Saturday, June 4, 2016

Final Blog Post For Now

It's been a rough week in the Harper House. 

First, sadly my wonderful wife had a miscarriage very early last Sunday morning.  This led to hemorrhaging and for a brief time it appeared we might lose her.  Thankfully we did not.  She’s home now resting but it will be several weeks before she is herself again. 

Secondly, my wonderful son Thomas returned early from his mission on Wednesday on a medical release while he works through some things.  While we’re happy to have him home, we all wish it were under different circumstances.  He thoroughly enjoyed his time in Japan and had many wonderful experiences.  He will miss his time there.  We’re not sure yet what mid-term to long-term plans are for him.  For now he’s focusing on repairing himself and we’ll go from there.

Our hope and expectations from our family and friends is nothing more than to help me love and support my wife and son at this time by continuing to be the wonderful people you always are to us.


Monday, May 23, 2016

P-Day Email 5/23/16‏

This week was fun. We mostly did a lot of streeting, but I did get to meet two of our investigators, Abel and Rowanna. They are both way cool. They are from the Philippines, and work in a shop that sells Philippine food. They are totally spiritually prepared. Abel's visa is causing some trouble, since it expires soon and the government is being difficult. One time when he tried to submit his request for a new visa, the guy at the office literally refused (Illegally, I might add) and told him 'You are a foreigner, and you shouldn't be here'. About fifteen minutes later on his way home, he felt he should go back. He did, and instead found a lady at the desk who, upon hearing his story, said 'That's terrible! He didn't even have the right to reject you, let alone a reason! I'll submit it right away!'. Need I say any more to prove the Spirit is helping us? :P

We found a Subway! I know that seems really commonplace, but they basically do not exist in Japan, and I have been wanting a legit Subway foot long for so long now. It was seriously a blessing. Here's a picture!

We also found this. You take a picture, and they will (for about $40) make a perfect plastic mask replica. My companion wants to get one so he can wear it. Imagine waking up and seeing your companion wearing it and looking wide awake. So creepy.
Apart from that, we haven't done too much. I've met much of the ward and they are all awesome. Anyway, I'm almost out of time, and basically out of things to say for this week. Sorry for being so quiet this week, I'm sure there will be more next week.
See you guys later!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kisarazu Apartment Tour

We'll start downstairs, shall we?

This is the main living room:

This is our kitchen area and Elder Purba adding dishes to the sink

Here's our washing machine...

And our palatial shower!

This is all you get to see of the bathroom - the door....

The genkan (entryway)

Now let's go upstairs!

Almost there!

That was exhausting.  Here's where I sleep.

And here's my work area...

And thus ends the tour of the Kisarazu missionary apartment!

Elder Thomas Harper

P-Day Email 5/16/16‏

Today's email will be short, because I don't have much time and I haven't been in Adachi for very long yet.

This week I got to my new area, Adachi. It is way awesome! We actually have investigators, and I don't have to bike nearly as much since the area is so much smaller! My companion and I get along great, which makes me really happy. The ward members are all really nice, and I am really looking forward to serving here!

I'm really surprised I didn't get lost trying to get to Adachi. Here, when you get transferred, you simply get on a train and go there by yourself because of how large the mission is. So, imagine me, with my bike, carry on suitcase, a sack full of snacks, and no sense of direction trying to find my way from Kisarazu to an area right in the middle of Tokyo. I also can't really read anything yet either. It's a miracle I didn't get lost.  <Dad Note: I think they ship the rest of your luggage?>

We also gave a blessing to a sick member. He has liver cancer, and can barely eat. Basically, his liver is growing and pushing everything else around, so his stomach is squished up and food can't get through, so it is incredibly painful to eat or even drink. The doctors said that his mortal residency is probably only for another couple of weeks. It was way spiritually powerful when we gave him a blessing. My companion did the actual blessing, and the Spirit's presence was so strong! It was more a blessing of spiritual healing and comfort than a blessing of physical healing, but it seemed to be exactly what he needed. He was laying on the bed the entire time, but right after the blessing the pain abated somewhat and he actually sat up and smiled! It obviously still hurt, but it made me happy to know it didn't hurt as much.

That's pretty much everything for this week, I think, and I am still running low on time. I love you all, and wish you good luck!

Sent from my iPad that I wish was a Surface
Elder Thomas Harper

Monday, May 9, 2016

P-Day email 5/9/16

The week started off wonderfully. On Tuesday, my bike decided it wasn't done messing with me. I was riding along, no bumps or anything, and suddenly my back tire exploded. So, we walked for about an hour and a half to the member's house where we were planning on going and left our bikes there. Then he gave us a ride back to the apartment. We then spent the rest of the evening 'fixing' the tire by applying a patch to the inner tube and liberal amounts of glue to the rubber as a temporary solution. The entire following day was spent going to the member's house via train and reattaching the tire to my bike. Then we slowly and carefully(To avoid re-exploding my tire) went to the only activity for the day, which is kinda like free tutoring for high school students that we run. While we were doing that, we dropped my bike off at Asahi(The bike shop I bought it from) and they fixed it for free because of the warranty.

There is a group of kids who live near our apartment who routinely visit us and ask for candy, and on Thursday I made the mistake of giving them some Jelly Bellies my parents sent me. I think Japanese kids are far more affected by the sugar contained in American candy due to Japanese candy having less sugar, as they acted as though I gave them a cup of pure caffeine. They were insane. I also am almost out of jelly beans now. They do have jelly beans here in Japan, but they aren't the same. They're more savory than sweet.

The last thing of any notable things we did was on Saturday. On Saturday we met up with Motomu, a potential investigator, and taught him a lesson on why the gospel is important. That was really fun. Next, we went with Yuta, one of our eternal investigators, and essentially just hung out. We were going to go and capture some clams, but couldn't find anywhere to do it. So, he pulled out some dollar store water guns and we had some fun spraying each other. Then we went and got ice cream. Saturday was a good day. :P

I got a request from my dad to talk about how missionary work is going. The reason I don't normally talk too much about how the work is progressing is because it basically isn't in Kisarazu. We have no real investigators, so it's all finding. And as much fun as explaining exactly where and how often we go door to door or do street contacting, I figured I didn't want to bore everyone. (^ ^)

I'm also getting transferred! I'm leaving Kisarazu and heading to the Tokyo East area. The biggest section of it is called Adachi (足立 in Japanese), and it is an actual ward. It's a small area too, so YAY, LESS BIKING AND BIKING MISHAPS. My new companion is named Elder Merill, which sounds familiar, although I don't think I have ever met him. Should be fun!

The Bike of Doom!

I also Skyped with my family on Mother's Day, which was way fun! As much as I love Japan, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't eager to get back home and see them in person again! They also told me a very special secret, but I won't say anything more. The only hint I am going to give is that it doesn't involve cantaloupe.

Mother's Day Skype Call - Loving the Bike Helmet Hair

My scriptural thought for this week is from 3rd Nephi 13. Christ is among the Nephites, and He is talking about prayer.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

This is one of the things I really love about the gospel. Heavenly Father sees in secret, and can hear your prayers wherever or whenever you pray. It is very comforting to me to know that wherever I am, I can pray for help and be heard. The answers may not always come immediately, but they always come in some form or another.

I am glad you all like my emails so much. My dad told me he gets bugged about it when he doesn't post them to the blog as fast as he can, so I assume that means you all like them! Feel free to message me if there is anything specific you want me to talk about or send pictures of!

Sent from my iPad that I wish was a Surface
Elder Thomas Harper

"A mind is like a lemon, no matter how hard you squeeze it, you won't have honey. When you squeeze honey though, you get a sticky hand. And probably chased by a bunch of bees. And that sucks." -Elder Farnworth

Monday, May 2, 2016

P-Day Email 5/2/16‏

This week was interesting. I started it with basically no sleep, as you saw in my last email. I found out where they were coming from though. Someone had left the sliding door upstairs open just a crack, and the mosquitos had been coming through. The curtains were shut in front of the door, so we didn't notice. Either way, I got to sleep pretty well for about three days until something else happened. I'll cover that later though.

I went on splits on Tuesday with another elder. It was really fun for the first few hours, although later on I decided to argue with the road. It won. My bike hit a rock less than a centimeter in size, and it made the front wheel skid just the tiniest bit. Normally this would have been fine, although it made my front wheel hit the curb. The end result of this was that I was basically thrown from my bike, and while I was skidding on the pavement the bike bounced off of me. Kinda hurt just a bit. Either way, I screwed up my elbow and ankle pretty good, and ripped my pants, so we headed back to the apartment. I have been limping since, but it doesn't hurt nearly so much anymore, and I can bike decently now.

On Friday I went to a big field day that the stake was having. It was really fun, although I couldn't do much thanks to my argument with the road. Sadly, my true nature as a vampire decided to show through, and I did what all vampires do when exposed to direct sunlight. No, I didn't sparkle, that is the dumbest misconception about vampires ever. No, instead I burned. I got home and looked like a tomato. The red shininess emanating from my being would have put any tomato to shame. And as a result, I still am getting no sleep. Figures this would happen right after fixing the mosquito problem, right? :P

Last thing; I found kanji I can use for my name! If I change the pronunciation a little bit by making it from ha-pa-(Since that is the Japanese version) to ha-pa, it then has kanji. There are two. The first option (The one I am more likely to pick) means leaf. It would look like this: 葉っぱ. The second is this: 発破. That one means mining explosive. I.E., my name would be Elder Dynamite, more or less. I'll probably have my name tag be the first, and use the second for everything else. :P

I love you all! Thanks for all the emails you guys sent me! I got more than 35 emails for my birthday! I wish I had time to answer all of them! I don't remember if I already said this, so I figured that I would say it now! Talk to you guys next week!

Oh, I also changed my signature to quote something funny one of the elders in my zone said. What do you guys think about it?

Sent from my iPad that I wish was a Surface
Elder Thomas Harper

"A mind is like a lemon, no matter how hard you squeeze it, you won't have honey. When you squeeze honey though, you get a sticky hand. And probably chased by a bunch of bees. And that sucks." -Elder Farnworth

Monday, April 25, 2016

P-Day Email 4/25/16‏

Hello everyone! This week has been interesting. Also, if I make a mistake or a typo somewhere, I am sorry. I have had about three hours of sleep over the past four days. Although, I did accidentally take a nap during sacrament meeting for about half an hour, so I suppose it would be three and a half hours.

Anyway, I started off this week with Temple P-Day. I already explained what happened that day last week, so I'll assume you remember. :P

After that, I went on splits on Thursday and Friday with one of the zone leaders. It was way fun, and he taught me how to do streeting. My trainer was supposed to teach me that, except his form of teaching is just throwing me into the fire, so to speak. He just tells me he will help me if I stop someone, and just stands there grinning instead of doing what he promised, trying to force me to adapt. On the other hand, the zone leader actually helped, detailing a few ways to stop people and some things that work really well. So now I can do streeting!

Back to the story though(And to head off my rant before it gets too massive), I forgot to grab my pajamas for exchanges. Normally when you go on exchanges, you travel to the area and stay overnight, and then work the next day before you travel back to your area. Well, I remembered a change of clothes, my towel, and the other important stuff, but forgot pajamas. So, I ended up sleeping in my normal attire. Which, since it is a white collared shirt, tie, and slacks, meant I didn't sleep at all.

The next day(Saturday) was Stake DCS, which is essentially a stake meeting where we talked about how the missionary work was going. It was also in Chiba, where we were on exchanges, so we decided to just stay the night. So, I didn't sleep that day either, apart from the occasional five-ten minutes of uncomfortable napping before the sheer uncomfortable-ness woke me back up. Then Stake DCS was all in Japanese. I didn't understand basically anything. So that was fun.

We went back to our apartment late Saturday night, and went to bed. Unfortunately, somehow at least five mosquitos made it into the room at some point. So, between all the trying to ward off mosquitos and being woken up by them landing on my face, I didn't sleep that night either.

Sunday we had church. I accidentally took a nap in sacrament meeting. Don't do that, I am a bad example. And a sleep-deprived one too. :P I also got a package, which, upon opening it, I discovered to be a case of 36, normal sized Twix bars. So much candy! :) (THANKS DAD!) The other missionaries have been pleading for a few, since they both love them, and I guess they don't sell them in Japan.

Sunday night, I went on a rampage of Godzilla like proportions (to the mosquitos, at least), and basically just mass murdered every bug in our bedroom. The mosquitos had seemingly multiplied since the last count, or maybe I just noticed more. Either way, there are now eleven less mosquitos in the world as I have returned them to the fiery abyss from whence they sprung. Sadly, that was not all of them. I did, however, manage to get about three hours of sleep last night, even with a couple mosquitos left, which was nice. They also haven't been biting me much. My companion has been bit a ton, but I have received exactly three bites. Seems like bugs don't like to bite me in America or Japan, so that is nice.

That's pretty much my whole week though!

Something spiritual I found is in the book, Jesus the Christ, which I totally recommend reading. It is awesome. Anyway, I found this in Chapter 20:

"The Earth Before and After Its Regeneration.--That the earth itself fell under the curse incident to the fall of the first parents of the race, and that even as man shall be redeemed so shall the earth be regenerated, is implied in Paul’s words: “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:21–23). The present author has written elsewhere: “According to the scriptures, the earth has to undergo a change analogous to death, and to be regenerated in a manner comparable to a resurrection. References to the elements melting with heat, and to the earth being consumed and passing away, such as occur in many scriptures already cited, are suggestive of death; and the new earth, really the renewed or regenerated planet, which is to result, may be compared with a resurrected organism. The change has been likened unto a transfiguration (D&C 63:20, 21). Every created thing has been made for a purpose; and everything that fills the measure of its creation is to be advanced in the scale of progression, be it an atom or a world, an animalcule, or man--the direct and literal offspring of Deity. In speaking of the degrees of glory provided for His creations, and of the laws of regeneration and sanctification, the Lord, in a revelation dated 1832, speaks plainly of the approaching death and subsequent quickening of the earth. These are His words:--‘And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law, wherefore it shall be sanctified; yes, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.’ (D&C 88:25–26.)”
(Chapter 20: “Peace, Be Still”)

I thought that was really cool. Makes sense, right? Jesus the Christ does have lots of big words though, so I recommend having a dictionary nearby. I have never been more grateful that my iPad has a built in dictionary. :P

Well, I'll see you guys next week!

P.S. About Facebook: I am not allowed to follow or respond to anyone from home (I can be friends, I just can't follow). I can look at everyone's timelines, and read stuff others post, but it won't show up on my newsfeed. If you want me to see something, either tag me, share it directly to my timeline, or do something similar, as I otherwise am unlikely to notice it. I won't be able to reply except through an email, although you can assume I saw it. If this doesn't make sense, ask my dad. He is better at explaining things than I am.