Monday, April 27, 2015

Saying Good Bye To Togane

Hey Everyone!

Well guess what, it's that time again to say goodbye to another area.
Yep that's right, we had our transfer calls and I am leaving the
rolling hills and the rice fields of Togane to head into the concrete
jungle of Tokyo.  I was called to serve in the Senzokuike Ward which
is the Japanese Ward that is in the same church building that the
English speaking 2nd Ward goes to.  It's very ironic because the 2nd
Ward was my first area that I served in and the missionaries from
there and Senzokuike live in the same apartment.  So technically I am
going back to my first area, but to speak Japanese instead of English.
So I will be finishing my mission serving in the same place I served
when I first began.  It's funny how things work like that.  I will be
working with a new missionary.  He is from Canada and is a
transfer 3, so I get to follow up train again.  For the past three
transfers I've been working with transfer 3 missionaries so I'm
starting to sense a pattern here.  The only thing I'm
really sad about though is that I'm not a district leader anymore.  I
loved working with the district and I think one of the funnest things
I have done on my mission is be a district leader, so I don't know what I'm
going to do now as a normal missionary!  I'm a little sad to leave
Togane though because recently everything has been picking up a lot.

This week was great.  I was able to go on splits with Elder
Rasmussen, our zone leader, and we went on to "Operation Have Fun In
The Work".  And boy did we have fun.  We had no lesson appointments set up so we made our
own with new people that we found on the street.  We got 3 new phone
numbers which is awesome for one day, and found a really nice grandpa
who was just thinking about what church he should go to when we
stopped to talk to him.  Funny how things work like that.  He came to
church and had a great time and wants to come back again so
that was a huge miracle.  I was glad that we were able to
have splits.

We also had a breakthrough with our friend O....  He
is a Chinese investigator who has been coming to church for awhile but
no one has ever been able to teach him because he comes to church and
then leaves right after sacrament meeting.  Well, we finally convinced
him to come to church 30 minutes early and we got to teach him a lesson
about the restoration.  The discussion went all over the place but he told
us that he had tons of interest in learning about church and that he
had read some of the Book of Mormon while in China.  He had a great
time and we were able to set up good expectations to meet before
church again to talk more before church starts.  It's great how many
prepared people that we are able to meet with now.

Besides that not much happened this week.  I am looking forward to
Undo Kai (exercise festival). Pretty much it is a big
Olympics that the stake holds once a year and it happens the day of
transfers so I get to do that right before I leave.  What a blessing!
Well, thanks for all of your love and prayers! I love you lots and
lots, and I am excited to talk to you again soon!  Have a great week!

Love,
Eric Stevens

 
3D Pictures at Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan




 
 





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Cool New Adventure!!

Hey Everyone!

You'll never guess what we did today.  We had our temple pday in Tokyo.
Afterwards, my friends from our district and I decided to go on
an adventure.  I haven't really done too much touristy stuff in Japan so
we decided to go all out.  We took a day trip to Odaiba.  It's a
little man-made island that used to be a huge military base but it was
recently turned into the biggest tourist hotspot in Japan.  You should
look it up!  We went to a really cool mall and visited a trick art
museum.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a museum
where all the art is 3-D so you can take pictures of yourself inside the
picture.  I usually don't like taking pictures, but I made an exception
for this because it was so neat.  I have them all on my camera so I have
to transfer them to the iPad before I send them, but I'll make sure to
get those to you asap.  While we were at the museum we saw Legoland.
It has been so long since I went to one, probably in the Mall of
America last July when we went and visited that as well.  We didn't do
much there because I didn't want to have to carry Legos around with me,
but here was a fancy photo booth with Lego backgrounds that we took
pictures with.  I'll have to send that picture to you as well.  But
there was so many other things to explore.  I wish we could have had more
time to visit everywhere.

The best part of the trip was when we were coming back though.  The
train that we take back to Togane from Tokyo goes right by Disneyland
and a young man got on the train on that stop.  We started talking to him
about Disneyland and the discussion turned to church and what we were
doing in Japan.  He was so interested!  His dad used to take him to
another Christian church but he started to have doubts about if God
was really here or not.  We told him about what we believed about God
and he said that he wanted to have a faith in God like we had.  So we
traded numbers and he is going to come to English class and
talk about it more.  He also likes playing pool so we are hoping to
play some with him.  But the trip to Odaiba and back was so awesome!
I'm totally going to do it again next temple pday.

As for the rest of the week, it was pretty normal.  We were able to
teach more people this week than we did last week so that was really
cool.  We also found some new interested investigators as well,
including a Korean student who just arrived in Japan and said that he has
been looking for a church to go to for the past few weeks he has been here.
We informed him that there was one really close and we are meeting him
again to show him around the church and talk about our
beliefs in Christ.  Wow, just thinking of all the sweet miracles is
making me excited for the next week of miracles!  Togane is starting
to look up a lot.

Well anyways, I think that's everything for this week.  Thanks for the
package of Easter goodies and letters from the family.  Everyone in my
apartment is so jealous that such an "old" missionary is still getting
packages.  My companion says thanks for the Marmite even though it
doesn't taste like Vegemite in his opinion.  Lol  Thanks also dad for
the Book of Mormon reading rooms.  A lot of people in the district are
really interested in using them so I'll be sure to pass them on.  Have
a great week everyone!  I love you lots and lots!  Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stevens

 
Tokyo, Japan Temple


 
Rainbow Bridge (Looking From Odaiba Towards Tokyo)
 
 
Night Time In Odaiba, Japan

 
Gundam, Odaiba
 



Monday, April 13, 2015

The Mikan (Clementine) Of The Gospel

Hello Everyone!

How has your week been?  I've heard that there was a ton of rain last
week.  We had quite a bit as well so I guess we are in the same boat.
 But you know what they say, April showers being May flowers.  I wonder
if they have pretty flowers in May over here or if they are all gone
with the cherry blossoms.

 This week wasn't very eventful lesson or teaching wise, actually it
was one of the  slowest weeks on my mission, but we still had lots of
fun and had a great spiritually uplifting session of General
 Conference.  We had to take an hour and a half train ride to get to
the conference so it was really hard to get investigators there to
watch it.  We watched it with everyone in mind though, so the next time
we meet them we will be sure to show them our favorite talks.  What
was up with all the talks about getting married?  It was so awkward
for me because I was sitting right next to the sister missionaries
when they talked about that. Lol  Some of the Elders in my district
took the counsel very seriously though.  Every week we do something
in the mission called a call-in-summary report.  This is pretty much
where I call everyone in the district to see how they are doing and
then ask them for some of their personal goals so I can try to help
them.  One of the Elders companionship goals was to get married within
6 weeks of getting home.  This Elder goes back home in 2 months so I
guess I will have to follow up with that to see how it goes for him.  Lol

 We also had a zone meeting and a blitz in the Chosei area, the one
right below Togane in the district.  I gave a training on
striving to be perfectly obedient because recently in the mission
people have been asking the question if 5 minutes really matter.  Does it
really matter if we wake up 5 minutes late?  Or does it really matter if
we take an extra 5 minutes of lunch?  Well, I covered that and I hoped that
it was helpful.  After that we went on a blitz which is where all the
missionaries in the zone go finding in one area for a few hours.  I
was privileged to be pared up with a transfer 17 Japanese companion
for the blitz who will be returning home to Osaka in 2 weeks.  His
name is Elder Kondo.  He was such an awesome companion!  We worked
together so well and had so much fun.  But he taught me something very
important that I would like to share with you.  (And it goes with the
title of the email.). Where he is from in Osaka, it is very famous for
one thing, mikans.  Everyone in Japan has heard of the mikans of his
hometown.  And he used this to his advantage in talking to people.  He
would ask them if they had ever tasted a mikan from his hometown.
Most of them said no because they are really expensive.  He told them
that he had and that they were amazing and the best thing that he had
ever tasted!  He then told them about the gospel.  He asked them if
they had ever tried to go to church before.  Most of them said no.  He
then told them that he had, and that he felt so much joy from the
church, and it was the best thing that he had ever tasted.  After this
story he would relate the church to a mikan by saying that because he
had eaten one of the mikans before, he wanted to share it with
everyone, but not only that, because he had tasted the joy of the
gospel, he wanted even more to share that with everyone.  It was just
a simple example but the Japanese people understood.  They knew that
Elder Kondo wanted to just share the happiness that he had felt in the
gospel with them, and we were able to get some new investigators for
the Chosei area.  It was so awesome to hear the gospel put like that.
I may have to use it sometime!

Well I think that's everything for this week.  Thanks again for all of
your thoughts and prayers.  We appreciate it as always!  Have a great
week everyone and I hope to talk to you soon!

Love you!

Eric Stevens

Sent from my iPad

(The General Conference Sermons that Eric enjoyed listening to can be found at:
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2015/04?cid=HP_SU_4-5-2015_dPTH_fGC_xLIDyL1-B_&lang=eng)

 
Mikans From Osaka

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week Of The Sakura!

Hey Everyone!

How was your week?  Mine was pretty fancy not ganna lie!  It all
started with a wonderful sign of Spring, the cherry blossoms!  They
started blooming a couple weeks ago but this week they were out in
full force!  Do you know what the cherry blossoms symbolize?  I didn't
either until this week.  The cherry blossoms always bloom when the
good spring weather is about to start.  I guess sorta like groundhog's
day except more accurate.  So when they bloom it symbolizes the start
of a new year.  Or a new beginning if you will.  They also have
another meaning though.  The Sakura blossoms only last for a week
before they die and turn into green leaves.  So to the Japanese people
this means that you need to enjoy all good things while you can
because they won't last.  And the Japanese people certainly did enjoy
the cherry blossoms before they faded away.  The festival was jam packed
while I was there!  I've never seen so many people line up to look at
flowers.

 A cool miracle happened with us and the cherry blossoms this week.  We
went to the festival with my good friend T..., I have pics that I will
send.  And while we looked at the flowers I told T... what the
symbolism is for the cherry blossoms.  He thought it was interesting
but then I related it to the gospel by challenging him to take a new
start with the gospel.  Try it again to see if it really is
true.  I don't know if it was the magic of the cherry
blossoms or the power or God, probably God, but he agreed! He said that
he is going to start coming to church every week now for awhile to see
if he can feel those good feeling of going to church again and regain
his faith in God!  I was so happy for him!  The cherry blossom season is
really magical I guess!

Besides that, the week was really slow.  School just started up for
all of the investigators who haven't moved to Tokyo so it made them
really hard to meet.  Actually to tell you the truth we only were able
to meet with five people last week.  It was pretty hard because we
were just straight finding for several days.  We found lots of cool people
this week though, so I'm hoping this week is full of more lessons and less finding.  I'm sure
the Lord will provide a way for us to teach His prepared people.  We just
need to be on the look out for them.

Also, this week I got an unexpected break. 
Two days ago I woke up freezing cold and
with a pounding headache.  I could barely get out
of bed!  But that is normal, so I just manned through it and started
studying as normal.  But when it came to companion study, we started
with a song and I discovered that I didn't have a voice at all.  It
was gone!  (Probably from talking too much this week lol). By this
time my companion was worried because without a voice, that
meant that I couldn't talk so he would have to do all of it.  We
practiced a lot of door approaches during the study time and planned for
our lessons so he could handle it with minimal help from me.  After
study, the Zone Leaders came in because they noticed that it was very
quite in our room and had me take my temperature.  It was 101 which
meant I had to stay home all day because I was contagious.  The
mission mom told me that I needed to get lots of rest to get better
for Church because we had 2 really cool people planned to come to Church,
so I took her advice to heart and slept for almost 7 hours
straight.  During this time my companion was working really hard and
trying his best to call all of the people in our area book.  So this
day was amazing for both of us.  It gave me the rest that I needed
after a long hard week and it gave my companion more practice speaking
 Japanese and improving his missionary capabilities.  I guess the Lord works in
mysterious ways to further his work and this time, he decided to put
me down for a day.  Luckily I did get better to go to church.  Actually it
was very miraculous, I went to bed that night with a 101 fever and I
woke up with a 97.8 normal temperature.  I guess that was God just
telling me that one day rest was enough and I needed to get back to
it.  Lol. I'm just glad that sometimes God lets us have a rest
when we are in the most need of it.  And don't worry mom and
dad, I am doing great now.  All I need now is to get rid of my runny
nose.

Well, I think that's everything for this week.  Thanks for all of your
love and prayers for me always.  I am really excited to watch General
 Conference this week.  I will definitely be on the look out for my
favorite talks.  Thanks for all of the recommendations on talks!  It
sounds like a great one this time.  Love you all lots and lots!

Love,
Eric Stevens

Sent from my iPad

Ps we got our new iPad mini 2 last week.  They are so fast!!

 
Sakura Festival, Togane, Japan