Monday, January 9, 2012

Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Family,
I hope that all is well out there! How's your new year going so far?
It's been normal here... which means crazy! We've had so many things happen. I'll just start at the beginning...

Oh and I have a small package that I'm going to try to send out either today or sometime within the next few days. I'm guessing it'll take about a week to get to Hawai'i.

Anyway, Tuesday was another good day. We had our weekly planning session (which is normally on Thursday) because we were too busy the rest of the week. After that, at about 3:15pm, we left the apartment for Kaihin-Makuhari, my favorite place from last week. We got there around 4:00 pm because there was a whole lot of traffic... cars and people. It was the third of the month (last day of Shougatsu) and there's a jinja (shrine) along the road that we decided to take. So there was a lot of people coming and going to that. We kubari'd for a little over an hour, then tried to visit a few less-active members but none of them were home. We had a dinner appointment with the Yagame kazoku (family) at 6:30 so we headed out to their apartment, which wasn't too far from where we were. Dinner was around 7:00pm and was great... tempura, sashimi, gohan (rice) of course, some kind of miso-ish soup, snow crab, some yogurty tofu thing with shrimp, sobacha (barley tea), and ice cream. We shared a short message with them after dinner and left at 8:55pm. We're normally supposed to be back in the apartment at 9:00pm, but if we have an appointment or lesson we can be home at 9:30pm. That still wasn't too much time for us to get home by bike though, so we took the highway home. There's only a small shoulder on the highway so you have to go pretty fast to keep up with the traffic, or try to, but we got home quickly.

Wednesday we had a lesson scheduled with Kudo-San, who we found while streeting. He didn't show up, so I did a mogi (demonstration/practice) with the member who was there to joint with us. In order to earn an award the President has, I need to, along with a bunch of other dendo-related things, mogi every lesson and concept. We haven't been able to contact Kudo-San since, but we hope a seed has been planted and will sprout someday. After that, we called Sato-San (found housing) to see if it was okay for us to go see him. He said that he wasn't home but that we could come up that Saturday afternoon, so we set that as a plan.

Later that night before eikaiwa (English class), we had a lesson with Mori kyoudai (kyoudai=brother, so Brother Mori.) We had Whipple kyoudai (the other eikaiwa teacher along with the missionaries) joint with us. Whipple kyoudai actually may have called you guys recently. He was going to Hawai'i last week so he asked for your numbers.

Mori kyoudai was found through kubari'ing by Elder Casey about two months ago. A lot of people assume that he's a little crazy just by looking at him. Casey chourou thought so as well. But he came to eikaiwa and now we know that he's an amazing person. He told us a lot more about his situation during our lesson with him... He's 55 and about 11 years ago he had some sort of accident, we don't know what yet, and he had surgery on his brain. He was in a coma for 8 days and when he woke up, he had no hearing in one ear and his balance was off. Both of the reasons why many people assume that he's crazy at first sight. He walks a little funny because of his balance and when he talks he gets really close and speaks a little louder than needed because of his hearing. With Casey chourou and I, and at eikaiwa, he likes to speak English of course, which is really broken, and makes him seem not all there. But speak to him in Japanese and he's really smart. After his accident, it ended up that his wife divorced him and his family (his brothers) essentially disowned him. They essentially told him that they can't take care of him and be his family anymore. He told us that while he was in a coma, what he calls “dead,” there was a battle between God and Satan. He said that Satan was telling him that he wasn't good for anything anymore and that he should just die. God was saying, "NO! You have to live, there is more for you to do." And this went on for a while. When his wife and family told him they were leaving, he just told them, "Okay, I understand. But I'm going to live everyday and be happy and try to do what's right." He's a super spiritually sensitive person and has thought a lot about what is right. Small things each day are what make him happy... seeing someone pick up a piece of trash from the ground or standing up on the train for another person. And he notices a difference with the smiles of members of our church. He's just a great person. We had a Book of Mormon that Elder Casey and I had written notes in for him, so we gave him that and he said that he'll read a little everyday. He's an inspiration to us.

Thursday we had a Zone dendo blitz here in Inage. So we had 20 missionaries and 3 members all in our area. We did 3 45 min. splits/exchanges... so from the church, after a little training, we were assigned companions and told to meet at the eki (train station) in 45 min. We dendo'd for 45 min. and met at the eki where we were given a different companion for 45 min. and one more companion for 45min. after that. It was really fun and great being able to learn from each missionaries’ dendo style.

Friday we had my first taikai (zone conference.) It was with Matsudo, Saitama, Kiryu, and Chiba zones in the Matsudo chapel, which is nicknamed Matsudo shinden (temple) because it's HUGE. It's 5 floors tall with it's cultural hall/basketball court (not many of those in chapels here) on the fifth floor. There's only one normal size ward that meets in it... so as to why it's so huge, some amazing things are going to happen in Matsudo with the missionary work. The conference was great. There was a bunch of training as well as the returning missionaries (those leaving at the end of this transfer and the next) testimonies. Their testimonies were amazing. They are amazing missonaries.

On Saturday we had a lesson scheduled with Tsubaki-San, a man who was found during the dendo blitz. He ended up not showing up, and we didn't have any contact info, so that was a big bummer. We had a little open time because of that so we visited Takei shimai (sister,) a less-active member with a pretty cool finding story. She's about 50, and was baptized when she was in high school. After high school she got really busy with work and moved to another city (here.) She went less active and didn't even know that there was a church near her until Elder Casey and his previous companion housed in her area recently. She was amazed that they had found her. She's really shy, but she loves the missionaries, and has been to church twice now. It's really exciting and definitely a miracle!

After visiting with her at her door, we left for Sato-San's apartment. Just as we got on our bikes, he called us and said that he doesn't want us to visit with him anymore. He said that he can't have anything to do with the Mormon Church and that he can't meet with us anymore. We asked if there was anything that we could do, and he just said no. We just told him to follow Christ, and left it at that. That was hard... he's been studying with the Jehovah Witness as well, and they most likely told him that he can't meet with any other religions at all. It was a sad time for us, but we still had a lot of other work to do. So we went out and streeted a little before kubari'ing. Our first day without any dendo time turned into almost all dendo time! After our hands were too cold to kubari, we headed to the church. We had an 'Outreach' activity scheduled with the zone. Elder Casey and I had no idea what to expect because this was our first Outreach night/activity. It was just a game, spiritual message, and refreshments (that we provided since it was in our area.) It's meant for members and investigators to have a good time and fellowship, kind of like a family home evening type thing. We had a few investigators and less-active members come and it was a lot of fun!

Sunday was really great.

Mori Kyoudai
Sakanaka Kyoudai
Mochi tsuki

Doctrine & Covenants 10:5
5 "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work."

John 5:29
29 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

Mosiah 18:23
23 "And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God."
I'll end with a few thoughts from one of my favorite sections of the Doctrine & Covenants... section 121. Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke about this in the 2008 General Conference. Joseph Smith was in the Liberty Jail pleading with God, saying,
1 “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?”
The Lord's answer:
7 "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflicttions shall be but a small moment;""

We all have hard times... but rest assured. Behold "the Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things in them... and who controllest and subjectest the devil... Stretch forth thine hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion." Because, "peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment."

This is truth. This is love. I love all of you so much. Take care.

-Elder Rindlisbacher

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