Week 23 - March 13, 2012
This past week was transfer week. I'm now in an area called Sagamihara with Elder Richmond, an eight transfer missionary (about nine months in the field) from Kearns, UT. So I got my transfer call this past Saturday morning and left Inage for here on Monday morning. The church pays for two items to be shipped so I shipped my two suitcases and packed my bike with me on the train. I didn't want to trust the shipping company with my bike. We were on the trains for a little under two hours. Some of the trains we were on were pretty full, so it was a little hard with the bike, but I think I'll always transfer that way. I just don't think the shipping companies are careful enough to trust with a bike. Sagamihara is in Machida stake, which is on the opposite side of Tokyo as Inage. The area is about the same size as Inage, so not very big at all, but there are four elders serving here. Elder Igarashi (an elder in my apartment in Inage) transferred here with me and his companion is Elder Piland (an elder from my MTC group.) So the four of us live in the apartment here and are all responsible for Sagamihara area. This could possibly be the most tokai (city) area I'll serve in.
Today we went and did our shopping at Costco. Elder Piland and I bought memberships, so now whenever I'm in an area with a Costco I'll be able to shop there. We had a Costco in Inage but noone in the apartment had a membership. Elder Richmond and I did almost all of our shopping for the transfer (six weeks.) There was a lot of food already in the apartment when I got here, so I don't think we'll have to do very much shopping from here on out. At least for a while.
The apartment was/is really messy. I've started to clean and organize everything but it'll take a while. Each Tuesday night the elders here usually participate in a weekly Japanese class as a finding tool, but today we'll be in the apartment continuing to clean. Yesterday I spent the day cleaning Elder Richmond’s and my study room, earlier today I started with the pantry closet area, and we'll continue on with the kitchen and fridge, living room, and tatami room (where we sleep.) There's no way the Spirit will reside in a dirty or unorganized apartment, so it's really important that we get it as clean as possible as soon as possible. This will be one of the cleanest apartments in the mission when we're finished.
As for my last week in Inage, it went great. Sakanaka kyoudai was baptized on Saturday at 10:00 am and received the Holy Ghost the next day in sacrament meeting. There was a lot of organizing and working with a lot of people in order to pull it off, but it happened. Satan worked so hard trying to prevent all of it from happening. At his baptismal service, the four elders in my apartment, Elder Casey, myself, Elder Igarashi, and Elder Peterson sang ‘Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy,’ like we did for the zone conference, but in Japanese this time. After he was baptized Sakanaka kyoudai bore a strong, strong testimony. He read 2 Nephi 4:15-35, the chapter where Nephi puts his trust in the Lord forever. Sakanaka kyoudai basically said that he will follow Christ and all of his teachings forever. He said that he missed one Sunday because he was sick, but that it would never happen again... he was going to be in every meeting from here on, for the rest of his life. It was really strong. Many of our members had gifts to give him after the service, and we had some donuts and sakura (cherry blossom) tea. Sakanaka kyoudai was just so thankful for everything. As Elder Casey and I congratulated him, his eyes were filled with tears and he was just full of gratitude. He is my eternal friend.
I also spoke in sacrament meeting. I was asked to speak about something I liked from this past October General Conference, so I spoke about how the gospel of Christ is for everyone. I really enjoyed President Monson's talk entitled, 'Dare to Stand Alone.' He said, "Whether you are 12 or 112 - or anywhere in between- you can know for yourself that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true." He talked about how we all need testimonies, and we all need to share them. I ended up speaking for a little over 15 minutes, longer than I had planned. It just took a little longer to explain everything I wanted in Japanese. Sister Fujita (a sister missionary) spoke after me. It was the last sacrament meeting of her mission. She's actually probably on her way home right now.
All of the events leading up to Sakanaka kyoudai being baptized, from meeting him for the first time on the first of the year, to setting his first baptismal date, to actually getting everything to happen, have served to strengthen my testimony so much. We've met with him for actual lessons 16 times now, and we've been able to grow so much together. He is full of righteous desires, and I am so thankful for him. On Sunday after his confirmation (done by the bishop) there was a really good feeling felt throughout the chapel. The member giving the closing prayer broke into tears as she thanked our Father in Heaven for everything that was happening. It has been over three years since that ward has seen a convert baptism. He is such a miracle. I will definitely be keeping in touch with him throughout my mission. I might even be able to go to the temple with him when he goes for his endowments.
Anyway, I'm really excited for this next transfer. There aren't many solid investigators right now, but I'll be putting forth my best effort and relying on the Lord. As soon as we can get this apartment clean we'll be out on the streets and in homes spreading the gospel of happiness. Last night, Elder Igarashi and I called the bishop and ward mission leader. We tried to visit the bishop at his home, but he was still working. Over the phone we were able to get a dinner appointment set with him for Friday evening. He has three small (elementary age) kids that seem like a lot of fun. The ward, from what I've heard, is about 140 people, with a good sized amount of single adults. The ward actually has seven missionaries out right now, with another with a call. It's exciting, and I'm excited to work with the members as much as possible. Elder Richmond and I hope to see some big miracles soon!
Thank you mom and Keawe for your emails. It's great to hear about how all of you are doing. It sounds like the ward is doing really great, I'm glad Tyler almost has his papers in. He'll be a great missionary.
I'll attach a few pictures of Sakanaka kyoudai before his baptism. Thank you for all of your love and support. I love you all so much. Get stronger in this gospel! Take care this week!