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