Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 17 - January 30, 2012

  • Mission Letters Home

Hello family,
Sorry I didn't get a letter out last week, we've been super, super busy. There's so much that's happened, and so little time to write it all down!!

But I hope that all is well with all of you. It's been another good week here in Inage and I'm really grateful for another transfer to work here! This past week was transfer week, and both of the other elders in our apartment left. So now Elder Casey and I live with Elder Petersen and Elder Igarashi. Elder Petersen is half Japanese and a dual citizen. His Japanese is better than his English, but his English is really, really good. Elder Igarashi is full Japanese but speaks a lot of English as well. They're the zone leaders, and I'm sure that this apartment will see a lot of great things over the course of these next six weeks.

Well, just some fun highlights from the past few weeks!

Tuesday the 10th was a pretty normal dendo/finding day. We visited a less-active man named Inaba kyoudai, that went really well. When we were first talking to him through his kekko box, he didn't seem very excited at all that the missionaries were outside his door. But he let us into his genkan (doorway) and we visited a little and shared a quick message. He ended up really enjoying it. After that, we housed a little more and went to eat dinner at a place called Popoki's (yeah, like cat in Hawaiian.) It's a really small place (only about 9 seats around a bar right when you walk in) and the walls are covered with pictures and things from the owners (just a husband and wife)'s travels. It seems like they've been everywhere. But their favorite is Hawaii... which they've visited a whole lot. The food's great and priced really good. And I guess missionaries have been eating there regularly for awhile now. I'll have to try and get a picture out to you sometime.

Tuesday the 17th was the day we went to the Tokyo Temple for a special missionary endowment session. So the three other elders in my apartment and I got up early to catch a train to Shibuya. Shibuya's pretty much the center of the world, and we were at the eki (train station) around the morning rush time, so the trains were packed full. Guys with white gloves making sure everyone was able to get fully into the doors, and when it seemed like nobody else could possibly fit, the trains pull up to another station and another big group of people get on somehow. So everyone's just standing packed in next to each other, not able to move. The train makes it turns and hits bumps and what not, but everyone's packed in so tight that nobody moves. And a bunch of people just look at us strangely because we're big gaikokujin (foreigners, "gaijin") in suits with name tags. It's pretty funny. And we had our preparation day that day instead of Monday

On Wednesday the 18th, we had a taikai (conference) with President Stevenson and his wife. President Stevenson's our area presidency. We spent a good part of the day studying 2 Nephi chapters 2, 9, and 31, and a lot of great connections were made. The scriptures are amazing. I have a testimony of the power of them! I have a testimony of the power that comes through daily study!

One scripture you'll probably like is the end of 2 Nephi 9:39. It reads, “Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Take the first letters of each word, from the word 'spiritually' on, and you get the acronym S.M.I.L.E.! Always remember that. To be Spiritually-Minded Is Life Eternal. Smile!

And actually, going along the lines of smiling, Acts 10:36 has something that's pretty cool as well. It reads, “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)” Notice the happy face at the end! That shows up a few times in the scriptures. He is the Lord of all! :)

We had a trainers/new missionaries (1st and 2nd transfer) taikai this past Thursday (the 26th) that I really enjoyed. I felt so much love from everyone and enjoyed being able to see how good all of the new missionaries are doing. I'm so grateful for this mission and everyone's examples. We've only had three taikai's since I've been here, but they've really motivated me to be the best I can be.

After the taikai, I had a companionship exchange with one of my zone leaders (former zone leader now, because he's transferring) Elder Loud, in Kisarazu (the area below my area.) On Friday, we were able to be a part of an amazing miracle! We were on our way to visit a potential investigator they had found the week before, and were streeting/stopping everybody along the way. We stopped an older man who couldn't hear too well and he ended up just walking away, but, just as we turned to get back on our bikes, another older man came walking down the other side of the street. Elder Loud called out to him to tell him he had a nice hat on. It was a United States Navy cap. The man walked across the street and began talking to us. He told us that he knew we were Mormon, and, half in English and half in Japanese, that he was on his way to the FamilyMart around the corner to send something in the mail, and that he wanted us to wait where we were for him to come back. We told him that we would, and began talking to a few university students who were passing. The man came back a few minutes later and said that he was going back home, so I asked him if we could just talk to him a little more. He said that he wanted us to all go back to his home together! So of course we just began following him. He led us through a few streets and we arrived at his home, which was right across the street from the potential investigator we were planning on visiting! He said that we had met his wife at their home the previous week while they were housing. He let us into his living room area and began showing us all sorts of pictures of his family and their travels. He has a grandson who lives near Los Angeles, and he and his wife have been on a few cruises around different parts of the world. They had been to Hawaii as well, and he showed us a few pictures of them at Haleakala. After about thirty minutes of some of the best BRT (building a relationship of trust) I've had since I've been here, his wife came home. She was a little surprised to see us in her living room, but happy nonetheless. We looked at a few more pictures, and then brought up some gospel topics. She said that she had spoken to the neighbor across the street (the one we were on our way to visit,) and that her neighbor had said that the Plan of Salvation sounded like a really good thing. So we started talking about that and gave them a pamphlet. She had a few questions as to why there are so many different churches, so we talked about the Restoration and gave them that pamphlet as well. We also introduced, and gave, a Book of Mormon. It was amazing to see each of them reading a different pamphlet, with a Book of Mormon on the table as well! We also taught them how to pray, and after I had given an example prayer, we asked them to pray. The man gave an awesome prayer. His first prayer to God, closing in Jesus Christ. And he loved praying! He asked a few questions about it, and began saying more prayers! It was amazing. This family is yearning for nurturing, and I am super excited to hear from Elder Einfeldt (He was an assistant to the president for three transfers and will now be in Kisarazu training a new missionary) about how they're doing!

During sacrament meeting yesterday I counted all of the people in the Spanish branch as well as our normal Inage ward, and set some goals as to what I want the number to be at the end of this transfer. As missionaries, we're branch/ward builders! And we're here to move the work, not just tend it! I'm excited to see amazing things happen!

After sacrament meeting, Elder Casey and I taught Sakanaka kyoudai, our yakushokusha (baptismal date), the law of chastity, and a little more about the importance of and how to strengthen our faith in Christ. We were a little nervous, because we hadn't been able to meet with him in person in just over a week, but the lesson went great. He's currently in Mosiah 15 of the Book of Mormon, and is really soaking everything in. We really feel like Sakanaka kyoudai is really ready to come unto Christ and endure to the end. Today while we were talking about strengthening our faith in Christ, he spoke about us enduring to the end together. I was speaking a little about his upcoming baptism and confirmation and he ended one of my sentences. I was saying (in Japanese,) “After you're baptized and receive the gift of the holy ghost, together we'll” and he ended with, “work hard to endure to the end!” We really feel like he knows that baptism isn't the start for him, but just the very beginning.

My birthday yesterday was great. The Isa family, a family from Chiba ward (our sister ward,) invited their missionaries (the other two in our apartment) and Elder Casey and I to dinner. The Isas were the same family that had us over for Christmas dinner. Brother Isa was the last mission president of the Hiroshima mission before the mission was merged with the Fukuoka and Kobe missions. We had a great time. Dessert was served with silver and mother of pearl forks from the 1800's. And we had plum juice that they took four years to make. They didn't know it was my birthday, but they made a really nice evening for us. They're great.

Today, Monday, I received the package you sent! Thank you! I can't believe you spent so much on postage. The timing was really good though. Thank you!!! You're really great!

And since today's P-day, I cut my hair; the first time I cut my own hair. But it was super easy and turned out fine. Just really short all over and easy to take care of.

So, it's really good here. The weather's been cold (usually about -2 to about 3 degrees Celsius,) and last week was pretty wet, but, I'm really developing a great love for all of the people. It really is really good here. Thank you all for all of your love and support!!

One more scripture/thought I really like... this is something that we've shared with a lot of our members as we've visited them.

2 Nephi 2:13 reads, “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” I really like the line, “and if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness.” Righteousness is happiness! They are the same thing! And happiness is the purpose for our existence here on earth. It's the purpose of our lives and it's the reason why I'm in Japan. Happiness! It's what we all want. And the way to happiness, is righteousness. We've all heard it a lot before, but it's true. Jesus is the Christ. And he set a perfect example for us to follow. Do what he did, follow where he went, and you will be happy. And I want all of you to be happy! As happy as you can possibly be! So let's all keep on working and doing this together :)

I love you!! Take care!!

Elder Rindlisbacher

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