Elder Tolen's Transfer History

Elder Tolen's Transfer History
Elder Tolen's Transfer History


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week 25 [34]: Crazy Week: It's a Jungle Out There!

Hello! As you can tell by the title of this email, this week was, well, crazy! So much happened! We were so busy!

So I'll just start off with a very interesting story, that turns into a miracle. So! Recently, we haven't had any luck with finding people to teach. So Elder Uemura and I decided to do a fast. So we fasted the entire day, and talked to a lot of people, like more than I have ever talked to in a single day, but none of them were interested in the Gospel. So we came back, ate dinner, and went back out to finish our night. So we climb this mountain with our bikes, and come to this area in the middle of nowhere. Just like this little town on the side of a mountain. It was like an adventure. I kept thinking to myself, man, this is a missionary life! Finding people on the sides of mountains in the dark! So we continued to knock on doors, and continued to get rejected, when, all of a sudden, these monkeys came out of nowhere! At first there were three of them in the road: a baby, and two big ones. The baby kept walking between the two big monkeys, making little monkey noises, as little monkeys do, and then, suddenly, a giant monkey came out of nowhere and kidnapped the baby monkey!

That is when everything went crazy. The mountain came alive. Monkeys were screaming and howling, running through the trees, stampeding through the forest after this baby monkey. It was literally terrifying. I have heard stories of monkeys attacking people, so I thought, "This is it. I will be the first missionary in Japan to get killed by monkeys." But, as you can see, I didn't. Just as quickly as it started, it ended, and a strange peace came over the forest.

So after that, we decided to move away from the forest for a little bit, and it was almost time to go home anyway, so we saw this house on the top of this hill, and decided that it would be our last house for the night. We rang the door bell, and this cute little old lady came to the door. She actually allowed us to share a message with her, and we returned the next day and gave her a Book of Mormon, and shared a powerful message about Jesus Christ. I just want to say that fasting really does work. Never have I fasted and not seen a miracle.

So as you all have noticed, today is temple P-day, so why is Elder Tolen emailing at such an early hour? Well, that is because I have to get my bike fixed because it is pretty broken. So we are actually going to the temple next week! Which will be interesting. But yeah, today we have to get my bike repaired from all of the crashes that I experienced in the winter in Japan. It is all good! I didn't take any pictures this week! I'm sorry! We were just so busy! I hope you can forgive me! I love you guys!  By the way, dad, I love 気がつく [notice, perceive], but the word that I wrote on my planner is 希望. It means hope. Hope is probably my favorite word. I have spent hours studying it! I'm sure you would love it too! Love you!
[When asked about a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that rattled Tokyo earlier this week, Zach had the following response:]

Haha--how did you know about the earthquake?  What magnitude was it? All I know is we felt it down at the bottom of the mission, and it originated from the top of our mission, and we felt it pretty strong! Love you!

[Later that evening Zach wrote again to provide an update on the adventures of taking his bike to be fixed: ]

So! Update on the bike story. Today, after a short round of emailing, we began our trek to the bike shop, which first of all is really far away, and to make matters worse, it is on the other side of a mountain. So we began our laborious climb over this mountain range, only to find that for about a mile, we would be unable to use our bikes, because we had to hike, with our bikes.

A Little Hiking, Bikes on Shoulders
So, with our bikes on our shoulders, we continued our ascent. I had told my companion a few weeks ago that I was thinking about MAYBE joining the Navy when I get home, and while we were climbing, he just kept chanting, "Naby Tuuraiiiniinguuuu!" in a very thick Japanese accent. It was hilarious. It made it so much more fun.

After we reached a point when we could use our bikes again, we continued our climb up and through this mountain. After about two hours of very hard biking, we reached the shop, only to find out that the part we thought was only kind of broken was completely destroyed, and because of that, we would have to replace the entire section that holds all of the gears together and stuff. So I was like, "Okay, so how much is that?" It was only about $40, but they didn't even have the parts to fix it, so we would have to order it and come back in about a week. But! More news! Even though it was the same chain of bike stores, because it was in a different area, there wasn't really much they could do. So we had to call the store that I bought it from, and we have called back and forth throughout the day, and finally they said that the managers of the stores would talk to each other and get everything worked out! So they said maybe I might just exchange my bike for a different one. We don't know yet though. We are still waiting for another call back from the bike store!

The way back to Odawara was much easier, and downhill. But I don't know how well my legs will be feeling tomorrow! Check back next week to find out! I took a couple of pictures at the beginning of our biking climb, and at the end of our hiking portion!

Looking back, today was quite the adventure! You can only get adventures like these on the mission! I am so grateful for all of the blessings the Lord has given me!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Tolen
The Beginning of the Bike Climb over the Mountain

The Bike Climb Before the Hike
Lost and Asking for Directions

A Tired Elder Uemura, at the End of the Day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week 24 [33]: Transfer E-mails, Bowling, and a Baptism

May 18, 2015

Sorry! This email is a little bit late! We were a little bit busy today, because we went bowling! So that was fun!

This week was pretty eventful! So as you all know, we had transfer emails this Saturday, so drumroll please......... I'm going to be staying in Odawara with........ Elder Uemura! I'm excited. I'm no longer training him, so I'm just going to be the senior companion. It's kind of cool. Within the mission, I am the youngest (transfer wise) senior companion in the mission. I am truly grateful for the trust the mission president has given me.

So this week, we were able to see a baptism of a young lady that the Sisters have been teaching for awhile. It was great. I don't know if you all remember, but a few weeks ago, I talked about a guy we found on the beach, who seemed really interested in the Gospel? Well, he was there, and he felt the Spirit so strong. He was so happy. It was so amazing. When she came out of the water, he said, "She is so happy! I want to feel that kind of happiness!" It was amazing to be able to see that. It is moments like that when you are truly reminded that the Lord really does prepare people, and as long as you are ready, you can always find them.

Some other news... From all of the bike crashes I had in Hodogaya, it turns out a part in my bike is broken! So we have to go to a bike shop outside of our area to go and get that fixed... Which will be fun!

This week at game night, we had my 16-year-old investigator friend come to our "Bible study" and "Game Night," and he brought his friend! His friend was so cool! He didn't know much English, but he kept saying, "I love One Direction!" It was a blast. He loves to sing, and when I told I him I did too, he told me to give him my autograph. That was really funny, and he said he would come again, which will be fun. He seems so ready for the Gospel, so we will see how it goes.

That is about it for this week. Spiders the size of my hand are starting to come out. I really really don't like spiders... This will be fun!

I love you guys! The Gospel is true, and the Lord truly does love each and every one of you on a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Hope you are all doing well!

Elder Tolen
A Cool Rock Elder Cluff and I Found While on Splits at the Beach

Bowling on P-Day
Bowling on P-Day
Weird Photo Booth in the Bowling Alley Makes Everyone Look like Anime
Weird Photo Booth at Bowling Alley

Photos from the Baptism

Photos from the Baptism

Week 23 [32]: Mother's Day Skype!

May 10, 2015

Weekly email time!

I just finished Skyping with my family... So I don't really feel like writing a huge weekly email, so this will be one of my shorter ones, because I'm kind of tired.... I'm sorry!

This week was fun! This last Saturday, we had a BBQ up at a park in the mountains.  It was a Filipino BBQ, and it was a blast! I got to play some baseball, and we got a lot of beautiful pictures. One of our investigators with a baptismal date was able to come, and he really enjoyed himself!

Some more interesting news for this week.... So! We have a volcano about 6 miles away from our apartment.... That wasn't active until this week. Everyone in the city is preparing for an eruption. That will be fun! But, we also live on the beach.. So if the volcano erupts, there will be an earthquake, and maybe some flooding! Which will be fun. I don't know if I should be scared or not, but I'm not really.... Which is kind of weird. Usually I would be freaking out about this kind of thing.

I forgot another cool story!! So, this week while we were streeting, we started talking to this guy, and it was great--so great in fact, that he took us out to lunch! After that, he asked us what we were doing that night, and told us to call him! So we did, and he took all of us out to dinner! It was the most expensive meal I've eaten since coming to Japan.

By the way, the new Elder is named Elder Hirosei, and he is companions with Elder Cluff.

I hope you guys all have a great week! I love you guys, and I love hearing from you! Keep being amazing!

Elder Tolen

Pictures from the ward BBQ

Most Expensive Dinner We've Had in Japan!
My Dinner--It Was Delicious!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 22 [31]: Branch BBQ and Biking to Hakone

It has been a great week this week! The weather has been amazing! It has been so sunny, but it has also been super humid. I'm really not used to this level of humidity, so it is kind of muggy sometimes. But it is all fun! I can already tell that it will get really hot soon. That will be interesting. All the missionaries say that I just need to get used to sweating. That wasn't very encouraging, but oh well! It is all part of serving! It should be fun!

So first, some bigger news. Tomorrow, we are getting a new missionary in Odawara. But. We know absolutely nothing about him. We know that he is from Japan, and he is supposed to serve in Australia, but he has to wait for his Visa, so he is coming here tomorrow. That's all we know. We don't know whose companion he is going to become or anything like that. So that is kind of exciting.

More interesting news! Remember that 16-year-old I sent pictures home of last time? He now has a baptismal date! I'm way excited! The only problem is right now, he only wants to be baptized because missionaries are cool. So the next step is getting him to want it for himself. If we can't get that to change then we'll have to push back his baptismal date, but right now his date is for the 13th of June! So that is way exciting.

This last Saturday
, we had a ward BBQ! It was so much fun! We got a few of the students from our English class to come, and our 16-year-old friend came (I don't use their names because, you know, privacy stuffs). It was a lot of fun! I was able to play some baseball, and some soccer, and it was a ball! Get it? Ball? Moving on. One of the funniest parts was some of the little girls from the ward made us some flower stuff. So I will be sending pictures of that home.

Later that day, we hopped on our bikes and rode up a mountain to a place called "Hakone"! It was beautiful! But, like I said, it was up a mountain. That was hard. It was like 7 miles of just winding hills. It was great. I got some great pictures from that. While we were there, we were trying to visit these less actives, but all of them had moved! So we were taking a break, so I went to grab a drink from a vending machine, and these two buff dudes just started talking to me! It was great! They had biked there all the way from the Yokohama area! My first area! It was like 60km [37 miles] away! We had a great chat with them. One of them actually lived in America for a while, so his English was really good. But we just spoke in Japanese because his friend didn't speak any. One of them was a break dancer. He showed us some moves. It was crazy. They seemed really interested in the church, so we were able to show them how to find the church in their area! I really hope they go to church. It really is crazy how the Lord will put prepared people in your path. You just need to trust that He will. But you also need to be willing to look for them, too!

I love you guys!
Elder Tolen
P-Day in Hakone

Hakone Landscape
Hakone Landscape

Lovely Flower Fun at Branch BBQ

Flower Fun at Branch BBQ
Elder Tolen and Elder Cluff Goofing Off at Branch BBQ
Elder Uemura at Branch BBQ

Elder Tolen Under Attack by Branch Children
Elder Tolen Attacked by Branch Children

District Photo at P-Day Temple Day
District Photo at Temple P-Day (Elder Tolen, Elder Uemura, Elder Cluff, and Sisters)

Week 21 [30]: A Week of Adventure

This week has been full of fun!

So on Tuesday, we were supposed to have our interviews with the Mission President! Notice the use of the word "supposed"? You'll see why in a minute. So we were teaching a lesson to the member that Elder Nishidome and I baptized, and after we finished, we went back to the tiny train station in the middle of nowhere, only to find that the next train wouldn't be for another hour. We were only two train stations away from the one we needed to be at, and our President's interviews started in 2 hours, so we decided that we could walk two train stations down. 2 hours, and about 23 kilometers [14.3 miles] later, we made it to the train station. We were spent. On the plus side, it was fantastic weather, so we didn't get rained on or anything! And we got to see a lot of cool things! But! We didn't get our interviews with President Wada. We still don't know when or if we will even get those interviews! I really want one!

The next day, there was an Ipad training for the Japanese missionaries.  We went on splits in the Shonan area while Elder Uamura went to that, and it was so much fun! I was going to sing in a quartet on Sunday, but I needed to practice, so Elder Davies, the missionary we were on splits with, knew a member who was a professional musician! So we went over there, and he practiced with us! He was amazing! And he did some amazing card tricks. It was a ball. We told him we might be back on Friday, and he said if we were, to stop by and he would show us his studio upstairs. So on Friday, There was a Conference for all of the Japanese missionaries, and we got to go back to see him! It was amazing watching this huge New Zealander jam on this piano. He was really something else. I don't know if I have ever met someone that good! He said if I  ever get transferred there, I can come on a P-day and he will compose some stuff with me! That was way cool.

After that, we went to the beach, and saw this guy playing basketball. So without even thinking, we just said, "Hey! How's it going?" Turns out this guy is from L.A.. We talked for a while, then played basketball for a while, then talked some more! We showed him the "Because of Him" video, and after it finished he looked at us and was like,"I felt something man. I came out here to Japan to get a fresh start, and you guys might be just what I need." That was amazing! We got his email, and left. He isn't in the Odawara area, so I will just keep praying that he is doing alright!

So the baptism didn't happen on Saturday, so I didn't get to play the piano, but more importantly, that person didn't get baptized. She has a new baptismal date, so hopefully she will be prepared for that.

The choir I sang in on Sunday killed it! It was so fun. It was me, and then the Bishopric. So that was pretty interesting. The Branch President said he wants to do it again! So that will be fun!

I went back to Hodogaya for a music night, and that was really fun! I got to see all of my old friends again. We went with a 16-year-old. I won't tell you his name, but basically we are best friends now. He is way tall, and loves bowling. He told me that we are brothers. He is one of the few people I've met out here that I really felt like I needed to find.

I love you all! Thank you for all that you do!

Elder Tolen
Elder Tolen, the 16-year-old friend, and creeper Elder Cluff!
Elder Tolen and friend
Elder Cluff and froggy friend
Elder Tolen and Hodogaya Friend