This is our blog about the adventures and experiences of two Snyder kids as they serve missions, one in Mexico and one in Japan, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are the weekly emails and pictures they send home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hola, mi familia!

Has it been two weeks already?! Weird! Time at the MTC is a crazy thing. The days go by so slowly, but time passes so quickly. I don't know how I feel about it. The MTC is getting better with each day. I am studying really hard! Harder than I ever have in my life! Way harder than school or college or anything else. The crazy thing is that there's no test. There's nothing I "have" to study for. I'm studying hard because I'm on the Lord's errand and time. And if I was to not study my hardest, I'd be wasting His time. NOT ON MY WATCH! 

I'm doing everything I can to learn this language. Remember how many times I said, "Spanish is easy!" Well, I was wrong. Speaking any language other than your own is so hard. I have so many things I want to communicate, but can't. But the Lord is blessing me so greatly! I can pretty much pick the words I know to communicate any of my thoughts, just not in the eloquent way I would in English. It's going great; I just need to have more patience (the trial of my life).

My companions are still good. I love my district. We all get along so well! My district leader walked in after a meeting the other day and said, "I just have to say, I love you all so much! Every other district was talking about all their problems and when they asked for any problems we might have, I told them we had none! They couldn't believe it  and kept asking, 'Are you absolutely sure?' and I just had to keep saying, 'Yes! We all get along and have no problems!'" So, yeah. Our district is awesome. I love the district leader, Elder Yoo. He is a convert of about 2 years but he is literally brilliant and has such a strong testimony. Plus, he plays the piano like a madman, so we jam out and it is THE BEST THING EVERRRR.

I don't know what else to say! Life is great! The MTC is great! Last night Stephen B. Allen spoke at devo and he was awesome and inspiring.

OH MY GOSH. I just remembered something BIG. My life changed last night by watching Elder Bednar's talk "Character of Christ." Seriously. Life-changing. Family and all others who read this email, get ahold of this talk. Google it, look it up. It is amazing. I have so much to work on. I have so much to change.
I love the Savior. I know the Atonement is real. I know that He loves and blesses us each day. I love you all so much! I miss those sweet little babies, but keep sending pictures!!!

Con mucho mucho amor,
Hermana Snyder

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kelsey's first email and pics from the MTC!


Estoy en la CCM! This is crazy. I can't believe I've only been here for 5 days... it seems like 2 weeks! I'm hoping that these past few days have been the longest of my mission, because they were super long! I feel like I have so much to tell you and it's all crammed in my brain, so let's see how it comes out on paper.

The MTC is a lot. I didn't expect it to be this overwhelming! The language is definitely the hardest part. We had to teach a lesson to an "investigator" in Spanish on the second day, so that was pretty interesting, but it actually went way better that I thought. I could communicate way more than I was expecting, and even though there was a bit of a language barrier, I felt the Spirit very strongly. But yes, the whole "learning a new language" thing is super tough. I have no idea what English-speaking missionaries would be doing right now!

I'm in a trio with two hermanas who are amazing!!! I love them so much. Hna. Afualo (her first name is Alalamalae, which is pretty awesome) is a 22-year-old Samoan from Alaska. She is hilarious and I love her. She was originally my only comp, but something happened and one sister was moved out of my district and into the intermediate class, so we adopted Hna. Orison. She's from Cedar City and is a convert of about a year! How amazing! She is so adorable. I love having her. For Relief Society at the MTC, all of the sisters meet together and usually someone "big" from one of the General Boards comes to speak. Yesterday it was Linda S. Reeves, the 2nd Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency. During her talk, she asked there were any converts of just about a year and Hna. Orison stood up, so Sister Reeves asked her to bear her testimony! It was so sweet and simple, in true Hna. Orison fashion. I love having her. So yes, my comps are amazing! They both took German in high school, so they're having a hard time with the Spanish, but they'll get it soon enough. 

I am studying harder than I ever have in my life. I think that's the reason time was seeming to pass by so slowly. I don't know how my comps felt about it, but I was pretty adamant about making good use of every second studying and studying and more studying. We've planned our days out so that every minute is useful. We are on the Lord's time! And I don't want to wait any longer than I have to to get good at the language! 

The Lord is helping me, though. I pray every day for the gift of tongues, and He is surely blessing me. I am picking things up fairly quickly and doing well in my class, so I'm looking forward with faith! 

Some other things... my district is great! Remember how I said that one of my EFY friends was leaving at the same time as me? Well he's in my district! Elder Poaletti. And the other Elders are great too. We have a great time together (there are 4 Elders and 2 Sisters). 

Also, last night for devo, Chad Lewis came to speak to us and told us of so many experiences with sharing the Gospel in the NFL. He is awesome. We can let our lights shine no matter our environment! 

All in all, I am enjoying the MTC! The Spirit is strong, and every time I testify, I can feel the truthfulness of the things I am saying. I love the Gospel! It is seriously the best! Life is a little hard right now, but that doesn't mean it's not also the best. :)

Con mucho amor,
Hna. Snyder

Jake's letter this week was pretty short but he sent some great pictures:

A young men's activity where they cooked in a dutch oven:

A picture of a spider he says they see everywhere. Eeek!

Jake and his District Leader:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kelsey's big day!

So, Kelsey flew out to Utah yesterday and is entering the MTC today!  Home Sweet Home for a few weeks. She is so ready to go.  She has felt like she's in limbo for a few months now while she's been waiting to go.  But, the time has arrived and she's going to be a great missionary!  She was so excited to get to see Seth, Kirsten and Tucker!  They picked her up from the airport, took care of her for the night and got her to the MTC.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jake's nice, long update

Hey everyone, how's it going!? Week #2 in Japan down! It was a pretty cool week! I got to meet a lot of new people and do some fun stuff! My Japanese is still really bad, haha. I can barely understand anything still.. Oh well I'm trying! Narita is a pretty sweet city! I like it
here. It's so funny in stores and on signs when they try to spell stuff in English and it's completely wrong.. Makes me laugh sometimes! Wow, Kels is finally a missionary huh!? That's super crazy. She's gonna be such an awesome missionary. It's awesome Kels and Kelly got to have their farewell/homecoming together! There's another typhoon hitting us
right now! It was supposed to be worse than last week but it seems to be not quite as bad. Thanks for the pictures. It looks like everyone is doing awesome and getting so big. But y'all look great. I'm doing good too! It's tough but I'm pushing through! I love and miss you all so much!

Love, Elder Snyder

These are Jake's journal entries for the week.  It's long, but there are some pictures at the end if you want to scroll down:

Sorry this is very long and you don't have to read it all but I copy a lot of it from my journal every night of things that happened each day!
Week 2
Monday, P-day! Today we woke up and did our studies and then did our p-day routine. We went to 7-11 to load our emails and then came back to clean our apartment and reply to emails. Then I took a nap which was great! Then we went to the church to send our emails and then
played basketball with some teenagers which was fun! After that we went housing. We did this for about 45 minutes before we had to go to a lesson and only 1 person opened the door and he didn't seem too interested.. Bummer. Then we went to a lesson with an investigator a
man named Miyazaki San. It was pretty awesome! My companion said it was the first time he ever read the Book of Mormon in a lesson and allowed us to pray. So he's making great improvements! We invited him to baptism but he denied it. We're going to keep teaching him and hopefully he'll continue to accept what we teach. I didn't understand a lot of it but when I did understand I testified what I could! So that was fun! It was a good day!

Tuesday was a normal day. We did our studies in the morning and then went finding! We found some people that seemed maybe interested. Hopefully some of them will contact us! Then we went to teach a lesson with a man named Nakamoto San. He was baptized the Sunday before I got here, but he's still considered an investigator cause he still hasn't gotten confirmed yet! He was supposed to get confirmed this past Sunday but he was sick. But that was a good lesson and I learned a lot. Then we did what's called mitsuketaikai, which is when we go to
the train station and hand out Eikaiwa flyers and try to stir up a conversation about the Gospel with someone. After that we went to McDonalds!!! Haha a Big Mac never tasted so good! It tastes just like in the US and it was just so good. Then we went to the church and
looked for addresses of less actives in our area book. There are sooo many less actives here. We're gonna try to visit some of them and get them back to church!

Wednesday was a busy day! After our studies in the morning we went to visit a potential investigator that we got a referral for. He lives in an apartment building about 30 minutes from where we live. We went to visit him and then he wasn't home, so we decided to just knock on doors. Most people don't answer the door, and when they do they just
say no and close the door. Then we saw a guy painting a staircase and decided to go talk to him. He didn't have much time to talk since he was working but we told him about eternal families and turns out he just had a child and was really interested. So we gave him a plan of salvation pamphlet and gave him our number so hopefully he calls us! We did more housing and met a Christian man (very unusual in Japan) that told us the Bible is the only book he needs... So that didn't go anywhere but it was cool talking to him. We found a few more people to talk to and gave one man a Book of Mormon. Then we visited one of our
investigators which is always fun. Then we headed to the church to plan our Halloween Party that's in a few weeks with some of the members. It was pretty funny cause they don't really know anything about Halloween, just what they've seen and heard on TV or something.
Then it was Eikaiwa! It's fun teaching English to old Japanese people who wanna go to America! Haha! Pretty awesome day!

Thursday we had our first zone meeting. We took about an hour long train ride to Inage and I got to talk to a lot of people on the train. Most Japanese trains are super packed so it's fun talking to a bunch of different people and it's good Japanese practice haha. Sometimes they just look at our badge and see Jesus Christ and just turn and
won't even respond to us... Oh well! So after that we had our first lesson with a man named Hoshi San after we met him on the street a few days ago. When we met him we gave him a pamphlet so he had a lot of good questions! It was a really cool lesson. We then had weekly
planning (which takes like 2ish hours) and then went housing for a while. We had a few people answer the door but none very interested. We then went to the church for a lesson with one of our (now former) progressing investigators named Okada San. He didn't show up for the 3rd lesson in a row now :(. When we tried calling him he answered and
then hung up so I guess he's no longer interested. He actually had a baptism date for the 26th so it stinks! Oh well though we were able to give away 3 Books of Mormon today so hopefully they go somewhere!

On Friday during our morning run we found some old Buddist worship temple thing.. It was pretty cool and I took some pictures of it. After our studies we decided to go out to eat on our way to a visit with one of our investigators. We went to sushi-ro for my first time! (Sushi on the conveyer belt). It was pretty good! Haha a lot of the crazy kinds I wouldn't touch but a lot of it was really good! We then went on a long bike ride to a little town to visit an investigator and a less active member. We had some good visits and then did a little streeting. We found a couple cool people but none too interested. We
had to rush back to our apartment to grab a bite to eat and then go to the church for our ping pong/FHE activity. It was really good cause we had 5 or 6 of our investigators there. It was a pretty cool day.

Saturday started off with Eikaiwa in the morning and then taking the train to Inage, which is our stake center, for Soutaikai (General Conference). The Saturday sessions were pretty sweet! It's awesome when we get to hear the words of our Prophet and other leaders. All
the American elders and sisters get to watch it in English in a room and the Japanese go to the chapel to watch it. In between sessions we went and did some proselyting and were able to give out some flyers. On the train back I gave away a Book of Mormon too which is always

Sunday was day 2 of Soutaikai! We went to Inage again and watched the 2 sessions of Conference. They were pretty awesome! I'm glad we get to hear from our prophets every 6 months! We came back and had a lesson with a member and then another awesome lesson with our investigator Miyazaki San and the Bishop came with us. It was pretty awesome. Bishop said some awesome stuff that really got him thinking. Fun day!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kelsey's turn!

Today was Kelsey's farewell at church.  She got to share the day with her best friend, Kelly, who just returned from serving her mission in Brazil.  So it was a beautiful homecoming/farewell meeting and we had a Mexican buffet afterwards. We are so grateful for wonderful family and friends who always support us and were there, as usual, to help us celebrate. It was a great day!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Greetings from Japan!

We were so excited to hear from Jake in Japan!  We were on pins and needles waiting for his email Sunday night.  He's about 13 hours ahead of us, so he was emailing us Monday, but it was Sunday for us.  We got an initial email at around 10pm that just said, "Hello family", and that was it!  I waited and waited and stayed up, but nothing else.  So, I finally went to bed and in the morning there was an email that had come at about 4am.  So, then we found out about the typhoon and the trouble they had emailing.  So glad to hear that he was doing well.  Here's his email:

Hello family!! How are you all doing?! Japan is crazy and kinda hard to get used to! Haha. My Japanese is not good at all.. I can barely understand anything. Haha.. pretty sad! There is a typhoon in Japan right now... It's been raining and the wind has been blowing like crazy. Our mission mom sent out a mass text saying that they're expecting power outages and to start cooking a lot of rice ASAP! So we made a couple batches of rice.. This morning it calmed down a bit so we ran to the 7/11 down the road and loaded our emails cause they have wifi. It got bad again but it has stopped now. We got caught in it last night on our bikes and got completely soaked. My rain pants completely ripped so now I only have a rain jacket. :( But anyway, Japan is a super cool place! Way different than America. We haven't eaten at any members' homes or restaurants so we just eat in the apartment. I don't really have an appetite so I usually just eat a bowl of cereal a few times a day. I've already lost 10 pounds.. Haha. We actually had fast Sunday yesterday and then next Saturday and Sunday we'll watch General Conference! And we get to watch it in English, thankfully! It was pretty scary bearing my testimony in front of all those Japanese people.. Haha. So I've been copying some parts of my journal on my iPad every night and I'm gonna send that out! So that will have more details. And I'm sorry I can't send pics from the end of the MTC and the plane 'cause I don't have a cord to get pics from my camera to my iPad! I love and miss you all so much!!
Love Elder Snyder

These are the journal entries we received later in the day:

Monday was the big day we finally left the MTC! Sometimes we didn't ever think the day would come but it happened. So we had to be at the travel office at 6 AM and then we took a bus to the train station in Provo. Then we took the train to the airport. We got our bags all checked in and then went to our terminal. We were walking past a McDonald's and some random guy insisted that he buy us some food, so that was pretty cool. Then we took a plane to Portland and then to Japan! It was such a long flight and I only slept for a little over an hour... But then we made it to Japan and it was awesome! And because Japan is 13 hours ahead of the US, it turned into Tuesday! So we went through customs and then got to meet president Budge! He's such a cool guy. We took about a 2 hour train ride back to the mission home, ate dinner and then they let us go right to bed at about 9:30. Pretty cool day.

Wednesday was pretty crazy! Lots of training stuff. We did some crazy workout with President Budge and then ate Sister Budge's awesome breakfast! We had a bunch of training stuff with the Budges and then had lunch. After lunch we all went with an older missionary and did some proselyting. That was interesting! A lot of people ignored us but we were able to give away some flyers and we had a nice long talk with a guy that said he might want to come to church which was awesome! After that we had an etiquette talk with Sister Budge and then got our iPads! So that was cool and then got dinner and had a testimony meeting with some recent converts. After that was "eikaiwa" which is English class for anyone in the city that wants to come. There were a lot of people there and it was fun!

Thursday we got to meet our trainers and go to our new areas! My trainer's name is  Elder Sanshin. He seems pretty cool so far.. A lot different than me, but cool. He's 24 years old and already graduated from college. There are also 2 other elders in my apartment. Well, my area is a small city called Narita. It's not a huge city and it turns into a lot of hills, trees and farmland... So the best of both, I guess. We took a 2 hour train ride from the mission home to Narita and on the way we were talking to people and giving out eikaiwa flyers. When we got back, we went right to the bank and got out yen so I could buy my bike. We went to our apartment for a little bit and then went on about an hour long walk to the bike shop. then we came back to the apartment, ate dinner and called some of our investigators to see how they were doing and so I could introduce myself! So it was a cool first day in Narita!

Friday morning was my first day in the normal missionary life routine. We woke up, did some exercise, then did our studies. After that we took an hour long train ride to Chiba to a zone conference! That was pretty fun! So then we came back, ate lunch and then went and did some dendo! (Proselyting) We found a guy named Hoshi who seemed pretty interested and we set up another lesson with him! After all that we had a ping pong night and Family Home Evening at the church! That was pretty fun, and then we came back and did our nightly planning and went to bed!

Saturday was a good day! We woke up, exercised and then did our studying. We took the 15 minute bike ride to the church and taught eikaiwa (English class). That was pretty fun. We had about 10 people show up. We taught the advanced class, that had 2 Japanese people. One of them is named Kazu, who is one of our investigators. Kazu is really good at English and I'm really looking forward to my first lesson with him. Then we came back and had weekly panning which takes a few hours. After that, we went on a very hilly 30 minute bike ride to visit a recent convert named Sarath. He is from Sri Lanka and speaks a mix of Japanese, English and Sri Lanken. He's a cool, interesting man. Then we went back home and did our daily planning. That's it!

My first Sunday in Japan! It was fast Sunday today since Japan is so far ahead and Conference will be next week. I got to bear my testimony which was a bit intimidating in front of a bunch of Japanese people! But my companion told me I said everything right so I was pretty happy about that. Haha. So there's a typhoon going through Japan right now and it's pretty hard rain. A lot of the members usually ride their bike to church so a lot of them weren't there today. There were about 40 or so there today but there's usually 60-70. The rain gradually got worse throughout the day so when we went out we just got soaked. But it was fun! Cool first Sunday!

Japan is an awesome place! It was a fun first week! We have a bunch of great investigators with potential to get baptized! Exciting times here in Japan! Love and miss you all!

Love, Elder Snyder

My trainer companion and our clothes hanging up to dry after we got soaked: