Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coming To A Close...

Hello everyone, and welcome to my last email from my mission in Japan.  The time
has gone by fast and my 2 year mission has finally come to a close.
Crazy stuff right?  I can't believe that in just 4 short days, I will
be able to see mom and dad and the rest of you will have to wait for a
few more weeks.  But it's coming fast!  By the way, I'm sorry that my
last email is late this week. I will explain later in the email.

So my last week was pretty intense.  Like I said, I was
able to go on splits with my district leader and we got to
eat Taco Bell.  So good!  I'll have to go again soon!
Next was temple day.  We were able to meet with a lot of our old missionary
friends and to say good bye to all of them before I leave.  We went to
eat at a place called burger mania where they are famous for their
cherry burgers, maybe we will have to go after the temple session mom
and dad!  They are pretty good!  The following day not much happened except plenty of lessons.
It's so much easier to set
up appointments when you have the, "I'm going back to America in a
week so you'd better meet with me while I can," card. lol  We were able to
teach 16 lessons this week which is the best that I have had in a
while.  Maybe I should leave to America more often!

So now for the good stuff.  You know how I set a goal to get 10 people
to church my last Sunday.  Well I was close.  I didn't hit 10, but we
got 8 of our friends to church!  This area is a little bit weird
because we go to 2 sessions of church, the English church in
the morning and the Japanese session in the afternoon.  So we had one
of our friends come with us to the English church in the morning and 8
in the Japanese session.  (One of our friends liked me so much he came
to both sessions of church).  Elder Free and I sang in the Japanese
Ward and it was amazing!  He is such a wonderful singer.  We had so
many members come up to us afterwards and say it was good.  But
besides that, we had so many miracles.  The night before church I got a call
from one of my friends named S....  I don't know if I told you about
him, but we met S... at a park a few weeks back.  He was playing
guitar and since I love guitar, I asked him if I could play too.  We
played for a while and talked about what we do as missionaries.  He
has been baptized before in another church but he loves Christians so
he said he would come to church with us sometime.  Last week, I sent
him a message telling him I was going back to America soon so he
should come to church this week.  Well, he called and said he was
coming and that he was bringing a friend.  (The word for friend is
tomodachi in Japanese but that also means friends too.  They don't use
a real plural way of saying friend so you have to pick it up in
context.). Well needless to say, I thought he only meant one, but boy
was I wrong.  Elder Free and I had finished singing and sacrament
meeting was almost over.  I was sitting next to a foreign lady
translating the meeting for her because she couldn't speak Japanese
and my companion was sitting in the back with 4 of our other
investigators when I got a message.  I looked at it and it was S...
saying he was here.  I open the door to the chapel and wave him in.
We sit in the front row and after I got situated, I turn to look at
S... to find that he has 3 women following him into the chapel.  He
didn't just bring one friend, he brought 3 women friends!  Elder Free told me
afterwards that when I sat down with all of those women, the speaker
stopped to stare at us and pretty much everyone in the congregation
was staring at us too.  They were probably wondering why I knew so
many 25 year old Japanese women.  I was surprised too!  Well, the
meeting ended and I started to talk to all of them and they all loved
church and how nice everyone was.  All the members started talking to
them too so they made lots of friends!  But to make things even
better, S... pulled me aside and asked me if our church did baptisms
for people.  I was sorta taken aback because maybe in Brazil and
Africa people may ask missionaries that, but this was the first time I
had ever been asked that before.  I was speechless for awhile but I
finally said yes.  He had me explain what our form of baptism was and
then about the gift of the Holy Ghost.  He said that he had already
been baptized and one of his friends had been too, but his other 2
friends hadn't been yet and they wanted to get baptized as soon as
they could.  Well, there were too many members trying to say good bye
to me to teach them then, but I got all of their contact information
and set up an appointment for the next day to talk about baptism.

 That day was probably the biggest miracle that I have ever seen on
my mission, besides the big day where we had 50 people at church in
Togane one week.  God really does bless the leaving missionaries as
long as they try hard and keep working to the end.  8 people at church
and 2 people who really wanted to get baptized.

Well, that's not even the end of the story!  The reason it was hard for
me to email today is because we met with all four of them and had a 4
hour lunch dinner lesson where we talked about baptism, why it's
important, how we need to get the gift of the Holy Ghost after
baptism, and we were able to set 2 baptismal dates with 2 of his
friends, A..., and K....  They are all super nice and
I was able to exchange some information with them so I'm going to keep
teaching them even when I get back to America.  I can't believe that
I'm leaving right after such a big miracle!

Well, I hope that you liked the miracle of the week.  It was the last
big miracle that I will be able to write about so I hope that you did.
It was seriously so cool to see such a big miracle right before I
left!  I will definitely have to keep in touch to help them reach
their baptismal dates on the 22nd.

Anyways, I think that's all I have time for tonight it's almost our
bedtime.  I would just like to say thanks to everyone who has taken
part in supporting me though my mission these two years.  I always had some
sort of email or letter to look forward to.  So thank you so much.
Even though I am ending my full time mission this week, I will still
always strive to be a good example to those around me and be the light
set upon the hill for all to see.  I love you all so much!  I will see
you soon!

Elder Stevens, signing out!  Love yah!

 
Sunday Visitors


 
English Class, Tokyo, Japan

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The End Before The End...

Hey Everyone!

You know what's happening this week?  I started my last week of my
last transfer!  And boy are we going to be busy.  As soon as the
Bishop in both wards announced to everyone that I only had 7 more days
in the ward, everyone started inviting us over for lunch dinner
appointments.  I feel so popular because this is the most member
lessons that I have ever had.  Pretty fancy!  But this last week has
really crept up one me.  During weekly planning, my companion brought
up, hey, so you need to start packing this week.  When are we going to
do that?  And it hit me, dang, I really do.  It's going to be fun to
try to make my bags under 50 lbs each.  But enough about that, let's
get into the good stuff.

So last Sunday was awesome at church.  President and Sister Nagano
came and gave our ward a surprise visit.  Yes, they are both from Japan
but their English is amazing!  We were so surprised to see them but it
was even better because we had tons of people at church!  Between the
other Elders and us, we filled a whole bench!  So it was me, S...
(investigator), Elder Hardy, Brother G...(member friend of the
investigators), A... (investigator), Elder Free, J... (investigator),
 Elder Nukaya, and K... (investigator).  And the Naganos were sitting
right behind us and we're super happy.  They told us to keep it
up!  I love it when we get caught having success in missionary work.
But next week should be even better.  Elder Free and I are going to be
singing together so we have like 5 people who are coming for sure
right now and we are working to get even more people!  Should be a
great last Sunday.

Now it's time for the miracle update of the week.  We found a sweet
new investigator.  His name is S... and he is golden!  We were in
Gotanda, a huge train station going to visit a recent convert who had
a birthday, when we got there he wasn't home but while we were
leaving, a guy saw us and quickly turned away.  Because of that, we
just had to talk to him, but before we could, he turned around again
and began talking to us.  He speaks awesome English and he is learning about
the Church in his college classes and he said that he wants private English
lessons.  He came to our English class, then the ward bbq, and then to
church.  It was pretty sweet!!  We are actually going to
meet him again today so he is the best.

Besides that, I was able to go on splits with our district leader last
week.  Elder Nukaya is super cool and we were able to teach lots of
people.  Also, we had the opportunity to eat dinner at Taco
Bell!  Yeah that's right, they have a Taco Bell in Shibuya, Tokyo!
They just built it a few weeks ago and it was the first time that I
have had Taco Bell in 2 whole years.  I got the quesadilla and the
taco supreme as usual.  Unfortunately, they didn't have baja blast but
it's good to know that Japan is slowly modernizing and getting lots of
great amazing restaurants.

Well, I think that's everything for this week.  I love you all tons and
tons!  I'll see you all again really soon!  Until then, God bless you!

Love,

Elder Stevens
 
Tokyo, Japan




 
 
Ward BBQ

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Fond Farewell To President And Sister Budge!

Hello Everyone!  How's it going?

I guess to start off, I'll explain the title of the email.  After two
years of working with our beloved President and Sister Budge, they
have gone back to their home in America.  It was so hard to see them
leave and I can't imagine having another mission president for two more
weeks.  It's hard to fill such big shoes so I wish President and
 Sister Nagano good luck!  We had a conference where the missionaries
in the Tokyo area met together to welcome President and Sister Nagano
to the mission and that was pretty fun.  Their English is so good I
was really surprised!  We pretty much had a big question answer
session and after a little bit we went back to our areas to teach
English class.  I'm looking forward to talking to President Nagano
more during our interview coming up in a few weeks.

We also had a really fancy fast and testimony meeting last week and
after the meeting, I realized that it was my last sacrament meeting in
Japan!  Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until after the meeting
and since I had just given a talk last Sunday I didn't get up to
speak.  It was a really spiritual meeting and the bishop heard me
singing and asked me to sing in my last sacrament meeting in Japan.
Elder Free and I are going to sing a duet together as a final farewell
to the ward.  I'm pretty excited because I love singing and music,
so it should be fun!

As for the rest of the week, rainy season has finally started, a
little bit late but with all of its fury.  I feel sorta like Andrew
did a few weeks ago.  We still had lots of fun and I even got to
go on splits with my old MTC companion Elder Free which was super
awesome!  We had a few lessons that day and we were so unified in
teaching.  Any of you who have been to the MTC probably realize why,
because we teach a lot together.  I guess all of our winging it lessons
worked after all! Lol

Well anyways, I think that's everything for this week.  It's hard to
believe that I will only have 2 more pdays left before I leave for home.  So
anyone who wants to email me before I go home better do it now!  Lol
Have a great week everyone!

Love you,

Elder Stevens

 
Soccer In The Rain With the Young Single Adults

Monday, June 29, 2015

Keeping Very Busy...

Hey everyone!

How's it going for everyone?  We had a pretty fantastic week this week.
Actually it was one of the most busy weeks that I have ever had while
in Senzokuike!  We were able to find 5 new investigators, teach 14
lessons, and 3 of our friends were able to come to church.  All in all
a great week!  At the beginning of the week, I  was looking through my
journal that I kept while I was here a year and a half ago and I came
across a family from Ghana who was investigating the Church when I
was here before.  I just had a feeling that we should go over there
and visit them so I looked up their address in the areabook and went.
Well the address was totally wrong but luckily I was able to recognize
the place where we were and from memory I was able to guide us to
their house.  It's seriously so amazing that you can remember things
from that long ago.  But when we visited them, they invited us into
their home and wanted to hear our message right there!  And they even
had 2 other friends from Ghana there with them and they wanted to
learn from us as well. So it was a super huge miracle that I was not
only able to remember them, find their house by memory, but also was
able to find and teach 2 new investigators.  God really does guide and direct us.

I was also privileged to give a talk during our Japanese service of
church yesterday.  They gave my the theme of talking about how we as
members can grow a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ and it went
really well.  I was able to invite a lot of our investigators to come
and see it and we were able to have 3 of them come.  And a less active
friend of ours came as well.  It is the busiest that I have ever been
during Church meetings.  We also had some friends come to the English
church with us.  So it was great!  I have a goal to get 10
people to church my last Sunday here so we just need to keep working
hard to be able to do that!  The Senzokuike area is really looking up
recently and I hope that we can even have a baptism before I leave as
well.  We only have 3 more weeks though so we better work hard!

In sad news, our beloved Mission President and his wife will be
leaving us to go back to America in a few days, and
we are really going to miss them a lot.  They have been my mission
president for pretty much the whole 2 years of my mission and it seems
so strange that just 3 weeks before I leave that I will have to have a
new Mission President.  I'm sure that he will do a great job, but we
will just have to see how the next few weeks play out.

Well, I think that's everything for this week.  Thanks again for all of
the love and support this week and always.  Hope that everyone has a
great week!  Love yah!

 Elder Stevens

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Palace Adventure...

Hey everyone!

How's it going?  Well another week has come and gone with a lot of
sweet adventures.  I would like to talk about 2 of them in this email.
As some of you have probably noticed on my Facebook page, we went with
one of our investigators to tour the Imperial Palace and it was so
sweet!  It's in the middle of Tokyo and it is so weird when you first see
it because it's just a big forest and lawns in the middle of these
huge skyscrapers.  They showed us some of the old guard towers as well
as the old Imperial Tower where the emperor lived in a long time ago.
Unfortunately, it had been burned down so only the foundation remains
today.  What I loved most about the tour however was all of the old
stories that they told us.  The first one was about 47 Samurai
warriors.  Their master was a warlord but he offended the Emperor by
trying to kill another warlord who hurt his honor.  The Emperor
commanded the other warlord to commit suicide.  He did and his 47
samurai didn't have a master anymore so after years of planning and
preparing, they attacked the other warlord that had hurt their old
warlords honor.  They succeeded in killing him but when the Emperor
heard about it, he commanded them to commit suicide too.  So they went
back to where their master was buried and committed suicide, all 47 of
them.  It's a sad story, but the Japanese people love it because it
talks about how loyal the 47 warriors were to their master even after
he died.

The next adventure that I went on this week was I cut my companions
hair.  It was the first time that I had ever cut anyone's hair and I'm
surprised that he actually let me do it!  I wouldn't have even trusted
myself to do it!  It turned out pretty great not ganna lie.  I felt so
powerful with my companion sitting in a chair and me holding a razor,
getting ready to cut everything I could!  It was a great bonding
experience.  I also got my hair cut this week, but I paid someone to
do it because I'm not as trusting as my companion is.

Besides that, we met with one of my old friends from 2 years ago named
the Prince family.  They are from Ghana and they love the Book of
Mormon and the Bible so much!  They just dropped off the map when I
left, but we got in contact with them again and we are meeting with
them to talk more about the restoration and how it can
help them.  It should be fun!

Just before I close, I would like to wish my dad and brother Ian good
luck with their 300 mile bike trip this week from Kirtland, Ohio to
Dayton, Ohio.  I pray that everything will go
well and that there aren't a lot of hills.  Those aren't very fun.
To bad they aren't having the trip in 5 weeks or I could come!  Have
fun and remember, you got this!  Love you all everyone and I hope you
have a safe week!

Love,

Eric






Soooo Trusting!


Monday, June 15, 2015

My Thougths On Being Cooked!

Hey Everybody!

How's are things back home?  I hope everything is going
great and it's not too hot or too rainy.  I suppose that a lot off you
are wondering about the strange title that I used to open this email,
so let me simply explain.  It is super hot!  So hot in fact, that even
while taking a freezing cold shower, I am still sweating like crazy.
The good news is, it is going to get worse as July and August
come around.  It may not look that hot on the weather app, but since
all of Tokyo is a massive sheet of unending asphalt, it absorbs
all of the heat so it is literally like living in a oven over here.
But life goes on:-)

This week I had to say a very sad goodbye to my Canadian friend and
companion Elder Faganello.  I am sending this email to him too so
maybe I should give him some compliments so he doesn't feel bad.  Lol.
Just kidding I love yah Elder Faganello!  He was a great companion and
we had so much fun together last transfer!  I'm going miss him a lot
but I hope that he has a fun time in Tsukuba.  Of course he will, I
was there and I left a fun area for him!

Elder Faganello and I had lots of fun adventures last week until
he left us forever.  My new companion Elder Hardy came
in and we have been having some adventures of our own.  He is from
Texas and super buff!  And he has me on a work out program with him so
hopefully I'll be buff too when I come back.

One of the adventures that we had this week was with our investigator
K....  Elder Faganello knows a lot about him, and you will all know
more when I get back home.  But, sufficeth for me to say that for
every lesson we have with him we have to have a member there, just to
make sure that we keep to the lesson.  So when we met him on
Saturday, my bday, we didn't just have one member to help us, we had
3! The lesson went really well and K... even came to church
yesterday.  He says that he loved it and he felt like his parents were
right beside him because he felt so good.  We have been able to teach
him a lot in the past week because he calls us at least 3 times a day,
so hopefully he will start progressing really well soon!

First of all, thanks to everyone for the bday wishes!  I got tons of
emails and Facebook messages so thank you so much!  For my bday, we
taught English class and one of the students, T..., knew I liked
sharks so he bought me a magnetic sharks head that I put on the
fridge.  The sharks mouth is open so I use it as a storage place for
my keys.  It's really nice because the fridge is right next to the
door so I never forget my keys!  After class we met with K... and our
3 member friends for a lesson.  The member friends were all super cool
and the lesson went amazing!  K... has so many questions and we have
got the answers for him! (Well the Spirit does). Then after that we
took a long train ride to a place called Koiwa where a Chinese night
party was being held.  There I got to meet a ton of my old Togane
Chinese friends like K..., W... C..., and C....  The best part was
that I got to play the violin as a special musical number for the
event and I also got to be the leader for one of the rotation lesson
activities.  I couldn't speak Chinese so Elder Lee, my old companion from
Hong Kong, translated for me!  Just like old times.  When the party
ended, I got to eat some Cheetos and Hershey chocolate so that was the
best present ever!  American candy and snacks are a rare expensive
commodity here.  By the time it was over, we had to rush home to be on
time for curfew.  So all in all it was a super fun bday!

Well, I think that's everything for this week, besides that I got to
see my friend F....  He was the very first person that I saw baptized
so it was awesome to see him again.  Well, thanks again for all of the
emails and bday wishes.  Love you all lots and lots!

Loves,

 Elder Stevens



 
Elder Faganello Saying Goodbye

Monday, June 8, 2015

Last Transfer

Well the final die has been cast.  I just got my very last transfer
call in Japan.  Elder Faganello will be
transferring to Tsukuba and I will be staying in Senzokuike for my
last transfer and my new companion will be Elder Hardy.  It's really
funny because I was his district leader 3 transfers ago when I was in
Togane with Elder Lee.  He is a really hard worker, so we will be
flying like rockets this transfer!

Oh, and one more thing, do you remember Elder Free my MTC companion?
Well, he will be staying in the same apartment as me for our last
transfer together!!  I was so excited to find out about that!  We are
starting our mission together and ending it together!  I guess we'll
get to see how much we have changed these past 2 years.

Well enough about transfers, let's talk about last week.  It started
out amazing!  We were able to find 2 new investigators right off the
bat. It will be interesting to see how they will progress.  I will keep you posted.

 The music concert went awesome!  I played the songs O Danny Boy, and
the Celtic melody that we used to always play as a family.  I borrowed
a violin from one of our investigators, Kobayashi, so he came to the
concert with us and loved it!  I was really nervous though because
right when I started to tune the violin, the string broke!  So we had
to quickly go buy a new string in the 20 min before the concert
started.  We just barely got back in time to perform. And the best
part of the concert was afterwards we got to bike back to our
apartment in the pouring rain!  And it's like a 40 min ride through
the endless hills of Tokyo.  I'm praying for you Dad and Ian so that
you don't have to do your bike ride in the rain because it's not fun.

Well, I think that's everything for this week.  I'm hoping to have lots
of sweet updates for you next week!  The end has begun!  And it's
going to be a fun ride!  Love you all!

Eric Stevens

 
Music Concert