Monday, December 30, 2013

Santa Clause Came To Town And His Name Was Elder Howard

This week has been insane!
The end of the year rush seems to be even more aparent here in Japan!
Well this is the last email of the year so I should update y'all.

Last week the Watanabe family asked me to be Santa at their Eikaiwa Christmas Party. It was great. Elder Norman was pretty much beside himself with laughter. All the kid's wanted pictures with me and I wore an ichy fake beird for about 3 hours. It was a blast though. Other than that Christmas was pretty uneventful here in Matsudo. None of our friends were baptized and no one invited us over. We had a nice quiet Christmas here in the apartment just the 5 of us. We did eat Sushi though. That was a trip. A lot of the new missionaries in the District don't like sea food at all. We stuffed our faces with eel and octopus and fish eggs etc. It was great.
I wish there was more to report, but to be honest it was a super quiet Christmas. New years here however should be great. The mission is changing things up this year.
on the 31st that's tomorrow we have Deep Clean Day. Sister Budge loves a clean apartment so  we're going to spend the entire day in our apartments cleaning a years worth of buildup and grossness. Our apartment is going to be holy ground when we're done with it! The next day is New Years day. We're going to be spending the day as a mission studying the Book of Mormon. A few of us in the Apartment have decided to try to read it from cover to cover in a day. It'll be some of the most dedicated study I've ever done but I'm expecting to learn a lot. I'll update you with the results next week!

Well I'm out of time once again. I love you all!
Have a Happy New Year!
I'm excited to hear from all of you in 2014.
What are some of your New Years Resolutions?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Note

Main update for the week is that I am now a Zone Leader with Elder Norman whilst training Elder Hansen. Elder Day is part of the same apartment. Elder Young transfered to Togane. Elder Norman and I are zone leaders of the biggest zone in the mission. 35 missionaries. It's amazing but I'll tell you what it's stressful. I've been blessed with a cool head. I'm going to need it. There is a lot of work ahead of me. 2 zone training meetings. 4 district meetings a week. 11 exchanges and that doesn't include nightly reports and weekly conference calls. I'm a leader in the biggest zone in the most densly populated mission in the world. I feel like i'm doing something so much bigger than myself. It's great I don't have time to think of myself at all. It's exhausting, but the miracles are still coming! One of our friends is going to be baptized on the 29th of this month! I'm so excited for him. He's such a solid investigator he'll be an amazing member!

I know I promised to send pictures but transfer weeks are just too busy. I'll try to get some in next week and send a good blast mail. Next week I may just sacrifice mail time for calling time however. Um the later you do it the better probably. I'm thinking that if you try to do it at 5:30 there it's like 8:30 am here, which is kind of pushing it. We can see though. I'll send you an email during the week to solidify times. :) I'm excited and nervous.

Well gotta go mom. Give the family my love. I'll talk to you all next week!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tall Towers

Well..transfer calls are here again. I can't believe it's been six weeks already! I feel like this past transfer went by way too quickly. It's been a blast though, I've spent almost the entire transer teaching people. I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. It's been a busy week for us here in Matsudo as we try to keep up with the changing missionary life. Not only that but our Okinawan friend Katsuyuki is getting Baptized on the 22nd of this month! We only found him a week ago and he's doing amazing! He's progressing so quickly! The only issue right now is that he can't get work off on Sundays yet. He wants to though so we're praying that he'll be able to get work off and come to church. He'd be such a strong member of the ward, we need more people like him! We're looking forward to seeing our new best friend enter the waters of Baptism here in Matsudo this time. The White Christmas miracle is slowly but surely becoming a reality for the whole mission. Amazing things are happening! We still have 2 weeks left on the clock and we're all expecting the work to simply explode! This transfer is going to be a fun one! I'm going to continue being a Zone Leader with Elder Norman who is going to be my new companion and I'll be training for the fourth time. Elder Day and Elder Young will no Longer be my companions. Chiba zone split this transfer (Saitama also had to split) so Chiba South will now be his new Zone. Elder Day will however stay in the same apartment and be companions with another missionary. The Sisters also expanded. Matsudo will have 4 Sisters and 5 Elders. 9 Missionaries for one ward!! I'm not sure how many missionaries are in Matsudo Zone but it's close 35.. crazy. With the help of another companionship in Matsudo we'll really be able to get some good work done! I'm excited to see what happens!

Today I had the cool opportunity to go the the tallest tower in the world. The Tokyo Skytree!! You would not believe how tall it is. It's 634 Meters tall. I was able to stand at 451 Meters. From that high up you can see all of Tokyo. It goes on forever!! It's really such a cool city to live in. It's ridiculous how many people live here but still it's a blast! It isn't quite like home though. We went with Takuya. Our friend who just got baptized in Koiwa. He's the man seriously. It was a good relaxing p-day before the transfer picks up yet again.
Well that's all for the week! I'll be sure to update you on more exciting changes next week!

Stay tuned!
Love from Tokyo,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Desire and Consecration

I really really like P-days. It's nice to be able to just sit down in front of a computer and type out everything I've been thinking for the past few days. This week was loaded with good trainings, miracles and lessons. I think that there are just a few things I really want to talk about today though.

There are two elements in missionary work that one must possess in order to be the most capable and successful missionary. The first is Desire. Desire is the easy one. If you want to be a missionary, then you will work to become a better missionary. It's simple. There are so many new missionaries coming into the mission that have this desire and faith and they see a lot of miracles. They have the ability to shape the Tokyo Mission Culture through their expectations and hard work. It's amazing to watch. This is my third time as a trainer and I can clearly see that the missionaries who are coming on missions now are light years ahead of the missionaries I came in with because all of these new missionaries really want to be missionaries and they strive to be the best missionaries they can be.
Elder Oaks said
 "Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming." 
Having desire is simple. The actions that follow are difficult. Let me explain. All of these missionaries are coming into the mission with the desire to see baptisms and learn Japanese and do all the things that the great missionaries do. Eventually that desire leads them to goal setting and planning and benchmarking. Things that will help them become better missionaries.

The second element a wall that even the most adept missionaries at some point will face and everyone has to decide whether or not they will make the climb. That wall is Consecration. The best missionaries are consecrated missionaries. The ones who leave all distractions, every streak of disobedience, every ounce of strength and desire on the altar of sacrifice. Those who strive to follow the rules and earn the Lord's trust. Those are the missionaries that make a difference. Everyone wants to become that kind of missionary, but not everyone can do it. I've decided that that's the kind of missionary I want to be. I have an awesome opportunity to work with 24 great missionaries to help them get to that point. If there are any missionaries who are reading this letter. Become that kind of missionary.

This week was a busy but it was a blast. The Elder Evan's and Christmas conferences were awesome!
(Picture Blast to Follow)

Well I hope you have a great week! 

I love you all

Monday, November 18, 2013

Two Year Mark

Hello everyone! Well the internet has been going at an incredibly slow rate today, but I'll do my best!

First things first. This week I reached two years since I started my mission. 

I went into the MTC November 16th 2013. It's been a tough road to get to this point and I'm still not done. I have about 8 months to go, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. It's changed my life and will continue to do so. Thanks again everyone for all the support while I was home. I couldn't have come back to Japan without it. I love you all!

This week has been absolutely incredible! We've been so busy!! We managed to squeeze in 21 lessons this week despite having to spend a lot of our proselyting time planning for a Zone Training Meeting! The Training meeting was probably the biggest thing that happened. We took almost a week to prep and plan for it, but the result was pretty amazing. We've been working with the missionaries here in Matsudo, trying to help them build the faith to see the Miracle of a White Christmas. We several trainings throught the meating that dealt with faith and works and at the very end we did the Board Breaking activity I always did at swim team before my Regional Meets. It was pretty intense!! We had a couple of the newer missionaries come up and show their faith by breaking wooden planks with their hands. The entire Zone practically exploded from the excitement. They all left with a lot more vision then they've had in the past. I guess that's the point! We're super excited to see what happens this transfer! There are a lot of miracles around the corner.

Tomorrow we are going to Kichijoji to see Elder David F Evans speak. The entire Tokyo South Mission will be there as well!! Following Elder Evans we'll be going to Nakano to the Tokyo Mission home to have our holiday conference. I'm excited! I'll be sure to send lots of pictures next week!

Love you all!
Don't catch any colds!

P.S. We went to costco today! Pictures next week

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adjusting to Missionary Life

I love my companions!
It's interesting having a triple companionship like ours. It's my first time really knowing what it feels like to have room mates. We are always bickering about dumb stuff but we work crazy hard and see so many miracles! Just this week Elder Young and I were both sick! I'm still on the recovery, but despite being sick we tackled 22 lessons with Elder Day's assistants! That's more lessons than I've ever taught on my mission before and we did it as Zone Leaders, we barely have time for lessons because we are so busy with training and other things. 
Elder Young is the man when it comes to using time effectively. He doesn't stop for anything! He used to be the second fastest Pizza cutter in Australia and he worked as a store manager for Dominoes Pizza. His store set a world record for the most pizzas sold in a day! He had every job you could possible imagine offered to him by dominoes officials (We`re talking jobs with 6 figure pay here) and he turned it all down to go on a mission! This guy just knows how to work! It's awesome! I'm learning lots of healthy habits.

With Elder Young's tight schedule we're really pushing Elder Day, our new missionary to greater hights. The other day he had a small meltdown from all the stress and Elder Young and I had a great opportunity to train him on something we call the "Circle of Influence" with this new fund knowledge he's been working harder than ever before! However he isn't doing it alone! We just received a bag full of "Adjusting to Missionary Life" booklets for our zone and apparently this book has changed Elder Day's Life! We asked him a training on it at zone meeting this week! We'll see how he holds up! This is actually what his face looked like after discovering the booklet. Great right? Elder Young has been teaching him how to cook too! We've had a lot of fun with Elder Day, he's like our little brother.

With the Success in Lessons we've seen progress with our investigators. This is Takuya. Elder Young and his younger brother found him together (that's a fun story) and he's getting baptized on the 1st of December in Koiwa Ward (He lives outside of our area). We're excited for him. He has more desire to be baptized than I've ever seen from any other investigator! He's great, we love him!

Well that's all I have time for this week! Tune in next week for more excitement! Lot of big things coming this transfer!
Love you all! Enjoy the last few days of Fall, Winter is just around the corner!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week One in Matsudo!

Hey everyone!

Well it's been another busy week! I'm pretty sure that it's always just busy weeks for missionaries. Today isn't even really a p-day for me, it's just a lighter work day than the rest of the week.
This week was Transfers. I got to Matsudo at around noon on October 31st.
Right from the start we hit the ground running.
There used to be 5 people in this apartment. Now that there is only 3 of us we're picking up the other Elder's investigators and we are incredibly busy. We also have 5 Baptismal dates who are progressing fairly well right now. I feel like I've been dropped into the deep end.  We did weeklly planning right away and then that night during the hour and a half we had to dendo we found 3 new investigators! It was incredible! My first day in the area and we saw a lot of really cool miracles.
Working with Elder Young and Elder Day is a blast though. Elder Young is an incredible leader and I've actually been in the same district as him before so I knew him before. We work pretty well together. Elder Day is a great new missionary with a lot of Faith. He really want's to be a good missionary and it shows. We're trying to help him focus his attention on other things besides Japanese. It's going to be a great transfer I can see a lot of the momentum building.

As Zone Leader I have a really cool opportunity to work with the Assitants to the President and with President Budge. This year in Tokyo we will be having a `White Christmas` meaning that every companionship is to see a baptism before Christmas.  The utimate goal is to give back to the Savior. In connection with that we're working a lot with the individual districts in our zones to set the stage and vision for the next few months. There is so much Fire for the work in Tokyo right now it's incredible. This transfer is going to be 100mph the entire transfer!

I realize that I haven't sent any good pictures so I'll make sure to get some of my companions and I along with our church before next week (It's the largest ward and church building in Asia, just saying) lots of exciting things happening!

Have a great week! Eat some Pumpkin pie for me!
Lots of Love from Tokyo

I lied! I have pictures of stuff!!
You know what is almost as good as Ramen?


Elder Young is the one who`s behind Elder Day, Who's the one with me in the other picture.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Transfer Calls and Earthquakes

Sorry it's been awhile. I feel like I can't keep using the same excuse but to be honest I just haven't had to get a sufficient ammount of pictures and thoughts and put them together into a cohesive, enjoyable, easy to read blast message. So let me make up for the past few weeks by sharing the advenstures we've had this week!
Well a few people have asked me about the Earthquake we had a few days ago. It registered as a 7 and I'm guessing it made the news in America. Truth is it barely touched the news in Japan. Earthquakes happen here all the time. I've lost count of how many times I've felt them. There still super strange to me. This one however was the first one to get my heart pumping a little. It hit off the coast but almost the whole country felt it. Here in Oyama we got a 4 for sure. The information in this picture was posted following the Earthquake.

It hit us at about 2:30 in the morning and Elder Justesen and I managed to somehow both wake up right before it hit. It didn't really feel very big for the first few seconds. Then it got bad enough for us to stand up and move for the Desks when it ended. We both looked at each other with the same facial expression. That was exciting! We went back to bed and slept great! Totally normal. Nothing fell down and no one go hurt. It was a little exciting though.

This past week we also had our last District Meeting and I had my last district meeting as a District Leader in Oyama. I'm being transferred. My new home will be Matsudo! I'm going to the biggest church building in the Mission. Some of you may remember my pictures of it before. It's about 6 stories tall and has a Basketball Court on the top floor! I'm going to be with one of my favorie Elders, Elder Young. He's from Australia and we're going to be Zone Leaders! I think we may also be working with a new Elder, Elder Day. He's on his 2nd Transfer. A lot of things are happening! Oyama will have 6 missionaries. 3 Sisters 3 Elders. Elder Justesens new companion is coming from Niigata and their going to train a new missionary!

I've been really priviledged to work in such an amazing district this past transfer. I've learned a lot and grown a lot from the powerful testimonies they all have, and the miracles that I've seen as a district leader here in Oyama have helped me to realize that "God has not ceased to be God of Miracles." - (Mormon 9:16) I'm really quite sad to leave Oyama. Oyama ward has been almost like family to me and I really love the Investigators here. Hopefully Elder Justesen can keep working with them so I can come back and see a few of them get Baptized! Meanwhile, Elder Young and I are going to see some incredible Miracles in one of the coolest places in the Mission.

Well the transfer is at an end and I'm beat. I'm going to take a nap now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Missionary Parking

Apparently B is running a Half Marathon this week. How did she get roped into that one, since when does she ever run? I'm trying to run every day here. I'm burning fat but I'm also dropping muscle too. I'm skinnying up very slowly. I figure the rest will come off when I come home and can work it off.

Glad to hear you sent Elder Justesen a friend request! He`s seriously the best! I'm going to miss hanging out with him if either of us get transferred. Elder Justesen is a really quick typer and he has less emails to write every week! Remember I have a 4 Parents and 3 Siblings plus Dakota, Rach, Sho and Sometimes others. I never actually do have time. I really made it a goal to write better letters and emails this transfer and then I ended up working even harder with Elder Justesen and now my number one priority every P-day is sleeping. Something that I simply can't seem to get enough of. My leadership responsiblities are still going great, but they do have me busy. The biggest issue however is the fact that we teach a ton of lessons every day! We managed 6 lessons yesterday! It's great working with Elder Justesen, we work really well together. Like Elder Gallacher I think I've made a true friend for life here. It's funny though that neither Elder Justesen nor Elder Gallacher are from Utah ha ha. Our investigators are doing great. We've been working a lot with Okenchu, our chinese investigator. He's doing great. He knows what we teach is true and he wants to get baptized, we're just trying to help him find another Job that keeps him away from evil. He needed money so he started working at a night club which is kind of funny because he doesn't really drink. We're praying for a miracle and I'm praying I don't get transfered yet. It sounds like a lot of big changes are happening this transfer though. I'm convinced Elder Justesen becomes a trainer. He's just that awesome.

I'm working hard and keeping thoughts of home at bay. I did the math today and I believe I only have somewhere around 37 weeks left on my mission. I'm going to sprint to the finish. There is still a lot to do and a lot to learn. I also still need to be companions with Elder Healy. Today was Temple Day so I got to see him. Sounds like he's doing good. Today I had the chance to offer up my transfer to the Lord and I feel that he's pleased with the work I've rendered this transfer. I hope that I can continue this pattern for transfers to come. The Typhoon was bad but it hit early in the morning. Another one is supposed to hit on Saturday. They're saying it's one of the biggest ones in 10 years or something. I gotta say though, I've been rather underwhelmed by the Typhoons here.  Things are good otherwise. I'm happy and and healthy and although I'm tired I realize that I can sleep when I come home from my mission. A Good missionary should always be a little tired!

I couldn't get any good pictures this week. My camera battery was dead and I forgot to charge it so I'll have to put some more in a better email next week if I can. We're going to Nikko again as a Zone this time! Japan is the best!

Here is one pic though. I call this Missionary Parking (^o^)

Monday, October 14, 2013


Well I`m doing great! I`ll be honest I`m exhausted and with only a few weeks until Christmas I`m starting to catch the Holiday Spirit.  Christmas last year was strange but great. It`ll be interesting to experience Christmas away from home.

Elder Justesen and I have been working crazy hard this past week and have seen a lot of miracles. The next two weeks are also going to fly by. I`m kind of glad time is flying by, although it is a little scary. I come home 9 months from now.  That feels like an eternity, and also like no time at all. I am at least staying healthy. I`m actually dropping weight again and have been sleeping a lot better as a result of the running. I`m thinking that`s a habit that will stay with me when I come home. I heard about Kat and Uncle Ben from Elder Healy. We had a conference this past week and he and I got to hang out for a bit. He`s a pretty cool missionary. We`re going to start asking President Budge to put the two of us together. (^o^) we`ve made it too far to not be companions!

Sounds like things at home are going great! I don`t really get the deal with Mallorie and Curtis. Are they Married? Way Jealous you all went to the Pie. I seriously miss good Pizza. They just simple don`t have it here. 

We went to  Nikko again today and had a blast! I took a lot of pictures but I can`t send all of them, so I thought I`d throw in a few.

Elder Justesen was stoked to do a little hiking!

I`m not sure why Shohei wanted a picture of the back of  Elder Justesen`s head..

All these statues have red hats and scarfs. No one could tell us why....

Monday, October 7, 2013


Things are going great this week. We didn't make a baptismal date with our Brazillian Family. There are a lot of churches in Brazil that take money and lots of other stuff so they are understandably hesitant. We did however give them all blessings today. They all are sick and once they learned about priesthood blessings they wanted them. So I did one in English and Japanese and Elder Justesen did one in English.  We did all the annointings etc. It was tough, but the spirit was super strong.

We did however make two more baptismal dates this week. Both for the 27th of this month. One is 17 and a really close friend of mine, the other is 20 and super super cool. He accepts everything we teach with eagerness. He's going to for sure get baptized. If the lord wills it, it'll happen. We're definitely working.
I don't have any time today because I lost the phone earlier and we spent email time trying to hunt it down.
I also didn't take any pictures this week, but I do have one good one.

This is what a Japanese Suburb looks like at night in the Rain.

I'll try to get some better pictures as I go. We're going to Nikko again next week with our friend Shohei.
Super excited!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Braizilain Baptism?

Hey all!

Well this week has been a crazy week!! We've been working super hard to get all of our Investigators progressing. We' ve been teaching a lot more than usual and It's been a blast! You wouldn't believe how good Elder Justesen is at Japanese. He's only been in Japan for 2 Months! It's good he's skilled at learning languages because he may have to learn Portuguese before the end of the transfer. Last week we found a Brazillian family that just moved to Japan about two weeks ago. After visiting with them twice. The wife Aparecida called the Oizumi (Portuguese speaking) Elders and said that she loved us coming and teaching and that if we wanted her to be baptized then she really wanted to be a member of our church! We're going back tomorrow to offer a Baptismal Commitment (I have a baptismal commitment memorized in Portuguese, I think sometimes I forget that I'm in Japan). We teach the lessons in a mix of Spanish, Portuguese (The Higher Language according to Elder Apolonio) and Japanese. They're super great investigators. They have all been reading the Book of Mormon as well!  That's the main news. Our other friend Shun has recently informed us that the things we keep teaching about finally all make sense and that when he prays he feels good. I'm so excited to see him continue to progress. He's so cool. I feel like he's my Japanese little brother. He's really busy this week but were going to try to set a Baptismal Date with him as well, he already wants to get Baptized. We're looking golden for a few Baptisms this transfer. I know it's all because the Lord trusts us in our Area. Elder Justesen and I are working so hard. This week will be the true test as we strive to reach for the stars and end the week with 20 lessons. If we can reach 20 lessons we'll see several baptisms this transfer.

I'm really greatful for the opportunity I have to be a Missionary. There have been many times on my mission where I've viewed it as a sacrifice, a challenge to overcome or simply a task to complete. In reality it is the opportunity of a lifetime. I have been so blessed to serve here amongst my Japanese (and Peruvian and Brazilian) Brothers and Sisters and help them come unto Christ. I've learned a near impossible language and a little of a few others on the side and I've learned so much more about my Savior and his atonement. To anyone who can see this letter and is contemplating serving a mission; I as a Missionary invite you to act on your impressions and serve the Lord.  You will not regret it I promise you that. I know that God lives and he loves his Children and I know that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can find true happiness.

Thanks always for the Love and support everyone! You're the best!
Have a wonderful week! The weather is cooling down and the leaves are changing colors.
Enjoy Fall while it lasts Winter is just around the corner.
I love you all!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Birthday Fun and The Learning Curve

Hey Everyone!

     Fall has arrived. Yesterday the weather had cooled down so much I almost considered putting on a sweater! It was wonderful. I'm a very big fan of cool weather here in Japan. Spring was incredible I'm excited to see what fall brings. Everyone says that the best food of the year is available during fall, which means I better start working out more.

     This week was an awesome week for Elder Justesen and I. Tuesday was Elder Justesens Birthday and mine was on Friday. The members got is cake and candy. We hung a birthday sign and took eachother out to eat on Tusday and Friday. It was wonderful, but the best part was the Miracles we saw this week. Thursday was weekly planning and Elder Justesen and I had the opportunity to set some really high goals for the Transfer! We're shooting for two Baptisms, and we want to reach the mission Standards of Excellence (20 Lessons per week) by Week 3 of the Transfer. We're super fired up. On friday one of our good friends Shun, who's 17, told us he was thinking that he wanted to get Baptized. To say we got excited would be a huge understatement. One of our other investigators Rob committed to read the Book of Mormon before we could even offer a solid invitation. We're excited to see these kinds of Miracles. On top of those we found 6 New Investigators this past week. I'd be lying if I said that miracles like this only happened in our area. 
     My District has grown this transfer as I now have two new Companionships. Koga after a whole of year of being empty was reopened by Sisters! and Utsunomiya (formerly the biggest area of the mission) was an only Sisters Area. There is now a companionship of Elders there. The wards are super excited to see more missionaries and have been working hard! This past week our Zone had the highest amount of lessons taught and new investigators in the entire mission. Transfer day was on Thursday by the way, so this all happened in 3 days. We're all super super stoked for this transfer. Since my district has grown I have 4 companionships to call per night. I now spend the last hour of my evening calling people. I actually don't mind it at all, but the learning curve as very suddenly expanded and I have twice as many questions to answer and people to train. Most of the District is still new. There 11 people including me in my district( well currently 10, one is having visa issues and isn't here just yet) and of those 11, 7 people are Transfer 3 or below. Which means that everyone needs help being trained. I'm glad our Sister Training Leader (Sister Vail) is amazing, she can really help me with all 7 Sisters. I'm also training Elder Justesen although I feel like the man has come pre-trained. It helps.

     I'm super excited to see what amazing miracles this transfer brings! This could be one of the most epic transfers of my mission.

Thanks for all the Birthday Love. I got several packages and lots of delicious junk food from America. It was a super great birthday!

Have a great week everyone! Stay on the Lord's side and "you'll win every time." I know that God lives and I know he loves the Japanese People.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here in Tokyo and share our special knowledge with them.
Lots of Love from Oyama,

Elder Howard!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Spiders, Typhoons and Early Transfers

Hey Everyone!
I'm sorry to say this but I'm short on time again. I'm always short on time, lets face it I'm a missionary :)
This week has been a bit of a blur but it's been rather exciting. Last week on Tuesday we had Temple Day. It was great! I love the spirit that is there in the Temple. Following the Temple I had a chance to hang out with Elder Healy and few other friends. It was nice to get some quality time with my doki members as for most of them this is there last transfer. In 12 weeks I'll probably be the last member of my MTC group in Tokyo. Tuesday was followed by a normal day of proselyting Elder Buhler and I went out and worked for one last day before it was time for him to pack his things. I got reorganized and refocused which was really awesome. 
It was a little weird to get transfers a week early. Today was real transfer calls. Friday morning I helped Elder Buhler get his stuff to the mission home and dropped him off and then I met my new companion, Elder Justesen. Elder Justesen is a beast! It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Buhler because I know he has a really hard time ahead of him. He was a great comp and I'll miss him.I'm really excited to work with Elder Justesen. He's super cool. He's from Sacramento California and he's just a super laid back guy. He loves dendo and loves studying and learning Japanese. His Japanese is incredible especially when you consider that he's still a first transfer missionary (technically the transfer doesn't start until Thursday )He was being trained by the Zone Leaders in Narita (Elder Hamada and Elder Bergen) for the first five weeks of the transfer so he's full of awesome knowledge. He's so genki all the time it just gets me super pumped to dendo! We hit the ground running with a really great weekly planning followed by two really solid days of dendo! Yesterday we found a new investigator. He's a really young missionary. He turns 19 tomorrow! Crazy right! Missionaries are just gettting younger and younger. Actually there are a lot more young missionaries in the mission now than there are old. It's crazy to see how many 3rd transfer missionaries are training!

Elder Justesen and I are working super hard and are already seeing lots of miracles. Along with the Miracles however we've already been through one or two adventures together.

Omoigawa is the prettiest place in our area, but it has a dark secret. Spiders. Walking back across the bridge at night we looked in horror at the spiders that came out of hiding and were dangling from the bridges railing. Now I really don't like spiders and you'll probably think this is dramatic but I promise you this is no lie, there were hundreds and hundreds of spiders, big and small. I did the best I could to get pictures but I'll be honest i didn't want to get near them! It was a little disturbing but it was also a crazy fun adventure.

Today was a little more of an adventure. We had a really large Typhoon make it's way across Japan. The wind and rain was spectacular but we watched it all from the safety of our apartment. We even were able to take naps today! Now the sun is setting and the clouds are the coolest shades of pink and orange.

I snapped a picture so you all could see. I got lots of pictures this week!
Here's a lot of pictures of our adventures this week. Including delicious boiling ramen, and the spider bridge Love you all! Have a great week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Confucius Anyone?

Sup Everyone!
Well this week has been another complete roller coaster. Gee you'd think I'd be used to it by now.
This week I had the opportunity to go on splits with 3 wonderful Elders. First I exchanged with Elder Apolonio (One of my Zone Leaders) on Wednesday and we found 2 spanish speaking investigators and a Brazillian potential investigator. I'm now trying to learn Spanish at the quickest possible rate. It isn't going well. Japanese is really rooted into my mind now. We had a wonderful exchange though and I learned a lot about baring simple testimony rather than just trying to blast people with doctrine. It was a great day of Dendo for us. Thursday morning I headed to Maebashi (right next to Takasaki, that was a little nostalgic) to go on splits with Elder Barlocker (The other District Leader in the Zone). Elder Barlocker is one of my favorite Elders and he's my original senpai which means we were in the MTC together. He's awesome and with him I learned a lot about talking to everyone and just being over the top excited everytime you talk to someone. We worked in some creative bike dendo and I had a blast. I spent the whole day on a bike with no brakes and nearly had to bail a few times but it was a blast. We even took a few minutes to escape from the sun and eat some fresh picked Nashi (Japanese Pears) It was awesome and I'd say Elder Barlocker rubbed off on me a lot. We then had the opportunity to go on Splits with Elder Hogue. Elder Hogue and I knew each other before the mission. It's really cool to have the opportunity to receive training from him,
not that he's one of the Assistants. He's a Legend in the Tokyo Mission and I had a blast working with him on Friday. Elder Hogue and Elder Barlocker really stoked a fire that's been sitting semi dormant. I was so ready to Dendo on Saturday. Companion exchanges rock I had a really awesome opportunity to feel the Joy for the work more than I have in the past. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. From last Saturday to my Birthday there will be exactly 21 days. I'm considering this the tail end of my "mid-mission crisis" and the beginning of a better Elder Howard.

On a fun note today Elder Buhler and I went to Ashikaga city to what is literally the Oldest School in Japan. It was awesome. Over 800 years of history and Confucianism. Elder Buhler and I went on a whim and it was probably one of the coolest things I've seen here in Japan on my mission.

I also found a random Moulin Rouge sign and thought it looked cool...
Well the last of my time is up sorry to everyone who's written me but hasn't heard back. Things have been pretty crazy here and I haven't been able to write at all. 
Have a great week everyone! 
I love you all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Japanese Rations

Hey Y'all!
I hope you all had a great week.
To say this week was stressful and exhuasting would be an understatement, but we are pressing forward, slowly.
Elder Buhler has finally given up on the notion of going home and he's ready to tough it out. He's convinced he's going to die, but I think he'll be alright. He's got good vision. If he expands his horizons regarding food then we'll be good to go!
I've got just the thing for him to eat too. :)

Check these out! Japanese military rations. Cool right? Our stake president had a ton of them in his food storage and gave half to us and half to the sisters.
They aren't as delicious or as extravagant as MREs, but they are still pretty tasty. The rice is the coolest part though. The rice actually tastes great! It's just cooked vaccum sealed rice and it lasts forever. Pretty cool right? I'm going to enjoy eating these over the next few weeks. 
We bought Elder Buhler a nice bike today. Now that he's committed himself to stay I think we're going to see twice as many miracles here in Oyama.

That's all the news I've got this week. I'm doing good. I'm super tired but that's just a result of training and being District Leader at the same time. I'm pretty sure I'll be tired right up to the point I come home. Missionaries are tired. That's life ha ha. It's sure fun though!

Thanks for your love and support everyone! Have a great week!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rice and Miso Flavored Ice Cream

This week was really great. We've really seen the ball start rolling here in Oyama.
Two days ago after a mogi lesson with a member we were feeling that the ward members have a lot of fire but the ward has no dendo plan. We diagnosed the problem as Missionaries being the "Tanto" over missionary work. We have all been trying to bring the ward up to our level and our vision rather than try to follow the Bishop's and Ward Mission Leader's vision. Missionaries change however and the past few transfers have done a bad number on Oyama.  Yesterday President Inaba (our Stake President) came and delivered a super blunt talk about missionary work. Our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Shimizu, said it "singed his ears" but in a good way. After that everyone seems really ready for missionary work. We're going to have an area meeting with the Sisters at another Ward Missionarie's house and discuss some things we can coordinate to help members feel the joy of missionary work. We also scheduled a meeting with the Bishop and Dendo Shunin so we can discuss Oyama's Dendo Future. It's exciting to be a part of such a cool time in missionary work!
Well I'm just about out of time, but this week was a lot of fun.
Elder Buhler and I went with the Sisters and a family in the ward to another member's restaraunt, Misoya Komezou.
Rice and Miso are their specialties and it was soo good. I had a delicious Oyama Wagyu Gyudon. I'm sure you are all wondering what that is. 
You all know Kobe beef right? Well one step under that is Wagyu (I think) and it's famous in Oyama. I had a rice bowl with steak in it and it was celestial. I forgot to take a picture though. For desert we ate Rice flavored and Miso flavored Ice Cream! As strange as that sound, Miso icecream is my new favorite flavor besides strawberry of course.
It was great.
Elder Buhler has stopped losing weight, he still doesn't eat much, but he's eating more than before. He attempted eating sushi and octopus like a boss last week. I was impressed. He still wants to go home, but it looks like he's going to be stuck with me for the time being so training will continue. We found these tiles in the sidewalk yesterday and played Rock Paper Scissors. It was fun. 
Doesn't this insect just look so cute? Does anyone know what it is? 
Yes that's right, it's a cicada and they are really really loud. They're everywhere in Japan right now and you can hear their buzzing and singing for miles around. I hated them at first but they're growing on me a little. Reminds me of crickets back home.
Well that's all I have time for today. Sounds like summer has just about ended there. Good luck to everyone who's going back to school!
I love you all!