Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014 email

Mom and Dad,

I don't have too much time to write this week because we went to one of the castles in Tottori area. Tottori Castle is by the eki. It's actually just the ruins of Tottori Castle--there really isn't any more castle left. After all that hiking we got to look out over all of Tottori from the top of the super big hill, so it was cool.

Tuesday was one of the busiest days I've had in a while. We scheduled a couple lessons that day, neither of which were planned or mogi'ed. The day was spent basically planning and mogi'ing the lessons. We met with the Christian guy and the other two seishinbyo guys. Both lessons ended up going pretty well despite the lack of time. That day we also had an exchange with the zone leaders, which didn't make the schedule any easier--but we all felt pretty accomplished. For dinner we scrambled around to konbibi's to buy melon pan and ice cream, then ate the ice cream-filled melon pan--probably the most unhealthy dinner I've had, but it was delicious.
Thursday we had another lesson with the Christian guy. He's doing really well and is progressing toward baptism.

Friday was district meeting! Weeks don't last long enough. I feel like I'm teaching a district meeting every day! I've adjusted to it and can plan a fairly solid district meeting within a limited time because the Lord helps me do it. He knows I'd crash and burn if I did it all on my own. Last prep day we found this video called "Be Not Afraid," which actually used to be a training video for the Japan Kobe Mission. It's about an elder who served here in the early 90's and was a super-star missionary, but started out like any normal trainee does. It accounts his story of when he served in the Maizuru area. It's a pretty rural area. At that time, the branch was only three women and the two elders. Now there are about 10 or 11 active members, if I remember correctly. The video is about how he and his companion did all they could to work hard and rely on the Lord. They found a male convert that would become the branch's first priesthood holder. It was honestly a great video and I'm disappointed they don't still use it. I feel it could help a lot of missionaries--not just in this mission either.
One onegai I have for this week: Could you send instructions on how to tie various tie knots (half-windsor, full-windsor, double-windsor, etc.). With all the ties I have of different shapes, materials, lengths, and such, there's no knot that really works for them all.

That's all I have to email this week! I look forward to emailing again next week. Until then, give my best to everybody!


Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014 email

Mom and Dad,
Things worked out well this week. We visited a lot of former investigators. All of those whom we met with were super nice, but weren't interested in investigating. One of them, an old gentleman, talked for quite a bit of time about a variety of topics. At one point he talked about fighting in the war (not sure which, probably Korean) with planes falling from the sky and crashing around him. We managed to teach some gospel principles into our conversation.

Thursday we had a lesson with the christian guy and the two seishinbyo's that always meet together. The lesson with the christian guy went very well. We didn't  have a lot of time beforehand to prepare as much as we wanted, so we taught off of our general notes. The lesson ended up being guided entirely by the Spirit and, therefore, went great. At the next lesson one of the members walked into the room in the middle of the lesson and sat down to be the member present, although we didn't request a member or anything for the lesson. Anyway, our two investigators both accepted a date to be baptized!

Friday, we had district meeting--yes, I taught it. It was pretty fun, and went very well. Adequate preparing beforehand makes a big difference. The last one I did, I only did some of the prep because most of it was already prepared by the assistants; I don't think it went as well as I wanted it to. This time, I made sure to plan as best I could. It certainly paid off. Everyone enjoyed it! We also found a high school student who said we could come back the next day to share more!

Saturday we met with the Christian guy again. He accepted a date, too! His date is May 24th, but I'm almost certain it'll end up being sooner. He understands everything we teach. He understood the need for priesthood authority before we even taught him what the priesthood is! It's great! When we first extended a date, it was May 25th, but he said he was busy that day. Then I said the 24th, and he just went "Ya, that works."

Saturday night we went back to visit the high schooler and his family. When his dad came to the door, he was super nice about it but turned us away. That's one of the hurdles with almost every housing contact in Japan. The kids say it's fine to come back, but then the parents just laugh and say no. One time in Kitarokko, I rang the video feed and a high school age girl answered. I heard her on the other side laugh and tell someone else that she was talking to someone who wasn't Japanese. Then the dad pulled up in his car and asked what we wanted. At the same time, the daughter came out and was like "missionaries?!" in a way excited way. Then the dad said that his family didn't have any interest.

Sunday we went housing for several hours straight. Nobody showed any real interest. That's dendo for you: one day will be super great and the next day not so much. Can't be helped, I guess, but that's basically what happened this week.
Thanks for all you wrote me this week! I really do appreciate your efforts to write me no matter how frequently--or infrequently--you manage to find time. どうもありがとうございます!


Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014 email

Mom and Dad,
It's been an interesting week due to more bike issues, but the Lord helped us out quite a bit because we had less time to dendo as a result.

Since Eversole Choro's bike's shifter gear fell off, we left it at the shop and borrowed a mamachari from the recent convert guy. Mamachari's are terrible bikes, just so you know; in addition this one was too small for Eversole Choro and way too small for me. The real story of this week begins on Tuesday. We were at the church emailing, when the PI who's way interested in Christianity and grew up wanting to be a Christian came way early for eikaiwa. We usually have DCS right before eikaiwa, so we rearranged our time things around so he wouldn't have to wait around. We also had a follow-up appointment at 6:30, so we had to leave early to make it before eikaiwa. As we're going to the appointment, my tire popped on something! We got there and the guy was just leaving because he apparently had some other thing going we turned around and went back to the church.

After patching the punk, I found another! I patched that one and then found another punk after that one! I think I ended up patching 7 punks.We finally got that done, but a lot of our day was spent.
But anyway, we met with the less-active guy: he's becoming closer and closer to reactivation. We had a very spiritual lesson with him. It was also very interesting because he decided to do a role-play of what his childhood would've been like if he'd grown up in the church, and the inevitable argument that would've ensued between him and his mom on Sunday morning. You have to know this guy for it to be as funny as it was.
Friday we had mensetsu's (interviews)! As always, it was awesome. Zinke Kaicho is seriously the best. I'm not looking forward to when he leaves in a couple months and is replaced. He talked about how for us, as the Lord's missionaries to astonish the world, we have to first astonish ourselves. I've yet to truly astonish myself on my mission, so I'll have to work fast to get around to astonishing the world in the next 13 months.

Saturday we got to watch General Conference. Before that, we went to the nearby sports park and worked out with the PI. He's one of those people who are into fitness and what not. It may not be winter anymore, but at 6 in the morning it's still kind of chilly outside. After we worked out with, we studied at the apartment, then went to the church to watch GC. For the hour breaks between the sessions, we went out and dendo'd on the street in front of the church. We didn't find anyone that had was interested, but it was still good. No effort is wasted when it comes to missionary work, even when the members do it. Everything prepares people to eventually receive the Gospel.

Sunday we had more General Conference sessions, to which a couple investigators came as well as the Christian PI. He really seemed to like it and the other people found it interesting. I can't decide which one was my favorite, but there were some that I enjoyed more than others.

Sunday night we finally had a lesson with the PI. He is very interested in learning more. It's awesome to have a person who's listens so intently and grasps what we are teaching him. He's a very spiritual guy. It was a great first lesson with him.


Monday, April 7, 2014

4/7/14 email

So it's cherry blossom season here in Japan!

Mom and Dad,

Sakura's--I'm sure you've heard of--are these pinkish, white flowers that bloom on trees. They only last a couple weeks, then they die. It's so special here in Japan that McDonald's sells sakura-teriyaki burgers and sakura soda. I ate them for the experience. :)

We had to completely replace the brakes on our bikes because none of them were working. Eversole Choro doesn't really know how to do it so I did all 8 brake pads. My hands were waaay dirt by the end, but I liked it. You know how I am with taking things apart and putting them back together. Like the BYU ME motto: If it's not broken, take it apart and fix it!

We had a couple lessons with the two seishinbyo's that meet with us regularly. We need to search and find more people that want to follow their Savior. We also had a lesson with the recent convert. Explaining patriarchal blessings in Japanese is very difficult--much harder than I thought it'd be. Just saying it in Japanese is hard: shukufukushi no shukufuku (pronounced 'shkufkushi no shkufku); however, he was thrilled at the idea of having a personalized guide just for his life.

Friday we had ZTM. Basically this mission is surpassing all the other missions in Japan. After the training plan to help us learn to work by relying on Christ and then the two week training plan to teach us who Christ is, we're now starting the training part based around then-Elder Heber J Grant's 1903 prophesy that one day the work in Japan will astonish the world and it will be one of the most successful places for the work in the world. Now, using our knowledge of the Savior and how we can rely on Him, the next plan is to "astonish the world." If you look at everything that's been happening in Japan, especially in the Kobe mission, Kaicho really believes that this is the start of it all. Not to mention that "Kobe" means "God's Door". These next three months are going to be intense.

Another crazy change that's come about--I don't think it's that crazy because I've thought about this a few times before--is the shimai missionaries are going to focus basically all their efforts on reactivating less-actives. On Shikoku, the big island in our mission, they've been pushing to make a stake by reactivating LA's to get enough active members for a stake. Some missionaries are even assigned as "stake missionaries" to do just that. In the last few months it sounds like almost all the necessities have been finished and the stake will be here soon! Now, since there are so many LA's all around Japan, Kaicho has decided shimai with focus on bringing them back. Hopefully it won't be long before there will be an announcement in GC for a Kobe Japan Temple!

Oh yeah, on Friday we had to take Eversole Choro's bike to the shop because one of the shifter gears completely fell off and got lost. It'll take a week to replace.

At church, this couple who are good friends with a few people in the branch came by. The guy is actually from Holland and he's half-Turkish...or maybe a quarter? Not sure, but he's probably one of the coolest people I've met. After Sacrament Meeting, we talked with him during Sunday School and Priesthood Quorum,and then another hour and a half after church! I don't know if he's interested in becoming a member, but he really likes Mormons. He has many philosophies/outlooks on life that are the same as what we believe. Today we went with him, his fiancee, and the shimai to the yakiniku place.

" I guess the scripture "men's hearts shall fail them" is literally being fulfilled."  Holy cow. 

Yes, we have to wait a week for general conference. It all has to be translated to Japanese, then sent to the Stakes.

I'm excited for President Grant's prophecy to kick in and that I'm part of the force that's kick-starting it. I hope I can see it in much greater scale before I go home. It'll be my dream come true!