"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." -Alma 26:12

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!


Minnasan konnichiwa, and Happy Valentines Day!

First off, I have to share an experience from yesterday. It isn't spiritual at all, but I'm sure if you want to, you can find some deeper meaning in it. Anyways, one of the members called us before church and told us he would be bringing chocolate fondue to the church, and we were welcome to eat as much as we wanted. After church, the member put chocolate in a pot, and melted it with a hairdryer. I thought that method was a little strange, but it worked pretty well, so no complaints here. I really became surprised when he handed me a clove of garlic on a stick, and looked expectantly at the pot full of melted chocolate. My heart sank as I saw that there was no dignified way of weaseling out of this situation, and my previous thoughts of delicious chocolate-covered strawberries were dashed to pieces. I tried to cover the garlic in as much chocolate as possible and bravely (or so I imagine) popped the whole thing in my mouth. I could see the other members' sympathetic faces as I and the other missionaries finished off our tasty treat. After that, we ate only bananas and pieces of french toast-like bread, so it wasn't too bad. I am still alive today, so I know that the promise offered in D&C 84:71 is true.

That was by far the strangest part of my week, but definitely not the best. We were able to have Zone Conference, and to learn directly from our Mission President, President Welch. He gave us some truly inspired counsel, and the entire meeting was focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I feel like I have a much deeper understanding than I had before, but I also know that I have a lot more that I need to learn. After Zone Conference, we headed to Matsue to have companion exchanges with our district leader, Elder Tsuchiya. My companion was with Elder Tsuchiya for the day, and I was with Elder Vui, one of the members of our MTC district and one of my best friends, and Elder Peacock! I spent the day pretending to speak Japanese while Vui chourou led the lessons that we taught, and we had so many amazing experiences together. One of the best experiences came as Peacock chourou stopped a man on the street, and we proceeded to talk to him for almost 20 minutes. At one point of the lesson, we had to move to a new spot to get out of the way of a huge group of bikers, and instead of taking the opportunity to dart away, the man quietly waited with us for the group to pass. We were able to teach him about prayer, and how we can speak to our Heavenly Father and receive help for our trials and problems. I felt the Spirit testifying of our words, and I know that God hears and answers our prayers. He knows what is best for us, and when we have the faith to ask Him for help, He will provide it.
Finally, on Saturday, we went to Yonago for a special concert for anyone who wanted to come. Irie Kyoudai, a professional singer that is a member in Osaka, put on the concert for free. He also asked the missionaries that came to join him in one of the last songs he sang, and it was a powerful experience for me. Throughout the concert, he told stories of his conversion and how he became a member of the church. He shared such tender experiences, and I could tell that he has amazing love and trust for his Father in Heaven. I know that God loves each and every one of us, and that we are all His children. My knowledge of this grows each and every day, especially as I see the joy of people changing their lives through the power of the Atonement of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I love all of you, and I hope you can feel the love of your Heavenly Father. I promise He is there, and I say these things in the name of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love these Elders!

Mmmm, french fries

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2/8/2016 Busy and having fun!

Minnasan konnichiwa,

This past week has felt incredibly busy, and the week to come promises to be even busier. We had a zone training meeting in Okayama this past Thursday, so we had to travel there on Wednesday to be there on time. I finally got to see Vui choro, one of the Elders from my MTC district! It has been 3 transfers since I last saw him, and we had a lot to catch up about. We talked for the entire bus ride to Okayama, and the entire way back. This next week we will go to Okayama again for zone conference with President Welch and the Assistants, followed by missionary exchanges in Matsue with our awesome district leader, Tsuchiya choro. Finally, we will go to Yonago for a special mission concert. I am really excited for the awesome training we are going to receive, but I am sad that we will spend so much time outside of our beloved area of Izumo.

I'm sorry that I don't have much time to write, we went bowling today with a family in the branch, and then went to eat at a Brazilian restaurant. It was so much fun, but it took a lot of time out of our P-day. By the way, I will have to remember to send pictures next week, all the pictures were taken on the member's camera. I'll also make sure to share some of the things we learned from last week's training, and the training to come. I love you all, and hope everyone is doing great, talk to you again next week!


I found me a Vui! I love this guy so much!

Our awesome zone!

1/31/2016 No transfer staying in Izumo!

Konnichiwa minnasan,

First of all, I have to say that I didn't get transferred! I and Machado chourou, my companion, both stayed in Izumo. I am so excited for the opportunity to work with these amazing members for at least one more transfer. I have truly seen miracles as we try to work closer with the members in bringing forth this great work. We are trying to find, teach, and prepare as many people as we can for baptism and following the example of their Savior, Jesus Christ. While we have been striving to achieve our goals of preparing these people, we have seen so many great examples of faith and people desiring to serve their Father in Heaven.

One of those great examples comes from Naoki, a young man we are currently meeting with. With some investigators it is a bit of a struggle to get them to read the Book of Mormon, but in the course of about a week, he has already read over a hundred pages. Every time we meet with him, he eagerly picks up his Book of Mormon and simply asks "where?" He even has the pattern of the lessons down. Before we can even bring it up, he makes sure that we pray to begin and end every lesson. We have talked a lot about the importance of church, but he hasn't been able to come because of work. He has asked his boss for sundays off several times, but to no avail. Yesterday morning before church, we received a surprise phone call from him saying that he had called in sick at work, and that he would definitely be coming to church. I wasn't sure if I should congratulate him for lying to his boss, but I was so happy to see him in church! His desire to follow the commandments of God inspire me to do better in my life, and I hope that I can always strive to do more to show my love for my Father in Heaven.

There are so many other awesome examples I could share, but I don't have the energy or time to type them all up, gomenasai (sorry). I love you all, and I just want to let you know that I know this gospel is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and that if we follow His example, we can receive so much peace and comfort in this life. I give my simple testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


This is Ishitobi Kyoudai, he has been a member for about a year now, and loves to make food to give to the missionaries.

This is a xis tudo (cheese everything) from a restaurant owned by a Brazilian family.  They love the missionaries too, and gave my companion and I one of these beautiful burgers each for free.

1/24/2016 "If we want to see success..., we first have to imagine that success."

Minnasan konnichiwa,

This week we had a mission tour with a member of the Asia North Presidency, Elder Choi. He spoke to us on a number of different topics, but the biggest message he had for us was that we needed to elevate our mindset as missionaries. If we want to see success on our mission, we first have to imagine that success. We must set our goals with God through prayer, and then report to Him on how we are following through with that goal. He also told us that we always need to strive to be more obedient than we are now. He promised us a lot of different blessings if we can do these things, but the biggest promise was that if we can elevate our thinking and become the most obedient of missionaries, we can begin to see baptisms every week! He told us that it would definitely not be an easy thing to do, but that it is possible if we learn to completely rely on the Lord. I came out of the meeting feeling so energized, ready to change whatever it takes to achieve this promised success.

One of the things I have been working on this week is stopping everyone we meet in the streets. Elder Choi told us that it doesn't matter whether the people are on their way to some activity or if they are in the middle of a conversation. It is our duty as missionaries to open our mouths to everyone we meet, and invite them to receive this restored gospel of Jesus Christ. If I wasn't a missionary, I don't think I would ever have the courage to stop a random person in the street, but as I have done so over the past few days, we have found surprising results. The first few people we talked to were polite and took time out of their busy schedules to talk to us for a few minutes, even though they didn't have much interest in our message. I just hope they were able to be touched by the Spirit for just a short time, and that they will remember that feeling in times of trials and disappointment. The most surprising contact we made was yesterday in a flurry of snow. There was no one around as we biked to an appointment at a member's house, and then we saw a single young man walking down the road opposite from us. We decided to go talk to him, but since it was pretty cold outside, I wasn't sure how he would react or how long he would want to talk. To my surprise, he warmly greeted us, and spent the next 10 minutes talking. When we asked if he had heard about our church, he told us that he had learned a little bit about Jesus Christ in school, but that he didn't know much about our church. He agreed to meet again sometime, so we will have to see where it goes from here!
Other than that,, it"s business as usual. I gave my first talk in Sacrament meeting, and I just pray that everyone was able to understand a little bit of what I said. I was only able to talk for a little over 5 minutes. Also, transfers are happening this week, but with the new change to transfers, we will only have about one day's notice before we travel to our new area. I won't find out until tomorrow or Wednesday if I am going to a new area, but I hope that I will be able to stay here for a little while longer. The members are amazing, and we are working hard to help the branch continue to grow stronger. Love you all so much, and I hope you are all doing well, I can't believe it's been 6 months since I've seen you all!

Sleepover in Okayama

Matsue district!

We got snow in Izumo! My companion looks a little cold, though.

1/18/2016 Turning our hearts toward God.

Minnasan, konnichiwa!

I don't know if I have a lot to say this week, other than that we are still working hard to bring the people of Japan unto the kingdom of God! Our mission has been focusing a lot of trainings on changing the culture and the beliefs we have as missionaries. Right now we simply aren't fully tapping into the divine potential that lies within all of us, and we are all working to become more obedient, more open to the promptings of the spirit, and especially being able to find and teach more people in order to prepare them for baptism and making those sacred covenants with their loving Father in Heaven. As I realize how far I need to go in order to become that powerful, spiritual missionary, I am reminded how thankful I am for the chance I have to repent each day and move closer to the person that God wants me to be.

One of these things that I need to change and improve was made poignantly clear to me during a visit with a less-active member. This member has a few of his own problems and doubts he has to overcome as well, but he showed us something that expressed very clearly his love for God and Jesus Christ. He first started to explain about his job, working in a factory for 12 hours a day, with an additional part-time job on the side. Almost everyone around him complains that the work is monotonous and incredibly boring, but he doesn't think of it that way. Each month when he changes his work gloves, he writes around the base of the gloves scripture references and names of people he wants to pray for. By reciting these scriptures and praying for these people while he works, his heart is turned towards God, and his spirits are lifted. After he shared this experience, I started thinking about whether my thoughts are turned to God as often as they should be. We talked about the same subject in Priesthood meeting during church, this time from the manual "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church- Howard W. Hunter". Within the manual, President Hunter states that we must unconditionally surrender ourselves to the Savior in order to receive the peace and happiness He can give us. I know that this is true, and that when we give ourselves and our talents up to the Lord, He can make so much more out of our lives than we can on our own. 

I am so grateful for the prophets and teachers we have been given to guide us in this life, and I know that we are all so blessed to have the knowledge that God lives and loves each one of us. I know that it is also our responsibility to share this knowledge with those that haven't had the same opportunity to learn what we have learned. This truly is God's work and will, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). I love each and every one of you so much, and I hope that you will join me in taking time to thank God in prayer for the wonderful things He has given us, our families, homes, friends, and possessions. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


I went on a mission to Japan, but I think I ended up in Brazil somehow.  This is a restaurant owned by Brazilians, and this lovely thing is called a Pastel.  I highly recommend it, but it might be kind of hard to find in the U.S.
This isn't Brazilian food, but still fantastic!!

First sunrise of the year with Machado chourou- how cute!

Met a samurai.

Izumo Taisha- no one but the emperor and his family are allowed to enter, so this is as close as we could get.

And finally- a bonus picture: today's p-day trip, Matsue castle.

1/10/2016 A God of Miracles

Hello everyone,
I will try to be quick this week because we are going to a famous temple in our area today, Izumo Taisha. I'll actually be able to send some pictures next week! (unless I forget, of course). This last week we had interviews with our mission president, President Welch, and it was awesome! I learn so much from our leaders every time they speak to us. In my interview, Welch kaichou asked me what I had been learning about the way Jesus Christ taught from my study of the first four doctrines in the New Testament. I was able to summarize my simple understanding of the doctrine into a few sentences, how Jesus Christ always taught using parables in order to allow those he taught to apply the teaching to themselves and only receive the knowledge they were prepared to receive. He also frequently taught through questions, again allowing others to come up with answers for themselves rathe than teaching them something they weren't ready to receive and wouldn't apply or use. Finally, I noted how Jesus went around performing miracles for al those that believed on His name.

After I had finished my simple summary, Welch Kaichou expounded upon the things I had said, teaching me much more than I had learned on my own. It would take too long to write everything, but one thing that stuck out to me related to the final point, that Jesus performed so many miracles. The miracles were truly amazing, but it doesn't mean much to us now unless we can understand how those people qualified for those miracles. In order to teach this principle, Welch kaichou shared a story in Luke 18:35-43. Jesus came upon a blind man sitting by the road, and the first thing he did was to ask the blind man to come to him. This gave the blind man an opportunity to exercise his faith in Christ, even though he could not see him. Then, Jesus asked what the man desired. The man responded without delay, "Lord that I may receive my sight". Jesus knew that the man was blind, just as He knows all of our struggles and trials, but He first asks that we verbalize or make known the help that we need. After the blind man exercised his faith by coming unto Jesus and made known the desires of his heart, Jesus was able to heal him through his faith.

I know that God still performs miracles in this day, just as He did when Jesus lived on the earth. If we can understand how these miracles are performed, we can truly begin to call upon the powers of Heaven. I have seen this to be true time and time again, and I know that anyone that exercises faith through prayer and then acting on the promptings they receive can see these miracles in their own lives. If any of you have a challenge in your life that you want to overcome, or a question that you want answered, I challenge you to try these things and see if they are not true. Bring your concerns before God, and see how through your faith, He can begin to change your life. I love this Gospel so much, and I testify that it is true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.