Monday, March 30, 2015

Short Sleeves!

Hello Everybody!

As you can tell from the email title, I can finally just wear my short
sleeve shirts with no jacket again!  I discovered this momentous
occasion a few days ago when I was walking around a Japanese cherry
blossom festival held in Togane with an investigator.  I
started off the journey with a jacket but then the sun came out and it
was just way too hot!  The weather is just beautiful right now and I
love it!  Too bad in just 2 months it will be back to being blazing
hot and muggy all the time.  I definitely don't miss those times.

So like I said earlier, we had our cherry blossom festival last
weekend here in Togane.  We went up there with a friend of ours named
Y....  He owns a tofu restaurant so we went there to eat right
before the festival.  Did you know that they have hundreds of
different types of tofu dishes?  Well, I certainly didn't!  Pretty much
as soon as we walked in, he started giving us tons of everything
imaginable made with tofu.  French fried tofu, ice cream tofu, tofu
pudding, pickled tofu, and so much more that I can't even describe.
And the worst part was, he wouldn't stop ordering more food!  I think
I felt like Andrew did so many times on his mission when members just
kept giving and giving food to him.  That happened to me this week.

After our tofu excursion, we took a 30 minute
hike to the festival.  I was not in the best condition to hike after that large
meal but it was a beautiful day so it made up for it.  We got lots and
lots of pics of the beautiful blossoms and of the activities I'll be
sure to send them to you sometime.  The festival pretty much reminded
me of the popcorn festival that we have every year in Ohio.  There
were lots of food and game booths that we could go to and lots of
music and lots of fun!  One of the booths that they had there was a
booth selling chocolate covered bananas.  They were like $3 for one
banana!  But when you buy one, you get to play Rock, Paper, Scissors and
if you win, you get another banana free!  And guess what, I actually
won!  So I got 2 bananas.  Idk why, but for some reason the Japanese,
including adults, love to play Rock, Paper, Scissors.  You
can pretty much walk up to anyone and they will play it with you at
least once.  But the bananas were really good and we even got a back
stage tour of the shrine that was holding the festival.

Besides that nothing really happened this week, except literally half
of our investigators moving to Tokyo because of the end of the school
year.  This week was sorta hard because we didn't have too many people
to teach because everyone had moved.  At first I was really sad that we
didn't have anyone to really work with, but then I remembered how
Togane was when I first got here a year ago.  There was seriously few
investigators then, and then I looked at the area now.  It has grown so much
since the first time I was here and that is a huge blessing to me.
And if we have lots of finding time, it'll be just like the old times
with Elder Cannon a year ago.  So there's nothing to be worried about!
Togane is doing great!

Well, tomorrow we have our big zone conference where we get our new
ipads.  I think I should be safe because I just transferred all of my
photos to a flash drive that I will probably be sending home soon.  I
hope that you have a great week everyone and I love you lots and lots!
Have a happy Easter Sunday and a Merry General Conference!

Love,

スティーブンズ長老

Ps I love General Conference because it is the closest thing we get to
a weekend as a missionary.  It's so relaxing to just listen to talks
for 2 days straight.  Be sure to let me know which talks you liked the
best so I can keep my ears open for them!
Pps this is for grandma Stevens, we wake up everyday at 6:30am.  Which
is later than we had to when I went to seminary.  But everyday at 6:30am you are still dead tired.  Idk how I get up everyday at that time but
I bet it's with a ton of the Lord's help!



 
Our Chapel In Togane


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring!!

Hello Everyone!

I hope that you all are having a wonderful week and are excited for
this week's email home!  I guess I'll start off with the mini general
conference that we had last week.  We had Elder Nelson from the Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles speak with us.  Yes, the one who had lunch with us a few years back.
We also had Elder Evans from the Seventies at the meetings as well as 3 other Seventy
members.  They gave us a huge training on how to use iPads as a
missionary and it went really well.  They talked a lot about how the
iPads aren't for helping the investigators.  No, not at all.  They are
to help the missionaries to prepare for the future when we are going
to use technology when we get back home.  They want to
train us about how to use technology in a safe spiritual way.  I was
very surprised to hear that.  Unfortunately, I have some bad news about
the iPads coming up in the next few weeks.  Because our mission is
ahead in the use of iPads, they want to hold us back a little bit to
let the other missions in Japan catch up.  So we will not be using our
Facebook and Facebook messenger for the next few transfers.
I posted this information on my Facebook page, and I will let you know when
we start using it again.

As for the rest of the week, it was full of miracles of course.  I
will share one with you quickly.  On Friday, we had tons of
appointments planned for the day.  It seemed like it was going to be a
great day, until everyone started changing the times that they wanted
to meet us.  So the way it turned out, we were at the church at 6 in
the evening, with an appointment at 7 and we hadn't eaten dinner or
studied Japanese yet that day.  We had a choice in front of us.  We
could either quickly go back home and eat dinner, or stay at the
church and study.  We both felt strongly that we should stay at the
church and study.  About 15 minutes into our study, a lady walked into the
chapel that we didn't know.  We started talking to her and she said
that she used to live here and met with the missionaries before she
moved and lost contact.  She was just about to move again so she
decided to go to the church one more time and pray for help.  She
asked where everyone was and we told her that she was lucky because
usually no one would be here at this time and the church would be
locked.  She seemed shocked and let us call the sisters missionaries to come over
and talk to her.  We found out later from the sisters that if we
wouldn't have been there and had the door unlocked, something bad
would have happened to her.  I don't want to get into it because it's
personal, but it was a miracle that our schedule changed the way that
it did to make it so that we would be there to help her.  She also
came to church on Sunday to hear my talk and she loved it!  The church
experience, not the talk. Lol. But the moral of the story is, if your
schedule changes like crazy randomly, expect a miracle to happen.
But beside that, everything is going awesome!  I'd like to thank
grandma and grandpa Stevens for the package of baked goods that you
sent me the other day.  They still taste amazing and I'm trying to
figure out if I should share or not.  Thank you so much!  Well, I
better get going now.  Thanks again so much for all of your love and
support.  I love you all so much!  Have a great week!

Loves,
Elder Stevens
スティーブンズ長老


Monday, March 16, 2015

Transfers, Zone Meetings, and More...

Hello!

So today was transfer day, and you know what that means, transfer
calls.  This time, I get to stay in my area but I have to say good bye
to my wonderful companion Elder Lee.  He will leave me to go to the
streets of Tokyo.  He is really excited.  He has been wanting to go to
Tokyo for a long time.  Replacing Elder Lee is a transfer 3 missionary
named Elder Mützlburg from Australia.  Actually during his first
transfer, I was his zone leader so we know each other pretty well.  He
is pretty awesome and I am excited to be able to work with him this
transfer.  That now makes this my 7th companion not from the United States. 
I'm very international I guess.  I'm just a little worried because I don't
speak Chinese, and Elder Mützlburg doesn't speak Chinese, and a lot of our
investigators only speak Chinese.  It should be interesting trying to
teach them. I will deninitely be praying for the gift of tongues a lot
this transfer.

So besides transfers we had a pretty great week. On Friday we had our
zone meeting over here in Togane.  It was nice to not have to be the
zone leader training for a change. But if I thought that I could have a break
and sit back and relax during this meeting I was wrong. The zone
leaders asked me to give a training about how to follow up with
our investigators.  Giving trainings and meetings is so
much fun, and I love doing it. But apparently the Bishop heard of my
training and decided to ask me to give a talk this Sunday in church.
I'm definitely really nervous because talking in front of everyone and
Japanese is still a little scary for me to do.  But I hope that I can
do well. Wish me luck!

Well, on the investigator front this week we also saw lots of really
cool miracles.  So last week I went on companion exchanges with Elder
Keith. Well, we were riding our bikes, and we stopped and talked to a guy
named C.... C... in Japanese means power.  So it's a really
cool name. When we talk to him it seemed like he didn't have too much
interest in the church so we just got his phone number and
forgot about him. But this week all of our appointments
canceled on us one day so we decided to go finding and guess who we
found again, C....  He had some time so he decided to come play
basketball with us. After playing basketball for a little bit we gave
him a tour of the church and invited him to come to church. He said
that he had been to another Christian church before so he said he'd
like to see what ours is like.  To our great surprise when Sunday rolls
around he not only came to church but brought one of his friends with
him.  After church we asked them how they thought church
was and they both said it was very, very, boring. But they said it was a
really great experience, and they felt really good when they're in the
church. C... was so surprised that you could feel so good at a place
that is so boring that he decided he wanted to come again next
week.  Score one for the Spirit!

Well that was pretty much everything for our week.  I'm also looking forward to
this week because on Wednesday, we have a special mini General Conference again.  I feel so
lucky to be living in Tokyo because it seems all the General Authorities
just love to come and visit.  Should be fun!  Well I love you lots and
lots!  Have a great week!

Love,

スティーブンズ長老

 
Togane District



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Great Week!

Why Hello Everyone!

Thanks for joining me for this week's adventure in Japan.  Sorry it's
a little bit late.  Yesterday was so packed with lessons and stuff that
we had to reschedule our Pday for today.  I hope that none of your
hearts were broken because of my lateness.  But I guess this email
will just have to do.

This week was pretty much a normal week.  It had 7 days and we did
missionary stuff.  We did have our last district meeting of the
transfer this week, which was really sad but it went really well!  Just recently
we had a missionary come home from her mission in America who lives in
the Togane Ward.  So me, being the kind, and considerate person that I am,
gave her the opportunity to relive some of her missionary moments, and I asked
her to help me train during the meeting.  She was very surprised and nervous, but
after some persuasion she agreed.  She did a great job!
She taught about asking inspired questions to know
what we needed to teach our investigators on our first visit with them.  She related
it to Jacob 5 and the olive trees and it blew my mind away.  I'll have to
share it with you sometime.  After the meeting we took some pictures,
which I will send to you, and then went to district lunch.  There is a
really good yaki niku place right next to the church so we all went
there.  For those of you who don't know what yaki niku is, the word
yaki in Japanese means to cook over a grill, and niku means meat.  So
it's pretty much a bbq, but Japanese style.  It's one of my favorite
restaurants here in Togane, so we will have to go when mom and dad come to
Japan.  It is super fun to be able to work with such a wonderful
district.  I hope I get to work with them again next transfer as well.

Then on Friday, Elder Lee and I had a completely open day, so we
decided to go on an adventure.  We biked all the way over to Gumyo,
about an hour away and just went where the Spirit told us to go.  And
just like usual, the miracles happened.  Ok, so just some background.
For some reason, in Togane, I am known as the Sister Missionaries
referring machine, because a year ago Elder Cannon and I found tons of
referrals for the Sister Missionaries, and a lot of the women they taught have been
baptized.  And the same thing is happening now!  I can always find the
golden sister investigators.  So on Friday, we housed a whole
apartment complex with no success, until the last door, which was a
sister, or course.  As soon as I told her we were Christian, she
excitedly stopped us and told us that her parents were Christian but
they died, so she wanted to learn more about what her parents believed.
She invited us in right then and there, but since we are Elders, we
aren't allowed to teach her. :(  So we told her that we would
send the Sister Missionaries the next day.  The next day the Sisters
visited her and she is golden!  She believes the Book of Mormon is true
and that God sent us to visit her to help her know how to meet her
parents again!  They are meeting her again next week to try to set a
baptismal date with her so we are pretty excited for that!
I'm so glad to be able to help in this great work!

So just some random information.  Dad, your Book of Mormon memorization
rooms are in high demand right now!  I showed my zone leaders your diagrams and
they loved it!  They are trying to learn them to teach to the zone!  Thanks
for sending them to me.  I also got the package yesterday in the mail.
Thanks for sending me the pictures and the chocolate.  My companion
doesn't like chocolate, so I guess I can share them with the other
missionaries in my apartment, or just eat them myself. Lol. Did You
find my apartment yet Dad?  K... is doing really well and has a
baptismal date set for the 10th of May.  We are so excited about his progress.
Please remember him in your prayers! 

Well, I think that's everything for this week.  Thanks as always for
all of your prayers and thoughts.  Everything in Japan is doing
awesome and I know it's because of all of you back home.  Have a great
week all of you and I love you all!

Love,
Eric

スティーブンズ長老

 
Awesome Togane District!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Peace Inside The Storm

Hello Everyone!

It was good, once again, to hear from all of you.  Mondays can
be so exciting!  Funny thing is, is that it used to be the worst day
of the week because it was the day we had to go back to school after the
wonderful weekend.  Funny how the mission changes your perspective on
these things.

First of all, I want to answer a few questions received last week.
For the stake conference, I played the violin with a piano
accompaniment and a cello player as well.  The cello player was
someone who we call Batman Kyoudai (brother) because he can seriously
do anything.  He always helps us with lessons and gives us rides, and
he even gave us a bench press machine!  And of course, he plays the
cello as well.  The pianist was Elder Rasmassen who lives in Togane
with us in the same apartment.  Our apartment is so musical!  For the
choir during the mini general conference, it was all Elders, except
for the pianist who was a Sister from Hawaii.  Unfortunately for me, I
don't think that there are any more performances coming up in the near
future.  But Batman Kyoudai gave me his violin while I was here, yes
he has a violin too, so I'll be able to play it some on pdays.  And
yes mom, we need to play together some when I get back!  I can't wait!
I also had the privilege of seeing Elder Dunn at the mini general
conference.  I quickly saw him right before the conference started but
I could only say hello, and say that he looked familiar and then
remember where I knew him from, when I was rushed to a last minute choir
practice.  It was good to see him because us Ohioans need to stick
together!  There are only 2 of us left in the mission now.  Myself and
Sister Nash.  We need to represent!

So you know how all of you are getting tons of snow right now, well
yesterday we got nonstop rain for 20 hrs straight!  It seriously
rained all day but even through that we were able to see some sweet
miracles.  We had our friend T... come to Church yesterday for the
first time in forever.  He is not good at sitting still.  He said that
he felt happy at Church so he wants to come again.  We taught him about tithing
yesterday and he said that it was impossible for him to pay it.  He is
an investor so he says that he needs all of his money to invest.  He
still wants to meet and talk but for now, we need to try and help
him to invest in the blessings of God and in the gospel.

Even though it was pouring down rain yesterday we also had an
investigator come to church after it finished and demanded to meet with
us.  He even brought a friend along to hear the discussions as well.
It was K..., our friend with the baptismal date for the 22nd of March
and his friend, I can't really remember his name right now.  It was
very long.  It was K... friend's first time in a church and he was
amazed how big it was.  It's really nice having the 3 story super
church in Togane.  We gave them some Book of Mormons and K... said that he
is really excited for his baptismal date.  We just need to set better
expectations so that he can be baptized. He can only meet
with us once every 2 weeks or so, so we may need to move his date back
to keep getting him ready for baptism.  He really wants to become
Christian though, so as soon as we can meet with him more, he should be
golden!

On another note, I have been dubbed the best ping pong player in the
Togane ward and missionaries.  There is one investigator who is way
better than me from China but he doesn't come anymore so I took his
place.  I am actually getting pretty good!  I can't do the smashes
very well but I am really good at playing defense and just getting the
ball over the net again after they smash it at me.  I guess all those
times in the basement with the family are paying off now.  Now all I
need is a foosball table and a pool table and then I'm set!

Well I think that's all the random information that I have for right
now.  All in all, Togane is doing pretty well and growing and growing!
It's so exciting to be on the front lines and see all of the miracles
everywhere!  I hope that you all have a wonderful week.  I love you
all and wish you the best!

Love yah,

スティーブンズ長老

Ps I just got a new hair cut, how do you like it?  The only down side
is that now my ears are always cold!