Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hello Everyone,

And a Merry Christmas!  Not ganna lie, I am pretty excited for the
holiday season, especially because I get to talk to my family in like
3 days.  I can't believe that it is so close.  I will probably be
friending you on skype today so yoroshiku onegai shimasu!  I hope I
get to talk to Andrew for a little bit too.  Too bad I can't just call
him separately, but I guess I'll just have to wait until next year.

What can I say about this week, well I guess it was pretty much the
same as all the other weeks as a zone leader.  We did a ton of
planning, lots of meetings, and lots of talks with the Sister Training
Leaders to know where we should take the zone the next few months.
Luckily the weather has been pretty cold and rainy so we haven't had
to deal with that too much because we have been inside a lot.  We were
able to meet with a lot of really cool people this week though.  Idk
if you remember Y..., but he finally answered our Facebook messages and
to apologize for his absence he bought us $20 worth of
doughnuts.  What a great way to say hello after a long while!  We were
supposed to play bball with him this morning but he slept in and
missed it so we're going to meet up with him after the New Year.

You know what's really hard to do right now?  Set up appointments.  I
guess that's what comes with the New Year and Christmas season.  It
seems like everytime we meet someone or call them, they say that they
would love to meet, next year.  I am starting to appreciate how busy people are
during the holidays especially the end of the year.  So if all these appointments go
through next year we should have literally no time to sleep because of
all the people that we will be meeting.  I'm pretty excited though
because Elder Barray is super good at meeting people and he is so
natural at it that we are really starting to grow our teaching pool a
lot.  Now all we need is to start meeting with them and getting them
to church.

So miracle sharing time.  We were at the station after a busy day of
transfers, waiting for the new Tsukuba missionaries to arrive by train,
but one of them was like 2 hours late.  We were talking to the other one
who was already here when I saw a Japanese man just looking and
smiling at us.  This like never happens so I said hello.  He came
right over and told us that we looked bright and clean inside.  That
never happens either.  So we talked for awhile and then set up an
appointment to meet the next day.  The next day came and we talked to
him about the meaning of Christmas and gave him a Book of Mormon
saying that it would make him bright and clean inside too.  He said that
he would read it and come to our Christmas party next week.  He's
pretty cool, and the only thing is that we need to help him stop smoking.
But nothing is impossible with the Lord.

Our Christmas devotional went really well.  You may have seen the pic
on Facebook, but we had a big group there and I played the violin for
everyone.  We also sang and had all of the primary children act out
the nativity scene.  They were all so cute and the crazy thing is that
I understood them all almost the whole time.  My Japanese has
definitely improved over the past few months.

Well, I think that's everything for today.  Thanks for all of your
prayers and thoughts this Christmas season.  They are greatly
appreciated.  Have a great Christmas week and holiday season.  See you
all soon!

Eric Stevens

Ps Thanks for the package Mom.  I got it and I just bought all of the
ingredients to make rice pudding, so I will be doing that next Pday and
eating it for New Year's Eve.  I also used some of my Christmas money
to make a special trip to Costco to buy a big bag of M&Ms and Hawaiian
Kettle Chips to celebrate the holiday season.  Thanks everyone!

 
 
Don't Worry, I'll Be Sharing!
 


Monday, December 15, 2014

Transfer 12...Unbelievable!

 
Elder's Quorum, Tsukuba, Japan
 
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's Christmas Time!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pretty Fancy Thanksgiving

Hey everyone!

It was amazing to hear from all of you again this week!  It's good to hear that you all had a fun time during Thanksgiving and that I was not needed to make the mashed potatoes.  I also enjoyed hearing about the Ohio State vs Michigan game, about how Ohio totally owned Michigan so thanks for sending me the game stats Grandma Stevens!  How was black Friday?  I hope that everyone is safe and that you bought lot of really cool cheap Christmas presents.

We had a pretty fancy week ourselves.  We went on splits with the Assistant Elder Sakamoto last week and that was a great learning experience.  We went to visit one of his recent converts, Bell.  He works at an Indian restaurant here so we got some good curry.
 
We had a crazy big miracle this week during splits.  We were at the big train station in Tsukuba doing some finding, and we only had 10 more minutes before we were going to go and eat our dinner before English class.  My companion, Elder Scoville, being the spiritual giant that he is, suggested that we say a prayer that we would find the person who was going to be baptized in this area before the end of this year in the last 10 minutes of our finding.  Elder Sakamoto, our leader, said an amazing prayer of faith that we would find him and then we went out to meet people.  The first person that I saw was in a big hurry, but mustering all of my courage, I called out to him as he passed by.  "Konnichiha, Hello!  How are you?"  Surprised, he turned around and looked at me.  The next thing that he said really surprised me.  In perfect English, he asked me if I was on my mission for the Church.  I told him yes and he said that his best friend that he had done a home stay with in Idaho had just finished serving a mission in Kobe Japan.  He had been to church before and he was excited to meet us again!  But what really made it awesome was that when he heard that I was from Ohio he gasped and said that he was going to go to Ohio State University next September as an exchange student.  I told him that I was thinking of going there and he told us that it was a miracle that we met that night.  We became really good friends, because of the Ohio thing of course, but he says that he wants to meet again to talk about the Church.  We later found out that he was from Hokaido and that our friend Aaron actually served his mission there, so we are going to hook them up together.  He is going to get baptized before Christmas!
 
It's so exciting all the crazy stuff that is happening right now.  I can't believe that you will be going to Nepal really soon.  I remembered that yesterday when I visited my Nepalese investigators, I asked them for a list of frequently used expressions in Nepalese.  They were so excited to start teaching me and it really helped to build our friendship.  Thanks for giving me that opportunity!  Here's the list if you have some time to study.
 
Mero name bara Stevens ho.
My name is Stevens
Ma Ohio bata ayeko ho.
I am from Ohio
Man parcha: To like
Man pardaina: do not like
Malai: I 
Yo ramro lagyo: I like this
Vok lagyo: I am hungry
Khana: food
Khanu: to eat
Vat khane bela: eating time
Bela vayo: time ok?
Basuno: sit
Basucher: I sit
Takai lagyo: tired
Ekchim Aram gatsu: I will rest
Coke Gaham baincha: where is coke?
Jano: to go
Thapai ko ghar khaha ho? Where is your house?
Bato: road
Bata: from
Kasari: how
Kati vayo: how much?
Pugyo: daijobu
Tharika: Yari kata
Aba: from now
Katmandu jane bus ko ticket khahan paincha? Where will you buy the bus ticket
Kati rupaiya lagcha: how much money?
Aghaye: I am full
Padaina: do not need
Sutchu: sleeping
Nindra lagyo: want to rest
Namaste: Konnichiha 
Sanche honohon cha?: how are you?
Ke garadai: what are you doing?
Chora chori Kati hunohoncha: how big is your family?
Tanebad: thank you!!!
Basnus ma janchu: bye I will leave
Barusa: year
Mahina: month
Din: day
Rat: night
Hajar: 1000
Shye: 100
1:Ek
2: dhui
3: tin
4: chhar
5: pach
6: chha
7: sat
8: aath
9: Mau
10: dash
I hope that isn't too much to study! lol

Well anyway, I need go now.  But don't worry dad, I will be taking some more pictures to send to you.  I love you all!  Have a great and fun week!  Miss You! 

Eric Stevens
 
 
My Favorite Place

 
Thanksgiving Dinner

 
Homemade Pumpkin Pie.  Yum!
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumkin Pies, Violin, Telephone Call, Christmas Miracles...

Greetings everyone!

And welcome to another addition of Eric's weekly mission update.  Guess
what I have cooking in the oven right now...two pumpkin pies!  They
smell so good and I am pretty excited to be able to eat them soon.
Unfortunately, I don't get to eat them both by myself.  I am waiting for
them to finish cooking with my companion, my dear friend Aaron and the
sister missionaries in our district.  They sorta just showed up while
I was cooking and I couldn't say no so I guess that means less pie for
me but more blessings!  Everyone was just so impressed that an Elder
could actually cook stuff.  First it was the mashed potatoes and now
it's the pumpkin pie.  I guess I'm just full of surprises.

Another thing that may seem surprising to many is that I've been
practicing the piano and the violin a lot recently.  We have a big 2
zone conference coming up in a few weeks and I get to play a special
musical number on the violin and the piano for that so I've been
playing a lot.  Actually the violin that I am using right now is super
good!  Maybe not as good as the one that I had in America but it's the
best violin that I have seen in Japan and it sounds so good!  I am
definitely glad that I learned how to play so many musical instruments
now.  Speaking of instruments, thank you so much for the sheet music
that you sent me in the package.  I've been practicing those a lot too
in my free time.  I love playing music now!

Some cool stuff that happened this week.  I got to call Andrew on the
phone!  I was so happy to talk to him again.  His voice sounded really
weird though, so I'm a little worried that my Ohio accent is gone now
and that I sound Japanese.  I actually answered the phone in
Japanese and he was a little nervous because he thought that he had
the wrong number.  It was pretty funny.  Unfortunately his calling
card didn't work very well so we only had like 24 min and 4 sec to
talk on the phone but it made my week! 

Right before that though, I
had an adventure with my bike.  Idk what's up with bikes in Tsukuba
but my bike broke again.  This time, it was the back tire, it just
sorta blew up.  It didn't just have a puncture but it literally blew
up.  So I had to walk it to a store a little bit away but the store
was closed because it was like some random bike shop holiday.  So to
get it fixed, I had to pretty much bribe the guy who worked there
because we were really far away from where we lived.  It was not cheap
I can tell you.  I have spent so much money on my bike while in
Tsukuba.

On the Christmas miracle front, we haven't seen any new baptisms in
our zone recently.  However, we have lots of people
with dates in November so we are hoping that they will be able to
follow through with those dates so we can contribute to our Christmas
miracle for the mission.  We have been finding a lot of new
investigators recently so we are also very hopeful that they are
miracle gold people who are going to get baptized this Christmas
season.  One of the new guys that we met this week was F...  He is
from China and it was really funny because the first thing he did when
he saw me was give me a really expensive, fancy thing of Chinese green
tea.  We still need to teach him the Word of Wisdom, but his lesson
went really well and he wants to have an eternal family with his wife
who is still in China.  That's just one of the cool miracles that we
had for Christmas this year.

Well the pies are finally done in the oven so I'm going to dish them
out now.  Thanks a lot for all of the love and emails that you always
send me.  I love them all and I really appreciate them.  I especially
loved the stake conference talk that dad sent.  It had some cool stuff
in it that I can use in some of my trainings.  I'm pretty excited!
Well anyways, have a great week!  I love you all!

Love,

Eric Stevens

 
Tokyo Temple
 
 
Random Fall Picture


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Skateboards, Andrew In Japan, Being Locked Out...

Crazy to say it, but it was starting to get cold this week.  I guess I
shouldn't be surprised because it is November, but I had to break out
the jacket and gloves this week.  Besides the increase of shivering,
we had a great week. We taught the most number of lessons that this
area has seen in 6 months which was really exciting. It was only 14
so we still have a while to go before we get up to standards but we
are starting to see a pick up with all of the new investigators that
we are finding while on the way to other appointments.  The Lord is
definitely hastening his work so that we can see the Christmas
miracles this year. 

Before I go any farther, I would like to wish dad a very happy bday!
I know it's not your bday yet in America, but in the future over here
you are officially a year older! Lol. We had a zone conference call
today and during the announcements part of the call I made sure to
tell everyone in the zone that it was your bday today.  So you are
getting all of the bday wishes of the Matsudo North Zone in the Tokyo
Mission.  We all hope that you have a happy day!
Speaking of bdays today is my 16th month bday as a missionary.  Crazy
right?  That means I'm already 2/3 of the way done.  That also means
that it's almost skyping time this year for Christmas.  I'm pretty
excited not ganna lie.  It only comes but twice a year so it's
something to really look forward to. 

Oh, and I can't wait to talk to
Andrew this week.  I sent Andrew a big email about pay phones in Japan
so hopefully he will get that before he leaves.  If Andrew flies into
the Narita airport, he will only be 1 hr away from where I live, and if
he flies to the Tokyo airport, he will only be 3 hours from where I
live by train.  It's cool to think that we will be so close together
during that hour and a half.  I wish it could be longer.

So about the week.  We started meeting with this cool guy named S...
He is a skateboarder who my old companion sorta stole his skateboard
so that is how we met.  We got his skateboard back and then became
best friends.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him how it has
blessed our lives, and he said that he has plenty of time so he is
going to read the whole thing.  He wants to learn about the purpose of
life and loves talking about God and spiritual stuff so we are really
excited for him.  We went on a Costco date with him (I love Costco
dendo) and he really opened up.  We talked about faith and how through
it we can receive help from God for anything from skateboard tricks to
questions of the soul.  He was totally glued in the whole time and
says he wants that.  We are going to set a date with him for baptism
this week.  His only problem is he likes beer, especially American
beer.  He talked about that a lot during our meeting and he even asked
us if we wanted to come over, drink some beer, and read the Book of
Mormon together.  We had to decline but he is really excited to meet
this week and get some Mexican food together.

This week we also planned for our Thanksgiving party that we are
holding this Friday.  I don't know why we are doing it a week early
and on a Friday but that's Japan for you.  The funny thing is, I got
my assignment to help and guess what it was...I have to make the
mashed potatoes!  I'm telling yah, no matter where I go, I'm always in
charge of the mashed potatoes.  I guess it's fate.  Don't worry, next
year I can make you all the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.
I am happy to say that I did receive the package that you sent me mom
and the family.  Thank you so much!  I got it on Tuesday last week and
put the pie crust in the fridge as soon as I could. It should be ok
because it's so cold over here anyways.  I am planning on making the pie
next pday so we can actually eat it on Thanksgiving day to celebrate.
We have a Peruvian and a French guy in our apartment so we are going
to share the American love with them together that day.  Should be
fun!  I am anxiously waiting for grandmas package in the mail soon, and
I can't wait for the molasses cookies this year.

So one more story before I go.  Yesterday we went out with T...
again to go streeting by the train station.  Because it was right
after church we didn't have a chance to eat lunch or anything.  We
dendoed for awhile and we met lots of cool people and actually got
some numbers and return appointments this time which made T... very
happy!  The day was going great until we returned home and realized
that we had left the keys in the apartment.  We were locked out.  We
called the other elders for help because we were really hungry because
at this time it was 6pm and time for dinner.  They didn't answer our
calls because they were in a lesson which they wouldn't finish until
after 9:30pm.  There was nothing to do but tighten our belts and go on.
We did a ton of emails and zone planning at the church while we were
waiting for the time when our saviors would return and let us eat.
When we were finally let in, we were so happy!  Now this story reminds
me of the parable of the 10 Virgins taught by Jesus. 
I now know how it feels to be locked out of the wedding ceremony and it was not fun.  I would just
like to invite you all to make sure that you are prepared so that you
will not be locked out at the last day.  That is my testimony.
Actually if it was any day besides Sunday it would have been fine and we
could have bought food. But no, we just aren't that lucky.  Lol

Well I hope that you liked my story.  I also hope that you all have a
wonderful week!  I love you lots and lots!  I can't wait to hear from
you soon!  Once again, happy bday dad!  I sent you and mom some
pamphlets from the Meiji shrine for your bday along with a letter to
the family.  Hope you enjoy it!

Love yall,

Eric Stevens

 
Parable Of Ten Virgins


Monday, November 10, 2014

There's A Chill In The Air...Burrrrrrr!

Hey everyone!

I'm glad to hear that everything is going well in Ohio!  It sounds
like everyone is getting ready for Christmas and the winter season.
The weather started getting a little cold last week, enough for me to
start wearing a fleece jacket around but it still isn't too bad for me
yet.  My companion is from California so he's already bundling up in
his heavy winter clothes.  Everyone here tells me I'm crazy because up
until recently, I was wearing nothing but short sleeve shirts.  I keep
telling them that this weather is normal in Ohio and they never
believe me.  I wonder what they must be thinking when they see a white
guy with blond hair, wearing a short sleeve shirt while everyone
around him is bundled up in jackets.  Just thinking about it makes me
laugh.  Luckily, I am not as far north as I was last winter so
hopefully I'll be able to survive all the winter months.

Last week, I was able to go on splits with our recent convert T...
and do some housing with him.  He is a complete natural at it.  He
would always give me corrections and tips about how to talk more
Japanese to people to get them to talk to us so I learned a lot!
Unfortunately, we did not see much success in getting other
appointments set up but we still had lots of fun. T... loved it and
he wants to go with us again next week.  Actually he is going to help
us teach this cool guy named S... tomorrow.  He is a skateboarder and
he wants to know what the meaning of life is, so next week we are going with
him to Costco to talk about it.  I couldn't think of a better place to
do it. Lol

We just barely finished up our zone meeting last week and it went
really well.  It took 3 hours and then right after that we had our
district leader training conference which took another 2 hrs so it was
a really long day.  But it was really cool because we have great district leaders in our zone.

Also this week we had a sweet miracle!  On Wednesday, we got a random
email from a guy who some of the previous missionaries in this area
had been working with.  He had gone back home to China and got
married and when he got back to Japan, he emailed us wondering if
there was any activities that he could go to.  We told him that we had
a ping pong night on Friday and invited him to come.  He did and we
taught him a lesson right there about families because he had just
got married.  He said that when his wife came here from China he
would come to church with her because church had helped us so much.  I
told him that he should start coming now so he could teach his wife
about it when she arrives and he said that that was a good idea and
that he would come next week.  He also said that he wanted to talk and
learn about God with us if we had any free time.  I told him that that
is seriously all we did and that we would love to meet with him to do
that.  We are going to meet with him next Saturday.  Really excited!

Well that's about all for this week.  I love everyone and I wish them
the best this Christmas season!  I'd like to make a shout out to
grandma Kaldahl because I just got her letter this week.  Thanks
grandma,  I love you!

お誕生日おめでとう
Hey mom, you thought I forgot didn't you... Happy bday mom!  The
subject says happy bday in Japanese. :) I know your birthday is tomorrow, but I hope
that you have a wonderful day today!  I love you lots!  Thanks for
everything that you have done for me!
Love you all!

Eric Stevens




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yes...Transfers Again!

Hey everyone!

Guess what, we had another transfer call day yesterday.  And for
the first time ever, I haven't transferred or received a new companion.
I was so surprised when we got our call saying that we were staying
together because it has never happened before.  I think the Mission President is doing
it this way because we are right in the middle of the Christmas
miracle focus and he doesn't want to switch things up in the
leadership that much.  I'm just glad that I get to stay with my
companion again.  He is really cool and we get along really well and
have the same vision for the zone.  The weird thing
about this transfer is that I am now officially old.  I didn't know
this, but I was informed that as soon as you finish your 10th transfer
and start your 11th transfer, you are considered old and experienced.
So now I only have like 4 to 5 more transfers to go.  Crazy
stuff!

Sorry I couldn't email you yesterday.  Whenever we get transfer calls,
the zone leaders are in charge of setting up the transfer plans and we
did that yesterday.  It took like 4 straight hours of looking up train
times and working everything out.  Let's just say I'm so happy right now.
Luckily I don't have to worry about that again for another 6 weeks.

So, some cool things that happened this week. I got to go on splits
with our recent convert T... and go visit a college festival.  It
was on Sunday so unfortunately we couldn't buy any of the amazingly good
smelling food, but we were able to go see a really good taiko drum
performance.  It was so amazing because we had front row seats.  It
was so loud that I wish I had brought my earplugs and I wonder if I
ever played guitar in the band back home this loud.  If so, I'm
surprised that I can still hear.  No wonder dad always wore his
earplugs whenever he played with us.  The performers were really
skilled and they were dancing and stuff while they played.

Also this week on Thursday for our mission leadership council, we went
to Tokyo to the Meiji shrine, which is one of the biggest ones in
Japan.  Since it was in my old area it felt so strange to be back
where I use to street and talk to people.  But we went there and got
a private tour of the shrine.  We even got to go and see one of the
singing and dancing rituals that they do to honor the spirits of the
emperor and empress Meiji.  It was really interesting to learn so much
about their culture and beliefs of the Shinto faith, and we are now
going to take the knowledge that we learned and share it with the
zones to help them teach more to the Japanese needs and
beliefs.  We think that this is really going to help us to realize the
Christmas miracle.  And don't worry, I took lots of pictures and I will
be sending them to you too. Lol

It was really exciting this week because I was also able to get
grandma and grandpa Stevens Halloween letter in the mail along with my
families letter.  Thank you so much for those!  When I opened up
grandmas letter I thought for sure that there would be $5 inside it,
but I guess I couldn't use it in Japan anyways so I was just glad to
get the letter.  And thank you so much dad, I was very surprised to
get your letter.  And mom, Alexa, and Ian.  I loved your letters too!
Thanks for taking the time to write me!

Also thanks for the recording of Alexa and Andrew playing Song of Sienna.
I've listened to it so many times that I can almost play it by ear.
You don't have to send me the cello part of the song if it is 10 pages
long.  Just the piano part should be fine.  I am excited to get the
music so that I can continue to practice the piano a little bit.  Now
I try to play as much as I can but it's all from memory and it is
getting rusty so I can't wait to get the sheet music.  As for requests for
the thanksgiving package, I think the pumpkin pie idea was really
good.  Grandmas molasses cookies and your chocolate chip cookies were
really good.  And maybe big packages of rips, sour patch watermelon
candies, and a big bag of peanut butter or pretzel m&ms would be
awesome!  Or also some more granola bars would be nice.  I like the
luna ones better than the kind bars but they are both really good.
Sorry that's a long list but just send as much as can fit in the box
and I will be very grateful!

Well I think thats all I can write for now.  Man, I always hate having
to end emails.  I love you lots and lots!  Keep up the good work and
be safe.  I know that you are all amazing people and I love you soo
much!  I can't wait to talk to you soon for Christmas!

Love,

Eric Stevens

Ps that's so exciting that Tim got his mission call to Portugal.  Why
is everyone but me and Andrew going to places that speak Portuguese?
Lol

 
Halloween with the Bishop's Family

 

 
Washing Basin At Meiji Shrine Tokyo, Japan

 
Meiji Shrine


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An Old Missionary...

Hello everybody!

Guess what, this is the last week of another transfer!  So next week,
I will officially be labeled, an old missionary. Lol They say after
you finish your 10th transfer, that you know what your doing but I'm
not sure about that.  It's been a fast fun transfer and I'm looking
forward to one more week with Elder Scoville.  But I think this ones
going to go by really fast as well...

We just got back from the temple today and it was really fun.  They
accidentally started the session in the Japanese version, so the first little
bit was in Japanese!  I felt really cool because I understood the
whole thing!  I think for my last transfer, I'm going to try to do the
session all in Japanese instead of English.  That's my language goal that
I'm working on right now.  After the temple, we went to Wendy's like we
used to do back home, well except everything was a lot more expensive.
It was really good and brought back lots of memories of home, but also
of when I was in the Frist Ward teaching lots of lessons at Wendy's
every night to our friends in Roppongi.  Good times.

Remember how my companion was sick last week, well just like all good
companions, he decided to share with me and I was sick this week for a
few days.  The thing is, we were so busy with splits, lessons, and
even a baptismal interview, that I didn't have any time to take off.  I
just had to man up, wear a fancy Japanese sickness mask, and get to
work.  We had tons of stuff so I just couldn't stop.  It was lots of
fun though.

Last week, we had splits everyday.  From Monday to Tuesday we were on
splits with the district leaders in the Tsukuba area.  From Wednesday to
Thursday, I was on splits with the district leaders companion in Mito.
And then from Thursday evening to Friday evening, we went on splits
with the assistant to the president and he helped us get our zone more
aligned with the Christmas goal from President Budge.  So Elder
Scoville and I barely saw each other this week. Let's just say that I
was glad to finally see him on Friday night when we went to meet with
the Stake President in Matsudo.  The stake president was really
excited to hear about our Christmas goals and he is going
to talk about it during the stake conference coming up next month.
It'll be awesome to get the ward members involved because then we will
be able to see tons more success!  There are just so many great
things going on right now in our zone!

Speaking of great things, Elder Scoville and I were able to finally
get our friend Y... to come to church last week.  We have been meeting him for
a few weeks now and he loves to visit with us a lot, but he has just been really busy
these past few weeks.  But he came and he loved it!  He stayed the whole
time, and then we taught him a wonderful lesson on the Restoration and gave
him a Book of Mormon.  He committed himself to read it everyday to see
if it is true.  Next time we meet with him we are going to try to set a
baptismal date with him.  We are meeting him on Friday right before
our ward Halloween party.  It's going to be so exciting!  Sharing the gospel
with Y... has been a wonderful blessing. 

Also I forgot to tell you, a few weeks ago I did the sacrament prayer
at church in Shuwa, Japanese sign language.  I was so scared at first
but it went ok!  I'm starting to be able to have really simple
conversations in sign language and we have some Shuwa investigators
now.  But I still have a long way to go.
I hear that you just went to the pumpkin farm last night on
Fairgrounds Road.  I remember that place.  It was always fun to go there
with everyone.  I hope you enjoyed it a lot.  Thanks for identifying that song
for me.  Seriously, it was driving me crazy not knowing where it
was from.  I thought maybe I was turning into Bach or something, coming
up with my own music.  Lol. Did you say that you were going to send me
the sheet music for that?  Thanks so much.
Well I love you all lots.  Have a great week and I can't wait to hear
from you on Monday next week!

愛,

Eric Stevens

Ps.  Here are some pictures.  The top one is a pic of our district in
Tsukuba.  Left to right bottom to top...Sisters Crapo, Combs, Orton,
Reyes, Elders Scoville, Stevens, Baker, and Meza.
The second pic is of me and T... at a park by our apartment.  We
went on top of a tall tower there and had a picnic.  Behind us is
Tsukuba mountain.
The last pic is of the tower sky tree in Tokyo.  Its a view from the
inside of the Kits Senju train station.  This is where I am right now
writing this email.
Hope you enjoyed the pics!  Love yah!




 
Elder Stevens and Elder Scoville


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Long Week!

Hey Everyone!

Where to begin?  This was a very interesting week.  It started off
with tons of miracles and ended with a lot more, but the middle was
really long and hard.  Well Dad, I'm sad to hear that you are feeling
sick.  Luckily I am not sick yet, but my companion was sick for the
past few days. Actually he is still pretty sick.  Because he was sick,
we had to stay at the apartment for 3 straight days and do nothing but
call people and study.  It got really boring after awhile.  Just
watching your companion sleep and wishing that you could sleep too, but
knowing that you had to stay as productive as you could so you stay
awake and keep pushing on is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I
got to study a lot of The Book Of Revelations from the Bible though. It was very
interesting.  Also since my companion was down, I had to take care of
the zone and that was very tiring.  I know why they have
two zone leaders to take care of it.  Let's just say, I'm really glad
that it is pday today and that I get to take a nap!

But the week wasn't just full of waiting around the apartment, we saw
lots of miracles too!  We had a big college visit where
everyone in the mission went to their nearest college and found people
there to share the gospel.  Since we were really busy with zone planning, we only had
about an hour to be able to find people, and we said that we were not
going to eat dinner until we found a new investigator.  It was getting
dark and we were really hungry when we saw a guy coming towards us on
his bike.  We stopped him and said hello and then because I was really
hungry, I asked him if he knew the way to the nearest Burger King.  He
said yeah and he surprised us by saying that he was really hungry too
and he wanted to go with us. So we biked for about an hour to the
Burger King, ate with him, and then taught him about prayer and the
blessings we get from it.  The guy was so excited to have met us and we are
going to meet with him again this Thursday and show him around the
church.  So God works in mysterious ways and we got to eat dinner and
find a new investigator at the same time!

It was also really cool because yesterday I got to go to a YSA activity.
I was nervous being around so many member girls because we can't
really talk to girls, but I struck up a conversation with one and she
was excited to hear that I was from Ohio, because she is going to be
going to Ohio State next year in August to study for an exchange
program.  It's really weird that she would be going to Ohio
State because most people in Japan haven't even heard that much about Ohio
and to find someone who is going to go to Ohio for schooling was
really cool!  Just lots of cool stuff happening this week!

I would just like to end by thanking mom and dad for all of the
emails!  I loved the pictures and the email about the world events.
My time on a mission is going by fast.  Thanks again for
the updates on everything!
Well, I'm going to go now and take a much needed nap. Hopefully it will
help alleviate some of the stress from last week.  Love you all lots and
lots!

Eric Stevens

 

 
Matsudo Stake Center




Monday, October 13, 2014

General Conference, Zone Meetings, and Volleyball...

Hey everyone,

Sorry you didn't get my last email last week.  Idk what happened.  I
sent it and it said that I sent it, but it didn't go through.  Maybe
it's because I tried to send home a video and that messed it up.

We had a great week this week with conference.  To watch it we had to
take the train for an hour to get to the stake center.  The building
was massive!  It was five stories tall and was bigger than our stake
center in America!  It even had a bball court which I have only seen
in 2 churches since I have been here.  I think my favorite talk was the one about looking in
the right direction, because I see it a lot in myself and in others.

After conference, we went to a park close to our apartment with a
football field and volleyball net and met with one of our friends named M...
He is from China but he was born in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese.
And what's even better is that he loves volleyball.  Luckily I do to!
We had one of our member friends brother H... with us and we played
some two on two volleyball.  It was really fun!  He also said that he
would come to church in a couple weeks so we are really excited for
him! 

Also this week we were able to have another zone meeting!  Yay!  I'm
telling yah, my companion is doing a really good job as a zone leader.
The meeting went amazing and my favorite part of the whole thing was
at the end, my companion and I gave a training on being courageous.
Like how we can become fearless and what blessings we get when we are
fearless.  I really felt the spirit during the training and everyone
afterwards said that it really inspired them a lot.  I hope so because
it really helped me to plan for the training and I learned a lot.
Sometimes it really amazes me how God has so much trust in us.  I have
only been a zone leader for one transfer and my companion for only one
week, but despite that, I have only lead one zone meeting before and it
was my companions first one, the meeting was great and we were all
spiritually fed.

In other news, it's really cool cuz we recently found a
weightlifting gym that has free weights next to our apartment.  We have
been going there every other day and I feel amazingly sore right now.
They actually have legit bench press stuff, dumbbells, and good
machines!  Hopefully I don't transfer for awhile so I can get super
buff here.

Thanks from for helping me apply to college.  I'm glad that you liked
the essays.  It was surprisingly hard to write them because my grammar is
getting pretty bad and you don't really notice it that much until you
try to write stuff down on paper. 
Well everyone, it's that time again to head off to Costco.  As always
it was a pleasure to write to you all again this week.  Have a great
week and I love you lots!

Loves,

Eric Stevens

Ps here is the pics of the gym and a fireworks party that we went to
last week.  We went with our recent convert T... and two Chinese
investigators that we have.  Enjoy!





 
Matsudo Stake Center
Sister Orten and Sister Reyes
(Courtesy of Sister Orten)


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Typhoon, Meetings, And More Miracles...

 
Hey Everyone,

How's it going back in the good ol state of Ohio?  Things are pretty
amazing over here and very wet. We just had a big typhoon, or well, it
was supposed to be big, but my companion and I went out and braved the
storm just to say that we did and we didn't get blown away, so we were a
little disappointed.  We did get a lot of rain and wind but that was
about it for the typhoon.

It was really fun to go to the temple last week.  It is just so relaxing
to be able to go there and feel the spirit all of the time.  We
usually watch the session in English because the Japanese is crazy
hard in the temple but I think I'm going to try it in Japanese next
time.  Wish me luck!  It was also really cool this transfer to go to
the temple after transfer calls because we got to meet our new
companions right there at the temple.  I wonder if they'll do that
again next time...

Last week was pretty busy with planning as usual. It was a little
harder because instead of just sitting down and planning together like
we would usually do, my companion was a few hours away so we had to do
it over the phone.  It's really hard to plan something this big over
the phone I can tell you.  Luckily it went really well.  On Friday, first we
had a 2 hour long training meeting to give to the district leaders to
help on all of the new policies that they are going to be having soon in the mission.
Then after a quick lunch break we had a 5 hour long training with
everyone in the zone.  That was an amazing meeting that went
really well and made everyone super excited for the big Christmas
miracle coming up really soon.  But thank you so much for all of your
prayers for that meeting.

My companion did a really good job during his first week as a zone
leader.  He has really helped a lot with planning everything because
he has a lot of really good ideas.  Even during his first meeting that
he had to conduct, he did a great job.  I was worried that since it
was his first day as a zone leader that he wouldn't want to take the
lead a lot during the trainings, but he probably talked about as much
as me.  He is going to do great for the zone.

So mom was asking about some of the miracles that we saw during the
blitz.  The sisters who were also part of the blitz were able to find
someone who wanted to be taken to the church right then
and there even though she lived an hour away from the church.  They
did a church tour while the relief society were having an activity so
they were able to become friends with this person.  Now because of
that, she is taking the lessons from the sisters there and has a date
for baptism next month!  Another one was that my companion and I were
at the station in Mito when a random guy just walked up to us and
asked us if there was a church nearby that he could visit.  He couldn't
do it right then and there but his mother is  Christian so he wants to
go to church with her.  Actually they went a couple weeks ago and are
now meeting with the Elders.  Because we had all of these blitz
miracles, we are hoping to be able to do it again this transfer.
Everyone is super excited for it but since this transfer is only 5
weeks long instead of 6 weeks, I dont think that we are going to have
enough time.

Everyone here is really looking forward to go to general conference
this week.  We have to drive down to the stake center with a member
really early in the morning because we can't just sit at home and watch
it over here.  It should be really fun because we are going up with
our friend T... and the coolest member in the ward ever H...  Its
going to be a total blast!  I'm sorta jealous that you all got to see
it live over there last week.  It's no fair!

Well, now I'm going to eat some muffins at Costco.  I seriously
love how I can just go over there every week and just get tons of
American stuff.  You seriously don't know how lucky you are to have all
of that stuff back home.  I hope that you all have a great week!  I
will be sure to write back next week!  I just barely sent out some
letters to the family so keep a look out for them.  I love you lots and
lots!

Love
Eric Stevens

 
Matsudo Zone
 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Transfers!!

Hey everyone!

Whats up?  Right now I am on a train to Tokyo so that we can go to
the temple!  From Tsukuba where I am right now it takes about 2 hours
by train to get there so we have a long ride ahead of us.  I'm really
hoping to get some inspiration at the temple today for a big
Christmas devotional that we are hosting this Friday.  It's really
important because it's the meeting to start out our big Christmas
miracle.  We are going to have 100 baptisms from now to Christmas.
That's going to be huge!  But we need to make sure that the meeting
goes well.

So we just got our transfer calls yesterday and I am really surprised
because I am actually staying.  My companion is leaving though to open
a new area for Elders.  It's pretty exciting!  I will be getting a new
companion named Elder Scoville!  He is from Sacramento, California and
he is amazing!  He was actually one of the district leaders who I
have been working with in the zone last transfer.  I actually was
hoping to be his companion this transfer.  This will be his first
transfer as a zone leader.  It will be a joy to work with him because he is
already an amazing leader, so he won't have to hard of a time learning the ropes.  The only
downside is that since we don't get together till Thursday, we have to
plan for our Christmas meeting over the phone which is pretty annoying
but this is going to be a fun transfer!

I'm sure that you all remember how busy I told you my week was going
to be last week, so I won't go into too much detail.  We traveled a lot
and it was really good to finally sleep in my bed again on Saturday.
We saw tons of miracles though.  Elder Jacox and I were able to meet
tons of cool people while on the blitz.  Actually the pic of us and
those too huge sports players was while we were in the Ushiku area.
They are from Fiji and Samoa and they both play rugby.  We were just
walking down the road trying to find a college in the area and the guy
on the left of the pic named Joe yelled out to us, "Hey, God bless you,
are you the Mormons?"  We said yes and he told us that there was a
Mormon living with him.  So we went and started talking to both of
them.  The Mormon was less active because all the rugby practices were
on Sunday but he and his friend want to meet with the missionaries
again.  It was pretty sweet because we found out later that we were
going the complete wrong way to the college so God was definitely
guiding us that day.  And that was only one of the miracles.

So you've all heard about the volcano?  Well it happened in Nagano
which is west of where we are living right now.  I don't know too much
about it because we don't watch the news, but we haven't noticed any
difference at all in the weather.  There isn't any ashes or smoke or
anything like that.  We didn't even know there was one until on Sunday
when a member told us.  I hope everyone is ok.  I have some friends
living in Nagano.

Ok, well I hope that you all have a great week!  I love you all and I'm
really jealous that you got to talk to Andrew on the phone.  I was
hoping that I could as well.  Have fun and I love you!

Eric Stevens


 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Busy Week!

Guess what, another transfer is almost over!  This is our last
week till I'm a transfer 10 missionary!  Crazy right?
This week went pretty well but it was so stressful.  Have any of you
had to plan for a zone meeting with the sister training leaders, plan
for a baptism in Japanese with the ward mission leader, and plan for a
big 3 day zone blitz with the district leaders?  All I can say is that
it was pretty stressful and I am glad that it went well.  The
baptism was amazing.  My companion did the baptism correctly the first
time and do you remember Elder Alred?  He was my companion last
transfer in Tokyo but he came to the baptism because his companion
used to live here and taught T...  It was really good to see him
again.  The next day we had the confirmation which was also very
stressful but I did it right and everyone said that they were amazed
at my Japanese and how it was so good.  I'm telling you it wasn't me cuz
the whole time during the prayer I was shaking so bad because I was so
nervous.  I'm glad it went well though.  T... also had his interview
with the Bishop to get the priesthood yesterday so hopefully he will
be getting it this week.  He is a total gem!  Too bad his school
starts up this week so we won't be able to meet with him as much.
Also last Friday we had a zone meeting in Ushiku.  It's a 20
minute train ride from Tsuchuira station.  The meeting was good and we
gave lots of random trainings on how to improve the work, how to be more
unified as a zone and as a mission, and we learned a lot about
Japanese culture so that we can amaze the members by how Japanese we
are.  The meetings are usually 3 hours so at first I was worried that
we wouldn't be able to use the time but it seriously flew by so fast!
But guess what, we have another one in 2 weeks so we have already
started planning for it.  I'm so excited for all of the new
planning we have to do.  lol
So this week is going to be pretty sweet too!  I'm so excited!
Unfortunately we don't have any baptisms planned, but we
are going on a huge zone blitz to every area in the zone! Tonight we
are going to be staying in Ushiku and then meeting people there all
tomorrow.  On Tuesday night we will be staying in Mito and teaching
there all Wednesday.  And on Thursday everyone but us in the zone will
be helping in Tsukuba.  On Thursday my companion and I will be going
to Tokyo again for another meeting.  The following night we will be
back in Tsukuba on splits with the assistants to the president and then
on Friday night we are spending the night in Matsudo to meet with the
Stake President.  So this week we will only be in our area on Thursday
night, Saturday, and Sunday.  Should be a busy week!  (You should look
up all these cities on the map cuz it's cool to see all the places
around the mission I get to go to all the time!:)
Ok, well I'm going to wrap it up now.  Everyone have a great week!  I
love you all!

Eric Stevens

ps attached are some pics of the baptism with T...
pps next week is temple pday so I will be writing my email on Tuesday
not Monday.
ppps I love you all a lot and I hope to hear you all soon!

 
Table Tennis Night


 
Tsukuba District


Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Respect For The Aged Day!

Hey Everyone!

I don't know if you got my facebook post or not but today in Japan we are
celebrating respect for the aged day!  So no mom, since you are 29,
you don't count as aged. lol  I just didn't have any other pictures of
my grandparents so I just added that on.  So everyone have a great
day!  Also today is the 15th so that means that tomorrow is my 1 year
anniversary of living in Japan.  One year ago tomorrow I was stepping
off the plane into a very strange new place that I had only dreamed
about.  And now look at me, I can get around just fine.  It's crazy how
much you change in a year.
This week, mom was totally right, we had a big all day meeting again.
This time it was for 4 zones so we had over 1/3 of the mission attend.
I got to sing in an octet with a violin and a piano so it was pretty
fun.  The bass part was more of like a tenor part so it was a
little hard for me, but also for the real tenors. I don't see how
anyone but Justin Beber can hit high A's.  The conference was pretty
much focused on mission unity, especially in our companionship.
It really helped because we have been having some trouble in our zone
with unity so it was exactly what we needed.  I wonder how President
knew that...probably revelation.
After the meeting I went on splits with one of my old friends from
Niigata and we had a fun time up in Mito.  Mito is only 70 miles south
from the nuclear power plant that melted down in Fukushima.
Apparently the radiation is still really bad up there so I hope I'm
still ok...  We had lots of fun and found some cool new people for the
sisters to teach up there.  So an update on T...  He passed his baptismal interview on Saturday
so he is ready for his baptism this Saturday!  He asked my companion to
baptize him and me to give him the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I'm sorta
nervous because I've only given the gift of the Holy Ghost in English
and this one is all in Japanese!  I'm really excited for his baptism
because it will be my first baptism in 6 months that I have had in my area where
I haven't had to leave before the baptism.  Things are starting to pick up a
lot so I'm excited to see even more progress.
Well, thank you all for your prayers for the talk that I gave
yesterday.  I don't really remember much of it but everyone that I
talked to said it was really good.  So idk if they were serious or just
trying to be nice but I feel like it went ok.  I wanted to kick myself
because I got up there and I forgot how to say the word convert in
Japanese.  I just stood there for a few seconds thinking for awhile.
It's kaishusha by the way.  Besides that it went really well.
We had a lot of time this week to go find new people.  We met a ton of
sweet people and we have been able to meet with a lot of them since
then.  A lot of the people that we meet are foreigners, mostly Chinese
or African, but we are teaching a fair amount of Japanese too.
But there seriously is a ton of foreigners here so I have to force myself
to keep practicing up on my Japanese so it doesn't get too rusty.
I'm glad to hear that everything is going well for everyone back home
with school and everything.  I hope that Alexa can make it through the
rest of her math classes without me.  I hope you do well because I'll
probably need your help when I'm trying to remember everything when I
get back.  So good luck!  Also thank you for the package!  The cookies
were amazing!  My apartment mates want me to express their thanks too.
Also, I found out that we have a Michigan football fan in our apartment
so the Ohio State t shirt is causing a little rivalry.  Also one of
the Sisters in the ward is from Michigan so I'm excited to show off my
shirt during the next zone pday next week.  Can't mess with Ohio State!
Well everyone have a great week!  I love you all and I am excited to
hear from you again soon!  Minasan Ganbatte! (Everyone work hard!)

Eric Stevens


ps the pic is of our apartment and my companion holding up a box of
freshly bought American muffins from Costco.  Guess what we are having
for breakfast tomorrow... :)  Dad can you find the apartment from
google maps?  Good luck!  Hint, it's really far away from any of the
train stations, but it's only a 4 min bike ride from the church and the
Tsukuba University.

 


 
Stevens Grandparents
 
 
Kaldahl Grandparents

 
My 29 Year Old Mother
 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Mission Travels, Baptism Preparations, and Gold Origami Cranes

Dear Family,

We had a ton of meetings this week which made the days go by really
slow but for some reason the week has already ended.  weird.  One of
the meetings was in Tokyo and was called Mission Leadership Council.
It is where all of the zone leaders, sister training leaders, and the
assistants to the president meet with President Budge to talk about how
we can improve the mission.  It was really weird to be sitting next to
all of the crazy good missionaries who everyone has heard about.  I
felt a little out of place but it was ok because I saw a lot of my
friends from the MTC for the first time in over a year.  Even my MTC
companion Elder Free was there, on skype.  He is currently back in
Niigata where I used to live and it is so far away that they just have
them skype into the meeting instead of taking the long bus trip down.

Besides that meeting we had a lot of other meetings.  And guess what, we
have another one tomorrow.  The life of a zone leader. lol  But
besides that we did a lot of other fun things.  Remember T...?  Well
we have been meeting with him everyday for the past week and he is
doing amazing.  We taught him the word of wisdom and when we asked him
if he would follow it he said, "Of course!"  No questions about it, he
was prepared by God!  We have his baptismal interview this Saturday
and his baptism the next Saturday.  Actually we just met with him
today and showed him the video Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the
restoration.  He loved it but he kept getting annoyed that they kept
arresting Joseph Smith and destroying all his property.  He kept asking why
people would be cruel enough to do that.  I never really thought about
it, but I am so happy that we don't have to worry about that in the USA
anymore.

Guess what I learned how to do.  I can now fold paper cranes.  I never
thought that would be something that I would ever learn how to do.
But something cool that we are doing in the mission now is every time
there is a baptism, we fold a red crane; every time there is an
endownment we fold a silver crane; every time there is a person who
gets the priesthood we fold a yellow crane; and every time there is a
sealing in the temple we fold a gold crane.  Then after we fold them
all we somehow link them into a long chain.  It's going to be part of
our Christmas miracle this year so I'm pretty excited.  I hope we get
to make some pretty long chains because they look soo cool!  And for
other reasons too of course.

Ok, lastly I would like to thank the family for the package and the
letters that I received.  I was supposed to get the package a few days ago
but that was the day I was in Tokyo so I missed it!:(  They are going
to send it again to me today so I'll get it later to night!  So
excited!  Also just to let grandma Stevens know, yeah one of the
Sisters that I am working with now was with me in Tokyo last transfer.
It was really weird because we transferred at the same time to the
same place.  That like never happens, ever.  But we are good friends so
it's all cool.

Well everyone have a great week!  And wish me luck because I have to
give a talk in sacrament meeting this Sunday for 15 minutes in Japanese.
It'll be crazy fun! lol  Love you all!

loves,

Eric Stevens