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!