Sunday, January 29, 2017

Elder Pelado (Bald)

Date: 1/15/2017
Place: Shizuoka City
Companion: Elder Nakatsuka

Ok so this week was interesting. 

It started off with me getting sick and being stuck in the apartment for a few days, which was not awesome. My companion was way patient with me and we just chilled in the apartment for 3 days or so. STAYING IN THE APARTMENT MAKES ME LOSE MY MIND. I hate staying inside. So while I was out of the action, I decided to try cutting my own hair. BIG MISTAKE. The last time I gave myself a haircut was a year ago in Matsumoto and I have tried avoiding it ever since. It turned out ok that time but this time was bad! I started off by cutting the sides good and short, and it worked. Then I went to cut the top but the clippers weren't cutting for some reason (at 20mm) so I tried taking it down to the next setting which was 12mm. After about 2 and a half seconds later I realized my mistake but the damage had been done. My companion laughed at me for about an hour and finished shaving the rest of my hair off. My first thought was, "Shoot I can't teach ZTM like this!" Now every time I meet someone they tell me I look like a high school baseball kid. Haha but I love it! I don't have to worry about helmet hair, or bed head or even gel anymore! Haha I guess you haven't really had the full mission experience until you've done something stupid with your hair. Well I had mine, just a year late! 

I finally got better, just in time for a day full of appointments. We went to Yakiniku King with the YSA, which was way fun, and then that same day we went out to dinner with Hitoshi and ate at Sawayaka. I seriously ate too much that day. Both appointments went very well! I love Hitoshi san. He's such a bro. The next day was ZTM. I had been feeling like I needed to talk about OYM for the past couple days so we taught on OYM and I think it went pretty well. 

Then we went on an exchange with the APs and I got to bike bag down to Hamamatsu with Elder Porter. We talked to a guy on the train and he was pretty cool. I love train dendo so much now. We got off at Hamamatsu and IT WAS FREEZING COLD. And the apartment was far away from the station and we had no idea where it was but we set off in search of it. An hour later we finally rolled into the apartment (it was like 5pm!) and we finally got to start our split with Hamamatsu 1. I went with Elder Tanner, a young missionary, and we did a little bit of finding as we bounced around between less active people's apartments. We were able to find anyone good though. We then joined the Hamamatsu 2 Elders, Cirqueida and Nelson, for their member lesson and it was awesome! Elder Cirqueida is a master teacher and used a funny object lesson. We had a good time and warmed up over some hot chocolate for a little bit. Then we went home. But We got home with ten minutes to spare and I really wanted to give Elder Tanner a good finding experience so we dashed up towards the church on our bikes, looking for anyone we could possibly talk to. We found one guy and started talking to him in the freezing cold night. He actually ended up being really really coolElder Tanner got to bear his testimony in Japanese and we had a really good experience! The guy said he would come to the church to study about Christ. It was a cool little finding miracle! The next day the APs took off in their car for the mission office and finally got to take Pday. They work so hard! 

Elder Nakatsuka and I bike bagged it up to Fujieda and got off at the wrong station 3 times before finding the right one. It was Fujieda's futsal day and we made it there kinda late. But We played hard and had so much fun! Elder Espinozaof course, completely wrecked us! A lot of missionaries and members came but some less actives as well as some nonmembers came as well. There were a couple of diehards who were really really good at futsal. It's so cool to see them just stand in absolute awe of Elder Espinoza. He's good at soccer yes, but he's also just a really good, personable guy so they all flock to him and he's kinda like their leader. He's so so cool! And he's just a way good missionary and a way good trainer for Elder Carvalho. 

We had a good round of soccer and my legs got destroyed, then we hopped on a train and at long last were on our way home to Shizuoka when Elder Taylor got a call from the Omura family inviting us to a mochitsuki at their cabin! So we dashed home from the train station, showered and changed as fast as we could and then dashed over to the church for them to come pick us up. 

They drove us about an hour and a half up into the depths of the Shizuoka mountains, where there was pretty much no civilization. I can't believe people live out there! Haha I've become such a city boy, living here in Japan with our heated toilet seats and high tech doorbells. I FINALLY GOT TO SEE A WILD MONKEY WHILE WE WERE UP THERE! And now that I have monkey hair, I looked like it too. We pounded mochi and deep fried a ton of stuff with them and all of their friends while listening to Okinawa music. It was so so fun! Seriously one of the coolest experiences of my life. I will remember that night forever. The guys there were really funny and we talked and laughed about random stuff. 

Sunday, we weren't planning on anyone coming to church but a few surprise people came, which was good. We haven't been able to meet Hara san in a long time but we are going to finally meet him tonight. 

The Zone is seeing crazy success! Our guys are working so hard and they are being blessed! Two more people accepted the invitation to be baptized and set a date this week! Listening to the call in reports is like a dream right now. Everything is going so well and all of our guys are working so hard! 
I love being a missionary. It's the life!

Love you guys! 
Have a good week. 

Elder Johnson

Monday, January 23, 2017

Drunk guys, tech support and Brazilian companion exchanges!

Date: 1/9/2017
Place: Shizuoka City
Companion: Elder Nakatsuka

This week has been awesome! President Ishii has been asking us to use
Family History in dendo for a long time but none of know the first
thing about using family history to find investigators so this week we
went on a little quest to find out how to make it work. We had briefly
tried it as a mission about a year ago but it didn't really work so
everyone stopped. The APs had a phone conference with the other
missions in Japan and asked if anyone was doing anything with family
history. We weren't able to get a lot a useful information out of that
either it seems so we were pretty much left on our own to figure this
hint out. So we borrowed elder Hovorka's mad computer skills and
printed off a bunch of family history fliers that he helped make while
he was in the mission home. By recommendation from Elder Coleman in
Toyota, I printed off a ton of family pictures and remade my 'My
Family' booklet (my last one got ruined by the rain in Inuyama) so
that I would have something to show people when I OYMed them.

ADD moment: We're sitting at the church right now emailing and Brother
Sasaki comes in and asks Elder Hovorka to help him fix his laptop.
After he finishes fixing the laptop, Brother Sasaki reaches into his
bag and pulls out a tablet for him to fix. Then he pulls out ANOTHER
tablet! Then he pulls out ANOTHER tablet! So currently Elder Hovorka
is fixing a lot of devices. Haha anyways. Sasaki is current favorite

So back to family history dendo. We had two exchanges this week. I
went with Elder Hovorka, armed with a bunch of family history dendo
materials that I had no idea how to use, and we headed out for Shimizu
in search of a less active kid. We talking to people on the street
along the way and the family history dendo actually worked really
really well! We got one! We oymed this guy that is actually interested
in making a family tree with us at the church! We'll see what comes of
that later. We never quite made it out to see Jun kun (the kid we were
hunting down). It was a cold day but we saw a lot of success! Then the
next day I had an exchange with Elder Ribeiro from Fukuroi. We saw
crazy miracles! I picked him up from the train station and we went
straight to the Old Folk's home and talked with Jichans and Bachans
for a couple hours. Then we went home and did some training and talked
about his area's dendo. 

Then we booked it out to Shimizu and found Jun kuns house, 
only to discover that the apartment was vacant! He must
have moved. After calling a bunch of ward members we confirmed that no
one has any idea where he disappeared to. Darn. Then we went home and
changed and got ready for basketball dendo. All four of us went to the
city's gym all ready to play some ball and meet some folks and then
discovered that we had misread the schedule and also open basketball
is not really a thing at that gym. That was way sad and we bought some
17 ice cream at a vending machine to console ourselves and then we
went home and changed back into missionary clothes. 

Elder Ribeiro and I went through the city center to go hunt down another young less
active but the OYMs were so good that we never quite made it! We saw
way funny miracles! We found a cool guy by our apartment, then this
guy that we talked to in the center of town ended up being way drunk
and invited us into the tavern he had just come from to meet all of
his friends. So we went into the tavern and talked to everyone there
and even got to hand out a family history flier! It was way fun and
really weird! 

Then on the way back Elder Ribeiro and I were talking
about American and Brazilian pop culture and of course, pineapple pen
came up. We were stopped at a light and started talking to this high
school kid behind us about pineapple pen. We ended becoming friends
and got his number. We laughed about that one for quite a long time
afterwards. It was such a weird, funny day of dendo! I love Elder
Ribeiro and Elder Hovorka. Way good guys :).
The fun part is that this time I got to stay in Shizuoka and just go
finding. We found around 4 guys I think. Not bad. It's been a good

Sunday we saw insane miracles! We had a bunch of people we were really
hoping to see in church and four of them made it so that was cool!
Tatsu kun came, Kato san (Matsunaga 姉妹's friend), Hitoshi san and
Nakamura (Shizuoka 2's Toothless Wonder miracle investigator!). I got
to sit next to one of our elderly members during sacrament to help
prop him up. He has a bad track record of falling asleep and falling
out of his chair during meetings. 

In Sunday school Kato san and I talked a little bit and she expressed that 
she wants to study Christianity as a faith! So as soon as class ended she and 
Matsunaga shimai and the sisters set up a day to meet. She's going to start
taking the lessons! I think she could get baptized very soon. Elder
Nakatsuka had a long talk with Hitoshi san while all of this was
happening and when I came back, they were setting a baptismal date for
him! My companion is a beast. I'm way excited for Hitoshi.
One thing I love about my responsibilities here in the zone is that I
get to hear about all of the success happening in Shizuoka prefecture.

Elder Yamazaki and Elder Cox in Numazu had a baptism this Sunday!
Brother Sudath is the first baptism in Numazu in three years. The
Elders and the Sisters in Fuji both saw a lot of miracles this week
and I think we might be hearing about some baptismal candidates really
soon. Fukuroi is also seeing some incredible miracles happening with
their less active guy they have been working with. Some very
unexpected blessings came from his return to the church that may also
lead to some baptisms. The Hamamatsu 2 elders baptized Ishigure san
about a month ago and now his mother is asking to be baptized as well.
More cool miracles happening throughout the zone. Elder Taylor and
Hovorka were able to meet up with Nakamura san last week and he's back
on track for baptism at the end of the month! It's been a really good
week for the zone and this week should be even better! Keep praying
our missionaries! They're working hard.

I learned a lot this week about praying always. Elder Bednar gave a
really good talk about praying always in October 2003 that I like.
There is a power that comes from actually praying always. And the cool
part is that you can even pray for help to remember to pray always! We
are being blessed incredibly as the mission continues the Baton
Fasting Marathon. Please keep praying for us!

Love y'all!

Elder Johnson

Ps: if anyone has ANY ideas on how to use family history in missionary
work please let me know!

Christmas miracles! A Week Late Sorry

Date: 1/2/2017
Place: Shizuoka City
Companion: Elder Nakatsuka

Sorry I didn't have time to write last week! The holiday season has been insane and we are seeing incredible miracles! So last week we were finally able to meet with Hara san. He's still way golden and still wants to get baptized! We set a date for the 29th of January with him. The only thing that is hard for him is getting enough time off of work to come to church. Other than that he's good! 

We had a lot of good activites arranged by the members leading up to Christmas. We went caroling at several Old Folks' homes with the members, which was way fun! I love caroling! The Tsuchiya family also invited us over for food, which was great. I love that family so much! We also had a huge miracle with Brother Takahashi. After caroling one day, he decided to take us out for dinner. So we went out to Sawayaka (THEY SELL MEAT) and it was good. Then afterwards he decided to drop in on Kita Kyodai because we were close so we popped in on him and had a good discussion about why he's not coming to church any more. Takahashi Kyodai is amazing. We just got to watch a master at work as Takahashi Kyodai used scriptures to teach Kita Kyodai and answer all of his questions. And all of it was in beautiful Japanese of course. Then Elder Nakatsuka bore a powerful testimony, also in beautiful Japanese. I thought I'd give it a go so I bore my testimony in what little Japanese I could muster and Kita Kyodai got a little irritated. Haha dang it. Anyway Kita Kyodai promised to come to church on Christmas anyway so it all ended well, thanks to Takahashi Kyodai. On the way out we popped in on Mostofa, Kita Kyodai's neighbor from Bangladesh. We invited him and his wife to the sacrament on Christmas and then went home. 

We spent the rest of the week busily inviting everyone we could the sacrament meeting on Christmas. Then on Christmas Eve we went out to Indo Curry with Nagakura Kyodai and the Elders from Numazu. Nagakura Kyodai has been less active for a little bit and we have been working with him but now he is moving to Numazu so we handed him off to our guys in Numazu. It was great! We finally found a decent indo curry place here in Shizuoka!
And then we went home. 

This Christmas Eve was far different than any Christmas I've ever had. We were so busy calling people and arranging rides and sending text messages that we didn't really have time to eat or do anything until 10:30 at night. We woke up early the next day and started frantically writing Christmas cards for the members. Then we went to church and the miracles began pouring in. Mostofa and his wife came! Then Hara san came. Then Reiko san came with a friend. People came pouring in and filled the Chapel to capacity! I've never seen it so full. It was getting to the point were there was no more room for people to sit and if any more came,people would have to stand somewhere on the sides or at the back! We asked Atsushi Kyodai, our ward clerk, and he told us that 88 people were in attendance. We had over ten non members there and a ton of less active members! Most of them were invited by the members. Our ward, which usually has around 50 to 60 people attending every week, saw 88 people on Christmas. The best part was when they ran out of water during the Sacrament. I almost cried. THAT's the meaning of Christmas. It was such a great miracle and completely as a result of the members faith. 

That night all six of us missionaries, with the help of our beloved cohort Sasaki Kyodai, took a bunch of the church's Christmas banners down to the eki and we passed out Book of Mormons. It was the funnest Christmas ever! 

Ok that was last week. 
This week has been a little bit slow but still really good! 

On Wednesday we had interviews with President Ishii, which was awesome but took a really long time. He was interviewing for ten hours! Our mission president is the hardest working guy out here. Seriously he's the best. 

Then we had an exchange with Fuji and I got to stay in Shizuoka with Elder Reis! It's been a while since I got to just stay in Shizuoka on an exchange and it's also been a while since I had someone to teach me Portuguese so that was good. Elder Reis is awesome and we had a lot of fun! We went on a Spirit Adventure and found a cool guy that we are meeting this week. Way excited to see how he turns out. 

Nothing really happened for New Years. We stayed inside and read the Book of Mormon like we were asked to. Then we went to sushi with Nagakura Kyodai. And then we read the Book of Mormon some more. Man I love that book! It actually does have all the answers. You just have to find them. 

Anyway life is good! I'm excited for New Years to be over so that all the people will come back and we can start working again. Missionary work is seriously the funnest thing in the world! Love you guys! 

Elder Johnson 

Oh wait I just remembered! Yesterday Numazu's investigator, Sudath, passed his baptismal interview! He will be getting baptized next Sunday! Fuji saw their first baptism in 5 years last week and now Numazu is going to see their first baptism in 3 years! Keep the Shizuoka stake members in your prayers! Everything is just going to get more awesome from here. 

Homeless Missionaries- We Live out of a Backpack for a Week

Date: 12/11/2016
Place: Shizuoka City
Companion: Elder Nakatsuka

Mt. Fuji squished

This was probably the craziest week of my mission so far! It was SO FUN! We saw ridiculous miracles! Elder Coleman and Elder Pennington came on a super exchange and stayed the week. Elder Nakatsuka and Pennington stayed and 伝道ed in Shizuoka for the week and Elder Coleman spent the week training and sending in various areas throughout the zone. On Monday after Pday, I packed my backpack and we rode down to the train station. We met Coleman and Pennington Choro there and I went with Elder   Coleman to Numazu with our bike bags. On our way there we ended up talking to an interesting Canadian chap. We got off in Numazu and then I realized that I couldn't remember how to get to the Numazu elders apartment. Haha we rode around a bunch in the dark until eventually we found it. We got home really late! So we camped out with the Numazu Elders that night and I got to work with Elder Legault for a day! The last time I got to work with him was when I follow up trained him back in Kariya, almost ten months ago. I LOVE ELDER LEGAULT. 

The legendary Pokémon himself, Elder Coleman

In the morning we got up and I gave them the zone training. We discussed missionary work in Japan and the reality of our situation. We talked a lot about personal conversion and giving ourselves to the work. Then we biked all the way to Mishima and visited a bunch of folks and had a lot of fun. We stayed one more night with the Numazu guys and then headed off for Fujieda. The Numazu guys don't eat as much rice as we do so they were kind enough to give us 10 kilograms out of their massive stockpile. So we packed all of our gear, bikes and 10 kilos of rice down to Fujieda. I got us lost on the way to the apartment again, which lost us a little bit of time but we got there! We did training quickly and then I went out with Elder Carvalho (say Carvalyo) to dendo and hunt down some less actives. I love Elder Carvalho! He's a small, cute little guy from the Amazon. He's been in the mission for just a few weeks! His english is pretty good and his Japanese is getting there. We had fun together! Then all four of us; Me,Coleman, Carvalho and Espinoza to a members house to give his mom a blessing. It was reminder to me of how important it is to have the blessings memorized in Japanese. I should probably get on that, haha. 

THE FUJIEDA ELDERS MADE US BEANS! I haven't had BEANS in almost a year. 

Then we went to a Peruvian birthday party at a less actives house. IT WAS AMAZING! I'd forgotten how much I love South Americans. It reminded me of all the South American dendo I got to do with Elder Gubbay. IT WAS SO FUN!! The Dad of the family is a master on the classical guitar and he serenaded us with lot of cool Spanish/Peruvian folk songs and we sang happy birthday in spanish for the birthday kid. And then we ate an absurd amount of delicious Peruvian food and layered chocolate cake covered in something that resembled brigadero topping. IT WAS GOOD. One of the funnest nights of my mission  for sure! Then we booked it home and barely made it back on time. 

We got up the next day and headed out for Hamamatsu. There were six missionaries in Hamamatsu. So we went with Hamamatsu 1 and I guess Fukuroi was also having an exchange with Hamamatsu 2 so it turned into a huge mixing bowl of missionaries from other areas! We got everyone together at the Hamamatsu apartment and did zone training. There are so many ideas and things that we are trying to push through and get people to learn this last transfer and Hamamatsu seemed to absorb it all pretty well. I love those guys! We had a great discussion on what needs to be done in order to make missionary work go in Japan. We started with the reality of the situation of the church in Japan and then we moved on to what we need to do to fix it. We talked about how we need to increase overall personal conversion in everyone, starting with us. We talked a lot about how we can increase our faith and help the members. It was a really good discussion. 

The Zone

Then we all went out and dendoed! Elder Montoya and I had plans to hit up Daiso for some stuff we needed and then go and visit members to follow up on a ward project that they are doing. But we really wanted to go hard on finding people so we talked to everyone we could. It was AWESOME! We started seeing miracles right away, so much so that we never made it all the way to the members houses. We spent all of our time actually having good conversations with people and even found a golden investigator! He's a less active Jehovah's witness so he already believes in God! He accepted a Book of Mormon and a next teaching appointment. We taught him the Restoration right there on the street. Then we went and taught Eikaiwa. Afterwards we had seven minutes before we had to be in the apartment so we dropped our bikes and set off on foot to try to find someone before 9 oclock. We ended up talking to these really cool guys in front of a photo studio and they both became potential investigators! 

We went back to the apartment and had a little bit of time to hang out with Elder Coleman. He has so many crazy ideas and dendo plans and so much dendo fire! We talked about a lot of things we want to change in the mission and how we can make things work better in the zone. I learned a lot about what has been working and also not working in the zone this transfer. I've now exchanged with everyone companionship in the zone except one. It helped me see how much information flows down to the guys and what they understood and didn't understand. 

Then we got up the next day and went to the Shizuoka Specialized Zone Training. President Ishii and the APs were there (btw ELDER PORTER IS THE NEW AP). I was pretty panicked because I wasn't able to go home like we had planned so I didn't know what we had planned to train everyone on. But Elder Nakatsuka and the STLs got everything well taken care of! They were so prepared! It went really well! I had been praying really hard that I would be able to say something meaningful at the conference. I hadn't even seen my companion or been home for a whole week so I was pretty out of the loop but God gave me the words to say and the testimony to bear at the conference. That was another tender mercy. After the conference we took the whole zone over to Hamamatsu Eki where the Mormon Show was setting up for one of their final performances before they break up the band. They drew quite a crowd, which was great for dendo! We talked to a ton of people! And the Mormon Show CRUSHED IT. They get better and better with every show and they really are professional level. It was incredible! I love those guys. 

Then we hopped on a train and finally returned to Shizuoka! We booked it to the church and set up for the Eikaiwa Christmas concert. It went really well! Also Hitoshi san, a guy who called us up earlier in the weekcame to the concert! He travels the world and bumped into the sisters at temple square, and then attended church in Germany and met the missionaries there. He called me up out of the blue and said he wanted to meet and learn more about the church! After the Christmas concert, we taught him a lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon. He's SO PREPARED! Please pray for him! He wants to come to church, he wants to learn more, he's just really busy with his job. 
After all that, I finally got to go back to our apartment and get rid of that 10 kilograms of rice. Just in time. We were running out haha. 

Then on Saturday all six of us went to Fujieda for a PTA performance thing. Basically Takai Kyodai in Fujieda hooked us up! We got to perform Christmas music and talk about the reason of Christmas (Specifically Christ)in front of a few hundred kids and  a bunch of parents! It was awesome! 


More PTA madness!!

Then on Sunday, President Ishii came to our ward! We had three investigators planning on coming but two of them bailed last minute. But we did get to meet Ou Haku San after church and taught him a lesson. He's doing really well, just needs more time off to take the lessons and such. His lesson cut about an hour into Stake Missionary Coordination Meeting. After we finished with that we went to the meeting. President and Sister Ishii were there as well. Our new stake president is Suzuki Kaicho and he's such a boss! We discussed member/missionary relations and talked about Ward Council. Basically we need to just get members and missionaries to understand each other more and communicate. We learned a ton of stuff in the meeting and felt incredible support from the stake and from the Mission Home. There are a lot of things that we want to help missionaries do better and the stake is helping the members with a lot of things as well. There's going to be a lot of changes coming from both ends and I'm so excited to see the outcome! It's quite an experience getting to see ward leadership and missionary leadership working so hard for each other. Our leaders are great men of God. Afterwards Elder Nakatsuka and I took a couple of whiteboards and hashed out all of the ideas discussed in the meeting and decided on the direction for the zone this transfer. We also made plans for our area. It's going to be an exciting transfer! 

Oh, also we had transfer calls! 
I'm staying here with Elder Nakatsuka, Elder Taylor and Sister Inouye are staying. Elder Handley will be going to Ise! (Good place to be for New Year's) And Sister Tsujimoto will be going to Toyota to train AGAIN and be in a trio with her best friend, Harada Shimai. It's going to be a great transfer for those guys! It's way sad to see them go. Sister Brown is coming to be with Sister Inouye and Elder Taylor will be killing Elder Crippen. 

Anyways it's been an incredible week! My faith has been strengthened so much by this awesome experience. I learned so much from Elder Coleman. 

Love y'all! 
Have a great week! 

Elder Johnson