Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 27 - Akashi, Japan

Well Hello dear family!

Greetings, one week into the new area! Things are going well here, I`m slowly learning the area and getting to know people, and working my way around. My bike was shipped to me by my old Kichijoji and Suginami Ward members (Thank you to them!!! They are the best people ever, I love them so much!) this past week, so I finally have wheels! Really you can`t do missionary work without a bike here, it`s just much too hard to get around without one! And well I love my bike, so it made me the happiest person ever!

What else happened? Basically we`ve just been working hard, here in Akashi, we don`t have too many investigators, so we`ve been doing a lot of finding, okay by me. I`ve been in that position before, and I know if we work hard enough, the Lord will bless us and we`ll find people to teach. We`re allowed to still call our investigators in Tokyo, so that`s been good too, and I`ve been able to find out that the ward is really picking up where we left off, teaching Koike san, and Mashito san, Shimoyachi san and the others. That news made me so happy!

Anyway, I know I had a lot more to tell you all about things that have happened, I just can`t think of them right now.

Whenever I say I`m from Missouri to members they always ask if I`ve ever been there and if I have pictures, which I don`t, well I have one, but it`s just the steps of the Nauvoo Temple and nothing else! If anyone has any, please send!

Anyway I think that`s all!
Love you all so much!!
Sister Erin Benne

Oh and General Conference is next week!!! Whooo!!! It`s a week later for me than for you, because of the time difference and the whole having to translate it thing, but yeah, I`m excited and you should be too!!!
Oh and Happy Easter! I think it`s this week, but really am not sure!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 26 - Akashi, Japan


Haha, so well, things are a bit different today, I guess you could say. Really I don`t even have any idea where to begin. I`m glad President Albrecht sent you all those emails because that basically outlines how everything has been the past week, goodness, has it only been a week, and even then, it`s been over a week...sheesh!
However I guess I can give a shortened version of my side. Oh and tell you where I`m at... I`m now in a place called Akashi, and my companion is Sister Murdock. She`s half Japanese, half American, but mainly grew up in America, she`s from Hawaii. To accommodate all of us into the mission, in my small area of Akashi there are now 4 sister missionaries, 2 elders, and only 1 ward/1 area. Quite different from being over 2 areas! But we`ll really be able to help the ward a lot this way. The 4 of us sisters are all in the same apartment (not too bad, I`ve done that before) 2 of us from Tokyo (Sister Weatherstone and I), this is nice because, I`m not in the adjustment alone, and the other 2 sisters were in the area before, Sister Ishiyama (this is her first transfer, she got here 3 weeks ago, and is from Sendai) and Sister Murdock. Making the apartment predominately American, something that`s different for me, but a nice little break. However, I know my japanese will not improve as well (since sister Ishiyama doesn`t understand english though, we still try to speak all japanese) Anywhere that`s a fast little introduction, honestly, I don`t know much about the area yet.

So what happened: we`ll have to make this short. Wednesday morning: we woke up to a text saying, you`re all being transferred tomorrow to different missions, pack your bags today more information will come later. You can imagine the surprise we felt...really except for the earthquakes that were getting less and less frequent and the shortage of food we saw in the stores, we were doing perfectly fine...we had plenty of food, and well you get used to the earthquakes. Anyway throughout the day we received little short pieces of news as plans were changed, finalized, shifted and refinalized. The end result being that they wanted us at the mission home that night, carrying all of our luggage and if possible our bikes, but if not just leave your bikes in the apartment. Basically don`t expect to come back so take all your things except for your bike. So that night we made it to the mission home about 9:30pm and I found out I was going to Kobe, and where others were headed. It looks like you saw the list that I heard popped up online, so you know where my previous companions are. Thursday morning we hopped on a bus and headed down and I arrived in Kobe that night. The next day, we got our new companions and headed out ready to preach the gospel in a completely different mission! So much for my first transfer, I got transferred to a whole other mission! Ha

I`m really surprisingly doing okay with the change of area. I think the hardest thing is just how different our missions are run. The gospel is the same, our rules are the same (for the most part:all missionary rules are same, but there are different mission specific rules), our purpose is the same. But the way we carry those things out is just completely different. It`s just a slower pace here. You go from the city to the sort of country, and you're going to have a different pace. But I will say, I am very happy to see trees and mountains and the ocean. I love the city, but I need some sort of nature. So that's nice.

I haven`t quite figured out why I`m here in Kobe or how long I will be, but I do know that this can really help both of our missions, as we see strengths and weaknesses and how we can improve things that in Tokyo we didn't necessarily do well, but they do well here. I've decided to be 100% positive about this opportunity, because well there`s really nothing we can do about it. You can do missionary work anywhere, it doesn't matter if I`m in Kobe, Tokyo, or Missouri. It can be done anywhere, I've been called to teach the gospel for 1 1/2 years so that`s what I`m going to do, no matter where I am.

Please pray for the members in Tokyo as they take on the full responsibility of missionary work, and also for our investigators that this won`t stop them from learning about the gospel.

Love you so much
Sister Erin Benne
Ps. P-days here are on Monday, not Tuesday

Starting immediately, all letters can be sent here:
4-6-28 Shinohara Honmachi
Nada Ku, Kobe Shi, 657-0067

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Letter from President McIntyre, Japan Kobe Mission

We are happy to inform you of the safe arrival of your missionary to the Japan Kobe Mission. 42 missionaries, including your daughter arrived in Kobe safely yesterday at about 6:00pm after a seven hour bus ride from Tokyo.

After a warm supper and an introductory meeting, the Elders were bedded down in the church. The Sisters were divided between the Mission Home and the Kobe Sisters apartment. All missionaries have now been assigned new companions and have transferred to their new areas. You should be hearing from them directly on Monday, March 21st which is their next preparation day. Before we sent them out to their new areas, Sister McIntyre and I had the chance to take a picture and I personally had a brief interview with each missionary.

Our family also maintains a mission blog at Please feel free to look at this. It is updated at least a couple times a month. You can find information about the mission and many pictures of the mission, missionaries and our family.

Please be assured your missionary is safe. We are hundreds of miles from the areas affected by the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plants. We do not how long the Tokyo Mission will be closed nor do we know how things might be put back when the brethren feel it is safe and appropriate to do so. So for now we are excited to have welcomed these great missionaries from Tokyo into our mission here in Kobe.
Also note the mission home address is

4-6-28 Shinohara Honmachi
Nada Ku, Kobe Shi, 657-0067

You can begin sending mail to your missionary at this address immediately.

Again, we are delighted to have your missionary serving with us.


William A. McIntyre Rika I. McIntyre
President, Japan Kobe Mission Mission Mom

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Erin has been transferred to Kobe, Japan

Erin has been transferred to the Kobe, Japan mission. You can read about the press conference given by Elder Holland here or you can watch the press conference on the situation in Japan here. (right click on the "here" and open in new tab or window.) I would recommend watching the press conference if you have an extra 15-20 minutes. The letter from Erin's mission President has been included below.

Dear Parents and Friends,

Many of you may have already seen the press conference that Elders Holland and Evans held about the recent news regarding the missionaries in the Tokyo and Sendai missions. Here are a few more details to their announcement. Your missionary is going to be relocated to one of the following three southerly Japanese Missions; Fukuoka, Kobe or Nagoya. The list attached tells you which Mission they will be assigned to. Tomorrow, starting from 09:00am all the missionaries from this mission will board one of three buses, each going to one of those destinations. We expect your missionary will contact you once he or she has made it to their reassigned mission area. The length of this reassignment is still not yet known due to the unpredictable events that have resulted from the recent earthquake. There are a number of
factors that prompted this action. Risk of increased radiation levels reaching the Tokyo area, predicted shortages of fuel, food, and water following transport disruption and panic buying are factors that have most potential for health risks, and the health of these missionaries is the priority. Also, the church wants to provide a place so the missionaries can continue to work. By moving missionaries we will relieve the members of the burden of helping missionaries if anything serious happens. We would like to reassure you that your missionary is safe. There is nothing more important to us than the safety and happiness of your missionary. We also want to thank you for your sincere prayers and concern.

Very best regards,
The Tokyo Japan Mission Office

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A letter from President Albrecht

Dear Parents and Loved Ones of Japan Tokyo Missionaries:

Now that things have settled down a little, I wanted to write each of you and provide an update on the earthquake, our mission and your missionary. As you know, the 9.0 earthquake hit Japan at 2:46 p.m. last Friday. At the time, we had 60 missionaries in the church next to the mission home for training. Fortunately, the missionaries from the areas of our mission that were were at most risk because of the Tsunami (Urayasu and the Chiba Zone) were all here for that training. It became obvious very quickly that this was a major quake. We had just finished the training and were saying good bye to each other when it hit. There is a field of grass next to the church without any overhead wires and so I had all missionaries go outside and stand in that field. The major quake lasted a long time--probably a couple of minutes. It was followed by numerous aftershocks, which are still happening today and may continue for some time, but the aftershocks are smaller and becoming more infrequent and probably won't cause any
serious damage.

Because of the size of the quake, the trains all stopped running. Fortunately, we have a lot of extra beds, futons, and blankets in the mission home and so we prepared for a big camp out that night. Immediately after the quake, our attention turned to making sure that all the missionaries in our mission were safe. We couldn't reach them by telephone because the phone lines, while working, were jammed. A few months ago, all our missionaries received new telephones with email capability. The email provided a lifeline to allow us to reach all our missionaries. By 7 p.m. that night, we had contacted all our missionaries and knew they were safe. We told them to stay close to their apartments and away from the ocean and bays. For the two companionships we couldn't reach directly, we had the bishops check on and report that they were safe. Immediately after the earthquake, the Presiding Bishopric's Office started contacting us every hour to see how our missionaries were. As soon as we knew everyone was safe, we notified the Presiding Bishopric's Office and then started putting an email list of parents together so we could let you all know your missionary was safe. You should all have received an email from us the evening of the earthquake.

The next morning, I sent an early email to every missionary in our mission (which they received on their telephones) telling them to (1) buy a week's worth of groceries and water for their apartments, (2) stay away from the ocean and bays, (3) email their parents that day and let you all know they were okay--I'm sure it is comforting to hear from your missionary directly, (4) stay away from any downed wires (if there were any) or broken glass, etc. and (5) let us know of any damage to their apartments or the church.

As you all know from watching the news, almost all of the damage is north of Tokyo in the Sendai Mission. Our mission goes north of Tokyo but not into the major disaster zone. There are 4 sets of missionaries who were relatively close (approximately 81 miles/130 kilometers) to the failed reactors in Fukushima and, just to be safe, I have moved all four sets into apartments with other missionaries further away. The destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in Tokyo was quite minor. There was an oil refinery that caught on fire, there was significant liquefaction from the tsunami in one area of our mission and a few cracks in the walls of some buildings. But, miraculously, there wasn't any significant damage to any of our missionary apartments (two microwaves fell off the counters and broke). Our missionaries are back to doing missionary work and providing service wherever they can. The biggest service project is helping people clean up their yards and get their cars out in the Urayasu Area where the liquefaction occurred.

While I am sure the news you are seeing on television is scary, especially about the nuclear reactors, Tokyo is quite safe. With regard to the reactors, on Sunday I was in a church meeting with two people who are very knowledgeable about the nuclear situation in Japan. One is a lawyer who defends the nuclear industry in Japan and the other is a person associated with the U.S. Air Force security and safety in the Far East. Both of them told me that, while the risk of radiation problems in Tokyo is not absolutely zero, it is as close to zero as you can get. They both said that because of the directions of the prevailing winds, there is probably more radiation risk to Seattle (although probably not much) than there is to Tokyo. Tokyo is south of the reactors and the prevailing winds blow east and north, out to sea.

Last night I personally called every missionary companionship in the mission (right now we have 74 companionships) and made sure they were all doing well and were safe. I told them for the next month or so to always keep a week's worth of water and food in their apartments. They are all happy, content and working hard. They areeven getting used to the aftershocks. The biggest problem we have is that most of the grocery stores in Japan only carry enough food
supplies for a half a day and are restocked twice a day. Our missionaries have all been able to get plenty of food but at certain times of the day there might not be any bread or milk on the shelves. This problem will correct itself soon. Gasoline is also a little harder to get but that isn't a problem for the missionaries because they all ride bikes. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was supposed to be starting rolling blackout yesterday for 3 hours a day in each area of Tokyo but that didn't happen yesterday and we are not sure when, if at all, the blackouts will begin. With several of the reactors knocked out, there will probably be some power shortages. But, we are prepared for that and it shouldn't be a problem.

Overall, the Japan Tokyo missionaries are all happy, safe, working hard and having a great experience. We are constantly praying for the missionaries, members and people north of us. There is much disaster and sadness up there but it all occurred 150 to 300 miles north of us. I'm sure the news makes it look like all of Japan is affected (and maybe of you probably think of Japan as a relatively small island) but we are actually quite far from the destruction and are safe and doing well.

We continue to monitor the situation very carefully. You can rest assured that the church would not do anything to jeopardize the safety of its missionaries. As your son or daughter's mission president, I will do all I can to make sure the Tokyo missionaries are safe, comfortable and continue to have a great experience. The missionaries in the Tokyo Mission are absolutely wonderful and it's an honor to serve with them. Thank you for preparing and sending them to our mission. This is a time to pray for those in the Sendai Mission area of Japan, especially those who have lost loved ones. I'm sure we will see continuous miracles both in the safety and the hearts of the people as the events unfold.

President Steve Albrecht

Week 25 - Kichioji, Japan

Thanks for the out pouring of emails! It was nice to feel the love from everyone and to feel the support from all of you!

Well, i can imagine you're all wondering what exactly is going on over here, but I can bet that you actually know more than me! As missionaries without a TV the only random bits we know are going on, are things from the Mission home and what members tell us. Since getting back to Kichijoji Saturday as you can imagine things are a little different. Really my area and others in the Tokyo Mission haven't been affected too badly, when we got back to our apartment only a few things had fallen over and around the city there's a little repair going on. I think the biggest difference is the somber feeling that has come over the city. The weather has been absolutely strangely gorgeous since Saturday but compared to the usual hustle and bustle of Kichijoji, everything is quiet as people silently move around. Saturday we went around checking up on our investigators, particularly one woman Koike san, who is 82 years old and lives all alone. She was a little shook up but okay. I don't think I've met any Japanese person who is as go to it as her. She's cute.

Sunday morning we got word that finally all of the Sendai missionaries had been contacted (Sendai is the mission right above Tokyo and the area that got hit the hardest). What a relief that was, as from the MTC, I know many people in the Sendai mission including Sister Tehei (who was Sister Lynch's companion for 6 weeks and from New Zealand). I guess the last two missionaries took quite a while to find. The focus has shifted now to making sure all the members are okay and helping the area.

In my areas, 2 members had fires, one a direct result from the earthquake and one that just so happened to be on the same day, that we're helping to clean up. We've also been asked to just go around to less actives and others to check up on them. We're allowed to tract, but have been asked by President Albrecht to stay close to the church and our apartment, just in case. Other precautions that have taken place have been to stock up on food and water for a month, and well yesterday because of the chance of acid rain and the nuclear plants that received some damage in the upper Tokyo mission area, we were told to remain in our apartment for the day, and do things from there. Don't worry though, halfway through the day that was lifted when they got full confirmation that all was safe outside.

We continue to have smaller earthquakes throughout the days, and I think the scariest part is not that they're happening, but of the unsurety of if they'll get worse or not. As I think I mentioned in the email I sent on Saturday, I was at the Mission Home, when the earthquake took place, miracle there actually...the training was supposed to last until 2, but it didn't end until 2:30, this is strange because President Albrecht is usually a very stick to the schedule kind of guy. Anyway because it got out late we were all in the church packing up when the quake hit, instead of on the trains. Anyway the 8.9 earthquake started out like a normal one (we've actually had quite a few since that first one I mentioned weeks ago) and so we were all like "mmm, it's just another earthquake", and then it just got crazy in a few seconds. So the scariest thing is basically the wonder if the earthquake that is occurring at that moment is going to get bad fast as well. But they haven't been too bad.

Really they are taking good care of us here in the mission, making sure we're okay. We're being safe and taking extra precautions in all that we do. Thanks for all the love and support. I think as of now, I'm good and don't need anything but your prayers and love.

Love you all!

The cherryblossoms are starting to bloom, they're gorgeous.

And oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention this, I have the flu...woke up with it this morning. But since we couldn't get a hold of one of our investigators to cancel a lesson, we had to come to the church anyway, so I figured I would write and let you all know a little bit more about what is going on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Okay

Hey Everyone!

We"re allowed to just write you a quick email letting you know we're okay. Thanks for the quick emails and prayers. As you know, we had quite a shake here yesterday. My zone and 2 others were actually up in Nakano, where the mission home is located for Training. (this turned out to be a good thing because the hardest hit area in our mission, Chiba (where Sister Utsumi is) was at the training. You may have seen broadcast of an oil refinery on fire, that`s Chiba) The training had just finished when the earthquake hit. I`ve never felt anything like it. Because all of the trains were down, we had to stay the night at the mission home/church. There were many aftershocks throughout the rest of the day and through the night, and even I just felt one now as I`m writing this. However, all Tokyo missionaries are okay. There is still no word yet on the Sendai mission, the mission closest to the epicenter. There is no way of getting in contact with them as of now, due to the power being completely out. Please pray for the missionaries in Sendai as well as all the people in Japan. There`s a lot of damage, but maybe through this tragedy, good can come from it. 2 Nephi 2- for there must be opposition in all things so that we may know the good from the bad.

I love you all so much!
I`ll let you know more of what`s going on on Tuesday!

Safety Announcement

Dear Parents of the Japan Tokyo Mission Missionaries,
Inspite of the severe earthquakes experienced throughout the day, particularly the large earthquake at 2:46pm off the coast of Miyagi, North Eastern Japan, all of the missionaries in the Tokyo Japan Mission are safe. We have contacted directly each of the areas in the mission and have heard from each and are assured that all are safe and unaffected.
All the trains in the Mission area are currently unusable, but otherwise there have been very few other effects that will influence our missionaries. There has however been many serious effects in other areas of Japan.
We are grateful for your constant prayers for your missionaries and ask you keep them and the people of Japan in your prayers particularly at this time.
Best Regards,
Japan Tokyo Mission

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Week 24 - Kichijoji, Japan

Well Hello Again!

This week has been a long one but i`ve learned a lot; everything changing and me getting used to it. I`ve never been good with change that I myself don`t bring on and I`m realizing just how stubborn I can sometimes be when those unplanned/unwanted changes do come. But I`m trying really hard to learn and overcome that since I`m sure there will be a lot of adjusting and changing that will take place while I`m here in Tokyo and also throughout my life.

So BYU Basketball, Amazing! And I`m missing it all! Oh well, maybe when I get back, they`ll be other just as exciting things going on! Lets just hope that even minus the one player they can still keep it going! Also let`s hope that the Cardinals don`t lose their minds and do sign a contract with Albert Pujols!

As of right now, things in Tokyo are going well! Right now we have some really interesting investigators, 2 whose parents own Buddhist Temples, and 1 who is Hindu, among others, with each investigator different problems arise, but we`re really trying to be creative in how we teach to help them fully understand the greatness of the gospel. One amazing investigators name is Mashito san, Utsumi Shimai and I found her while streeting one day. It`s really amazing actually. When we stopped her she was actually on her way to go visit a Catholic Church to learn more about the `Christian God`. She kept saying over and over again how surprised she was that we stopped her, and the first thing we asked her and talked to her about was God. How what we asked is exactly what she`s been thinking about for the past few months. Is that not God`s divine power or what!? So cool! We have a baptismal date for her right now, that we`re hoping and praying will go through. She`s got faith, and she feels the Spirit, I`m just praying she`ll act on those two things.

I`m so thankful for the tiny miracles, such as finding Mashito san, that God allows us to see everyday! When we look for them, we`ll see them.

Love you all so very much! Thanks for all your support!
Love you
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Week 23 - Kichijoji, Japan

Blah! I officially hate transfers! They really are no fun at all! So here's what happened....

Thursday-Friday afternoon, I went on splits with another Sister here in Kichijoji. It was really good, and the Sister really is a good missionary, but I kept thinking, "I can't wait for Sister Utsumi to get back." I realized how attached I had become to Sister Utsumi (you spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week with your companion; I think you're bound to either love them or be really annoyed with them), so it got me thinking about just how much I didn't want to leave Kichijoji and I didn't want a new companion either. So by the time Friday night calls came, I'll admit I was nervous...

I think before, I explained how transfers work, your district leader calls you Friday night and says if anybody is leaving and then Saturday morning, you find out who and where you're going. Well Friday night we got a call telling us Saturday morning, we would be getting a phone call, in fact every companionship in our district would be getting a phone call, so things in the Kunitachi district were definitely going to change, but I didn't expect how much. If I didn't find the Friday night call/Saturday morning thing mean before, I now find it cruel. Haha, I had the craziest transfer dreams, Friday night and kept waking up. Anyway Saturday morning we got our phone call and it turned out that Utsumi Shimai was going to be transferred and I would stay in Kichijoji and Suginami with a new companion. Sad... Then we found out news about our district, of the 8 people in our district, 4 were being transferred and only 2 were coming in. The Kichijoji and Suginami elders would be combined and like me be over the 2 areas. One of the Suginami elders, Battye choro was staying, but his companion, one of my MTC district leaders, Shiozawa choro, and the 2 Kichijoji elders were leaving as well. This would make me the only person in the new district who knows anything about the Kichijoji area...a little scary for someone so "young" as me. But so far it's been good.

My new companion's name is Kohatsu Shimai (Nihonjin). She's cute, from Okinawa, doesn't like banana bread, and studied fashion design. She doesn't know English, so it's full out Japanese from here! Good, because, hopefully, with speaking Japanese round the clock, my Japanese will get better faster, but on the downside, with my limited Japanese, there is no one to really tell random things too, and planning lessons is a little more difficult. But it will be good, I know I'll learn a lot. Everyone says your follow-up trainer is the hardest companion you'll have, because you only know your trainer's "ways" and your stuck in them, I'm already starting to see that in the two lessons we've had, but I'm trying to be open, so that I can learn and grow as a missionary.

That's honestly the biggest thing that's been happening around here. We've been teaching lessons and they've been going well. It's been raining a lot, but we did have one or two oddly warm days that were absolutely fantastic!

Oh and this was exciting! A family took us to Sizzler (an American restaurant!!!!) for dinner one night. Because it was an American restaurant I thought it was okay to use American manners and everything! I love Japanese culture, but I don't think I've ever been so happy, to eat at an actual table, use a knife and fork and just have one big plate instead of a bunch of small dishes to eat off of. It was the happiest thing ever! And don't worry, I still can eat like a proper American girl! What a relief!

Anyway that's all for now!
Love you all!!!!
Sister Erin Benne