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.



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, 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 >

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.