"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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Minnasan konnichiwa,

This week is transfer week again, and my companion and I have been together for two transfers already, so one of us is almost surely moving to a new area. We will likely get a transfer call within the next few days, but until then we will be praying and maybe packing a little, too. Today, though, we are going to try and make the most of our (possibly) last P-day in the area. We are going to a nearby city to see Okayama castle and a famous park/botanical garden type-place. Because of that, time is going to be pretty short today, but I just want to let you all know that I love you and that you are all the best!

This past week we had companion exchanges, and I was with Elder Abarca. I learned so much from him, from Japanese (he has an amazing vocabulary) to deep doctrine about the gospel, and just how to show love to people in everything we do as missionaries. We were able to talk to some cool people, but one of my favorites was a young guy we met unexpectedly in the streets. We talked about prayer, and asked him what he would want to know if he could talk to God about anything. He
said that he doesn't think God should tell us everything, and used a really cool example to explain why he felt that way. He said that if he asks someone for directions on how to get somewhere, there are two responses he might get. One, the person might tell him exactly how to get there, turning here and there, following such-and-such street, and just giving really specific instructions. In that case, it would be really easy to forget the instructions and end up lost again. The second response would be to give him a map and teach him how to use it. Then, even if he gets lost again, he will have the tools and knowledge to find his way again. I thought this example was way cool, because that is exactly what God does for us. He doesn't tell us exactly how we should live our lives, what job to get, or what things we should like to do, but rather He provides us with the map, that when we follow His teachings, we can find our way to happiness. I know that the "map" to happiness is contained in the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and that when we study them, we will never
have to wonder where we should go to find joy in life. 

Later in the week we were also able to go to our zone training meeting, which was also a great experience. I learned so much, but this meeting had a kind of a new twist to it. Normally these meetings are in English since there are so many American missionaries, but in our zone there are a pretty good amount of Japanese missionaries, at least compared to other zones in the mission. Because of this, the zone leaders decided to hold the meeting almost entirely in Japanese. It helped us be a little more unified, because everyone was trying harder to make their comments in Japanese, even if they didn't know exactly how to say everything. I think that it really helped the Japanese missionaries, who usually have to rely on translation, and it showed me how a little effort on our part to show love to others can make a big difference.
I can't wait to hear from you all, and also to let you know where I end up next week. Hope you have a great week, and that you are able to feel the love from those around you, and especially the love of your Father in Heaven.

Monday, July 4, 2016

7/3/2016 Elder Tanaka is feeling better

Minnasan konnichiwa,

How is everyone doing this week? Hope everyone is doing well. My companion, Elder Tanaka is finally better, so we are pretty happy about that. He was sick from Monday until Thursday, and we were stuck in the apartment for most of that time, so I don't have a whole lot of shareable experiences from this week. It was an awesome time for me to reflect and think about my life, though, so in a way it was definitely a blessing from God.
The rest of the week was pretty full considering it was only three days, though, so that was great.

On Friday we had a combined district meeting with the Tsuyama district missionaries. In all, there were about 14 missionaries there this time, and I learned a lot from everyone's ideas and comments.

On Saturdayy, we had a pretty cool experience. We had a lesson planned for Tuesday, but because Tanaka choro got sick, we had to reschedule it. We changed it to Saturday, a day we normally don't go out to the part of the city where this person lives. As we were biking over to his house, though, we ran into a guy that we had talked to on the streets a few weeks ago. He actually lives pretty far away, about five hours by car, but occasionally comes here for work. We thought we wouldn't ever see him again, but we were able to meet him again and have a short conversation. He is still really busy, and will only be here for the weekend, so we never would have seen him if we had been able to go to our lesson as usual on Tuesday. That was just one more confirmation to me that God knows us, He knows His children, and He wants to help us. If we trust Him and His knowledge, we can receive the help and guidance we need.

Sunday, was also pretty fun, since we were able to go on missionary exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Madruga again, so good to catch up with him about his experiences, and also to hear about how everyone in Izumo is doing. Elder Matsumoto went with my companion, but it was so good to see him again too. He has changed a lot since we were in the same apartment in Kouchi, and is such a good example of showing love to others. It was great to catch up with him as well, even though they were only around for the day.

This week felt pretty different from most weeks on my mission so far, but we continue to see miracles just the same. I have really been reminded lately that God loves me personally, and that He loves each of His children. It is in the small things that I am learning to recognize this love, and I promise anyone that wants to look for these small evidences that God loves you, that you will find them. And when you notice those things, I would like to invite you to express your gratitude to God through prayer. Tell Him how you are feeling, what you are struggling with, and especially what you are thankful for. It's an awesome experience. I'd also like to thank you all, family, friends, everyone, for all that you mean to me. Your examples keep me striving to be better, and to learn more. You are all the best!


Cycling activity- apparently this entire hill that we are on top of is a gigantic tomb (kind of like pyramids in Egypt).  At least I think that's what they said.  My Japanese vocabulary still doesn't include things like tombs and such, totally just going off context here.
Cycling activity part 2- a nice big pagoda.
Dinner with the Mukaitani and Okamoto families.

Friday, July 1, 2016

6/20/2016 Happy Father's Day!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

I'm going to keep it short today as a father's day gift to everyone. Happy Father's Day! Hope everyone did something special for their fathers, and hope all you fathers had a special day. Shout out to the best dad in the world (yeah, I am talking to you, dad), thanks for everything you do for me and our family.

This week went by pretty fast, and was packed with some pretty awesome experiences. On Tuesday, we were able to go on exchanges with the other two elders in our district from Fukuyama, Abarca and Olsen choro. I was with Olsen choro again, and I learned so much from him. He is such a great example to me in teaching through the Spirit, and really connecting with people through their interests and concerns. We also saw several miracles that day, some even following the same pattern. Throughout the day, as we called out to people on the streets or knocked on doors, there were three or four instances where people had met the missionaries before and had really good relationships with them. One lady confused us for the same missionaries that had talked to her the previous year, and we talked with her for almost 10 minutes before she realized that we were not the same people. We were confused at first why she was so friendly, but we just went with it. We eventually got it all sorted out, properly introduced ourselves, and had a great lesson with her. She invited us to come back sometime, and it was such a cool experience. The whole day was really just a testament to us that none of our work as missionaries is wasted. People see our actions, and remember the Spirit they felt as they talk to us. I am so grateful for the efforts of all the previous missionaries that allowed us to see some awesome miracles.

On Saturday we were able to participate in the young men's cycling activity and barbecue! No other explanation necessary, right? Just good food, and good fun. One of our investigators came with us, and loved it. We biked about 10 kilometers while stopping a few times to see some cool landmarks and take some pictures (I still don't have those pictures yet, so sorry, maybe next week). Then we went back to a park by the river and played frisbee and badminton, and had a barbecue. We left a little late, and were worried that we wouldn't make it back to the apartment before we were supposed to be back, but by a lot of help from Heavenly Father, we made it home with even a little time to spare.

Sunday was a special stake conference and satellite broadcast to all of Japan, which was so good! The highlight was definitely hearing from Elder Bednar, one of the 12 apostles. His talk was so straightforward, not leaving any doubts about what we should be doing with our lives. We should be 100% committed to God and our savior, Jesus Christ. If we are not, it is time to re-evaluate our lives. I felt that his words very much applied to me, and that I can do so much more with the things I have been given to build up the kingdom of God. One of my favorite things from this talk was what Elder Bednar said concerning faith. He said, "faith ALWAYS leads to action." If we truly have faith in Jesus Christ, then we will act upon that faith. We will use our skills and talents to help bring joy into our lives and the lives of those around us. And if we do so, we will continue to grow in light and knowledge, becoming like our Father in Heaven. I know that President Bednar is an apostle, and that he was called by God. I feel the Spirit confirm his words in my heart, and I know that they are true. I know that not all of you were able to see this broadcast, but I know that his words apply to all of us. I would like to invite you all to evaluate where you are in your lives right now. What do you value most? Where do you want to go from here? Are you becoming the person you want to be? Whatever you answer yourself, I know that if you rely on the Lord, you can take the necessary steps and make the essential changes to get where you want to be. That is God's promise to all of us. I hope you all have a great week!


6/30/2016 Rainy!

Minnasan konnichiwa,

First off, sorry I wasn't able to send an email on Monday, Tanaka choro got pretty sick late Sunday night and we didn't get out of the apartment until today. He still isn't feeling so good, so I'm going to have to be short today.

This past week has been a wet one, raining on and off almost every day. One thing that I re-learned this week is that when the Lord gives us trials or hard times (rain), He follows them with an increase of blessings and help. Wednesday was a particularly rainy day, and we had to work hard to keep our spirits up. Nearly everyone we visited wasn't home, and for obvious reasons no one wanted to stop and talk on the streets. On top of that, my companion's rain jacket is getting pretty old, so he was completely soaked pretty early in the day. He finally gave up on his old rain jacket and bought a new one, but he was already pretty wet by that time. We eventually made it through the day, but we hadn't seen much success, and hardly talked to anyone.

The next day is where we saw the increase in blessings. It was a bright, sunny day, and we were able to talk to a ton of people throughout the day. Not all of them were interested in what we had to say, but most were polite enough to have at least a small conversation with us. The last person we talked to, as well as the nicest, was an 18-year old kid named Hosome. We talked all about God and families, and he told us how he cares a lot about his own family. We were able to set up an appointment to meet again on Saturday, and talked more about God's plan for us, and what we are expected to do in this life. He is really busy most of the time, but took the time to meet with us
despite his crazy schedule. Right now he is in school and working, and is right in the middle of a bunch of tests. Because of that, he may not be able to meet very often in the future, but every once in a while we will likely meet again so that he can learn more.

Love you all so much, hope everyone has a great week!


6/12/2016 Hot and Humid

Minnasan konnichiwa,

I hope everyone is doing well, and that life is treating you alright! It's getting hotter and hotter here every day (except when it's raining), and I miss good old Idaho summers. I thought they were hot before, but this heat and humidity is something different altogether. I guess that's enough about the weather, on to the week.

Not too many new developments this week, but we did have an awesome zone training meeting. The best part was that Elder Madruga and Elder Matsumoto, our zone leaders now, gave the training. They both lived with me in kouchi when I first became a missionary, and it was so awesome to be together with them again, especially since they are now companions. Now all I need is to be companions with Elder Matsumoto and I'll be set. They taught about the new vision for this transfer, and it was all about happiness. We are all about working hard as missionaries, as we should be in such an important work, but it is also so important to find happiness and joy as well. After all, that is God's purpose for us, "men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). I know that when I am happy, I tend to work harder and better. I also know that true happiness comes when we center our lives on Christ. When we do so, our happiness changes from a temporary feeling to one that can last through any trial. It doesn't mean that we won't have hard times, but it does mean that we can find joy in all stages of our lives, through relying on the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

That is pretty much all I have to say this week, because I know that it is one of the most important things in life. There is no need to continue to be unhappy when we can rely on the Lord to help us. He can take away our pains, our heartaches, and our concerns, if we will only ask Him. He will also give us strength to face those trials that we have, and stand by us as we overcome them. I know that He loves us, and will never leave us. The choice is completely in our hands whether we will ask Him for help, or push him away. Please don't push Him away, though; I invite you all to give your hardships up to Him, His love is all-encompassing, great enough to fill each one of us. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Zone Training Meeting

6/6/2016 Staying in Kurashiki!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

This week was transfer week and.... I didn't go anywhere! I am still in Kurashiki, and so is my companion. Heavenly Father knows I need a lot of help to learn this language, so He is giving me two transfers with a Japanese companion. I am so blessed!

Since we didn't have transfers, we were able to stay in our area the whole week and just get to work. It was pretty normal week for missionary life, but of course that means we saw miracles every day. One of the simple miracles we saw this week came as we were having an activity at the church. It was getting close to 9:00, and as missionaries, we have to be back in our apartment by that time. Everyone had just started eating, and my companion and I both really wanted to stay, especially since we hadn't eaten yet (typical Elders, right?). But we decided that we needed to be obedient, wolfed down a little bit of food, and began biking furiously to get back to the apartment on time. It really isn't that far; maybe about 5 minutes at our best. This time, though, we had only left ourselves about 3 minutes. But as we continued on as fast as we could, we mad it home to the apartment just in time. It was just a small testimony builder for me that as we have righteous desires to obey God's rules, He will provide us with the strength and e way to follow them.

One of the most unexpected experiences of the week came while we were housing around trying to talk to new people, and we made it to the final house of the apartment building we were at. We rang the doorbell, got an answer, and were told to go away by a woman. We started to walk away, but before we could go far, she opened the door and called us back. Her husband decided that he wanted to talk to us, and find out what we were doing visiting people's houses like this. He invited us inside his home, and told us about his life and his beliefs. He had a lot of interest in our religion, and what makes us different from other churches. As we tried to answer his many questions, he just kept firing more questions at us. Finally, we told him about church, and he said he would like to try to come. He is normally really busy with work, but promised that if he has a day off, he will come. We weren't able to make a return appointment for the same reason, but it was such a cool experience for me to see that there are so many people out there seeking the truth. The only thing that is stopping them from embracing that truth is that "they know not where to find it."

I am so thankful for the knowledge I have that God is our Heavenly Father, and that He loves us. He wants what is best for us, and has promised that anyone who will ask Him for help or for answers in faith and through the name of His Son Jesus Christ, that thing will be given unto them. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ,


5/30/2016 Transfer week

Minnasan konnichiwa,

This week is the dreaded transfer week, but my companion and I are holding out that we will be staying together for another transfer. We won't know for sure until tomorrow, which means I won't be able to let you all know what happened until next week. But for now we will keep praying to stay in Kurashiki.

This week felt pretty normal compared to last week having Elder Stevenson come to talk with us. We were in our area the whole week, and we were able to teach a lot of lessons. A lot of them were with random people on the street while trying to find new people to talk to, and we met some pretty awesome people. One boy we talked to told us how he kind of had a rough life growing up, and that he physically fought with pretty much everyone around him. He realized that what he was doing wasn't good, and decided to change. Through a lot of work, he became a much better person, and it was visible in his countenance as he spoke with us. He also told us that as he went through this change, he began to believe more in God, or at least in the possibility that God could be real. This young boy absolutely amazed me, having basically repented without even realizing it. And now he is so much happier for it. Sadly, his mom told him he couldn't continue to meet with us, which was really disappointing for us, but his experience really reaffirmed my testimony of repentance. It is not something scary, but rather a process through which we can change our lives and once again realign ourselves with God's will. Anyone that desires to change their lives and experience this joy can do so, and can come to a greater knowledge of their loving Father in Heaven, who will provide help for us throughout this journey. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loves us, and He will not leave us alone to face our trials. Every time we turn to Him, He will be there for us.

Love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week! Don't forget to ask God for help this week!

A cool bridge in the woods.
A cool parfait in the woods (just kidding, that isn't really a parfait)
Braziliano's (with a lot of missionaries)