Friday, June 10, 2022

Sherwood Chourou - Week 38 in Japan


We are back to the slowish days once more. We've been dendoing and teaching plenty, but nothing outstanding has arisen as of the last week. With that in mind, I will be sending some more study thoughts as substitution for this email. Do enjoy, and have a good week everyone!

Personal Heaven
 While reading in the book of Alma, I found myself reflecting on a conversation I had with a young man from Idaho while I was in Iwamizawa. We had been talking about the afterlife when he disclosed his belief in "personalized heavens", or the belief that each person goes to an afterlife tailored to be whatever would make them happiest. His reasoning for this was that he wouldn't be happy in a place filled with clouds and harps and nothing but righteousness (as the stereotypical image of heaven goes), but rather in a place where swearing would be permissible, likely among other differences that went unmentioned. We believe in the similar concept of different degrees of "heaven" and that each person will be most comfortable in the place they end up, but there is one point that we diverge on: the idea that the happiness in each "heaven" is the same.
 Please consider the following: there are two people. The one finds joy in helping others around them and abounding in good works. The other prefers to tear others down, to beat others according to their pleasure. One day, the two of them each do the things they most enjoy. At this point, as one might guess, their enjoyment is at least nigh unto equivalent. However, afterward, they spend a whole year without another chance to do what they each like. By the end of that year, are they equally happy? Additionally, once that time is finally spent, they each get to do what they like one more time. How does their current happiness compare to the end of the break, or to the first time they did what they liked? Though they were about equally "happy" in the first situation, after the year of inactivity, the one who was good looked back satisfied in what they'd done the year before, while the one who was wicked looked back dissatisfied and hoping to be able to relive the thrill again. Furthermore, once they do get their second chances, while the wicked one was momentarily restored to their previous pleasure, the good one found his joy inflated.
 That's the interesting thing about it all. The happiness produced by goodness is of a lasting, growing variety, while the pleasure from wickedness is of limited and transient nature. While it is possible to enjoy a place where wickedness is permissible, only so much joy can be found in it, which joy must be constantly maintained rather than increased. Yes, each person will be most comfortable in whatever degree of glory they end up in. However, should they end up in a lower degree, they will not be able to be as happy as they would've been had they changed themselves to be worthy of a higher degree. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us all become the kinds of people who are worthy to live with our Father in Heaven, together in the highest and happiest of the glories for all eternity.

A Wicked Purpose
 While reading the outline of the 3rd lesson in the PMG, I once again found myself pondering over an experience I had in Iwamizawa. My companion and I were out proselytizing when we knocked on the door of a certain individual's home. I hadn't understood the conversation at the time, but my companion informed me afterward that they had told us that not only did they not believe in God, but that their life purpose was to let others know that there is no God. As usual, I shall proceed to my thoughts on this matter.
 First off, the idea that this person didn't simply disbelieve in God, but rather claimed to know that God did not exist, for that is what they implied, if not outright stated. If I had a chance to speak with this person again, I would like to ask them something like this: "Have you checked your attic? Perhaps He's been hiding in there. Or maybe He's in your neighbor's house and they just haven't told you yet. Could He be in a nearby city? Who knows, He just may be on a vacation in Hawaii right now. Oh, perhaps He's on the bottom of the ocean helping some scientists with their work. Have you looked for Him on the moon? Or maybe he's on Pluto and will be coming to visit in a few weeks. What about the Andromeda galaxy? Have you checked there? And who knows, maybe He moved to the first place you looked just as you left." As many of you probably already caught on, here lies the issue in claiming you know that pretty much any one thing doesn't exist. More particularly, God is a uniquely difficult one to disprove, since to know whether He exists or not, one would have to be able to simultaneously observe every single point of time-space in the entire universe, a feat which would require the doer to essentially be a god, and would render the whole inquery self-defeated. On the other hand, to know whether any given thing exists or not, a person needs only one affirmative encounter to prove it true. As representatives of the church, we can say for a surety that we have witnessed evidences of God in our own lives, and we invite others to obtain their own personal witnesses to the truth of our message.
 The second issue I have is that this person said that sharing their "knowledge" of this is their life purpose. There is nothing preventing someone from making that their purpose, and my thoughts aren't directed to claiming otherwise. I would however like to discuss how I view such a self-constructed purpose. What that message is, in all essentiality, is a message of sadness, of hopelessness, and of destruction. Trying to convert others to that belief is not a positive effort. It is to remove the comfort of belief in a loving creator, to dash the hope another has that they can be saved from a dark fate, to take the dreams of fragile hearts and call them pointless and empty. Even if such a thing was true, that there was no God nor ever would be, what good would it do to tear others down for the sake of knowing such a sorrowful thing? I say unto you, it would be better to let them live on dreaming in a temporary mote of happiness than to wound them with such an awful belief. If someone really does believe that to be their purpose, I plead with them for the sake of all things good in the world that they do not attempt to follow it, for it is no purpose worth accomplishing. I make an end.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sherwood Chourou in DC - Weeks 9 & 10

 Konnichiwa again!

We have a wonderful announcement this week: we're getting a new companion! This time it's an reassigned Elder from Japan (language study buddy!) We're picking him up tomorrow, so the Limited Edition Fun Times (tm) will soon begin!

Also! We talked with Greg this week about the commandments after sending him the pamphlet on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In hindsight, we haven't been able to properly teach him up to this point, as our lessons have just been Q&A sessions in all honesty. However, he has made it known to us that he wants to have faith like we do, and inviting him to keep the commandments put us in a unique position to greatly help him grow his faith! Hopefully, this means he will really start to progress in the coming weeks!

That's all I have to share for now, I guess. Hope you all are staying healthy and have a good week! Please keep Greg in your prayers, and matta ne!

 - Squirrel!... Hi there!

Sherwood Chourou in DC - Weeks 7 & 8


We're back again! This week has been pretty busy. I've been training Elder Schneider for the last two weeks thereabouts, and I think I've been doing it right! Probably. Hopefully. He seems like he's doing well, so I can't be doing anything that wrong, right?

We've done a decent amount of work these two weeks, as well. Not long after my second email, we were moved out of the Isolation Phase into Phase 1 of reopening, meaning we can meet some people in person now! We got to teach a family who moved in recently in person just last week, which was a great experience for Elder Schneider! Since then, we had many other lessons over phone and text messaging, and some of the people we taught show great progress! In summary, it's been pretty good lately.

Lastly, we got our transfer calls, announcing that Elder Mousser will be transferring out... and that apparently I'm about to be the new district leader!? I'm getting whiplash from the escalation of responsibility here, especially considering we're probably getting another companion in a couple weeks! We'll be seeing how this'll go over the next few weeks.

Anyways, that's me for now. Hope you all had a good two weeks, and wish you all another good round! Matta ne!

 - I've got 3 names now.
 - Elder Schneider, some weirdo, and Elder Mousser.
 - 3 trios of weirdos in our district.

Sherwood Chourou in DC - Weeks 5 & 6

 Konnichiwa, Mina-san!

I have returned with another semi-weekly email. We've been doing some good work lately, as far as I can tell. Our teaching has been steadily growing and progressing as the days have gone by, so we're starting to really fill up our daily schedules! We actually just got 2 referrals yesterday, and one of them already made an appointment with us! I think I can safely say that exciting tines are coming my way.

In other news, I'm about to become a trainer! We're getting a brand-new missionary this Wednesday, fresh out of the online MTC! I don't know how I'm going to do it, but it seems God has finally deemed me competent enough to prepare another of His servants for the work ahead. Hope I don't screw up!

And that's about it. I've thrown a couple more cartoons onto my page, with more to come of course, but that's everything. I hope you're all still doing well, and have a good week! Matta ne!

So Elder Mousser and I did a trust fall vido for a Facebook post. He caught me. With his knee. I still have the bruise.

Sherwood Chourou in DC - Transfer 2 (Weeks 3 & 4)

 Konnichiwa Mina-san!

So unfortunately, as I anticipated, it took 2 weeks to get enough to talk about for an email, but here I am.

As the subject says, this is my 2nd transfer in DC, as I got here 4 weeks into the previous transfer. Elder Longhurst has left to another area while Elder Mousser and I remain in Bethesda. Things got just a little quieter overall, now that there's only the two of us, but the work is going along just fine.

We actually started finding a good handful of people to talk to on Facebook, so the work is picking up a bit! I have gotten a couple opportunities to realize how rusty I am with teaching, what with self isolation and my two month break from service. Hopefully I'll be back in shape by the time we get some real lessons going!

That's pretty much all I've got to share these two weeks. As some of you may have noticed, I put up my complete cartoon I showed off last time on my Facebook page. I'll be putting up another one tomorrow (if nothing gets in the way), and I'll try to make it a weekly thing. Please check them out and share them; it just might help us reach someone in need! Besides that, I hope you all have a good week! Matta ne!

So there's this dessert in Japan called a bonbon (if I remember correctly), which is essentially just a balloon filled with ice cream. After some struggling and make-shift tool building, we managed to make one. These pics should give you a basic idea of what they're like.

Sherwood Chourou in DC - Week 2


Unfortunately, this week has gone roughly as expected: low in events or excitement in general. Some people responded to our friend requests, which means potential invedtigators, and 2 of our friends joined our sacrament meeting zoom call! Besides that, though, there's not a lot to talk about. I'm thinking I may switch to doing emails every other week to make sure I have some semblance of content each time. Anyways, I hope y'all are doing great back home! Matta ne!


 - I'm probably going to start making little cartoons and posting them on Facebook. This is a sample of what they'll probably look like, though I intend to color them. Please share your thoughts on this idea!
 - I made some yakisoba (noodle stir fry), but ran out of lunch time, so I had to store it as leftovers. This is the result. (It was still tasty)

Monday, June 15, 2020

Reverse Exodus: Year of the Zombie Missionaries (Transfer 1 Week 1)

Konnichiwa, Mina-san!

Wow, it's been a while since I've sent one of these! Anyways, for those of you who don't know, I've been reassigned to the Washington DC North mission and have been out for a week now (sadly, we're still in isolation, so no proselytizing). It's definitely not Japan, but that's okay. It turns out that the mission president served in Sapporo, too, back in his day, so that's cool. I'm in a trio with two red-headed elders, Elder Mouzer and Elder Longhurst. It turns out that Elder Mouzer is from Gilbert as well, and even has the same birthday as me (he's two years older, but still)! I got a chance to help out with a lesson over the phone, which went fairly well, considering how rusty I probably am. Besides that, though, not a lot has been happening out here, but I hope everyone's alright back home! Have a good week! Matta ne!

**Mom is attaching some photos from Elder Sherwood's return home from Sapporo and his departure to Washington, DC.

1-2. Leaving Sapporo
3. Arriving in Arizona
4. Driving to the airport to fly to DC
5-6. Saying goodbye to Dad
7-9. Saying goodbye to Mom

Sherwood Chourou - Week 38 in Japan

Konnichiwa! We are back to the slowish days once more. We've been dendoing and teaching plenty, but nothing outstanding has arisen ...