Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Transfer 13 week 1

May 16, 2016: Week 81
Area: Izumi

Companion: Watanabe Choro

Hey guys!! Let me say one more time how great it was to Skype with you last week. I loved seeing your faces and hearing your voices. It was awesome!  And in other news, I hit my 19 month mark yesterday! Pretty crazy. Also Happy Birthday Todd!! I hope you had a good birthday man! 

This week has been a bit crazy. It felt super duper long due to transfers and me moving to the southern side of the mission from the most northern part of the mission. We got up early on Tuesday and I rode the bus for 5 hours by myself to Sendai. I've done that ride a few times by myself and I really enjoy it. It's nice to be alone and to have some thinking time to myself. That's something you don't really get as a missionary very often. I finally arrived at the Sendai station and then rode the subway with Elder Otani, another missionary going to Izumi, to the Izumi station where we met our companions. Elder Otani was actually attending Hirosaki College when I was a new missionary there and came to the Hirosaki branch.  

My companion's name is Elder Watanabe from Tokyo. He is a third transfer missionary so he is pretty new. He's a good guy. I also found out the other day that he is cousins with my MTC teacher, Sister Watanabe, who lives in Provo, and that Watanabe family is related somehow to the Sheffields if I remember right. I met the dad and the brother at Oakley one year. So that means my Japanese comp might be somewhat related to the Sheffields! Thats pretty crazy, its a small world. Anyway....

It's been pretty weird to be back in Izumi after pretty much a year. Looks like I'll be spending both summers on my mission in Sendai, which is cool I guess. As far as the work goes here, it's kind of dead right now. Neither of the elder companionships have any investigators, so it's kind of the same as when I arrived in Aomori in January. It was super dead. It looks like we will have to start from the bottom to build this area up again. It kind of happened in Aomori, but we won't have blizzards everyday in Izumi so it shouldn't be quite so bad. I sometimes wish I could transfer into an area with something to work with, but I guess I'll have to work with what I've got. That's the way it is. It should be fun to spend our days walking around and talking to people or knocking doors (for the most part....). You are bound to find someone, or at least have something funny/weird happen.

So with that, Elder Watanabe and I have been doing a lot of finding. We were able to have some good contacts and give out some Books of Mormon this week, but no one would give us their contact info so that we could meet with them. We will keep trying. Its pretty fun to work in a city like this though because there are people everywhere. There were a lot of people in Aomori as well, but most of them were over 80 years old, whereas Izumi has colleges and younger people and families all over the place. There is also a big soccer stadium pretty close to our apartment. It's home to the Vegalta, the pro team in Sendai. They had a game on Saturday and there were people everywhere. Im not gonna lie, it got me pretty trunky to go to soccer and basketball games when I'm home. I really miss professional sporting events. We should hit up a REAL Salt Lake game. The game looked and sounded way fun. There is an eikaiwa student here who is a huge Vegalta fan and is actually a sponsor of the team and there has been talk of getting a bunch of tickets through him and do an activity type thing where we go to a soccer game!! I really hope that works out; that would be legit. 

Also, they just put a Costco in our area like 2 months ago. It's kind of far from our apartment, but there are several members who say they'll be glad to take us there when we want to, so I'm way pumped for that. I hear it's pretty much like going to a normal Costco in the states.

Im trying to think of stuff to talk about, but when you have zero investigators, its hard to come up with stuff to report.....

Being back in the Izumi ward at church was pretty fun. Surprisingly, a lot of them remembered me from last year, even though I was only there for six weeks. They said they remember that I was tall and had a really long name that no one could say. I'm way excited to be in this ward again. The members are fun and nice and there's actually young people here too. Our ward mission leader wants to help us do activities and stuff, so I'm way excited to do some summer activities with the Izumi ward members. 

One piece of really disappointing news that I got is that the Chapman family, the awesome family from Utah that lives here decided to move back to Utah right as I come back. They actually left on Saturday. I got to see them once before they left, but that was it, so that was super sad. But before they left, their kids' school, Tohoku International, put on a play for the end of the year and all of the Chapman kids were in it. I was here last year for their play and I got to go again this year. This year was "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss. It was a lot of fun. There were Americans and all sorts of nationalities there. It felt good, especially being in an all Japanese apartment, to be with some people who spoke my language and had the same background.

Which brings me to my next point. It's definitely different being the only English speaker in the apartment. It's kind of hard at times because all they talk about is Japan stuff in which I have no clue. And even though I'm kind of a grandpa missionary now, I still have times where it's hard to keep up in a conversation in the apartment and be able to be a part of it. Its definitely been an adjustment so far moving from Aomori where I had so much fun and was seeing some success. I'm hoping it will get better as I start to get used to it and as time passes. 

Lastly, I want to end with something about Mothers Day. Since I didn't have much time last week to give a proper shoutout out to my mother on Mothers Day, I'm gonna do that this week! 

The other day at Eikaiwa in Aomori, I did a Mother's Day theme where I had each person talk about their mothers, especially why they love them and what their mom taught them when they were young. It was fun to hear everyone's personal tributes so to speak about their mothers. I too was able to say a little bit about my mom. I said she would even go rebound for me when I went shooting at the church because she really wanted to help me reach my goals pertaining to basketball. They were so surprised to hear that my mom would do that. I don't think many moms would do that for hours at a time for their son. I'll always treasure those times spent shooting the ball with my mom at the church. 

That's just one of the many things my amazing mother has done for me throughout my life. She is the most selfless person that I have ever known, always sacrificing what she wants or her time in order to help someone else succeed or someone who needed her whether it be playing the organ in the temple early in the morning, or staying up late to help me with the paper or project that I unfortunately procrastinated on..... The mission has helped me learn and realize a lot of things so far, and one of them is how amazing my mother is. I realize I could have been a lot nicer, a lot more helpful (especially when I see you cleaning the house or something and instead of helping, I decided to be a useless bum and watch TV or something), a lot more (add any other favorable trait) towards people but, especially to my Mom. I promise to come home and be a much better son than I was before. Im not saying I was necessarily a bad one, but I could have been better. 

People say through serving a mission, you actually grow closer to your loved ones, even though you are separated for two years. I think I can say that between me and my mom. I love you mom! Thanks for being the best mom ever and for being such a positive influence in my life. I can't wait for the day when I can give you a hug, hang out, talk about life during our car rides, sing around the piano, and have fun together again in 5 months. Until then, we can do that through email I guess. Anyway, you are the best and I love you so much! I hope you had a terrific Mothers Day!

Thats it for me this week! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Talk to you soon!


Elder Nathan Didericksen 長老

Monday, May 16, 2016

Transfer 13!

May 9, 2016: Week 80
Area: Aomori

Companion: Kudo Choro

Hey everyone, This is going to be super short, so I'll just give you an update on what's going on!

First of all, it was so good to see you guys over skype and hang out with you for a bit. I cant believe that was the last time I'll see your faces until I see you at the airport in 5 months!

So we got transfers this week and I'm actually headed down to one of my old areas called Izumi, which is right outside of Sendai. My companion's name is Elder Watanabe and he's a pretty new missionary, but that is all I know. I'm also in an apartment with only Japanese elders so I won't being using English for a while! Hopefully I'll survive! It'll be a ton of fun. It's weird to go back to my old area, but I was only there for one transfer so it will be cool to have a redo and see what I can do there!
Well, that is about it! I love you guys! I hope you all have a great week! Talk to you next week!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I just can't get public transportation down!

May 2, 2016: Week 79
Area: Aomori

Companion: Kudo Choro

Hey there family and friends! Can you believe it's already May?!?! Man it's going by fast. I feel like I arrived in snowy Aomori just yesterday, but that was like 4 months ago; it's crazy. I don't really feel like we've had spring yet, it's still just been super cold for late April lately. I'm so ready for summer, I can't even explain it! I'm pretty pumped for this week though, I mean we've got May the 4th (be with you), and cinco de mayo! We will have to figure out something to celebrate the occasion. 

Well this week was an interesting one. I had a couple of pretty funny experiences this week that I will get to later. This week consisted of a lot of finding, mainly knocking on doors. I used to absolutely hate knocking on doors all day when I was a younger missionary, especially a year ago when I was in Furukawa because that's all we did for a whole transfer; however, I don't mind it too much anymore. Yes, we still get a fair share of rejection and doors slammed in our face telling us they hate Christianity, but on the other hand, we have been able to see some funny stuff along with some good successes. We were able to find 2 new investigators through housing his week! It was way awesome!

I wrote about one of the guys we found last week a little bit. We knocked on his door and he actually let us in! He is about 85 years old, but he let us teach him and his wife in their genkan last week. We weren't able to make a return appointment then but we visited him again on Wednesday and he was in his yard doing stuff, so we taught him about the Book of Mormon and were able to give him one and commit him to read it, thus turning him into a new investigator! I don't know how promising he is 'cause he is pretty old but we will take it for what it is!

The other guy, we found in a tiny town a ways from Aomori called Aburakawa. We've discovered recently that the place seems to be a gold mine because we've found several potential investigators there. So we went housing out there and we were able to find a man named Yamada San. He was out in his driveway cutting wood when we approached him and talked to him. He actually knew what our church was when he saw us. There is a member family, the Sasaki family, that lives in the town pretty close to his house and he knows they are members (sweet, already have a good connection!). We taught a light version of the restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. He gladly took it and actually said, "alright, I'm gonna read at least 10 pages before I go to bed tonight". He also asked where our church was and said he wanted to go sometime and that he was interested! He says he's super busy with work and stuff but said that it was okay for us to visit him and teach him and possibly his wife! I'm not getting my hope super up but that was pretty exciting!

On Friday, we had zone training meeting where we talked about our commission as missionaries and what kinds of blessings we are receiving from the restoration. It got me thinking about what was made possible through the restoration of the gospel Jesus Christ. I was able to bear my testimony about this in sacrament meeting yesterday. We have the Book of Mormon, the priesthood, living prophets, etc. We have lots of blessings from the restoration. But with the recent excitement about the Sapporo temple around here, I thought about the knowledge of eternal families and temple blessings. I talked about how I always loved going to the many temple open houses while growing up in Utah because there's so many different temples and how I loved going to the celestial room. The reason for that is the two mirrors placed in the room that reflect of each other to make it look like they continue forever. I love the symbolism for eternal families right there. I'm so grateful for that doctrine and that Mom and Dad are sealed in the temple, meaning we all are sealed as a family.  

Thursday, we had another meeting in Sendai for trainers and new missionaries. It was kind of a follow-up orientation, so we got up early to catch the five hour bus to Sendai. I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful radiant colors of spring in northern Japan but it was dark and rainy the whole way down. The meeting was good. It was like the fourth time I've been to one of these meetings so I heard the same stuff again, but it was good. We talked about the importance of righteous leadership in D&C 121 as well as having Christ involved in any relationship we are in, whether it be a companion on a mission or a marriage or whatever. 

After the meeting, since mine and and Elder Price's areas are in Aomori prefecture, we got to take the Shinkansen back! That's always fun. We were in a huge hurry in buying the tickets and it was stressful. Elder Price's bean can't handle public transportation or anything slightly stressful for that matter, so he was freaking out, and the added stress with lack of time and trying to buy the right ticket, I screwed up. Let's just say our tickets were strangely a lot more expensive than usual, but I didn't really think about it because we were in a hurry. Elder Price and I bought the same ticket for the same car so we went together while our comps were in another car. We get in our car and see that it's way fancier than another car. I was like, "wait did I read the ticket wrong?". So we asked one of the workers and he said it was the right car. So yeah, we accidentally bought first class tickets for the Shinkansen! We stood out and looked so silly as two tall, white, teenage Americans rolling in first class with these rich business men and women. It was so funny. It's not everyday you ride first class on the fastest train in the world. Unfortunately, it cost a lot of money. I won't tell you how much, but it was ridiculously expensive. I'm scared to call the mission office and ask for a reimbursement for a first class ticket! We will see if I do it. So there is my whoops moment of the week.

Last story is that I crashed my bike super hard the other day. Surprisingly though, I wasn't hurt at all really, which is quite a miracle actually. Part of it was probably I'm pretty good at crashing gracefully. I've had a few good crashes mountain biking where I was able to not hurt myself as bad as I could, but I was protected this time. I was riding pretty fast down a hill standing up (my seat had water in it so I couldn't sit down) when basically my chain suddenly exploded so to speak. With that, my tires randomly like stopped rotating. It was super weird. But before that happened, with the sudden jerk of the chain freaking out, my hands came off my handlebars. Miraculously, I didn't crash immediately. Somehow, without holding onto the handlebars  and while standing up, my bike seemed to glide by itself like someone was guiding it. It was super weird, I can't really explain it. It glided by itself long enough for me to get a little control back and then I crashed. I went rolling over two or three times before I stopped. When I went down, I thought to myself, "welp, I'm screwed. This is gonna hurt really bad". But I didn't get hurt at all. I only have a couple of bruises. It was way legit. God protects His missionaries! I really felt that this past week!

Anyway, that's about it. It's the last week of the transfer so by the time we talk, I'll know what's going on. I think I'm leaving Aomori since I've been here for almost half a year, but I guess we will see! And it's Mother's Day next week! I'm so excited to talk to you guys! And it's my last Skype which is pretty crazy! I love you guys! See you in person next week! Love you!

Elder Nathan Didericksen 

Elder Price has this thing where he likes to buy fake money and take
"money pics". So what better place is there to take money pics than
while riding first class on a Shinkansen! ¥¥¥¥

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sorry, short time today!!

April 25, 2016: Week 78
Area: Aomori

Companion: Kudo Choro

18 months!!

April 18, 2016: Week 77
Area: Aomori

Companion: Kudo Choro

Hey everyone! Happy Monday!

With it being April 15th last week, I've hit my 18th month as a missionary! It's crazy how fast it's been going lately. It's strange to realize that I might actually have to leave Japan here pretty soon. The clock is ticking!

So this week was pretty cool. We saw some pretty cool successes and attended some really cool meetings, 

On Tuesday, I went on splits with Elder Okamoto, one of the zone leaders in my apartment. The guy is a stud when it comes to the work. He's also super smart and mature. Everyone loves him. He's already like 22 so he knows how to act around people really well. He also majors in music and plays the clarinet in college. He let me play his clarinet the other day and I completely forgot how to play that thing. I think it has been over 5 years since I've touched my clarinet! Anyway, he was a lot of fun to work with. 

We went over to the Aomori College campus and went finding all day. We were able to talk to tons of people, including a lady who is Christian and was really nice. We talked for a while and she said we could come back some time. We also met a young man who plays baseball for college. We asked if he believed in God and he said he thought there was a "baseball God" who helped you if you worked hard... That was something I've never heard before. Anyway, he said we could come back so we are going to visit him again today! But yeah, the split was super successful. We were able to find an investigator, hand out a few Books of Mormon, and teach a few lessons on the street and on doorsteps. I sure learned a lot from Elder Okamoto. He's a boss. The way he could talk to people on he street, make them feel comfortable, as well as connect the gospel to their lives was way cool. I hope I can better at that someday! 

The next three days were pretty rainy and windy so we were rather limited because we couldn't ride bikes and no one was outside. On Thursday we rode the train to a neighboring town to visit a member. The town was very quiet and in the middle of nowhere. It was nice to be in a quiet little town again; it reminded me of Kitakami. It was kinda fun. We got lost for a while, but we were able to finally find the house. 

While we were looking for the house, we passed a group of like eight year old boys playing soccer. I said hi to them in English and they got way excited. Usually, kids that age are a little scared of me because they aren't used to white people, but these kids weren't. They surrounded me and started asking me a bunch of questions like why I was here and if I could speak Japanese and stuff like that. Then one kid asked if most Americans are super muscular and I said that wasn't the case. Then one kid grabbed my arm and literally said to me, "let me touch you!" Then they all started shouting in unison, asking if they could feel my biceps. In no means am I a muscular dude. I'm just tall and lanky, so I don't know why these kids were so set on feeling my muscles. Well I couldn't really stop what was happening so I proceeded to stand there as I was surrounded by a group of like seven kids feeling my arms and stuff and yelling at me to flex. Haha! It was super funny, but really weird. 

On a more serious note. We were able to meet with gymnast investigator twice this week and were actually able to set a baptismal date for May 29th for him. He still has no idea what's going on I'm pretty sure, but he said yes! At least we have a goal now. It's going to be pretty hard for him to be baptized though because he's insanely busy all of the time and will soon be traveling all around Japan for gymnastics tournaments. On top of that, his mom isn't really down for it. All they want him to do is focus on gymnastics. But nevertheless, we were able to have some cool lessons with him and he still has the desire to learn and follow Christ. He told us yesterday that even if he can't be baptized here in the next year, he wants to go back to Sapporo after high school and meet with the missionaries there. So that was pretty cool to hear.

Lastly, this weekend was highlighted with zone conference on Saturday, and then with President and Sister Smith coming to sacrament meeting and then holding a fireside later in the evening. Zone conference was good. We talked a lot about the light of Christ, and how we are the message. If we live Christlike lives and develop his attributes, we can shine that light and the Japanese people will see that light. He told a cool story about Sister Dalton's son who served a mission in Brazil. He was walking down the street with his companion when a lady came up and stopped them, telling them that her grandmother really wanted to talk to them. So they found and met the grandma. She was in a wheelchair and was blind. When she was sitting towards the window, she said she saw two very bright lights. She called her granddaughter over asking what it was. She responded it was just two young men in shirts and ties. She responded saying,"go get them! They have what we need!". She was able to see the light of Christ through them, even though she was blind. Pretty cool story.

The fireside was good too. It was fun to hear from President Smith and his counselors. He has a pair of amazing counselors who have been a real blessing to the church in the Tohoku area. I'll have to tell you the story of one of them, President Seza, sometime. He has an amazing story. But after the meeting, I was able to talk to some of the members from Hirosaki, my first area! It had been a year since I'd seen them. When I was there, I couldn't really speak Japanese so it was way fun to actually get to talk to them. 

At the Taikai, President showed a video called "thank you from Tohoku". It was about the tsunami that hit this area five years ago. It showed some clips of places that I have actually been to that got devastated by the tsunami. I still remember the day it happened, watching the news live on tv. It now has a special significance to me now that I get to live and serve among these people who suffered so much. In the video, it showed how nations from around the world came to Japan to help them. It showed different Japanese people saying thank you to the world. While we watched it, everyone one in the room was crying. It was cool to see how the world comes together and helps each other when disasters like that hit. I felt such a special love for these people here in the Tohoku area. It's a privilege to be able to be among them and serve and love them for two years. I bet the video is on YouTube so I encourage you to watch it sometime.

Well, that's it from me. It was great to hear from you guys! I love you all! Have a great week! We get to Skype for the last time in three weeks! Wahoo!

Elder Nathan Didericksen