Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016 - Nothing but Walking

Working with a new investigator
The snow keeps falling and we keep walking.  It’s ok because I've missed the snow and occasionally we take the bus. 

First thing.  It is the importance of being yourself and have fun!  I got an email from a neighbor concerning his mission and how once he decided to be himself, he started to have so much fun and not by accident was having more success at the same time.  Like his email said, I have come to realize that those two things really do go hand in hand.  I fell into the trap of becoming a homogeneous elder when I came out of the MTC.  The MTC isn't a factory people!  When we are called to be missionaries, we aren't supposed to be the same.  The Lord has blessed us with talents, skills, etc. that are unique to each of us.  We are called as representatives of Him and He has given us special talents to further the work, to reap the field all white ready to harvest.  When we are not being ourselves, we are burying our talents like in Matthew 25.   I have been called to strive to become perfectly obedient  Halverson ハルバソン長老, not like any other elder.  Again can't stress it enough!  You are called to a specific mission for a specific reason because of your specific talents abilities.  My biggest onagai to all of you is just be yourself in all aspects of life!!  Matthew 25 doesn't just apply to missionaries but everyone as well!!  Whether it be at school, work or whatever, just be yourself!!!

Primary kids love us

I am also impressed to write about the small and little things.  There was a story that was from one of our APs.  When he was a zone leader in Aomori, they as a zone leader companionship set a goal to get one baptism before the end of the transfer.  They didn't see one the entire transfer, but right before the end of the transfer they passed a Book of Mormon to a man from Nepal.  After two transfers had passed he became AP and as APs they go to every baptism meeting and when they went to one in Kamisugi, he realized the guy getting baptized was the guy that he passed a Book of Mormon to in Aomori.  During that time, the investigator read the Book of Mormon and decided that he NEEDED to join this church.  He found the elders in Kamisugi and was baptized in 2 months!!  Like the verse in Alma, “By the small and simple things are great things come to pass!”  Remember you are all doing greater good than you think you are!!  We can get caught up in the big picture and forget that it is the little things that are equally as important.

We continue to work and find people to teach and opportunities to serve.  We are focusing on the small and little things we can do to help people feel the spirit of the restored gospel.

Love you all and have a good week!!


Elder Snow Ball

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016 - Good Bye Bike

Say good bye to missionary work on bikes for a while cause it's finally dumping snow here in Izumi !!!  I finally can break out my boots that nearly didn't make it to Japan in the first place because they are so heavy.  Haha  If I left them at the MTC, I know Mom, you would have probably killed me!

On Tuesday a member took the whole district out for steak!  She is the funniest old lady in the ward.  We started talking about when she was baptized.  Get this, she was baptized in April, 1954.  Dad, you were 3 months old!!! Haha

Sorry but I realized that at the restaurant and had to share it.  Sorry!!

When she was baptized the 泉ワード (ward) didn't exist all.  People met in a house in the Kamisugi area.  There were about 50 members at the time and the missionaries did everything in the branch!  Now 60 years later the 泉ワード is the biggest in the entire mission!  It was a huge testimony builder of the incredible progress has been done here in Japan!  Lately I've learned about the history of the Sendai mission and how small it started out.  It is gaining members and the missionary work seems to be picking up.  The Sendai mission and really all of Japan is a sacred and preserved land and now is the time for the Lord’s work to be done!

Thursday we had a mission conference and Elder Yamashita was there.  He is a member of the area presidency.  He was the mission president in the Nagoya mission at the same as Smith Kaicho's brother.   The conference was all about obedience and putting more effort into everything that we do because our time as missionaries is very short!!  Like Coach Wall always says, "Before you know it...!"  Two things that stuck out from the conference was the comment about how many eternal friends you are going to go find in the coming week, month, transfer, or year.  It is so true that we are out finding and teaching the gospel to our one day eternal friends and family!  Also, was that we need to work as hard as we can especially on p-day!  Sadly I had to be reminded/learn that p-day is prep day not play day!  It's insane that missionaries are the only ones with p-days, the mission presidents don't get p-days.   No one should stop working and doing their best to help the people of the mission and other missionaries!  Elder Yamashita told a story about his son who served in Seattle.  He said that he really struggled with learning English and was very sad all the time because he couldn't help anybody out.  Then one day, he went on a split with a zone leader and the zone leader’s example of positivity and obedience changed the course of his mission!  He learned to serve people in any way possible and just be positive about the things that went on day to day!  He said that the service to others and a positive attitude helped his language skills skyrocket.  He ended up being a zone leader and he was the most obedient missionary because he knew the blessings would come if he was positive and obedient!  Seriously, I could almost say it was life changing!

Our really good investigator is still accepting the gospel and came to church recently!! So keep praying for us!  Remember you can do anything with confidence in the Lord!

Love y'all and keep up the good work wherever you are!!




New Year's Morning

Sunrise on New Year's

First Snow...Bikes grounded

Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016 - Transfers

New Years Day trip to the island
Tuesday was the final day with Elder Macnab.  We had to go to the Sendai Eki (train station) and drop him off with the Zone Leaders.  That day my new comp arrived, Elder Morris is from West Valley Utah and a great guy.  It's crazy the ties we both have going back to the MTC. We had the same teachers, both Brother Crandall and Pherson, and he just finished training Elder Fonoimoana who is a really good friend from the MTC.  It is like he was in the MTC with me and knows all the stories!    I am really excited for this transfer, I feel like I can learn a lot of Japanese from him.  We still have the two Japanese Elders in the apartment so this should be fun!!

Wednesday we had another lesson with our Vietnamese investigator.  It was by far the best lesson I have ever given  even though the result was not what we wanted.  We will continue to help him with English the first 30 minutes and then teach the gospel for the last half hour.  We taught him about God again and he was wondering why if God wants everyone to be happy then why are there so many bad things in the world right now.  We taught him that God really does want the best for all of us and wants us to be happy by following his teachings.  He asked if you don't follow Gods plan then will God will cut you off?  We then taught that the greatest gift we could have ever received was the gift of our agency and God doesn't cut us off when we make bad decisions.  He will still love us no matter how many bad choices we make.  Even the most wicked he still loves. I could literally see in him that he was starting to feel the spirt of God and what we were telling him was true!!  However, because people have their agency, he closed his heart on what he was feeling and said that he doesn't believe in God.  It was sad, but what I've learned from my new comp is that you have to love people for who they really are and respect their decisions.

Thursday was a learning experience for sure.  Not a whole lot happened other than we just found out that the less active members that we have been working with have had no intention at all in coming to church.  So that was fun….

Another thing, Morris Chourou and I were housing the other day and we knocked on this door.  We could hear the kids inside playing.  They open the door and all they see is me, so they just start to scream.  If you want something good to relate it to, think of the movie the Incredibles and when the kid on the mini tricycle sees Mr. Incredible fall down on the house after the fight in the air.  That kid’s face is exactly what all the kids looked like that day.

Sorry that is all for now because my keyboard died again and I can't get it back on.  But I love you all and please stay safe.  Never forget that the Book of Mormon is the word of God! gets cold here.

Elder Halverson

New Year's Day sunrise

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

December 7, 2015 - It's getting cold here!

To start out this email, I'd want to explain a type of missionary work that a lot of foreign missionaries do here in Japan.  It's called "Nanpa dendo", basically it's when the American elders go walking down the street and all the high school girls are blatantly staring at us Gaijin (Foreigners).  And we give them a big HELLO or KONNICHIWA, and that's went we got them!! haha Either they will want to speak English to us, or they will listen to our Japanese.   My comp explained this type of dendo to me, basically the translation is "smooth talker". haha  It's funny cause anyone from home knows that I am not smooth at all.  Sand paper basically.  haha

That same day while my comp and I where riding our bikes to a less actives house, two JWs saw us and were basically disgusted at the sight of us.  She asked if we could read Japanese in really rude Japanese.  We both said no cause Japanese is extremely hard to read.  She shoved this pamplet to my comp and turned around and walked away.  Basically we got dendoed.  We were the recipients of missionary work haha.

 On Thursday we were reading the Christmas list from Smith kaichou. One of the scriptures was really impactful.  It has changed the way I look at missionary work during Christmas.  The reason we receive gifts on Christmas day is because it's the Savior's birthday.  He was the gift to the world and to all mankind.  After I read that, I could see the interest in people when i gave them a Book of Mormon and talked about Christmas with people that we meet everywhere.  Christmas is the best time to do missionary work here.  The people are so interested in Christmas just because it's an American holiday and because we are both American.  All the nihonjin just love it that much more!!  It's really making it fun.

Another thing that Smith kaicho extended to us was the opportunity of getting a baptism before the end of the year.  He told me , "I know there is someone in Izumi right now that is prepared to receive baptism".  Also, he said it is going to take a miracle.  I honestly believe that this miracle is going to happen, because all throughout the district the numbers have been rising and companionships are finding new investigators that are extremely interested in the gospel.  We have some time to see this miracle unfold and I know that if we work hard, we will be able to see that miracle.  Just the other day my companion and I both were getting these thoughts of people left and right to visit, contact, and so on.  It was nuts!  It's true when the scriptures say to treasure up my words and in the very hour you need them, they will be given you.  But in the end we won't see a miracle if we aren't obedient.   "To the degree we are obedient, we will be blessed" - Smith 会長 also another quote "obedience bring blessing, obedience with exactness brings miracles"


 Hope everyone had a good week and love you all

Elder Halverson

December 14, 2015 - Just had lunch with a great ex Yakuza member!

Just about 30 minutes ago Macnab chourou, Mimaki chourou, Murakami chourou, and I just finished a lunch appointment with an ex Yakuza member.  He is the funniest guy in the world.  He drove us in his Mercedes all the way over to another area which is Kamisugi.  There he bought us the best ramen I have ever eaten in my life!  The guy is crazy!   He has money just flowing out of his pockets.  I guess thats the life of a retired Yakuza member.  By the way, yakuza is the mafia here in Japan.

After I emailed last week Macnab chourou and I went to a big supermarket called Aeon.  Basically, best buy on steroids and I bought a Tangled sound track that is in both Japanese and in English.  haha so that was Monday for ya.

The best part of the week was Tuesday.  We had a lesson with a guy from our eikaiwa class.  He is the same guy that we had a lesson with the other day.  The deal is that we teach him English for 30 minutes and then the rest of the visit is teaching about the gospel and such.  It's interesting because he was this book that supposedly teaches him English but it really only teaches him english phrases, some of which I have never heard before like "you are the apple of my eye" nope never once heard that one before.  

Anyway we asked him if he has ever prayed before and he said that he does when his boss is mean to him and he says "please God make it so he is nicer"  and he said it usually happens that his boss will apologize.  So we said that God loves us and he desires to talk with all of us and we can talk to him through prayer.  The funny part that he was kneeling down to pray which is very unusual among Nihonjin.  As he started to pray, he only said "Ten no otosama"  which is Dear Heavenly Father.  Didn't say anything else.  It was kinda strange but I was thinking the whole time  that if he makes a noise I will lift head only then.  All of the sudden I felt this indescribable feeling in my heart, kind of a warm feeling, and it spreaded to all parts of my body.  When Yoichi finished his prayer, he said in the equivalent in Japanese.  "Wow, my heart feels free!"  It was the seriously the craziest thing.  That's when I knew, again, that the power of prayer is very real.  Anyone that asks or prays with a willing and open heart will receive an answer.  It was such a testimony building experience for me.  It was just incredible.

Also I have been watching the video Because of Him a lot these days.  I've realized over and over again that you can really do anything with the Savior help.  Because of him and with him, you can do anything!

 The zone leaders had a cool story in DTM the other day.  Elder Larsen related us as missionaries needing to "burn our ships"  like Cortez did when he came to the Americas. Cortez burned his ships, saying that they weren't going to leave the Americas until they had accomplished their goal.  Just like us as missionaries, we must "burn our ships".  Remove all the things that distract us from our purpose, like thinking of Star Wars for example.  He said if we burn our ships now then we will be able to become better missionaries and when our service is all over then we can return to the ships and those things like school and movies and etc.  It was really interesting experience to think about what kind of ships I have and trying to identify them and burn them.

Then in August of 2017, I can return on that ship back to Utah.

Well that's all I have for you this week.  Have a good week everyone!! Don't give up and don't ever forget your faith!!

Elder Halverson

Japan is Awesome
New GM for the Nationals - Japan Area
Small Shrine in the woods


Monday, January 4, 2016

December 21, 2015 - It's Almost Christmas

I'll start off this email with what we did this week that was the most fun.  The other day we went caroling in front of a big shopping mall very close to our apartment.  It was really fun after we had been singing for a while, because right at first it was incredible awkward singing to a bunch of people in English none the least.  But that's not the best part, we handed out cards that had info about our ward Christmas party and the "Savior is Born" video with the website on it.  We also handed out more of our English class flyers.  I had to dress up as Santa and stand and give out all this stuff to people.  It turned out to be really fun in the end! haha.  Like I said, at first it was incredibly  awkward and a little weird at the same time.  But in all reality the best part was seeing the smile on people's faces when they saw us with Christmas stuff on and especially me with a big Santa suit.  That to me is one of the real meanings of Christmas.  Making someone smile and laugh by saying Merry Christmas to them.

And don't worry mom I've got pictures from it.

I had yet another experience with the language while on a split with another elder from a different area.  I had to use the language more than I was used to.  So I learned that I do know more than I think I do.  Even though I am still a young missionary with limited Japanese, and it can be really quite frustrating, I realized that at times it comes easily to speak in my new language.  I keep thinking about how I took Spanish in high school for a couple years and I ended up not being able to speak any Spanish to be honest with ya.  Now, I have been studying Japanese for about 4 months and I am far past what I was able to do with Spanish in High school.  It really is true that the language will come and I just need to be patient with myself and just use every second to learn.  It will come and I can testify how blessed missionaries are with the gift of tongues. 

I heard a funny joke the other day about missionaries.  Missionaries that go stateside come back scriptorians,  missionaries that go to South America come back bilingual, and missionaries that come back from Asia come back humble.  I am definitely being humbled right now.  Also the other day I had to give a training on obedience in DTM in Japanese so that was really fun.  I'm improving.

Also a really fun part of the week was when we played basketball with the ward and some investigators.  It was really fun!  It was the first time I have had the opportunity to play sports since I have been in Japan or really since I broke my foot back in the MTC.  The time sports vacation really showed in my play.  That day was also the day we went caroling, so basically we had an extra p-day with a lot of dendo in it! haha It was really fun, not going to lie.  More next week love you all!!

Elder Halverson


Sent from my iPad

Making Izumi T-Shirts with the investigator

Kanji Halverson
meaning horse, spring and humble

Singing outside the mall in downtown Izumi

Santa Halverson

Not lots of protein, but the food is awesome

December 27, 2015 - Snowed and melted

Since I Skype just the other day, this will probably just be a really short email.  After we talked on Saturday, we went to a old folks home and helped out.  It was way fun.  We sang to them in English which was really quite weird. haha.   All in all, I'm glad the Christmas season is over because I don't have to sing to people anymore. 
We sat down with this man who has memory loss and had the same conversation about how he was a "chief engineer, biggest one, big ship company, sea man data".  He repeats all of this each time, just in a different order.  It turns out great because it's a fun way to practice Japanese and ask the same question a different way.

Yesterday I had a sacrament talk about obedience which was a very excellent opportunity to use and mess up my Japanese.  I was able to convey my thoughts on obedience to the best of my ability.  It's really cool to see how far I have come in a little bit of time.  Although I do have room for improvement but I do try each day to continue and progress.  I still get nervous and trying to think in both languages  which is extremely difficult.  Sometimes I'll be standing there thinking about what I want to say, but it was really cool experience that I will learn from.

Sorry for the short email but I feel like we discuss everything over the Skype.

 Love you all and 頑張ってね


Actors in the nativity at the church

Halverson Chourou and Mimaki Chourou gave out 10 BOM in 2 hours.  That's a big deal.
Christmas Taikai
They had Christmas dinner on the porch of a member because there was not another male in the house.

Sent from my iPad

January 4, 2016 - Sougatsu!! and transfers....

I finally talked with another American that wasn't a missionary this week!!  I was on splits with the zone leader, Hirono Chourou is the elder's name.  He needed to buy something in a nearby store and while I was waiting for him to finish an Gaijin (foreigner) walked by.  I gave him a big "hello!!" and he stopped and looked at me just as suprised as I was to see another American in Japan.  We talked for a little bit, I asked where he was from and why he was in Japan.  He said that he is from Mississippi and is in Japan teaching English at a nearby high school!  Then he asked where I was from and I told him that I was from Utah and I am a missionary...that is why I am in Japan.  He goes on and talks about Utah and Mormons saying,  "You mormons got the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!  If you are going to listen to the haleluya chorus, all you have to do is listen to the MoTab."  haha   He goes on to say that he is a Southern Baptist and I has a Book of Mormon.  However, he hasn't read it in a while.  I wanted to give him a Japanese one but he said I had better give that to someone else because he can't read japanese at all.  He seemed really interested in the church.  In the end I told him about the "Meet the Mormons" movie and if he had time and wanted to learn more about Mormons to please watch the movie.  Really a cool encounter with the guy, I believe he really wants to learn about other religions and that's always a good thing.  

On the 31st and 1st we as missionaries where told not to do any type of dendou on that day.  When shougatsu rolls around in Japan (basically New Years party that's like the Super Bowl on steroids), all everyone is doing is going to jinjas and being buddist for a day or two. Then returning to their normal lifestyles. 

All we did on the 31st was clean the apartment and go to set appointments with members.  That day we went to the Bishop's house and at indo curry with them, played games and then shared a quick message with them.  Bishop Takada is the best bishop any missonary could ask for.  He drove us around Izumi showing us all the different and cool things to be seen that we hadn't seen yet.  I finally figured out what the big dome building near our apartment is a giant sports arena.  It's pretty sweet - not going to lie. haha.   Then we did some more cleaning and then went over to a member's house again. The mother of the family makes the best gyouza in the world and we kept complimenting her on it and she would always say`I know right!!`  The ward members here in izumi are some of the best people in the world. 

 The 1st was awesome.   Shougatsu!!  We woke up early to see the sun rise at the Mitsushima Harbor.  In Japan, it is tradition for people to go to the shore to see the sun rise on the first day of the year.  We went to the shore with an investigator early in the morning and if I can get my ipad to work I will send you the pictures from the day.  Seriously some of the best pictures I have ever taken.  We went to the back of the boat and took a ton of pictures of the islands and little towns tucked into the side of the islands.  That day I came to understand why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun.  When it rose on the morning of the 1st, the sun was burning fire red and orange.  Again, I will probably say it till I die, Japan is a sacred place with sacred people.  You know what they say, "If Heavenly Father didn't love his Asain people so much, he wouldn't have made so many of them."  It is a truth, Heavenly Father loves every single one of his children.  Japan is the most beautiful place ever, it is a sacred place.  Anyway, the investigator drove us there, bought us food, a boat tour ticket, and then bought us some ice cream during the snow storm. haha.    The day was a huge "relax" day, we saw the sights that Japan has to offer, even though it was really cold outside. 

The last day we again went to a member's house and ate gyouza again.  While we were there, my comp and I were the only ones that didn't have Japanese names.  So basically the entire time they made kanji names for both my comp and me.  The funniest one was the one made for my companion.  It basically was the kanji for the devil, pain, riddince, and some other bad meaning kanji.  It is spelled out MAKUNABU which is his name on his nametag.  Anyway it was a good laugh. 

Sorry I don't really have a spiritual experience from this week other than the rising of the sun and realizing the beauty of the world.  But, this week we couldn't meet with any of our investigators because of shougatsu and people were too busy being Buddhist. 

But I love you all and hope that New Year is a fun one.  Probably not as cool as mine...just kidding.  Anyway, love you all and remember that the church is true!! 

Love you all!!


Halverson Chourou
Although Elder Halverson didn't mention it in his email, his companion was transferred.  He gets to stay in the area for another 4 weeks at least.  He couldn't email long because he and is comp were headed out for one last day of exploring before Elder Macnab transfers.