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

Week 9: Oct 4, 2016 - Arrived in Japan!

After 20 hours Mitch arrived a the mission office in Japan. We received this brief message from him:

Hey guys!

Landed safely in Japan last night. Everything is going fine, ill figure out my first area tonight. Pdays are on Mondays, except for every 6 weeks when it’s on Tuesday. Ill email Monday with more information on how everything is going.

Love you!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

We received this letter from his mission president's wife:

Dear Sister and Brother Woodhouse,

We wanted you to have this picture, so you could see for yourself that your son arrived safe and sound!  He is such a good young man! His faith, desire and testimony will be a great blessing to the Mission. Thank you for helping him prepare so well! We love him and are so grateful for the blessing of serving with him! We will do our best to help him reach his full potential and have a wonderful mission! We are excited to see how the Lord will use his many talents!

If you ever have any questions or concerns, you now have my email address, don't hesitate to contact me. I will do our best to get back to you as quickly as possible.

Thank you again for sharing your wonderful son with us!   

Sister Egan
Japan Fukuoka Mission​