Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 10, 2014

Well hey everybody! Love you all tons! I hope your week went well, cause mine went great!

Well this week was transfer week! We had a super busy time with getting everything prepped cause the schedule for Honbu Elders is crazy!

Monday we have P-day and then after it's over, we enter in as much information about transfers as we can since the rest of the week is crazy! Basically we enter in all of the transfers that are happening and make the map of the mission. 

Tuesday is where everyone else get's their transfer calls, and then I try to get everything for the new missionaries since they come that night!

Wednesday we have Bean Training for the new missionaries and then print out the last stuff for the Shepherds (the mission newsletter). 

Thursday is when we go to the Transfer spot and get all of the Mission supplies handed out and then go back with all of the returning missionaries and do the English test for the Japanese missionaries. 

Friday we take all of them home and then update the systems, and get ready to do everything again for this transfer!

Saturday I actually had Mission Leader Council where all of the Zone Leaders and new District Leaders meet to talk about how to improve the mission so I got to go! It was way cool and it was a super spiritual experience so that was great! We also had Stake Conference. I ended up translating for the couple missionaries.  I've done that a few times at church and it's super hard, but it's fun... Kinda... ;)

Sunday we had Stake Conference again and I got to see a ton of people from Hakodate cause they're in the same stake! So that was fun! And also the Kotoni ward and Teine wards are becoming one! So my ward is now really big and there will be 11 missionaries for this transfer...

Kinda crazy, probably not my best email, but I Love you all and hope you're doing well!

Love you!

Elder Bickel

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3, 2014

Hey everyone!  We've been working hard getting ready for the new missionaries and transfers, so it's been busy.  I hope you're all doing well!  I could use your prayers cause I jammed my left middle finger playing basketball on Saturday and I really don't want it to be broken... ;) 

[Stephen was asked to share why he is grateful for his mission and this is his response]...

It definitely is hard to be a missionary, but when I think about all that I am gaining from it, I realize it isn't really that much of a sacrifice, but more of a blessing. I've felt like before the mission I was kinda introverted, and I've been trying to change that my entire mission, but since coming to the Honbu I've felt like it's been a little harder, but it's just making me work that much harder to not be introverted. ;) Sometimes I've gotten companions who are super nice, but they don't quite understand what it's like to have super good friends who really have good relationships, so they are not willing to really work at it which is hard for me since I've done it so well with other companions... But I've just appreciated those companions more and more, and it's shown me how important that's going to be to have a relationship like that with my wife. 

There are some tough things going on right now, but, at the same time, it's teaching me so much and helping me to realize what kind of person I want to be when I get back. It's definitely a blessing to have experiences like this, as well as the knowledge that all of these experiences will "be for our good".

Since being on a mission I have grown so much. I've found that I have been able to forget myself and focus more on other people. I've found that Christ's promise of "when we lose ourselves, we find ourselves" is we lose ourselves trying to help others and we find that we've become the person we've always wanted to be. I've learned so much more about the gospel and that through it, we can find true happiness even in our hardest times. A little while ago while I was finding, we found a man who asked us what makes us most happy. We answered that it is helping others. He then got in our faces saying that the most important thing is to make sure you're doing ok yourself. Then after that, if you still want to, then you can help others. Through that conversation I realized that most of the world will never realize that one truth of the gospel. When we help others, God helps us. I've seen so many miracles on my mission where God has helped me, and I feel like it's because I'm working on helping others. 

A mission is a one of  a kind opportunity that I wouldn't give up for the world, because on the mission we learn not how to win the world, but how to gain eternal life and worlds without number. A mission is hard, but it is the biggest blessing that you could ever ask for.

Love you tons!


Monday, November 3, 2014

October 26, 2014

Hey everybody! So this week was my 3rd week as the Recorder... It goes by so quick, but the days are kinda long...  So if you have any questions about the things I do, just ask... But I basically finished the mission newsletter called "The Shepard" which has articles from the AP's and one of the adult missionaries, and stuff about the incoming missionaries and returning ones too. So I'll probably send you that soon! ;)

As for dendo this week, the main miracle was with the same people from last week! So we were able to teach them two more times this week, and they were really good lessons. So as I said last week, one of them wanted us to make his friend believe in God, and he basically believes what we say, but has a lot of questions and says that he doesn't really have intentions of joining...yet.. But when we came we asked if he had read the Book of Mormon at all since the last time we came and it turns out that in 3 days, he's read up until 2 Nephi 9!!!!! Crazy right? But he said he basically understands it and he's doing really well!

So the other big miracle was his friend. So he's more of a quiet person, but he has a lot of questions about our church, and us compared to other churches... So when we explained the Plan of Salvation yesterday, he realized that we were not a normal church. So he's like "in order for me to really understand what you're teaching and about your church, it would be good for me to come to church right?" So we were like, YA! ;) He also is asking a bunch of questions that really show he's considering Baptism pretty seriously which is so good!

The two of them are definitely what's saving me right now. I miss going out and dendoing like normal, but I know that I'm doing a ton of needed stuff right now, so it's ok. It's interesting being here in Honbu and seeing how everything in the mission works! I've been learning a ton, and helping people a ton!

But I hope everyone's doing well, and I'll talk to you all soon! Love you!

Elder Bickel

October 19, 2014

Hey everybody! I hope your week went well! Mine went great! Kinda crazy, but way fun! So as a Honbu elder we don't have a ton of time to dendo usually, but when we do, we see miracles that aren't even imaginable! ;)

So first I'll explain a little bit of what I do...
So we live in the upper floor of the Honbu with the Assistants to the President. We see Nakatsuka Kaicho and Shimai on almost a daily basis, except for when they travel around the mission for various reasons. There is a Senior couple in the Honbu doing the Financial stuff and the Secretary position. They are the Getz fufu, but they are way nice, and they are super fun. Kaicho has told me that he wants me here for at least two transfers but doesn't know after that... As Honbu elders we actually have a car we share with the AP's but they don't have a license and Y 長老 does so we get to use it and I may get to take the test to drive in December! As for my Japanese, I no longer have Language study each day, so that's a little bit of a bummer, but I guess that's just what happens...

But my work is basically doing all of the letters to gaijin's and their parents, as well as getting all of the stuff ready for the new missionaries, the returning missionaries, the baptisms, a mission newsletter, updating a computer database with everyone's information, cutting flyers, getting mission supplies for everyone, and any random things people need me to do. So it is a very interesting job! :) It's pretty fun though cause I see how many missionaries I'm actually helping out without them even realizing what I'm doing really. 

But in this week's dendo, we were able to make about 6 appointments in about 3 hours total dendo time, as well as make 4 new investigators yesterday. But the craziest part about that 4 investigators thing, was that one of them was a referral from one of the appointments. So here's how it went. We made the appointment on Monday night to come back to this guy's apartment that smelled super bad of smoke and we didn't think he had a ton of potential. But last night, we headed over there and he opens the door and says "Hey come on in. You guys are still out tonight for a little while right? Ya ok well any time you can just come over here." So we're like ok... what's going on here. So he invites us in and we see this other guy just sitting down inside his house as well, and we say hello, and then the first guy says "I want you to teach him about God. And I want to learn some stuff from you guys too but I believe that God exists and helps out when we have hard times." So now we're just flabbergasted really wondering what's going on, and he and his friend basically asked a ton of super good questions that lead so well into good lessons, and it just went perfectly. But on top of that, this all happened right after we made two other investigators with one of them being this really cool 19-year-old college student who is studying Psychology and accepted the Book of Mormon and he seemed like he really wanted to read it! All in less than 3 hours in one day! 

Since coming to the Honbu, I've seen God help me out so much in so many different ways! He's helped me figure out what I need to do for the different new responsibilities I have as well as in the amazing success we're seeing in our proselyting efforts in our limited time. It's amazing what God's power can do, and I'm so glad to be a part of this church with this opportunity to serve the Lord here in Sapporo! 

Love you all! 
Have a great week!



October 12, 2014

Hey everybody! I hope your week went well! So this week I don't have enough time to make a recording, but here's how the week went!

Monday: Today we basically just talked to each other in the apartment cause it was raining and I actually got to take a nap! We also had Seminary this morning and email now takes 3 hours! Fun! ;) not really, but still! [Stephen has a third companion now who just transferred in last week]

Tuesday: So today we had a good DTM on becoming more like Christ. Then we went to see if my bike could get fixed cause my bike's gear change kinda broke... So did my camera cause K 長老 accidentally dropped it... So I may need more money... But then we visited a few investigators and then tonight we went to play basketball with a few investigators which was fun. Then the surprise happened! I got Transferred!!!!!!! So I got a call right as we got home from Kaicho saying that I am now becoming the Recorder at Honbu! So I then called a bunch of different members and investigators to tell them I was leaving on Thursday morning.

Wednesday: So today I met with about 10 Members and Investigators and NA's so that I could say goodbye. But I had a really good time with everybody so that was nice at least. Then I had the Hakodate ward's Halloween party planning meeting that night and we saw a Lunar eclipse! It was cool!

Thursday: So today I woke up and got on the 8:13 train to Sapporo by myself without a phone. It was kinda lonely and sad, but I just slept a lot. Then I spent the day learning what I'm supposed to do as the recorder.

Friday: So today we woke up at 5 to take someone to the airport, and then I spent the day learning all the stuff that I need to be doing. I kinda had an on the job training but am working with it! I'm super busy with it all, but it's actually kinda fun being able to help all of the missionaries...

Saturday: Today we had General Conference and I loved it! Jorg ____ (I can't spell his last name)'s talk was way good! but that was basically the whole day for us... But I loved hearing all of the talks!

Sunday: Today too, we had General Conference and it again was so good! Then we actually got to dendo for a little while! As Recorder we don't get to really dendo a ton, just cause of time and everything, but we had fun with that, before doing DKK and figuring things out for a little while. See Y 長老 my new companion was made Commissarion last week for transfers so we're both pretty new to all of this... But we're having fun!

So that was basically the week, and I'm sure you're all pretty surprised about the Recorder change, but I think it's crazy, but fun that I'm literally doing what Dad did while he was here! Love you all lots! Talk to you soon!


September 22, 2014

Hey everybody, I hope your week went super well and I love you all so much! 

Monday: Today we got to go hike Hakodate Mountain again but this time we actually hiked it! It was earlier in the day this time so that was nice to see the other view. We also got to go to this Hotel's lunch buffet with a member, a recent convert, and a less active member and her husband which was way fun, plus it's a buffet so there's no problems there! ;) 

Tuesday: Today we met with F san who is a funny old guy, but we told him about the Book of Mormon and how we have to read, ponder, and pray about it, and at first he didn't want to pray, but I explained how prayer is important and he understood and said he would so that was great! We also had a Family Home Evening at a member's house where we got a few investigators there so that was way good! We had Thai curry which was deliciously spicy! ;)

Wednesday: Today was DTM cause the Zone Leaders wanted to come and be there for it. So they came and we had workshops on working with members as well as effective questions. Then we went to visit some investigators which didn't quite work out, but we had to also pick up K 長老's bike cause he broke some of the spokes on his tire so it was in bad shape.

Thursday: Today we had a good Weekly Planning Session, and we got to visit a few investigators as well as get a super Spirit filled lesson with one of our investigators who has a big problem with smoking.... Then we went to the Young Single Adult Family Home Evening, where K 長老 and I gave the Spiritual message and it went well. We talked about faith and how we all need to strengthen our faith. 

Friday: Today was way fun! We got to go housing with a member who wanted to go! So that was fun, and then we visited a bunch of investigators, one of whom is an artist. He makes these way cool things and his name is Yu Takebe and his website is if you have time to look it up. Then we got to go to dinner with an investigator who also comes to Eikaiwa and he actually paid for us and it was way good and nice of him! Then we had Eikaiwa, which was fun as usual! Then we practiced a little music for our Music fireside this next Saturday the 27th.

Saturday: Today we had a Birthday party for one of the sister's investigators which was fun! We had a bunch of curry, some cookies, a salad, and a good spiritual message by the sisters. We also had Ping Pong.  Then we went to this investigator's restaurant for dinner and it was Korean food and was way good! 

Sunday: Today was super super busy. We had church, where Non attending church members came and I went on splits with a member to teach him a lesson, and then an investigator came at the same time cause he didn't really want to come to church, but he talked with the members afterwards and had a really good time so he actually spent 3 hours after church talking with them. During those 3 hours we were practicing our various songs with other investigators for the Music Night on Saturday, and then we ran to go to dinner at an investigator's house with the other elders. But we were basically trying to fly from thing to thing as quick as possible to get everything done. But it was fun!

But that was basically the week. My pinky isn't healed yet, but they said it should be done by Saturday so that's good! But I hope your weeks go well, and I'll talk to you next week! Love you all lots!

Elder Bickel

September 15, 2014

Hey everybody,  I hope you had a great week, and here's how mine went!

Monday: So we had seminary again this morning and we talked for part of it about how God has protected us. Wouldn't you guess, but after email when I was going to the hospital for a checkup on my pinky I got hit by a car... Well just like we had talked about at 6:30ish in the morning, God protected me and I didn't even get a scratch! It was a bit of a shock, but I was able to laugh it off with my companion and joke about how at least I got hit by a car while going to the hospital, cause we were planning on spending some time there either way! :)  I learned even more about how God will protect his missionaries and I wanted to thank you all for your prayers. This is absolute proof that prayers work. Also my bike is ok so no worries there either! ;) After that we went running to the beach again with the other Elders and had some fun there. Tonight we also went to Hakodate yama(mountain) with some investigators and the other missionaries for a district activity and it was really fun!

Tuesday: Today I had splits with the new missionary in our district named T Choro. We had a fun time and found some very interesting people. They might not have been all there mentally, but it made some great memories for his very first splits in the mission field! We also got to teach a recent convert his AB(after baptism) lessons which went well. We did it at a member's house and they also gave us dinner which was good, and we went back home a few kilograms heavier. 

Wednesday: Today I had splits with my District Leader D Choro! He's a really cool guy and a great missionary and we've become pretty good friends so it was fun to get to go on splits with him. We went to teach an investigator who loves English and loves missionaries and is willing to listen and talk with us so we are going to work hard to share this amazing message with him. We also got to go to a Family Home Evening at the Ward Mission Leader's house which was way fun and we got some Non-Attending Members to come so that was good!

Thursday: Today after our Weekly Planning Session we went to knock on some houses for a little while. It sadly was kinda a long day, but then we went to the Young Single Adult Family Home Evening which ended up being way fun. 

Friday: Today was super good! We started off with a good productive lesson with an investigator who is a member referral. They know a little about the church, but don't really want to join right now, but they're listening and we're trying to show them that while it obviously is their choice and we won't force them to do anything, in order to make the correct choice they should at least try reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know for certain whether it is right or wrong. We also got to teach a Non-Attending-Part-Member couple(the wife is a member but is off and on) a lesson and they fed us a big dinner as well! But they were super nice, and we sang them an hymn and they enjoyed it so that was great. Then we went to Eikaiwa which was way fun, as usual. I really have found that I enjoy speaking English... ;) But we really do have a fun class, and we try to make it fun for them! Then afterwards we got to teach a little lesson on prayer and the Book of Mormon and God to a 16-year-old boy who plays tennis at school and enjoys a video game called Dragon Quest... But he's way cool and we've been able to make a pretty good relationship with him, and he wants to become a missionary so we're trying to help him get Baptized first... ;)

Saturday: Today was super fun! We had the Sports activity for the ward and investigators at a nearby sports center.  Then we visited a few investigators, and then had the weekly ping pong activity at the church where I just sat and talked to people who had come. But it was fun, and then a Non-Attending member came afterwards and we sat outside the church and talked with him and some other members for a while and were able to help him make friends within the church so hopefully he'll start coming back.

Sunday: Today Church was really good. We talked about becoming parents(ya just what I need while trying to focus on a mission right? ;) ) but I basically decided I just follow Mom and Dad's example. Nice and Easy(to say...)! Then we had some lessons with some investigators and that's all I've got time to write cause I need to get back to the apartment.

But this week was way fun, and way busy, but it was awesome! Thanks so much for all of your prayers, and I'm praying for all of you too! 
Love you lots! 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 8, 2014

Hey everybody! So I didn't have time to record a message this morning so it's going to be an email one today! But I hope all of your weeks were great and since mine was pretty interesting this week, it'll hopefully be a good email! ;)

So Monday: Today we went to Seminary at 6 at the church! There's only one young man who goes, so we try to go on P-days to help out and support that whole thing. Then we ran to the beach again which was way fun! After we showered and got ready for the day, we went to email which was good, and then shopping. We didn't really have a ton of super cool stuff happen, but it wasn't too bad! ;)

Tuesday: Today was the First DTM (District Training Meeting) of the transfer and we had a ton of fun! Here in Hakodate a bunch of the members come to DTM to help out so that is way cool! Then we went to a place called Lucky Pierro(clown) for lunch which is very well known among missionaries so that was fun! We then met with a few investigators so that was good as well! They are pretty cool people so it's fun to teach them and get to know them better.

Wednesday: Today was a day where we focused on some NA's. We started with this NA who hasn't been to church for a long time, but she can't hear very well, and does sign language which is interesting. But we talked with her for a while and invited her to some church activities. Then we had a Mogi lesson(practice) with another NA who is usually super busy with work, but Wednesday is his day off so we were able to meet with him. He's 22 and is way cool so we're hoping he can start coming back to church! Then we went to a member's house to teach a recent convert his AB(after baptism) lessons which went well! He's pretty old, but he understood it all and showed that he really is learning a lot from the church. He also studies Hebrew so that's pretty interesting!

Thursday: Today we had DKK (companion planning meeting) which went well and we got a ton figured out. Then we went to play basketball with some investigators and the other missionaries, and wouldn't you know, I fractured my pinky before we even started it. But, I thought it was just a jammed finger so we played anyway. But it turned out really fun, and it was nice to get to play basketball again. Then we went to the church for the YSA Family Home Evening at the church which was fun! 

Friday: So today we had some good lessons with Investigators so that was great! We started off with going with a member to an investigator who we think is interested, but not super focused... ;) but that was interesting, and then we ran to another investigator who is a really funny guy! He loves English and is super nice to us by buying us a bunch of food, and giving us drinks and stuff to take home as well. Then we went to Eikaiwa which went well! Eikaiwa is always fun, so we had that, and then talked to people, and since I still thought it was just a jammed finger, I asked a few members who came whether I should go to the hospital or not, and they said I should just in case, so I decided to go tomorrow!

Saturday: Today I went to the hospital to get my finger and back checked out. They said my back was just tired, but no major problems so that was good. They also took x-rays of my finger and found that a small piece of bone had fractured off of my little finger on my right hand. So they gave me some medicine and a splint to get it healed up. Then we went and housed for a little while, and then we had a lesson with JJ san who has a smoking problem, but we were able to make a ton of progress with him so that was great! Then we had Ping-Pong for about 30 minutes, but I couldn't play cause of my finger, and then we had to run to go to a member's friend's house to try to get permission to continue the lessons, which we got, which was good.

Sunday: Today was church and I had to answer about my pinky a ton of times, but I appreciated the care everyone showed me. But church was good and I learned a bunch. Fast Sundays always just seem so great! Then We went to go say sorry to a member cause of a little misunderstanding that happened about us visiting and she forgave us and everything worked out just fine. Then we went to visit a few different investigators and an NA who is fluent in English and it all just turned out to be a good Sunday!

So that was the week.  It had a few great things.  The pinky wasn't the most fun thing, but they said that it was in a good position and should heal quick and so I'm praying for that. But I love you all, hope you have a great week, and I'll talk to you soon!

Elder Bickel

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cherry Blossoms May 2014

Cherry Blossoms - May 2014

August 25, 2014

Hey everybody! I hope your week went well! Mine was a little crazy!

So this week we had transfers and I didn't really think I'd transfer cause I was only in Shibetsu for one, but then I got my call to go to Hakodate with K Choro. K Choro is a highly muscled Australian Elder who is 18 and came out about 6 months ago! He has a super good Tenor voice and could win American Idol. But we're having a lot of fun and are excited to work this transfer.

But a little rundown of the week, since I didn't have time to make a recording this morning since we're on so early.

Monday: Today we went to Hillside Box for dinner to meet with an investigator(the owner) and an NA who is her friend. So that was really fun to talk to them and we had some good food for dinner!

Tuesday: Today's when we got Transfer calls and it was surprising but I'm super excited to be working here in Hakodate. Tonight we also got to visit a member and I got to say goodbye which was nice! They are such a cute family and the Dad is a recent convert, and they have two cute boys!

Wednesday: Well today I did some packing and we traveled to Asahikawa to go to the Suehiro apartment so we could travel to the Transfer spot tomorrow. We had a fun night talking since it is going to be the last time the 4 of us were together.

Thursday: Well we took the 3 hour bus ride to Sapporo and met everyone at the transfer spot which was fun! I saw a bunch of friends and it turns out that W Choro is Recorder! I was surprised, but I'm sure he'll do amazing! Then we went to lunch with this member who wanted to introduce us to her friend, and it was fun, but it took a long time so then we had to take a later train. When we did that, we ended up getting home at about 9 since it's about a 3 hour train ride to get to Hakodate which is a beach town/city and is a super touristy place so that's kinda fun! 

Friday: Today we had DKK where I heard all about the investigators we have and we figured out how we wanted to work this transfer! Then we had Eikaiwa which went well, and there are a ton of fun students here! 

Saturday: Today we went and visited a potential investigator who said he'd met missionaries like 20 years ago and he enjoyed talking with us for quite a while! We also had Ping Pong! It's been forever since I've played Ping pong, but they do it every week on Saturdays so I got to come to that which was fun! We also got to teach our investigator a lesson afterwards! He loves Star Wars so that's kinda funny. :)

Sunday: Today was church, and the members here are super nice! They also are super helpful with Dendo so I'm excited to work together with them to see some miracles! Then we had a Team up lesson with a member and investigator which went well. After that we went home teaching with a member, but sadly the people we were visiting weren't home. We also got to go to a Fireworks show with an investigator and we met another NA there who is super cool! So that was fun! 

But Ya! Crazy busy week right? But it's been super fun! I love you all, you're in my prayers!
Love you!

Elder Bickel

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 4, 2014

Stephen has just been sending us recordings every week so it's been awhile since he has written a letter.  He was in Eniwa for 2 transfers with two different companions (both Americans) and then in July he was transferred up to Shibetsu to be with another Japanese companion.  He has really enjoyed all of his areas and all of his companions.

Here is his letter for the week….

So this week I didn't have time to do a recording, but I'm going to just type it! This week went well!

Monday: The highlight of today was probably that I had rootbeer floats! We had a Zone P-day activity in Asahikawa where we played games and had rootbeer floats for refreshments which is crazy cause rootbeer is rare here in Japan!

Tuesday: We had our Zone Conference today and had interviews with Nakatsuka Kaicho which was super cool! Nakatsuka kaicho is a super smart, super loving, awesome guy and he gave me a bunch of advice for working here in Shibetsu which he said would also help me throughout my life!  So that was great!

Wednesday: Well today we were supposed to have Eikaiwa, but there weren't enough people so we had to cancel it, but we were able to introduce an investigator to the Free Family English Program and she said she was interested in our church and wants to do it. So that was a major miracle. Also we were able to plan for our Dendo Fireside which we'll be doing on Sunday!

Thursday: So sadly my back's been hurting pretty bad lately, so I decided to use our couch like a bed and sleep on that instead which is actually helping! You really learn to appreciate it when you can bend over and not feel pain in your back! ;) haha

Friday: We went to a ward member's house today, and he likes rubik's cubes and actually has a mirror cube which is not very common, and I was able to do it which was fun! We've been working to get to know all the members and help them all unify so it's been interesting to get to know so many new people so well!

Saturday: We were able to finally meet with the Stake President who is super cool, and super smart! He gave us some tips for working in Shibetsu in particular as well as some things he wants done so we've got some great direction!

Sunday: We had the Dendo fireside which went well! Sadly not all the members came, but we'll be visiting them and sharing the same message. The main theme was PMG and using it as members. If you read PMG and think of what your role in missionary work is, including strengthening the ward, you'll be blessed a ton! It's kinda hard to study, but if you pray and ask for help, miracles will occur!

Well that was the highlights from the week! I hope you enjoyed it, and I love you all so much!  Also thanks Mom and everybody for the package! It was fun to get it! Love you all! have a great week, and know you're in my prayers!

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 12, 2014

So last week on P-day, we got a Baptisimal Date! He is in the Japanese Military so he's super busy and can't actually give us his number, but he's way cool! He thinks really deeply about stuff so it's cool!
Tuesday we had another great DTM by K 長老 so that was good! He talked about How to Begin Teaching from PMG and it was really good! We also had Eikaiwa, and the other two elders were in Muroan so they couldn't come, but C 長老 and I had a lot of fun with it so it turned out well!
Other than that we've been having a ton of fun talking, finding amazing people to teach (sadly one is female so we'll have to pass her to the Sisters, but she has a ton of interest so it's cool to teach her! We had a good dinner with a member where we heard about her conversion story and we've been doing some good service for members as well, so it's been a good fun week!
I loved talking to everybody yesterday and I love you all so much! I am going to be finishing my 300th day on my mission this week, and I can't believe how fast it's all going! Life is fast, but a mission is a small fraction of a life so it's even faster. It's crazy to me that a year ago I was worried about school and graduation and just wanting to get out. And now not even a year after starting, I'm out talking to people in another language telling them that I want to share a message that will change their lives forever. Crazy how fast time flies...
But I love you all, And I hope your weeks go well! You're all in my thoughts and prayers! I'm kinda out of time, so I'll add some more details with a recording next week!

Elder Bickel

From his phone call…

They hardly had any investigators when he first got there, but they have been doing a lot of "housing" (going door to door) and have found lots of great people to teach.  His investigator from his last area is being baptized on June 8th so he's really happy about that. 

May 5, 2014

Hey everybody! 

Things have been going well here and we've been having a ton of fun and seeing some cool things happen! I did a voice recording this week with all of it in detail, but the computer is being weird today so I wasn't able to send it. I'm going to see if it'll go one more time, but I will probably have to send it next week. Suffice to say, things are going great, and I'm loving the work and the people! Language is coming well too so that's always nice! ;) 

Love you all lots, and I hope you all have a great week, and I'll try to get the two weeks to you next week! Talk to you soon! (like really soon. Mother's day in fact...) ;)

Elder Bickel

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April 28 ,2014

Stephen has been sending a recording to us the last couple of weeks, so I thought I'd give a little update on him...

Last week,  he was thinking that his area in Asahikawa was going to go from a two man apartment to a four man apartment, but unfortunately he was transferred  to Eniwa, which is about 20 minutes south of Sapporo.  He was made senior companion and his companion was made a senior as well so he is co-seniors with an elder who came into the mission at the same time that he did.  He says his companion is awesome and they are really having a great time.  He was sad to leave the members and investigators from Asahikawa.  They had some investigators that were really progressing well, but he says they have some great investigators they are working with in his new area. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014

Well hey everybody! So transfers are this week and a sister in our district is going home so we have yet another district activity so my email time is sadly cut short. I also can't even send a voice recording cause we're at the other place to save time again... I guess life never really does slow down does it... But like we heard in Conference, the burden is what gives us traction! I really loved conference and we got one investigator to watch it in his house, one to come to two sessions, and one of them actually showed up unexpectedly! Man this work is awesome!

We've been riding bikes a lot lately and my legs are getting ripped again so Dad you better be ready to go on some good long bike rides when I get back! ;) It's warming up a bit, and though there is still snow, there isn't any on the roads so it's become safe again. 

Sadly since transfers are coming, and 10 new missionaries are coming, Y Choro and I will probably be split up which is super sad, but I guess it's the Lord working and this one transfer was meant to be short and sweet. 

It turns out that most of the members up here who actually remember Dad are in the Asahikawa 1st ward so I don't actually see them unless there's some special stake event(general conference) so it's always fun to hear about them and see how happy they are to see me. 

Well time's short so sadly I have to leave it at that again, but hopefully next week I'll have more time to send a good email home. I love you all and I'll talk to you soon!


Elder Bickel

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

Hey everybody!

My week went well this week!

Investigators: This week we got a few new investigators who are super
strong! One of them is Catholic, and went to a super smart college,
but he is listening to us and each time we come he says he feels the
spirit come in with us! It's so nice to not have to explain the
spirit, as well as he is super receptive to all that we've been
teaching. He is definitely prepared! We also found another
investigator who loves America, English, and Christ as it turns out.
She too has been very receptive and we can't wait to get strong
baptisimal dates set for each of them!

Fun things: Well this week we got our bikes back (Sat.) and so we
tried to ride them yesterday. Yes there was still snow... Yes it was
very dangerous, but I ended up being fine and just got some huge
adrenaline rushes! Super fun, but a little nerveracking. And yes,
we're riding them again today as well! But we're just having such a
fun time lately, and are sad that the transfer's going to end soon...

Food: We've had the usual missionary meals, as well as once in a while
we go to this grocery store nearby, and at night, so like around 8:20
the sushi and other bentos go down to half price so we've done that as
well! I had some inarizushi as well as a katsudon bento that I got for
3 bucks! Pretty good when it's usually about 7 or 8... ;)

Love you all lots, and hopefully next week, we'll be able to send
recordings as well as pictures! Talk to you soon!

Elder Bickel

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 31, 2014

So this week we had a few disappointments with investigators. One is deciding between staying Buddhist or becoming a member and apparently it's about half and half right now... Also his wife won't give him permission to be baptized which is a problem... But he's still progressing and does want to become a member so I'm excited to see that full change take place in him and his family.
On the good side, we found this lady yesterday who loves english and america and Christ! She told us that quite a few times and ended up saying that she's coming to Church on Sunday when she had been planning to be baptized in another church that day... The Lord is absolutely amazing! We talked to her for a while and she said that she would love to hear our message and learn more english. She's definitely one of those prepared people for us to teach!
We've been eating a lot of meat lately... Probably not good, but we had a All you can eat Yakiniku, so like beef and meat just cooked in front of you, as well as we had those nasty hamburgers with 5 patties and 5 pieces of cheese on them. I thought it'd be better the second time... Ya it wasn't. But I guess it is a good object lesson I can use about sin. It is terrible the first time, but you didn't know so you can just stop doing it. The second time though you just feel stupid for trying it again...
Ok maybe the Object lesson needs some work, but I'm making this stuff up on the spot... ;)
So funny thing of the week... So it started last week but happened again this week so I figured I had to tell Dad! So we were walking in this part of our area and these high school kids walked by and said I looked like Tom Cruise. At the time I thought, oh ya right. That's just once. But then it happened again this week, so I figured if Dad's Johnny Depp, I'd gladly take Tom Cruise and I might as well let him know what a stylish, cool looking son he's got serving a mission in Japan... ;) haha sorry Dad, tough luck... ;)
Love you all lots! Hope the week's going well, and I'll send the two week's recordings next week!

Elder Bickel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 24, 2014

Hey Everyone!

So this week not much exciting or fun happened so it'll probably be a little shorter than usual, but more interesting than hearing about me waking up and studying ;):

Monday: Today we actually went to the Asahiyama Zoo which is the most famous zoo in Hokkaido. It was actually a lot like an American Zoo... Except all of the animals were sleeping so it was a little disappointing, but we did get to see a hippo run back and forth right in front of us, as well as watch penguins walk past us. We also went to a restuarant for lunch which had all you can eat curry, so I definitely took advantage of that one! ;)
Tuesday: We were asked to come to a funeral today. We went to a lady's funeral who was in the ward, but since she was old, she wasn't able to come to church really... But it was a church style funeral, so no new customs I got to witness, but I did get to help mourn with those that mourn, and I thought a lot about life and the meaning of our message with the plan of salvation.
Wednesday: Ya we'll just skip Wednesday.
Thursday: Ya Thursday too. They were just a lot of finding. We did find some cool people, and if they become investigators I'll tell you about them.
Friday: Today we had Eikaiwa which was fun. I've really gotten to be friends with the Advanced class members and they seem to like me a lot. We talked about goals and dreams so that was kinda fun cause we talked about what dreams they had when they were young, and what dreams they still have. Then they asked about my dreams and found out that I want to ballroom dance on the BYU ballroom dance team and seemed to think that that was super super cool... Who knew Japanese people liked Ballroom dancing so much. My companions have all said that it's not really big here, so I figured it wouldn't be that exciting... ;)
Saturday: Today was a little interesting. We talked to two different investigators but both of them have studied religions and stuff for a long time and their intent was basically to weaken our faith in the gospel, but through talking with them, I realized how strong my faith really was. It reminded me of the '' When there is the most resistance, there is the most growth'' quote. Very interesting...
Sunday: Today was good. We talked to an investigator who is really into Yoga and like different Power Spots but is listening to the gospel. It is funny to talk to him cause he's trying to get us to do Yoga and stuff, but since we're missionaries we can't and we tell him, but everytime he does the exact same thing... But really good guy!
Love you all, sorry for the shorter email this week, but I hope your week went well!

Elder Bickel

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

Hey everybody! 

The Asahikawa music night was this past Saturday, and it went very well! I learned a song this past week so I could be one of the 5 missionaries singing it, and I got it well enough to make it seem like I knew what I was doing. I also had a duet on Nearer My God to Thee in Japanese and I actually hit some relatively high notes. Katherine would be laughing at how low they are, but for a low bass they were definitely a stretch. But it's finally over so that stress will be gone and I'll be able to get back to focusing on dendo!
We had a really good Zone Training Meeting on Saturday before the Music Night. Because of both of those things we didn't get to dendo at all, but we learned a lot about Unity and Baptisimal invites by the ZL's, AP's, and the STL's (Sister Training Leaders), so that was way good. They talked a lot about loving your companion and trying to teach half and half which is hard for an American speaking a foreign language when they're with a Japanese person, but I'm working hard and we're seeing success from going more 50% each.
Investigators. Right now we actually have a super strong investigator. He is in the Japanese Special Forces (JTAI) but he is super interested and has a strong desire to be baptized. He's only been to Church once, but he actually asked us today if he could be baptized this coming week. Sadly we had to tell him no, but he's willing to keep on working to get baptized soon! He is actually fluent in English and wants to become a professional English speaker and is now trying to change his job because he feels like it is the right thing to do and it'll make it easier for him to be a member of the church. He's absolutely amazing!
Today we went to the Asahiyama Zoo, which was fun! It turns out that Japan's zoo's are very similar (exactly the same) as American zoo's except everything's written in Japanese ;)  We're working hard lately to find a lot of prepared people and it's been going well! We want to keep on finding more prepared people, but really want to focus on one's who have that desire to be baptized!
My companion is even cooler than I thought last week! He is fluent in English but since I've had companions who weren't and we always talked in Japanese, we still just talk in Japanese. Except for in busses. We're hoping that speaking in English in busses will turn into a missionary opportunity. But he's teaching me a ton of how to dendo better and is really helping me with my Japanese since he can explain the harder stuff in English!
So that's the basics of the cool things that have been happening this week! Love you all lots! 

Elder Bickel

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 10, 2014

Stephen has been sending recordings each week instead of letters.  He just got another Japanese companion, who he really likes, and he loves the area he is in now. It was Jeff's favorite area when he served in that mission.  Stephen really enjoyed meeting a family who remembered Jeff.  When they saw him they said he looked just like his dad.   The family was baptized just before Jeff was assigned to that area, and he got really close to them in the five months he worked there. 

Stephen wrote a little bit about this weeks miracles….

So while we were streeting we found a really cool guy who stopped and listened to us and talked to us for about 30 minutes during a crazy snow storm. Also while we were housing, we kept on getting the door slammed in our faces without even being able to say the name of the church or our own names. But then we knocked on this last door, and a young guy opens up the door, and he starts talking to us. We talked to him for about 45 minutes, taught him about what we do and teach, and gave him a Book of Mormon saying if you read this you can know this church is true. Right now he's listening to a bunch of different churches, but he said he'd read the Book of Mormon and set up a time to meet again. So cool!

Also we got a baptisimal date with one of our investigators!  The Spirit was so strong in the lesson, and he actually told us that he was considering changing his job from J-TAI to being an English translator. He said he still wasn't sure if it was what he was supposed to do, but he said that he felt like the environment wasn't the type of place he wants to be because the higher rankers want to drink with the lower ranks to create bonds and he doesn't want to drink anymore, so it was really cool. In the same lesson we talked about how miracles still happen in our day and that we can see them everyday. He then asked if through this church and learning about the church, if he could see miracles, and when I told him that he could, the spirit flooded the room and it was really neat!

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

Hey everybody! This week went way well! It was also Transfers so that was kinda cool...

Monday: Today we didn't have music practice! But we still went to Sapporo to email and talk to people at Honbu (mission home)... We also went to another famous Ramen place in Sapporo so that was kinda fun too! We then went home, and had dinner with the ZL's and a member at the way good Kabob place! But other than that it was a pretty normal day...

Tuesday: Today we got Transfer calls! If you haven't heard, I'm going to Asahikawa and will be serving in the 2nd ward! The area is so big they split it into two, and there is a ward in each with a lot of active members which is great! My companion is F Choro, a native Japanese Elder and he is super awesome! It is a two man appartment though so that'll be a bit of a change for me... ;) Then we went and said goodbye to a few investigators and members and then had Eikaiwa (English class) which was super fun! Then I packed for a bunch of time tonight!

Wednesday: So today was more packing, visiting more members and investigators and more packing! One of our investigators actually gave me a little bye bye present that was a Koi(the type of fish) sweatshirt that is super cool! I'll try to remember to send a picture! ;) But ya today was a lot of packing...

Thursday: Today was transfer day as well as music practice and we were supposed to have all of our music memorized! Well I definitely got close for a few of the songs... ;) In my defense though, I have 5 to memorize, they are in a different language, and I have no time to do it! My solo is memorized though so that was a relief. I didn't say it was good, but it's memorized... ;) Then we took the 3 hour bus ride to Asahikawa and I'm very excited for this transfer!

Friday: Today was pretty good! We had DKK (Companionship Meeting) where I found out about our investigators, we planned for the week, and set goals for the Transfer! We also had Eikaiwa, so my 2nd time this week, and went home and did the usual. The Asahikawa Eikaiwa has some really good English speakers! It was kinda fun to hear English a little more than Japanese at Eikaiwa... ;)

Saturday: Great day again! We went to an appointment with a team up which happened to be the Stake President! The appointment fell through, but we went with him to visit some non attending members. Then we went to this street called Kaimono Koen which is basically a bunch of shops and we tried to street there. It was a pretty fun day! 

Sunday: So today I had to give a little self-intro as well as a little talk in Sacrament meeting, and it just so happens, that even after being Darcy in front of a bunch of people, I still have stage fright! Who would've guessed? ;) I wrote down a bullet point list of what I wanted to say and really thought it out hard, and then I got up there to speak and it was all gone. I got out a small portion of what I wanted to say, and pretended that I just didn't know enough Japanese, and went back to my seat. ;) Then we had a Takoyaki party with the Young Single Adults after Church which was fun, and had an appointment with a really cool investigator with the Dendo Shunin(ward mission leader) who is going on his mission to Kobe in March! Fun stuff!

Well my week went well, I hope all of your's did too! Talk to you soon! Love you lots! You're in my prayers!

Elder Bickel