Hey everybody!
How are you all doing?  We have had another amazing week here on the opposite side of the world.  So first off, I'm sure that you are all wondering what happened with the transfer calls that we had this morning.  Well good news, I'm staying in Niigata for another transfer so I don't have to pack everything up again!  But one of my companions is transferring to Nakano to work as the new presidents assistant!  That's my second companion that has been sent to the mission home to work!  I guess I've been trained by the best!  Oh and I still get to work with Elder Shibuta again and our old district leader, Elder Pronk, is coming to work with us as the other zone leader.  Yep you guessed it, I'm serving with the zone leaders again!  This will be my third transfer in a row working with the zone leaders!  Everyone in my zone now calls me the 3rd zone leader because I've been with them for so long.  And it's pretty crazy because President Budge told everyone that there would only be four companions in a threesome this transfer so I feel very special now!   Luckily since I'm with the zone leaders again I'll probably be able to go visit Sado Island sometime.  I love having connections. lol  I'm just so glad to be at transfer #3 because I'm not a trainee any more, I'm a real missionary!  I feel like such an old man now! lol
So about the oysters, they tasted terrible!  They were pickled and I hope that I never have to eat them ever again!  Tell Andrew to eat some pickled oysters sometime and let me know how he feels after that.  I was so sick, and we were late for our train so we had to run 2 miles in our church clothes to catch it.  But besides that the seafood is pretty good.  But speaking of food, we made some gioza (pot stickers) with one of our investigating couples and their family the other day.  They're Chinese so they speak pretty good English which is awesome!  The gioza was just so amazing and delicious!  We made them from scratch, the covers and the fillings and everything!  I'll have to make them sometime when I get home for all of you!  Oh and thank you for sending some of the rice pudding ingredients in the Christmas package.  I haven't gotten them yet but I'm super excited to get them!  I'll try to wait for Christmas to open them.  Except for the ingredients for the rice pudding.  I'm making some rice pudding for our eikaiwa (English class) so hopefully I can make it right. 
So about Skype, I am allowed to Skype for 45 min to an hour any day between the 23 and the 29 of December so anytime between then is okay.  So next week email me and let me know what time is best for you between that time.  I'm so excited to be able to see everybody again even if it's only for an hour.  The best Christmas present ever! 
Oh, we got to ride the bullet train a few days ago and it was super fun!  It was going so fast, like over 150 mph and you couldn't really see anything as the fields flew by us.  It's really the way to travel, especially because it was snowing super hard as we were riding.  It reminded me of the Polar Express!  Have you watched that movie as a family yet?  I made sure to get a video of all the snow as we rode through it.  Oh speaking of movies, have you seen the Christmas Carol yet this year?  I'm sure that Ian will really enjoy seeing it again. lol 
Well I wish you all the best this week and forever!  I can't wait to see you on Skype in a few week!  I love you all!
 
Eric Stevens
 
ps I love all the Japanese history that you are sending me Dad.  It's really interesting to read.  I had no idea that they still had an emperor here in Japan. lol
 
  
 
Making Pot Stickers
 
 
Pickled Oysters.  Not My Favorite Seafood!

 
The Japanese Bullet Polar Express