About Michiko

Stephen's 3rd Sister My best friends are my family and I love doing anything and everything with them! Interests include: Piano, working out, designing t-shirts, Tennis, Foreign culture, photography, and making videos. I believe that all dreams are possible and that life is a wonderful, wonderful gift. I have a strong testimony in my Savior Jesus Christ and I know that Heavenly Father lives and loves us. Families are the crowning center of life. Musician|Artist|Designer|Athletic

Week 14 – Transfers are approaching

Transfers are coming up!
Next Pday [Preparation day] will be on a Tuesday, so my email will be a little late…

This week we had Junkai [splits]*!
So on Thursday after Eikaiwa [English Conversation class] we went over to the other elders’ apartment to stay the night.
On Friday, we changed companions and I went out to dendou [do missionary work] with Bunker chourou!
It was super fun. I got to see his dendou [mission] style, and we got a lot of return appointments! It was probably my first junkai [splits] with any real numerical success (not that the others have been failures, just that they weren’t numerically successful) so it was good to see what people mean when they talk about ‘junkai miracles’.

*Missionaries sometimes go on splits with other companionships in their area where they will exchange companions for a day and go proselyte.

Normally junkai goes like this
–we arrive at the elders’ apartment at nine the day before, then plan with our junkai [splits] companions.
The day of junkai, we come home at nine, total up our numbers, then do ‘junkai review’.
We tell each other about our day, share miracles, and give each other suggestions of ways to improve. Then we plan the next day with our regular companions, stay the night again, then leave the next morning.

BUT the next day, instead of leaving, we went to a marching band meet to support the daughter of an investigator of the other elders.
It. Was. Amazing. Marching band in Japan also involves cool acrobatics, awesome dancing, and intense costumes.
That took all day, and then we had dinner with the Drake couple (the senior missionaries). So we just stayed over again, and went home after church.
All told, we spent three nights away from our apartment.
It was crazy!

On Wednesday (sorry this is out of sequence)
we visited China kyoudai [Brother China] and had a lesson. The exciting thing was on Sunday–China kyoudai says he wants to be baptized by his birthday on April 1! (Yep, his birthday is April Fool’s day…) I know it’s kind of far, but he said that that’s just the limit, and if he feels ready he’ll be baptized before that.
BUT for that to happen he needs his family’s support.
Please pray that their hearts will be softened! They’re a little opposed to any sort of religion, but we’re going to try to win their hearts with cookies. So please pray for them!!

Well, that’s about it.
Thank you for your prayers!
-Elder Houseknecht


Week 11 – Finding new investigators

All of our investigators are in limbo right now…
Sachiko san is in Nago, taking care of a cousin who just got released from the hospital. She’s super busy, so she said she wouldn’t be going to church or any activities there…Crying face
We’ll definitely pick her back up when she gets back, but she’ll be gone for at least the month, maybe longer.

China san is still here.
BUT we might not be able to teach him for a while.
He has a lot of stress and a really tough family situation that he needs to get sorted out before he can really progress. I think as much the gospel has been helping him (he himself has pointed out many times the peace it brings) it’s also a huge commitment and a little stressful for him. Crying face
so we’re just going to visit from time to time to check up on him.

So we have no progressing investigators. Smiling face with open mouth and cold sweat And we can’t really pick up any of our potential investigators until they come to church.

So we’re going to do a lot of finding! Person raising both hands in celebration
It’s kind of funny–I got here and was almost immediately given two investigators. One was already investigating, the other was a referral. So I don’t have any experience finding my own investigators! I don’t really know what to do!! Dizzy face
But I guess all there is to do is work and trust in the Lord!

This week was Zone Training Meeting!
The whole Ginowan zone was gathered to have training from Wheeler chourou [Elder] and Urata chourou.
I got to translate for our three Japanese missionaries.
So I discovered exactly what to focus on in Language study!
I really need to pick up more advanced phrase patterns, so I’m going to be studying from soutaikai! [General Conference] Person raising both hands in celebration

A member of the seventy is coming on a mission tour soon!
He’s from Korea. He’ll be here sometime next month, and I’m tanoshimi ni shiteru-ing [Looking forward to] the training he’ll give!

I love you all!!!
-Elder Houseknecht

Week 10

There are a lot of F-15s flying around here,
so sometimes if Garrard chourou [elder] and I are lucky we can see them taking off.
There was even a day when one passed less than 30 ft directly over my head to do a touch and go!
Aaaannd….sometimes I get distracted watching them and run into posts.*
Yep, I’ve crashed twice, but I managed to step off my bike as I was crashing both times, so I just scraped my elbows.
ElbowsIt’s not too bad Smiling face with open mouth and smiling eyes

Update on investigators:
Sachiko San needs prayers so she can have courage to be baptized.

China San is doing pretty well. He’s reading and praying, and we’re getting ready to re invite him to a baptismal date.
There’s a cool thing we’re going to do called a baptism calendar, where we actually schedule out on a calendar what we have left to teach so they can have an easier time committing to a date.

Do you know what time we leave the apartment each day?
Here’s a typical day from last transfer.
Planner**Planner reads:
8:00 Personal study
9:00 Companion study
10:00 Language study
11:00 Lunch
12:00 Training
1:00 Mock lessons
1:30 Update Area Book
2:30 Adrian & Cindy
3:45 To Church (or Housing)
4:00 Lesson with Sachiko
5:00 Dinner
5:30 to Mizugama
6:00 Housing
7:45 to Michael & Roni
8:00 Michael & Roni
9:30 Daily planning

I leave the apartment at 2:30
We have studies, lunch, training, mogi [mock lessons*], then updating the Area Book Planner app (we have to load in all our old records..’ )

*Missionaries practice teaching with one Missionary acting as the teacher, and one as the investigator.

Here’s the fun part of the Area Book Planner app:
This is the legal hullabaloo that we have to navigate when we transfer records…
I’m not a fan of politics…
Oh well.
Area book

The Atonement:
I used to hate the new app (at least I hated transferring records, and the whole data privacy thing) but I’ve decided that I’m going to like it. So I’ll just ganbaru!! [Work hard and persevere!!!]

That’s something I’ve really been working on. It started with small things, like volleyball, and it’s moved to bigger things like the app.

I’ve realized that in order to receive the blessings of the Atonement, we need to change our attitudes, even in small ways like deciding to like something, or deciding not to be scared to try something.

I love you all!!!
Have a great week!

-Elder Houseknecht


Week 8 – Miracles  

Houston, Elder Houseknecht, do you read?

I’ve been focusing on looking for miracles this week, and yappari [as expected] I’ve been seeing them everywhere.

Dendou [mission] update:
We’ve been teaching China kyoudai [brother China] the life of Christ, and this week we taught him about miracles, and how they relate allegorically to the Atonement.
We especially focused on Christ calming the tempest, and used hymn 103 (Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer) to illustrate our point.
It was a great lesson, and at the end we once again emphasized the importance of prayer.

China kyoudai hasn’t been praying in lessons (though he says he’s prayed alone), so we decided to go to the absolute basics.
We went around the room, each naming one thing we’re grateful for, and then Garrard chourou [Elder Garrard] demonstrated how to turn those things into a simple prayer (‘Dear Heavenly Father, we’re thankful for our families. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen’)
When we reached China kyoudai he said he’s grateful he met us.
So we committed him to put that feeling in a prayer, and he prayed!!!
China kyoudai finally prayed!!
Person raising both hands in celebrationPerson raising both hands in celebrationPerson raising both hands in celebration
Okay, I’m calm now.

Sachiko san is also doing well
We taught her this Saturday (it’s been about three weeks) and we had a really good lesson.
We reviewed Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and we told her we’d teach her how to study the scriptures next time.
She really likes studying, so she asked us to give her a triple combination (so she can read along in Sacrament meeting).
Oh, and this is good–she told us she wants to share the gospel with her children! She even said she’d try to bring her daughter to church with her soon.
So…she doesn’t think she’s ready to be baptized, but she is full of dendou [mission] fire.
I don’t get it, but it’s still good! Person raising both hands in celebration

I love you all!!!
Be happy, be awesome, be you!
-Elder Houseknecht

Week 6 – Pday and Such

So, not much has changed this week, so I thought I’d just talk about non-dendou stuff.

First a quick update–
We’re still meeting with China kyoudai [Brother] (our 70+ year-old new investigator). We’ve actually been meeting with him about three times a week.
We meet at Zakimi joushi*[joushi means Castle] (which is a world heritage site, apparently), in the woods near the castle wall. It’s really hilly there, so it’s tough going, but easy coming back.

We’ll be meeting again on Tuesday, and we’re planning to commit him to a baptismal date, so please pray for him!

Sachiko san
has been coming to church, and we meet her every week, but we’re hoping to start meeting with her more often to help her progress faster.
She’s not super comfortable with reading the Bible or Book of Mormon (because it’s complicated) so we suggested she start from the beginning, but we want to follow-up with her more to help her along the way.

we do studies like normal (Personal study*, companion study, language study, lunch, then training–I have training for the first twelve weeks) then we go do kaimono! [Shopping!]

*Personal and companion study consist of reading the Scriptures and Preach My Gospel (which is a manual for Missionaries) as well as other Church text.

By the way,
this week we bought Fuji apples from Aomori!!! Even the smell is natsukashii…[nostalgic]*

*Aomori Japan is the prefecture where Elder Houseknecht lived in 2012-2014.
Apples are Aomori prefecture’s growing specialty and Aomori is nationally recognized as having the best apples in Japan.

Anyway, then we clean, then head to the church to do emails (for 75 minutes).
By the way, please let everyone know that they can email me! I won’t be able to answer every week, but it’s nice to get emails…

Well, this week we’re going to Shuri jo [Shuri Castle], and we’re literally leaving now, so…

Anyway, I love you guys!!!
Have a great week!
-Elder Houseknecht

Elder Houseknecht’s email address: Stephen.houseknecht@myldsmail.net

P.S. Extra Email Time
Well, not really extra–I got cut off because of our trip to Shuri jo [Shuri Castle],
but we’re back early. I only have ten minutes though, so I’ll just
send a bunch of pics from my iPad

This is elder Garrard:
image1Here’s my zone, the Ginowan zone:
image2Most of my district, minus Garrard chourou [Elder] and the zone leaders
From left to right-Salmon shimai [Sister] (from Canada), Peterson shimai, Malen chourou (district leader. Goes home soon), Me, and Mismash chourou (likes baking):
image3My zone leaders…
Left-Wheeler chourou [Elder] (from Tasmania Australia), and The Richards chourou (going home soon):
image4I love you all!!!
-Elder Houseknecht

WEEK 5! Kadena Branch

Hey everyone!!

This was a really great week! but also a wet one…
We had a typhoon this week, and the mission president made us stay inside on Thursday and Friday, but it wasn’t that bad… Okay, I probably would’ve gotten blown over by the wind, and the rain might have knocked me out, but still…

We got a new investigator this week!!!
He’s a 70ish year old retired chef, who’s studying Buddhism and Christianity to find healing for his soul. One of the members in Naha (about an hour from us…in one direction or another) introduced us to him, and we had a really great first lesson.
We’ve met with him a few times since, and he even came to church this week!
We invited him to be baptized, but he says he wants to study more first… We’ll just focus on helping him feel the spirit, so he can find his answer.

Sachiko san also says she wants to study more before being baptized.
It sounds like the elders invited her to be baptized during their first lesson with her (that was before I got here), but she seems a little cautious to commit.
But things are looking up. She came to church, and we had a really great lesson with her. We talked about the Spirit, and how if she reads the Book of Mormon, she can know that it’s true by the spirit.
We read 2 Nephi 31 with her, and when we read verse 11, she said ‘wow, it’s like God is speaking to me’.

Elder Garrard and I realized something this week.
We’ve been assigned to a military branch, yet all our progressing investigators right now are Japanese…
We have a few other investigators that are American, but we haven’t been able to meet with them.
So we went to visit branch president Ashby to see if he had any advice, or anything he
wanted us to focus on.
It was really great visit, and we talked a lot about helping less active members, but as for finding investigators…
Oh, right. Military Base=no proselyting.
Apparently we’re not even supposed to wear our name tags. So even though I can get us on base*, unless we’re invited, we can’t visit anyone.
BUT there is some off base American housing in our area, so we’ve decided to focus on finding people there. We’ve also decided to do everything we can to help less active members, and just generally strengthen the branch.

*Elder Houseknecht has a military I.D. so he is able to be a sponsor for non military I.D. holders to enter military bases

Well, that’s about all that happened this week (due to inclement weather).
I love you all!!
Have a great week!
-Elder Houseknecht

Week 4 – Okinawa!

Okinawa is lots of fun!!!
…but there are a lot of hills…

So, I finally got my bike last Tuesday. I took out 7万円 (70 thousand Yen*), but only ended up using about 5万 (50 thousand yen), so I held onto the extra money…until we ran out of grocery money.

I guess it’s because I got to the mission field so late, but there wasn’t any money on my MSF (missionary support fund) card last p-day.
Elder Garrard and I still managed to buy groceries, but we had to eat a lot of Ramen…which isn’t a bad thing.  We did manage to buy all our groceries with 2000 yen**

*About 700 U.S. Dollars.
**About $20.00

We finally were able to meet with our kyudousha (Investigators)!
One of them came to church this week, and we taught her the Restoration.
We committed her to read 2 Nephi chapter 31, and she seems really willing.
Her name is Sachiko san. She worked on the base, and knows English.

Other than that, we’ve been working on finding new investigators, and contacting old ones.
We’ve had some good door to door contacts, but no new investigators yet. Oh well, we’ll just keep working.

We did have a miracle last week
–we went to visit the dendou shuunin (Ward/Branch Mission leader), and his wife gave us six referrals!! We’ve only managed to contact three so far, but wow!
Elder Garrard says that’s the most referrals he’s gotten in a day.

We’ve also been working with some less active members. There’s one sister in particular that we’re trying to reactivate. She’s had some health issues, but she seems like she really wants to come back to church. I think she just needs some extra encouragement.

The members here are really nice!
They gave us a bunch of food this Sunday, and they’re easy to talk to.
Our big goal as a companionship is to get nakayoku (Become buddies/friends) with the kaiin (members).
Since it’s PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season, there should be a lot of new members to get to know.

In fact, a family just moved in from Wright-Patt air force base, and they apparently know the Hancock family. Huh, small world!**

** Elder Houseknecht’s father used to work at Wright-patt air force base and the Hancock family was in the same ward

I love you all so much!!!
Thanks so much for your support and prayers!! I feel your love every day!

Have a blessed week!!
-Elder Houseknecht

MTC to Okinawa!

Editor’s note:
Footnotes (Marked by asterisks **) and italics have been added by his family.

The words in the brackets that follow italicized words are the translation of the italicized words preceding it.

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
I’m finally in Japan!
I got here on Friday… I would have gotten here earlier, but my visa was delayed, so I had to spend a few extra days at the MTC.
My companions in the MTC have been really great!

MTC Life:
Now that my time at the MTC is over, I can give a way more coherent overview of the experience.
Almost every day was filled with classes. It was a lot of work, but it was also really fun!
We had gym time every morning, but they didn’t have tennis or badminton or ping pong. 😦
I did find out that I’m decent at volleyball, though!
The big focus during classes was on teaching simply. If we can teach something simply, that means we really understand it.

I think the big themes during my stay at the MTC were work and obedience. In my first interview after I got to the MTC, a member of the MTC presidency told me that successful missionaries have four things in common–they’re obedient, they work hard, the have the Spirit, and they have fun.

Speaking of fun–
I got to play the cello in Sacrament meeting!!
It was so great! I never imagined I’d be able to play the cello on my mission, much less in the MTC.
Anyway, there was a sister in my branch that plays cello, so we did a duet of hymn 335 ‘Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy’.**
I hope I’ll be able to play cello again soon…

**”Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy” is Elder Houseknecht’s favorite Hymn

The church in Japan is so connected!
One of the teachers at the MTC is Kawamura kyoudai [Brother]. Yes, he’s *Kawamura chourou’s [Elder’s] brother! And of course I saw **Norawong kyoudai.
Also, one of the shimai [Sister] (Omisaki shimai) in my second district was at ***Kita Rokko ward when we had our concerts.

**The Houseknecht family met both *Elder Kawamura and **Elder Norawong in Misawa,
Japan while they were serving as a full time missionary there.
Brother Norawong now works at the MTC as a Japanese instructor.

**We had a concert tour in Japan Kobe Stake in year 2013. ***Kita Rokkou is one of the ward that we had a concert at.

I flew to Fukuoka…
and got there around 8pm or so. I was picked up by the APs (Assistant Presidents), and I spent the night in their apartment.
One of them has some sheet music that may or may not have Mom’s name on it. I didn’t get to ask what song it was, but he said he recognized Mom’s name. I wonder,,,
Anyway, I woke up, had some training (mostly bike safety), then I was interviewed by Gustafson kaichou (President Gustafson) to be assigned. I got my assignment, then caught a plane to my first area.

I’m in Okinawa!
I’ve been assigned to a gunjin (Military) branch, so I’ll be speaking a lot of English. Oh well, so much for practicing Japanese XD
My new companion is Garrard chourou (Elder). We’re getting along fine.
Not a lot is happening in our area right now, but we’ll be doing our best to get things moving!
I really miss you all! But I’m having a lot of fun, and it’s great to be here doing the Lord’s work.
I love you all!
Have a great week!!

-Elder Houseknecht

P.S. I’m not sure how to attach pictures on the church computers, but I’ll try to send some next P-day.

Hello world!!


On March 4th, 2015 Stephen Houseknecht was called to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the Japan Fukuoka mission, his report date is June 10th, 2015.
He will first be flying to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo Utah where he will be trained for about 2 weeks by Church leaders before being sent on to Japan.

This blog (kept by his mother and sisters) is where his weekly emails and occasional photos will be published so you can read all about his adventures!!

( To read more about LDS “Mormon” Missionary work, click [ HERE ] )