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!

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>

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!

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.
Elder Harper
"Failure is simply the fuel for success"

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