ライアン、 誕生日おめでとう! (Happy Birthday, Ryan!)

こんにちは! How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 清水、日本 (Shimizu, Japan)!

This week has been fabulous! I mentioned in my last email that we were going to be having a Thankgiving dinner with some of our investigators, ward members, and other friends that evening. We did, and it turned out quite well! Everybody seemed to have a great time. Everybody drew "hand turkeys" and wrote some of the things they were grateful for; some of the hand turkey drawings were quite impressive. Our Vietnamese investigator, An, and some of here friends came, as well as two of our other investigators, Daichi and Kenta. The Vietnamese may not have understood much of what people were saying most of the time, but they seemed to have an enjoyable time. One of the miracles of the evening is that we were able to make gravy! Yay!!! After I cooked my stuffed chicken (which turned out rather well, considering I have never made stuffing before and just kind of threw it together hoping it would turn out well; it did), Elder Braswell used the few drippings that were left in the pan to make some nice gravy. So, we had stuffed chicken; a few other types of chicken (made by Elder Gonzalez; they were quite good); potatoes (made by Sister Clements, who is from Idaho); gravy, salad (both made by Elder Braswell); and for dessert we had brownies (cooked and provided by a member) and New York cheesecake (provided by another member who shops at Costco in Fukuoka)! After dinner we did a simple reenactment of the story behind the first Thanksgiving, which was fun and entertaining, and then taught everybody some simple Thanksgiving-related English words and phrases (i.e. "I’m thankful for…", "I’m stuffed!", and "Yummy!"). All in all, it turned out rather well. Everybody loved the food and activities. It was a great success!

Before I forget, apparently next Monday everybody in the mission is going to be going to a "special training" in Fukuoka, in which a "special person" (apparently Brother Heaton, one of the counselors in the Missionary Department, who will be picking up his daughter as she is ending her mission [who is also in our district]). Many of the missionaries are wondering whether we will receive iPads at this special training, but I have determined not to get my hopes up, so that if we do it will be a nice surprise, but if we do not then it will not be a disappointment. It is interesting how my outlook on using technology as a missionary has changed throughout my mission. While there would certainly drawbacks in providing not-so-good missionaries with personal technology, for those who are obedient to mission rules (which is the majority) technology would be a great asset. There are so many situations where it would be a great boon to the work, especially since the Church audio/visual department has become so good at making outstanding videos. My younger brother mentioned this week the new Christmas video that the Church recently released, and it would be very useful to be able to share that with people on the street, particularly in a country like Japan where everybody knows about and many people celebrate Christmas (by decorating and doing things that they think Americans do for Christmas, like going to KFC and eating fried chicken – I still don’t know where that comes from) but do not necessarily know the meaning behind the season. Also, there have been a few situations recently where we have wanted to share a video for a lesson, but it did not work properly and we could not share it. However, one of the most useful things would be the ability to have our area book with us wherever we go, and be able to update it on-the-go right after a lesson, while it is fresh in our minds, instead of having to wait until we get home at night and fill everything out on paper. Those are just a few of the many things that technology can do for missionary work. It really is very useful, and can be very powerful when used properly and appropriately.

However, I digress. My purpose in mentioning that meeting next Monday is that because of it I will most likely be emailing on Tuesday instead, so don’t worry if you do not receive an email from me next Monday.

Well, many other great things happened this week which I would like to share, but I have not the time. Today we receive our transfer calls (already?!), so we will see next week where I have ended up (I will most likely remain here, but you never really know)!

I love you all, and hope that you all have a great day, a wonderful week, and a super year!

Love,

マドセン 長老
Elder Madsen

p.s. Yes, Mom, the volcano that erupted is the one that we went to a couple weeks ago. It was smoking a bit when we went there, which is why we weren’t able to get up close when we visited it. We are fine, though. There was just a very, very fine dusting of ash on our bikes when we went out to work that day, but no worries.

p.p.s. Mom, I do not yet know whether I will by doing skyping/google hangouting or calling on the phone for Christmas. If we get iPads, then it will most likely be the former. If not, then it will probably be the latter, although we might be able to use the computers at the Stake Center. We will see, and I will let you know as soon as possible!

p.p.p.s. Thank you for the pictures! I will continue to pray for Tanasha’s baby.

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