Monday, August 15, 2011

Japan - Week 12

Ohaiyo gozaimasu!! (good morning)
How is everyone doing this week?? Things here in Japan are great!! We have felt a few little earthquakes here and there but nothing bad. 
Anyways yesterday was transfers.. . . .and . . . . I transfered again HAHA. I am now in an area called Ushiku. It is North of Tokyo. And pretty flat and nothing big about it. We call it the inaka, which means middle of nowhere pretty much. So I went from the biggest city with tons of people to a place where old people are and live in small houses. We probably live in the only tall building for miles. It is the only apartment complex that I can see. It is pretty darn empty here. Anyways, thanks for the video guys!! I will for sure visit Camille and Colton when I get back. And will eat a bread thing that Jared had from Connie hahaha. He is still crazy as usually. So they are going to be living at Provo?? I could stop by when we go up for school or something. haha
I think I kind of like the big city more. There is just so much more to do. It seems pretty boring out in the suburb. But I can't say much yet about it. I have only been here for one day haha. My bike was doing great last week. Finally got it back but got a flat tire and fixed that. But then had to take it apart so that we can ship in a bag to my new area. HAHA so yeah. We ride pretty much everywhere. Just cause it is faster and you don't get as sweaty. In Shibuya, the train could be faster but it does get expensive pretty fast.
Our investigators hopefully will keep doing well. We hope that people don't get lost or forgotten about. That's what is hard about transfers is making sure all the info is there. And since we are reopening this area in Ushiku ever since the earthquake. We are not sure where people stand in terms of investigators. There happen to be three people coming to church that last few weeks, which is way good. Hopefully we can help out. Pres Albrecht told us not to take over what the members have done and are doing. He just wants us to help out with them. Cause if they do it themselves more chances the investigators will feel comfortable coming and want to be baptized with their friends. Members are the key for converts.
That is crazy Bryan is coming home soon. He seemed like he just left. Victor Sine is close to being done too. I am pretty sure at least. And Doug I think is at his year mark or close to it.  Crazy stuff!!!
Ohh cool!! I don't know where I will be in November yet haha. I could be transferred twice by then hahah. I haven't stayed in an area more than one transfer yet. We will see how long I will keep this trend up. HAHA
My shirt size is like 15 1/2 I think but I don't want to make you ship something that big over here. Too expensive. We will have to find someplace close by.
My testimony has really grown at the MTC and on mission. I didn't really have a strong testimony at all before I left. I just knew going on a mission was the right thing to do. But I know there is a reason for me coming at this time. Still trying to figure it out though. Anyways My new companion is Elder Bates and is from Denver Colorado area. He loves musicals and stuff and is loud and funny. We should be fine together. haha
Well thats all this week nothing to exciting happened. And get to start up missionary work here in Ushiku. hah the name is so funny
Love you all!! I pray for your safety and comfort! <3 Stay safe. Keep writing everyone!!
Love you, Elder McKinney
Here are a couple of pictures of Nathan and his companion with Jonathan Sugata's (one of Nate's friends) grandparents and mom.  They ran into him at the train station in Tokyo.  What are the odds of that, huh?! :)


Monday, August 8, 2011

Japan - Week 11

How is everyone doing this last week? Things here in Shibuya are great. We are starting to see more people interested in coming to activities. We have had so many cool things to do. This week we tried to do different types of contacting. Like walking the streets, going to the park and talking to people and so on. We had some success with those in talking to people but no one seemed to be interested in the gospel very much.

Also, I finally get my bike back. It got a new derailer and chain for about $40 so not too bad. I thought it was going to be way worse than that.  Also on Wednesday, we had a miracle happen. We were walking around to find a place that looked good to eat and a lady came over to us and stopped us. She started talking to us and everything. (In Japan that almost never happens) She really wanted to learn English but couldn't always make it to our class on Wednesday because she has meetings so we ate dinner with her and helped her practice English. It is so surprising how many people know some English here. I feel like i'm in America still just everything is in Japanese!! HAHA

Anyways we taught a guy this week that was an investigator before but just got super busy with work and he still reads the Book of Mormon sometimes and has read all the pamphlets from before. He really wants to learn more. He just loves learning new types of things. He owns like 3 businesses and works for 3 or 4 more. All he does is work. People work so much here its so crazy!! We also had a less active call with the Branch President of the English branch out of the blue, and said he wants to come back to church. The last time he went to church was when he was 16!! Super crazy so he came yesterday to church and seemed excited to be back there but doesnt remember very much about what we do anymore. So we might have to teach him lessons too just as a refresher. That was the sum of our week. Staying pretty busy and sweating a ton. It is so hot here right now. You walk out and five mins later you are sweating from head to toe. Crazy weather.
To answer some of your questions, I like to get both emails and letters. Letters are fun just cause we have more time to read it but email is fine too. The four pictures I sent were just randomly selected because I can't view them as I choose, sorry about that. But two are from a photo museum that we went to and showed how the lighting changes the mood. Stuff like that.   Our apartment is on the 4th floor. And I don't really know the people very much because we don't go out when most other people go out. We dont really want to attract attention from our neighbors because investigators aren't supposed to know where we live. I think most members work in Tokyo or Shibuya. We live in a suburb called Ebisu. We get an occasional referral. Mostly they want us to help the members do the missionary work and get them to share the gospel themselves. We take the subway and trains a lot because it is faster than anything else. Our area is way bigger than back in Irvine. We visit members super far away and it takes about an hour by bike if we go super fast.  Here are a few more pictures:
Picture 1: Last area view from our back patio on the 5th floor.

Picture 2: Emperor Palace in Tokyo
Picture 3: This is the view from the Tokyo Tower. ALL SKYSCRAPERS!!
Picture 4: Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba (still our area)

Picture 5: Tokyo Disneyland, cant go there as missionary :(

Picture 6: Aquarium (penguins being fed)

Picture 7: My bike before it was fixed

I hope those give an insight to things we do here haha Love you all!! Stay safe! and The Gospel is true. Peace out A-town
Love you all! HUGG!!!
Elder McKinney

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Japan - Week 10

Hello everyone!! 
Sorry about last week's letter, we had so many things going on with our new laptops and we went to visit some places and such that we just ran out of time to email. Sorry. So I will try to answer your questions and report on stuff from the last few weeks. Sounds like everyone is keeping pretty busy with the summer time now. We have seen alot of white people here in Shibuya these last few weeks. Its a little strange to see so many. And we have had a fun experience at an army base last saturday. We got to have some REAL TACO BELL!! on the Air Force Base in Yoyokata I think it was called. One of the members of the English branches works and lives on there. So we got the chance to play soft ball with people from the ward and eat normal American food. It was awesome!! :D Ohh I also forgot to tell you our P-Days are switched to Mondays now like the rest of the world. We only had it on Tuesdays because that was when the temple session was. But now we can go any other Tuesday we want to. We went to a innovative museum and it had some robots and old ones they tested and stuff. Way cool!! We havent really been finding people prepared yet but we did have 6 NEW people come to and since it is free, we kind of have a catch that we have to do an intro lesson. Which is pretty much a normal lesson. So maybe we can find people from that. Hopefully it all works out. We also are working with a guy who is really ready to be baptized and has heard all the lessons but just has no motive to do it. So we are working with him and slowing getting him more and more active with things. Like he came to the softball at the base and really loved it. He is Japanese but speaks pretty good English. We teach him in English. It is really cool.
Ohh Elder Abraham said his mom sent him an email about you two chatting too. HAHA Parents are so funny!! hahah Regarding shirts we can find some probably some where cheap just don't know how long they will last. But we can do it. Also my bike is supposed to be done this week. So we will have to pay for the charges whenever we go.
I never did go on the Pioneer Trek. I think I was working when they did it and couldn't get time off.
None of the names you sent me sounded familiar but I don't know. Its so hard to remember Japanese names, they just sound like normal words when people say them. Plus they say it super fast.
Well today we played football with some other missionaries and was way fun!! I think we are just going to relax after that haha! Well I love you all!! Keep sending letters and emails! I love hearing from all of you. And if you any questions please ask I would love to answer some. I don't know what kind of things you would like to hear. Stay safe and do what is right!! 
<3<3 Elder McKinney

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Japan - Week 9

Hello everyone!!
Guess what?? I am emailing from our brand new computers in our apartment!! We also got portable DVD players!! :) haha We are so excited to have such cool technology and be the only mission in the world right now. We are the pilot mission and will last a year or so to see if the computers are worth it and bring more people unto Christ. So Cool! Hopefully we can learn how to use them effectively.

Sorry we only have a few minutes today cause we have so many things we needed to do sorry :( I will put photos on and hopefully they can do more talking than me this week. haha  I hope some of these will be better. I will write more this week. Thank you for all your love. I will write everyone next week I promise!!! <3<3<3
Love Elder McKinney

Monday, July 18, 2011

Japan - Week 8

Hey everyone!!

Things are going great here in the Shibuya area. We have really explored it. The buildings are so tall, like everywhere, and the streets are super small and there is no extra space here. haha

Well this week we haven't seen much success as far and investigators goes, but that's mostly because we have been busy with the rescue mission that the Japanese Ward has. They want us to visit all the less active members and stuff, so we have been busy with that. Also, we try to focus more on getting new people to our English class because most people become an investigator, and so it makes it easier to find those who want to be taught. Especially since everyone is so busy here! 

So I got the package from you guys but I forgot to bring the cord with me today :'( I am so sorry. I will remember next week, I promise, and will get some photos to you.  I dont really need anything right now except maybe some more short sleeve t-shirts because I only have two and it is super hot here right now and it's only supposed to get hotter in August. haha  It's about 85 or so with humidity. Anyways that is way cool to hear about Brett Paulsen, and that he reports just before my birthday. That seems so far off!! Also, has Pedro got his papers in yet?? 
Ohh you didnt really respond to what Jon Sugata said on the blog. I never got anything from him or you about it. If you could send that again or something. Also, yesterday you will never guess who I ran in to!! It was Jon's Grandpa and Grandma!!! Way crazy, we were waiting at a station to meet with a guy to get to know him better. And these two old people start walking towards us and started talking to us. I was like, who are these people? Because no one ever comes up to us first, you know?  And then he said Jon's name, I was so surprised!! I couldnt believe it!! So they took a picture and he said he would send it to Jon on Facebook. So you will need to ask him for it. HAHA Crazy stuff!! 
So we get to go to the temple every transfer, the week before the tranfers end. So in about two weeks we will get to go. And also next week we get laptops!! Not sure how we will be able to use them, but will make it easier hopefully.

This week I went to other English branch by the temple. The other English branch and Japanese ward meet at a  different church. So we have to split up to go to the wards and branches.
The most spiritual experience I've had?  Hmmm, most memoriable has been going to Sendai for sure. But spiritual would have to be when we taught a lesson to a less active woman and she said her biggest concern was about eternal families. She doesn't like her parents very much and she said she doesn't want to be with them forever. But we explained that we are all children of God and therefore we are one big family and can live with our church friends forever too. She then got so excited about the Plan of Salvation after that and it was so great. 
Well that's all I have time for today!! Keep the letters coming and remember the gospel is true and everyone is a missionary!!! 
Love you all!! Stay healthy and safe !! <3<3<3
Elder McKinney

Monday, July 11, 2011

Japan - Week 7

Konnichiwa! こんにちわ!!
Things here are going pretty good in Shibuya area!! Me and Elder Abraham are doing really good. We get along really well but we have not see much success yet! :( 
Anyways it's a way different life style here. Everyone is always on the move to somewhere. No one stops for anything so we have to think of ways to catch people while they are stopped and make it more like natural conversations that lead to church stuff. Unlike my last area where we did the whole stop someone on the street and start talking about church stuff thing. A little different approach here just because everyone is so busy. So yeah just have to re-adjust to new approaching styles.
Ohh also the Mission President sent us a link to send you guys about our trip to Sendai -
(We think we can see Nate around the 10:40 mark, but we're not sure - let me know what you guys think?)  So you can see the kind of stuff we did. I dont think I was in any of the pictures but maybe I am. HAHA I will also send the ones I took when I receive the camera cord.
Your missionaries sound pretty funny from the way you described them. Very old skool!! :)
I should probably join them on that "who can loose the most weight" I am starting to get a belly!! O.o Super Scary!! Its just cause we eat pretty big meals here. I should probably not eat so much but the food here is so delicious.
Anyways my Japanese is coming along. I am starting to understand people more but don't know enough words to speak back fluently. I need to study more of the words and need to make a system to learn more words. 
Ohh me and my comp got library cards and are going to start reading children's books so maybe that will help learning basic words. Ohh and to answer your question of how to say "I love you" it is: "aishite imasu." (literal meaning: I am currently loving you)  あいしています。the kanji's writting  is 愛して行ます。You can add "watashi wa anata o aishite imasu." but they are just implied when you say "aishite imasu." Alot of things are implied in Japanese.
Anyways the food is awesome here very simple but delicious. We have an English branch and so we got invited to their house on Sunday. It was ham and cheesy potatoes. So good!! Felt like being in the US again!! At our apartment we fix things like noodles and pot stickers. We had some MRE's from some member which were'nt too bad. They are the military meals that can last for like 20yrs and all you need is some water to make everything. Way cool!!
So my first Sunday at the English branch was interesting. I had to give a 10min talk about my testimony and how it has grown. But I only found out the night before church so I kinda just made it up on the spot since it was in English. Ohh and we have to go to both the Japanese and English wards so we have a long day at church on Sundays. We are there by 830am till about 430pm. HAHA But its all good.
So my apartment is just a little small and set up different but it does seem more open. It is more like a square so the rooms feel a little bigger while as the last apartment was just long and narrow. So it felt like the rooms were crowded. I don't know if thats true or not. We still have 4 Elders in our apartment. So me and Elder Abraham and then Elder Miura and Elder Ruppe. Miura is Japanese but forgot where he used to live, he is from the group ahead of me so I saw him at the MTC. Then Elder Ruppe is from Utah and is an Aggie! He went to USU and seems to love it there.
Yeah we felt the earthquake. We were in  the Japanese ward sacrament and the building just started swaying a bit and went on for about a minute. The speaker was a little older and thought it was just him shaking from giving the talk but realized it was another earthquake. I heard it was about a 7.2 up in Sendai again. But was really far off the coast so it wasn't going to make any tsunamis which is good. Only about a 1ft high wave.
Well I hope everyone is doing well!! Keep up your hard work and the lord will bless you!! 
Love you all and keep your letters coming!!
Elder Nathan Phillip McKinney
(Makkini Neisan Firipu Choro)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Japan - Week 6


This week went by pretty fast, as usually. I really feel like time just flying by. I feel like by the end of my mission I wont even know it is coming. 

Well we had transfers this week and . . . . . I am moved to SHIBUYA!!! It is the downtown heart of Tokyo!! So there are super huge buildings and tons of people. I have to make sure I don't hit anyone with my bike!! We got the call on Friday night to find out if we were staying or not. I was a little sad to leave my first area though. I felt I had done so much work and was really starting to know the members and then BAM!! Transfers! So now I kinda feel like i'm starting all over again!!  Shitami Choro and the other Elder there are companions and they aren't replacing me or the other elder who went home today because they opened up more of the northern part of Tokyo mission. There are a few areas still not open but all the zones are open now. So a lot of people were moved to brand new areas this transfer. So Saturday we spent most of the day cleaning and packing my stuff. Then Sunday was church and said goodbyes to the members and had dinner at the Mission Leader's house. It was super good!! People really know how to cook here! Ohh and the mugicha stuff. It is tea made from wheat and really does smell like cigarettes but it is ok tasting! I haven't had anything gross to eat yet thankfully, or maybe I just didn't know what it was! haha 

Then yesterday was transfer day. Spent about an hour on the trains. Then talked with some people who from my MTC district and met my companion who has been here for about 5 transfers and really knows what is going on. His name is Elder Abraham and is from Utah. He has been out for a year. And really seems like a football/army kind of guy. So very straight faced and doesn't really smile when he laughs. But he is a good missionary so I have been told.

Its weird to think I will be gone for two years. I feel like time doesn't even matter any more. Kind of a weird feeling. Like if you don't have a calendar in front of you, I feel like time just flies by cause you can't look back and compare time. Ohh and also I think my watch is kind of broken but I tried to fix it once and it started working again. But now it only works sometimes not sure why. I don't think the battery is already worn out but maybe it is, i don't know.

Ohh another thing about transfers is the mission headquarters pays for the shipping of two bags. But usually you have three cause of your bike, which you take apart a bit and put in a bike bag, pretty nifty. Also all the cars here are super small! Like imagine the scion XA or XB type cars but everywhere and thats Japan. There are so many different styles of cars but all the same shape. And Toyota has probably over 60 different type of cars here. Insane!!! :D Also the front emblem on them is different on cars but the back one is the same as the one for US. Really weird! I don't know why they they do it.

So Shibuya is full of many different kinds of people. We have a Japanese ward that seems to be decent sized and then two English branches. Plus we have the temple in our area! But we are only allowed to go once a transfer when all the missionaries go! :*( I wish we could go every week on P-day but oh well. Thats about it so far from only being here for about a day. I feel like I am in New York just cause of all the chaos here. So many people, super tall buildings, and a mix of different people. Mostly Japanese but there are way more Americans here than in Sagamihara. Kind of different. Plus way more people speak English which I am not used to. I always want to say "konnichiwa" even if they are white now!! My mind is kind of going crazy with all this Japanese stuff and translating in my head. Its hard sometimes but will get better the more I hear and speak it. Plus from studying Chinese I know some characters but not many that I know what the meaning is. I don't remember how to say them at all which is kind of sad, but that was almost 9 months ago. Wow that is longer than I thought!!. Time is flying by!! To think a year ago next month I was in Taiwan. Crazy stuff!!!! Well I think that is it for today and this week. Nothing too crazy happened before transfers at all. So if you have any questions let me know!! 

Please keep the email and letters coming. I love to hear from you all!! Stay safe!

Elder McKinney