Monday, May 27, 2013

Slurpees and Stuff

Well Hello again everyone!
Not really anything super interesting has happened but I figured I still send out a bit of a picture blast to give you all a taste of some of the fun things that have been happening recently here in Okegawa.

Bowling: We went Bowling as a Zone for P-day today. Elder Young (The Aussie) hustled us all and absolutely destroyed us! It was blast, Everyone except the sisters came.

Slurpees: I was actually convinced that these didn't exist in Japan. There is a 7/11 on every corner but never any Slurpees. We were very excited when we found this one yesterday. We came back today and bought some. Fanta: Melon Soda flavor. Yummm. (Yes the fat kid on the left is me.)

Chocolate Cobler: I made this once with my Girlfriend before coming out here. It was really delicious and simple to make, I thought I'd give it a try again. I managed to perfectly half the recipe and replicate with all Japanese Ingredients. Seriously, it's to die for. So good. 

Kids Eikaiwa: We recently started a childrens english class at the church. Every Thursday at 5:00. The kids are all awesome. They're totally crazy too. We love teaching them though. They're all really good at English. 

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Blessings of Inviting our Friends

Well the first week of the Transfer is over and Elder Gallacher and I are just as tired as we thought we would be! It was a good week! It started a little slowly and our hayfever is running us down, but we were able to see a lot of Miracles. 
This past Saturday was a really great day for us. Every Saturday morning we do a free English Conversation Class. The turnout is usually pretty good, we have between 15 and 20 people coming regularly. One of the members in the ward Sister Tomoi invited a friend, who had interest in the church, to English class and then to meet with us afterward. We we're excited for the opportunity to teach a “referral.” We've really been focusing on working the with members to teach more of their friends. Sister Tomoi's friend Ami-chan came and brought her boyfriend Tsubasa-Kun with her. They both participated at Eikaiwa and had a blast! We became friends with them really quickly and they both said they want to come again next week.That was a good indicator for us that if we taught well then we'd be able to teach them again the next week. Following Eikaiwa we all went with another member and Sister Tomoi into a classroom and were able to introduce them to the Church and teach a lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel. Ami was already really interested. She trusts Sister Tomoi and wants to know about the church. We were worried that her boyfriend wouldn't have much interest, but by the end of the lesson he was just as excited as Ami, if not more so. He actually said the words “I'm really interested.” It was amazing to watch his eyes light up as they both learned for the first time that God is their loving Heavenly Father. As we always do we invited them to be baptized when they learn for themselves that the message we share with them is true. They both readily agreed that if they feel it's true then they do want to join the church. When we gave them each a Book of Mormon they were so excited. We even suggested that they study together. Tsubasa-Kun gave the closing prayer and prayed for the first time. It was an incredible experience. Tsubasa and Ami are both really great people and they have a strong relationship with Sister Tomoi who is really outgoing and will be able to support them as they Study and Learn. We excited for them. 
After that the day continued to get better. We were treated to lunch by another member who we had a mogi lesson with. Following lunch we had time to go and proselyte but rather than do just housing or streeting we decided to try an idea I got from my cousin (Ryan Zebley). We took plastic signs and wrote on them in big letters: “Free church tours!”, “Free English Class!” and “I'm a Mormon”.( I'm proud of myself, I personally wrote everything on the signs. They look pretty good.) We then went and waved them around on the street in front of the church the way the little ceasars pizza guy's dance with their signs. 

It worked. We got everyone's attention. No Japanese person would stand and dance for hours with a sign, they just don't do that. We became a spectacle as everyone who rode or drove past pointed at the crazy white guys. So awesome. We had some great laughs and talked to a lot of great people. No one came for a tour but we answered a lot of other questions and a lot more people now know that the building is a church building. (Seriously it's like one of the biggest/prettiest buildings in Okegawa and no one has noticed it.) We're hoping to do it a few more times in different places this week so people can get to know the church building, that way when we are streeting people will remember seeing it. It was honestly a blast. That night we had dinner with the bishop's family. 

We ate Takoyaki(batter fried octopus) and okonomiyaki, hiroshima style. It was so good! It's days like Saturday that really make me love being a missionary.
That's all the time I have for this week. But I love you all!  I challenge you all to think of someone who could use the gospel in their life and invite them to do something. Inviting is success in missionary work.
Have a great week everyone!
Love from Okegawa!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ramen, Goldween Week, and the Doki

Hey Friends!
I hope you are all having a wonderful week! The weather is great here in Okegawa, a breezy 60 degrees. With the Humidity it feels like 80. I'm going to hate it here in the summer that's for sure.

Last P-day Elder Gallacher and I spent the day in Yokohama. Yokohama is a fantastic place. It's sleek and modern, it's by the ocean, it's got some of the coolest architecture I've ever seen, and everything is more spread out. It's not quite as tightly packed as Tokyo is. It actually kind of reminds of a Japanese Seattle. Our plan for the day was to go to the Cup Noodle Museum and then on to Landmark Tower and the Shinyokohama (Literally New Yokohama) Ramen Museum. When we reached the Cup Noodle Museum we were shocked to find it was closed! It isn't open on Tuesdays. That may sound weird but that's really common in Japan. Because most people here don't have a Christain Background the idea of taking breaks on Sunday hasn't really stuck so a lot of businesses take Monday or Tuesday as their day off. Sad but not defeated we moved on to Landmark Tower. Landmark Tower is a super cool building filled with shops, offices and even a hotel. It was built in 1993 and stands 296 Meters Tall. It's roughly the same height as Tokyo Tower. It also has Japan's fastest elevator and one of the fastest elevators in the world. It takes you from the 2nd floor to the 69th floor, (273 Meters) where the Observation Room is, in a blistering 750 Meters a second. The whole trip takes roughly 40 seconds. (Side note: I think I'm becoming converted to the Metric System, It just makes so much more sense!) The views at the top of Landmark Tower were fantastic despite it being cloudy. After we had seen what was there to be seen we headed down and discovered that the Pokemon Center was at the bottom! This should get some of you VERY excited. The Pokemon Center is every Pokemon lover's dream. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about then please just bear with me..) They have plush Pokemon of every kind and Pokemon cards, and video games etc. I however was thwarted in my attempt to find a plush Charmander! How could you not have a Charmander, he's the original fire Pokemon! I settled for a super awesome Pikachu. We then hopped on the Train and went to Shinyokohama. The Ramen Museum was by far the coolest place I have ever been to on my Mission. They Museum has nine different Ramen Shops each with a special Ramen advertised by the Museum. These shops are chosen from shops all over the country that have really high recommendations from customers. While in the Museum these shops maintain a rating. If a shop's rating gets below a certain point they are asked to leave the Museum and a new shop moves in. So all of the shops in the Museum have really good Ramen. (This is a little neat fact, but the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum was the first “Food Amusement Park” in the World!! Cool right??) Miso Ramen which is from Hokkaido is my personal favorite. Elder Gallacher really likes Kyushu or Tonkotsu Ramen. Tokyo Ramen is Shoyu(Soy Sauce) Ramen. We tried several of the really yummy Ramen they offered. 

That however was not the best part of the adventure to the Ramen Museum. There are certain street performers that have shows on the Museum floor. Elder Gallacher and I were front row for both show's we saw. The second show we saw was a man who does what is called “Kendama.” Kendama is a Japanese toy akin to a Yo-yo. It looks a little like a hammer with a spike on top and you You try to catch the ball in the little grooves before finally getting it on top of the spike. It's crazy hard but tons of fun. The performer (Ironically I believe his name was Ken, he has a website it's or something like that) actually has a couple of world records and was doing some crazy crazy stuff. Eventually he got to a point where he asked for volunteers just to prove how hard it is to actually do Kendama. Elder Gallacher and I being on the front row volunteered. Everyone was a little shocked when they discovered we understood his Japanese. We tried our hand at it and with a few minutes of trial and error managed to get the ball in the biggest groove a few times. It was a lot of fun. Afterward we took our picture with him and talked to him a little bit about why we were in Japan. It was the most interesting dendo (proselyting) opportunity of my mission. It was a full day of Sightseeing and Cultural experiences. I just have to say, I absolutely love Japan. It's an incredible country. 

With transfer day just less than a week away Elder Gallacher and I have really been pushing to give the area a little momentum for the coming transfer. Okegawa is an interesting place. It's a bed town. Everybody lives here but no one is ever home. A lot of people commute from here to Tokyo daily because we're only an hour away by train. As a result our timing has to be perfect. The people who are really ready to accept the gospel are busy, they have jobs just like everybody else. We're always working on more effective dendo strategies.

This week was Golden Week! Golden Week is akin to Spring Break back home except that everyone still has school and work. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the vacation days for people at work. Golden Week is a favorite week for the Mission however because the people who are not working are out and about. Have I mentioned that there are over 40,000,000 people in my Mission? During Golden Week everyone comes out to play.
We spent a few days walking around parks and talking to families. That's probably my favorite way to proselyte now. We have this one park called Maruyama Koen. The park is absolutely massive with lots of different things to see and do. We had a fun time helping two guys, about our age, fish for crawdads (zarigani). That was a blast, I never thought I'd be able to share the Gospel in a different language while trying to catch crawdads. There has been more than one occasion I've turned to Elder Gallacher and said “Only as a missionary..” it's so true! Words often don't describe the experiences of a Missionary.

Sunday I had a really neat experience with Spiritual Gifts. This past Sunday was Fast Sunday and two of the things I was fasting for were The Gift of Tongues and The Gift of Discernment(Which is mentioned in my Patriarchal Blessing.) We had a lesson with an Investigator Sunday night around 5:30. We met him and started talking about the Plan of Salvation. Initially the lesson wasn't really going anywhere and we weren't sure how to help him but as we continued we were able to discover that he has some concerns about church. We asked him what his concerns were and he flat out said he wouldn't tell us. We didn't push, as it's not so uncommon for people to not want to tell us things, but we were able to unfold the Plan of Salvation to him and testify about the truthfulness of it. As we continued his questions became deeper and more difficult to answer, at one point he mentioned something about the Church having a negative impact on his life, or him becoming a negative person by joining the church. He explained that he didn't have the Faith.
I'm not exactly sure how I got around to, but I was able to compare Testimony to a light. An example I'm pretty sure I've never thought of before and I did it all in perfect Japanese.
When I was done Elder Gallacher bore his testimony and then we sat there and waited for our investigator to respond. He thanked us for sharing with him and told us that he didn't know what to say, that he liked the feeling of our message and that he would think and pray about it. We told him to read Alma 32 so that he could learn more about Faith and then we parted ways. When we were walking back to the apartment Elder Gallacher looked at me and said, “nice analogy.” I told him I had no idea where it came from. That lesson was probably one of the most spiritual lessons I've had the opportunity to participate in on my mission. I'm proud of my Japanese knowledge and my willingness to share my testimony, but what happened during the lesson was not from my own knowledge and after Fasting and Praying it's hard to deny that it was the Holy Ghost.

Today was Temple Day for the Mission! Elder Gallacher and I got up at 5:00 so we could make it into to Tokyo in time for the session. It was a great session, Elder Gallacher and I had the opportunity to talk to President and Sister Budge in the Celestial Room which is always a treat. I really want to build a good relationship with them. Today was Sister O'Rourke's last temple day as she leaves next week! In honor of that we took a picture of the doki and then when to eat Sukiyaki in Shibuya. Sukiyaki is the best! It's all you can eat in 90 minutes our group of 16 people made a goal to eat 100 plates of meat. We managed to hammer down 96. I wanna believe that's a mission record. We were all very full. It was nice to see everybody in my Doki and because some of my other friends (like Elder Healy) are companions with the members of my Doki we were able to hang out with them too! I can't believe the Sisters in my MTC group are all done with their missions! That means the Elders only have six months! Pretty soon I'll be the only remaining member of my Doki. I guess that makes me special. I won't be too far behind everyone, my mission is absolutely flying by!

Hope you all have a great week!
Next week is Mothers Day so I may just skip the weekly blast so I can call my Family.
I love you all!