Friday, December 30, 2016

Week 21: December 26, 2016 - Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

It's great to be out here in Japan for the Christmas season. Even
though it doesn't have the bells and whistles of American Christmas
celebration, it was a way peaceful, and really helped me focus on the
true meaning of the season. I was away from family, which is sad, but
going around Christmas night, talking to other people that were out
without their families, brightening their nights, it really helped me
think about the joy of the season. For unto us a Savior was born, and
because of Him, all man can find joy!

That was really the highlight of my week, going around with Elder
Osborne and Elder Harris and just being happy, just getting to know
people. Most people around town were way down to just talk about
Christmas, to discuss the true meaning, the method behind the crazy
celebration. And some people were just good people, ready to talk
about anything. It ties perfectly in with a challenge the mission got
from Sister Egan, which is to focus on family history. Now that
Christmas is past, we can really focus on talking to people for the
sake of knowing them, learning about their ancestors, and becoming
their friend. It's that friendship at the center of the Gospel, and
the center of the Christmas season as well.

And on that note come my two favorite experiences from the last week.
First, Wednesday, I got to bake cookies with Elder Harris and Sayaka,
one of our investigators. I don't speak Japanese, Elder Harris doesn't
speak Japanese, and she doesn't speak English, but it was a blast. And
we got to see her not just as a person we talk to, but as a friend, a
girl with interests and personality, while at the same time conveying
the fact that missionaries aren't robots, they are people too. We have
interests and personalities just like anyone else, and to work on
sharing them is just really fun.

The second thing from this week, and last for the email, was being
Santa. Apparently my eyebrows go really well with the costume, because
I got to be Santa four times this winter. But every time was a blast.
To be able to walk to a park, party, or house, and see kids be filled
with joy is unmatchable. The best ones were Christmas Eve, when we
went door to door with Sister Imai to her friends, delivering cookies.
We'd knock, and hear someone say "It's Santa!" and run to the door,
and then we could give cookies and share the holiday cheer. It was fun
to just be genuinely good and bright, and to make the night of those
little kids.

Thankfully, we didn't get any more snow, or much chaos weather wise
out here. I hope everyone was nice and warm for the holidays! For
those on break, enjoy it, you've worked hard the past year for it.
Until next week!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Screenshot from our family skype with Mitch on Christmas evening

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 20: December 19, 2016 - It's Beginning to Feel Like Christmas!

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all staying warm! I think I mentioned it last week, but
it's getting cold out here. As a gift for the new transfer, we got
snow on Friday! Elder Osborne was enthusiastic, after both living in
Arizona for most his life, and transferring up from the frigid island
of Okinawa
. We've already made plans to go get him some proper winter
gear ASAP, to keep him warm and running. The best part is that all the
members said that this was an especially early snowfall, and it came
just in time for him. What a gift from nature, and what a beautiful
sight it was.

But the winter weather isn't the only crazy thing. As mentioned, we
had transfers, and now that Elder Welch is back home with his family
and Elder Gatherum in Saijo, I get to work with Elder Osborne! He's
been out in the field for a little over a year, so he has mission
experience, and he is an all around good guy. We actually haven't had
much time together yet, because Elder Rowe has been doing some zone
leader training with him, but I look forward to the next 8 (maybe 14?)
weeks with him.

While Elder's Rowe and Osborne have been out doing trainings together,
I've been able to go with Elder Harris, Elder Rowe's new companion,
and a new missionary to Japan! Talk about stress. Here I am, only in
country for about three months, and I'm all of the sudden the person
who knows more Japanese as we teach... But, it's been fun to go out. I
know more than ever that God looks out for us, and when we need to
speak in Japanese, he gives us the words. The gift of tongues is a
real thing, and I am so grateful for it. It's hard, but Elder Harris
and I learn each time we go out that God is watching over us.

The last bit of news for this week is that it's almost Christmas! As
such, we have already been part of two Christmas parties, with two
more planned. They are great chances to go and brighten the day of
other people, by just going and being happy to be there. This is a
season of joy, centered in Christ, but no matter who you are or what
you believe it's a happy time of the year. My challenge going forward
is to channel that joy year round, and love all the people I get the
privilege of talking to as a missionary.

Best wishes for the holiday season!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 19: December 12, 2106 - The End of an Era...

Transfers were Monday December 11 so P-Day was pushed back a day...

Friends and family,

Winter has arrived in Japan! I now fully know why we have
sweaters, coats, gloves, and scarves. What before was simple fashion
is now glorious warmth, and it hasn't even started snowing! But it's
at the same time my favorite weather. We can bundle up as missionaries
and bike through the brisk wind, staying awake and alert, ready to
talk to anyone and everyone. It's cold, but it's a fun time to be out
in the world.

The sad part for me right now is that in two days Elder Welch goes
home, back to Utah. I've only been with him 10 weeks, but it's going
to be way sad not to have him in the mission at all. He was my
trainer, my first companion, and it's from him that I've learned how
to be a missionary in Japan. And he has a strong testimony of the help
Jesus has given to him. Especially in this Christmas season, losing a
friend who personally testifies of the Saviors love in his everyday
actions will be hard. So, the era of Elder Welch dies, and Elder
Woodhouse is left to rise from the ashes.

Thankfully, those ashes are only metaphorical. As far as missionary
work goes, I'm getting left in pretty good shape. We have a couple
stronger investigators that we found in these last few days, and have
plans to meet with them in the coming week. A couple of them are young
families, the Yamamoto and Kagaoka families, and they have the cutest
little kids. Both of them are interested in the new Christmas video,
and the message of light it brings. I love having the chance to teach
about that light daily.

The last thing for this week is a small miracle of that light, and how
often a small thing we do can mean more than we thought. Last Tuesday
Elder Reed and I (Junkai again!) were walking down the street and
talked to a middle aged man. We introduced ourself, and asked if he
needed any help. As it turned out, he had no phone, and needed help
getting around. So we got to spend the next hour and a half walking
around the town with this man, helping him to figure out where he was
going, and just taking with him. It was what we serve in order to do,
to help those who need help, to be a light, but he was just so
appreciative of our help and time. I love being in a position where
that is my duty, and even if he's forgotten us, it means a lot to me
to know that he brightened my day as well, by being willing to walk
around with us.

For this week, the only picture is of Elder Welch and I with Shota,
one of our investigators. He's a great guy, and actually spent part of
our lesson teaching me kanji. Again, being able to go teach and meet
so many great people is a blessing of coming to Japan.

That's all for now, sorry it got a touch long!

Love from Japan,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Week 18: December 4, 2016 - December Already!

Hey everybody!

I realized this week I have now been in Japan for two months! It's
crazy how fast the time has passed. A large part of me feels like it
was just yesterday that I landed in Fukuoka. But then I look back, and
I've been all around, talking to as many people as we can. I wouldn't
say my Japanese is anywhere close to passable, but I've been blessed
with enough to get by so far, and it grows every day. Crazy hard to
learn, but eventually I'm sure it will just flow out as I continue to

My big news from last week was Wednesday, where I was on Junkai with
Elder Gatherum. The way things worked out, we got all the lessons from
both companionships, so we taught Ueda, Murata, and George, all in one
day, almost back to back. It's crazy to have enough people to teach
that we can't even find new investigators, but that was our day. From
that, I also know why missionary work is exhausting. Not only do we
get to bike everywhere, but Teaching can take a lot out of you, when
you put everything you have into it. I was way tired that night.

Our other news was Elder Rowe, the new zone leader, turned 20! In
celebration, I tried to bake a cake/brownie/thing. By tried, I mean
gave it my best, but there might be a reason I wasn't a baker before
my mission. It didn't taste horrible, but... it needed a lot more
sugar. And baking soda. Possibly more eggs. And sprinkles for color.
As a whole, it fell a little flat, but it was fun. I've learned many
times over already that if you don't try something, you can't learn
from it, and if you learn, it wasn't really a permanent mistake. I've
got time left, so we'll see how things turn out in the future.

The church program for this year is also great. I have always loved
the use of light in the scriptures, and it really is the Light of
Christ that we get to share. Big actions, small gestures, and anything
in between all brighten the world. The entire program brings up two
quotes that I think are really appropriate this week, and I'll leave
those to end.

"To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world."
"The smallest glimmer of light drives away darkness. Darkness can
never exist near light"

I know that the light of Christ and the light of goodwill are powerful
tools, and no matter what you do, it won't go unnoticed. As we follow
the guidelines of service, and do our best to share our personal
lights, lives can change and smiles will be found. Good luck to
everyone finishing tests going into the Christmas season. Remember to
have fun!

Love from Yamaguchi,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Week 17: November 28, 2016 - Short Email After Thanksgiving

It hasn't been long since the last email, but it's great to get talk
to everyone again!

Things over the past three days have been just swell! To start with, I
ended up having about the most Japanese Thanksgiving I can think of.
Elder Rowe and I biked out to a place called Stamina, which was
Tabehodai Yakuniku, which means all you can eat meat, where you grill
it in front of you yourself. So I ended up getting pretty full, and
washed it down with melon ice cream. Not quite turkey and pie, but it
was good, and gave us a great meal to be thankful for.

But more important than the food, we also got to go out and teach a
little. Only a little, because we had Zone Training on Friday, and
spent most the day in Ube. But the Lords time is never wasted. In the
time we had, we found an international apartment complex near our
house. All of the people living there are exchange students, most from
Taiwan and China, and they all speak Japanese or English. And, most
amazingly, they all are nice enough to talk to us about our message,
to hear how we have learned for ourselves that through our Savior,
life can improve, it can have meaning. I love teaching, and these
people are all down to learn, so it is a perfect relationship.

The weather here is getting colder, but that's what rain gear and
sweaters are for! I love biking in the brisk evenings, and can't wait
for the first snowfall. It might not be soon, but it will be beautiful
when it comes.

That's really all that's new right now. It's great to hear that
everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Love from Yamaguchi,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week 16: November 23, 2016 - Thanksgiving in Japan

** Preparation Day was moved due to the Thanksgiving holiday so that the missionaries near the military base in Okinawa could eat a tradition US meal with the families on the base.  

To all my lucky friends and family in America,

Enjoy the turkey! As I mentioned last week, Japan doesn't celebrate
thanksgiving in the traditional American sense, probably because it's
a very American holiday. Elder Gatherum and I got lucky last night, as
we had a lesson with George and Brother Sorensen, both of whom are
Americans. As things turn out, Brother Sorensen was a baker 20-30
years back, and he brought a pumpkin pie for the holiday spirit. Even
this far from home, pumpkin pie is still delicious! But besides that,
here in Yamaguchi, we'll be having a nice normal sized meal, but still
with hearts full of gratitude.

And out here in Japan, there is so much to be great fun for. For
starters, the fact that I'm in Japan amazes me every day, and I'm still
getting over it. It's so beautiful, and so joyous to be out here with
a message of joy. And I get to spend my time with Elder Welch, who
guides me through the language and culture. Truest without him I'd be
lost, and I'm glad I have a companion like him. After transfers, I get
to stay with him and Elder Gatherum, and Elder Rowe has moved in
instead of Elder West. The only downside is that I'm now outnumbered
3:1 by people from Utah, but I can tolerate it, and still be glad for
their company.

Even in the chaos of transfer week, we are still blessed with new
people and old friends. Though last week was new for Elder Rowe, and
he needed to plan zone activities with Elder Welch, we found time to
proselyte, and set up new return appointments. And in between that,
some of our English conversation students took us to a way nice
restaurant, just as a gift of appreciation. As I've said, I love being
in Japan, and working daily to share hope and peace. The people are
completely different than what I'm used to, in a language I can't even
pretend to understand, but it feels like home, because love and thanks
are ideas without nations.

I wish everyone a very happy thanksgiving holiday, and hope you all
bundle up. It sounds like the weather is getting colder, but as we
keep smiles on our faces, there can always be warmth inside.

Love from Yamaguchi,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 15: November 14, 2016 - Transfer Week 1: Six Weeks Already!

Hey Everyone!

It's scary how fast time has passed so far. Everyone that I talk to
says that Things only speed up after you finish training, so I'm a bit
worried about where the time will go. At this rate, I'll wake up one
day, know Japanese, and be on a plane out of the country. But for now,
I'm trying to ignore it, and live in the moment.

As some of you mentioned, this week was the first week of transfers
since I have been in the mission. I didn't get any surprising news,
because I will be with Elder Welch to finish training for the next
transfer. Our apartment also lost Elder West, who is going home to
Tokyo on Thursday. In his place we are getting Elder Rowe, who I don't
know, but you will probably hear a lot about him in the near future.
Our other big news is that Elder Gatherum became District
Leader, so we now don't have to travel to Hofu for splits. Sad news,
especially seeing how our last attempt left us stranded on a mountain
at night. But, that's the big news from today, and transfers will
happen again in 4 weeks, to send missionaries home right before

From a people perspective, the past week has been up and down. One of
our investigators, Sei dropped us because she didn't really have any
more interest. It stings, but it's better that she leaves than we
all waste each other's time. There were a few more people that did
that to us at return appointments, which stunk, especially in the rain
that's been falling the past couple days. But, there is always a
bright side, as long as you keep working. For starters, I ran into
some extremely generous people this last week. On two separate
occasions we knocked into people, and the expressed a lack of
interest, which they have every right to do. But before we left, they
had us wait, and brought out chocolate or apples. From their
perspective, we were sharing the joy we full heartedly believe in, and
even though they don't have interest, they can still support us with
food and kind words. More than anything else I've loved how polite,
encouraging, and nice even the people that don't have interest are. It
really makes our day to receive these unexpected gifts.

Also from the past week we met an amazing guy named Oui. This also
came at the end of a hard day, as we were heading home. We had been
planning and praying for lessons, but most people had turned us down
or Kekko'd us. But Oui stopped on the street, and was way down to
listen. And at the end he asked for our phone number (a real
blessing). I can promise that no matter how hard it's been, there is
always light when you do what is right and what you've committed to

Now, for the part you've all been waiting for, the food! Mainly
because I'm still getting used to taking pictures, this is all I have
this week. From Hofu, we went to a place that served Gyudon, or rice
and beef. It's a type of Japanese fast food, and it's normally
reasonably portioned. But, missionaries have discovered the King Size
Challenge! Take a dinner plate, make it a bowl, and fill it, then eat
everything in one sitting. Elder Burgener and I loved it. Elders Hill
and Gatherum, not as much. But, fun times were had!

The weather here is really getting crazy. Days with freezing rain
followed by nice sunny breezes followed by weather too hot for suits.
Can't wait to get to winter, and see the snow over the beautiful
mountains. I'll make sure to get a picture of that once it happens.

Love you all, and I look forward to hearing from everyone's updates as
time goes by. Keep safe and enjoy!

With love from Yamaguchi,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 14: November 7, 2016 - Bike Adventures in Japan

Hey everyone!

Another week in Japan has passed, and I'm not quite sure where it all
went! According to Elder Welch, I should be worried, because it's only
going to get faster from here. But for now, I get to enjoy the ride,
and have fun spreading the gospel in my continuously broken Japanese.

From the past week, we were able to accomplish quite a few things from
a missionary perspective. Elder Welch and I found a few new
investigators, including Miya. We had actually talked to her mom
before, and she (the mother) told us to come back to meet and teach
her son. So when we went back to meet the son, we were a little
surprised to have the door opened by a girl instead! But everything
got sorted out, and we got to teach about Our Loving Father in Heaven,
and Miya asked all types of good questions. Sadly, she is busy a lot,
but we hope to have more time to meet with her in the coming weeks.

The biggest piece of mission news is that Elder Gatherum and Elder
West are having a baptism on Saturday! They have been working with
Murata Shimai for the past while, and she is ready to be baptized this
week. It's a great miracle to see, and to know that there are prepared
people around the world, even in Yamaguchi, Japan.

In non-mission news, I had my first split with Elder Burguner in Hofu
last Thursday. While going to a different city was interesting, the
most adventurous part was trying to bike there the night before. Hour
is about 16km from Yamaguchi, so time wise, it seemed like it should
work. But, what Elder Gatherum and I weren't accounting for it
construction. The path we planned on taking cut through the mountain,
and was just a small bike path. So we get there, already 13-14 km from
Yamaguchi, and start up, only to find that we don't have cell service
(no maps) and there are giant tractors all over the trail. Bravely we
press on, but eventually the trial disappeared, and we had to turn
back home, and take the train the next morning. So in all, it was
maybe 25-30km of biking in a large circle, and we learned that the
maps we have on the iPad could use some updating. But, it was a
learning experience, and as long as you learn, it's worthwhile.

Lastly, this week has two big food items. First, Japan has Indian
food! In Hofu, we went out to eat Indo curry, and I am so glad that
I've had it before. It's great to have a taste of high school back,
and it will probably be eaten again. Secondly, we got persimmons! I
didn't have any idea what they were, but they taste cool, and are a
cheap fruit item at this time of year. So don't worry, even
missionaries eat healthy!

That's all for now, and as always, thanks for your emails, prayers,
and thoughts. Your support means the world to me, each and every one
of you.

Love from Japan,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

P.S. The second picture isn't actually me, but Elder Welch. Just
thought it looked cool though.

To Brad & Garrett -

Thanks for all the music! Here's some pictures of Elder Gatherum (The
Joker) and me with dendo frog! We find these guys all over when we are
lucky, and they are good luck!

Stay すてき (suteki) and learn Japanese, and then we can send secret messages!

Love from your brother!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Oct 25, 2016 - Letter from Japan

We received our first mail from Mitch - and it came with Pokemon cards!

The back of the letter says I just wanted to let you all know how much I love and miss you all.  Have fun in school, and do great things!

Love, Mitch

Week 13 : Oct 31, 2016 - Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!

Fun fact about Halloween in Japan, after Halloween, Christmas is the
next big holiday. So, last Sunday, now that the Halloween party is
done, we got to start thinking about the Christmas party, of which I
might be the only elder that's here right now that is still here after
transfers are said and done. But Halloween is still celebrated in
Japan, perhaps not near as big as in America, but we still got to have
a party at the church. And, I didn't have to be a missionary, but I
borrowed traditional Japanese clothing, and had fun! The other elders
in the apartment we an Egyptian (Elder West), the Joker (Elder
Gatherum), and a Pokémon trainer (Elder Welch). It was fun, and we met
lots of cool people as it went along.

Besides the Halloween Party, Elder West and I also came across a sumo
convention Saturday night. Sadly, the actual matches were not on
P-Day, but it was cool to meet some of wrestlers that were walking
around town. In Japan, sumo is a huge deal, so Yamaguchi also had a
lot of people from around Japan. In the past week, we met quite a few
people from Tokyo, Yokohama, and other towns I don't yet recognize.

I don't have a picture of me in a suit or my bike this week, but I'll
make sure to get one for next week. Hopefully I'll still be in suits,
and not in winter gear. It's starting to get a bit chilly here! I use
the bike every day, biking up and down the streets, and going to and
from appointments. In this area, it really is the preferential way to
move, and I think that even if we had access to cars, which we don't,
we still would be biking just for convince. I'm not really sure how
far we go, but it's far enough that we need bikes for sure.

Most p-days so far have been exploring various Japanese stores around
the area, and looking for suit deals. It's odd, but sometimes the
suits in Japan drop under 100, or even 50 dollars, as Elder Welch has
told me, and so we've stopped in to look at deals on our way home a
couple times. I've even seen a suit, vest, pant combo for $30, but I
don't think I need a new suit this early in my mission. But, that
might be what I spend the money from the Mins on, and time will tell.

I don't really think I need anything, I have a good amount of personal
money left over from what I brought, because all I had to buy was the
bike (no luggage fees!) and I have no plans to burn through it all at
once. I'll send more pictures of me and Japan, I think we might be
going to some traditional gardens this week or next week. But really,
the largest attraction in Yamaguchi is bathhouses and sake, and we
don't do either, so shopping and looking may be the path we take. 

Japan continues to be such a peaceful country to serve in. Our branch
has about 30-40 active members, and they are always willing to go on
joints with us to teach lessons, or give us food. In the past week,
we've received over 10 kilos of rice, bringing our apartment to about
50! I'm learning a bit more on what you can do with rice, but for now,
it's a pretty solid staple for any and every meal. Just cut some
chicken, mix a sauce, pour it on the rice, and you’rer good! We do vary
that a little, some days with pot stickers, and some with okonomyaki
(take everything and fry it in a pancake), so life is good.

Going along with the food are the investigators we have. Teach a
lesson is one of my favorite things so far. For example, we got to
teach a girl named Sei with two of the members on Saturday. Because my
Japanese is primarily Gospel oriented, I can understand parts of what
is going on. But I can testify even without understanding near any of
it, you can still teach in Japanese. It's just amazing to realize that
some people, like Sei, haven't heard any part of this message before.
The simplicity of the gospel, and the basis of our message in joy, as
President Nelson discussed in conference, can be shared in any
language, by any people. I love the chance I have to serve, and the
willingness of people to listen, even for just a few moments on the

Thank you everyone for the updates from your lives! It's great to hear
and see all of you, and to know that you are doing well, wherever in
the world you may be!

Until next week,
Elder Woodhouse

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 12: October 24, 2016 - Blue sky's in Yamaguchi

Hey everyone!

Happy to report that things are going great in Japan. I loved to get a
picture of the yard at home, we don't have many trees that size
around, and we never climb the mountains to see trees. But the trees
we do have are still nice and green, and the weather is absolutely
beautiful for suits. We'll see how long it lasts, because Hokkaido got
their first snowfall last week, and it's only a matter of time for it
to work down to us. On the bright side, according to the locals, that
means typhoon season is over! Here's to good weather for thanksgiving
(even though it's not celebrated)!

In terms of investigators over the past week, we were blessed to meet
a number of new people. I spent half the week working with Elder
Gatherum while Elder Welch was on splits with the district leaders,
and I saw a bunch of new parts of Yamaguchi that I hadn't been too
before. The highlights of the week were Kevin and Amelia, and George.

Kevin and Amelia are a couple with two kids, and they normally come to
English class Friday nights. They love the missionaries, and have met,
through English or otherwise, with more than I could name over the
past years. So, in the spirit of just being kind people, they had us
over for lunch on Wednesday. Amazing! It was my first time eating
udon, and I love it! But besides the food, they are just genuinely
great people. And you might hear me say that a lot, but it's always
true. We got to share a small message after lunch, and they are having
us back again this week, but it's nice to know that good people are
always out there.

On the topic of good people, that's where George comes in. He is an
older gentleman from all over the US and Japan, and luckily for me
speaks English. We first ran into him my first day in Yamaguchi, but
were just able to meet him last week. He is also just one of the
nicest people I've met, and already invited us to talk with him again.
And, if that wasn't enough, he came to church! It makes me very
grateful to be in this area, because Brother Sorenson (from Idaho) is
a member, and a great help for me and George in understanding at

Nothing else crazy happened this week. We had okonomyaki (pictured),
which is a type of fried Japanese meat pancake thing. It's kinda hard
to explain, but it's good food. I love the Japanese culture, and to
daily get to embrace it is amazing.

Hope everyone is doing great at home!

With love,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 11: October 17, 2016 - Yamaguchi: Week 2

Hey everyone,

How are things going? Things out here in Japan are going great, and
can only get better once I learn this language! This Sunday was the
first time that I was able to go to church, because last week was
General Conference. But, conference is in English, and normal church
is not. Suffice it to say that I understood less than I had thought I
would, and I had low expectations going in. But, I did know how to
sing, and when they were praying, so it was still a great meeting, and
even with the language barrier I could feel the Spirit and reverence
of what was being said. Now, I just need to work in the understanding,
but that will come with time.

As I've been here, I've seen that my individual language skills aren't
as important as I'd thought they would be. It's a hard truth taught in
the MTC that it's not us, but the Spirit that converts people, but it
wasn't necessarily something I had seen until now. But even without
knowing much Japanese, I can stop people and start conversations, and
smile as Elder Welch teaches them. Between adding my small parts, I
can just beam joy and genuine honesty, and it will help. Now, of
course, that's not to say that I don't feel a need to learn Japanese,
but just that it's not as important as I thought it would be.

Now on to the fun parts, the food and the kids. For the first time, I
have now been chased by a mob of small children! We were housing in a
younger neighborhood, and about 10 kids come up to us, kinda just
seeing what we were doing. Elder Welch and I talk with them for a
little, and then try to knock on some more doors, but the kids aren't
having any of it. They love seeing two gajin talking in Japanese and
English, and so we walk back to our bikes to move on. But the kids
keep coming! Even after we get on bikes, some of them have bikes, and
they keep coming until we get out of the neighborhood. Not an everyday
experience, but it was pretty hectic. And to cap it off, shortly
thereafter, we street contact a man for Massachusetts who is in town
to teach English. Pretty fun day!

For food, I have now had real sushi! Last Thursday was zone meeting,
and afterwards the entire zone went out (pictured below). It's
amazing! And, different than American rolls. I forgot to get pictures,
but instead of a roll, it's just rice with fish (or octopus, squid,
duck, or nato). I'm glad to get some, and hopefully we go back for
more next meeting! Also in the food category for this week is Nato, or
fermented soybeans. Most people aren't the biggest fan, because of the
snotty texture they can have, but it's dirt cheap for breakfast so...
I tried some! Not the best thing in the world, but if eating nato
means I can drink more melon Fanta and eat more chocolate fries, then
it might be something I go for.

I think that that's the big news from last week, so I'll just describe
he pictures real quick. First is Macdonalds, crazier in Japan than
America (see chocolate Halloween fries). The next two are my
apartment, complete with a futon rolled in the corner. Next comes zone
sushi, and you can almost see the conveyor belts we ordered from.
Lastly for this week is the view from our balcony, out over the city,
and the church in the morning. As I said, things are going great, and
I'm glad to have this chance to work in the service of the Lord.

With love from
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 10: Oct 10, 2016 - First Letter from Japan

Konnichiwa Minasan!

I'm in Japan! We landed last Tuesday at about 8 pm in Fukuoka, which I
think is 7 am on the east coast back home. For the first two nights,
we stayed in the mission home with president and sister Egan, and the
home is literally right underneath the Fukuoka temple. It was really
cool. While we were in Fukuoka, we got to learn more about the
mission, and meet all of the missionaries who serve in Honbu (the
mission home) right now. We also got our first real Japanese meal,
which was... Pork! I wish I remembered the Japanese name for it, but
it was some type of pork, fried in panko, served with rice, miso, and
a cabbage salad. It was all really good. Since then, which was
Wednesday night, I think I have had rice at least once a day, but it's
a pretty solid staple food, so things are going great. As a whole, I
think the diet here is going to be fun to get used to, but thus far I
haven't seen anything that I don't think I could eat.

Moving on from food, we got to meet our trainers Wednesday night, and
everyone left to their area Thursday morning. Elder Nukaya, my MTC
companion, was jumping right on another plane, and flying south to
start his mission on Okinawa! However, I went the other way, and am
now living in a city called Yamaguchi, which translates to mouth of
the mountain. It's tucked in a green valley, but the "mountains" would
probably be a bit more like hills back home. I'm not complaining,
because it's beautiful. I forgot to get a picture from the back of the
apartment, but you can look out and just see green mountains in the
distance while eating breakfast, and it's really peaceful.

My trainer for the next two transfers is named Elder Welch, and he's
from West Point, UT. President Egan has asked that people don't share
transfer numbers, to keep people from counting down, but Elder Welch
has been in Japan for over a year, and seems to me at least to be
fairly fluent in the language. In contrast to the MTC, wheee everyone
was learning together, it's clear now that there is a skill
differential. But language is besides the point, and it's really just
a tool that he can use to help spread the word. We've only been
together for a few days, but he feels really devoted to this gospel,
and willing to go out of his comfort zone to share it. The other
Elders in my apartment both seem pretty cool as well. Elder West is
from Tokyo, and speaks both English and Japanese, even though Japanese
is his first language. It makes group study interesting, because he
reads from the scriptures in Japanese, and I get to try and follow.
Elder West and Welch are also zone leaders for the Yamaguchi Zone, so
they work together a lot, leaving me on splits with the last elder,
Elder Gatherum. He has also been in Japan for a while, though not
quite a year. As with the others, I feel like I can really get along
with him, especially because I'll be on splits with him fairly often.
For next week I will try to send a picture of us all together.

In other news, due to the time difference, I got to watch conference
again this week, in English thankfully. I thought all the talks were
great, but I really like Elder Stevensons, about he power of reading
the Book of Mormon everyday. I know that as I have been doing this on
my mission, it's helped me, and I think that Garrett and Brad would
love his challenge to read for even 10-15 minutes a day, because it
really isn't that long.

This weeks pictures are from the front of my apartment, and of me and
Elder Welch. In the top one you can just barely see the church, the
white building in the background with a spire. It's a blessing to have
the church so close, because we can walk to it fairly quickly, whether
for English class, lessons, or church. As I said about Elder Welch,
he's a great guy, and actually gave me a tie like the one he's
wearing. They were the mission wide Christmas present last year, but
somehow he got an extra, so I'll look like I've been here longer than
I have whenever I wear it. We also have almost identical suits, so of
all people I might end up twining with my companion if I'm not

That's all for this week, thanks for all the emails and love! I love
you all, but can't wait to continue the work in Japan.

With Love,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

P.S. Happy birthday Dad! Sorry I won't be able to email you closer to
it. I'll get a picture of our dinner for you on Sunday