Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Hey everybody! Things are going great here! Here's the week's rundown for you!

Monday: Well today was a relaxing P-day. We did the usual stuff except we got Beef Curry at email which was pretty good! then we actually got to take naps today! I loved it! We also all got haircuts today cause Transfers are this week so we'll be busy and we all wanted our hair a little shorter.

Tuesday: Today we got Transfer calls! K and B are staying.  All of the Sisters are transferring except for M Shimai. D is going to Odori with my Mtc companion D Choro, and I got a Nihonjin Comp here in Ebetsu. His name is S Choro and I've heard great things about him so I'm excited! I hear he doesn't know much english though so I'm a little nervous about that. But I'll survive!

Wednesday: Today was D Choro's birthday so we decided to celebrate a bit. We got pizza for lunch cause it was half off which was nice but still expensive. We also had our gyosa party tonight! I had 60 gyosa, about a liter of water, and 2 pieces of toast and still had room, but I decided not to push it. So dad, I've beaten your record! ;) I did decide afterwards though that it wasn't my best idea by far... ;) haha but I'm doing ok, don't worry!

Thursday: Today was Transfer day! We started off with Personal study, and then quickly prepped and headed to the train station to try to get to the music practice that Sister Evans set up for preparation for the music night. I got to talk to a bunch of my friends from the MTC as well as friends I've made while here so that was pretty fun! I met S Choro and he's super awesome, and I love him already!  He got a package from his parents though at the transfer spot, and it was filled to the top with like 45 clementines! It was kinda crazy, but because of that I've found one of my favorite foods. You get clementines and either peel them or don't and freeze them. It's delicious!

Friday: So S choro is absolutely hilarious. He doesn't know a ton of English, but he knows some, and I found that I know more Japanese than I thought! It was also a blizzard today, but we walked through it anyway and actually had a lot of fun with it!

Saturday; Today we had the ward Christmas Party! It was really fun and I sang with the ward choir which went better than I thought! We decorated cakes, ate some good food and talked with a bunch of people so it was fun! Oh so Christmas here in Japan is a little different. They usually go to KFC(yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, I don't know why either), and then make Christmas Cakes and give presents. Kinda cool...

Sunday: Today was also good. Church went well, I felt like I could talk to the members more because I feel like my Japanese is alright. Messiah practice went well, but it's super high music so I hope I don't lose my voice before the concert cause it doesn't do much for my voice... We'll see! Also the conductor thinks I'm absolutely awesome, and can do no wrong so I feel like I'm back in High School with my teachers loving me, also thinking I can do no wrong... Kinda funny, like a blast from the past... ;)

Well that was my week! Have a great one!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 9, 2013

Hey everybody, my week was good this week! I hope yours was too! Here's how it went:

Monday: Well today started off like the normal P-day (cleaning, study, shopping) but then we went to email at the Atsubetsu ward cause D Choro needed to practice the piano for the music night. After emailing we ran back home so we could meet up with this lady we know to help her find an English textbook cause she wants to learn how to speak English pretty fluently. Then we relaxed for a bit, and then took a train to a station near the Stake President's house cause they invited us over for dinner again and it was amazing again!

Tuesday: Today we had a really really good DTM, and had soup curry for lunch which is way good. Then we did dendo, then for Eikaiwa, one of the students brought their little son who enjoys being lifted up high, and fake fighting so I ended up doing that a lot. It was pretty fun to fake die though... ;) I also found that I had two packages at the post office!

Wednesday: Today was really fun. I went on splits with B Choro again, and we had a blast. I also got both of my packages today! One was from Mom and the family and the other was from the ward! It turns out that both were Christmas packages, but since there's the customs declarations I basically knew what I was getting anyway, plus we've got transfers this week and I want to know how I'm going to pack it all, so I opened them. For all of you who sent something in the ward package, thank you so so much! It really was so cool to see how many ward friends I've got supporting me back home! Family, thank you so much or all of the thoughtful great gifts! Grandma, especially thank you for the socks! I was wishing I had some wool socks and almost went to buy some, so I'm glad I opened them, and that you were so thoughtful of how cold it is! Mom the CD is awesome, and the peanut brittle was heavenly! Everyone enjoyed both a lot! :) I haven't opened my stocking yet, but all of the stuff that I did open I am super grateful for, so thank you all so much!

Thursday: Today was kinda a crazy day, but we were very blessed! This morning we saw a house get torn down across the street from us. Then we had an appointment and on the way a car almost hit us when we were just walking on the sidewalk, and it stopped like a foot away from us so that was a miracle! Also on the way back from the appointment we almost got hit again, so we were very blessed to make it back to the apartment without any injuries! Thanks for your prayers!

Friday: Today was pretty average, but while finding today, we played a game where you say a Japanese word, and the last character of the word has to be the first of the next one. Also no repeating words, and no ending in an "n" cause no words start with just an N. So I got a bunch of vocab to learn from it.

Saturday: Today we tried some new ways to dendo. One was survey dendo. We basically made a survey to hand out that would gage people's interest in religion. So we went to the Eki next to our apartment and after handing out about 10 a guy told us that we couldn't do it there. So one of the managers came and explained that it was against the law to hand out religious surveys in an eki, and in order to do it anywhere else, you had to get permission from the city hall. So we accidentally broke a law while dendoing today... Whoops! We also tried giving tours of the church but it wasn't very effective either. But we had dinner with this family in the ward which was really fun.

Sunday: So the member we had dinner with last night tries to write letters to the missionaries' parents when she gets to know them, so she asked for Mom and Dad's information. Usually she tries to translate it into English but it's really hard for her. So to try to make it easier on her I told her that Mom and Dad went to Japan on their missions so they might understand a LITTLE bit. But she took that as only write in Hiragana and Katakana. I then tried to explain that they had forgotten most of it, but she didn't quite seem to understand... So sorry mom and dad, but you may have some homework to do soon! ;) Then we had Ward Choir, which went well, and then lunch and getting ready to walk to Atsubetsu for the Messiah Rehearsal. I have the address by the way for the videos. It is on Also there is a facebook page Sapporo Messiah but ya, fun week!

I hope everyone's doing well, and I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Bickel

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

Hey everybody!

Sorry my email will be a little shorter today cause I don't have a ton of time! So here's how the week went!

Monday: Today we had a fun P-day, and there was another earthquake! Small again though so I barely even felt it... Anyway, we did our regular P-day stuff and then took a subway to Sapporo and took a bus from there to Asahikawa for our Zone Training Meeting! We were in an apartment with 14 total Elders so we definitely had a good time! We were travelling today for about 3 hours though so it was kinda long, but it was still pretty fun!

Tuesday: Well today we had Zone Training Meeting and it was super good! At the end of the meetings people usually go somewhere to eat together, but we had Eikaiwa that night so we weren't able to go with everyone. So we stopped by McDonalds and then took the train back to Ebetsu so another 3 hours. We made it just in time to prep and teach, and it went pretty well! Fun day though, I enjoyed it a lot!

Wednesday: Well today was pretty normal up until Dinner. I remembered how Dad had 60 something gyosa one night so we got these 2 dollar trays of 30 gyosa each and I ended up having 36 gyosa and still having room for 3 melon cream soda floats, 3/4 of a cup of rice, and a big glass of water! It was kinda a party! I also decided that I want to break Dad's record without throwing up so just wait to hear news on that one! ;)

Thursday: So B Choro got an airsoft gun from his Bean Shower, and Japanese airsoft guns look pretty real. So naturally, we made some first person shooter movies with our cameras and the gun and it turned out super funny! Sadly the guns are illegal in America cause they don't have the orange tips. In Japan guns are illegal no matter who you are so they don't have to worry about that stuff too often. The rest of the day was pretty normal but it was super good for sure!

Friday: Today was one of those long boring days where we just house and there isn't much that goes on... But those days come, and we just go through it. Cause when it comes to long days and trials, "All things will end". So it's not too bad.

Saturday: Well today started out a little sad. We were both feeling kinda down about how there weren't a whole lot of visible signs of our work or progress, but during comp study, we both just started reading different scriptures, patriarchal blessings, and stuff like that and we almost immediately felt a ton better! The rest of the day was walking to appointments and places to go dendo, and it was a little crazy because of the ice, but I got some Ice Spikes for my shoes that I can put on pretty easily, so it wasn't too bad! But despite the cold, the sad start, and everything else, it turned out to be a really good day! :)

Sunday: Well today was a good Fast Sunday! We had some good housing and found some really cool people. We had a really good, warm dinner, and it made me very happy cause we have rice! We were low on rice for a while, but the ward is awesome and they gave us a bunch! Oh I also was made a part of the Ward Choir today so we'll see how the performance goes... Oh and we didn't have Messiah rehearsal today cause of Fast Sunday. I did get some information on that though so you may be able to watch the video of the performance. It isn't until the 28th though so you've got a while... 

So that was my week! I hope everyone else is doing well as well and I love you all!

Bickel Choro

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Hey everybody! I hope your week went well!

It turns out that they have to amputate my legs... Just kidding they are doing a ton better so thank you for all of the prayers! They helped a lot!

Anyway, here's my week:
Monday: So today was a pretty normal P-day except we had a district Activity. For that we went to this nearby sports center and played Badminton as well as Volleyball against these high school Japanese boys and it was actually a lot of fun, and everyone wanted to do it again so we'll see if that happens. That night the other elders couldn't wait to give me their birthday presents to me so I got a few presents a few days early.

Tuesday: Well today was pretty fun! After DTM the sisters sang a song for me kinda like what D Choro and I did for F Shimai. Interestingly enough they sang Poker Face and it was super weird, but pretty funny. Then they gave me presents as well, so I had 3 days of presents! For DTM lunch I chose to go to Fireburg which was super good! Then I went on Splits with K Choro for a bit which was fun, and then we had Eikaiwa where people kept on telling me I didn't look or seem like I was 18.

Wednesday: Well my Birthday came a day early this year. Literally though cause of the time change... ;) So today we made cookies for some investigators and ward members that we wanted to thank so we did that and delivered them which was fun. I also got the package my family sent me which was super nice to get the day of my birthday and it was super good so thanks! For dinner we took our Dendo Shunin (Ward Mission Leader) to sushi so that was really fun and tasted delicious! In all it was a great Birthday!

Thursday: Today was pretty normal except we met with an investigator at a nearby restaurant and taught a short little lesson. Also the Zone Leaders came for splits tomorrow so we talked to them for a while and it was fun!

Friday: So today I was on splits with H Choro, and we had a blast! We had a few good deep chats, which I've missed, as well as some funny contacts! We also talked to this guy at Aeon who told us that river frog was really delicious, when we were shizen dendo-ing near the fish section. We almost bought it just so we could say that we'd had river frog on our missions, plus it was super cheap, but decided that we didn't really have the desire to eat it anyway, so we decided against that... ;)

Saturday: Well today we had two really good appointments that went really well! We just did the usual dendo other than that though, and missed Ping-Pong cause of the appointments, but that was alright. But ya we had a regular but good day today. (Isn't it nice that my "regular days" are good days? :) )

Sunday: Today was very good. We had some good meetings at church and it was the Primary Program so that was cute. I aslo found out that our Bishop's wife went to the 26th ward for like a month and visits every once in a while cause one of her mission companions lives on Apple Blossom Lane, so it was cool to hear that and to think of how small the world really is... We also had the lunch meeting thing after church with all of the members so that was really fun! Then we had the Messiah rehearsal again which is still hard, but it was good! Then we walked back, had spaghetti with Fried Chicken and then it was time to go to bed!

Really fun stuff this week, and I enjoyed things a lot! Thanks again for your prayers! I really did feel them! I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Bickel

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 18, 2013

Hey everybody! This week's been very good! And I hope that your's has been too! Here's what went down.

Monday: So today we had an appointment with our strongest investigator during the day so we left our P-day activities and walked the hour to her house, met up with our member Team-up on the way, and then taught the lesson. Afterwards it was snowing pretty hard, so when we went to email we took a train! Then we continued with our regular P-day activities but it felt really weird cause usually we do our dendo that night!

Tuesday: Today was DTM but also F Shimai's birthday, so D Choro and I sang her a song and danced. We sang her our version of "Drive By" by Train and did some actions that we made up and it turned out super funny/fun. It was a little off key, and a little strange but it worked out pretty well! Afterwards we all had a snowball fight in the church parking lot because there was a little snow and so that was a bunch of fun as well!

Wednesday: Today I had splits with B Choro and we had a really good time. We mostly did housing, but one funny thing that happened was when our trainers left to dendo they took both apartment keys and both phones, which have maps on them so that's how we get around, so we were a little lost on what to do, but I decided that we'd stop by one spot to see if they were there. Turns out I was right and they totally were there, so we grabbed what we needed and did what we planned to do the rest of the time. :)

Thursday: Today was pretty usual. Did Housing, DKK, and Study, but not much else happened that is interesting enough to report on. ;)

Friday: WE HAD AN EARTHQUAKE!!!!!!! It was a pretty small one and the only reason why we noticed it is cause we were in the middle of Language Study and our desks moved a bit, but I can now say that I've survived an earthquake which I think is pretty cool... ;) But it was a pretty good day, we had a great appointment that went well, and we did a bunch more finding, and then the Zone Leaders H Choro and K Choro came for splits with the other two elders tomorrow.

Saturday: Today we had Ping-Pong again, housed a bunch, and did the usual stuff. The snow was gone today and yesterday though so I figured it was warm enough to just wear a thin light jacket for dendo... Well I was fine for the most part, but once it got dark... Well I'll just say I was a little chilly... ;) haha but it was a good day!

Sunday: So today we had church, but afterwards we were asked to go to this Single Adults activity for a while so that was kinda fun, but seemed weird since we're on missions... ;) We also had a Mogi with one of the members and it went really well. After lunch and everything, basically all of our time was spent getting to Atsubetsu for my first Messiah practice. The music for it is super cool, and I really enjoyed it and think it'll be very cool, but it's super hard and high. And well... I have a low voice that doesn't go high very easily, plus I haven't sung forever, so it was a little bit on the difficult side... But it was super cool, and I think it'll be good. After that was over we quickly went back home to make sure we were back in time, and just finished out the day from there.

Last Little Note: So my knee has been hurting pretty badly lately, so I'd really appreciate a few extra prayers if possible. I'm still able to walk and go dendo, but it's definitely an inconvenience and isn't the most comfortable or painless thing... So I'd really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

But ya, I've had a fun week, and I hope everyone else did too! Love you all so much!

Bickel Choro

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 11, 2013

Hey everybody! I hope everything's going super well! Here's how my week went!
Monday: So D Choro's bike is still flat so we tried to just find a pump and see if that would work. Sadly, we couldn't find one that was worth getting so we decided to take a train to email instead of walking. After email we met with this lady we know and had lunch at this really cheap but good pizza and pasta place. After lunch we went to Village Vanguard which is like a mix between Hot Topic and Spencer's so it's got some really cool stuff, but it's all pretty expensive... Then we ran/walked back to quickly grocery shop and dendo but that was about it for the day.
Tuesday: So today was good! We had DTM again where we had a workshop on Companionship Unity and how to use it in our contacts. It was super funny and hard the first few times cause D Choro would have us switch off talking, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. But then he had us do it again, but just try to make it more smooth and normal, and it was really good! We taught basically all of lesson one within like 5 minutes and it was engaging and it was really cool so we are going to try to use that a lot more.
Wednesday: So today we had splits again and I went with K Choro again. We had another really fun time. At one point we found these two Gaijin's (foreigners) on the street so we stopped to talk to them for a bit, and we found out that one was from Portland Oregon, and the other was from Lithuania! What a pair right? :) but that was cool. Then we went housing, visited non-attending members, went to a few appointments and just had a fun time!
Thursday: Today was kinda a weird day... We had DKK like normal, but the rest of the day we were just in these really weird moods so it was a bit strange, but it was good. So nothing much else happened today so that's the day's summary.. ;)
Friday: Today was super cold, but we didn't know it when we got ready for the day, so we were a bit cold... It also rained/hailed/sleeted so that got us wet too so it was a bit of a crazy cold day, but we made sure that we did all we could to stay warm and healthy so don't worry! ;)
Saturday: Today was actually a pretty rough day... I was really feeling like I was an ineffective missionary and that we should have more people to teach and people who wanted to recieve baptism, and just basically that I should be a better missionary in general, so I was having a really rough time. I actually even went to bed feeling like that so it wasn't looking too good, but I had a really good dream that I don't actually remember, but I felt a lot better afterwards.
Sunday: Good news! Today was a ton better! So today it was raining really hard again, but we made it to the church ok! I stayed fully awake and aware through all of church so I was pretty proud of myself for that, and then we had some really good Taco Rice (basically taco stuff on top of rice) for lunch so that was great! Then we went housing for a while, during which we tried to figure out what we were going to do for F Shimai's birthday on Tuesday. After housing we went to a member's house for dinner which was some really good Tenpura and we just had a bunch of fun!
So ya that was my week! It had some ups and downs again, but if every day was super happy and fun, then I wouldn't enjoy them as much. Again, I hope things are well back home and that everyone's having some good times! Love you lots and I'm praying for you!
Elder Bickel

PS. Just a fun little fact, I decided what meal I want when I first get home. I want a Papa Murphy's Chicago Style Pizza cause Japanese Pizza is expensive, small, and not nearly as good as American! Enjoy Pizza while you can! ;)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 4, 2013

Hey everybody! I hope everyone's week went super well! Here's how mine went:

Monday: Today was a really, really nice day. It wasn't raining, it was a little chilly, but it wasn't too bad! We did the usual stuff, but had extra free time, so we took naps! I haven't had a nap in so long so it was really nice to catch up on my sleep a little! Then we got ready so that we could go to dinner with a member again(2nd time)! The food was delicious again, and our district is really close now so it was really fun since it was Tsuchida Shimai's last time before she went home. I got complimented on my chopstick skills again which is actually a pretty frequent thing... Also I was told that I am Mickey Mouse? Oh and that I should come back to Japan and be a comedian and just say 'Kirin Desu' cause apparently it's hilarious when I use my low voice...

Tuesday: So today we got our Transfer calls... I'm staying in Ebetsu! I'm pretty happy about that, and I'm still with Elder D which will be fun! S Choro is transferring though so it'll be weird without him... Everyone else in our district is staying too though except for T Shimai since she's going home so it'll be really fun. Oh and K Choro is going to be training so that'll be cool. But ya that was the exciting stuff for the day...

Wednesday: Today was a good day. I studied two talks that D Choro let me borrow and learned a bunch in comp study. Sadly we had 3 appointments that fell through, but to make up for it, we treated ourselves to ice cream for dinner! Other than that though today was pretty average as well. I'm just glad that my average day is a good day... ;)

Thursday: Today we got to meet K Choro's new companion, Elder B. He's a pretty cool guy and I'm excited to get to know him. Today was pretty normal again, but while we were housing we made sure to have a fun time. :) Also it's kinda funny, but sometimes I feel like I'm living "The Best Two Years". There are definitely differences, but it's funny how close it is sometimes.

Friday: So today we went off of our apartment's map to a portion of our area that we didn't actually know what was out there. Funny enough, there really wasn't much out there other than factories so we came back onto our map and found this really nice area that we started to work on. So far we've only done a block, but we've gotten some good appointments so it's exciting! Also, just a little spiritual thought: Christ went through all of our trials, plus more. And if he did that, with an amazing attitude of love and forgiveness, we can go through our smaller portion of trials with attitudes that emulate Christ. It's a comforting thought...

Saturday: Today was very enjoyable. We had Ping-Pong again hoping that one of our investigators would show up, but he didn't, but we still were able to talk to the other Elders' investigator though so it was fun. After that we went and talked to this former investigator who is super nice, and we talked about a bunch of funny American things that the Japanese haven't even thought of cause they're so crazy. Like Paintballing, Potato Cannons, and stuff like that. And we asked if she would come to a few activities with us so we're hoping that'll work out.

Sunday: So today was a very good Fast Sunday, but there were a few hiccups. One of those was that D Choro's back tire happened to be flat again... So that's kinda a bummer cause it makes doing things on P-days and going places for appointments and dendo very hard. But the Spirit was strong today so that was nice. Plus we all have trials no matter what we're doing so this is just one of ours that we'll go through with good attitudes! ;)

But ya it was a pretty normal week, but we had some fun times. I hope all is well and continues to go well! Love you all!

Elder Bickel

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 28, 2013

October 87, 2013

Hey everybody! This week's been really fun! However, I'm shortening the length of my letters from now on so don't be alarmed, or too sad. It's just what needs to happen ;)

Monday: So today wasn't as crazy as we thought it would be luckily! We were expecting to have to go into Sapporo again so that D Choro could sign some stuff for the Honbu, and it was going to take a bunch of our time, but he was able to get out of going in! We did the usual morning stuff, and then emailed, and after email, we shopped for the week. Then we cleaned like crazy so we could make sure the apartment was spotless for the inspections. After cleaning we had dinner with a member, and they made us homemade Yakuniku and Genjis Khan, which were super good! So it was a fun day!

Tuesday: So today we had Zone Training Meeting instead of District Training Meeting and it was fun! We just had our district and the Zone Leaders, but D Choro did a workshop about where he related the gospel to a piece of cake and how we need to go about to share it. One of the bad examples was him shoving it into one of the Zone Leader's faces so that was pretty funny! The Zone Leaders also had a workshop where they talked a lot about How To Begin Teaching and it was super helpful. Instead of going to lunch with everyone today though, we had an appointment that went super well! They asked all of the right questions and were very interested so it was super cool!

Wednesday: So today we woke up early to go to this Non-Attending Member's house to do some service for her by bringing big boxes of juice into her house. Unfortunately, the truck bringing it wasn't planning on coming until 5:30 that night so we went back home, went to some appointments, Housed, and then went back. This time there was this massive truck filled with these 50 lb. boxes of juice. So we made an assembly line to go up 5 flights of stairs and we moved it all in less than 30 minutes! After we finished we were taken to dinner by another ward member, which was way good and fun!

Thursday: So today was DKK (Doryo Keikaku Kai – Companionship Planning meeting) which is always good. Also since transfers are this week, everyone's making guesses about what's going to happen so it's pretty fun! Other than that though it was a pretty typical day...

Friday: So today was sweet. I went on splits with S Choro and we had a great time! We did a bunch of housing, visited a member, tried to do some shizen dendo, and visited a NA as well! We also got a perfect score on our cleaning check so we were all pretty happy about that! I also broke down and got a new rainsuit since it was raining pretty hard, and it was supposed to rain a bunch in the coming days.

Saturday: So today was my 100th day! I can't believe how fast it's all going and the other missionaries are telling me that it speeds up too! Anyway, so after our morning schedule we took some stuff to the Sister's apartment that needed to be taken there, and then went to the weekly ping pong activity hoping some of our investigators would be there. Sadly none of them showed up, but the other Elders' investigator did show up, so we all had a fun time doing that. Then we prepped big time for the ward/Eikaiwa Halloween party. We actually had a super fun time! We played games like bobbing for apples, mummy races, and the balloon tag popping game thing... We also had costumes... I wore this Pikachu suit that we found in our apartment, but sadly I forgot my camera and don't have a picture... ;)

Sunday: So today was good! Church went well, and lunch was good... I had a ton of Somen noodles and they're way good. Then we went housing and got a bunch of contacts and we got super wet cause it was raining pretty hard. So yes, I was very glad to have that new rainsuit. ;) We then went to dinner at the Bishop's house which was super good curry! And then once dinner was done, instead of doing a spiritual message, we all bore our testimonies. They were only one minute testimonies, but it was very spiritual, and I absolutely loved it! We then showed their family our family pictures, and then headed home!

But ya it was a super fun week, and I had a good time! I hope everything's going well for everyone back home, I pray for all of you everyday, and I hope you've been getting the pictures I started to send home! Love you lots!

Elder Bickel

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013

Hey everybody, I hope everything's going great, and that everyone's enjoying life, cause it's meant to be enjoyed. Sorry about it being a week lake, but here's my weekly letter for two weeks instead!

Monday 10/7/13: So today was a little crazy... We woke up at 5:30 so we could get ready quick and go straight to email. After email, we biked into Sapporo to go to the train station so I could do some sight seeing and a little shopping for Christmas presents for the family. First though we took Purikura. Now purikura is very very interesting... Basically it's a Japanese photo booth, but it makes your eyes huge, and you can color and decorate each picture. Now I only did it because my companion loves it and has done it with every single one of his companions, so I couldn't ruin that for him. But ya it's kinda weird, but I'll try to send copies of it soon... But ya it was very interesting... We then went to this really good restaurant inside the Eki (train station) where we had Tonkatsu and stuff like that. After lunch we did the shopping, and I looked for Jinroh, but I couldn't find it... I want a copy to play once D Choro is gone cause he won't be here forever. After a while we decided to just go home, but we had to stop at the Seiyu(basically a Japanese Wal-Mart) to grab some Tim-Tams to show an investigator how to do a Tim-Tam Slam. If you don't know what I'm talking about look it up, and it'll change your life. ;) That night we had a Mogi lesson (role-play) with a really nice couple in the ward. They fed us some good food, and it was a lot of fun. Sadly it took and hour and 10 minutes to find their house cause the address we had was wrong, but it was a good day!

Tuesday 10/8/13: So today we had DTM (District Training Meeting) again except for everyone was supposed to bring a member this time. So ya it was on member missionary work, and it went super well! Afterward we had take out at more of a fast food place and took it to the church where we played this game where we wrote our names at the top of a piece of paper and passed it, and as it went around each person drew a facial features until it makes it back. It was way fun, and my picture looks very interesting... After that we practiced our musical number for a bit and then went to go dendo, mostly streeting, and then had a quick dinner to make it to Eikaiwa. The topic this week was hobbies, so naturally I brought my rubik's cubes which everyone thought were amazing! Once we got home we had a ton more food and went to bed.

Wednesday 10/9/13: So the earlier part of today was kinda long and boring, but tonight we went to a former(doesn't want to listen to the missionaries, but wants to be our friend) investigator's house, where they made Takoyaki(octopus cooked in like little balls of okonomiyaki maybe? but it's super good), and Sobameshi(basically yakisoba with rice in it), which was also amazing! We did the Tim Tam Slams with them so it was fun! I also had to do a little math problem for them where they had to find where two circles intersected so it was a bit of a challenge without a calculator, and after not doing math for so long, but I did it! Also I got a haircut, so we'll see how I like it. (I now think it's too short, but it just means I won't have to get another one for a while... :) ).

Thursday 10/10/13: So today I started to be either afraid or excited, I'm not sure which. I'm afraid because I may be getting fat really really soon. But I'm excited because I may just be on a growth spurt, which would be super nice, since I'd love to be 6'... But either way I have a problem... I have been eating so much lately! I had a ton of food last night, but still had a big bowl of cereal for breakfast, about 2 cups of rice and some candy for a midmorning snack, 4 big pastry things for lunch, some candy(fruits and veggies are too expensive, and as usual, sugar isn't! ;)) and more rice before dinner, and then a bunch of sushi for dinner, and almost had a before bed snack cause I was still hungry.... Not good! But dendo was fun today. I went with S Choro today for about an hour, 40 minutes of which we found this awesome guy who took a Book of Mormon, agreed to meet with us, and gave us his number which rarely happens! D Choro and I also had 2 mogi lessons with members and the second member bought us sushi! It was super fun!

Friday 10/11/13: So today we had splits and I was with K Choro today, and it was a blast. For study he basically gave me a list of vocab to study which will be super helpful, and then we went housing, but it was raining so no one really talked to us, or even were on the street, so we mostly just talked. But it was a good day.

Saturday 10/12/13: So today for Personal Study I went over my mission farewell again, and I couldn't believe the stuff that I knew back then! My farewell really has helped me a ton, so I'd recommend taking a copy of your farewell on your mission and studying it every once in a while and try to go even deeper if you can. Also take notes on your setting apart cause that's helped a ton too. Anyway, we went to Atsubetsu for General Conference and I thought it was amazing! We watched the 3 Saturday sessions with one hour breaks in between so it was just enough time to eat. Our dendo didn't really exist though so that was a bit of a bummer.

Sunday 10/13/13: So this morning was a sad morning for our bikes. D Choro had a flat, and mine was having some troubles(I've basically fixed them though) but it was killing my legs. But I'm dealing with it, and am going to have super buff legs when I get back home! ;)  But General Conference was great again today and again I thought it was amazing! After it was over, we walked back to the apartment, then went to the church to go to a dinner at another member's house with all of the missionaries. The food was great and the members are awesome! After dinner and the short spiritual message, we went back to the church and practiced our song again.

Monday 10/14/13: So today, we woke up at 6 so that we could clean our apartment a ton because we have a cleaning check coming up. We're planning on doing that every morning so that we can clean it well enough. After cleaning, we went on a small little run to a little park close by, exercised a bit there and came back to get ready for the day. We then shopped, and had study. I tried to send my package today, but it turns out that today just happened to be some national holiday so the Post Office was closed which really stunk. So for the district P-day activity that we had, we went and did Purikura again for the Shimaitachi (Sisters), so I was again forced to do it, and I'll try to get copies of those as well. We then went to the sushi place again which was good, and then we went to the cheap candy store again and then went to the church to play Jinroh! Afterwards we went and chilled at the apartment and then went to email. Sadly D Choro's bike still has a flat so we spent about and hour and 15 minutes walking to the email place. I forgot my journal when going to go email, so that's why I couldn't write the email last week, because that's how I've been making them good, and I couldn't tarnish my record by sending a bad one, so I waited to send it...

Tuesday 10/15/13: So you know how I said we made a goal to wake up early each day to clean? Ya well... we were so tired from walking so much that we didn't wake up early (and actually haven't really since...), so it's not really going to happen anymore... So one of the action items for this week (basically assignments given by the zone leaders) was to enjoy dendo, so we were supposed to make up a cool handshake thing and also take a funny picture. So, since D Choro's trainer was the recorder, and then trained him in Ebetsu, and he was the recorder right before training me in Ebetsu we put a bunch of the things that the recorder does on my desk and had a sign that said "Recorder in Training" on it so that was pretty funny! For our handshake we made it sweet... We stood on opposite sides of the room with our backs towards each other, then at a signal, we both turn and run towards each other, where I jump over him, I pull out my planner, and he pulls out the phone, then we turn to each other, point to the things in our hands, nod, and walk away, and it looks sweet! I'll try to get a video of it to send. Also tonight I watched videos of Yosakoi which is this dance festival that D Choro got to go to this year, and is absolutely amazing! I would reccommend looking up good videos of it. But make sure you have a bunch of time because even if you only plan on watching one, it'll draw you in and you'll look at the time and have lost an hour ;)

Wednesday 10/16/13: So today we woke up at 6 to get to Zone Conference on time, but when I woke up, bad news awaited. My voice was super hoarse and my throat was dry. And I still was supposed to sing a musical number... My Remedy: Call Sister Evans and call it all off... Just kidding! Basically I drank as much water as I could and prayed as hard as I could. Then things got even more crazy. We finished getting ready and ran to print off our funny picture, accidentally left our rainsuits in the apartment even though it was a Typhoon today... We were low on money to get there since we didn't have bikes like we planned, then got on the wrong bus, so we had to take an extra train. We got there later than expected so we didn't have time to practice our song, and man, was I surprised to see that I would be leading all of the missionaries in the missionary purpose in Japanese, that I haven't actually finished memorizing yet... D Choro wrote it down for me, incorrectly, which was super embarrassing, but then we were up to sing. That's when things started going super well. Our song turned out great and everybody loved it! We had some awesome workshops, great food for lunch, got to watch each district's birthday video, got to listen to R Choro's birthday song, got Birthday stuff for my upcoming birthday (today was a very Birthday oriented day), got a bunch of stuff from the other missionaries as a welcome gift thing, had another great workshop, got to do our handshake for our zone, listened to the returning missionaries' testimonies, and took the correct bus home! We also played Shogi(basically Japanese Chess) which is super hard, but interesting and fun! Crazy, but fun day!

Thursday 10/17/13: So I've been on my mission for 3 Months now and I can't believe how fast the time has flown! We had Weekly planning and Companionship Inventory, which was actually really good today. We are a good companionship already, but we really seemed to bond during it and got even closer which was super cool! Also I've been feeling like my confidence isn't quite where it should be... I've felt like I've never been super confident anyway, and that when it seemed like I was that it was just a mask. So I decided that I'm going to study confidence for a while which will be good for me. But ya it was a great day!

Friday 10/18/13: So today was a little rough honestly... I studied confidence for personal study like I planned and D Choro had some talks that he let me borrow, but they weren't quite what I was looking for... We tried Shizen dendo again but I felt like my Japanese wasn't good enough and it was pretty rough... Later I had to Denwa Dendo (call people from the Area Book) but that was super scary. I called people but I barely understood half of what they said so it was a bummer...

Saturday 10/19/13: So today was planning out very good, we had 3 appointments so we should've been teaching a ton, but they all basically fell through. We had our first one at 12 so we missed a little language study which is something I really need. But that fell through. The second one was supposed to be a lesson after this weekly Ping-Pong thing, but it took too long, and we weren't able to teach our investigator a lesson. Then we had lunch, and ran to another one, but that fell through as well, cause they forgot about it, and went back home where I denwa dendoed and filled out the weekly Progress Record. For dinner I took a 45-minute nap, made dinner, ate while planning, ate after planning, and wrote in my Journal. Also I had a spiritual thought that I wrote down yesterday. It was this: "The trials we have are there for us to better prepare us to become exalted. Which means that they are individual challenges that we need to have to get closer to becoming perfect, so they're good for us." Also a scripture that goes with it is D&C 121:7-8

Sunday 10/20/13: So today D Choro woke up sick... We still went to church where we found out that it's not just him, but 5 of the 9 Ebetsu missionaries are sick... Anyway, after church, we had Ward council, but since there are so many missionaries right now in this ward, they had one from each companionship. So afterwards when we went to have lunch at the apartment, we talked about what happened with that and all sorts of stuff going on this week. It's going to be a crazy week, but pretty fun. After that he went to bed so he could get better and I started to call people, but I've been super exhausted lately so I soon fell asleep as well. But we woke up, had dinner, planned for another crazy P-Day, and went to bed!

So ya it was a crazy two weeks with some ups and downs, but it was enjoyable overall! I hope everything's going well at home, and that everyone's doing well! Sorry again about missing last week, but hopefully this is making up for it! ;) Talk to you all soon!

Elder Bickel

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 7, 2013

Hey everybody! This week's been another great one! Here's how it went:

Monday: So today was a little more relaxed, but still pretty crazy. We did a super deep cleaning of our apartment because it was a mess, and did the shopping. Then we went to do a little fun shopping and went to the Hobby Off which is a recycle shop aka. thrift shop to just mess around. The thrift shops in Japan are way better than the thrift shops in America though! They have so many cool things other than clothes that people would actually want to buy! ;) Some examples are original in the box N64's, Super Nintendo's, game boy color's and a bunch of old classic stuff, as well as cards or basically anything... After our fun little souvenier shopping was done we went to go email. After email we went to talk to some potential investigators but they weren't home so it didn't quite work out. We then had to walk our bikes and the other Elder's bikes home because they had gone into Sapporo to go to a family night thing at Honbu. So we both had two bikes and were just walking along the main road. Naturally we got some pretty strange looks... ;) but it worked out ok! Dinner we had these Yakisoba bento's. The type of thing where you just add hot water. But these one's are super smart! You add water to cook the noodles, then pour the water into a cup, and make soup with seasoning that they give you, and then you've got noodles with all of the seasonings for Yakisoba, and soup!

Tuesday: So today was pretty rainy. So everyone in our district brought our rainsuits for District Training Meeting. We also had to make this movie for President Evan's birthday. So we put on our rainsuits and did this thing where we spelled out 'Happy', 'Birth', and 'day' and then disappeared and it actually looked kinda cool! I wanted to get a copy of the video and just use that for birthday presents and say 'Hey I got my whole district together to do this for you!' but the video wouldn't copy so I'll have to come up with something else... For DTM lunch today we went to this place that had burgers with 5 patties and 5 pieces of cheese for 500 yen which is about 5 bucks so we tried it out and they were massive! I did eat it all in case you were wondering... ;) We then had Eikaiwa which was on Colors and shapes today so in the advanced class we went pretty complicated which was pretty funny! We said stuff like 'to feel blue' or 'green with jealousy' and crazy things like that. So it was pretty fun!

Wednesday: So today I felt like I was picking up more of the language, but I know there's still a ton to learn and it'll take time. The day was pretty normal and we just housed and went around trying to find people, but we just had fun while doing it. But ya sorry today there isn't a whole lot to tell...

Thursday: So today was DKK (weekly planning) and for part of it, D Choro showed me his 'black hole', which is where he has all of his Japanese junk that he's picked up in the past year and a half that he is going to take home with him. The thing I was most jealous of, and really the one thing I cared about was one of his card games. It's this werewolf game called Jinroh, which is absolutely awesome! It has the possibility of 42 people playing and having a character and being engaged in the game. There are a ton of new cool characters and to be honest it's better than Rebokavonia (if you don't know what this is, don't worry about it). :) Anyway, we decorated our study room a little bit with pictures of Christ and the map of our area so it would provide a better atmosphere for studying, and then went to have dinner with the Stake President and the rest of the missionaries. We had tonkatsu and curry, and it totally reminded me of Mom's and it may not have been quite as good, but it was still very good, and it was a nice little reminder of home. Tonight the Zone Leader's came for splits so we prepped with food, soda, and Jinroh! We played it for a while and then went to bed.

Friday: So today was our day to go on Splits with the Zone Leaders so I went with R Choro who is on transfer 14, is an amazing musician, and is super funny! He is actually taking the test to be certified as fluent in Japanese, and he came into the field with MTC level Japanese which was very reassuring to me that I can learn it too. But ya splits were a blast, we talked a bunch, and I asked for advice. He told me just to make sure you're happy, and just chill and don't worry about it. Things will work out how they're supposed to, so if we stress about things we won't be able to have the Spirit which is key for missionary work. One other cool thing he said was that, there technically is only a set amount of things that we need to learn before we become perfect, and on a mission we learn a lot. But on a mission, we may learn personally, but we all basically learn the same stuff if we're trying. Pretty sweet. We also had this YSA activity that the Sisters put together but it was pretty strange... But it had free food, so we were all right with going! ;) Oh also, Sister Evans called me and asked me to put together a special musical number for the Zone Training Meeting in two weeks so I'm singing... Let's hope I do ok... ;)

Saturday: So today we were pretty busy. We went and met with our investigator and played ping pong and frisbee, until we had to run to teach a lesson with the Ward Mission Leader to an old lady who lives pretty far away. We taught her for about an hour and a half during which she said that D Choro and I were very handsome and that we could be actors which was kinda funny coming from an 80-year-old Japanese woman. We then went and visited some PI's (potential investigators) and NA's (non actives) which was kinda cool. While doing it, we had a great view of the sunset, and it was absolutely amazing! It was a little cloudy near the sun, but not enough to block the view like usual. But so the sun turned the clouds first to this amazing bright orange, then it wentto a pinkish color, then to a good pink, then to light purple, purple, and then it was dark. But it was really really cool! It's rare to actually see the sunset here though because it's pretty cloudy, and there's no mountains so you have to make sure there aren't many buildings in the way of your view. So we were super lucky to get to see it!

Sunday: So today was pretty good! It was Fast Sunday today, and we'll watch Conference next week probably. Anyway, the day didn't go by too quickly, but we did do a lot so it was ok. We set up some lessons with members to practice and to get them excited for missionary work, then we tried to visit all of the young men in the ward. Only one is active right now and there's 7 total so we went to each house and invited them personally to the ward Halloween party. They don't live in the same neighborhood though so we were biking a ton! After that we went to the church for a little bit to practice our musical number. We basically got it down and just need to continue practicing so we'll be good enough for the ZTM coming up. If we're good enough we'll be singing for this Music Fireside coming up, which is a pretty big thing so hopefully we'll make it! Dinner was pretty crazy... We had udon noodles in a soup curry that we threw all of our vegetables and spices into, and also had some cereal, and we were seriously considering making dessert as well... We are now basicaly out of food... haha but oh well, we're shopping tomorrow.

But ya that was the fun week, and I'll write again next week! Hopefully all is well with everyone, and I wish all those who are struggling with anything the best wishes possible!

Love ya!

Elder Stephen Bickel 

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

Hey Everybody! I hope things are going well!

So not a whole lot of time today, so there won't be a whole lot of commentary today on the week's activities, but I'll do as much as I can!

So Monday part 2: So once we finished emailing last week, we walked to a train station and got into Sapporo to the Honbu. We then had a little bbq and went to the baseball game. The baseball game was pretty cool, and the fans were very different than in the States. In Japan, no one boo's at all and all the cheering is positive which is very different but cool I think... Sadly I was so tired during the game that I actually fell asleep a few times ;)  We then made the trip back home on foot from the Atsubetsu train station since we had to walk K Choro's bike back because of the flat. On the way we made a stop to buy groceries since we were basically out of food. Like really out of food... So we grabbed that, ran to the apartment to clean, planned, quickly ate food, and then I fell asleep immediately! It was great! ;)

Tuesday: So Tuesdays we have our District Training Meeting. My companion is the District Leader and he planned a great one. He had us introduce our companions in our opposite language, so the Nihonjin Sisters had to introduce their companions in English, and all of the Gaijin's(foreigners) had to do it in Japanese. We then had a little lesson on prayer, and how we can teach it and it was very well done. After DTM we went to a sushi place where I spent $15 on sushi, which is about 1500 yen so it was pretty expensive, but it was good. I guess that's just what happens when you've got a big stomach, but small wallet... ;) We then had Eikaiwa prep (English class) and so we figured out what to teach and how, and we made it good. English class is a blast and I think it's great! But that may be because it's in English and I don't have to worry about Japanese... ;)

Wednesday: So today it was pouring rain. It was fun to bike in the rain, but kinda slick... I also figured out that the brakes for the bikes here are switched. The left hand brake is the back wheel, and the right is the front. It almost made me crash, but I saved it and I'm doing ok! So one of the weird things in Japan is the doorbells. Everyone has intercoms and no one actually comes to the door right off. It kinda stinks cause it's hard to get them to listen when we can't even see them, but we're making it work. Also while biking, I feel pretty good. I keep up just fine, and actually have no problems which is a huge blessing - a miracle because of the MTC since that basically made me a slug...

Thursday: So Thursday I was pretty tired. We used our lunch time and went to a cheap candy store that is actually pretty good, and mostly just streeted the whole time. We saw this crazy guy who thought that God didn't exist because of Quantum Physics. See if you can figure that out... We couldn't... But it was a pretty basic day... Good, but long, and full of just hard hard work! So we get pretty exhausted each day. But it's the way to do it!

Friday: Today was a kinda rough day. We did however find some lemon and pineapple Hi-chews that are absolutely amazing! We also got an odometer for my bike so I can try to calculate how many miles I ride on my mission, which would be way, cool! We had dinner with an investigator who we committed to baptism but she just said she'd think about it so that was kinda sad. But Japanese was making me struggle a little bit today, but I'm over it now and I'm just working hard!

Saturday: So today there was some good news and some bad news. The bad news was that we got a text from the investigator who told us she'd think about baptism and asked if we could meet. We got all excited thinking that she was going to agree, but when we met with her she just had a bunch of reasons why she couldn't, which really was a bummer. Good news was that we had an appointment with one of D Choro's old investigators who agreed to be baptized so that was perfect! We need to reteach him the lessons but he'll do it so that's way nice! We did some service which was kinda boring, but it helped some old people and we were able to have some good times. So for the service we basically moved clothes and food into this old people's rec center for some welfare thing and it was only old people other than us, so we helped out a ton!

Sunday: Today was my first day at church since we had Stake Conference last week. I had to introduce myself and bear my testimony during sacrament meeting which was scary since I don't really know a whole lot of Japanese, but everyone kept telling me that my Japanese was Jozu(skillful) so that was kind of them. I was so tired from the week that I accidentally fell asleep for a tiny little bit during Sacrament meeting, which I felt terrible for and repented for, but I still felt pretty bad about it. We had a little lunch thing at the church after church which was cool and got the fruits basket. Basically the ward pitches in and gives the missionaries some food. It's great. I learned that if you need to, you can actually carry two dozen eggs home on a bike over bumpy roads and you can actually not break a single one if you're skilled enough. Naturally I'm talking about myself and how I did that so don't be too disappointed if you can't... ;) hahaha I definitely don't recommend it, but it is possible if it's absolutely needed. Two scriptures people should look up if they have time are D&C 76:5-10, and 3 Nephi 5:13, cause they are super awesome!

Well because of time, I'll just do today's little summary next week. So I hope all is well back home, and I love you all! I'd love letters if people have some time, but if not I totally understand! I'm about the same way so don't worry about it!

But ya, this week was great, I'm expecting the next to be as well, and I hope yours is too!

Bickel Choro

Answers to questions:

President and Sister Evans' are so awesome! I think they're absolutely great! My companion is on his 13th transfer so about a year and a half. He and I are very different but we're getting along great and we're having a lot of fun, while working hard of course. ;)

Time zone is very different, but I'm basically adjusted. and we've got 4 in our apartment, and 9 in our district, all in our area too actually. So we've got 5 Shimaitachi (Sisters) and 4 Chorotachi (Elders). As for in the mission there are 119 missionaries. We are in a ward, and we had no investigators but since he was trained here, we're trying to pick up his old investigators who weren't baptized.

So I haven't gotten your letter yet, but it should be coming any day now! I'm very excited to get it, however I did get the one that you just sent earlier and it was just sitting at the honbu for me so that was a great little surprise, so thanks!!

I am still sleeping great which is very nice, and the futons are giving me a few bruises since I'm a bit heavier than the normal Japanese person, and I am bonier as well ;) but I'm enjoying it!

We do cook all of our food most of the time, but we've had Yakisoba, Mabudofu, Udon, Somen, Oyakodonburi, spagetti, and just basic foods mostly. We also went to a sushi place which was good!

I like my bike well enough, but I do miss my road bike... ;) but that's to be expected! ;)

It's been pretty nice most of the days, but it has rained a bunch, including today which kinda stunk since it's P-day... but it's been enjoyable nevertheless.

I'm glad you saw some pictures of the bbq and game cause I completely forgot my camera with all of the crazy things going on last week! 
Stephen is in the back on the left

At the mission home barbecue - on the right to the back