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!