Monday, April 29, 2013

Elections, Archery, and Teaching like a Pro

First off, sorry for the lack of an E-mail last week. Some P-days it's simply too hard to squeeze in. I'm starting to write a little of this e-mail every day after I finish my Journal Writing so I have a little more time on P-days. Next week will be a Temple P-day however so that will also be Tuesday and I won't have tons of time to write.

A lot of fun things have happened in Okegawa these past two weeks.
Two weeks ago was campaign week for all of the candidates running for Mayor or City Council, this happened all over Saitama but we were very much aware of it Okegawa. In the states when it's election time, we usually see a bunch of T.V. ads, maybe a few speeches or some posters, maybe a facebook or twitter page etc.? Well here that is not the case. Imagine vans with megaphones on them announcing their respective candidate in the most crazy formal Japanese you can imagine (It literally get's longer as it gets more polite and with every added formality the message becomes less direct. Pretty much it's just noise that takes up space and has no meaning.) from the megaphone and driving all around the city to perform different rallies. When you have about three or four candidates all doing this it gets super loud! One of the candidate’s election headquarters was about a block from our apartment. He had a really cool slogan that read:
若い市長で元気な桶川。(Wakai shichou de genki na Okegawa.) which means “Through a young mayor we will have a vigorous Okegawa.” We decided one day that he should win the election (not that it really affects us in anyway) because his little slogan was super super catchy and really handy during dendo. We actually met him as he rode past in his bicycle-cade(bicycle motorcade). Anyway long story short... HE WON!!!! yeah that was pretty exciting.

The next fun thing that happened was 3 days with President and Sister Budge here in Saitama Zone. Once for a Zone Conference, and twice for Stake Conference. The best of these three days was the multi-zone conference we had with Matsudo, Kiryu and Saitama. They both gave some great trainings and then we had some fun in workshops with all of the Zone Leaders on specific teaching skills. We did one were we had to teach the Resoration of the Gospel to an Investigator in 5minutes in Japanese. I'm proud to say we can do it in 5.36. You may ask “Why would you try to cram an entire lesson into 5 short minutes?” In Tokyo most people are busy, or at least say they are, but if they stop and listen you can keep their attention for at least 5minutes. The purpose of the 5 minute role play lesson is not however to be able to teach it all at once, but to be able to convey it all simply. In Japan most people only have a basic knowledge of Christianity. We have to teach them the most basic of basic principles of the Gospel, in Japanese I might add. So by doing the 5 minute mogi(role play) we really see what things we can leave out of our teaching in order to teach more simply. It was a lot of fun! We've since done this for every lesson in the Preach My Gospel during our companionship study with Pikachu, Spiderman, Batman, and Bambi and Thumper. They're all progressing nicely.

This past Saturday we had a Music Night activity in Koshigaya, a few areas over. Naturally, Elder Gallacher was asked to sing. I don't know if I mentioned this before but he used to work at the Hale Center Theater in Mesa Arizona both as a performer and backstage. He has quite the voice. He performed two awesome songs. “With all the Power of Heart and Tongue” and Michael Buble's “I Just Haven't Met You Yet.” Both songs sounded great! We listened to a lot of awesome performances and The missionaries did the hokey pokey! I can do the hokey pokey like a pro! Afterward we ate real Costco Hotdogs. That was pretty awesome. Koshigaya actually has a Costco in there area. The members spoil them that's for sure. We were super happy missionaries that evening.

I know you probably think the only thing we do is play. Don't worry we're working hard still. It actually just so happens that when we're working cool things happen, like discovering a Kyuudou (Japanese Archery) Meet in the middle of the park you are proselyting in. We stuck around and watched for a little while and got to start a few good conversations with the people around us. It's great. They all just wonder why these two Americans are standing around watching Kyuudou and speaking Japanese to each other and then end up asking us what we're doing here. Perfect segue (I think that's how you spell it) into a gospel discussion. I wish it was always that easy! A teaching missionary is a happy missionary. 

Today Elder Gallacher and I are going to Yokohama to explore the world of Ramen. There are two really famous Ramen Museums there as well as Landmark Tower. Way excited! Yokohama is a blast!

Hope you all have a great week!
Love you all!

Monday, April 15, 2013

金人の金曜日(Kinjin no Kinyoubi)

This was a crazy fast week here in Okegawa but it was full of Miracles!

We decided to call last Friday "Kinjin Kinyoubi" because the first person we talked to that day became and Investigator! and He's Golden! That's what Kinjin(Keen-Jeen) means literally golden person. I may have explained that before but hey I feel like it's my place to teach you all a little Japanese. We were headed to the Sato family's house to drop off a thank you card and saw a guy walking down the street. We called out and he stopped for us and we started talking. Turns out that he's Brazilian and he's been living in Japan for a while. The language barrier is no problem because he's fluent in Japanese, but I've started brushing up on my Spanish now too. Looks like my new goal is to be tri-lingual when I come home. (Senior Smith would be proud). Anyway, His name is Marcos and he's a really great guy, turns out that he's been looking for a church to come to because he doesn't like his Catholic church and his friend in Brazil actually gave him a Book of Mormon but he left it there when he moved to Japan so he asked us for another copy. After we made plans to get him a Portuguese copy we also mentioned our English class and he got even more excited. He wants to learn English! We'll definitely be seeing him this week. Brother Maeno our Brazillian brother in the ward is excited to meet him too. That'll be a blast! Lessons will probably be in Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese and maybe even a little English. That's not an experience you see every day!

Time for one more miracle. We're walking down the street after an appointment fell through and a little boy about 6 years old calls out to us.. "Hello!" he says. That's pretty common here in Japan when 2 americans are walking down the street, so we said hello and kept walking. Then... "What's your name?" the boy called after us. We froze. That's not so common and he said it with perfect pronounciation. We quickly back tracked and sparked a conversation. Then the Boy's Mom and sibling came up and we told her that her sons english was amazing and that we taught free english class. She was surprised but gracially took a flyer as we High fived the 3 kids and left. 2 hours later we got an E-mail from that mom and the 4 of them came to English class Saturday Morning!
It was so cool! 

These past few days have been great we did some dendo, watched conference, ate some really really good food that the members made for us and today Elder Gallacher and I hit up the batting cages a few blocks from out apartment. Since you all probably think all we do is play, here is a picture from Friday that proves we are working! Isn't it cool?

We took it from a street corner mirror while we were doing some housing. The next picture is one of the many reasons I love Japanese people and their English abilities, for those of you who think that making fun of asians who can't say their Ls is racist you should see this.

Can you see what's wrong? :) I love Japan, it's the best.

Before I go here is neat fact: Okegawa is home a Coke Bottling Factory. That's pretty cool right?

I love you all have a great week!!!

P.S. Yesterday (Sunday) I had the privilege of experiencing 2 Earthquakes. One a 4.3 hit during General Conference and a second 3.6ish hit while we were brushing our teeth. It was CRAZY!!! Earthquakes are seriously the weirdest thing.


This is all my Cherry Blossom Pictures. The thing with Cherry Blossoms is they come for one week and then their gone! But I hope you enjoy these. I'll be sure to get some apartment pictures this week and send them to you next P-day. We haven't cleaned out apartment yet today and it's just a little bit of a mess. 

The work goes forward in Okegawa but we're struggling teaching Investigators consistently. They always have excuses for not meeting with us. That leaves the time to Dendo and we go streeting for hours. It's generally pretty fun. Elder Gallacher and I are pretty fearless with talking to people  and we've seen some great miracles. On Saturday between afternoon and priesthood sessions Elder Gallacher and I decided we'd do some streeting without our heavy backpacks and we only had about 40 minutes before Priesthood started so we grabbed a Book of Mormon and set a goal to give it to someone before we ran out of time. We ended up giving it to the 2nd person we talked to. People here do want to listen, the trick is getting them to commit to meet with you. We'll keep working hard though and hopefully continue to see some great miracles.

I actually don't really know what I like more. I think as a missionary I like the country or suburb areas more because the people are just as a rule friendlier. if you say konnichiwa, you almost always get one back. In Tokyo that doesn't happen hardly at all, the people are colder. But in Tokyo there are millions of things to see and do and it's fun sometimes to feel part of the daily rush. It's just a really busy city and I love the feel of the city because my whole life I've lived in rural suburb areas. It's just something new. It doesn't matter where I am though, every day I leave the apartment there is some crazy new thing to see or to learn. it's awesome. I love Japan.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eternal Investigators and Bruce Lee

Hello Everyone!

It's a bright and Sunny day here in Okegawa!

Elder Gallacher and I are rocking are newly purchased workmans pants and tabi.  I've wanted a pair of these since I first came to Japan last year! There so great and so comfortable! I wish I'd had a pair of these when I was working my old tending job, this is what every construction worker wears. Are they not awesome?  They look like Ninja pants and Shoes. So we took a Ninja Missionary picture.

This is totally what missionaries in Japan should wear. It's been a wonderful week for us here. Elder Gallacher and I hit it off nicely. In fact he's more of a friend than a companion. It's awesome! I've sure been blessed to have good companions so far. We teach really well together which may be what gives us our success here in Okegawa. We have a few "Eternal Investigators." Wakutsu-san is probably our best investigator, but honestly investigator isn't the right word, he's simply just not a member. He met the missionaries here 15 years ago and has taken every lesson and learned every commandment multiple times. He reads the Bible and/or the Book of Mormon daily, he's prayed and he says he know's the church is true, he's met many members including our Stake President, President John Dorff, and he lives the Word of Wisdom and everything else. He's even said he wants to be baptized, his daughter is even a member. The only thing he won't do is come to church on Sunday because Sunday is his busiest day at the hair salon that He owns. In 15 years he's been to church twice. He's a great guy. really smart, he just doesn't know where his priorities are, it's the weirdest thing. We are going to keep working with him. We actually are going to visit him tonight so Elder Gallagher can get a haircut and so we can follow up with him. We'll see what happens! I'm trying to have faith.

We've been working with so may part member families that we haven't been able to do any serious proselyting to build a teaching pool. Today we're going to try to find some people. Our zone is focusing on inviting people to church. We're trying to bring 2 new people to church per week. so that it widens what we call the Funnel. If we have 26 investigators, then 6 come to church, of those 6, 4 will set baptismal dates and of those 4, 1 will be baptized, and that's if we get 6 people to come to church! the funnel tends to be a lot smaller statistically, but if we find by inviting people to church that funnel automatically widens so by the end of this transfer we want to have 10 people consecutively coming to church. It'll be interesting to see what happens but Saitama Zone is the smallest in the mission and we've already had the highest number of people coming to church on Sundays. It's time to find more sheep. Bruce Lee said

                             "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the
                              man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

This quote has to do with focus, as we focus on our goals we WILL see miracles. Stay focused everyone!

As this conference, from what I've seen so far, has to do with missionary work there is a sweet book that I want to recommend. I haven't read it yet because I can't manage to find a copy in English but I'm going to get it because of a training we had recently. It's called "Every Day Missionaries" by Clayton Christensen. It's amazing and it applies to my mission as much as it applies to you all! :) Get it! Read it! That's my commitment to you! (you knew it was coming, I'm a missionary.)

Have a great week everyone!
ハワード 長老

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Transfer Part 1

Hey Mom! I'm transferring today so I don't know if I'll get another time to write. If I can I'll fill you in on stuff tomorrow, if not you'll know more next week.  I'm leaving Senzokuike and going to an area called Okegawa. It's in Saitama-Ken good news is that's North Mission Territory,  bad news,  I was only in Senzokuike for 8 weeks!!   AAH!  Packing is the worst thing ever!!! I'd go so far as to say it literally is the Bane of My Existence. But I know that I can see Miracles in Okegawa. I just need to keep a good attitude. My new comp is Elder Gallagher. He's almost done with his mission but I've talked to him once or twice and he's pretty cool. We'll see what happens!
Give the Family my Love!

Transfer Part 2

Well I've moved. I'm settled in here in Okegawa. Yesterday was a long day but I survived. The weirdest part was traveling by myself for an hour or so to get to my new area. It feels a lot like Takasaki over here except that it's all flat. From what I've seen so far it's a good area. I can not believe the apartment!! It's Soooo COOOL!! It's one of the newer modern apartments. It's all super sleek inside and it's way comfortable for the 2 of us. It's got solar panels on the roof and the city actually pays the church because our house generates so much electricity. There's all kinds of gizmos to see how you're using the energy you're producing etc.  Also I said I knew my companion and I was right! Elder Gallagher and I met before I left last time. He's way cool and his Japanese is way good. It's going to be a fun transfer. The ward apparently is full of Dendo Fire so I think we'll really see some Miracles this transfer. He's almost done with his mission. He's 2 groups above my MTC group so he goes home in August. He's "dying" soon so it'll be interesting to see what happens.  There is a good chance we will stay together for a couple transfers. My predictions have been wrong before though ( I did not think that I would get transfered ).

Random Side Note. That Bike is Heavy!!
I carried it from train station to train station! 

I made it though and I'm enjoying a good P-day with Elder Gallagher.

You wanted to see my Senzokuike apartment so I took some pictures Saturday night. I'll get some for Okegawa soon.

Have a Great Week!! I Love You!

 Senzokuike Apartment