Sunday, February 26, 2017
Interesting week, hence the title. But I won't get into that right now, you'll have to read until the end :)
Last P-day, we had dinner with the Fukuma family. Getting there took a while, especially because it was raining so the buses were slow. But they had some amazing food waiting for us when we got there! 紺野長老 and Morris 長老 shared a message about Elder Holland's talk about mothers. Fukuma 兄弟 then drove us back because it was kind of late. I then started splits with Bradford 長老.
We had lunch with Takahashi(高橋)姉妹 again on Tuesday. She's so sweet; she always feeds the missionaries and then cleans up the church afterward. Bradford 長老 and I went to a park around 武蔵小杉 to street/house. There were too many people around because it was quite cold. We saw some super cool statues though :p We went back to church around dinner time so we could unsplit. Gutierrez 長老 and I had a 食事(shokuji-meal appointment) with the Ishikawa(石川) family. His wife's sister and the Urata(浦田)family was there too. 石川兄弟 served a mission in New York back in 2012; he had to learn Spanish/Portuguese and English! He definitely worked hard because he can speak perfect English and doesn't have an accent. His wife also served a mission; she was somewhere in Japan, I can't remember exactly haha. I believe most of them are return missionaries! For the message, we discussed the area plan and their goals. We then talked about focusing on others, having faith, and how we can strengthen our conversion. 石川兄弟 then shared something that hit me hard. He had a hard time during his mission, especially because he had to learn so many languages. He said in English, "The mission is about you. It starts with you. The mission will be what you make out of it. Our attitude about the mission will influence the quality of your mission. We may not baptize a ton of people but sometimes we have to strengthen our own conversion before others.That doesn't mean we focus on ourself though. Continue to press forward, submit yourself to God, and he will take care of everything". I felt the spirit as he said that. I've been having a hard time recently and I think that's what I needed to hear. They are a super amazing group of people and I hope to be like them some day!
On Wednesday night, we had a lesson with Raki姉妹。 She hasn't met with missionaries in a while because she got married and has been super busy. Mitsubayashi(光林)兄弟 and Yokoyama(横山)姉妹 came to 同席. We taught Raki姉妹 English first because she is doing the Free Family English Program(FFEP). We then asked her why she wants to meet with missionaries. Other than to learn English, she said she wants to believe in Jesus Christ! We shared that through Christ, our lives can improve and we can see miracles. We shared personal experiences and talked about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon. 光林兄弟 then shared something. He originally said he couldn't 同席 for us when we asked him last Sunday because he was going to the temple. But he prayed about it and the spirit told him he should come to the lesson instead. Raki姉妹 thought that was amazing! What a great blessing!
I had my first blitz on Thursday! It was a stake blitz! Simply put, a blitz is when a bunch of missionaries gather in one area and then 伝道 around that area. All the missionaries in the Yokohama(横浜) North zone and Yokohama South zone gathered at the Yamate(山手) church building in 横浜. It was about 35 missionaries or so. The 山手 area felt like home! It looked like Los Angeles; there was a lot of tall buildings, parks, and foreigners haha. For this blitz, we focused on the Book of Mormon. For the first hour, I was with Nielson 長老! I haven't seen him since the MTC. Within the first 5 minutes, we talked to two people. One of them was Christian so he knew a lot about Christ. After talking with them for a while, they both accepted Book of Mormons! For the second hour, I was with Abe長老 and Walter長老. We talked to someone playing Pokémon Go in the park and he accepted a Book of Mormon too! Blitz was a lot of fun!
Saturday was full of events. We had river cleaning again. But this time was different. We met at a local children's daycare center. There were about 50 kids between 5-10 years old waiting for us. They helped us clean the river! It was way more exciting than the last time! Some of those kids were pretty wild haha I love Japanese children :p I'd love to have Japanese kids in the future! We went back to the daycare center to eat lunch with them; we had curry and rice! They were pretty excited having a bunch of 外人(gaijin-foreigners) talk and play with them. It was a fun experience! Later in the evening, we had a lesson with Tanaka(田中)姉妹. Nakahara(中原)兄弟came to 同席. 田中姉妹's husband is a big car enthusiast; he had a super nice Nissan and bunch of miniature car collectibles. Anyway, we talked about prayer and the role it has in helping us to know truth. We read some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. As of now, she doesn't really have the desire to know if the gospel is true. She said her life is good right now. We'll just have to find out how to apply the gospel in her life :) After the message, she made miso ramen for us! It was super good!
Sunday was exciting as well. Onda(恩田)兄弟 was the ward mission leader and Yamashita(山下)兄弟 was the bishop's second counselor. 山下兄弟 is moving to Chiba so he was released from his calling. 恩田兄弟 was called as the new second counselor! 恩田兄弟 is super awesome. He always "Osu!(おす)" which is his way of saying "Good morning", "Hello", "Good luck" and other similar phrases. We shook his hand and said "Osu" back to him haha. We tried to visit an investigator before dinner but he wasn't there. We then went with the other elders to 恩田兄弟's house for dinner. We shared a very simple message, mainly for their kids. But they weren't really focused. 恩田兄弟 then made taco/taco rice. It was super good! He also shared stories from his mission. He served in Sendai and his wife served in Tokyo. Now about that title... We randomly started talking about blood types. Bradford 長老 asked 恩田兄弟 and 恩田姉妹 if they knew their blood types. They did and then told us. We were surprised! We asked why they knew and he said most Japanese people do. We asked why again and he responded with this in English "Hmm.. We believe in blood types". We all thought that was super funny :p I love the 恩田s a lot! Another great family! The members here are too awesome haha!
Sorry for being a bit long this week. We had something going on each day and I couldn't bring myself to skip any of it. The weekly depression still hits me but I am learning how to deal with it. Next week is temple P-day, so you won't hear from me until Tuesday. Also, I am curious. Are the pictures I send blurry? They look fine on my iPad but I've heard that they are blurry. If they are, please let me know so I can fix it! Thank you for everything! また来週ね！
Sunday, February 19, 2017
It was a tough week. My companion and I have been trying to improve our streeting skills so we did a lot of that. We also did some crazy housing Sunday night. We found a community of apartments; there are about 50 apartment complexes in that area! We got 4 buildings done. We knocked on at least 70 doors last night and unfortunately no one was interested. Both streeting and the housing this week was very slow. It can be discouraging but I have to my best to keep moving forward and accept the fact that those people weren't ready to hear the gospel.
We had interviews with Warnick 会長 on Wednesday, new district leader training meeting on Thursday, and zone meeting on Friday. We used the train quite a bit this week...bye bye money :(
Oh and we visited a member family, the Minamizaki's, on Saturday. They live kind of far from us so we decided to take a bus. When we got to 溝の口駅, the bus we needed was on the other side; we didn't make it in time and we missed it. We waited for a couple minutes to see if another bus would come and take us to the same place but no luck. We took a train to 武蔵新城駅 (which was the next station down) and tried to catch another bus but we missed it. We went to Family Mart to get wifi and search another route. While we were there, a lady noticed us and asked if we were lost. She tried to help us, but since it was Saturday, buses were terrible. It turns out that the lady had a Mormon friend and used to go to 英会話！We thanked her for her help and invited her to 英会話. After finding another route, we went back to 武蔵新城駅. We asked a guy to confirm it was right; he said he would help us. We got on the bus and talked to him for a bit. We parted ways when we got to our stop. Next, we had to take another bus to get to the final stop. We waited for about 15 minutes and the bus never showed. We walked to another stop and waited for another 10 minutes. The bus showed up and we got to the area. We walked another 10 minutes to their house. Basically, it took us about two hours to get to their house. On top of that, we showed up an hour late. I hate taking buses; the routes and times are way confusing here. But we had a great lesson about the Asia North area plan and sharing the gospel to others!
So we lost one of our progressing investigators, Okamoto 姉妹. She has been taught all the lessons; we were just waiting for the bishop's permission to baptize her. Flashback to last last Friday(Feb 10). We had a lesson about the importance of coming to church. She didn't come to church that Sunday. The last contact we had with her was a text from early Sunday around 3AM. We tried contacting her before church started but no response. Last Tuesday, the 14th, we tried calling but it disconnected right away. She's been in contact with the preacher from her old church and he's been saying things against the church; we figured that he told her to block our number on the phone :( To add to that, her mental health was not helping. The only way to contact her is if we go visit her. We'll give her some time before we do anything else. Hopefully everything will be okay.
On Sunday, we watched a special conference. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came to Japan and gave a talk! It was at the Matsudo stake center, in the Tokyo North mission. It was broadcast to several other wards in the Tokyo area. Elder Yamashita and a few others gave a talk and bore their testimony. Elder Holland spoke about the importance of always having Christ in our lives. It was awesome! Elder Holland never disappoints!
The hardest thing is not giving up. Everyday, we give our best efforts and people still don't want to hear our message. I also can't say I've felt the Spirit. I still haven't found out how the Spirit works in me but I hope I do soon. I want to have those awesome spiritual experiences that everyone talks about here. I realize the only way to do that is to keep on going and have faith. There is no point in being lazy and moping around. From now on, I'm going to do my best to focus on others rather than my personal problems. As Elder Bednar once said, "Forget yourself and go to work. It's not about you". I think that can apply to all of us. If we focus on others rather than ourselves, we will experience many more miracles. 頑張りましょう！
Thank you for the love and support! Please pray for Okamoto姉妹! Have a great week!
Sunday, February 12, 2017
This email is going to be a bit different. I have a lot of things I want to share. But before I get into that, I'll briefly go over what we did this week.
On Monday, we went to Round 1. We went to the batting cages, did some skating, played mini golf. Then we went to Costco and bought enough meat to last the whole transfer (I love Costco).
On Wednesday we went to BAQET; a French themed all-you-can eat bread restaurant with amazing cheese fondue. It was our last meal as a district before transfers. On Friday, we had an awesome lesson with Okamoto-san;we talked about the importance of church. And this Sunday, she still didn't come to church :( (3 weeks in a row now). We also had dinner with the Mitsubayashi family. We were expecting Japanese food but we had tacos!! Also celebrated a few birthdays, so we had cake! On Saturday, we went to a gyoza restaurant for Elder Konno's birthday. We ate a TON of gyoza, it was amazing! On Sunday, we met with a less active and had a great lesson!
Okay, now I can mention the things I wanted to share. I grew up in the church. I remember singing "Popcorns popping off the apricot tree" as a primary kid. For nonmembers reading this, it was a song we often sung as kids growing up in the church. I went to church every Sunday. But I didn't go because I wanted to; I just knew that's what my parents wanted me to do so I did it. I knew all the reasons why I should go though. I didn't read my scriptures everyday. Other than for seminary, I don't think I read all of the Book of Mormon until I was getting ready for my mission. I knew what I had been taught was true but I didn't act on it. Because of that, my testimony wasn't as strong as it could've been. So I guess you could consider me a half-active member?
I always wanted to fulfill everyone's expectations(good expectations of course) of me. Whether it be from my parents, teachers, friends, my band director Mr.V, and others. Here's the problem though. Whenever I didn't do what was expected and disappointed them, I got disappointed in myself. To add on to that, ever since I started middle school, I became depressed at least once a week. I wasn't a bad kid; I didn't smoke, do drugs, drink, or anything like that. Sure I've made mistakes such as not doing what my parents told me to do or fighting/arguing with my siblings but nothing serious. But for some reason, I felt like I wasn't good enough. I was always willing to help others and gave them advice whenever they were going through rough times. But I never followed my own advice. People always told me to be positive but for some reason, I could never see the good in me or really acknowledge the good things in my life. Times were rough. I felt like it was too much for me. There were even times where I had suicidal thoughts. I knew something had to change.
Eventually, I started realizing I had so many people that cared about me and wanted what was best for me. Family, friends, even people I barely knew. I also started to look toward the gospel more for help. I realized that I am a child of God and He loves me. I started reading my scriptures more. As I read and had that desire to know, I felt better. That strengthened my desire to go church. I wanted to feel the Spirit more. I wanted to feel our Heavenly Father's love. As I did these things, I began to change. It proved to me that by living the gospel and relying on God and Jesus Christ, we will be blessed more than we can even imagine.
Ever since my freshman year, I knew without a doubt, I would serve a mission after high school. Those 4 years passed quickly. Next thing I knew, I was standing on the podium getting my diploma. I submitted my mission papers before the end of June 2016. I got my call in the second week of July. When I found out I was going to Japan, I was ecstatic! I was overfilled with joy. In order to prepare for the mission, my bishop suggested I go teach with the missionaries. I was made a ward missionary. I went out with the missionaries at least once a week. I didn't speak Khmer, so it was hard to understand. But the missionaries would translate for me every now and then. I felt the Spirit as they taught. I wasn't with them the whole day but just getting a taste of missionary life helped so much. Elder Boyett, Elder Gardley, Elder Griffin, and Elder Hark, if you are reading this, I want you to know that I am so thankful for your examples and for taking me to teach with you. It really strengthened my testimony.
Going on a mission is easy. But SERVING a mission is not. There have been times where I just want to give up. Satan will do whatever he can to stop the Lord's work. That includes making me feel like I am not good enough and reminding me of my past. A few months ago, I got an email from Elder Boyett, who is home now. He gave me a lot of advice but one thing that stuck out to me the most was this: "Whenever the adversary tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future". Satan doesn't have a body. We already have an advantage over him. He can't influence our life if we don't let him. God has given us everything. We can give him the one thing he doesn't have, our will. We do that by living the gospel and devoting ourselves to God.By doing so, we become more like him. We see things in a new light and our lives will improve. Life won't be perfect and we will still have bad days but that's okay. If we know that we've done all we can and give our best, the Lord will take care of the rest. Most importantly, when we give our will to our Heavenly Father, we experience true conversion. True conversion is one of the most important aspects of the gospel. Ever since I came out on a mission, I've heard this phrase a lot: "Even if you don't convert and baptize anyone on your mission, the one person you should convert is yourself". It is through true conversion that miracles happen. Life is hard. Serving a mission is hard. But as we strive to become converted to the gospel and perfected in Christ, we will know that everything will be okay. I can testify that that is true. I've learned so much in the 5 months I've been out. I've also changed a lot; it's the change I've needed for a long time. I'm so thankful I decided to serve a mission because I don't think anything else would have pushed me enough to become truly converted. I love this gospel, our Savior Jesus Christ, and Our Heavenly Father. I know the Book of Mormon and the gospel is true. I challenge all of you to become converted to the gospel; it will bless you more than you can imagine. I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
How was everyone's first few days of February? I hope it was great! I can't believe it is February already! We got our transfer emails on Saturday.....I am staying in 川崎(Kawasaki)! It's kind of nice because I've been transferring every 4 weeks; packing is not fun haha. My companion, Bradford長老 and 紺野(Konno)長老 are staying as well; Davis 長老 and Schreiber 長老 are transferring! Davis 長老 is going to my first area, Shonan! Schreiber 長老 is going to Hibarigaoka. This is 紺野長老's last transfer and my companion will be district leader! I look forward to this transfer!
We met with an 英会話 student, Shuson Kasai, on Wednesday. Ricard 兄弟 was our 同席. She brought a friend from her church, which wasn't part of the plan. Kasai-san has met with some missionaries before but she has been busy lately. She took us to a small restaurant and we started talking. It took a while to get started because the restaurant was a bit distracting and she introduced her friend to us. But we went over some HTBT(How to Begin Teaching) points and asked her what she wanted to get out of meeting with us. She has a strong belief in Christ and said she trusts that what we say is right. She said she'd like to meet again but will let us know when because she busy with work and her kids.
Before 英会話、we usually go to Katsuya, a tonkatsu restaurant. But this week, we went to a burger place called BALG, I think lol. I got an amazing bacon avocado burger! They had American music and the burgers were pretty authentic. If someone told me I was in America, I could have believed it!
So district leaders are supposed to go on splits with the other missionaries in the district each transfer. 紺野長老 waited until the end of the transfer; he had to fit them all in this week. From Thursday night to Friday night, I went on splits with Davis 長老。It was interesting because we are both transfer 2! 同期(douki-came to Japan at the same time as me)力(chikara-power)！We went to 武蔵小杉(Musashikosugi) and tried to do some streeting; no success. After 2 hours or so, Davis長老 realized that he forgot the phone so we headed back home. We had district meeting, kubari'ed, and did the 12 week program together.
From Friday night to Saturday night, I had splits with 紺野長老, the district leader. He is 日本人 but his English is pretty good. We had Indo curry before opening transfer calls. We then did some contacting and housed around 登戸(Noborito) and 武蔵新城(Musashishinjou). It was pretty good but no one wanted to hear a message. But it was great having a 日本人 companion; it made me speak in Japanese more. Also we didn't eat dinner because we started our fast after lunch.
So as a companionship, we had a lot of lessons this week. But I wasn't there for a lot of them because I was on splits for two days in a row. One of the lessons we had set up didn't really turn out to be a lesson. He CALLED US a week before to set it up. When my companion met him, the guy was actually an insurance salesman and was trying to get us to buy. Another investigator, Junpei, showed up drunk for the lesson! He has been taught a lot in the past; but he wants to make his life better and stop drinking. Very interesting lessons this week.
February 3 is 節分(setsubun)。Basically, it marks the end of winter in the old Japanese calendar. People throw soybeans at each other and eat 恵方巻(Ehomaki- a long sushi roll eaten during 節分). When you eat 恵方巻、you have to eat with one end facing North North West, make a wish, and eat without talking. So we did that as a district after district meeting. It was interesting!
We are starting the new missionary schedule today. Basically we have more time on P-day and more flexibility on regular days. The purpose is to have us exercise our agency more by allowing us to choose the times we do things instead of a concrete schedule everyday. Anyway, it was another great week. Remember to spread some love this week! またね！