Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree!

April 27, 2015: Week 27
Area: Hirosaki

Companions:  Canepari Choro and Larsen Choro

Hello everyone!! How are all of you guys doing? It sounds like you all had a great week. That Japanese festival looked pretty fun, but wasn't too authentic from what I could tell! Looked fun though!

My week was pretty awesome. The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom festival was in full force this week and the city was crawling with tourists from all around to come see one of the best Sakura festivals in Japan. I had the opportunity to go there three times last week. It was way pretty. Japan is such a beautiful country! 

So first things first, we got transfer calls on Saturday morning and it looks like I'll be leaving Hirosaki. I'm being transferred down south to a small town called Furukawa in Miyagi Ken. I don't know much about it, but I'm sure it will be fun. I'm sad to leave Hirosaki though. I've had a lot of good and a lot of hard times here. It will always have a special place in my heart, being my first area. I'm excited though to move on and see what the future holds!

Tuesday was pretty uneventful. We had a mogi with Nakabayashi Shimai (wow that name is a mouthful). She was so funny; by far the funniest mogi I have ever done. I asked her how she had been recently. She put her face in her hands like she always does and told us she had accidentally watched You tube videos for five hours! We laughed so hard. It was a good practice lesson. 

After that, we went to visit some investigators, but the same thing happened as they have this entire transfer. They are either busy or not home. We have this one investigator. He straight up told us he wasn't that interested, but he likes to talk to us anyway, so we keep visiting him. In Japan, you take what you can get. But, for the last three times, as we are standing in his Genkan after ringing the doorbell, he and his wife come driving into their driveway, just coming home. Its super awkward when that happens. It happened again on Tuesday. I swear, every time we ring his doorbell, they are coming home at the exact same time. Some sort of sorcery is at work right there.

Thursday, we went to Odate for District meeting and for splits. District meeting was way good. We talked about how dendo can change us 
and how Christ can help us change our desires and works to align our will with God's will. There were some really good trainings. After, the meeting, Elder Wheelwright and I headed back to Hirosaki for splits. I learned a lot from Elder Wheelwright from this split. He is from Morgan, Utah and goes home in July, so he's pretty experienced. He is just way good at talking to people and that is something I really need to improve on. I was able to learn a lot from his example.

I had made a plan to go with Akimotto San to the Sakura festival, so when we got back, we waited at the church for him to pick us up. The park was absolutely beautiful! The trees were filled with blossoms and the water had flower petals floating on it. It was the most Japanese postcard scenery I have ever seen. It was kind of a bummer though, every time we were talking to someone, Akimotto San would come take us away, saying we had to hurry. 

Later that night, we had an over the phone mogi with a member. It was a pretty intense lesson. I asked her how she was and she just went off on how her dad yells at her, how she feels worthless in this life, and how she feels she can't talk to God. So we spent about an hour and a half teaching about God's love for us and prayer. It was pretty crazy.

Saturday night, we went to the Festival again to try to talk to people. It was absolutely ridiculous how many people were there. It was the most crowded place I have ever been. Why are there so many people in this country? It was kind of hard to approach and talk to people because everyone was in such a big hurry and in huge groups. We tried though. The park was beautiful though with everything lit up. It was a good time.

Sunday was pretty good. An hour before sacrament meeting, Fujita  Kyoudai asked me if I would get up in Sacrament meeting and speak for five minutes or so. I was way scared, but when I got up and started speaking, it wasn't scary at all. It was a way cool experience. For the first time in my mission, words were just flowing out of my mouth. I talked about how even though I couldn't understand a thing my first couple months or so, that I could still feel the Christ like love the members showed me and how special their branch really is. Then I shared a scripture and said some other stuff. It was way cool though. After church, some of the members came and told me how much they enjoyed my testimony and that my Japanese had gotten a ton better. it was a pretty cool experience. My comps told me that they didn't hear me make one mistake either! It was cool. Before I got up to speak, I was praying really hard for Heavenly Father to help me and calm my fears, and it ended up being okay. The gift of tongues is real I guess!

Today, for my last pday, Takaya Kyoudai took us to this way cool Jinja in the middle of the countryside. After walking around there for a while, we went to this cool waterfall and then went to lunch and had Curry with Tonkatsu in it! It was way delicious. A good way to end my time here in Hirosaki.

Yep, that is about my week! I'm going to miss Hirosaki, but I'm excited for the next phase of my mission! I can't believe I'm already in my fourth transfer. That transfer absolutely flew by! I love you guys! Have an awesome week!

Elder Nathan Didericksen
Night lights

Sakura in Hirosaki...So beautiful!!

More Sakura

Popcorn Popping

Cool Jinja

Waterfall...I love this guy! (Elder Larsen)

My last p day in Hirosaki

Fish sticks?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Japan is beautiful!

April 20, 2015: Week 26
Area: Hirosaki

Companions:  Canepari Choro and Larsen Choro

Konnichiwa everyone! How is everyone? I'm sorry to hear you all got the stomach flu this week; that sounds awful. It reminded me of the night I had the stomach flu while in California for the basketball tournament. That night was easily the worst of my life! Anyway...

This week was pretty good! So on Tuesday, we got a call from a random number. It turned out to be an old investigator from a year ago who wanted to do the Free Family English Program (30 mins English/ 30 mins gospel) and she wanted to introduce her friend to it. So on Tuesday morning, we set out to find the lady's house. It took around 40 mins to get there. She lived way out of the city where all of the open fields and apple orchards were. It was super pretty. We taught her some English for a little bit, but we had to leave really fast cause we had to pick up the Odate Elders at the train station for splits. So we rode our bikes like Lance Armstrong to the Station and started the split. I stayed in Hirosaki with Canepari Choro and Anderson Choro. We had a good time visiting with some people and hanging Eikaiwa posters.

The next day, we went to Morioka on a bus. So first we had to ride a train to Odate, meet up with the Odate Elders, and then had a three hour bus ride to Morioka. Morioka is a way awesome city. It is huge!! It's probably the biggest city in the mission besides Sendai. It is way pretty too. The train station looks like an airport. And somehow, the Shinkanzen (the bullet train) can go to the very top of the station indoors. Maybe it's some sort of Japanese sorcery they use to get a huge train inside in a four story building. It blew my mind.

Next, we hopped on a bus to go to the church and help out with their Eikaiwa class. We got there and there were a bunch of people there and it was a lot of fun. I was able to meet and talk to a lot of new people. I got to meet Dowdy Choro's old companion, Kugai Choro and talked for a little bit. I also talked to this one girl who actually visited Hirosak around three months ago and came to church. It was like my third week in Japan when I first met her. We were talking and she recognized me and was way surprised cause last time I saw her, I was like a deer in the headlights; I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I am speaking to her in Japanese. Apparently I have changed a lot since then. It was pretty cool though. The next morning, we got up and went straight to the church for ZTM. It was a way pretty walk over. Right next to the church is a huge pond with Sakura all around it. It was absolutely beautiful! I really hope I get to serve in Morioka some day; it looks way fun.

The meeting was all about physical and mental health. They brought in a psychiatrist who is in charge of the Japan missions and also a physical doctor who is in charge of the Japan missions. It was a good meeting. It gave me a renewed motivation to eat healthy, exercise, etc., basically to just have a more healthy lifestyle. After the meeting, you had the option to meet with one of the doctors one on one. One of my companions had an appointment so we had to wait at the church for a while. Dr. Graham was running really late and we were going to miss our bus, so we had to hurry and leave and he couldn't have his appointment. We had to get to the Eki really fast, so we and a bunch of other missionaries and a bunch of school girls piled on this city bus to the Eki. It was the most packed bus I have ever seen. You barely had room to breath. So we get to the Eki and we had to sprint through the station to get to our bus on time. We were running so hard!! But alas, we missed it, so we had to wait another hour and a half for another one to Hirosaki. It ended up being a really fun trip. I love those things where I get to be with a ton of other missionaries and meet new people. It was pretty exciting.

The rest of the week has been okay. As you all know, Canperi Choro's mother passed away. It was a pretty hard day for us. We sat in our apartment and had a big long group hug and cried with each other. It was tough. He was able to skype with his family and he decided to stay out. After he talked to his family, he went right back to being his normal hilarious self. It was amazing how he was able to go right back to work and forget himself. His eternal perspective is amazing and it' s what is helping him. He said he is sad but is also happy his mom doesn't have to suffer anymore. We talked a little bit about how great it is that we have the knowledge that death isn't final, that we can all see our loved ones again, that we will have bodies of perfection with no pain and that we can live forever with those we love in happiness. It really is an amazing thing to be able to have that knowledge. It truly is comforting. And Canepari Choro definitely knows about that perspective that this life is just a small piece of the puzzle.It has been a great learning experience and I'm so grateful for his example. I'm really going to miss him whenever I leave Hirosaki.

Today has been pretty fun. The Odate Elders came to Hirosaki really early so that we could go see Hirosaki park for district pday. It was 
great; we were the only ones in the park for a little bit. It was raining, but it actually made it even prettier. The Sakura isn't quite there yet, but it will be in full bloom by the end of the week. I took some great pictures.

Well that was about my week. It was full of its ups and downs. We are doing okay now, and Canepari Choro is doing awesome. Thanks for all of your concern and prayers.  Love you guys!! Have a great week! Talk to you soon! By next week, I will know if I am going to a new area or not.  Love you!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Sakura in Hirosaki with the castle in the background

More Sakura

Crowded bus!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Showdown with Car in Parking Lot Round 2

April 13, 2015: Week 25
Area: Hirosaki

Companions:  Canepari Choro and Larsen Choro

Hey everyone! It was great to hear from all of you guys! This week flew by once again! It seems like I was just here writing! 

We finally were able to watch General Conference on Saturday and Sunday! It was awesome! There were so many great talks! I don't know if it is just because I'm a missionary this time, but it was one of my favorites that I can remember. It's probably because I paid the most attention this time around than ever before. I sure wish I took conference way more seriously as a younger teenager because it really is an awesome thing. I learned so much. I'll get to more about conference later!

Too be honest, not a ton really happened this week. Most of our investigators aren't really all that strong right now. One really frustrating thing about Japan is that most people won't let you into their house. That's kind of the case with the majority of our investigators. They won't let us in their house when we visit, so we just have to do a short lesson in the Genkan. So it's pretty hard to have legit lessons while you are standing on their porch basically and you only have 10 minutes at max. We are trying our best though. But for the most part, most of our investigators couldn't meet this week; either they were busy or we couldn't get a hold of them. So, a lot of the time we were biking from house to house, but no one was really home. So that aspect of this week was pretty disappointing. 

I don't know if I have told you about a great thing that Japan does. Dad will probably love this. It's called yaki niku. There is this restaurant pretty close to our apartment that does yaki niku, which basically is an hour and a half long buffet where you go through this line and pick out as many different kinds of raw meat as you want, and then go back to your table and grill it right at your table. Its fantastic! All you can eat self grilled meat, sushi, and ice cream is nothing short of heaven. That restaurant is probably the reason I've gained ten pounds. On Tuesday, two older sisters in the branch took us out to eat there, then on Thursday, Akimoto San called us and said he wanted to take us out to yaki niku cause Larsen Choro is new. It was amazing, especially going twice in a week. But now, since conference is over, I'm going to try to eat healthy and exercise better. I need to get into shape for rec ball at BYU when I'm home!!

Hmm.... what else?? Oh yeah, I almost got hit by a car again!! I was riding down this big hill, so I was going kinda fast. I was passing this gas station, so I started to slow down a little bit because there were cars and stuff. There was a car that was leaving the parking lot, inching its way into the road. Right as I was about to pass it, the guy decided to back up without looking, totally cutting me off. I was still going kinda fast so I had to slam on my brakes pretty quickly and abruptly. My back tire flew in the air, sending my bag way high. I almost went over my handlebars but I managed to bail off the bike in time. It was pretty crazy. The guy came out of his car and apologized to me and I just said it was okay. It wasn't bad, but I was very close to slamming into his car. I swear, my luck with cars just isn't that great. Oh well. Elder Evans of the Seventy said that we will all be hit by a car eventually in Japan! Hopefully I already have mine out of the way!

And lastly, we had a good lesson with Sakamoto San in his Genkan last night. So, he has been an investigator for years and even had a baptism date a while back, but he backed out. So we wanted to be a little bold with him and see what's up. We asked him if he believed the Book of Mormon, the church, and the entire gospel was true. He said he knew it was true and that it made him happy. So we asked him to be baptized. He said he was too busy. So we told him that if he knew the Book of Mormon and the church was true, then he knew that he needed to be baptized, but he still avoided it. We found out that he is just straight up scared to be baptized. He's scared of the water and probably of the commitment. It was the best lesson we have had with him. So we will try to help him overcome his fears.

So back to conference. The Saturday morning session was great. And Narita San came!! But he insisted on watching it in English and didn't understand anything. He was asleep for about half of it so that kind of backfired. But the talks were great. My favorites were probably Elder Eyring's about fasting, Choose to Believe by Elder Clayton, The Music of the Gospel by Elder Andersen, and Latter-day Saints who Keep Trying by Elder Renlund. Basically, I loved all of them! I learned so much on how I can be better and become a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I learned that the gospel is not just for sinners. It's for imperfect people and the church makes us better. We wouldn't be saints if we stopped trying. I'm very exited to go back and reread them and study them here on out.
Sorry this is kind of a short email. Not a ton happened this week, It was a slower one. Next week will be better though. I think I'm going on splits to Odate tomorrow, and then we are all going down to Morioka for two days for a big Aomori/Morioka Zone conference, so we are all exited about that. I'm glad you guys had a great time in Oakley. Have a good week this week! I love you guys!


Elder Nathan Didericksen

Yaki Niku! Comparable to the Celestial Kingdom

More deliciousness.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter in Hirosaki

April 6, 2015: Week 24
Area: Hirosaki

Companions:  Canepari Choro and Larsen Choro

Konnichiwa everyone! It was so great to hear from you guys. That email was great! I'm sure glad to hear that your conference weekend was good, despite the fact that Kelsey and I were absent. We haven't been able to watch it yet unfortunately, but we will sometime this week. I'm so excited to watch it. As a missionary, conference is a very exciting time and I'm excited to hear from the leaders of our church. Easter was kind of disappointing though; no one even mentioned the term Easter or talked about Christ's Resurrection at all. It was a little strange. It didn't feel like Easter at all. I was feeling a little homesick yesterday because I was missing out on all of the Easter fun, but I'm okay. I feel very close to home now because I'm eating a corn dog as I type this so it's all good, plus we sang America the Beautiful for comp study. I need an American patriotic fix every once in a while! This week was pretty good. Not a ton happened, but I will give you some of the highlights:

On Tuesday, we rode out for about 45 minutes to go visit a bunch of our investigators who all live way close to each other. Unfortunately, none of them were even home so we kinda struck out on that one. It was fun though to ride around with the other two guys in the warm weather. When we ride our bikes around, we get a bunch of weird looks and people taking pictures of us. It's a weird sight to see three white dudes in suits biking around on little beach cruiser bikes in white helmets. I would laugh if I were them! I like being in a trio actually, especially with my two companions. They are awesome and we are having a ton of fun lone wolfing it in Hirosaki. Well after doing that for a few hours and after lunch, we had a mogi *kind of a practice lesson* with the man we recently reactivated. He is way nice and he loves to talk to us. His wife is deaf and can only do sign language, but he doesn't know sign language, so I have no idea how their relationship exists. It's a mystery! Anyway, after his lesson, we had another over the phone lesson with a lady who is a less active only because her house is like 4 hours away. It is pretty weird teaching phone lessons. It's definitely hard to teach in unity over the phone; we managed to get through it though. The lady is really nice though; she yells out ai shiteimasu *I love you* every time we are about to hang up. No one says I love you in Japan. 

The next day we went out again to visit some of those investigators, but unfortunately, none of them could meet again! It was kind of a bummer. But one funny thing happened. We were standing outside a convenience store looking at an address when this super crazy dude comes up and starts talking to us. This guy is fluent in gibberish because I don't think he was speaking Japanese or any other normal language. We just sat there nodding our heads and acting like we knew what was going on. Then he went into the store and came back a minute later and gave us food that he had just bought in there. Then he walked away. It was super weird and random, but I'm not going to turn down free food! 

Throughout this week, we have been able to use the new Easter video and teach about Easter and Jesus Christ a lot. As i missionary, I really have a greater appreciation for the Atonement and Christ's sacrifice. Easter really meant a lot more to me this year than it has my entire life. It is a cool opportunity to be able to share the message of Easter that because Christ lives, we can be comforted in times of heartache and trial. Because he lives, we too can be resurrected and live with our families for eternity. It is really cool to be able to share that with people I meet. 

On Friday, we had a zone training meeting in Aomori. We learned about how we can become better disciples of Christ and how we can become more sanctified. It was a pretty good meeting. That was our last time going to Aomori for this transfer. Hopefully, I will be able to go back there again someday because it is a pretty city. 

The next day we taught Narita San and it was a great lesson. He actually kept his commitment to read Alma 32!! We were pretty excited because that dude never keeps commitments. He even came with questions which was great. He told us he learned that we don't need to have a perfect knowledge to be baptized and things like that. We were thinking for a second that he was going to say he wanted to be baptized, but alas,he didn't. But he did show signs of progression, which was great. A few other miracles occurred. A mom and her daughter randomly showed up to Eikaiwa for the first time, and another one of our investigators showed up to Eikaiwa out of nowhere. We were able to do a lesson with him after Eikaiwa as well. It was a pretty cool day. 

It was a pretty good week being able to learn and ponder about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his love for us. I love being a missionary during holidays like these and be able to teach others about Christ and his love for them. Also, this week, I'm giving a spiritual message in district meeting. I have been thinking a lot about Peter from the New Testament recently and I want to do it on him. I'm really fascinated about him. He went from a normal, weak, fishermen to a great and powerful apostle and prophet. And of course, the New Testament tells us about his many weaknesses such as denying Christ three times, but through his faith in Christ, like in Ether 12:27, he was able to become a very powerful witness of Christ. Us too, like Peter, can have weak things be made strong through Jesus Christ and become sanctified disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Well there you go, my little spiritual input for the week. Thanks for all that you guys do for me and for all of the support and words of encouragement. I have the best family in the world. I miss you guys a ton and I'm excited to be with you guys when I get home. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be in Japan though and to learn and grow. I hope you guys have a great week! I love you! Talk to you next week.

p.s. Can you believe I hit my six month mark next week!! Crazy huh?

Elder Nathan Didericksen

 Companion Easter pic. I love the new tie!!

Cool view of the city and Iwaki San

Some Japanese rice fields!

More rice fields.