Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'Tis the Season!


Its that time of the year here in Japan. Christmas is just two days away! Things are definitely in full swing. There are so many ads for Christmas chicken and cake, not as much snow, and definitely not as much "Traditional" American commercialism. Its a different feel that's for sure. Different cultures = Different traditions.

Now for the real exciting stuff, how my week went! Last P-day was on Tuesday so my week has been a little short! But fun nonetheless!

Wednesday was not super out of the ordinary. We woke up, did our morning study stuffs and tried to get in contact with this old woman who Elder Tauchi and I had met on splits the week or two prior to that. Afterwards we decided to Kubari The Fussa Eki. (Pass out fliers inside the Fussa city train station) to get people to come to our free english class. We did this for about an hour or so. At the end of the hour, I couldn't feel my hands, they were SO COLD. It doesn't snow here in Tokyo, but since it's still about 8 degrees Celsius we probably wont be getting snow any time soon.

It has rained a lot this week however. For two or three days out of the 6 this past week, Elder Merrill and I have had to face the elements in an attempt to spread the good word to all those who don't have it yet. Thank goodness for cold-gear Underarmour!

Thursday we had a conference with Elder Whiting of the Quorum of the Seventy. We essentially had a 6 hour question and answer session with him where were were allowed to stand and ask him questions pertaining to missionary work and what not. It was essentially the latter part of a Forrestall like at the Academy but less people and more churchy. He asked if anyone knew the missionary purpose and I raised my hand to stand up and recite it in Japanese for the whole room to hear. I did it plebe summer style. I should have started it: SIR THE MISSIONARY PURPOSE IN JAPANESE IS... probably not appropriate to yell in the sacrament meeting room. But he was impressed and so was everyone else by my confidence in reciting it. Afterwards several missionaries came up to me and told me that they were super impressed.

At the conference we were supposed to bring stockings that we bought at the 100 yen store that the mission home would fill and give back to us some time later this week. Elder Merrill and I couldn't find any stockings in any of the stores in Fussa so we made our own. You would be so proud of me. I bought America-themed cloth and made a sweet-looking stocking that would rival any traditional-store-bought stockings. I think I'm going to keep it for as long as its good. Elder Merrill made his look like a penguin. I forgot to take pictures so Ill send some later!

This week also, with the Fussa Japanese ward we drove around the area visiting less-actives and caroled at their houses. It was an ultra spiritual experience, everyone was home and I think I even saw a few tears in the eyes of some of the adults. It was long and hard facing the cold and rain of that day, but definitely the warmth of the Lord's love could be felt for these people. It was #Awesome_Motivating

We have a new investigator! Hiroshi-san!  Well kind of... He is an English class student that has come to church a few times and that we've met with once before. He wanted to meet with us to "practice English." We had a lesson with him this week and he wanted to know why there were so many churches on the Earth. Of course, we explained to him why! He said that if we were trying to baptise him and get him to join the church he didn't want to meet with us but he still agreed to meet with us again for another lesson on the Plan of salvation and he also came to church yesterday... Odd, right? It was quite odd. I think that he is concerned about his family or friends because that's a big problem here in Japan. But he is kind of a secret investigator but without a baptismal date.

I may have almost killed Elder Merrill on several occasions. Our morning runs have left him quite close to the verge of death. I should either back off (nah) or suggest to him a bike. Apparently the other Elders are spreading rumors about how when at the MTC, I PTed them to death during the hour allotted for missionaries to work out. I laughed when I heard that one. If they really wanted to die, they would work out with 1/c Scott Obrien.

This week we also had a small open house at the Cooper residence for the people who live in their apartment building and some of the English class students. Because they can't speak English they invited us to come and help translate for them and also eat some of their food. We were more than glad to go! I ate way too many cookies that night. But we did get two really good potential investigators form that event so I am super excited to see what comes about from that. Maybe they'll be investigators by the next time you hear from me!

In all, things are really really good here in 福生 Japan. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! If you get a chance check out this cool video from

Very Respectfully,
Elder Farr

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another fun week here in Japan!

Hello everyone!

I know some of you were expecting an email yesterday but because the Tokyo temple is closed on Mondays Pday was moved to Tuesday! I'm still alive! I also apologize for the shortness of the email. I wrote it once already and my computer decided to freak out and the email got erased. Since i'm pressed for time I'm just going to quickly re-cap what happened this week and write a longer email next week!

As for this week nothing super extremely exciting happened although we did do a couple of cool things. We Had a lesson with Sato Kyodai, a less-active member again who is super cool. We taught him about the plan of salvation however he did not understand a lot of the more "Advance" concepts. Elder Merrill and I didn't have a member present to help explain so we were by ourselves to answer his questions. We ultimately did our best and we believe that his questions were satisfied! I believe that that was the influence of the Spirit helping to testify instead of what we said specifically.

On another day we went and visited the house of a certain Mr. Sherman Carter. He was a person that the Elders had previously met with and he spoke English. So we had to follow up with him. We called him and set up an appointment and on Wednesday we went and talked to him. Turns out that he is a protestant preacher and just really wanted to talk about the Word with us. It wasn't a bible-bashing session thankfully he did most of the talking and after an hour or so we decided that it wasn't worth our time to meet with him since we weren't actually teaching anything. More so he was witnessing to us or something like that.

On Wednesday morning we meet with one of our old investigators Vijay after as soon as we had woken up and turned off our alarm he had called. At 0631! He wanted to meet within the hour for a lesson. We were ecstatic and so we meet with him. I was so happy to see him again! So we met with him again and had a lesson. We invited him to come to the dual-ward Japanese and English Ward Christmas party that was being held on the base this past Saturday. He had a lot of questions concerning the church and wanted to find proof of the Book of Mormon and other practices of the Church within the Bible. We told that that we would study the scriptures that week and would get back to him with the answers on Sunday.

The Christmas party was AMAZING. The Japanese and the American Wards really really know how to party. The food was awesome however about 1/3 of the way through the night they ran out! A couple of members ran out to the on-base popeyes and got boxes upon boxes of chicken to feed the masses of hungry people. It was essentially a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner, minus the cake! The youth did several musical numbers and the combined youth programs put on a play concerning the real reason behind the Christmas season. There were tons of members and non-members as well. Essentially all of our English class students came to the party. Elder Merrill and I had a ton of meaningful contacts with these people and they all seemed to enjoy being able to get onto a US airbase even for only a night.

On Sunday Vijay called to tell us that he had not gotten a good nights rest and wasn't coming to church. He hasn't returned any of our calls or texts. We think that this might be the last of him that we see for a little bit. His family owns an indo curry in town. Were hoping that if we swing by for lunch this week we might be able to catch him and see why he is avoiding our calls.

The rest of the Sunday was un-eventful. One of our investigators (Kim-san) came to the wrong ward (English ward instead of the Japanese speaking ward) but as soon as he walked in a Chinese family welcomed him to the ward and invited him to sit down with them. It was really really awesome seeing just how Member missionary work can be so fluid and without awkwardness. Elder Merrill and I didn't even have to do a single thing! Member Missionaries are the Best! *hint hint*

This week wasn't the most exciting week teaching wise but Elder Merrill and I had plenty of contacts with people. My Japanese has seen significant improvement since I have been using our district's native Japanese speaker. In a week or so we will be having transfer calls. I fear that I might be training a Japanese Missionary in the next transfer. Hopefully that's not the case!

Thanks everyone for all the support and the letters. They're very warmly received!

Elder J. Alan Farr

Attached is a picture of me channeling my inner Japanese. In the background you can see the sun setting behind Mt. Fuji and some of Fussa. The area that I'm in. Pretty cool huh?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Its been two months since I arrived in Japan!

Dear All,

This has been a pretty crazy week but in all i'm glad its P-day so I can recharge my batteries and hit the ground running again tomorrow morning. I still haven't found my lost bag yet, but I've alerted pretty much every business where it was lost so if anyone finds it I will know soon enough. In the meantime, I have been using another bag that I found in our apartment in the back of one of the closets, it seems to be holding up just fine.

From what I hear, its pretty cold back in the states. That's too bad. I'm currently, wearing short sleeves. Its awesome. This past week I wore short sleeves three out of the 7 days. Granted, it did get a little cold towards the evening, but because its not snowing its not that cold. Although the past couple of nights we couldn't figure out why our room heater thing wasn't working at all. Elder Merrill started pushing random buttons and that seemed to do the trick because on Friday it stated blowing warm air again. We think that our lack of being literate in Kanji has to do something with that.

This week pretty much all of our investigators fell off the face of the world. Yamada-san stopped showing up to lessons, and because he doesn't have a phone we can't get in contact him. Vijay, another investigator decided he doesn't want to keep meeting. Also, Kim-san didn't come to church and Hano-hano san wont pick up his phone. Its been weeks since we talked to him. So basically any progress has halted with those individuals. However ELder Merrill and I are being steadfast and pressing forward with faith. We have been trying to work hard and smart as well as inspired so that we can best utilize the Lord's time.

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting I could understand a few of the words people said. I still have no idea what people are saying though, I think this will continue throughout the mission unfortunately. As a result I have been really picking up my game when it comes to japanese. During missionary meetings I hang out with the Japanese and listen to the English-to-Japanese translations and pick out words to learn. I also ask the Japanese missioanries to help me out. So in the past week, I have seen big gains with my language abilities.

One of the new sister missionaries in the Fussa area is 中村姉妹 (Sister Nakamura) she is essentially fluent in English and has been a big help to me this past week. However I am most grateful for her potatoes. Her parents own a Potato farm in Hokaido, Japan (its up north) and sent her a crate of 20kg or over 40 pounds of potatoes. She has given us Elders a large portion of it. Needless to say I've had a lot of potatoes recently and I'm happy!

This past week Elder Merrill and I had a really cool experience involving Prayer:
On 6 December 2013 Elder Merrill and I did not have a very good day. We were quite flustered at the fact that despite our best efforts, nobody was willing to accept our message or let alone give us a few seconds to hear us out. We tried visiting potential investigators but none of them were home. We were tired and discouraged. Frankly, we didn’t think we were going to have much success for the rest of the day. On our way back to the apartment for dinner, we decided to visit the home of an investigator that kind of had fallen off the face of the earth. We had tried numerous times to meet with him but he either wasn’t reachable or cancelled our appointments several minutes before we were supposed to meet.

As we approached his apartment I had the distinct impression that we should pray. We stopped and prayed for comfort and for our “lost Investigator” to have a desire to meet with us again. It wasn’t much. Just a quick prayer of help. We really our investigator to meet with us!

As we approached his door we saw that his lights were on. We rang the door bell and waited. After a few brief seconds of wondering if he would answer the door opened. I looked up and found myself eye to eye with the ever-elusive Emo!

It had been quite some time since we had last meet. Emo looked much older, as if he had been through some hard things in the past few weeks. But regardless of whatever troubles he might have been having he greeted us with a warm smile and shook our hands with vigor. We talked for a bit and I introduced Elder Merrill to him as the new missionary in the area. We chatted for a bit and invited him to the Christmas concert in kichijoji but he was working the following night. He did however, commit himself to church and meeting with us. He mentioned that he had received our voicemail from the previous day and that he was really glad to hear from us. He rally wanted to meet with us, although he was super busy. He said that he would make his best attempt to come to church the following Sunday and that we could meet with him the next week for Lunch and to talk about Jesus a bit.

Emo’s reception to our visit was remarkably positive. Following our visit we had better success as Missionaries. We found out that one of our less-active members had been practicing the piano hard so that he could come to church and play the piano at priesthood meeting. He seemed so excited to be able to use his talents to help benefit others. I wonder how different our experience with Emo as well as the conclusion of our day would have been had we not asked our Heavenly Father to help us out with his work. This just goes to help strengthen my testimony that prayer is crucial to our work as missionaries.

Pretty cool stuff huh? I like to think so.

I haven't eaten anything super odd this week. I did have amazing potatoes and a roast at a members house this past Wednesday after church. #perksoflivingnexttoaUSbase I am going to be so sad when I get transferred out. But that just means new adventures and whatnot.

But that's whats going down here in Fussa. Thanks everyone for your support and your prayers. They're definitely being felt over here in Japan.


Elder J. Alan Farr

Attached is a picture of me and my District! Elder Merrill (not pictured)

Also, if you are sending packages please please please don't put my name anywhere on the package. No "attn: Elder Farr" or things like that. Just address it to the Bartons and everything will be alright! Thanks!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend Report

Dear America,

If you are going to send me a package though the Barton's APO mailbox please please please PLEASE PLEASE PLELASE! do not address it to me. Address it to the Baton Family, Mr. Barton, Bryce Barton, ect... They got a package addressed to me and told me Sunday that they could lose their mailbox if it happens again. Please do not do this. I beg of you!


Things over here have been pretty relaxed. I am sitting here at the computer absolutely freezing because in Japan they don't believe in central heating. As a result I spend a lot of my time wrapped up in a blanket trying not to freeze to death. So if my emails don't make sense its the cold getting to me.

The last time I emailed was on Thanksgiving and not much has happened in the past couple of days so I will give you a day-by-day breakdown.

Thanksgiving was AWESOME. I am so glad that the Brooks family was able to have me and Elder Merrill over for Dinner. They're a really nice family. They had over several recently-moved-in members as well as a family who weren't members. One of the members gave Elder Merrill and I each a sweet picture of the Bountiful temple printed on a stainless steel sheet of metal that stands up on this clear acrylic thing. Its kind of cool looking. It currently sits on my desk. After dinner, we were able to share a spiritual thought with the family and the non-members could totally feel the spirit. It was pretty cool.

On Friday Elder Hill, one of the zone leaders in another part of the mission, came over for the day to dendo (proselyte) with us. We decided to go to a park on the area map that we thought would be cool. Turns out that that was in fact a great idea! We met with over 15 people in that park. Some of whom were Highschoolers who were riding ripsticks (total Asian move I know) in the park. Elder Hill rode one and they were all REALLY impressed by him. Knowing me, I would probably fall off. We talked to them about the church but ultimately they weren't all that interested. The park was huge however, and we talked to person after person after person. In the middle of the park was a HUGE hill-thing with a gazebo on it. We went there and you could see Mt. Fuji clearly as day. It was pretty cool because normally you can't see him due to clouds or smog or whatnot. Mt. Fuji looks cold. It absolutely towers over the other mountains that surround the city of Fussa. The smaller mountains are in our area so we are planning on going there sometime soon to hike up them. In all, I learned that missionary work doesn't have to be work at all. Its lots of fun and if you're having fun then people will notice that and be more willing to hear you out and listen to your message.

Saturday was super hectic. We had 3 appointments with investigators and a less-active member but only one didn't fall through. It was with the less-active. We met in Akigawa station in the middle of nowhere and walked to a McDonalds to have a lesson because he was cold and didn't want to stand outside talking. We sat down and  said that he would get us something to warm us up. Usually he buys us fries. Saturday he bought us Tea. You see, the problem is he was telling us that it was ok and that it was lemon tea but it didn't smell anything like lemons nor did it have pictures of lemons on the package. Plus the whole thing was written in Japanese and as Americans Kanji is rather hard to decipher especially with knowing the language for only a few months. Luckily, since he is a kind of an all-over-the-place kind of guy he didn't notice that after we had made our tea that we didn't drink it. Maybe our next lesson with him will be about the word of wisdom. Later that day we took a bunch of Anpan (these fish-looking) waffles things with a bean paste in the middle to Sato Kyodai (another less-active). His face lit up. He loves anpan apparently. He also came to church the following day and set up an appointment with us to teach him.

Sunday was fast Sunday. We had Yamada-san show up and Kim-san both of our investigators show up as well as another man who normally comes to English class.  Nobody was going up to bare their testimonies so I got up in both the English and Japanese Wards and bore my testimony. The Japanese testimony wasn't as long as the English one but the spirit was just as strong! After Fast Sunday, we walked to the train station with Yamada-san and came back to all the tons of food that the members brought us. We took it home and made pancakes and eggs for dinner. My companion and I have this sweet deal. He does dishes and I cook. It works out really well because he can't cook and I rather not do dishes! Our companionship is pretty much perfect.

So that was how the last few days went by. Life as a Missionary isn't so routine as I thought. Its hard work but its also a great feeling passing out in my bed after a long days work. Very fulfilling indeed.

Stay Genki.

Elder J. Alan Farr

 Attached: Elder Merrill in a park in Hamura