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