Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Legendary Tree Trimmer: Week 61 in Japan

This morning I had the song, Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley, stuck in my head. When we left the apartment there were 3 little birds chilling on the guardrail outside our apartment door! Words cannot describe how excited I was!

All right, so a fun experience from this week:
While planning, we discovered there was a less active family in the mountain town of Fujino who had been making great progress, and loved meeting with the missionaries, and then they suddenly stopped meeting with no explanation. No one has seen them for about 6-7 years. It was a mystery, and I love mysteries! So we took off for the hills!

When we pulled up to the apartment, there was a kind of older guy out in front of the building washing his car and we asked if he needed any help. He got really excited and asked where we were going. We just explained that we were going to visit someone from our church that we haven't seen in a while. He asked who it was and we told him the name. He let us know that she had moved, but his is where things started to get fun.

Next thing we know, he's telling us his life story about how he rappelled out of helicopters and ate snakes while they were still alive. Also turns out he's a famous tree trimmer, so he reached into his car and pulled out a binder. This binder was  just filled with pictures of him on top of giant trees with a chainsaw, and news articles about him and his tree trimming. 

So, after getting the conversation back on track, he told us that they moved, but he knows where they live. He started giving us directions, but about halfway through he goes, "You o.k. I'm a really nice guy. I'll just take you there. We get in the car and on the 15-minute drive we found out he wasn't lying when he said he knew everyone. Everyone we passed got way excited and started waving to him. Cars would honk when they passed by. He would roll down his window and people at stop lights would get way excited, and come talk with him until the light turned green. It was hilarious. This whole experience is kind of getting long so I'll shorten it up. 

He took us to the family's new house. The parents weren't home, but he set up an appointment, with one of the daughters, for us to drop by. Then, after doing the whole missionary work part for us, he gave us a ride back to the train station and bought us some drinks while we waited for the train. Turns out he had a Book of Mormon and was friends with some of the members who live out there. He talked about how everyone he met from the church was a really good person, and that he wants to strive to be nicer because of people like them. So we set up another appointment and new we're teaching him.

The ward here is amazing and I'm so glad that it was through their example and honestly living the teachings that influenced someone else to try and be better. There's a quote I really enjoy from Gregory A. Schwitzer, "True disciples desire to inspire the hearts of men, not just impress them". The members here are so dedicated to whatever they do, and they do it because they love it. It continues to amaze me. I think it's something that's also inspired me to just try to be better. I've still got a lot of weaknesses, but that's all right. Things have been going really well. I hope everyone has had a great week. 

Elder Cuff

Mochitsuki: It's an annual party where we make logs of mochi, then eat lots of mochi. 
Makes sense if you ask me!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Small World: Week 60 in Japan

All right, time for a bit of catch up.

So New Years was very similar to last year. The main people that we've been teaching have gone out of town and we deep cleaned our apartments. Our main man who's building the sports car brought The Book of Mormon with him on his road trip down to Kobe and he's been reading! As far as missionary work goes things have been going pretty smooth, finding hasn't been bad despite the holidays and we've just been cruising along.

Elder Call is a wonderful missionary and it turns out his parents know my sister Asuka's family. Also there's an older lady (松下姉妹) in our ward who knows Asuka's brother because she was the mission president's wife when he was an AP in the Kobe mission. In fact she gave me Asuka's brother's email yesterday at church. I've noticed that every ward I serve in there is at least one or more connection to the Node family, so that has been a ton of fun meeting these people throughout my mission.

We had a fun moment this past week. Our apartment is literally next door to a Soba shop. (Actually turns out it's one of the best shops in all of Hachioji! Yes!) During the bike taxi service, someone gave the other elders a giant bundle of raw Soba noodles, the only problem is we didn't have any soup. We've made the broth for Soba before, but the Soba at the restaurant next door is so much better. We're pretty good friends with the owner so while coming back to the apartment one night he was out back of the shop getting some stuff. So I asked him how to make the soup. He told us and everything but then he was like, "but it takes a lot of time and is just a pain to make, so just come on by tomorrow night and I'll give you guys some." I asked, "Oh, okay, how much is it?" He simply responded, "don't worry about it." Then he smiled, handed us a couple oranges, scurried back into his shop, and closed the door before we could say anything. The next night he gave us a giant vase of the stuff. It was amazing.

I've always enjoyed the gift of giving. It's just an overall positive action that feels good on both sides, whether you're giving or receiving. There's a thing here in Japan called O-Miyage (
お土産) where someone usually gives a gift or some type of food or a letter whenever someone helps you out or invites you over for a meal. It's kind've a way to return the favor. But anyways, it always helps me look back at the doctrine of Christ and how we should always give of ourselves, that we should help someone feel better by simply giving. And the best part is that there are so many ways to give. So I hope we can all take a little bit of time this week and help someone out. Love you all, be safe.

Elder Cuff

Sagamiko Lake during studies

Mission Christmas Conference


Monday, January 1, 2018

平成30年: Week 59 in Japan

The boys after some gelato with a member.
Hey everyone! I'm alive and happy and having the time of my life. Cheers to the new year!
Her name is Sakura. I fed her pineapple.

Some celebrations in Hino.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas: Week 58 in Japan

Hey, it's Christmas! I talked to my parents. They're the best!! We had our mission Christmas Conference and they brought the entire mission together. It was amazing seeing everyone. The members have been feeding us day and night. I've been eating way too much chocolate! I'm gaining weight. ITS THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! 

The Elder Sakae Bloodline. He trained me, now I'm trainer to Elder Call...

FHE at the mission home.

同期!(We came to Japan together)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

'Twas the Week Before Christmas: Week 57 in Japan

This past week was all over the place. I sang for 3 days in a row. I swear I can sing all four parts to every Christmas song found in the hymn book. Also lost my voice on Sunday it was really funny.

So for starters, I may or may not have bought a katana out of a small sketchy shop tucked up in the mountains. Luckily if you ship something by boat it's decently cheap. It just takes 3 months to get to The States. Hopefully it'll make it through customs.
I'm gonna name it!

We ran up a Mt. Takao on Saturday with Yokosawa Kyodai, he's a counselor in the bishopric. He's a crazy man. Im not sore but I wasn't prepared for the cold air and it left my lungs BURNING. Its all good though, he does it every Saturday morning so we may be joining him every once in a while, also gives me an excuse to run more in the mornings. I actually asked him what he does when he's not running up Mt. Takao. His response killed me, he looked at me, smiles, and said, "I just find a really steep hill and sprint up and down it until I get really tired." He's a wild man. Never a dull moment with him around. Also I'm stealing his workout.

I was dyin', man! He's way fast!

So last year around Christmas I was still in the Machida Stake and we had a huge crazy concert in Tama that had a big professional set up with speakers, amazing singers, and I skipped around the crowd while jingling bells. Well this year was no different. Literally did the exact same thing and as expected, it was amazing. We decided to round out the same evening I had a year ago by going to get ramen. You wanna talk about De Ja Vu, I'll tell you about De Ja Vu.

Another concert in Tama.

We spent a lot of time caroling this week, and despite being in 2 decently large concert groups my favorite was on Sunday after church. We got together with some families in the ward and went to a couple nursing homes and sang in a small, slightly out of key group. I love to see people smile. A lot of the people at the nursing homes could barely move, or even talk. But you can't ever stop someone from smiling when that Christmas Spirit is around. I love this time of year and what it means. I love that I have this belief in Christ and the peace it's provided in my life. And as satisfying as it is to have this direction in my life, it doesn't even come close to the satisfaction that comes from seeing someone else experience that peace and direction in their lives. What can I say except that I'm happy to be here.

Elder Cuff