Monday, September 30, 2013

The Field is Large

With a population of 13.23 million, Tokyo is a great place to lose oneself in the work of the Lord. 

Night contacting

Crowded trains

Urban sprawl
As Jesus Christ said, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."  Matthew 10:39.  Tokyo is a great place to be lost!

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Assignment


Hello everybody!


It's nice to finally be able to email you from Japan!  First off I'd just like to answer some questions.  I got mom's letter on friday and it was so cool to get a letter!  Thanks a lot!  I am sending a letter out today so hopefully you will receive it in 10ish days.  We can't wait to get your care package because they don't have american candy here at all!  Its terrible. my companions nearly mobbed me when they found out I had some jolly ranchers left over from the flight. lol  Thank you so much for all of your emails.  Its soo good to hear from all of you and I hope that you enjoy reading my emails as much as I enjoy reading yours.  Well now to the good stuff.


Well first off, I was assigned to one of the 2 english speaking areas in all of Japan.  I guess the Lord was reading the last email I sent that said I would miss singing hymns in English. lol At first I was sorta dissappointed that I wouldn't be able to teach lessons to people in Japanese because I wanted to learn as much Japanese as quickly as I could.  But now I am so happy to be here.  It still is sorta weird to pass by so many Japanese people and not be allowed to talk to them because we only are supposed to teach foreigners who speak english.  But all of our investigators are super amazing and I love them so much and it still is fun to just walk around and listen to everybody talk to each other in Japanese, even if I can't really understand them...yet!


On a spiritual note, we have 2 baptisms coming up on the 13 of October!  Its so amazing because I was able to commit one of them to baptism on my first lesson and on my first day in Japan!  It really is a miracle! I am so excited for him, his name is Bill and he is super amazing!  I guess the Lord really is moving his work forward in Japan.  We have over 20 investigators and we are finding lots more of them everyday.  I'm so glad to be here serving the Lord. 


I actually went to my first baptism the other day.  An eight year old boy named Ian got baptized by his dad yesterday and it was pretty cool.  We invited Bill to come and see the baptism and i think that really helped him to realize how important baptism was.


You know how everyone thinks that Japan is full of rice?  Well I am here to dispell that rumor.  I have not seen a grain of rice since I have gotten here! lol  We have mostly been surviving off of bread with peanut butter on it.  But we are almost out of peanut butter so I have no idea what we are going to do in a few days.  I did get to try some interesting foods while I was here.  Andrew will be happy to know that I tried some seafood and it ws actually pretty good!  It didn't taste like american seafood at all!  You all should come visit sometime and try it! lol 


Ok so now for some cultural stuff.  It is sooo different here from in America.  The first thing that I noticed was all of the bright colorful city lights that we drove through to get to the mission home.  It took like 2 hrs to drive there because the trafic was sooo bad.  I'll never complain about slow drivers ever again! lol  We sleep on the floor on futons and they are actually very comfertable.  It also helps conserve space in the appartment because we have 5 missionaries all crammed into one appartment.  Oh speaking of which I have 2 companions.  Elder Kerr and Elder Norman.  They are super awesome and they are both zone leaders.  The mission president said that they were going to train me to become a zone leader in the near future.  I don't know if he was joking or not but I hope so because that'd be so much pressure! lol  The zone leaders have to watch out for so many missionaries and they get zero free time at all!  They are always so busy!  But I guess the Lord knows what's best.  Now  back to the cool stuff.  The toilets here are very interesting.  They don't use toilet paper here at all but they have the fancy water cleaners in the toilets.  It feels so weird! lol  I think that you should import one from japan to use! lol  They actually work very well.  Hmmm, another cool thing here is that everyone here travels by train.  It costs like 3000 bucks to buy a license here so everyone takes the train, which is always packed!  I actually almost got trapped in the door of a train because there were just so many people and I couldn't get on!  They also don't have garbage disposals here.  They put a bag under the sink to collect all of the food that you wash down.  Its soo disgusting to have to clean that out every night!  Luckily I only have to do it every five days because we have so many people here.  And you don't tip waiters here at all!  it's super crazy!  I actually almost got in trouble the first time because I tried to tip a waiter and there was a cop outside!  Luckily my companions were able to get me out of jail! lol 


Well I have to go now.  We have to go buy some food because we are almost out! I love all of you guys!  I'll make sure to write another email next week. I can't wait to see you again in 22 more months!  Ai Shite Imasu!


Elder Stevens


September 23, 2013
Dear Brother and Sister Stevens:
Your son arrived in the Japan Tokyo Mission on Sept.17  in good spirits and ready to commence his proselyting assignment. We had a wonderful time with him.
Elder Stevens has been assigned to work with Elder Norman and Elder Kerr, and they will serve in the  Tokyo 2nd area. Your son can receive his mail at the following address:
Elder Stevens
Japan Tokyo Mission
4-25-12 Nishi Ochiai
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo-to 161-0031, Japan
Please send letters and packages by regular mail, so that we can forward them to his area.
Enclosed is a picture of your son with Sister Budge and me, along with a picture of him with his companions. We have also included a map showing the locations of the various areas in the mission. You can use it as a personal record of his assignments.
By the time you receive this letter, Elder Stevens should be adjusted to his new proselyting area. The positive sustaining support he gets from you at home will be a great blessing to him. May the Lord bless you and your family as you share in your son's mission experience.
 President L. Todd


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Learning Japanese (日本語を読む)


Eric is enjoying learning the Japanese language.  Here is a quick lesson on Japanese.

In any given sentence there may be four ways to write in Japanese.

1.  Kanji are characters borrowed from Chinese and cannot be sounded out.
     Example: 狗  dog

2.  Hiragana are characters of Japanese origin and can be sounded out. They have a curvy look to them.
     Example: こんにちは  hello

3.  Katakana are characters of foreign origin and can be sounded out.  They have a straight line look to them.
     Example: イエス·キリスト  Jesus Christ

4. Romaji are characters that are English letters that can be sounded out.
      Example:  Dore  which

Here is a typical Japanese sentence.  Can you find all of the different characters?

公園で自分の犬を歩いている間、私はハンバーガーを食べています  I am eating a hamburger while walking my dog in the park.

It looks easy, doesn't it. 

Konnichiwa From Tokyo, Japan

Eric finally arrived safely in Japan on a beautiful sunny day.  These 29 missionaries are the newest in the mission and the Mission President said that this group of missionaries can really sing!!  More pictures and updates will be posted soon. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MTC Provo,Utah

Eric entered the MTC on 17 July 2013 and has been having a wonderful time preparing to go to Tokyo, Japan.  We will include emails, pictures, and videos for friends and families to enjoy.

Hi Everybody,

Its time for my weekly update about my life here in the Lord's service.  Things are going very well here, I'm learning the language pretty well and I can now say a prayer, bare my testimony, read and write the hiragana fluently, and answer and ask simple everyday questions.  I just find it amazing that I am able to pick up on this really hard language so easily.  But I know that it's not because of just me. It's because the Lord is helping me every step of the way.  It rele is awesome to be able to feel the spirit all day every day.  This is a new feeling that I have never felt before and I love every second of it.  To answer some questions that I have gotten, unfortunately I dont see Dallin very often, he has a completely different time schedule than all of us Japanese speaking missionaries.  I was able to see Kasey Kilger the first day that she got to the mtc.  Luckily I was studying with my doryo right where the new missionaries were coming in.  Dallin, Kasey, and I are all planning on meeting up on Tuesday during dinner and take a picture in front of a huge map of the world that they have in the lunch room.  Hopefully I'll be able to send it to all of you.  And hopefully they are as excited as me and remember to meet there!  Thank you soo much for the ear plugs.  I got them yesterday and i slept like a baby all night!  I think the reason I got the package late is because they canceled mail of pioneer day on Wednesday, only in Utah would they do that lol  Sorry to add more things to the list of things that I forgot to bring but yeah, i guess that's part of what the mtc is for.  If you would be as so kind to send me another pair of bball shorts and my fifa world cup shirt that'd be awesome. we have gym time every day and its not fun wearing the same athletic clothes everyday you go to work out. Also I need a new pair a jeans because my pair that I brought has a huge hole in the knee. I have no idea how that got there.  but that pretty much sums it up for now lol

Spiritual experiences

Sunday here at the mtc is a wonderful experience.  We have almost the whole time here to read and to study the scriptures and to come closer to God.  But the most amazing part about the Sundays here is the Sunday night devotional.  We were able to hear a talk from a pioneer historian and it was amazing hearing stories about the pioneers and how they crossed the planes.  It was rele humbling to me to listen about their heroic stories and to know that my ancestor's were part of those wagon trains that went west.  We also heard an amazing talk called Charater of Christ by Elder Bednar, sorry i know i spelled that wrong.  It was such a spiritual experience for me that i can't even write it in words.  I would suggest that all of you watch it, especially Andrew and everyone else who will be going on missions. It was just that good!

My Awesome companions

I am very lucky to have the best companions ever in the mtc.  My main companion is Free Choro.  He is super hilarious! We get along super well.  I am sharing a room with 5 other awesome guys, free choro, hawks choro, johnson choro, wineger choro, and baker choro.  Every night we have the best time ever.  We always have a little devotional where we share spiritual stories that we have collected and its rele nice being able to have friends like them that dont mind sharing their spiritual experiences and testimonies.  Unfortunately I've already shared all my spiritual stories that I know so feel free to send any inspirational story that I can use for our devos.   Oh also Johnson choro had an awesome Idea to bring a japanese flag with him to the mtc and have all of us write our testimonies on it for him.  Would it be possible for you to send me a japanese flag so I can do the same. I think that be rele cool to be able to take that on my mission and home with me.

 Thank you all soo much for all of your letters, thoughts and prayers.  I can rele feel them whenever I am feeling down or sad.  The Lord has definately humbled me during the past week and a half and I and excited to have more humbling experiences while I am here at the mtc.  I love you and miss you all, I think about you every day.  May the lord be with you just like he has been with me while I have been gone.


Eric Stevens Choro   

How is everything going back home! Well its time for my weekly letter back home and I have lots to tell all of you!   Everything is going very well, except that I am usually always tired, but besides that I am having so much fun! We are learning lots and lots of Japanese and Gospel doctrine and I cant wait to learn more.  Unfortunately, almost everybody in my room and district is getting rele sick with runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and throwing up.  We have given them all blessings so i hope that they get better rele soon.  Luckily I haven't gotten sick yet, but Im starting to get a runny nose so it may be coming for me soon.  hopefully it's just my allergies though.  Well to get straight to business, we have been giving a lot of lessons to Nagashimada Shimai and everything is going amazing! Last lesson we even challenged here to be baptized and she accepted! it was amazing!  The spirit was so strong and she just started to cry when we asked her.  Free Choro and I just left the lesson and started freaking out and hugging each other and everything! I know that this is all just a fake lesson but it always feels so real! unfortunately Nagashimada Shimai is going on vacation to California for 3 weeks so we won't be able to teach her again till right after we leave.  Its still exciting to know that we have our first baptism acceptance.  I was also able to memorize the whole Senkyoshi no Mokuteki (Missionary purpose) in japanese! This week I am going to start learning more of the Kanji and memorize some scripture masteries.

The most spiritual experience ever!
Every Tuesday we go to the Marriott Center to have a devotional for all the missionaries in the Provo MTC.  What we didn't know is that the devotional was going to be broadcasted all over the world to the other MTCs.  As soon as we walked into the gym we knew that something was different.  They had potted plants and a big stage set up in the middle of the gym, and that's when we started getting rele excited.  We all sat down in our choir rows and I was like 5 rows away from the pulpit.  We sat and waited and Elder Richard G. Scott walked in and sat on the stand.  As soon as he walked into the room I could feel the spirit soo strong and I knew that he was called of God to be an apostle.  We sang our choir number and sat down.  The choir song was amazing! Apparently I was on the camera for the broad cast for a lot! its probably because of my beautiful face! lol  So if you can watch it you can see me! But back to Elder Scott.  He stood up and the first thing he said was to all the missionaries learning another language.  He gave us an Apostolic blessing that we would be able to learn the language quickly according to our faith in Jesus Christ. I have already felt the benefits of this blessing.  And the second thing that he blessed us with is that we would be able to get along with all of our companions that we have while on our mission.  I felt the power behind his words as he said them so I know that what he said is true.  He gave us a talk about the importance of prayer in our lives.  It was just so amazing.  At the end of his talk, he bore his testimony and I thought he was about to close and I was rele sad and I said to myself, please don't go, I want you to stay, please don't go.  I felt like the Nephites when Jesus came and visited them and was about to leave.  And after I said these words to myself, he paused for a little bit, looked at the crowd, and continued to promise us blessings and to talk about his wife.  This went on for another 10 min before he closed his talk and sat down.  I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and love, and I don't know if he continued to speak only because of my prayer, but I knew that God had answered me and that he had allowed Elder Scott to speak more for my benefit, in a small measure.  

I am so grateful to be able to have all of these wonderful experiences and I hope that you will all be able to have some of your own spiritual experiences.

Love you all,
Eric Stevens