I`m having a great time here in Otsu, Japan. It`s a very beautiful place. Lake Biwa is just a massive body of water. It feels like we`re close to the ocean, but really it`s just a lake. On Saturday we went to a Barbeque that was way off in the mountains. It was at a camping place that was about an hour and a half drive away. We went on a hike and saw some beautiful waterfalls in the mountains. It was very nice.
Elder Taggart is doing a great job. He wasn`t in the MTC for very long, but he studied Japanese in high school quite a bit, and he is very good. He`s working hard and pushing himself to do new things he may not be used to. I'm glad that I am able to be his companion.
I`m excited for the Mother`s Day phone call. You are supposed to call on your Mother`s Day. It will be the day after for me. I should get the phone call on Monday morning around 9:30 am my time, if that is possible with your schedule. That should be Sunday afternoon for you, I think. The phone call is to be no longer than 59 minutes according to the mission president. I`m excited to talk with you.
Thank you for the letter that you sent. I hadn`t gotten mail in a while and it was very uplifting. I didn`t get to see the really big moon. It was cloudy here.
Last preparation day, I met Elder Gardner and his family. We ate some ramen together and then went to go see Kinkakuji (the golden pavilion) and Ryoanji. It was my first time seeing Ryoanji. It was a beautiful rock garden. It`s a field of raked pebbles with fifteen large stones artistically placed in it. I heard that because of how they were placed, you can`t see all fifteen of the stones at the same time, and according to legend, if you find how to see all fifteen of them at the same time, you will reach enlightenment. I thought it would be difficult at first, but I soon discovered how to view all the stone simultaneously and I have now unlocked the secret of enlightenment. It`s pretty nice.
Yesterday, we had a zone conference. We have them once every three months. Everyone sang happy birthday to me and I was presented with a package of Tim Tams. I was pretty happy. During the training parts, I translated for the Japanese people. It`s a lot more difficult for me to really absorb all of the things being taught or receive personal revelation when I`m translating. It`s also really difficult to take notes. The training basically goes in my ears in English, comes out my mouth in Japanese, and then it`s gone. After the training, the missionaries that will be going home soon, stand in front and are able give a final testimony and goodbye message to everyone. Since this was my last zone conference, I got to bear my testimony and give a final message to everyone. A lot of missionaries get emotional and cry while saying things like, "I don`t want to go home yet!" Instead of doing that, I just tried to teach everyone what I thought was something important for them all to learn, and was one of the biggest things that I learned on my mission. I think it went really well.
I love you. Talk to you next week. Bye.