Baptism by…lava!


June has been a busy month for Charlie Choro:  a lot of teaching, a lot of training, and a lot of change. His trusty companion and trainer, Marquez Choro, is on his way out to be in charge of another group of missionaries, leaving Charlie in charge of the district in Kawachinagano. Oh dear. Poor Charlie. This is all so…so…sudden!

selfies at lunchtime!

Here’s what he wrote after receiving the phone call from the Mission President:

Marquez Choro and I stared at each other in shock. Well, that ruined our focus for study this morning. Before this transfer, I thought it would be really fun to train a new missionary. Instill that dendo* fire in a young one! That’s the best!  But I thought… I’ve only been here for 4 months. I’m still in my bean* area. They wouldn’t send another greenbean* here! But they did. And then they somehow decided I could lead a district at the same time. Ganbaroo*. Needless to say, I’ll have an adventure here this transfer.  I will miss Marquez greatly, but I’ll do my best to set my new companion’s dendo heart on fire. Next email I will have a different companion. It’s going to be crazy. I hope I can keep this district alive. You know how they say baptism by water, then by fire? Well I skipped the water, and the fire…I’m being baptized by lava. 

*dendo–missionary work

*greenbean–nickname for a new missionary. A ‘bean’ area is your first area, where you started as a ‘greenbean’.

*ganbaroo–I will stick it out; stay strong.

Here are a few more snippets from Charlie’s latest letters. Don’t mess with the Japan Kobe missionaries!

Elder Steers is a 250 pound, 23-year-old rugby player from the hood in Oakland California. (Doesn’t the name fit him perfectly?) He’s a way good leader – he’s really nice, and caring, and hilarious. But when someone needs a beat down, it’s like a WWF fight with words. I did an exchange with him on Thursday and got to listen to one over the phone to another missionary. It was intense. Don’t break any rules in this mission! They’ll crack you like a bad back! Anyway, the exchange with Elder Steers was awesome. I learned a lot from him about finding and contacting people on the street. We didn’t find anybody that day but I handed out two copies of the Book of Mormon to people. I love using the Book of Mormon. It’s the most powerful tool in conversion we have. If you don’t use it as a missionary, you are just being dumb! God gave us proof of our message and if we don’t use it, we tell the Lord we think we can do His work on our own.

Charlie and I were having an ongoing conversation (through email, of course) about the power of the priesthood, something he’s been thinking about a lot lately as a missionary. Here’s a part of that conversation:

Any act of the priesthood is all about God’s will, not ours. Have you ever thought that the priesthood is what controls nature? Priesthood is the power of God. God uses his priesthood power to create and control the universe. It’s the power by which Jesus Christ performed the Atonement. Pretty amazing stuff to think about. What’s even more amazing is that He sometimes lets us use it to bring about his purposes. What a generous and kind and merciful Heavenly Father we have.

And now more glimpses of life as a missionary in Japan, through Charlie’s eyes:


Watch out for that shoe, Charlie!

Things can get a little crazy in district meeting…

What kind of English are they teaching?!

What kind of English are they teaching?!

An explanation to the picture above: this is a game they play in English class where everyone chooses one word at a time and they try to make a sentence. This one makes perfect sense, right?! After all, once upon a time in America a man lived. That’s true.

One serving of pain, please, with a side of gelato!

One serving of pain, please, with a side of gelato!


They stole this quote from Linus.

I’m pretty sure Linus said this first.

A typical Japanese rice farm

A rice paddy


The last zone conference with President Zinke

This picture is of Charlie’s last zone conference with President Zinke and his wife, who will leave Japan after three years of being the mission president and go home to California at the end of this month. A new president will come and take his place. Charlie wrote: “Friday was sad but good. Our zone had our last meeting with Zinke Kaicho and Zinke Shimai. He told us a lot of stories as we all sat in a circle around him. It was kind of like a bunch of grandkids listening to their grandpa. He is an amazing man. I will miss him greatly.”

So thank you, President and Sister Zinke, for all you have done for these stalwart young missionaries, for instilling in them a desire to work hard, to serve others, to embrace the language and culture of Japan, and for lighting their fires within. We wish you the very best.



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