こんにちわ！ Hey, everybody! How are you doing in your various locations? I am doing quite well here in Miyakonojo, Japan! I can hardly believe that it is already June! I have already been in Japan for about 2 1/2 months! By the end of July I will be 1/4 of the way through my mission. Where did the time go?
This week has been wonderful! I continue to learn so much from Elder Jensen; he is a superb missionary! We get along very well. We taught Kuzuguchi san again with Shinko shimai this week, and it was very good. Again, Shinko shimai taught pretty much everything that needed to be taught that day. We had been planning on focusing more on the Plan of Salvation, but the lesson moved more toward baptism again. We have invited Kuzuguchi san to pray about a specific date, but she has some fears about being baptized. It was great to have Shinko shimai there as she shared her conversion experience. One of Kuzuguchi san’s fears is of being the first in her family to receive baptism and that her family’s view of her might change because of that. However, Shinko shimai shared her experience (since she was the first in her family to be baptized) and testified of the good influence and example that Kuzuguchi san could be by being baptized. We invited her again to pray about that baptismal date, and will follow-up again in the next lesson. She is so close! She has already read the Book of Mormon multiple times, and was actually sharing some of her favorite verses during the lesson. Kuzuguchi san is great!
Unfortunately we were unable to have a lesson with Kawauchi san this past week. However, we will return again this week! She was not able to make it to church yesterday since her friend, Tabaru san, was climbing mountains again. We are also working on finding somebody else that can provide transportation whenever Tabaru san is off doing her crazy grandma rock climbing. (She is extremely athletic for a 70-something-year-old. I hope I’m still that mobile when I reach her age.) However, they were able to come to sacrament meeting the previous week, which was great! We continue to progress slowly with Kawauchi san, but that’s alright. At least she is progressing!
We also had a lesson with both "Alex" (Araki kun) and Taira kun at the church. Initially it was only going to be with Alex, but Taira also showed up, which was great! They are both daigakusei and live in apartment buildings right next to each other, so they seem to be fairly good friends. Alex is currently "Happy Science", a fairly new religion in Japan. We asked him about the teachings of Happy Science in a previous lesson, and from what we understood it seems to be a religion that is searching for truth. Their beliefs are that "true" religion can be found in the teachings of all religions combined, and that through earnest searching one might find that truth, and therefore they encourage their followers to study other religions. It is very interesting (and technically true, since we know that true religion is on the Earth and can be discovered through earnest study). Right now his interest in learning about the church seems to stem primarily from that encouragement to study other religions, and not necessarily from a desire to know whether it is true. However, I am certain that he can begin to feel that desire in his heart and truly want to know whether this is true.
Taira seems to be fairly interested right now. He has received most of the lessons, whereas Alex has received only a few, so Taira is a little farther along in the learning process. He actually volunteered to give the opening prayer in our lesson, which was great! Alex also said the closing prayer, which was also very good. We have a volleyball activity every Monday that Taira usually comes to, and when called upon he is not reticent about praying there, as well. Currently we are working hard on helping him come to sacrament meeting on Sunday.
Congratulations on getting your visa, Elder Kyle! I am certain you will love Brazil! Take advantage of American food while you have it. 🙂 That is currently the one thing that has surprised me the most about being in Japan, is how much I miss American food! That isn’t to say that I do not like Japanese/Asian food (I still love rice!) but sometimes a really good American pizza, hamburger, or whatever would be really nice. We try sometimes to find something that is more American, but it always has something that is just off. For example, Elder Jensen and I just bought some pizzas from a grocery store called Trial, which definitely has the best value; pizzas from the main chains usually cost about $20 for a small and around $40 for a large, which is around 30 to 36 cm. However, Trial’s pizzas are about $8 for a 32 cm pizza! It’s great! However, back to the example: Nihonjin (Japanese) do not seem to be able to make a pizza without putting corn on it! I like corn, but it is simply strange that they put corn on every pizza. We have not yet found one without it. Also, they apparently really like mayonnaise, because our pizzas also have mayo on them. However, they are still quite delightful. They actually have crust! The last pizzas we bought were extremely thin – the crust was more like very thin crackers. Nihonjin also do not seem to know how to make proper cheese. They only really have one type of cheese in the grocery stores (and it’s all pre-shredded bagged cheese; no blocks). It is some kind of white cheese that is very difficult to cook with and seemingly impossible to melt properly, so we hardly ever cook with cheese. Japanese food is wonderful! I love it! They just need help in some areas. I am sure that Brazilian food is wonderful, and I do not know what it is like compared to American food; so take advantage of your American food now!
Speaking of American foods: Mom, I received my package this week.Thank you very much! I have already enjoyed some of the peanut butter; it is wonderfully American! I will be looking forward to my Christmas package, and will be rationing my peanut butter. We’ll see how long it lasts! 🙂
I continue to pray for Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz. It was nice to see that Mom, Dad, Jon, Tami, and Carolyn were all able to be there.
I know that this is the Lord’s work, and I love it!
I love you all! Have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a fantastic year! Those of you in parts of the world that have good cheese, give thanks by consuming your delectable cheese (I am sure that David will not object).
p.s. Here are some lovely pictures:
This is Elder Nara (Elder Smith’s companion). He is crazy. He is fun. He likes very, very, very, very, very, …, very spicy food, which we often experience totsu zen (suddenly) in our foods. He is not your typical Nihonjin:
That’s all, folks! We’ll see what next week brings!