Tuesday, December 16, 2014

He made it!

Nathan left December 15, 2014 to fly to Japan. He had a layover in Portland, then he flew to Tokyo and then on to Sendai. He was traveling for about 24 hours and lost almost a day, but he made it! Here he is with his mission president and the other new missionaries.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Columbus's Raven, I'm going to Japan!!

December 11: Week 8
Area: Provo MTC
Companion: Elder Hamilton

Konnichiwa everyone! How is everyone doing?! It sounds like you are all enjoying the Christmas season so far! This is a good time of year to be at the MTC. There are lights all over the court yard and it feels super magical. And we get to sing Christmas songs in Japanese which is super fun!

My week here has been pretty awesome! Nothing super special happened but we had a lot of fun. I've grown really close to my district and we are all pretty sad we have to say goodbye next week. Me and the other Chorotachi have a lot of fun. We had Christmas with our Kohai this morning! That was super fun, mostly cause we got to dump all of our crap we don't want on them, along with all of the relics that have been handed down and signed for years. So we got up at 5:30 this morning to get ready. Then we went to other hallway in the residence hall and set up the Christmas Trees and laid out the "presents" around the lounge. Then around 5:45, we started pounding on our Kohai's door to wake them up. Apparently we were doing it too loud cause a missionary in the room next to them came bursting out of his room! He flew out with his head on a swivel trying to find who was making the noise. Then when he saw us he just yelled "what the crap!" and just glared at us for like 10 seconds until he went in his room. We were all just laughing when he left! It was so hilarious, he was so mad and disoriented. It was the best. MTC "Christmas" is just fantastic.

The Tuesday devotional was really awesome. Elder and Sister Zwick spoke. But the best part is when that 12 year old girl Lexi Walker sang. She is incredible. I guess she has sung for the president, she's sung in Carnegie Hall, and she was in that Frozen video with Alex Boye. While she was singing, me and Calhoun were talking. We were like "man, she's twelve and doing all of these things, what have I done with my life!!" I for sure wasn't doing that when I was twelve. I probably was just watching Spongebob and being worthless. Hahaha oh well, at least I have a purpose now! I love how the MTC is starting to bring in musical devotionals. I think music is one of the best ways to bring the spirit and to learn of Christ and his example.The devotional was really good. Sister Zwick shared a video that her 4 year old granddaughter made on her iphone. The little girl told us how much she loves missionaries and that if we come closer to Christ, he will come closer to us. It was super cute.

Last night was super cool as well. We had our last skype TRC last night. We talked to a nihonjin member who actually lives in California. He was way fun to talk to. Hamilton Choro is way into computer programming and software and that is what he did for a living. I asked him if he preferred apple or android. It was a fun conversation. But anyway, we talked about how the Book of Mormon can help our lives and we all shared our favorite scriptures. He was telling us stories and giving us advice that he learned while he served a mission in Kobe. It was pretty cool and I could mostly say everything I wanted to say without notes. At the end, he told us our Japanese was pretty good. Hopefully he's being serious! But it won't really matter for a little bit. We got emails from our Senpai in Japan and they said they basically don't understand anything but that they are having a great time.

So I got my flight plans last week. We are leaving the MTC on Monday at 3:30. I don't know if we are driving to the airport or taking frontrunner. We are flying Delta and our flight leaves at 8:30. We fly to Portland first arriving at 9:39. We have maybe an hour until our flight to Tokyo leaves at 10:51. So I kinda doubt I'll be able to call in Portland which is kinda a bummer. Then we fly to Tokyo and we get there at 2:55 Pm on Tuesday which is super weird. We lose an entire day! Then the Sendai missionaries have a four hour layover in the Tokyo airport until our flight to Sendai leaves at 6:55 PM. Sounds like a really long day! We are way excited though, even though our flight to Narita airport is like 12 hours! I'm sure Matthew, Dad and Todd knows how I feel right now. Japan seems like such a different place and I know I'm gonna have no idea whats going on for a few months probably. I'm super nervous but pretty excited to get started.  

Well that's about all of the exciting things that I can remember that happened this week! We had some good lessons with our "investigators" and I'm learning how to be a good missionary!

Thanks for all of the Sports updates. It's nice to hear about the real world. That's so crazy Utah is ranked that high. It is kinda cool to think that I was able to play on that court at such a level during the tournament last year. Those were good times, I kinda miss it. Speaking of basketball, I hit the coolest deep three in this tall guys face the other day, you would have been proud! You are right though, I am kinda freaking out. I'm pretty scared to have my first door approach or my first street contact and having no idea what I'm doing. I just need to learn to embrace it and enjoy the ride. Thanks for your encouraging words though. I feel so uplifted when I hear from you guys. And when I read the card from the ward, I felt really good. It's cool to know that we are in everyone's prayers because we need all of the help we can get! 

I can't believe my time here is up! I'm pretty excited! Mike emailed me again this week and told me how excited he is for me to finally go over to Japan. That is so awesome that he is constantly taking the time to talk to me each week. He's a pretty cool guy. I will be so happy if he's my trainer! I'm so excited to talk to you guys on Monday! Hopefully everything works out! I've missed hearing everyone's voices! Then in a week and a half later, we will be skyping! That will be so awesome. 
Thanks for all of the love and support you and the family have sent my way these past nine weeks. It really helped me get through the MTC. I have loved being so close to home and feeling your presence so close. I'm sure gonna miss you being close and the Utah mountains. But I'm excited for this adventure to start for real. I can't believe a week from now, I'll be doing real missionary work. I felt extreme love and concern for our fake investigators as I've been here, I can't even imagine what it is like during the real thing. I'm nervous and anxious but I know ill be okay! I love you so much! I will talk to you in 4 days! 

Well that's about it! I'm off to Japan! The MTC is a good place where the spirit is everywhere but I'm ready. I have learned so much here and I'm sad to leave the people I have come in contact with but I have to get started sometime! Talk to you soon!

Love Elder Nathan Didericksen 
ヂダリクセン 長老

The Elders (including the new Kohai) with Brother Shulthess. He's a counselor and he's is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He really has helped throughout the MTC.

Our district

Starting to freak out!! One more week!

December 3, 2014: Week 7
Area: Provo MTC
Companion: Elder Hamilton

Hey my beloved family!!! How are you all doing!? It was so fun to hear from all of you this week. It sounds like you guys had a fun Thanksgiving! I'm sure it wasn't as fun as usual though cause lets be real, I'm the life of the party! Those pictures you sent me are so awesome! That is totally Matthew to be hiking in deep snow in shorts and chacos! I sure wish I could have been there to witness the weird looks he got from people! Today has been pretty good. We went to the temple first thing this morning again and then went to the temple cafeteria. Seriously, being at the MTC for so long, that place is definitely of the Gods. I know its a temple so it kinda is, but the food is such a nice change than from normal sack breakfast we get every morning. Then we did laundry and wrote letters. I finally was able to write letters to people this morning! So there should be a letter getting there in the next couple days! 

This week has been pretty good. The MTC is full of ups and downs. For example, yesterday we were teaching about repentance and the atonement. It went pretty well. In these lessons, I have been getting a lot better with teaching them with little to no notes. I write down the ideas I want to convey in English, and then I just translate them as the lesson goes on. It is pretty fun sometimes. But then last night I was humbled pretty hard core. We had another skype TRC and we taught a member lady who lives in Nagoya Japan. She wasn't super talkative so we had to do most of the teaching. It's much harder to come up with sentences on my own when I am talking to a real Nihonjin (Japanese person) in the heat of the moment. And they are kinda hard to understand too, adding on to the fact that we are talking through the computer. It still went well for the most part but it for sure is a humbling experience. That's why we are kinda freaking out a little bit cause we are gonna be experiencing baptism by fire in a little over a week! I'm really excited though just to see what the country looks like and to meet my mission president. Japanese is tough and its gonna take a while to get but it will come eventually. I just pray everyday to have the spirit and have the gift of tongues. I know you all are praying for that as well. 

Another awesome thing that happened was the devotional on Sunday. It was a pretty cool surprise. The MTC had Vocal Point come do the devotional. It was so cool!! They pretty much just sang and bore their testimonies for the whole time. Their first song wasn't even a church song. They did their famous 12 days of Christmas rendition. At the end, they sang part of it to the tune of Africa by Toto. IT was so awesome to hear sort of real music again. I miss it so much. When they did they chorus of Africa with all of the harmonies together, it was near to Angelic. Probably cause we have been so music deprived... Then they sang really awesome hymns like Nearer my God to Thee and other ones. It was a way fun devotional. I sure wish I was blessed with pipes like those. And there was a guy who looked just like Zac Efron so that would have been a cool blessing to have as well. Oh well. 

The rest of Thanksgiving was really good. We had an hour and a half long service project where we packed little meals for the hungry. It was pretty much a big assembly line. It was pretty fun. Then we were able to watch Meet the Mormons! I loved it! It was really good, partly cause it was the first kinda real movie I've seen in two months. Have you all seen it yet? I'm not going to lie to you though, one of the people they highlighted was a Mormon mom that lived in Draper who was sending a missionary off and that stuff kinda hits home for me. I really miss you guys but I know that I'm supposed be out here. The football part of the movie wasn't too shabby either! I miss sports.....like a lot!

Also, we got our new Kohai yesterday. I haven't been able to talk to them too much but I will be able to this week. Next Thursday is Christmas for them and we will be able to dump all of the Senpai's crap on them! That day will be glorious!

Well that's about all of the exciting things that has happened this week. I'm really excited to get out there and start doing the real thing and to start meeting the people and learning the culture. It's kinda weird being the veteran on campus here. It feels like I was just a newbie sometimes. BUt I'm out of here in a week! Its crazy! I love you guys and miss you! The church is true!!


Elder Nathan Didericksen

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving.....and Merry Christmas!

November 27, 2014: Week 6
Area: Provo MTC
Companion: Elder Hamilton

Hello family and friends. It was sooo good to hear from all of you this week. Thanks for all of the letters and packages. We have so much food in our room now and its amazing! I was so excited when you sent the cheese and crackers. Now every night, me and Nielsen Choro have our nightly cheese time where we eat cheese and crackers and talk about life. Its a great time. 

The end of last p-day was pretty cool. I was feeling pretty homesick, burned out, and inadequate. I prayed and asked God that I could get out of this funk and that I could feel better. Then probably no later than five minutes, one of our Senpai Racker Choro came in and just started talking to me. He didn't even know I was feeling the way I was. He told me that when he was in his fifth week here, he felt the exact same way I was feeling. He told me that we are not here to be perfect at the language or give amazing lessons to our "investigators". He just told me to be patient with myself and just not to worry so much about things. It made me feel a lot better. It was kinda crazy that right as I prayed, he came in and talked to me about it. God really does answer prayers.  

Anyway, probably the most eventful things that happened this week happened today and yesterday. I'll start with yesterday. So I finally have the first vision in Japanese memorized! It was pretty hard and I still need to look sometimes but for the most part I have it. I even wrote it all out in Hiragana from memory, it was pretty cool. I would of taken a picture but I didn't have my camera with me. That night, we had our first Skype TRC where we skype with Japanese members who live in Japan. It was a little scary but it went pretty well for the most part. I did say a few dumb things though. When she asked me how old I was, I got the numbers mixed up and I told her I was 80 years old! She said something like, wow you sure look great for an eighty year old. It was pretty funny. We didn't have a whole lot of time to teach cause we just got to know her the whole time and asked about her family. She lives in Kobe and she has a son who is going on a mission next year. She said there is a kid in her ward who is coming the MTC on Monday and then he is going to Sendai so we are probably flying out with him in a couple weeks. It was pretty fun. 

So last night when we were going to bed, the Senpai kept telling us that tomorrow was Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. We kept asking them what they meant but they just said that we will see. So this morning we hear a bunch of pounding on our door at around 5:45. We got up and opened it and all of our Senpai who leave on Monday were there and shouted Merry Christmas!! Then they led us to the other side of the building and we found a bunch of wrapped presents and stuff all around the lounge of the building. They had even set up a little Christmas tree in the middle (I have no idea where they got it from). Then when we were trying to find our presents, one of our Senpai named Fletcher Choro came out in a Santa hat, a pillow stuffed up his shirt, and shaving cream all over his face. It was hilarious. So now I'll explain how this all came about. So this Japanese zone I'm in has been doing this for a long time. Basically, all of this random crap has been passed down from generation to generation. And whoever owns it has to sign it when they leave, and then pass it down  the Kohai of their choice (the younger set of missionaries). There is so much random crap and none of it makes sense but it so hilarious. So each of the guys in my room got a bunch of stuff thats been handed down for a long time. SO in two weeks, we get to host our own Christmas for our new missionaries in our zone! So this is what I got: a random cane in which I have no idea where it came from, some sunglasses, a shirt that says "you can't handle my swag", a big land of the rising sun Japanese flag (That usually goes to whoever had lived in Japan before the mission. But since no one in my district did, Boetcher Choro gave it to me cause we are good friends and I'm the district leader), and finally a blow up Pirate sword. Then all of us got a bunch of boxes of candy and random crap that we have no idea how old it is such as a half eaten jar of peanut butter and a box of cereal. I'll send you some pictures of it, it was hilarious. I think we are the only zone in the MTC who does stuff like that! They are so awesome. 

So the devotional today was way good. It was Elder Bednar and he was way good. Come Thou Fount was way cool. It was Mack Wilberg's version and it was amazing. I thought we did pretty well. When Elder Bednar got up, he said that they were going to hand out a bunch of cell phones. Then they gave us the number to his ipad that he had with him. So we were supposed to text questions we had for him and he would read them off his ipad and then answer them. Also, the missionaries watching from the other MTCs could email him their questions as well. So we basically just had one big Q&A session with Elder Bednar. It was pretty awesome and the spirit was there pretty strongly. He is such a sharp and intelligent guy. It amazed me how he could take any question and answer it right away while using scriptures and doctrine. It was amazing.

Mom and Dad!
Hey guys, thanks for all the continuing support and love you send me! Dad, I wish I could be there to try all of your food. The thanksgiving lunch here was good, but no where near to the stuff we have at home. It's okay though, I will be fine. Today has been pretty good actually! Thanks for being such great parents. I love you guys! And dad, I will keep shooting those threes! Love you. 

Well that's about it. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!! I wish I could be there but I know I'm supposed to be here. It is crazy to me that I'll be in Japan in a little more than two weeks! Have a good week! Talk to you soon!


Elder Nathan Didericksen

It's a Small World

November 20, 2014: Week 5
Area: Provo MTC
Companion: Elder Hamilton

Hello family! It was sooo good to hear from all of you! This week has been pretty good for the most part. First off, I want to tell you about a funny story that happened this week. On Friday night, I had the biggest epiphany I have ever received ever. So it all started with talking with our Sensei Watanabe Shimai. She told us a while ago that her little brother Will Watanabe played football for Timpview and she would always tell us about is games. For the first month, I never thought anything of it until Friday night, it hit me like a car (haha see what I did there)! I suddenly remembered that the Sheffields were related to a Watanabe family from Provo. And last summer while I was in Oakley with Mark, his cousin Will Watanabe ,was up there with his dad and we hung out with them. I put it all together and I figured out that my Japanese teacher in the MTC is related to the Sheffields!! I met her brother and her dad over a year ago in Oakley, Idaho. My mind was completely blown! The next morning, I asked her about it and she said she had a Clark and Polly Sheffield as her aunt and uncle. It was crazy. I know its not actually that cool but you have to find small things to get excited about in the MTC. 

This week hasn't really been much different than the other weeks. Just a whole lot of studying. Some days are really good where I feel I am learning the language and doing good, but there are other days that I feel like I don't. I just continue to pray and work hard in order to learn the Japanese language. I just hope I know enough by the time I fly out in a little less than four weeks. ITs crazy its kinda creeping up on me. I'm just excited to get to the real world! Also, it was way cool seeing bro and sister Hancock. I wanted to just stand next to them as they texted back and forth with Mom. Its really nice seeing familar faces around here. 

There is some exciting times coming up here at the MTC with it being Thanksgiving. Word on the street is that Elder Bednar is coming to speak but we don't know for sure. But one of the coolest parts is the song we are singing for it. Bro. Eiget, the choir director, told us last week that: "we have never sung this song at the MTC cause it is way hard and you need a lot of time to prepare but we are gonna do it anyways, we are gonna sing Come Thou Fount!" I'm pretty excited cause that is my favorite song. We will see how it turns out! 

Another funny thing that happened was that on Sunday, one of our Branch Presidency members was interviewing me last week. He looked at me and said: "Elder, its time we called a new district leader.....wait just kidding that's next week. Forget I said anything". So I'm starting to get the feeling that I'll be the new district leader on Sunday. Me and hamilton Choro's other calling is that we just called to be the Sacrament coordinator people. SO we just prepare the sacrament I guess. Also on Sunday, I taught District meeting and it was about enduring to the end. I actually used Jeffrey R. Holland's talk Cast not Therefore your Confidence a whole lot in the lesson. It went really well I think. The spirit was strong. Our lessons are going well with our investigators. On Monday night in TRC, we taught a Japanese lady named Emmy for probably the third time now. She said our lesson was really good and that our Japanese is improving a lot! So that was a big confidence booster. What me and Hamilton Choro are trying to work on is getting to know what the needs of the investigator are. It's hard to do that in Japanese cause you might not know how to say much or how to respond but we are gonna have a little get to know you session with our "kyudosha" tonight. 

We got to host again yesterday. Again, they assigned way too many hosts. They were extra prepared cause around 700 missionaries entered yesterday cause of Thanksgiving next week. I only got to host one again. It was way fun though cause they had free hot chocolate and I just stood out there drinking free hot chocolate talking to the guys in our zone. It was a party. The guy I hosted is from Orem and he's going to Chicago. So again, my person I hosted will leave long before I do. Oh well. Well that's probably the most exciting things to happen to me this week. One exciting thing I've been meaning to tell you is that they have Blueberry muffin top cereal here. It is absolutely glorious. I remember I would have those all the time when I was younger but they suddenly disappeared from stores. But now they have returned! It's like the Prodigal Son. It was very sad and depressing when the muffin tops decided to leave my house, but when they finally returned....oh how joyous the occasion!! Muffin tops time is happy time for sure!

Thanks for all of your letters and treats! We love them! Lets see, in answering your questions: 1. No, I haven't dared to partake of the forbidden fruit, I don't want to know what its like. 2. I think the cream soda tree is real. We asked one of our teachers about it and he says he doesn't really smell like cream soda so I don't know. I don't even know where it is. 3. The foods good but you get really sick of the routine of the food here real fast. That's why we love going to the temple cafeteria for a change. I have been thinking about that lately too. I miss singing and jamming with you, especially that Mariah Carey song where she is basically yelling at me that its Christmas. Seriously Mariah, we know Christmas is here and that I probably care about it. You can just chill out. I told mom this this morning, but yeah that probably was me on Sunday. I was wearing a blue tie and a grey suit and I was doing a temple walk around the time you said you drove past. That is so cool!! I wish I could've seen you guys!! Well I love you a ton. GOod luck with school and preparing for the mission. DOn't go crazy while shopping like I did. Love you so much! Have a good week! Talk to you soon!

Ahhh!, I want to go biking sooo bad! I want to go do stuff so bad in the outside world! You probably know how it is in the MTC. It's good and fun, but it doesn't compare to being in the real world. I'm just excited to get to the field and you probably were too when you were in my position. You are right though, it is pretty neat to learn a new language. It's hard and frustrating at times but I learned that our motivation needs to be out of this world cause we need to study hard so that we can communicate with the Japanese so they can hear the gospel. Its kinda cool to think about in a few weeks ill be talking to the Japanese people and teaching them. Its pretty exciting.  Love you! Talk to you soon!

Sounds like life is busy at the Fugals like usual. And Daxton is turning one in a couple weeks!!? That is so crazy. Is he almost walking? Does he still scream and squeal constantly? I hope so cause that was way cute. Tell Avery I love her and miss her. She looks great in her Captain America costume!! Also, give Daxton a big hug and kiss for me! Have a great week! Love you guys!

Thanks for your letter and all of the sports updates. My zone craves for news of the outside world and I'm their guy thanks to you! But it sounds like the Jazz are fun to watch this year! Maybe I should send home a tape recording of me speaking Japanese. I still don't really know much and all I really know is gospel related things though. Maybe I'll send one when I'm a little more fluent! I will get to speak to you guys in just a few short weeks though!! Things are gonna pick up here at the MTC in the next few weeks. I think we start Skype TRCs on Wednesday where we skype with native Japanese members in Japan. I am terrified for that cause they speak so fast and are hard to understand. It will be fun though. I think my best advice for your Sunday School class is to get a habit of prayer and scripture study while they are young. I didn't really do a great job of that before the mission and I regret it. Scripture study here has been way cool for me just because I am seeing things that I never saw before the mission and how it actually applies to me in our day. Also with prayer, to just learn to say real meaningful prayers each day and growing that relationship with Heavenly Father. Another thing is love and charity. Before my mission, I had never prayed for more love and charity. I never thought it was important. But being in the mission field, love and charity is missionary work. Love and charity is actually the converting power for the investigator. That was very surprising when I learned that in preach my gospel. I think just encourage your students to pray for love, and to learn to see everyone how God and Jesus see everyone. I have been praying for that a lot and I have received some of that love and charity. It is pretty amazing. I think those are some of the most important things to learn I think. I hope that makes sense. Good luck with your lesson Dad. I love you!! You are my hero and always have been. Have a great week and I will talk to you soon!

Thanks for all of the love and support and prayers you have sent my way. It really helps me get through the tough times of the MTC. We really do have an awesome family. Mike wrote me again today and he told me to gear up for the best two years of your life. He told me how much the gospel has changed his life and the people he has taught. I'm excited to be able to do the same thing. Don't worry about me, I'm doing great. I'm not getting fat either, I think I've lost weight even. Boetcher Choro, the one from Orem, got me to go running around the temple at six yesterday with a couple of other Elders. I think we are gonna do that every day cause its way nice to get out of the walls as much as possible. And the temple looks way cool when its lit up. Love you!

Elder Nathan Didericksen