Monday, December 30, 2019

Sherwood Chourou - Week 34 in Japan


Okay, so we've got an announcement this week: Fun is getting baptized! For those of you who were following my mail from Iwamizawa, I had been teaching a Vietnamese man named Fun for pretty much my entire stay there. We'd gotten him to an interview, but he wasn't as ready as we'd thought, and so he remained dry when I was transfered to Hakodate. But now, thanks to the hard work of my successors, he is now scheduled to enter the waters of baptism this saturday (friday for everyone in America)! Moral of the story is, it may take a long time, but no effort for good is wasted in the Lord's work!
In other news, we just yesterday found a third young man to teach. We have been finding young men oddly frequently this last month, almost like the Spirit is trying to help us get Wakkanai some new priesthood quorums. If so, no complaints here.
Today, one of the member couples took us up to the northernmost point in Japan. Normally, you can see Russia from there, but it was a bit too cloudy for that, unfortunately. On the way back, we spotted a hawk sitting imposingly on a lamppost, which warranted a quick photo. These and more are included with this email.
I think that's the bulk of the interests of the week. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year! Matta ne!

P.S. I got the Christmas banner, thank you everyone!

 - Our beautiful Christmas tree and our many presents
 - A big bird, but not the Big Bird
 - I got a little purple friend
 - Us at the northernmost point in Japan
 - Biggest. Icicle. Ever. And in a fun shape, too (Pew pew!)
 - A photo of Murakami Chourou's present from his ward (at least, that's what he thought I was taking a picture of)

Sherwood Chourou - Week 33 Study Thoughts (Episode 2)

Historical Jesus Christ
I have heard time to time of persons claiming to believe in Jesus Christ as a "historical figure", or as a person who existed in history, but do not believe in Him as the Son of God or as the Savior of the world. I would like to take a moment to vent my frustrations with this claim.
The whole of my issue is this: there is no such thing as a "historical" Jesus Christ. To convey this, I have split the idea into 3 main concepts, the first of which is the belief that the Bible is fiction, but was based on a real person named Jesus Christ who taught about religion some two thousand years ago. For those who wish to argue this point, let me ask you, what historical record do you have that refers to Christ besides the Holy Scriptures or an artifact referencing said scriptures? There is none. To believe in Jesus Christ as a person separate from the Bible is simply impossible, for never was he recorded as anything else. Therefore, if the Bible is fiction, then there is no basis on which to believe that a man named Jesus Christ even existed back then.
Now, what if one claims to believe in the Jesus Christ by the Bible, but disbelieves that the miracles surrounding him actually occured. This is the most tolerable stance of those I'll be discussing, but I also think it's also the most dead of them. If you take out all the miracles, you're left with a man walking around teaching utter blasphemy with no authority or power backing him at all. In other words, you've decided to believe that there was a crazy person in the past whom lots of people believed was the literal Son of God, and this based on naught but his own claims. For those who would acclaim to this belief, here's my question to you: why would multitudes of people, including a number of which who practically watched his every move, testify before the world and God Himself that Jesus was the Christ if they had no evidence for such? They wouldn't, just as no one else would, unless every member of those multitudes were as crazy as this belief assumes him to be.
Lastly, I will speak a moment on the claim of believing in Jesus Christ of the Bible, worker of miracles, yet denying that he is the Son of God. Oh ye fools. If you have read even an hundredth of what was written of him, you'd know plenty well that there is no power by which he could've done what he did except that of our Heavenly Father, who would never bestow his power on one who claimed to be his Only Begotten unless it were true. Furthermore, any claim that his power came from something other than God is hardly worth mentioning, as for something to be able to bestow such power would require that said thing be a god, thus negating the entire objective of the thought.
Thank you for bearing with my little rant. I hope that whoever reads this can use it to strengthen their confidence in the divinity of Christ. See you next time!

Sherwood Chourou - Week 33 in Japan

Konnichiwa, Mina-san!

This transfer is going even faster than the last one and it's freaking me out! I must be getting old. Before you know it, I'll be serving a senior couple mission! Jokes aside, it's continuing to be a great experience working with Murakami Chourou.
This week, we did a lot of knocking doors, since no one really steps outside here unless they have no other option. There were a lot of "Bukkyo desu"s (I'm Buddhist) and "kekko desu"s (I'm good), but after a lot if work, we were able to find a good handful of people we may be able to teach! Its been a while since I mentioned getting a new friend, but I think we've been finding more people here than in my previous areas. Guess I'm finally starting to understand how to be a missionary!
Just 2 days ago, our branch had a little Christmas meeting/party. Lots of people we invited showed up, and we all had lots of fun! We had a ridiculous amount of refreshments, so we were well fed. We also played a makeshift golf ball-based curling game (if that makes no sense, just google curling stones amd hope for the best). My team won by 5 points in the first round and proceeded to lose by the same in the second round (somehow outstanding, pitiful, and average at the same time). Afterward, we went on emergency splits with Santa, so I went up to bring the gospel to the polar bears while Murakami Chourou spent the rest of the party with Santa as his companion. Lucky. He sent me a picture het took with him after I got back. Santa is awful skinny in person.
Yesterday, we had our special Sacrament Meeting, and a handful of the people we invited came there too! It was pretty great. We also got a ton of sushi from one of our friends, so our lunch was taken care of. After that, we went around and dropped off goody bags at some of our friends' houses. Hope they like them!
Today, we're heading down to Sapporo again for a Christmas-themed Zone Conference. Not positive what all that entails, but there will be a little talent show that all the missionaries will participate in (probably, some of us might not, I dunno). Murakami Chourou and I have decided to do a comedy skit to serve as a break from all the musicians. If I can get a video of it, I'll be sure to send it in my next email.
Anyways, that's my week! I've got another episode of Study Thoughts, so please enjoy it! Have a good week! Matta ne!

 - Sushi, yum!
 - Murakami Chourou, Tomoki Dai-sensei (Murakami Chourou calls him that. It basically means headmaster.), and Santa Claus

Sherwood Chourou - Week 32 in Japan


We've had a pretty busy week. We went down to Sapporo for a mission conference with Elder Wada, the area president. He gave us a lot of great advice for helping our friends progress, so I think dendou will be going a lot better from here on out! This last Monday, we met with Iglesias, our Texan friend, and introduced him to the Book of Mormon videos. He seemed really interested, so we're hoping it will help him get around to reading the actual book!
That's about it for dendou stuff. In other news, Murakami Chourou and I went to a museum today. One part was a little exhibit for old toys, posters, appliances and stuff (I felt obligated to take a picture of the Mothra vs Godzilla poster. You're welcome.). There was also a Russian museum, but apparently it's closed on Mondays from November to March (quite upsetting). I took a pic of the sign, though. We're having ramen with one of the members tonight, so that should be fun!
Anyways, I hope everyone's doing great back home! Have a good week! Matta ne!

 - Mothra vs Godzilla!!! Coming to theaters near you a few eons ago! 
 - Russian museum (or the lack thereof)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Sherwood Chourou - Week 31 in Japan


It's that time again, folks! After six weeks of work here in Wakkanai with Murakami Chourou, I've moved on once more, this time to... Wakkanai... with Murakami Chourou. That's right, it's my first full 2nd transfer with the same companion! This transfer promises to be a good one since we've already gotten a head start on figuring out how to work together.
On a less exciting note, we've had a pretty mellow week. We met a new friend a few days ago, which is awesome, of course, and we had a sort of Japanese BBQ party (yakiniku, for anyone interested) with a member family yesterday. Besides that, though, not much, besides another deer and fox sighting (pictures taken). On the bright side, I feel like I'm getting better at door approaching.
But yeah, that's it in a nutshell. Don't have any cool thoughts to share this time, but I'll probably have something next time. It's probably not nearly as cold back home as it is here, but stay warm and have a good week! Matta ne!

 - Kinda hard to see, but there's deer on the left and a fox on the right in both pics. Technically there was another fox, but it was behind the fence.

Sherwood Chourou - Week 30 Ponderings

        I've had a couple interesting thoughts during my personal study lately, so I'm going to share a few of them, starting with my thoughts on the Spirit World. It's a bit long, so buckle up!
For those of you who aren't familiar with our beliefs, we believe that after we die, we go to a place called the Spirit World, which in simple terms is kind of like a transition room between earth and heaven. We don't know a lot about it, but we do know that it is divided into to sections: Paradise and Prison. People who follow the teaching of Christ and accept all of His ordinances get to go to Paradise, while everyone else needs to go to Prison first, where Christ and His disciples help everyone to become worthy to join the others in Paradise. When we talk about Paradise and Prison, we usually demonstrate it two locations separated by some sort of border, though this specific imagery is just a popular interpretation. I personally think that said Paradise and Prison are more likely states of mind rather than physical locations, such that those who have peace in Christ are in a state of spiritual paradise, while those who aren't feel like they're in spiritual prison. While there in prison, they are granted that they may hear and learn the gospel of Christ so that perhaps they may repent and come unto Him, that they might cross over the boundary separating them from Paradise. By reason of scripture concerning the remaining influence that both the spirits of God and the devil alike have on these people (The Book of Mormon, Alma 34:34), I believe that Satan's followers may also be preaching amongst those in prison, spreading lies to convince them that there is no Paradise for them to enter, no repentance, no Christ, no hope. For this cause, though every soul would have opportunity to recieve the truth, accept their vicarious ordinances, and join their loved ones in Paradise, some would nevertheless fall prey to the deceptions of the devil and his angels, thereby denying themselves the privileges that they might have received through faithfulness in mortality.
What that all means is that we need to choose to follow Christ now, not put it off for later. There have been at least a few people who found the gospel too difficult to follow in this life and thusly asked someone to perform their ordinances for them after they're dead (because we believe in being able to perform ordinances in behalf of the dead who didn't have the chance to in life). However, if you aren't willing to repent in this life, it is highly unlikely that you'll ve any more willing afterward. Therefore, for anyone not of our faith who reads this, I hope that you'll take the time to get in contact with the missionaries wherever you are to learn about the gospel and learn for yourself whether or not it is true.
Now, this isn't official doctrine by any means, it's just my interpretation of what I've learned, but I hope everyone is able to get something good out of it! Matta ne!

Sherwood Chourou - Week 30 in Japan


It's already transfer week! I am actually freaking out about how quick this transfer has gone by! Working with Murakami Chourou has been great and all the people here have been wonderful. Part of me really hopes that we'll still be here together in Wakkanai for one more round, but the Lord knows where I'm needed.
This weekend, we went with an interested friend and some of the members to see a concert. It was really nostalgic to be in a concert hall again, after having been on stage so many times in Millenial Choirs and Orchestras before I came out here. We also coincidentally met our Texan friend there and talked a bit! That was a good day. We also saw some deer near the apartment a few days ago, and this time I have pictures! All of these are included in this email.
That's about it. I'm actually going to send a second email with some thoughts I had during my study this week. It may or may not become a recurring feature, we'll see. Anyways, have a good week everyone! Matta ne!

Sherwood Chourou - Week 29 in Japan

Konnichiwa Mina-san!

It's the last full week of the transfer already! This transfer's gone by so fast, I'm actually a bit scared. One more month and I'll be a third done with my mission!
Anyways, this week we had Zone Conference. For the most part, we talked about how we need to invite more young people to learn, and a bit about the new "Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ" booklet. For those of you who don't know, it's basically a book of guidelines and advice for missionaries to be safe and effective, but pretty much anyone can use it. Good stuff, that.
The ride home was mostly uneventful, up until a bit before we got home. Someone started having a breathing problem or something, so the bus driver called an ambulance to come help the man and take hima to the hospital. Both Murakami Chourou and I wondered if we should offer him a priesthood blessing, but neither of us were sure, so we ended up giving him silent prayer blessings in substitute. The ambulance came and took him away just fine, so he's hopefully just fine by now. But yeah, that was a lot more excitement than we expected for that bus ride. We got home much later than we expected, too, past midnight. On a happier note, we took a shot at trying to invite the bus driver to learn while we were at a rest stop. He didn't accept, but we had a good conversation nonetheless.
Well, that was pretty much the week, besides some fairly good, yet unoutstanding lessons and finding. Hope you're all doing alright back home! Matta ne!

 - Mom sent Christmas stuff for my companion and I
 - This is actually kind of old, but there was a Costco fair at a grocery store, so we got chocolate muffins (not shown) and dinner rolls. Tasted like home!

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 ...