Crowd of people? Carrying your bike? Just lift it over all of their heads #MuricaPerk #ImHuge ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... I don't always ask for directions on the train, but when I do, I end that conversation talking about God #Missionaried ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Biking for twenty minutes to buy chicken and beef for dirt cheap? Worth it!! #NoRoomInOurFreezerAnyMore ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... We just made Raspberry Jam from Scratch, put the hot stuff that wouldn't fit in the jar onto ice-cream and ate it all ... Love ... my ... life ... #FatKid ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... I don't always lead us around Tokyo but when I do ... we're early #LikeABoss ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Alright iPad, you think you can fix my spelling? #ChalngeAcceptprw #noSuggestions ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... We just ate $100 worth of sushi; you then took us to an Italian Restaurant and made us keep eating till we all want to die ... Of course we'll go to round 3 with you! ... #GoingToPukeAllOverYou ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... #NoImNot28 ... it's alright, you're like the 12th person to make that mistake ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... All we bought was potatoes and meat #GriffithsChoroWentShopping ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Curry for Lunch, Curry for Dinner; #HappyPDay ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Typhoon, worst one in 10 years? Please, my bike has missionary steroids, #DidNotEvenFallOver ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Oh, you sell Melonpan? yeah, I’ll buy them all, right now #TheRecipeTooPlease ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... #YouMightBeAMissionaryIf you don't hear about the giant wall of water which will hit the city where you live until next Monday; because you only get eMail on P-Days ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... New favorite conversation starter "I don’t speak Japanese and if I don’t learn I can’t go back to America, please help me" #ForeignerPower ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Whatever I just ate, exploded with little eggs all over my mouth #WhatDidIJustEat ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Is it wrong that I want to ask the local tattoo artist if he can run the face painting booth at our Halloween party, I think he would be pretty good ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Being a foot taller than everyone else in the whole country #GaijinNoMondai (Foregner problem) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Hitting your head on every door way cuz it’s made for people a foot shorter than you #GaijinNoMondai ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Having a hole in the ground for a toilet? #FirstWorldCountry more like #FirstWorldProblem ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Typhoon season #ComeAtMeMotherNature #Murica ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Cow Piss? Oh you mean Calpis #YesIllTakeAllOfThem

Monday, October 28, 2013

DD 2.65 ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU DADD!!!!

What day of the week do transfers occur on?
They happen on Thursday.

Did you get a picture of the temple on T-Day?
I got some with me and my MTC companion, but I forgot my cord today, maybe next week. My bad!

How is your 40 days of fasting going? When do you fast? How many days have you fasted already?
I fast on December 10th.
We received a message from the Mission President on the 14th of October, in it they told us of the 40 Day fast, we assumed that all missionaries would schedule 40 days of fasting throughout October, November, and December.  It seemed challenging, but doable.  This makes more sense now, throughout the mission there will be 40 days of fasting ... there are 40 areas, each area will fast one day, thus the mission will have fasted 40 days.

Did you feel the earthquake early Friday morning?
I did not.

Any power outages or damage due to the earthquake?
Nope, no problems here

Where do you buy the melonpan rolls? Or get them at a member’s home?
Any convenience store or the melonpon shop down the street.
Trenton apparently is going to spell it "melonpon." Google shows both, with a trend towards "melonpan."

Did you find the Pinocchio picture?
Not yet
When we found Trent's apartment last week, we saw a small sign with Pinocchio on it and challenged Trent to see if he could find it.

How did your appointment with "have I got a book for you" guy go?
We are meeting him on this Thursday, but I called him and he was way excited to meet with us.

Are you wearing your jacket or coat yet?
Today I’m rocking the short sleeves.

Any frost yet? Leaves falling? Changing color?
Nope. But there are not many trees here in Chiba

Tender Mercy for the month of October?
See transfer info below

How is the Chiba Ward being impacted by transfers?

How's your bike holding up?
It’s pretty good. We go to the bike shop pretty regularly so he keeps ours in check.

Tell us about a bicycling adventure. Lights failing, riding home in dark? Run into any signs? Dad said his bike always broke and he learned to fix it with channel locks and a screwdriver. Any repairs? 10 flats in a day?
My bike has missionary steroids, so it’s indestructible. Williams has actually had three accidents so far, but thanks to his holy calling as a missionary, he is fine; his front brake no longer works, but we are going to the shop today to see if our guy can fix it.

In our Priesthood Quorums we are talking about missions and things you can do on P-Day. What is your most memorable P-Day experience so far?
My second P-Day we went shopping and found a new investigator, usually though we just study in the apartment and such, I haven’t really had a lot of fun experiences on P-Day yet. We had a zone P-Day once, and that was really fun!

And now for the moment you have all been waiting for.
Watnabe Choro is transferring to Joetsu
Williams Choro is leaving me and going to Togane

and I’m staying in Chiba Ward ... with … wait
fooooooooooooooooooooooooooorr it …

… The Zone LEADERS.

I’m not entirely sure what I did to deserve this, but for some reason I’m now working with the Zone Leaders ... apparently I was a terrible missionary and now the ZL’s are here to keep me in check. This should be fun. Yeah ... I’m not sure what is going to happen, one of them is Nihongo and the other is like transfer eight, so yeah. They are coming from different areas/zones, and will be coming to Chiba for the first time; so I will be showing them around, talk about pressure. Pray we don't get lost.

So this week, I heard that priesthood line of authorities is now available from the church? What’s up with that?

"Columbia Airlines Flight 409" has a midair collision
on approach to Salt Lake International
Also I heard there is a movie called Airport ‘75, which was filmed in Utah … about a thousand years ago, let me know if y’all have heard of it, and if you have why haven’t you shared that little piece of movie trivia with me.

The package you sent was excellent, the fudge was delicious! And the Reese and Twix bars always brighten my day.

I seriously love melonpon BTW; this week I found chocolate chip melonpon ... let’s just say that I almost died from excitement; and yes, I have a picture.

Every week since I've been here we have been volunteering at a mental disability home called Desmadago, and it’s always way great, but last week we got to help build little treasure chests and I got to use a little miniature band saw to cut the wood, it was so great!!!!! Well, it was an exciting part of my week; that’s all.

What are the hardest parts of missionary life?
Shaving every day; I hate it. I have no plans to attend BYU, I’m USU through and through.
And the metric system ... I have no idea what it’s all about, and it still makes no sense to me; clearly I should have paid attention in 3rd grade. I really miss that about America, our stubbornness about not ever changing our beliefs about how we measure stuff!

Charles T. Whipple
pen name ... Chuck Tyrell
Picture of the Resolution
docked in New Zealand
shortly before the crash in 2008
Oh so this week I found out that one of our ward member’s is famous! His name is Charlie Whipple and his pen name is Chuck Tyrell, apparently all of his books and yes, plural, are all really good. He also built a boat and tried to sail around the world, but crashed near New Zealand. He’s such a stud, he built the boat himself and, like everything in it … by himself!!! It is great!!! So he’s in the hospital because he fell off his boat and into the Tokyo Bay and got a leg infection ... hopefully he doesn't loose his leg to the waters too, he lost his left index finger making his boat, but if he does lose his leg, we decided we are going to get him a wooden one so he can be a Pirate.

This week we found a really good PI housing and right afterwards Watanabe Choro said “That’s why housing is so sweet!” I just wanted you all to know that I taught him some really good English …

So yeah, this week was pretty good transfers happen on Thursday and should be all sorts of fun.

Sam, how was your first, “second-hand high,” at the concert … and yes you can get them, so please be careful ... that was kinda funny though. I can’t believe that the lens from your glasses fell out and you didn't even notice ... sorry to hear that, I bet you looked funny for the rest of the day with only one lens in.

Abi, sorry that you made too much rice today. I actually made too much, well not to the scale that you did, just a little too much, it was a little under cooked, and a little crunchy ... whoops! but we live and learn!!!

I hope that all is going well this week, I’ll let you know how working with the ZL’s is going next week, should be a fun experience that’s for sure!!!

Love you all and thank you for all the love and support!!!
1995 2640

Friday, October 25, 2013

7.1 quake hits east of Japan; tsunami advisory canceled

by Doug Stanglin and Donna Leinwand Leger
USA TODAY 8:28 p.m. EDT October 25, 2013

Some small tsunami-driven waves hit three cities along the east coast.

Photo: USGS
A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck off the Fukushima region of Japan early Saturday local time, triggering small waves that hit three cities along a 200-mile stretch of the east coast that was briefly under a tsunami advisory.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, which canceled the advisory, said that the first waves hit Soma, Kamaishi, and Ishinomaki-shi Ayukama, but that none topped 3 feet, the threshold for issuing a stronger warning.

There were no reports of damage or serious injuries from the quake, which the agency said was an aftershock of the deadly March 2011 disaster that killed 19,000 and devastated one of the Fukushima nuclear plants.

The epicenter of the 2:10 a.m. quake was located 231 miles east of Japan's Honshu Island at a depth of 6 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Service. The tremor was felt 300 miles away in Tokyo.

The USGS, which initially reported the quake at a magnitude of 7.3, later downgraded it to 7.1. The meteorological agency revised its initial estimate from magnitude 7.1 to 6.8.

The quake prompted the tsunami advisory for an area stretching from the northern edge of Iwate Prefecture to the southern tip of Chiba Prefecture. Three aftershocks occurred during the next four hours, the strongest registering magnitude 5.5.

USA TODAY reporter William Welch said he was asleep in a Tokyo hotel room when the earthquake woke him up at 3:10 a.m. local time.  Welch, who has felt many earthquakes while at his home in California, said Saturday's earthquake varied in intensity and "seemed to be the longest one I've experienced."

USGS said the quake was caused by "normal faulting in the shallow oceanic crust of the Pacific plate," near the region of the magnitude-9 Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, which killed about 19,000 people.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued its initial tsunami warning at 1:14 p.m. ET for Fukushima Prefecture, warning residents to "get out of the water and leave the coast immediately." The warning was later expanded to include Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, and Chiba Prefectures.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

DD 2.56 ... "Yes, you will do just fine." ... then yeah ... this happened ...

T-Day this week. The week before Transfers, our P-Day moves to Tuesday, then all who are close enough, go to the Temple ... so ... sorry there was no letter on Monday; here it is on Tuesday:  T-Day.

What do Japanese toothbrushes look like? Why are they not as good as American ones?
They are all right, they are just small and expensive ... and they wear out really easily, also I got the package today, thank you so much!!! I haven’t really looked through it yet!

It sounds like you are stopping more people on the street to talk to them, are you feeling more comfortable w/ the language? Do you understand what they are saying more?
YES, I do all my phone calls in Japanese, and I talked to some people on the train today.

Is your neck still hurting? Shoulders? Stomach?
Nope, I feel completely fine!

What kind of book bag/back pack did you buy? Was it the blue plaid bag in your picture last week?
Yes ... right! Its way sweet.

Does the new bag make your shoulders/neck hurt?
Nope, again, I must be cured!!

How was the typhoon on Tues/Wed? Did you go out while it was storming?
We slept through most of it that night, but like five minutes after it ended we went housing, and met a Jehovah’s Witness.

Did your power go out during/before mentioned typhoon?
Nope, the biggest typhoon in fifty years and Japan kept on running smooth. They are pretty prepared.

How bad was the wind? Rain?
Not too bad, just like a rainstorm in Utah, but without the lightning and we had to pull our laundry inside.

Did the package get there? If so, what was in it? (It might have been delayed due to the storm).
It arrived here on Tuesday! Along with Abi’s letter!

Does your ward do a primary program for sacrament meeting?
Yes, it was a couple weeks ago, it was adorable!!

Are you currently in transfer 2 or 3? What week will the next transfer occur in?
I am currently in Transfer number 2; and this will be week six; transfers will be next week.

Do they celebrate Halloween in Japan? Are you guys having a Halloween party?
Our ward had a Halloween party. See pictures and details below.

Did the Sister Missionary, who taught English with you (Christensen Shimai) get transferred or does she still teach with you guys?
Both of the sisters which are here now are from America, Willden Shimai has some Japanese family background, they are both still here, for now, and both help teach.

Did Dad find your apartment building?
Yes ... kinda creepy, but really cool, I definitely want to catch the replay of that in heaven, he even got the right room too, Go Dad!!

Dad said last weeks subject read, "This one's for father. You must really like Japanese. Please Enjoy." How close did he get?  He says he could not find a the translation for "tmasu."
Dad, the last part of the Japanese was to shittemasu it means that “I know” what ever comes before it tatoeba “my dad loves Japanese shittemasu,” or with English grammar, “I know my dad loves Japanese.”

Do you still write people regularly? If so, who? (Ben? Rachel? Lizzie? Paige? Jon?) I'm nosy and am wondering. =)
I write to Ben, Lizzy, and Rachel every week or so, and some random people every once in a while.

So yeah, this week was a typhoon, a Halloween party, and temple day!!! The typhoon was pretty intense, but afterwards we went housing and found a Jehovah’s Witness, having never met one before I wasn't sure what they believed, but now I know a little more, namely they are not allowed to study other religions! Right? But yea freedom to choose, we pretty much left with a box full of pamphlets about how Halloween is Satan’s holiday and how bad we are for teaching people about other religions ... Oh, the things that we see.
Skyline view of Chiba; from the deck of our Jehovah's Witness investigator

... this happened ...
Next up, the Halloween party, I walk in and Brother K. just looked at me and said, “Yes, you will do just fine;” and then yeah, this happened:

Brother O. has a better picture of me doing seiza and looking all dignified, but I don’t have it, it may be on the Chiba Ward Website / Facebook page, maybe dad can find it; it might be on Brother O’s page. This is the game that we made for the Halloween party, we throw cotton balls at the web and they stick to it ... it’s made of tape.
Halloween Party Game

Temple today was very great!!! I love it so much!!! Transfers are coming up and so last Friday I went on splits with Williams Choro, my bean, but it was just the two of us, and we actually found two new people, one of them fell through, but the other said that he loves soccer and after that he loves to read ... so yeah me being the outgoing American that I am said; well then brother, have we got a book for you; and yeah, we’re meeting with him next Friday, introduce him to the gospel more fully, and then set a baptismal date. Should be good, right?

Who knew … the same rule for meeting girls applies to getting investigators, you always wait three days to call ... except in Japan, you call them that night to say that it was nice to meet them and make sure they got home safely; and then you wait three days, call them back, and then make an appointment with them ... who knew? Right?

Thank you for all the eMail and the letter, more eMail, I love them all, today I don’t have very much time and I want to send some emails to Sam’s eMail really fast so that she can send them to y’all!!!!!

Love you all, don’t worry about you letters distracting me too much … Ahhhh … Should I get a flu shot? So really fast, they have this bread called Melonpan, and it is so good!!!!! It’s pretty cheap to. Try and find it in America, if you can’t find it, I’ll probably never come home ... it is so good!!! I highly recommend it. JK; I will still come home.  I really do love doing missionary work!!!! WHOO!!!!

Today I started doing train dendo, we sit next to random people and talk to them, extra points if you can get to the gospel in six sentences or less ... it took me like twelve, but I was playing with some other zone leaders ... so you could say that they are pretty good, they only have like two and four transfers left...

Yeah, that’s almost all I have this week, love you all and thank you for the stories, sorry about Jayli’s throat/mouth, and when i get back I want/would like to take Porter rock climbing ... think about it and let me know if that would be okay ... I promise we will be safe.

PS … Abi … only four ... bummer, challenge extended To ... fourTEEEEEEENNNNN!!!!!!!!!!! bum bum bum ...
1876 2578

Sunday, October 20, 2013

DD 2.64 ... Dad ... Happy Birth-got-a-letter-Day ...

Dearest Father of Mine,

I thought that since it is your Birthday, I would write you a hand written letter to express my gratitude to you … and also say … HAPPY BIRTH-got-a-letter-DAY!!!

I hope that you are having a marvelous week and that you are getting to accomplish all the things that you set out to do this week. So I’m not going to lie. I’m not very good at writing letters of grandeur or of great inspirational thoughts. So I thought that maybe I would just say some things that I have learned from you over the years.

#1. The importance of showing my work, and no I don't mean just in math, but keeping some sort of record of what I've been doing is so important. It allows me to evaluate myself and even help others in their time of need.

#2. The importance of being proactive. All those years of “watching you work,” which actually meant helping, has taught me to get involved with the work that is going on around me. Since I have been here I have learned to always do something, even if it’s wrong, it’s better than doing nothing. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I know that if you had not prepared me, it would probably have been impossible.

#3. How to ride a bike. (That’s just more of a title for “Teaching me how to function.”) I have always wondered how you taught us to ride a bike, and also why at the same time. I mean, other than exercise and for fun. Who uses a bike? Answer, missionaries do. Real people do, for all sorts of things! I said that this one was about being able being able to function as a person so I’ll get to how it ties in, don't worry, but if I had to learn how to ride a bike, and I don’t mean how to balance and stuff, I mean how to shift and turn and avoid sliding off the narrow bike path. If I had to learn those things here, I probably would have died. So my point is that when you ride a bike, you have about 24 different options for gears, some are easy and less efficient, while others are powerful, but take a lot of strength. Thank you for teaching me how to maneuver and adjust the gears of life. It has been hard living in a different country, but having some basic skills, such as cooking, learning, and bike riding have made my time a lot easier. By showing and teaching me how to do all of these things, you taught me something else to, and honestly it’s so simple -> you can adjust your attitude to whatever you’re doing to make it doable. Anything! Whether it is the long easy downhill, or the seemingly insurmountable mountain ahead, just switch gears, so you can keep your cadence and still continue onward. (Side note: Seriously, thank you for teaching me how to really ride a bike though; I would have died if I didn't know how to shift).

#4. Thank you for teaching me how to work. Whether its digging up the back yard or spending hours trying to figure out what happened to our computers. You taught me how to preserver and to just get down and go to work. You could say that Japanese is pretty hard, throw that on top of missionary work and it gets even harder; but here I am enduring to the end, striving to accomplish what I, you, and the Lord knows I should be doing. And I know it’s going to take work, a whole lot. So, thank you once again.

#5. Thanks for teaching me respect, both to people and rules. I learned from you that if someone, who is a good person, asks me to do something, I don’t need to know exactly why they asked me, and I simply have enough respect to do it without complaint. Also, to follow the rules, I learned that they must have a purpose or they would not be there at all, so I should respect them.

#6. Thank you for teaching me about the sacredness of this Beautiful Gospel. It has blessed my life so much, and it hurts my heart when people treat it lightly. Thank you for living the gospel for all it is; even when it is hard to do; thank you for having faith to follow, so that we could in turn, follow you. For example, I know that without a job, paying tithing must be hard sometimes; or even when you have a job, being dedicated to church callings can be difficult or even nigh unto impossible, but you always had faith. I cannot think of a time where you wavered where you strayed from the path. THANK YOU FOR THAT!!! Thank you for making sure we had enough faith before we left home. At school there were several weekends where I went to church, alone, and it was hard, but I always knew I would go. There was never a question, and it is because of the way you and mom raised me and all of your children. Thanks so much for your example in the gospel!! Really truly from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU FOR THAT!!

I don’t know where I would be if it were not for the church and the dedication that I grew up seeing to it! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family, but even more blessed to have such a wonderful Father!
You have truly stood at the crossroad there, To direct and point when I could only stare. You led the way, and then said, “Hey,” Maybe you could walk alone At first I was frightened, But your countenance Brightened I sure that you doubted a bit, But I’m so glad you hid it. Your faith let me carry on.
When times are dark and dreary, It’s easy to feel weary, To say, I shouldn't try, to pray that time will fly, But that is not what I was taught. When your teachings I apply, To grow I really try! And then the miracle comes, And I see what we have done. Your faith gave me my own.
Sorry for the really bad poetry, but I figured what the heck.

There is not enough room or time for me to tell you how much I appreciate you and all you do. You truly are amazing! I’m so glad that I got to come to earth in your family.

I hope that someday I can become as good a father as you have been to me. It’s a tall order, but I think I just might be able to come close … Plus I’m sure my kids will love going to grandpa’s house all the time!! YOU ROCK DAD! LOVE YOU TONS!

Next Challenge:

Love you Dad, Hope You Have a Great Birthday -> Elder Griffiths

PS. Thank you for all the stuff you have told me and for taking care of me while I've been here. It really helped a lot. Also, suits have been dry cleaned … but I didn't do any ties this time, next time!! Thanks again for all you do, hope this is letter is enough to fill my absence. Maybe eating some carrot cake will help to.

PSS. There really is so much I feel, but can’t express in words. Thank you so much Dad. Love you tons!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Typhoon Wipha Hits Tokyo Area

By Yoko Wakatsuki, Junko Ogura and Katie Hunt, CNN
6:30 AM (JT), Wednesday 16 October 2013

Tokyo (CNN) -- At least 17 people have died and hundreds of flights have been canceled as Typhoon Wipha pummeled the Tokyo area on Wednesday.

Rocks from a landslide

down an electric pole outside
a house in suburban Tokyo
A local government official in Oshima, a small island 120 km (75 miles) south of Tokyo, said that a majority of the people died after heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides that blocked roads and crushed houses.

Tokyo commuters struggle to get to work.
More than 500 domestic and international flights were canceled at Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports and the national rail operator halted bullet train services in central and northern Japan.

People in Tokyo

rush to avoid heavy rainfall and strong winds
The typhoon is moving north along the Pacific coast of Japan and is expected to reach the northernmost island of Hokkaido by late Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the main electricity supplier in Tokyo and central Japan, said blackouts affected more than 56,000 households.

TEPCO, which has been struggling to deal with a series of leaks at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said workers at the plant were "on vigil" and accumulated rainwater had been released from storage tanks.

Typhoon Wipha, the 'strongest in 10 years', 

passed close to Tokyo on Wednesday
CNN PRODUCER NOTE: British photojournalist ElBranden said the storm has since left Kiyose, north of Tokyo; although military helicopters are still flying overhead checking for storm damage. "While the storm was said to be the worst in 10 years to hit Tokyo, it did not feel like it," he said. "My wife, who is Japanese, stubbornly and in character, stormed the storm to go to work, even though I suggested she should leave after it passed."

The storm passed near Chiba between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM (JT).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Christmas in Tokyo

Dear Parents,

As we approach the holiday season we wanted to reach out to the families of our wonderful missionaries to thank you for your support, and to invite you to unite your prayers with ours as we exercise our faith for a Christmas miracle during this holiday season. The desire of our hearts is to have a "White Christmas", i.e., a baptism in every ward or branch in our mission between now and Christmas. We can think of no better gift to give our Savior than to bring many souls unto Him and to strengthen the wards and branches in this special part of his vineyard. The Lord said, "whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive." (D&C 29:6) We firmly believe that as we unite our faith and prayers with yours that we can see this miracle.

We have forty wards and branches in the mission, so we have decided to have the missionaries in each area fast on 40 different days during this period. We believe that the combination of our united faith and prayers and this special 40 day fast will help us draw upon the powers of heaven.

We have also put up a special Christmas Miracle Tree in the mission home. As each area has a baptism we will put a wrapped present under the tree to symbolize our gift to Christ. We plan to fill each gift box with miracles and conversion stories that are shared during this period in each area; we look forward to sharing many of these with you. We also plan to make special ornaments with the pictures of those who have come unto Christ during this season, and will display them on the tree. We will update the mission blog with pictures of the tree as the number of presents and ornaments grows.

We hope that by uniting our faith and prayers that we will not only have a "White Christmas", but that you and your loved ones will feel a special bond with your missionary while they labor here in this great cause. As you may know, our mission motto is: United in So Great a Cause. It is our sincere desire that as you pray every day as families for every ward and branch in our mission to see a baptism during this holiday season, that you will feel united with your missionary, with our mission, and with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I testify that this is God's work, that he desires to bless us and the Japanese people, and that Jesus is the Christ. It is our honor and privilege to be in His service. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Merry Christmas, and thank you for faith and prayers!

President and Sister Budge

DD 2.45 ... Kore wa chichi no tame ni. Kare ga nihongo ga hontōni sukida to shi tmasu. Tanoshimu kudasai ...

How often do you write in your journal?
     Every Night

Did you get any mail this week? Did you get the letter w/ the call and the birthday list?
     Yes!!! Thank you so much!!

Did you get Sam's letter yet? (the one w/the bear tweets)
     Yes ... I’m with mom, I didn't think that they were that funny ... but it might be because I’m on a mission, not reading them at two in the morning ... keep following them and I'll review them when I return.

How was conference? Where did you watch it at? How many sessions did you get to watch?
     We got to watch all the sessions at the church!

Do you get the Ensign? Would you like us to send you the conference issue when it comes out so you have the talks? (if so, Japanese or English?)
     We get the Liahona in English, so I’m all good!

Is it still just the 3 of you in your apartment?

Any word on the internet in your apartment yet?

If you don’t have the internet, how do you turn in your numbers to ... honbu?
     We call our District Leader or the Zone Leaders and they do it for us.

Part A: How was the weather last week? We heard it was supposed to be rainy, maybe storm a lot? The remnants of typhoon Denas passed over Tokyo - did it have any impact on you? Lots of rain we bet.
     There was no rain last week, there was a lot of wind ... but it was actually way gorgeous!

Part B: Typhoon Wipha (Yes these questions are being dictated to me by dad, that's why they are so specific) is on its way .It'll roll through Tokyo on the 15th (Wednesday) Do you hear about the typhoons ahead of time? Do you refer to them by their name? Does the Kaichou warn you????
     No, we usually just check the weather, or our Ward warns us ... we'll be alright though! Thanks for the concern!

Did you buy a thumb drive?
     Yes, I found one that was 8GB for ¥600 ... so yeah, bought that!

Do you feel like you have gained or lost weight since you've been there?
     I am still 75 kgs ... whatever that means. (it means he is 165 Lbs)

Dad is seriously not satisfied w/ the information we have about your companion – Williams Choro. I feel ok, but dad only remembers that he went to BYU Idaho. Do you know what city he is from? What is his first name? Do you know what his major is? Pretty much any info would please mom and dad. (Definitely his Name and City).
     His name is Williams Choro (Full Name edited to maintain his privacy), he is from Lapeer, Michigan (about 60 Miles, or 1 hour, north of Detroit), and he was studying mechanical engineering ... his favorite food is pizza and he really likes monkeys ...

How are your rain pants?

Dad wants to know a bit about your missionary work - how many discussions did you teach last week?
     Last week was really rough ... we didn't teach many, we taught like three maybe four; on the bright side, I found a new investigator this week, here is Sister S's story ... she said that she can’t meet with us until the first Wednesday of November, which is kinda sketchy, but she took a Book of Mormon anyway because she really wanted to read it ... she then went and bought us a drink ... I wasn't sure what it was until I went back over to my companion ... I was about to drink it but he was all like, "where did you get that?" of course, I was all like, "My home girl, Sister S., done bought it for me cuz I done changed her life!" (yes it was a girl, it seems like all the people that talk to me are women, right? its way sketchy, but more referrals for the Shimais) then he said that it was iced coffee and I should probably teach the word of wisdom next time first ... yeah, a little bit of a downer.

Do you guys split the discussions evenly or does Elder Japan do the most and Elder Idaho the least?
     We try to split it up so that we all teach evenly, but Elder Japan usually answers the questions.

How is Elder Idaho coming w/ his language skills? Do the two of you drop into English when you are talking to each other?
     We really try not to, but sometimes we do, he’s really good! Better than me probably!

Is it cooling off there? If so, how are you staying warm? Are you wearing your sweater yet?
     I busted out my sweater from the suitcases today!!! But, I haven't worn it yet, it is way cool here now, I love it!!!!

Did you dry clean your suit? Was it expensive? Did you do both suits? How did it go?
     The first one was only ¥700 because we are now new members, but I don't know how much the next one will be, probably around ¥2000.

What was your favorite talk/quote from general conference?
     The doubt one by President Uchtdorf (First doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.) or the challenge by Elder M. Russell Ballard for Ward Member to find a new investigator by Christmas ... challenge extended ... I’ll try to find a couple more, but I would love it if you all did too!

This week was pretty good, I got Sam and Dad’s letters, they were really good!! Thank you for the list of stuff and the Japanese words from dad, I would try to add more in my letters, but they are really hard to spell out in romaji and then when you try to add them in hiragana they switch to kanji... and since there are like three or four kanji for every pronunciation, I don't know which one is right ... yet.

So last week I bought a new bag for ¥1000 and a new tie for ¥100 ... it pretty sweet too. Dad’s letter got here on the tenth, and Sam’s got here on the eleventh ... I don't know why they got here so fast, but I'm not complaining.

This week I had to go to a second transfer training … I think I understood all of it pretty much and took like two pages of notes ... the whole thing was in Japanese ... All right, go me!

Sorry I’m a week late, but I really liked President Monson’s talk in priesthood, it was all about the good shepherd and how we need to lead from the front and be good examples, not the bad shepherd whole tells us where to go and then lazily follows us ... I took this pretty hard, as a missionary we are to be examples in the church leading people to Christ and to his gospel ... now the hard part, as a family we need to help the missionaries more often! By inviting non-members over when they come to dinner and being willing to be joints for their lessons. But most of all, we need to be a good example of a Mormon to all those around us. I know that when the members help us out, it makes all the difference in the world! Referrals are the greatest people and they already have a friend in the church. So like Elder M. Russell Ballard said, I would invite all of you to try to reach out and extend an invitation, that’s all just an invitation, to someone who you know that is not a member; maybe even a less active member to remember the truth that they once knew; whether they knew the truth before we met them or the truth they knew before they came to this earth ... mainly I’m talking to Sam and Abi here, specifically your roommates, what a great missionary opportunity!

Anyways, enough about that, I am excited to get the package that you all sent! The tooth brushes ... oh the glory! I’m way pumped! So yeah, this week and conference was pretty good, I really did miss going to priesthood with dad, I remember last year when we were not able to get into the conference center, we went over to the tabernacle, that was way great! Hearing all the stories about when dad was young and went to conference with his dad ... also this week my companions and I started talking to each other a lot more, we tried to get to know each other and I realized I have no idea how our wonderful parents met ... I mean I know the lasagna story where dad complained and mom stopped him from eating it ... but like how did you guys meet and stuff ... I'm really curious! 

So yeah, this week was pretty good, we had to move our baptismal dates back and drop an investigator, he is part of the Setsurio Church ... he just refuses to let go of the attention that they are giving him and he can't come to our church because they are at the same time ... even though, and here’s the kicker, he swears that the Book of Mormon is the true word of god! Right? How can you fjdsklaghjdsghjk I just don't know any more about him ... we are meeting him for ramen on Tuesday and then likely won’t see him again … probably … I hope he comes to know the truth sooner rather than later.

Well, I am going to try to send some pictures now, so until next week. Oh wait, there is an Elder in my zone who knows Greg, this is for Abi ... Also there has been no news of a tsunami or anything this week. Sorry to hear that mom got lost on way to the Relief Society outing, … Sam had to use the free hair straightener ... #FirstWorldProblem if I ever did hear one.

Abi, what is an ethnic book club, I still do not understand ... and how is the Portuguese club going? I hope that it is fun; I plan to join the rocket team, concrete canoe club, and the Japan club … assuming they have them when I get back; I’ll also join all the engineering teams that compete against BYU so I can crush them, or rather, put them in a box and the box in a bigger box, and then mail it to myself, and when it arrives I’ll SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA (name the movie!)

Next up, pictures! Hopefully! (Some pictures were placed in earlier Blog Entries when appropriate)

The View from our apartment balcony
Teaching Aid
Teaching Aid
This is some of the stuff that
we make to put on rice.
and pasta for food sometimes
1415 2400

Monday, October 7, 2013

DD 2.35 ... but still, I fog him to stop ...

How is Williams Choro as a companion? Can you give us some details?
     He’s pretty chill, just the usual new missionary stuff, he went to BYU Idaho ... that pretty much sums it up.

Has it snowed yet? Let us know when it does!!
     It has not snowed yet.

Do you carry your Kangaroo Pouch with you everywhere you go?
     No, I do need to get a copy of my passport from honbu though. They have my passport.

If so, what do you have in it? And where is your passport?
     At the mission home still, they knew we would lose them.

The parentals think it would be nice if you wrote a letter to Watanabe Choro’s parents after you get transferred. Do they read English? Do you have an email address for them?
     I am not sure if they read English or not ... I should probably ask him. His brother just got an award that only three others have ever gotten, he is going to an awards ceremony in San Diego, he has also been accepted into Harvard ... so I’m sure he speaks English.

Do the church computers have USB ports? Can't you use them to upload pictures?
     We are still working on it.

Do you have an English to Japanese electronic dictionary yet? Jeff Mack mentioned it when you went there for dinner, apparently they are super cool.
     No, I just use the dictionary we received at the MTC, its way good and has everything I need.

Have you had any incompatible power problems with electronic stuff USA vs. Japan? (I think the only electronic thing you took was your camera. can you charge it OK?)
     Everything I brought with me is fine, It looks like they use the same power here (USA=120V –vs- Japan=100V), the same two prong outlet, one side slightly larger than the other. Most power supplies can handle 100-240V.

How is the 12 week language training going? Still learning? Did you start the 12 weeks over when you got a new comp?
     We continued with the training with me, and whoever is here next transfer will start over and do the first six weeks with Williams Choro. By the way, it is not language training; it’s how to be a missionary training.

Do you have access to a printer? Do the church computers have printers?
     We use the copy machines at the convenience stores and the church if black and white is good enough.

Why did you ask about the death/funeral thing? Did someone have a family member die?
     Chase’s little sister died and his brother didn't come home for the funeral; I don’t know, I just felt like I should ask under the circumstances ... kind of scary right?

Health: hair, teeth, stomach, neck, any really bad issues this week? How are they all?
     They are all good ... I think. My neck has gotten better; I think that the stretches are helping.

Did you wash your white pants w/ the green shampoo? How did it go?
     It went really great! They are almost perfectly white! Again!

How are your 3 possible baptisms going?
     Interesting ... they are not all progressing as fast as they can ... I think that they just don’t have a lot of time to meet with us.

Did you ever decide what to do about a rain jacket? Just making do for right now?
     Right now I’m just making do. I haven’t decided what to do yet.

Did you buy a different shoulder bag for your stuff?
     NOPE! I’m going strong!! Just going to work through it.

What do you carry your Japanese scriptures in? Did you ever find a case for them or should we send something?
     I carry them in a plastic bag to protect them from the rain ... I bought a new smaller pair though, I will buy a case for them while I am here.

So when you say that the government shut down, what does that mean?

Chuck Keeton (USU)
Thank-you for all of the emails this week! They are way great! I look forward to conference. I heard about USU and Chuckie yesterday in church ... I almost cried, but I figure he has two years to get better and destroy everyone again before I get back, here’s to hoping that he knocks the pride right out of BYU next year, I’m just glad that I’m not in the country to listen to all the crap that’s probably going down.. Sorry about that Storm, you will survive, just give it a few weeks.  We must accept it, BYU won and USU lost ... that is always a bummer.

Sam, what are you going to do in your new apartment for internet access ... are you going to take Joan (Sam's 7 year old Computer)? I’m dying to know. Things here remind me of you guys too, unlike watching TV or driving my car or running;  it's more like wow, Sam and Abi would think I'm way dumb right now ... I should probably stop doing what I'm doing... and then I realize that what I'm doing right then is awesome and that its way effective missionary work.  So long story short, being my self and doing things that would probably embarrass you guys is what helps bring souls to Christ ... so this week I had a conversation with a man that started with are you a successful business man? Then we talked about what I should do with my life ... and then why I am in Japan, and then why he should come to church ... yea, apparently he doesn't have a lot of time ... ever!!! So I asked him if he had time to eat food? He said yes, and then I said, well so do we!!! Lets meet for lunch ... then it got all awkward and he said he had to catch the train but he would call us if he had time! He never called ... but still, I fog him to stop! I am excited to watch the new season of HIMYM, let me know if it is good or not, and like funny good not morally good; because  know that when I get back it won't be morally good at all ...

So about this test package, I found a flash drive here for 1200 yen and it is four gig, will I need a bigger one, probably because we are doing this thing called the playbook for the mission now, it’s where we get all of our visual aids and record what we taught and when we did to, so I don’t know what I should do, how much does one cost in the states? If it is cheaper than that maybe send me one, maybe let me know right now as you read this if you have an idea or a guess.

I was asked this week if there was another Elder Griffiths that served in Japan, I don’t think that there has been, but I’m not sure, so maybe let me know.

This week I was going on splits with two missionaries that were younger than me... it was actually way great, we found a referral for the sisters, and then received one, we also all had conversations in Japanese.... yeah. and then the next day we had to ride the trains back down to Oyumino by ourselves... me being the senior had to do it because no one else had the knowledge of how to work the cell phone... that’s right, I led three missionaries around Japan on the trains just fine ... well I accidentally stayed connected to the internet on the phone the whole time, but we were safe and didn't get lost at all! Wahoo go me!!!!!

Also this week I just want to thank all of you for raising me to be a good church member, it amazes me that there are times when some people just don’t go to church continuously; all their lives; especially at college. Or that their idea of fasting is to "not eat during church" yeah major respect level down there, but I just realized that the only reason I actually do those things is because I was raised and taught of the blessings that come from them. it hurts my heart when people treat the gospel lightly or with frivolity, and I wanted to thank you all for helping me realize that ... this is salvation. it’s a pretty big deal ... so yeah, there’s my spiel; thank you for all being good church member that converts and the missionaries can look up to. And speaking of missionaries, try not to kill any of them, even if they want to major in girls ... I mean he did say that he wants to go to USU, which is a plus! That’s hilarious though!!!! I can believe that mom and dad didn't see it ... oh well, lesson learned!

Not much happened this week, things are going good, we lost one of our baptismal dates because he has work all the time, he goes in at like 7 in the morning, gets home at like 8 at night ... apparently the company where he works is a Japanese and Chinese company that makes games, and right now the countries aren't on that good of terms, and so their workers who speak Japanese and Chinese are doing a lot of overtime ... and the worst part is they are not getting paid for it!!!! RIGHT??!!?!?!?!?!?! Ridiculous! So we haven’t met with him in a while, but hopefully soon we will be able to!!!

Not much else to say this week, thank you guys for emailing me all the time! you all rock and I love you guys so much!!!  I'm really dying to know what is on my blog, but I am not able to look at it at all ... once a week could you send me some of the posts that are added to it, I would like to know what actually gets put on the internet after it has been though your and moms editing and and then dads un-editing ... yeah, I would be interested. Let me know what you think ... just an idea though!

Things here are pretty good, I'm not really homesick ... as a matter of fact I'm not sure that I'm ever going to come home ... its pretty great here!
1221 2318

Sunday, October 6, 2013

183rd Semiannual General Conference October 2013

Note from Dad: ... enjoy Japan while you are there ...

I realize this may be a distraction, but I am going to encourage you to enjoy Japan while you are there; don’t forget why you are there, but take some time to sample the culture and enjoy your visit; besides you could likely do some Japanese Garden dendo while visiting these sites. Here are a few places, within your current area that are available for a minimal fee.  You don’t have to visit all of them, break 'em up and visit whatever sites you can fit it in … for your consideration.

Chiba (千葉市 Chiba-shi?) is the capital city of Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is located approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) southeast of the center of Tokyo on Tokyo Bay. Chiba City became a government designated city in 1992. As of 2008, its population is approximately 960,000.

Chiba City is also one of the Kantō region's primary seaports, and is home to Chiba Port, which handles one of the highest volumes of cargo in the nation. Much of the city is residential, although there are many factories and warehouses located along the coast. There are several major urban centers in the city, including Makuhari, a prime waterfront business district in which Makuhari Messe is located, and Central Chiba, in which the prefectural government office and the city hall are located.

Chiba is famous for the Chiba Urban Monorail, the longest suspended monorail in the world, as published in the Guinness Book of World Records. Some popular destinations in the city include: Kasori Shellmound, the largest shellmound in the world at 134,000m2, Inage Beach, the first artificial beach in the nation which forms part of the longest artificial beach in Japan, and the Chiba City Zoological Park, popular on account of the standing red panda Futa.

1st stop on today’s tour:  Mihama-en Garden, down by the water front, near Chiba Marine Stadium, is walking distance of the Kaihinmakuhari Station. This is Japan’s only traditional garden that intentionally uses skyscrapers as its background imagery.
After you visit the garden, just north of it is the convention center, Chiba’s Makuhari Messe
… cool buildings and landscaping.
2nd stop on the tour:  Inage Ocean Park, likely very active in the summer and on the weekends, but it will likely be less crowded on a Monday in the fall, there are some neat looking gardens and buildings … the beach is likely off limits, but the beach is part of Japan’s largest man made beach.
3rd and last stop on the water front:  Chiba Port Tower and Chiba Port Park; this looks like it could be pretty cool; it is located in an industrial area and is associated with the port.  I would check it out.
4th stop on the tour takes you back into the city:  The next three stops are all close to the Chiba Monorail system; Chiba Park is right next door to the Chiba Velodrome; a nice place to see the cherry blossoms in the spring, but may have some colorful leaves in the fall.
5th stop is the Chiba Urban Monorail’s Central Arch … it is just cool architecture.
6th stop is really close to the Central Arch:  Chiba Shrine Chiba-Jinja (千葉神社), likely a place you would not do much dendo, but a place to get a feel for the culture of the city, the country, and the dominant religion in the area.
7th stop is at the other end of the monorail line, Chiba City Zoological Park.

This last recommendation is based on the assumption that you will only serve once in a Zone; it was that way in my mission, it may be different in yours. I would consider asking if the Zone could go to Nokogiri-yama (鋸山ロープウェー); it is in the Kisarazu area, specifically Kanaya, Futtsu-shi, Chiba Prefecture; it is about a 2 hour train ride south … it may be too far to go … but it is way cool. Although it is most famous for one of Japan's largest Daibutsu (statue of the Buddha), it also offers panoramic views of the area.

From Chiba Station take the JR Uchibo Line to Hamakanaya Station. From Hamakanaya Station, turn left along the main road and walk for about 10 minutes until you reach Sanroku Station. A ropeway system runs from here to the top of the mountain (Sancho Station).

The Buddhist temple located at the top of Nokogiriyama is called Nihon-ji and was founded in the year 725. It has fallen in and out of ruin numerous times and has belonged to various Buddhist sects but is currently associated with the Soto Zen sect. It costs ¥800 to enter the temple grounds; it is worth paying to see Nihon-ji's two most important treasures - the 30m stone Daibutsu, which is Japan's largest pre-modern stone Buddha, and the 'Hyaku Shaku Kannon', which is a huge relief carved into the mountain.

Instead of returning to Hanakanaya Station, consider going down the mountain on foot and walking to the next station on the Uchibo Line - Hota Station. The walk takes about 30-40 minutes.

Kanaya, Futtsu-shi, Chiba Prefecture

Stone Daibutsu, which is Japan's largest pre-modern stone Buddha

Along the trail are 1500 Rakan Statues
from the 17th century

Mount Nokogiri which literally translates to “saw mountain” is a spectacular view from afar. While standing at the edge, the view below is comparable to what the Japanese called as “a peep of hell” (Jigoku-nozoki).