Monday, February 24, 2014

It's getting warmer in 鎌倉!


It's been a fun week here in Kamakura. The weather has been cooperating a lot and thankfully it hasn't snowed too much. The weather is looking pretty good too. It's been really sunny with clear skies. Kamakura has literally exploded with so many tourists. The trees are starting to bud, hopefully Sakura comes soon! I'm excited to see this whole city explode with pink cherry blossoms. I've only seen pictures but I can't imagine how awesome it'll be in person.

Today for P-day we celebrated Elder Barker's birthday. We went to a katana shop and talked to one of the old men in the shop. Well kind of... He mostly talked and we kind of nodded our heads like we understood. From his miming actions, and the works that I could pick out, he was talking about Vietnam, getting stabbed by a katana, planes, and exploding heads. I don't think I understood him completely. Obviously my listening comprehension needs a little work. A member from the Ward is having us over for a little birthday celebration and inviting her neighbors, and her son is inviting one of his friends too. It'll be a good way to introduce her friends to her missionaries in a non-confrontational environment.

I love the Kamakura Ward. They definitely have that missionary spirit about them. English class this week had a lot of members come to support the program. They are so willing to help out with the work. 英会話 was fun, the students are all really cool, and Elder Christensen and Elder Barker are both really great teachers. We decided that we're going to invite some of the students to hear the lessons since a lot of them like the church, the missionaries, and especially the members. I taught the intermediate class, and the way it looks, I'm going to be teaching it from now on so that the class can get used to the teaching style of one teacher. It's good that I taught swimming lessons for two years because it's kind of the same, except with old Japanese people. And English and not swimming.

I am a huge fan of the Kamakura area as well. I've had a lot of opportunity to talk to Americans who are lost and are trying to find their way around. My connection to the Navy has proved useful in conversations with many people and allows for natural conversations to take place. I talked to this guy who was an aviation ordinance worker for the Navy. Basically his job was to take care of the bombs and missiles that they put on planes that are launched from a carrier. He was really cool, and we talked about how the navy is cool and how Japan is cool. I told him what I wanted to service select and he gave me his opinions. It's interesting Americans are about 50/50. Some completely blow us off, and the others, are completely down to talk! Last Wednesday, we helped translate for an American who didn't really know what a store clerk was telling her. It's nice being able to speak a bit of the lang age. We're definitely at an advantage over the Americans on Base.

I've finally seen all the area this week and it's interesting to see just how different the place is from Fussa! There are these guys who pull around these carts with people in them and give them tours. They're mostly for the Japanese and I've never seen an American on one, but I think that it would be cool to ride around on one. I would enjoy it regardless of comprehension ability!

Things are going well here in Kamakura. Unfortunately none of our investigators are really progressing, but I know that with Faith all things are possible! Just have to keep on pressing forward despite any setbacks.

Have a great week!

Elder Joshua Farr
Pictures: Big Buddah, Freezing on a beach, the church building, the katana shop

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hello from 鎌倉


I'm finally out of my first area and into my second. It's crazy just how time flies when you're having fun! I moved to Kamakura on Thursday and even though I've only been here a few days, I think that I'm going to love the place. It's exactly what I imagined coming to Japan would be like. The city is great, Elder Christensen has yet to show us the whole area, but extrapolating from what I've seen, the whole area is amazing. The best part I think, is that a lot of American tourists come from the Naval Base in Yokosuka therefore I have an instant connection with them. It's really easy to get meaningful conversations with the tourists because they all speak a language that I fully comprehend.

Elders Barker, and Christiansen are both super excited for the work. They're both full of energy and eager to hasten the work of salvation. I expect there to be many miracles in the up coming weeks. We have some pretty lofty goals for this transfer, but we believe that if were strictly obedient, uplift one another and most importantly follow the spirit, then we will be able to have a baptism this transfer. As long as we do everything that we can to be worthy of those who are seeking the truth.

This week I had a pretty cool experience regarding faith. After transferring in, Elder Christensen informed us that they were behind on their 'Meaningful Contacts' and that we needed to get over 25 that day in order to meet our goal for the week. We tried our best our first two days to make up the difference and meet our goal, but to no avail, we couldn't meet our goal, and the number of meaningful contacts needed on Saturday to meet our goal was 25. It seemed like a daunting task, but all three of us press forward with faith that we could do it. We wanted to get at least 20 before dinner so that we could get the last 5 afterwards while housing some apartments close to our house. Luckily for us, it had snowed heavily the day before and there were plenty of service opportunities for us to do.

We went to 青木姉妹's house one of the members who lives near by and asked if we could borrow shovels. Something about three large Americans with shovels opens people up to service. People were coming up to us asking for our help. We helped lots and lots of people. And indirectly helped even more by clearing out snow from several small intersections and pretty sharp turns. We were heading back to 青木姉妹's house and were kind of bummed out because we didn't get 20, we were at 19. We went to return the shovels, and talked to her neighbor for about 30 seconds saying hello and what not but weren't really able to make it any sorts of meaningful. Then we went to 青木姉妹's house to return the shovels. While we were talking to the member, her neighbor walked by asking if she could pay us to help,her shovel a parking lot that she owned close by. 青木姉妹 explained that we were volunteers and that we would probably be more than glad to help out. We offered our help, and did our absolute best clearing out the parking lot. We were able to talk to her about what we do and a little bit about our church. We got 20 before dinner, and were able to get five more afterwards as well. Even when it looked like we weren't going to be able to make our goal, we pressed forward with faith and made it. It seemed like all he people who would be willing to hear us were placed in our path that day. It strengthens my faith that this is the Lord's work.

I was told that I would face many challenges on my mission. I've faced a lot of difficult things, like being reject and yelled at, sleeping in a room with no heat, and even having conversations with people where I can't fully understand what is being said. Even though these things are annoying and sometimes a little anger-inducing, I have begun to learn that by leading a more Christ-like life, that I can go through these trials more easily. I think that enjoying every moment and learning to find the good in situations as well as in people helps us to have a more enjoyable lifestyle. That's definitely one thing that I'm starting to get better at. I don't think ill ever master it, but I can try my hardest to come close!

Being a district leader now, I have this burden of responsibility placed upon me to do certain things. People often think think that because they are placed in a leadership role they have to change who they are to fit some mold that pertains to that role. I for one, don't think that this is so. I believe that ones individual personality, as well as their skills and talents are best used to help that role. As District leader, I plan to use the skill set that I have been gifted with I order to help those in my district to be the best possible missionaries they can. To not only fulfill their purpose and invite people unto Christ, but to learn to have fun and enjoy their work. I feel that if we're having fun, then the gospel becomes, in the eyes of non-members with whom we talk to, as this desirable trait and not some commodity that we, as missionaries, are trying to sell. If I can do that, I think my service as district leader will have been a success.

Elder Christensen and Elder Barker are both amazing missionaries and also really good at Japanese. I know that I'm going to learn so much from them. I am naturally very competitive and so I will be trying my best to reach the level of missionary that they both are at right now. I know that as we progress, we as a companionship will become ever better than we were only just a few days ago we we transferred.

It's been a fun few days here in Kamakura. I'm loving the place, the city, the nature, and most importantly the members and the residents of this great city. I am super excited to see what kind of miracles happen over the course of the next 6 weeks!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Pictures: Kamakura Station, Hachimangu Shrine it's a very famous shrine in Kamakura, Gate to Kamakura from the Hachimangu shrine, Hachimangu, A Kotasu, it's a headed table with a hole in the ground for your feet. It's the only thing keeping me alive in our apartment since it's so cold and we can't run all the heaters for fear of the breaker shutting off every three minutes. I love our Kotasu.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I still don't know how to send out mass emails...I'll ask around this week.

Dear Friends,

I cannot believe that my third transfer here as a missionary is sooncoming to a close! Time is moving much to fast, I don't want it to go any faster or I'll miss too much! Unfortunately time cannot be stopped, slowed, or delayed. It is up to me to make the best use of my time to accomplish the most good possible. I guess that this is what is meant when we talk about working Smart, Hard, and Inspired. If were not working smart, hard, and inspired then we will miss those of us who have been prepared and they will lose the chance to hear the gospel! I'm beginning to internalize that as a missionary.

This week started off pretty rough for Elder Ford and myself. We didn't see much success both Monday and Tuesdays As much as we reached out to people and tried to talk to them about the gospel, nobody seemed to want to talk to us. But as we tried our best to be obedient and open our mouths, we began to see more and more success throughout the week. Monday and Tuesday were just small trails of our faith. We finished the week off strong with over 90 Meaningful contacts.

We haven't had anyone agree to hearing the lessons yet, but I know that as we keep asking and keep inviting people to various 'Seven-days-of-conversion' events that people will begin to see how being a member of this church is different than being a member of another church as well as how much joy and happiness we have as members. I have faith that in due time Fussa, as well as the whole mission will begin to see more and more success as we continue being diligent! We however have found a lot of Potential investigators. It's just turning them from potential investigators into actual investigators is the next step!

I was privileged this week to go on splits with my wonderful district leader, Elder Merrill. He and I were able to proselyte around the Fussa area together. It was interesting being with my old companion again. He is a really good missionary and tries his absolute best. Our goal for the day was to get 35+ meaningful contacts. We didn't reach our goal but learned that if we had been smarter and taken just 10 more solid minutes to plan better we would have easily surpassed our goal for that day. It just goes to show that working hard isn't just it. I learned that my Japanese is much better than I've been giving myself credit for and that I should be pushing myself a lot more in the language than I have been.

On Monday we got our transfer calls! Elder Ford and Elder Soto are now Companions, Elder Merrill is training a new missionary straight out from the MTC and I am going to Kamakura. Its a shame that I have to leave all of my friends and fellow missionaries here in Fussa, but I am really really excited to labor in the Kamakura area with Elders Christensen and Elder Barker. They both were in my district in the MTC so I know them both really well. They're both very hardworking missionaries and really smart. It's going to be interesting being companions with two other very young missionaries, but i am really really excited to see what kinds of miracles are coming our way in Kamakura. I don't know how to read kanji so the hour and a half train ride to the other side of the mission will be very very interesting. I need to learn "I'm lost, help!" in Japanese. The ones I know in Japanese that I rather enjoy are, "Excuse me, where is the bathroom?" And also the ever favorite, "Excuse me,  where can I find the free food" Those two phrases have never let me down!

The craziest things happened this week. Along with the 60+ degree weather we had on Monday, it snowed all day on Saturday. It snowed over 12 inches in twenty four hurs. It snowed so much that both sets of church were closed and all of Fussa (including the trains) was shut down. After our morning studies in the apartment, Elder Ford and I trudged through the icy storm to the church. It took us about a half hour to get there. We got the snow removing equipment as well as some brooms and set on our way. From about 1230 until 2130 we helped people clear off their cars, get cars unstuck, as well as shovel snow from driveways, walkways, and even streets. We were soaked and cold by the end of the day. We were so tired that we didn't even change out of our clothes. We just passed out on our futons. The following day the snow had stopped and we got up and left the house as soon as we were up and our shoes dry. We shoveled snow until about 1630 that evening. Lots and lots of snow shoveling. I was so sore on Monday. The temperature has warmed up a bit and now almost all the snow has been melted away. It's mind knowing how quick all this snow came and how quickly it all went away!

It's been a hectic week here in Fussa and it's sad that I'm leaving on Thursday. I am however really excited to start a new adventure in Kamakura Japan!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Me and take the Fussa mascot, me on a bridge freezing, me on a bridge freezing, me freezing, abandoned bikes in a huge pile

Monday, February 3, 2014

Here is the mass email that would normally send out, but this iPad won't let me do such a thing!


This has been a good week. Elder Ford and I have been doing our best to work both Hard, smart and most importantly inspired. The fruits of the "Questions of the Soul Seminar" that happened here in Fussa are beginning to be seen. At least from my perspective, the work of salvation definitely seems to be hastened here in Fussa. The members are awesome and are especially willing to help Elder Ford and I with mogi lessons as well as with the work. It seems that by working hard, smart, and inspired as missionaries; the members have begun to feel that "Dendo Fire" that missionaries are always talking about.

Elder Ford and I have been working our very best to be the best missionaries that we can be. We're constantly working at our language as well as. Whenever Elder Ford and I have a few seconds to spare, such as right before bedtime, we study our new vocabulary words. Hopefully our diligence and our faith will help us to recover the gift of tongues and eventually figure out how the Japanese language works.

The new additions of IPads here in the mission also has had an impact on Dendo. Thursday nights we hold a Ping-Pong night here in Fussa. One of our 英会話 students came and I played some ping pong with him for a little bit. Afterwards, we sat down and talked about random things. I pulled out my ring of 日本語 vocabulary and asked if I could check the definitions with the student. As we went through the list, I asked him to see if I was using them properly. He complimented me on my Japanese and said that it was really good. I asked him how I could get better at Japanese and he suggested that I read the tabloids or Manga. I explained to him that I could not read those as a missionary and that I was using the Book of Mormon to help me learn both Japanese and a little bit of Kanji. I showed him it on the IPad and he seemed interested. I read a little bit and he said that he wanted a copy of his own to "study" on his own. I quickly pulled out one and gave it to him. He was really grateful for having received one. I am so excited to see what new sorts of avenues these mobile devices will open up.

On Saturday I was privileged to go on splits with Elder Merrill's companion, Elder Soto. Elder Soto is a very diligent young missionary. He really wants to excel in all aspects of Missionary work. He does however suffer with a "this is boring I'll just tune out for a bit" problem. I tried my best to help him understand that the mundane and repetitive tasks of being a missionary might not be the best, but can be enjoyable nonetheless. I think that he tends to tune out people when he can't understand. Regardless of his faults with proselyting, I think that in time, and as soon as he understands Japanese he will be a missionary powerhouse and help to drive the work forward. I have no doubts that he will be a major player here in japan in the months to come

During the splits, Elder Ford and Elder Merrill were able to meet up with a Chinese man named Yuval who came to the "Questions of the soul seminar" a while back. He didn't really want to meet and talk about church so Elders Merrill and Ford gave him a church tour and when they got to the sacrament room he said that he wanted to come on Sunday! they had a mini-English class and invited him to keep meeting with us! He accepted! After all the many rejections by Potential investigators and others, it makes it all worthwhile being able to see someone progress towards that eternal, happy end state.

Elder Ford and I love to run each morning. I feel like it helps us become a better, more unified companionship  it's pretty nice beating able to get up and hit the ground running every morning. I am a big fan of the early morning runs  it's a shame that I cannot convince him to get up earlier than 6:30 because I would LOVE to run for even longer! I still think that Elder Ford would benefit from a training/follow up training leadership role. I hope that if given that chance next transfer that he will step up to the challenge and becomethe amazing missionary that I know he can be.

That's all I have for this week. Pretty eventful compared to the last couple of weeks here in 福生, I am just super excited that I have the chance to be a part of those who are riding the wave that is the Gospel moving forward here in Japan.

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Pics: Elder Merrill relaxing, -昭島市, Fussa city, me in a park at
sunset, delicious ramen. Also an English story.