Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moshi moshi!

Friends and Family,

This week was a lot of fun. Despite the obnoxious amount of rain that we had this week we were able to do a lot of really really cool things. Here is the condensed version of what happened this week:

This week I went on exchanges with one of the district leaders over in Hibarigaoka. It was a lot of fun. We went out and proselyted as usual. We also found a lot of people who had interested in meeting with us and learning about the gospel. Elder Scott has been out a little longer than me but it's awesome being able to go on splits with lots of missionaries as Zone Leader since it gives me a chance to learn with them how to be better missionaries. Apparently Elder Scott has an interest in Joining the Marine Corps after the mission so we talked a lot about that. Missions are definitely the place to gain those much needed skills for leading as an officer. It's all about peer leadership out here in the mission field!

The best thing that happens this week was that An Apostle of The Lord, Elder Cook, came and visited us. I was fortunate that I was able to see him speak twice! He held a special missionary devotional for both of the Japan Tokyo missions. He and an area seventy talked a lot about doing missionary work and especially how to become better missionaries by working more effectively and inspired. He looks a lot different in person than on TV for general conference and what not. He talked specifically on the importance of the first vision and the Prophet Joseph Smith. And how most people won't remember exactly what they were taught, but they will remember the first vision because it's such an import piece of what makes our message so unique! So I'll definitely be trying to do better with that. The second time he talked to all the members of the Kanto Region at the Kichijoji church. It was just as good but instead he talked about families and temple attendance it was really cool being able to hear from him twice! The second time he stood with an interpreter next to him and it was pretty cool being able to understand a good portion of what the interpreter was saying. Mostly because the translation was said just a few moments before.

That's the big highlight of the week. It was a whole lot of fun being able to run around and preach the Gospel here to those in Tokorozawa. It's always a blast hearing for you all at home. Have an awesome week!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Pics: Homemade Gyoza! (Pot stickers), the district on the train! Left to right: Elder Connell, Elder Suzuki, Sister Harper, Sister Nara, Elder Strain is out of the picture and I'm taking it!

It's getting hot in Tokorozawa


This week was super hectic. Being a zone leader is a whole lot more work than I originally thought it was going to be. Zone Leader life is a lot of Meetings and phone calls and Emails and running around from here to there.

Tuesday I had the privilege to go with Elder Tipine on splits in my first area Fussa. It's was super weird being able to walk around Fussa. It's like I never left Fussa! We spent the day in Akishima. As zone leader, I was I charge of helping Elder Tipine with his basic training and his desire to become a better missionary we talked a lot and I helped him set goals and plans for the next six weeks of the transfer to help him become a better missionary. He is still a little rough around the edges from just finishing up training but I feel as if his new companion Elder Miyazawa will be able to help him get better.

Wednesday, we had my first phone call with the Assistants, the other Zone Leaders and President Wada. We talked a whole lot about how to help the mission as a whole and about how to,help those that are ready to receive the ordinance of baptism. The phone call was rather long but it was good being able to see just how things are done in the background with all the mission leadership.

Thursday was kind of rough. We woke up and after personal study we went and ran over to the church to make it in time for our district meeting. It was an interesting experience. Our district Leader, Elder Suzuki has a lot of big plans to get our area into action. I'm really excited to see all the miracles that will happen here in the coming weeks. His plans are to help the Ward gain a better desire to serve with the missionaries. His biggest desire is to help strengthen the relationship that exists between the members and the a Missionaries. Afterwards we ran to catch a train to Fussa to supervise their district meeting. When we got back we had dinner and then went to the church to teach a recent convert Sister Midorikawa. It was a super hard lesson about going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Luckily one of the members of the Elders quorum volunteered to help us in the lesson so it turned out really good. He was really able to help fill in the gap for us.

Friday we helped set up the Apartment for the new sisters in the Area. We spent the whole day moving heavy appliances, putting together things, and stocking the house with food. There was so much to do it was crazy. We didn't even get to eat lunch we were so busy! The sisters really appreciated all that we did for them. Now that they have all the necessities taken care of, I'm sure that they'll be able to hit the ground running while taking care of the Lord's work. Afterwards we went to our weekly Activity with the community where we made some Hiyashi rice. It was really really tasty. Everyone had a really good time and were able to see that us missionaries aren't weird people.

Saturday we proselyted as normal, my bike blew a tire while I was riding it so I had to find a bike shop that would repair my inner tube. We help the sister missionaries find their away around the area and showed them where the church and other things were so they wouldn't get super lost their first couple of days in the area. In the evening we had dinner with the Bishop, his wife, and the rest of his family. The food was really good. We were able to show him that we meant business when it came to working hard in this area. Elder Suzuki was able to present our  ideas for making Tokorozawa a leader in the mission and the Bishop really like what we had in mind and our plans. I really think that were doing really well with winning the trust of the Bishop.

Sunday at church was fun. It was a normal church day. It was really cool. Two of our investigators came and it was a great experience for all of them. In gospel principles, we had a good time teaching Sister Midorikawa about the being honest with people. We had really good discussions concerning Honesty. After church we went to a Buddhist temple for this samurai thing that was happening with a potential investigator. The whole time we thought we were going to die because of his crazy driving. But luckily survived. We were able to learn a lot about him and his thoughts on religion. I think that he will become an investigator in a little bit. After our near- death experiences with the samurai man. Elder Connell and I rode our bikes to a nearby park. I met a Japanese couple there who lived by the Walmart by Tuttle Mall in Dublin. I was freaking out the whole time. They said that they lived in the US, then in Ohio, then in Columbus, then in Dublin. The entire time I was absolutely stunned.

Well that pretty much covers my past week here in Tokorozawa. It was a great week bring people closer unto Christ. I really hope that things are well over in the States!

Very Respectfully,
Elder J. Alan Farr

Life in Tokorozawa

Weekly journal

Momday and Tuesday: Pday, hung around, did some cleaning, slept a lot, Tuesday packed pretty much all day, went and streets for an hour or so. On the way back got stopped by a man who spoke the foams test Japanese that I've ever heard. It was crazy. His English was super crazy too and he went back and forth between the two so it was impossible to understand.

Wednesday we finished up packing. I spent a quite a bit of time trying to,figure out how to take my bike apart so it would fit in my issued bike bag. After finally figuring out how to get my bike into it's bag, we left the house and decided to do one last big loop of Kamakura taking in everything before we were supposed to,return home for dinner. We crossed the train tracks and headed over towards the big Buddah. At the big Buddah we talked to a friend Muhammed who owns a kebab store. I told him goodbye and we took some good pictures and then left. We walked around the beach for a little bit since it was nice out and then we met up other our foreign friends who enjoy hanging out on the beach Phil and Merrick. Phil, the retired Marine told me stories about TBS and his experience in Vietnam. We talked for a long time and then I gave them all my business card and they gave me their emails. They're not so much interested in the church as more about making good friendships and learning from each other. They want to know what'll happen to me in the future I guess? We walked home, and spent about 40min getting the whole place ready for the two new elders who are moving in. Then we had dinner and went to English Class. It was kind of bittersweet knowing that this would be my last night with all the cool people that I've met here in Kamakura. But I do know that as one door closes, another will open. I'm excited to see what kinds of adventures await me in Tokorozawa.

Thursday was crazy. We woke up early and grabbed our things and headed but the door to the train station to make our respective trains for our new areas. I traveled with my bike and my silver small suitcase. It was awful being on the train. After two stops from Kamakura the train became completely packed. I felt bad because I took up a lot of room in the train car with all of my stuff. After I finally got to Tokorozawa (a whole hour later than anticipated) Elder Suzuki and Elder Strain came over and liked me up and took me to the apartment. It's about a 6 min walk away from the station. We set up our bikes, went to lunch at Sukiya and then we hit the ground running with zone leader work. I've never been so exhausted in my whole mission. Every second was filled with something or other. It was pretty ridiculous how much planning and paperwork and what not we had to do before we could go out and proselyte. It's crazy to see just how many things go on in the background. I can already tell that it's going to be a busy transfer. The word has some high expectations for us missionaries and now that I have a new responsibility with leading the zone it'll make for a whole lot of fun. I'm excited to see what kinds of miracles we will see this coming transfer. My new companion, elder Connell is really awesome. He is really soft-spoken but is a hard worker. He's not as intense as I am with things, a whole lot more laid back, but I feel that as we learn to work together well be a powerhouse of a missionary companionship.

Friday was extremely busy. We woke up and studied the Book of Mormon until about 6:15ish and then ran as a companionship. We then headed
out to the chapel to hold a district leader training followed by the real zone conference. It was really weird being on the other side of the zone meeting tables. I had to present several things to the zone. It's a whole lot bigger than I originally though 20 people would be. After the meeting, we had lunch in the kitchen and enjoyed some rice and curry. We met the new sisters in the area and went as a district to Tokorozawa to pass out some flyers. I talked to several people. It's hard talking to people about the gospel while passing out flyers about the Church/English class. It rained really hard before hand and it was super windy so a whole lot of Japanese people were walking around with broken ¥200 umbrellas. It was kind of amusing. After dinner, we went to the church to do this thing called "out-reach" it's where people come to the church and do different things each week. This week we played of bunch of rhythm games and hung out and ate food. We got home around 21:30. Then we planned and I crashed in my bed. Life is pretty active as a Zone Leader

Saturday and Sunday were a blur. Sunday was pretty crazy. The Ward is SUPER big and super nice. We went to church and met with the Bishop and the Ward mission leader. I didn't  have to speak in sacrament meeting because it was a special Mother's Day sacrament meeting but I feel like that I'm going to speak next week in sacrament meeting. After church we went and sat in the Ward council meeting for a bit and tried to organize some things for the missionaries here in Tokorozawa. We then went and passed flyers out in front of one of the stations and went and ate dinner at the Matsuoka's house. It was really really good. The spiritual message was about sharing our talents and our abilities with others. It was really good.

Pics: Sakura, us at the temple, me and Brother Adachi the recent concert, Me and one of our crazy English class students. A picture that one of his ancestors drew.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Last Week in Kamakura :(


This is what I did this week:

Tuesday was a really nice day the weather took a turn for the cooler side of things. It was really nice because our five mile run in the morning wasn't as sweaty as it normally could have been. After working out, cooking breakfast and doing our personal studies we went to the church after lunch and did an line course for managing stress as a missionary. Throughout the course, they told us many times that being a missionary is stressful and that we should learn to cope with stress. I think it's a good tool for missionaries especially younger missionaries like Elder Terry. Afterwards. we got a text from one of our investigators, saying that she wanted to play ping pong with us in the evening and since were not female, we needed to find another male to come and hang out with us. We spent 30 min trying to,call different members and see if people would be willing to come and support us. Afterward we decided to spend the afternoon calling old English class students end s and trying to,invite them to meet with us and or come to English class again. We didn't have much success with that. After several hours of that, we went out and walked around the streets of Kamakura for about an hour. We met this Taiwanese woman who,was lost, trying to,get to a certain shrine. We spent about ten minutes trying to help her find her way around. She eventually figured it out. We walked around for a little bit longer until it was time to return home for dinner. We got home and and ate a really quick meal and then headed out for the church so that we could set up for ping pong night. At first it looked as if we were not going to have anyone show up, but exactly at 6:30, people showed up and it turned out to be a lot of fun. We were able to spend some good quality time with our investigators and were able to learn a lot about them too. It was an evening well spent indeed. Afterwards, I wrote some emails for the district, and then We went home for the evening. In all, it was pretty crazy day. Definitely not as normal as most days as a missionary that's for certain!

Wednesday was wet. From our run in he morning to planning in the evening, it was super wet the whole entire day. We spent our afternoon in Totsuka which is maybe a 10-15 train from Kamakura, if that. Tuesday we made a pact to not let a single male-person walk last past us  giving them a chance to hear about the Gospel. We were super duper successful with following our plan. As we reached out to,every single person we were able to more fully feel the influence of the spirit and were able to have a lot more meaningful conversations with people on the street. As we walked around and talked to people, we found that a lot of people were willing to stop regardless of the fact that it was pouring heavily. Elder Terry and I didn't carry umbrellas and relayed on our rain coats to keep us dry. They worked and not having umbrellas helped us to be more up and personal with the people we had interactions with on the street. We walked around Totsuka for a little while and then decided that it might be better for us to try our hand at housing. We walked along his river that cuts the city in half until we found this huge group of apartment buildings. We took the elevator to the tenth floor of one of the big ones and began to knock doors down the apartment We didn't really see much success but we did however, find this Thailand man who lived there and spoke fluent English. He claimed to be a hard-core Buddhist and didn't have any interest in religion, but we talked for a good 15min at his door step about the church and what not he was a really cool, really down to,earth kind of guy.  He worked for Cisco and is marrying a Christian Japanese woman soon. Maybe he'd like to stay married for eternity? Haha. Anyways,matter we finished we turned to go home but took a wrong turn and got lost. We finally made it back to the train station and home by 1720. We ate a quick dinner and headed over to the church for our weekly English class. We only had 5 students because of Golden week but it was a very good one-on-one opportunity for the members of our class to learn how to soak English with us. Fun was had by all. We cleaned up,the church after English class and then ran back to the Kamakura house through the rain. In all, it was a pretty awesome, pretty wet and cold day!

Thursday I went on my last exchange as District Leader for this transfer. (By the way, transfer calls are on Tuesday this week) with Elder Brooksby. It was a lot of fun.  We met up at Yokohama, then came home and had lunch and went to Ofuna station to try and find the prepared. We originally saw a park on our area map and wanted to goatherd but upon reaching said park, we realized that we had to pay 300 yen to get in. We decided against going in and continued walking around in hope of finding people. We talked to several people and had good conversations about the church but no one had really any interest in meeting with us and talking more about the Gospel. We decided to go back to Kamakura and walk to the beach because Elder Brooksby hasn't really been able to see the beach much. We went up and talked to many people. And on the way home for dinner, we met this woman who I have met before and we talked for at least 15 min about being missionaries and what we do and a little bit about our church. She was really cool, hopefully we will meet her again soon! We had dinner, I did a quick inspection of Elder Brooksby's IPad and right before we were about to head out we ended up talking on the phone to this woman about her wanting us to visit her. But unfortunately, we weren't able to make it to her house in the evening like she requested. Then, on our way out, we ran into one of the other missionaries investigators Mr. Nakajima, for about 24 min about who knows what. He talked super duper fast and kept mixing English with it. It was pretty fun trying to figure out what he was trying to say. I did a lot of calling on the phone trying to coordinate district meeting in the evening as well.

In the morning I got up super early and ran to the beach while an in the morning. While we were finishing up our workout, we talked to a guy while doing strides who knew a lot about the church. He was really cool and hopefully well be able to see him soon! Elder Brooksby and I finished splits at district meeting which was a lot of fun. We had district lunch and it was a blast. We had a picnic at the park across from the church. I ate a lot of onigiri for lunch. Coming back to Kamakura was a little bit crazy because we took a train accidentally that took us to Kamakura but was SUUPER LONG. by the time we got to Kamakura we only had an hour or so to talk to people about the gospel. We met this group of four college aged students who were in Kamkura for the day. They were super nice and we talked to them for quite a bit. In all, it was a really good experience. After dinner, we spent the whole night panning

Saturday was really hot. After our morning studies Elder Terry and I decided to bike over to Zushi in order to see if we could find people in this park that we saw on our area map. The trip over was really hard since Kamakura and Zushi are divided by a fairly large hill. I thought either I, or my bike was going to die. Luckily neither of us did. We got to Zushi, parked our bikes, and made our way over to to the park. As we walked towards the park, we met this man from Bangladesh who was really cool. His English wasn't the best, so we conversed in Japanese. It was really weird talking to this man from Bangladesh in Japanese. I guess we get in weird situations as missionaries. We continued on our way to the park. It was a little bit further than we thought. When we got there we realized that it was a really really nice park and that everything was in different buildings and the walking paths were odd. We were able to talk to two kids trying to shoot baskets with soccer balls and their feet. We gave them flyers and then headed out to another park that we saw on the map. The park was on top of this GIANT hill. When we got there, we realized that it was a little kids park and that it was only full of women and their children. We're not allowed to approach women as missionaries for various reasons. Because of this, we quickly left. We continued up the hill until it became flat. At that point we decided to start knocking houses. It was weird housing because just about every house we knocked we were able to have really really good conversations about the church. The last house we knocked had a door plate that read Matsumura. But after knocking, an American woman answered the door. It was super duper weird. Apparently she's renting the house from Matsumura as she works for the Navy as a Jag. She just finished college and her first duty station was Yokosuka. We talked Navy for a little bit while Elder Terry kind of stood around. We said goodbye and left. It was crazy talking to an American. I haven't talked to any non-missionaries Americans while housing in a VERY long time. We walked down the hill, back to Zushi station where we passed out English flyers for about a half hour or so. Then we bought some vegetables for dinner and rode our bikes home. The conclusion of our night was filled with calling our investigators and writing the DCS form. In all, it was a good night.

Sunday was a good day. Unfortunately none of our investigators came to church. The Ward missionary correlation meeting was interesting to say the least. I spent the entire time stumbling with my Japanese. It's was super annoying to say the least. Hopefully my Japanese gets better sooner rather than later. We practiced teaching the first discussion in Japanese during Elders quorum. It was hard. Elder Terry and I struggled through the whole lesson. The members were nice to us despite our poor Japanese. After church we practiced a song that were going to sing in sacrament meeting. Then we left for the train station to take the train to Kita-Kamakura station, one stop away, to see what was in that area. We wandered around a bit, but found it hard to talk to anybody on the street since the roads were so narrow. We decided to go housing a bit. We talked to several people until we got to this one house with this old lady. She talked at us for about fourth minutes. Neither of us understood what the woman said the whole time. It was miserable. I think she thought we were catholic and or Italians. We tried our absolute best to explain things to her. But it was just so hard. Afterwards, we decided to head back home and see if we could find more success in Kamakura. On our way back home, I decided that I really needed to wash my hands in the water fountain. While washing my hands this old man started talking to us and invited us to his house. We followed him and we went into his house. His house was FILLED with pictures of him and other people. Turns out that he used to work for the UN and was some sort of ambassador for Japan. He had pictures of him with Jimmy Carter and others with Kruschev and other famous historical figures. We talked on his back porch a little bit and then he sent us on our way. His English was PERFECT. I'm still amazed at the series of events of the afternoon. He told us to,come back again soon. Were going to try and meet with him at the church sometime this week.

Today isn't over yet. But this morning we got transfer calls! I'm being transferred to Tokorozawa 所沢 to be companions with Elder Connell to be Zone Leader. It will be lots of fun. I'm sure that well see some crazy awesome miracles on the other side of the mission!

Well that's all I did this week. Thanks everyone for being so supportive!

Pics: the group of college students we met. Me with some Japanese Plebes.