Greetings and Farewells

March 27:
Hey everyone!!
So this week I said goodbye to Nago, Okinawa, and an awesome three-man
companionship.
After spending Tuesday night and Wednesday morning packing, I had some
extra time so we hit the streets and knocked on doors for the last
time as a threesome!
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I’m going to miss working with Elder Baker and Elder Lords. We had a lot
of fun and saw some cool miracles these past few months!
I got picked up Wednesday night by the senior missionary couple to stay the night at the zone leaders’ apartment. One of the zone leaders was going home, so we had a “huge party,” haha!
The next day I followed my travel plans from the paradise island of Okinawa…

To this big blue dot about an hour from Fukuoka! It’s actually still way cold here. ❄️

image1Anyway, I’m really enjoying getting settled here in Iizuka. We have a lot of people to work with, including one man who’s getting ready to be baptized in April! My new companion, Elder Van Tonder, is way cool too. He’s only been a missionary for six months, but he’s a way hard worker and really loves the people!

And…that’s about it for this week!

I love you all!!

Elder Houseknecht

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Week 90 – Leaving Nago

Transfer calls have come and what a surprise!
After only one transfer with Elder Baker… (and one week as a trio) I’m transferring.
I’ll be going to Izuka City in Fukuoka prefecture!

This week was a blast!  Honestly, our ‘awkward trio’ was one of the most fun companionships I’ve been in.  Not too much happened this week, we just knocked on doors and met a lot of people.

I’ll honestly be pretty sad to leave Nago and this companionship, but I’m sure there’s something I need to do or learn in Izuka.  I told Elder Baker today that every transfer has a purpose, it’s not just random.  I think life’s the same way.  Everywhere we go and everyone we meet, there’s something for us to learn or someone for us to help.
God sends us companions, or friends, or family, or total strangers to be ‘angels’ in our lives, and sometimes asks us to be one of those ‘angels,’ too.  Those opportunities are something to be grateful for.

Have a great week and do something nice for someone today!  I love you all!!
Elder Houseknecht

P.S. One more thought for this week:  “Whose needs am I really trying to meet?”
This transfer I’m trying to focus on charity and humility, especially by focusing on the needs of others.  I’ve found that when I focus only on myself, it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up, but when I focus on others I feel motivated and I really feel like God is supporting me.  This question helps me keep perspective.

 

Week 85 – New companion, new calling

Hey everyone! How’s life?
I hope the weather is nice wherever you are.  It’s been rather chilly
the past few days, but it seems like it’s starting to warm up.

This week was full of goodbyes and hellos.  Elder Aoki is going
home so we…basically went out to eat every day.

Also, Elder Mizukawa is leaving…to Okinawa City!  So we’re still in the same zone and we’ll probably see each other pretty often.

We also went to the beach and took goodbye photos with Elder Aoki.  Elder Brinkerhoff still doesn’t know his trainer went home…  We told him Elder Aoki became zone leader in Fukuoka. 😅  I wonder when he’ll find out…
Elder Brinkerhoff and I are staying.  Elder Brinkerhoff gets a new companion, and I’m training.  Yep.  My companion is coming in straight from the MTC!

So I went up to Fukuoka to pick up my new companion (and get trained on how to train) with the other trainers from Okinawa, and we had a blast!  My new companion is Elder Baker from Maryland.  He’s half Korean, and his Japanese is pretty good!

That’s about all we did this week, other than some basketball dendou [missionary work]!

It was way sad to say goodbye, but I’m way excited to see what happens this transfer! Love you all!
Elder Houseknecht

Week 76 – Transfers!!

Well, I got the news, and I’m transferring!  Actually, I’m going to
Okinawa, to a little town called Nago.  Crazy thing–that’s where Elder
Means just came from! 😶😲

Anyway, as for the week–
We had our second/last district meeting! This time everyone actually made it… And I got to go dendou with this awesome Brazilian–
Elder Miranda! He’s literally just been in Japan for three weeks, but he’s a super hard worker and it was a lot of fun!

We also got to do an unplanned service project and helped an old woman clean up this park…

And had our ‘last supper’ as it were… Chicken nanban, of course!

Not that we knew I was transferring at the time, haha!

Spiritual thought for the week: It’s really true that God’s love changes our hearts, and that the more we think of God, the more our hearts and wills align with His.

Anyway, that was about it!  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Houseknecht

Week 67 – Transfers and all that jazz

Well this was rather unexpected. 😶 Not only am I transferring, but
I’m going back to the Kagoshima zone! 😱

I am SO excited!! I literally passed right through my third area on the way in!  I am now in the small city of Miyakonojo.  It’s definitely less rural than my other areas I’ve been in, haha!

Unfortunately I haven’t taken any pictures yet… We have a ton of people we’re working with, and we’re meeting a lot of new people too, so it’s just been crazy getting settled in. It was a little sad saying goodbye to Elder Gass and leaving Yatsushiro, but my new companion Elder Hansen is way cool and the members here are great!

Quick spiritual thought for today:  I loved President Nelson’s emphasis on joy in his General Conference talk*!  It’s really true that obedience is the only way to find real joy!!

*’Joy and Spiritual Survival’, by President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see the November 2016 Ensign issue, or go to LDS.org to listen  or read here)

That was about it! I’ll have tons more to report next week!  Love you all!!  Have a good one.
Elder Houseknecht

 

Week 66- I’m alive!!

Hey everyone!!
It’s transfer week this week, and as usual I still haven’t gotten
the call. I’m pretty sure I’m leaving though… We’ll see!

I honestly feel like nothing happened this week. I don’t
really have any pictures either…
Oh, now I remember why–we spent three days out of our area this
week! We went up to Kumamoto to have pday [Preparation day] with the district, then
stayed the night till district meeting on Tuesday. We got back Tuesday
afternoon, but on Thursday morning we went to Kumamoto again to have
exchanges with the zone leaders, and stayed the night until Friday!
So I guess we haven’t done that much in Yatsushiro this week, haha!

Spiritual thought for this week:  “Eternity” doesn’t begin tomorrow or sometime in the future.  It’s already happening, right now.  I’ve been realizing more and more that I just need to focus on RIGHT NOW because that’s what matters!

That’s about it! Next week I might be emailing from a different
area, with a new companion, but until then,
Hope you all have a great week!
Love y’all!

Elder Houseknecht

Week 65 – Not too much time…

Hey y’all~ not too much happened this week, and I don’t have a ton
of time, but anyway–
The one highlight was that we went to see a member run in a marathon! He’s
in his sixties but he’s way fast!

We also got these giant nashi [Japanese or Asian pears]. It was way good!

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Spiritual thought for this week:  In a recent General Conference talk, President Uchtdorf compared our lives to stories. If you think about it like that, it makes life so much more exciting! It makes me want to be a cool hero, haha!

That was honestly about it, but next week is gonna be way full!
Hope everyone has a great week!
Love y’all!

Elder Houseknecht

Week 64 – High School

Morning, ladies and gents! How’s it going?

This was an interesting week. We didn’t really get to meet with any
investigators, but we did some other cool stuff!
First off, we’ve been working with a less active member who’s trying
to quit smoking, and he’s doing really great! Since we’ve met him he’s
already cut down by more than half!
We’ll keep working with him and get him back to church too!

Other than that we went to a lot of high school events!
I don’t think I mentioned, but we live right by a high school, and they held an ‘undoukai‘ which is like a sports day for the whole school. We figured it’d be the best place to talk to a lot of people, and it turned out to be pretty effective!
Then we found out that another high school was doing one too, so we went there as well. Both schools did a lot of dancing, and there was some races and relay events… It was pretty cool!

We also went to a cultural festival at the high school right next to us, which was way cool!
All the classes had different exhibits, but this was probably the coolest–two dioramas from Hayao Miyazaki movies (this one’s from Spirited Away).

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We also got to talk to a whole bunch of high schoolers, and most of them had pretty good English!

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I swear we talked to guys too, haha!

Anyway, we now have a lot of high school friends, and it’s amazing how much we run into them now. It’s like the whole city knows who we are!

Spiritual thought for this week: Every day and every moment we are making choices that draw us nearer to God or make us His enemy… 気をつけないと… [ki wo tsukenai to… we better be careful…]

That was the week! I hope everyone has a good one!!
Love you all!
Elder Houseknecht

Week 63 – On fire

Our area is on fire!

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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.

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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…

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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