Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Well, I'm transferring again.....

July 20, 2015: Week 39
Area: Izumi

Companion:  Hirano Choro

Hey everyone! How is everyone doing? I hope that you are all doing well.My week was pretty good. We had transfer calls on Saturday morning and I got some surprising news. I'm transferring again..... My mind was pretty much set that I would be staying being that I had only been here for one transfer, but I guess God thought otherwise. So, I'm headed out of Izumi and going up north to a town called Kitakami. I don't really know much about Kitakami, but I know that it's north of here, meaning as we go into the hottest part of the year, I'll be a little further north so it won't be quite as hot as Sendai. It's definitely smaller than Izumi that's for sure. I've heard it's kind of in the middle of absolute country and city, so not tiny but not huge. 

Also, I'm in a trio companionship again. These aren't new to me; I've already been in one for two transfers. My comps are Uehara Choro who has been out maybe a year I think. He's from Okinawa and I heard he's pretty cool. And my other comp is Morris Choro. He is going into his 4th transfer I think. I don't really know much about him, but I'm sure he is cool. I'm finally not the youngest missionary in my apartment anymore!

So yesterday in church, I had to tell the members in the ward that I'm transferring and they didn't really care all that much because I just got here and they don't really know me. It makes me a little sad because the members here are so cool and I barely had any time to be in Izumi to get to know them and build good relationships. It's kind of a bummer. There are a few members I got to know well, but since it's a bigger ward, I wasn't able to really get to know a lot of people. Maybe I'll be back someday. Now I'm going to a branch that consists of maybe 15 members.

This week was pretty good. Last pday, we rode our bikes out to Tagajo and went to a new aquarium they have there. The other Elders' investigator came and even waited in line and bought us tickets while we were riding over. He's the best. The ride over was so hot and humid. It was about 15 miles and when we got there, we were dripping in sweat. The aquarium was way fun though; it reminded me of going to the one in Draper with the family. There was even a cool dolphin and seal show.

Before the show started, Taguchi San saw someone he knew and asked me to give him a Book of Mormon, so I did, and he went and explained it to his friend and gave it to her. It was pretty cool. Not often do you have an investigator who will do missionary work with you. I'll miss that guy. 

My favorite fish of the day was the mambo. It's this way retarded looking fish that looks like it should not be alive due to some weird birth defect. It looks like the most unintelligent fish of all time. We love the mambo!

Then we rode the 15 mile ride back, almost experiencing death by dehydration and went to FHE at Taguchi Sans house. We had a discussion on Alma 7 all together and had a good dinner. It was a great time.

Tuesday night, we went to a member's house named Sasaki Shimai. Her husband recently died, and I think she's pretty lonely, so she wanted the elders to come over. She fed us a pretty gnarly dinner. She gave us eel on rice. It actually was pretty good, but eel is pretty interesting. You could feel the bones and the weird spiky things they have while you chewed. It's pretty weird. She was funny; she would keep giving us more and more food even though we told her we were done. It was a good night. We were able to share a message about the plan of salvation and I talked about the things I learned when I was with my companion who's mom died a few transfers ago. I learned a lot from him about having an eternal perspective. It was cool to be able to share that.

Thursday, we had district meeting. Hamblin Choro wanted to give his last training in English and asked me to translate. Goodness...translating is hard. I can't think of how to translate something while trying to listen to the person talk. I got destroyed to a certain extent. It was fun though, but I learned I still have a long way to go.

Friday night was pretty cool. Yamauchi Shimai, probably the coolest member in Izumi, invited the elders over for a gyouza party. She also invited a family over who she is friends with and wants to share the gospel. The mom is an American who married a Japanese man and they have a daughter. The mom and daughter can speak both Japanese and English and the dad can speak a little English. We had a nice dinner and got to know each other a little, then Yamauchi Shima pulls out a Book of Mormon and starts to teach them. It was awesome. She went to Moroni 7 and started teaching about charity and family. We talked about how important these two things are to us. Then the lady, Margaret, talked about how when her grandma died, she couldn't accept the doctrine of other Christian churches that believe if someone dies without knowing Christ, they are going to hell. She said she searched and searched and was baptized into several churches. It was cool to be able to hear her problems and to tie all of the solutions to the gospel. I know that I've been a member my whole life, so I might be biased, but when I hear stories like hers, I'm confused as to why some people don't accept the gospel because it makes so much sense to me; it answers every question you might have in life. I hope Margaret and her family come to realize that someday and give this church a chance.

Then on Saturday, we had Ito Nozimi Shimai's baptism. It was cool to be able to see only my second baptismal service on my mission. You can't take those for granted here. We spent most of the day setting up for it. A lot of people came to support her and it went really well. The missionaries and a few members also sang "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus" and it brought a special spirit. Then yesterday, I got to stand in the circle for her confirmation. It was a special experience. I hope she continues to stay firm and will grow into a strong member. I think she will.

Also, yesterday was my last Sunday in Izumi. They didn't have me speak though because they had already assigned four speakers, two being the 2 missionaries who are returning home. I'll miss being in this ward, but I'm excited for the next chapter in my mission. Hopefully, I can stay there a little longer than 6 weeks this time. I really learned a lot this past transfer. It was kind of tough, but I learned a lot of patience and Christ like love. I realized I'm nowhere to being perfect and have a long way to go, but maybe someday. Thanks for all that you guys do for me. I love you guys! Have a great week!

Also, before I go, I want to wish my wonderful mom a Happy Birthday this Tuesday! I don't know where I would be without you. You've done so much for me, stuff for me in which I did not deserve at all because I was an idiot at times. You are always there for me and whoever is in need of your help. You're the most selfless person I know. I love you Mom. Here's a hug from half way across the world. I love you!! 

Love you guys! Have a good week!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Brodie Choro and me at the aquarium

The Mambo!

My district 

Summer Nights

July 13, 2015: Week 38
Area: Izumi

Companion:  Hirano Choro

Hey everybody, how are you all doing!? This week kind of flew by; I feel like I was just barely doing this. Anyway...Wow! It looks like your week was crazy with Kate's wedding and getting ready for it. It sure looked like a whole lot of fun though. And I'm glad you finally used the trailer; it's been years since we've used that thing. The kids looked way cute in their camping gear too. Looks like tons of fun.

This week was good. Again, not a whole lot happened. The work is kind of slow here right now and we are kind of struggling in that aspect. I'll try to recap the highlights.

Tuesday was pretty good. I had splits with Elder Hamblin, my District Leader, who goes home next week. Since I was in charge of the day and still have no idea what's going on in the area, I couldn't think of anything to do but go finding all day, so that's what we did. First, we rode a ways out and up this huge hill where a ton of college student housing is. There are young people everywhere up there and that is what we are trying to focus on (finding young people who might accept the gospel instead of the more traditional Japanese Buddhists.) Unfortunately, it was apparently a bad time to be up there because I think everyone was in class; no one was answering the door. One guy did though. He was this big Polynesian looking Japanese kid who plays Judo. We talked to him for a while and were able to give him a Book of Mormon. We will follow up on him later. The college students are good to go for because they all study Christianity in the school and are a little familiar with God in a sense.

After that, we headed down to the train station and basically walked around trying to talk to people for about 3 to 4 hours. There is a focus in the mission right now in handing out Books of Mormon, so that's what we were doing. The first hour or so, people were being pretty cold, looking pretty bothered that we were talking to them, but it picked up. We found that if you approach them speaking Japanese, they'll usually ignore you, but if you start talking to them in English, they're intrigued. So usually, we will approach them and say a simple "hello" and then ask if they speak english. They usually say no, so we invite them to Eikaiwa and start asking them random questions in English. Then we go into the Book of Mormon, usually in Japanese. We have some interesting conversations doing that; it's pretty funny. Sometimes, Hamblin Choro would stop people by just walking straight up to them, putting out his hand and asking if he could shake it. The best one was when we approached this girl sitting on a bench. We did the same routine and then we were going into the Book of Mormon. We said something like "today's a special day" because we were going to say we were giving these books out for free. Then she's like "Yeah it is! It's my birthday!!" We were like "No way! Well here's this book for free as a present!" She was so stoked. I think we made her whole day.

Oh and something weird happened too. There was this guy playing some weird Indian flute thing on a bench and when he saw us, he just started shouting "We don't need any priests; we don't need you guys! Get the heck out of here!" and stuff like that. We think he was just another crazy dude, but we left because he was causing a scene. Anyway, we were able to give out 10 copies on Tuesday, so it was a pretty successful day.

The rest of the weekdays were pretty uneventful. We had ZTM in Sendai on Friday which was pretty good. We talked a lot about how Christ can help us in our daily lives. Then we went to this really good indo curry place next to the train station. It was curry and all you can eat nan, which are these huge scone looking bread things that are so delicious.

Saturday was a really fun day. We had sports activities all day. There is a tradition I guess where every summer, Izumi, Ishonamaki, and Tagajo members get together and have a softball game. So Saturday morning, we went to Ishinomaki (the city that got hit really bad with the tsunami four years ago) and played softball. It was great fun. It had been a long time since I'd thrown a ball and swung a bat. I actually played pretty decent. I made a few good plays in the field and got a hit every time. Granted, its softball, but still..... Izumi won 14 to 7!

After that, we went back to Izumi and had lunch and studied a bit and then we had to get ready for another activity. The Kamisugi ward in Sendai put together an activity in a big park in Sendai and we were invited along with Tagajo. We played capture the flag, ultimate frisbee and all sorts of different sports. It was way fun; I felt like a normal kid again for once, just playing sports in the summer, getting a sweat in. It was amazing. It was fun to hang out with all of the missionaries who are going home next week. I'll miss them a lot. Then, as we were leaving, there was a firework show at the baseball park nearby so we watched the fireworks. Seriously, I can't tell you how nice it was to kind of feel like a normal kid on a summer night again. It had been a while!

Anyway, that was our week! It was pretty fun. I'm still really sore from Saturday; I used muscles that I haven't used in a while. 

Well, we are on the last week of the transfer and we get calls on Saturday! I hope you all have a great week! Love you guys! Talk to you soon!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Fishing in Izumi

Summer activity in Sendai

Monday, July 13, 2015

Patriotism in Japan

July 6, 2015: Week 37
Area: Izumi

Companion:  Hirano Choro

Hey Everyone! I hope you all had a good week and a great 4th of July! I really missed you guys this week. This time of year is the best time I think, not only because it's my birthday, but the 4th of July is awesome. I really missed the fireworks, parades, and the American patriotism. Being in another country really makes you appreciate where you come from; we were feeling really patriotic this week, especially on the fourth.

First of all, my birthday was pretty good. Definitely, birthdays on the mission are a lot different, they feel like normal days, but my district did their best to make it fun. I started the day opening up my birthday package. It was great to get all of the American stuff! And that chain of pictures was really cool. Thanks Mom! Then, since Hamblin choro had splits in Furukawa, we went out to eat with the Furukawa elders. I made the mistake of getting the famous "king" size rice bowl which ended up being a monster. It was huge and I couldn't finish it. I need to stop with these food challenges huh?!

After lunch, we went to the old folks home to sing to them. We played cards with them again and then attempted to sing "Love is Spoken Here." We absolutely butchered it though because we never practiced. It was pretty bad.

Then we had to go set up for Eikaiwa. I taught Eikaiwa, but towards the end, Brodie and Gibb Choro came in with the Chapmans holding a small cake and everyone sang me Happy Birthday! It was so nice of them! Then we rode our bikes home to find another surprise that Brodie Choro left behind. I walk in the apartment and all of the lights are turned off, but there are a bunch of glow in the dark balloons and music playing. They bring out little firework popper things and sang Happy Birthday again. But then came the funny part...

So, Brodie Choro does this thing when we get letters. He leaves a sticky note on your desk saying that if we want your letters, we have to play a game. Basically, each sticky note has a clue to where the next one is and so on and so on. So I get a sticky note saying, "There is more stuff for you, but you have to play a little game first." So he led me on a wild goose chase, running from clue to clue. He really went the extra mile too, they were everywhere. I even had to go outside and run up like 10 flights of stairs to find one of them. It was way funny. I finally made it to the final hiding place and I found a bunch of candy and a bunch of random stuff he bought. It was hilarious. So yeah, it was a pretty good birthday!

The 4th was pretty fun too. We started with singing every verse of every American hymn in the hymn book. We than went to this buffet with Brother Chapman and his son Luke. It was fun to hang out with other Americans for the Fourth of July. After lunch, Brother Chapman quickly took us to the massive Buddha statue. That thing is huge! It was way cool to get a close up look. It wasn't the statue of Liberty on Independence Day, but it was a statue at least!

After that, we rode to Kamisugi and started a spit with the zone leaders. I went with Elder Poulter from Spanish Fork. He is  way cool. I didn't really know him that well, but he is a great missionary. It was fun too because Izumi has been his area so he was having a great time visiting and seeing the people he met almost two years ago.

Well that is about it, sorry for the unexciting email. It was kind of a slow week again. I hope you all have a good week! 

Love you guys! Talk to you soon!!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Happy Birthday!

HUGE dinner!

Card and cake

Buddha statue

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I bring death wherever I go.....and rainy season has arrived.

June 29, 2015: Week 36
Area: Izumi

Companions:  Hirano Choro

Hey everyone! I cant believe it's Monday again. This transfer is already halfway over; time is flying! It sounds like it's a sauna back home in Utah! I'm not too excited when it gets hot here in a few weeks. I've heard it's something like I've never experienced before. It's going to be interesting. Anyway, it sounds like you all had a great week. And the yard is looking great Dad!! I'm sorry I'm not there to mow the lawn for you; I actually miss doing that a lot. But before it gets hot here, there is a two week rainy season where it rains non stop. We thought it wouldn't happen this year because it was getting pretty late, but it looks like it may have arrived. It's actually nice today, but the past few haven't been. I'll get to more of that later.

This week, I'm not gonna lie, was pretty slow. It was probably the most unsuccessful week of my mission, numbers wise. Not a lot happened. I'll try my best to recap, but it might not be too exciting.

First of all, our plans for last week on pday fell through....We were riding like madmen to get to the big budah statue so that we could see it before going to the honbu for FHE, but halfway there, the axel on Hamblin Choros bike broke so that kind of nixed our plans. And then we found out that the less active we were planning on going to FHE with canceled, so HIrano Choro and I had to stay in Izumi while the other two Elders went to Nagamachi. That was a pretty big bummer.

Wow....I'm trying to think of exciting things that happened but I can't think of anything....uh oh.

So, I realized this week that I bring death no matter where I go. I'm the living version of the death dude who floats around in a cloak holding a scythe. Sadly, a member in Izumi ward passed away this week and we were able to attend his funeral (don't worry, no cremation this time fortunately). The Izumi missionaries and the Kamisugi missionaries attended it and we sang his favorite hymn in front of his dead body. I mean seriously, hopefully I won't have to see any more dead people before I'm done here?!? Anyway, it was good I guess. 

After that, we got permission from the zone leaders for all of us to ride our bikes to Sendai and get lunch with them so we got Abura Soba (it's basically ramen without broth). Unfortunately, right around the corner of the funeral house, some driver didn't look both ways while leaving a parking lot and hit Hamblin Choro on his bike and destroyed his rental bike (because the bike he broke on Monday is in the shop so he has a rental. Two bikes in a week!) He was okay, but his bike was destroyed. So he and the zone leader had to walk the rest of the way to Sendai for splits. We got back to the Kamisugi apartment to grab our stuff and since the other two needed bikes, I offered that we walk back to Izumi. So, we walked our bikes almost two hours to our area. It was quite the long walk; I need it though!

The next day, we had interviews with President Smith. It was really nice. It's fun to be able to talk to them, especially to Sister Smith while you are waiting. She's a hoot. She makes us laugh so hard. My interview with President Smith was pretty good. He is focusing really hard on us knowing the missionary lessons in Japanese inside and out. He wants us to be able to memorize every word in the PMG and its pretty hard. He also wanted me to teach him a lesson, but we ran out of time... whooo. But during interviews with him, I always get a feeling that he is called of God and he knows exactly what he is doing in leading this mission. It was a good interview; he helped me a lot. The rest of the day, we had to practice singing for the funeral, and taught Eikaiwa.

On Thursday, we had a district meeting at the church and the zone leaders attended too. It was my first district meeting all in Japanese since I was a new missionary. I gave a spiritual message on how we can increase our faith. I focused on three things: Obedience to mission rules, even if you may not understand them; diligent prayer so that we can change our desires to God's desires, and setting goals and making plans. It went pretty well I think. I learned a lot from studying for it. After the meeting, we went to the Seaman service again. We were pretty late for it so I could only have the same conversation about him being a seaman 10 times instead of the 30. 

Saturday was the start of rainy season!! President Smith made a rule that if it is raining a ton, you can't ride your bikes, so we got to walk everywhere. We thought we would go visit our one investigator. In our minds we thought it would take a little bit, but not a ton of time, but boy we were we wrong. It took us like an hour and a half walking in the pouring rain to get to his house. I was so wet!! Then we got to his house, and he wasn't home!! So we walked all the way back in the rain. When we got back, we were absolutely soaked. Rainy season is crazy!

Wow, that is about it this week. We didn't really see too much good happen this week; it was a rougher one. So sorry for the boring email; I don't have a whole lot to work with to spice it up.

Well in other news, I can't believe I'm turning 19 this week!! I seriously feel like I'm still 15 or 16 years old just starting high school. I don't feel this old. I don't know what we are doing for it, probably just going out to eat and having a regular day. But this week is the start of patriotism week where we sing America songs all week. We started this morning and it was great. Being in another country really increases your patriotism, at least for me. Haha! Only if we could light fireworks and shoot shotguns in the air and blow up stuff or something. We are going to do something with the Chapman family on the 4th though, so that will be fun.

Well that is about all I can think of. Again, I apologize for the lack of events; it was a slow week. I love you guys. Have a great week! 

And also, Happy birthday Matthew!!! I hope you have a great one. It's too bad we aren't together having the famous weeklong Didericksen party this time of year, but I hope you have a great time! Love you buddy!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

My district plus the ZLs

Attachments area
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Curry of Death

June 22, 2015: Week 35
Area: Izumi

Companion:  Hirano Choro

Hey everybody! It's great to hear from you guys. First and foremost, I want to say Happy Father's day to the best dad ever and my best buddy! Happy Father's Day Dad! I really wish I could be there to spend it with you guys, but I guess this will have to suffice. I hope you have a great day Dad!

Well, I'm trying to remember what happened this week. Nothing crazy happened, but I'll do my best to share something exciting.

Tuesday was pretty fun. Me and Brodie Choro had splits while Hamblin Choro went with my comp. We had a great time. He had someone he wanted to visit way the heck out there so we rode our bikes for days. One thing about Izumi is the hills. The hills here are ridiculous!! With the amount of hills I'm climbing and how tired my thighs get, I should be dunking super hard by this fall! Anyway, we tried to find this lady's house, but we couldn't find it, so with time running out, we just did some housing. It was a fun time housing though; Brodie Choro is a way cool guy and we just made it fun even though we got rejected every time. After that, we had to go to an appointment with the Chapman Family! We got there a little early, so we decided to house around their neighborhood a little bit. I don't understand why, but some Japanese people are pretty afraid of us. We had at least three ladies reject us, shut their door, and lock it immediately. What do they expect us to do, break in and demand them to listen to our message? We got a kick out of it.

The Chapman family visit was way fun. It was weird being in an American house. Well, of course the house was technically Japanese, but it was decorated and furnished like I was back home in Utah. It was a pretty nice change. I was hoping they would make American food 'cause I heard that's what they always do, but since they didn't know we were on splits and they were expecting Hirano Choro, they made Japanese food. Oh well, it was still really good. We then shared a little message on avoiding the deceiving tricks of Satan. We wrapped up Bro. Chapman with an entire package of plastic wrap and related that Satan can enchain us, but if we have the armor of God, we can avoid that. It was pretty fun. Unfortunately, right as I transfer to Izumi, they are going to America for a month or two, probably in like two weeks. So hopefully I'm still here when they get back!

Wednesday was pretty good. We started the morning with studies, then we decided to go to Ichibanya and do the level ten spicy curry challenge for our dads for Father's Day. I already told my family this a little bit, but it was so awful! That stuff would probably kill a small dog it was so spicy. After suffering through 400 grams of rice and death curry, we went to this other weird service thing that I guess Hirano Choro and his previous comp did. We go to another old person home and play cards with them and do a small musical performance. I guess a while ago, the missionaries here were very musically talented, so they started doing this, but it carried on after they left. So now they are still expecting us to do it, but none of us can do anything musically. Me and Hamblin Choro want it to stop as soon as possible. My thinking is that since we only have one weak investigator, we need to be out finding. 

Well, after that, we visited a family in the ward named the Kikuchi family. We weren't expecting it, but they fed us dinner. Guess what they fed us?.....Curry! I thought I was gonna die. I was still feeling awful from the way spicy curry from earlier that day, and now I had to eat some more curry. Granted it wasn't spicy, but still, I wanted to die. After endeavoring through that and teaching a short thought about the importance of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon, we had to ride like mad men to make it to Eikaiwa on time. I wanted to throw up I felt so sick.

The next morning was just as bad. They had warned me about the spicy hangover, but I didn't believe them, but they were right. We woke up with huge headaches and we were kinda dizzy. It's amazing how much spicy curry can screw you up. We both felt a little numb still too, but we had to forget about it because we had to go to Sendai for multi zone meeting. Because Izumi is so close to Kamisugi, we can just ride our bikes to those meetings. It was a great meeting though. Elder Michael Ringwood from the seventy (he actually spoke in this last conference) came and taught us. In the morning, he talked to us about faith and what faith really is. We basically came to the conclusion that it isn't faith until you actually do something. It was pretty interesting. Then for the afternoon, he talked to us about Moroni 10, mostly about all of the things that Moroni *exhorts* us to do. It was pretty cool being taught so personally by a general authority.

The next day was way fun. We went to Japanese class first. The lady who teaches us thinks we are mentally challenged or something; she talks to us like we are five. It's kind of funny, and she teaches us stuff that we learned in the MTC, but she doesn't realize that we can actually speak a little bit. Oh well, it's a good opportunity to talk to people, especially the other foreigners who go. But later that day, we had a sports activity!! We and a few members and less actives went and played Futsal, which is pretty much indoor soccer in a basketball gym. It was way fun and great to be able to run around and get a sweat going. I'm pretty bad at soccer though, but I was able to score two goals!!

The rest of the week consisted of visiting less actives and members. We also taught our investigator, Saito San on Saturday. He loves to bible bash and he kind of got caught up in it. 

The bishop on Saturday visited a few less actives with us so that was way cool. The bad part was that we had to ride to his house first and it was way far, but I got to see some of the beautiful landscape. This area is so pretty. It is getting so green here and there are soooo many trees and things like that with hills. It reminds me of California around the Newport Beach Temple, like around Irvine. It's way pretty. And today, we are going to go see a massive statue of Buddha standing on a dragon. You can see the statue from miles away so it should be way cool. I'll take some good pictures.

Well that's about it for my week. Hopefully we can find some new people to teach because we are really struggling in the investigator category. But what Earl Choro said in his homecoming talk is true, we've just got to keep working and persevering and we will see blessings. Thanks for all that you guys do for me. I hope you have a great week! 

Love you!
And happy Fathers Day Dad!!

Elder Nathan Didericksen


More Izumi

The death curry

The rice fields from a while ago