Monday, October 28, 2013

Transfers! Niigata, Japan 新潟

Hey everybody!  How are you all doing?
Wow it has been such a busy week and I don't know where to begin talking about it!  So the picture I sent you today is the lake that is right next to our apartment at night.  I really liked the pretty lights there and I thought that you would enjoy it.  But no, I didn't take it during the typhoon.  That's crazy to hear that we had a tsunami while I was here.  I hadn't even heard about it so thanks for the news.  I did hear that we had an earthquake though, but I slept right through it and I can't believe that I missed it!  My first earthquake and I totally missed it!  So guess what happened this week, the cops pulled me in for questioning again.  That's the 3rd time that has happened and I have no idea what they have against me!  All I was doing was passing our flyers for our free English class and they came over and took my id card and all of my info.  And to make things worse, my companions were at different parts of the train station handing our flyers so I was sorta by myself so I had no one to translate for me!  I have no idea what happened but they didn't cart me off to jail so I guess that's good.  And I got my id back so I'm safe...for now. lol  Also right after that incident I found a new investigator, all by myself, and with the Lord of course.  His name is N... and he is a big mathematical person.  He is Jewish but not practicing and he wants me to tell him how I can believe in a god at all when there is no evidence that there is one in the first place.  So we are meeting him again on Tuesday for a lesson.  It was pretty amazing to get a return appointment with a guy on the street without any help from my companions.
So now for the point that you all have been waiting for, transfer calls!  And I was totally right, I am getting transferred.  They are sending me to the most northern part of our mission, the Niigata area.  I will be serving with the two zone leaders who are in that area and it sounds like a lot of fun!  Idk why they keep setting me up with zone leaders, I guess I just need all of the help that I can get!  And actually one of my companions Elder Kerr is now one of the assistants to the president!  It's pretty crazy to think that I was getting trained by that awesome of a missionary!!  But Niigata is suppose to be super cold, especially during the winter.  Which is exactly when I'll be there.  They usually get about 6 feet of snow every winter minimum and I have heard stories of the apartments getting so cold that the water in the toilet freezes!  It'll be just like the Klondike derby all over again! lol  So if you see a lot of money leave my account today it's because I'm going to be buying a lot of new warmer clothes.  Another thing about this area is that it is Japanese speaking!!  So I'll actually be able to practice up on my Japanese a little more than in my area right now.  The only thing is I will have to leave all of the new friends that I have met in this area. :(  I am going to miss them, especially F.... doing super awesome after his baptism.  We still meet with him twice a week and he is still super stoked to serve a mission. He says that he wants to serve in a mission in Ohio so that he can meet my family and so that when I get back that we can hang our for awhile. lol  He's so cool and now whenever he says a prayer he prays that Ohio State will do well in all of their games.  He also always updates me on all of the games that they play.  I was actually giving my talk at church yesterday during the Ohio State v Penn State game and every time Ohio scored he'd make a big touch down sign with his hands!  It was a little distracting but super funny!  I love that guy!  After I leave I have no idea who is going to update me on how well Ohio's doing.  Maybe that's why they're transferring me! lol  Oh and my talk went really well yesterday, so thank you for all of your prayers!  I really appreciate it a lot!
Well I have to go to a lesson right now with a guy named A...!  He's from California and he is convinced that the crusades took place in the Americas so it should be a very interesting lesson!  I have no idea why people can always meet on Mondays but no other day.  But oh well!  I hope that everything is going awesome for you all and that you have another amazing week!  My next email will come all the way from Niigata!  Love you all so much!
Elder Eric Stevens
A few extra things...
Ok so I just had a few informational things that I need to share.  So first off, I get to ride the bullet train to Niigata!  I just found that out and I'm super excited!  It a 5 hr. trip by bullet train and it costs like $200 to get there so I hope that I get reimbursed!  But I'm still really excited to go.  But I'm still really sad to leave my new friend F... behind.  It was so hard to call him this morning and tell him I was leaving.  He was so surprised and was like "wait, you just got here why do you have to leave soo soon."  We are meeting him later tonight and on Wednesday so at least I get to see him a few more times before I go. 
And another thing, my companions suggested that I buy an electronic Japanese dictionary before I go to the boonies in Niigata so I am going to the store today to buy an electronic dictionary.  They cost like $200 so when $200 disappears from my account it's because of that.  So don't be too surprised.  But apparently the dictionaries are really fancy and you can even draw kanji on them on a fancy screen and it tells you what the kanji means in Japanese and English, because you can't really sound out Kanji. lol
Well that's all for this week. I'll see you on the other side!  Love you all!
Elder Eric Stevens
PS  I think that the letter that you sent last week got misplaced.  I guess that's what happens when you live so far away.  Oh well I hope to get the next one!
love yah!
Thumb =Tokyo, Index finger=Niigata
Distance 201 miles

Pretty night lights reflexing off lake near our apartment
Tokyo, Japan
My New Area
Rice Fields, Niigata Plains

  Fall Colors Yahiko, Niigata, Japan
Peak colors: last week of October first week of November
Mountains outside of Niigata, Japan

Bullet Trains
Max. Operating Speed 200 mph

Fishing Port, Niigata, Japan

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Typhoon and More...

Konnichiwa minasan!  こんにちは
How is everybody doing?  Thank you for all of the emails that you sent me this week, I officially got more than both of my companions combined! lol  and Thank you so much grandma and grandpa Stevens for the care package that you sent me this week!  It was super amazing to have American candy again!  I'd forgotten how sweet it tasted! lol  So thanks!   We are all doing super awesome over here on the opposite side of the world! To answer mom's question, I didn't baptize any of the converts but I did witness for all of them.  We always try to have ward members baptize the converts so that they have an unbreakable tie to the ward.  All the missionaries will leave Japan someday so we just want to make sure that the converts have friends in the church.  The baptisms were so amazing!  F... gave his testimony at the end of the baptism and to end his testimony he said, " In the name of Jesus Christ Amen,  Go Buckeyes!"  It was so awesome!  As soon as he found out that I was an Ohio State fan, he started to pray for them at the end of every lesson.  He also updates me on their stats every time we meet!  It's so cool to have been able to meet such an awesome friend.  He is also thinking of serving a mission in a year and I can't wait to go to the temple with him to get his endowments.  Speaking of the temple, we went earlier today and it was super amazing!  I loved being able to feel the Spirit in the House of the Lord again. 
About the typhoon that happened this week.  It was supposedly the biggest one that they'd seen in 10 years, but nothing really happened.  I slept through most of it and it wasn't too bad.  All the train stations were closed the whole day because of it which was very inconvenient because we needed to go to some hospital that was a one hour train ride away!  But the night before the typhoon we had to go to an appointment at an investigator named U... house.  He lives about 30 min away by bike and we decided to brave the weather and bike there.  The journey there was relatively fine but the way back was super windy and rainy.  And I'm here to tell you that it is not fun biking when you can barely see in front of you and when the wind is always trying to throw you into oncoming traffic.  And at one point I tried to jump a curb but my tire slipped in a puddle and I totally missed.  I flew from my bike and banged my knee up pretty bad.  It was not fun trying to bike home after that but we eventually made it.  Luckily we found out that my knee wasn't broken or anything so I guess the Lord was really watching out for me.  And we all learned a valuable lesson, don't ride your bike in a typhoon!! So we may have to stay in our apartment this Saturday because apparently we are having another really bad typhoon coming our way.  I hope not though because we have a Halloween party at the church then and there's supposed to be a lot of American candy!  And also we have like 10 investigators who say they are going to come. 
Well I think that's all of the cool stories that I have to share this week, oh wait one more thing, I'm giving a talk in sacrament meeting this week on Elder Uchtdorf's talk, "Come Join with Us."  So I probably am going to need a lot of prayers!  Luckily the talk is in English so it shouldn't be too hard.  I hope that it goes ok.  Well I wish all of you back home the best!  Make sure you have another amazing week!  I will see you all then! 
ai shite imasu yo!
Eric Stevens Choro

Tokyo Temple

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 14, 2013

One Month In Japan 日本

Hello Everybody!
Where to begin?  About the pictures I sent, I am in the regular Tokyo mission but we are in the southern border of the mission and since we are in a ex-patriot ward, our area actually goes out of the mission.  So technically I serve in both the south and Tokyo mission.  lol  It felt so weird to leave the mission boundaries yesterday to visit our bishop, but don't worry, we had permission from our president.  And the picture I sent of the building was the south mission home and not our apartment.  I'll take some pictures tonight and send them to you soon.  General Conference was super awesome.  I hope that all the talks pumped you up as much as me!  I loved hearing all the talks about missionary work.  We actually watched conference at a members house the Mandoza's.  They have invited us over for dinner like 3 times in 4 weeks!  They're so awesome and we love their American cooking.  And about the cookbook I still haven't been able to use it yet.  We don't have very much time to eat and we don't even have an oven!  So usually we just have rice unless we eat out or at a member's house.
So we are in the Senzoku-ike area located on the Ikegami line.  We also go to the train station in G... a lot so you can look up that area too.  We are in a suburb area so its not as crazy as the Tokyo area. lol  And maybe you'll even be able to find my apartment when I send you the picture. lol
Have any of you ever heard of a tim tam before?  Well a tim tam is my new favorite candy bar from Australia and you all should try it sometime if you ever have the chance.  So to make a tim tam you need to make some hot chocolate and bite off both ends of the tim tam.  Then you suck the hot chocolate from the cup with the tim tam like a big straw!  It tastes so amazing!  But after like 4 or 5 you start getting a little sick so I would suggest that you don't have too many. lol 
We are meeting with a lot of new investigators now, and one of them is a Muslim named S...  He is my new favorite person!  He is just so curious to learn more and he is the nicest person I have ever met.  But unfortunately since he is from Iran we are apparently not allowed to teach him at all.  It breaks my heart to see him at church on Sundays and to know that there isn't really anything more we can do to help him.  I hope that the Lord provides a way for him to be able to be baptized and to learn more someday.
So we are getting really excited for the 3 baptisms this weekend.  The district leader is actually interviewing B... right now as we speak.  The members are also super excited.  We have been getting so many dinner dates set up with the members and we are able to bring investigators to almost all of them.  It really is an amazing way for the investigators to bond with members of the church.  I would totally suggest it for back home because it really works. 
Transfers are coming in 2 weeks and I can't believe they are almost here.  We have been warned by our president that one of our companionships is going to be leaving next transfer because we have so many missionaries in our area.  We currently have 9 missionaries serving here and apparently we are doing just such a great job that they want us to spread all of the success.  I'm also sorta freaking out about transfers right now because the APs (Assistants to President) keep telling me that the only reason that they set me up with the zone leaders is because they want me to start training missionaries soon.  I feel like there's no way that I will be ready by then.  They are starting to make transferred missionaries train now because we have so many new missionaries, so it could be possible.  But I know that the Lord will help me.
Ok so I have to go now.  We are going to eat dinner with a member at Outback steak house!  I'm so excited to have some more American food!  My companions say that it won't last so I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can now. lol  I love and miss all of you guys.  Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers. 
Elder Stevens
P.S.  We are going to the temple next week so my p-day next week is on Tuesday so I won't be able to email until then.  Sorry.  Well I love you all!

Kitchen (notice short door frames)
Need lots of Motrin for headaches!

Study Room
Great Companions

Monday, October 7, 2013

Visit to the Police Station

First of all I'd like to apologize for not being able to email you last Monday.  We had to go shopping for my bike and for groceries and then we got pulled in for questioning by the police so I had like 0 time for emailing.  I feel really bad about it so Ill try to make this letter super awesome! 
First of all, thank you so much for all of the letters that I have received.  I've gotten like 6 and all of my companions are super jealous, especially about the package with lots of goodies in it!  It always makes me feel so loved to get them so thanks a bunch!  Have you gotten any of the pictures that I sent you the past 2 weeks?  Ill try to send them again because I guess you didn't get them last week.
Well its been raining everyday here for the past few weeks and all of my clothes are pretty wet.  I also found out that all of my ties that I brought are 100% silk so Ill have to buy some new ones so that they don't get too ruined.  And good news, I found some toilet paper at the store the other day!  And of course I bought some!  It's pink and smells like flowers.  Sorry, that was just a random fact of the day. lol 
So about the police thing.  I'm sure that you'd love to know a little more about that.  We were on our way to the grocery store and we stopped by the police station to ask them for directions on how to get there.  We pull up and the policeman comes out and asks us to show him our gaijin cards (foreigner) as we call them.  Well since I don't know Japanese very well, I didn't know what he was asking and I didn't get out my card so they thought I didn't have it.  So they pulled me into the station and started to question me to figure out if I was really here legally or not.  After a while my companions stopped laughing and told me that I needed to show them my gaijin card.  After that they apologized a lot and they let us go to the store.  It was a very interesting experience.  But that's not all.  We were driving to a members house to have dinner with them and to teach a lesson to someone named B...and pulled over by the cops for questioning.  We had to turn around so that my companions could interpret for him.  And while we were there, they made us show them our cards again!  Luckily I knew what they were asking for this time so I didn't have to go in for more questioning.  But B... had forgotten his card at home so they had to drive him in a cop car to an even bigger police station and detain him until they could prove that he was there legally.  And of course because he was in jail we didn't get to teach him a lesson.  But he got out and he decided that that was a sign from God and he is now getting baptized on the 20th of October.  So I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways. lol 
So on the baptism front. We have 5 people with baptism dates right now which is super exciting.  The ward is so happy and they are having an "Invite a friend to Church day" on the 20th because we have 3 baptisms scheduled that day.  They are even going to cancel the last hour of church so that there will have enough time for the baptisms before the other ward starts.  Its going to be soo cool to be there for that.
I hope that you all enjoyed general conference this weekend.  In Japan we don't get to watch conference until next weekend because they have to translate it for all of the Japanese people in that time I guess.  Actually I don't know why we have to wait but yeah that's the way it is.  I'm so excited to be able to see the talks and Ill try very hard not to fall asleep like I usually do. lol
I did finally get my bike the other day and I've figured out that its impossible to have nice polished shoes while riding a bike!  Its actually pretty scary sometimes because there are just so many people on the sidewalks and streets and we always have to dodge them all the time!
Keep up the good work and be safe!  I love you and miss you all so much!  I am so glad to have the chance to have known all of you for such an amazing 19 years.  I love and miss you a lot!  Keep in touch!  I love you again!
Elder Stevens