Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Fun Week Here on the Coast

Dear Friends and Family,

Its been another exciting week down here in Yokosuka. It sure has been really busy this past week due to all the things that I have to do as a Zone and all the things that Elder Ford has to do as a  District Leader. President Wada really has us all working our butts off to ensure that the Tokyo South Mission runs well and without any sort of hiccups.

This past week the Zone has really been focusing on how to help others overcome their problems with specifically the Word of Wisdom. In all of the District meetings that I attended with Elder Ford this week I had the chance to practice teaching about the Word of Wisdom to many different missionaries and even some non-members. What I did find out through my own personal studies as well as through teaching that a lot of the Word of wisdom (like not drinking Alcohol and also not doing drugs) is for our own benefit. The Lord has commanded us to not partake of any harmful substances that might inhibit us in our progression. It was just a thought that occurred to me as I was helping to train the other missionaries on how to properly teach the word of wisdom -dom.

This past Thursday we had another Mission Leadership Council conference in the mission home. It was really good to see all olf my missionary leader friends and get to spend the day discussing how we can better help those in our zones as well as our district leaders better fulfill their purposes by inviting them to come unto Christ. Elder Young was there, he said that one of the friends I had back in Tokorozawa (Christian, i may not have mentioned about him in earlier emails) really really really wants to get baptized. Christian is from France and has extremely large faith. He wants to learn so much about the church and really loves reading from the Book of Mormon. He should be getting Baptized within the next couple of weeks. I am so excited to see him progress and hear about how things are going with him from Elder Young.As for Yokosuka, things here are REALLY slow. The area has not seen any success in several transfers and the branch is really small. I talked to President Wada about it a little bit in one of my weekly letters and it seems that we just need to hit it hard and work smart and inspired in order to find those that will receive us. I really think that we can see miracles here in Yokosuka but its going to take a whole lot of faith and a whole lot of God's hand in directing us to where we should go.

This week we met with a potential investigator named Yamauchi. Yamauchi is a 22 year old guy that works at a factory making scaffolding. I think that he really enjoys what he does. he is full of energy and LOVES to talk. Elder Ford thought that he spoke really really polite Japanese on the phone but when i met him, it turns out that his Japanese is just really really un-polite and that's why Elder Ford couldn't understand what he was saying.

Brother Smith, our ward mission leader in the Yokosuka branch sat all the missionaries down yesterday and we talked really long and hard about how to work more effectively as a team and how we should be using each others talents in order to help people. He talked a lot about how serving a mission in Japan has really blessed him in his life and how if he didn't smother his talent of Japanese he would probably not have the good job that he has working for the military that he has now. It was a really good talk and its important that we make sure that we know what were good at and strive to develop that which we are not good at in order to make us better individuals.Brother Smith has two daughters that just recently returned from their missions. He had all of us missionaries go talk to them after church and all seven of us had a really great conversation about what they had learned so farr in their missions. They both said that they had learned a lot about themselves but mostly about patience and that no effort is wasted. They both served in Japan. It was a really good little discussion. You could feel the spirit really well in the room.

Well, that's all there really is for this week. We are meeting with the areas only investigator this week on Wednesday so hopefully we will be able to make some progress in helping them along with their progression. I'm just really excited to meet this family that ive heard so much about. I think that were most likely going to go eat some good Japanese food and have a quick lesson or something like that. I don't really know. However I think that it will be good no matter what happens.

Shout out to Cathryn DeLong for entering the MTC on Wednesday to start her own little adventure as a Sister Missionary. Please make sure to write her and send her emails!

Oh, and at a members house this week one of their kids pooped on the floor while we were all eating dinner. It was hilarious. At another members house we were talking all about where each person would like to go on a mission. The 12 year old son said japan, their 8 year old daughter said South america and their 4 year old son said "THE JUNGLE OF DEATH!!!!" as he punched a clenched fist into the air. I couldn't stop laughing and his parents were super embarrassed because they didn't know where he learned " The jungle of death" from. It was too funny. I he too wants to go to South America I guess...Well that's all that happened this week. I think that it will be an even better week his upcoming week. I look forward to hearing from all of you in the next couple of weeks.

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hello from 横須賀!

Dear Everyone,

I am writing from confines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church building located in Yokosuka Japan! I'm am only a two minute walk away from the gates to the US Naval base and let me tell you the area is absolutely beautiful. Its not quite as beautiful as Annapolis is at night but its pretty stinking pretty. Our apartment is about a 1 minute walk from the shore so if a Tsunami comes in were probably toast but it's okay since were missionaries and what not. The Church looks out for its own. Especially the missionaries that are here in Japan. Even if it looks like we might be trouble the church will have us evacuated out promptly!

So on Monday we got our transfer calls and Elder Young and I were really saddened that we were going to be moved around the mission and not see each other. I think the biggest part of our transfer was that we were not going to be able to work out as hard as we had been last transfer with newer, less-motivated as we, companions. But its okay because my "new companion" Elder Ford really enjoys running and working out. We did sprints our first day together and I nearly killed him with how many we were doing. We did push-ups this morning and he just about died at 1000 while i continued and finished off the remaining 1000. Its certainly a change from having a Olympic qualifying companion to a non-Olympic companion. But please don't get me wrong, I love Elder Ford regardless of his Olympic entering chances! He and are are going to have a great time together I know it!

The Japanese ward he is rather small. Actually its only a branch of about 10-15 active members. Its a really small unit with its number of active members slowly dwindling. There is a lot of work to be done here to help not only the branch but also the people whole live here in Yokosua learn about the Church. God thing that President Wada sent a team of expert-missionaries. Along with Elder Ford and I are the Senior Military Relation Missionaries, Sister and Elder Addinton as well as two other Sister missionaries, Sister Dansie and Sister Hurlbut. Everyone is really great and i think that it should be a pretty good transfer for pretty much everyone. I don't foresee any problems. There aren't really any people who the elders were teaching when I transferred in so its going to be a whole lot of talking to people and knocking on doors to find the prepared. I think that a lot of our focus this transfer is going to mainly consist of us visiting the members and helping to strengthen the members that we do have and work with and through them to help find people to teach. It certainly is going to be a very interesting transfer here in Yokosuka. I'm certainly excited to see what kinds of miracleswill occur in the next couple of weeks!

One highlight of the Week was that one of the Members in the branch's son got baptized. on Friday we went to the base to go and watch it and there was this random Japanese man who had happened to show up. He knew a little bit about the Mormons on an very simple basic level such as that we didn't smoke Alcohol or Drink Tobacco. We ended up teaching him a very very simple lesson while the entire service was going on and he got to experience a little bit of what it is like to be a member. He says he works up in Tokyo so hopefully hes not too busy for us to teach him later on. he was a very eccentric man so teaching him about the restored Gospel should be pretty fun! That's all for this week, I hope you all have an excellent week! Oorah.

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Pics: Me and elder young in front of Tokorozawa's church, weird poster is that man hiding amongst others' meat?, Lunch! Chicken!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hello Everyone

Hello Everyone,

I can't believe that it's been six weeks since Elder Young and I got called to work together here as Zone Leaders in a Tokorozawa. It's been a really busy time here as Zone as Leaders but it's been fun none the less.

We have spent a good portion of our week this week teaching one of our friend Christian about the gospel. We have been doing a lot of work with him in helping him learn about both the importance of the Bible and also the Book of Mormon.

Today we got transfer calls. I'm going to be leaving the Tokorozawa area. I'm going to be a zone leader in the Yokohama zone and be working in the Yokosuka area! My new companion is actually one from the past. Elder Ford! I worked with him during my last transfer in Fussa back when I was only on my third transfer. I'm really excited to see just how much he has changed in six months. Hopefully it's just as fun as when I was with him last!

I'm really sad to be leaving all my friends here in Tokorozawa especially my companion Elder Young. It's going to,be weird moving to my fourth area in only eight transfers. Also, moving to another military base Ward will sure be an interesting experience. I haven't gone to church in English for such a long time! I'm sure there will be lots of miracles to be seen as I begin working in the Yokosuka area! I'm just not very excited to pack... I'm going to be doing a whole lot of packing today to get ready for the move on Thursday. I'm traveling from the most northern region of the mission to the most southern area. I'm guessing total travel time will exceed two and a half hours of just being on the train. It should be a blast. I'll definitely write about that next week!

 One really cool miracle that happened this week is that we met this guy named Friday on the street after one of our morning runs. We talked to him a little bit and found out that he had just recently lost contact with some missionaries that he had met in the northern Tokyo mission. We talked a little bit about the church and asked if he wanted to come to church or meet sometime and he said yes! We parted ways and then realized that the other missionaries in our area had received a referral for a guy named Friday from Chiba, Japan that they hadn't been able to get in contact all week. We had met him at a stoplight! It just goes to show that God always has a backup plan!

Anyways, it's always a pleasure hearing from you! I hope that everyone has a great week!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

I haven't found any roaches in our apartment all transfer!


This week has been kind of crazy. Yesterday was temple Pday but since I'm a zone leader our schedules are always hectic and time to write our emails disappeared. Elder young and I took a little bit of time today to send out a couple quick emails to our loved ones to let them know that we are still alive and doing well.

I'm still alive and doing well.

We finally have an AirConditioner in our apartment and man does it do wonders! I'm finally able to sleep normally at night and Elder Young and I haven't been exhausted all week. We can work hard from sunrise to sunset without having to worry about us getting burnt out by 1400.

Since Elder Young and I are zone leaders, we spend a whole lot of our time training the other missionaries in our zone how to work effectively and how to be better missionaries. We also use our time with other missionaries to help learn more about them and how we can help them reach their full potential and achieve their own personal goals.

I went on splits with Elder Crandall and Elder Miyazawa in Hibarigaoka and Fussa respectively. Elder Crandall and I played a whole lot of basketball (Stereotypical Missionary work, right?) and met a lot of really cool kids. We ended up,getting a return appointment with this guy and his younger brother to meet for lunch and learn a little bit more about coming to church and each other. I'm really excited to see what kinds of good things will come forth from that meeting.

In Fussa I was able to relive my first couple of transfers with the district leader there, Elder Miyazawa. We went to a small city by foot to see if we could locate a less active member. We were walking and talking to people since we got kind of lost and couldn't really remember where the less active was. We eventually found him in his house and talked to him through his kitchen window as he was making ramen or some sort of noodles for lunch. He kind of ignored us but it was okay because he said we could come back another time and go to lunch with him. I think that if we can help him get more friends then maybe he'll be more inclined to come back to church!

Yesterday I taught a lesson to one of our investigators Christian. We talked a lot about having charity and how if he is a good example to his non-Christian parents then they will see the good example he is putting forth and he will be able to help,them become more Christian-like people. Christian is really cool and really wants to help out his family. Were meeting him later this week and it should be a really good lesson.

Well it's good to hear from you all, I hope that everyone has a great week filled with lots of delicious cheeses!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hello y'all


I can't believe that it's been a whole week since I last wrote. It feels more like three weeks. This week for some reason has dragged on and on and on. So much has happened since last time I wrote so let me tell you a little bit about what I did this week:

Last Tuesday was the Zone Conference. It was super long to say the least. I think we went a whole hour over because of all the trainings going Farr too long than they were originally expected to go. We talked a whole lot about the Book of a Mormon and teaching the first discussion (The Restoration) to people. We spent a lot of time talking about faith and having the spirit with you when you teach and interact with a bunch of people.

I talked about the role that the Book of Mormon has in conversion. In the scriptures it says so,etching about "Take no thought about what Ye should say beforehand or something like that" I was a little worried about what was going to happen to my presentation since I had a bunch of notes from the preach my gospel book and my scriptures but I still didn't know how I was going to fill up a whole 30min with what I needed to present on. As I started talking, the ideas and the scriptures on paper all started to flow together and what resulted was a pretty good presentation. The spirit was definitely present there in that room.

As soon as I was don't with the conference I went on exchanges with the assistants to the president. I hung out with Elder Rockwood for a day in Kichijoji helping him with the Assistant duties that he has. We did a TON of paperwork. We wrote a bunch of emails and papers and made some phone calls. It was a whole lot of fun. We taught three lessons in the 24 hours that I was with him and read a lot from the Book of Mormon with the three people that we taught. They're all really cool people so it will be cool to hear from the Assistants later to see how they're progressing.

While at the Mission Office we got notice that the typhoon was going to hit earlier than previously expected. As a result, I had to draft an email and ensure that everyone in the mission was prepared for the storm. We had to make sure that everyone had all their bikes inside of their apartments and bunkered down for the strong winds. The Hurricane was supposed to hit around midnight that night while everyone in the mission was asleep. However when I woke up the next morning at 5:33 with little to no signs of any damage. It was a false alarm.

Sunday was super duper hot. I don't think it ever dropped below 80 degrees in our apartment. The day that we get air conditioning in our apartment will be a day of much celebration. At church we had a lot of people come who were members. Unfortunately none of our investigators showed up. After Church, Elder Young and I helped one of the members with an English essay and we taught a lesson to one of our investigators that we happened to have run into at the park. It was a really cool experience just running into him. We have a lesson with him next Wednesday.

Elder Young and I taught a lesson in Japanese, Spanish, and English to one of the members last night. It was really weird but still a really cool experience!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Zone conference in Kichijoji! Our recycling. Have I sent this one before? Elder Yoshino and his companion some random Texan

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hello Everyone!

Hello Everyone!

I hope that everyone had an excellent week this week over in their respective parts of the world. Things here in Japan have been relatively calm. The rain season officially ends in a couple of days. Soon the days of being completely soaked while riding my bike back to my apartment in the evening will be over. The next part of the Japanese season will be the extreme heat and humidity that results from being stuck on an island in the pacific.

Currently our apartment has no source of cooling other than a small electric fan that we are borrowing from another missionary apartment. It is so hot in our tatami room that we sleep in at night. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be a Japanese person living in Japan  before the invention of the AirConditioner. Fun fact: Here in Japan, people don't believe in central heating and cooking. They use many, small wall-mounted units to provide the cooling air to the rooms in homes and businesses.

Things here in Japan as a missionary have been super exciting. Ever since The Tokorozawa area has gone from 6 missionaries to 8 missionaries (and soon to be 10 missionaries) this area has seen a whole lot of success. As missionaries, our main purpose is to invites other to come unto Christ. This seems relatively easy however, for a nation with not much exposure to basic Christian backgrounds it's a whole lot harder. It's fairly common to talk to someone on the street that has never heard of the Bible or of Jesus Christ himself. It's up to us as missionaries to help teach and better the cities and areas in which we are chosen to work in.

This week we had the special opportunity to attend the Summer Concert of a pretty famous (in Tokyo, Japan at least) LDS Young single adult choir called the "Little Witnesses." They're comprised of institute students who gather in Shibuya and spend some of their free time putting together a concert/small play that helps to explain basic beliefs and practices of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. We spent the last week, making flyers and inviting people to attend the concert as it was a great non-threatening way to introduce the fundamental beliefs of our church to non-members. We had an investigator, 岩澤さん, come to the concert. It was a really good experience for him. Afterwards we talked to him about how he felt during the concert and invited him to sacrament meeting the next day. He came! Were going to start teaching him more about the Church in the next up and coming weeks.

One thing that I've thought is really interesting about the Japanese culture is the aspect of conformity that runs throughout the whole country. All the school children wear pretty much the same uniform, businessmen and women wear essentially the same kinds of suits. School children all wear the same colored hat to indicate that they're small children (as if someone one couldn't tell by looking at them). When we talk to people about religion they usually talk about how they are actually "Buddhist" even though it's been generations since someone in their family has practiced anything resembling religion. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that conformity is a bad thing, I'm just merely stating that it plays a very interesting part in how things are done here in Japan. The streets here are Spotless, the trains are essentially silent regardless of how many people are on board (it's a different story if there are large gatherings of High school students on board. Japanese kids LOVE to talk, especially talk loud. ) the streets here are absolutely spotless. Also, everyone here is extremely nice. I love Japan. The people here are the best!

Today Elder Young and I went to Kichijoji today to practice our presentations for Zone Conference with the other Zone Leaders from the Musashino North Zone. We spent about an hour practicing what we were going to present and how the Zone conference was going to be run. Tomorrow, Elder Young and I are going to present to about 50 missionaries throughout the Musashino North and South Zones. As a mission leadership-team we will be teaching for over six hours covering a variety of different topics covering from basic emergency preparedness to using the Book of Mormon to help investigators with their problems. It should be a whole lot of fun!

For the Fourth of July this week, we sang the National Anthem in two district meetings, pledged allegiance to the Flag and ate American food that has been re-packaged and labeled for consumer use here in Japan. It was a fantastic Fourth of July considering the fact that were about as Farr away from the United States as you can get! You can take the Americans out of America but you can't take the American out of the Americans!

It's been a great week, I love you all!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Pics: Recycling is hard in Japan, check out what I found in Japan, zone meeting, on splits in Hibarigaoka, Elder Crandall

Hello Again from 日本!

Friends and Family,

I'm still alive! It's been a crazy couple of weeks here in Tokorozawa. Here is what's happened:

The biggest thing that's happened since I last wrote is that Transfers happened. I am no longer companions with Elder Connell. We got transfer calls about two weeks ago and he moved to Yamate. My new companion is Elder Young. Elder Young and I are both very similar in our way of thinking. It's only been a few weeks that we've been working together but it's been loads of fun nonetheless. He is currently training for the next summer Olympics.  He is a runner and if he can drop .03 seconds of his 100m time then he will make it in. We've been pushing ourselves pretty hard every morning to get better. My PRT race time is dropping like crazy.

The rain here is relentless. It continues to come down regardless of how much I want to keep dry. This past weekend really off and on. On Saturday Elder Young and I ran pretty early in the morning and afterwards,mad we were walking up,he stairs to our apartment, it started pouring SUPER hard. It was obnoxious how hard it was raining. We were both really grateful for how lucky we were to not get caught in the heavy downpour.

Last week Elder Young and I ran the first of ten different training briefs for our zone members. President Wada is doing this ten week training program that is supposed to help boost everyone's teaching abilities and help everyone to gain more confidence in their skills as missionaries. It was a really good training. We talked a lot about faith and how to work Hard, Smart, and Inspired. We read a lot from the Book of Mormon together. I tight from Alma 21 about being good missionaries. I think that everyone came out from the training with at least something new. Or I sure hope so...

There is this park by our new apartment in Shin-Tokorozawa called Koku Koen. It's gigantic. It used to be an old airport of some sort. I think that it it got destroyed during he end of the second war and afterwards they didn't know what to do with it so they turned it into this gigantic park. Elder Young and I walked around and talked to people about the church at the park. We did however meet these two people who used to be colonels in the Japanese military back in the day. One was a Jet fighter and the other was in the Japanese ground forces. They were really cool. I talked to them about how I was at the Academy and how afterwards, I'm planning on going back and joining the elite fighting force that is the United States Marine Corps. They thought that was pretty cool. We were able to have a really deep conversation about religion and the purpose of life. It was really really cool. They come to the park super often so next time were there we plan on giving them both Books of Mormon.

This week on Saturday, the Ward put together their own rendition of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." They have been practicing for weeks and weeks to perfect it, and they went all out in making flyers and spreading that word. There were even a bunch of members going door to door to generate some interest! I have no idea what the play was about. Shakespeare is hard to understand in my own language let alone in Japanese. It was quite the sight to behold. The whole time I laughed at how ridiculous my situation was. There I was an American, in Japan, watching a Play, written by Shakespeare, preformed in Japanese. I just laughed when everyone else did and did my best to keep my eyes open. After the play, the Ward threw this HUGE curry and rice party for all those people who had decided to come and watch the play. It was a really good time to be able to build friendships with the members and meet some cool non-members as well! In all, Saturday was a success!

Elder Suzuki, our Japanese missionary here in our District has really been taking a bigger role in leading the missionaries based here in Tokorozawa. We had a district meeting last week where all eight of us Tokorozawa missionaries sat down and planned out how we wanted to focus in the members this transfer and help bring them unto Christ individually. Were trying our best to work as a whole unit so that we can maximize the good that we do here in Tokorozawa!

Well that's all I have for now. It was good hearing from everyone either via email or letter this week!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Please enjoy this picture of Chicken that I found at the store this week while doing grocery shopping.