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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Japan - Week 5


Thanks everyone who sent me letters/emails!

Today we went and played dodgeball with a lot of the missionaries from Tokyo it was way fun!! This week we didn't find anyone new to teach. We are only teaching one guy, Aoyama-san. He is starting to read the Book of Mormon and prays sometimes. We are working on that. He has been to church twice already so he is doing pretty good. The one guy who had a baptismal date we haven't seen for about a week and half. He wouldn't show up to the lessons so we set up a normal meeting just to get to know each other better before we start teaching again. So he wont be baptized since he hasn't been to church either. Hopefully soon. We are just working with the people we have right now to get them to come to church first. We have been over to two member families home's for dinner a few weeks ago. The food was so good!! The language is slowly starting to get easier but just need to study more words to be able to talk about more things!

During the week we aren't supposed to write letters, we are supposed to focus on missionary work so it is hard to write everyone in one day! I am trying to do as much as I can. We don't have a set time to write but its just we only have Tuesdays to do it and so it's really hard to write everyone back.

Mom & Carissa - sounds like you had fun in Colorado and did a lot of stuff! I wish I could have gone with!!  I don't know what kind of adapter is needed for my camera. But Carissa said she might send a package so maybe you could put it in there along with some snacks and maybe even the post card from Mary and just split the cost or something. That way its cheaper for everyone!

So yeah, not much happened this week but we are working hard! It is starting to get really HOT!!! Like in the 90's already and rains a ton too!! Really bizzare weather here but we are having lots of fun!! I will be sure to take more pictures so I can send you guys.
Ohh my companion wants to write some stuff to you.. . .
Konnichiwa, my name is SHITAMI.  McKINNEY choro is awesome. Thank you for sending him on the mission. I am very happy and I learn from him.
Thats all he wanted to say, haha, I love you all!! Thank you for your support!! I will write more next week because again, I don't have much time to write. Hopefully I will still be in the same area because next week is transfers!! Scary!! (KOWAII!!)

Love, Elder Shitami and McKinney!! <3<3<3

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Japan - Week 4

Hello everyone. How are things going?? This week I don't have a lot of time to write because the other guys need to write still too. Sorry I won't be able to write back to everyone that wrote me.  

We went to the temple today!! We get to go once a transfer and they had a special missionary session at 10am today. Normally the temple doesn't open until about 2pm ever since the earthquake, not sure why. 

Thats awesome to see the pictures, keep sending more. Sorry I can't send mine yet.  I need to go to a printer shop because I don't have my adaptor to hook it up to the computer. If you send it to me maybe that would make things easier and I could send you way more photos that way too!!

So this week went by really quick. I can't believe I am already be in Japan for a month!! And already 1/6 done with my mission. It's crazy to think how fast time flies. 

So we found another investigator this week and started teaching him. He is about 26 and really nice. He came to church on Sunday and seems really interested in the church. We will have to see if he will keep his commitments to read the Book of Mormon and pray about Joseph Smith's experience in the grove. We also found a guy who was super excited to meet us and really want to learn more too. We are going to visit him again today and see how things are going. He is about 70 years old and was jumping around and super crazy. Funniest Japanese guy ever!! People here are so nice but when we bring up the the name Jesus Christ (Iesu Kirisuto in Japanese) they almost always smile and just wave their hand in front of their face and walk off. But we keep going to each guy we see and can stop. We are not allowed to talk to women because they don't want us to get into any trouble or anything. Only if we are knocking on doors are we allowed to talk to them and start the conversation with them. Little weird rule, but makes sense because they don't want them to like fall in love with a missionary and not the church. Anyways they did have Father's day here but not very big, only in church and all they did for it was put flowers next to the pulpit. HAHA So no, they don't really celebrate it here. We have a really small church here. Its about the size of the Irvine's Chapel size only. So pretty small.

Sorry they need to get on now. Next week I will write more!! Love you all!! Things here are going great!!
Love, Elder McKinney <3
P.S my guess for  Nick is Brazil Sao Palo

Monday, June 13, 2011

Japan - Week 3

Konnichiwa!! ;D
Things are going good this week, we have had a little more luck. The opportunities are really starting to open up now. 

It always has a chance of rain but it doesn't rain a whole lot yet. We don't even look at the weather forecasts at all we just base it on how it looks outside.
Thats awesome to hear that Zac and Miriam got married. I feel like just a few weeks ago I was sitting in Idaho talking with them, time is just flying by here. I can't believe three weeks has already gone by here in Japan. 

We gave our testimonies on Sunday. I said most of the things I wanted to say but it was kinda all over the place, nothing specific.  Just kinda said all the things I knew were true to the ward and that's about it. One awkward thing I did though was I ended in a prayer. HAHA Just saying so many prayers that it is so natural now.  You only change the verb and I had forgot to change it but no one really noticed.
Everyone in the apartment is getting along good. One elder is from Denver Colorado named Bullock. He leaves to go back home in a few weeks, it's the end of this transfer. Then the other one is from Liberty Utah named Elder Loud. Both super nice and really happy to be out.
Things here are pretty tough. Tougher than I had thought especially trying to speak in Japanese. In English I would be fine, but Japanese I am not quite as comfortable with yet. We have finally taught an investigator that we found on the street. He is short like 5ft 2in. Ohh and I am not that tall here. Most guys are my height but all the girls are short. Any way we met him on Friday and taught a lesson to him on Saturday. We set a baptismal date for July 2. YAY!!  We just have that as a goal for him and us. We still have to teach him everything but he doesn't have a job or family so he has time to listen. I just hope he will progress. We will find out if so tonight. We also have about 5 potential investigators that said they want to hear more but we haven't got a second meeting yet. So hopefully those will come around. The work is really starting to come around and I am getting excited about it. I just wish I understood more of what was going on!! haha  But that will come with time and study. Just need to be more patient. Thats something I have really learned is that patience is everything. Just waiting for the Lord's time. Ohh another thing I have learned, is that they really are stressing the point of member referrals. They really want us to get to know the members and ask for referrals or set up a plan with the member of how to ask their friends to come to activities and such. So I want to make that a challenge to you, Mom, and everyone else who reads these. Try to share the gospel with someone this week or tell the missionaries about someone to share the gospel with. It won't hurt to try it, I promise. "It is their salvation that is hanging loose." thats a quote from Elder Holland. All members need to share the gospel not just the missionaries. We are all missionaries and can help spread the gospel. So please talk to someone this week about the church or invite them to an activity. I love you all!! This church is true!! Stay safe and remember who you are!!
Elder McKinney

Monday, June 6, 2011

Japan - Week 2

こんにちわ (konnichiwa)
How is everyone??  Well anyways, things are going good here! Elder Shitami and I have been working hard to find some people and have a few people that are really interested but still haven't found a real investigator. Hopefully we can soon. :D 

We went to Sendai to see all the things that happened, we got on a bus Thursday night at 10pm and drove all night. We got to Sendai at about 730am and it is really scary to think that it was three months ago the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. There was still a lot of houses and cars that have probably never been touched yet. There is a lot to be done still. We went to a man's house and cleared off the top soil around his house because it had all the ocean pollution in it and they wanted it out. You could see the water line outside the house and it was about 4ft maybe 4 and half feet high or so. Just incredible to see the destruction first hand. After doing that we went to help some other missionaries with all of the sewers. They are underground but just covered by small rectangles of concrete that can be removed to access them. They are only about 2 ft deep or so but they wanted us to clean them out and there was a lot of mud and other stuff that was in there that we had to remove so that the water and stuff could flow down it.  We had to shovel it out and put in bags where they would take them to a dump I guess. I don't really know the details of it but that's all we did most of the day. Then at about 4pm we finished our service and got to go closer to the shore and see more of the areas that were hit worse.  It was so sad to see all the houses and cars just flattened. Like nothing was there, only scraps of things. Even a pretty big boat, like a fisherman boat, was up past the houses and just sitting there in the dirt. We even saw a buoy sitting in an empty field. Crazy stuff happened. I took a lot of pictures of it but I don't know how I can send them to you. I check into that. After that, we stopped by a church and had dinner. Then drove all the way back to the Tokyo area and stopped at a church for a few hours to sleep until about 6am then got on a train to take back to our apartment.

So from the Mission home our apartment is about 1hr and half by train I think, maybe more. I didn't really keep track of time. The size of our apartment is probably about 600sq feet. It has a bedroom and a shower/lanundry/sink. Ohh and our washer is both a washer and dryer, super awesome!!! Then a toliet room. Two study areas where all our clothes go. And the smallest kitchen ever. Like only one, maybe two, people can be in it at once. We have two other missionaries that are there with us in the apartment. Very small living spaces. My bike is a GIANT type bike, a mountain bike. Bright blue with white handles and seat, not my choice of color but they had a very limited selection. Ohh I also just bought an electronic dictionary today because it is very useful to look up words quickly.

My companion knows the show ninja warrior but I think the place where they record the show is somewhere in Yokohama or something, it's not on a mountain. It's just a production studio in the forest somewhere, I think. But they call it Mt Modoriyama. (The green mountain haha)  His whole family are members of the church - 3 older sisters, 2 older brothers, and 1 younger brother. He is just a little shorter than me, probably 5ft 8in maybe. Before his mission, he went to college and worked as a mechanic, which is what he wants to be. He had his year mark last P- day - I found out after I had emailed you. Our ward is called the Sagamihara ward. HAHA, so original. There is one other white guy besides the missionaries. But he served his mission in Japan and is fluent. His wife is Japanese and I don't know how good her English is but that is about it. I didn't get to bear my testimony on Sunday because they are having us do it next week. But it will be very simple since I don't know a lot of words still. I can understand a lot more and get the jist of what they are saying but can't say a whole lot yet.

But things here are going good. Trying to spread the gospel, very tough work, more than I had thought, but still worth it. 

I love you all!!! <3<3<3<3 Please write everyone!! I would love to hear from everyone!!

Elder McKinney

Monday, May 30, 2011

Japan - Week 1

こんにちわみなさん、(konnichiwa minasan - hello everyone)
This week has been long and short at the same time!! So, on Tuesday we flew to Oregon. Sorry everyone I didn't get to call you. My companion had a prepaid cell phone his parents sent him and he said I could use that after him. And normally he doesn't like to talk much but when he called his brother they talked for a really long time. Plus, our first flight was delayed a little bit and they started loading the plane to our next flight super early!! So I only had a chance to call mom before I had to go.  SO SORRY:'(  Maybe it happened for a reason so I wouldn't get too homesick when we left for Japan. I think God was watching out for me so it wouldn't be so hard. Anyways, we had about a 10 hour flight from Oregon to Japan and couldn't watch any of the movies cause they were bad and we didn't really know what to do. Some people slept, or studied, or even tried finding people next to us to talk to about the gospel and such. We even met a guy from BYU going to China for study aboard program there. He was really nice and offered to buy some food for us but we graciously declined. Anyway, we gave some pass along cards to people and stuff, it was super fun!! :D

So we get to Japan and get our luggage and go through customs and such and see Pres. Albrecht  who is kinda short and stumpy but a nice guy. Loves to just always be doing something, he can't ever just relax and not do anything. So we take a bus with all our stuff to the mission home and on the hour and half trip he tells us we have the opportunity to go up into Sendai area and do some service and cleaning. All the missionaries in Tokyo Mission are going, there's about 160 of us. Super awesome to get to see what happened for ourselves. We also found out that all the missionaries are coming back in to the Tokyo area. So everyone who was moved to other missions from Tokyo are all coming back. So we get to the mission home and eat some delicious food and go to bed at like 8 from traveling for 24 hours. We wake up to the sun at 4AM. The sun is up so early here, it's ridiculous. We all thought it was 7am because of how much sun light there was. So we go to get breakfast and go to some orientation meetings and such. And at about 3pm all the missionaries start arriving at the mission home. Slowly and slowly they arrive more and more to the church next to the mission home. We have a huge dinner for everyone as a welcome back party and afterwards we watch a video of what happened during the earthquake. It was insane to see all the destruction from so much water. And to hear not a single missionary or member was killed or lost is amazing!! After that we had a massive slumber party with all the Elders on futons in the culture hall. All the Sisters were in the mission home. We got up the next morning and had a few more meetings about training and such. And find out who my trainer will be!! It's. . .  are you ready . . . Elder Shitami!! He is full Japanese from Hokkaido, Sapporo area, and doesn't speak very much English at all, so it is kinda hard to communicate but luckily in our area we have a lot of people who know English in the ward. Ohh, and I am in the Sagamihara area, it's kind of southwest of the Tokyo City. Super cool but we both have never been here before so we don't know the area very well yet. So we kinda just stay on the main streets. There are about 145 members in the ward of the area we're in and there are two other missionaries here with us. One of them is my Senpai, or group that was in the MTC before I arrived, so I know him which is cool. They had two baptisms on Saturday and they have only been here for three weeks. So its sounds like a good area and hopefully we can have some of that success too. We  have done some knocking on doors and nothing yet, but they will come. Should be fun. Well got to go do some shopping, grocery shopping that is. Send emails, dearelders, or letters they all get here!! Keep in touch!! 

Love you all!! ai shitte imasu!! <3<3<3<3<3
Elder McKinney (マッキーニ長老)

Friday, May 20, 2011

MTC - Final Week

Konnichiwa, :D
Things were busy here this last week at the MTC.  We had a lot of things to keep us busy and to distract us from getting too excited about going for JAPAN!! Ohh MOM I tried calling you this morning but you probably saw that it was a random number or something and didn't answer.  But I was trying to surprise you! Unfortunately we are only allowed one call though. We found out yesterday that our flight plan was going to be moved to TUESDAY the 24 of MAY because our Mission President couldn't make it to pick us up. It will still be the same times and everything as before, it's just moved to the next day which is kind of helpful because we've been stressed about getting everything packed and now we have one more day to do it.  It's only the Tokyo Mission that is staying behind for a day.

We have been super busy this week. Monday was pretty normal but from Tuesday on it has been kinda busy with stuff. Tuesday we got to usher for the Fireside so we had to be super early for that. We didn't do much but just stand there and direct people down to the seats towards the front. We had Richard G. Hinckley come talk to us, the prophet's son who is a member of the Seventy. He was really good. He was a great guy to have as our last devotional speaker. He really told us to be focused and be bold with the gospel and share it with everyone. It was pretty good.

Then on Wednesday we had hosting again but this time it was raining. It has rained like the whole week just at least part of each day. So we had umbrellas(kasa) to have for the families as they got out of the car so they wouldn't get too wet. I helped one guy who was going to Roseburry, CA or something up by Sacramento and then the other one was going to the Netherlands and he was super excited to be here on his mission. He even gave me a hug when we dropped him off to his class. It was funny.

Yesterday, on Thursday, me and my companion had a very interesting day. As we were going down the stairs he rolled his ankle at the bottom. So I gave him an ace bandage to wrap it cause we had gym next and he didn't want to spend the whole time doing rehab on it for our last gym here at the MTC. So, after gym we went to the trainer to get some ice for it cause I knew it was going to swell. As we did, we explained it was our last gym and couldn't come back for a check up. So the trainer sent us to the health clinic, they looked at his ankle and said he need to go see a doctor and get x-rays just to make sure before he left. So in our sweaty gym clothes we got a shuttle from the MTC down the street to BYU urgent care center and got some x-rays. Then went back and I sat there in the lobby for about 3 hours at the MTC health center while they looked at his ankle and the results of the x-rays. And since I didn't have any of my stuff I was just sitting there in silence and felt so unproductive. I couldn't study or read Book of Mormon or anything. Finally they get done and give him some crutches to walk with and ankle brace much like the one I had for volleyball. So he has been wearing that since yesterday. Then we get ready and eat lunch and finally head to class like an hour late or so. But 15 minutes later I had to go get my shot before I leave. After that we had a meeting with Bro Mills who is the Mission Director of  all the International MTC. He went to Japan and so he speaks to all the missionaries going to Japan every time and really gets us pumped for going. Then we had have language study, dinner and class. Then about 30 minutes into class we get called to the International office and found out that our plans got changed to a day later and finally the day was over.

Then today we have an in-field orientation all day, tomorrow is our P-day, Sunday we have church, and Monday is a normal day of class again and then Tuesday we are leaving!!!  It has been a very long week but we've been very busy which has made it go by super super fast. I can't wait for Japan!  I will call Mom, Carissa, Brianne, and Dad on Tuesday during travel, I just need all your cell phone numbers by Monday at the latest so I can call everyone personally.  Remember that I LOVE YOU, GOD LOVES YOU!! And I know this church is true. If you aren't sure, I ask you to pray about it to God and ask him to know that it is true. 
Elder McKinney

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MTC - Week 9

Konnichiwa!! :D
How is everyone doing? Things here at the MTC are doing good. Me and my companion are doing much better. We hit a little rut, just getting annoyed with each other from being with together all day everyday, but we are doing better now! 

We had a district party/potluck thing and ate some of everyones' food. We will probably do that again today because everyone is getting packages with food. Last week we had homemade salsa and chips plus all of my Japanese food. Everyone really enjoyed the food from you and they say "Arigato Gozaimasu". They really loved having different food to try!! 
We got to teach with a Japanese Elder this week for practice and it was super hard to follow what he was saying because he spoke so fast and used different grammar that we don't know yet. But it was good practice to listen and try to understand what they saying. We had a lot of fun with them, they are so funny!! :)
Last Sunday was fast Sunday but it wasn't too hard to do because we fast for a reason which is usually to learn/understand the language. 
Oh, we also heard from ANOTHER APOSTLE!! Three of them in the last 4 weeks!! It was Neil Andersen this time. He mostly spoke on The Atonement and Repentance and how we need to use it for ourselves and repent of our sins now before we go out. It was pretty powerful!! Maybe we will get the PROPHET next week!! HAHA JK We probably won't but I wish we could.
Oh and I haven't told you yet we got our TRAVEL PLANS!!! We will be flying out of SLC at 839am on May 23 and landing in Portland, Oregon at about 940am. We have a long layover there. Our flight to Japan is at 205pm and land in Tokyo 505pm May 24. So I will skip a whole day while flying which will be weird. I will still be with my same companion until the day after we land and then we get our trainer companion. Our whole district will be on the same plane all the way to Tokyo. But then three of them are flying to Sapporo the very north side of Japan. But it is still cool that we will all be together for the whole flight there and say goodbye in Japan.
Well I'm out of time now so I LOVE EVERYONE!! Keep letters coming before I go so that you don't have to pay for it! =)

Hope everyone is well. Stay healthy
Elder McKinney

Friday, May 6, 2011

MTC - Week 8


This week has been pretty good!! :) Except the food of course, but nothing new there!! 

Anyways, we had fast Sunday and had mission conference instead of the Priesthood meeting which was really good. We have all the missionaries here for a conference and the MTC Presidency give a talk to us. It was really good and lasted about two hours. We also had our Nihonjin come here!!! :D There are 12 elders and 16 sisters who came, they are all super fun and know a lot of english. On Wednesday, I got the chance to be a host, where we are the ones who take the new missionaries arriving to the MTC and get them around on their first day. We got a better chance to take one Nihonjin from their temporary housing to their permanent housing on our floor. It was awesome. I got an elder named YAMADA!! His name means mountain rice field! He is super excited to be here!! He wanted me to teach him English and I was telling him to teach me Japanese. So as we walked around the MTC campus he would point stuff out and I would say it in English and he would say it in Japanese. It was way awesome!!! We had so much fun together!! I can't wait to get to know them better! He was so surprised at how good my Japanese was but I don't think it's that good. He kept calling me a genius!! It was super funny.

Thats nice of my mission president to send you a letter to reassure you of me going there. Oh, and I found out that we can't Call on Mother's Day :"(  I'm Sorry! ~ But I will get to call you when we get travel plans in the next week or so!!  Only 5 minutes are allowed just to give you the travel plans and such. So that you can know when I will have my layover which will hopefully be in LAX so its not that far from you.

Sorry again for such late notice on the Mother's Day call. Also they ran out of Mother day's cards here :'( I would have gotten you one mom but just realized how soon it was coming up till it was too late.
There's a card for you mom!! You are the best. I love everyone!! <3 Please keep the letters coming especially before I head out to Japan and the letters get a little more expensive.
Just to sum up, I'm doing great, All is well here in the MTC, I can't wait to go to Japan and serve the lord!! I will talk you all next week.
Love ,

Friday, April 29, 2011

MTC - Week 7

Hey all - Sorry for the delay with Nathan's letter this week.  The internet wasn't working too well at the MTC so Nate had to write a handwritten letter which took a little while to get to us.  Anyways, enjoy!

Dear Mom and everyone!

Sorry it took so long to get a letter to you.  The email thing didn't like me this week.  So things are good here, still learning a ton.  It's crazy how much we learned in a month and a half.  I never thought I could speak to someone for 30 minutes in Japanese and have them understand all of the sentences that I said.  I can't understand other people outside of our district very well because they know different vocabulary and grammatical patterns though.

I hope you and Rick try learning a little Japanese so I can practice writing it more and then maybe you could talk to Jon's mom for practice too! :)

We are supposed to get 28 Nihonjin on Wednesday, May 4th, which means we only have 3 weeks left till we go to Japan!! :-D

We got some pretty cool "greenies" in our room, they like sports and work really hard.  It is like a boost of motivation to get better and practice more and look good for them.  Their names are Elder Davis and Elder Maughn.  I asked him if he is related to Bryan Maughn, but I don't think they are closely related at all.

That's crazy to hear that Zac and Mirian are getting married, it seems like he just got back from his mission.  And, I'm bummed to hear that boys Volleyball isn't doing too well :(  I hope it gets better for them.  I try to play some here but it just isn't the same level of play or have the same spirit about it.  Sort of just jungle ball all the time and gets a little boring but it's still good to get some touches on the ball.

How are Jon, Adam and Spencer?  Did Jon ever get the letter I sent him?  I hope I didn't send it to the wrong address.

We didn't do anything too special for Easter here.  But the last two devotionals the last two Tuesdays we have had an apostle speak.  The first time we had Richard G. Scott who talked about how to use the spirit effectively and not to hesitate to do what it says.  That is something they always try to emphasis here so that we can teach to the investigators needs and have the spirit to touch their hearts.  He also used his apostle powers to give us the Gift of Tongues which really gave me a lot of relief to not be as stressed about it but I still have to work hard.  The other apostle we heard from was Dallin H. Oaks who I really could feel the spirit right when he walked in the room.  It was awesome, I really feel the spirit so much here.  Anyways, he spoke about 7 ways missionaries can be better.  They are really effective.  1. Physical Health  2. Be an Insurgent in the Lords hands  3. Prepare yourself to act in his service  4. Remember who you are and the work you are involved in  5. Work to establish the Church  6. Teach and testify  7. Nurture - truly care for the investigators.  Those seven things can really be applied to missionaries like me now and for the rest of my mission.  Those two talks were just plain awesome!!

It's crazy how time flies in here but can also go by so slow at times.  We just all want to leave so bad and to do some real work.  Our teachers tell us all these cool stories to motivate all of us but we sort of feel useless just sitting in here learning.  We all want to share this message but we have to just be patient until it is time for the Lord to use us.  Just hoping we don't get delayed like the people before us.

Here are a couple pictures for you so you can see what I've been up to and who i've been around.  Hope you enjoy them. :)  Love you all.  Keep the letters coming!

Elder McKinney

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MTC - Week 6

Konnichiwa Minason,

Genki desu ka? Watashi wa subarashi desu. How is everyone? I'm doing wonderful. This week was a very weird one. A lot of different things happened. To start, thanks for the packages and letters. Next, we had our first lesson in Japanese, teaching about lesson 1 in PMG(preach my gospel). It's crazy to think how much we have learned to talk with someone about themselves and give a 35 minute lesson in only 6 weeks. It's unbelivable how fast time flies here.  I feel like I have been here for a whole year but it's only been a month and a half or so. We have like 35 days left here in the MTC, that's super weird to think about. Can't wait to go in about a month but so not ready to speak Japanese full-time though. I just know that I won't be able to understand a lot of things for quite a while when I get there. But, still super excited to go!! :D 

We met President Albrecht this week and found out that Tokyo should be open by the time we get there but nothing is official. He also told us that Tokyo might be the pilot program for having missionaries use laptop, which would be super helpful in many ways. We could send emails easier plus have lessons or slides on it to help people understand different points of the gospel. Or, we could even talk to the business men that get up and come home later than we do. That way we could be like the referral center but more effective. So we will have to wait and see if that really does happen or not.

Last Saturday, one of our teachers is gradutating from BYU, so he had to quit.  We found out that they are only allowed to work 3 years teaching here at the MTC.  He served his mission in Tokyo so we had a lot of story-times about what it was like there. It was fun and got all of us super excited to go serve in our areas. It was just super weird to have to say goodbye to him before we even left the MTC. But we did get a new teacher, and he is super cool too!! He was the tutor for Japanese so he is really good at teaching new grammar and such. Plus, he is super energetic, it's awesome!!

Also we found out that our schedules here are completely changing. My next personal day won't be until next Friday. All of our P-days will now be on Friday's which kinda sucks and we now have gym times at 8pm at night. It's gonna be a little weird but it might make time fly by fast since we will have to re-adjust to a new schedule.

We also get our Kohai (young ones) tomorrow. It will be weird to not be the young ones anymore and have them ask us all the questions about how to say things for their talks and things like that. Plus, we might get a whole room to ourselves, just me and my companion, because we had two older guys above us and they left. There will be 28 new people and only one Sister. So she will be a solo and then one of the guys will have a triple and then hopefully we won't get a new one in our room. Maybe it would be a good thing to have them though, so we can show them the ropes and such.

Well I think my laundry is almost done so I need to go, but keep the letters coming!!  I hope all is well there wherever you are reading this. I love you all (watashi wa minnasen ai shitte imasu).
Elder McKinney

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MTC - Week 5

Konnichiwa Minnasen, (Hello everyone)
This past week has been pretty good. My Japanese is coming along better. I can't fluently speak it but I am understanding the grammar stuff more fully. I hope I have the gift of tongues for this week's lesson practice. We have to teach the Whole First Lesson in Japanese, 35mins long!! It will be scary and hard, we just need to find enough scriptures to take up some times :D Oh, things I forgot to put in my letter from last week, because I ran out of time, was that I met two professional super-stars last Sunday, conference Sunday, I met Vai Sikahema and Chad Lewis, two former Philidephia Eagles players that are members of the church. They came and talked about how their missions were very inspirational. It made all of us want to go out and search for people now!! HAHA 

This last Sunday we had the enjoyment of listening to the BYU Mens Choir. They were super good!! They sang so many songs from different languages like Latin, Chinese, Samoan, Hungarian, and English of course. It was so awesome to feel the spirit so strong through singing. They have about 200 people in their choir, most in the world for an all mens choir. Oh also before I forget, I met Jamie Hughes sister-in-law here. She is going to Kobe, Japan. It was kinda weird how small this world is. She said Jaime is doing great with their new baby. Also one of the branch presidents in my branch knows John and April McKinney. It was super crazy!! SMALL WORLD!!
Anyways, to answer some of your questions, we have pizza for dinner on Friday's. It's from Papa John's but it always seems to be cold when it gets here so it's not the best thing ever. The Missionaries leaving this up coming Monday got re-assigned to other places and were told that it is permanent. :(  Most Tokyo people got moved to Nikyoga (thats not how you spell it, i forgot how its spelled) and all of the Sendai people got moved to Sapporo. They haven't really said anything about us yet though. The Nihonjin also leave with them on the 18th of April and they also got moved to other places.
Thanks again for the addresses and the package! :)  Sounds like the house is slowly getting done, maybe its going to take these two years just for you guys to complete it! HAHA JK :P 

Well my time is almost up here, I love you all and grateful for the prayers you all have. I pray every night for you too.
Love <3,
Elder McKinney

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MTC - Week 4

Konnichiwa Watashi no kazoku!! :) 49 days left in MTC!!
I am doing well here. Its getting a little easier here but I just want to go to Japan. The older group is leaving in a week, they're so lucky. We all want to go with them because we know we could pick up the language much quicker that way. 

The food here is pretty bad, not the most gourmet. Sometimes I dont want to eat it because it doesn't look very good at all.  The other day they had chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole.  It was yellow and didn't look good but I tried it anyway and it was pretty good.  It's similar to broccoli jack casserole but they added curry powder to it or something.  I really do miss home cooked food. I want some of the Scott cinniamon rolls :D

Conference was awesome!! I actually stayed awake though all of it. Our teacher told us to have three questions in mind before the conference and pray to God for the answer.  So much is going on everyday, it seems like all of the days are just blending together.

We get to go to the temple every Sunday and have a temple walk.  We made a box for putting in compliments to everyone in our district.  We read them as we walk around. On Tuesdays we actually go into the Provo temple. We also try to make it to the Endownment Sessions unless we need to do other stuff, like get our lessons ready. Every Thursday we have a task like contacting people and talking about family or other things like that. Then, we have to give a lesson from preach my gospel.  Next Thursday we have to give the restoration of the church in ALLL JAPANESE!!!  I am so not ready for it, it will be really hard.

Keep telling people to write me or maybe get their addresses and I can write them first or something. :)
I hope to hear from everyone soon, keep the packages coming :D its nice to get food from you all because I know I can count on it to be good!!  I keep you all in my prayers!!  Hope everyone is doing well and in good health.
PS. to say mom in Japanese 母  (haha) , and dad is 父 (chichi) thats how you pronounce them. Anything else you want to say??
Love you all,
Elder Nathan McKinney

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nathan's Pictures

Hey everyone,
We had a few pictures from before Nathan left for his mission that we wanted to share with everyone.  Enjoy!