Thursday, September 17, 2015

I'm famous!!

September 14, 2015: Week 47
Area: Kitakami

Companion: Kurihara Choro

Hey everybody!! Wow this week kind of flew by! It was great reading about your week! Good job on the diet everybody! Get me on that thing. Elder Kurihara and I went running the other day and I'm still sore; its pretty sad. Oh well!

This week there was some anticipation with a typhoon headed for the Tohoku area. On Friday morning, we got a text from the city saying there was going to be heavy rains and a huge storm coming. It didn't really come, however; it kind of died down by the time it got to Kitakami. I heard that further south in the mission, it got hit pretty bad, including one of my old areas Furukawa. I was a little disappointed it didn't come. I really wanted to be in a typhoon. Haha! I thought it would be exciting. (Just kidding!) Oh well.

Also, fall is here in Japan. The temperature has cooled off a lot and the rice fields are turning gold and starting to be harvested. It will be dumping loads of snow in no time!

My week was pretty good. It was a rougher week in regards to meeting with investigators. We couldn't meet with any of them. They all say they're too busy and things like that, so it was a harder one. However, some cool things happened this week. 

On Tuesday, we rode out to visit a lady that we met last transfer that we have been trying to turn into an investigator. We knocked on her door and no one answered, but as we were about to leave, she pulled into the driveway. We got to talk to her a little bit and it was really fun. She is way nice. She actually has been to Salt Lake a few times, which was way surprising. She is a hair dresser and has a beauty salon business and apparently there was some meeting or convention for that in Salt Lake, so she's been there a few times. She saw the Salt Lake Temple too so I was able to talk with her about that a little bit. Since she is actually going back pretty soon, she wants us to teach her English, so I set up an appointment for Tuesday where we will teach English and then teach her a lesson! We also gave her a Book of Mormon! We are pretty excited about the prospects with her. I mean, to find her the way we found her a few weeks ago, plus, the fact that she has been to Utah a bunch has to lead to something right?! What are the odds of finding a lady who has been to Utah from middle of nowhere in northern Japan?

After that, we visited with a family. We weren't able to teach a lesson, but the mom told us that her husband really has been wanting to meet with us and is showing a lot of interest. She told us to come back the next day because he had a day off from work. We went back the next day and talked to him for a bit. He is really interested that young boys like us would come to a foreign country and teach religious things. He thinks it's way cool that people as young as us have a firm belief in something and then would go out and share it. He said we couldn't teach him because he had to leave, but he wants us to teach him and his family sometime! I got his number and hopefully we will be able to set up an appointment with him and his family. That would be awesome because I've yet to teach a family on my mission. It's usually just single people on the doorstep of their house, but if i could teach a lesson to a family in someone's house, that would be super awesome!

After that, I had one of the sketchier moments on my mission. We visited a less active. Now that I think of it, we probably shouldn't visit her. We visited her apartment building and it's one of the sketchiest places I've ever been. She answered the door and Elder Kurihara and I got just a way weird feeling that made us really uncomfortable. She was kind of creepy when she answered the door, but kind of calmed down as she talked. She rambled for like twenty minutes; I honestly don't really know exactly what she was saying. I finally just told her we had to leave and then we left. It was a super weird thing. Probably a weird experience for my bean as well in his first week!

Friday was pretty solid. We had Zone Training Meeting in Morioka. It was way stressful getting there though. We got to the train station and for some reason, it said our train wasn't leaving until 40 minutes later than it was supposed to. I guess the typhoon knocked out some of the tracks with landslides or something, so it caused a big delay. We finally got on the right train and then had to catch a bus and sprint to the meeting. We barely made it right as it was starting. It sure was stressful trying to read the street signs and bus stops in a big city. I learned my lesson to prepare for those moments just in case you become a leader and you are in charge of getting you and your companion somewhere. Before, I just followed my Japanese companion around because he knew what he was doing. From now on, I'll pay more attention! The meeting was way good. We learned a lot about charity, the importance of joint lessons with members, and being united in prayer.

Saturday was pretty crazy. There was a big festival in a neighboring town called Hanamaki, so we decided to try to do some contacting at the festival. When we were walking down the street in the middle of the masses of people, we were passing a TV film crew. I saw the reporter look at me and I knew what was coming....she walked over to me and asked if I could speak Japanese. I said I could to a certain extent and she asked if I could do a TV interview! I was like, uhhh sure...... So she interviewed me in front of a camera in Japanese! It was nuts. I never expected to get interviewed on TV on my mission! She asked me what I was doing in Japan and what I liked about the festival. It was definitely an experience. My comp was filming it so I'll send a picture. It was super scary, but it was pretty cool! That is one for the journal. We also got to see this way cool dance they were doing all down the street. They were wearing these cool dragon heads and pounding drums. It was pretty cool. We tried talking to people, but they were more interested in the festival, so we decided to head back to Kitakami. 

Elder Kurihara and I were feeling kind of down and a bit defeated. We both prayed that we could find someone that would at least listen to us so it could pick our spirits up. After both praying personally, we saw a high school student looking at us from down the isle of the train. We pulled into the station and got off and decided to go talk to the kid. We started talking to him and were able to give him a Book of Mormon. I don't know if we will see him again, but it was a sweet tender mercy from the Lord after a week full of rejection. I learned that even though it is really hard sometimes out here and finding people who want to talk to us is pretty hard, that God is aware of us and our efforts and he will bless us for it.

That is about it for the week. It was a slower week with investigators, but we were able to get out, talk with people, and try our best in sharing the gospel and that is all that we are asked to do! Hopefully, this week will be a little different. I hope you all have a great week this week! I love you guys! I hit 11 months in the mission tomorrow too! It's kind of weird to think about. Anyway, talk to you next week! You are all in my prayers!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Elder Kurihara and I at the festival

Temple built into the side of a cliff we went to a few weeks ago

View from the temple

Really cool staircase we found in Ichinoseki. 
Festival at Hanamaki

Monday, September 14, 2015

The family reunion

September 7, 2015: Week 46
Area: Kitakami

Companion: Kurihara Choro

Hey everybody! I loved reading your emails this week! It seems like you guys did some fun things! And college football has started! Holy cow! I can't believe it's that time of year again! 

This week has been kind of a blur with not a lot of sleep and tons of change. I was in Sendai most of the time with new trainer meetings and things like that. First of all, since my hair was pretty long, I decided that I would cut my own hair before the meeting last Monday. I learned my lesson...always check and double check the setting of the clippers before you take it to your hair!! Now don't freak out, especially Mom, I'm not bald or anything like that, but I did take a nice chunk of hair out of the front, forcing me to do all I could to make it even with the rest of hair. So now, my hair is a lot shorter than I would have liked. It's better now, but I won't lie, it was pretty bad a week ago, just in time for my meetings in Sendai! I'll be more careful!!

Sendai was great! I got to see all of my buddies in the mission that I haven't seen for a long time, especially Elder Erickson from the MTC, Elder Brodie from Izumi, and my old comps Elders Canepari and Hill. It was one big reunion at the trainers meeting. It was awesome! The meeting with Smith Kaicho was way good. It kind of freaked me out a bit and gave me a sense of responsibility for my new comp. We really are their first view of the mission, so we have to be a good example and teach them all we can. I was a little nervous after that meeting, but also really excited. Afterwards, it was way fun to walk around the city at night with everyone and go eat and talk to people and stuff. Sendai is a pretty cool city at night.

The night before I would meet my new bean, I got to stay in the mission home! It was my first time being there since getting to Japan that cold December night almost 9 months ago. It was weird being there this time as a normal missionary compared to a jet lagged, deer in the headlights missionary like last time. I also got to talk to my MTC comp, Elder Hamilton because his area is in Nagamachi. It was nice to catch up with him because I haven't really seen him since we got here. I would actually really love to work with him again.

The next morning, we got up super early and caught a bus to Sendai for the new trainer/new missionary meeting. I actually ran into my new comp in the mission home. so we weren't surprised when we were announced in front of everyone.  The meeting was super long. Most of the time while they were figuring the iPads, I just listened to Hill Choro say ridiculous things and dying of laughter. It was way sad to say goodbye to him and Elder Canepari because they go home in 5 weeks. It's nuts!

After the meeting, we did studies and then went out to eat. My comp and all of the other
beans were so jet lagged and tired that they pretty much crashed while we studied at the church and did Eikaiwa. The next day, we got up early for the bus back. My schedule from the APs said my bus was at 8:30, but I get there and there were no buses going to Kitakami. After some stress and running around, I learned the APs made a mistake and my bus wasn't leaving for another 6 hours, so we were stuck in Sendai all day, but we eventually made it back to Kitakami alive!

So, my new companion is Elder Kurihara. He is Japanese, but raised in Hawaii and is English speaking. Everyone who sees him and his name thinks he's Japanese, thus acting like he's fluent in Japanese. At least when I was new, they saw me as white and clueless, so I didn't have to deal with that. He's a way cool guy, eager to work hard and improve. He's been super tired most of the time this week due to probably jet lag, but he will get used to it. It's weird to have him asking me questions all of the time because it feels like I was just doing that to my trainer. But we are doing well and are doing are best to survive and build up this area in Kitakami.

Other than Sendai, not a ton happened this week. I'm still getting used to being the leader in the area and taking leads in lessons. It's a little stressful being that if I don't understand something, no one understands, so I'm really working on listening intently so I can pick up everything. I've also gotten pretty lost a couple times too. Hopefully my bean doesn't think I'm 100 percent clueless! 

We did have a great lesson with Chieko San. We asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon, but she said she doesn't feel a clear answer. We taught her the role of the Spirit and how it works and feels. I told her when I first seriously read the Book of Mormon, I didn't receive a clear answer, but overtime, as I applied the principles and prayed, it gradually came. It was a pretty cool lesson. I definitely felt the help of the Spirit during it. She even came to church yesterday and bore her testimony! That's the first investigator I've had in church in a long time, so I'm way happy about that. It still might take some time, but she is progressing pretty well!

Well that's about it from me. Being a father in the mission field is definitely stressful at times, but I'm learning a lot from this 
experience and I'm excited for what is in store. I hope y'all have a great week! Talk to you next week! Love you guys!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I'm a father to a Hawaiian baby!

August 31, 2015: Week 45
Area: Kitakami

Companion: Morris Choro

Hello everybody!!

My week was pretty solid. I'll start with the big news. We got transfer calls on Saturday and I'm becoming a trainer! His name is Elder Kurihara from Hawaii! He's Japanese, but grew up in Hawaii. It's going be just me and him in Kitakami, so my responsibilities just increased by a lot. I'm a little stressed, but excited for the opportunity. So tomorrow, I go to Sendai for the new trainers meeting, then Wednesday I'll meet my new comp and have a new missionary meeting with all of the other trainers and newbies. It will be a crazy week! Then we come back and take on Kitakami by ourselves. I hope I don't destroy it! Pray for me!

Some cool things happened this week! On Wednesday, Elder Morris and I had our first lessons together as a two person companionship. We met with a lady that we are going to make a new investigator. She had been taught by missionaries about 8 months ago and even had a baptism date, but that fell through and they lost contact with her after transfers. It was kind of a hard lesson because I had never really talked to her before, so I didn't really know her circumstances or what she knew from last time. She asked me why there were so many Christian churches, so I'm like, sweet, restoration time! So, I start teaching that and she cut me off and said she already knew that. Apparently, she didn't understand it though or she wouldn't have asked the question. So, we explained the priesthood a bit and set up a next appointment. It was a little bit of a harder lesson, but it was all good. We will see what happens with her. The good this is we got a new investigator. That makes four new investigators this transfer that we picked up. That is pretty good compared to the rest of my mission. Hopefully, some good comes from them. 

Wednesday night after Eikaiwa, the Mower couple picked us up and drove us to Ichinoseki to spend the night at the elders apartment because we had DTM and splits. I got to go with Elder Hanson again. We have been in the same district for a long time so we were pretty excited about the split. We did some fun stuff. On the way back from an investigator's house, we saw a way cool entrance to a jinja, so we decided to go check it out real fast. Ichinoseki is an extremely old town and has a lot of history, so it was kind of cool. There was a huge, steep stairway leading up to the top in a dark forest. I felt like Legolas, Aragon, and Gimli venturing into the cave of the dead army in Lord of the Rings. It was way legit. I love Japan! Sometimes, I wish I could see what it's like to be in the other missions with cities and people everywhere, but I wouldn't be able to see the beautiful landscape of "middle of nowhere" northern Japan, so I'm happy where I am.

Later that day, the coolest thing ever happened. Hanson Choro and I were doing Books of Mormon by the train station when this 19 year old college student just approached us and started talking to us. He asked us where we were from and stuff and why we were in Japan. We told him we were doing this survey on religion and stuff. The purpose of the survey is a way to introduce the Book of Mormon to people. He looked at the survey and without answering any questions, he's like "I really want to read this book! Where can I get it?" We gave him one and explained it to him. He then asked us for our contact info and said he wanted to meet to talk about it and stuff, so we exchanged numbers and set an appointment! On top of that, he pulled out his phone and told me he loves American rock music. He showed me his wallpaper and told me it was Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. He's like "I love Stairway to Heaven, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Def Leppard" and a bunch of other bands and songs. He basically named all my favorite bands. This guy is pretty much my best friend. I'm pretty sure we found a golden investigator. I've never seen someone so open to talking to missionaries. We didn't even have to do anything; he basically set up the appointment and everything. Hanson Choro and I were absolutely amazed.  It's a bummer he won't be my investigator; he'll be with the Ichinoseki elders, but I hope and pray he can come to find out the gospel is true. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to find him. It was one of the coolest experiences I've had so far. I definitely feel we were placed in his path.

After that way cool experience, we went to a part member family's house for dinner and the wife's cooking is famous in the mission. It was way good! The funny thing at their house is the dog. Their dog is kind of like sin to some people. It may seem nice, appealing, and "cute," but in all reality, it's a demon. That dog is Satan in dog form I'm pretty sure. It's just this little poodle thing, but it's super fiesty. While we're eating, it snuck in my bag and ate some stuff I had in there. As I reached down to take it from her, the member yelled to not do it, but it was too late and the dog lunged at me and tried to rip my hand off! It didn't get me, but it was close! Every time I made an advance towards it, it freaked out. It wouldn't even let me touch my bag! That dog was evil! It was a way good visit though. They are a fun couple.

The next day, while the Mowers were taking me and Elder Hanson back to Kitakami, we took the back roads through the countryside and it was absolutely stunning. The rice fields are starting to turn gold and with all of the little Japanese style houses and the lush green, it was amazing. He also took us really quick to a famous temple in which half of it is inside a rock cliff. It was cool! You should look up Hiraizumi some time. It's famous for the history and temple there. I'd love to send my awesome pictures, but we are locked out of the office again.

One last highlight was Saturday night. We visited with the district president in Iwate prefecture and his family. His wife is absolutely obsessed with nato. Nato is basically nasty, fermented beans that they eat over here. She knows most Americans hate them so since she loves it and thinks it's funny; she puts nato in everything. She made nato pizza and nato ice cream (didn't even think that was possible). It was kind of gross, but everything else was great. They are a great family. I feel I can joke around with them and be myself. They are a lot of fun. And the best part is one of the daughters has a 2 year old girl. She is absolutely darling. She reminds me so much of Avery when she was younger. She was bringing out toy after toy showing me and showing off her tricks and stuff. The best part was, she prayed for the food in Japanese. Her mom was whispering it into her ear and she would say it. I almost died it was so cute. Japanese kids are darling. 

Just real fast, across the street from our apartment is a day care and lately they have been having all the kids come outside where they teach them choreographed dances to music. It's so fun. It's a little creepy, but Morris Choro and I will peek through the windows and watch them during comp study. I hope they don't see the creepy Americans across the street creepin' on the little kids.

So that was my week! Some really cool stuff happened. I'm excited for this week to get my new bean and start my seventh transfer. It should be a ton of fun. I love you guys! Have a great week! Thanks for all of the love and support! You're all in my prayers!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

The branch during the lunch we had after church for Morris 長老