Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nose Hairs, Tree Lady and more Old People

Date: 4/17/2017
Place: Ise
Companion: Elder Buchanan

Sorry folks, I got myself sick again so this week's mail might be kinda all over. 
Haha I've reached the "ripe old age" of mission life where your body just starts falling apart. And also all of you gear starts falling apart and all of your clothes are destroyed. 

Our public relations activities in Ise are really starting to take off and get us some traction. We went and did service in the rain at Tree Lady's place. It was kinda cold so all of us huddled around a wood burning stove under a plastic/wooden shelter they had built while we carved branches into wooden mallets. It was way fun! Some of the guys there are deaf and it's really fun to try communicating with gestures and stuff. I love our Tree Guys :). 

The next day we had a curry party at our hotel Eikaiwa! But they didn't bring a Tachiai (we've been talking about this to them for a bit) so we still need to get that worked out. Afterwards we went to the church and had another intense round of ping pong with Shinji. Then we ate the best ramen in the world and made it back to the church in under thirty minutes, in time for Eikaiwa! Our Eikaiwa continues to grow. And by that I mean that all of our moms keep inviting more moms. We need sister missionaries here so bad! 

On Thursday we went to Nagoya for Zone Conference. Since it was a combined conference with Yokkaichi and Fukutoku zones, I got to see a lot of old friends. Sometimes in Ise, you forget that the rest of the mission exists. It was really good to see everyone and to hear from our leaders. Our leaders truly are, "mighty men of God." On Friday we got to go help the Yamazakis move a bed down the stairs and then did a bunch of work out in their rice field! It was way way fun and it felt good to be back out in the dirt again. My mom told me several years ago that I'd be dumb enough to get sunburned really bad at least once a year before I would remember to wear sunscreen. So far she has proved to be prophetic on all accounts and this year was no exception. So after getting roasted at the Yamazakis we ran home, showered, and then turned around and booked it out to a far away FI and invited them to next months stake 運動会(athletic meet). It's going to be epic. Then we went to Oyaji band (Old guys band) practice. 

The next day we went to the city hall and one of the oyajis (old guys) picked us up and took us out to the old folk's center where we got to perform with the band! It was so so fun! This is definitely the hand of the Lord. The Oyaji band is simply a band of random musically talented peeps who just get together and put together concerts so they can go perform for residents at old people homes. We had a great performance and, since Elder Buchanan and I are foreigners, they LOVED us and we made some friends. Turns out that one of the workers at the old folks center used to be an Eikaiwa student! She asked us for our flier so she could come this week. Also one of the band members took the missionary lessons twenty five years ago! We'll see what we can do;). All in all we have made a lot of connections and those connections are making more connections and we are starting to get our faces, and the church, out in the open. 

And then we had a good jam session with Tou Kyodai. 
And then we got sick and had to stay inside for a whole day :(. We didn't even get to go to church on Easter! And we had to cancel our appointment with the Dejis and with Hayashi Kyodai. It's ok, we'll make up for it later in the week. There is so much to do! 

I seriously love being a missionary! This is the funnest, most rewarding thing I've ever done. The Lord has changed me and rescued me time and time again. I'm grateful for a loving, merciful God that lets us keep trying over and over again. 

Ok love y'all! 

Elder Johnson 

Ps: they sell these jelly sodas in the vending machines here and I'm totally addicted to them. 
Aight love y'all

Oh hey random funny experience! Last week after emailing, we went to get hair cuts. While we were there, I saw a sign advertising their nose hair service (where they rip out all of your nose hairs. Yeah. That one.). This is Elder Buchanan's first haircut in Japan so he didn't really know what was going on. So I ordered a nose hair service for him without him knowing 🤣. And because it was cheap I got one too. It scared him so bad! Haha seriously the greatest haircut I've ever had. Elder Buchanan forgave me afterwards haha. I love this kid. 

Ok sorry I'll shut up now 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Shark in my fridge

Date: 4/9/2017
Place: Ise
Companion: Elder Buchanan

Well it was another grand week here on the Pacific. 

On Tuesday we tried out a new service activity that we picked up from an NPO fair we went to a couple weeks ago. There's this family that is restoring a forest and is running this NPO that cleans up trash, cuts out dead bamboo trees and is turning the place into a park/campground of some kind. The lady who runs it is really nice and she LOVES us! I call her Tree Lady. So we went there on Tuesday and helped pick up rocks and stuff. We made friends with the guys who work there and invited some of them to eikaiwa. Tree Lady loves us so much that she took us out for lunch afterwards and we got to have some very legit Japanese food. 

Then on Wednesday one of the workers that we invite actually came to Eikaiwa!! This is going to be a great service activity! It was so fun! Other then that we just did a lot of branch president stuff in the office. (And by Branch President stuff I mean I spent a ton of time trying to decipher the emails that the stake presidency keeps sending out. WHAT THE HECK DO THESE SYMBOLS MEAN?!) We had a koukan with Tsu. I got to teach their Eikaiwa, which was actually really fun!! 

Then on Friday we had our Hanami party! ONLY WOMEN SHOWED UP. This is our biggest problem in Ise. WE HAVE NO MALES. All of our dudes bailed on us last minute so we just had moms and grandmas. Also it rained so we couldn't really do a proper Hanami. The flowers were breathtaking though. The members spoiled us with tons of food from the street vendors so that made it worth it. 

Then the next day we had Conference. For the first session we had 7 people. By the second session we had a solid 4 people. By priesthood it was just us and Brother Higashimoto so we played ping pong for a bit and then watched priesthood. General Conference was the best! But as Imura Shimai says, "The same people who always come, come. And the same people who don't come, just don't come." 

We had a better turnout for Sunday conference but by the end of the second session our numbers had still waned just a bit. After Sunday conference we had planned to go to see the Dejis with Jone Shimai and Takayuki Kyodai but he said that he had worked night shift the night before and felt it wouldn't be safe to attempt such a long drive through the mountains. I can't blame the guy. So they went home and we decided to go teach the dejis on our own. We got lucky with timing and caught a high speed train dreaded south. It took us to the end of the line in Kashikojima. The Dejis still live clear out on the Wagu peninsula, which has no public transportation. So we waited at the boat dock until a boat came and caught the last boat of the day out to the peninsula. For those of you not familiar with the Shima region of Japan, let me explain what Shima is like. Shima is home to Mikimoto pearl, the worlds first and largest cultured pearl company in the world (or some I'm told). Shima is a tangled collection of crazy, puzzle piece shaped islands, guarded from the open pacific by the Wagu Peninsula. So we got on the boat and headed off for Wagu. We were the only ones on the boat so the driver let us go sit up top! The we got to watch the sun set over the mountains and the ocean as our boat dodged pearl rafts and wound its way between the little islands, some of which I think were not much bigger than my high school campus, as we made our way out to Wagu. Seriously the best ¥610 (about $6) I've ever spent. The Dejis picked us up at the little dock and took us home and fed us a luxurious, home style Japanese meal. It mostly consisted of various forms of seaweed, rice, bamboo shoots and fish. Some friends of theirs had gifted them a fresh Katsuo fish that morning so they gave us some incredible sashimi, and also treated us to a local Wagu delicacy; boiled cat shark. It was really good! 

The conversation naturally drifted to religion and we shared the message of the Restoration with them. They listened very carefully and accepted everything we said. That's incredibly rare among older Japanese people. They're so prepared! It's going to take a while to teach them but I believe they will change! The Spirit was present and the lesson felt very natural and comfortable. They gave us the leftover shark to take home. We gave them a Book of Mormon before we left. Deji san took us back to Kashikojima station (a good 20 minute drive) and we barely caught a train as it was leaving. 

Since we were the only ones in the station, the attendant opened for us a special gate and rushed us aboard just as the train left. We were told to purchase our tickets aboard. So we wandered the entire train to see what there was to see. This was easily the nicest train I've ever been on. We sat in first class deluxe seats until the train attendant came to sell our tickets. He then asked us to sit one car back (we were literally the only ones on the entire train!) so we went one car back which happened to be the "saloon seats." I thought they were nicer than our original deluxe seats. Haha so we traveled home in style. What an incredible day. God truly knows how to give good gifts. 

Love you guys ;) 
If you didn't watch Conference, don't be a shmeag! Watch it! It will help you in ways that nothing else can right now. 

Have a great week. 

Elder Johnson 

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Date: 4/2/2017
Place: Ise
Companion: Elder Buchanan

It was just another insane week in the life of a missionary. We've been getting way blessed lately. 

This week was pretty full of various teaching, service appointments and we saw plenty of miracles. A month or so ago, Elder Brown and I found Shizuya. He's 17 and he's pretty cool. We had a lesson scheduled with him this week so Elder Buchanan and I practiced his lesson and prepared really well. The lesson was picture perfect! We took him to the church where we played some ping pong and then taught him Lesson 1. At the end we showed him the 20 Minute Restoration video (I love that video because it brings the Spirit like no other video). After the part of the video that relates the First Vision, Shizuya turned to me and said "I feel something. It feels warm and good." After the video ended Elder Buchanan sealed the deal with a commitment to be baptized and we set his date. That was quite an amazing miracle lesson! All we need to parental permission. I'm really glad that Elder Buchanan got to have that experience in his first two weeks as a missionary. 

We also had interviews and Zone Training in Yokkaichi! So we got to see President and Sister Ishii and all the guys from around the mission! It was so good to see other missionaries! Seriously, in Ise we are in deep isolation. After the training we hopped on another high speed train headed south and went home. Kitamura san picked us up from the station in his car and took us out to go buy ping pong paddles at this tiny, remote little shop clear out in Meiwa. Again, we tried the Gospel on him and again, he blocked us at every turn. It saddens me to see such good souls who are so blinded and confused by the philosophies of men. 

Anyway we got some dope ping pong paddles for pretty cheap and then he dropped us off at the church and we got set up just in time for Shinji (Nicknamed John) to show up. We had a furious round of ping ping with our new paddles and had a great time together. We tried watching Meet the Mormons together but we had played too hard and were too tired for it to be really effective so we stopped halfway through and went home haha. 

Oh also my grandparents came down on Monday and took us out to sushi at the Kitamura san's brothers sushi shop! We did the 踊り食い (swallowing live minnows) again and they bought us Ise Ebi (shrimp)! It was literally the best thing I've ever eaten.

This week we were also asked by Hayashi Shimai to give her son a blessing before he went into surgery. So we went to their house and we got to finally meet more of the family! We met the husband and daughter who are not members and of course, her son who is also not a member. They treated us as guests of honor. Wow that was quite an experience. We got to give him a blessing. The surgery went very well and he's already out of the hospital apparently. 

Yesterday was a typical Sunday. And by typical Sunday I mean an absolute train wreck or stress and trying to organize and run meetings on the fly. That's another thing I want to change about Ise. Literally just about everything we do is kinda on the fly. There's not a ton of organization. We had much better attendance is week. We had about twenty members or so and had a great fast and testimony meeting. Haha 

on Saturday we had come to the church and set up everything for the Women's Session of General Conference but NO ONE CAME! I was so disappointed but it's ok. We're going to spiritually nourish this branch, even if it takes a little force feeding. So we watched the Women's conference for 3rd hour in church. After church we stayed at the church for about five hours and got a ton of stuff organized,coordinated and planned. Then we went to the Fujitas! Fujita Kyodai and Shimai warmly welcomed us and we had a fun evening together. 

This week is looking to be another awesome week of adventure and dendo (missionary work). Being a missionary is seriously the funnest thing I've ever done. 

Oh! Also we went and visited out flute man who lives across the street from the church and he gave me another Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) lesson! Haha he's a way cool Japanese guy and pretty much told me I have to practice, practice, practice or I'll never live up to his expectations. I love this guy ;) 

I gotta go practice this tradition Japanese bamboo flute thingie now I guess. Love y'all! 
Have a great week! 

Elder Johnson