutes, while eating donuts and reading scriptures. That's a spiritual climate for sure. She is faithful with all the commandments and even tithing, just coming to church is hard because of her work. It's really sad. Soo close, just a little bit more!

We also called a guy on the phone who was an investigator 3 years ago, and went out to eat ramen with him. Way nice guy, and so we picked him up again. I'll let you know how it goes.

Ogasawara san... her mother(88) died 3 or 4 weeks ago. so we dropped by and visited. She never really listens to our message to much... but this time we felt that we should go a little bit harder than usual. We were all feeling he spirit, but she wouldn't let herself accept it. It was really sad. She kept trying to change the subject to stuff like (hey i made this water...) but we were more persistent than usual. and the Spirit was way strong... but she ended up saying "Leave me alone..." in English. and so we said thanks and left. Really sad, but there are gonna be those people.

One day, we ate dinner at a place where our eikaiwa student works. It was ikuradon, way good salmon eggs and rice.. haha. and right after, we got unexpectedly fed by another non attending family... 2 dinners. It's like exercise for your stomach. You can't reject it... but I wish they'd tell us before hand! (it hurt so bad...)

(back to Braden)
So that is Hansen Choro's story of the week. Basically it means that Haramai's baptism will most likely be next weekend or really soon after that OR the dad will become an investigator and get baptized eventually too!
Bean shower #2 is the same as the first, but at a bigger zone conference that Pres and Sis Evans could come to.

The snow pictures are intense!!! No snow here yet. You can see it in the short mountains though. Everyone is surprised at how late it is. Thanks for looking for earmuffs! The coat is size 38 ;) Speaking of Santa, Nodoka was going on about how she figured Santa out. Since God knows everything HE tells Santa what everyone wants for Christmas. The things that little girl says hahah. She even has a song and dance that she did for her dad when she told him she wanted to be baptized at the FHE.

The primary theme sounds pretty fun! Speaking of missionaries speaking in church I got asked to speak in 2 weeks on something from General Conference. Whooo! Good to hear about everyone from the ward. :) Let me know how Mara's play and Becca's wedding go! Isn't Emily getting married pretty soon too? I was way suprised for Shenay! That's going to be waaay sweet. She is going to have a lot of fun! What did you do to your laptop? How is my old one? Get that Lauren her mini-wheats.

Thanks again as always for the prayers and encouragement :) I can feel it for sure and I need it a lot I think. This is definitely the Lord's work and as I keep pressing forward and trying at all times to push myself to improve for others I will get the words I need to say. The same for everyone at home as well. Be missionaries as much as you can! Thank you and love you!

Hutchinson Choro

Also here is a letter from Nakamura Shimai that she sent to Hansen Choro's parents. Good stuff ;) (Mom note - this is the sister who was baptized last week - so awesome)

my name is wakako nakamura.
i am sorry for my delayed response to your letter.
i'm sorry i forced you to write when you were very busy.
i am very pleased.
I got baptized yesterday.
The hansen, so, I'm grateful.
I have saved a lot of his kindness.
I respect a dad who raised so much friendly to people, the mother.
Made me stumble, God also has a grateful.
Very strong, he is so friendly, and everyone is loved.
I also love his smile.
And dad, mom, and our daughter, please spend every day smiling, overflowing.
I wish you happiness.
I was able to meet one day, I think that is wonderful.

by wakako nakamura.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

11/4/12 Amazing Miracles!

First off here are some pictures to blow your mind.

#1 a tim tam slam party celebrating #2

#2 self explanatory ;) I'll tell that story in my letter

#3 Candy and stuff from bean shower #2

#4 Haramai, Nodoka (left) and her sister

Ooooh man! My new nephew Max is going to be such a bomb kid! That'll be cool if he is born really close to my birthday. I'm really excited for him! Sounds like Tohi and Jameson both going to California is way cool! I'm not sure if either of them are going to the same as missions that some of my friends are in right now. Stoked for them! Mara sounds crazy as usual. Mental torture? Oh boy.

Halloween here was pretty chilly! Rainy. All that good stuff. That's way nice of the Fullmers to have a BBQ for everyone. They are way cool. Please keep up with them for me ok? I'm glad you got to play with the nieces too. I bet they were a ton of fun as usual. 10 hours of overtime sounds tough! But I'm proud of you for working hard. I really appreciate your sacrifice for me so very much. I did get my package and it's really good! I can't believe you packed so much stuff in there! It was heavy too. Some of the Japanese Elders were hesitant about the orange oreos hahaha. They actually have a lot of that candy in Japan, but the Reeses stuff was especially nostalgic. The cereal too, but it isn't lasting very long for how much space it took up. For Christmas I want another suit coat from H&M in black and those earmuffs I thought you were going to get a while ago. It would be really tricky to find a suit here and I have enough pants so even one of the not so expensive coats would be fine as long as it's all black.

What's my favorite Japanese meal and treat? That's too hard. Right now I'm eating a fried squid lunchbox and it's great. My favorite things are okonomiyaki and udon I think. They have way good dessert bread (melon bread, etc) but they have no wheat bread which stinks. The coolest thing I've seen here is picture #2. For Pres Evans' birthday we went and took pictures, ate cake, and played sports in a park in Sapporo. Not too bad.

I was way happy to hear about how you are doing with missionary work yourself!! One thing that I am learning very quickly is that members can pretty much do a lot more than missionaries can. When we met someone who has never been acquainted with the church before we have to make their friend before we can actually teach them well. Without members, once we leave, it's incredibly hard for them to stay active. That's why it's so important for members to do all they can to introduce people to the gospel because that friendship makes everything so much easier. Please keep it up and I know the Lord will bless you with people to share with and how :)

SOOOO here is my story of this week.
After partying with the President we ate shabu shabu at a members house which is way good. Look it up! Then on Tuesday we had our Halloween party which was a big hit. Probably around 60 people came including quite a few investigators and non-attending members. There weren't too many fancy costumes (at all), but not too bad of an amount! We had lots of games and candy and it was pretty fun. Us missionaries spent the whole time making sure everyone was having a good time so we couldn't really play anything, but we got people settled pretty well. Way great. It took a while to clean up, but was great. Halloween itself wasn't that eventful. Just went to Chitose to meet with this guy who is really nice, agrees with a lot of our teachings, but not quite humble enough yet to accept religion so we are probably dropping him. He will still come to Eikaiwa lots though. Then we housed a little bit in a place called Megumino and got some appointments and taught a spontaneous lesson which was pretty cool. I'll pause here and send this since you're waiting right now hahaha.

Ok so here's the awesome story.
Thursday the Zone Leaders came over to go on splits with the other Elders and we were having our weekly planning meeting. We started and were worried about our two most progressing investigators. Nakamura who has been sick recently hasn't been able to meet or even respond to calls in a while which is tough and Haramai who is way solid in the gospel, but worried about discussing everything with her husband. That morning Nakamura sent us a mail about how she has been sick, going to the hospital a lot, and searching for a job. She also said she missed 2 days of Book of Mormon reading and felt bad about that. It kinda sounded like she wouldn't be able to meet soon. We moved on in the planning meeting and wanted to finish fast because planning is not as exciting as Dendo at all when all of a sudden Nakamura calls. We almost didn't answer because she likes to talk and it'd probably give us a lot less time to dendo, but we answer anyways. She tells us she just got done with a job interview and is on her way home, but had a dream where she had her baptismal interview and confessed all her past sins and that she saw it as a sign that she should..... GET BAPTIZED ASAP! We were blown away... She has been having a hard time getting to baptism because of various concerns, but this was a total miracle. We asked her what led her up to that point and she told us how since she felt bad about not reading she prayed to God to help her to do better and to teach her the truth. She then read all of Mosiah and found verse 26:22-23 and was really impressed by it. It wouldn't leave her mind. She said that she wanted to help make God's workload lighter by keeping his commandment to be baptized. Crazy. She wanted to get baptized next Saturday, but we suggested this week and she was happy about that. Luckily since the Zone leaders were there one of them could do the interview the next night after zone conference (which was also awesome) which is another miracle because there is no way our district leader would've been able to make that time! So after ZTM we hurried home to the church and she had the interview while we had our meeting with the ward missionaries. Afterwards she passed (Yay!) and we started planning stuff. She asked Elder Hansen to baptize her since he has been teaching her for like 6 1/2 months.
The next day we invited lots of people and had normal dendo housing in Chitose. The baptism was that night and we had a pretty good turnout considering how suddenly we told everyone about it. Hansen choro forgot the phone the first time we went to the church so we had to run to the apt and back when he realized he also forgot his white pants. Nice. So after biking to the apt and back twice we started. The speakers at the meeting were great and the baptism went super awesome too. Afterwards a member named Brother Takasugi gave her the Holy Ghost and a WAY powerful blessing. So incredible. We had to have it that day because she couldn't make it to church the next day. Then she bore her testimony which was crazy amazing as well. She is so strong and has gained a huge testimony of prayer, the Book of Mormon, and serving God. We still need to work with her a bit to help her transition, but she is pretty solid. PLUS Haramai came AND Nodoka convinced their Dad to leave watching baseball to take them to the service! Crazy miracle. We are planning on their baptism next Sunday so I'll let you know about that.

Well I hope that was a satisfying letter because I sure feel very blessed when I think back on how many amazing miracles I've been privileged to take part in. Thanks so much for your support and everything!!! Love you tons and tons!!

Hutchinson Choro

and some more pics...
#1 Hansen Choro's costume (The Book of Mormon). boss right?

#2 us with an investigator and his friends at the Halloween party. My costume is Moses.