Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Far Away

Hello family.

So of course this isn:t our usual day for emailing but I figured I should send an email before the week was over. Anyway. Let us begin.

It twas awesome to be able to talk to all of you on Sunday! After the fact I realized I probably sounded like I was complaining a lot, sorry about that. Sometimes its nice and I can:t vent in Japanese very well so I kinda just exploded and rambled, basically what happens when I:m around English speakers now. No one that speaks English is ever going to like me again. Anyway. Still was awesome for me. And from everyone:s emails to me it sounds like everyone thinks I:m super sad. I promise I:m not. Yeah its disappointing to have a not awesome home Christmas and yes it just became a usual day but nevertheless this is what I:ve been called to. Definitely makes you learn that its not about the presents at all on Christmas. Still had quite an awesome Christmas with regards to presents and I;m super grateful for all the work that was put into them. But really not the same without the family too.

On to other stuff.

There was a lot of laughing in that call on Sunday. Not sure what people were laughing about.....

Something I have realized since getting here. I always thought missionary work was awkward with Shinno choro. Oh dear it has gotten much more awkward since then. Shinno choro really made it not awkward. The three companionship of three really made it that way too. Hopefully since thats over the awkwardness too will be gone.

My email address yep kinda long. At least it will be easy to know when i get transfered.

Also, if you ever feel like adding pictures to my camera card when you send it back to me I can now import them to my picture frame so we can up keep it that way.

So as for the last week. Not a whole lot to say but pretty good for the small amount of work we have been able to do.

Yamatani choro is an interesting one. I still can:t peg him down. I don:t know if he is lazy or a hard worker. At times he does nothing. Then at times he is so gungho it is crazy. However he really is a good teacher. Hopefully I can learn a little from his skills with teaching. More on him in future letters.

We get fed a LOT here. Like 4 times already. Probably is special because we are new missionaries and a missonary was leaving but still. Also we are getting fed on Sunday but that one is kinda required and if someone hadn:t offered Rasmussen Kaicho(President) was going to make the branch president do it but nevertheless pretty awesome. Good way to meet members too. So we spent Monday eating......yep about only that. Tuesday was spent sending off Ogita choro and district meeting, yesterday we had a lesson with an awesome woman! She had come to the christmas party here so we went to teach her, taught a good lesson 1 and she committed to be baptized. No date set but at least she is willing to do it if things work out so good prospects there. I:m excited about her. We also able to find 2 other possible investigators so thats good. This weekend we don:t have any time to do missionary work because of the end of the year celebrations they have here which for us means going to a buddhist shrine and cleaning our apartment. also means next week our pday is Tuesday so be warned of that. Sorry short today, I had fix this computer I am typing on. Hopefully more next week about.....well actually its really going to be about these celebrations probably but whatever.

Random request if possible; so when you send a copy of my mission call, if possible could you send a copy of mandy:s ministerial certificate.....Mine is in chinese characters therefore I can:t read it and I have always wondered what it says. Not important but for my own information maybe cool.

Well that is all for now. Love you all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Transfer to Furukawa

So just like that (ok so it was 3 months) my time with the wonderful city of Aizu comes to a close (for only a season I pray, I would love to come back). Shinno choro gets a new American to train and I:m off to the north in a place called Furukawa (I think). Its part of the Sendai stake so that should be interesting. See how things change when I:m in a ward, maybe exactly the same. I:m going to be with two elders as companions by the names of Ogita choro (the only sendai missionary senpai I had in the MTC and met only once) and Yamakami choro (I think) (Labelled *The best teacher in the Sendai mission*)(Goes home after two transfers). Ogita choro also I have been told went to Snow College and graduated with a double degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. I haven:t decided if this will help or hurt or relationship. Should be interesting. So tomorrow we leave to Sendai so Shinno choro can get trained with his new bean and Wednesday I go to Furukawa. Fun stuff. That:s about all I know. More next week..... I think, not even sure if we will be able to email.

Ok so random thoughts.

One of the Americans in our branch made us banana bread and toffee. Oh my goodness you couldn:t have made me trunky faster!!! Oh well, it was delicious.

12 days have been fun to do, we play *guess the rhyme* with yours and *guess the present* with lyssa:s. Should be fun to transport all these presents in the transfers. Sigh. Also did you send three packages 12 days, present, and another? Not sure. All I know is I have a package that keeps trying to come when we aren:t at the apartment so if I don:t get it tomorrow i guess they will have to find a way to send it to me in Furukawa.

Investigators have been kinda less this week. We decided to put on hold all our weak investigators this week so we spent a lot of time with finding. However we did meet with three investigators.

S'san. Because of her wanting to get baptized on Sunday and because she was in Aizu for the last two days we tried to teach every thing and commit to every commandment in the two days. Quite the adventure of 4 hours of lessons between 2 days. Also because I was one of the pushers for not immediately pushing her date back Shinno choro made me Senpai over her so I have been teaching her mostly with Kano choro and he just fills in where I screw up (which is kinda often). All of this didn:t quite get us to the end so she will probably still have her date pushed back but oh well. We tried, and she really is quite prepared just needs a little work on some areas.

H'san was awesome yesterday. Still just seeking truth. It was nice to have Shinno choro again. That man knows the scriptures like no ones business. Every question he says stuff like *I could answer this but lets do it from the scriptures, would you rather I use the Book of Mormon or Bible?* Still might not meet her date because we can:t meet much soon but definitely can get baptized soon.

Y'san, she:s a fun one. So between 2 promises that have been made all I can say is this. She has a concern with baptism, has connection with commandments, biggest problem is her overreaction to the problem, can get baptized pretty soon.

So I end my time with all these people and the bean will reap the wheat. Sigh. Pride stinks.

This week we have some awesome fun activities planned so that will be fun for the bean.

Eikaiwa(English class) started its new program that we created over the last little while this week......also should be fun for the new bean. ( I might be over it in Furukawa though)

Really I don:t know what to say this week, not a whole lot of this Aizu stuff has any relation to me anymore.

We often talk about the microlife thing you said. You are born not knowing anything, develop, have *children* of your own, children leave, you are put in hard situations, then you are *translated* (President outlawed the word *die*). People have even made family trees of their mission life. Sigh.

Holy cow Raychel is engaged, crazy!

What was wrong with Mandy:s old computer? Psh, no need for a new one. Whatever.

That:s all for now, hopefully will talk to you soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Koriyama is Zion!

T. & sugar cookies

Ok another random assortment of details because this computer is super slow.

I cooked my thanksgiving pumpkin bread in a rice cooker, kinda super proud of that.

So I met with the area doctor. He of course was up on his high horse the whole time and wouldn:t let me ask the real questions. Basically told me what I already knew and then counseled me to in a few years start watching my cholesterol closer and being healthy because that can be a reason for small blood clots which could, not necessarily going to happen, but could happen to my right ear basically messing me more up. He was concerned about me not having the results with me from my old test but I think that will get resolved by me faxing results to America. So really not anything new. Interesting talk but not a whole lot of information.

We have a person in our mission presidency that helped translate the Book of Mormon into Japanese and the Liahona each month. I think thats kinda cool although without knowing it I have cursed his translations at times.

Zone conference was this week. It was really fun. I got your letters that you sent in November. Saw a movie of all the missionaries, received a personalized Sendai mission temple recommend cover holder. Ha. Only missionaries would jump up and down for that but oh well. It is pretty awesome. Then a white elephant exchange which was super fun. I was pretty proud of what I gave and I am now the proud owner of a new statue of liberty figurine.

Saturday we went to the Relief Society activity and made sugar cookies! Oh it was amazing to be back in the cookie making business. Even if it was with a bunch of older women! And goodness were they delicious!

First snow of the year, fun.

So back awhile ago I talked about our blind investigator T. We invited her to come to the relief society activity and she came! So did Y! It was pretty sweet. I thought she might kinda feel like an outsider with her disability and it being a physical thing of making cookies, but the Aizu women are awesome and accepted her with open arms. Our only problem in the end was we couldn:t teach her a lesson because they were all having too much fun talking to her. Although before the activity the relief society president shared a message and what happened after? T. bore her testimony! Ha. That woman can feel the spirit so easy!!!! Sigh. It might be hard to teach her but if we can, she has a lot of potential! It was also good for Y. but eh, she:s old news (joke ;-) )

We had splits again this week. Again with Kano choro and then one day with Fukata choro. You don:t quite realize how much you appreciate your old companion until you get a new one. The Fukata choro day was one of the longest days of a mission in my life. He is a great missionary but he is kinda boring to work with. Oh well, learned some good things from him too.

So yesterday Shinno choro and I went to Koriyama to continue our zone wide attack on kinjins (golden investigators). We got there and even though they had the elders there last week, they were like people that have just walked through the desert and we were cups of water! Ha. If I ever feel unappreciated I will just have to go to Koriyama. So the first non-member we meet is this kinda strange man. After talking with him for a little bit it becomes quite obvious that he is mentally sick and really doesn:t know where he just walked into. Which brings me to another point. There are a ton of mentally sick people in Japan! I don:t know why but its so true. Hm. Google it, there has to be a reason. But as a mission we talk about them quite often because we aren:t to spend our time teaching them because they are under the same umbrella as children in being pure to the Lord.

Anyway the next person we meet is a 40 year old woman named S. Really she is the reason we came to Koriyama. She had been taught two years back and had a baptism date but because she keeps moving between Aizu and Koriyama it never has worked. Well it just so happens we work in both those areas! So we taught her and started asking questions and oh my is she quite ready. Again we asked if she wanted to be baptized and she said yes on the 25th. Why? Because I really feel its what I need to do ... (all the perfect reasons). Do you believe in God? ...I don:t understand him, how can I find out about him? (Drool begins coming down my face at this point) and the rest of the lesson goes along these lines. Not sure she will be able to make it to the 25th baptism date but if she is as willing as she acts she will easily be baptized. Yay!

So after this President Rassmussen is there so he wants to talk to us about Y. So before in specialized training interview with Shinno choro, he said that she needed more knowledge and we had kinda complained to him the day before about this so I:m expecting him to kinda straighten us out. We get in there and he starts whipping out all the scriptures of what the qualifications of baptism are. After that he looks at us and says, "I need to repent for what I said before. She doesn:t need the knowledge to be baptized, that can come later. She needs to obey commandments and have a desire. We have confirmed that she keeps the commandments. So, check her desire and if possible meet with her family and if those check out I will clear her to get baptized as early as the 24th." Say what?! Took me totally off guard. Doesn:t mean she will get baptized then because we still aren:t quite sure her desires but at least I now know I wasn:t incorrect in my thinking before. Maybe she just needed these last few weeks of more shelter by us in order to truly be prepared. We still aren:t sure but we are moving forward. Finally we get out of that interview and Sister Rasmussen walks up to us and says *Here is a nonmember I want you to meet*. Koriyama is Zion I tell you!!!!! Ha. So we taught her which was super hard because she is from China so she speaks Japanese with a Chinese accent but she could really be a great investigator too! After that watched the Christmas Devotional from the first presidency to top off a tiring but awesome day.

Anyway thats pretty much it. Recently I have begun to notice how much you guys did to make our Christmases extra special and this Knex story just reaffirms it. I will try to pass on a little bit of that love of the season onto the people of Japan. Anyway. All for now. Love You.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ok here we go.

1 Note. Not that I looked at my blog or anything but possibly a little Japanese lesson is in order. So names are interesting here. For example they have the Shirai. But you can:t just call them that so you add something to the end. Normally -san which is like Mr. or Ms. But if they are a member it will be -kyodai (brother) -shimai (sister). So when you edit out names just have this in mind. I noticed you missing one.

Fun thing. From the *News of the Church* in this last Ensign Sister Rasmussen (Mission presidents wife) is quoted.

Next week the area doctor is coming to zone conference and Sister Rasmussen wants me to talk to him and then after that I will probably talk to the branch members and find a doctor and then finally get this ear test done. Figured you should now. Church pays for it so not really anything you need to worry about but I will tell you when it happens and you can follow up with the Americans.

Something I have noticed in this mission is people always have big plans but little follow through as missionaries. Kinda frustrating. Why do I share this, no idea.

Ok so all these areas are closed in what used to be the zone that Aizu belonged to, and they will be probably closed for a long time (this week they started pulling the furniture out so that they could break the leases on them I believe). President wants the Aizu Choros to visit these areas once on Sunday each month, so that means soon I will be going to Koriyama, Iwaki, and Fukushima ward. As part of the build up for this, yesterday the two senpais (Fukuta Choro and Shinno Choro) needed to get everything set up in Koriyama because thats the biggest hurdle and has the most investigators.

Anyway so what does that mean for Aizu?.....Kano choro and I had to run the area yesterday. I have decided I never want to be the senior companion! Running back and forth in church. Members running up to you asking you questions in really hard Japanese. Taking phone calls from who knows who. Running dendo(proselyting) meetings with the Branch president and auxiallary leaders! Tiring. On top of that we have the two companionship's investigators to babysit. Actually none of Shinno choro and I:s showed up so that was probably a good thing. So I was the senior companion. Fun stuff. Anyway. So we taught Kano choro:s *golden investigator* (basically just wanted to be baptized and follows everything whole heartedly from the beginning) which was easy. Then we get to Shinno choro and I:s. Since we white washed we kinda picked up the scraps of Aizu sometimes. So we visited one of them. Super annoying. We are at his door first thing he says is *Only 10 minutes right*
Well yeah if thats all you have. Ok go. Can we come in. Can:t we just do it here. Ok, so what do you think of the pamphlet we left for you, did you get a chance to read it? Eh. Basically answered *eh* to everything. *Beautiful family you have* *Eh* *What image of God do you have?* *Eh* *Can we come back at a more convenient time* *Eh.* Finally I just told him I would come back next week even though he said he was busy. Oh well. Americans can ignore what they say.

So next we bike to H and U. He had called me that morning and basically all I understand is he won:t come to church because of a cough. So I don:t even know if they want to be taught but whatever. So we go and get in there. They are their good happy selves but they I ask if they have any questions or concerns up until this point. Bad idea. U then goes on for like 30 minutes (not at one time but throughout the lesson) about Europe, Through the name of Christ destroying people, Our message isn:t so unique, blah blah blah. I was getting a little frustrated honestly. Finally I basically I picked up my Book of Mormon, hold it up to his face, and say something alone the lines of, *This is it, we may believe in the same Christ but we have the authority restored through Joseph Smith, they don:t. This book was translated by the power of God and is a true word of God. You just need to figure that out. Either this was translated by the power of God, God:s authority is on the earth today or we are liars. We are here to invite you to decide which, but you have to put it to the test.* And at this point I about pee my pants. Didn:t really do much but shut him up but that was good with me. And it was super fun. Ha. Always kinda wanted to do that. Then I finally had a chance to flip over to H and give the death punch. She committed to be baptized once she knew it was true. And then when I told her that she could be prepared by 1/27 she just right way accepted. It was like the most exhilarating experience of my life and I don:t know where it came from. Definitely wasn:t all me too. Spirit was strong with the Kano choro too. Our japanese stunk but oh well. The point got across. Yay! If she comes to church she can easily do it.

Ok now about Y. I don:t even know. Talked to President about her during our interviews and he wants the members to take over teaching her and thinks she needs more help with knowledge so finally we have a direction to go with her which we didn:t quite get from Ikeda Choro but all is well. I don:t really actually see her getting baptized while I:m here in Aizu but she could I guess. It will come.

Ok so I don:t know what packages I can open. You should ask Lyssa too. Not that it really matters because by the time I get the answer it will be almost the 13th and her package says 12 days of christmas.

Other than the written about stuff, this week was really chillaxed. We had Service Monday and Tuesday. Friday was specialized training, and Saturday was our sports activity where one of our members broke her finger. Ha. So not a whole lot of normal missionary work this last week.

Ok so I have cleared the time of 2pm here or 10pm (on the 24th) for you. As for a plan B I would say plan b would be to try to use not Google Voice although as said earlier that could be expensive. Also calling the mission home could be helpful maybe. If I get transferred I:m in trouble because my number will change and the open time could collide with my companion so that would stink. And I:m a little scared because when Shinno choro saw how much money I had in my account he laughed and said, *Normally that happens right before you get transferred* I hope its just because they reimbursed me for all the busses I need to take soon. Anyway. Sigh. Yeah. I can:t call you. That was specifically prohibited and I think that would reverse the charge too so it would charge our phone company here too. If you have questions or concerns I would say email president. Also you should be able to maybe call them to test your calling internationally. Although I also am concerned with google voice and it seems in japan land line and cell phones are super different on the system they run on because a lot of times Shinno choro will ask if it is ok to call a company from a cell phone. Not sure the reason but yeah. Hm. And the hombu number you have is a landline so....yeah. Maybe that wouldn:t help. Not sure they want to you to do that anyway. So yeah. Super helpful.

I think that is all for this week. Love you all. Thanks for all your support. Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

Elder Carter and "Y"

Broken pedal

From the top of the Aizu castle

Hello Family.

So nice full kinda frustrating week.

Ok so first things first, Y.

So Friday and Saturday we had splits with the Zone Leaders and since our District Leader is Fukata Choro and he has taught Y before he can:t interview her. Anyway. Worked nicely so that he could do the interview. Of course she has to walk and had some other things so she was like an hour late. Not a good sign. So it was during FHE so I couldn:t really focus the whole time but anyway like an hour and a half after it starts the interview finally finished. Y comes down the stairs and she is laughing away. Yes! Success! But then I see Shinno choro who doesn:t look so thrilled and pulls the ZL into the kitchen. I quickly follow. So heres the gist. He felt like she needed more time. Which to be honest I don:t have a big problem with. But the problem comes in the *Why?* The answer we get is. *Well I want her to stay active after she gets baptized and I think she needs more fellowshipping by members* Pretty frustrating to say the least. Yes I need to respect his authority but and I will. Of course she is not perfect. She could improve in a lot of ways but personally I think she is keeping a higher standard of worthiness right now then many members of the church. So basically we are just going to make him interview her again when he comes for Fukata choro:s investigator and just continue to help her grow. She has the desire, she is worthy, she just needs to do it.

Pretty slow week otherwise. Had splits, that was interesting and actually quite helpful. U and H are good. Probably will be committing H to baptism next week. She can easily do it if she comes to church and is willing to go against her.....boyfriend, and probably would have to move out.... sigh. Ok she has a ways to go but she has the desire to follow Christ and seems to be willing to do a lot for it.

Kinda spent a lot of time with Y so not a whole lot more time to email.

Sounds like all was fun with the holidays. Have yet to eat most of the package you sent but I will get to it. Just try to savor it as much as possible. Hope the holidays are good with you.

Ok homework people, anyone that reads this letter here is what I want for Christmas:
Tell me what my talents I can use when contacting people are. I have no idea what they are and it would be useful to know.
If possible by letter, conversion stories, how you gained a testimony about a specific commandment, etc (Pizza man hitting the car with tithing for example)
Stories are helpful but I:m realizing I don:t have a lot. Shinno choro is always trying to milk them out of me but I haven:t been challenged much with those.

Thats it. Simple.

Love you all. Enjoy you Christmas! Ha.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Progress in teaching

Another email! Yay. I always look forward to these. Lets see, I guess I will just give a random assortment of stuff.

Y. She is doing good. We have taught her all the commandments but fasting and the 10 commandments but those should be easy. She is keeping all the other ones. Came to church and FHE again this week. I really do think she enjoys it greatly. We pushed her baptism back a week because we were a little scared and that will be fine. She still will have her interview this Friday when I have splits with the zone leaders (our district leader can:t interview her because he has taught her before) so hopefully all goes well there. I really hope he:s easy on her, she really is like a 8 year old. We used to joke around that she was just too *pure* (they say pure in japanese, there are a lot of words that people say that are english here) but the more I meet with her the more I actually think it is true. She just kinda has a slow mind when it comes to these things but she seems to really desire to do the right thing. Recently I haven:t even been sure she has realize that she really does have a baptism date and it really will happen until yesterday when she text us saying she was worried about getting baptized. Of course our hearts sink at this point. So we call her up and start having this serious talk about how she can tell us whats wrong and we just want to help so finally she is tells us. She is worried about her make up running when she is immerssed in water. Good old Shinno choro did his best to hold back his laughter as I rolled on the ground laughing in the other room. Her biggest issue is makeup.....I can deal with this. Ha. She:s a frustrating lady but we love her so. Sometimes I have to remind myself that she is actually older than me. Anyway, moving on.

Next S san the person in the eating pictures on the other table is Cannon choro and Fukata choros investigator (I don:t really count him as Kano choros because he came in after basically everything had been taught). Anyway he got baptized yesterday and is basically a stud. He will be a good member but anyway. After he got confirmed we had sacrament meeting and then there was a pretty good earthquake (we aren:t sure if it was actually a really bad one somewhere else) and I didn:t think of it at the time but Fukata choro talks about it as Hell shaking at Shiraikyodai (brother Shirai):s baptism. I:m good with this explanation.

So you may remember right at the beginning of Aizu we had a Vietnamese investigator by the name of T. Well he came to church yesterday and it was super fun. He knows english so I could communicate a lot better with him. Anyway so after we taught him the first time we had the Homebu (mission office) send us all the vietnamese stuff they had and it was so fun to give them too him because he was so excited to get a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese and then it got even more fun when we had a lesson after and we talked to him in English and Japanese and he read the scriptures in Vietnamese. Oh dear. He is super busy so we will see where it goes but good stuff.

Also you may remember our blind appointment T. We met with her this week. A whole new experience teaching her. She is pretty vocal so its hard to teach her but also a good person.

U and H we met with a gain. Taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation. They had read the Book of the Mormon but hadn:t prayed. That was too bad and also we found out they are 11 years apart in age and just live together. Sigh. That makes it a lot more weird. He is such a big obstacle for her. Anyway we will keep meeting with them.

We had a few other lessons but once they become more I will add to them to the emails.

Random shoutout to anyone that reads this. If anyone has ideas for how to Run and English Class, what kind of words to teach, games, themes etc let me know. Like Christmas ideas would be cool.

Something that bothers me about missions is the temporal side. It just feels so unnecessary but is so annoying. Clothes, food, money, health, bikes, etc. Such annoying stuff that really doesn:t matter to these people:s salvation but really is annoying and bugs me. Anyway. Just thought I would quickly vent that.

There is actually a lot of Christmas preparations here but I think this will be the limit of it but it was nice to go to the stores today and hear English Christmas songs. Sigh. Long time no see (that makes more sense in Japanese).

Anyway. Too long. I know there was another thing I wanted to talk about but oh well. Love you all. Talk to you next week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Japan Pictures

Elder Carter in Japan

Service Lunch


Sweet Potato Vendor

Service Day

Monday, November 14, 2011

All you can eat ramen

So our list is going to get shorter of investigators. We dropped a bunch of them this week because they either wanted to be dropped or won:t answer calls and missed a bunch of appointments. Sigh. Oh well. We will keep in touch but not Qs (investigators) anymore.

"Y" is our little ray of brainless sunshine. Ha. We met her like three times this week (also I think the train station that you have the web camera at is where I went to for the first time on Saturday, not where we teach) (we teach at Nishi-Wakamatsu) Anyway. Not bad. Still don:t understand her at all. We committed her to obey the laws of the land (in my mind a throw away commandment that even though you probably aren:t suppose to think of it this way, really you just have to check it off the list) and her response is. (translated of course)** So that was concerning but she said yes so we push forward and teach word of wisdom. And when we commit her to that (even though she said it would be hard like 30 seconds ago) we get a *Yes.* without hesitation. I:m still trying to figure it out. Anyway this week my big push with her has been praying sincerely and more specifically praying for something, asking. I don:t know if Mandy or you Dad had this problem but she only expresses thanks and never asks for anything. Then yesterday (we will ignore that we urged her to again) She just pauses in the middle of her prayer (common occurrence because she either gets embarrassed or forgets how so she has to read the cue card) and then.....*Help me follow this...Word of Wisdom* Oh my goodness. It was so simple but I could of kissed her at that moment (of course I:m a missionary and there are couple of other problems with that (no worries Lyssa)). She did it! Ha. What joy fills the heart. Also during the nightly call to her to remind her to pray and stuff she expressed some concerns about some stuff and Shinno choro told her that she could pray about it and this morning when we asked how her reading went this morning she said she prayed last night like we suggested and she had made a decision (not sure if it was a decision from the spirit but hey at least she realizes the two are connected). She might just be able to do it! Ha. Still really slow, still really frustrating but possible.

"H" and "U" called yesterday and said he had to work so he couldn:t meet so that was a bummer but he called ahead and wanted to make another appointment so I:m not too worried about them right now. Thats basically it for investigators.

Yesterday we had a 8 year olds baptism which was sweet for our investigators to see. Also any baptism is cool especially in these tiny branches where everyone attends and is super excited and the little girl was so cute and shy. Pretty sweet. Another cool thing is next Sunday we have Fukata choros investigators baptism, then half way through next week probably another 8 year old baptism then the next sunday Yoshimisan is scheduled for baptism! Aizu is growing!

Ok so the new missionary here is named Kano Choro. He is half nihonjin (Japanese) but knew no japanese before coming. He wasn:t in my district but I did know of him before i left. Been kinda fun to lead him through the little parts of missionary work. Fukata choro has been pushing him real hard in not speaking a lot of English to him. Its been pretty funny. I:ll have to keep working hard to keep my language better than his. ;-) Good stuff. Its kinda fun to see his dendo fire as we call it (talk to everyone, everywhere, all the time and baptize two people a week!). I don:t want to say we are trying to break him but....ok we kinda are. Too much dendo fire singes people, especially the members and if we bother them we are in deep trouble. Also think that its bothered Fukata choro a little after explaining their current investigators Kano choro answers *Thats all?* or with the RC (recent converts) that went LA (less active) he always wants to meet her but she doesn:t want to meet us.

Lets see. Saturday I rode my first train to Iwashirio (Look it up I probably spelled it wrong, its the name of the lake by Aizu). Pretty beautiful place. Also dendoed this couple on the train and left them a book of mormon which was sweet. Ate at an all you can eat Ramen place which was super expensive. Also had some Koriyama members there which was fun.

Eikaiwa (English class) was really fun this week so I think we will be ok. We are trying to make some big changes to help the effectiveness of Eikaiwas so we will see how these effect things in the coming weeks. Shall be interesting.

Psh. There is no daylight savings here, robbed!

Hm. Not a whole lot else to say. I sent my camera card with my letter to Lyssa last week so that should be coming this week soon so hold your horses. :-) Also I attached some pictures. Probably not what you were looking for but its basically all I have taken for the last week. One is our *no name referral box* (actually the box that Lyssa sent cookies in) where members can put friends that they think would be good with the gospel and we won:t use the members name (kinda wimpy but oh well). Then a picture of my muffin cake baked for the newest little member of Aizu branch. My baking skills are coming in handy. Then the last one is all the people when we went and ate ramen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

First transfer, I'm staying put

A little proselyting

Something is funny!

Pondering in the field?

Hi Family,

Random facts: They mix the salt and pepper together in one shaker. How lazy is that///?

Another random dendo thing, so we will ask people if we can meet on a certain day again and they tell us, *well thats my day off* First time I heard this I thought *perfect* although apparently they don:t do anything but sleep on days off!
We have run into this strange religion a few times. Not sure the name but basically it is made of two things. (1)In order to be saved all you have to say is this phrase which is super hard to say so to be funny Shinno choro always asks them why I (Carter Choro) can:t be saved because I:m american and can:t pronounce it. (2) And then to die with a smile on your face. Super weird. We don:t really fight with them but after so much rejection and slammed doors its kinda nice to just discuss religion. Ha.

Restaurants here along with being super expensive are also strange in that a lot of them have you cook your own food. There is just this big grill in the middle of the table and you cook your food on it that they bring to you, very interesting.

Today we found out about transfers! Of course Shinno Choro and I are staying but Cannon Choro is leaving (can:t remember where) and Fukata Choro is training and becoming DL. Crazy. So we will be getting a new bean in our apartment! I feel like he is already going to be better than me. Lucky boy is also going to be walking into a baptism like 2 weeks after he comes (Cannon Choro isn:t so thrilled about that either). To be honest Cannon Choro is not happy at all with this transfer. He really wanted to stay in Aizu to tie some lose ends up (this baptism and his baptism from a month ago already went LA (less active) so he wan:ts to work with her) and he really wanted to be a trainer. It shall be super interesting to see which one of my kohai (greenies from the MTC) it is. Exciting! This also means I am the *language expert* for my apartment. Sigh. No way I:m ready for that. Also means I will be running Eikaiwa (English class) from now on. Stressful!

Ok onto things that actually kinda matter. This week have been kinda a weirdish one. We had service on Tuesday so that was fun. Then wednesday we were suppose to meet R san again (or endosan can:t remember which name I told you last time, same person (kinda annoying that they go both by first name and last name here) ). But he spoked (didn:t show) so that was concerning. We also had had a member lined up to help us teach so we felt bad about that too. Then on sunday we set another appointment with him and he spoked that too. We really don:t know whats wrong. When we call he sounds super excited to me. As I expressed last time he seemed so prepared. Sigh!!!!.

Ssan didn:t come to church but that may be because we couldn:t meet with him this week because his wife answered the door and was quite opposed to us talking with him (if she even knew). Y is interesting. We had like 3 lessons with her this week and we are pretty sure she has a learning disability therefore she forgets a lot so that has slowed down her teaching alot but she is still keeping commitments. Made it through page 5 of the Book of Mormon she came to FHE friday and dinner after. Came to church yesterday. She is doing quite well. We also set a baptism date with her (really weak date but still a date). So right now possibly our best investigator. Finally the couple that we taught last sunday we taught again yesterday. We taught the restoration. Last time we had left a book of mormon and strangely the man read the title page and the woman didn:t read it but read our pamphlet again. We hadn:t committed them to either so we were good with both these answers. Then she starts asking about the nature of God, Jesus Christ, and who Joseph Smith is. Ha. I had to bite my lip to help from laughing at how wonderfully she just set us up for a lesson. The man didn:t actually have a problem with the first vision strangely because he thinks a lot of people have visions. She had a little problem but still was accepting. There is a lot I could say about them. Our biggest obstacle with her (H san) is this man who we don:t know if he is her husband or dad. Ha. Well I guess I will have more info next week. So lets see. Today we are having a sports activity because our whole branch is basically over the age of 30 or younger than 15 so getting investigators fellowshippers is difficult so we are bringing them all together in a common liked thing of sports, should be fun. Hope it is well attended. Well out of time.

Love you all. Hope all is well at home. Send my love to little abs and A. Talk to you again next week.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Teaching Pool...Finally!

My Fellow Americans!

Lets see, quite the week! Holy cow, where to start. I don:t know. Probably get the random stuff out of the way. Atreyu is such a big little guy now! And so much hair!!!!! And Walking!? I:m going to recognize him! Although everyone I show his picture to says they think it is me as a baby.

Next random thing. So we always talked about how everyone is going to be humble because of the earthquake and this subject came up this week at FHE. Its actually been the opposite. Of course as its expected there are the few that blame God for doing it and that isn:t a surprise. But the members were destroyed. Its quite sad. You look at records before and after the earthquake and half branches went LA (less active) and have been contacted after the earthquake and just don:t want to come back. A lot of hearts have been hardened. Especially Sendai it seems. From what I hear a lot of the missionary work there is trying to make sure the branch doesn:t crumble under its own weight and trying to get everyone to come back and go to normal. Only the super strong survive. I feel bad. A lot of our work has been trying to get LAs to come back and we have had a little successish but super hard. Anyway, thats my rant.

So onto to this week. These letters are probably going to get more mission like now that I have a teaching pool. This week was quite awesome with lessons. Maybe because I had never really taught lessons before this. First Satosan. Hes an older man that lives alone in this apartment we found our first week here. We finally got time we could meet with him this week. He didn:t want us to come into his house but we taught maybe 30 minutes at his door which was interesting and I was super confused the whole time of course because the Japanese of course and every time I say something Shinno choro has to soften it because basically MTC japanese is blunt. Ha. Anyway, he was good. He committed himself to come to church and read our pamphlet but he wouldn:t take a Book of Mormon. Still not bad. Then Yoshimisan. She is the kinda airhead that we got passed from Cannonchorotachi. We taught her the plan of salvation this week and she is a usual Japanese person so she doesn:t really make her feelings known, always says she is ok and understands, but never really does. Anyway so Saturday night after District meeting (oh yeah we had District (as in multiple branch meetings this weekend(it bugs me that there are mission district and church district and they are different area and people))) we wanted to invite her to the general district meeting the next day which is in Koriyama. Super long shot because its hard enough to get someone to come to church when its in Aizu let alone get in a random members car for a hour and a half drive. Ha. So we call her and she says yes? What? Ok so we expect her to spoke (not show up) anyway we follow up on our commitment to read Alma 40 and pray and what? She did it? (You must understand this is the first commitment in like 4 months of being taught she has actually done). So we are kinda jubilant. It was also nice to rub in Cannon Choro:s face because he was sure she wouldn:t do it. Then we go to pick her up the next day and she was there! Cannon choro:s jaw about hit the floor. Ha. I think she was a little weirded out by church but she had some school friends there so that was a cool surprise. Also after we had a meeting with President Rasmussen for new converts and investigators. That probably scared her a little but might of helped her to hear these recent converts testimonies and conversion stories. So strangely she is doing really good. Baptism date will be set this week hopefully. Oh yeah and as we drove back from Koriyama we taught her in the back of the car about the Gospel of Christ and had Nugent Kyodai do his awesome testimony while he drove (a little scary I will admit but we are alive). And at the end we asked her if she knew this was true if she would get baptized and she said yes. Now she just needs to put in the work to know its true.

Random comment. My image of a mission was teaching in comfy living rooms not in the front of doors or in the back of cramped cars. Interesting

Ok rewind. Friday night we only had like 2 hours that we could end up proselyte for a number of reasons so we head out of the apartment and I hear this thunk and look down and the pedal of my bike broke in half. Really! I was a little angry so we walk back to the apartment because we don:t know what to do. So since we can:t visit people we open up the old investigator section of the area book and start calling. Of course a lot of people gave us the same excuse as was written for the reason they stopped taking the lessons. Then we get to this one that kept hanging up on the missionaries 3 years ago. Long shot. So we call him. He seems happy to hear from us. We ask if we can meet next week, he says sure, then he said something more beautiful, *I:m free now actually if that works* the sentence wasn:t even finished and we were already running out the door. Ha. So we met him at the church and hes a pretty sweet guy. Super tall especially for a Nihonjin and super open. The question that we just ask because we feel the need to that we always get a no to or something else bad is do you believe in God. Surprised us by saying of course he did. Seemed super open. Another lesson this week. Excited for him. Although he came to the first part of FHE and when I was sharing my *Good thing* from the week it was him of course that we had met him so I get done with this spill and then Shinno choro adds, *Well his name is Endo san not Enjisan....* I called the wrong name the whole time. Doh!

Ok last story. So we made an appointment with this guy last week that wanted to talk religion with us, not the perfect investigator because that meas he is set in his ways and possibly wants to argue and all that but he seemed decent and we just want appointments with anyone so we said we would come back. Anyway, we didn:t want to use my bike last night because it kinda is a bit broken (today I didn:t care and probably will just ride it in its broken state from now on because it is just too useful) so we walked the 4 or so miles up this mountain to meet him and the whole time I:m thinking he is going to spoke but he doesn:t and we sit down. Chat for awhile. Then his daughter or something sits down (we aren:t sure of her relationship but she could be his daughter). Anyway, as expected he is stuck in his ways but she tells us that she read our pamphlet a bunch of times, and she is, *Just searching for truth* I swear there are not better words a missionary can hear then that. So we are hopeful for her, not so much for him but he is our vehicle to her so we shall use him.

Anyway, gone way to long, its fun, its hard, etc. Love you all. Peace out.

Elder Carter

Monday, October 24, 2011

Splits with a gaijin (non-Japanese Elder)

So much love! Like 20 minutes of reading emails and writing answers. Now 20 minutes later I am starting this. So this really is going to be a smattering of ideas.

All music is allowed here as long as we claim we can feel the spirit. So we have a lot of music at the apartment. Super weird stuff too. Acapella. Southern music all about missionary work (strangely my favorite now) etc.

Every church here has a pingpong table so before every Eikaiwa (english class) and FHE we play with members and with investigators sometimes. Random but fun.

Also I may have mentioned this before but they use onomonopia (the formation of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to) in adult conversation here. Super cool. So like when people say they are busy we sometimes says, mata pingpong mo yoroshii desu ka (May we ping pong (ring your doorbell) again?) Or if they don:t have a doorbell, Shinno choro tells me to "dondon" (knock on the door). You randomly hear these words. Super funny. Someday I will learn them.

Also another interesting japanese thing here. They don:t really have the color code (Dad is a red, I:m white, etc) but they do it off blood type. Randomly the first week Shinno choro guessed close to my blood type and they do it all the time with each other! They are really good too! I have rarely seem people miss.

Another interesting thing. All the missionaries in Sendai are kinda older on average. Like Cannon choro I think went when he was 20, all the nihonjin (native Japanese) are over 20, Shinno choro is 23 right now and he is still near the beginning of his mission. I don:t understand why but its interesting.

Ok so my electronic dictionary has a micro sd slot and I got an idea this week. Whenever you send your next real letter (not needed now so don:t worry about it) throw in an sd card with pictures of the family, temples, pictures I could use during lessons (baptism what that looks like, Christ being baptized, etc) that would be super cool!. Something I didn:t think about is how often I would be sharing these family pictures and all of mine are of pretty much my farewell which is super awkward to share because I don:t even have a whole family picture. I have to flip though 4 different pictures to introduce the family so maybe throwing in a real one of those would be cool too, as well as the digital (Lyssa is welcome to throw in her own additions also ;-) )

Another thing, Dachshunds are everywhere! Really the most common dog I see here (there are not a whole lot of dogs though). The other day I saw a blind little dauchshund which was basically the saddest thing ever.

Saturday we had what was called Imonikai. Basically a party at the church. It was fun. One of Cannon chorotachi (if I add *tachi* to the end of something that means *and company* ex. Cannon chorotachi is Cannon choro and his companion) , super convenient so I will probably use that in the future (you love my japanese just keep telling yourself that)). None of our invitees showed but a LA (less active) did and we were able to teach him after and he came to church yesterday so crossing our fingers with him! Then we just ate and played Uso (aka lie (aka B.S.)). I won of course. ;-)

We had splits and I was able to go dendo (proselyting) with the district leaders companion who is a gaijin (not native Japanese) with only 4 transfers under his belt so that was actually super helpful to see how he studies, talk about having nihonjin(native) companions, how he deals with not understanding stuff. Also when I was with our district leader we taught a short lesson to one of Cannon Chorotachi:s old investigators about family and the Book of Mormon.

Oh our district got destroyed and we became our own district this week with the new senior couple as part of us as the Aizuwakamatsu district . So with the senior couple it will be a district of 6 people most of which live in our apartment. Kind of awkward. Cannon choro is our district leader.

We had a mogi (roleplay) with one of our American church members the other day because Shinno choro wanted to know how I felt. (not really an exact replica of a roleplay because he knows a ton of english but the thought was super nice). So we did that and it was nice to speak English but the best was at the end when we invite him to read the Book of Mormon and Brother Nugent just broke down and told us about how 40 years ago hearing that same commitment and then sharing his conversion story. Sometimes its easy for me to get lazy and think that I just have to get through this time (as Sister Carter put it in a letter to me near the beginning of my MTC experience "At a point you stop serving time and start serving a mission" (still kinda feel like i:m serving time to be honest)). But its experiences like this that give you what we call dendo fire (basically the energy to go proselyte). My mission has definitely taught me to look for those tender mercies that are all around us.

Lets see, our blind investigator fell through. We taught one of Cannon chorotachi:s investigators while they were off in splits in Sanjo which I totally failed at. So depressing. We have a couple in our ward that joined with us (which is required more than i expected, because we can:t teach single women and families are just really hard to teach). They are Americans. He knows Japanese fluent, went to the Sendai mission and Aizu was his first area. His wife knows basically no Japanese so he translates for her all the time so its nice to have them around because I can listen to him. ;-) Anyway yeah that crashed and burned.

Also I taught my first Eikaiwa (English class) which wasn:t as much of a failure but still hard. We went and visited this older lady who just wanted company and not to talk about religion but we snuck in some stuff although that was really weird. So I don:t understand a whole lot of what is being said and then she offers me coffee, tea, and alcohol (I swear she knows the word of wisdom). So then Shinno choro answers for me and I think he is talking about the word of wisdom as would be expected then I hear "seiteki na kankei" which means sexual relations.........apparently he felt the need to share the law of chastity so that was our first lesson with her was the law of chastity. We also gave her a Book of Mormon so hopefully she reads that. Although when we left Shinno choro just tells me, "How does it feel to break your first rule?" "What?" "There was no one else in the house with us and she is a single woman" "I thought she said her son was there" " No: Sigh. Ha. Oh well.

Finally we taught a college student we met on the street two weeks ago. We have this super weird introduction to the church dvd that we use sometimes. We showed that and tried to get his religious background. Something we have run into a lot is people here seem to think all christian churches are actually one church so he is talking about big stained glass windows and giving money during church and we are trying to explain that that is a different church. Also a fun lesson because he is vietnamese and knows quite a bit of Japanese and a good amount of English so through this lesson we are switching back and forth. Basically he has prayed before and didn:t feel anything so he stopped. Hopefully we can teach him this week and get a real lesson in and teach about prayer. He was also interested in life after death. He almost feels like a golden investigator but also gives that vibe of I don:t really want to do anything about figuring this sutff out. So I:ll be honest, no idea where he is going but hopefully into a font!

Anyway, that should cover it for today. Taken too much time already. Love you all. Thanks for the emails. Love little A for me. Pat little Abs head. Etc. The work is going pretty good here. Hopefully by the end of this transfer it won:t feel like we are whitewashing still. Just have to put in the work.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Things Elder Carter Didn't Expect"

Hello again from the land of the rising sun.

Ok ready for some random assortment of things? Good because I can:t make these cohesive.

1. There is this huge family in our ward the Saito family. Basically the most amazing parents in the world! They invited us to FHE on Monday which was a blast. They are always giving us food and helping with lessons and everything. The sad part is though that the family has such a hard time. A lot of the kids have apostasized. Divorced (I don:t know how because she is the most amazing person I swear). I may bring them home. (sorry).

So this week was filled with a lot more of our getting out and talking to members but mostly the less actives. Let me tell you. I hate old records. I think out of 10 or so LAs (less actives) we tried to visit, only 1 of them still lived there. Our area book needs some work. Not horrible but kinda outdated. A lot of housing (knocking doors) this week too. Still though. The people are never home and then when they do get home they eat (which they aren:t thrilled when you interrupt) then go to sleep at like 8. Kinda cuts into our dendo (proselytizing) time. Also this week we had 2 appointments with actual investigators. One we found housing and the other was an investigator the Fukata and Cannon choro (Elders) were sick of so they handed to us. They both cancelled. Wonderful. Another interesting thing I learned this week. These Japanese people are horribly nice but they also really have a hard time expressing what they are thinking or really saying anything to us.

"Introduce our selves
Have you seen us before
We are here to share this message....
Have you ever thought about the purpose of life
Not really
Well this book contains the truth
Can we come visit again to share more
What is holding you back
Nothing really."

Sigh. Not much of an exaggeration there. It will take some getting used to to figure out how to really talk to them. But at least they are ok with us talking with them (Except the man that told us he has been talked to by missionaries everyday for 61 years (If that was actually true the judgement bar could be a very scary place for him)). Anyway. This week we went and did service at this nonmembers house (not actually sure if she was a member but she drank coffee). It wasn:t very hard. Cleaning out this shed. She is rich though. Biggest house I have seen in Japan. Also when we went back to finish yesterday after we were done she took us out to eat at this super expensive place. Something like $40 a person. This is also where I learned that Japanese people LOVE fatty meat. There is more fat then meat on these pieces I swear. Another thing I didn:t expect to have to get used to.

Moving on. We had a couple role plays with members this week which are good and I think it will really help when we have real investigators. After our mission meeting with the ward mission leader on Saturday Shinno choro and I had a mogi (role play ) with him and then half way though he stops us and goes on for the next 40 minutes about how we need to change what we do and (without actually knowing this is what he was saying) go against PMG, our new New Missionary Program, and President Rasmussen. Ha. He had good intentions and Shinno choro got the brunt of it. Probably won:t mogi with him again though.

Another random thing. Whenever I introduce myself to members here they always say something along the lines of, *do you know Jimmy Carter* or *Are you related to Jimmy Carter?* I first thought it was a joke, nope, they are serious. Kinda hilarious. Just roll with it now. Lets see. So apparently my power as a foreigner isn:t as powerful as I thought. A lot of people don:t like americans apparently. One older lady told us she wasn:t going to have a *gaijin* (foreigner) come into her house. Or I will be introducing myself and I will say *I:m from america* then they just get thins look on their face and close the door. Ha. Oh well. If they have a problem with that they probably aren:t ready to make a whole lot of changes in their life.

Also something I didn:t understand before is how widespread buddhism is in their lives. They are *buddhist* but they don:t actually practice it. We were talking to one lady on the street yesterday and she said she was buddhist and we complemented her on being a faithful person (I find it strange that we do that but whatever, softens peoples hearts) and she tells us, *Well I:m Japanese, there is nothing I can do about it* Huh? You are talking to a fellow Japanese person who is not buddhist. You can do something about it. Sigh. Oh well. Lets see what else. Today is kinda a strange pday (again) we are taking a bus at 4:30 back to Sendai because tomorrow we are doing another service assignment like last week. Which brings me to another thing I didn:t expect (So this letter is become *Things Elder Carter Didn:t Expect About MIssions* sorry). Between travelling places, service, study time, ward activities, etc. There is a lot less proselyting in a mission than expected. Kinda interesting.

Partly the reason they put Shinno Choro and I here is because before the earthquake our zone was completely different and we are the only area left of that zone (although next transfer they are putting a senior couple in a more radiated area (Interesting yes)) so we are kinda like travelling missionaries for this old zone if people need us to go places we do.
Oh yeah I forgot to say. On Friday we went to Nigata for specialized training with my district from President Rasmussen which was all him pounding in our heads that we aren:t using the Book of Mormon enough in our proselyting.

On sunday because Fukata and Cannon choro had to go to Iwaki for a member, when one of there investigators came to church we took care of him. It was his first Church and Sacrament was good then we get to sunday school and what is the lesson on. The Second Coming. Doh! Poor guy was trying so hard to understand but was so confused. After we wanted to help him understand a little so we kinda went over it again and over the Plan of Salvation. He only had like 10 minutes so all I did in the lesson was testify at the end but it was kinda sorta terrifying to realize this was a real person really investigating the church.

So hopefully this letter doesn:t sound too negative. I am happy. It is frustrating but that is to be expected, especially as I:m trying to figure out this language. We have 3 scheduled lessons with investigators we found coming up this week and also the two that cancelled last week we will try again with so hopefully we can start getting some lessons under my belt. The work is moving forward. no matter how slowly it feels it is moving forward.

Love you all. Hope all is well with you. Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

30 Minutes in the Boonies

So I:m just going to build off of your email because I don:t have much time because people are waiting behind me so here we go and I:m sorry if things dont get answered or you feel jipped.

So yesterday we didn:t email because it was a holiday here and in japan. Also we are going to see how emails are going to work for the next little while because apparently the government doesn:t like people emailing on their library computers here so they found out about and blocked it so we are at the college that doesn:t have that many computers and we are trying to figure it out so we will see in the future how emailing works. Hence, this is probably going to be short and not full of information. So this last week has been fun but tiring, also super weird from a normal week. We had members drive us to Koriyama to watch conference on saturday and sunday (they show it a week late here) so that was fun. They had it in english in the attic of the church (I just forgot what church was in English, thats a good sign right?) so that was awesome. One of the members for some reason watched it with me and Elder Cannon the other foreigner in my apartment. What a wonderful conference. Cool experience. Between sessions Shinno choro wanted to street contact for like 30 minutes. I thought it was a waste of time because this area is 2 hours away from where we live, missionaries dont proselyte there, and its 30 minutes and we are kinda in the boonies, whatever though. He is my trainer I must obey him. So we walk like 50 feet down the road we talk to one college student and 3 minutes later I:m sitting across from him in the church teaching an overview of the first lesson. What?! Ha. I don:t think he was actually super interested but it was fun nevertheless although I still didn:t even say much at all to him because the whole language barrier. Nevertheless we left him with the information of the branch president there and all that and that was that. I don:t know if I told you this but Shinno choro and I are white washing here, aka he is new to this area too so we have no where to start from. I feel like a politician at times. We bike an hour up this huge hill to talk to one member and say, *if you need anything call us* and knocking tons of doors and talking to everyone on the street. Kinda nuts and feels like we are just beating our heads against the wall at times. However we do have two lessons scheduled this week so that shall be fun. Oh and the people here are a little more not so nice as the sendai people. Not mean to Americas standards but they don:t have a problem yelling at us. Also they go to sleep at like 8 so that kinda ruins dendo (proselyting) time for us. Moving on. I:m not entirely sure what kinda coat I need so sending a picture or something would be cool because I:m sort of completely confused about it.

Oh, yesterday I lived through my first earthquake. Pretty cool. Actually it was super erie and we were in a role play and half way through the earthquake (because it doesn:t really phase these people) Shinno choro turns to me and says, *Wait, have you ever been in an earthquake?* Ha. Kinda funny, not very big at all but interesting.

So as you probably saw from my bank account kinda got a big hit yesterday of my electronic dictionary. Your nerd son has a new computer! Actually its super frustrating to use and I:m a tad disappointed with its ease of use but oh well, I shall learn, also I hope I didn:t waste my money with the one I bought, there was actually a lot cheaper one but It worried me.

Final nonquestion thing. Japanese kids are the CUTEST!!!! Ok so little Atreyu beats them but man do they get close. I don:t know what it is about them. Man!

Love you. Hope all is well at home. I shall pray that Apple can stay on the straight and narrow without good old steve. Until next week (lets hope)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

First day of service

So much for this black hole I:m suppose to fall in (just so you know for the next two years I will only be using `:` in place of apostrophes because that is how their keyboard is set up here). Anyway. Yeah so Shinno choro didn:t get a chance to email on Monday which would normally be his p-day and there was some things we had to get done here, so we got the assistants to ok us having another p-day today. Anyway! Wow this is an adventure!

So Monday night as I said we had our mogi with the member and that was interesting. He lived in Hawaii for a while so he is really good at english so when I gave him a weird look he would say it in English. Anyway. Sendai is SO big and we are in the outskirts! Holy cow. I won:t lie there are times I have never felt so alone. But I got through with that. We had my first really japanese dinner which I:m not sure what it was, other than rice I:m not sure of anything I ate so far. Not actually bad though. God has blessed my taste buds.

Um the next morning we woke early and got on a bus to go do service. It was nice seeing so many other gaijins (foreigners) until they opened their mouths and sounded like japanese people. Someday I shall be there....I hope. Anyway. It was few hour drive to who knows where somewhere near the coast. I just have to say, this country is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! You have no idea. My goodness. I love not being in the city here. Rice fields, rolling green hills, the bomb! Anyway, we got this guy that is a volunteer that helps run all the service activities (something I didn:t know, at least our activities of Helping Hands the church doesn:t plan. We just give labor to random people that others figure out). Anyway, not quite as hard hitting as some other the stories I have heard of previous service by some of the missionaries that have been hear since before the tsunami. But it was nice to pull weeds and pick up debris from what used to be this man:s house (something super cool is that they seem to always have someone there that it directly affects to kinda help run what they want to see what happens). So we finished there, went to another area did some more work right on the coast which was again beautiful but super depressing because this time we were surrounded by stacked up cars and all that jazz. That pretty much filled up the day. It was nice to be there nice to see some missionary work in action.

We got back with about an hour before we were suppose to be home so Shinno choro decided (as he should have) that we needed to do my first dendo (proselyting) so we walked out the door and started knocking doors. I have never been so close to puking in my life and all I had to do was stand there and smile (literally the words from Shinno choro:s mouth). Anyway. We stopped a few people on the street and it was amazing. All Shinno choro said was, Do you have a second? And they are so super gracious and stop and are actually super interested in what you have to say even if they aren:t interested in the gospel.

Also something we almost push more than getting peoples contact information for teaching them is inviting them to ekiawa (english class). It:s interesting how much that is being pushed. Not to say all the doors answered we good. One man wouldn:t open the door so we talked to him through the door and pushed flyers through his maildrop. Another older man open his door and he was pretty ticked, I don:t know quite what he said but he seemed to be bugged that it was so late and he couldn:t walk very good and we made him come to the door. I just wanted to say sorry and walk off but good old trainer of mine stuck with it and I literally saw this man:s heart change in a matter of two minutes of talking. By the end he was expressing his worry for us to be out late and told us not to stand so close to doors or we would get stabbed (kind of a little much I think) and when we left he wanted to make sure we got safely out of the complex. These people! I tell you. I love americans but man we are kinda huge jerks compared to these people! Anyway.

This morning we got on a bus and came to Aizu for the first time. The apartment is......quaint? Definitely a missionary apartment. Then we went and applied for my 'gaijin kado' (foreigner registration). Now email. Maybe after this go to get a coat. Maybe that will come next week but don:t worry about ordering me a coat. Also we need to go get me a electronic dictionary sometime because I need all the help I can get. They already bought my bike for me so I:m not sure how the whole paying back thing works. Its kinda weird. When you transfer here they ship you stuff (two luggage and bike) to your new area so right now I:m living out of my backpack until all that stuff shows up and I didn:t really preapare for that so yeah, kinda living on the edge right now.

Anyway. I'm good. I won:t lie though. This is the hardest mental\emotional thing I have done in my life by a long shot. Not being able to understand the majority of what people are saying. Not knowing what you would say even if you knew how to say it. Not knowing anyone. Not being able to understand you companion 50-60% of the time. Unfamiliar people, food, environment, living constantly confused. Scared to death. I hope all this passes soon. Anyway, think I:m almost out of time. I:m helping teach the eikiwa tonight (have no idea what that means or how to do as with everything I have been doing since I left the MTC). Then tomorrow is our first real day of dendo (probably should learn/translate that word on the blog because I:m going to use it a lot I feel) then the weekend will be filled with general conference so not a whole lot of dendo then and I:m not sure how that is going to work either. I wake up at 6:30, go to bed at 10:30 and what I do in between I have no idea until I:m doing it. Oh and yes we are doing the 12 week infield training here, haven:t actually started but yeah we will be doing it. Um. Yep. Lots to say but that shall do. Love you. Oh and tell mandy that my companion is 23, loves americans, especially mormons, and says for his language study he would like to practice writing her letters........he:s my trainer, I have to let him do whatever he wants. ;-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

I arrived!

My goodness it hass been a long few days but oh has it been worth it. So quick run of things. As you would have expected since I am writing this email now, I did eventually make it to this place. The flights went well. Its funny to see all of the random members on my flights and in LAX that would run me down seeing my name tag and talk to me. I`ll be perfectly honest, I was kinda surprised with the flight over from LAX to Tokyo. It wasn`t that bad. I slept for a few hours but not a whole lot. Studied some (personal and language study). All that good stuff. Lets see. Landing and getting out of the airport was possibly the most terrifying thing of my life (well I thought). However I was not detained by customs or any of that and it actually almost felt like there was no security at all. After wandering Narita for about 30 minutes I finally found my bus and was off to the airport. You truly learn the bare minimum with these people of how to talk. However all went there well. Anyway. It was pretty lonely but super nice and I felt super weird being alone. Woke up the next morning went to the domestic terminal which had no english speakers it seemed. Got on this tiny plane. Finally built up the courage to talk to the person next to me on the plane (happened to be the one american) and he snorted, looked at my nametag, and then went back to his newspaper! Yep, I`m on a mission. Ha. Anyway. Landed and go to get my luggage and I see them! President Rasmussen, his wife, and the assistants to the president. I`ve never been so excited to see people in suits in my life! We took a picture there.

Talked about some of the devastation and then took about a 30 minute ride back to the Homebu (mission home). It was kinda funny. Instead of him telling me to speak japanese he was having his assistant practice his English on me. It was a pretty fun trip ending up with the assistants (1 nihonjin and 1 raised by nihonjin) convincing the president to try nato (fermented soybeans) which means I got to try them. Oh joy. It actually wasn't bad. We had dinner with all these people and my new doryo! I think you may have been sent a picture of him. He is a native. His English is good. Not perfect but very good. He is basically one of the coolest Elders I have ever met. He is always so happy and telling a joke but also is really into the work (well it seems that way at least we haven:t really done anything yet). Anyway. Some fun stuff.

Gotta keep it short because we are biking to our first appointment a mogi (roll play with a member) in a few minutes! Talk about baptism by fire! Tomorrow we do service in the morning and then head to my area. The area is named Aizuwakamatsu. Famous for ramen (noodles (also my doryo is a self proclaimed expert of ramen so that is even cooler!)) Anyway, our p-days are Mondays so probably won:t hear from me until then but yeah. I'm alive. This place is crazy but I'm super excited. Love you all and peace out.

Elder Carter

Friday, September 30, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane (for real)

So what a week! Feels like my last email to you was a month ago but alas it was not. It has gone quite different from what I expected it to go. I really was more bummed than anything last week but I figured I have been at the MTC for 12 weeks a few more weeks wouldn't bug me it would just be a waste of time. So Monday comes rolling around and I go to breakfast with my boys from my district and then everything got set in motion by the zone leaders. There was a lot of running around getting things switched, no one knew what was going on, the zone leaders (been zone leaders for all of a week) were basically just making it up as they go which after all this is said and done I missed saying goodbye to the people in my residence hall which kinda bugs me a lot but oh well. Alas (I really like that word today for some reason) everything got switched.

I was to room with one of our Kohai that was suppose to leave with my group but because he is not a U.S. citizen his visa paperwork was more complicated than they expected. However we also have another kohai that pretty much only speaks Korean and (some) Japanese so they didn't want me to be companions with them so I broke up a tri-panionship in one of the kohai districts. So (drum roll) Elder Zambarippa has been my companion for the last few days. He's a pretty big (read well built) elder, from Texas (and he makes sure you know it), and well actually a lot like Elder Clayton to be honest at times except a little more loud and.........he's just one of those kids people kind of ignore because he always has some kind of weird comment. A little sad but how it goes.

So yeah got put into a new district. I was a little bummed because I was kinda hoping I would get Whetto/Smith Shimai as my teacher again but didn't work out that way but I do visit her every once in awhile to say hi. The senseis have been awesome support the last few days. (Random Sidenote: Instead of saying goodbye to me when I end conversations with people a lot of people have been saying, "Well I hope I never see you again" kinda sad but I find it funny and their intentions are good). Anyway, the new district has two shimai (sisters) which is a new experience, and a New Zealander! Ha. He's pretty fun to mess with but yeah good stuff. Definitely a lot different than my previous district but they have been extremely nice to me. Something I didn't expect is how much I have learned in the last 6 weeks apparently. I got into that class and I felt kinda super smart. I really didn't think I had learned that much since the kohai got here. Whenever the senseis ask questions and no one answers they just turn to me and ask me now (granted if I didn't know these things I would be a failure). Also is fun to act like a sensei with them when I don't want the class to hear stuff I'm saying to the sensei (not that its very secretive) we just talk in Japanese with each other. Anyway. Good stuff.

So now about this whole hearing thing. Not sure what to think about it. Currently I'm more annoyed by the medicine than the actual hearing loss to be honest. Everything felt fine and dandy until I started taking the medicine but when I told the doc he just kinda nodded with the, "Well that is expected" look on his face and its not quite as bad now either because of the decreased dosage or possibly because I think a lot of the not feeling good healthwise was stress related and my stress level I think has dropped significantly since Wednesday night. But as you said mom that Uncle Scott said, brains are pretty amazing little things. I really can't notice it at all until my right ear is blocked or something is close and quiet to my left ear. Which brings me to your thought father. I have thought a lot about Christ as he ministered to the people and healed all sorts of crazy stuff and how hearing would be such an easy thing for him and as his representative you would think he would be all over helping me physically so that I can focus on the spiritual aspects of this work.

It is actually freakish how many injured people are in the MTC, spending a bunch of time in the health clinic you see all sorts of crazy stuff. Yes there is a lot of 19 year old boys doing stupid stuff and getting themselves hurt but also a lot like me, randomly get sick or have something go wrong with them. A lot of pondering on the "Why?" (hopefully this isn't bad, don't want to be questioning God's ways but I am always interested in what I'm suppose to get from it.) And to be honest that is about as far as I have got into figuring it all out. I don't know, I don't know why this happened, I don't know how its going to really affect my future, I don't know what the future of my hearing holds, but to steal the jist of a scripture shared by a Sister Carter, "I know God loves his children but I don't understand all things"

All this being said don't worry about me. Kinda took me off guard when I called you Wednesday night and you weren't all giddy excited ha, hadn't really thought that you would already know (although Dr. Robbins did say he would call). My train of thought went something along the lines of, "Why is she not happy? Oh yeah I still can't hear.....that kinda does stink doesn't it?" I guess the happy news just kinda blew the bad news out of mind.

Anyway, I will try to follow your rules and advice with airports really good. President Bird said the Narita airport I won't have to use a lick of Japanese to get through so that is comforting. I got my phone card, and I will send the package today. The coat does worry me too but not much I can do about that at this point so yeah.

Not that this means anything to you but I figure this will be fun, here is part of my testimony in Japanese.


Ok so that took more time then I thought, I promise my testimony is longer than that. Love you guys, excited to talk with you (again ) on saturday morning. Until then.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kyle's Medical Update

Here is a little bit of an explanation on Kyle's medical status (before reading Kyle's latest letter). He will not be leaving for Japan as planned on Monday (tomorrow). He has lost 40% of the hearing in his left ear. It happened suddenly about 2 weeks ago. The diagnosis is Sudden Sensioneural Hearing Loss. I talked to the Dr. on Wednesday and he said that there is a 50/50 chance that the loss will be permanent. Right now Kyle is on a 7 day treatment of Prednisone. He will go back to the Dr. on Wednesday next week to be re-evaluated. If there is improvement, he will be cleared to leave for Japan as soon as they can arrange it. I have no clue how long that arrangement would take. If there is no improvement, the doctor will either decide to put him on another 7 days of prednisone, or assume the hearing is lost, and clear him for Japan. If at his 7 day evaluation things look worse, the doctor will schedule him for an MRI to see if there is some tumor or growth causing the problems. This would probably delay him a while. But the doctor assured me that this is only a 1% chance and didn't seem to think that would happen.

So things are up in the air right now. Kyle was very sad and disappointed on Wednesday, because he was on fire and ready to go with his district to Japan and get started! So that was hard for him to swallow. But as you can see from his letter, he has accepted it, and is doing fine. It will be hard to see his buddies leave tomorrow, but hopefully he won't be too far behind them.

We will be fasting for him on Tuesday if any of you would like to join us.

Thanks for you support and love,

No matter how long and hard the road

Hey Peeps.

Well this letter was suppose to be much more exciting but as you are fully aware not really. So hopefully that won't be what this whole email is about but we shall see.

Something kinda random and cool this week is guess who came to our Tuesday devotional to speak? Richard G. Scott! Apostle #3! These little Kohai are getting spoiled! Ohwell we get the benefit of their luckiness So that was kind of cool. He talked all about the special Book of Mormon issue of the Ensign. It was like just sitting at the feet of an apostle and having a scripture study with him! It was pretty intense and cool.

I think the BBC was last Saturday but if I have talked about this before oh well. It was pretty chillaxed. They came in with cameras for the 10 minutes. Interviewed our current district president (Henderson Choro) and previous district president (Beckstrand Choro). Then we had a sub for it so that was funny because (although this probably will take more explaining then I will give it to make sense) our other teacher wrote the "text book" (More like pamplet) that we learn a lot of language from and is really the only thing we learn in class from. Anyway he is super proud of it calling it "The best language resource ever" and on resumes he says he wrote the "Main textbook for the largest private language institution in the world" Kinda decietful. Anyway while the cameras are on her (our sub) she goes and rips into every problem that was on the page (ok rips into is wrong but she points them all out because of course they are mistakes and she doesn't want us to make them (oh and she did this in Japanese so probably no one will understand that that is what she is doing)) Anyway I thought it was funny, probably isn't.

Well I guess I can get to the "fun" stuff. So as you know my Wednesday was not the funnest thing in the world. Starting out going to the Audiologist at 8:30 and probably not until 2 or 3 finally finishing everything. The audiologist was interesting. It was alaso interesting just to be out in the world trying to avoid watching TV and listening to real music. Even saw one of my senseis working there because she is going to nursing school. Went through this crazy sound both test which I kind of failed but I won't lie apparently I understood 88% percent of what she said into my left ear and 98% in my right so I actually thought that was pretty good even though in real life it isn't that way. And then more machines stuck into my ears which actually one of them vindicated me because without having to ask me anthing it said there was something messed up. I won't lie I was starting to think it was all in my head but the machine doesn't lie (still don't know what that machine was testing though) Then the next machine I was praying would of failed (I didn't actually understand its purpose until after) but basically said behind my ears was dry therefore probably the SSNL (I think that is what it is called). Came back and went to get my next appointment. They scheduled it for Monday at which time I told her I was suppose to leave Monday so she got it for an hour or two later but then got this look in her eyes and pulled out this special pad of paper that said "Missionary Phone Pass" and handed it to me with the reassuring comment, "Your probably going to need this" Which I won't lie it is quite the coveted thing in this place. While I was waiting at the doctors office one of the outside doctors called and you could tell he wanted to talk to the missionary and got the wonderful response of, "He's a missionary, he isn't allowed to use this phone" Anyway, get to this doctor sit FOREVER!!!! Although he did have Ensign magazines so I could read something. Then he comes in, we talk missions for maybe 5 minutes seeing as he went to Sapporo then he looks in my ears (for about the 50th time by someone) and then just turns to me and says, "Well there isn't much we can do about this like draining it because there is no liquid. Normally I would put you on these drugs and have you come back in a week but you are suppose to leave so...........well actually I'm going to suggest you date gets pushed back and you come back in a week" I had entertained this thought because it was so close to the end but still I thought it was more of a nightmare. Anyway the next few hours were between getting drugs, talking to MTC doctors about the official stance of the church and them sending me (I didn't really like that doctor, he was kinda a jerk telling me to have patience because after 45 minutes of waiting in a room he still hadn't come to visit. And when he finally did come in and he ask me what the coctor said and I told him he said, "Well I doubt that" then after talking to the doctor told me to stop being a downer (I thought I was doing fine). Anyway, then to the MTC Distcit Presdent get get all my stuff handled (which is kinda nice because there are lot of people to contact). Then calling you guys which was super weird to hear your voice mom. Also you are probably sick of all these kids on missions. Also, I was doing perfecting fine until you had to go and say it was a bummer. ;-) I guess it was good to hear your voices still even under crappy circumstances. And then going back to my district and sharing the news. Most my zone doesn't even know and probably never will (well except the Kohai). Sidenote: Elder Clayton is the bomb for dealing with me all of that day, we missed so super cool things that both of us wanted to go to and he just had to be there because he was my companion. Anyway, that is the experience of Elder Carter's view.

So where does that put me. Well as you would suspect there has been a lot of thinking over the last few days about why I am here. Also I can testify that Satan really loves to attack God's missionaries. Its been hard but there are a few thoughts that have stuck with me. 1. The name of Dad's favorite talk: No matter how long and hard the road, not sure if the content actually applies but I haven't read it for quite some time but just seems fitting. The road is still leading to the same place that being a mission and really that is what matters. 2. Mom's little saying, "This too shall pass" easy to see how this fits. 3. Elder Clayton upon me finishing my call with you shard D&C 121:7 with me that this was just a "small moment" and the Lord was till there. 4. The thought, "No one owes me a mission" If I needed to be out there God would make me a way to be out there. He is aware of me and this is his work so I will do all I can to prepare my body and spirit even better in the coming week or so to do his work. Anyway, the story took more time then expected so I'm kinda out of time today. Maybe I will write you a letter also but I'm not sure what it would include. Today is a whole day of p-day for packing yesterday we had our second to last pep talk all day about missionary work.

Thanks for the doughnuts
Hope your trip went well
I will try to talk to my Branch President about a blessing.

Love you all. Please don't worry about me, I am fine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Hello Family!

Sounds like things are doing pretty good at home which is good to here. Glad everything is going well in the elections so far, hope they continue to go that way. So lets see, seems like there is a lot to say so here we go.

So this Tuesday we go to the devotional and we got some pretty sweet seats. However, I needed to leave real quick and it was like 15 minutes before the start so I wasn't too worried about it. However when we try to get back in they are being meany heads and won't let us in. Finally we convince the guy that we should be allowed in and when we walk in everyone is standing and singing. Now this isn't totally uncommon so we sneak back to our seat and then when everyone sits down we look up at the stand and who happens to be sitting there? M. Russell Ballard! What the what?(As Sister Carter would put it). Total pleasent surprise. Two apostles in two weeks. Lucky are we! It was quite fun to contrast his talk to Elder Hollands. They have very different speaking techniques but the same spirit is there and as Sister Carter put it in her most recent letter these general authorities have a power to really give you a kick in the butt. So that was sweet and a half!

Ok next crazy thing. So Wednesday we are chilling in class and then the head of the Japanese Department comes in and tells we need to all come back to class (when we all study together not much gets done so we usually split up). Not unheard of so we come back. Then this guy comes in that we have never seen and his name tag says "Operations" (Sidenote: I kinda love being on a mission because i don't need to ask what anyone does or what their name is because of these nametags). Anyway he starts out real sullen with "I need all of your full attention, Saturday at 2..." At which point we all get worried because we are thinking something went seriously wrong LAST Saturday at 2 then he continues. "...BBC will be coming to the MTC." Starts talking more about it. Kinda cool but a lot of people come here to film and do different stuff so nothing too special and then he says something along the lines of,"So they will be interviewing a few of you and then filming you during your language instruction" Becomes pretty clear that they are coming just for our district! Ha. So apparently your son is going to be famous in England! Also they said they would let us and you know when BBC puts the story online. Pretty snazzy if I must say so myself. So that means I get to get my hair cut today (Which I'm not suppose to do until 5 days before I leave but when we brought this up he just told us to tell the people that "President Brown said I could break that rule" (President Brown is the MTC president)). Anyway, kinda cool. Will actually end up probably being not that cool and kinda boring but yeah.

So now the moment you have all been waiting for! Travel plans!!!! There was much jubilation yesterday when these were received. So here is the deal, pretty simple. On September 26 I will be taking Delta Flight 639 from Salt Last City, UT -> Tokyo Narita, Japan. Leave at Sept. 26 2:00pm, arrive at Sept 27 4:45pm. Pretty super exciting little piece of paper! Also a more stressful part of this. I'm the travel leader for all the Sendai missionaries to make sure they make there flights and don't do anything stupid from the time we leave the MTC until President Rasmussen picks us up at the Tokyo airport. This is all fine and dandy but then I thought to myself, "Wait who will be going to Japan with me?" Flipping a few pages to a list of the people and my fears were confirmed. Its me and 5 Nihonjin! Ha. So the person with probably the least airline experience is going to try and lead these people through the airport when he only kinda speaks their language. This shall be an adventure.

As for the phone call, I know nothing about it. They really never even address that you can do it although I'm sure you can. So I will try to find out more about that before next week.

As for our investigators things are going pretty good. Mayumisan accepted the invitation to be baptized this week but there is no way we get her to the level of actually being prepared before we leave and (drum roll please!) Monday Morimotosan is getting baptized!!!! Ha. Fake investigator but I was still super happen when Henderson Choro came in and all he said was, "Well go congratulate him" " he passed?" "Oh yeah, guess I should have started with that". Yay! I guess the benefit of this is that because he is fake he can't not show up to his baptism (well technically he can but that would just be mean). Anyway so that is cool. However, when we leave the Kohai don't actually get our investigators. They just keep the progressing investigators that they currently have.

Well out of time now. Love you all. Hopefully I answered questions. Talk to you hopefully soon!