Week 63 – On fire

Our area is on fire!

Actually, this is just the sunset before a huge typhoon that…actually never came.
Things are going well here. It was a bit of a quiet week but that’s alright.




As for highlights, we met our investigator Tanapon, and he’s going great! He says he’s still ‘half and half’ as far as Joseph Smith, but he really feels like God helped him with his college test, so he’s starting to build that testimony!

We also went up to Kumamoto for our zone training meeting, and I got to run into a lot of familiar faces!
We also saw this cool sightseeing train.








Right after that we went out to eat yakiniku with a not-yet-investigator, and we had a pretty good gospel conversation.
That was most of the week!

Spiritual thought for this week:
“How is it that keeping the commandments shows our love for Heavenly Father?”
Keeping the commandments is the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father.  When we keep the commandments, we’re showing our desire to return to Him.
The Asia North ‘area plan’ from the Church has the theme of ‘because we want to return to Heavenly Father’.  I think it’s great to center our lives on that desire!

Hope y’all have a good one! Love you!
Elder Houseknecht


Week 62 – Return of the King

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a pretty short week!
It’s also been packed pretty full of cool happenings…

First of all, my bike is back!
It’s honestly really nice to be back on my own bike! It does need some repairs though. After a month and a half in Okinawa, the back brake is dead, and the back tire is completely bald…

On Wednesday we went and played tennis with an Eikaiwa [English class] student and his friend from Australia (who is actually Japanese). It was great!  But I also sunburned like crazy!

Most of the rest of the week was spent preparing for a mini concert that Elder Gass and I held at the church on Saturday. We practiced during our companionship study time, and on Friday got take-out pizza (Dominoes, actually!) for lunch. Buy one, get one free! It was way good…








The concert went really well.  I worked my hands off practicing, and was able to play the piano to accompany Elder Gass’s violin! It was super nerve wracking, but really fun too! And one of the members brought a friend who now wants us to start teaching him… So this week turned out pretty well!
Miracles in Yatsushiro! Woohoo!

Spiritual thought for this week:
In her email to me, my mother said that “our small and simple actions create holiness.  Your loving smile creates holiness, your neat appearance, tidy and clean room, polished shoes, thoughtful and loving words, and etc, etc…  There are many things we can do to add holiness to our lives.”
That’s a wonderful thought! It reminds me of the words on the temple above the door–‘holiness to the Lord’.  We ourselves are temples, as it says in the New Testament, so we need to give holiness to the Lord every day of our lives!  It makes me want to polish my shoes a little brighter and press my slacks a little straighter!

Love you all! I hope this week is fantastic!
Elder Houseknecht

Week 61 – Transfer week, and I’m…

Well, I’ve gotten the call, and it looks like…
I’m staying in Yatsushiro!!!
I’m actually way excited. I love this place, and Elder Gass is a great

This week was pretty cool. I’ve been taking a lot more
pictures, so I’ll just tell it all with pics.


First off (actually, pretty much the last thing that happened) the Sapporo Japan temple was dedicated! They cancelled church all over the country to broadcast the dedication, so I got to attend. It was the first time I’ve seen a temple dedicated, and it was pretty cool!



We were only able to meet with Tanapon once, so we had a lot of time to knock on doors… But we met this old man with a beautiful former police dog!








So far today we just ran around to a bunch of high places and took cool pictures. There’s not too much else to do in Yatsushiro, haha!






Spiritual thought for this week: There’s definitely no day like today. I definitely want to live my life more like that, and take full advantage of every moment! Especially on my mission–it’s crazy how fast time seems to fly! It’s like in the hymn ‘Improve the Shining Moments,’ where it says, ‘Time flies on wings of lightning, we cannot call it back’…
Let’s live every day 一生懸命 [isshoukenmei: with all our might]

That’s about it for this week!
I’m looking forward to another transfer here!!

Love y’all! Have a great week!
Elder Houseknecht

Week 60 – Sickness and flats

Hey everyone! So not too much happened this week.
My bike kept getting a flat tire (it literally would go flat twice a
day…) so I finally figured out what the issue was and had to replace
the tube! We also talked to the mission office, and they said I’d get
my regular bike back next transfer, so woohoo!

After that though, Elder Gass was feeling pretty sick, so we couldn’t
dendou [do missionary work] for very long hours. He’s feeling better now though, so this
next week should be a blast! We’ve got tons of cool things planned,
and we’re going to be able to watch the dedication of the Sapporo
Japan temple!!  We’re going to go up to the stake center in Kumamoto to watch the broadcast. The branch bought us white handkerchiefs and everything!

I’m way excited.

That’s about it for this week. I hope everyone has a great week!!!
Love y’all!

Elder Houseknecht

P.S. Tanapon is doing great, though we were only able to meet once this week. His last test is over and summer break has started, so we’ll be able to help him toward baptism!

Spiritual thought:  One of the main points of the Asia North Area’s area plans is to ‘find joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ’.  I’ve found that I have the most joy when I do what I’m supposed to (dendou [do missionary work], and go out and talk to people).  It doesn’t really matter how they react; I just have to open my mouth. I think all we have to do to find joy is to try, and Christ’s grace will take care of the rest!  Christ’s love is what motivates us the most to try!

Week 59 – Matsuri! [Festival]

Hey everyone! This week was all fun and games!

Last Monday we went up to Kumamoto and went bowling with the other
missionaries in the district. I guess I never mentioned it, but there
are ten missionaries (four sisters and six elders) in our district.
We had a way fun time and my companion dressed up as a bowling

After that we did serious missionary work for the week, until Saturday. On Saturday there was a big matsuri [festival], so of course we had to go there! (you have to dendou [do missionary work] where the people are after all…) The fun thing though, is that a member set things up so we actually got to participate in the matsuri!
We dressed up in happi [a traditional Japanese coat], and danced for an hour! It was way hot and humid, so we almost died, but it was so much fun!  Also, we were able to meet a less active member and a way cool former investigator there, so it was time well spent.


That’s about it. Our investigators couldn’t make it to church this week, but other than that they’re doing great!

I love you all! Have a great week and don’t get heat stroke!
Elder Houseknecht




Week 58 – …and seeing miracles

Hey everyone! How was the week?
I hope everyone’s doing great!

So this week, things really started to turn around.
We had a lot of lesson appointments, and found some new investigators!
Elder Gass has been really good at making phone calls to potential and
former investigators, and it’s really payed off!
After getting lost in this beautiful canyon,







we met with a man named Takemoto, who is actually Christian and lived in LA for thirty years! His English is way good, so we basically taught him in English, and he agreed to be baptized in September!

Also, our old investigator Tanapon (from Thailand) is starting to have more time, so we’ve been meeting with him three times a week, and he has a baptismal date for August 13th! It’s way exciting to see how far he’s progressing!

Next week we’ll keep working, and we’re going to try and visit all the (fifteen) members in our branch.

I love y’all! Have a great week!!!

Elder Houseknecht

Week 57 – Working hard

Hey everyone!
This last week was the first full week with my new companion, and
it’s been great! This area hasn’t seen too much success the past few
years, and we’re basically starting from square one, but we’re both
ready to turn this place around!!

Oh, I think I might have forgotten to mention one of the fun things
that happened at transfer time–so usually before transferring you put
an address on your bike, and a company comes to pick it up. Well,
Elder Stanger was way busy packing and forgot to put the address on
his bike, and when the company came the guy…just guessed? Long story
short, I’m riding Elder Stanger’s (very small, about to fall apart)
bike until things get sorted out haha! Smiling face with open mouth and cold sweat








This week we basically just knocked on doors and talked to people on the streets all day every day. It was way tiring, but it’s been worth it cause we found a few people that might have interest. Particularly, we met an eighteen year old college student named Kurumi, who took a Book of Mormon and agreed to meet again. We’re meeting her tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes!

This week, we’re just going to keep working hard! We’re also going to start visiting all the members regularly so we can practice teaching and such.
For now, this is elder Houseknecht signing off!
I love you all! Have a great week!!

Pics:  Took this on the top of an abandoned pachinko parlor…image4







Last week’s pday activity. I didn’t buy it though.










Spiritual thought for this week: It’s so true that everything is either negative or positive. When we are positive, good things happen!  I’m trying to be more positive. I want to build my faith by focusing on positive expectations!

Elder Houseknecht

Week 50 – Out in the inaka (country)

Hey everyone!
I finally got my iPad fixed! So hopefully I’ll have some more
pictures soon.

This week was transfers so it was a way short week!
I’ve been transferred, and I’m…now…in………Yatsushiro! It’s a
way inaka [country] town a little south of Kumamoto, where the earthquake was.
It doesn’t seem to have been too bad down here, but this Saturday the
whole zone will be going up north to do some clean up.

Anyway, it was mostly just packing and travel! On Monday I had a last
junkai [exchange] with Elder Rostrom, and then we just packed and packed and
packed until a…less than obedient time of night haha! Smiling face with open mouth and cold sweat

*Note: he was up packing till 2 a.m.

Other than that, I’ve just been getting settled in, meeting members
and investigators, and hitting the streets to dendou [do missionary work]!
My new companion is Elder Stanger, from Washington, and he’s a lot of fun!

I don’t have any pictures from Yatsushiro yet, but here are my last
pics from Sendai!


On my last junkai [exchanges], riding a borrowed mama-chari [granny bicycle].

Our last district photo! This has been my hardest transfer so far… Leaving lots of cool missionaries and members and investigators…
Anyway, I love you all, and hope everyone has a great week!!!

Love and prayers,
Elder Houseknecht

Week 53 – Rain, rain, rain!

It’s so wet here in Yatsushiro!!! It’s honestly been raining almost every day! But I shouldn’t complain. It honestly hasn’t been that bad.

Anyway, it’s been a crazy week, but also way cool. We haven’t been able to meet with any investigators, or find any new ones, but our most solid investigator (from before I got here) is finishing up a big college test this week and then he’ll be able to meet with us; so from what I hear we should be able to have a baptism next month!

Here are just a few highlights from all the cool stuff that happened this week:

Monday night we didn’t have anything going on, but we decided to go streeting in the shopping area and met this really cool young man. He said he didn’t have a lot of time, but he had a ton of questions about who we are, what we do, and all that. We shared about Eikaiwa [English class] and a little of the gospel, said farewell…
And then he biked right back and asked if we could take a picture together!








image2On Tuesday we saw some pretty crazy flooding and a bunch of debris as we biked (three hours) up to Kumamoto for district meeting! It’s a long story…




image3It’s basically been raining the whole week, but the one day it didn’t rain we saw this beautiful sunset.
There’s a rainbow in there, but it’s hard to see…

And I think that’s about it! There’s a ton more that I could share, but I don’t have too much time, so until next week!

Love you all! Have a good one,
Elder Houseknecht

Week 52 – Rain and sunsets

Howdy everyone!

Honestly, this week was really, really slow. We haven’t been able
to get in touch with any of our investigators, and we haven’t found
anyone new either. It’s kind of sad, but we’re not letting it get us
down! We’re gonna work even harder and see some miracles this week!!

Anyway, I guess I’ll just give the week in pictures!

Somehow we’re always in a really good spot at sunset…
image1 image2 image3
We just got into the rainy season, so there probably won’t be as many outdoor pictures anymore! Haha…







The last thing of the week–on Sunday we went to a biannual ‘special stake conference’ broadcast from Salt Lake! There were some things said that I thought were really relevant to the Japanese saints, and it was way cool to hear just how aware of local concerns and problems the general authorities are!

My spiritual thought for this week:
“…No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.  (Luke 9:62)
It’s really true that we have to do what we were sent to do, and we have to finish whatever we put our hand to.

Anyway, that’s it for the week!
I love you all and hope you have an awesome week!
Elder Houseknecht