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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Week in Japan!

Hey everybody! I`m now in Japan!
So Monday this week we woke up at 2:30 so we could say goodbye to the half of our district that was going to Sendai, and also so we could leave ourselves. We left the MTC at 4:30am! Crazy right!? we hopped on a plane and flew to Seattle, and then to Osaka Japan. The Osaka airport is actually a pretty cool place! We had some Japanese food and looked around, but since everything is in Japanese it was kinda hard to understand what everything meant or what was going on ;) I slept for almost all 15 hours of flight time so I was expecting to be super jet lagged right? But, I slept super well on Tuesday night (we lost a day because of the time difference) and have slept super well each night since. So that`s monday and tuesday.
Wednesday: My first full day in Sapporo Japan! I was so excited! We had a full day of training where we got our bikes, debit cards, training materials, and our new companions and areas. I sent this home already, but I'm in Ebetsu with D Choro!  We`re whitewashing the area(starting fresh) cause he was the recorder at the honbu(mission home) and there used to be only two elders in Ebetsu. So I live with K Choro, S Choro, and D Choro. Anyway, back to Wednesday. I placed(helped at least) my first Book of Mormon in the field which was way cool! We stayed at the Honbu that night since D Choro had to finish training the new recorder so we travelled to our area the next morning.
Thursday: Today after our study and all of that good stuff, we went to the Sapporo train station and met up with all of the other missionaries that were transferring. There were a ton of people I didn't know who all wanted to talk to the new guy so I ended up saying Hajime mashite(good to meet you) a lot... We stopped in this massive store that is like a physical cause you can find anything in the world in that store! It's massive and has everything! We then went to catch a train to our area. It gets dark here really early. Like at 6 o'clock so that kinda killed me and I have had a little jet lag, but it just gets me to sleep quickly. Everyone thinks that I sleep so quickly and a ton, but that's not a bad thing so I'll get used to it. We grabbed me an electronic dictionary, a clicker(counter device that we use to keep track of how many people we contact a day), a pillow, and a few other items I'll need to get started. We made plans for the week, and Streeted and Housed as well, which was scary cause they don't really know English, and I don't really know Japanese... But it was fun. I also talked with the Bishop on the phone which was super scary. But it worked out.
Friday: Wow, what a day! I really don't know the language which makes things tough. I want to be able to stop people and share this wonderful gospel with them, but I just don't know how to in Japanese. However, D Choro is helping me out and I'm starting to get the hang of the basics. The problem is when they talk back to me... ;) There are some interesting drinks here in Japan... One's called a Bikkle so everyone who hears my name thinks it's so cool that there's a drink with my name on it... I tried it the other day and I don't actually think it's that good though haha... However there is this soda called Calpis soda and it is super hard to describe, but it's actually pretty good. It's kinda like a grapefruit, but not really, but it's good which is what matters. ;) Also there's one called Orangina which is like orange juice with carbonation and it's actually very good. The candy here is also good, but maybe I'm just Japanese at heart and so that's why I like this stuff... ;) Also there are no Left-turn-on-red here. And I know there's not in the US either, but we drive on the left side of the road so that also takes a little getting used to. Also they count bikes as vehicles... So I am driving a vehicle my whole mission! How cool is that right? ;)
Saturday: So today we went to D Choro's old investigators here because this is actually where he was trained. His trainer was a recorder at Honbu, and trained him here, and now he was the recorder and is training me at Ebetsu, so people are thinking I'm going to be the recorder and train in Ebetsu. We'll see if it actually happens, but it'd be interesting for sure. But ya we talked to this lady he knew for like 2 and a half hours on her porch and by the end of it my feet were so tired that I think I fell asleep that night within like 2 minutes! Everyone else laughed, but I felt great the next morning! ;) We are having some great times together so I'm really excited for this transfer.
Sunday: So today was my first Sunday in Japan and I didn't even get to go to church. We had stake conference instead which was way cool, but I couldn't understand a single word that was going on. They speak super fast, and I don't have a huge vocabulary here so that's been interesting... Especially since I "Talk like I'm 40..." ;) Also I was talking to Sister Evans, and she has now recruited me to sing the Messiah this Christmas... I guess we'll see how that goes... We also went to the other Elder's baptism that they had. We did a musical number that we put together the night before for 30 minutes, but it actually turned out ok... But it was really cool to see the baptism happen here in Japan since most people we've talked to aren't very interested in the church. So we got all fired up seeing that and I think I'm going to get a baptism this transfer. Well a funny little thing that happened today was our Daily Planning at the end of the night. It went for an hour and 20 minutes!!!!! It usually doesn't but today was different because of our activities today.
Monday(aka. Today): So today we have a Baseball game that we're going to as a mission activity, and only the missionaries close enough to the Honbu are allowed to come. However we still need to clean, dendo(missionary work), shop for food (we're basically out...), and find out how to get there and back. Now you see why the Daily Planning took so long. ;) We ended up deciding to come email at this internet cafe (our ward building and apartment don't have computers) and bike to Sapporo and back. It's been interesting, because K Choro got a flat tire about halfway to the internet cafe, and now we're going to try to find a train station to get us there and back. It'll work out though. The Lord takes care of his missionaries! But ya I'm loving it here, and I am excited to let you know all of the fun times I'm having!
Talk to you next week!!!!
Elder Bickel

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm in Japan!!!

Hey family,
I'm allowed to write a short little email to say I'm doing alright. We made it safely last night, and took a little trip to the honbu (mission home).  I just got my companion and we had lunch at an amazing restaurant!  My companion's name is Elder D, and he's been in the honbu as the recorder for 5 transfers. He was actally trained in my area as well. Our area is Ebetsu and we'll leave tomorrow morning instead of tonight so he can finish the training for the new recorder.
Love you lots!
Elder Bickel

Final week at the MTC

September 15, 2013

Family and Friends,

So for my last letter sent from the MTC, I’m going to do it about the same, with a rundown of the week.

Tuesday:  So for the past few weeks we’ve realized that neither of us like getting up early (5:00) on P-days, so we stopped doing that and got our sleep.  However, our district wanted to go to the temple with one of our Sensei’s.  But he could only go at 8, and we had to start packing and getting prepared to leave since it was our last P-day at the MTC.  So we woke up at 5 to do laundry.  Then we started packing and I’m not worried about making weight at all!  2 quotes of the day:  S Choro said that it’s like we’re in the 4th quarter of a game so we have to do all we can to make sure we win.  J Choro then said that it’s much more exciting being in the game (working), than sitting on the bench, so work hard.

Wednesday:  Well to start I was able to Host Elder Hansen so that was great!  So one of my Sensei’s told us to share heartfelt testimonies in our lessons cause it brings the spirit more.  To prove his point he had us have a little testimony meeting.  I felt prompted to share the following.  So by now most of you probably think that for me the MTC has been a place full of spiritual enlightenment and not a hard day in sight.  Now while the first is true, the second definitely isn’t.  2 weeks ago on Thursday, I was really struggling.  I felt like back home I had people who cared about me, loved me, and were just all around kind to me, and I felt like I didn’t have that here.  Well then I realized that it was just Satan trying to get to me.  So, when Gym time came I decided that I was going to run it off.  So I ran a mile and a half and not a thing happened.  So I tried a core workout.  That didn’t work either.  I then decided that working out wasn’t going to help, so I just sat down on some chairs on the second floor.  Well not long after, a sister in my district and an Elder in my Zone who happened to be the Sister Training Leader and the Zone Leader came up to me and asked if I was doing ok.  At that moment I knew that God was watching out for me, and that I did have people around me who loved me.  Now that was a hard day for me, but it was also strengthening and enlightening.  So remember, even on your hard days, they can be great days.  God is always watching out for you.

Thursday:  Today was In-Field-Training.  Basically 8 hours of meetings to get you ready for the field.  They told us all about how to get members involved and our resources as missionaries.  It was long, but great.  During class one of the Elder’s likened the missionaries to Lehi in his dream.  We like Lehi have the gospel, we know of God’s love and want to share it.  Lehi didn’t force his family to come taste the truth, he invited.  Likewise, we can’t force the gospel onto people, we can only invite.

Friday:  So we had this great lesson today about what a missionary is.  We made a list, supplemented by PMG, and it was a pretty good, lengthy list, of what a missionary should be.  He then asked the questions:  Are you everything on this list?  If not, what do you need to change in order to be all of it?  Then we talked about power and authority, and how we cannot lose sight of our purpose or we won’t have the power we need.

Saturday:  Today was a very very difficult day.  I woke up super sick, and in for a bit of a surprise.  Well I was going to go to the health office, but it turns out that it isn’t open on Saturdays…I got a blessing, but still felt terrible, and my district wouldn’t tell me, but I looked like death.  After two hours of class my teacher took me down to the front desk, and they called the on-call doctor.  They ended up sending me to the Urgent Care Center at BYU since nowhere else was open.  I had a temperature of 101, felt achy, nauseous, exhausted, and had a terrible headache.  Well at first the doctor thought it was strep, but the test came back negative.  They did some more tests and couldn’t figure out what it was.  I then asked if I should still leave Monday.  The doctor said he didn’t know.  He called the MTC on-call doctor and they decided that they’d make a decision at 1:00 on Sunday.  I was given a few pills and told to take the rest of the day off.  I then finished packing just in case, and said goodbye to my Sensei teaching the night class.  It too was a rough day, but it also strengthened me.  I decided that no matter what happened, it was what God wants.  If I have to stay a week more, God wants me here for a week more.  If I get to leave, God wants me to go to Japan.  Not our will, but God’s be done.  Remember that in your struggles.

Sunday:  Well the pills helped a ton.  I feel a lot better, and feel like I’m getting better.  At 1:00 today I called the doctor and he said that I am cleared for departure tomorrow at 4:30am.  I was so happy to hear that!  The one condition is if I take a turn for the worse, I just won’t hop on the plane and they’ll delay me however much is needed.  We had a great sacrament and got some good pictures with the Dai Sempai and Branch Presidency.  By the way for those of you who are wondering, I still don’t like pictures, but I know some of you would kill me if I didn’t take any ; ).  We had a great devotional tonight by Bro. Tanner, who is a descendent of John Tanner from the church movie about him and cousin to T.C. Christensen, the director of “17 Miracles” and “Ephraims Rescue.”  He actually helped produce both of them and talked to us about them and showed us clips from “Ephraims Rescue” which looked like a really good movie!  I also got a few more pictures with friends at the map, and am now heading to bed, since I’ll be waking up at about 2:15 and I like my sleep.  So I’ll write again from Japan, but I want you all to know that I know that this church is true.  I know that God loves us and that He answers prayers.  Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and restored this church through the power of God.  Jesus Christ performed the Atonement for each one of us individually, and he was only able to do that because he was God’s son, and was sinless.  I hope you’ve watched “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” by now, and I have another recommendation.  Watch “Mountains to Climb” and think about how everyone needs and deserves to know the happiness and peace that this gospel brings.  This church is true, I know it, and I cannot, and will not deny it.

I love you all and hope all is well!

Elder Stephen Bickel

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

MTC week 8

September 10, 2013

Hey Family and Friends!

I'd like to thank everyone who's sent letters!  They are coveted at the MTC and so many people have written me and it means a lot to me!

Ok so to start out, I'll tell about the rest of Tuesday:  Because of time issues, we decided not to sing in the choir.  It was very weird since I had done it every other week, but it was cool to get a taste of what we sounded like.  I remembered a quote today that the choir director said a few weeks ago so hopefully this is the first time I’ve written it, but if not, it’s so good that it bears repeating.  He said basically that we aren’t worthy or good enough for this work.  We cannot do this work.  But luckily it isn’t our work.  We’re just God’s helpers and tools, and we are good enough and worthy enough to be that.  So there’s no reason to be overwhelmed by the work, cause we’re not actually doing it, we’re just helping.

Wednesday:  So today our service assignment that we get every week (usually cleaning our residence hall) consisted of some differences.  Instead of vacuuming like we usually do, we were recruited to help clean out a room full of pillows.  It was only 4 of us, but it was pretty cool!  Sadly I didn’t get to jump in the pile though…  Maybe next time.  Hosting wasn’t quite as fun as usual, but I’m hoping that for my last week I’ll get JD!  I also remembered another thing the choir director said.  By the way, he’s an institute teacher so that’s why he has all of these great quotes.  So he was talking about how we are refined like metals, like it talks about in the scriptures, but he went into a little more detail.  He said that in order to make sure that you get the exact right temperature to heat the metal, you have to know exactly what type of metal it is.  If you get it too hot it’ll be brittle and will break.  If you don’t get it hot enough it’ll go back into it’s original place.  But if you know what kind of metal it is, then you can heat it just right so that it’s strengthened.  Well God knows exactly who and what we are.  The trials He gives us are just hot enough to make sure that we don’t go back to how we were, not too hot to make us break, but just right to make us even stronger.  So think of that when we have trials and things’ll go better!

So Thursday:  So we have a Brazilian Elder in our district who lived in Japan for 5 years, and came in with the first set of Nihonjin.  Well he’s had 3 surgeries (ankle and both knees0 so he’s had to stay until he’s healthy enough to go, but he will be coming with us for sure.  Oh and he’s going to Sapporo.  So that’s pretty sweet!  Anyway, he’s still trying to learn English and sometimes will say the funniest things.  For example on Thursday, he said, “What the heck I did!” when he meant something like, “What in the world did I do!”  So I thought that was kind of funny.  But he’s only spoken English for a year and understands basically everything so it’s pretty cool.  He’s a recently reactivated convert too so it’s awesome that he’s on a mission.  He had another quote that’s actually really profound.  He said “I never tell God that I have problems.  I tell my problems that I have God.”  I thought that was so true.  Our problems shouldn’t matter because we have God.  Also, my teachers have shown me that I’m not the first to deal with hardship on a mission and I definitely won't be the last. : )

Ok so Friday.  Before you read this, know that I’m doing a lot better.  So Friday was really rough.  We got our travel plans which was super exciting, but just the overall day was rough.  I felt like I wasn’t doing as well as I could with things and that my companion and I could do better.  However, I talked to my branch president and he boosted me up and so that helped a ton!

Saturday:  Well Saturday was amazing compared to Friday!  We had 2 great lessons and that helped a bunch.  Then we had a sub for the last hour of class and it was a recently returned missionary from Sapporo.  He told us all about it and our first few days, what it’s like there, and just super exciting stuff that made me want to be there so badly!  Also our other Sensei told me something that I should’ve written immediately, but he said that achieving your goals isn’t what’s important.  What’s important is that we’re working towards them.  Also from the MTC we could hear some of the cheers from the BYU v. Texas game so that was kinda funny.

Sunday:  Sunday was pretty good.  We had our Departure District Devotional where we learned what we were going to be doing packing wise and just getting ready to leave.  Honestly it made me even more excited to be gone….  But I’m still going strong!  We also got a bunch of pictures as a district and Dai Sempai so you’ll see those soon!  At the Devotional that night the speaker talked about prayer.  He said that “Prayer is on of the key parts of our message.  Because if they’re not praying, then nothing is happening,”  Prayer really is so important.  Make sure that you’re praying multiple times each day!  Also you should watch the Mormon Message titled, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father.”  It’s amazing!

Monday:  Monday was great.  By the time we woke up though, we officially had less than a week left.  Crazy!  Also, I’ve really found that the scriptures seem totally different as a missionary.  And not just the scriptures too.  Like everything is seen through missionary eyes so it’s different.  It shouldn’t be that way I don’t think, but I guess that’s just how it happens.  I just want to try to keep this perspective after my mission and throughout my life!

Well that’s all for this week, but I’ll try to write my weekly letter before I go to Japan so that it won’t be two weeks!  I love you all and you’re in my prayers!  Thanks so much!

Elder Stephen Bickel

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

MTC week 7

Hello Family and Friends!

This week's been great and I am still so surprised that I'm on my 8th week already! But I'm super excited to get out there!
Also, one of the Elders who came in with the Nihonjin the 2nd week I came is now in my district because of the surgery's he's been having. He had a surgery on his ankle, as well as 2 surgeries, one on each knee, so he's had 3 surgeries in the past 2 months basically. However, he IS going to be coming to Japan with us, and he's going to Sapporo! He is so cool, and we've gotten very close actually. I think we may have been friends in the Premortal Existence... He is a convert, but went inactive, and is now active again, and on a mission. But he has a strong testimony and I say that we're spiritual brothers. :)

So here comes the rundown for the week!

Tuesday: Tuesday was a very good day! Elder Neil L. Anderson came and spoke to us about love and sacrifice. He said that "No missionary who does his or her best will ever be a failure." Which goes along with the quote, "the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary." I think those are awesome! He also talked about not focusing on ourselves and one of the sisters in my district said, "turn I to あい(ai, the Japanese word for love, pronounced the same way)." Speaking of love, One of the other sisters said "Charity is the power and purpose of this work." And I realized that that is so true! One other thing he said was that "After hard trials, we receive great blessings" so everything that's hard is preparing us for blessings, so thank goodness! Lastly he said that "We sacrifice for the things we love, and we love the things we sacrifice for. Also on Tuesday we had to walk back from the Marriott Center in a downpour so I got my first experience being a missionary in the rain! I realized that we need to enjoy each moment cause you can never get it back, so you might as well make each moment wonderful.

Wednesday: I got the opportunity to Host again which was very fun! I got to see Nate Paul and True DeMille while I was walking down to pick up another new missionary so that was great! I seem to find friends everywhere I walk here! So Wednesday we actually got to Skype some Nihonjin people in Japan for our TRC(Training Resource Center) Experience so that was awesome! It made me super scared to go to Japan, but super excited as well! Not much else happened that day so we'll move on.

Thursday: I got my new nametags today which was super exciting! Sadly we're only allowed to wear them during class though and even then, we usually don't because it's depressing to take them off... ;) In one of the classrooms that I went into today I saw a picture that said "Love is key" and I thought that was very very true. Again not much else happened.

Friday: Today I finally saw Sister Wilkinson while walking back over to class so that was good! It took a week and a half, and she only had about 5 days left, but I did see her! I found an amazing scripture today that says exactly what I want to be able to say at the end of my mission. It's 2 Timothy 4:6-7 and it says, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." That just says it all, perfectly. I want to be able to honestly say that when I leave, so I need to keep it in mind!

Saturday: Ok so Today was very rough. I felt like back home I had people who cared about me, were receptive to what I said, and showed their love for me. Here I felt like I had none of that. So basically a really rough day right? Well during gym I tried to run off those feelings instead of playing a game, but it didn't quite work. Soon though, my prayers were answered by 2 people in my zone. I immediately felt better, I felt loved, and I knew that God was watching out for me. I also got a blessing from my companion and that helped a ton too! The Priesthood works! Also my Sensei talked to me and told me that he appreciated me and that he thought I was a great missionary so I felt a ton better by the end of the day!

Sunday: Wow! What an amazing day Fast Sunday is, everywhere, but especially at the MTC! The Spirit is so strong, and it inspired me to write a few things. First was this poem type thing about God:
"I feel his love everyday.
I know that he cares for me and loves me.
He answers every single prayer and question that I have,
no matter how small or insignificant it may be in the scheme of things.
I feel that God pays special attention to me because he loves me more than I can comprehend.
At times I feel like I am the only person he cares about because he loves me so much.
But God isn't like a child.
He will not, and has not picked favorites.
He loves every one of his children as if they are the one he cares about most, because he is perfect.
I want to be like God.
I want to represent Him with all that I do and say.
I want to make each and every one of His children feel his love like I do,
but also show His love through me.
I want people to see God's love shining in my eyes when they see me.
I want them to feel like they can trust in God, as well as in me.
I want them to know that He loves them and that I love them.
I want them to realize that they too can have God's love, and that when they do have it, that they will share it with someone that I can't.
If I do this, and if they do this, soon God's love will cover the earth,
Peace will reign,
The World will be happy,
And we will all rejoice.

When His love fills the earth."

So that's that one and I thought that it was good, but I can't make a widespread rating since a) I'm the writer, and b) I'm only one person.  ;)

Monday: I basically wrote down the things that I couldn't fit in my journal on Sunday for the entry on Monday. So I'll just write what I wrote. An Elder in my district inspired this one, with the help of the Spirit. "I really miss my family and am saddened by the thought that I won't be able to live with them or see them for 2 years. But God loves each one of us perfectly., How must He feel to know that part of his family hasn't chosen the gospel, or made the choices that will allow them to live with Him again? That He won't be able to live with His whole family again. That is why we're out here. Not just for the people of our missions who we will teach about being able to live with their families again. But it's for our God, so that we can bring more of His family home. So that He can live with more of His family for eternity. That is what we must remember if we are going to succeed in this work. That is what we must know, deep in our hearts, if we want the Holy Ghost to testify to those we teach and love. Only then will we be happy, and only then will we have success." I thought that was pretty sweet too.
On Sunday I also thought of this during District Meeting. "Companionships aren't meant to be 2 people. They are meant to be 2 humans, and the Holy Ghost. If we don't have the Holy Ghost with us, then one of our companions is gone and we're breaking the mission rules. Also our missions are supposed to be lifetime missions. So we need to always have his Spirit with us to have that mission feeling." Crazy right?
I also watched Elder Holland's talk about Missions are forever and he had this poem that I'll quote here.
" 'Come to the Edge,' he said.
'No, we'll fall,' we replied.
'Come to the Edge,' he said.
'No, we'll fall,' we replied.
'Come to the Edge,' he commanded.
So we came to the Edge.
He pushed us...
And we flew."
I thought that was so cool and I really loved it!

Tuesday (aka. today): Today we've just done emails, gotten haircuts(thank goodness!), written letters, done laundry, and are going to go to the temple soon! So I'm always excited for that. I'll talk more about today in my letter next week, but for now, this is it!

I love you all and am so thankful for all of the great examples you are all to me! I know that I am in your prayers and that you're thinking of me(otherwise you wouldn't be reading my letter ;) ). This church is still true, and will never be false so don't doubt or question it. It will only make you unhappy, and will cause you to miss out on a lot of blessings. I know that prayers are answered. They're answered in so many ways that we can't even begin to imagine. I realized the other day that there is no "perfect timing" there is only God's timing. And since God is perfect, his timing is perfect, so that IS "perfect timing". I am so grateful for this gospel and for my chance to be doing this work! You're in my prayers!

Elder Stephen Bickel (ビケル著路)