Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 15th, 2014

Mom and Dad,

This week was filled with Ako history! Last preparation day we went to Oishi Shrine and Ako Castle (my second time to the Jinja, first time to the castle ruins). A bunch of cool things had been set up in preparation for the upcoming Gishi Sai, so it was even cooler than last time. Also getting to see the footings of where the castle used to be was pretty cool. All throughout the week more things were set up as the time for Gishi Sai to begin drew closer.

Tuesday I went to Himeji for a kokan. Even in Himeji there was a lot of hype about Gishi Sai; it's definitely a big deal all throughout the area. Anywho, I feel like Takaku Choro is my second companion because Hayashi Choro kokan's so much with us and half the time I'm in Himeji!

On Wednesday we had a lesson with the guy who was referred to us by the member who had talked to him about the Restoration.We taught him about God and centered the lesson around 2 Nephi 26:24 and related it to him having had a lot of hard experiences in his life. He found it very touching and was even disappointed that the hour ended so quickly. He was happy to set another appointment!

Thursday we met with our investigator who goes to a Methodist church and who has a lot of questions. We had a short, simple plan prepared, but it ended up taking about 75 minutes to teach it because he had so many questions. We challenged him to focus more on reading the Book of Mormon because he really only enjoys reading the Old Testament;that lesson was on 2 Nephi 32:3 and connected it to the preceding 2 Nephi 31. I don't know if it was what we shared or the fact that we spent over an hour talking about one single verse, but he seemed much more interested in the Book of Mormon than before and was happy to commit to focus more on it.

The next day we met with the guy that takes us out to eat and with our shigansha. We pretty much showed the guy who takes us out to eat that he really does want to pray and learn from God that the Book of Mormon and this church are true. It took some effort to help him realize that is what he needed to do. We knew it all along, but he just had a hard time seeing it. Then, we taught our shigansha the Atonement. We relied heavily on the Book of Mormon to teach it in order to not only strengthen his faith in Christ but also his testimony of the Book of Mormon. It ended up to be a really great lesson. Over the last couple weeks he had been too busy to meet. When we followed up about praying and reading he admitted he hadn't been doing those two things a whole lot. It was definitely a very beneficial lesson for him.

Saturday we had another dose of pre-Gishi Sai! We went out with a former investigator who's really good friends with the missionaries and went to Oishi Jinja and Ako Jo again! There was sooo much stuff set up since Gishi Sai was the very next day. Every year on the day before Gishi Sai the staff at the Jinja open all the exhibits for free so you can go in and check out artifacts that the samurai in Ako actually wore. Then we went to the Ako Jo ruins for the yearly presentation. For the past couple of years they've built the frame of a castle tower and then light it up with Christmas lights at night on the couple weeks before Gishi Sai. Then every half hour they have a big presentation projected onto the rock wall that the tower frame is built on. It was a pretty cool thing to check out and I'm still chuckling that I've been lucky enough to be in several towns at the perfect time of year to see a very popular celebration.

Sunday was Gishi Sai! We went to the church at 9 in the morning and most of the missionaries in this zone were there to help out with a huge open house the church puts on every year during the matsuri. 18 missionaries in total! The matsuri started at 10 and there were missionaries standing on the streets inviting people in, some singing hymns and doing hand bells, and some inside doing the open house presentations. We did it all throughout the parade which lasted 'til 3 in the afternoon. At the very end, 47 people dressed up as samurai and march through the street. The person who played the part of the main samurai, Oishi Kuranosuke, is apparently a famous actor in Japan. It was a pretty awesome festival!
You can imagine how happy I was at the Heisman trophy announcement.

Alright, that's it for this week! Enjoy the days as they count down to Christmas! I still need to put up the paper tree...


December 8th, 2014

Mom and Dad,

Got my new companion fresh from the Rock (that's what we call Shikoku because it's basically just a really big rock right off the coast of Honshu). He's way genki and hard-working, so I have a good feeling this is gonna be a great transfer!

In a previous email I said that winter in Ako has turned out to be pretty warm, right? Yeah, forget it. The temperature dropped like a brick overnight. Last preparation day was about 15 Celsius, then the very next day it was 3 Celsius with strong, icy winds blowing all day. It's been around that temperature since, with mild winds still blowing. I asked around and people said we got a cold front that came straight from Siberia. Makes sense, ね? That was also Tuesday, the day we rode 20km out along the ocean to our kinjin, so it was particularly cold since there was nothing to stop the winds and what not.
Thursday was a terribly stressful day. The branch president came and helped us move the last couple big items from the house to the new apartment. I thought all of it was done, but I discovered several more things we had to bring with us. Then there was all the cleaning of the house and taking down of decorations that had to be done. On top of that, we discovered that the honbu was still sending mail to the old apartment. We found a slip from the post office saying they tried to deliver a package but we weren't home. So, we were wondering why the honbu still hadn't updated our address over a month after moving out and why they forwarded a package to us the week of transfers. We had to run around trying to get this all taken care of, and it was Duren Choro's package so we had to get it before he transferred the next morning. In the end, mission accomplished.

Following the transfer we had a great couple days! Got a lot of finding done and found a couple PI's, scheduled a couple appointments with three new investigators for the week, and finally got members to help in our lesson with our really old female investigator--she finally accepted a Book of Mormon! We also got our other investigator, the one who takes us out to eat, to accept a Book of Mormon when at first he wouldn't! It's gonna be a great transfer! Possibly my last in Ako, though; but, anything can be done when you just work and rely on the Lord!

Okay, that's my deal for this week. I hope everyone's enjoying the Holiday Season and not freezing! I know that freezing to me is really freezing to most other people.


December 1st, 2014

まぁ、everyone else is saying it's cold, so maybe I'm just crazy?

Mom and Dad,

On to transfer calls: I'm staying! Duren Choro is going to Abeno, right in the middle of Osaka! My new companion will be Morin Choro, a native French-speaking Canadian! Even though he's from Canada, I hear he hates the cold like Duren Choro. いいんじゃない?(Whatever!) Oh, and Ako is going to have four Choro's starting this transfer!

There seems to be a pattern of me going to tabehodai's on prep day, then later being fed tons of sushi. And by later I mean not long after. Remember in Shimogamo when we went to the $5 buffet, then went sightseeing with our two old investigators and they bought us tons of sushi? Well, last week after eating at the yakiniku tabehodai, we had a lesson with a woman and her mother, and they bought tons of sushi just for the occasion of us coming over!

We biked out to Mitsu to meet our kinjin investigator on Tuesday. Every time we have a lesson with him is awesome! We taught Christ's Ministry and the Great Apostasy and he understood it all immediately. The best part was when we were in the middle of teaching the Great Apostasy he asked who God called to be the next prophet! It clicks for him sooo well! We still have to figure out how he can get to church, but the couple of LA's that live out there seem pretty likely to be able to help out. Of course, we need to find them, as well!

Later in the week we had a kokan following district meeting.We taught a lesson to the guy who takes us out to eat every time we meet and this time we taught about God. Recently we discovered that he believes in spirits. We focused on teaching God around that belief he already has; such as, how God made our spirits, is our spirit Father, and gave us life. He understood it pretty well--instead of insisting he can't understand, he was insisting he can't believe! It sounds weird to be positive over that but it's a pretty big step up. He also gave a pretty good prayer at the end of the lesson-- another improvement!

I'll tell you more about the taikai at Christmas, but I'll just say for now that the church is making some really good movies these day!

Okay, so this week actually was a pretty short one, even though I didn't say it'd be! Funny the way that works, やろう?I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and enjoys the remainder of the great Holiday Season!