Thursday, January 30, 2014

Japanese people are some of the most wonderfully nice people I know!

Dear Father and Mother,
You got my flight plans! Wow...time sure does fly fast. I was able to stay in the Honbu (headquarters) with an elder returning home the next day this past thursday and it was fun talking to him. He didn`t seem phased at all. He was a very hard working elder and was a great example (he is the one who`s sister married into the Braden family). I`m excited for the day to come home, but I`m also excited for all the time I have left. I have truly come to love Hokkaido and I feel like I can say like Ammon "I might want to live here till the day I day" ;) It`s been a great experience and I`m excited for all the adventures I have to look forward to in the next month!
I`m sorry to hear things have been hard on you mom. I hope and pray that it will turn out for your good and that you`ll get better soon!
And I pray that you`ll be able to do your work with joy and hope too dad :) I know that you`re providing great experiences to many youth who need what you have to offer. I wish I had taken more advantage of the scouting program when I was young! Not many people in Japan do it so I see the difference in the youth, but I`m so excited for the growth of the church here in Japan especially dealing with the youth. I want to see Japan 30 years from now!
Well now for my week!
This week was good! Elder Bongioanni and I went up to Sapporo on the Transfer day because we also had singing practice for our Music Concert in February. We got to see lots of good missionary friends and now we`re back in good old Hakodate! 
And today we are just going to take it easy and do personal study and letter writing at the apartment. I`ve been reading the PMG (Preach My Gospel) in Japanese lately so I`ll probably do that. Then we`ll go out to do missionary work tonight! We`ll do some more exciting things in the coming weeks before I come home.
The Lights festival sounds fun! I`ll see if the district wants to go and do it as a group!
So I`m going to tell you that Japanese people are some of the most wonderfully nice people I know! We went to a less active member`s house last night to share a message with her and her not-yet-a-member husband and when we got there she had made a meal for us to eat! That happens so much here in Japan! You tell people you don`t need any food and they still make you lots and lots of food! :P A lot of times it can actually be a pain to get into the lesson from that, but you can`t help but be grateful for how loving and kind they are towards people they hardly know. Last night we did fine getting to the lesson and we told them about Joseph Smith and how the Book of Mormon came to be and it was wonderful :) They all promised to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and we`re going to see how that went when we call back tomorrow.
We were also able to meet an Old Investigator from when I was here a year and a half ago and unfortunately her feelings towards joining the church hadn`t changed, but it was nice to have another chance to bear testimony that God loves her and has many blessings prepared for her if she chooses to accept them.
It`s interesting how after time has passed people can change so much. One of my friends in my last area was not ready for the gospel 2 years ago when she met other missionaries but when we found her recently she was completely ready to accept it. I don`t know what changes happened, but everyone has their time and season to accept the gospel I guess. I feel like eventually this Old Investigator we met recently will accept the gospel someday :)
That`s all for my week, but I have a favor to ask. Do you know what day and time I get into the Narita Airport? There is a person I met here that lives in Tokyo and wants to see me off at the airport if he can. I don`t know if it`s possible but I told him I would let him know the time.
If you could send me that information that would be great! When I get to Narita and when the next plane is.
Alright, well I`ll talk to you later!
Love you!
Elder Sotto

Monday, January 20, 2014

God knows when His children are ready

So we got up really early to write our emails today because we have some activities to do later today but I might be able to see your email a little later...if not then next week! We`re going to see the dancing Squid in Hakodate (we catch it and they cut it up for us and we eat it!). I did it when I was first here and everyone wants to do it again! I`m excited! Then we`re having an Okonomiyaki party at the church with some Young Single Adults in the ward (Okonomiyaki is like a pancake with whatever you want in it. Usually vegetables and meat and such).
But I`ll tell you about my week!
My companion and I are doing "Nihongo Dake" days where we only speak Japanese and he is getting so much better! He has such a good attitude as well!
His talents are great too! We stopped a group of like 10 high school kids and he beat boxed for them and invited them to English Classand then 2 of the came that night! It was awesome!
Next story. We had a week appointment to meet with an investigator last week, but we called and called and couldn`t get ahold of him so we thought that he wasn`t coming (he said he probably couldn`t). So we decided to not go that day. After completely having forgot about the appointment we were proselyting from door to door and my comp really wanted to buy a dinner from a close by convenient store and eat at the church...I thought that was silly and said we should eat at the apartment because it was close by, but ultimately I said ok and we went to the church to eat our dinners. When we got there two members were shoveling the parking lot and said that someone was waiting inside for us to teach them! We were very confused so we went into the church and it was the friend we had an appointment with! And we just happened to show up at the exact time the appointment was after having completely forgotten about it...My comp really really wanted to eat at the church, and now I know why. It was the Spirit! So random, but the Spirit prompted him to go there. I`m glad I listened in the end. That is a testimony that God works through many means to guide us to where we need to be, even if those means are our stomachs =P
Last story. So yesterday I think I found one of the reasons why I came back to my old area of Hakodate. The Sister that I baptized here has a daughter that turned 8 right after I left to a new area and she wasn`t able to be baptized. That has continued for the past year and a half that I`ve been gone so she still isn`t baptized, but yesterday her and her mom were able to come back to church after a month and a half of not going and the daughter came up and whispered into my ear "Sotto come I want you to baptize me on my birthday. Okay?" I was soooo Happy!!! =D Her birthday is the 15th of February :) That experience and being back here in my old area is a huge testimony to me that my mission president is directed by the Lord in his decisions. I know that God has a way prepared so that all of His children can receive the blessings of this Gospel. That testimony has been strengthened so much on my mission! There is a time and a season to all things, and God knows when His children are ready :)
I`m so excited for the time that they`ll get to go through the temple together and be sealed as a family!
Yup! And that`s two big things from this week :)
I`ll talk to you next week!
Love you! Bye Bye!!!

I got your mail and just read it! The squid was fun! We went out to find a snack called Tayaki and we met a Japanese lady living in China who is searching for truth and so we talked to her and had a great conversation in the fish market. We gave her a Book of Mormon and the pamphlets for all of our lessons and she said she would read it eagerly. She was a Kinjin (Golden person) and she is definitely going to get baptized some day soon I think, but unfortunately she has to go back home so we can`t meet again. But it was amazing! She was talking about how God had to have known that Adam and Eve would eat the fruit and that we need good and bad in the world to grow and that Adam and Eve falling was necessary. Then we shared 2 Nephi with her and she was so excited!
What a great morning! We are always being guided!
Thanks for the article and news! Very interesting!
Oh no! I`ll pray for you mom! I love you so much!
Mata Next week!
Bye Bye!!!
Your son,
Elder Sotto

Monday, January 13, 2014

miracles like not having snow fall on your companions head because he felt he should step out of the way

Thank you so much for those 100 things about Japan! I have definitely been here too long! ;P haha. But it`ll be sad leaving here. I`m so happy I was able to come here :)
I don`t remember America being that cold, but then again I was inside most of the time. It`s so cold here in Hakodate with the wind from the Ocean!
I used the Heated soles for a while and I loved them! They work great! But unfortunately they are a little thick for my boots. If I put them in and try to stick my feet in, there is a spot where my foot gets pinched and hurts so I can`t really wear them in these boots. They work great though! I actually got a pair of electric socks from the Olsons from camp and I haven`t tried the electric feature yet, but the socks in generally are very very warm! So if you see them thank them for me! And the gloves are working great as always :) I just have to plan wisely to use them for the coldest 2 hours of the day because the battery only last that long :P It`s really helping me to be warm this winter though. I can`t believe how cold it gets! But hey, that`s what makes us here in Hokkaido the Frozen Chosen =D And proud of it.
I hope your talk went well dad! I`m so excited to see the new ward and all the kids and everything!
I don`t have a lot of time this week to write so I`ll be quick! We have been working hard to go from a situation with no investigators to teaching more people here and it`s getting better slowly but surely! We had a person we found through phone calling come to church and two people showed up at our New Years Opening Party today! It was great! They`re not quite wanting to hear a ton about the gospel yet but we taught the 18 year old young man that came to the party today how to pray and get help in his studies preparing for college :)
My convert from the last time I was here came to the activity today as well and it was so fun to see her as a part of the ward and helping everyone out and such. It`s amazing to see how much the ward has accepted her in the year I`ve been gone and how much growth she`s experienced :) I`m glad I got to come back here to Hakodate.
There are miracles all around! It`s fun to see the new investigators and miracles like not having snow fall on your companions head from a roof because he felt he should step out of the way at the perfect time. Lot`s of little Miracles.
Oh, and my companion is teaching me how to Beat`s harder than I thought but I`m trying hard! :P
Anyways, I love you and I`ll talk to you agian next week! See you later!
Elder Sotto101 signs you've been in Japan too long.....
1. When you're outside Japan you still call non-Japanese gaijin.
2. You've continued to work through a shindo 3 earthquake without slowing down or bothering to mention it.
3. You're giving the peace sign in most of your Facebook photos.
5. You don't find engrish funny anymore.
8. You've started to reserve seats with your wallet / purse. You don't have the slightest worry that it might be stolen.
10. You bow when you're on the phone.
14. You no longer remember the English names for most types of fish.
17. You've started buying those strange English t-shirts.
19. You're starting to believe that romaji is English.
20. You ask people to "teach" you their phone number.
23. You get annoyed when young Japanese people use informal Japanese.
24. You've become extremely nostalgic about sakura.
27. You remember important dates by the heisei year.
28. You start to think that oyaji gyagu are funny (the corny jokes told by middle aged Japanese men).
29. You can ride a bicycle with a tiny clear plastic umbrella and not get wet.
30. You can wear a yukata properly.
32. You start feeling that many Japanese futon are too soft.
33. You say heeeeey a lot.
34. You enjoy cooking your own food at restaurants.
35. You don't pull over when police flash their lights.
36. At the first sign of a cold you wear a mask.
37. You often ask police for directions.
38. You can sing enka at Karaoke.
39. When you use a taxi in your home country — you wait for the door to open automatically.
40. You have accidentally apologized in Japanese in your home country.
41. You don't feel Shibuya is all that crowded.
42. You turn your headlights off when you come to a stoplight.
43. You eat curry rice (kare raisu) at least once a week.
45. You can hum the don quixote song.
49. (woman) You go naked at onsen without thinking about it but would never go topless at a beach.
51. You run for the train in a panic because there won't be another one for 1 minute.
56. You get the urge to yell sumimasen at restaurants in your home country.
57. You started to think that noodles are an ok filling for a sandwich.
58. You're starting to doubt your English pronunciation of Rs and Ls.
59. You bought a little plastic chair for your shower.
61. You drink corn soup from a can.
62. You own more than 8 umbrellas
64. You have used a stranger for support when sleeping on a train.
65. You're starting to add -san to the names of other gaijin.
67. You chose your bank by its cartoon character.
68. Your friends back home ask you what "genki" means.
70. You've become very picky about rice.
72. You bow when you shake hands.
73. You think there's food in the basement of all department stores.
75. You're not angry when politicians with loudspeakers wake you up at 8 on Saturday morning.
78. You always back-in when you park — no matter what the situation.
81. You complain about the dangerous lack of vending machines outside Japan.
82. You have slept standing on a train.
85. You buy kitchen appliances based on the songs they can sing.
85. You have purchased eggs from a vending machine.
87. You no longer get lost in Shinjuku station.
89. You can't use a toilet that doesn't have lots of buttons.
91. You believe that there's an onsen to cure all aliments.
92. You're starting to get Japanese comedy shows.
93. You think that corn & mayonnaise is a perfectly reasonable topping for pizza.
94. You know the theme songs for most of the products at your local konbini (convenience store).
95. You have said the phrase moshiwake gozaimasen.
98. When someone is talking you say "unn" a lot to show that you're listening.
101. You think stoplights are red, yellow and blue.

Monday, January 6, 2014

our band name :P Black Toast and Taller

With all of those birthday posts I just remembered that I have forgotten a lot of the names of my friends =P I guess I`ll remember them when I meet them again though! That`s how it has been here in Hakodate. I went to Church this sunday and there were only about 5 or 6 members who`s names I didn`t remember. And they all remembered me and told me how great my Japanese has gotten!
I`m so excited to be back! I don`t know what I left undone, but I`ve had a couple people tell me why they think I`m back. A less active member came to church yesterday because her brother (a church member) passed away a few weeks ago and she came back to thank everyone for all of the support they gave to him. She brought her husband (who isn`t a member) and he mentioned his desire to come to church a few more times and gave me his number and said we could come visit! One member said they think the reason I came back was to meet him and teach him the gospel.
I was also able to visit my convert from a year and 2 months ago and she freaked out when I showed up on her doorstep. She was so happy! She wouldn`t stop shaking my hand and jumping up and down! It was a really good meeting :) Her daughter (who is now 8 and taller than mom) still hasn`t been baptized because she doesn`t like men and won`t get baptized by a man...we`ll see how that goes. But my convert Sister Tomomi hasn`t been going to church for about a month and she told me that maybe I came back to help her re-prioritize her life so she can come back to church. That made me extremely happy =D
She also mentioned to me that if you choose not to go to church even one time, every time after that gets easier. She chose not to come and that 1 time turned into 4 weeks of not coming. We talked about that and I shared with her Mosiah 2:41. She wants to go back to church but she just mentioned how easy it gets to choose the wrong after you`ve done it once before.
That could be one thing that you mention to the ward dad. But I have a good question you can ask everyone. It`s been very important in helping me to stay active and happy and focused on my mission. The question is "Why am I here?" As I`ve asked myself that throughout my mission I`m brought back to why I make the decision to keep working everyday even when it`s freezing outside and few people are listening to me. The reason is because I know that Christ lives and that His promises are sure. I know that because I`m trying my best to live the gospel and I`m receiving the blessings of it. That and I`ve prayed to God to know if the Book of Mormon is true and I received an answer that it is. Because I know that the Book of Mormon is true I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ, which means that Christ really did perform the Atonement and Ressurrect, which means that we too will be ressurrected and thorugh following his teachings be saved in the Kingdom of God. There is no reason not to follow Christ if you know these things are true, even when times get tough. Times were tough for Christ and he kept on going. He didn`t give up. He didn`t give up on us so we can keep on working hard (D&C 122:7-9). But that question has helped me to refocus myself and my priorities and given me lots of strength. If people don`t know how to answer it, they can read the scriptures and pray and go to church to find their answers. I testify that with those 3 pillars we will have a strong base that will get us though the hard times, but only if we put God first, for "no man can serve two masters."
There`s my words of advice to the ward. And also tell them I`m excited to see them all again and I love them all :)
As for camp stuff...dou shiyou...I`m split. I would love to work in the kitchen because it`s good work and so fun and great and I love Lisa and the staff! But I would also like to work on the high adventure staff if that position is still open. I feel like in the high adventure staff I would learn how to work with people a lot better and it would be a lot more of a learning experience that would be good for my life and prepare me to be a better father and such...Any advice on the matter from your perspective dad? right now I`m leaning toward the high adventure staff but if that`s not open I would love to be in the Kitchen.
How about I rephrase this...where do you need me the most dad? Where would I be of the most use? That`s where I want to go.
Ya change is interesting mom. I think a mission helps me to get used to it, but this transfer came so unexpectedly that it kind of hit me in the stomach. I didn`t know if I wanted to sing or cry, but I`m happy here in Hakodate :) It`s like a new start. A clean slate. We don`t really have any investigators right now so we`re really starting from zero. My companion is really fun :) He can beat box like a pro and is really trying hard to learn the language. And he is lactose intollerant, but when he told me that I didn`t quite hear it right. I heard "I am black toast and taller." haha. So now we tell everyone that is our band name :P Black Toast and Taller! haha. It`s going to be a fun way to end the mission I think :) He works really hard too and so we`re talking to everyone all day! Miracles are sure to follow around every corner :)
I`m sorry to hear about all of the troubles back home, but if we look at it from a different light it is just another opportunity to be humble, just like you said. If we were never tested with something bad, we would never have the opportunity to develop the godly attributes of patience, love, humility, faith, etc. It is truly a wonderful and challenging thing, but if we`re faithful to the end we will receive eternal life through the grace of Christ :) How Happy A Thought!!! =D
Alright, well thank you for your mail and everything thoughout this whole two years! I`ll keep working hard and then I`ll see you in two months :) Love you so much! See you soon!
Elder Mitchell Perry Sotto
P.S. Tell my sisters I love them and I`m praying for them! And you too! Bye Bye!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It`s fun to have some good Idaho humor around again =D

Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!!! (Happy New Year!)
Sorry to be emailing you late this late in the week! This week has been crazy!
So because it`s the end of the year, this week they gave us P-day on wednesday (today!).
Monday we did district meetings instead of tuesday, and tuesday (yesterday) we were supposed to read the Book of Mormon all day!
The reason I said "supposed to" is because on Monday I got some very amazing news...I got done teaching my district meeting and went downstairs and Kaicho said "Elder Sotto could I talk to you?" So we went into his office and he said "Sit down here. How are you doing?" "I:m good." "Oh`re transfering to Hakodate." :P I asked him when and he told me I needed to be packed by tomorrow morning.
So...right now I`m mailing you from my new area...Hakodate! And I`m training a different newer missionary than my last green bean! His name is Elder Bongioanni. He`s from Idaho Falls! So we talk a lot about potatoes and stuff :P just kidding. It`s fun to have some good Idaho humor around again =D
 I was here when I was a young missionary (3rd-5th transfer). Now I`m a 15th transfer missionary! So I`m very excited for the work I have to do here in my old area :) It`s really weird being back though. And the snow melts so fast here! Sapporo had so much snow! I`m sad I didn`t get to say good bye to my old ward and stuff, but that`s ok. I`ll send them my calling card (all missionaries get calling cards when they get to the mission).
Anyways, so that`s my week up until now. Today is P-day and tomorrow is Deep Clean Day where we clean the apartment all day! And then our schedule goes back to normal :) Missionary work is hard to do during the New Years time so we a couple days where we stay inside and clean and read the Book of That`s my week so far!
Last week was fun too! We had a Christmas Party with all the Missionaries in the Sapporo area and we went caroling at Oodori Park! It was so fun!!! The park was lit up with lights too :)
Then we had a Christmas Party at our Eikaiwa and the Messiah Concert on Saturday. The Choir was aparently the best it`s ever been! At least that`s what I heard :) You can see it on Facebook if you want.
As for your questions, the members have made plans to feed us lunches and dinners for the next couple days. They are so nice to the missionaries! Especially around New Years. We had a lot I was excited for in Moiwa, but there are a lot here in Hakodate too. We`re going to a member`s house tonight and we went last night and it`s so fun to see there faces when they see me again :)
Actually last night at the dinner, one of the members stepped on the handle for a fire extinguisher...turns out that the powder is pink! :P that was fun.
My birthday was great :) Thank you for the turtle necklaces! I gave one to my companion when I emergency transfered yesterday. I also got other presents from other members and lots of happy birthday songs :) Shiawase desu (I`m happy).
I`m glad you like the flowers! They`re sold all over Hokkaido!
I only got one of the articles you sent by the way.
How was your New Years?
I think that`s all I have to tell about this week. It was really fun to talk to you last week! I`m excited to do it again soon!
I love you all! Bye Bye!!
Elder Mitchell Perry Sotto