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.

Thanks!

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.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P-Day Email 4/19/16‏


The Tokyo Temple!


Yummy Raw Fish!
Today was really busy, I apologize for this update being late. Wrote it without wifi, so it'll be sent tomorrow the second I get wifi. You have a day's delay, for which I am sorry.

Anyway, I started off the week with exchanges with an awesome elder named Elder Jackson. He is super fun and likes a lot of the same things I do! We did a ton of finding, mostly street contacting and handing out flyers. Yay us. :P

The rest of the week was good. I am getting along with my companion better.  We can work together effectively enough for missionary work. It can be painful at times, but it does work.

Today was Temple P-Day. This is why I had P-Day on Tuesday instead of Monday. Once a transfer (6 weeks), all the missionaries in a zone can go to the temple. It's also the only day you are authorized to leave your zone and area boundaries for P-Day, since the temple is not inside of it, so we had a fun day poking around Tokyo. I had some sweet sushi, went through a science museum (one of the few activities you can do as a missionary), and even went shopping for snacks! Tons of fun!

At the Pokémon Center!
I took several pictures which I am going to let my parents comb through, since I am almost out of time. Sorry for the briefness of this letter, I'll make a longer one next week!

My spiritual thing I found is in Moroni:

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;

8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.

9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. (Mormon 9)

I often have to talk about this, since we believe in continuing revelation. Why would God, who is an unchanging, loving Heavenly Father decide to just stop giving his kids help? I am super happy that He continues to help us today, because we all, missionaries especially, need His help! Life is much easier when you know you have a source of help in heaven who knows all and knows exactly how to help you! It may not seem that way at times, but in the end, it is all for your experience!

Well, back to the work! I'll talk to you all next week!

-Elder Harper

Sent from my iPad that sadly does not have Excel and is unfortunately not a Surface


Thomas Birthday!

Hey all, it is now 2 AM Japan time on the morning of Thomas' 19th birthday.  I'd love it if you could all take 30 seconds and just send him a birthday wish!  His first away from home and first on his mission.  It would mean a lot to him and to us.

thomas.harper@myldsmail.net

Thanks!

-Ron

Monday, April 11, 2016

P-Day Email 4/11/16

This week was interesting. My companion and I had a bit of a falling out, but the mission president was super nice and understanding about it and let us go on exchanges for general conference so that we had some time away from each other. We are getting along much better now!

I went on exchanges to the mission home with one of the tech staff elders, which was really cool. I partially wonder if it was because they wanted some help figuring out some of the problems that they were having(Which I managed to fix most of), but it was really fun regardless. I totally expect I'll end up in tech staff at some point too, as I am one of exactly four programmers in the mission, one of whom is going home next transfer. That means two of the three will be in tech staff, and I expect I'll end up as one of them soon after I finish my twelve weeks of training.

I'm glad I have such a great ward supporting me at home! Bishop Nelson, Sister Hill, and others have sent me emails which were really helpful. I got them right as I was feeling the saddest this week, and they helped a lot in cheering me back up!

The country is more or less what I expected, although my research on Japan while at home was somewhat extensive, hence why it mostly matches what I thought. You have extremely advanced cities surrounded with lots of green, beautiful countryside. They are much better at recycling than even Seattle, so they don't need many dumps. You do have to separate your garbage into several categories though, such as bottles in here, cans in there, burnables in there, non-burnables way over there, plastics in that bin over here, and so on.

I got to watch General Conference finally. They delay it by a week for two reasons. First, they do it so that the translations are as accurate as possible, because that way they have time to review the translations and what was actually said. Second, because of the time zone difference, to watch it live would mean we would be watching it in the middle of the night. As you might imagine, most people would probably not watch it if that were the case. So, they delay it a week. It was way fun, and I really loved Elder Holland's talk at the end! I laughed hard enough I accidentally tipped my chair over when he showed that picture with the T-Rex and the kids running from it. XD

I also got my Facebook account set up, although I don't really know the rules for it as well as I would like yet. If you post something to it, you can know I probably saw it, although if I don't respond that just means I am trying to find out if it is okay. The mission rules surrounding it that are written down are kinda vague, and the mission rule pamphlet is a little out of date anyways, so I have to learn most of them from live missionaries. If I get put in tech staff later, I am going to see if it would be possible to update it. It's just a PDF, so it would be easy. The email I use for my Facebook account is thomas.harper@myldsmail.net, and is a separate account from the one I used back home. If you want to friend me, toss me a request. I haven't been actively looking for people, so don't be offended if I have not sent you a request yet. I literally just glance through the Suggested Friends list and hit 'send request' when I see someone I recognize, so if I haven't sent you one, it just means you haven't popped up on that list yet. Please feel free to friend me.

I don't have much more to report on this week, so I'll leave you with my spiritual thought. I still don't have a name for this section, however. Sorry.

This is from the general conference talk by Elder Holland:

My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength--that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.

I thought that was really cool. In the gospel, we have two things: Commandments, and truths. They tend to mirror each other, a good example being the 'have no other gods before me', as there actually aren't any other gods in the first place. I hadn't thought about that one though. It's something many people in our church take for granted I think. But, if you stop and think about it, how cool is it that the most powerful, most honored being in the universe loves YOU individually? Loves you enough that, despite your imperfections and mistakes, still calls you His son or daughter, and keeps trying to help you, blessing you and helping you through some of the hardest things in life?

I am super grateful that I have a loving Heavenly Father, who, no matter how many times I mess up, or do something stupid, is always willing to lend me a helping hand to get back on my feet and keep trying! I know these things, and am very grateful that I have the opportunity to share them with others!

Looking up, I just wrote a small talk. I apologize for that, although I hope you might have gotten something out of it. :P

Anyway, I love you all and look forward to emailing you all again next week! Toss me an email if you have any questions, or even just want to talk!

-Elder Harper

Sent from my iPad that I really, really wish was a Microsoft Surface and had Excel. I really miss Excel...

Monday, April 4, 2016

First PDay in Japan!


< Dad Note: Thomas sent a bunch of pictures this week.  You can see them by clicking on the "Thomas' Mission Media" link in the nav bar just above the posts.  They'll be in the Japan 1 folder >

thomas.harper@myldsmail.net

This week was really interesting. I'll skip what happened at the MTC, since I know you all want to hear about what I did after on my way to Japan.

My district woke up at 2:15-ish, and left the MTC at 3:50 AM. That was interesting. Anyway, after a long bus and train ride, we got to the airport, called home, and got on the plane. Unfortunately, the pilot of the plane I was in forgot to run the defroster, so we spent 15 minutes waiting for the snow to melt off the wings. So I got to LAX(where my connection was) late, and couldn't call my family there, which was kinda sad. Then I got on the huge Japanese plane. It was like a small cruise ship with wings. I still wanted off really badly by the time that flight ended though. It was 12 hours of boredom. I couldn't even sleep.

Anyway, I got off and went to the mission home, where I met the Mission President and his wife. They are super nice! I slept in one of the rooms upstairs, and left the next day for my new area with my new companion.

My new area is pretty cool. We only have two investigators, but they are both really fun to hang out with. My companion and I have tried doing some fun stuff together too throughout the week. I've been to a sushi bar, a club(more on that later), a 7/11(Senkyoushi no saiko tomodachi, or in English, missionary's best friend. It has wifi.), and the massive bike shop where I bought my bike.

The reason we went to the club is because one of the investigators has a membership there. We went there because we wanted to play billiards, and we don't know of any pool tables anywhere else. It isn't as sketchy as most American clubs though. It was more like a lounge with darts and pool tables. Oh, and all-you-can-eat/drink soft drinks and ice cream. That was nice. :P

I only get an hour and a half on P-Days to write emails, sadly, so if someone sends me an email and I don't reply, you can assume I ran out of time. Still, feel free to send me emails! I can read them any time of the week, and I'll do my best to respond!

Love you guys!

Sent from my new iPad that I still need to change the signature on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Elder Harper Has Arrived!

< We received the following this morning to our great delight >

Dear Brother and Sister Harper,

We just want to send you a quick note to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely in Japan. President Nagano met them at the airport this afternoon. They then came to the Mission Home, where Sister Nagano fed them, visited shortly, and then sent them all to bed for a much needed rest.

Following breakfast tomorrow morning, they will receive an orientation and then meet their new companions who have been chosen to train them. We will take pictures at that time, and within a few days you will receive another email with these pictures attached.

Thank you for entrusting your missionary to us in the great Japan Tokyo Mission.  We so appreciate all you have done to get these missionaries to this point in their lives!

Sister Mona Kotter
Japan Tokyo Mission Secretary

Friday, March 25, 2016

MTC Email #9

So ready to be out of here. As much as I love the MTC, I want to teach what I've learned!

So, something interesting I noticed a couple days ago. My relationship with the one irritating zone leader has changed, as has that with my companions. I am actually pretty good friends with both of the zone leaders now, and Elder Conover, who I had previously wanted to smack at the beginning of my time here, now spends a fair amount of time joking around with me. Turns out, he likes some video games too, and hadn't wanted to admit it. So yeah, now we chat about Smash Bros Brawl together and have a lot of fun.

I am super excited to get to Japan! I've always really loved the culture, the people, the food, and basically anything else you can think of, so I bet it'll be a lot of fun! I'm hoping that maybe I can learn a few Japanese recipes so that I can cook something when I get home, since I've always had a fairly small repertoire of food I can make due to my complete lack of cooking skills.

Oh, here's a fun note: I came to the MTC with only about 8 pounds of weight to spare, even though I really only brought the stuff that was on the list. We found out why. Turns out, I was supposed to have three suitcases in addition to my shoulder bag, when I only had two. We thought my shoulder bag counted as my carry-on, but it's actually small enough it counts as a personal item. As a result, my awesome parents sent me the last suitcase of my set, and I have a solid 48 pounds of weight I can use. Chances are I'll only use 4 lbs, although it will be nice when I am trying to get some souvenirs home at the end of my mission.

Now, for the scriptural thought of the week...

I was reading through John, and noticed something I thought was interesting. First, I need to talk about Job. Job was a 'man [that] was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.' Satan saw this, and that he had no power to tempt him because of his faithfulness. So, Satan goes to God, and actually asks for permission to basically make Job's life miserable as a trial. God grants permission, as He saw that Job wouldn't be tempted otherwise. Anyway, what I noticed in John is that the same thing happens for Jesus:

26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.

29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. (John 13)

This is at the Last Supper. 'That thou doesn't, do quickly' sounds an awful lot like he was giving Satan permission, doesn't it? This is probably the greatest proof I've found so far that we have to invite Satan to tempt us, and that if we live the gospel perfectly he will have no power over us. Remember what was said about Captain Moroni? If everyone was like him, 'the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.'

Obviously this is much harder than it sounds, but look at the blessings we'll get if we can pull it off!

Next week when I email you guys, I'll be in Japan! I look forward to next P-Day! I'll probably add a note saying which day is my P-Day in my next letter, as it probably won't stay Friday. Cya later!

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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"

Friday, March 18, 2016

MTC Email #8

This week, a momentous thing has happened. I have stumbled across one of the many deep eternal truths of the gospel. The MTC is like spiritual honey! It's really good for you and very sweet, but you start to get sick of it after a spoonful or two. :P <Dad Note: His way of saying he loves the MTC but he's ready to get to Japan :)>

Not much really happened this week. I got some mochi and Pocky sticks from my dad, which I have been sharing and are loved all around.  My companions and I all yelled at each other, but all is better now. Starting to get packed. Although, the definition of 'starting' I am using is closer to should be getting started.

Super excited to go to Japan, and almost more excited to be able to eat something for breakfast that is not the same every day. I never thought I would ever want to make my own breakfast so badly.

Cya next week! I'll have more to talk about too!

<Dad Note>
After he sent this, he got his travel plans.  He leaves the MTC at 4:00 AM on Monday the 28th to make an 8:30 flight to LA, one hour layover, and then 10:30 AM flight from LA to Tokyo.  We're super excited that he gets to call us from the airport!  Just not sure if he's calling from SLC or LAX airport yet :/  8 days until he's Tokyo bound!!! </Dad Note>

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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"
Obligatory MTC Map Picture

His buddy Elder Matt Blanding headed to Georgia Macon Mission

Friday, March 11, 2016

MTC Email #7

Recently, I've found I love talking in archaic language. We hadst briefly considered writing our epistle home in it, but we hath decided that we wouldst rather have all comprehend it, rather than force thou to ponder it to discern what we hath said unto thee.

So yeah, going to be normal English. XD

This week was fun. Monday is when most of the fun stuff started. On Monday, Dance chorou's companion left for Tokyo, since he already knew Japanese completely and just needed to memorize the gospel vocab, so he needed a new companion. So, long story short, Graham Chorou and I have a new companion! So the three of us are a trio, and have lots of fun messing with each other.

On Monday, I also got a package from my dad. It was full of a Japanese treat called mochi. In English, it would be called a pounded rice cake, but that's doesn't sound like what it is. It has a consistency somewhere between a gummy worm and jello. The variety I got was called daifuku mochi, which means that it was filled with some marshmallow and had some filling in addition. In this case, it was strawberry. Super tasty!

Anyway, I shared it with the rest of my district, and most of them loved it! A couple found it kinda weird, but most loved it! It was really fun, and it seems to have encouraged them to learn Japanese, as they are working harder after trying the mochi. XD

On Wednesday I got a new tie pin. It's a TIE Fighter from Star Wars. It's the spaceships that Darth Vader's side uses that have two large panels for wings and a little spherical cockpit. I thought it'd be funny to wear a TIE Fighter on my tie. :P

We have kouhai now, which are the junior missionaries. They are all super cool, and one of them is actually from Japan! He lived in the US Airbase we have there, so his Japanese is great, and the only thing left for him to learn here is the vocabulary and the lesson teaching skills.

Oh, and I bought some super glue. My iPad case broke a little bit last week. Basically, I had been fiddling with the latch and broke it by accident. So, I bought some superglue and fixed it. And in the process of doing so, just like every other time I have used superglue, managed to glue myself to the case. Thankfully, was just my finger, and I could pull it off carefully with some effort. Did lose some paint to my finger though. Meh.

And now, for WHATEVER THE HECK IT IS CALLED SCRIPTURE CORNER THING(I'd love some suggestions if anyone wants to send me some.):

This week, I finished Alma and made it to 3rd Nephi. In Helaman 14, I found some really cool tidbits. Samuel the Lamanite is prophesying to the Nephites about Christ's death, and says this:

21 Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up;

22 Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath.

It says the rocks above and below the earth would be broken up, right? It also says in other places in the scriptures that there will be a lot more earthquakes in the latter days. Maybe there were only a couple of tectonic plates before Christ's death, and at his death, the plates were 'rent in twain', hence why there are so many today. More plates means smaller plates, which means they'll move faster and hit each other more often, causing earthquakes. Just a theory.

Another good one is this:

27 And he said unto me that while the thunder and the lightning lasted, and the tempest, that these things should be, and that darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days.

Some sort of eclipse perhaps? If a big enough comet or asteroid had a near miss with the Earth, it could cause a complete eclipse of the sun, resulting in darkness for days. There is actually an extra planet in our solar system that has a massive elliptical orbit, which is why we didn't know about it for a long time. If it passed by at the Savior's death, it would definitely be big enough to cause an eclipse of that size. Once again, just a theory.

I love trying to find out the science behind what God does. I am sure He uses science for much of what He does. If you are going to design a world, why not design it so that it does what you want it to WITHOUT needed to change it yourself every time? I mean sure, He could have just decided to make it dark, but I imagine He probably did it through some scientific bit He prepared beforehand for that purpose specifically.

Anyway, that's pretty much it for this week. Kinda busy, right?

Cya guys next week!

<DAD NOTE: Snippets from other emails follow...>

<DAD: When asked if he was homesick at all>  Not really. College prepared me for it. Super happy we had me go there first!

<DAD: I asked him how his ribs were, how excited he was to be headed to Japan in 17 days, how recently he read is Pat Blessing, and how prepared to teach he felt>

My ribs are doing great. Still slightly ripped, although I don't feel more than a slight twinge when I sneeze, so it's only a problem when someone decides to punch me in the ribs. Which, as you might imagine, doesn't happen often here.

YES! Super excited! We are speaking a lot of Japanese, not 100%, but around 60%-ish. When I call from the airport, you'll probably hear me reflexively use Japanese. I only use the Japanese words for a lot of words now out of habit, for instance I say 'demo' instead of but, 'hai' and 'iie' instead of yes and no, and 'kamisama' instead of God. So, I apologize in advance. When I say one during the call, let me know and I'll use the English variant. :P

Ready to teach, both yes and no. The only thing I have a problem with is starting the lesson and picking a topic, but after that it's easy to write up. The entire PMG is essentially one massive collection of lessons, so look through it and the study guide for the topic and the lesson pretty much builds itself!

I actually read my patriarchal blessing recently too! And I noticed something interesting that I hadn't seen before, despite being its own paragraph and being a sentence long. As with everything else, it is predicated upon obedience, but what is says is that I'll participate in the first resurrection. That means two things. First, and probably most importantly, the celestial kingdom is attainable for me. Already figured that out, but the reassurance is nice. :) The other is that I will be around for the Second Coming. Whether in spirit or body it says not, but still cool to know!

<DAD: To his mom in response to her missing him> Same goes for you! I can't wait to get back and hug the living day lights out of you! Or more accurately, since I'll arrive home likely late at night, I'll hug the living nightlights out of you!


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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"
With his Aunt Bonnie Hardy

With his District at Provo Temple

While Writing Home

Friday, March 4, 2016

MTC Email #6

<Dad Note: Two pictures this week.  One of some elders in his district doing "companionship study" and the other of his district at the temple.>

Well, this week was interesting. We learned a lot of interesting things this week. I think my personal favorite was "okaasan wa <x> desuyo!" which is how you do a your mom joke in Japanese. Just replace <x> with the item in question. Super fun to use. Another useful phrase is hanasuna, which roughly translates as shut up. Now, would a missionary use either phrase? Probably not, but it was still fun to learn. The your mom joke was reverse engineered from when one of the teachers made one, so it wasn't intentionally taught, and hanasuna is just 'to talk', but in negative command form, so the more accurate translation is 'I command you to not talk'. :P

Matt Blanding, one of my friends from Washington, came to the MTC on Wednesday, as well as Nathaniel Nemeth. I've only found Matt so far, but it was still fun. Sadly, he did not bring a Rubix cube like I thought he would, so he couldn't solve one for me again. He is really good at solving those, with his best time under 20 seconds, hence why I wanted to see him solve it again. It's awesome how fast he is at that. I can't solve those things period.  He was happy, excited, and "High on life" (1997(c)Matt Blanding). He seems to be taking it well. He thinks that the MTC is really fun, and his companion seems like a great guy.

Update on the hidden alarm clock: Still haven't found the hiding spot it's in, but on the bright side, it hasn't gone off in awhile. My assumption is that (Hallelujah) its batteries have died. Can't say I feel particularly bad about that. Hopefully we'll find it before we leave the MTC, since I really want to know where it is hidden.

Turns out, I did tear a little bit of cartilage in my ribs. I'd been pretty sure, but I had it checked out just to make sure I didn't mis-diagnose it. That, and I sure wasn't going to trust the Internet with diagnosing it. Pretty sure WebMD would say "Your ribs hurt? Probably cancer" since that is what it diagnoses everything with. XD "Your nose is running? Must be cancer", "You sneezed? Most likely cancer", "You got a bad grade? It's cancer." There's a reason we haven't abandoned human doctors in favor of the Internet. XD

Next week, we are getting some junior missionaries! It'll be so cool! Any ideas on how to prank them? While I am a big fun of the saran wrap over the doorway trick, it won't work on a large group.

The 'Still Badly Named With No Nice Acronym Spiritual Thought Email Piece', or SBNWNNASEP for short(I was lazy and forgot to come up with a good name for it):

Read from Jacob to Alma 38 this week and came across this gem in Alma 11:

21 And this Zeezrom began to question Amulek, saying: Will ye answer me a few questions which I shall ask you? Now Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good; therefore, he said unto Amulek: Will ye answer the questions which I shall put unto you?

22 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord. And Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being.

23 Now Amulek said: O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?

So, to give a little background, Alma and Amulek are out being missionaries, and those they are trying to teach are not exactly liking that these two missionaries are crying repentance. So, one of them, Zeezrom, a lawyer by trade, attempts to twist their words around and prove them false. He fails though, and resorts to trying to bribe Alma and Amulek with six onties. Now, I did some math to figure out how much that was. It has all the different currencies in the verses before for that reason. 1 onti is 6 senums, and 6 senums are 12 shiblons, and 12 shiblons are 24 leahs. A leah is a quarter of a bushel of grain, so 1 onti is a fair amount. And Amulek was offered six of these to just say a couple of sentences! Despite this though, he rebukes Zeezrom, saying "O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?" He is a great example of being true at all times. He even converts Zeezrom later!

Another verse I read and liked was Alma 17:24. It reads:

24 And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.

This is right after he introduces himself by saying "Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die."

Not only was his first impression good enough to keep the king from killing him, but the king had him freed and offered him marriage to one of his daughters! Shows the power of a good first impression, right? I think my favorite part though is that Ammon turned that offer down. I guess he knew the mission rules, right? Page 33 of the White Bible! XD

So yeah, that's it for now. If anyone wants more details or for me to add something next time, let me know!

<DAD Note: Below are interesting paragraphs from other emails yesterday>

The branch president hangs out with us a lot, so I just get to talk to him a lot.  He often even goes back to the dorms with us and talks while we get ready for bed. He's just super awesome like that. Our zone right now only consists of our district too, so it makes it possible for him to hang our with us a lot.  I really love his counsellors too. Brother Weaver is really nice, although he's tends to be too busy to hang out except for Sunday's, and Brother Turpin is awesome. He speaks Japanese, since he went to Japan on a mission, and hangs out with us a lot too. He has some sweet insights he shares. Like me, he has an engineer's mind, so he combines science and doctrine in some really awesome ways. For instance, you know how the scriptures say that God's path is 'one eternal round'? The wavelength of energy is like a spiral. It's not just a sine wave like you see in 2D representations, it is a 3D spiral. I.E., it's one eternal round, spiraling onward through space. Kinda cool, right?

Oh, and have you read 'The Sanctified Missionary'? It's a talk, but I don't remember who gave it. My district read it, translated the phrase 'Put it on the altar'(It was talking about worldly things) into Japanese, and then has been yelling it all week anytime anyone mentions anything not gospel related or talks to someone of the opposite sex. :P

We are getting to be the senpai missionaries to some new ones arriving this week. Should be interesting. Sadly, that means I'm going to have to speak in Sacrament meeting soon too, since I haven't yet and there's only a few weeks left. Well, It could be worse. XD

The nihonjin(Japanese) missionaries are all awesome. Super fun to talk with. As far as my skills in Japanese go, the only thing I'm really lacking is the senkyoshi no tango, or the missionary's vocabulary. My street Japanese is more than sufficient to buy things, chat with people, and otherwise do various stuffs.

I did do hosting once, although the second time I was sick. That was the second and third week. I was hoping we might get assigned hosting this week, but to no avail. I wanted to see if I could host Matt and Nathaniel. Still, I have chatted with Matt some, which was fun. Still looking for Nathaniel though.
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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"

<==[= Sent from my iPad that I wish was a Microsoft Surface =]==>

Friday, February 26, 2016

MTC Email #5

This week was interesting. There's a new district of Japanese missionaries. They are native speakers though, so they'll only be here for two weeks. They are a lot of fun to chat with though, and between our somewhat broken Japanese and their somewhat broken English, we can actually have some fairly meaningful conversations.
As far as my health is concerned, I have a very faint lingering cough, but other than that I am better. I only cough once every couple of hours. Unfortunately, I seem to have split some cartilage in my lower left ribs earlier in the week during a coughing fit, so it now feels like an angry dwarf welder took a blowtorch to my ribs any time I cough. On the bright side, I'm coughing so little I usually don't notice.
I (and much of the rest of the district) have been struggling a little bit with one of the zone leaders, but his companion at least manages to rein in most of his questionable ideas. That is all I am going to say on the subject, mostly because I am still unhappy about his latest idea and, as Thumper so wisely said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
Something amusing that happened this week is that I now feel like a pirate when getting ready for bed. My dad sent me some eyepatches at my request, since I tend to use a trick pirates used to use. Basically, you cover one eye with it, and when you need to see in the dark, you switch it to the other eye, making it so you can instantly see in the dark. Pirates would use it when boarding ships so that when they went below decks, they could see and fight effectively. I use it so I can go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without obliterating my night vision. The best part though? Turns out that my companion brought dice, so we've been playing Liar's Dice while I wear my eyepatch. Hence why I feel like a pirate. :P
One of the other missionaries bought a journal this week. Doesn't sound strange, until you hear the reason. He's making 'The Plates of District 6A'. Basically, he's been recording the funny things we say, and plans on passing it down with the rest of the inheritance. Maybe I can get ahold of it next week and send a few 'verses' as part of my weekly email.
In other news, Ive been hearing that people want to hear about the spiritual side of things too. So, I'll now introduce... Blackjack's Spiritual Stuff Corner! <Ron: Blackjack is Thomas' gamer tag :/> I'll come up with a better name later, I was feeling lazy. Besides, it needs to have a cool acronym, and BSSC isn't one.
This week, I was studying primarily in 1 & 2 Nephi, and I noticed something cool. In 1 Nephi 13, Nephi is talking about his vision of the future, specifically about what is going to happen in the Americas. I was reading it, and saw these verses: 
17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.
It's talking about the revolutionary war! A nation in the Americas, fighting off their mother nations, and being free from 'all other nations'? That's the USA! I thought that was the coolest thing.
Another thing I noticed was in 2 Nephi 29. It was talking about the revealing of the Book of Mormon, and it said this:
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

Now, what really interested me was that last verse. We have the words of the Nephites and Jews, but not of the lost tribes. If I remember the definition of lost correctly, it means you have no idea where they are, and I'm pretty sure I have only the Bible and the Book of Mormon. So it makes me wonder if maybe we might get more scriptures later. The Lord has stated He has more information for us.
Anyway, as always, anyone who wants can feel free to email me at thomas.harper@myldsmail.net any time. I can only reply on Fridays, but I can read it any time. Also, I tend to write reactively. If you send me an email, I will reply. I just only rarely start a conversation is all. So feel free to write me!

Ja, mata! (Cya later!)
<Ron: The following paragraphs are excerpts taken from letters to Melanie and I this week>
<Ron: about language study>
We aren't too far from where I left off in college. Out of my two years, we've made it about 1.33 years through it. So glad I had some training beforehand, otherwise there is no way I could possibly keep up. My speech is improving. While I'm not learning too much more except for the missionary vocabulary, I am getting much better at conjugating sentences much faster. I've never been good at being able to come up with sentences quickly, but I am getting faster. I can hold a fair conversation and teach the gospel fairly effectively in Japanese now!
I've been getting to the temple every PDay. Did Initiatory this morning, although I've done endowment sessions before. Haven't done sealings yet, but I'll get to it eventually.
Companion study has been fun. We mostly spend it creating lesson plans though, so not a lot of 'studying' happens as its more planning than anything else.


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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"

Friday, February 19, 2016

MTC Email #4

It both feels as though I've been here for an eternity and a day. It feels like I just got here, but time has been lazily drifting by. I've been learning a lot, although mostly spiritually as opposed to Japanese. So far, I've known most everything they've taught us in Japanese, but they are catching up fast.

The senpai left, which saddens me. They were a lot of fun to hang out with, and you could ask them anything. They left us a ton of stuff.  The inheritance turned out to be about 6 boxes of stuff. Had everything from stress balls to the 'Small Plates of 6A'(A collection of whiteboards they did random stuff to and stuck together in a stack) to some of the white powdered donuts you can find in grocery stores from 2002. Needless to say, we didn't eat them. To their credit though, they look brand new. We spent about 2 hours sifting through all of it, and then put what we didn't want to use under the beds. When we are the senpai for another group of missionaries, I am going
to make sure we give it to them early. I want to be around when they see it so I can photograph their shock.

In other news, I got sick on Sunday. That sucked. One of the other missionaries got sick and accidentally passed it on to me. So, on Sunday, I looked like, behaved like, and thought like a zombie. Anyway, I'm all better now, except for a lingering cough, and all is looking great! I love you all!

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Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"

Friday, February 12, 2016

MTC Email #3

MTC District
      Already my third P-Day. Kinda weird. As I said in my last email, I can tell time is flying by at an incredible speed, but each day feels like weeks. Our senpai are leaving tomorrow (Japanese for superiors). The way that the districts work is that when you come in, the first three weeks you have a district who is at 6 weeks as your senpai. When you hit three weeks, that's when they hit 9, so they leave. You are alone for 3 weeks, and then you are the senpai for another group for your final 3 weeks!

     Our senpai are all really awesome and I'm sad to see them go. Lucky for me, I'll be able to see about a third of them later since they are also headed to Tokyo! I am worried though about one thing. One of them, who's name is Elder Manapori(Said almost like monopoly), is extremely enthusiastic about everything, super fun to be with in general. He hails from Australia, and has the accent to show it. Super funny guy. Anyway, I'm scared I'm going to get to Japan, and he'll have already converted everyone and taught them how to speak English with an Australian accent. Probably unfounded, but I'm going to get there and have no one to convert or speak Japanese with simply because I said that. :P
     I started lifting weights last Monday. I know the concept is laughable, and I was stupid. Now my arms both hurt and I have learned my lesson. The cons vastly outweigh the pros for someone who is an aspiring programmer anyway. :P On the bright side, everyone gets a laugh out of it, right?

     We got our iPads this week too. Still trying to figure mine out, since I grew up using real technology like Windows laptops, but I should have some pictures to send by next Friday. In theory. I suppose we shall see.

     Other than that, there's not much in the way of updates to speak of.  As far as that stupid hidden alarm clock goes, we still have not found it, and I am considering sneaking out of the MTC, renting a blowtorch, and cooking the stupid thing after taking apart the ventilation while looking for it. When I get off my mission, I'm going to hunt those missionaries who put it there down, and smack them. It probably won't hurt, since I have no muscles, BUT I'M STILL GONNA DO IT.

Elder Hess
     Actually, there was one other thing. The 'inheritance'. Basically every set of senpai has passed down this set of objects, occasionally added a new one. The ones I know of so far are Vietnam Guy(A light green toy-story style paratrooper who has been taped to the walls of the dorm), and four ties. The first I'll describe is the Tie of Champions. Katie would get this one in a heartbeat. Essentially, you have to drink 1 gallon of chocolate milk in 20 minutes and manage to keep it down. Next is Stanley. It's a grey striped tie, no one has any idea about the story behind it, it's just there. There's the Chosen Tie, which is given from the last Chosen One to the new Chosen one(Who could be anyone). And there's the Melting Peacock. Super ugly, and has a hilarious story behind it. It's passed down to the first one to hear the story out of the new missionaries. Hess-chorou is the one who got that one. Here is the story in his own words: 

      "One day there was this beautiful melting peacock that lived in the city of Nagasaki in 1945. He was climbing a hill one day when all of a sudden, BOOM! They dropped one of the first atomic bombs. His colors got so distorted and melted away so that he looked just absolutely hideous. So he was cursed to live the rest of his life like that.  Then one day as he was hiking around a small little town known as Tokyo, he was hit.  He was ran over by one of them Vietnamese carts that is pulled by a person.  It made him go flat like a pancake. So then there was this one guy who saw it and walked up and scooped him off the pavement to shape him into a tie.  And ever since then it has been the legend to be worn every Tuesday."

     Kewl, right? He typed it up himself. Anyway, so he's going to be wearing it every Tuesday in honor of the poor peacock's lost beauty. Maybe I can send you a picture when I figure out how.

    The studying is awesome. I've always learned best through using what I know, as opposed to flashcards or rote memorization, and here that's 90% of your day, so it's been fairly easy. We do talk almost exclusively about the language though, and we have to self-study the kanji since they don't teach that here. I relayed what I felt was the most important cultural facts I knew about Japan to my companion, since I figured info on the 'toilets' they have there would be good to have. :P His face was great. XD

     Anyway, that's all for this week. I love you all!
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Elder Harper
'Failure is simply just fuel for success"