Monday, January 27, 2014

I've Got Too Many Pockets

I thought I lost my wallet at the Yokohama train station today. I checked my pockets at least twice, and then we went and told the train station staff and filed a report at the police station and called the mission office. And then we went right on to where we were going, and when we got back home I took my coats off and checked all my pockets again to be sure, and I found my wallet. It was hiding in the wrong pocket. Evidently I have too many pockets. >.<
Today I went and saw the Daibutsu with my district.  It's a very large and famous Buddha statue.  Also, my area has one of the biggest and most awesome kids' playgrounds I've ever seen.  It's like a castle built into a hillside.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot of exciting stuff to write about from this past week.  I feel like the language is coming at a decent rate; I'm even learning kanji.  ^__^

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


We met with another two investigators last week.  They're an older couple. They love LDS missionaries. They've got a big album full of pictures of and letters from all the missionaries they've been friends with over the years. Some of those missionaries have already gone home and gotten married and become MTC teachers and what not.  Our appointment with them last week was also mostly a get-to-know-each-other visit. We sang some hymns at the end and they had me play the piano, even though I could only play melody. I picked up a simplified-accompaniments book in a free bin at the MTC; I'll have to bring that next time.

Most of our time has still been spent ringing doorbells, talking to people on the street, and handing out fliers. We haven't had a lot of results yet.  Last week was the first Eikaiwa (English conversation class) that I actually taught, and it went really well.  The focus of the Church's English classes in Japan is speaking it, since a lot of Japanese people learn how toread English well but they don't get to practice speaking much.  There's a teacher instruction book that the Chuch provides.  Each lesson involves pronunciation practice, vocabulary, and conversation about a particular topic.
Apparently most people here (including myself) have a washing machine but no dryer. We don't have a dishwasher, either. But for some reason, every toilet has a heated seat.
Elder Taylor

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Now I'm a Panda

When I got to Japan, I gave up pretty quickly on trying to identify the things I eat anymore. Last week on Friday I was eating vegetables that came out of an easy-cook pouch, and among them were these rectangular things which, had I blissfully finished the meal and then been asked what they were, I would probably have assumed were caramelized onions. But while I was eating, my trainer pointed out that this particular vegetable was bamboo. I promptly stabbed one of the slices with my fork and examined it, thus finding that it did, indeed, exhibit bamboo-like qualities, though it was also relatively soft and squishy like cooked vegetables often are. And then I ate it. And I enjoyed it.

The next day, our ward had a rice-pounding festival (known here as a "mochitsuki"; the "u" is silent). They'd cook up a pot of special super-sticky mochi rice and then dump it into a stone bowl. Two men would knead the rice with wet wooden hammers while a third man used his hands to knead and splatter water on the rice, and then after that everyone would take turns pounding the rice with a hammer while the aforementioned person continued to knead and splatter the rice with water. I got to take a turn pounding the rice. x3 Once the rice was sufficiently pounded into mochi (mochi is kind of like a sticky rice dough; you can't make out individual grains after it's been pounded), they'd take it into the kitchen and put it in soup for everyone to eat while they started another batch. 'Twas fun. :3

We had our first English class last week. Most Japanese people speak at least a little bit of English, since they have to study it in high school, and as I understand it they're usually better at reading it than speaking it. Our class focuses on speaking English. Since last week's class was the first one of the year, it was mostly a social activity with food. This week is going to be a bit more formal.

The other day, an elderly gentleman informed me that the English word "squirrel" is very hard for Japanese people to pronounce.

So far, the work in our area so far has mostly been trying to talk to people on the street, handing out fliers for English class, and ringing doorbells.   I'm still not understanding most of the Japanese that's being spoken, but that's okay for now.  I haven't even been here for two weeks yet.  xP
Elder Taylor

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Well, the thirteen-hour flight from LAX to the Tokyo Narita Airport wasn't that bad.  The food was pleasant, the cabin was really dark for some reason, and I didn't have trouble sleeping.  ^_^  We (myself and the thirteen other missionaries coming to Tokyo South) had to go through a bit of beauracracy once we landed, but it was really efficient, and soon enough we got through customs and then we were welcomed to Japan on New Year's Eve by a battalion of screaming fangirls....
...most of which, I'm sure, didn't notice us at all, as their attention was fixed on a celebrity who apparently was on our flight.  They had big signs and their phones out and they were taking pictures and video of this person as she was doing her celebrity thing.  The airport security people directed us through an opening in the densly-packed crowd and then we were met by our mission president and his wife and assistants.  President Wada said he was hoping that we'd come out before the celebrity did so that the crowd would take pictures of us all.  xP  We probably ended up in a lot of pictures as it was.
I've been downtown in Utah and I've done the Google Maps street view in Tokyo, but neither of those really come close to the feel of actually being in Tokyo.  It's all so densely packed; it feels like there's a store or a resturaunt or a house packed into every nook and cranny (and there are a lot of nooks and crannys), and the buildings are so tall and the roads are much narrower than in American cities... it's different.  And it's awesome.  On New Year's Day we went to a park in Kichijoji and watched the first sunrise.  Even in the packed city, there are places like these parks that are beautiful and peaceful. 
New Year's Day was mostly training, and the next day we met our trainers, who would be our companions for the next two transfers at least (a transfer is six weeks).  My trainer is Elder Otsuka, from the northern part of Japan.  He speaks really good English for only ever having been outside of Japan for three weeks.  We were assigned to the Hodogaya area.  I think this area is in the southeast part of the mission.  There's a lot of housing and steep hills here. 
On Friday we (myself, Elder Otsuka, and the two sister missionaries in our area) had dinner with the ward mission leader's family, and I understood very little of the conversation that night.  I was able to understand my MTC teachers' Japanese quite well, but they were returned missionaries, not native speakers.  It was a bit easer on Sunday when we went to church.  It's been a lot to adjust to: living in a Japanese apartment, listening to native speakers, eating Japanese food, etc.  Already I've eaten seaweed and squid and other weird things that came out of the ocean. 
The Church members in Japan are awesome.  I feel like they really appreciate the value of the restored gospel, and they're excited to share it.  RIght now I'm still trying to adjust and learn my way around, but I expect that this is going to be a lot of fun after a few weeks!
My zone went to the Tokyo Temple today.  We get to go there once a transfer.  It kind of looks small when you see pictures of it (especially in Google Maps), but when you're standing close enough to see it in the city, you have to look UP to see it all, and then it doesn't feel so small.  It's really beautiful on the inside.  :3
After we got back from the temple, Elder Otsuka and I were handing out fliers for English class, and then Elder Otsuka came up to me and handed me the cell phone. I could not get a straight explanation from either Elder Otsuka or from the guy on the phone as to why this guy on the phone wanted to talk to me.  o.0  He was Japanese, but he spoke mostly English to me.  I guess he just wanted to practice his English.  He talked about his job at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), and he mentioned the elders who were assigned to Hodogaya before us, and he listed some of the churches he'd been to, and he he talked about how Angels We Have Heard on High was his favorite Christmas carol, and then more about KFC, and he recited to me the Dutch and then the German alphabets, and then he talked about how he fries chicken at KFC... I do believe this phone conversation was the most bizzare thing I've experienced so far in Japan.  Afterwards Elder Otsuka explained that missionaries have been working with this person for a couple of years already; therefore he's what we call an "eternal investigator".  :P
Tomorrow I get to teach a free English class.  ^___^  I'm looking forward to it!
Elder Taylor

Japan Tokyo South Mission

(Jan 6, 2014)

Dear Brother and Sister Taylor:

Your son arrived in the Japan Tokyo South Mission on December 31, 2013, in good spirits and ready to commence his proselyting assignment. We had a wonderful time with him.

Elder Taylor has been assigned to work with Elder Otsuka and they are serving in an area called Hodogaya. Your son can receive his mail at the following address (Mission Home address):

Elder Devon Joseph Taylor
Japan Tokyo South Mission
1-7-7 Kichijoji, Higashi-cho
Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-0002

Attached is a picture of your son with Sister Wada and me, of himself, his companion, and a group picture of the new missionaries, trainers, and Assistants. We have also included a map showing the locations of the various areas in the mission. You can use it as a personal record of his assignments.

By the time you receive this letter, Elder Taylor should be adjusted to his new proselyting area. The positive sustaining support he gets from you at home will be a great blessing to him. May the Lord bless you and your family as you share in your son’s mission experience.

President Takashi Wada

Safe Arrival of Elder Taylor

(Jan 1, 2014)

Dear Parents,

We just want to send you a quick note to let you know that your missionary arrived safely in Japan on Tuesday, December 31, 2013. President and Sister Wada fed them dinner, visited shortly, and then sent them to bed for a much needed rest.

Today is orientation and training day. On Thursday they will meet their new companion who has been chosen to be their trainer. In the afternoon they are off to their new areas to begin their missionary work. Pictures will be taken and within a few days you will receive another email with these pictures attached.

Thank you for entrusting your missionary to us in the Japan Tokyo South Mission. We so appreciate all you have done to get your missionary to this point in his life!


Sister Yamashita
Japan Tokyo South Mission Secretary